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Heirs of Gondor by Laire


Friend or FoeA/N: Book-verse. Changes POV with each part. By context you can tell who is who.



 

I: First Meeting

I have always been an early riser. I still remember my mother's mild complaints when I would wake her up too early for her liking. But back then, I loved to greet the dawn with a loved one by my side.

I am much too used to being alone to have such expectations now. Perhaps I prefer solitude, all these years later. This morn, however, there is another Man within a household of the Eldar. He has not yet seen me; while he has the looks of a warrior, his long trip has certainly tired him, and the peacefulness of Imladris has dimmed even his wary senses.

This stranger has come a long way; it is easy to tell by his travel-stained clothing and weary gait. Under the dirt, I can tell that his clothing is rich and well-made. Curious, I search for a sign of his origin, and quickly find more than I had hoped to discover. On his baldric he wears a great white horn- the Horn of Gondor. I recognize it immediately; Denethor once wore it himself, a long time ago. I am not sure when he passed this heirloom to his son, but it is now obvious that this man is Boromir.

Boromir. Had so many years passed, turning the young toddler I once bounced on my knee into man in his prime? For all the times I have felt the days passing by so slowly, it is moments like this that make me wonder where all of the years have gone.

He is being led by one of Elrond's household to a guestroom. I imagine he already has met with the lord of the Last Homely House, though I cannot begin to fathom what brought him so far north. They start ascending the stairs; still he does not see me, for he is deep within his own thoughts. He will soon, though. I wonder what he will think of me, for certainly I look like an ill-clad vagabond. I imagine the heir to the Steward would find it odd that someone of my looks is simply lounging about the house of Master Elrond. Boromir will learn my true identity soon enough.

"Mae govannen, Dúnadan," the elf greets me at the top of the stairs.

"Mae govannen, Falasdir," I say in return. My voice startles the other, and he finally sees me.

"You are no elf," he says, surprised.

I cannot help but smile a little. "Indeed not," I reply.

"I must admit I was not expecting to meet another Man in the home of the elves," he explains.

"You will find much more than elves here, son of Gondor," I say.

If he is surprised by my knowledge, he does not show it. Instead, he merely says, "If you will excuse me, I must rest. I have traveled a long road. I would, however, speak with you later."

"Later," I agree. With a quiet farewell, Boromir follows the attendant further into the household, leaving me alone once again.

So that is Boromir. Even through his weariness I can sense his pride and strength. Even if this first meeting was cordial enough, I have to wonder if such a proud man would ever accept me on Gondor's throne.

I imagine that to gain the crown, I must gain his approval first. Will he even be willing?

Only time will tell.

 

II: After the Council

I will admit that I have always been a man of action rather than words. Why bother with talk when there are deeds to be done? But even then, I understand the necessity of words to set all straight. And indeed, today's discussions have been quite invaluable!

I was weary after my journey- understandably so. Few men can withstand such a trek alone. After speaking briefly with Lord Elrond, I managed to get a couple hours rest before I discovered the answer to many riddles. I did not hope for such answers- indeed, I feared many times that my journey would end up in vain. Faramir was certain that it would not, but I still doubted. He is wiser than I. Still, now that the riddle is answered, it is not Isildur's Bane- this Ring- that interests me at the moment, but rather the Sword that was Broken, or rather its wielder.

When I met him this morning, I was curious about him. He had the looks of a vagrant, yet spoke fair. And, of course, his presence in Rivendell was puzzling. It all makes sense now.

The Council of Elrond has now ended, and the room is beginning to empty. The dwarves are already gone, and the three Halflings are slowly making their way out, speaking quietly to one another in hushed voices. The wizard Mithrandir is speaking to Lord Elrond and Lord Glorfindel, and the rest of the elves are beginning to file out. The only ones who remain sitting are Aragorn and me.

I can see that the other man is lost in his thoughts, though what he thinks I cannot guess. Faramir was always better at that sort of thing, though I imagine even he would have a difficult time reading Aragorn's face. The Ranger was, for the most part, neutral in his expression throughout the whole Council. Moments of passion would flare and, as quickly as they had come, flicker away, leaving me with a blank slate.

This leaves me only more curious about the heir of Isildur. If he indeed lives up to his forefathers, his presence in Minas Tirith would be welcome. I do wonder, however, if he has further ambitions. If he does seek the throne, I cannot be quite sure on my lord father's actions. It is said that the job of the steward is to look after the throne until the king returns, yet I wonder if anyone actually believes those words in this age. And while I am no lore-master, I do recall that the last King of Arnor to try and reclaim Gondor's throne was rejected.

And where does that leave me? I cannot be sure; not at this time. Faramir may be able to read the heart of a man within one meeting, but I need to get to know him further. I need to know Isildur's heir before he comes to Minas Tirith. I need to know where Gondor stands in his heart.

I finally stand, as does he. He does not seem to acknowledge my presence, but rather heads for the hall, lost in his thoughts. I quickly head after him.

