For Aliana, who requested "as fluffy and light" as I could manage. I hope this fits.
And End Not in Grief or Anger
Elendil’s standard tops the White Tower. ‘Tis nigh a month, yet the sight still surprises, each time ill-knit bones make Halbarad pause in his garden rounds, seeking relief. Then he needs such moments, like he needs the crutch.
One day, as he struggles, another surprise appears: Eledhril seems grave, yet not unhopeful. Their eyes meet, and after a moment, Eledhril says: “I’ve come to say farewell.”
Halbarad glances round, seeking others, but Eledhril shakes his head. “Aragorn lifted the ban.”
“I see.” And though truly, Halbarad thinks it unlikely, after so many years, they’ll fall again, he feels the heaviness in his limbs, the bend in his back, and pride stings a little that now they may talk as friends, alone.
“I’m to ride north with the brethren,” Eledhril continues, then pauses ere finishing: “We will meet her in Lórien, then return.”
So that is it. Eledhril, then, is Aragorn's messenger to tell him... Halbarad sighs. “Good.”
“You’ll be needed.”
“Wanted, then,” Eledhril corrects. Halbarad snorts. At that, Eledhril lifts a brow. “You’re a fool, you know.”
“Eledhril,” Halbarad begins wearily, but the other – as is his wont, Halbarad knows, and aches a bit with that knowledge despite himself – presses on, relentless:
“Trusting foresight twice in three months! He wants you with him then as now.” Eledhril shakes his head. “Did you learn nothing from Pelennor about the peril of your prophesying?”
To which, Halbarad can at first say naught, unsure whether the hurt that washes through him is wrapped about laughter or anger at the invocation of that horror. Eledhril comes then to stand before him, and cups his face in his hands, looks him clean through, then kisses his brow – brother to brother, and perhaps a little more for memory's sake, ere he withdraws to ask, “Can you forgive me?”
And it is not about the Door or Pelennor, then, or not only. He has never asked for this before. Nor has Halbarad demanded aught – in truth, when would they have, ever watched by friends? Pardon, atonement: such were difficult for two such as they – impossible, even, for they owed more than they could forgive each other, more than they could rightfully demand.
They have lived years now with their wounds and silence: time changes lives and loves, leaving memories of what has been, and scars to show their errors.
But there is a king in Gondor, a kingdom in Eriador again. It is time, perhaps – if only they have learned to read the shape and sense of their scars!
Halbarad thinks of the north he will not see again, of the friends and family there, shuts his eyes, and for a moment, can almost see them…
“Give Thorondis my love and my regrets – go home to her,” he tells Eledhril finally. He opens his eyes. "Do this,” he says, and means Do right by us all.
That is everything between them, and they will part in friendship: Eledhril nods.
“I will,” he promises. Then: “We’ll speak later, when I’ve returned?”
“You’ll be needed, then,” Halbarad sighs, but Eledhril lifts a brow, asks:
“Will I be wanted, though?”
“You will be welcome,” Halbarad tells him, and this time, Eledhril smiles, reaches down to clasp his hand once, firmly. That hurts, but no matter - such is friendship.
And then he’s gone. But the standard of Elendil flies still atop the White Tower; Halbarad stares at it a long moment, then looks once after Eledhril, breathes a little more freely, and walks on.