The Captain and the Queen [5/6]
Characters/Pairing: Gradually-building Boromir/Arwen; established Aragorn/Arwen and Aragorn/Boromir; leading up to Aragorn/Boromir/Arwen. Also featuring: Faramir and a literal village full of OCs.
Rating: R in this part
Words: ~5700 in this part
Disclaimer: All recognisable characters belong to the Tolkien estate. I’m just playing with them.
Summary: Three years after she was crowned the Queen of Gondor, Arwen finds Boromir in a small village near the Stone of Erech. Finding him seems easy when compared to her new Quest of bringing the Son of Gondor back home. Sort of fulfils this Arwen/Aragorn/Boromir prompt on hobbit_kink.
Notes: Subtitled “An Exploration of the Problems of a Postwar Gondor”. By the way, the fic is done – I’m just posting it part by part due to the length.
Warnings: Vague descriptions of het sex, Arwen-centric.
Pressing Asfaloth’s back tight between her thighs, Arwen urged the stallion forward, chasing the white spire that wound up as if reaching towards the skies. It had taken over a week of hard riding, but at last they were returned to the White City.
Glancing sideways, she caught Boromir’s gaze and smiled. His eyes were wide as he stared at the Tower of Ecthelion, and she wondered if he realised that it now gleamed more brilliantly than it had done in his time. During her time as the guardian of the Citadel, before she embarked on her quest, Arwen had ensured that the limestone was wiped clean and polished smooth, and the pockmarks of constant war was erased to make way for the incoming Fourth Age.
“She is magnificent, isn’t she?” she said.
“That she is indeed, my lady,” replied Boromir. He had ridden closer to her as she thought, and now he was shielding his eyes. “Glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, its banners caught high in the morning breeze,” he whispered to himself, as if repeating words he had said long ago.
“’Twill be better for you to be hooded, my lord,” she said quietly, loathing to break the spell the sight of his beloved home had cast upon him. Yet it was necessary, for neither of them would have the guards raise uproar.
Gondor’s people would see her champion in time; but her King would have the first glance. Their escort had already been sworn to silence.
Boromir tugged the hood to hide his face, the movement just in time as they drew close to the gates. Above them, bright than the Sun herself, came the clear, clarion call of the silver trumpets. The sound shivered in the air, winding its way into Arwen’s spine, and she tipped her head up towards the top of the parapet, giving the guards a smile.
The Steward of Gondor came forward next to her, and his brother fell back, melding with their escorting soldiers as one of them. Arwen kept her ear on Boromir even as she smiled at those who came out of their houses to greet her with bended knee. She slowed Asfaloth’s pace further, bending over her horse to reach out towards her people. They had not seen her for over a year ever since she rode out to Lossarnach, and Arwen would not deny them the chance to look upon or even speak to their Queen.
Though there was naught she wished for than to gallop up to the Citadel to greet Elessar King, duty came first for all of them – as always.
Faramir had left with the soldiers with little more than a murmur at the sixth level, for he knew that the Queen wished to bring the lost Captain home to the King herself. He took the horses with him; Arwen and Boromir were left to climb the last gates towards the Citadel alone.
She heard Boromir’s breath stutter at the sight of the White Tree. Nimloth was magnificent even in autumn, her white blooms shining like gems in the bright sunlight just past noon. Arwen stood back, watching as Boromir stumbled forward and took a single blossom between his gentle hands.
“There was naught more my grandfather wished for than to see the wilted Tree bloom once more,” he breathed, stroking the petals with great reverence. “I had never thought I would see it bloom again, or see the banner of the King high above the towers of the Citadel.”
“The White Tree was kept safe throughout the long centuries by the efforts of the Steward.”
The voice was one much loved and missed, and Arwen spun around immediately. Aragorn stood at the doorway of the Tower of Ecthelion, dressed simply in dark leather breeches and a white shirt. Upon his brow laid the Elendilmir, shining like a star, and upon his breast was the Elfstone from which he took his name.
