The characters of Lord Of The Rings do not belong to me, only their nightmares do. This is my second try to submit this story because it turned up in the wrong section first.

The House Of Healing

"The hands of a king are the hands of a healer."

The old woman says these words and sniggers spitefully. "Did you really think you could save them? They are dead, and no-one, not even you, fake King could save the Lady of Rohan and your Steward.

Shall I tell you what happened during the night, while you were sleeping so content after you had boiled some herbs and washed their faces with that stinking brew?"

Sauron´s army had been defeated and Aragorn, who had tended his patients incessantly, had gone to his tent to get finally some sleep after the past exhausting months. In fact he hadn´t been able to keep his eyes open any longer and Ioreth, the skilled and experienced healer, assured him he could leave the Houses Of Healing because Éowyn and Faramir were out of danger. He only left them after she had promised to awake him should anything happen.

Now she had come and he looked into her hard face and heard her incredibly cruel words. "No", he said, "these were no simple herbs, you know that. It was kingsfoil and you know its effects."

"Oh, come on, King Elessar", the woman answered emphasizing his name sardonically, "you know as well as I do that this is a legend: Kingsfoil in the hand of a king healing all wounds and even the hopeless illnesses. Do you really think that an old sword makes you a real King and gives you the ability to do magic? Tell me, what else have you done for the last months than the only thing you are really good at - taking lives, not saving them.

You bring no love, but only destruction - look at the Lady of Rohan. She eventually died of a broken heart not from the Witchking´s blade. You left her in despair and loneliness and you weren´t even there to give her comfort in her very last minutes. Don´t tell me that you did not know that she was in love with you - didn´t you hear her words during her feverish dreams?"

"I told her that I could never give her the love she was seeking for", Aragorn replied. "We were friends, true friends and I wished nothing more for her than happiness."

"And what did she get? Pain, torture and death. You failed, Aragorn, you failed to make her happy and you failed to save our Steward. Do you know how noble that young man was? Another lonely soul, who had lost everything that was dear to him: his family, one by one, most of his friends and finally his self-esteem. He felt guilty after the sacrifice of so many lives and at last, you were his hope, Estel." Again she scornfully spoke his former name. "He hoped to finally find some meaning for his life, when he realized that the King was back."

"I was looking forward to getting to know him closer, and I did save his life!" said Aragorn. "He spoke to me and recognized me. I told him to rest to gather strength."

"After you left, both patients rapidly deteriorated." Ioreth replied. The Lady Of Rohan asked for you, the only man she had ever loved in her life. When you did not answer, her strength and will to survive faded. I could feel her spirits vanishing and she passed silently and without resistance.

When Faramir realized that the Lady Of Rohan was dying, he tried to get up from his bed and dragged himself to her. He held her hand and spoke to her, gentle and soothing words. He even tried to wash her face with your magic brew. She got weaker and weaker, but Lord Faramir stood by her, although he saw that it was too late and he realized that it would take all his strength. He did what you should have done and then he died as he lived - alone."

"You had promised to awake me!"

Ioreth laughed. "Yes, I did, and I sent a servant to get you but he did not succeed in awaking you. You slept too soundly and peacefully and I could only be there and watch him dying. After the Lady had passed, Lord Faramir broke down and died some minutes later. It was horrible. The Lady just fell asleep forever, but he had some strength left to fight and he called his brother and you several times, before his voice trailed off and his struggle for breath eventually stopped, when every second seemed to last an hour. I could do nothing to ease his pain and passing."

Aragorn cried out and opened his eyes. Ioreth was shaking him softly. "Lord Aragorn, will you please follow me to the Houses of Healings?" she asked.

Aragorn rose from his bed, soaked with perspiration and his body was trembling so much, that he was barely capable of staying on his feet. He drew his cloak tightly around his body and followed the healer. When he entered the room where he had left Éowyn and Faramir, he found them both alive and conscious.

Éowyn´s gaze was much brighter than before and when he gently touched her injured hand, a faint smile appeared on her face.

Then he bent over Faramir and realized that his fever had gone. He could not hold back his tears and said: "Rest, my dear friend and worry no more. I will go to sleep again, now that I know that what I thought was a vision, turned out to be a nightmare."