Disclaimer: Characters belong to Tolkien.Some of the dialogue belongs to Peter Jackson and co. I'm just borrowing these things for my own amusement.
A/N: Okay, so I wasn't sure whether to post this story or not. It was begun many moons ago, and then left in limbo for a long time before it got finished. Consequently, it ended somewhat differently from the spirit in which it began. I also feel like it's a little generic and, let's face it, a little out of date. But I figured I might as well post it anyway, since it took a lot of effort to finish, So, enjoy!
Aragorn raised his eyes from his book as someone else entered the gallery where he was sitting. He expected to see Elrond or Gandalf, come to speak with him. However, before him stood a man, one unfamiliar to him. He did not appear to have noticed Aragorn yet, so the Ranger took the opportunity to study him more closely. Tall, well-muscled, blonde hair…Aragorn's thoughts lost all sense of coherency as he gazed at the other man.
Boromir entered the gallery quietly, not really sure where he was. He glanced around to try and get his bearings, and his sight was arrested by a mural on one of the walls. Moving closer, he saw that it showed Isildur cutting the One Ring from the enemy's finger. Turning, he perceived an altar, and on it was a sword, shattered into several pieces.
"The Shards of Narsil," Boromir breathed. "The blade that cut the Ring from Sauron's hand." He picked up the hilt, testing the blade against his finger, snatching it away when it drew blood. "Still sharp."
Suddenly, he was aware of the sensation of being watched. He turned again, and saw a man sitting in the corner; his eyes fixed on Boromir. Boromir caught his breath. The intensity of the gaze that held him was like nothing he had ever encountered before. The eyes that watched him were a deep blue, and Boromir felt himself being drawn towards them.
However, as his heart reached out, his traitorous head decided to take matters into its own hands. "No more than a broken heirloom," he heard himself saying, and the contempt in his voice shook even himself. Flinging the hilt back on to its platform, he turned to exit the gallery. When he heard the hilt drop to floor, he hesitated for a second, part of him wanting desperately to turn back. But the bigger part of him, the part that claimed to disdain anything to do with the possible resurrection of the ancient line of kings, carried him onwards, and he left without a backward glance
Aragorn sighed. As the man had turned towards him, finally aware of his presence, he had caught sight of the White Tree of Gondor emblazoned on his wrist guards, and knew that this must be Boromir of Gondor. The hope and desire that had sprung up in his heart died, for it was well known that Boromir scorned any talk of the kings and their return. As the sword hilt had dropped to floor, Boromir had hesitated, and a tiny ember of hope had rekindled inside Aragorn. But when Boromir continued on his way, the ember was smothered by a sudden anger. No more than a proud and spoiled heir, Aragorn thought bitterly as he picked up the shard, placing it reverently back on the altar. Nevertheless, that night his dreams were haunted with images of blonde warriors, strong and passionate, and when Aragorn awoke the next morning, he felt neither rested nor refreshed enough to undertake the demands of the council that was to take place that day.
"Gondor has no king. Gondor needs no king." The words rang out across the council circle. Casting a disdainful look at Aragorn, Boromir resumed his seat. However, while outwardly preserving a cold, proud demeanour, inwardly Boromir cursed his words. He knew in his heart that what he had said was false, but his head and his heart still didn't seem to be communicating. The memory of Aragorn's intense gaze burned in his mind, confusing the issue further, bringing heat to his skin and stirring something deep within him… Boromir shook his head slightly – he did not want to follow that train of thought – and tried to concentrate on what Lord Elrond was saying.
At Boromir's words, the anger that Aragorn had felt towards the man of Gondor the night before returned in full force. He wanted to grasp Boromir by the shoulders and shake him until his teeth rattled, to try and force some sense into him. He risked a glance at the other man, sure he would see the ever-present disdain still directed at him. However, as he looked around, Boromir raised his head and looked back. Blue eyes locked with green ones and Aragorn saw, not disgust and rejection, but apology, and maybe even acceptance reflected in Boromir's eyes. Instantly his anger died, and the ember of hope re-ignited in his heart.
