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Boromir's Gift - Sue
Disclaimer: The characters and a small portion of the dialogue in this story are the property of the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. I am making no profit from their use.

SUMMARY: Based on the 'Extended Edition' movie version of 'Fellowship of the Ring'. In Lothlorien, Boromir received no gift from Galadriel-or did he?

*WARNING!!!* This story contains lots of spoilers for 'The Return of the King'. Don't read if you don't want to know how everything in 'Lord of the Rings' ends up!!!

Many thanks to my sister Sarah and my friends Carla, Joan, Sara, and Sue for beta-ing this for me. You guys are great!!!

Feedback greatly appreciated!!!



"Your gift, Legolas, is a bow of the Galadhrim..."

Boromir sighed, shifted a bit and somewhat nervously tugged at the silver leaf-shaped clasp of his new green Elven tunic as he listened to the gentle words of the beautiful Lady of the Golden Wood. Part of his mind told him that he really had no reason to feel so restless; it was a warm, beautiful morning, perfect for the start of the journey which would take himself, and the seven other surviving members of the Company, closer to the fulfillment of their quest to destroy the One Ring.

Galadriel, the powerful and mysterious Elvish Lady of Lothlorien, was even now bestowing on each of them a gift which would help ensure the success of their journey. Soon it would be his turn, but there was no reason to feel unsettled. As the eldest son of the Steward of Gondor, he had dealt with nobles and dignitaries all of his life; this would surely not be so much different.

As she drew closer, he felt his uneasiness increase, and he glanced at the ground. He knew Galadriel was far different than any dignitary he had ever dealt with before; she was an Elf queen, with powers far beyond his own understanding. Boromir had little use for magic; he preferred his dealings to be straightforward, with problems easily recognized and solved. Matters such as battle, for example. He could face a battalion of Orcs and not flinch, but one shaded glance from the Lady was all it took to draw the cold sweat onto his skin.

She was closer now, and he straightened, determined to make a good presentation. Years of fighting the dark forces of Mordor had trained him to cast aside anxiety and concentrate on the moment, the better to think and win out over whatever obstacle he faced. But still...

Unsettling questions entered his thoughts, and he frowned. Would she speak inside his head again? He could not forget those gentle whispers which had earlier caressed his mind; she had spoken to him of hope, hope for his beloved and besieged city of Minas Tirith and the realm of Gondor. But she had been maddeningly stingy with details. How could there be hope, when the Dark Lord Sauron's strength grew by the day, and they were on a quest to destroy the only means they had with which to fight him?

Boromir's lips tightened with frustration at the memory. The Lady knew, somehow, of his father's faltering rule, of the horrors his people were forced to endure as Mordor's forces battered at his country's crumbling defenses. She had seen how his heart was full to bursting of grief for his land, how the whole desire of his being was to find a way to restore what had once been. Yet she had offered him only vague murmurings, nothing substantial, and the only effect of her words had been to deepen his own sorrow.

But still, hope was not all lost. Boromir looked a bit to his left, where Frodo, the Ringbearer, stood a few feet away. The young Hobbit appeared lost in his own thoughts, and as heavily burdened as Boromir was. He chewed his lip a bit, thoughtfully, the now-familiar urgings growing in his mind. The Ring had the power to save his people, but he was the only one of their surviving company who had the wit to see it. Frodo appeared so weary-perhaps the time would soon come when he could persuade the lad to release his burden to Boromir's keeping. That was a hope, certainly, the only hope he could see...

"Boromir, son of Denethor."

The Lady's low, clear voice caught his attention, and Boromir straightened and turned his eyes to her, a bit embarrassed at having been caught so deeply in his own thoughts. His eyes met hers, grey-green staring into deep blue, and for a moment he froze, all protocol forgotten. She was looking at him very strangely; the others she had regarded with warmth and kindness, but there was an odd veil of sorrow in her expression now. He betrayed no hint of being thrown, but his heart twisted a bit with guilt. Did she know he had been thinking of taking the Ring?

