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.
Messin' about on the river
The riverbank was deserted save for two scruffy looking fishermen and a young mother and her child making their way home along the path that ran by the water's edge.
"Keep well away from those men, child," the woman fretted, clutching her young son's hand more tightly. "They look like vagabonds, utterly disreputable!"
The pair hurried swiftly past the two men.
At the water's edge, Faramir lay back lazily on the bank while Aragorn expertly despatched a fat trout. Both men had shed cloaks and tunics in the warm sun. Their shirts, once a pristine white, were now covered in mud, grass stains and fish scales. Their hands and faces were equally dirty, while the wind tangled their hair. Both men felt blissfully happy.
"Good fortune has smiled on us today," said Aragorn. "We have caught sufficient trout to supply the kitchens for several days. I feel hungry now, it must be past the hour for our midday meal."
"We have plenty of fish to eat!" said Faramir. "I will make a fire." He rose to his feet and collected branches. Aragorn then helped him make a cooking pit. They prepared one of the fish and grilled it, then shared it between them.
"Mmm, said Aragorn, licking his lips. "I have not tasted such hearty fare for a long time!"
"I agree," said Faramir." It was delicious! Do not tell the cook though, or he will resign!"
"What could be better than good food and good company?" said Aragorn, savouring his final mouthful of fish.
Faramir nodded his agreement, his mouth too full for speech.
"I remember once in the North catching a huge fish that fed Halbarad and me for two days. These tasted almost as good," Aragorn reminisced as he rinsed his plate in the river.
"Do you remember the trout we caught in the stream on Mount Mindolluin?" asked Faramir. "I recall they were especially plump and tasty."
"How could I forget?" Aragorn replied. "One day, when our duties permit, we must return there." He stuffed their plates and knives in his pack.
"I should like that," said Faramir. "But for today, I am content to be here by the Anduin."
The meal over, the two men felt too full to move. They lay sprawled on the bank in companionable silence watching the dragonflies hovering over the water while kingfishers dived in search of a meal.
All too soon, the sun started to sink.
"We had better return home ere our wives become anxious or angry about our absence," said Faramir, reluctantly sitting up and stretching. "I suggest we had better cleanse our hands and faces before our ladies see us."
Aragorn sighed. "You speak wisely, mellon nîn. Alas that the day sped by so swiftly! I dearly love Arwen and Eldarion. It is just that sometimes I miss the freedom of my old life," he said. He made his way to the water's edge and splashed water on his face and hands. Faramir did likewise.
Aragorn and Faramir stowed the fish safely and donned their cloaks and tunics once more. With a last wistful look at the river, they mounted their horses and rode off in the direction of the City.
By the time the King and Steward had almost reached the City gates they were starting to feel hungry again and returning home seemed a far more agreeable prospect that it had half an hour or so ago.
Aragorn sharply reined in his horse to avoid colliding with a thin and poorly dressed woman who carried a baby. A toddler clutched at her skirts while an older child held her hand. With a pang, Aragorn was reminded that few people were as lucky as he.
"Do you like trout?" he asked the woman impulsively.
"Oh yes, master!" she replied. Aragorn reached for their carefully wrapped catch in his saddlebag. He extracted two fish to show for the day's efforts to their wives, and then gave the rest to the woman, with some surreptitiously placed coins amongst the fish.
"Why, master, thank you!" she exclaimed. "My neighbours and I will dine like kings tonight! May the Valar smile upon you!"
"And may the Valar smile on you and your children too, good lady!" said Aragorn. "I hope you enjoy your meal."
As they neared the Citadel, Aragorn and Faramir became increasingly apprehensive about their wives' reaction to their escapade. They both felt like naughty children who had played truant from the schoolroom.
The two ladies were waiting for their errant husbands in Aragorn's apartment.
"I am so sorry, vanimelda," said Aragorn the moment he say them. "I felt the walls were like a prison this morning and I needed to escape from the City for a few hours."
"I felt I must bear Aragorn company," said Faramir. "I felt badly in need of fresh air too."
To the men's amazement, both their ladies were smiling.
"I did marry a Ranger, my love," said Arwen in response to the King's surprised look. "I am a lucky wife to have you.I understand you need to escape sometimes and are a better husband for it. I trust you have brought some fish for our dinner?"
"Indeed, my beloved," said Aragorn, glad he had kept some of their catch.
"I married a Ranger too," said Éowyn, "and would not have him otherwise. I understand Faramir is needed at the King's side."
Far more contented than they had been when they arose that morning, King and Steward went to prepare for dinner, rejoicing in their good fortune.