“Why are you hiding, Boromir?” asked Thorongil, without looking around. “Since you are here, would it not be more interesting to come out and watch what I am doing close at hand?”
A startled gasp sounded from behind the door, followed by a loud sigh. The child left his hiding place and approached with an unabashed grin.
“Frongil always knows where I hide!” he laughed. The boy came forward to the side of the bed where Thorongil had laid out his gear in preparation for packing it away. He leaned trustingly against the man’s leg and watched the proceedings with interest.
“Where you goin’, Frongil? To fight Corsairs, maybe?”
“Ah, you know about the Corsairs?”
“Father told me. Says they’re the enemy. Will you fight ‘em?”
Thorongil nodded as he continued to pack. “Yes, Boromir. I am going to battle Corsairs.”
“Wish I could go,” the child muttered sullenly. “But Father says I’m too small. Want to grow faster!”
“You will be big soon enough, I imagine,” Thorongil smiled.
“When I’m big, I can have a sword!” little Boromir said proudly, clapping his hands. He suddenly fell silent as he watched Thorongil pack away an oddly-shaped bundle. The cloth that wrapped it fell away for a moment to reveal what it carefully covered.
“Frongil,” he said, reaching out a hand towards the dangling end of the cloth. “That sword’s brok’n, like the one Gran’fa told me ‘bout. You told me, too, when we ate apples on the wall. Yours needs fixin’, too? I didn’t know it was yours you meant!”
Thorongil hesitated only briefly before removing the wrapped sword from its covering and holding it out for Boromir to see.
“Yes, Boromir. This is my broken sword,” he replied carefully.
“Why do you have it? It’s no good for a fight.”
Thorongil smiled in spite of himself. There was nothing but fighting on this child’s mind, though he was only some months past two years old. By the time he grew tall enough to wield a sword as he wished, he would no doubt be a formidable warrior!
“This sword is not really for fighting, Boromir,” he answered. “Not as it is now. Even so, I think it could still prove useful in a fight, if it came to that! I carry it because it is an heirloom of my house. Do you know what an heirloom is?”
Boromir was silent for a moment, thinking hard.
“Somethin’ old,” he said at last, and then grinned mischievously. “Somethin’ I’m not s’posed to touch, ‘cause it might break.”
Thorongil laughed. “Yes, an heirloom is something old, something especially meaningful to a person or a family. That is why it is good to be careful with them so they do not break. But sometimes heirlooms are already broken, like this sword. But being broken does not necessarily mean an heirloom is no longer special. I have not been using this sword because when I fight Gondor’s enemies I need a sword that is whole. But I keep it with me, because it is important to me. It reminds me of important things that I do not want to forget.”
“Can it be made good again?” Boromir asked, his small brow wrinkled in concern.
“Yes, one day, perhaps, when the time is right,” Thorongil replied, laying a comforting hand on the child’s head. “I have the other piece, so it could be repaired. I am hopeful that one day, my broken sword can be made whole and good again.”
“Show it to me then!” Boromir demanded in happy anticipation.
“Indeed!” Thorongil replied gravely. “I would very much like to do that, Boromir.”
Faramir watched silently as his brother meticulously checked over his horse's tack. He could tell by the way Boromir tightened each strap and ran his hands over the padding under the saddle that he was using the familiar routine as a way of calming his mind and settling his thoughts.
“What is troubling you, Boromir?” he asked finally. “As eager as I know you to be for this adventure, I also know your heart must be heavy at leaving Gondor at a time such as this, to venture into the unknown, chasing an uncertain dream. But there is more to your silence than that, I deem.”
“As observant as ever, Brother!” Boromir chuckled.
“Ah, so there is something! Will you tell me about it?”
“Of course!” Boromir exclaimed. “I have no secrets from you! I only hesitate because I am trying to sort it in my own mind before I speak of it. But I fear the more I think on it, the less clear it becomes. Would you believe it, Faramir? I had another dream last night.”
“Another dream?” Faramir grasped his brother's arm in surprise. “Was it a new dream, then? Other than the one we shared about seeking the Sword that was broken?”
“It was not the same,” Boromir replied slowly. “It was related to our dream, however… perhaps…”
His voice trailed off uncertainly and he shrugged, laughing. “It was a dream about a broken sword, at least!”
Faramir looked at Boromir thoughtfully. “Did you glean any information from this dream that might help you in the quest for the Broken Sword?”