Arwen lowered her head, and she could not help but think of the first time her feet had treaded these white stones. Aragorn was newly-crowned then, his song still ringing in the air. Now his fingers were gentle and sword-callused upon her jaw, and Arwen lifted her eyes and smiled.
“I have come home, Elessar King,” she murmured.
Taking her hand in his, Aragorn’s eyes fixed upon hers, pressing a soft kiss on her knuckles. “I welcome you home, my Queen,” he breathed.
Her eyes flickered towards the hooded figure who seemed to wish to meld into the bare shadows cast by the White Tree. She clasped Aragorn’s hand in her own, and together they reached out towards Boromir.
“I have brought you one whom all of Gondor loves,” she said. “Will you not remove your hood, Captain?”
Boromir’s sharp intake of breath was loud for all to hear, but his fingers were steady on the edges of the cloth. He threw the hood backwards, and Arwen felt Aragorn’s fingers tight upon her wrist. If she was a human woman, she would be bruised, but Arwen minded it not.
Slowly, Boromir came forward. He fell onto one knee, his fist pressed to his breast.
“I come before you, my lord, a nameless Man. I have brought no sword with me, for ‘twas lost at sea,” he said, voice hoarse. “There is naught I own but my heart, my soul, and my body, and all these I give to you, my lord, for the service of Gondor.”
“Only for the sake of Gondor?” Aragorn’s voice might seem steady to all, but Arwen heard the tremor in it.
“Nay, my lord,” Boromir whispered. “’Tis for your sake as well.”
He tipped his head up, and the clash of the men’s gazes sent lightning down to the very tips of Arwen’s fingers.
Aragorn squeezed his eyes shut. Stepping back, he drew Anduril from its usual place by his hip. The tip of the Flame of the West touched the stone floor, right between Boromir’s knees.
“Rise, Boromir of Gondor,” said Elessar King, his voice ringing through the Citadel. “Rise, and take your long-awaited place by my side.”
Boromir stood. They stepped forward as one, so close that their lashes seemed to brush each other’s cheeks, and their breaths touched like their lips did not dare to.
Arwen’s heart stuttered in her chest. I have dishonoured you, Boromir said once, and she thought that she could finally understand those words. She hoped no guards had turned their eyes to the King and his Captain: there were none who would miss the shine in both eyes; deeper and sweeter than tears.
She cleared her throat, swallowing her laughter as they jumped apart. There was shock and guilt in the air, and she knew then that they had forgotten her presence.
Aragorn came towards her, taking her hand once more. The caress of his fingers across hers was an apology, but Arwen brought it up and pressed a quick, sudden kiss upon the tips.
“There is much you both must talk about, my lords.” She could not keep the teasing smile from her lips. “Though I do not think the courtyard should be the place.”
“My lady,” Boromir began, but Arwen shook her head almost immediately. She wished she could reach out and press her fingers to his lips, but there were eyes even in the Citadel. Though she trusted the Guards, she would not risk any possible tarnish upon Boromir’s honour. Not while his eyes still perceived rust crawling over the surface that gleamed so brightly to her.
“I must seek counsel with the House Steward, my lords,” she said, deliberately lowering her eyes and giving them both a small curtsey. “I must know how the Citadel has fared in my absence. I suggest, my lord, that your discussion will be best suited to your study. None will disturb you.”
The King’s gaze was heavy on her, thoughtful and surprised. She gave him a fleeting smile from beneath her lashes, hearing his heart rate pick up. Warmth began to sneak its fingers up her neck, and Arwen was thankful for the shield of her hair as she turned away and stepped into the Tower.
They were beautiful, her King and his Captain. One of them was hers in the eyes of the law, and perhaps she was greedier than Men, for she wished to twine her heartstrings around the other also.
In fact, she realised wryly, her heart had already done so without her permission.
Long white arms reached upwards as Arwen stretched, her dark hair falling all over her face. Beside her, Aragorn smiled, his fingers gentle as he brushed the strands away, thumb stroking over her cheekbone. Their pants ghosted across each other’s skins, creating mists as they smiled the secret smiles of lovers who found each other once more after long months of parting.
