He's alone tonight. The Fellowship hasn't slept all in the same place since . . . a while. Time is strange. Boromir mostly forgets time now; he keeps track of his pulse (he can hear it in his skull), and how often he falls back to remembering shadows. Time, then, is getting faster. Faster. All this makes sleeping difficult.

The thing makes him dream now. He's dreamt, had nightmares before (seen death, slept on battlefields), but not quite . . . like this. Time is faster but thought is slow and cold. How often do you remember shadows -? Thoughts away from that now. He draws his cloak around himself (a reminder of home, even if it's not enough) and listens to the trees. Lorien is beautiful; his bed is a sphere of gold and silver and stars and night and smells like spring and roses (though it's winter). Fresh, untainted, unshadowed.

Too strange for comfort. That, perhaps, but Boromir shudders more at . . . envy. Envy that there's life here. A place to be, not to fight and die and die, a place to find flowers, make music, sing. Life. It chills him.

You could stop death, stop shadows, why can you not see –

No. That's enough. Enough. Too much to think –

Strange thoughts it makes him think now, too usual; he sees Minas Tirith before him, pale and grey and dead. Empty. He's felt it before, but not as a . . . constant weight upon him. Something he can't bear (but there's no choice to that; there never was, he'd never have let there be one), but it would be enough now . . . he was losing track of his thoughts. What . . . ?

Golden flowers . . . next, life, next the thing and its ideas . . . He puts his hand on the Horn of Gondor. Remember not to forget, but they were both too hard and too easy and it wasn't as if he could stop. Sleep. Remember what . . . you could be, could have, sunlight and birds and joy you only want peace why can't you – ?

Remember that – strength of will, not to fall, fail – Gondor – honor – (protect that, that more than

There is no more than, not when what you protect is worth any price, when what you love is worth and worth and worth dying for)

Dreams. He almost doesn't want to go to sleep (he feels exhaustion deep within his mind), though he's as weary as he's ever been (which is watching his countrymen dying, and he is helpless, powerless to save anything but you could be powerful, power, stop it, just stop it. Go into battle and cut down despair – power –

strength, in weariness). Because of the dreams it shows him, like his waking thoughts only worse, no semblance or pretense of control or noble motives. Lorien was restful? Restless. He could lie here all night listening to himself (it), and the thoughts too terrible to stop or quiet or comfort. Somehow. It was all coming down to something, anything, but there had to be some sort of end, even if he was waiting for it now in a place of joy in the dark (stars . . . what were stars for, some purpose?) alone.

They don't see or care. What are you. Are you. Just there; you don't matter.

He doesn't matter, just what he's trying to protect – that matters, but he can't even save that, can't. Alone. Helpless to help. Unhelped, unwatched.

They don't care. You are not noble, they think, not worthy. What do you matter? Lose yourself, they won't help find you, not now.

Fall asleep, why can't (Minas Tirith is bleak and black in his mind but he can't stop seeing it) he? For a moment. One moment, why can't it just –

There's no way out, not now, fighting wishing dreaming (if his dreams weren't tainted) of peace that sits right there before him, enveloping him, but he cannot feel (can barely remember joy . . .). Not now. You feel now, feel the pain in Gondor – Shadows – he hasn't stopped – fighting, but if anyone . . .

Anyone . . . ?

Alone without a glimmer of hope, a spark, a star of something real to shine on him, sleep

eludes . . . fall . . . fail . . .

No way out but down, just failing now, falling, knowing that there's treachery somewhere, somewhere, fearing that the suffering comes from him and just as there is Hope out there (that he can't grasp) (Aragorn, what King are you if I am here wondering what peace is, what nobleness is it I lack why don't you speak . . . say . . . think some word . . . ) he's Unhope, he's Despair, the Shadows themselves come, listen to how you shall heal things after you overthrow the Dark Tower, listen

Doesn't anyone listen? Something, it, he listens to it now (a beautiful voice that thunders even through the untourtured thoughts he's hidden away to save himself, a song that sings of strength and power, he thinks) but where are the others? Strange thought . . . others, others . . . sleep. Why can't he even feel its weight upon him (like death . . .)?

That night when he dreams, for once it isn't terror, it isn't tainted. He is in a small boat of Elven-craft on waters. The Sea, beneath the stars, which are for hope. And it doesn't matter where he's going, only that . . . he does not fear anymore. He has done, has finished all he must do, and that's finally enough. Trust, promises kept. He's alone, perhaps, but not lonely anymore. There is rest here, but more than that: there's a sense of rightness, of trust. Purity. There are white swans perched on the silvery boat; there is beauty, too, something fascinating. Like sleep, being, peace. Life.