Deciding that he needed to convey some sort of apology for his words, Boromir looked over at Aragorn just as Aragorn turned towards him. Suddenly he was lost in the intensity of the same gaze that had called to him last night. Those blue eyes pinned him, and Boromir did not think he could have looked away even if he had wanted to. And this time there was something more – something else smouldered in those blue depths… Desire? Boromir felt the heat rise in his face. Suddenly he couldn't wait for the council to be over – the affairs of Middle-earth seemed insignificant next to the affairs of his own heart.
Boromir walked restlessly to the window, and gazed without really seeing at the beauty of Rivendell. He had desperately wanted to speak with Aragorn after the council, but the Ranger had been called away by Elrond and Gandalf to discuss the details of the Fellowship and its journey. Unable to bear the innocent merriment of Merry and Pippin, or the unwelcome perception of Legolas, Boromir had returned to his room to try and get some rest, only to end up pacing backwards and forwards, the memory of Aragorn's burning gaze filling his mind.
His reverie was interrupted by a tap on the door. "Come in," he said carelessly, thinking it was someone come to summon him to the post-council meal. There was the sound of the door opening and shutting. When the visitor did not speak, Boromir sighed in annoyance. "Well, is there something you wish to say?" he asked, still not turning away from the window.
"No, at this moment I am content just to look at you," replied a voice.
Emitting a strangled gasp, Boromir spun around. Aragorn stood there, looking completely at ease, a slight smirk turning up the corners of his mouth.
"You were expecting someone else?" the Ranger asked.
"Yes. No. That is…I don't know," stammered Boromir. Pulling himself together, he walked away from the window, crossing the room until he was but two yards from Aragorn. This close, the intensity of Aragorn's blue eyes nearly drove him to distraction, but there was something that needed to be said first, to clear the air between them once and for all.
"I wish…to apologise for my behaviour – both last night and at the council," said Boromir. "My words were rude and harsh. My heart knew them to be untrue, but it took my head a little while to catch up." He offered a weak smile as an ending to his confession.
Aragorn's smirk widened, and he moved towards Boromir. They were now only a foot apart, and Boromir felt nervousness stirring in his gut. However, as Aragorn leaned still closer, nervousness was quickly replaced by desire, and Boromir felt other parts of him stirring in anticipation.
"It is all forgotten," Aragorn murmured huskily. Bringing his hand up to Boromir's face, he gently swept aside a few stray strands of hair, allowing his fingertips to linger. Jolts of electricity surged through Boromir's skin, and he drew his breath in sharply. Then Aragorn's lips were on his, the merest brush at first, but slowly becoming more insistent. The kiss deepened until Boromir felt he was lost in a dizzying vortex of sensations. He slid his arms around Aragorn's waist, pulling the other man to him, and felt Aragorn reciprocate the gesture. As their bodies came into full contact, Boromir felt desire burst into flame inside him, and he could not help the moan that escaped him. Aragorn shuddered slightly and pulled away, breaking off the kiss.
Disappointment flowed through Boromir, and it obviously showed on his face, because Aragorn laughed, a deep, throaty chuckle that set Boromir's insides awhirl. The look in Aragorn's eyes plainly said that the best was yet to come, and he pulled Boromir in for another kiss. As the kiss intensified and Aragorn's hands explored his body, Boromir surrendered himself to the sensations that were overwhelming him, and let himself go…
Some while later, Boromir lay on his bed, breathing heavily. Aragorn was lying on top of him, and by the sound of it, their recent activities had tired him out just as much as they had the Gondorian. Both men were revelling in the aftermath of their lovemaking, and Boromir was enjoying the feeling of having Aragorn draped over him. However, at the same time, a small part of him was wishing that the Ranger would move, as his arm was going numb where the other man was lying on it. He stirred very slightly, trying to ease the numbness. But Aragorn must have noticed his movement, because he opened his eyes and looked at Boromir.
"Happy?" he asked teasingly.
