How to Seduce a Ranger without Really Trying

by Nefertiti

Disclaimer: No rights are being claimed or exploited financially here.

Feedback: Enthusiastically encouraged.

Author's note: This story arose from the desire to pair these two characters, who are so seldom a couple, in a steamy situation. I also wanted to avoid the conventional depictions of Gandalf as sexually naïve (after 2000 years he hasn't figured it out!?) and Aragorn as experienced. The result is humorous, but not parody. Loosely book-based. The action takes place during the early pages of Chapter II of The Fellowship of the Ring, at some point during Gandalf and Aragorn's long searches for Gollum. All thanks and praise to Elanor, whose expertise and enthusiasm for Gandalf slash convinced me that this little opus was worth giving to the world, and who betaed it as expertly as always-and provided a much better title than I had originally.

The fire was burning low, and finally Aragorn decided that he was not yet sleepy enough to turn in. He rose to his knees and threw a couple of pieces of firewood onto the dying flames, then settled back on his blanket again, leaning against a tree.

He glanced over at Gandalf, who had been smoking his pipe and staring into the fire for over an hour now. He had one leg bent and the other propped on top of the knee, with the foot bobbing up and down nervously. Aragorn knew what was coming next, and he was not happy about it. Sure enough, a few minutes later Gandalf stretched and glanced over at him.

"I think it's about time that I paid the Shire a visit. We have picked up no sign of Gollum for over two months now. It seems pointless for both of us to keep looking for a trail that may be entirely cold by now. I know you have Rangers patrolling the borders of the Shire, but they cannot be everywhere at once. At any rate, I should check on Frodo myself occasionally. If you would be willing to carry on the search alone, I could make the journey, have a look around, and meet you at a specified time in, say, Lórien."

Aragorn felt his stomach tie in a knot. He and Gandalf had been slowly making their way through Mirkwood, zigzagging and moving south for nearly three months now, camping rough the whole time. It was tedious enough with a companion, but alone ... He also knew that Gandalf's interest in the Shire was not wholly protective. It would do no good, but he could not resist registering his disapproval.

"Are you sure you're not going mainly to bed little Hobbit boys?"

Gandalf turned toward him with an indignant frown. "I do not bed 'hobbit boys.' My companions are always grown men, though usually they are fairly young men. I know it is easy to think of Hobbits as children because they are so short and they are often somewhat rustic and hence give the impression of being naive. But I am hardly robbing the cradle, Aragorn."

Aragorn sighed, but tried again. "Be that as it may, surely you must see that you're corrupting these young men."

"Oh, really? I wish you would not impose your prudish attitudes on my behavior. I realize you would have no way of knowing this, but I assure you, in my experience, hobbits are, on the whole, the randiest people on this Middle-earth. What goes on in the fields there would shock you no end."

"Well, I know you are an authority on such things. You must have ample basis for comparisons among the various peoples."

Ignoring the Ranger's disapproving tone, Gandalf replied, "Yes, well, I have of course had many lovers, of both genders, among all the free peoples-except the Dwarves, of course. A close-knit, suspicious lot, Dwarves. I'm sure I've mentioned to you that they have a secret language that they teach to none-not even to me!"

"Only about three hundred times," Aragorn thought, but out loud he said, "You shouldn't be such a perfectionist about things like that."

"I'm not being a perfectionist. It just irks me no end that I should know every language and writing system ever used on this continent-except that one. Very annoying!"

Aragorn sighed again and began to think that perhaps he and Gandalf did need to be apart for a while. Most of the time Gandalf was a wonderful companion--he could not imagine a better-to have on such a long, grueling, and boring search. The wizard seemed to have an infinite stock of tales, mostly true, going back to the beginning of the world, and he was an amazing storyteller. And when he got tired of talking, Aragorn could fill in with stories of his own, and information about the plants and animals around them. Most of their nights sitting by the fire were enjoyable despite the often rugged conditions. But when Gandalf got into this mood, conversation just died or, if sex was involved-and it usually was-it turned to bickering. He knew he should have let it drop, but he couldn't help needling the wizard about it.