“No… no, I do not believe so. I cannot see that it could be related, except perhaps the dream of the Sword and the prophecy brought it to mind.” Boromir frowned as he tried to recall the details. “Though now that I think of it, I believe I have had similar dreams in the past. I call them dreams, but truly they seem more like memories than dreams.”
“Tell me about this latest one,” urged Faramir. “Tell me everything you can remember.”
Boromir began to speak, slowly at first, but gradually his words came with more confidence as he found the words to describe what he had dreamed, aided by Faramir's gentle questioning.
“A man was there with me. Very tall he was — a tall man in any case, I think; but he seemed all that much taller because I was so small.”
“You were a child, then?”
“Yes, it would seem so. At first we were sitting talking together — something about a broken sword… and apples.” Boromir grinned at his brother. “Somehow I remember the apples quite clearly! We were eating apples together… on the wall with the wind in our faces. Then the scene changed, however, and we were in another place. The tall man was still there, towering over me, a sword in his hand — yet I did not feel threatened. He was showing me the sword, which was broken.”
Boromir's voice trailed off and he fell silent.
“Did the man say anything to you?” Faramir asked when it seemed as though Boromir would not continue.
“Yes, he spoke,” Boromir replied slowly, struggling to remember. “I fear I cannot recall anything specific now, though it was very clear and familiar in the dream. Something about an heirloom and the sword being good again...”
Faramir nodded thoughtfully. “Your dream does sound like a memory of something that might have actually happened.”
“It may very well have been so, but I cannot say for sure,” sighed Boromir, looking troubled. “I must have been very young! If I could recall the man’s face, perhaps I could be more certain.”
Faramir gripped his brother's shoulder encouragingly. “Dreams are strange things, Boromir. Even when they are brought about by simple things such as memories, or associated with matters which weigh on the mind, they still can be significant. I do not think it is a coincidence that this memory comes to you now! Perhaps this man is related to the Sword you will be seeking and you will need to seek them both.”
Boromir laughed in reply. “In that case, I hope I know him when I see him!”
Aragorn watched as one by one, the hobbits fell asleep. The one named Merry had been the last to succumb to slumber, for it seemed he still had some unanswered questions about what had passed at the Prancing Pony while he was out for a breath of air, as he put it. That stroll in the night air had almost been his undoing when a Black Rider had appeared – the hobbit had narrowly escaped being taken away captive. But Merry’s near-misfortune had worked in their favor, for now they knew beyond doubt that danger was close by, and they could take steps to prevent further incidents.
In spite of their fearful predicament, Aragorn felt nothing but amused nostalgia at the moment. Before giving in to their weariness, the hobbits had questioned him thoroughly in their light, child-like voices. They had asked about a number of things, in an attempt to get his status with Gandalf clear in their minds; most of all they kept returning to his broken sword, wondering why on earth he would continue to carry such a thing. What good was a broken sword, anyway? It reminded him of another time, long since past, when he had been asked just that.
Not much use, is it? Aragorn had admitted to Sam, but he had not really meant it. His broken sword was infinitely useful to him. It had length enough and remained sufficiently sharp to serve as a weapon at need. More important, however, was its use as a reminder of who he was and what purpose lay before him because of that identity. He would carry this heirloom of his house with him as that reminder, until the time was fulfilled when it would be reforged. That time might not now be long in coming…
A broken sword’s no good! Memory spoke to him out of the darkness, in the voice of a child. Why do you have it? It’s no good for a fight.
Aragorn smiled. “It is a good sword, Boromir, this heirloom of mine. It is strong enough to stem the tide of war, once it is made whole again. Would that you might see it then, and understand what it means to me – and to Gondor!”
Aragorn sat alone and watched from his quiet corner as those meeting for counsel gathered and were introduced by the Lord Elrond. He was acquainted with some who were in attendance, but several were new to him. In particular, he was interested in learning the name and business of a fair-faced Man who satg not far away, looking as if he had just arrived from a long journey.
He is from Gondor, surely! Aragorn thought, studying the Man’s manner of dress carefully. That Horn he bears... I know it! That is the Horn worn by the Steward's heir, which Denethor son of Ecthelion bore when last I was in Gondor. Could it be...?
“Here is Boromir, a Man from the South,” Elrond announced suddenly as he turned to Gandalf. “He arrived in the grey morning and seeks counsel.”
"Boromir of Gondor is known to me," Gandalf replied, inclining his head to Boromir in welcome, and Boromir responded in kind.
