Title: Burning the Midnight Oil
Elements: No man can be a good ruler unless he has first been ruled.
Summary: Faramir is concerned that Aragorn is working too hard.
Word Count: 915
Faramir put down his pen and glanced across the room to where the King was still engrossed in writing. “I have done all I can for tonight,” he said. “I think I will retire to bed now, but I do not like to while you are still working.”
Aragorn sighed. “There are still several sections of this treaty I need to work on.”
“You can continue it in the morning,” said the Steward. “We still have five days before the Grand Potentate arrives.”
“The treaty has to be checked by the experts in law and copied out several times by the scribes before he does,” said Aragorn. “I must finish it tonight. You should go and rest, though, you look exhausted.”
“So do you, mellon nîn,” said the Steward. He studied Aragorn’s familiar features in the candlelight. The King looked so weary that he appeared old and haggard quite unlike his usually vigorous self.
“Your lady will be waiting for you,” said Faramir. He got up from his desk and locked the parchment he was working on into a drawer.
“Arwen understands I need to work on this,” said Aragorn. “Goodnight, Faramir, May Elbereth bless your slumbers!”
Faramir said no more but quietly left the room. Instead of going to his own chambers, though, he turned down the corridor that led to the King and Queen’s apartments and tapped on the door.
“Come in,” the Queen’s voice answered. “Oh, it is you, Faramir. Come sit down and take a glass of wine.” Her welcome was cordial, but her eyes betrayed her disappointment that the Steward stood before her rather than her husband. Her hair was unbound, and she was clad in a loose robe and looked as if she were ready for bed. She was not alone as an elderly lady in waiting was snoozing on a chair in the corner of the room.
Faramir accepted the wine, but instead of drinking, he fingered the glass in his hand.
“I thought you were Estel for a moment,” said Arwen.
“I am concerned about him,” said Faramir. “He is exhausted, but he insists on sitting up to finish the treaty he is working on. He has been up since dawn and it is gone midnight now.”
“Estel spent all morning in a meeting and only paused to snatch a noonday meal before rushing off to the Houses of Healing when the healers sent for him to help a badly wounded man,” said Arwen. “Healing always drains him. He is the strongest of living men, but even he has his limits. I tried to persuade him not to return to work after the daymeal.”
“We felt we needed to work on the treaty after the messenger brought tidings from Khand late today,” said Faramir. “I am dealing with the part concerning trade and still have a good deal of work, but I knew if I worked any longer tonight I would write about tortoises rather than tariffs! I tried to get Aragorn to retire to rest for the night too, but he would not listen,” said Faramir. He took a sip of his wine and tried to stifle a yawn. “I fear he will fall asleep at his desk. I came to you as I believe he will heed your words, my lady.”
Arwen smiled at the Steward. “You know Estel all too well, my friend. Finish your drink and then we will see if we can persuade my weary husband to go to bed.”
“It will not be easy I fear, my lady. He can be very stubborn.” Faramir drained his glass and placed it on the table. The lady in waiting began to snore softly.
Arwen laughed, but expression was determined. “I know Faramir, I know.”
Queen and Steward marched down the corridors together to Aragorn’s study. The King did not appear to have written anything since Faramir had left him. Faramir hovered on the threshold while Arwen entered the room.
Arwen coughed loudly. Aragorn did not move. “Estel?” she called, gently placing a hand on his shoulder.
Aragorn sat up with a start. “Yes, my love?”
“Come, Estel. It is time for bed.”
“I will come as soon as I have finished this treaty, my love.”
“You were half asleep. You should come and lie down now.”
“The treaty will be finished in an hour,” Aragorn protested.
“We have an important meeting in the morning,” said Faramir coming forward. “You need a good night’s sleep.”
“Do I have to send you to bed as I do Eldarion?” threatened an exasperated Arwen. “What of the servants? They need their rest too.”
Aragorn turned to face his wife and his Steward. “Can the King not choose whether or not to sleep?” he asked them in mock irritation. He tried unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.
“No man can be a good ruler unless he has first been ruled,” said the Queen firmly.
“A very good point to which I concede defeat,” said the King. He picked up the treaty and locked it in the drawer of his desk. “I am a fortunate man to have both a wise wife and a wise Steward.”
Faramir blew out the candles rather than summon a servant at this late hour.
“Goodnight,” said Aragorn, kissing Faramir lightly on the brow. “May the stars ever shine upon you, my friend.”
Arwen exchanged a knowing glance with Faramir then gave the Steward a radiant smile then led her husband towards the royal bedchamber.