She regarded him for what seemed like ages, the sadness in her eyes growing more soft. Perhaps she grieves for Gondor, he thought at length, becoming a bit discomfited by her silent gaze.

Finally she took one small step forward, and reaching up gently placed the palm of one soft, warm hand against his cheek. The intimacy of the gesture startled him, but he remained still, staring at her in bewilderment, unsure what was going to happen next. He was fairly certain she had not done this to any of the others.

"Son of Gondor," she whispered, in a voice too soft for any but the two of them to hear, "my gift for you cannot be passed from hand to hand, and the time has not yet come for you to receive it. The road before you is yet dark and uncertain; may you find the strength to climb the brighter way, for at its end will be the gift I desire to give you."

And she was gone.

Boromir blinked, totally puzzled. But Galadriel was already speaking to the Hobbits Merry and Pippin. Rattled, the warrior shook himself, trying to figure out the meanings of her words. The upshot, it appeared, was that he would receive nothing. Indignation reared a bit in his breast, and he felt slightly cheated.

There were a few more gifts bestowed, and some parting words spoken, but Boromir did not hear them as he brooded over the bewildering encounter. As the company broke and began to make their way to the small Elvish boats waiting for them at the shore of the river, Boromir scowled and began walking, hoping with a bit of embarrassment that no one would notice that he was walking away empty-handed. It did not make sense.

Suddenly he sensed another man walking beside him. Turning his head slightly, he recognized the tall, dark-haired form of Aragorn. The Ranger and heir to the throne of Gondor was clad in his worn leather traveling clothes, ready for the long journey ahead, but Boromir noticed an unfamiliar Elvish dagger hanging from his belt.

"I see you've gained a new blade," he said, studying the hilt of the weapon. It appeared to be quite old, but still deadly.

"If what Lord Celeborn has told me is true, it will see service before we have traveled far," was the quiet reply. The Ranger's grey eyes were already alert, full of resolve and apprehension. "We must all be on our guard, Boromir."

The other man sniffed and adjusted his green Elvish cloak. "It appears I shall have to do so without the assistance of Elvish craftsmanship," he replied, not bothering to disguise the faint tinge of bitterness in his voice.

Aragorn peered at him, a slight frown creasing his tanned brow. "What did you receive from the Lady?"

"Hmph," was the shrugged response. They were almost to the boats. "A riddle. I often wish the Elves would speak plainly, as other folk do!"

The ranger smiled a bit at his comrade's impatience, and as they stopped at the shoreline he placed a hand on the warrior's shoulder. "Have patience, Boromir; I can assure you, the Lady would not say one word in idle talk. It may be that the worth of her gift to you, insubstantial as it may be, will exceed that of all the gifts that the rest of the Fellowship has received."

He clapped Boromir once on the shoulder, then looked over to where the provisions had been placed. "Now we must prepare for our journey. Help me load these provisions into the boat; we must be away before much longer."

Before Boromir could say another word, Aragorn was gone, walking with long strides towards the edge of the river where the Hobbits were eying the beautiful but unfamiliar Elven boats with distinct suspicion.

The warrior sighed, pursing his lips in mute frustration as he watched the small group. The Ranger might be the heir to the throne of Gondor, but Boromir still bristled at the idea of taking orders from him. Equally irritating was Aragorn's reluctance to accept his role; the man appeared to have no great love for the country or people whom he was destined to rule. How could Boromir look to Aragorn for inspiration, when the Ranger would not take Gondor's cause as his own? Clearly, there was little hope to look for there.

His gaze fell on Frodo, and all dissatisfaction over the gift ceremony fled as a new host of thoughts entered his mind. The Ring was so close, its power a mere few feet away. He had lost this chance to speak to Aragorn about using its strength to save Gondor, but perhaps a new chance would soon come. Surely he could make the son of Arathorn see the wisdom of his plan. The Ring was likely their only chance, if they but had the will to use it.

With this idea in mind, Boromir followed Aragorn down to the river, his eyes fixed on Frodo even as he walked. The Hobbit seemed oblivious to him as he helped Sam pack their boat, but the Man's stare never wavered, his thoughts growing darker with every step.

