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And In The End

Chapter Text

Asunder, by just_ann_now

“Are you sure you don’t want those piglets? Their mother was a prizewinner at the Spring Fair,” Théo chuckled as Boromir waved away his prize, having traded it for a keg of raspberry ale he remembered fondly from another summer’s visit.

Boromir had arrived in Edoras in the midst of a festival, Lady Éowyn's birthday, doubly celebrated as a respite from the late summer labors. Worn as he was from long travel, he would have welcomed nothing so much as a hot bath and a soft bed, but he quickly saw that those pleasures would have to wait just a bit longer. After a long cold draught to dampen his parched throat, he cheerfully participated in several contests, wrestling and archery and spear-tossing, losing enough to be a good sport, winning enough to be cheered wholeheartedly.

Afterwards it was comforting just to sit and watch the good folk of Rohan, merry under the clear blue sky. Why should they not put away their burdens for a day while they can? There will be time enough later for grief and fear, Boromir thought, then felt Théodred's keen eyes upon him. He tried to smile.

“Come, my friend,” Théo pulled him to his feet. “I know you well enough to know your desires.” Two members of his éored, seated nearby, snickered; he glared back at them in mock reproach. “We’ll have a bite to eat after your bath – I’m sure it will taste better when you’re smelling the food, and not yourself. What brings you here, and alone?” His easy small talk as they walked allowed Boromir the opportunity to share the barest details of his journey, but he could sense Theo's understanding that there was much more to tell.

Alone in the bathhouse, they were once again the hungry, eager boys of twenty years ago. Boromir leaned against the wall, his calloused fingers tangled in Théo’s hair, unable to contain his hoarse cries of pleasure. It has been so long, so long, he thought to himself, until all coherent thought was gone. Then Théo took him in his arms once more, nuzzling his hair, his throat, until Boromir could breath again. “We really should bathe, you know,” Théo murmured.

It was the warmth and comfort of the huge oaken tub that finally enabled Boromir to relax enough to tell the whole tale: the shared, recurrent dreams; the prophecy; the thinly veiled hope for succor for Gondor. Théo's questions served to underscore certain points, allowing Boromir to reconsider, to clarify some questions in his own mind.

“We sons of Éorl have no tales of elvish strongholds, at least that I can recall. Dwarves, and dragons, and vague stories of holbytla, small people living far to the north. Perhaps the Elves were too fine for us, ragged horsemen that we were in those days! And have not changed all that much.” Theo, drying off, ducked as Boromir laughingly splashed him. “Still, I think I should ride with you, up past the fords of Isen, to Dol Baran at least. Things seem quiet, but I've heard tales of mischief in the Wizard's Vale – I'd like to take a look for myself before I bring it up in council. The Worm has enough ways of making me look a fool, damn him; there's no need to hand him another.”

“I would welcome your company, though I would never have presumed to ask. Well I knew the duties and responsibilities of a Marshal of the Mark. Yet, if you are offering, I would be a fool to refuse...”

“I know your father raised no fools, nor did mine. We shall leave tomorrow, as you wish, for time is of the essence. For now, though, bread and cheese, and at least a short nap, else you'll disgrace yourself falling asleep at dinner in the Hall.” Théo tossed him the drying-cloth, and Boromir preened a bit under his appreciative gaze.

“At Éowyn's party, and without squiring her in a single dance? I would never live it down. I'll confess, though, a nap does sound very appealing. Would you....”

“...come along, and tuck you in? With pleasure, my friend.”

***

Yet their high-spirited preparations for departure the next morning were interrupted by the breathless arrival of a group of riders, horses lathered and trembling, escorting a heavily laden courier. But when Boromir looked more closely, he saw that it was not a courier at all but a young girl, no more than fourteen, hair disheveled and clothing torn, her face bloody and tear-stained. What he took to be bundles were actually two small children, tied securely to their sister with a ragged hempen cord. Passers-by rushed to her aid, gently handing the children into waiting arms, while one of the accompanying riders rushed to Théodred.

“She is from the East Emnet. Her village was attacked, she said, by a large party of orcs and men. They slaughtered the villagers and their livestock, and put the buildings to the torch, but neither looted nor took prisoners.” The rider was very young himself, his beard wispy in his pale face, yet his voice did not quaver as he gave his report.

Théodred's face was grim. “Bregdan, Feotan, assemble your men. We will ride at once. Boromir -” he turned; Boromir sucked in his breath at the fierce resoluteness, the controlled fury in his glance. “ I am sorry, my friend, but this aggression, this invasion, can not go unavenged. I wish -”

“No, no, of course you must go. Duty, always, above all things; innocent blood cries out for justice. I only wish I could go with you.” Boromir pulled him close, screened by his horse from onlookers. Forehead to forehead, he whispered, “ May the Valar keep you safe, dear friend.”

Théodred lips brushed his gently; this would have to suffice. “And you as well. Westu hal, dear one, until we meet again.”

Boromir watched for a long time, then turned his mount and headed north.