Arwen turned over, letting out her breath in a soft oof as she leaned over Aragorn, her hair falling over them like a blanket of shadow. Aragorn laughed as they kissed, his familiar, callused hands stroking over her shoulder, and Arwen could not help but think of Boromir’s hands. So similar, yet so different; how would it feel on her bare skin?
How would it feel to watch her Captain and her King touch each other and glory in the sweetness she found in the moments when their eyes met?
But those questions she kept deep within her heart, refusing them access to her eyes.
“I have missed you, my Queen,” Aragorn murmured, jerking her out of her thoughts. His rough lips caressed her temple, right at the edge of her hairline, and Arwen gave a breathless laugh at the ticklish touch.
“Aye,” she replied. “And so have I you, my King.”
They looked at each other. Long years allowed them to read each other’s eyes easily, and Aragorn stood from the bed, still gloriously naked, and went to the small desk at the corner of the room. He took a sheaf of thick parchment, quill, and ink before he dropped back onto the bed.
“Has your memory faded so that there is need to take down all you said?” Arwen teased, her fingertips brushing against his ear, right below the small hints of grey that was appearing. She had chosen a mortal life, and yet even now, she still found herself taken by surprise at how quickly the seasons and years passed; how time seemed like clear spring water slipping from her hands the harder she tried to grasp it tight.
Aragorn poked her nose with the feathery end of the quill. “Perhaps. Or I simply wish to have it all writ, so I might tell our people what our Queen has done for them.”
Arwen shook her head, sitting back against the large pillows. “I would rather they benefit than for any fame,” she said. “’Twas no hardship to wander amongst Men, Estel. There was so much that I learned.”
The quill’s tip poised atop the parchment, Aragorn waited as she attempted to find the words.
“They are afraid, and their courage and honour seem even greater in their fears. They are said to be naught but plain Men, common Men, and they think themselves so as well. Yet how can I think of them this way? I went to a village without a name, where almost all had lost their homes to orc raids, and they rightfully feared the servants of the Dark Lord. I served a landlord of an inn, who refused to fight when he knew the orcs were coming, but when they attacked the village’s centre, he raised a pitchfork and fought them off still.
“I knew women who, by the unfairness of their stations, were not given a chance to learn the way of the sword or the bow. Yet they wished to learn, for danger strengthened their hearts, and a group of them with a single day of training fought off an orc with much greater strength than they. They told me they fought, my lord, for the simplest reasons – for they wished to survive. They judge themselves too ill, for I see it in their eyes: each of them has a warrior’s spirit, for they fought to protect – their homes, each other, themselves, it mattered little which.”
Arwen took a deep, shuddering breath, looking down to stare at her hands, tangled amongst the blankets. “From Lossarnach to Lamedon to Erech I have travelled, and for a year I have lived amongst them. I have met no raiders, Aragorn, despite your warnings. There are soldiers who mourn the end of the war, aye, but ‘twas not for the sake of battle, but for a place where they belong, a purpose for which they can tie their lives.”
“Boromir told me of the old soldiers as well,” murmured Aragorn. “What do you suggest?”
His quill had remained still while she spoke, and there was a large drop of ink on the creamy parchment. Arwen reached over and rubbed the spot, staring at the darkness that gathered on her pale skin.
“There must be outposts, my lord,” she said. “Not merely for the sake of the villagers, who certainly need protection, but for the lost souls, the soldiers who have fought their whole lives and now found themselves bereft of a war. Certainly, the orcs have been vanquished, but perhaps we have dismantled the army far too soon. Call back all those left adrift, and send them to where they are needed.”
She smiled gently. “We will need them still – the Corsairs and Haradrim still pose as potential threats, and we will need to reclaim Arnor in the North before long years have passed.”
Aragorn took her hand, pressing a soft kiss on her fingertips. “Aye, we do,” he said. “I wish so badly for the wars to have ended, my love, and I did not see. The skies over Mordor are clear now, but there are still shadows that lurk.”
