Black and Gold

by NorthStar
Part X

The two hobbits were still clutching each other when Legolas found them. A quick look around him told him all he needed to know; piles of dead, many staked with the trademark spear of the Rohirrim. The clearing where a dying Boromir lay. The crumpled silver chain at Frodo’s feet.

Legolas placed a hand on either hobbit’s shoulder: Frodo looked up at him, blue eyes still wet and smiled tremulously. The shadows under his eyes were dark, and Legolas felt his heart twist as he saw the marks of suffering carved on the ringbearer. He felt the now-steady rise and fall of Sam’s chest and bending down, whispered “Aragorn will be here soon, Sam; he will make you feel better.”

He knelt at Boromir’s side. The big man was alive, but barely. The blade Boromir had treasured so was buried deep within him. There could be no removal without further damage. Even a skilled healer could not save him. “Legolas,” Boromir’s voice was a croak. “I tried to save him. I tried to make it up to him.” His chest heaved; his life stream was ebbing quickly now. “If he lives…tell him. Tell…..him.” Legolas felt sadness well up inside him. “Tenna’ ento lye omenta, mellon nin,” he murmured.

He felt Aragorn behind him, and moved a respectful distance away so that Aragorn could kneel by the body. He heard the two men exchange quiet words; then nothing more. Aragorn leaned to touch Boromir’s forehead with his lips, then stood. There were tears in his eyes as he turned to Legolas, who stood, head bent, saying his own prayers to the Valar.

Frodo and Sam were being tenderly attended to by Merry and Pippin, who were busily digging in their sacks and offering what food and drink they had to their friends. Merry had soaked a cloth with his water bottle and was cleaning the marks left on Sam’s neck by Lurtz’s bloody nails. Pippin was attempting to get Frodo to take a bite of lembas, with little success. Aragorn walked over and checked Sam’s neck, ensuring that no lasting damage had been done, then placed his hands on the scrapes and whispered a few words in a language the hobbits did not understand. A warmth spread through Sam, and the pain diminished, and he was able to smile gratefully at Strider and get a warm smile in return.

Aragorn left Sam in Merry’s hands and went to squat beside Frodo. Gently he took the ringbearer’s face in his hands and stared intently at it, delving deep into the blue eyes, now clouded by grief, fear- and something more. With his fingers, he wiped away the tears now coursing silently down Frodo’s face. “Come with me,” said Aragorn quietly. He slipped his arms around the hobbit and lifted him to his feet.

They walked over to where Boromir lay. Breath and life had ceased for the son of Gondor, and he lay at rest, arms folded across his chest. Aragorn had wrested the blade of the stewards from his torso, and it lay, cleansed, in Boromir’s hands. His face, in death, was noble and strong, as befits a leader of men. Frodo and Aragorn stared down at it, each thinking their own private thoughts.

“He was sorry, Frodo,” said Aragorn simply. “He realized what he had done and tried his best to save you. He was the first to pursue you, leaving us behind; even Legolas was not as fleet as Boromir. His pain and shame drove him. The broken promise haunted him.” Aragorn sighed. “His soul will not go to Mandos without your forgiveness. Can you give it to him?”

Frodo looked up at him. His fear and anger came flooding back, and he began to shake. Aragorn put his hand on his shoulder, but said nothing. The last benediction was Frodo’s to give or not – only he could grant the soul’s release. Frodo dropped to the ground beside the body and gripped the bloodstained cloth of Boromir’s tunic. He bent his head till his forehead rested against the steward’s belt.

Aragorn never heard what passed between the two, living and dead, forsaken and redeemed…but after some moments, Frodo stood up, wiping at his eyes, looking drained, yet calm. “Quel esta, Boromir. Namaarie,” he whispered.

He turned to Aragorn, and the Dunedain saw with relief that some of the darkness and heaviness had left Frodo’s eyes. And looking back at the body of Boromir, Aragorn knew that the flesh was still there, but the soul was in flight.

As he had hoped it would be.

He turned and gazed upon the seven remaining members of the fellowship. Seven left against thousands imbued with unimaginable evil.

The ring was out there, and it could not be allowed to reach Mordor.

Frodo, too, was looking to the fellowship, but his mind was far away. The outline of the ring was burned upon his soul and he would not give it up so easily. He closed his eyes and saw a gleaming black tower, topped with a glowing red eye. It no longer followed him.

But it would see him again. And when it did…it would be too late.