Boromir sat under a tree in the Golden Wood and tried to understand why this beautiful, peaceful place made him so uneasy. Perhaps it was the Lady. He understood she had meant well, even in her odd way been trying to comfort him, but he didn't like her touching his mind. The experience was not new to him, both his father and his brother had the gift, but he had no wish to share that closeness with a stranger, however benevolent her purposes!

No, it wasn't just the Lady, though the eerie *wrongness* of this place did seem to center somehow on her. No wonder the Golden Wood had such a sinister reputation among Men! He got up abruptly and began walking quickly but aimlessly through the forest. Perhaps it was simply that this was an Elven Land and he was a Man, yet he had not felt so in Rivendell. In fact he'd been a little surprised by how at home he'd felt in Elrond's House despite its walless openess and Elven inhabitants. Of course Elrond was half Man... Aragorn seemed comfortable enough here, but he had Elven blood was not the House of the Kings descended from Elrond's twin brother? Yes, that must be it, Boromir decided. He was unhappy here because he was just a Man and Elven realms were not meant for the likes of him.

"My lord?" Startled he stopped and turned. An Elven lady stood there, her hair the color of the Mallorn leaves, slender and sad in a pale golden gown.

"Lady?"

She stepped closer, eager yet somehow apprehensive. "I am told you come from Gondor?"

"That is true. I am the son of the Steward."

She sighed, perhaps in relief? "I am Mithrellas, long ago I dwelt in your land -"

He interrupted her, incredulous, "Mithrellas, the wife of Imrazor?"

She blinked, as surprised as he. "You know my story?"

"I heard it from my mother as a boy," He answered, and a shock went through him as he remembered why. "You were one of the companions of Nimrodel but your company strayed and were seperated from one another as you crossed the White Mountains on your way to the Elf haven at the mouth of the Ringlo. "Imrazor of Belfalas was hunting in the wooded foothills when he found you. He took you to his home and you were married. You bore him two children but when they were grown you slipped out of your house one night never to return."

Tears had been brimming in her eyes as he spoke, now they spilled over. "I couldn't stay any longer! Imrazor was old, I couldn't bear to watch him die, watch my children grow old and die in their turn..."

Impulsively he took her hands, they were trembling and very cold. "I know. They understood, they never blamed you and wished you well. But we always thought you went oversea."

Mithrellas shook her head. "No, I wanted my home. The Lord Celeborn had come by then and driven our enemies away. As Amroth was lost he agreed to stay with us and brought his Lady here and they have governed and protected us ever since." she freed one hand to wipe the tears away. "I hoped...I hoped you could tell me some news of my children. Were they happy?"

"Doubtless they had their troubles and sorrows as do all Men," he said gently, "but their lives were long and, for the most part, happy. Galador built a fair city at Dol Amroth and became a great mariner and master of many ships, and was held in high honor by King Earnur and the Stewards. Your daughter married the Prince of Tarnost and was accounted first lady of the land as the King had no wife. She was much admired for both her beauty and her wisdom."

Tears streamed freely down Mithrellas' face. Instinctively Boromir gathered her into his arms and she sobbed freely on his shoulder, as new widows and mothers of sons lost to war had done all too many times.

Somehow he'd never thought an Elf woman could cry so, like any mother, for her lost children. And this Elf was his own remote kin, she even had something of the look of his own mother, Finduilas of Dol Amroth. Boromir had completely forgotten he had Elven blood himself - and from an Elf of Lorien too! This eerie realm was, in a way, his ancestral home. Yet he felt more alien here than he ever had in Rivendell.

Gradually Mithrellas' sobs lessened. When Boromir knew she could listen again he continued, "The granddaughter of Gilmith married the grandson of Galador uniting the two lines. The Princes of Dol Amroth are the first nobles of the realm, honored by all Gondor. And they do not forget their Elven blood, or you. My mother was born of that lineage, it was she who told me your story." Mithrellas pulled back to stare up at him in astonishment. "The blood does not show much in me," he admitted, smiling, "my brother has more of an Elven look than I, and it is very clear in our uncle Imrahil."

Mithrellas essayed a wan smile. "Well, grandson, I thank you for your news - and your comfort."

"You are very welcome, Grandmother!" And he laughed at himself for giving that name to one so seemingly youthful.

She laughed too, as if she understood the joke, and perhaps she did. After all she had lived among Men for many years.

"I feel foolish," he told her. "I had quite forgotten I have a blood tie, however distant, to this land. I wish I could say I feel at home here, but I do not."

"Nor do I sometimes," Mithrellas answered, surprising him. "Lorien is not the land I knew when I dwelt here with Nimrodel. The trees do not die now, nor are new ones born, and even the change of the seasons is muted. It is the will of the Lady. She comes from Aman across the sea where there is no change, no death, and she has made Lorien the same by her power."

"That's it," Boromir breathed, enlightened. "That is the wrongness I sense here - nothing changes! and that is against the nature of Middle Earth, the nature of Men."

"And of Elves." She smiled a little ruefully. "At first I found it restful. The world of Men changes too much and to quickly for Elven kind, it was exhausting living among you. But now -. Sometimes I cross the Celebrant to walk in woods untouched by the Lady's power, to see death and birth again and feel myself a part of the Life of Middle Earth. And I am not the only one." She shook her head. "The Lady is wise and powerful, but in this one thing she is wrong - or so I and many others feel."

"Yes," said Boromir with absolute certainty. "She is wrong."

"But I have learned this much at least," Mithrellas continued a little grimly. "Aman is not for the likes of me. I am a simple Elf of the woodlands. I will remain in Middle Earth where I belong."

"If there is ever peace in the lands come and visit us in Gondor," he invited. "Your kin would make you welcome, and it might comfort you to see the city your son built and the children born of your blood and Imrazor's." She thought about that. "Perhaps it would. Yes, when Sauron is defeated and the land is at peace I will come."

Not if, when. Boromir found that certitude strangely comforting. His ancestress was very old and had seen many dark times. If she could believe there would be light beyond this present darkness then perhaps, just perhaps, she was right

…..

The Lady Galadriel gave Boromir a slightly rueful and entirely charming smile. "It was difficult to know what gift to give to you, my Lord Boromir," an unexpected flash of humor lit her serenity, "certainly you have no need of weapons!"

He returned her smile and found himself liking the Lady rather better than he had. "The memory of Lorien is itself a gift."

The Lady laughed. "Mithrellas' children are well trained in courtesy, I see, but take this to keep the memory green and as a reminder of your kin." She held out to him a chain of gold, wrought in the shape of linked mallorn leaves and fastened by a golden mallorn flower.

Boromir took it and made his bow, straightened to meet her suddenly intent gaze. "I remember my brother once telling me hope was the gift of Men," said Galadriel, sister of Felagund. "Hold to hope, son of Gondor."

He understood what she was trying to say but could find no words to answer. The Lady moved on to smile down at the Little Ones. Boromir would try but it was hard to hope. The closer they came to Mordor the more the oppression on his spirit grew and the more desperate their quest seemed. They must go to Minas Tirith. He needed to see his city, to reassure himself it still stood, to see his father and hear his counsel. He needed to go home, for a little while at least.