"Oh yes, very," replied Boromir. "Except…"
"Except what?" Aragorn sounded concerned.
"Except that I'm not going to be much use to the Fellowship if you completely cut off the blood supply to my sword arm!"
Aragorn laughed, and immediately rolled off him. The feeling flowed back into Boromir's arm abruptly, and he gasped at the painful tingling sensation it created. Still, he was disappointed that Aragorn didn't seem to want to stick around – the Ranger was already pulling his clothing back on, searching the room for those elusive articles that seemed to have gotten lost in his hast to get them off. Boromir sighed, and followed suit, eventually finding his second boot under the bed, and his shirt hanging from the curtain pole.
When both men were fully clothed again, a slightly awkward silence descended. Boromir felt like he should express his gratitude or something, but it wasn't exactly gratitude he wanted to express, and so he kept quiet.
Aragorn, however, didn't appear to have noticed the awkwardness. He just stood, watching Boromir from under slightly hooded eyelids, much as he had done earlier in the evening. And, despite everything that had happened, Boromir felt as nervous caught in that stare as he had earlier on too.
But abruptly, Aragorn turned away. "The Fellowship leaves tomorrow," he said. "We should both try and get some sleep." And with that, he left the room, leaving a very confused Gondorian staring after him.
"It is a strange thing, to suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing…"
The Ring fascinated him. It entranced him. It called to him. And he wanted so much to answer. It would be the work of just a few seconds to slip it off its chain and on to his finger. He lifted his hand to touch it. Just a few seconds…
He caught his hand back, just in time, looking up guiltily to find himself being glared at with an intensity strong enough to melt the snow around him.
"Give the Ring to Frodo."
The hobbit was also staring at him, his anxiety clear on his face, but Boromir hardly noticed. He was pinioned by Aragorn's fierce blue glare, and it was making him feel extremely unbalanced. Trying to appear nonchalant, he uttered a shaky laugh and stepped down the hillside, holding out the Ring to Frodo.
"As you wish. I care not."
The Ring was snatched from his hand, and he tried to ignore the look of relief on the hobbit's face as he replaced the chain around his neck. Forcing another laugh, he ruffled Frodo's hair and turned away. But as he did so he was shocked to see that Aragorn's hand had gone to the hilt of his sword, and was clenching it tightly enough to turn his knuckles white.
Much later, after the Fellowship had been defeated by Caradhras, and trudged wearily back down the mountain to set up camp below the snowline, Boromir found himself in charge of collecting firewood. He could not help but feel that he had been dismissed in disgrace. Trees were few and far between here, so finding kindling was taking him some distance from their camping spot.
After twenty minutes, he had managed to gather together a fairly substantial armful of wood. Substantial enough, in fact, that he was having trouble keeping hold of it all. He cursed softly as one particularly solid branch slid from his grasp. But before it could hit the ground, a hand reached out and caught it.
Boromir spun round, losing several more branches in the process, to find Aragorn standing behind him. The Gondorian hadn't even heard him approach, a fact that made him angry, although he couldn't say why.
"Is it a common practice of yours to sneak up on your comrades?" he accused bitterly.
Aragorn didn't answer him. Instead, he bent down and started gathering up the branches Boromir had dropped. "What happened today, Boromir?" he asked quietly.
Suddenly Boromir understood. He hadn't been dismissed in disgrace – he had been brought out here, away from the camp, so that Aragorn could tell him off without the rest of the Fellowship having to hear. And that realisation made him even angrier.
"I did nothing wrong!" he protested. "Is the halfling now the only person even allowed to look at the dratted thing?"
"Yes," replied Aragorn, straightening up suddenly. "You and I both know, Boromir, that it is better that the Ring be kept away from as many people as possible, that it might not have a chance to exert its malign influence on anyone."
"And you think that it is influencing me."
"I know it is influencing you. If you and Frodo had been alone earlier, who knows what might have happened?"
"Nothing would have happened," asserted Boromir. "And yet you still felt that your sword might have been necessary. Oh yes," he continued, before Aragorn could say anything. "I saw that. And I cannot believe that you saw the need to draw your weapon against me!" Boromir know his voice was too loud, but at this precise moment he did not care who heard him.