“Seven stars there are on the banner of the King, but he is in truth richer than he knows,” said Arwen, taking her beloved hand in hers as she stroked the rough knuckles, leaving tiny ink spots to match the ones on Aragorn’s wrists. He had, as always, forgotten to wipe his hands clean before bed.
“Within each Man he rules is a star, and by the will of the King can they be made to shine.” She took a deep breath, lifting her head to look into the eyes of the King of Gondor. “Will you allow the women to bear arms if there is need, my lord? Will you give them the strength of the body to match that of their spirits?”
“You know I will allow it.” Aragorn leaned back against the pillows, rubbing at his nose with a hand, streaking ink across the surface. “’Tis true strange: in Gondor, there seems naught women can do but war, ruling, and landowning. Where is the Tar-Ancalimë amongst the line of Kings after the Last Alliance? Was Arvedui my forefather refused due to his arrogance, or Gondor’s refusal of Fíriel’s claim to the throne?”
Arwen raised his shoulders in a gentle shrug, her fingers rubbing Aragorn’s face clean of ink with a corner of the blankets. “I lived during that time, yet news of Gondor was of little concern to me,” she said, finding herself strangely apologetic. Such long years wasted! Yet how could she have known in her youth that it was Aragorn who would capture her heart?
She shook her head, focusing once more. “Though it seems of little use to ponder over the past, my lord, when ‘tis the present that needs to be changed. Allow women the right to own property. Mothers already pass their trades down to daughters; why not the homes their skills have won them?”
“’’Twill be a difficult law to pass in these times of peace,” said Aragorn wryly. “Yet it is a righteous law, and we are in a new Age.”
Humming in agreement, Arwen took the writing materials from Aragorn’s hands, dropping them carelessly over the side of the bed. The ink did not spill, and Arwen noticed with amusement that Aragorn seemed to not notice that his hands were now empty. She pushed herself up to her knees, leaning forward until her lips grazed the round curve of Aragorn’s ear.
“There is one other matter, my lord,” she whispered. Her hand stroked down her beloved’s chest, and she knew the very moment when his thoughts turned away from sombre policy.
Aragorn jerked, his lips parting, but Arwen sealed his lips shut with her fingers before he could even utter a single word.
“If ‘tis an apology upon your lips, Estel, then I beg of you to swallow it.” She let her hand fall back to her side.
“I do not understand your meaning, Arwen,” blurted Aragorn immediately.
Arwen laughed gently. She nudged at Aragorn’s shoulders, pushing him down onto the bed until she laid over him, her hair creating a curtain around them, shielding their faces from all else in the world. Aragorn’s grey eyes were bright in this sudden darkness, his mouth wet and shining, and Arwen could not help but press gentle kisses to his lids and lips.
“He is beautiful, my lord,” she said into his ear. “Beautiful, brave, and strong he is, with a true warrior’s heart that beats beneath his breast. His honour is beyond doubt, no matter how much he tries to deny it himself. Like the moon draws the sea I find myself stumbling towards him, all my limbs clumsy.”
Her thumb traced a line from Aragorn’s cheek down to his lips, and she smiled. “And he loves you with every inch of his being. His heart lies within your hands, just as yours lies within his.”
“I have not betrayed you,” gasped Aragorn, his eyes wild, uncomprehending, and Arwen tossed her head back and laughed, bright and sparkling.
“He smells of the summer sun upon newborn grass, my lord, and he tastes of the first burst of harvest fruits on the tongue.”
Aragorn stared at her. Then he surged upwards, his hands sliding into her hair, crashing their lips together in a rough kiss. His tongue darted into her mouth, sliding over every surface as he threw her down onto the bed, pressing his entire weight on her as he took her mouth with a passion and roughness stronger than even the beginning of this night. She laughed, her heart light, hooking her leg over his waist, thrusting up against him as his hands slid down her sides, curved around her breasts. His teeth nipped at the sensitive tip of her ear, wringing a moan from her.
He groaned her name, thrusting his hips against her thigh, and Arwen tipped his head back before she kissed him again. She felt it as he stilled, tension creeping into his spine, and she pulled back just enough to meet his eyes.
