Boromir leaned against the stone wall at the edge of the pathway and gazed out over the rushing water in the valley below. The sun was sinking into the west and the light was bright against the mountains, even as shadows stretched out across the misty valley. So much had happened since he had arrived the evening before; so much had changed! He felt different somehow, but could not put a finger on the change.
He had quickly taken his leave from the others after the council meeting had ended so dramatically. He was weary from his long journey, and the emotional upheavals of the day had taken their toll. After sleeping for several hours he awoke refreshed, but a strange feeling of disquiet was still upon him. His heart was hopeful, yet he was still not totally convinced of the rightness of the course to which they had committed themselves.
He sighed and shook his head. Only time will tell, he thought. The journey is long, and there will be time to reconsider along the way, if it becomes necessary. In the meantime, my word has been given and I will hold to it.
Having made that resolve, he felt better. Turning away from the darkening valley, he mounted the steps to the terraces above. Elves of the House of Elrond passed him on their way to their duties; each one greeted him with grave respect. Some of the Dwarves from the council session were out and about; the elderly Dwarf Gloin seemed to be conducting a tour of sorts for his companions.
Where is that fellow Aragorn? Boromir wondered. I ought to speak more with him.
Even as the thought came and went, he saw Aragorn appear from around a corner ahead of him. He was walking with two dark-haired Elves whom Boromir did not recognize. They were much alike in appearance, enough so that Boromir knew they must be brothers. Fleetingly, he thought of Faramir. How he missed him!
The three were dressed for a journey and were talking earnestly amongst themselves as they walked, but they looked up simultaneously at Boromir's approach. Their gaze was not unfriendly, but Boromir sensed that they did not know what to expect from him. Considering his impassioned speech at the council session and his rejection of Aragorn's claim, he was not surprised that they would be unsure of him. He himself was still unsure of Aragorn, but he must put aside his doubt for now, or the quest would be doomed before it began. Boromir greeted each one with a friendly nod, then turned to Aragorn.
"I had hoped to speak further with you," Boromir began, "but I see that you are preparing to leave on a journey."
"Yes," responded Aragorn. He indicated the two Elves standing beside him. "I go with Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond, on a mission to scout out the lands to the east of Rivendell. We seek news of the Black Riders; we must be certain that none have escaped before the Fellowship can set out on the journey south."
Aragorn looked down at his hands as he drew on his gloves.
"Was there some urgent matter that you wished to discuss?" he asked.
"No," replied Boromir, with a shake of his head. "Nothing urgent; I had only conversation with you in mind." He paused. "Since you speak of our setting out, I would ask when that might be. I am eager to return to my city, where I am sorely needed."
Aragorn sighed, and something like compassion shown in his eyes.
"We will not set out for some time, I fear," he replied. "We must search all the lands about Rivendell thoroughly to make certain there are no signs of the Riders, nor spies of the traitor Saruman anywhere nearby. Many scouting parties will be going out in the next few days, and it will be many weeks before the search is complete."
"Weeks!" cried Boromir in dismay. "Weeks! I had no idea it would be so long!" He clenched his fists in his agitation. "I cannot stay here, waiting and waiting! I must return to my people!"
Elladan stepped forward with concern on his face. Boromir put his hand to his forehead, then sucked in a deep breath and held it, in an effort to master his emotions. After a moment, he held up his hand and smiled wanly.
"No, it is all right," he went on more calmly. "I do understand there is no other way, it would be foolish to set out before we know all there is to know. Forgive my impatience."
"Of course!" replied Aragorn. "Your impatience is understandable. I, too, am eager to be off!" He thought for a moment, then glanced at the two Elves beside him, as if for confirmation.
"Elrond has sent Elves to the west to contact my Ranger kindred in the Wild, to enlist their aid in our search. Perhaps you would care to join in the search as well? You have recently passed through the western lands; your observations would be valuable."
"If I can be of service, I would gladly join the search!" Boromir answered with relief. "Rivendell is a marvelously peaceful place, but I am not a man who cares to sit idle. Give me something to do, and I will do it."
"Very well!" Aragorn said. "Word has been sent for the Rangers to come to Rivendell. I will leave word that you are to join them. I hope to return when my business with Elladan and Elrohir is completed and join you in that search. If I am unable to come before you set out, the Ranger in charge will be my close kinsman, Halbarad." Aragorn smiled slightly. "If I am able to join you, we may have that conversation you desired, as we seek for signs of Black Riders."
Boromir gave a nod of his head in acknowledgment.
"I look forward to our next meeting, then," he said formally.
Aragorn nodded in return; motioning to Elladan and Elrohir, he passed on, heading for the stairs to the lower path. The two Elves bowed to Boromir before following Aragorn. Boromir watched them for a moment as they walked briskly away, then continued along the terrace. He felt some disappointment that his return to Minas Tirith would be postponed indefinitely. But at least in the meantime, he would not have to remain idle; accompanying the Rangers on their scouting mission would be a good way to learn more of them, and to judge the mettle of their leader, Aragorn.
