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

Aragorn sat along the edge of the bed, absently running a finger over the bandage around his chest and shoulder. Though his wound still irritated him, the sensation was abated by Elrond's administration of Athelas. He looked over his shoulder at his wife, still unconscious and breathing softly. The sounds from the other rooms spilled into the tiny furnished room, though the oak door greatly reduced all noise, and Aragorn was able to find some semblence of peace away from the work of the healers.

Arwen stirred, and Aragorn turned about to run a soothing hand over her forehead. Slowly her blue eyes opened, and she looked about the room in confusion. She sat up quickly, Aragorn guiding her into a seating position. Her husband moved closer to her, wrapping an arm around her. She stared about the room before turning to her husband.

"What happened?"

Aragorn gave her a wry smile. "You fainted."

She shook her head, memories flooding back. "I'd never seen death before. It is a terrible thing." She shivered, shuddering violently. "It is all so cold. How can mortals stand knowing what awaits them at the end?" The knowledge of her own eminent demise hung heavily in her mind, but she would never voice that fear to Aragorn. Tears stung her eyes, and she felt wrenching sobs building within her.

He kissed her hair, burying his face in the satin curls. She turned in his embrace, snaking her arms around his waist and leaning into him. The sharp sparkle of the Evenstar pendent about his neck caught her eye, and a warm sense of comfort flooded her soul. Content and reassured, she tightened her embrace, but immediately pulled away when he hissed in pain.

"Estel? What's wrong?" She moved to kneel in front of him, her face contorted in panicked concern. Her hand flew to her mouth when she noticed the bandage about his upper torso. She tentatively touched his wounded shoulder, her eyes taking in the spreading red stain of blood marring the white cloth.

"What happened to you?"

"I was struck by a blade, but I am fine. Do not fret. It's only a flesh wound." He cupped her chin and whispered. "I had to keep my promise to return, afterall."

Her eyes shone with unshed tears and her chest heaved with a soft cry. Aragorn gently took her hand and brought it to his lips. When she did not meet his searching gaze he pulled her back to him, leaning back to pull her onto his lap. She allowed him to draw her near but did not speak, fearful that she would begin sobbing and be unable to stop.

Aragorn pressed her to speak. "How is your cheek?" He traced the bruise tainting the soft curve of her face. "No other shall ever strike you in such a manner." His eyes grew feral and dark in his pledge. "I will never allow it. I will have words with the widow Celrinn."

Arwen shook her head and opened her mouth to protest, but no words would escape her tight throat. She slumped her shoulders and lowered her head.

"Meleth, look at me", he urged gently. He lifted her chin in his hand and kissed her deeply, deciding he would speak to her through his affection if she would not answer his words. She returned the kiss but broke away too soon.

"I could have lost you tonight, Estel. I could be lost now without you." She looked him straight in the eye with an emotion Aragorn did not recognize but could only describe as desolation. He sighed, and took her hand in his.

She continued. "I was fortunate this night. But what happens when you do not return to me? That time will come, and I will lose all I have gained. I will be as Celrinn is someday, and my broken heart shall destroy me." Arwen's soft voice wavered, and Aragorn watched her strong spirit break and the tears stream down her face. She collapsed in his arms and he held her, allowing her to expel her sadness as upspilled tears brimmed his own eyes.

She cried for what seemed like hours, but was really only minutes. She lifted her head and rubbed the tears from her face, her cheeks red and her eyes dark. Aragorn studied her fair face, unable to offer any words of comfort, his own heart too heavy with emotion. He knew her fear all too well. He would die one day. Nothing could prevent that, and he would leave her alone until her own grief consumed her and she died, an end to the world of elves in Middle-Earth, nothing more than a memory to those who knew their tragic love story. He could only live for now, for this moment, to show Arwen how very alive he was, that she had not lost him yet, and to push away her fears if only for a little while.

He kissed her, silencing her and drawing her mind from all thoughts of death. She responded eagerly to his tongue, sighing as he ran his hands over her shoulders and down her back. She returned the kiss hungrily, grateful for her husband's safe return and his loving touch. Wrapping her arms around his neck she moaned into his mouth. His hands roamed her body, and she shifted her position in his lap, straddling him. He ran his fingertips down her thigh, over the silk material of her gown. When his hand drew the fabric away from her legs and over her knees and his hand snuck beneath the gown to grip her hip, she moved away from him just far enough to stretch her arms upwards so that he might draw the gown over her head.

When her gown had been discarded and her soft skin exposed, Aragorn placed his hands beneath her buttocks to lift her and rolled over, pinning his wife beneath him. He claimed her mouth once more while his hand slid down to cup her full breast. Arwen arched her back, giving her husband greater access to her body. She traced the outline of his muscles, placing her hand on the bandage.

"Your shoulder, love…."

"Will not stop me from making love to you." He smiled a boyish lopsided grin and reinforced the mood with a fervent kiss to her neck.

