The Kinseys Return

I nodded and smiled at the next couple who came over to greet Boromir and I, bobbing my head like a doll. We'd been at this since the beginning of the party, forced to attend because Faramir and Eowyn were hosting and Boromir and I were (inconveniently) in Minas Tirith. I'd tried to snatch a second glass of wine after the first hour, but Boromir had caught me, looped my hand in his arm, and marched me off to play nice with the nobility.

"That's very gracious of you," Boromir was saying, and when the noble's wife looked at me I pasted another smile on my face. "We've heard of the beauty of those lands, but my wife has yet to see it."

I nodded along again, wondering exactly how many times I'd done that. Boromir extricated us from that conversation and I immediately tugged on his arm when we were out of earshot. "How much longer must we stay?"

"At least until the roast and dinner are set out," he replied, beard tickling my ear. "I do not wish to linger after that though either."

We shared a short smile, and just as I was about to pull my arm free and mingle on my own again I turned and made eye contact with Mrs. Kinsey.

She had aged some since I'd last seen her, all those fateful years ago working in her household. Now she had crowsfeet at the corner of her eyes and her satiny black hair was started to go gray at the roots. She would have looked more elegant in her stately grey dress if she hadn't gone grey herself at the sight of me arm-in-arm with one of Gondor's most powerful men.

Her husband noticed her attention had left their companions and turned himself, lips flattening and face going taut as he took in the image we made.

Boromir put his hand on my arm and leaned into me. "You know them, Maddie?"

Mr. Kinsey and I made eye contact a second later, and he clearly wished he could break decorum and ignore us. Protocol and politeness won out though.

"Milady, Lord Prince Boromir, it is an honor to be here tonight," Mr. Kinsey said stiffly, his cheeks flushed when he met Boromir's eye. His bow was a bit jerky as Mrs. Kinsey joined him, though her face still hadn't regained its color.

For the life of me I couldn't remember his first name or title. "Boromir, may I introduce the Kinseys. I served in their home when I first arrived in Minas Tirith."

Boromir's eyes narrowed and Mrs. Kinsey cringed a little before her features smoothed out. "It's our pleasure," she murmured, demurely looking away.

I had no idea what to say really, given how much our rankings in society had changed. While I hadn't cared much for the Kinseys and their handling of my service to their house, I didn't hold a grudge either.

"I'm glad to see you're both well," I finally said, glancing at Boromir for help. "And your children?"

Mrs. Kinsey's eyes darted behind us. I snuck a look around but no one was paying us much mind. We were just greeting nobles at a party full of them, like we'd been doing all night.

"They are well," Mr. Kinsey replied after a short pause. "We are glad to see you well too."

I floundered for a topic since the Kinseys were still standing in front of us, shoulders curled slightly inward. I was pretty sure they couldn't excuse themselves from our presence without it being a slight, but my mind had gone completely blank on how to escape them too.

"Have you met my husband before?" I could have smacked myself the moment I asked it, because that was the opposite of removing myself from the conversation. My cheeks went a bit red as Mr. Kinsey answered.

"We have not. It is our honor to meet one of the heroes of the war." Both nodded their heads again, and I wondered if that vacant action had looked the same on me for the last hour.

"A pleasure," Boromir said with exactly as much grace and formality as required and not a bit more. The Kinseys twitched a little, possibly interpreting his curtness as a coolness for them. I, knowing Boromir quite well by now, knew that he had zero interest in this conversation and wasn't working to maintain it.

"I think we'll refresh our drinks," I said with a bit more cheer. I hadn't gotten to see the Kinseys squirm when Faramir confronted them after I'd left Minas Tirith before, so I was unashamed to say I enjoyed it now. "Good to see you."

Boromir followed my lead as I directed him back to the table with the fountain of wine on it. A little smile played on my lips.

"Not your favorite people?" he inquired, sounding amused.

"They aren't so bad, I've certainly worked for worse," I told him as I gathered a glass of wine for him and one for me. "But their faces when they saw you…" I'd keep that image for a rainy day.

Boromir clinked his glass with mine and chuckled. "To the people on the journey you leave behind."