"Must you leave, beloved?" I ask, though I know his answer already.
This sort of exchange has become our own sort of ritual; I ask him to stay, whether it be from battle or a hunt for some deadly creature (I was so afraid for him when he joined the hunt for the wolf.) and he explains, once again, why he must go. He once laughed that I do enough worrying for the both of us.
"Yes, melanna, I must. Even were this someone else, the king would need my skills. But it is not someone else. He is my dearest friend. How can I let him face the orkish hoards alone?"
"What about Saeros?" I say, even though I know the king forgave the boy for that. My love springs to the defense of his friend, of course. Which is why the king forgave the man in the first place; he could hardly ignore the words of one of his most trusted captains. He must be softening since his daughter left.
"Saeros was a damn fool, and he deserved it. You know that, beloved."
"Yes, I know." He smiles and I am reminded why I love him so. But so much more than his wonderful eyes and his gentle smile, I love his honor and his care for everything in his life.
I look at him, into his wise grey eyes. "Come back to me, beloved. When you have found him, come back to me. Promise me this."
He takes my face in his big hands. "This is more than your usual worry, melanna. What frightens you so?" His voice is concerned and gentle.
"I cannot say," I confess. "I keep seeing your face in my mind, dead and grey. And you're going so far away from the protection of the queen. I fear to lose you."
He pulls me close, pressing my head against his chest. I can hear his heartbeat, strong and steady. Like him. "I swear to you," he whispers into my hair. "I will return. When I have found the man I seek, I will return to you by whatever means necessary. I swear this by Manwë and Elbereth. You will not lose me." A smile creeps into his voice. "Feel better?"
No. "Yes. I suppose so."
"Good. Help me pack?"
"Of course. It has to be done right, no?"
He laughs and kisses me on the cheek. I kiss him back and we get to work, packing with one hand each. The others are folded around each other's.
He leaves at dawn the next morning.
I stand watching his tall figure fade into the distance, remembering his parting words.
"Wait for me, melanna. I will return before the year is old. I love you, my gift of love."
I whisper to his back, "I will wait for you forever, Beleg Cuthalion."
[A/N: And we all know what happens to his promise, don't we.
I hope this has no Mary-Sue-ish tendencies. I don't think it does, but as I'm the author I'm rather biased. Please review and if it in any way looks like an MS, please do let me know so I can delete it.
Also, if anyone can help me with italics and bold, that would be greatly appreciated.]