Memorial Day Challenge Ficlet written for the Henneth Annun Yahoo group.
Aragorn remembers Halbarad. Thank you, Dwim, for the inspiration.
He came simply because I had need of him. He and those of the Grey Company who could muster at such short notice and from the silver-black of a moonlit night he appeared as a shadow before me. "Halbarad Dúnadan, Ranger of the North I am," he said and my heart leapt joyously from the black pall of death and grim determination that drove us after Helm's Deep. He came, my gallant kinsman, on nothing more than faith. I was somewhere in Rohan, the nameless message said, and he so he rode south, trusting.
And in the south he died. Through the Paths of the Dead and the chaos at Pelargir and upon the black ships up the broad Anduin he was beside me, and for a time we spoke as in other days, as brothers of many shadowed roads. With sword unsheathed and the fire of the West blazing in his eyes he strode into the maelstrom that was the Pelennor Field, and above us flew the brave standard he brought to me, the work of my lady's hand. A White Tree, Seven Stars, and a high gem-wrought crown upon a sable field. Beneath that banner we fought and beneath that banner he died. My friend. Though many a road came between and many a year passed always we twain would meet once more and sit of a spring evening - much like this - and smoke a quiet pipe.
Warm breezes caress my face now, the scent of green growing things sweet to my senses as lengthening velvet shadows pool among the hillocks and wash the city walls in pastel hues of gold and lavender. On that day there was only shadow and fear and death, and these fields were trod to a morass of blood and death. It is a blessing now to stand and hear only a soft wind in the tall grass and where once were the clash of arms and the shouts and cries of war, I hear only tranquility. Our peace. I stand upon fertile earth blessed by the blood of our fallen and it is not my peace. I am but its caretaker and guardian of all that so many gave up their lives to preserve. To mourn overmuch would be to belittle their sacrifice, to declare their loss futile and without merit. That I will never do.
But in my selfish heart of hearts, I wish my friend was here to see all that we have wrought. I wish that in this warm spring evening, where the echoes of battle whisper from the sleeping stones and damp meadow, Halbarad Dúnadan, Ranger of the North once again strode beside me. Strangely I am not surprised when upon an errant current of air I imagine I smell, ever so briefly, the fragrance of a familiar pipe. Perhaps he walks with me after all. Smiling I turn and walk towards the city that we saved, and in the gentle twilight I am not alone.