Title: Colds and Birthday Blues
Author: multithreading
Rating: K
Summary: To Legolas' amusement, Aragorn falls ill. However, once he recovers, he's determined to seek revenge. Fortunately heirs of Isildur are quite competent at that task.

Aragorn felt terrible. His head pounded something fierce, his torso and forehead were burning with fever as though a Balrog of Morgoth had decided to take up residence on his head, his hands and feet were bitterly cold, and his limbs were heavy as lead.

In the name of the Valar, how was it possible for him to be shivering uncontrollably one moment and consumed by fiery waves the next? Aragorn grimaced. He speculatively eyed the glass of water Elrond had left by his bedside, but he doubted he could summon the energy to actually sit up, reach for the glass of water, and bring it to his chapped lips without spilling the contents.

He really doubted it.

He'd make a fool of himself it he spilled the water.

But he was really, really thirsty.

Dehydration defeated reason. With trembling fingers, Aragorn gathered what little strength remained in his limbs and attempted to pull himself into an upright position. Through sheer force of will, he managed to sit, his muscles quivering as they were strained to their limits. He leaned against the backboard of the bed, panting heavily. He needed air. Why was the air so unbearably stuffy?

"And what do you think you are doing?"

Aragorn slowly turned his head to see Elrond. The elf lord's brow was knitted in exasperation. "How many times must I tell you this, Estel? You are sick. If you need something, you only need to call."

Aragorn shrugged and attempted to look indifferent. "All I needed was a glass of water," he said. "And it was within my reach, Ada."

"Truly?" Elrond queried. He strode to Aragorn's side, his cool hands resting on Aragorn's brow and shoulders. "Then I invite you to try to reach the water again."

Stubbornly accepting the challenge, Aragorn tried to lift his right arm, but to his mortification, the limb refused to move. Baffled, Aragorn stared at his treacherous arm and attempted again to move it, but other than a half-hearted twitch, the limb did not move.

"Do you not see now?" Elrond said quietly. He laid his hands on Aragorn's arm and cradled it back against his chest. "The illness has left you with little strength."

Reluctantly, Aragorn admitted defeat as the elf lord forced him back into a resting position and brought the glass of cool water to his lips. Aragorn drank greedily, savoring the taste of the sweet water. Once his swollen tongue was somewhat alleviated, he gave a sigh of relief. "Thank you," he said.

"Think nothing of it." Elrond replaced the glass and continued his ministrations, looking into Aragorn's eyes and ears for signs of further infection. "The best thing you can do now is rest, Estel, and mayhap you will be able to rise in two days."

"Two days?" Aragorn tried hard to hide his dismay. "But I am already feeling better!" he said.

The elf lord fired him a frown. "You are an impossible patient."

"I am not!" Belatedly Aragorn cringed, realizing just how immature his words sounded. He was some fifty years of age, accounted an elder in the world of Men. There was something about being in a land of elves that made one feel far younger, Aragorn thought glumly. When he had been a Captain serving the armies of Gondor and Rohan, he had never seen fit to throw temper tantrums, even when many arrows and swords had pierced his limbs.

Elrond merely raised an eyebrow at him. "Two days is generous of me," he said. "And I counsel you to attempt no escape, lest I be forced to chain you to your bed."

"And that, my lord, would be highly amusing."

Both Aragorn and Elrond glowered at the newcomer who had spoken. Legolas Greenleaf, son of Thranduil, stood casually in the doorway, examining his nimble fingers.

Aragorn made a growling noise in the back of his throat. "May I help you, Legolas?" he said.

"It appears you, my friend, are in need of the help," said Legolas, with a cheeky smile. The elven prince sauntered into the room and placed a hand on Aragorn's burning forehead. He tsked. "You burn!"

Aragorn glared at him. "I noticed."

"I will need to break the fever," said Elrond with a smile. The friendship between the two was legendary. "Legolas, would you be so kind to help me?"

"Anything for our dear sick human, my lord Elrond," said Legolas.

Aragorn gave a strangled cough. "My friend, and at the moment I play loosely with that term, if you even think about - "

"Now hush, my poor sick ranger," Legolas said impudently, placing his fingers over Aragorn' mouth. "I am only trying to help you get better."

If Aragorn had the strength to, he might have hit the elf upside the head. He settled instead for attempting to bite Legolas' fingers.

Elrond concealed a snort of laughter with growing difficulty. It warmed his heart to see the camaraderie between the elf and ranger. He was grateful, truly grateful, to Legolas for the friendship and loyalty he provided. And in a more cynical way, Elrond was grateful that Legolas was giving Aragorn a taste of his own medicine. In his youth, Aragorn had driven the elf lord to the brink of insanity and despite popular belief, elves were not above petty thoughts of revenge.

