Disclaimer: Umm, this is fanfiction. Of course I don't own any of this.

Closer Beneath the Tree

Her heart broke as she watched him stumble into the clear, cold water of the expansive lake before them. The rider, that beautiful boy ahead of her, sobbed uncontrollably while standing in the water's crystal edges. The dark forest was quiet around them, and the only sound was Eragon's heaving as he allowed himself to fall to his knees and submerge deeper into the cleansing waters.

Arya watched him breathlessly from the edge of the trees, her midnight black hair softly windblown from the run that had brought her to Eragon. Her emerald eyes glistened as she observed his pain. She knew she must help him some way to alleviate his pain. Slowly, she allowed herself to draw closer to him.

Arya knelt by the water's edge and carefully placed a hand on Eragon's shoulder. She heard his breath catch at her contact. "Eragon…" she murmured softly into his ear. Pulling him up by the shoulder, she guided him to the base of a majestic pine and sat him at the feet of the noble tree. The wind picked up slightly and blew her hair across the flawless skin of her face. Eragon looked at her then, and she felt his hazel eyes burn into hers. The pain and sorrow in them were unbearable.

Arya brought her hand to his face and lightly rested her long fingers against his cheek. She felt him trembling, not just beneath her touch, but his entire body also seemed to shake. She pulled him back against the pine with her, placing her free hand in his in an attempt to stop his shaking.

"Oh, Eragon…" she whispered softly, as she noticed the glazed look of his eyes. Whatever memories he was reliving, they were truly terrible, for his face was glued in rigid shock at the horrors he had been forced to experience. Her presence seemed to dull the pain a bit, and for that she was glad. Suddenly a thought flickered across her mind, and she frowned slightly. She gladly offered her assistance to the one responsible for saving her life, but she did not wish to encourage his forbidden attraction for her. As the pale moon reflected off of Eragon's tortured expression, Arya abruptly discarded her thoughts. He was in such terrible emotional pain, how could she dare think of not comforting him?

Both of his hands desperately were clutching the hand she had allowed him to hold. Eragon's thumb and fingers traced endless patters along her fair skin. Over her knuckles, between her fingers, and along the lines of her palm, his hands mechanically drifted as his mind struggled to deal with the pain he endured. From losing Garrow and Brom to the endless lives he himself had ended in battle, it all seemed too much. His mind threatened to explode. Who cared what the fate of Alagaësia was? He just wanted it all to end. But then there was Arya. Her presence alone allowed him to continue. The feel of her delicate fingers across his cheek and curled in his hair, the sound of her soft breathing next to him, the sensation of her hand in his, and knowing that she was there for him, right there, was enough to keep him pushing on.

They sat together beneath the mighty tree overseeing the lake. Arya kept her hand cradled on his face and her fingertips in his hair. She allowed him to memorize the curves of her hand and the sound of her breathing. As untold moments passed, they sat staring out across the crystal clear water and into the deep forest beyond. One sitting in quiet contemplation over the events unfolding around her. The other focusing on surviving his next breath by dealing with the turmoil inside himself.

Arya wondered at the experience she was having. She felt a closeness to the human resting beside her. An openness she had felt with no other, not even him, before these moments beside the lake. She wondered if it was caused by witnessing the baring of his soul, or perhaps knowing it was she who helped sustain him. Nevertheless, she felt strange next to him as his presence brought forth emotions she had long since buried deep within herself. This strange elf-like human beside her was sure to bring about her downfall, but now, as he leaned into her, all she wanted to do was hold him closer and remove the pain he endured.

A/N: Hello, this is my first fanfic, and I hope you liked it! Please review it because that would completely make my day. Tell me what you think. I appreciate constructive criticism! Thanks for taking the time to read my story!

A big hug to those have reviewed already!