"I would have done whatever was necessary to protect the Fellowship and its quest," said Aragorn, now angry too. Then he visibly calmed himself. "The Ring calls to you, Boromir. It is calling to you now. I can see your hunger for it in your eyes." Stepping closer, he grasped Boromir's shoulders. "Do not hear it, Boromir, I beg of you. Do not give in to it."
Unable to deny the truth any longer, Boromir looked up into Aragorn's eyes, seeing both desperation and forcefulness in equal measure in their depths. "I will try," he whispered. "But it is so hard to ignore. Help me, Aragorn."
"I will," said Aragorn. "In any and every way I know how." Then he smiled slightly. "And the first way is to help you carry the rest of this wood back to camp. Our companions will not thank us for leaving them without a fire for so long!"
Boromir wandered restlessly. He was tired, but he could not seem to settle. These elven woods were beautiful and peaceful, certainly, but he could sense something lurking beneath their serenity, something that would assail him if he let his guard down.
"You should take some rest. These borders are well protected."
Boromir didn't flinch. He was no longer surprised by Aragorn's ability to creep up on him. The man had learned his elven lessons well – sometimes Boromir even wondered if he might not actually be an elf disguised as a man.
"I will find no rest here," he replied. "I heard her voice inside my head. She spoke of my father and the fall of Gondor." Those silent words from Galadriel had shaken him greatly, and he knew it was her presence he could feel beneath the tranquillity of Lothlorien, waiting to pounce on the unwary or unworthy.
Boromir told Aragorn of his fears for the kingdom of Gondor, and his doubts over Galadriel's assertion that there was still hope to be found. As he spoke the words, he felt a surprising lightening of his heart. It was good to speak of these things to someone who would understand. Particularly if that someone was Aragorn. He had missed the other man over the past few days. The Fellowship's trek through Moria, the loss of Gandalf, and then the flight to Lothlorien, had all placed heavy burdens on the Ranger, which had left him little time for the camaraderie of the earlier part of the journey.
Thinking back, Boromir smiled. Those first weeks after the Fellowship had left Rivendell had been pleasant, almost light-hearted, as if they had simply set out on a camping trip, and not a quest of the greatest importance. The members of the group had taken time to get to know each other, and although Boromir didn't think that Legolas and Gimli would ever see eye-to-eye, he had found himself liking both the elf and the dwarf. But it was to Merry and Pippin, the stalwart companions of Frodo and Sam, who the Gondorian had warmed to the most. Always fond of a joke or prank, they had nevertheless applied themselves and worked hard when Boromir had offered to teach them some rudimentary sword-fighting skills. Although that didn't stop them playing jokes on him from time to time. Boromir remembered a particular instance when, having accidentally dealt Merry a harder blow than he had intended, both hobbits had ganged up on him, pulling him to the ground and attacking him fiercely. At first Boromir had thought they were serious, but he had soon realised that they were laughing, and had joined in the play-fight wholeheartedly. They had even managed to involve Aragorn in their fun, even if it was only for a minute.
Aragorn. Of all the members of the Fellowship, Boromir felt closest to him, although the Gondorian suspected that was probably for reasons that made him blush to even think about. But the Ranger was also the member of the group that Boromir found to be the most unfathomable, for the same aforementioned reasons.
Nothing like that night in Rivendell had ever happened again. Aragorn now appeared to desire only friendship of Boromir, and the Gondorian's confusion over their fluctuating relationship was unabated.
But there had not even been much time for friendship lately. After the incident on Caradhras, Aragorn had promised to help him resist the Ring. And he had, simply by being there. But Boromir still felt the Ring's insidious call, and that, coupled with the new intrusion of Galadriel's presence, had left him feeling in need of some distinctly more tangible assistance.
Coming out of his reverie, Boromir abruptly discovered that Aragorn was leaving him, telling him once more to try and get some rest.
