Disclaimer: It's not mine, it's not mine. Tolkien gets it all. I'm just another one of those LotR junkies.

There was a sickening thud and then a lifeless body dropped unconsciously onto the ground. The last army of orcs seemed to be fading away under the restrengthened army of Gondor.

Even as the last foul creature made to creep away, the steward pierced its heart with an arrow, his aim deadly on its target.

Glancing about, the king Elessar took note of the amount of Gondorian soldiers slain. They were not great in comparison to the carcasses of orcs that littered the fair streets of the city. He would estimate 200 at the most. 200 of his brave men had died to put the world at peace.

It was now five months after the War of the Ring. Aragorn had been crowned king of Gondor, and Eomer now sat on the throne of Rohan. Faramir and the lady Eowyn were to be wedded in the fall. Gimli had been working hard on restructing the damaged parts of Minas Tirith. Now that the last orc had perished, all was well.

"My lord Aragorn," Faramir came before his king. "Shall we give out the call for the healers. Many are wounded and we have lost twelve score to death." He looked stricken, as though the fault was his own.

Elessar nodded. "Very well, Faramir." He placed a hand on the shoulder of his steward. "Do not lay the blame on yourself."

The younger man let out his breath harshly. "Boromir would not--"

"Boromir is not here. He is in a better place, somewhere free of war and fear and despair. Your time is now to serve your kingdom as best you can."

"Yes, your highness. Of course, your highness." Then with a formal bow, the fair-haired man disappeared.

With a sigh, Elessar turned to make for the Houses of Healing. Denethor's ghost still haunted his steward, no doubt.

When he had reached the uppermost ring of the city, he could see several healers at work bringing in the wounded. Entering through the doors leading into the healing houses, he approached a scullery maid who was tearing blankets into strips.

"Pardon me, my lady. Do you know the account of men wounded?"

She shook her head. "Nay, my lord." She motioned to the archway leading into the main room. "You could ask the mistress, though."

He nodded to her gratefully, and followed her direction, finding himself in a room of quickly working healers.

"Where is the head mistress?" he asked a man who was bandaging the head of an unconscious soldier.

"Over there." The man nodded to the left. "The lady Arwen."

Pausing, Aragorn turned to see his wife, three months with child, caring for two younger children, who, it seemed, had been caught in the midst of the battle.

"Arwen." He approached her.

She looked up and favored him with a smile. "Estel?"

"My love, what are you doing here? Should you not be resting?"

She saw the way he was eyeing her hardly protruding stomach, and she smiled. "I am the head mistress of the Houses of Healing," she said gently, while wrapping strips of cloth around the young girl's arm. "You cannot expect me to lie in bed all day after there has been a battle."

The king sighed, and knew he was being overly protective. "Very well, love." Then, remembering his initial question, he cleared his throat. "Do you know the count of wounded men?"

At this her eyes clouded over. "They have not all yet been accounted for." Kissing the child on her head, the queen motioned for her to lie on the bed. "We tally them as they come in. So far there are over five hundred seriously wounded. No one has come out of this battle unscathed, though." She eyed the long scratch across his face, that matted a couple locks of his hair with blood.

"It is nothing," he promised. "I--"

"Lord Aragorn!"

The royal couple turned and Aragorn saw Faramir hurrying to them, a limp body in his arms. "Lord Aragorn, he is wounded but still breathing, though we cannot rouse him."

A grey cloak was wrapped around the lithe body, but one flash of flaxen hair told him who is was.

"Legolas." He breathed, taking the body from his steward. Glancing down, he saw that his friend's lips were pale and skin waxy.

"Call for Ioreth," he ordered. "We must take him to a room to look at his wounds."

Faramir sprinted away to fulfill his lord's order and Aragorn carried the elf into the unused rooms, laying him carefully down on the bed and taking out a dagger to cut open his bloodied shirt.

The healer Ioreth appeared, followed by the oldest healer of the city, Celond. Two servants came behind them, carrying tools and supplies.

"Let us see to him." Celond and Aragorn lifted him to peel away his shirt, and the king was mortified to see his stomach and chest painted with blood.

An ugly wound was carved deep into the left side of his lower belly, the tissue seeping forth and drenched in blood.

"We must first stop the bleeding," Celond announced. "And put something on his head." It had been covered by hair before, but Aragorn could now see the large gash on the side of the elf's forehead.

"Close the door," he ordered to one of the servants, then came to sit beside the bed and hold his friend's cold hand between two of his warmer ones.

After cleaning away most of the blood, Ioreth had placed herbs wrapped in a wet rag over his forehead. "He'll have a concussion, no doubt," she had confirmed grimly.

Celond could not seem to stop the bleeding of the lower wound, however, and finally he turned to the king. "He must have a piece of the blade embedded inside him, or else the bleeding would have stopped by now. We will have to perform surgery to take it out."

The king nodded, and then saw light lashes flutter before blue eyes opened slowly and parched lips opened to gasp in a breath.

"Legolas." He took the elf's hand as he knelt by the bed. "How are you faring, mellon-nin?"

"Estel..." the elf spoke with difficulty, and now the king noticed blood-specked foam in the corners of his mouth.

"Where does it hurt? Tell me where it hurts."

"There... there is a pain on my left side... and on my forehead. I-I cannot move my right arm..."

The healers immediately began attending to his limb, searching for signs that might be causing him pain.

"It is broken," Celond affirmed.

"Legolas," Aragorn wiped a strand of golden hair from the elf's sweaty brow. "We will need you to take something for the pain. The healers must perform an operation to remove the blade from your side."

Legolas shook his head. "I want... I want no medicine, Estel."

"But Legol--"

"Please, Estel." The elf gasped. "It is not the way of my people."

With a grim sigh, the king nodded. "Very well, my friend. We shall do it as you wish," he promised, and the elf nodded.

"Hannon lle, Estel."

The healers had laid out their tools and were ready to perform the operation.

"My lord King," Celond spoke. "We'll have to ask you to leave."

Aragorn nodded and squeezed his friend's hand softly.

The door shut behind him and locked.