Boromir was lost in thought, and was unaware of his surroundings, until he came suddenly out onto an open verandah that was set about with stone seats. The setting sun glowed warmly on the inlaid stones of the porch. Gandalf, Bilbo, and the other hobbits were there, talking and laughing together. They broke off at Boromir's sudden appearance.
"I beg your pardon," said Boromir awkwardly, met suddenly with the open, direct gaze of five pairs of hobbit eyes. He turned to go.
Gandalf stood quickly, and stepping forward, grasped him by the arm.
"Ah, Boromir!" he cried. "Welcome, welcome! Are you well rested from your journey? Come, join us!"
Without waiting for a reply, he drew Boromir forward into the group.
"For those of you who were not properly introduced," Gandalf continued, looking pointedly at Merry, Pippin and Sam, "this is Boromir, son of Denethor of Minas Tirith in Gondor. We have met on occasion in my journeys to that fair city, and I can tell you that he is an honorable man and a worthy companion for our journey."
Boromir bowed to Gandalf, and then to the hobbits. Merry stood up and held out his hand to Boromir, who took it cautiously.
"I'm Meriadoc Brandybuck, but you can call me Merry."
Pippin jumped up and shook Boromir's hand vigorously.
"And I'm Pippin...er, Peregrin Took, that is! And this shy fellow is Sam, Samwise Gamgee, to be precise. You met Bilbo and Frodo already, I expect."
"Yes," said Boromir, "but we have not yet spoken together."
He bowed to Bilbo respectfully, and then to Frodo. He noted that Frodo still looked somewhat pale and worried.
"If any of my words at the council have caused you pain or alarm, please forgive me," Boromir said, touching his hand to his heart. "I do not claim to understand fully all that was revealed, so perhaps I spoke too strongly at times."
Sam looked gratified, while Bilbo nodded with a satisfied smile.
"Apology accepted, young man," he said. "In the future, you might do well to think before you speak out. Saves having to apologize afterwards!"
Boromir smiled in spite of himself. It had been some time before he had received such a lecture from an elder! Frodo, too, was smiling as he spoke to Boromir.
"I think I understand you," he said. "Many matters were revealed this morning that were new to us all, and for which we were unprepared. I am still trying to sort it all out."
Boromir inwardly marveled at the wisdom and insight of this small person. He did indeed seem to understand.
"Yes," he agreed. "I, too, have some things to sort through, as you say."
Merry and Pippin made room for him on their bench, and he sat down. Pippin was gazing at him with great admiration. Boromir looked down at him with a smile, waiting for the question he could almost see forming on the hobbit's lips.
"Boromir," said Pippin thoughtfully, sounding out the name. "That's a grand sort of name. I know sometimes names have special meanings, what does Boromir mean?"
"I am not certain of the exact meaning," replied Boromir thoughtfully, "but 'bor' means steadfast and 'boro' means endure. 'Mir' means jewel. So put together it may mean 'steadfast jewel,' or 'jewel that endures.' While I would be the last person to call myself a jewel, it has ever been my goal to remain steadfast and strong in my defense of the White City of Gondor."
"White City?" asked Sam. "What is that?"
"The White City is Minas Tirith, the chief city of Gondor. It is the Tower of the Guard that stands against the might of Sauron on the western shores of the Great River. Long years she has stood and remained strong. Since the last King was lost in battle with the evil lord of Minas Morgul, many, many years ago, the Stewards of the King have taken up the scepter in the King's stead, and have directed the defense of the City and the people of Gondor. My father, the Steward Denethor, rules there now, and I am his heir."
Boromir fell silent, remembering the claims of Aragorn. Gandalf looked at him kindly.
"A worthy man is your father," he said, "and a strong ruler in a dark time."
Boromir looked at Gandalf for a moment before answering.
"You knew of this Aragorn and his claim." He shook his head and smiled ruefully. "You and I will have much explaining to do when we come to Minas Tirith and stand before my father!"
Gandalf laid a comforting hand on Boromir's shoulder.
"Do not lose hope, Boromir, nor fear the changes to come. The world is changing, and none of us will remain unaffected."
They were all silent for awhile, each one contemplating the changes that might come and what they might mean. The clear note of a bell broke into their thoughts.
"That's the dinner bell!" exclaimed Merry.
"You'll sit with us, won't you, Boromir?" demanded Pippin. "I've got lots more questions I want to ask you!"
"Yes," agreed Frodo, "do join us at our table."
"If you will have me," laughed Boromir. "I would enjoy the opportunity to get to know you all better." He looked around at the others. "I have a few questions of my own, concerning hobbits!"
"Well, in that case," said Merry, taking Boromir by the wrist, "you had best sit by me! I'll be happy to answer your questions. I'm something of an authority where I come from on the Shire and hobbits and such."
Boromir looked down with amusement at the hobbit beside him. He could not imagine this young fellow being an authority on anything, except possibly eating, but he was willing to hear what he had to say. He could see that the journey he would be undertaking with these hobbits would be like no other he had taken before. As he allowed himself to be led away by Merry, he wondered what he was getting himself into.