"Aragorn!" I call after him before he can go further. The other man stops, and turns to acknowledge me.

"Boromir," he says with a nod of his head. "Do you need something?"

As usual, I state my concerns with the bluntness that my brother says makes me a terrible politician. "Strictly speaking, yes, I do need something. I need to know what Gondor is to you. You will come to Minas Tirith, you say, and I will not deny that any aid will be welcome. But what is my country to you?"

As I expected, his face remained impassive and I could not read his thoughts. He took a moment to respond. "Gondor means many things to me. It is my past and, Elbereth will it, my future. It was my home for many years, and I hold it dear to my heart. Do not doubt that I will not defend her well; I would give up my life for Gondor, if it comes to that."

I believe he speaks truly, but one part of his statement makes me curious. "When did you live in Gondor?"

"A long time ago," he responds. "I am older than I look." Before I can enquire further, he speaks again. "I apologize for cutting this conversation short, but I must go and prepare for my journey."

"Journey? Where to?" I ask.

"I am not yet sure. We shall be discussing our trails later, and will leave before nightfall. I will likely search the Bruinen for any signs of the Black Riders, until Tharbad, at the least."

Ah, yes. The Black Riders. These dark horsemen who fill the hearts of men with terrible fear had been a problem on the eastern borders of Gondor. I still remember my encounter with one at Osgiliath, all those months ago, and the memory still haunts my dreams. Faramir, who was with me that night, is the only one who knows of my fears.

"I wish you the best of luck," I say, my mind still lingering on the thought of these demons. "Hopefully they have left the North."

"Hopefully," he nods. "Frodo cannot leave Rivendell until we know. If you will excuse me, I must be on my way."

"Of course." With a short nod, he turns from me and strides down the hallway.

I watch his back thoughtfully, still not quite sure what to think of him. I wish he was not leaving so soon; I want to know more about his ambitions.

For now, I'll withhold my judgment.

 

III: Return to Rivendell

It is near a fortnight past the first day of December when I finally see Imladris once more. My journey was a wearisome one. After all, one does not go to the ruins of Tharbad and back in under two months at a leisurely pace. Still, Halbarad was with me, which made the long journey all the more tolerable.

Before I came back to Imladris I visited the largest settlement of the Dúnedain in the Angle. Before starting my own long journey, I had ordered some of my own men to scout all about the area between the two rivers, from the Last Bridge to the point at which the two rivers meet. There all of my scouts had met again, and I gathered their reports for Elrond.

When I came to the Last Homely House, I gave the master of Imladris welcome news. The Dúnedain searched thoroughly along the area southwest of the valley, and there were no signs of the Nazgûl, thus adding to our hope that they had left the North and retreated back to Mordor.

It is now just a minute after my meeting with him. While I am hungry, the thought of a soft bed is much more enticing at this moment, so I retreat to my room. Despite it being mid-morning, I am weary and in need of rest.

I walk down a couple halls to my chambers, and stumble upon one I am in no mood to banter with: Boromir. He is currently gazing at a painting of Gil-galad and Elendil. I have no ill feelings for the man, but I am not so sure what he thinks about me. While it is certainly not open animosity, I do not think he particularly likes me, either, though I cannot be certain after only a couple brief meetings.

He hears my footsteps within the silent corridor, and turns to me. I can see the surprise in his eyes when he sees it is I. "Aragorn. Welcome back."

"Thank you," I reply. When he does not look as if he is going to say more, I continue my journey to my room. His voice stops me just as I pass him.

"You said at the Council that you little resemble Elendil as he stands carven in my father's halls," he said. "I agreed with you then. You do not resemble the statue. But," he continued, staring once more at the picture, "I have never seen a painting of King Elendil. And from the paintings of Gondor I have seen here, I cannot doubt the skill of the elves." Boromir frowned slightly. "He looks different here, but real. And you resemble him quite a bit."

I turn to the painting in question, and study it for the first time in decades. I see Elendil the Tall in all of his glory, with both power and peace lying in his features. He has dark hair and grey eyes, as all of my ancestors, but I cannot see the resemblance that the son of the steward says is there.

"I am afraid I cannot see it," I tell him.

"It's quite obvious!" he replies in turn. "Look, see the shape of his chin? It is the same as yours. Granted, it's likely more obvious once you're clean-shaven, but it is there. And you both have a long forehead. And your eyes..." He takes a long look at my face, and then turns back to the painting, "yours are a bit smaller, but you both have that look in them."

"What look?" I cannot help but ask.

"Strength," he says after a moment. "And light, I suppose. I'm not quite sure what would be the best term; my brother was always better at poetics."

I glance at Boromir and study his face. He is now concentrating heavily on the painting, lost in his thoughts. I will not try to guess what the man of Gondor is thinking about. I cannot come up with an answer to his comment, so after a moment of silence I bid him farewell and walk the last few feet to my chambers.

