Curse of Angmar

Chapter 3

by Cassia and Siobhan

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Unsure of yourself
You stand divided, and now
Which road will lead you there?
Last time you fell and you hit hard
Your wounds have healed by now,
But you still see your scars.

--Three Doors Down

Aragorn woke with a small gasp, his body tense as he sat partway up in bed.  Elrond was seated in the large, comfortable chair that was a permanent fixture in the ranger’s room.  The elf lord was gazing out the picture window that took up more than half of the far wall. 

“Oh.” Aragorn relaxed back against his pillows. “You’re doing it again, aren’t you?” he asked quietly as the dark eyes turned back to watch him. 

Elrond didn’t answer the question, only smiled slightly.  It was true; he had been in the young human’s room for sometime now, watching his youngest son sleeping.  Aragorn glanced over the blankets scrunched in a ridge near his face and saw his small shell night-light burning brightly on the mantle. It had been refilled and its wick was trimmed.  He knew the light was for him should he wake, as the elf lord needed no aid in seeing in the dark.

The house was quiet within.  The sounds of laughter and celebrating no longer filtered up the steps to reach the sleeping rooms. 

“Is Legolas asleep?” 

“Yes.”  Elrond’s smile widened. “He had quite a good time tormenting your brothers by telling stories about them to our guests.  Moranuen even pitched in to aid him.” The older elf shook his head as the human laughed softly. 

“Oh I can just imagine the response that garnered,” Aragorn snickered quietly. 

“Yes, he was...” Elrond sighed, echoing his son’s laughter as he stifled a laugh of his own, “he was very popular among the guests.” 

Shifting under the covers, Aragorn propped himself up on his right elbow and pushed the wayward strands of hair out of his eyes.  His open shirt hung loosely across his chest and he pulled the blankets up a little higher to stave off the cool night breezes.  “I just bet he loved that.” 

“It did his heart good to talk about lighter times than the ones you both have passed through recently,” Elrond acknowledged quietly. 

Aragorn glanced down to his fingers where they lay lightly on the bed sheets, twisting the soft linens into intricate swirls. It was a habit he fought hard to overcome, but it never failed that when he was nervous or uncertain, he absently fiddled with whatever was close at hand.  The silence stretched between them, but it was not uncomfortable and Elrond let it persist. 

“I was thinking of leaving for the Downs in the morning.”  The ranger’s voice was a mere whisper. 

Elrond nodded slowly, his eyes searching the silver ones that slowly glanced up to gauge his response. “I thought you would leave soon.  The wandering heart of a ranger beats in you my son.” 

“The sooner we are away the more quickly the Bree-landers can be free of this threat,” Aragorn answered as though his decision required an excuse. 

“It is well, Estel.”  Elrond smiled softly, holding the tentative gaze the ranger laid on him.  He saw the hesitation and the self doubt resting so uneasily near the surface of the young human’s soul.  “Your journey should be an easy one this time of year.” 

Aragorn only nodded; there was more he needed to speak of but he wasn’t sure how. 

“What else troubles you?”  Elrond could tell that that was not all that bothered the man and waited while Aragorn sifted through his thoughts and fears. 

“Legolas.”  His gazed flicked up to lock onto the elf lord’s and he allowed the immortal to glimpse straight into his soul. 

“Ah.”  Elrond let his own gaze drop to his hands as he read past the ranger’s statement and into the fears that dogged him about his friend.  “He is healing well, Estel.  The weakness he was still experiencing when you two arrived has faded...” 

Yet the statement had been made as though there were more the elf lord wished to say and Aragorn picked up quickly on that fact.  “But there is more.” 

“His wounds are healed.  He is physically capable of going with you.  Yet what troubles me, and I believe what it is that you see in him, are the wounds to his soul.  The shadow in his eyes from time to time where a light heart should dwell.” 

A sigh escaped Aragorn’s lips and he pushed himself into a sitting position.  Scooting back against the ornate headboard, he pulled his knees to his chest and let his head drop down into his hands. 

“And he is not the only one who carries them.” Elrond spoke the statement quietly, piercing to the heart of the matter. 

“No, he is not,” Aragorn agreed, his muffled whisper barely ghosted to the elf lord. 

