Back next

Lords of Gondor

by Linaewen

Chapter 13

After Legolas had gone, Boromir lay back on his bedroll and tried to ignore the strange feeling that gnawed at the pit of his stomach. He could not decide what it was he was feeling; was it fear at the thought that Legolas would find no one, and return alone? Or might it be anticipation and excitement at being reunited at long last with some of his own beloved countrymen? A mixture of both, perhaps... ?

He wished briefly he could see the shore from where he lay by the boat landing, so that he could watch for Legolas' return; but then he turned resolutely from that thought. His back was to the southern shore, and it would stay that way; he had better things to do than to watch nervously and wait impatiently, as he used to watch and wait for his scouts to return with their reports.

Boromir smiled suddenly as he realized the gnawing sensation in his stomach was a familiar one -- it was the feeling of mixed anxiety and excitement he always felt as he awaited the report of his scouts. How he hated waiting! As a Captain of Men, he had to preserve as much as possible a semblance of patience, but he had always chafed at the wait -- not only was he eager to accomplish whatever mission was his at that moment, but he worried for his men. He was never content until they were all present and accounted for, no matter the outcome of the reports they had to share with him. He was responsible for them, and when they were away from him, he worried, and was impatient.

It was no different now. He worried for Legolas, even knowing he was fully capable of defending himself against any foe. He worried that he would find no one, he worried that the men who sought him had met with some disaster; he chafed at waiting to be reunited with them. And he was impatient for them to come, because he wanted Legolas to be free to go after Aragorn and the little ones. He felt a deep certainty that the Elf would prove an invaluable companion to Aragorn in that quest, and he wanted him quickly away on the journey -- even though the thought of that parting froze his heart with foreboding and loneliness.

Yet even as he fretted, the familiar feeling of worry was a great comfort to him. He gave a sudden shout of laughter at the incongruous thought that while he was once again thinking as a Captain might think -- worrying for those under his charge -- he still could not even stand on his feet without help.

"A fine Captain I will appear to them!" he sighed ruefully. "I had best put aside my fears and see that I am at least presentable when they come."

He carefully stretched and straightened his limbs, testing his strength as he had done regularly since he had finally begun to have some control over his own movements. It was a ritual he performed often to prove to himself he was truly still alive, and to harden his will against the pain, keeping himself from despair. To spend time in excercise -- no matter how simple -- was to be strengthening himself for that day when he would take his first steps towards home.

Home! How he ached to be back there, back with his people, defending his City! There had been an empty place in his heart ever since he had taken the road that led northwards to Rivendell, and he would not be whole again until that void was filled -- nor would it be filled, until he once more walked the streets of white stone.

Boromir winced at the pain in his shoulder as he flexed his arms and tested his movements. It was still only a matter of days since his wounding, and the pain was yet a sickening knot in his chest; but it was receding daily, and that made it bearable. He rested for a moment, then reached for the food Legolas had left for him.

Before taking a bite, he contemplated the cake of lembas in his hand. This lembas was a strange food, like nothing he had ever eaten before; yet he had to admit, it did seem to put heart into him. He knew he had never before been so wounded and weak as he was now, and yet he could feel himself improving daily -- even hourly! Could this strange Elven food have something to do with it? He chewed thoughtfully as he pondered the mystery, then shrugged and stuffed the entire cake into his mouth and washed it down with a swig of water.

Boromir struggled to sit up; the wound in his midsection made it difficult to rise from a prone position, but once he was up, it was easier to move about, if he did so with care. He eyed the distance to the little spring which ran through the grass near the boats, until it reached the waters of the lake; he calculated how much effort it would take to get himself there. He could as easily use water from the leather skin for a wash, but he felt suddenly that it was important to make the effort to reach the spring.

He stuffed a clean cloth inside his tunic, and grasping his staff, he pulled himself to his feet. His knees buckled and he almost fell, but he leaned on the staff and managed to keep himself upright. He felt sick for a moment, and swayed slightly as he contended with dizziness, but he hardened his will and forced himself to move his feet. Slowly but surely, he shuffled forward across the sand and grass to the edge of the stream.