Boromir! Aragorn stared in quiet amazement. It is he, indeed! I thought I knew that Horn — and he has the look of one being close kin to Ecthelion. But I little thought it could be Boromir, here, after all these years... I wonder... Will he know me?
As if sensing Aragorn's sharp glance upon him, Boromir turned to meet his gaze. After a long scrutinizing look, he nodded as if greeting a stranger, and turned away.
It would seem not, Aragorn mused, uncertain as to whether he was disappointed at the lack recognition or relieved. I suppose it is hardly surprising, since it must be almost forty years since last we saw one another — and he was only a small child at the time! I wonder what he might say to me, if he were to remember...?
Throughout the morning, Boromir's eyes strayed to the cloaked Man in the corner, and wondered at the feelings the sight of his face awoke in him.
Do I know this Man from somewhere? Boromir pondered. I do not recall that he was introduced to me earlier; perhaps if I heard his name, I might remember if we have met before. It almost seemed as if he knew me for a moment, but he said nothing, so perhaps not. Perhaps it is only that seeming recognition which makes me think he is familiar...
As the morning wore on, Boromir grew increasingly amazed at the history unfolding before him. Of particular interest to him was the tale woven by the Lord Elrond concerning Isildur and the Great Ring, and of his broken sword Narsil, which had been instrumental in defeating the Enemy but was now a useless heirloom, never reforged.
Useless? Heirloom? Boromir thought to himself, stirring restlessly in his seat. Why do such words ring so clearly in my mind, as if they are significant? Is it a memory of something, perchance? Or rather, is it because of my dream concerning Isildur’s Bane and the Sword that was broken that I feel this sense of recognition? It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that what I am learning here of Isildur and his sword is part of the answer to my dream.
When the chance came at last to speak of that dream, Boromir grasped it boldly. He told of Gondor’s long struggle against the hosts of Mordor, of the battle for the bridge at Osgiliath and the coming of the dark horseman. He spoke eloquently of the dream that had then come to trouble his brother Faramir and himself, and how in his need for counsel concerning the meaning of this dream, he had made the difficult journey to Rivendell.
Aragorn’s eyes never left Boromir’s face as he spoke, and he listened in wonder to all he had to share. When the Gondorian had finished speaking, Aragorn watched as he turned to Elrond, waiting for an answer. Before Elrond could speak, however, Aragorn rose from his chair and approached Boromir.
“Here in the house of Elrond more shall be made clear to you,” he said, drawing his sword from its sheathe and laying the two pieces of the broken blade on the table that stood before Elrond. “Here is the Sword that was broken!”
Boromir stared at the Man before him, once again struck by a vague sense of familiarity.
“Who are you?” he asked, bewildered. “What have you to do with Minas Tirith?”
It was Elrond who answered him. “He is Aragorn son of Arathorn, descended through many fathers from Isildur Elendil's son of Minas Ithil.”
“Aragorn?” Boromir fell silent, pondering. That is not the name I was expecting to hear, he thought. Why do I feel I know this man? And this sword -- he sight of it makes me think strange things…
His thoughts were interrupted by one of the small ones, who leaped up exclaiming over the Man Aragorn and his heritage. Boromir was further amazed when Isildur’s Bane was brought forth for all to see, and more pieces of his dream fell into place. Even as he stared at the golden Ring and the Halfling, part of Boromir’s mind was still caught up with the broken sword that lay before him, and the face of the Man who watched him cautiously, yet gently.
“The Halfling!” he murmured. “Is this the doom of Minas Tirith, then? But why the sword?” Boromir’s eyes turned inexorably to Aragorn. “Why should we seek a broken sword?”
“Your dream did not speak of the doom of Minas Tirith,” the Man answered. “Yet it is true that doom is at hand, and great deeds as well. The Sword that was broken is the Sword of Elendil that broke beneath him when he fell. It has been treasured by his heirs when all other heirlooms were lost; for it was spoken of old among us that it should be made again when the Ring, Isildur's Bane, was found.”
“Treasured by his heirs… when all other heirlooms have been lost…” Boromir murmured. His eyes widened at the words, as he was suddenly reminded of his other dreams: of the tall man who showed him a broken sword and spoke words that were more childhood memory than dream.
I carry it because it is an heirloom of my house… I keep it with me, because it is important to me...
“This is the sword you seek, Boromir,” Aragorn was saying. “What would you ask, now that you have seen it? Do you wish for the House of Elendil to return to the Land of Gondor?”
