Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, I make no money with this story.
Summary: Aragorn and Legolas travel through dangerous territory.
A/N: Inspired by Prompt # 9 "Experiences"on the Aragorn Angst list
The sun stood high in the sky, making the air even more stale than it had been the days before. There was no wind, not even the slightest breeze, and for a short moment Aragorn wondered how long it would take for the sun to burn his skin to a shade of cherry red, should he take of his dark clothing. But he abandoned the thought as quickly as it had come. Being hot was better than having to deal with a serious sun burn.
A serious sun burn "and" Legolas, he thought darkly. For weeks the two had been travelling the lands, only to now return to Imladris. In all the summer weeks, the sun had burned down from the clear blue sky, with not even the comfort of some clouds now and then. The draught that the hot weather caused worried him, but as he knew that he could do nothing about that, he found himself very soon thinking about other things. Legolas, mostly.
It was simply not fair! Why was it that he had to sweat and pant and suffer in the heat, while his friend even enjoyed the sunshine? Sighing and wiping some sweat soaked hair out of his face and vowing not for the first time this summer to simply cut it short so that it would not bother him any longer, Aragorn trudged on dolefully.
It was simply not fair.
And Legolas did nothing to lighten his mood. "Come on, Strider! You are slow as an old dog! Come now, I can already hear the waterfalls of Imladris in the distance."
A "humph" was all Aragorn managed, feeling too hot to even think up a witty reply. They were still more than two weeks away from Imladris, after all. Hearing the waterfalls, really. But, Aragorn thought guiltily, as an elf Legolas naturally loved the sun and the warmth. He had so little opportunity to greet Her in Mirkwood.
Around midday, when the sun stood the highest and the air was so hot that Aragorn's sweat soaked shirt clung to his chest, they reached the outskirts of an area Aragorn knew only too well. All was silent except for some moorhens that picked the ground.
"Where are we, Strider?"
"This are the Midgewater Marshes, Legolas."
"Are they dangerous?"
"No, Legolas, not really."
"Do we have to cross them?"
"Aye. To walk around would take us many days."
"Well then, lets go."
And with that said, Legolas walked out into the bog, ever careful where to tread, but obviously not concerned by the marshy ground. Aragorn gave him a queer look, and then a smile tugged at his lips. His eyes flashed with unconcealed mirth, but he said nothing and instead crouched down near a puddle of thick, slimy mud.
Legolas, having noticed that Aragorn was not following him, stopped in his tracks and turned around, "Strider?"
From where he stood, Legolas watched with mounting fascination, how Aragorn rolled up his sleeves even further, tugged his trousers into his boots, and then plunged his hands into the dark mud.
Pulling a disgusted face, Legolas watched further how Aragorn smeared the mud on his arms, sighing softly in pleasure as the cold dirt touched his hot skin, and then proceeded to smear the slimy substance on his face as well.
"Strider! What…what are you doing?" Legolas asked bewildered.
Looking innocently at his friend but grinning inwardly, Aragorn answered, "Legolas, I have my experiences with this marshes. Trust me in this and do the same. You will thank me later."
"Well…" Legolas took in the mud that covered the muscled arms and hands, and that dripped slowly down Aragorn chin. "Uhm, no…I think I do without."
"As you like it, mellon."
And with that, Aragorn got to his feet, rearranged his sword in its baldric, and joined Legolas, a small smug grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. They trudged through the marsh for nearly an hour and nothing happened. The sun dried the dirt on Aragorn's skin, and for the first time in days he truly felt not hot, but blessedly cool.
When they reached an area that was covered in low marsh plants, Aragorn sighed and tugged his shirt into his trousers, despite the discomfort it would bring with the heat. Legolas gave him a sceptic look, clearly asking himself whether his friend was suffering from a heat stroke.
Just as he was to ask Aragorn if he was all right, the stillness of the air was broken by what could only be described as an angry roar. A roar from thousand and thousand of …midges! With growing unease, Legolas watched as myriads of the tiny, blood drinking insects rose out of the plants; there were so many that they darkened the sky, blocking out the sun.
Horror-struck, Legolas shot a quick look at Aragorn, and when he saw the apologetic shrug of the man's shoulders and the smug grin, he knew he was doomed. "You will pay for this, Dunadan." And then he was gone, running so fast that he was merely a blur.
But Aragorn did not think that it would do him much good; midges were fast little beasts. Grinning widely, Aragorn glanced at the fleeing back of his friend for a moment longer, and then followed him. The mud on his skin prevented the insects from biting him, and so he marched unscathed out of the dangerous area.
A few hours later he met up with a rather dishevelled looking Legolas, who was scratching the numerous bites he had suffered. Giving his friend an apologetic smile, Aragorn crouched down and gently lifted Legolas's face to get a better look at the bites.
"It is not that bad, my friend, you were lucky."
"Lucky, Strider?" Legolas seethed. "They would have eaten me alive had I not shaken them off. You could have warned me."
Raising an eyebrow, Aragorn answered, "I did warn you." He gestured at the mud that still covered his arms and face. "Do you think I did this merely out of a whim?"
"Well…you did stranger things before."
Aragorn raised his other eyebrow as well, but he had not missed the grumpy undertone of Legolas's words. Still, he could not stop himself from teasing his friend a little. After all, he had suffered in the heat for weeks!
"Legolas, the Misty Mountains are not called thus because they are so sunny, and the Brown Lands are not called thus because of the many plant life that grows there. And the Midgewater Marshes are not called thus, because…"
Legolas interrupted him with a defeated sigh, "Because of the many frogs that live in them, eating all those nasty monsters?"
"Exactly." Aragorn grinned.
"Ah." Legolas sighed, absently scratching at a bite on his nose. "Strider? Is this marsh very large?"
"We will exit it by nightfall."
Turning huge eyes on his friend, Legolas exclaimed worriedly, "Nightfall? "Nightfall"? Strider, you "do" know that midges are the most hungriest in the gloaming, don't you?"
Smirking, Aragorn patted Legolas shoulder, "There is enough mud for the both of us, my friend."
Legolas gave Aragorn another horror-struck look, but Aragorn simply got to his feet, took a deep breath, smiled down at his friend, and repeated Legolas's own words "Well then, lets go."
Aragorn turned and walked away, his feet finding the dry places in this boggy area with a surprising ease.
Legolas looked at his retreating friend for a moment, before his eyes slowly shifted to the slimy mud that covered the ground.
"I will never hear the end of this, not in a million of years." And with that, he plunged his hands into the cool mud.
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