“Wake up, you sleepyhead!”
Faramir had woken up to the sound of someone pounding in his door, and while his first reaction was to burrow further under his blankets, as soon as that voice had joined the pounding noise, he knew there was no escape.
His bedroom was still pitch-black save for what moonlight filtered through the heavy curtains. Still, that was normal this time of year: Yule was but a fortnight away and this close to the winter solstice both breakfast and dinner were served by candlelight.
“Get dressed and I’ll meet you outside!” the familiar voice called from outside the door, followed by rapidly fading heavy footsteps.
He sighed tiredly and pushing the blankets away rose. The floor was as ice to his bare feet but he ignored it and pushing the curtains away, looked out of the window, and gasped softly at the sight.
A carpet of white covered everything in sight. Moonlight played on the pristine surface and for a few seconds Faramir found himself caught up solely in the awe of the sight.
And then the knocking resumed.
"Hurry up! Or should I come help you dress?" came the teasing voice.
"No," said Faramir. "I'll be there in a minute. I just wasn't expecting snow, we're so far south!" He washed quickly in the stone cold water, then reached for his shirt and leggings, untangling them.
"Come on!" the voice was back. "We don't have all day! Who knows when this chance will come again!"
He pushed open his door and stepped into the hallway.
Aragorn smiled delightedly at him, and Faramir found himself smiling back with as much happiness.
"Come let me show you how we enjoy the snows in the North," Aragorn said, grinning.
"I suppose I should bring my cloak then, too," Faramir mumbled, though he was still smiling. Whatever Aragorn wished to show him, he was sure he'd enjoy it.
"If you wish, but you'll be amply warm without it," Aragorn answered, still grinning. "Just hurry up already!"
When they got outside, Faramir was surprised to find it was not quite as cold as it had looked from his window. And the light of the moonlight glinting of the unmarred snow gave the world a magical glow that had Faramir gazing around in child-like wonder. He wandered forward, the crunching of snow under his feet not distracting from the feeling that at this moment, time had completely stopped.
He was so lost in his own little world that he was unprepared for the thump of a snowball hitting him in the head. He let out a squack and spun around to see a grinning Aragon already molding his next weapon. Faramir gave Aragon a pointed look and hastily scooped up his own handful of snow. The cold bit into his skin but he barely noticed it as he hastily prepared his defense. But a second snowball was hurtling toward him before he was done and he had to hastily dodge it. But the time he had straightened, Aragon had disappeared into a small grove of trees.
Ah, so you want to play, do you? thought Faramir and soon the hunt was on, Northern Ranger versus Southern - armed with snowballs and sneakiness. Faramir couldn't remember the last time he had felt so carefree....
That carefree feeling dissipated as soon as he cleared the trees.
“Don’t move!” he yelled out with such obvious anxiety that Aragorn did not doubt for a moment this was no longer part of their games, and immediately followed the directive.
“You’re on the pond!” Faramir yelled after him, “and we’ve hardly had two days of frost – it won’t hold your weight”.
Aragorn shuffled one of his feet to clear a spot in the snow, revealing the black surface of the ice below, though quickly shifted his weight back on two feet when the ice gave a first creak. “How deep is it here?” he called back.
"Deep. And you're far enough out that if you go in, it'll be hard to get to you without coming out on the ice myself."
Faramir broke into a wicked grin that Aragorn couldn't see from his preoccupied distance.
"If you do go in, you'll need to get warm again. But if we both go in, we'll both need to get warm..."
"Faramir!" Aragorn growled with his back to his steward. "I'll thank you to kindly keep your mind on this problem, not on my ass."
"Oh but Aragorn, my liege, your ass is so much more pleasant a thought than figuring out how to get your numb skull off the cracking ice. Besides, I thought I was about to be saving your ass. Surely there's a reward in there for me?"
Even as Faramir grinned, his eyes were sweeping the area around him for tools he could use in case the ice did give way. There were several downed tree limbs around him, but none long enough to reach Aragorn at his present distance. But if he got a little closer to the shore, they would serve.
"Okay, Aragorn, you're going to need to spread your weight as widely as possible. So you're going to need to get down to a lying position -- but slowly. Very gradually start to crouch down. Try not to put all your weight on the balls of your feet as you do so."
Of course Aragorn already knew everything Faramir was telling him, but when one is in immediate danger, it is often easier to follow someone else's instructions than to waste time thinking. So he focused all his own attention on his senses and let Faramir tell him what to do. Slowly, slowly he crouched down, placing his palms flat on the ice as soon as he was able. From there he began to slide his hands and feet outward and away from one another, turning his feet so the weight rolled onto the inside of his arches, and then to his calves as his legs extended. Soon - but not too soon - he lay spread eagle on the ice.
"Okay. That's done." His face was still turned away from Faramir, with his cheek now resting on the snow-covered ice. With any luck his scruffy beard would freeze to it, he thought.
From Faramir's vantage point, Aragorn looked little different than he often did when laying an ear to the ground while tracking, which was convenient in this situation.
"Aragorn, what do you hear from the ice?"
Trying to ignore the pulsing sound of his own heartbeat against the ice, Aragorn focused on its deeper groaning.
"It's annoyed, but not angry," he replied obscurely.
"I take it that means it's not preparing to pull you in for a dip immediately?"
"Faramir, you would make a rotten elf."
"Careful, sire. Given your present position, it wouldn't do to alienate the only man on the bank." Faramir retorted with a grin. "Actually, about your present position..."
"Leave off looking at my ass and help me get off this blessed ice so I can wollop you," Aragorn growled back.
"Oh, okay. If I must. But once you get over here, I want to talk about whether 'wollop' might mean something different up where you're from than it does here. Now what I want you to do is scooch back toward me, keeping your body as widely spread as possible. Don't try to turn around. Just use the length of your arms to press backward and come toward me inchworm-style."
It was a long way toward shore moving this fashion, but Aragorn did his best, inching ever further from the frigid danger of submersion. Faramir stood on the shore, watching bemusedly, as his oh-so-virile king slid toward him, ass first, alternating between totally prone and what he could only think of as "sex position."
"That's it. You're doing good. Just follow the sound of my voice." Out loud the Steward encouraged his friend. Mentally, however, he was lining himself up with the opening of Aragorn's spread legs, and considering whether he ought to be on his knees at the edge when Aragorn reached it -- just in case the ice did give way and he needed to be caught, of course. Yes, he decided. On his knees would be the best way to welcome the king back to safety. He crouched down and prepared to reach out for Aragorn's ankles when he got close enough, to pull him home.