The characters are the property of the Tolkien profit will be made from this story.
The King is in the altogether, he's altogether, he's altogether as naked as the day that he was born!"
- from Hans Christian Andersen, "The King's New Clothes",
with Danny Kaye
A Streak of Moonlight
The King and the Steward shuffed their feet awkwardly,trying to decide what they should they had agreed to procure some mistletoe for the Yule celebrations,from the eccentric Dame Gudrun, they had expected a pleasant ride could certainly have never anticipated this in their worse nightmares.
Hurry up!" snapped Gudrun, "I cannot wait here all night, the ritual must be fulfilled before I will surrender my mistletoe to you, Aragorn Arathornsson!"
Aragorn and Faramir were sorely tempted to flee. Then they remembered Éowyn had told them not to return without the mistletoe. They decided that nothing could be worse than having to face her wrath combined with Arwen' servants had searched far and wide and Dame Gudrun's mistletoe was all that could be found in the environs of Minas Tirith.
"Tell us again, what we must do,good lady," said Aragorn,trying to play for time.
"You must begin by climbing the tallest trees in the orchard,"Gudrun replied.
Aragorn and Faramir found climbing the trees was the easy part, though it had been a while since either of them had attempted such a feat, and the old apple trees seemed rather precarious a perch. They had climbed many a tree in their ranger days, but always a sturdy oak or linden.
Gudrun seemed satisfied though and nodded her acceptance. "Now take off your clothes, Aragorn Arathornsson!" she ordered, cackling gleefully."You must traverse my orchard three times naked !"
"You do not have to do this,Faramir," Aragorn said gently."You can leave if you wish.
"I shall stay at your side," Faramir said staunchly.
Aragorn squeezed his friend's shoulder in would never have forced his Steward to take part in this strange ritual. Yet, he was touched and grateful that he chose to remain,however great the cost for such a reticent and modest man.
The King prepared to could not have been more miserable had she ordered his head to be removed. Faramir felt compelled to do likewise to show support for his friend and King.
Slowly and reluctantly, they unfastened their cloaks and folded them neatly on the ground, then pulled their tunics over their heads. Next, they removed their shirts, shivering as the frosty air met their finely muscled bare chests.
They bent to unlace their boots and pull off their socks and then straightened to unfasten their belts. They cast a pleading glance at the old woman but she remained unyielding and their breeches were added to the pile of clothing.
"Surely we can keep our drawers on?" Faramir begged.
"Lord Bema demands that you surrender your all to him!" Gudrun said firmly. Despite her advanced years, she was obviously enjoying the sight of two finely toned, lean, muscular male bodies, softly illuminated by the light of the full moon and was determined that all should be revealed.
"Let us get it over with quickly, mellon nin," said Aragorn trying to sound comforting but not succeeding. He unlaced his drawers and let them fall, trying to cover his nakedness with his hands.
Hesitantly Faramir did likewise, revealing even more finely muscled thighs than his elder.
If they had hoped Gudrun would tactfully avert her eyes, they were to be disappointed, for the crone watched them intently, her aged eyes gleefully roaming over their shivering bodies, appraising every inch of their anatomy.
"Very nice, but I like more flesh on a man," she pronounced, poking Faramir in the ribs. "Now my late husband was a fine figure of a man in all senses of the word!"
Both now naked as the day they were born, King and Steward set off round the orchard as if the Nazgul were in hot pursuit.
Gudrun's eyes never left the pair. She chuckled in wry amusement while the silvery figures streaked through her apple trees. They ran in long loping strides with an ease and grace that even her cat might have found hard to match.
Panting, they returned to stand before her, still trying to cover themselves with their hands, while at the same time reaching for their discarded clothing.
You have not stood on your heads yet!" Gudrun admonished them."That is the conclusion of the sacred rite."
"Surely, we can get dressed first?" Faramir protested.
"This last part of the ritual must be completed sky clad," the old woman said firmly.
Blushing scarlet both from exertion and embarrassment, the two friends now were forced to use their hands to lever themselves up. They turned their backs to Gudrun, who was finding it impossible to conceal her mirth.
Neither had ever stood on their heads before and found it a very complicated balancing feat, in which they were not entirely successful. It was very hard to concentrate in a freezing orchard, devoid of a single stitch of clothing, while every move was closely watched by the old woman.
After what felt like an eternity, Gudrun declared herself satisfied.
Aragorn and Faramir had never dressed so swiftly in their lives. Their clothes felt damp and cold from the lying in the frosty air and they shivered both from cold and the knowledge of what Gudrun had so recently witnessed.
"You may now have the mistletoe," Gudrun intoned solemnly.
"There must be an easier way than this, if Éowyn wants any next year," groaned Faramir, as they finally prepared to leave, the precious mistletoe secured in their saddlebags.
"You could have simply sung an incantation but this way was far more enjoyable!" cackled Gudrun leaving the King quite speechless.
"No!" cried Faramir.
Faramir awoke with a start." No!" he cried again.
"Whatever is the matter, my love?" Éowyn asked anxiously. She sat up and fumbled to light the bedside candle. To her alarm, Faramir was pale and shaking. When she put her hand to his forehead, she found he was drenched in a cold sweat. "Are you unwell? Shall I fetch Aragorn?" she asked, full of concern.
Faramir blinked as he became aware of his surroundings. "No, my love, I am well. It was just a bad dream," he said, sitting up and hugging his sweat soaked nightshirt to his body."I must have eaten too much rich food tonight."
"It must have been an evil dream indeed," Éowyn said . "You were thrashing your legs around as if running, and you failed to awaken even when I poked you in the ribs!"
"I had better change," said Faramir, climbing out of bed and making his way to his dressing room.
He returned a few moments later, looking much more composed, having bathed and changed into a fresh nightshirt.
"What was the dream about?" asked Éowyn , who had been checking in his absence, Elestelle had not been disturbed by the commotion.
"It was very foolish," Faramir replied sheepishly.
"I would like to know,"Éowyn persisted.
"While we were waiting in Gudrun's home for the moon to rise, I asked Aragorn what she would want us to do before letting us gather some mistletoe," Faramir explained. "He teased me by saying, we would have to climb trees, run round her orchard naked three times and then stand on our heads. I dreamed we actually did that!"
"Surely, you did not think Arwen and I would allow you to go alone to do such a thing?" Éowyn replied.
"That is exactly what I thought, once I realised Aragorn was jesting," Faramir said, snuggling comfortably against his wife.
"We naturally would have come with you if such a ritual existed. We wouldn't have missed such a spectacle for anything!" Éowyn said with a chuckle.
"You would?" Faramir was profoundly shocked.
"Wild horses would not have prevented us !" Éowyn laughed again,the sound eerily akin to Dame Gudrun's laughter in his dream."Now go back to sleep, it is the middle of the night!" Thus saying,she blew out the candle.
Wondering if he would ever truly understand women, Faramir closed his eyes.
An hour later, a streak of moonlight shone through a gap in the curtains and illuminated the Steward and his wife,sleeping peacefully in each other's arms. A smile played on Faramir's lips,for his dreams were now of a much more pleasant variety.
A/N This extra chapter was written as a gift for Raksha as an AU extra scene,which I then expanded to try to fit in with the rest of the story, for of course, Aragorn and Faramir would never agree to such a ritual. It is based on Aragorn's comment in chapter 3,quoted at the beginning of the chapter.I thought this story complete but the Muse had other ideas ! I hope you enjoy this light hearted diversion.
I hope to post another chapter of "Web of Treason" very soon.