"Will you not stay?" said the Gondorian. "Rest eludes me this night, and I would feel easier in my mind with someone to talk to."
Looking a little surprised, but not entirely displeased, the Ranger assented, and the two men sat down together, leaning thankfully against the bole of one of the massive mallorn trees that populated Lothlorien. However, now he had a proper opportunity to talk to Aragorn, Boromir couldn't think of anything to say. He had no wish to create a conversation entirely out of his woes, and yet could not think of a more cheerful topic. And he was made all the more uncomfortable by the thought that perhaps talk was not the only reason he wanted Aragorn near him. Their shared experience in Rivendell was only a distant memory now, but it was a memory he remembered with pleasure, although also with confusion, and more than a little doubt. However, since Aragorn had never brought it up, Boromir was loath to mention it now.
Aragorn did not seem to have noticed Boromir's discomfort. Leaning against the tree, he had his head tilted back and his eyes closed, and looked very much as if he had dozed off.
But Boromir was not fooled. Weeks of travelling with the Ranger had taught him to recognise when Aragorn was alert and when he was relaxed. And he was definitely alert now. Boromir could see the slight tensing of his muscles beneath his shirt that proclaimed him ready for action. Although what action he could be ready for, Boromir didn't want to speculate about. Hadn't Aragorn just told him that they were well protected in this elven forest?
Unless… Boromir allowed his thoughts to stray in a different direction entirely, one that brought a slight flush to his cheeks and an added heaviness to his breathing.
But no. Such thoughts did neither of them any good. Clearly Rivendell had been a one-time event, never to be repeated. Boromir tried to calm himself, reigning in his breathing, and thinking sober thoughts.
But it was too late. Aragorn had opened one eye and was looking at him. "There is no need to worry, Boromir," he said. "You are safe here with me." But there was something in his words that implied more than he was saying, and Boromir felt a sudden flash of anger at Aragorn's seemingly random personality fluctuations. He responded almost without thinking about it.
"But am I safe from you?"
Aragorn broke into a grin that had a decidedly feral edge to it. "Now that is a different matter entirely!" Abruptly, he moved, and Boromir suddenly found himself being straddled by a very alert looking Ranger.
Desire flared inside the Gondorian, but as it did so he found that his anger had grown as well. He was tired of trying to decipher this mysterious Ranger, and much as he might want to repeat what had happened in Rivendell, he didn't fancy being left high-and-dry again afterwards.
"Is this all I am to you?" he asked. "A plaything?"
Aragorn didn't notice Boromir's bitter tone of voice. "Of course not," he murmured. "Although it is nice to have such pretty toys." Leaning down, he made to capture Boromir's lips with his own. However, the Ranger's dismissal of his question had considerably dampened Boromir's ardour.
"No!" he cried, shoving Aragorn backwards hard enough that he ended up on the forest floor. Swiftly, the Gondorian stood, glaring down at a now very surprised Ranger. "I will not be used by you again," he declared, resentment flashing in his green eyes. Turning on his heel, he strode off back towards the Fellowship's camping place, feeling decidedly aggrieved.
But his progress was arrested by a hand grabbing his arm. Aragorn had scrambled to his feet and come after him.
"Let go of me," said Boromir, his voice low and dangerous.
"No. Boromir, please let me apologise. I am sorry. I had no idea you felt that way."
The Gondorian was shocked by the level of desperation in Aragorn's voice, and when he raised his eyes to look at the other man, he saw that that desperation was reflected in the Ranger's deep blue eyes. He said nothing, but something in his own face must have prompted Aragorn to continue.
"I am truly sorry, Boromir. I had thought that what happened between us was simply a way to clear the air after our initial disagreements. And when you didn't mention it again, I thought you felt that way too."
Boromir protested. "But you simply left me that night, with no parting words, no mention of how you felt, or anything."
