'This is and evil door,' Halbrad said, 'and my death lies beyond it. I will dare to pass it nonetheless.'
- Halbarad, The passing of the Grey Company
It was quiet on deck, and the only thing penetrating the silence was the sound of the oars regularly splashing into the water. The former slaves were working hard, but this time out of their free will. If only we had wind to speed our voyage, Halbarad thought, though it was not his personal wish. He looked up at the sky, but the stars were veiled. He rather felt than heard the presence coming up behind him.
"I would never have thought to one day sail into battle, and on a Corsair ship no less," Halbarad remarked when the other had arrived next to him.
"Should you not rest, kinsman?"
Halbarad laughed humourlessly. "Soon my body will do naught else but rest."
The two men stood in silence, each deep in his own thoughts.
Finally Aragorn turned to him. "Do you regret following my summons?"
"And leave you to face this alone? Aragorn, how long have we known each other? Almost seventy years. By now you should know me better than that. I have no regrets."
"Thank you, Halbarad."
"For doing my duty?"
"No. Yes. That and more. Thank you for your unfaltering friendship and support even when I gave orders you did not understand. I have never told you how much it means to me. What shall I do without you by my side?"
Halbarad shrugged. "You will live on, become King, marry your lady and have a few wonderful children. You will enjoy friendships, old and new ones."
"But none of those will ever be you," Aragorn said, voice thick with emotion.
"Now do not you dare start crying! You are making me feel guilty."
Aragorn attempted a smile, but it only ended in a grimace. A lone tear fell, but Aragorn did not wipe it away. He stared into the distance. "I am so tired of battle, of speaking of battle and preparing for battle. I am weary of burials and loss, grief and heartache."
He sounded so very sad that Halbarad embraced him, holding the other's body tight. Aragorn returned the embrace and clutched at Halbarad's shoulders. "I know," he said soothingly, "I know you are. But you are almost at your journey's end; there are only a few steps remaining. I know you will not falter now."
Suddenly Halbarad realized that they were both crying. They stayed in the embrace a while longer, glad that they were given the chance of a farewell.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.