These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
With thanks to Virtuella and Raksha.
Aragorn patiently bounced his son on his knee for what felt like the hundredth time that evening. Playing with Eldarion had seemed like a good idea an hour ago. Now, his aching arms told a different story.
"You are making him too excited before his bedtime!" Arwen complained.
Aragorn nodded. He smiled gratefully at his wife and prepared to hand over the child to her. The little boy scampered towards his toys.
"I need to finish a tapestry I am working on," said the Queen. "I was hoping you would tell Eldarion his bedtime story tonight."
"Yes, my love," Aragorn said obediently, abandoning hope of a restful glass of wine on the balcony while he watched the sunset.
"Ada, tell me about Smaug, please," demanded Eldarion.
"I told you that story yesterday," said Aragorn.
"Smaug likes hearing it!" insisted the child, waving his toy dragon in the air.
Sighing, Aragorn dutifully complied.
Worn out by the evening's labours, Aragorn slept soundly. When he awoke the next morning he wondered, not for the first time, why sitting at a desk signing papers, or amusing a small child, was far more exhausting than tramping the wilds and fighting Orcs by the dozen. He was still pondering the matter when he went to his study to begin his duties for the day.
"The trade agreement with Rhûn needs your approval, sire," said Aragorn's secretary after bidding him good morning. "Then the Council request your views on the land dispute in Lamedon, and I was hoping you could study the plans for the new North road and the improvements to the housing in the Sixth Circle."
"Is there anything else?" asked Aragorn.
"Well, if you have time, sire, there is the question of grain tariffs and the celebrations for…"
"I think I have quite enough to occupy me for one morning," said Aragorn dryly.
As the man was leaving, Faramir entered carrying a bundle of papers.
"Not more paperwork!" the King snapped.
"What ails you, my friend?" asked Faramir in alarm.
"I am sorry, mellon nîn," said Aragorn contritely. "There are just some days I wish I were a Ranger living in the wilds again. On a day like this, I would sometimes sit beside a stream and hope to catch a plump trout to eat." He laughed ruefully. "Many times there were no fish in the stream and I would go hungry. Now I have a full belly, but feel at times that I live in a gilded cage! Even when the day's duties are done, I find no rest, as I must endeavour to be a good husband and father. I love my wife and son dearly, but there are times when I crave an hour's solitude."
Faramir nodded sympathetically. "I spent yesterday evening being told by Elestelle that I could not make a proper daisy chain while Éowyn was scolding me for not remembering the name of a foal that was born last week! Then this morning, my desk is piled high with documents needing my attention. There are times I yearn for the freedom of the wilds too." He seated himself morosely at his desk. "Still, I should not grumble, there is work to do!"
Instead of settling at his own desk, Aragorn wandered over to the window and looked out over the sunlit City. "Am I not King?" he asked suddenly, turning to face Faramir with a rascally gleam in his grey eyes. He scribbled a note and placed it on his desk.
"Of course you are." Faramir sounded baffled.
"When did we last have a day to ourselves?"
"I think it was about two months ago," said Faramir. "I cannot quite recall."
"Am I a prisoner here, or are you?"
"No, of course not, but…"
"Then let us away!" Aragorn exclaimed, clapping his friend on the shoulder. "The work can wait until later. I will send a servant to inform Arwen where we are. Two former Rangers should be able to escape unobserved!"
At first Faramir looked doubtful then he pushed his own papers to one side. "Let us see if we can evade the guards," he said and grinned at the King.
Stealthily, King and Steward made their way to Aragorn's room where the King changed into his oldest clothes and Elven cloak. He lent Faramir similar garb from his own wardrobe. The two friends crept out of the Citadel and made their way to the stables. Waving aside the grooms' offers to help they swiftly saddled their horses and rode away.
Carrying another sheaf of papers, Aragorn's secretary knocked on the door of the King's study.
"My lords?" he called. Getting no response, he entered the office. There was no sign of either King or Steward. A note lay on the King's desk. It read simply "Gone Fishing."
"Carefully Taught" has been updated on this site.