“I…” he swallowed how. “You gave up your immortality and the rest of your kin for my sake, Arwen. I do not understand how you do not fault me for the splitting of my heart.”
Arwen laughed again. “My love,” she breathed, kissing his eyes, his nose, his lips. “Oh, my sweet love.”
Cupping Aragorn’s jaw with her hands, she smiled. “I did not bring him to Minas Tirith for his sake alone, my lord – ‘twas for mine. My heart is split in twain as well, but,” she placed two fingers on his lips when he looked to interrupt her, “even if it is not, I would not stand between the Captain and his King. I refuse to have you stay faithful for the sake of guilt, for that is an ugly thing to taint our love.”
Her thumb brushed the side of his eyes, against the lines she found there, carved by the ravages of time. “You look upon me with the same eyes I saw on the hill of Cerin Amroth,” she said gently. “I know your affections have not changed – only grew to include another.”
“What have I done in my life to receive such wealth?” whispered Aragorn, his fingers as reverent on her as the first time she looked upon him and found her heart tied to his. “I have received such fortune, my love, and I seem to deserve little of it.”
“To think such is foolish, my love,” she replied. “The heart that gives love judges the one loved worthy, and that is naught that needs to be considered. Besides,” she gave him a teasing smile. “You have chosen well. There is none who can look upon Boromir of Gondor without admiration or love.”
Aragorn stilled. His hand traced over her lips. “He said the same of you,” he said quietly.
Arwen cocked her head, waiting.
“More beautiful than the first day of spring, and kinder than the touch of skin after days of rough wool she is. I found my heart drawn towards her, metal towards lodestone, and I berate myself for all those days I spent thinking her unworthy to be Gondor’s Queen,” quoted Aragorn. His fingers stroked over her cheek.
“What happened between you both?”
Smiling, Arwen arched up and pressed a kiss onto Aragorn’s lips. “I will tell you the tale, my love, but only in exchange for one of your own. Tell me of the journey of the Fellowship. Tell me of Amon Hen.”
She heard Aragorn’s sharp intake of breath like the breaking of a twig during a dark, silent night. Her hands stroked over his side gently, and she did not urge him. When he finally spoke, she began her tale. She told him for the first moment when she recognised Boromir through the unkempt beard and rough clothing, his honour shining through clear for anyone with sharp enough eyes to see. She told him of their fight against the mountain troll together, of how Boromir had held her afterwards and allowed her to find temporary respite in his arms.
When she was done, she laid on the bed, Aragorn’s head on her breast. She felt the slow, stuttering breaths he took, and knew he was wondering how to respond. But when he did, he spun the tale of how he met Boromir the first time, in the halls of her father in front of the Shards of Narsil. He told her, too, of how Boromir had won his heart during their journey together, and showed her that Men might be weak, but there was courage and honour aplenty to be found within their spirits.
“We fought on the banks of Anduin,” he murmured. “I was consumed by uncertainty, and my words were harsh. I refused to go to Gondor, for I feared that in the lands of Meneldil I would be tempted to take the Ring for my own. ‘There is courage also, and honour to be found in Men,’ he told me.”
Arwen started slightly, understanding in this moment Boromir’s shock when she had told him those precise words. Aragorn did not notice, however, immersed as he was in his memories.
“In the morn…” he continued with a shaking voice, and Arwen’s slow stroking of his hair seemed to not alleviate his guilt any.
“I sent him down the river to his doom,” he whispered finally, turning to bury his face in her neck. Hot tears littered her skin, and Arwen kissed his temple gently. “A healer I pretend I am, yet I thought him dead and gave him to the Rauros falls. If he had died then…” he shuddered hard.
“Surely you have told him this,” murmured Arwen, trying to calm him down.
“He does not remember me putting him in the ship,” said Aragorn. “And he will not tell me how he survived the arrows.” He took a loud, shuddering breath. “Though he tells me that he lays no blame upon my shoulders.”
“What need have you to carry the burden of guilt, my lord, if the one you believe you have wronged blame you not?” she asked, tilting Aragorn’s head up to face her. “I find this a strange habit of Men: to carry guilt upon their shoulders when there none lays such a heavy burden upon them.”