It seemed to take forever, and he was sweating profusely by the time he reached the shallow spring. Using the wooden stave as support, he lowered himself slowly and carefully to his knees, faintly surprised to realize that it took much more strength to kneel than it did to stand. He braced himself with one hand and wet the cloth in the spring with the other. Carefully and methodically he washed his face and neck with the wet cloth, and was refreshed -- not only because he felt a bit cleaner, but because he had proved to himself he was not a helpless invalid.

Another wave of dizziness surprised him, and he dropped the cloth as he braced himself frantically with both hands to his staff. It would not do to fall face first into the spring and drown before any help could reach him! He laughed, in spite of the morbid thought, then cursed as he realized he no longer had the strength to get back to his feet.

He felt then a gentle hand supporting him under his arm, and an amused voice spoke beside him.

"There was water in the skin for your thirst," said Legolas. "No need to come here for a drink."

"I wanted a wash with water that flowed fresh," growled Boromir. "But now I cannot rise!"

He shook his head in resignation, then laughed again at his predicament, while at the same time cursing his weakness.

"A great fool I shall look to my men if they should see me this way -- unable to even wash myself, or to get up afterwards!"

Legolas smiled in response.

"I think they will not care if you are washed or not, nor will they despise you if you are kneeling on the ground in your weakness. They care only to see you living; that will be enough."

Boromir grew suddenly still and serious.

"You have seen them?" he asked intently.

"I have," said Legolas. "They follow after me, and may be here any moment; I came ahead quickly to prepare you for their coming."

Boromir looked up, and Legolas caught his breath at the joy that shone from his companion's face.

"Faramir? Was my brother with them?" Boromir asked eagerly. But before Legolas could respond, Boromir shook his head in answer to his own question. "No, of course not! He could not leave his duties, even to come to me."

"Your man Grithnir leads the party, and Linhir is also with them," Legolas said quickly, for Boromir's comfort.

"Grithnir... " Boromir's voice was suddenly gruff, and he fell silent. He looked down at the staff which he now held limply in his hands as he leaned against Legolas; he gripped the wood tightly, once. Then, bracing the staff in the soft loam beside the spring, he began to struggle to his feet.

"Get me to my feet," he demanded, then remembered himself. "Please... I will meet them standing."

"They know you are injured," replied Legolas gently. "You will not be able to hide it from them."

"I do not wish to hide it," answered Boromir. "But they need to see me strong in spite of my pain, or they will lose hope. I am their Captain and I will not appear weak in their eyes -- or in my own."

Legolas made no further argument. He lifted Boromir up and bade him lean upon his shoulder as he guided him out onto the shingle. He settled him beside the boat landing, on the far side, where he could watch for the coming of his men, and yet lean upon the stone for support.

They waited there together, in silence, watching the long shore as it retreated southwards into the mists of Rauros -- but they did not have to wait long. Soon, in the distance, they could see the Men of Gondor approaching, walking swiftly towards them. Legolas stepped away from Boromir, so as not to be seen supporting him, but he remained close, in case the Man should need a sudden hand to help him.

Boromir drew himself up, tall and proud, and though his face was still, and his expression solemn, Legolas could sense his joy as if he had shouted aloud. Yet Boromir spoke no word, as he watched his men approach.

As he waited, Boromir felt a peace he had not known for a very long time. He no longer felt impatient or apprehensive, for his men were there before him, coming ever closer. He knew each face and was glad at the sight of them.

Suddenly, he felt whole again; he had not yet set foot on the streets of his City, nor even seen her walls from afar, but that no longer mattered. That would happen in time. For now, he was content, because his men were here with him -- his chosen men, with whom he had fought many a battle and seen many a victory -- and it was enough.

Grithnir now stood before him, and devotion shone from his eyes as he stood before his Captain.

"My lord," he whispered in greeting.

Placing his hands on Grithnir's shoulders, Boromir bent forward and kissed his brow. When he spoke, his voice was steady, though deepened with suppressed emotion.

"Well met, Grithnir," he said with a smile. "I have been waiting for you."