Sneezes and Sword Fights

By Joanna

*A sequel to Dragons and Ribbons, because so many of you were so kind and requested that I do another story without blood or angst (this one has some snot, so I hope that's okay!) 100% unadulterated fluff. It'll be done in a few chapters instead of one long one, so it's different from Dragons and Ribbons in that sense.

*Disclaimer: Well, my dreams have not been answered. Aragorn and/or Legolas still aren't mine. I just checked.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Chapter One: The Nurse

The King of Gondor was in an excessively bad mood.

And the Queen, quite frankly, and for not the first time, questioned her decision to remain in Middle Earth with the troublesome man she had married.

Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the Elfstone, Elessar, Estel, Strider. He had carried all of those names upon his broad shoulders with grace and nobility, some since his childhood. And now, he sat, his bare feet dangling over the edge of their bed, and he looked much more like a petulant and mutinous child than his twelve-year old son had managed to look in quite some time.

"You can not go hunting with Legolas and Gimli. You are too ill. They will understand," Arwen told him firmly and not for the first time. Or the last, she feared.

"I ab goig! We have made our plads! I feel much bedder!" Aragorn snapped back, and wiped the dripping end of his reddened nose on the back of his hand. Arwen did not try to suppress a sound of disgust at this and handed him a clean cloth, which he bunched in one hand as he erupted into a fit of wet and ominous coughing and sneezing into the other.

"You see, Estel," she said quietly, striving to impress upon him her calm and rational tone. "You are just too sick to go. You will be better in a week. The weather will improve by then. It is better to wait." She saw him glance out the window, which the wind lashed with rain.

"I ab nod sig!" he roared unintelligibly through his congested nose, just as one of the women who tended the royal family came into the room with an armful of clean bedding.

Just as quickly, the chambermaid turned and fled. Arwen envied her very much.

"You are not sick? That's not what you said two nights ago when you awakened the entire household from a sound sleep because you, and I believe these were your words, could not breathe through your nose at all and had been set upon by a great plague. You were wailing like an infant, and had most of the staff convinced you were upon your deathbed. You set the city in a panic."

He glowered at her through watery eyes, defiant. "Ad you, dear wifed, said, and I believe thad these were your own words, 'stob actig as a child. Id is merely a bid of a chill.'"

She backed up a step as he sneezed violently again and again and again, until at last he stopped with a sort of a groan of agony, and gasped for breath. He looked at her just the slightest bit sheepishly, and she could only hope her triumph and satisfaction were not too apparent in her features as she gazed evenly back at him.

"It was only a chill that would have passed by now if you had not insisted upon going about your daily ride through the city in the pouring down rain the next morning, though I asked you not to. Now you are burning with fever and will likely be confined to your sickroom for the rest of the week!" Arwen reminded him sternly. "And I have very little sympathy for you at all."

He muttered something under his breath that was almost certainly impolite, and Arwen took a step closer. "I did not hear you, Milord. Would you care to repeat your words?"

He glared but did not repeat himself, some small flicker of fear in his eyes. Finally, he drew a wheezing breath and asserted, "I ab de Kig! I ab goig hudig!"

And to prove that he would do just that, he stood up too quickly, staggered, and just managed to catch the bedpost before he fell upon his face, swaying on his weakened legs.

"You are the Kig?" Arwen questioned, and the smile, unbidden made its way across her lips.

This only served to annoy him more, which was rewarding for her. "De Kig! Kig!" He tried several more times to pronounce it correctly, and failed in equal measures with each subsequent try.

"Shhh, now. Yes, yes, you are the King," Arwen soothed because he was turning an alarming shade of purple and a vein stood out in his forehead. He finally was forced to sit back on the bed, gasping for breath. She approached him and trailed her fingertips across his heated forehead, relieved that he felt no hotter than he had before his tantrum. He closed his eyes and sniffled a little bit.

"De Kig," he agreed quietly, and didn't protest at all as she turned down the heavy blankets on the bed and helped him ease back on them. He lay back on the pillow and as she pulled the covers up to his chin, he reached around the blankets and grasped her wrist weakly.

For a moment he studied her through long, lowering lashes, and she sat down at his side, letting him watch her as he would.

"I ab dyig. I cad nod go hudig."

"If you say so, my love," Arwen murmured, and patted his head when the urge to throttle him became very strong. "You would know best."

"You do nod have ady elvish medicid for thid?" He pleaded finally.

She smiled tenderly and leaned down, pressing cool lips to his heated cheek, then his forehead. Standing, she tucked the covers around him more tightly and then turned to walk away.