Raising his head up and fixing his father with a weary gaze, Estel continued, “Legolas asked me if we shouldn’t remain and tell Halbarad we couldn’t go at this time.  I had entertained the thought for a while before he asked.  I am not so sure he isn’t right.”  Aragorn’s gaze swept slowly out to the large window.  The light of the stars and the full moon bathed the veranda in a pale silvery glow.  “If even you have seen that Legolas needs rest, I would not risk going now.  I-I do not speak of it to him, but my dreams are still haunted by his voice begging me to...” the ranger pressed his eyes closed, cutting those memories off.  Elrond already knew all about that.  “If he needs to remain here for a time, then I will tell Halbarad in the morning that we cannot help him.  I know Legolas will never let me go without him.” 

“Did he say he wanted to go?” Elrond prompted, delving into the matter further and forcing Aragorn to look at all the angles before his mind was decided. 

“Yes.”  Aragorn smiled as he recalled the conversation. “As a matter of fact I think he called it exciting, as he has never been that far west.” 

“That I do not doubt.”  Elrond laughed.  “The Silvan elves of his realm have rarely traveled the western lands and even that was many eons ago.  My son, I will not lie to you.  I worry for the both of you.  Your hearts both bear wounds that need time to heal.  But time it seems has chosen to heal you in a way that I would not have foreseen.  Perhaps this journey will be good for both of you.”  He smiled as the tension left the ranger.  This was what the Dunédan had been hoping for, either confirmation from his father that his taking leave so soon was acceptable or a firm denial that either of them was in any shape to go.  “However, Estel, I cannot be strong enough in my warnings.” 

Elrond shifted from the chair and seated himself on the edge of the bed staring hard into the young man’s eyes. “Be very careful of the wights. Whether this current problem is real or imagined, the wights themselves are all too real and not to be trifled with.  Use wisdom when you are near the Downs and Bree, for wisdom will be a good ally for you through this. If what you are up against is the force of the wights, it is possible that you will not be successful.  Theirs is an ancient and powerful evil that has not been broken since the war with Angmar and neither you nor Legolas are in any shape to stand against them.” 

He leaned closer, piercing the human with a hard gaze, “Do you understand me, Estel?  You must not engage them, you must not go near them.  I pray the Valar that what you will oppose is only of the mortal kind.  If you need help and this task is more than you are ready for, send one of your brothers back and I will see that assistance finds you quickly.  Do not attempt to deal with real wights on your own.” 

A small smile crept across the ranger’s face as he stared into the blue eyes that were fixed on him so seriously and Elrond couldn’t help but see the child in him still.  “Oh, Ada, it is good that someone still worries about me even though I am in my forties.” 

With a snort of laughter the elf lord shook his head. “Child,” he said fondly, “your father nears his five-thousand and fiftieth celebration of life, if I haven’t lost count.  Do not forget that you will always be my son.” 

Aragorn ducked his head stifling his laughter. “Please let us not have that lecture. I can quote it to you by heart now.” 

Elrond wrapped one hand behind the man’s head and pulled him forward, wrapping him in a light hug. “No lectures then.” Turning his face towards Aragorn’s hair, he breathed in deeply, smelling that scent that was unique to the human raised among elves.  “But heed my warnings; it will lighten my heart for your leaving.” 

Pushing back lightly Aragorn stared deeply into the elven eyes, realizing for the first time that Elrond actually wanted him to stay.  He had missed having his youngest son near, but would not stop the ranger from living his life or pursuing his destiny.  “We are coming back here, home, as soon as we are through.”  The ranger reassured. “Legolas has agreed to stay on as well.  He says he needs it.” 

“He does.” Elrond concurred softly. 

“Then we will go tomorrow so we can come home sooner and then we will both rest until you give us your blessing to do otherwise.” 

“Watch Legolas and do not let him overexert himself in ways that would cause him more pain,” Elrond cautioned. “He is yet a little fragile under the surface, but will not restrain himself if I know him.  You know of what I speak.  The barrows hold a foreboding all their own.” 

“I do understand and I will, I promise.”  Aragorn squeezed his father’s arms gently. 

With a nod Elrond stood and stared down at the human that he considered his youngest son, “And I have instructed your brothers to do the same with you.” He laughed lightly as the ranger rolled his eyes. 

“Father I am an adult...” Aragorn started to protest, although he knew his family was well aware of that fact now. 

“I would not use that argument near them if I were you,” the elder elf laughed.  Leaning down he gently kissed the crown of the ranger’s head.  “Get some sleep, Estel; morning will come quickly.  Worry not on it tonight, for tonight you can sleep in peace.” 