Gandalf resumed, "Getting back to the Shire. Do you know why I have so many lovely young hobbits willing, indeed eager to play such games with me? No? Well, in the Shire, couples tend to marry rather late by most standards. Hobbit parents expect their prospective son-in-law to establish a household and be fairly prosperous before they will give the bride away, and that usually takes several years. The very years in which their desires are at their highest pitch. And Shire strictures about pre-marital sex are absolutely rigorous. No young lady would go against them. Result? Lots of wonderfully randy young men looking for an outlet. I assure you, there are quite a few who look forward to my visits. As soon as word goes out that Gandalf has arrived in town, I can be sure that half a dozen of them will soon show up at the Green Dragon. There is quite a cozy back room there, usually used for private banquets and parties." He smiled reminiscently. "Yes, there's nothing like lying back on a big soft sofa, with a supply of good Shire ale and pipeweed, and three or four eager little hobbit mouths moving over your body!"

Aragorn gritted his teeth. He suspected that Gandalf flaunted such things in his face just to shock him. He shook his head. "So you get them drunk and seduce them! Very pretty!"

Gandalf glanced at him coldly. "I do not have to get them drunk, I assure you. Indeed, the fun begins before they've had time to take more than a sip or two. The same thing would happen if we were imbibing nothing but water."

Aragorn was still struggling to rid his mind of the image of Gandalf lying luxuriously and being pleasured by four hobbits. He decided to change the subject, though he quickly realized that he had not changed it all that much.

"I suppose you will stop in Rivendell going and returning."

Gandalf smiled-almost a smirk, his companion would have said. "Yes, well, that will be very pleasant too, in many ways."

"And you'll have a different Elf in your bed every night, I suppose."

"Of course. What do you expect? I'm hardly going to resist a gorgeous Elf who wants to join me. And I don't sleep with the same one twice until all have had their turn. I can't play favorites."

"Why not?" asked Aragorn, intrigued despite his disapproval.

Gandalf hesitated. "Well, I must say I feel rather complimented that so many of those beautiful people should want to lie with an old man like me. But they do, quite eagerly. In fact, I don't like to choose each evening, because it would hurt the others' feelings. I leave it to them to decide. I gather they have worked out some sort of system among themselves. I don't know how it works, but it seems to avoid quarrels."

Aragorn shook his head slightly, his lips pressed together. But he could not resist asking, "Not to impugn your allure, but can you explain why they are all so eager to join you at night?"

Gandalf laughed. "Well, I don't consider myself an egotistical person, but I don't believe in false modesty either. First of all, I may say that I am fairly well-endowed compared to most men. 'One of the advantages of being a wizard,' is what I tell my pleasantly surprised bedmates." He paused, thoughtfully, then went on: "Actually, I don't know if that is really true. I've never had occasion to compare my member with that of Radagast or Saruman, let alone the two blue wizards. I wonder where those two ever ended up. Came to no good end out east, I imagine. And secondly, having had about two thousand years of experience, I know how to use what I've got. I'm told I have quite a reputation for my prowess in bed. Perhaps they're just trying to flatter me, but I like to think that that accounts for the fact that I never need sleep alone at Rivendell-or at Lórien, for that matter."

"Does Elrond approve of your bedding so many of his people? It seems unlike him."

"True enough. Yes, Elrond is quite straight-laced. I doubt he's had an erection since poor Celebrian left on her tragic journey to Lórien and then into the Uttermost West. Being faithful to her, no doubt, and all credit to him, say I. I suppose you get your prudish attitude about the human body from having him as a foster father. Elrond is perfectly aware, of course, of how I spend my evenings in Rivendell. I don't keep secrets from him. He certainly doesn't approve, but he tolerates it-especially since so many of his Elves heartily DO approve of it. I believe he thinks I'm a hopeless case, but we're such close friends and colleagues that he can't just throw me out. Speaking of Rivendell and your upbringing. You're nearly 80 years old. Can you sit there and tell me in earnest that in all that time you have never had sex with anyone?"

Aragorn tried not to feel embarrassed by his admission, "No, never." It was nothing to be ashamed of.

Gandalf stared at him with a little frown. "But you're a healthy, fit man. In your youth you were extremely handsome. Even now, after all these years of an rugged life, you're very good-looking, especially when you get a chance a clean up, get your hair cut, and so on. Surely you've had many, many opportunities. You must have the same urges that virtually everyone has. Am I wrong?"

Aragorn blushed, wishing that they had stayed on the disgusting but undeniably interesting sex life of the wizard and kept away from this topic. He reluctantly replied with as much dignity as he could muster, "Yes, of course I do. I try to suppress them, but they're certainly there."

