Title: No Rest for the Weary
Author: Marethiel
Rating: G
Characters: Aragorn, Halbarad, and a few other disgruntled Rangers…
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, drat it. Many thanks to Professor Tolkien for creating these wonderful souls to populate my imagination.

-~oo0oo~-

Despite the bitter cold, the camp was sparsely populated. One man, wrapped closely in his cloak and wound in his bedroll, lay close to the fire, tossing restless as he sought sleep. The others of the company were dotted around the edges of the camp, either reluctant to disturb the Ranger tossing in his bedroll, or more willing to be cold than lay within his range. From his post by the trees, guarding the man, another stood, shaking his head. Honestly, a Dwarf could not be so stubborn…

He watched the weary man try to relax, managing it for a few minutes, only to end up wincing in discomfort and shifting his left leg. This has been left too long! the guard thought in exasperation. He glanced toward the other bedrolls, catching the eyes of a couple of the men, all insistently nodding him toward their miserable comrade by the fire. He threw up his hands in frustration, then rubbed cold hands over his tired eyes. This had to stop, now. Carefully, quietly, he walked closer to the fire. He squatted down as though ignoring the other there completely, merely present to warm his hands.

The man lying down ignored him for a moment; then, when it became clear he wasn't going away, he let out an annoyed, I'm-trying-to-be-patient breath, and slowly opened his tired, circled eyes, his smoldering, molten-silver gaze attempting to stab through the dark eyes of his comrade.

There was an uneasy silence as the dark eyes held the gaze of the other. A drawn breath. "Aragorn -- "

"Not a word, Halbarad, I'm warning you."

"Please, Cousin, hear me out – "

"There is absolutely no reason to involve Lord Elrond in this!"

Groans of frustration were heard all around the camp as the other men irritably rolled over, pounding their pillows into submission.

"By the Valar, you do growl so when you're uncomfortable…" Halbarad observed.

"Halbarad!!"

"Oh, relax, Mighty Chieftain!" Amusement filled the voice, rather than cowed abasement. "You have done all you can. You've rested it; you've treated it. It requires surgery, Aragorn, and Rivendell is less than two hours' ride from here." Halbarad leaned in a little closer, his voice soft so that none but the angry, frustrated man, wincing in discomfort, could hear. "Elrond will think no less of you for needing help."

The response was non-verbal… more like a warg's growl. Halbarad chuckled.

"It is not that serious. I'll soak it – "

"As you've done for a week."

An infinitely patient drawn-in breath… Words spat from clenched teeth... "I will SOAK it… with herbs!... and trim it-"

"Ah, that's true… you've only done that for two months!"

"Halbarad!"

"Enough!" Halbarad shot to his feet, hands on his hips, eyes blazing at his Chieftain. "For the sake of your men who cannot bear your temper any longer and who want some rest, even if YOU apparently do not, will you please go see Elrond and let him take care of that ingrown toenail?!"

- End