Lalaith Elerrina--Ward of Rivendell - Chapter 7
Boromir scanned the southern horizon, squinting through the partial darkness of the half moon, studying the jagged lines of mountains and hills profiled against the night sky.
They had been traveling south through the foothills of the misty Mountains for days now, he had lost count of how many, making their way toward the Gap of Rohan, where they would then turn their way west, toward Mordor.
Folly. Foolishness. He muttered in his mind. If we used the Ring for ourselves, we could crush the orcs of Mordor with one blow, and Sauron's power would be annihilated. But the will of the Elven Counsel had overruled his own. He shook his head, and made his way carefully off of the sloping side of the high rock where he had been keeping watch, to the hollow in the hills where the others were sleeping. He could hear, even before he saw them, where they were, by following Gimli's raucous snores.
The tree lined hollow opened up to him in the darkness, and he could make out the shapes of his companions. Aragorn, Gandalf, and Gimli were on one side of the clearing. Gimli was wrapped up in his sleeping role, sprawled on the ground, his mouth open wide as he released another noisy snort. How could anyone sleep to that? Boromir wondered to himself.
Aragorn and Gandalf were sitting as they slept, their backs propped against trees, their swords and Gandalf's staff within easy reach of their hands. And in spite of Gimli's snoring, Boromir knew that the slightest crackle of a twig would waken them. The hobbits were sleeping in the middle of the circle of ground, spread out in a half circle around the dying fire, which was not much more than embers now, and they were beginning to shiver. Pippin's teeth, even, were starting to chatter.
Boromir released a sympathetic breath, and reached over the pile of gathered wood to pick up a few pieces. Carefully stepping over Merry's curled up form, he poked the fire with a long twig to ignite a few sparks, and then lay the new wood on the glowing coals. Soon, a warm fire was blazing, and Boromir smiled with satisfaction when he noted that Pippin's chattering teeth had grown silent, and the other hobbits were no longer shivering as they slept.
In the light of the new flames, Boromir could see Frodo's sleeping face clearly. The gold of the ring, hanging from a chain around his neck, sparkled in the firelight, almost as if it were beckoning to him. He imagined he could even hear it calling his name, as if from the far distance. Boromir-, He shook his head suddenly to clear it, and stepped away from the fire, remembering why he had come back in the first place. His watch was over, and it was Lalaith's turn. He needed to go waken her.
He turned toward the two elves who were sleeping on the far side of the clearing, blinking his eyes as he adjusted them once again to the darkness, half blinded by the glare of the fire, and of the ring's sparkle.
Legolas, the Mirkwood elf, was half sitting in much the same position as Gandalf and Aragorn, his back against the rough bark of a tree, his eyes only lightly closed. His bow and quiver, as well as Lalaith's were only a space away, close enough to snatch in an instant, if it was needed.
Lalaith was sleeping beside him, curled, like a little mouse, against his chest. Legolas' sturdy arms were wrapped protectively around her, one hand, resting against her face. His thumb, even in sleep, was stroking her cheek gently. On the smallest finger of his hand, was a band of gold, set with a single gem, a sapphire. Boromir had never asked about it, but he guessed that it was a gift from Lalaith.
"Boromir, Lord of Gondor," her seething words came back at him from the first day he'd met her, mocking him, haunting him, "I have loved Legolas for more than a millennium, and he loves me in return, more deeply than such a one as yourself could begin to comprehend, having not yet lived even fifty years." Even now, the words still stung. Rallying himself away from that memory, he called softly, "Lady Lalaith."
She barely moved, but Legolas' eyes shot open, instantly awake, and looked up into Boromir's. "What is it?" He asked.
Boromir gulped, hoping he was only imagining the accusing look in the Elf's eyes, as if Legolas could read his thoughts. "It is the Lady's turn to watch."
"Can she not sleep a few moments longer?" Legolas asked, squeezing her more closely. Lalaith sighed contentedly as he did this, and snuggled devotedly into his shoulder.
"Elven eyes are better. She might see something I could miss."
"Then I will take her watch." Legolas said.
"You took the last watch."
"It is no matter." Legolas returned, and carefully extracted himself from Lalaith's embrace so as not to disturb her, and stood.
"Legolas, vilya na ring." Lalaith mumbled in her sleep in the elegant, melodic tones of Elfish, reaching out as if seeking for Legolas to draw him back to her.
"What did she say?" Boromir whispered.
"She says the air is cold." Legolas translated. "I will carry her nearer to the hobbits."
"Here, give her this as well. It will help to keep her warm." Boromir said, detaching his cloak, and offering it to Legolas. The air was indeed surprisingly cold, but Boromir forced himself to refrain from shivering, not wanting Legolas to see his weakness.
"Thank you." Legolas said as he took it, and knelt over Lalaith, wrapping it around her lithe form.
"Hi na i gollo o Boromir." He murmured, and scooped her easily up into his arms.
"Man?" She queried in a whisper, leaning her head against his shoulder, and slipping her slender arms around his neck.
"Hir o Gondor. Boromir." Legolas repeated as he set her down in the spot that the hobbits had left open near the fire. "Si na i naur a pherian."
"Ai," Lalaith sighed, reaching from beneath Boromir's cloak to grasp Legolas' hand. "Pherian na u-le." Her eyes fluttered open for a moment, and she smiled up into Legolas' eyes, her gaze filling with such love, that a hard lump formed in Boromir's throat, and he had to look away. "Im melin le, Legolas."