Around him, unnoticed, the bright afternoon began to turn gray. As Boromir glared at Frodo, he caught a curious noise in the air, a rushing hum mixed with deep, unintelligible mutterings. He'd heard such sounds before, at the Council, and knew what it was at once: the Ring was calling to him.

Soon, thought Boromir, it had to be soon, and if Aragorn and Frodo would not see reason...well, then other measures might have to be tried. He felt himself growing colder, but for some reason this did not trouble him.

The sky turned black, and the wind began to blow, icy and hard. All else disappeared save for Boromir, Frodo, and the Ring, now gleaming like a star of fire on Frodo's breast. Boromir stopped, heeding nothing now save the beckoning of the Ring; the noise was deafening now, a great mingled roar which filled the freezing air.

Frodo was staring at him now, eyes wide with fear. Boromir found himself unable to care for the panic in the Hobbit's face; he was trembling, almost crushed beneath the weight of the tremendous pull on his heart. The Ring's call had risen to a shout, growing louder with each passing second. The time had come; he had only to reach out, and Gondor's future was assured.

But despite the unspeakable longing, despite the piercing nature of the Ring's enticing call, Boromir found that he could not move. He and Frodo gazed at each other as the darkness grew around them. A new sensation came over Boromir now, one of utter horror as he realized what he had been contemplating. Suddenly he felt the biting cold air around him pierce him to the heart; it was the touch of evil, of corruption, surrounding him in a whirlwind of darkness. He couldn't move, couldn't pull his eyes from Frodo's face, which bore a new expression of betrayal and anguish. The screaming of the Ring grew louder, the frigid wind now assailing him with painful intensity, and at the moment when he felt he could bear it no longer, everything came crashing down around him with a tremendous roar. He went spinning down into the gaping void, his hands clasping the cold and empty air, his cries of remorse drowned out by the thunderous black voice of the Ring.

With a startled, strangled gasp, Boromir awoke, and blearily realized that he'd been dreaming.

For a few moments he lay unthinking, covered in cold sweat, his heart pounding from the terror of the dream's horrible ending. As his swimming mind tried to right itself, he heard sounds nearby, ugly, violent sounds. Fighting, someone was fighting. He tried to breathe, and agonizing pain lanced through his body, causing him to shudder as the bloody memories came back. One hand weakly grasped at the thick arrows protruding from his chest, but their motion soon ceased. It did not matter now.

With tremendous effort, he lifted his head, blinking through the blood and sweat to try and see what was happening close by. He remembered now-the Orcs were attacking, and he had tried to fight them off, tried to keep them from taking Merry and Pippin. Tried, and failed; they were gone now, with only the large creature left. The beast was about to kill him, when...

Boromir choked and fell back to the earth, exhausted and wracked with pain. He had almost thought he'd imagined what happened next, that he had seen Aragorn appear from nowhere and knock the Orc aside. After that everything had gone black, and the dream had started. Why would he dream about the day they departed from Lothlorien now? Odd. Clearly, the Lady's promised gift had not come.

He was lying on his side now, where he had toppled after Aragorn's timely appearance. Trembling, he slowly rolled over onto his back, trying to find some position which would ease his pain. Images tumbled through his brain; he was too weary and dazed to sort them out. Frodo...he had tried to take the Ring, become wild with lust for it...had actually attacked the lad...Guilt assailed him as he remembered the chilling images of his dream, all too founded in reality. Had the Hobbit heard his pleas for forgiveness? Was Frodo safe now? Or were he and Aragorn the last to remain?

He coughed, unable to hear the battle any more; it felt as if it had been hours since his senses returned. Perhaps Aragorn had been killed, and he left to die. He stared up through the glittering sunlight filtering through the golden autumn leaves, struggling to breathe, waiting for the end.

Remorse gripped his heart, far more agonizing than the arrow wounds. He had failed, what chance could there be for his city now? He would not even be able now to go back and aid in her defense, and all hopes that he would one day see Gondor restored to its former glory burned away in the bitter flames of deep regret. Tears clouded Boromir's dimming vision; if only he could have lived to see the Pelennor Fields green again. Just that long...