Gandalf looked pityingly at him. "What do you do then, when such urges strike you?"

Mutely Aragorn held up his open hand, curled it, and made a graphic pumping gesture, looking at Gandalf with a wry little smile.

Gandalf clicked his tongue and shook his head slowly. "I simply cannot fathom it."

"Well, I'm sure you have to resort to that yourself once in a while. You certainly have plenty of urges, and you're out on the road by yourself, or with only me, for long stretches of time."

"Don't I know it!" said Gandalf ruefully. "Still, I try to avoid that method as much as possible. Frankly, I find solitary sex both depressing and ultimately unsatisfying. Certainly it provides a brief respite from unbearably pent-up desire, and there are times one simply can't continue without resorting to it. Most of the time, though, I'd rather just go on feeling randy and build up to a really magnificent release when I get back to civilization. I can't picture decades of going without the real thing. But seriously, you haven't even been with Arwen in that way?"

Aragorn sat up indignantly. "Of course not!" he said hotly. "I shall do the honorable thing and wait until we are married. Apart from everything else, I could hardly abuse Elrond's kindness in that way."

Gandalf rolled his eyes and muttered, "I only hope that when the heir to the throne of Gondor gains his throne and his bride, he will know how to get an heir of his own."

Aragorn glanced at him with a frown but decided it was not worth deigning to reply. Suddenly a terrible thought occurred to him and he went white. "Surely ... surely you have not ... touched Arwen!" His throat felt dry.

Gandalf looked at him in blank surprise. "Of course not! Nor Elladan and Elrohir. It would be a poor return to my host to lie with his children, especially given his attitude toward such things in general. And I have long known that Arwen is to be yours. I have never and would never touch her or even think of her in that way!" He snorted and added, "I suppose you believe me capable of anything when it comes to sex, but really, I do make very careful distinctions about whom I will and will not take to bed. I honestly consider that in my own way I am as moral as you are. I don't seduce married people, or coerce anyone against his or her will, or use lies or drink to get any one into bed, or, I should emphasize, corrupt children. I only sleep with adults who want it, and believe me, there are plenty to chose from-when one is in populated areas of course. Out here, obviously it's hopeless." He fell silent, bouncing his foot up and down once more.

There was a long pause. This was not the first time that the pair had had a conversation like this, though tonight they had probed Aragorn's own habits more closely than he liked. At least he had nothing to be ashamed of, he thought-unlike the wizard, who seemed utterly unrepentant about his activities. And he returned to the dreary thought of long nights by the campfire alone, without the wizard's companionship. If only there were more settlements in the areas where they were forced to wander. Or if there were someone else with them who shared Gandalf's attitude toward such things-though he realized that it was rather inconsistent of him to disapprove of Gandalf's outlook and then to think that another such person would be good to have with them.

Aragorn glanced over at the wizard out of the corner of his eye. Gandalf was again staring at the fire, leaning in a relaxed fashion against the tree trunk. Ordinarily he seemed capable of sitting still and thinking for any length of time. Presumably at his age and with his incredible mind, he could summon up all sorts of thoughts or memories to occupy himself. Aragorn wished he had that capacity. He had run over his memories of times with Arwen and his dreams of their life to come so often that they had ceased to hold his mind. Most of his life in the Wild provided little worth reminiscing over. He wondered what Gandalf was thinking about.

Then another horrible thought flashed into his head. He began to breathe more heavily. He dreaded to ask the question, yet he felt he had to know the answer. "Gandalf ... have you ever thought of me in that way?" The whole idea was so alien that it had never occurred to him before.

Gandalf looked at him with worry in his face. "I think we should either change the subject or remain silent."

"That means you have! Doesn't it?"

"It doesn't mean that at all! It just means that it's a silly question, and I refuse to talk about it. It will only lead to unpleasantness. Please, Aragorn, drop it!"

"I can't. I must know!"

Gandalf pressed his lips together and let out a long sigh through his nose. After a while he said, "All right. I will tell you, though I hardly think it will please you. When I first met you, I found you very attractive, and yes, the thought of lying with you definitely occurred to me. But I knew that you were, if only by adoption, a member of Elrond's family. Besides, I quickly realized that any overtures of that sort would repel you, and I wanted you as a friend more than as a lover. I tried to put all such thoughts out of my mind, and over time, I succeeded. I do not think of you in that way, truly." Gandalf paused, then said exasperatedly, "At least, I didn't until you brought up the subject! Now I'm afraid I'm very much thinking about it, and I do not want to. My current sex life, or lack thereof, is frustrating enough as it is. So can we drop the subject? I shall try my very utmost to turn my mind to something entirely different."

