Crafting Peace

by Sarah Eleven

Rating: R

Pairing: Gandalf/Aragorn

Summary: Gandalf offers Aragorn some respite from worries and uncertainty.

Beta: Nefertiti

Dedications: For Nefertiti, who inspires me with her insatiable love of the wizard.

The cottage was warm, even though the snow had completely covered it during the night. Except for the chimney hole, no part of it could be seen from outside on the Snowy Mountain, and since the wisps of smoke were precisely the same colour as the drifted snow and frigid air, their presence was undetected by the offensive birds that made passes in the nearby warmer west. Gandalf had assured them that Saruman's scouts, though they searched diligently from the skies, would not find them here.

Aragorn sat quietly fire-gazing in the early morning, glad the others were still sleeping. He was comfortable in the presence of his eight companions, but he was also a man who needed time alone to ponder. The fire warmed him but also calmed and replenished his distraught spirit.

Boromir had troubled him. He wished he knew what measures could ease the Gondorian's spiritual gloom, and what would deter his intent from the dark ambition where that damnable ring was concerned. He was a strong and noble man, but his fears ran deep. Aragorn hoped for the chance to hear his story before this quest was over.

He already knew who was behind it. Denethor, Boromir's father, the Steward of Gondor, who had once been a fair and decent ruler but had gradually fallen into madness since the death of his wife, Findulas. Aragorn had already received the entire account from Gandalf, but knowing the score and making Boromir realize that his father was on the verge of, if not lost to lunacy were two different things.

He sipped at his tea, wishing he had dipped more honey into it, but it was not worth a trip to the kitchen shelves. It was drinkable.

The fire was like the palantir without Saruman's wicked touch at its core. He saw visions in the licking flames, things that had been, things that were, things that might or might not happen in their future. Frightening scenes of Gandalf being pulled from a broken bridge by the fiery whip of a terrifying shadow-creature and plummeting into the abyss, of Boromir, his bleeding body riddled with arrows, of the Nazgul riding dragons, of fire and war, of armies of orcs, of walking trees, and of many other horrors made his heart race. If all these things came to pass, surely they would not survive or be successful.

Then, he saw Gandalf, his face basked in soft light, holding the crown, and Legolas, his long, blond hair unbraided beneath a circlet, smiling at him joyously. He saw himself crowned king, marrying the beautiful Arwen, and bowing to the four hobbits.

Aragorn sighed contentedly. Peace had never been quite within his grasp, but neither had he let his heart wallow in misery. In his long years, he had learned to accept life as it came, to create his own fate by his own strength of labor and to calm himself with knowing he had done his best.

He looked deeper into the fire for more but was drawn away.

"Honey?" Gandalf's soft voice began as if it were part of the dream. After a gentle nudge to his ribs, Aragorn tore his eyes from the fire and looked around to see the wizard was sitting beside him, honey in hand.

Aragorn spent a moment collecting his presence of mind. Finally, he smiled at his old friend and held up his teacup. "Yes, thank you," he said.

Gandalf dipped two spoons of honey into the cup and stirred it for him. "You have powers I was not aware of, Aragorn. The fire favors you."

"Will any of it happen, Gandalf? Are we doomed?"

"I have not the answer," Gandalf set down the honey and wrapped an arm around the ranger's shoulders. "You have the power to foresee, so I suspect that you also have the power to prevent the outcome. This is all up to you, Aragorn."

"I do not wish to lose any of my friends. I love you all dearly. But Frodo's fate troubles me most, because I cannot see it in the fire. I have sworn to protect him. In this quest, it is Frodo's pain that plagues me, not my own."

"That is where you are flawed, Aragorn. Frodo is the Ringbearer, but the duty lies mostly upon your shoulders. I think you know this in your heart."

Aragorn looked distressed. "Please do not place more burden on me than I already have," he begged.

Gandalf lightly caressed his brow. "I am sorry, Aragorn. I will trouble you no more with this until you are ready."

Aragorn closed his eyes and leaned on him for comfort. "What will I do, Gandalf? I can turn to no one but you with this failing."

"I see no failing on your part, my Aragorn," Gandalf assured him with a smile. "When I look at you, I see only strength, triumph and beauty. Whether you wish it or not, your destiny prevails over you."

"Destiny be damned. What will come to pass, Gandalf? Will this be the end of us?"

"My dear friend, we must be content with what time we have and make the best of it --such as this precious moment we now share." Gandalf stroked his cheek, gazing deeply into the future king's eyes. "May I craft a diversion to give you peace from your anguish?"

Aragorn smiled at him. "By all means," he answered, licking his lips in anticipation as his eyes dropped to the wizard's mouth.

Gandalf closed the distance between them and kissed him, gently thrusting his tongue into the willing warmth as Aragorn opened to him. Instantly, their bodies melded together and the heat from the fire paled in comparison to that which raged in their hearts. Kisses and caresses prefaced their haste across the floor to the wizard's pallet.

When their clothes were tossed aside, Gandalf went to his knees between Aragorn's widely spread legs and bent to take him in his mouth. Fortunately, the ranger was able to stifle his cry of delight, although he did not control the impulse to tangle his hands in the wizard's gray hair and plunge deeper into that perfect suction. Gandalf censored a chuckle and continued until the man beneath him had achieved an intense, dazzling climax.

Wiping his mouth, Gandalf grinned at him in amazement. "I have never seen anyone quite so animated! I am glad I could please you, my king."

Aragorn was temporarily speechless. Lying as he was, beneath the wizard, he concentrated on the simple act of breathing as he petted the other man's long hair. Finally, when his voice returned, he murmured, "Gandalf, you are incredible!"

"No, actually, that was not my best. If given the opportunity for a second 'crafting of peace', I will give you even greater pleasure."

Aragorn's eyebrows rose at the promise. "No craft in Middle Earth could give me more peace, dear Gandalf. May I try?"

"Of course," Gandalf agreed readily and rolled onto his back. His aged face smoothed in rapture as Aragorn's mouth descended upon him. "I would never deny you anything, Aragorn."