Author: Amy Fortuna (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Warning: Based on my own weird book/movie combination.
Summary: Aragorn will do anything to save Boromir from betraying the Company. Anything. But will anything be enough?
Notes: The Rohan quote is actually Old English, and it is from "The Wanderer."
Her voice was still sounding in his mind, a welcome presence there, for it reminded him of the bright Elf maiden who had kissed him in Rivendell, pledging her heart to him. Idly, Aragorn lay a hand over the white stone at his breast, feeling its warmth seep through him.
The years did not bring innocence. Time had washed the youth from Aragorn, leaving in its place someone wary of danger at every turn, someone who watched and waited carefully, skeptical of new friends until he had proved them.
He was suspicious of Boromir. The Lady had confirmed his suspicions with a glance from her eyes, and Aragorn had watched Boromir's blush of guilt set the seal to his desires. Boromir wanted the Ring. Boromir would try to get the Ring. Boromir would betray them all.
"I do not count myself any stronger than you, Man of Gondor," he whispered. "In that perhaps, is my wisdom. I fear the Ring because I know well how fragile I am, how easily I may be tempted to take it. But I will not be like Isildur. I set this thing aside of my own free will, and I pledged my life to the Ringbearer."
His hand closed around the stone, and he shut his eyes. "You shall not fall to the Ring, if I may have a say in the matter. You shall not, Boromir."
The heavy footfalls of one not of Elvish race was the next thing he heard. Looking up, Aragorn smiled as Boromir walked over and sat beside him on the carven root that had been formed into a bench.
"You said earlier, Boromir, that your people are failing, and that you have no hope for the future, is that not so?" Aragorn asked, quietly, letting go of the Elfstone and laying a hand on the Man's arm.
"Indeed it is so," Boromir said. "I fear that you will find little more than a barren land to rule, if it comes to that."
"I do not fear so," Aragorn said. "I have wandered many years in the wilderness, and found in all my journeys that hope springs up in places least expected, and that Men are stronger than Elves tell. Gondor shall not die."
He took a deep breath, and turned to face Boromir. "My name is Hope," he said. "I was given the name Estel as a child, and with that name I lived for my first years. Hope pervades all my being. I cannot despair, as you seem to be able to. Look up, Boromir of Gondor, and fear not. The Ring shall be destroyed."
Boromir turned to him. "The Ring!" he said. "Without the Ring, what can Men such as you and I do against..." he gestured to the East.
"What we have been doing all along," Aragorn said. "Good and evil do not change with circumstance. A ill deed is an ill deed, justified or no."
Aragorn moved close to Boromir. "We live," he whispered. "We laugh. We fight. And we love."
The first kiss was feather-light, hesitant, Aragorn's mouth brushing against Boromir's lips in a quest for entrance.
Boromir gasped, startled, but let Aragorn kiss him, yielding to his embrace.
"Time is," Aragorn gasped, tearing his mouth away from Boromir's, "short. I ask for no pledges of loyalty, not now. All I ask is your willing love."
A slow amazement spread across Boromir's face. "For the days that are, I grant it."
"Not many," Aragorn cautioned. "This I see with the foresight of my people."
"And my heart echoes it," Boromir said. "I knew when I left Gondor that I would never return. I would only desire that my death be a noble one. I speak of vain things when I speak of you and I entering the gates of Minas Tirith together."
"Hope never dies," Aragorn whispered. "And maybe even now, the fate set before you may be changed, and you and I will walk the streets of the White City."
Boromir shook his head. "The Rohirrim have a saying. *Wyrd bith ful araed!*"
"Fate is utterly inexorable," Aragorn translated. "I have heard the words, and I do not believe them. You and I are of the people of Numenor, Boromir, serving the Valar and over them the One. Our choices govern our lives, not our fates."
"And this you have chosen? To lead a Halfing to Mordor? To die at Sauron's hand, begging for mercy?" Boromir said, quiet anger underscoring his voice.
"Yes, this I have chosen," Aragorn said, and then smiled. "But I do not beg, Man of Gondor."
"No?" Boromir asked, catching the change of subject, turning, and drawing a line down the curve of Aragorn's face.
"Never!" Aragorn laughed, his own hand coming up to drift across Boromir's tunic, touching quietly.
"No more of grief or sorrow tonight, friend," Aragorn said, and caught Boromir's hand. "Come with me."
The Lady was aware of them, Aragorn could feel it in the back of his mind as he lay next to a sleeping Boromir, peace drifting across his features. She knew why as well, and did not frown on them.
"Yet hope remains while all the Company is true," she had said, and looked at Boromir. Aragorn, silent, watched as her eyes passed over them all. Sam was quick to blush, while Frodo stood straight and silent, meeting her gaze with his own, for a long time. At last her eyes came to him, and her mind spoke to his.
"I could give you the Lady Arwen, if you possessed the Ring. I could not say you nay."
"She is her own to give, and not yours."
"It could make you king of Gondor, indeed of all Middle-earth."
"If I must rule, I desire the favor of the people more than all the power of fear."
"Do you desire the Ring, Aragorn son of Arathorn?"
He had smiled. "No, truly not. Such a trinket is not for my keeping. Indeed, I do not even desire to look on it."
"There is one who desires it. And you may stop him, if you can. Use all the wit and all the love you have within you. Even so, it may not be enough. Keep sight of your duty, Estel-child."
Their gaze had broken then, and she had turned to Legolas. But still her words burned like fire in Aragorn's blood.
"Frodo, Frodo, I pledged you my life," he whispered. "I did not know that I would have to pledge love as well to guard you."
For the first time in years, Aragorn felt helpless. Time was speeding on, running out, and Boromir was on the verge of betrayal.
"It is time to leave this land," he said. "We are not safe even here."
He sat up, and looked over at the sleeping Boromir. "It is time to meet our fate, my friend," he said. "We can delay no longer."