Aragorn did not reply. He was not sure how he felt about Gandalf's revelation. He supposed it was good, in a way. He appreciated his friend's efforts-successful, apparently-to keep that disgusting part of his life entirely away from Aragorn. The fact that Gandalf had once lusted after him was not that important, after all. It was long ago. He tried, as the wizard had asked, to forget the subject and think of something else.

As he tried to do so, however, a very different sort of idea crossed his mind. He frowned and struggled to forget it, but it would not leave him alone. He was here to help Gandalf, he reluctantly told himself. The wizard was trying, among his many great strategies, to bring him into his regal inheritance. Gandalf had done such marvelous things for the peoples of Middle-earth and lived such a grim life out on the road much of the time. Perhaps it was his duty to help ease Gandalf's longings and allow him to concentrate on the important tasks at hand. It might even keep him away from those poor little hobbits. Perhaps if he did not actively participate in or enjoy the process, he would not be doing anything terribly wrong or betraying Arwen. He certainly did not think he could enjoy any part of such an activity, which from what he had heard was often quite unpleasant, even painful. Still, the more he thought, the more he suspected that if he was really unselfish, he would at least offer himself to Gandalf. He swallowed hard and tried to speak, but he could not.

Suddenly the wizard stood up. "As I feared, all this thinking about the pleasures of the Shire and Rivendell, and your talk about, well, similar things, has left me with an erection that refuses to go away. I cannot seem to force my mind in other directions. I think, if you will excuse me, I will take a little walk in the woods and resort to that activity which, as you observed, is occasionally unavoidable."

As the wizard turned away, Aragorn realized that his scolding of Gandalf had had the opposite effect to what he had intended. It was all his fault. He took a deep breath and at last blurted out, "Gandalf?" The wizard turned, raising his eyebrows inquiringly. "Aragorn, whatever it is, can't it wait? Because what I need to do can't." He glanced downward, and Aragorn saw a bulge below the wizard's belly, visible despite the loose cloak he wore over his clothes.

"I am sorry to have caused you this problem. I ... I ... well, if it will help you, I would let you do what you wish to me. I do not want you to be diverted from your important tasks by-by unfulfilled desires." He blushed and looked down, hoping that the wizard would reject his offer.

Gandalf stared at him, a frown bringing his great brows down to shade his deep-set eyes. For once he seemed at a loss for words. Finally he said with great deliberation, "I appreciate the offer. I'm sure it took you a great deal of effort to make it. But no, thank you. As I said, I only take those who are willing. I don't relish the prospect of fucking a man who's just lying there, hoping I'll finish as quickly as possible. I consider that I do things with people, not to them." He paused, then went on. "Well, at least this bizarre turn in the conversation is having one desirable effect: my erection is fast disappearing, so I don't need to take my little walk in the woods after all."

There was another long silence. Gandalf stood staring down into the fire again. Aragorn sighed. Nothing he said tonight seemed to have the desired effect, yet he had had such good intentions. He decided to make one last attempt. "I ... suppose ... we could just try a bit and see if I like it."

Gandalf froze, staring at Aragorn for what seemed an eternity. In the flickering firelight Aragorn could not be sure, but he thought a tiny smile flitted across the wizard's face. He walked slowly over and knelt by Aragorn, looking keenly into his face. "Are you sure you want to make such an experiment?"

Aragorn replied slowly, not meeting his eyes, "I feel I've caused you problems tonight. I suppose I can make this test, for your sake. I want to think that I at least tried."

"For my sake?" Gandalf asked, again with that strange, fleeting smile. "Well, I suppose then we could try just a little." He paused, and his face became more serious than it had been since the conversation began. "But whatever happens, Aragorn, I assure you that our friendship is vastly more important to me than any physical pleasure could be. Promise me that if what we are doing repels you, you will let me know. We can stop and put it behind us as a bit of kindness on your part that went awry."

Aragorn smiled at him. "I could never lose my feelings of friendship toward you, Gandalf. It is because of that friendship that I want to give you what you obviously need. Ordinarily I would never consent to such a thing."