Aragorn sighed. "I am far too used to getting my own way," he confessed. "In many ways I am selfish and self-centred. It comes from being alone so much, I think, with only myself to care about most of the time. And I guess that is what happened tonight. I saw an opportunity and I took it. Although," he continued, "you are not entirely blameless here, son of Denethor. You were giving out such strong signals, I'm surprised you didn't have every elf in the place pricking up his ears!" The Ranger smiled tentatively, wondering if this was the correct time for a joke. He was rewarded, however, with a blush and wry smile in return from the other man.
"You are right," said Boromir. "Even though I have been very confused about where I stand with you, I must confess that I am not entirely unwilling for a repeat performance!"
Aragorn smiled again, and this time the feral glint was most definitely back in his eye. "Well then," he said. "How about an encore?" Leaning forward, he tried again to kiss Boromir. But the Gondorian again evaded him, raising his hand to cover Aragorn's lips.
"No, no, no," he said. Aragorn scowled, plainly wondering what was wrong now. "Tonight," continued Boromir thoughtfully, "you will not be getting your own way in everything. It is time for you to learn that things don't always go according to plan." So saying, he removed his hand, and abruptly swooped in to kiss Aragorn.
The kiss went on for a very long time, and when the two men parted Boromir was breathing heavily. Aragorn, however, looked completely dazed. His eyes were slightly unfocused, and his breathing was even heavier than Boromir's
"What are you thinking?" enquired the Gondorian cheekily.
"I am thinking," said Aragorn, coming back to himself slightly, "that I am fully at your disposal."
"Good," replied Boromir briskly. Planting another kiss on Aragorn, he manoeuvred them both back across the clearing until Ranger was once more leaning against the mallorn tree, with Boromir pressed against him. The Gondorian was revelling in his position of power. He fully intended to punish Aragorn, but in the nicest possible way. Aragorn was going to learn just how delicious torture could be…
Some time later, when the two men had recovered and re-clothed themselves, Boromir turned to look at Aragorn. It wasn't long before the Ranger noticed that he was being watched, and cocked one eyebrow questioningly.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
Boromir shrugged. "This is a new experience for me," he said. "After all, last time you disappeared so fast I was left wondering whether I'd dreamed the whole thing!" Then he smiled to show he was joking.
Aragorn laughed ruefully. "I am sorry about that," he replied. "How about this? I promise to pay more attention to you from now on."
Boromir pretended to sulk. "Good. All I wanted was to know that you care."
Laughing harder, Aragorn raised his eyes skyward. "May the Valar save me from petulant lovers!"
Boromir joined in the laughter. "While we're at it, do you think they could also save me from pleasure induced injuries. I don't know about you, but I'm going to be bruised tomorrow. A forest floor doesn't compare with an elven bed for comfort!"
Aragorn watched Boromir worriedly, as he had done since they left Lothlorien. Despite the presence of Galadriel, Boromir had eventually managed to take some comfort from their time in the elven kingdom, something Aragorn flattered himself he had had a hand in. But, almost as soon as they had left the Golden Wood, he had seen the haunted look return to Boromir's eyes. He had also noted the way the Gondorian could not seem to keep his eyes off Frodo, and Aragorn knew that the Ring was once more calling to his friend.
Now, after a third day travelling on the river, the Ranger watched as Boromir stared at something on the water, happy that something had distracted him from the Ringbearer, if only for a few moments.
Silently, he moved up behind Boromir, and saw immediately what the Gondorian was looking at. A log floated on the river. Nothing unusual in that – except that this log had eyes and hands. As he watched, it glided towards the far bank, hitting the shore with a bump. Above the rushing of the water, Aragorn thought he discerned a faint hissing voice, one that spelled trouble for the entire Fellowship.
"Gollum," he cursed softly. "He has tracked us since Moria. I had hoped we would lose him on the river, but he is too clever a waterman."
To his credit, Boromir managed not to start at the sound of Aragorn's voice, despite his taut nerves. "And if he alerts the enemy to our whereabouts it will make the crossing even more dangerous," he said wearily. He turned away from the river to see that Aragorn had moved back to the beached boats, and was checking their supplies. He walked over to the Ranger. "Minas Tirith is the safer road," he suggested. "You know it. From there we can regroup…strike out for Mordor from a place of strength."
