Boromir is a difficult, prickly, defensive problem.
As hard as I try to use diplomacy and charm to win him over, or at least achieve a glimmer of friendship or mutual respect every single time I fail.
This evening he strides back into our campsite bringing a cloud of angry tension with him, throwing his weapons upon the ground with a carelessness that is not like him at all for Boromir, no matter how problematic his temper, is always careful and responsible. He was supposed to be down by the river fishing for our supper but I can see no hint of a successful fishing trip anywhere. No fish at all.
"Well there is a problem for you." Mithrandir mutters in my ear. "Show us this delicate tact you are so famous for, Aragorn."
"I am not going to speak to him now! All the signs say it will go badly." Initially I was relieved Gandalf was accompanying us on this quest but at times like these he is no help at all.
"All the signs . . ." He rolls his eyes at me. "You are not Galadriel, Aragorn. Get over there. He will be your steward one day. Start building a working relationship."
"A working relationship ... seriously..." I mumble it to myself as reluctantly I make my way across the clearing, wondering how I can possibly somehow lose Mithrander along the road to Mordor.
"Boromir—" I have hardly opened my mouth and begun the careful, respectful, conversation starter I had planned when he cuts me off in a rage.
"Can you tell that disrespectful sprite . . . That creature . . . To keep his clothes on!"
"I have had enough!" Boromir cries. "I cannot even do a simple task such as going fishing without him dancing around half naked. It is too much. He is doing this on purpose, Aragorn, to rile me."
I look around in confusion. Whatever does he mean? And do not think I do not see you sniggering over there in the corner, Mithrander, oh yes I do.
The hobbits stare at us with wide eyes, even the dwarf looks up from his ministrations over the fire. The only one missing is Legolas.
Of course it is Legolas.
"Do you mean Legolas?" I ask quietly, "Can you keep your voice down Boromir, you are scaring the hobbits."
Instantly he is contrite and when next he speaks I am relieved it is quieter.
"Forgive me, those poor children do not need to be exposed to this. All the more reason you need to get him under control."
"Well they are not children, Boromir." I am playing for time. For the life of me I do not know who died and left me in charge of Legolas. "Tell me quietly now, your problem."
"He is down there . . ." He gestures toward the river, "larking about," he leans closer to me, dropping his voice to a whisper, "with no clothes on! It is as if he follows me waiting to remove them. Everytime I go for some quiet contemplation there he is. Deal with him, Aragorn."
Why me? Why is it me who must deal with him? I am not a woodelf expert whatever Boromir may think and this must be a specifically wood-elven problem. I have never had any issues with my brothers frolicking naked around rivers. Never.
It is with trepidation I follow Boromir's directions and approach the river.
Sure enough, Legolas is there.
He is not frolicking or larking about now however. He is lying in the sun. But Boromir is right about one thing. He is completely naked.
He smiles as he looks up at me, that disarming beautiful smile he has that is impossible to say no to.
"Aragorn, come and join me."
"I am not—" I cannot believe he asked me that! "I am not coming to join you!"
His face falls. He genuinely wished me to.
"Why not? The sun is most delicious upon my skin. It's warmth is like a soft caress. It will relax you."
"I am not going to join you in the sun, Legolas. Put some clothes on."
"They are drying." He waves a hand towards a rock upon which he has draped items of clothing.
"You have been doing the washing?"
He does not answer my question, instead he frowns up at me.
"You seem stressed." He says, "Are you sure some relaxation in the sun will not benefit you?"
"I am sure. This is not the best time to be washing your clothes, Legolas."
"Why?" He pulls himself up so he sits knees bent, arms wrapped around them. It makes it slightly easier to look at him. "I did not want to point it out, Aragorn, but your clothing could do with some washing itself. The sun is bright . . Perhaps you should take the opportunity—"
"I am not going to strip off my clothes and wash them now . . . And I am only stressed because of the mood Boromir was in when he returned to camp."
"Oh! Well he seemed exceedingly stressed as well, Aragorn. Perhaps you should speak to him? I did try to get him to relax in the sun also, but with no luck."
He did not seriously think asking Boromir to sunbathe with him naked was going to destress him?
"He was stressed, Legolas, because you asked him to relax in the sun!"
His forehead creases with a frown.
"He has problems with the sun, then?" He asks in the end. "That is most unfortunate."
"No, Legolas," I sigh. Must he make this so difficult? "He has problems with you doing your washing in broad daylight."
"But how will it dry otherwise?" He throws his arms wide in frustration. "You cannot seriously be telling me you Gondorions wash your clothes at night!"
I do not even know how it is we have ended up talking about the laundry.
"It is not the washing." I take a deep breath and count to ten. "It is you, Legolas. Boromir is not used to . . . You." I gesture helplessly towards him. "You and your . . . Lack of clothes . . . You need to keep them on around Boromir, please."
And Legolas looks honestly upset.
"Is something about me offensive?" Lithely he leaps to his feet though I wish he would not for I do not know where to look.
"Am I not pleasant on the eye? I have always assumed I was."