"Honestly, how do you expect to get better if you do not allow me to aid you?" Legolas said in a deceptively hurt voice that fooled no one.

"I fear that if I allow your aid, I will lapse into a coma," said Aragorn.

"You doubt my skills so?"

"Nay, but I doubt your intentions!"

Legolas smiled cherubically and reached for Aragorn's glass of water. "Would you want a drink, my friend?" he said, his wrist rotating the glass tantalizingly before Aragorn's eyes. "I see from your parched mouth that you are thirsty."

"I am not thirsty," Aragorn lied. During a grueling campaign, he had once survived four days in a Haradrim desert without water. If he had done it once before, could he not do it again?

"Of a surety," said Legolas. He tipped his head back and allowed some of the crystal liquid to run down his throat. "Ah," he licked his lips with satisfaction. "That feels good."

Aragorn's glower intensified. "Legolas, I will remember this when Lord Elrond finally releases me from his care," he said.

Legolas adopted a wonderfully innocent expression, one that Elrond had to praise him for. "Have I done you ill? If I do recall, I offered you water but you claimed not to be thirsty. However I, my friend, am thirsty, and therefore partook in some of your water. Never fear, for I shall refill your glass!" With a last smile, he patted Aragorn on the head - provoking a low growl from the ranger - and sprang from the room.

"That was interesting," Elrond mused.

Aragorn turned an exasperated look on him. "Thank you for standing there and refusing to come to my aid," he said.

"You are most welcome." Deliberately the elf lord turned away to mix some athelas plants, thereby gracefully removing himself from Aragorn's glare.

The ranger grimaced at his failed effort to make Elrond feel even the slightest bit of guilt and settled instead for planning revenge against the elven prince. He was so absorbed in his plotting that he did not protest when Elrond forced his mouth open and poured medicine down it. Then slowly, Aragorn sank into sleep, although thoughts of revenge remained.

When he woke, his fever had broken, and Aragorn had a devious idea.


Two weeks later, on the birthday of Legolas Greenleaf:

Legolas was worried. In his thirty years of friendship with the ranger, Legolas had learned the hard way that it never bode well for him when Aragorn had this look on his face, with the airs of one planning great trickery. Although Aragorn's bland expression might fool some, for he was a guile human, Legolas knew the ranger far too well. Doubtless Aragorn was planning something. And it was something quite entertaining too, judging by the minute quirking of Aragorn's lips every now and then.

The elven prince had made it a point to avoid being in the same room as Aragorn. However after several audacious encounters, now he had no choice, for Lord Elrond had insisted upon gathering everybody in the dining hall for a toast to the prince.

Legolas sat in the dining hall with trepidation. It did not aid matters any that Aragorn occasionally flicked his eyes in his direction, each time looking away with a satisfied smile.

"To the prince!" said Elrond and raised his glass.

"To the prince!" the elves of the room intoned.

A true smile sprang onto Aragorn's face. "To the prince," he said, with a deliberate slowness so that his voice was the last to be heard. After taking a gulp of the fair elven cordial, he stood, asking to speak.

A nod from Elrond granted it.

"Friends," Aragorn spread his arms wide. "As many of you know, Prince Legolas and I have often merged our two races' traditions on all sorts of celebrations. Today, I invite you all to be party to another of one of them." His smile broadened.

Legolas began looking for the nearest exit.

Aragorn was making his way towards the prince's seat, his progress being followed by at least two dozen Rivendell elves. "It is customary, for young humans, to be subject to something we reverently call the birthday spanking."

Legolas' eyes snapped open in horror and for a long moment, he could only sit in shock, all thoughts of fleeing overwhelmed with panic. Surely Aragorn jested! There were so many elves around, so many witnesses to the mortification! "Aragorn - " he stammered. "Aragorn, you cannot be serious - "

"Oh but I am," Aragorn was now directly in front of him, smiling nefariously. He lowered his pitch so that nobody save Legolas could hear him. "Do not think to flee or fight me, my friend. There are many watching."

"I noticed!" Legolas leveled the most intimidating glare he could summon at the human. The effect was somewhat tempered by his quivering form.

Aragorn clamped one hand around Legolas' upper arm. "It is customary along humans to deliver one spank for every year the birthday boy possesses . . . and one for to grow on."

"Aragorn!" Legolas hissed, his panic increasing exponentially. "I'm 2931 years old!"

Aragorn nodded solemnly. "Then we better get started," he said. As he forced the prince over the nearest table, to the mirth of all elves present, he allowed another satisfied smile to cross his face.

Elrond, seeing the smile, concluded that heirs of Isildur were also not above petty revenge.

- end -

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