“Yes I know, each day brings its own set of worries and burdens,” Aragorn finished the statement.  “Thank you, Ada.” 

Elrond knew he meant the for elf lord’s blessing and the words of encouragement.  With a nod the older elf walked to the mantle and extinguished the small night-light; the light emanating from him shone softly in the now darkened room.  “Sleep well, my Estel,” he whispered as he walked back past the bed bending down and gently pulling up the blankets as Aragorn eased back down under the sheets.  The ranger grabbed the elf’s hand and gave it a soft squeeze. 

“Sleep well, Ada.  I will see you in the morning,” Aragorn whispered as he turned over, rolling the blankets tightly about him.

Leaving the room, Elrond paced back down into his study, his heart preoccupied with the conversation he had just had. In all truth he had hoped that Estel would remain for a while, but he understood the necessity of their leave taking.  With a sigh he contented himself in knowing that they would soon return once more.

Behind him, the glow globes were quietly put out as Celboril followed in his lord’s wake.  The house was once more cleaned and in order and the fire in the great hall sparked merrily in the empty room.  It had been Celboril’s job and his pleasure to keep the rooms of Imladris since Elrond had first built it in the valley so many ages past.  The old elf had been a servant of Elrond’s adoptive father, Gil-Galad, and had remained with the son to oversee and help him much as he had done for years beyond remembering - it was his life’s joy to serve and he did it well. 

Celboril knew his lord’s moods and needs and was ready, knowing that the elf he served would soon be asking for warmed tea.  He stopped at Elrond’s room and turned the bed sheets down, starting a small fire in the fireplace before quickly descending the steps and seeking out Elrond.  He had not heard the quiet conversations the elf lord had had with his son, but he knew that the two youngest inhabitants of the house were leaving in the morning and the home just hadn’t been the same with out them for all the long years Aragorn had been away.  He hoped they would accomplish their task quickly and return even more swiftly. 

“Celboril?”  The soft call pulled the servant out of his reverie and he hastened into the study.  The elder elf smiled.  The tea water was already warming.   


They had followed the Great East Road for many leagues.  The hill countries had eventually given way to the open meadows of the Lone-Lands and the ranger followed his companions, glad for once to be simply led and not leading.  Slowly the death grip of the daily stress he had been under since his decision to leave Gondor was slipping away.  Likewise he had noticed that Legolas seemed to have recovered fairly well as the elf laughed lightheartedly at something Elrohir had said.  The prince glanced back at the human and shook his head in denial.  In all truth Aragorn hadn’t been paying attention, his own thoughts drifting on the winds that brushed against them as they kept up the steady pace ever westward towards the Shire. 

He honestly hadn’t heard whatever it was that had caused the elves to break out laughing, but the mirth that danced in the blue eyes that watched him brought a smile to his face.  It was a long time that he had worried about Legolas on their return home to Rivendell and even for the weeks they had stayed on, there was a shadow that had hung over the prince.  He had tried to hide it but Aragorn knew him too well and it was not lost on the Elf Lord either.  Elrond had told Aragorn to give Legolas time and space to heal and, despite the concerns he voiced last night, the healer was convinced the elf’s spirit was well on its way to returning to its former brilliance. 

He had been right. 

Aragorn caught up with Legolas and questioned Elladan as they entered another sloping vale that ran parallel to a tributary off of the Mitheithel.  He could hear its waters now slowed to a mere stream just over the next rise. 

Looking out upon the valley they were walking through, Aragorn noted how the wind rippled through the long grasses, brushing the fields of green in invisible waves under the early evening light.  From the midst of the flat plain rose the remnants of the watchtower of Amon Sûl, known in the common tongue as Weathertop.  Its ragged ruins reached into the sky with jagged tips that seemed to rake the clouds passing overhead, fingering them into ribbons that streaked the evening canopy. 

The old tower stood atop a hill of stone, weather-beaten, broken and covered with grasses and moss that decorated its torn heights in the shades of early spring.  That it stood at all was testimony to its makers.  The tower had seen much in the long eons that had passed it by.  

“Amon Sûl,” Elladan whispered almost reverently when the magnificent ruins came into sight. 

With a small nod of acknowledgement Elrohir walked on next to his twin. 