Aragorn laughed, a mirthless sound. “Perhaps ‘tis but the foolishness of Men, my love,” he said, his fingers stroking over her cheek. “Boromir still blames himself for succumbing to the Ring.”
“Aye,” she said quietly. “I am certain he had his will, he would have hidden from us for the rest of his lifetime.”
They fell into silence for a long moment, joined in thought by the Man they were both hapless to not love.
“Do you truly believe Frodo will give him that?”
“I do not know Boromir’s heart as well as I should.” Aragorn frowned. “Yet I believe that if neither of us can give him what he so needs, ‘tis Frodo who can.”
“Yet I wonder if he will be willing to go.”
“I do not know,” he said, sounding thoughtful. “If he does, he must move quickly. Merry’s letters worry me; I believe that Frodo might take the ships with,” he hesitated, “with your father.”
How strange it was that the thought of her father leaving for Valinor – sundered forever from her – still hurt! The choice she made was not one she would ever change, yet she knew that she would miss Elrond for as long as she still lived; that she would still look northwards towards Imladris, thinking of its lush valleys and beautiful waterfalls and the halls she had lived in for nigh two thousand years. Her memories of her homeland had not faded, yet Arwen something found herself grieving that she did not know what the Last Homely House looked like now, when the power of Vilya was gone with the Shadow.
“He has my place upon the White Ships,” she said finally, forcing her thoughts away from dark sorrows. If there was naught she had learned from living amongst Men, it was this: to dwell upon the griefs of the past was a foolish thing, especially when joy had spread its path out in front of her.
“Perhaps the Valar have finally forgiven the Men of Númenor for their faithlessness,” murmured Aragorn, his eyes solemn as he looked at her. “For it seems that you have found Boromir just in time, my lady – any later, and perhaps he would never find the forgiveness he so wishes for.”
“If not, then…” Arwen trailed off, unwilling to linger long upon that thought. That way laid darkness. “If not, we will have to convince him to find forgiveness within himself,” she said firmly instead. “Surely ‘tis his own heart that allows Amon Hen to haunt him so.”
Aragorn made a soft noise in assent. He leaned in, his lips grazing Arwen’s jaw. They turned towards each other at the same instant, lips parting to kiss. The words fell away, for they knew that at this moment there was no need for them. What needed to be said had been spoken.
Her hands splayed out above his chest as she shifted on top of him. They looked at each other, smiling slightly before they kissed again, slow and gentle, their hearts beating steadily in time to every indrawn breath from each other’s mouths. The air stuttered, shivered between them, soft moans ringing out as Arwen lowered herself onto her husband’s length, taking him within her heat. Aragorn’s teeth grazed her throat, over and over, too gentle to mark, just sharp enough to make her heart skip a beat.
At their sides, their fingers twined together, reaching out for someone whom they both wished for.
Once, Arwen had thought the gardens of Minas Tirith would be dull, faded things, the leaves more yellow than green, for surely no plants could flourish so close to Mordor and amongst so much stone? Yet she found herself pleasantly surprised, for she was wrong: the Citadel’s gardens boasted of rich-coloured blossoms and leaves as green as any of the plants in Imladris. When she asked the House Steward, he told her that the soil was transported from the banks of the Anduin or the plains of Lamedon every decade or so.
Minas Tirith was, after all, a fortress, and all within would need a supply of food to eat.
Yet it was not in the harvest homes that Arwen headed towards on the second morning of her return. No, she went to the small garden at the back of what used to be the residence of those of the Steward’s line. The House was abandoned now, for Faramir lived more often than not in Ithlien, and his days in the Minas Tirith were spent amongst the King’s plentiful apartments. Arwen knew his reasons: the Steward’s House contained too many painful memories of his father and brother. Yet she came here nonetheless, because she knew this was where Boromir would be.
She had only knelt to caress the fragile leaves of the alfirin when she heard his voice.