Gandalf nodded. "I know, it's a great sacrifice on your part. Well ... as I say, I have always thought you a very attractive man." He stroked Aragorn's hand and hesitated for a long moment, then leaned over to place his lips lightly on Aragorn's. At first he moved them very gently. Aragorn had no intention of responding, so he simply relaxed his lips and let the wizard guide the kiss. The process was not particularly unpleasant, he was relieved to find. It did not excite him, but it was tolerable. Gandalf drew back slightly to gauge Aragorn's reaction, since the passive lips told him nothing. Aragorn managed a small smile, and thus encouraged, Gandalf resumed the tentative kiss.

After a short time, Aragorn tensed as he felt the tip of Gandalf's tongue poke rather insistently at his lips. He let it slip inside, stifling his instinctive desire to draw back. Gandalf was beginning to breath more quickly and deeply as he carefully explored the moist areas of Aragorn's lips, his teeth, and eventually his tongue. His hand, which had been cupping the side of Aragorn's head, slid to the back of his neck and pulled his head forward, deepening the kiss, delving more confidently back into Aragorn's mouth, until his tongue seemed to the Ranger to be filling it. The wizard gave a low moan of arousal, and Aragorn realized that if he was going to refuse to go on with this, it would have to be soon. Then he remembered that when Gandalf had walked over to him, he probably still had the remains of what had been a painfully hard erection. Perhaps if he allowed Gandalf to continue, the whole thing would be over very quickly anyway, and he could relieve his friend without too much trouble for himself. He would give the experiment a little more time.

A short while later, however, he realized with a shock that the idea of stopping had slipped away, and he was concentrating all his attention on the small movements of Gandalf's mouth. There seemed to be no reason why they should be particularly pleasurable, and yet he found himself wondering what it would feel like to suck on Gandalf's tongue. He tried and distinctly felt his cock stir. He was so upset that he nearly pulled away, but somehow he failed to push back against the wizard's hand to escape that eager mouth. His own breathing was coming faster. Without warning he felt Gandalf's fingers brush across the growing bulge in his trousers, and he squirmed, shocked that the touch has sent such a jolt of pleasure through him.

Gandalf pulled his mouth away from Aragorn's, gazing down into the Man's slack face. He moved his arm down around Aragorn's shoulders, so that the Ranger could relax his head backward. Aragorn opened his eyes, trembling both with the confusion of his own unexpected response and with the desire for Gandalf to guide his body further toward the bliss promised by the wizard's initial caresses. Gandalf's face held no trace of triumph or amusement at his easy surrender-only attentive and tender affection. Aragorn suddenly abandoned any pretense at resistance. He wholly gave his body up to the wizard, clumsily pulling Gandalf against himself. "Please, Gandalf, please," he murmured hoarsely in the wizard's ear, not knowing exactly what he was begging for-just more of the feelings that Gandalf's fingers were eliciting as they stroked his bulging trouser-front.

Gandalf leaned in to kiss him, quickly and insistently, moving down his cheeks to his neck. Aragorn melted as he felt the wet, open lips stroking him expertly. When the wizard moved up to tongue his ear, he bucked and thrust his growing erection repeatedly against the wizard's hand. Stroking the thickening shaft a bit harder, Gandalf breathed a little puff of amusement into his wet ear: "Excellent instincts. It is going to be an enormous joy to show you the many sorts of delights we can give each other. But right now, I think most of all we both need immediate relief. Later we can concentrate on the niceties. Pardon my skipping the appetizers and going straight to the main course."

With that he pulled away from Aragorn, who shifted and settled himself against the roots of the tree, moving his hips restlessly and longing for Gandalf to touch him again. Quickly the wizard unfastened the laces that crisscrossed the front of his trousers. These were already strained by the engorged cock inside. Gandalf pulled the loosened cloth down and drew Aragorn's fully rampant penis out. "Beautiful," he murmured, stroking it lightly with his fingers as he explored its swollen, knobby veins and quivering tip. As he applied his parted lips to it, Aragorn whimpered an inarticulate plea. Gandalf smiled and suddenly took the entire head of Aragorn's member into his mouth, pushing his lips down about an inch beyond it and sucking hard. His fingers stroked the pulsing shaft, and within seconds Aragorn quivered and gave a loud series of groans, erupting in his mouth. Gandalf could not swallow fast enough, and part of the hot liquid oozed out around his lips and dribbled down the shaft. The wizard struggled to hold his partner's hips against the ground and keep his mouth on the cock as Aragorn thrashed. At last the spasms of his climax ceased, and he lay gasping, his body gradually drifting into a state of blissful afterglow. Breathing slowly and deliberately, Gandalf rose slightly to kneel and sit back on his heels, rocking slightly as he sought to contain his own aching need until Aragorn recovered a bit. At last the man opened his eyes and smiled sheepishly up at Gandalf. "A bit better than this?" the wizard inquired, replicating Aragorn's little pumping pantomime. Aragorn laughed briefly and ruefully. "There's no comparison," he managed to whisper, feeling his heartbeat slowing. He added reluctantly, "I feel like such a fool. I'm so sorry-"