Legolas, however, was forced to stop abruptly, nearly running into Estel.  The ranger stood staring at the remnants of the heights, his gaze transfixed on the ruins.  Here and there burn marks scorched the tallest reaches where lighting had struck the old tower throughout the years as spring storms had passed this way.  The grasses adorned its broken-down sides like a comfortable garment thrown across the shoulders of its upper reaches, the living greenery finding the oddest places to grow from in the rocky ledges.  The fading sunlight bathed the lower level in a bright, warm glow as the sun showed through the bottom layer of clouds on its way to its evening rest.  To Aragorn it held an instant kinship to his weary, worn heart. 

Broken, battle-scarred, a power forgotten...laid aside. 

The human breathed in deeply, catching the rich smells of the meadow; the grasses that left a heady scent when crushed underfoot, the sweet aroma of the wildflowers that grew in bunches across the valley, decorating the grassy floor with their vibrant colors and the slight smell of old stone that has too long been untouched by human life, musty and full of the very earth itself.  It spoke to him of strength and he closed his eyes as he allowed all the memories and thoughts to assault him. 

“Estel?”  Legolas was glancing nervously between the ranger who seemed riveted to this place and his brothers who were walking swiftly back towards them. 

“What is it?” Elrohir questioned as they strode back towards the two friends.  Elladan grasped the ranger’s shoulder and shook him gently. 


When he opened his eyes he was still looking at the tower.  “It is old.” He stated the obvious quietly, oblivious to the odd stares. “What happened to it?” 

Elladan glanced over his shoulder at the ruins. “Amon Sûl?” 

“Yes.” Aragorn focused on the oldest twin. 

Elrohir turned, watching the remnants, wondering what had so fascinated the human.  “It was a watchtower, many years ago.” 

“A magnificent one,” Elladan chimed in. “It is said that it was built by Elendil in the early years of Arnor when this land at that time lay in the central parts of Elendil’s domain.  The tower housed a palantir at one time, although what happened to the seeing stone has long been lost to history.  They say that it was once beautiful here.” 

“Why is it in ruins?” the ranger pressed. 

“I heard there was a war.”  Legolas stepped up and glanced around Elrohir. 

“Many actually,” Elladan continued.  “But the last was the worst.  The watchtower was nearly torn down.  The invading armies of Angmar destroyed it.  When Arnor broke up, the tower was abandoned in the borderlands and exposed to the enemy’s invasions.  They brought it to ruin before they were beaten back themselves. Only what you see remains; its caretakers were never found.” 

A deep sigh escaped the human’s lips as he tried to imagine what the tower had once looked like in its days of glory.  Now, only a shell of its former dignity remained.  Stripped by war and violence, the watchtower had been left to the wilds and here finally it had become a part of them.  Its walls and stairways tucked into the crevices of the stone hill were covered like the valley floor in one sweeping carpet of green, abandoned, forgotten - instead of standing out from the land around it, the tower blended with its surroundings. 

“It has seen much war,” Aragorn whispered softly, “and it now has rest. You can feel it.”  He glanced at the elves that were watching him oddly. 

It surprised Legolas that the human could indeed sense the deep, ancient tranquility that filled the basin in which they walked, the touches of evil from Angmar were nearly dissipated now.  Usually that closeness with nature was reserved for the elves, but somehow Aragorn’s time among the men had intensified his awareness and his upbringing had made him more sensitive to his surroundings. 

Perhaps it was merely the traces of the elveness in his blood, but Aragorn could feel this place in a way he never had been able to anywhere else but Imladris.  The sorrowful, wounded places in his heart echoed the taint of war that still clung to the stone spires piercing the sky and the empty weariness inside of him was filled with the peace of the valley; it touched him like Rivendell always did whenever he came home.  He couldn’t quite explain it. 

Suddenly he realized that was the feeling, like home. “It feels familiar somehow,” he spoke out loud as he pressed by Elladan and strode towards the ruins.  The older twin shrugged and followed the human as the elves glanced between themselves.  Perhaps the heir of Elendil could still feel at home in Elendil’s ruins, even if he thought he wanted no part of that heritage. 

“Let us camp in its lower levels tonight.”  Aragorn turned back to his brothers. 

“You don’t find it a bit creepy, Estel?”  Legolas taunted the ranger, emphasizing the unusual word the human had used to describe Orthanc so many years ago as he eyed the tower hesitantly. 

