Disclaimer: I don't own Lord of the Rings.
Sorry to everyone who has been patiently waiting for an update! School and exams just piled up and any free time was devoted to sleep. Anyways, with that all behind me I finally wrote an ending. I hope you enjoy it!
It took two more days before the Fellowship, minus their wizard friend, was standing before the Elves of Lothlórien, preparing to depart.
Earlier that morning, Galadriel had stood next to Aragorn, watching Pippin eat more than a healthy share of Lembas bread.
"Your companions are strong, Elessar. It is a blessing. The road ahead will not be easy."
"We knew it would be."
"You have come to care for the Hobbits."
"I swore I would protect them with my life."
"And I have no doubt you will do so." Galadriel laid a thin hand on the strong man's shoulder.
"What is troubling you?"
Aragorn turned to look at the beautiful Elf, the sunlight glimmering off her golden hair.
"I could not protect them. I brought them harm. How can they trust me now?"
"You did not bring them harm. You said it yourself – illness knows not strength. And do not forget, Elessar, they asked for you when they were ailing. Do not forget what Master Took said."
Aragorn thought back.
Night had fallen and it was cool in the forest. The Ranger went from companion to companion, adding blankets to soothe the chill. When he arrived at Pippin's bedside, he found the small Hobbit shaking and drenched in his own sweat.
"Pippin, you are burning up." Aragorn said, feeling his brow. "Why did you not speak up?"
Pippin shook his head, shaking too hard for words.
"I will be back." Aragorn rose and returned with a warm drink and something to bathe Pip's brow. He helped the Hobbit sit up and sip the warm liquid before making him comfortable once more.
"Relax. Lie still if you can." Aragorn said calmly. Pippin did as he was told and his shaking ceased after a few moments. Aragorn thought Pippin was asleep but just as he was about to leave his side, Pippin opened his eyes slowly.
"I'm glad you're watching over us, Strider." Pippin's voice was thick, on the edge of sleep. "I almost feel like I'm back in the Shire."
With those words, Pip's eyes slid closed and he began snoring softly.
"You still ask how they can trust you?" Lady Galadriel asked gently.
"I wish I could undo what has happened."
"You cannot and it is over. Learn from it and move forward with the confidence and knowledge you have gained."
The Elf left the balcony and Aragorn thought about her words. It was sound advice, although anything spoken by Galadriel was bound to contain wisdom.
"You are wondering what you have learned." Arwen's gentle voice asked.
Aragorn turned to see his love standing next to him. Her brown hair cascaded down her back and her pale blue dress, beautifully embroidered, stood out against the green foliage.
"Yes." Aragorn answered. "Do you know what it is I should take from this?"
"Of course I do, Estel, but I cannot tell you."
"Somehow I knew you would say such a thing."
"Then why did you bring me here?" Arwen asked.
"I had to see you." Aragorn turned to face her. He allowed his finger to run over her cheek. Arwen closed her eyes, enjoying his touch.
"Think." She breathed.
Aragorn closed his own eyes and thought. Suddenly it came to him.
"I cannot control destiny."
He opened his eyes to see Arwen smiling.
"No, you cannot."
"But I can bring hope."
"That is why my father named you Estel. You are a leader, Aragorn. Whether it be in the arts of healing, protecting a Hobbit, or ruling a vast kingdom, you bring with you the message of hope."
"I am not sure I can do it forever."
Arwen smiled gently.
"You will have no choice. It is who you are."
"Aragorn!" Legolas called down from the dock. Aragorn left his trance, and turning to the side, saw that Arwen had not been there. Like each time, she had been in his imagination.
"We're ready to leave."
"I'll be right down." Aragorn called back. Smiling to himself, he descended the stairs and joined the Fellowship before Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn.
And thus, my friends, concludes The Practices of Healing. I hope you have enjoyed it. Merry Yule!