TITLE: "Pebbles & Embers" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
EMAIL: mc@fangy.net
RATING: PG
PAIRING: Aragorn/Legolas
SUMMARY: Stupid elves and their perfect aim. Hmph.

* * *


It was easy to remain alert and watch over the company as they slept soundly, wrapped in their cloaks around the small fire. He could also let himself be soothed by the breathing embers, how they glowed and faded and glowed again, like living things, little suns on the forest floor, nestled into cozy darkness. Aragorn allowed himself to be enthralled by their quiet rhythm, one he could find if he looked long enough.

It was easy, really. No matter how hard he made it.

He felt the elf's gaze bore into his back from somewhere a bit to his left, by the large two-trunk tree. Legolas had posted himself there the moment they had stopped for the night and hadn't moved since, not even for the late supper Samwise Gamgee had concocted from, it seemed, next to nothing. Aragorn had filled a bowl and had brought it to him, his wordless amusement dancing in his eyes.

The hobbits had fallen one by one, instinctively nesting together in a small lump of wool and curls. Pippin snored lightly into Merry's back; next to them, Frodo shifted restlessly against Sam, but did not rouse from his agitated sleep. A few feet away, Gimli slept like the dead.

Aragorn drew his knees up and clutched the thin blanket more tightly around himself, resuming his quiet vigil.

The first pebble bounced off his shoulder with a small 'ptt'. Aragorn blew stray hair out of his eyes, but ignored the beckoning. The embers glowed indifferently.

The second pebble came moments later, flicked by a delicate wrist at his sore back, a few inches below and to the left of the previous mark. Aragorn counted the hobbits - one, two, three, four - and then he counted them again for good measure, and did his best at disregarding the game played out across his back.

By the third pebble, thrown with flawless aim at the top of his spine, Aragorn caught on. He smiled, and waited silently for the fourth.

The small projectile nicked the leather at the base of his neck, precisely where anticipated, completing the pattern. The same pattern his skilled fingers would trace - shoulder, back, spine, neck - to then be replaced, invariably, by the softest of mouths, mapping its way back with knowing brushes of lips on bare, scarred skin.

Aragorn stared at the embers without really seeing them, and his next breath came out less steady than he intended. He wondered what would come next, but did not hazard a guess.

A moment passed, then another.

Then a fat pinecone caught him in the back of the head, taking him off-guard and knocking a few wisps of stringy hair from behind his ear. His eyes went wide and he sprung to his feet, sword and dagger clanging ominously against worn leather as he crossed, with a few short strides, the distance separating him from the smiling creature crouched elegantly against rough bark.

A handful of pebbles fell in the dust, forgotten.



END