AN: Boromir is very hard to write, and I feel that fanfiction rarely does him justice. Here is my attempt at writing the soldier of Gondor and exploring a relationship that is not often looked at.

All recognizable characters in this story belong to J.R.R. Tolkien, not me. It is written purely for entertainment, no copyright infringement intended.

The Whisperings of the Ring

The day was cool, and the sky was overcast above a forest of sparse, dark trees. Beneath the thin branches, bedecked with dying leaves, moved a strange company of nine. Gandalf the Grey, the wise and powerful wizard, led the company, followed by four small beings known as halflings to other races and hobbits to their own. Gimli the dwarf succeeded them, while two men, Aragorn the ranger and Boromir, son of the Steward of Gondor, followed him. Legolas, an elf of Mirkwood, played rear guard to the company. They were the nine walkers, the Fellowship formed in Rivendell, embarked on a fearsome and dangerous journey southward, toward the evil land of Mordor.

Their tread was heavy, for it was nearing evening, and their pace had been a rapid one. Even Aragorn, much used to travels entailing long marches and many sleepless nights, was looking forward to the making of camp, while the hobbits, with their shorter legs and rounder stomachs, were growing very weary indeed, although none had complained or asked for rest.

Behind Gandalf, one of the hobbits stumbled as he scrambled over a fallen tree that lay in their path. The sandy-haired fellow behind him put out a hand to steady him, earning himself a smile from his companion.

"Are you alright, Mr. Frodo?" he asked.

"Yes, I am fine, thank you Sam," Frodo replied as he righted himself once more. There was a gleam of gold at his neck as he straightened.

Hidden beneath the humble jacket and tunic that this innocent hobbit wore lay Middle-Earth's greatest hope and greatest peril: the One Ring, forged by the Dark Lord Sauron and cut from his hand by Isildur during the great Battle of the Last Alliance in the Second Age. It lay quietly on a chain around the neck of its unassuming keeper, but, though it was still, it was not idle, and one pair of eyes that glimpsed that quick gleam of gold was hungry.

Boromir had not missed Frodo's stumble, nor the quick glimpse of the ring, for his eyes were often on the hobbit as the Fellowship journeyed southward. The ring was frequently on his mind, and although he had been told by many wise people that the ring could not be wielded by any who would do good in the world, still at times his mind turned to it and and the power that it offered. He could not stop himself from imagining his triumphant return to Gondor bearing a weapon powerful enough to defeat the enemy, from picturing the rejoicing in Minas Tirith at the long dreamt-of defeat of the Dark Lord. At times it was all he could do to turn his mind away from the thought of how very easy it would be to take the ring forcibly from the small being who carried it.

He told himself that these thoughts were only wishful thinking, daydreams to amuse himself with during the long, dull march, and that he would never truly act upon them. But at times it seemed as though the dark thoughts entered him from somewhere outside himself, and he almost thought he heard the ring speak, calling his name.

Boromir, it murmured, Boromir. It was all he could do to ignore its siren call.

The company halted at last in a small glade, for it would soon be too dark to see where they walked. The four hobbits sank gratefully down upon the moss as the others began to make camp, unburdening themselves of their packs as they pulled out bedrolls and cooking supplies and started a fire. Boromir gathered firewood from beneath near-by trees, and as he turned back toward the camp with an armful of kindling he noticed Legolas speaking quietly with Aragorn. As Boromir watched, the ranger nodded and Legolas turned and disappeared silently into the trees.

A few tales were told around the fire as they ate a light meal, but mostly the companions were quiet, wearied by long days of travel and knowing there were more to come. Soon after eating, the hobbits retired, and Gimli joined them a few minuets later. Boromir had been assigned first watch, and he felt rather uncomfortable and out of place as Gandalf and Aragorn fell into deep conversation. Legolas had still not returned.

Boromir stared into the fire as he listened to Aragorn and Gandalf converse. They spoke mostly of the journey ahead, discussing what paths to take, which plains might provide the straightest route and where they might find the best place to ford rivers, but after a while their talk turned to other things, to names Boromir did not recognize and places he had never been. At last Gandalf asked.

"And where has Legolas taken himself off to?"

Aragorn grunted noncommittally. "I told him to stay near by. He wanted to go off by himself and sit with the trees for a while. He said the whisperings of the ring were bothering him."