I am hopeful that one day, my broken sword can be made whole and good again… I hope that I will be able to show it to you, Boromir...
This sword upon the table – Boromir had seen it before. Not only in his dream of the tall man, but in truth. The sight of the sword upon the table and the sound of his name spoken in the soft voice of this Man whose name in Boromir’s memory was not Aragorn -- it all came back to him now, and his memory was suddenly clear.
Boromir leaned against the stone wall at the edge of the terrace and gazed out over the rushing water in the valley below. The wind blew warm, gently lifting his hair as he stood pondering all he had heard and learned, as well as all he had remembered.
Had it really only been early this morning that he had arrived from his long journey, seeking answers? Now he had them, but he did not know what to make of them. So much had changed, so suddenly!
Lost in thought as he was, he did not hear anyone approaching until the scrape of a foot behind him alerted him that someone was there. Turning, he saw Aragorn standing a few feet away.
“May I join you?” Aragorn asked respectfully.
Boromir nodded his consent and turned back to contemplating the view. There was silence between the two of them for a time, until Aragorn spoke.
“I looked for you at the meal following the Council’s adjourning, but I could not find you.”
“No,” replied Boromir. “I was not there. I had more of a need for solitude than for food at that time. I will find something to eat later.”
“You should not wait too long to seek sustenance,” admonished Aragorn. “You had a long journey, coming straight to the council session…”
“Do not worry about me,” Boromir interrupted. “I am in no danger of weakening just yet.”
Aragorn smiled. “In any case, I brought you this, in the event you decided to be stubborn.”
Boromir turned to him, scowling at being called stubborn, but his face cleared when he saw that Aragorn was holding out an apple. Reaching forth his hand, Boromir took the apple without taking his eyes from Aragorn’s face. He smiled suddenly, and nodded his thanks.
“I see you have an apple, as well,” he said. “Eating apples together on the wall, the wind in our faces… It brings back memories…”
“Good ones, I hope,” Aragorn said as he took a bite of his apple.
“Indeed!” Boromir answered, looking at Aragorn out of the corner of his eye. “At least I am now tall enough to see over the edge without being lifted.”
Aragorn smiled in response and heaved a sigh, as if relieved.
“So, you have remembered. I thought so, but I could not be certain...”
“Yes,” Boromir replied quietly. “I remember now who you are -- or were. The broken sword and talk of heirlooms triggered my memory. I did not speak of it then, for it was almost too much to process…”
“I can understand that.”
“It was very long ago,” Boromir went on slowly. “Even so, I still recall some things about our time together. I… I did not expect to see you again, after you left so suddenly. I did not understand why you never returned after the battle. I… remember feeling quite bereft after your going! If you knew you were leaving, why did you not say something to me?”
Aragorn shook his head. “I did not know at the time I would not be returning. It was after the battle with the Corsairs that I realized my time to move on had come. Once I knew that, it seemed the simplest thing to do to just go on from there. I am sorry that it caused you pain.”
Boromir looked at Aragorn thoughtfully and sighed. “I suppose… I think I may understand now, more than I did then. There are times when one simply knows the right course to take, times when one must act and not wait. Even so…”
“Speak your mind, Boromir, and do not hesitate. I know you have many things to ask of me; do so freely, and I will answer as best I can, to ease your doubts of me.”
Boromir looked chagrined. “I admit it, I do have doubts. And I have no difficulty in speaking my mind; I did so freely at the Council, as you know. I spoke strongly there of my opinions on certain matters, and my misgivings remain. I do not know if I can clearly tell you what is on my heart now, after all I have learned -- but I would like to try.
“I knew and trusted you once upon a time. If you have not changed, and can hear my doubts and answer them, then I am willing to speak of them -- and perhaps be eased.”
“Speak and we shall see,” Aragorn repeated solemnly.
Boromir was silent for a time as he collected his thoughts.
“This sword you carry… “ he began slowly. “If this is the sword of kings, and you are the heir of kings, then why did you not come to us? Gondor has long awaited the King’s return. We had such need of a king for so very long…
When I was very young, it used to make me sad that the King never returned. As I grew older, and learned the history of the Stewards and saw how strong my father was as a leader, I began to think that perhaps a king was no longer needed. I… well, I actually came to resent the fact that my father did all a king would do yet he could not claim the throne. I was jealous on his behalf, I suppose. He told me it could never be, that it was the part of the Stewards to hold the throne safely for the King when he came –- but he never came. You never came back…”
Aragorn sighed and a look of pain crossed his face. “The time was not right, Boromir. That answer sounds almost like an excuse, I know; insufficient to ease the pain of all those years of Gondor struggling –- alone, as you might see it. I did what I could as Thorongil, but I knew the time was not come for me to declare myself. I was not yet ready, perhaps, nor was Gondor ready for the King to come again out of nowhere, with nothing but a broken sword as proof of my claim.”