Boromir knew at least, what that phrase meant, and he stared hard at the ground as Lalaith's fingers reached up to brush Legolas' cheek, then withdrew as she snuggled back into Boromir's cloak, and closed her eyes again, her breath growing soft and even.
"Im melin le, vana loth." Legolas breathed, though she could not hear him, and bent low to brush his lips against her brow.
Boromir drew in and released a long breath as Legolas finally stood, and turned toward him.
"Again, thank you." He said with a nod toward Lalaith's sleeping form, curled within his cloak.
"'Twas no trouble." Boromir said, clenching his teeth to keep them from chattering. "Come. We will go together."
Legolas nodded, snatched up his bow and quiver, and followed as Boromir turned and led the way from the fire-lit glade into the darkness, up the wooded path, and then up the slick, inclined side of the large boulder he'd stood on top of for the last several hours. He was breathing hard when he finally arrived at the top, but Legolas seemed hardly out of breath as he scanned the southern horizon, his keen, elf eyes catching every detail of their surroundings.
"Take your rest, Boromir." He said over his shoulder.
"I am not tired." Boromir muttered, turning and gazing toward the north. "I will watch with you."
"Very well." Legolas agreed, and fell silent.
Boromir wondered if Legolas could sense the tension in his voice, if so, he gave no indication that he did. Legolas was not one to speak much, unless necessary. If Boromir wished for him to talk, he would have to be the first to speak.
"You are very fortunate." Boromir said without turning, staring out into the darkness. "To have the gift of her love."
"Every time I draw breath, I thank the Valar for her." Legolas returned, his voice soft, and thoughtful.
"That ring you wear. It is hers, is it not?"
"It is." Legolas said, then added, "It was a gift from Lord Elrond to her on the seven hundredth anniversary of her arrival in Imladris."
"Oh?" Boromir asked. "How old is she now?"
"No one is certain." Legolas returned. "But it is guessed that she is near to being one thousand, four hundred and twenty eight."
Boromir's brow furrowed. "Her birth date is not known?"
"She is not truly Lord Elrond's daughter. She is his ward. Though to him, she is no different than a daughter." Legolas sighed to himself. "Nor do I see her differently."
"Whatever her origin, she is a great and noble lady." Boromir agreed readily. "I could see it from the moment I met her in Rivendell." He cleared his throat, hoping his voice did not sound wistful. "She was kind enough to accompany me to the Counsel."
"Yes, I saw you arrive together." Legolas murmured. From the sound of his voice, Boromir could tell that Legolas had turned toward him. "What did she speak of, while you were with her?"
Boromir gulped hard. "She spoke of you."
"She did?" For the first time since he'd met him, Legolas' voice seemed truly animated. "What did she say?"
"Surely no more than you already know." Boromir said, forcing a smile. "She told me that you are betrothed, and that she'd loved you for more than a thousand years."
For a long moment, only silence came from Legolas, and at last Boromir turned to see him, gazing off into the western sky, his eyes deep in thought. "There was a time, not long ago, when I was uncertain whether she loved me or not." Legolas murmured, almost to himself. "I pledged my love to her, but she would not give hers in return. She swore she was unworthy of me, my being a prince, and her origin so uncertain. She left in tears. For months, I thought I had lost her forever."
"That must have caused you great pain." Boromir gulped, feeling the twinges of pain in his own heart. As a mere mortal, his unworthiness of an immortal elf maiden, was not pretend, or imagined.
"It was only when I returned for Lord Elrond's Counsel that she was at last able to confess her own love for me, and give me her promise of marriage." Legolas breathed deeply, and released it slowly. "I have longed for that promise for centuries."
Boromir glanced down and nodded, but said nothing.
"And to hear that she spoke to you of her love for me, is-," a smile twitched at Legolas' lips, "very heartening."
"Yet it should not be surprising." Boromir said, struggling to sound cheerful. "To see the way she looks at you, and speaks to you, it seems only natural to think that she was born to love none but you."
Legolas' face, usually reserved, grew into a full smile as Boromir said this. Boromir's eyes shot down to the rough surface of the rock on which they stood, hoping to hide his tortured emotions. "As I said, you are fortunate." Boromir again forced a smile onto his face. "She possesses uncommon beauty, and great wisdom also, and courage, rare in any maiden. Yet she is not vain or arrogant, or insolent. As if she is wholly unaware of all the virtues she possesses, with none of the vices of the race of Men."
"Do not berate your own race in such a manner. Even elves are not without error." Legolas said mildly. "True strength lies not in the absence of vices, but in the overcoming of them. The only true danger lies in the possession of faults, and the inability to recognize it."
Boromir's brow furrowed deeply as Legolas said this. Something gnawed at the back of his mind, but he could not grasp what it could be that troubled him. He only knew that something in what Legolas had just said, discomfited him.
"Suddenly, I am very weary." He mumbled, almost to himself, unable to look at Legolas. "I think I will go and take some sleep."
"It is well deserved." Legolas nodded. "I will keep watch here."
Boromir nodded without looking at him, slid carefully down the slope of the rock, and made his way back to the others. But once he reached the fire, he did not sleep, as he had said he would, and instead sat cross legged between Merry and Pippin, and set his eyes on the ring, peaking from beneath Frodo's shirt where it hung from its chain around his neck as the hobbit slept, winking and blinking at him in the light of the fire. Boromir onced again imagined it whispering his name from the distance, his gaze unchangingly fixed upon it until the light of the morning appeared in the east, and the fire died down, once again to orange embers.