Suddenly someone was bending over him, and he blinked. It was Aragorn, bloodied and covered with sweat, but alive and victorious. Startled, Boromir, stared at him for a moment, then grabbed his comrade's arm, anxiety lending him unexpected strength.

"The Orcs took the little ones," he spat out, the blood in his mouth choking him.

But Aragorn did not seem to hear him, pausing only to study him with large grey eyes full of compassion. "Be still," he whispered urgently, his sweat-soaked fingers trying to undo the buttons on Boromir's leather surcoat.

Dizziness swept through Boromir's mind; another question accompanied it, and he did not have much time to find the answer. He grabbed the other man's arm with feeble desperation. "Frodo-where is Frodo?" he gasped, almost dreading the answer.

There was something alarming in the way Aragorn hesitated, the sad light which glimmered in his eyes. For a moment an icy dread shot through Boromir's faltering heart. He's dead, and the Ring captured, Boromir thought wildly. Oh Eru, what have I done...

But then Aragorn looked at him, a more reassuring expression on his face now, and he said simply, "I let Frodo go."

Boromir stared at him, momentarily stunned as relief swept over his battered frame. Frodo was safe! Then the elation turned swiftly to shame, and he gasped out, "Then you did what I could not."

The Ranger was regarding him now with an anxious, puzzled expression, and Boromir silently cursed the man for such understanding. He hardly deserved that sympathetic gaze, after what had happened.

He fought for another breath; he had to tell Aragorn, shameful as the act might be, had to lift the secret burden from his soul before it was too late. "I...tried to take the Ring from him..."

To his surprise, the Ranger did not curse him, or turn away; he simply looked down on him with calm gentleness, still gripping the dying man's hands, and said softly, "The Ring is beyond our reach now."

Boromir shook his head, with as much strength as he could summon; no words uttered by the human tongue could ease his heart now. He could only hope that his name would not be remembered with scorn when the tale was told. They had tried to warn him, he recalled with self-loathing, but he had been too vain to listen. Gazing through the blood and sweat into his comrade's face, Boromir gasped for breath and pleaded, "Forgive me...I did not see it. I have failed you all..."

The other man shook his head, a firm light of conviction in his eyes. "No, Boromir," he said insistently, "you have fought bravely. You have kept your honor."

A tone of respect lay beneath thoroughly spoken words, but Boromir could only frown in self-recrimination. He had succumbed to madness and attacked a defenseless Halfling-what honor lay in that? And Merry and Pippin had been taken away-he had failed them as well. But at least they still lived, although that may prove more a curse than a blessing...

His rueful thoughts were interrupted when Aragorn gently began to once more undo the warrior's blood-soaked surcoat. Boromir stopped his motion with as much force as his rapidly depleting strength would allow, a wave of bitter hopelessness sweeping over him as he thought anew of what he had done. He knew Aragorn was obeying his healer's instinct, but he also knew the futility of such an act.

"Leave it!" he gasped in a broken voice; there was no use to try and heal the wounds now, the damage had already been done. "It is over."

Aragorn respected his wishes and halted, peering at Boromir with infinite sadness.

Boromir lay helpless as terrible images passed swiftly before his mind's eye; the Quest had failed, Frodo would die or be captured without the protection of the Fellowship, and Mordor's evil hand would reach out over the whole of Middle-earth. The hopeless fate of Gondor had become the fate of them all.

"The world of Men will fall," moaned Boromir, tears stinging his eyes; he could see Minas Tirith aflame, the White Tower toppling in a cloud of fire and ash, "and all will come to darkness. And my city to ruin..."

There was a pause. Then he felt Aragorn lightly grip his arm, the action so sudden that it caused him to gasp. The horrible visions scattered away, and he looked up to see his comrade gazing steadily at him, a firm resolve now shining in his eyes.

"I do not know what strength is in my blood," said Aragorn in a firm whisper, his grip on Boromir's arm tightening gently, "but I swear to you, I will not let the White City fall."