As she approached the door, she called back to him, "After all the names you have called me this morning, if I did have a remedy, you would be the very last to know, you fool of a man."

She glanced at him, saw that he was glaring at her down the long blade of his shining nose.

"Long live the Kig," she called to him and shut the door firmly behind her, seconds before something heavy crashed and shattered on the other side of it.

*~*~*~*~*

Once free of the sickroom, Arwen made her way down the stone hallway and paused in the doorway of her youngest daughter's room. There Gliriel, along with her older sister, Imeren, and Legolas, who was folded nearly in half, sat around a Hobbit table, drinking their pretend tea.

These three, each so immeasurably dear to her, did not notice her presence, so she leaned against the doorframe and watched as Legolas thanked Gliriel politely and offered Imeren an empty plate. She daintily selected some imaginary pastry from the dish, which Legolas then passed to Gliriel, who studied it for some time before making her selection. At last, Legolas picked his invisible treat and set down the plate.

The Prince of Mirkwood had been spared having pink ribbons tied all over his head this morning in lieu of the thick braid Imeren (or she guessed it was her eldest daughter because Gliriel couldn't manage it with her little fingers), had plaited down his back. It was held in place by a ribbon of more manly hue, a deep green.

After her trying morning with her husband, it was an unexpected gift to be able to observe a scene free of strife. Her eyes flicked over the murals of Middle Earth Legolas had long ago painted on the walls, his gift upon hearing of the coming birth of their first child. Her smile broadened. With a mental wish of love to her father as her eyes passed Rivendell, she stepped into the room.

"Legolas, I believe you are starting to enjoy this daily ritual," Arwen said at last and grinned when Legolas nearly dropped his teacup. It was common knowledge that Legolas had returned every day to Gliriel's room in time for tea since he'd first arrived in Gondor two weeks ago. It was also, for the most part, left unspoken, at least after the first day where the story of Legolas and pink ribbons had reached all the way to the outer gates of Minas Tirith.

"Good day, Lady. How is Aragorn feeling?"

"Excessively mean," Arwen replied in elvish through clenched teeth and Legolas gave her an understanding smile.

"He is a warrior. He is unaccustomed to feeling helpless," Legolas tried.

"Do not make excuses for that horrible man!" Arwen warned Legolas as she walked around the table to drop kisses upon the shiny black heads of first Imeren, then Gliriel, who were busily chatting. "Why did I choose him?"

"I always thought it was that you wanted a palace," Legolas shrugged and grinned in the face of the scathing look she gave him. "That or you had simply gone mad."

"I have a favor to ask of you, mellon nin." Arwen said sweetly in an abrupt change of subject, which put Legolas instantly on his guard. He narrowed his eyes at her as she stood over him and he squatted in the hobbit chair.

"What?" he asked warily, well aware after several ages of knowing her that whatever was coming next would be more order than request.

"Aragorn is certainly very ill, but he is strong enough to recover within the week. However, there is danger of the illness spreading to the people in the house, who might then carry it to those in the city. One of his advisors is dangerously ill, and I fear that the rest of the household may become so as well if they remain here and interact with the King. I also fear for our children's health. It has become necessary to quarantine Estel. He needs someone to care for him, though, and I would not risk the staff. I would do it, but I feel that it is more important for me to take Gliriel, Imeren, and Eldarion to the other wing of the palace, to keep them safe from the illness. I do not wish to leave them in the care of another."

"You wish me to stay with Aragorn," Legolas murmured. "But I know so little of caring for the sick."

"There is no one else. You are the only other elf in the city, the only one safe from the spreading illness. I will leave you detailed instructions, and visit once a day. It is only a matter of being sure that he rests and eats properly. And at all costs, of being sure he does not leave his chambers."

Legolas sighed, for he had not, nor any man or elf, had ever been able to deny the beauty above him what she wished. It was a battle lost ere it had begun. "As you wish, Evenstar."

Arwen then smiled at him, and dropped a kiss on his brow. "You are ever so dear to me. And to Elessar, though he may not be charitable in voicing it in the coming days."

"And how does the King feel about being quarantined?" Legolas wondered, wincing as he climbed the great distance from hobbit chair to his feet.

Arwen's smile was mischievous enough to make him truly nervous. "You shall have to let me know the answer to that when you tell him."

And with a grand sweep of deep maroon velvet, she left him to his fate as Aragorn's nurse.

*~*~*~*~*~*

To Be Continued…

*"Dragons or Ribbons," the precursor to this fluffy bit, if you're interested, can be found by clicking on my name at the top of the story and visiting my author page.