The same old tale?
“Ai, mother, leave it be! I’d rather wait for Elrond.”
Gilraen looked up from the process of cutting her stubborn son’s boot from his quickly swelling foot, raising her left eyebrow in a perfect imitation of the Lord of Imladris’ most typical quirk.
“Do you really want to bother your foster father with something as trivial as a sprained ankle when he sits in council with half of Middle-earth? I’m fully capable of seeing to it. Besides, you know well enough it will only get worse if you wait.”
“Hmpf.” Aragorn crossed his arms in tacit but reluctant acquiescence, finally letting his mother continue. He tried not to flinch when she turned the injured limb a bit to proceed. When the boot was off, she applied a strong-smelling liniment to the swollen joint and started to bandage it with firm hands.
“Valar, son, you are a disgrace! When did the use of water and soap become a strange concept for you?”
Aragorn blushed to the roots of his equally unkempt hair. “Mother, you know how it is, I -”
Gilraen cut him short, rolling her eyes. “Stop it, I know the tale. You are a ranger, living in the wild without access to the comforts of elven or even human dwellings, and the dirt also serves as disguise when you have to hide…. I know the tale.”
Aragorn, who was just about to start a lengthy explanation, was cut short. “What?”
Gilraen cleaned her hands and stood up. “Well, at least that was what your father always told me.”
“Oh.” Aragorn digested the unexpected glimpse into his father’s life. Then he cleared his throat. “It wasn’t what I was going to say, though.”
“What is it, then?” Gingerly, she picked up the grubby cloak her son had dropped when he had limped into the room and carried it to a basket.
Aragorn cleared his throat again. “Well, you see, out there with the Rangers, they always make fun of me with my elven upbringing, when I wash my hair or my clothes. It’s simply easier if I get grubby and dirty, and smell as sweaty as them.”
Gilraen stopped short. “I see.” She had never expected anything like that! With a sigh, she crossed her arms and took in her son’s appearance. “But be that as it may, you’re a grown boy now, and it’s simply not acceptable to remain in this state while you are in Imladris. Off with you to the bathing house - no, I’m not even letting you close to the indoor baths with this filth on you!”
Mumbling under his breath, Aragorn carefully got up and, after successfully testing to see if his injured foot would bear his weight, limped out.
“Take fresh clothes with you!” his mother called after him.
Grinning, Gilraen cleared away the utensils she had used. Her son might be nearing his sixtieth begetting day and an experienced leader of his rangers, but sometimes, he behaved just like he had as a boy.