Boromir's mouth dropped open a little in surprise, and he lifted his face to Aragorn with an expression of grateful wonder. Was it possible, or was this merely another dream?

Perhaps Aragorn had seen the question in his eyes. He leaned forward a little, as if to reassure the dying man of the sincerity of his promise. "Nor our people fail," he said, in a soft voice rung with steel.

A small, strangled gasp of joy escaped Boromir's throat. "Our people," he said in a tremulous whisper; never had those words fallen so sweetly on his ears. It was almost a question, repeated to see if he had heard aright; and in his comrade's set expression, he saw that question answered. It was true, Aragorn had accepted Gondor's fate as his own, and he had sworn an oath on blood to protect them. Boromir began to tremble, aware of the momentous event he had just witnessed. Before his very eyes, it seemed, the King had been reborn. A new chance. A hope.

He peered up at Aragorn again, meeting his eyes with a gaze full of unspeakable thankfulness, and with a nod conveyed the safety of Gondor from his own faltering hands to those of the wandering Ranger. "Our people," he murmured again, in a weaker tone, but still with pride and love for the land which he would never see again burning in his eyes.

The trembling grew more violent; he was gasping now, fighting the pain and relentless march of time for just a few more minutes. One gloved hand stretched out towards his nearby sword, the palm opened in a silent entreaty. Aragorn understood at once; with great reverence and respect, he lifted the fallen weapon and carefully placed the hilt in Boromir's hand. The blood-stained fingers closed, and with Aragorn's assistance Boromir clasped the sword firmly to his chest.

For a silent moment the two men regarded each other, Aragorn's hands clasping Boromir's arm, offering whatever comfort he could in his comrade's final moments. As the warrior struggled for breath and looked up at his comrade, he could not prevent a small smile from gracing his pale features, despite the pain. It was truly over now, but hope had not been lost as he had feared, but found. He could die honorably now, as befitting a son of Gondor, having placed his beloved country's fate in the safest possible hands. The outcome was still uncertain, but he had done all he could; there was nothing now but to wait.

As he looked through dimming eyes at the sun-dappled leaves overhead, a strange, numb, weightless feeling coursed through Boromir's body. His grip tightened a bit on the hilt of his sword, but he felt no fear; as a warrior of many years, he had long since lost any concern for his own death. He was simply bracing himself, preparing his spirit to meet whatever lay ahead.

The mottled sunlight quickly melted into a darkness which overwhelmed all else in his vision, including Aragorn. Yet somehow Boromir knew there was nothing to fear from this; the darkness was surprisingly soft and warm, its folds wrapping gently around him like a downy blanket. All pain, all weariness, all care swiftly faded away; he felt only the odd, drifting sensation, as if he were floating in a warm pool. Time seemed to stop completely, and he began to feel very relaxed and peaceful. Could he already be dead?

"Boromir of Gondor."

The words were softly spoken, but still Boromir felt himself start as he heard them. There was no mistaking that voice; it was the Lady Galadriel. He searched the blackness, but saw no discernible shape in the void before him. Then she spoke again, and he realized that the whispered words were inside his mind, as they had been before.

"Do not be afraid."

'I'm not,' he thought, which was true enough; his only concern now was to make as noble an end as he could, one befitting a soldier of Gondor. He was, he admitted to himself however, very puzzled. This felt far too real to be a dream.

"I come to you now to offer you such solace as it is in my power to give," she continued, her words as gentle as a spring breeze. He felt something soft and warm touch his cheek; it felt just as before when the Lady had placed her palm there during their last meeting. "I know what darkness has lain upon your mind."

A small dart of fear now pierced Boromir's soul. She knew! Perhaps she had known all along of the unspeakable desire for the Ring which had bitterly simmered in his breast. Burning shame choked in his throat; how could she offer him solace, with the knowledge that he had almost brought them all to ruin?

As if in response to his anguish, he felt the hand on his cheek move slightly. A soothing tranquility instantly washed over his spirit.