"No need to apologize--my dear fellow," Gandalf said, pausing between phrases to inhale deeply. "Just-if you don't mind-could you do the same for me-quickly?" He hastily unfastened his own trousers and switched places with Aragorn, watching with breathless amusement as the man rather clumsily but eagerly pulled out the wizard's swollen, purple cock. He gingerly placed his hands around the shaft and hesitated. "I'm not sure ..." he began.

"Anything you do, short of biting, will no doubt be welcome," Gandalf whispered, and lay back against the tree roots, his eyes closed. Aragorn cautiously licked the tip, and encouraged by Gandalf's harsh moan, he kissed and stroked the shaft, flicking at its rough, pounding veins with his tongue. He remembered how sensitive the ridge on the underside of his own penis was, and he slid his hard, pointed tongue tip up and down that part of the wizard's shaft. "Yes!" Gandalf gasped, and Aragorn unexpectedly found himself filled with the joy of being able to give another man this much pleasure. His tongue moved faster and harder, while he pulled on the tip with one hand and squeezed the base with the other. Soon a long jet of cum soared into the branches above, dripping down on them from the leaves as the following spurts gradually lessened and fell onto Gandalf's belly and Aragorn's hair. Startled, Aragorn moved away, his mouth and hands abruptly leaving Gandalf's erection, which was still leaking white drops in its final spasms. Gandalf quickly opened his eyes, and he thought in the midst of the pleasurable haze that had overwhelmed him, "I must tell Aragorn not to stop quite so abruptly-and to take note of his aim!" He relaxed as the last tremors of pleasure drained away, and he reflected, "Still, not bad for a first try. Not at all bad. No ... not at all ...bad." He shook his head to dispel the post-coital drowsiness that was creeping over him and moved to the side of Aragorn's blanket-a somewhat sticky blanket, he realized too late-and pulled the man down beside him. As their passion ebbed, they began to feel the evening chill, and Aragorn stretched over to pull Gandalf's blanket over them. Gandalf started to stroke Aragorn's hair and stopped as he encountered the congealing drops there as well.

"Lesson number one," he said, "or perhaps we're up to more like Lesson 3 or 4 by now. It does matter in which direction you're pointing that-" he gestured downward-"at the crucial moment."

"Lesson learned," Aragorn said sincerely, using a corner of his blanket to swab a moist streak from his face. There was a pause during which Gandalf sighed contentedly and closed his eyes, stroking Aragorn's shoulder lazily with his fingertips. Aragorn's bliss had receded a bit, and he began to feel acutely embarrassed.



"I am so very sorry that all this time I've-"

"No! No. No apologies. I ... well, I would like to be able to say that I admired your principles, but let's just say I respected your determination to stick to them. But let's forget all that. We have a great deal of lost time to make up for." His fingers stopped stroking for a moment, and he opened his eyes. "I'm assuming you're not going to have any scruples about doing this again. Because I assure you, after a little while I'm certainly going to be ready-"

"Don't worry! You have convinced me in the most compelling way possible." He smiled as Gandalf muttered, "I suspect I can find even more compelling arguments." Aragorn went on, "Now I am beginning to get an inkling of why the Elves vie with each other to share your bed. But perhaps you can demonstrate a bit more about why you fascinate them so." He brushed his lips against Gandalf's ear. The wizard hastily wiped a complacent smirk off his face. There was another pause as his fingers resumed their movements on Aragorn's shoulder.

"The next thing we should do," the wizard said cheerfully, "is test your recovery time."

"Recovery time? What do you mean?"

The wizard grinned and looked into his eyes with great affection. "You have much to learn, young man, and I am just the wizard to teach it to you."