Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Rings and don't write interesting disclaimers.

Old Red Roses

She had never thought she would outlive him. How could she, when he seemed to her like the kings of NĂºmenor, their lives stretching out into infinity? She only carried a little of that blood, not enough that she ever imagined they would die together. And they didn't, but it was the wrong way around.

Was she just selfish, then? Was she willing to doom all she loved most to carry on when she slept eternally under the earth? She had asked this sometimes while he lived, and he had kissed her hair and told her she wasn't and even if she were, he would love her anyway. But now she was alone and broken, and she understood why she had felt that way: he had always been stronger than her. It wasn't because he was a man and she a woman; no, it was because he was earth and she fire. The earth could live on without fire, but fire without earth to burn would die. She had thought that with his quiet strength, he would have been able to heal.

Heal. The word still tasted bitter on her dry tongue and a little salty, like tears. If she had been able to heal, he would still be alive. If he hadn't insisted she care for him herself, he could be standing by her side, watching their children play. If he had healed, the vase of red roses that sat on the bedside table would have been scattered to the wind and the garden weeks ago.

But the roses were what he gave to her, a promise that he loved her and that he would come back. He had never been one to break a promise. And he hadn't; he had come home, bloodied and covered in grime. Maybe, she thought, it would have been better if he had died on that battlefield. At least then she wouldn't have to bear the knowledge that she had tried to save him and failed. She would berate herself for thinking that: it was proof that she really was selfish, that she cared more for herself than for him.

When her mind is muddled by sleep, she forgets all this: that she is weak and petty and that he is dead.

Sometimes, late at night, she reaches out to touch him and pricks her finger on a rose.