"Do not allow the memory of that evil to overwhelm you, son of Gondor," Galadriel urged in a tender voice. "It cannot touch you now. Your repentance and sacrifice has saved you; let that thought drive away all lingering shadows. Yours is a brave and gallant heart, destined to be remembered far more for its long life of valor than for its one moment of weakness."

Boromir listened to the words, a bewildered hope building within him. As he pondered their meaning, the darkness around him began to flicker and ebb. He studied its motion with wonder, no longer daring to guess what might happen next.

"Great has been my hope that you would prove worthy to receive the gift I have desired to give to you," she continued. "I have watched you struggle, and fall, and rise again through your despair to give all for those you loved. Do not feel sorrow at the cost of your courageous act, but rejoice, for through it you have earned what I will now share with you."

The blackness swirled, grew quickly brighter, and parted, revealing a sight which rendered Boromir utterly amazed.

Before him lay the White City of Minas Tirith, gleaming in the brightness of a glorious spring day. Boromir had never seen his home city appear so radiant, oppressed as it had always been by the constant battle with Mordor. But now...now, he saw the fields of Pelennor spread out before him in a verdant carpet of bright greens and wildflowers of every color, with no trace left of the war-scars which to his memory had always marred the land. He found he could even smell the perfume of the rolling fields; the air was wonderfully heavy with it.

His gaze followed the velvet-like grass up to the walls of the City, from which every bit of grime and blood had apparently been washed clean. It was dazzling to behold, the walls of the seven levels draped in flowered garlands, banners and flags snapping in the warm breeze from atop every tower. Within the city he could somehow sense a great air of happy excitement and celebration.

Jutting grandly above the glowing walls was a brilliant structure which seemed composed solely of the sun's bright rays. He had never seen the Tower of Ecthelion appear so dazzling; the sight of its gleaming form reaching proudly into the azure blue sky nearly caused his heart to break with joy. It was as if the Gondor of old had appeared before him, berobed in its original glory.

From long habit, he turned his eyes towards the East-he was not quite sure how he was able to see this, but was relieved to find he could direct his gaze at will-where all of his life he had watched the red fires of Mordor roil against the blackened sky. To his astonishment, clear blue reached to every part of the horizon; the realm of the Dark Lord burned no more. For the first time Boromir saw the sun touch every mountaintop and hill for all the miles around.

Bewilderment spread over him; clearly this was no vision of the past. Neither was it a dying dream; it was real, he knew, as real as the arrows which would soon end his life. But what could it mean? He looked back towards his beloved City and thought for a moment.

And suddenly *knew*.

There was only one way in which the Dark Lord could have been destroyed, only one reason the City would be so gloriously arrayed. His vision traveled to the top of the Tower and rested upon the banner flying there-a black white-bordered banner on which was the image of a silver winged crown.

Awe swept over Boromir with a power he had not expected as he understood the vision before him. The war was over-Sauron's long reign of evil had ended-Gondor, and Middle-earth, had been freed. A dozen questions leapt to his lips, but before he could utter any of them, Galadriel's voice once more gently entered his mind.

"Your greatest hope was to see your home restored to its grandeur of old," she said quietly. "My gift to you, son of Gondor, is to answer that hope, and allow you to witness in spirit what you cannot in flesh. This vision has come to me, and I share it with you now, so that you may rest contented, knowing the fate of those you love best."

He was moving now, sweeping over the green plains as swift as an eagle towards the City. Boromir watched enthralled as they swooped over the walls of Minas Tirith; inside, all was decorated in the highest festival manner, the people jubilant with relief and cheer. The home which to Boromir had often been oppressive with fear and conflict had burst forth anew with vibrant life.

In an instant, the streets dissolved from his sight. Images began to swirl by him now with increasing speed, yet he could distinctly perceive each one with ease.

They were in a room, one Boromir immediately recognized as the throne room of his father's palace, now festooned with flowers and banners, the floor below him crowded with people in stately court dress. A figure, clad in royal robes, was kneeling at the front of the room, with another standing before him. Drawing closer, Boromir knew them at once, and was astounded. The standing figure was Gandalf-but that was impossible, he recalled with sorrow, Gandalf fell in Moria. But no, closer inspection revealed that this was indeed Gandalf, different in appearance now but still with the same gleam of wisdom in his bright old eyes.