Rolling his eyes Aragorn glanced over his shoulder as the elf prince gained his side. “No, I do not.  Saruman doesn’t live here, for one thing, and there are no orcs about.” 

“Orcs?” Elrohir repeated curiously, grimacing at the mention of the foul beasts. 

Legolas stammered, half laughing, trying to protest, but was stopped as the ranger continued, “Besides, whoever created this place obviously was not the same person who dreamed up that nightmare of a tower our good friend the White Wizard calls home.  And do not tell me that you were not unnerved by it either.  You did meet me in the hall on the way to my room because you couldn’t sleep by yourself as I recall.” 

“WHAT!?” the twins questioned at the same time.  This was a story they had never heard and Elrohir began to laugh.  “You wouldn’t sleep in your own room?” he teased Legolas. 

“There was more to it than that!” The elf prince gave the ranger a good shove as they walked up to the lower staircase.  The hewn rocks were covered in moss and blended in perfectly with the grass-covered hill on either side of them. “Why don’t you ask your brother why it was I found him in the hallway and where he was headed?” 

Aragorn scowled at the elf playfully, lightly jumping up the first few steps and turning to gaze back on his companions.  He tried to hide the smile that pulled at the edges of his lips but was unsuccessful. “I was looking for you,” he answered, avoiding the whole truth. 

“He was carrying his pillow and blanket and would not sleep in his own room,” Legolas filled in the details as the twins stared incredulously at their younger brother before breaking out laughing. 

“Your pillow?” Elrohir echoed. 

“Do you have to repeat everything that is said to you?!”  Aragorn raced up the next few steps, waiting for the elves to catch up with him. 

“And that wasn’t the half of it.” The elf prince ducked as the ranger threw a small stone at him. 

“Legolas,” the human growled, trying to stop the elf from continuing with the story. 

“No, let him.  I can’t wait to hear the rest!”  Elladan pushed past Elrohir and ascended the steps on Legolas’ heels.  “What more is there? Do tell.” 

“Well, your brother, the ranger, wouldn’t sleep on the bed but he slept on the floor between the bed and the wall so whomever he believed was coming in would get to me first!” 

Aragorn swiveled on his heels as he reached the lowest landing and glared at the helplessly laughing elves.  An archway set in the very stone itself led to the main floor of the tower, but the human favored the landing for the view of the valley that it lent.  He fixed his oldest brother with a serious stare. “You should have seen the manservant, I swear Elladan he was no man!  He was...” the ranger stalled and quirked his mouth, barely stopping from saying the word. 

“He was creepy!” Legolas finished the sentence, turning huge wide eyes on the elves and shuddering as if in fright.  He had had an irritating fascination with that somewhat plebian sounding word since the first time Aragorn had introduced it into his vocabulary. 

“Well he was!” Aragorn defended himself as he gathered the small sticks and brambles that had collected in the concave area, swept there by the winds that would scour the valley from time to time.  They would make good kindling for a fire. 

Elladan gave the prince a friendly shove forward as they all spilled out onto the ledge where Aragorn was crouched down, flint in hand, trying to start a fire and ignore his family and his friend.  In the end, the lightheartedness of the elves was contagious.  He shook his head, pointing the tip of the branch he was feeding to the small flame with at the elven prince. “I am telling you there are hiding orcs in that dark tower somewhere and I’ll not be going back there anytime soon no matter what you say or do to me.” 

His admission sent the elves into another fit of mirth as they dropped to the ground around the small blaze. 

“Saruman the White not knowing of orcs in his own tower!  Now that is a thought worthy of laughter!” Elrohir chuckled. 

The warm light filled the concave where they sat and Weathertop basked in the glow of the friendly banter long into the night. 

Legolas walked to the edge of the landing and seated himself next to Aragorn.  The human was sitting on the lip of the precipice, his booted heels kicking the rock wall below them as he scanned the moonlit valley of the Lone-Lands. 

“Not tired?” the elf whispered softly. 

“No.”  Aragorn yawned around a smile, his weariness betraying him. 

“Why don’t you get some sleep?  Your brothers are already resting.”  Legolas eyed the human out of the corner of his eyes watching him carefully. 

“I can’t sleep. I am tired but I can’t get my thoughts to quiet down.” 

“What troubles you?” 

Aragorn picked at a weed that grew up between the rocks near his thigh as he thought.  He tossed the bits of grass over the ledge into the darkness before he answered, watching them catch on the wind and losing them in the night. 

