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Rock below, snow above

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The storm raged on, and Aragorn and Boromir struggled to attach what remained of their tents to the doorway. The storm hit them mostly by surprise, a quick shift in the weather, it was only Aragorn’s ranger instincts that allowed them to seek shelter in time. With tree branches being violently ripped away by the wind, the ground fastly turning white from the dense snow that fell, and no settlements that could be reached on foot before nightfall, the ruins proved to be their only option.

They were at what remained of an ancient castle, no more than a handful of rooms still in place, and only one still able to provide cover. Not the ideal situation, but the snow was already almost too thick to walk on, and the temperature had dropped considerably. While perhaps they could have found a different place to set camp, the damage the wind caused to their tents, as well as the loss of part of their supplies in the storm, forced them to stop for the night, even though there was risk in staying in an unknown place. If they could find a way to survive the night, it would be easier to move in the morning, reach their destination under the protective cover of the sun.

Even with the tent covering the only entrance, the stone walls were cold in that way of buildings long forgotten, and although the ceiling was mostly still in place, some of the snow found ways to creep in. They were protected from the worse of the wind and snow, but their refuge was still too cold for any one person to survive the night without some source of heat, and the small space wouldn’t allow for them to light a fire without risking suffocating in the smoke.

However, they weren’t alone, and the human body was an even more efficient source of heat than a fire, if only one managed to prevent it from dispersing. The cold and lack of space made sharing a sleeping roll a necessity, but never a sacrifice. It was something that had happened many times before, albeit not often during a journey such as this, in which it was prudent to sleep in alternate shifts, as one could never know what they would find.

The woods were dangerous, even now, and to sleep without a guardian was inviting death. Even so, protected by stone that stood for millennia after being abandoned and forgotten, the cold was more dangerous than anything that would seek to attack them, so it would be best to share in each other’s heat than to worry about what may stand on the other side of the makeshift cover for the door. The certitude of death the cold brought by outweighed any concern they might have over the uncertain risks of the woods and the little protection the shredded tents provided.

It should have been an uncomfortable night, between the cold hard rock under them, the snow slowly but surely falling over their heads as they tried to sleep, the wind loudly howling as it threatened to do away with the tent trapped by the stones surrounding the entrance, the lack of space that made moving nearly impossible, and the constant awareness of all that could find its way inside at any moment and attack them before they had a chance to react.

But it wasn’t, or at least not as it should have been. The adverse elements of the scenery weren’t able to erase what that company meant. They shouldn’t have found so much comfort in the other’s familiar presence, nor in the heat coming as both safety and salvation. They shouldn’t have even allowed this situation to take place, even if there was little any one of them could have done to prevent it.

There was much that shouldn’t have happened. Not then and there, not ever, not even the possibility entertained.

There was much that shouldn’t have happened, but nothing that could be taken back, and nothing that they would wish to take back if they could. Perhaps even nothing that could have been avoided for much longer, the setting only allowing the blossoming of what had already been unfolding for longer than either of them could remember.

In the morning, the blizzard had come to an end, most of the snow already melted or starting to melt. The path clear enough that they could walk again without fear of the consequences nature might bring upon them.

In the morning, they left.