"Amrod," everything swims in front of your eyes, from the blood loss and the cold despair gripping on your heart. You push your magic through your fingers, and it rushes into his body evaluating the damage, and you see that there is no hope. You unclasp his breast plate and take it off. His lashes fly up, and the brilliant dark eyes are on you.

The wound is wide, the blade ran between the ribs, the lung is punctured. He coughs, and a trickle of red blood runs out of the corner of his lips. You grab your scarf and press it into his side. Your hands are instantly covered in his blood, soaking the fabric and running between your fingers. "Alfirin, are you safe?" You nod, and from the corner of your eye you notice the movement and see the King standing a few steps away, leaning heavily on his sword. The Dwarven captain approaches him, undoubtedly to address the King's injury, but he gestures him away. The King's face is grave. He knows enough of the wounds to know that the one the Gondorian has sustained is fatal.

Amrod's elegant hand flies up, and the long fingers brush your cheek. "Do not cry, Alfirin, it is over… You are safe..." You angrily wipe the tears off your cheeks. "Please, Amrod..." You are not sure what you are asking for.

He winces in pain and then tries to focus on your face. "Judging by your face, I am not going to make it..." "Nonsense," you glare at him, "you will be alright… I will fix it..." He chuckles and coughs again, "And how are you going to do it, my flower?"

"Use your magic, Zundushinh," the King's low voice makes you look at him. His lips are pressed in a stern line, jaws tense. "Do what you did for me, heal him." Your eyes lock for a second, and your lips twist. His eyes are momentarily warmer, and you nod gratefully.

Keeping one hand on his wounds, you stroke Amrod's face with another. A bright red smear of blood is left on his cheek, and you painfully bite into your bottom lip. You will the golden glow to rush into your hand, and you push your magic into the Godnorian's body.

You do not know how much you have left. Years ago you could heal and wound with it, though having very little control over it, the magic seemingly protecting you by its own will. You thought all of it had been spent on saving the King's life on the swamps ten years ago, and then the terrifying glowing fury was back when you were attacked expecting your son.

You close your eyes and take a deep breath in. And then you look at the noble features of the Gondorian, pale and bleak. You think of the mischievous warm smile, perpetual laughter dancing in his remarkable chestnut coloured eyes, about his gentle, passionate lips, his warm strong arms wrapped around you, always there to support you when you would slip, of the unpronounced words of love trembling on his lips.

The magic does not come. It is fighting you, resisting, stubbornly curls up in your hands, and does not spill in the weakening body of the Gondorian. You bite into your lips harder, metal taste in your mouth, but you fail. Another violent cough shakes his body, and the bloodied foam is on his lips.

"No, please, no, it has to work..." You do not know whom to ask for help, "Thorin! It is not working! It is there but it does not work!" You sob and lower your eyes on Amrod again. His lashes flutter, and he gives you a small soft smile.

"Do not blame yourself , Alfirin, you cannot command your heart..." You fall on his body and weep. It all becomes clear now. The faint dizziness when he entered that inn, your magic rejecting him, shielding you from him, protecting your love to the King. It is always him, Thorin, son of Thrain, your husband, your heart, your King, only for him, the first sparkle in your fingers to catch his attention, the golden glow to heal his body, the terrifying wave tearing a warg assailant apart to save his unborn son…

Amrod's hand lies on the back of your head. "There were eight of them…" His voice is quiet and you lift your head, "They were just boys, I led them into a scouting raid… The mistake was not mine, but they all died… And I left Ithilien, the war was not for me any more..." Tears run down his cheeks, "But I am a soldier, Alfirin, and I am dying for a King. It is only fair… Do not blame yourself, it is not for you, it is my duty… It is how it is to be..."

You shake your head, "It is not..." "Do not cry, my Queen..." He tries to smile, but his consciousness is slipping, and his lips are white… You sob, pressing his hand to your lips. Suddenly his eyes open wide and he looks at you, "Alfirin..."

"No… no..." You are rocking back and forth, his hand pressed between your palms and to your heart. For a second his face is surprised, innocent, that of a child, eyes wide open, and he sees you for the last time. "It is not how it was to be, Alfirin… My love... I saw them..." His pupils dilate, and his heart stops. The world freezes in the unperceivable pain, his bright merry spirit, his fëar leaves Arda, and you scream into the night sky.

You cry for a long time, and the King touches your shoulder with his palm and leaves. The camp is being cleaned of the Orc bodies, a healer from the Northmen attends to the wounded, some of them standing a few feet to the side, Northmen mourning their captain, Dwarves honouring a fallen warrior, but no one dares to approach you.

You are growing weaker, blood seeping from the wound in your shoulder, and after a while King comes to you. He picks you up, and Amrod's hand slips out of yours. You close your eyes, and let the healer bandage you. You are numb and unresponsive. The King wraps his cloak around you, and you fall into half sleep, half unconsciousness for a few hours. When you open your eyes, the day is bright, unexpected sunlight is flooding the clearing.

They have built the funeral pyres for the fallen, both Men and Dwarves. The surviving Dwarven guards have decided to go against the traditions of their people, and let their slayed warriors share the fate of their incidental brothers in arms. You wash your face in the stream, and all the company stands in front of the wood piles built under the bodies of the fallen.

The Northmen sing their funeral song, Dwarves theirs, and the wood is lit up simultaneously. The King is standing near you, his hand an inch away from yours, but he does not touch you. You are calm, tears silently rolling down your face.

Afterwards, after an hour of rest, the company is ready for marching on. The King and several more warriors require assistance, but he clenches the long handle of his battle ax in his hand and orders the warrior to start walking. No one argues.

You get up from the ground and face the lieutenant of the Northmen guard. He bestows you a low bow. "My Queen, we opened the captain's rucksack and decided this belongs to you. It would be the honour for us if you were to accept it." He hands you a sachet, and you take it.

You open it, and three objects fall out on your palm. A small portrait, a woman with Amrod's eyes and grey hair, noble Gondorian face, traditional Ithilien dress. A cloak clasp, you have not seen him without it, decorated with the carving of the White Tree of Gondor. And a small figurine of a kitten carved out of an ash wood branch he picked up on one of your long walks in the woods surrounding the inn at the approaches to the Misty Mountains.

The world sways and disappears behind the veil of your tears. You feel the heavy hand of the King Under the Mountain on your shoulder, and you turn and press your face into his shoulder. "I am sorry, my heart, I truly am." You take a shuddering breath in and shake your head. No words are required, and no words can help.

You step away from the King, and he nods. The company starts walking towards the dark outline of Mirkwood at the horizon.

THE END