Boromir marveled at this, then looked at the kneeling man, not very surprised to see that it was Aragorn. But Aragorn looked just as changed as Gandalf; how different this man was from the person Boromir had scoffed at as 'a mere Ranger' so long ago! The light of kingly dignity was on his brow now, his bearing every inch that of one born of royal blood. In the days since their parting, Aragorn had been tested through blood and battle, and emerged triumphant. Somehow, Boromir knew that his comrade had fulfilled his pledge and rescued the White City from destruction, had proven himself the true King of Gondor. Immeasurable gratitude swelled through him; if only he could have been there...

Eagerly he searched the crowd for other faces, dread and hope mingling within him at what he might find. Merry, Pippin-they were there, and changed as well, but alive! How tall with dignity they seemed now, with a new air of maturity about them. Surely he could not call them 'little ones' now. Frodo and Sam stood nearby, he saw with great relief; Frodo appeared weary, but they both seemed to have survived the quest. Clearly the Ring had been destroyed, although Boromir had no idea how it had been accomplished. There did not seem to be time now for such answers, dearly as he craved them; he could only be grateful that the evil which had driven him to madness was gone forever now. Perhaps he could even hope that Frodo had forgiven him.

Legolas and Gimli were there as well, and Boromir smiled to himself as he pondered the miracle of the fact that they had not killed each other. Each bore the air of comrades who had fought hard and long to see this day, and Boromir sensed that a friendship had been born in the fire of battle in the time since his departure. It was good, then, that they had both survived, he thought; perhaps their adventures were now only just beginning.

Another face came into view, and Boromir almost cried out, heedless of the insurmountable barrier between himself and the intangible world of the vision. It was Faramir, his beloved brother, looking every inch the proud nobleman in his stately dress and watching the proceedings with a smile of quiet joy. How Boromir longed to speak to his younger brother again, to tell him of all that he had seen, to voice the farewell which now would never pass between them. Even from the brief glimpse which was afforded to him, he could tell that Faramir, too, had changed; a new light shone in his brother's blue eyes, one of the sort of strength and peace born only through great suffering. Boromir felt torn by anguish for his brother's pain and immense admiration at the courage with which Faramir had clearly mastered his adversity. He would never have expected less from Faramir, and felt his heart swell with love and pride; one day, he felt certain-hopefully far in the future, after Faramir had enjoyed a full life of many years-they would meet again, and he would be able to share with his brother all that he yearned to say.

By Faramir's side stood a beautiful young woman with long golden hair, unknown to Boromir but clearly one of great family and fortitude; the same light of strength gleamed in her eyes as well. Before he could wonder at the scene before him, it was gone, but not before imparting the greatest comfort to the dying warrior's heart. His beloved brother would survive the coming war, and emerge well and whole; and he would not be alone. That knowledge was enough for now.

He longed to search the crowd for more loved faces, particularly that of his father, but the image was dissolving rapidly now, swallowed by a beautiful curtain of gold and silver light. Even as it disappeared, Boromir felt ever more certain of the reality of it; it had been no fantastic dream, but a true account of events which one day would occur. Relief such as he had never felt before flooded his weary soul; the sufferings of his family and his people, the years of hardship and sacrifice, the determination to battle the evil at their doorstep and never relent, no matter the cost-it would all be answered one day, in the most glorious manner possible. Gondor would rise again, a King at its head once more, its honor and brilliance restored and preserved to shine into the coming thousands of years for all to see. And he would see it as well, somehow.

The warm light began to fade. Once more he felt himself wrapped in soft darkness; it seemed as if he were slowly sinking away, back to the world of men. But she was with him still; the gentle touch came to his cheek again in a final caress. "Our time of parting has come," he heard her say quietly, her voice full of tenderness. "May this gift bring you the peace you have sought for so long. Fear not for those you leave behind as you journey beyond the realms of creation; if their hearts remain true, and their courage unyielding, all that you have seen will come to pass. Gondor will live, and you will live in her memory as well. You will hold a cherished place in the hearts of those you loved, and the remembrance of your deeds shall endure long after the trials of these dark days have been forgotten. Think of this, and rest well."

