Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just play in their world.

I stare down at the pendant in my hand. The clear crystal catches the high sun of the afternoon, trying to spark a fire that I know has since been extinguished. I clench the jewel in my hand and wince as the sharp edges of its wings pierce my skin, drawing blood and marring it's pristine beauty. A heaviness weighs down on my heart. Should I live to return to the tranquility of Rivendell, I will regrettably be the bearer of ill news.

I will tell Arwen of his fall in battle, of how he died a hero saving the lives of Rohan. Of his loyalty and courage. I will tell her of the friendship he offered in times of absolute darkness. None of these things will ease the pain of his passing, but at least she will have the knowledge that he did not die aimlessly.

Arwen will not clasp this necklace about her throat again. It will never be anything more then the remains of a shattered dream. Her pain shall be deeper then any other wound she has ever carried around with her. If she is still capable of doing so, I will urge her to sail across the sea. Valinor may offer her the solace she will not find here. If her choice has already dispensed it's consequences, she will die. The passing of time; loneliness for her people, or her own hand; one will claim her life. I worry for the woman who has ever been my friend. My anger at her imminent suffering agitates me.

The winds of the wide plains sweep along the stone barricade of Helm's Deep, a whispering softness before the coming storm. The people of Rohan fill the emptiness of this fortress, giving life to rooms and passages long unused. The sounds of babes crying and mothers cooing fills my senses and I am overcome with a sense of hollowness. Doubtless all here shall perish before the rising of the next sun. Theoden should not have been so blind to Saruman's treachery all these years, and now his people will pay with their lives. It is all senseless waste. It is a wonder that hope remains.

Sighing, I turn from my post and stalk down the stairs. There is no longer any reason to wait along the watch tower for a man who shall not appear, no matter how strong my desire for him to do so. It is a pity. If I intend to go out fighting this night, it would have been bearable to go out with a man such as Aragorn by my side. He was truly a good friend.

At the base of the stairs I see Eowyn. She tends to a wounded soldier, raising a bowl of water to his parched lips. The depths of her eyes contain suppressed grief, the lines around her mouth tight and grim. Her skin is ashen, another tell-tale sign that she is holding back raw emotions too great to display in front of those she must be brave for. The passing of Aragorn is dragging at a feisty spirit that only a few hours ago thrived healthily under the cool demeanor of a Shield Maiden.

It is not my place to tell her of Arwen. She wishes ownership of Aragorn's heart, but in truth the ranger would never have strayed from the daughter of Elrond. It is almost with gratitude and amusement that I realize Aragorn is saved from the burden of rejecting her advances. Then again I remember the cause of his absence and my heart grows weary once more. Aye, Aragorn was a good friend, and unashamedly I feel the beginnings of tears in my eyes.

I decide to search Gimli out, to discuss a course of action so that tonight our enemies shall be well-met. Looking at the floor as I walk, I am suddenly aware of a presence too familiar to ignore in front of me. I look up, and before my eyes stands a ghost. A walking corpse. A man who by all rights should not be standing in front of me. It is too my credit that I remain calm, rather then cause him further pain by embracing him ecstatically.

The man looks haggard, and he smells of horse hair and river water. The dried mud in his matted hair and his torn clothing is evidence of a rough tumble. A thin trail of blood runs down his torn leather mantle. A brief look over assures me he shall be fine. His wounds are not extensive and his only ache is no doubt a sore head. I smile at him, full of pride and relief.

"You're late. You look terrible."

Aragorn smiles back at my words, recognizing the relief and happiness he hears in them. That smile denotes a story he is eager to share with me, though perhaps not now.

I still hold the Evenstar in my hand. It feels warmer to the touch now, as though it knows its true owner is back to reclaim it. I raise my hand, and extend it to the ranger. He looks down at it, then back at me, in wonder. I can see in his expression his fear at having almost lost that which is most precious to him. He takes the pendent, fastening it back around his neck. It is his last remaining connection to Arwen. It is of little doubt he is as happy to see that jewel as I am to see him.

He seems lost for words, not common for such a man. He says simply "Thank you", and it is enough. With a clap on the back, we walk together to speak to King Theoden. I am grateful to have my friend back to fight alongside me. Even more so I am grateful that I do not have to return the Evenstar to Arwen.

At least for now.