A Party of Special Magnificence
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Mar'isu's 2007 Gifts: 2. Intoxication - by Dwimordene
'A Arien, of flame-bright eyes
Draws her wain across the skies
Swift over snow
And even in rains
But come summer
She'll tease poor Rána again!'
As the crowd about the mallorn clearing took up the song, several of the dancers in their midst reeled out of line, declining the challenge. For the Lay of Rána and Arien was a lively jig and by perverse custom, was always called for when everyone was well into their cups on Midsummer's Eve.
Among those who abandoned the dance were two who staggered toward the clearing's edge, where the woman, laughing, threw her arms about her partner's neck, dragging him down with her in a rather graceless tumble to a golden drift.
Arwen shook herself, and laughed again as she raised her head from his chest. And as Aragorn pushed himself up onto an elbow, she leaned forward and kissed him—a long, lingering kiss that he had just relaxed into when she broke off, giggling again.
"Good thing we left the dance," she said; "You aren't fit for it!" Her betrothed groaned, then fell back upon his leafy bower with a sigh.
"You," he declared, with affectionate exasperation, "are drunk!"
"Undoubtedly," she agreed, brushing leaves from his clothes, letting her fingers trail over his chest 'til he caught her hand firmly in his.
"You are also cruel, Lady Arien—for if you would linger on your way, I haven't it in me to run after you."
"'Tis not so great a distance, my lord Rána."
"No," he acknowledged. "'Tis not at all. The space of a thought." And she watched his eyes darken longingly as he gazed up at her. One hand lifted, and he picked a leaf from her hair, sliding it down the length of one long tress before twining the lock about his fingers. "Arwen vanimelda," he murmured, reaching up to cup her cheek, and she leaned her head in his hand, eyes closing. Wine and desire were a heady brew; she felt it coursing through them both, and it was such a little space, thought trembling on the verge of a realization…
Abruptly, his hand was gone, and Arwen had one moment to reach for support, before she was tumbled face first to the earth and buried in leaves. She cried out, tossed a handful of them back at him—not that it mattered. He had her pinned, and she felt the heat of him all along her back as he leaned forward in his turn to breathe into her ear: "It was a very lovely, tempting thought, but—" and Arwen shivered, feeling warmth wash over her like sunlight as he kissed the nape of her neck "—not one for a bed so open as this, and in any case, I am not climbing the long way to my room or yours tonight!"
"I thought I was the one who was drunk!"
"You are," Aragorn assured her, even as he let her up, and then drew her back into the circle of his arms, as he settled against the bole of the tree at his back. "And wine speaks truth: I am not fit for dangling on ladders if I am not fit for dancing. Besides which, if we stay here, we can sit as close as we like, for drunk or not, I am not so much the wanton as to give them a show!"
"Vice into virtue. Must be a Rangerly trick," Arwen mused, and yawned as she settled her head upon his shoulder.
"Are you sure you are really drunk?"
She sighed. "That is 'no.'"
"Then you are safe enough to walk me back to my room."
"Aye, I could."
"But you will not."
"No." His arms tightened about her waist. "Not tonight."
And Arwen, absorbing all of this, laughed again suddenly, delightedly. She could not help it. "Liar," she murmured. "You are drunk!"
Then she shivered again as he pressed another kiss to her throat, before he sighed, happily, "Absolutely!"
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