"You are, you are." He looks most distressed and I am in a rush to reassure him. This has to be the most awkward conversation I have ever had in my life. "You are very attractive Legolas, very—believe me." It is true . . . He is. "If I were that way inclined I would . . . But I am not of course . . .but there is no doubting your . . . Attractiveness . . ."
My words trail off as I watch the expression on his face change from distress to consternation to something akin to anger. What have I said?
"Aragorn!" He turns his back on me which is even more disconcerting and reaches for his still wet shirt. It clings to his skin as he tries to wrestle his way into it. "This is not acceptable!"
"Acceptable?" I am at a loss.
When he turns back to me his eyes are flashing.
"What of the Evenstar? It would hurt her and I will not betray her. Perhaps, if you were not already attached I would entertain this, but you are.You must not forget her! She deserves better than this and I will defend her."
Too late, and to my horror, I realise he thinks my stumbling reassurance is some kind of invitation.
"No, no! Legolas, you have this all wrong. That is not what I meant!"
But he is not listening to me. He is hopping desperately on one foot trying to force the other into his soaking wet trousers. At least, I suppose, he is covering himself up.
"If I lead you astray accidentally you must know that is not my intention at all." He says sternly. "I ask you give me privacy when I am washing in future if it affects you that way . . . And Boromir. I am sorry but although he is skilled and appears fairly honorable he is just not my type."
Could this get any worse? Now he believes Boromir infatuated with him as well?
Boromir will kill me.
"Legolas—" I reach out to grasp his shoulder, to get his attention properly so I can straighten out this mess but he shrugs me off aggressively.
"No, Aragorn! It cannot be." And he fixes me with a glare. "I expected better from you. We will not mention this again."
"Not one word. Do you understand me? Not one word; ever again."
Angrily he sweeps up what is left of his clothes and strides away from me, leaving me aghast. Could this have possibly gone any more wrong?
As I watch him go I realise the wet clothes have done nothing to reduce his attractiveness—rather the opposite if anything. They cling to him quite distractingly.
"You are all wet, Legolas!" I hear Pippins high voice exclaim from the campsite as I trail miserably back in his wake. "Have you been swimming? You should have undressed first."
"I am drying my clothes in the Gondorion way, Pippin," I hear Legolas say haughtily. "They will dry overnight it seems."
"But I do not think they will—" Pippins small face is creased in confusion from the opposite side of the glade when I enter, and Boromir stares at Legolas as if he has lost his mind. Please, Legolas, I think to myself. Say nothing to Boromir.
"It is what they do." Legolas replies firmly, "Is it not Boromir? And I have been ordered to adhere to it."
I never ordered him. He overstates things terribly.
By the look on his face Boromir thinks this is some strange elven way of making him look a fool.
"I do not know what you are talking about." He snaps. "The clothes will not dry during the night. That is ridiculous."
But Legolas ignores even him.
"Obviously Boromir was not ever involved in the doing of laundry," he tells Pippin. "If he was he would know this is the way things are done in Gondor. Aragorn says so."
He sits himself down on the opposite side of the clearing, arms folded and face like a thundercloud. Even small Pippin gets the message talking further to him would be most unwise.
And Boromir glares at me too. He probably thinks I make fun of him and our people behind his back.
"Night-time laundry?" Mithrandir whispers in my ear. "How did you come up with that? And to what purpose?"
I sigh, It is all very well for him to criticise. He was not the one trying to talk to this crazy Silvan.
"I did not. I simply wanted him to put some clothes on. Boromir was becoming agitated by his seeming joy at constantly removing them."
"He is Silvan. It is what they do," Mithrandir smiles, "The body is simply another form of nature's beauty to them, not something to hide. I hope you have not insulted him."
"He thinks I am besotted with him. He has misunderstood me completely. He will not let me explain because I insult Arwen and we are to say not one more word about it. What am I to do about this, Mithrandir!"
It is with far too much glee he chuckles at my misery.
"Ah, Aragorn, I did not take you for a chaser of elves. What would your foster father and your brothers say? And the son of Thranduil, no less! You aim high!"
"I am not a chaser of elves!" I mutter angrily, "as you well know!"
"Well you are." He points out, "just not this elf. Never mind," He pats me on the shoulder "If Legolas has decided there should be no more words about it then there will not be. He will never speak of it again."
"And he will spend all the rest of his life believing I am lusting after him! I cannot have that!"
"But is he not most attractive though?"
I spin to look at the wizard in astonishment. Did he just say that?
"Relax, Aragorn," I would almost say he grinned. "You take things far too seriously."
Oh it is alright for him. He is not the one with a companion lecturing him about betraying his beloved, or a steward who now thinks he is mocking him. This is all his fault. I should have just left well enough alone.
So much for his working relationship. I told him the signs were bad.
I lean across towards him. I drop my voice low to whisper threateningly in his ear.
"The next time there is a problem, the next time Boromir is upset or the woodelf disrobes inappropriately, it will be you who deals with it!"
And I wish he would not not laugh quite so hard.
It is only later I remember Legolas' comment, in the midst of his tirade about my loose morals.
Perhaps, if you were not already attached I would entertain this.
I make a mental note.
No swimming, no bathing, not so much as a rolled up shirt sleeve in front of Legolas.