Here’s a little bit of Aragorn/Arwen fluff inspired by a photo of Viggo Mortensen making the rounds over at FB (link below). Enjoy!
(beta: Linda Hoyland, Kaylee Arafinwiel)
“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.” (Garrison Keillor)
Aragorn stepped out of the bathing-room draped in drying cloths, reveling in the feeling of being so thoroughly clean. The walls of Minas Tirith reflected the sun’s harsh rays until the whole city seemed to smolder like a greenhouse, leaving him sweat-slicked and gritty by noon. But now the sun was set and, though the night was given over to a state dinner that promised to be a dull affair, he might catch a few moments of evening breeze in the garden yet.
He turned around at the unexpected sound and saw Yairë (his young daughter had been so proud of her growing Quenya vocabulary, she had not considered the inanity of naming her new pet “Cat”) perched atop the clothespress. More precisely, atop the black tunic he was expected to wear that evening. The one fashioned from the bolt of silk the Haradric emissary had brought as tribute, and that had been his ticket out of the normal wool that courtly fashion typically required.
Grumbling to himself, he lunged toward the clothespress, but Yairë jumped over his shoulder and landed half off the bed behind him. He gave a pitiful myap, clawing at the blanket until he and it fell into a heap on the floor. Aragorn couldn’t help but smile at that. Yairë disentangled himself from the mass of bedclothes, gracefully jumped onto the bed, and set himself down in its center as if this were his rightful place.
Aragorn bent down and investigated the tunic Yairë had abandoned. Not only was it covered in the fine white hairs from the cat’s underbelly – seemingly the only fur he ever shed, and a fine contrast to the black worn by all king’s men, including the king himself – but Yairë had clawed straight through the thread binding sleeve to torso so the left side flapped open in the back. Shaking his head, he kneeled down on the bedclothes in front of Yairë and grasped him under his chin, running his thumb affectionately behind the cat’s ear. “You are entirely more trouble, than you are worth, do you know that?” Yairë merely purred, either oblivious to the trouble he had caused or (like most cats) simply above caring.
Arwen, appearing in the doorway that joined their chambers, looked quizzically at her husband. “Who are you talking to?” she asked.
Aragorn jerked his head toward Yairë. “This little spawn of Berúthiel,” he said. “Remind me, why did we ever allow Faramir to foist him on us?”
Arwen chuckled at that. “‘Twas Éowyn’s doing, and she hardly gave you much choice in the matter. Something about no house being truly civilized without a first-rate mouser in the grounds. She put it as a matter of respect to her heritage, if my memory is not amiss.”
Aragorn snorted at the thought of the House of the Kings needing any such effort. But really, it was best to let Éowyn have her way with such things. And Gilbereth was genuinely fond of Yairë, a fact that had genuinely irked the court minister tasked with ordering his family’s public appearances. “Perhaps I should wear the tunic tonight as it is, torn seam and all. That would likely drive Mardil up a tree..”
Arwen inspected the garment. “It’s serviceable, but you’ll only rip it further if you try to wear it as it is,” she said. She traced her finger through the fur Yairë had left behind, working it into the pattern of the breast insignia. “What do you think he would say if the Tree of Elendil acquired a few more branches?”
“Perish the thought!” Aragorn said with a chuckle. “You are like to give the man a seizure, and with our luck we might end up with someone worse.
“Perhaps,” Arwen said, setting her face in a mask that someone who knew her less well might have mistaken for sincerity and focus on the task at hand. “Well, you might rip off both the sleeves and go bare-armed at the feast.” Aragorn swallowed a laugh at that thought. Reaching down, she pulled Aragorn to his feet and ran her thumb along his cheek. “Or you might wear that awful tunic of silver and white Galadriel put you in when you first came to Lothlórien. Do you remember? Those colors might have suited Grandfather, but by the stars, they did you no favors!”
Aragorn breathed in deeply, reveling in the way the smell of the garden outside mixed with Arwen’s own special scents. “Forget a seizure; Mardil would defect to Rhûn.” He took a step toward her and replaced his thumb with a tender kiss. “And if I turn up wearing silk out of Lothlórien rather than Harad I just might start a war.”
Arwen turned his face so this time he kissed her lips. “Heavy lies the head that wears the crown,” she said softly. “Or, perhaps, you could wear one of the many wool tunics in your bureau.”
“That would be the grown-up thing to do,” Aragorn admitted. “But I was looking forward to an evening without wilting under what Mardil considers appropriate attire. We sons of the North were not made for such climes.” Cocking an eyebrow, he gave Arwen his most winning grin. “Are you sure it’s not too late to elope?”
“You knew well my father’s terms all those years ago,” she said, tussling his hair playfully. “As for the feast, I will just have to distract you as best I can.”
“That will do little to keep me cool.”
“With my wit, then. Mardil will be less likely to do himself injury in that case.” Then, turning away, she scooped up the cat and made for the door.
“And just where do you think you’re off to?” Aragorn called out to her.
“To find your manservant,” she answered. “Your new tunic won’t press itself, you know.”
Unable to argue with that logic, Aragorn went off to dry his hair.
This story is based on a recent photograph shared through the FaceBook page Viggo Mortensen’s art. As beautiful as it is on its own, it got me thinking about how Aragorn might relate to a cat. This story is complete fluff built around that image. Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; etc.
Thank you to Linda Hoyland and Kaylee Arafinwiel for reading it over before I posted, and to Linda Hoyland for kindly sharing her OC Mardil with me.