Arwen sighed as she smiled. She closed her eyes as Aragorn made love to her, thanking the Valar for answering her earlier prayers.

It is too soon, she thought. I cannot lose him so soon. Our story cannot end in such a way. By the grace of Elbereth, Let there be no more fighting in our lifetime.

"I love you, Melda." He traced her clavicle absently and Arwen kissed him softly in reply.

He placed his rough skinned hand over her heart, his body stilling momentarily. "Forever, Indonya." She brushed his hair away from his eyes and she nodded, unable to speak, and it was a sweet moment before they once again began to move.

Soon she lost herself in his sweet endearments, the feel and depth of his thrusts, and his musky male scent, and all thoughts of loss faded away until nothing existed but her husband, their pleasure and sweet oblivion.

Celrinn sat silently at a small table with a warm mug of tea in her hand. Her eyes were swollen and red, and she felt ill from lack of sleep. Her daughter Belrinn rested in the room next door, her grief having absorbed all her energy. She had retired several hours ago, but not before pleading with her mother to seek rest as well. But Celrinn lingered, afraid to fall asleep, frightened that she would be plagued by nightmares of her dead husband.

Though she still remained in the House of Healing, Celrinn had sought out for her daughter and herself a remote location in the large stone building. Celrinn wanted to be as far from the ill as possible, both out of respect for the other widows and the work being done there, and a serious need to be as far from the king and queen as possible.

She truly had not meant to strike Arwen, but in her maddening situation, it had been all too easy to let loose on the one woman she resented most. The elf maid knew nothing of the pain of her loss. How dare she pretend to feel sympathy? Celrinn felt the bile rising in her throat once more. She took a sip of the cooling tea to wash away the bitter taste.

A knock upon the door startled her, and she placed the tea on the table before rising to open the door.

Her jaw dropped when she opened the door to her guest. The queen of Gondor stood in the hall, a shawl wrapped around her shoulders, in her hands a small plate of cheeses and bread. Celrinn squared her shoulders.

"Can I help you, your majesty?"

Arwen tried a small smile. "I have brought you something to eat." She paused hesitantly. "May I come in, Celrinn?"

The woman moved after a moment, allowing a brief space for Arwen to pass her and enter the room. The queen placed the small tray on the table and sat down in an empty chair, her eyes circling the room, noting the small bed and fireplace. The small room had obviously been intended for solitary patients but served well as a room for visitors.

Celrinn shut the door and took a deep breath. She crossed to sit back down, lifting the mug of tea to her lips with a small hand, the other clenched in a tight fist upon the table, and she stared at the beautiful elf over the brim of the mug.

"I would offer you tea, M'lady, but there is none left."

Arwen waved her hand in dismissal, and in the firelight of the room, Celrinn noticed the bruise across the queen's cheek. A quick burst of satisfaction spiked in her heart, but it was quickly replaced by regret and fear of retribution. Surely the king would not take kindly to that mark.

The two women sat in silence. Arwen spoke first. "I wanted to see to your comfort, Celrinn. Do you need anything at all?" She moved to reach across the table and hold Celrinn's hand, but Celrinn withdrew it quickly.

"I am fine, highness." Her hasty reply was delivered in an icy tone, though she offered a superficial smile.

Arwen nodded. She looked at her hands, returned to clasp tightly in her lap, and looked once more at Celrinn. "Is there something I might see to for Belrinn? I will do what I can do for…"

Celrinn's patience snapped. "Do nothing, Arwen. I do not want anything from you. My daughter and I will be fine without assistance."

"I am only trying to help", Arwen interjected.

"Well, stop." Celrinn's eyes blazed with restraint anger. She slammed her mug on the table, the tea spilling over the sides and across the rough wood surface. She stood so quickly her chair toppled over and crashed to the floor. She rounded the table and stood before Arwen, leaning over the elf imposingly.

"I want nothing from you, elf. I only wish that you would leave me be! I am in no mood for pity or help, nor do I want visitors incapable of understanding what it is too lose the one person you have lived for!" She screamed now, her voice shrill and loud. "You do not know how I feel. You never will. You have lived lifetimes longer than most, and yet grief and pain are foreign feelings to you."

"I think I should leave." Arwen stood to leave.

"Please do."

Arwen passed Celrinn, but as she reached for the handle of the door, the older woman's voice called to her.

"Tell me Arwen, after you saw death for the first time, what was the first thing you did?"

Arwen turned to face the woman. "I beg your pardon?"

Celrinn smiled tightly. "When my father died, Belredd went with me to the silent street. We made love after, and my grief abated. That was the night we conceived Belrinn." Her eyes took on a faraway look.

"Celrinn, I…"Arwen began.

"Tell me Arwen, did your husband offer you the same comfort? Did he lie between your thighs and promise eternity?" She leaned forward, her voice a low whisper. Arwen felt a shiver go down her spine.

"If he did, he lied."

Arwen turned and fled the room.