“Do you believe that a wight is responsible for the happenings near the Barrow-downs?”  He had been thinking on the things Halbarad had told them and weighing the theories that the ranger had reported. 

“I do not know what to believe.  We will have to wait until we get there to see if we can discover what has happened.  There is nothing good about a barrow-wight Aragorn.  From what little I know, they are wholly evil and the wickedness that has been done near the Downs would not be beyond them.” 

With a sigh Aragorn turned to face Legolas, his eyes locking onto the blue ones that questioned him.  It struck him as odd how very young the elf looked in the moonlight, his own glow enhanced by the soft illumination of the night.  The prince didn’t even retain the scars from their recent journey home, although Aragorn’s faintly decorated him still. 

“In my heart I am not sure that I am ready for this.  There is a part of me that wishes to simply reside in Imladris and let the world pass me by until the end of my days.  If I never see another war or am never called to be a leader or assume my heritage I am not sure at this point that it would disappoint me.”  Aragorn laid his fears before his friend, surprised when the elf smiled softly at him. 

“I know what you mean.”  Legolas lay back on the stone ledge and gazed up at the stars overhead.  “I have felt that way.  When your father rescued me from Dorolyn I never wanted to leave Mirkwood again. I did not care if I ever met another human being for as long I lived and if the world outside the borders of our woods fell then I would have not missed them.  I hid for nearly three-thousand years.” 

The elf laughed when the ranger quirked his eye brows at his admission.  Aragorn leaned back next to his friend resting on his left elbow as the prince continued. 

“All right then, maybe three-thousand years is a bit of a stretch, but it was at least three times your lifetime before I even ventured out into the world again, even in my own land.  Going beyond that was something I resisted for even longer, especially without companions.  That night you fell into my life was just about the first time I had left our borders alone since Dorolyn.”  Legolas’ gaze was far away accompanying his thoughts.  “Elves have the years to spend, Aragorn, when they want to hide; humans do not.”  The prince turned his eyes from the night sky and pierced his friend with an open stare.  “But human hearts recover more quickly than do ours.  You are gifted with the ability to forget, time fades the sting of your wounds, but our memories carry on with us.” 

Dropping his gaze, Aragorn turned back to stare into the inky darkness of the night around them.  After a few moments a soft touch to his arm redirected his attention and he looked down at his friend. 

“Give yourself time.  The memories you carry may never go away, but they will be replaced by others soon enough.  It is the way of life.”  Legolas knew of what he spoke and it was advice he himself was taking to heart.  His recent captivity in Mordor had marked him, marked him deeply... but he had recovered from horror before and he knew that the pain, no matter how deep, would not last forever if he did not allow it to do so. 

Aragorn laughed softly. “You sound like my father.” 

“His is a wise man, you should listen to him.”  Legolas closed his eyes, a smile tugging at his lips. 

“Now I know that you have speaking with him!”  Aragorn gave the elf a playful shove as he flopped back down on the ground next to his friend, releasing a weary sigh.  He gazed up at the stars that twinkled in the garment of night. 

“It was hard to see Eärendil in Gondor.”  Aragorn commented softly. 

A small snort of laughter caused him to roll his head towards his friend and stare at the elf. 

Legolas was smiling as he gazed at the bright star. “It was hard to see Eärendil in Mordor.” 

For some reason the statement struck the ranger as funny and he tried to suppress his laughter, not wanting to wake his brothers.  His attempts to quiet himself set the prince off and in moments they were both watching the winking pinpoint of light and laughing. 

Legolas elbowed the human as they quieted.  “Go to sleep, Aragorn.  You have many years yet before you need worry about the troubles of this world.  Let us enjoy this time with your brothers.” 

Aragorn nodded wordlessly as they lay side by side staring up at the stars; he knew Legolas was right and he realized that he just needed someone to say it out loud.  When he finally spoke, his voice was soft, thinking his companion might be sleeping, “You just want to trade stories with them.” 

The quiet statement set the elf to laughing and he smacked the ranger, turning over on his side and rolling up in his cloak. “Now go to sleep, Strider. You are intolerable when you are grumpy and I will not suffer you to be tired in the morning.” 

With a snort of derision Aragorn placed his hands behind his head, crossing his boots at the ankles, and stared into the sky with a smile on his face until sleep stole him away.

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