Aragorn hesitated, only for a split second, but it was enough to irritate Boromir. "There is no strength in Gondor that can avail us," said the Ranger.
Boromir's irritation flared suddenly into anger. "You were quick enough to trust the elves," he said bitterly. "Have you so little faith in your own people? Yes, there is weakness. There is frailty. But there is courage also, and honour to be found in men. But you will not see that."
Aragorn started to turn away, but Boromir grabbed his arm, jerking him back. "You are afraid!" he accused. "All your life you have hidden in the shadows. Scared of who you are, of what you are!"
Aragorn wrenched himself from Boromir's grasp. "I will not lead the Ring within a hundred leagues of your city!" he hissed.
"Why will you not listen to me?" cried Boromir. "You cannot do this to me. You cannot have it both ways – taking what you want from me, and then treating me like a spoiled child."
Now it was Aragorn's turn to grab Boromir's arm. Roughly, he dragged the man away from the campsite, until they could no longer be seen by the rest of the Fellowship. "Get a hold of yourself, Boromir," he said sternly. "You know that we cannot take the Ring to Minas Tirith – you know it. It would cause only pain and suffering there. Do you really want to be the cause of that?"
But Boromir was not to be reasoned with. "How can you say that of your own people? We need this weapon to fight Sauron. Hundreds of my people have given up their lives to keep the Dark Lord at bay. We deserve some help. I promised my father that…" Suddenly he faltered. Aragorn's eyes had narrowed at his last words, and Boromir unexpectedly felt afraid.
"You promised your father?" questioned Aragorn. "What did you promise him, Boromir?"
"Nothing. Only that…I would bring help to Gondor."
Aragorn was not convinced. "You promised him that you would bring him the Ring, didn't you? Didn't you!" he barked, when Boromir didn't respond.
Boromir hung his head. "Yes," he replied miserably. "And if I don't return with it, what will he do? Minas Tirith cannot hold out much longer."
The Gondorian flinched, but there was no anger in Aragorn's voice, only pity. Slowly, he raised his head to find the Ranger regarding him compassionately.
"Surely you can see that the Ring cannot go to Gondor."
"I know," whispered Boromir. "I do. But lately all I can think about is how disappointed my father will be with me when I return empty handed. I know it is the Ring making me think like that, but I can't help it. And now I've made you angry with me too. Things would have been better if I had never left Minas Tirith in the first place," he finished passionately.
"How can you say that? Boromir, you know that's not true."
"Of course it's true," proclaimed Boromir. "From before we left Rivendell I've been nothing but trouble. I've hindered the Fellowship and the quest at every turn."
Aragorn sighed. "I won't pretend that you haven't had some difficult moments," he said quietly. "But you've also proved to be a great help to the Fellowship…and to me. Who gave Merry and Pippin confidence in themselves? You. Who fought valiantly in Moria? You. And who got Frodo out of the mines after Gandalf…" The Ranger faltered, and then visibly gathered himself together again. "I froze at that moment, Boromir," he confessed. "I couldn't believe what was happening, and I didn't know what to do. You brought me back then, Boromir. I was lost, and you found me."
Boromir looked sceptical. "Well…" he muttered.
"You've helped me enormously on this journey," continued Aragorn. You've been my friend…and more. I couldn't have done this without you."
Boromir still looked doubtful, but Aragorn was happy to see that he had at least lost the look of anguish he had been wearing ever since Lorien. Still, he resolved to keep a close eye on the Gondorian. While Frodo's task was still the most important to them all, Aragorn felt a responsibility towards Boromir, and he was determined to prevent his friend from being consumed by his demons.
Boromir's breath came in gasps and coughs. The arrows in his torso were three burning spots of pain that flared to agony every time he inhaled. The fight between Aragorn and Saruman's monstrous lieutenant flashed in front of his eyes, and although he was willing the Ranger to win, he couldn't seem to really focus on the outcome of the battle. His own failure burned through him like ice. Despite everything, despite the faith of Merry and Pippin, despite the friendship and confidence of Aragorn, he had fallen. He had tried to take the Ring from Frodo, and he had put in jeopardy everything the Fellowship had worked for. And now he had failed to save the other hobbits, and had let them be taken by the orcs.