Gandalf's eyes flicked to the sleeping Frodo. "So it has even taken a stab at our elven companion," he said thoughtfully. "That evidences Frodo's strength even more, if the ring seeks to tempt a wood-elf rather than remain in his keeping." The wizard smiled fondly in the hobbit's direction before turning back to Aragorn. "I am surprised Legolas would find its call so troubling."

"He said it reminded him of Dol Guldur," Aragorn replied.

"Ah," the wizard's face softened into a look of understanding. "I should have guessed." He sighed. "Thranduil's people have suffered much at the hand of Sauron; it is good to have one of their own aiding in his destruction."

He was silent for a long while, then at last rose from his seat with a groan. "I am getting too old for this," he told Aragorn with a grin. The ranger chuckled quietly and stood alongside him.

"Wake me for the second watch," he told Boromir as the two moved off to their respective bedrolls. The soldier of Gondor nodded absently, his mind working at the things he had overheard.

It was at once both comforting and alarming to learn that he was not the only one to suffer agony over the ring. It was comforting to know he was not alone in his weakness, but it was alarming too because it suggested that the ring itself was acting upon him, and that it was not only an internal struggle he faced, but an external one as well.

The whisperings of the ring were bothering him. That was what Aragorn had said. He had spoken as if the ring were a living being, capable of speech, and neither he nor Gandalf had seemed surprised that Legolas would hear the ring speak to him, suggesting that they, too, heard its voice. Boromir frowned at the thought; if the ring possessed not only a malevolence but a will of its own, how could any of the company long hope to resist?

For perhaps an hour he sat in silent contemplation, his mind offering all sorts of horrible imaginings to fill his heart with unease and even fear. Finally, something moved in his peripheral vision, and a voice spoke beside him.

"What troubles you, Son of Gondor?"

Startled, Boromir jumped up and turned sharply, his sword half-drawn before he recognized the speaker.

"Legolas," he said, feeling a bit foolish. "You startled me."

The elf gave him a slight smile. "Forgive me," he replied. "That was not my intent." Gracefully he stepped past Boromir and seated himself upon the log on which the man had been sitting. Belatedly, Boromir realized he was still clutching the hilt of his half-drawn sword. He released it and it slid back into its scabbard with a soft snick as he sat down beside the elf.

For a long moment they sat side-by-side, watching the dying flames, before Boromir ventured to speak.

"What made you believe I was troubled?" he asked finally. He hated to ask the question, but he found himself curious how the elf had known of his internal struggle.

"It is not difficult to discern," the elf said, sounding a bit surprised at the question, as if the answer should have been obvious. "I can see it in the way you sit, the lines of your body." One graceful, slender hand came up and traced a line across Boromir's shoulders and down his right side, as if to illustrate his words. "Is it the ring?"

Boromir recoiled as if Legolas has struck him, an angry retort forming on his lips.

"Nay," the elf said. "Do not be offended. The call of the Dark Lord's treasure haunts us all. I have seen it in Aragorn's eyes, in Mithrandir's face. Only the hobbits seem untroubled by the evil in our midst, for their innocence shields them from it."

He considered Boromir carefully.

"The ring calls to you, does it not? It offers victory over the Dark Lord, peace for your people and glory for you and yours. It whispers of how easy it would be to take the ring from the one who carries it."

Boromir stared at him. He had heard stories of the uncanny ability of elves to discern that which was invisible to others, but he had never before believed it.

"What sort of elvish magic is this?" he whispered.

"Nay, I do not read your mind, if that is what you think," the elf said, with a merry laugh. "It is not so difficult to guess what it might say to you, for it would offer similar things to me."

"It is also in your mind?" Boromir asked. Despite Aragorn's earlier words, he found it somewhat difficult to imagine this immortal being plagued by the same weakness that lay in his heart.

"We are not so different, you and I," Legolas replied. "Like Gondor, my home has long been plagued by darkness and evil, and like yours my people have fought valiantly only to see their lands slowly encroached by darkness. Like the soldiers of Gondor, the warriors of Mirkwood have fallen in great numbers to defend a home that they stand very likely to lose." He gave Boromir a bittersweet smile. "Like you, I feel a great desire to help my people, a responsibility to save them from defeat. Like the Steward of Gondor looks to you, so does my father look to me to find a way to save our people."

"Your father…" Boromir began.

"… is Thranduil, King and Lord of Mirkwood," Legolas replied easily, his shoulders moving slightly as if to shrug off the title.