I am not sure what Boromir meant, comparing me to Elendil. I do not dare to believe that he is accepting me; no, not yet. He is forthright and will tell me when he does believe in my strength. I can only hope that he is starting down that road, for I will need his support throughout the coming days.

And, admittedly, I wish for it.

 

IV: The Sword that was Broken

The Fellowship, as we are called, is to leave Rivendell in but a few days, and I must say that I am restless. I am anxious to go back to Gondor and aid my country once more. To be honest, I am eager to bring the heir of Isildur to Minas Tirith, as well.

A couple of days ago I asked Aragorn to spar with me. He accepted, and glad I am that he did! His skills are beyond most I have seen, and even I had a difficult time in the many matches we did. We did not keep count but I will admit that he likely won more matches than I did. His sword will be welcome in our battle against Mordor.

There is suddenly a knock on my door. "Come in!" I call, and, to my surprise, Aragorn is there, a smile lingering on his features.

"I have something to show you. I thought you would be interested," he says. Curious, I rise from my seat and follow him out of the room. He leads me out of the Last Homely House and down a windy path through Rivendell. In a small glade near the river are what I can make out to be forges, with a couple elves working at them. Silently we enter the area and sit on a bench nearby.

The two elves in front of us are working on a sword. They seem to have just finished grinding and filing the weapon, and are once again heating the blade in the large fireplace. As they take it out and quench it in water, I suddenly recognize the pommel of the sword.

"Narsil," I mutter. "The Sword that was broken now forged anew." Even in its uncompleted state, I cannot help but note its splendor and strength. There is already a dim glow coming from the sword, as if it were alive. I remember old legends of Elendil wielding his sword as if it was a flame, but I always thought they were mere legends. I have never seen such magic before.

I turn to glance at Aragorn. He is watching the elf smiths with great attentiveness. I must wonder if he ever thought he would live to see the day Narsil was made again. I imagine even he had his doubts.

"When will it be ready?" I ask.

"Soon," he says. "Before we set out. Runes still must be written on the blade."

"What will the runes read?"

"I decided to leave the inscription to Elrond," he responds. "He is better suited for that task than I. However, I will be the one to give it a new name."

"A new name?" I am slightly surprised at first, but soon suppose it is logical that the blade re-forged would be named anew, as well. "What shall it be called?"

"Andúril- Flame of the West."

"A fitting name," I say. It is a strong name for the legendary blade.

We sit quietly for a few minutes as the elf-smiths continue working on Andúril. Aragorn has an odd look in his eye, a look I cannot place. He ignores my inquiring glance and rather keeps his thoughts to himself.

I am slightly annoyed that I did not have much time to get to know the man before we set off. Even after he came back from his long trip, he was often in the company of Mithrandir, Elrond, or his children. I did espy the look Isildur's heir often gives Elrond's daughter, and the slight lingering of her hands upon him only confirmed my beliefs. I have not spoken to Aragorn about it, for I deem it is a sensitive subject. Besides, I know little about the ways of romance, especially with an elf. I have little interest in marriage.

We will set off soon, nonetheless, and the journey will be long. So far he has impressed me with his skills with the sword, and he seems to be an honorable man. My few conversations with the Halflings only supported my supposition. The eldest of them, this Bilbo Baggins who burst at me at the Council, said no ill about Aragorn, who he called his friend.

Friend. Could I be friends with such a man, a man who is after the country I am in line to rule? Could I support the man who would take the duty I was born for?

Still I remain unsure. But as I watch Aragorn and the forging of Andúril, I slowly start to believe that I may be able to.

 

V: Departure

I did not feel dread, but neither did I feel gladness when I woke this morn. Today at dusk we depart from Rivendell to start our quest, and while I am ready to begin, still I have doubts about what is to come. The journey shall be filled with danger; already the Wild is an unhappy place, and with the Ring in our midst, I fear it shall be only worse.

And the road ahead is the least of my worries. While I admit it to none save Gandalf, I am afraid of the reception in Minas Tirith. Denethor was well-loved by the people when I lived in the City, and I imagine his sons are the same. How will they take to a stranger emerging from the shadows?

I glance across the table at Denethor's eldest, whom is deep within his own thoughts. I imagine this will be the last meal he has in Rivendell, for after he returns to Gondor there will be no need for him to return here again. I know he misses Minas Tirith greatly, and is probably the most eager to set out from Imladris. He will aid the Fellowship in their quest for most of the road, but he has a bright destination at the end of his journey.

And I? Who knows where my ending will be. The brightest is still far away, out of my reach. Even as I approach it, it eludes me. I may be closer than I have ever been before, but there is still a long way to go before I see it.

I leave the table and make my way to my room to grab my few supplies. On the way out of my chambers I meet Boromir. After a nod of acknowledgement, we quietly walk outside to the front of the Last Homely House.

We are alone for now, but say naught to one another. The nod seemed enough for him, and for me. While we are not friends as of yet, we are going to be companions for many weeks to come, and are at peace with it.

No, we are not yet close, but perhaps by the end of the journey, we will be.

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