“My mother used to come here whenever she could, for it faced south, towards Dol Amroth,” he said quietly. “After her death, it was abandoned, the weeds growing rampant. I had not thought I would see it tended once more.”
Boromir stood at the doorway. He had shaved since she had seen him last, and his beard was now well-trimmed. His clothes were still plain, though he allowed them to be better made. She was unsurprised – the Citadel had been sworn to secrecy, and Gondor was unaware still of the return of their Captain-General.
“My lady.” He gave her a bow once their eyes met. He stepped forward, taking her hand and pressing a soft kiss upon the back.
“My lord,” returned Arwen. “Will you sit and speak with me?”
Nodding, Boromir led her to one of the small stone benches at the side of the gardens, and they sat there in silence while Arwen waited for him to begin.
“Will you tell me of my Father’s death?”
Arwen looked at him for a long moment before she placed her hand on his. “No,” she told him gently. “’Tis what you must ask Faramir.”
“My brother will not tell me. I have heard so much… ‘tis said that he went mad after my death,” Boromir said, and Arwen grieved to see another ghost added to haunt his heart.
“You cannot place upon your own shoulders the fate of all Men around you, my lord,” she said. “No matter your station or the love you hold for each other, your father’s actions and mind are wholly his own.”
“Surely if I have returned earlier, the Shadow would not have consumed him.” He shook his head. “Surely if I had done more…”
Placing her fingers on his jaw, Arwen nigh forced him to face her. “Even the Wise cannot see all that come to pass,” she said. “’Twas the Lord Denethor who sent you on your Quest; do you fault him for your travails?”
Boromir’s eyes widened. “No, ‘twas my own failing—”
She interrupted him before he could continue further down that route of continuous self-blame. “If the father cannot claim control over his son, what more the son over his father?”`
There was a long silence, before Boromir sighed. “Your words make strong sense, my lady, but my heart refuses to be moved by them.” He ducked his head, hiding his eyes. “Forgive me.”
“In truth, my lord, ‘tis not my forgiveness that you seek,” she told him, voice soft.
“What forgiveness might I find?” asked Boromir, and the bitterness in his voice was thicker than the fog on marshes. “A dead Man gives no such thing.”
“The Ringbearer still lives, my lord.”
“Do you believe Frodo will forgive me?” Boromir’s eyes pleaded with her, his voice rough and low in his throat. “I have done such great wrong by him.”
“Will you deny the chance of receiving forgiveness, my lord, for the fear of receiving anger?” Arwen held Boromir’s gaze, refusing to let him turn from her. She regretted the harshness of her words, but it seemed that Gondor’s lost Captain needed razor sharpness rather than velvet gentleness. “Have you become such a coward?”
Boromir’s eyes flashed: the first sign of fire Arwen has seen since the battle with the mountain troll. His lips thinned in a line, and he shook his head, hard.
“I know what you wish from me, my lady,” he said quietly. “And I applaud your methods.” He hesitated. “Will Gondor wait for my return from the Shire?”
Arwen laughed, standing up.
“Gondor has waited for the return of her Captain-General for long years now, and she has not forgotten. What are a few months more?” Smiling, she leaned in, brushing her lips over his brow. “She will wait, my lord, with her King and Queen alongside her.”
In mid-autumn came Merry’s letter, expressing his joy at Boromir’s return and urging his old friend to visit. The Brandy Hall is open to you always, he wrote, as is Tuckborough and Bag-End. There was a strange urgency in his words, and Aragorn noted quietly to his wife that perhaps Merry’s sharp eyes had noted Frodo’s wish to leave, and did not wish for Boromir to miss him.
So Boromir of Gondor went north as the first winter winds blew through Minas Tirith. Faramir urged him to wait for spring before undertaking such an arduous journey, wishing more time with his brother, but Boromir denied him gently. He chafed at his current confinement, and wanted naught more than to return in spring, a season of new beginnings suitable for his new life in full sight of the people he so loved.
The King, Queen and Steward watched him go from the Citadel. Arwen stayed at the edge of the courtyard with pale blossoms of the White Tree in her shadowy hair until his small figure had passed out of her Elven sight.