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22
In All But Blood

This ficlet was originally written for the Memorial Day Onlist Challenge back in 2003. Brand was not even a figment in my imagination then, so this piece will either be re-written or expanded upon eventually.


~~~

The sun was blinding white overhead the day he left me, falling away from his place at my back in silence. His horse had been killed under him and I had dismounted to cover him, finding the breath to laugh in the stifling hot air at the curses he shouted at me, yelling at me to stay on my wretched horse. I saw him fall out of the corner of my eye, and cursing in my turn, moved to straddle him. The men of my house, all of whom he had trained from boyhood, were finally able to drive the enemy back and enfold us in a ring of steel, but it was too late for him.

I held him in my arms as the desert sand seemed to suck the life's-blood from him. He did not say much, but then, he had never been much for words.

"'Tis my turn to lead, and yours to follow, just this once," he growled, his brow furrowed. "But see that you don't get in a hurry about it."

"I won't," I whispered, bending my head and kissing him on the mouth, as I knew he would wish. His lips smiled beneath mine; then, with a last coppery sigh he left me. I remained there, oblivious, as the last actions of the battle were fought around me, heedless of the sun hammering down upon my head or my men ringing us in grief and shocked silence.

Eventually, a shadow blocked the sun. I knew who it had to be, and spoke without looking up.

"I will war no more for you, Aragorn. I am too old for this, and I am going home." A hand brushed my shoulder, respect and sorrow and understanding all conveyed in a single touch.

"Then go in peace, Imrahil."

I took him home with me, wondering even as I did so if I should, for some of his folk gave their dead to the fire, and others to the desert. My mind was beset and befogged with grief, and it took my sons to clear it.

"It matters naught what his folk did," said Amrothos, "for he is not of
them now. He is family."

"There is only one thing you can do," said Elphir, and he laid before me an idea which comforted me much.

"You do not mind?" I asked my boys. They all declared that they did not, and so it was done.


I visit them both often now, in the House of the Princes; my wife, who is entombed upon the left side of the bier that will be mine one day soon, and he who was my brother in all things but the least important upon the right. The shield man's place, as is fitting. Let men wonder in the future how a Haradrim came to be here among us, let them speculate. The inscription says little, as he would prefer, but it says all that is important.

Here lies Andrahar of Dol Amroth.

~~~

I couldn't let Andra die in bed...


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