"Then you are a prince in you own right," Boromir exclaimed. He vaguely remembered hearing mention of Legolas's father at the counsel at Rivendell, but if he ever realized Legolas's connection to the royal family of Mirkwood he had forgotten. He had had little interest in elven family trees at the counsel, his mind preoccupied with other matters. Certainly Legolas had never made mention of it since; he never spoke or acted like royalty, and Aragorn and Gandalf, although surely aware of who Legolas was, never treated him as anything more than a valued companion. Boromir wondered at this, and also at Legolas's comparison between himself and the man of Gondor.

"Then the ring would offer you what it would offer me," Boromir surmised. "The weapon of the enemy to destroy the enemy, and freedom for your people."

Legolas snorted, a rather undignified noise for an elf to make. "It would, if I would listen," he conceded. "But I am not fool enough to believe what it would say to me. The power of the enemy brought darkness to Greenwood, for such my home was once called, in the days before Dol Guldur. Sauron's evil turned green to black and brought evil beneath the branches; that same power could hardly be used to liberate it."

He shook his head. "Nay, the ring has nothing to tempt me. I have no desire for power or glory, only to see beauty restored to the dark places of the world. And that it cannot give me.

"Yet still are you troubled," Boromir surmised.

"It is not what the ring would offer, but the simple fact that it offers."

Boromir frowned. "I do not understand."

Legolas cocked his head to the side, as if considering the words to use to explain himself.

"It is its very presence that troubles me," he said. "It feels of lust, of darkness and evil. It is a presence I have felt many times before, in my home. One can feel a whisper of it as soon as one steps beyond the gates of the palace, and the feeling grows stronger as one draws closer to Dol Guldur. I can recognize the evil of the Dark Lord in our midst, and I fear it."

Boromir was surprised by the admission. Many times during their journey Legolas had shared jests with Aragorn, and his laughter was a common sound to the ears of the Fellowship. Often he would break into song, an although the words were not in any language Boromir understood, there was no mistaking the cheerfulness of the tune. Indeed, he had often thought the elf's mirth somewhat misplaced, considering the darkness of the situation.

"You say you fear the ring, yet you seldom seem distressed. Indeed, you are normally quite jovial."

Legolas smiled at him. "All my life I have known the darkness of Sauron. If I were to let his evil taint my heart, not only would my life no longer be worth living, but he would have won. Come," he straightened his back and tossed his head to shake an errant strand of hair from his face. "We dwell too long on evil and darkness. Let the ring brood; it has no power over us, and soon it shall be destroyed and we will be rid of it."

He made it sound like such a simple task, and spoke such utter conviction, that for a moment Boromir found himself caught up in the elf's rising spirits. But the feeling did not last long as the enormous reality of their task reasserted itself in his mind.

"If only it were so simple," he said, thinking of Mordor and the death that almost surely awaited them there.

"Nay!" Legolas exclaimed, catching at his arm. "Now is a time for hope, not despair. Look." He pointed to the heavens, and Boromir could see that the sky was clearing and stars were beginning to peek through the spaces in the dissipating clouds. "See? Eärendil, our most beloved star, its ancient name Gil-Estel, high hope. All cannot be lost when we have its light to cheer us!"

Boromir stared at his strange companion as the elf jumped up from his seat, throwing his arms out to the side and tilting his head as if to bask in the appearing starlight.

"I am beginning to think shall never understand elves," he declared, bemused by Legolas's odd behavior.

"And I come to think I shall never understand men!" the elf retorted glibly, laughing. And then he began to sing.

"When the sky is bright, all the stars alight,
Eärendil smiling down.
Then beneath the leaves of the singing trees
No elf can wear a frown."

"When the moon is high in the midnight sky
A sliver crescent thin
While the west wind blows and tickles my nose
I cannot help but grin."

Boromir shook his head at the strange song.

"And where does that song come from?" he asked.

"Why, from me," Legolas answered as he danced over the moss.

"The grass is soft and the stars aloft
Are twinkling down at me.
I must find a song so to sing along
With that sung by the trees."

And with those words he leapt up and grasped the lowest branch of the tree under which he stood, swinging his body upward and disappearing into its branches.

Boromir chuckled to himself as he settled down for the rest of his watch, feeling much more cheerful than he had before his conversation with Legolas. Yet even as he smiled to hear soft singing drifting down from the branches of Legolas's tree, he knew that it was only a matter of time until the ring again sought to tempt him. The west wind that had tickled Legolas's nose brought a chill to Boromir as he pulled his cloak closer about his shoulders, and in his heart he wondered how long he could outlast the whisperings of the ring.

i methen