No one had ever mentioned that moonlight reflecting on the White City was alarmingly ... bright. And Arwen, long used to soft leaf canopies and dappled twilight, could. Not. Sleep.
Which, as it happened, mattered little to a peredhel. She rolled to her stomach, stuffed the oversoft pillow beneath her elbows, and gazed at her husband, who pretended slumber though she knew by his breathing that he stirred.
"Estel," she mused softly, watching the play of bright moonlight on his brow, "do you think we ought to invite my brothers here for midwinter?"
"Mrrrrfgh," commented the High King, succinctly. He did not open his eyes.
"Oh, right," agreed his wife. A pause settled, and Aragorn's breathing slowed, a sure indicator that he would soon sleep. And that, of course, would not do.
"You know," said Arwen, picking at the delicate embroidery on her pillow, "when I was a child, those two were always for pranks and silliness, and now they are so grave. I understand why, of course, and yet ..." She let her voice fade. From the corner of her eye, she saw Aragorn shift, pushing his hand up behind his head. Ah, she thought, he's done that apurpose: The movement fanned his dark hair against the bedclothes, and Arwen deliberately resisted the urge to touch it.
"They spend so much time away," she went on, shifting her tone subtly. "I suppose hunting enemies must fill the majority of their time, but I worry for them, you know. Life in the wild is so stark; they must lack horribly for, ah, entertainment."
He would be anticipating her question now, she knew, so she lingered on the moment, let him awaken fully before she drew him down this path.
"And my love also wandered long alone." She gave in and touched that hair, mussed on the linens with her own, and drew it between her fingers. "How did that ranger entertain himself, hmm?"
Aragorn's eyes remained hooded, but his lips curved slightly.
"Did he sing to the fine accompaniment of rivulets and birds?" she mused. "But no, how typical. This ranger was special; his diversions must have been spectacular."
She feathered her touch behind his ear, drawing a fine strand of hair back behind the lobe, then tracing its course down his throat. She felt his pulse thrum beneath her fingertips.
"Did he challenge the Lindi to feats of archery when he passed through Greenwood?" she asked. "But no, this ranger was a man of the sword." Her voice dipped provocatively on the last word, and she was rewarded with a full smile from her lord.
"Did he outpace a Mearas, just to prove his superior stamina? Or perhaps he rode instead, to ..."
"None of those things," Aragorn growled, covering her hand with his own and opening his eyes at last. "He thought of you always," he told her, his grey eyes bright and unrelenting as the moonlight, "And of this."
And then he reached for her.