In the darkness he felt her take his face in her hands; a moment later a kiss, as soft as rose petals, was placed upon his cheek. He heard a faintly whispered word-"Namarie"-and she was gone, leaving him alone in the warm, soft void.

For a few moments, Boromir was too stunned to think properly; only the powerful feelings washing over him offered any sign of cohesion, feelings of immense relief, joy and gratitude. The White City would stand! It seemed almost impossible to think it, yet the reality of the vision was undeniable. The dearest wish of his heart would be realized, despite all that now strove against it. Surely he had done nothing to deserve this miraculous gift! No Elven bow or blade, however wonderfully wrought, could compare to its value. He had seen the glory of his home restored, seen the people he loved set on paths of peace, and knew somehow with certainty that it would all one day take place. If only he could have told the Lady what this gift had meant to him! But there were no way to describe it, and he had a feeling that she had sensed his appreciation, despite the absence of words between them.

The darkness around him began to grow brighter, its softness dissolving as he felt himself falling ever more rapidly downward. By degrees he became more aware of his true surroundings, the rough forest floor he was lying upon, the overwhelming weariness of his dying body, the bite of the air around him. He blinked, and suddenly Aragorn was once more above him, gazing into his face with mournful eyes, the bright sun filtering through the trees behind him.

With surprise, Boromir realized that no time had passed during his encounter with the Lady; all was exactly as it had been. There was no pain now, but his entire being felt consumed with exhaustion; he could feel Aragorn's hand upon his wrist, but all else was shrouded in a strange, heavy numbness. He tried to draw a breath, and found it difficult. The end was close at hand.

Turning his eyes downward, he saw that Legolas and Gimli were there now as well, their faces bearing the same solemn expression which clouded Aragorn's brow. Boromir gasped, recalling the vision; if only he could tell them what he had seen! He dearly wanted them to know that the trials before them would be worth their cost, that all of the obstacles they would face, however high they seemed, would be surmounted.

He felt Aragorn tighten his grip upon his arm, and looked up into his comrade's eyes. If only he had breath and time to assure his friend that the uncertain path he had chosen would prove to be the right one, and that he would one day be restored as Gondor's King! Already, it seemed, he could see a certain light of royal strength upon Aragorn's brow, the same light which must have touched the Kings of old. Tears stung his eyes as he beheld the savior of Gondor; if only there was time, and breath. But it mattered little now; Aragorn would discover and fulfill his destiny soon enough.

The odd, numb feeling was growing stronger now; he was slowly falling again, enveloped by an increasing sensation of warmth and peace. The time had come to say what words he could to assure Aragorn of his blessing, and strengthen him for the trials ahead. He took as deep a breath as was possible and looked into the Ranger's face, a small smile on his bloodied lips.

"I would have followed you, my brother-"

I know now that you will not deny the blood that is in you, but draw upon its strength for our land and our people. Even if you do not fully know it, yet.

"-my captain-"

For I have received my gift, and I only wish that you could have seen it as well. But we will both share it one day; when Gondor is restored, I shall be there, soaring upon the ringing trumpet notes which will sing you to your throne.

"-my King."

And we will both be home at last.

Boromir saw Aragorn bow his head in understanding and grief, but still with the glimmer of the ancient light which no sorrow seemed able to hide. The warrior's heart leapt a little; Aragorn would heed his words, and not falter on his newfound road.

His vision swam for a moment as a tranquil drowsiness enfolded him. His weary form relaxed completely, a contented sigh escaping his lips. It seemed he could see the glowing vision of the White City once more, the Tower blazing in the bright spring sun. Joy filled his heart again; the scene stayed before his mind even as the darkness wrapped its gentle arms about him, and with infinite tenderness bore him to his rest.


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