And then Aragorn was there, leaning over him, his eyes filled with fear and desperation. The sight of that emotion only increased Boromir's misery.
"They took the little ones." He was consumed by thoughts of the terrible deeds he had wrought this day.
"Stay still." Aragorn tried to look hopeful, but Boromir could see in his face that there was no hope left.
"Frodo. Where is Frodo?" This was his final catastrophic act. To have failed everyone so badly. To have pushed the Ringbearer away, perhaps into the very hands of the enemy. The outcome did not bear thinking about.
"I let Frodo go."
A small spark of hope returned. The halfling was not with the enemy, and there was still a chance. But still…
"Then you did what I could not," said Boromir. "I tried to take the Ring from him."
"The Ring is beyond our reach now."
More hope. But it was mixed with wretchedness. "Forgive me. I did not see it. I have failed you all."
"No, Boromir. You fought bravely. You have kept your honour." Try as he might, Aragorn could not keep his voice from cracking. He had vowed to protect this man from his turmoil, and he had failed. What was happening here was his fault, not the Gondorian's. The influence of the Ring was strong, and Boromir was not to blame for his actions. He, Aragorn, could have prevented these events, but he had not. His eyes filled with tears as he reached for one of the cruel arrows lodged in Boromir's chest, trying to right the wrong that was occurring in front of his very eyes.
But Boromir, summoning his remaining energy, grabbed the Ranger's wrist. "Leave it," he said harshly. "It is over. The world of men will fall. The whole world will come to darkness and my city to ruin."
Aragorn felt his heart wrench at the defeat and desperation in Boromir's voice. He hastened to reassure the Gondorian. "I do not know what strength is in my blood. But I swear to you, I will not let the White City fall. Nor our people fail."
"Our people. Our people." Boromir was overwhelmed at the admission that Aragorn had just made. Suddenly, despite the pain, he felt lucidity return to him. He saw where he had been going wrong all these weeks, and what he should have done instead. He saw that despite everything, he had not been the man he ought. He had not properly pledged his honour and allegiance where it was most deserved. Well, that was something he could correct now, even at death's door. Reaching out, he felt for his sword. Seeing what he was trying to do, Aragorn guided the Gondorian's hand to the hilt.
Clutching the sword to his chest, Boromir spoke the words that he should have spoken many moons ago, in that room in Rivendell, the words that could have saved him – and Aragorn – much heartache and confusion.
"I would have followed you to the end, my brother. My Captain. My King."
Anguish filled Aragorn's eyes as he understood what Boromir was saying, and why he was saying it. "No," he whispered, leaning closer. He had not given this man the love and respect he deserved, and that had cost him his life. And there was nothing Aragorn could do now to stop the inevitable consequence. He stared down at Boromir, tears streaming down his face, and willed time to stop, that he might not have to confront the pain that was threatening to overwhelm him.
Boromir, for his part, felt more at peace than he had done since leaving his home months ago. He had done the right thing, and he could now leave the world with a lighter heart. But nothing could alter the fact that he would be leaving Aragorn, and now that he had pledged himself to his king utterly and absolutely, he only wished he could remain to fulfil his vow. But he could not, and so he gazed up into Aragorn's face, losing himself one last time in those piercing blue eyes, feeling a tide of emotion carry him away…
Boromir was still, and Aragorn knew he was gone. Struggling to keep his raging emotions in check, he leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on the brow of the man who had meant so much to him, although he hadn't realised it until it was almost too late. He vowed that he would try and live up to the titles that Boromir had bestowed on him, to fulfil the roles he had been assigned. And he would live every day knowing that he had had the loyalty and friendship of one who could never be replaced. A good man, who had had his struggles, but who had ultimately redeemed himself.
"Be at peace, Son of Gondor."