Boromir regarded Aragorn thoughtfully. “Did my father know who you were?”
“I do not know,” Aragorn replied, shaking his head. “I sometimes think he may have guessed. Your father is no fool, Boromir, and his eye and thought are keen. If anyone knew, it would have been he.”
Boromir smiled in spite of himself. “Yes, it is as you say.”
“As Thorongil, I was greatly honored and recognized as a captain of men,” Aragorn continued. “Your grandfather placed much trust in me, but your father less so. He it was who was then moving into a place of leadership, and Gondor looked to him for guidance. Though I was able to do much to help Gondor during that time, it was not a time for sudden change, not a time for a King to come unannounced to diminish the trust of the people in their Lord. My deeds in the service of Ecthelion were significant, but not enough to validate a claim for the throne, I deemed.”
“And now? Do you feel differently?” Boromir asked.
“The signs are present indicating the time has come, signs that were not there before,” Aragorn acknowledged. “Even so, I know that my claim may be even more fiercely contested now than before.”
“I fear you are right,” Boromir said unhappily. “I am torn! I must truthfully say that I had given up on the King’s return and my heart has been set on seeing my father supported and sustained in his rule, with me to follow him when the time comes. But now… who do I support? What do I do?”
“You must not forsake your father, Boromir,” Aragorn answered. “I may be the heir of kings, but I have not yet proven myself as such to Gondor, nor to you. I do not expect you to accept me so quickly after such an extended absence –- not even though we once had a bond of trust between us, long ago.”
“I cannot say what will happen if you come to Gondor,” Boromir cautioned. “I do not know if you will even be welcomed –- as King, that is. As one who lends his strength to the fight, you will be most welcome. What I shared at the Council is truth; our need is dire, and though we are giving our all, it is not enough. We are hard pressed indeed, and the Sword of Elendil would be a help beyond our hope! If you can prove it is more than just an heirloom only…”
“I intend to do that, Boromir. The time has come.”
“Very well, then. Let us leave it at that for now.”
Aragorn hesitated. “Before we leave this matter, I would ask you two things.”
“Two things?” Boromir replied cautiously.
“Do not be afraid!” Aragorn answered, amused. “I do not think they will be difficult for you. First, since you are remembering matters from your childhood and of our time together, do you remember what you asked me about my broken blade?”
Boromir thought for a moment before answering. “I believe I wanted to see it whole again, and you said you would show it to me when that happened.”
“Yes, that was it. The Sword that was broken will be reforged here in Rivendell, before we set out upon our Quest. Your dream foretold this, and it will happen. I want you to be present with me at its reforging.”
“May I?” Boromir was moved at the invitation. “I would indeed like to be present!”
“Of course you may!” Aragorn laughed. “I wish to keep that promise to you at least, though it has been a long time coming. The other thing is this: before the Ringbearer can set out for Mordor, we must make thorough search of the surrounding area to be certain there are no spies or enemies about. Elrond is sending out all who are available to aid in the search as scouts. I will be leaving soon to accompany the sons of Elrond, and later to join my Ranger kindred to search the areas west of the mountains. Would you care to join me in this endeavor? You have recently passed through the western lands; your observations would be valuable. Also, it will give us time to become reacquainted, without the burden of the Ringbearer’s Quest before us –- or the matter of Gondor’s throne between us."
"If I can be of service, I would gladly join the search!" Boromir answered with relief. "Rivendell is a marvelously peaceful place, but I am not a man who cares to sit idle indefinitely. I have been here less than a day and I am ready to be gone again.” He smiled wryly. “It would be good, I think, for us to spend some time together. You speak truly; there could very well be rivalry and choices to be made in loyalty when we reach Gondor. I would know what I can of you now, before such choices must be made. There are many years and many changes which lie between us now –- and yet, I once trusted you, implicitly, as a child trusts. I would learn to know you again as a man."
"I am glad!" Aragorn said happily. "Glad indeed!”
“Shall we go in then?” Boromir smiled. “Your apple has whetted my appetite!”