DISCLAIMER: The characters and locations of Lord of the Rings do not belong to me. They belong to JRR Tolkien, New Line Cinema, and probably a host of other people I've forgotten. I'm only borrowing them for a little entertainment, and I'll put them back when I'm finished with them. Amareth, however, belongs to me and I would like to be consulted before she is used in any other works. Evendim and Ithil-valon have standing permission to use any of my characters in any fics they choose. Celos and Celon are used with Ithil-valon's permission.

ALTERNATE UNIVERSE WARNING! This story is set in an alternate universe. This means that some of the features, faces, and places might differ slightly from the original. This is intentional and WILL NOT result in canon characters behaving in out of character ways.

THIS STORY IS NOT A MARY SUE. If you want one of those, please look elsewhere. I don't care for Mary Sues, and I don't write them. It does, however, feature an original character in a starring role. She is not superwoman, she is not God, and she is not irresistible. She's just plain human, with all our faults and strengths.


DEDICATIONS: To Evendim, who first gave me the courage to post in this fandom and has given me such pleasure with her own AU series. I would never have been so bold without your help, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To Ithil-valon, who has been more than a loyal friend and has helped me through some really tough times of late, and who has been the best beta-reader anyone could ask for. And to AJ, without whom my life will be a lot poorer. Rest well, my darling. You are sorely missed.

Love the story? Hate it? Think I should be burned at the stake? I'll never know unless you review!

Part Sixteen

The searchers found them there, on the wall. Neither of them stirred, nor woke when touched, but both breathed, slowly and evenly. Amareth's pallor was remarked on, then dismissed as part of the healing process. Aragorn knew it had been a feat of great healing, which would take a great deal of strength. The fact that Haldir had been dead, not merely wounded gravely, was not lost on him.

She had brought another friend back from the very grave. For that, she had his gratitude and his friendship.

When others made to raise them and move them inside, he stopped them. There was a thin sheen of energy surrounding them them both, barely seen in the dawn light, but he knew from what his brothers had told him that it mustn't be disturbed. And it might not yet prove enough. There was no life in the cold stone for her to draw from.

He sent a Rider to find Gandalf and bring him, as well as Theoden. They would need to see this as well, and there was still the matter of Boromir's return to discuss with the Wizard. Aragorn thought that if Amareth had been sent by the Shadow, even indirectly, that Gandalf would know and be able to counter it. He had no more doubts, but he would still be certain.

He hadn't long to wait. Theoden gave the two a single glance, his features touched with concern. The girl had helped him, had healed his arm with but a touch, and he was quite simply in awe of her. That she had brought Boromir and now it seemed Haldir back from death itself, that put her firmly on the same level as the White Wizard and he would treat her accordingly.

Gandalf nodded slowly as he came up to the wall. The girl was a surprise, to be certain. He'd had no warning of her arrival, had no idea who she was but he felt no evil from her. "Yes, we should leave them to heal," he said quietly. "I feel no evil from her, no sense of harm," he continued in the same vein. "And yet her power is phenomenal. For healing, she is a tremendous asset."

"Indeed. Gandalf," Aragorn began softly as he drew the wizard aside. "You know what befell Boromir. Haldir died in my very arms." He was determined to make his friend see what he had seen, the sheer power of the woman's gift. "I was more than convinced of Boromir's death as well. That she could have countered death itself speaks of things beyond mortal thought."

"Indeed." Gandalf considered. "We cannot hope to keep her existence a secret, nor should we try," he replied evenly. "But should word get back to Sauron, it could speed his assault. No matter that she cannot affect every death," and he gestured to the dead still being counted and laid to rest. "That she has affected even two will be a sore blow to him. He may well try to destroy her as well."

"We cannot stay," Aragorn countered as Theoden looked on. "We must confront Saruman and learn his plans."

"No, we cannot stay." Gandalf's voice was heavy. "Choose a guard for them, and we will be on our way. Saruman must be confronted.

"I will stay," Boromir said as he stepped forward. "I owe her a debt that cannot be repaid. I owe her my life, and it is only fitting that I defend her with it."

Four other riders were chosen to remain, as well as the twins, and provisions were hastily assembled. They would all return to Edoras when the two sleepers awakened.