Aragorn was lonely. He wanted acceptance from his new companions, but didn’t know how to broach the subject. He’d been with the Dunedain a few months now and seen them relax companionably with each other of an evening when they camped. He watched some of the others longingly; they obviously enjoyed it. Although those that indulged moved away from the main camp-site, it didn’t seem to bother anyone at all – it was simply - accepted.
He’d been startled by the practise at first. It wasn’t done in Imladris, at least he’d never seen it. He tried not to watch, but they were all so open he couldn’t but fail to see the relaxed rangers taking their ease together. He wanted to join them, but youthful pride prevented him admitting he didn’t know how.
Mithrandir joined them for a few days, since they were riding in the same direction. Aragorn grasped his courage and, a little shame-faced, asked him for instruction. Mithrandir was surprised, but ever the willing teacher. That evening he took Aragorn to a quiet glade where they could be alone.
Aragorn looked dubiously at the stem in his hand.
“Put the tip in your mouth and suck gently,” the wizard murmured.
Aragorn steeled himself; then opened his mouth, taking a deep breath.
“No! You’ll choke if you take that much in all at once,” reproved Mithrandir.
Aragorn nodded. He tentatively brought his lips down to the smooth tip. And sucked.
“Harder,” breathed the wizard.
Obediently Aragorn drew it in, hollowing his cheeks to accommodate the strangeness. The flavour was unfamiliar, cloying – he coughed; almost spitting it out, gagging. He took a deep lungful of clean air that he desperately needed. Mithrandir laughed.
“Never mind lad, you’ll acquire a taste for it. The first mouthful is always the worst.”
Aragorn’s eyes watered. He nodded weakly in acknowledgment. Mithrandir contentedly blew a smoke-ring. He waved his pipe in his pupil’s direction.
“You’ll need to take another puff, or it’ll go out!”
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.