The sun set its usual course for the day, rising with crisp, yellow harmony in the late February sky. In the thin light of the early morning, a few birds twittered musically in the golden leafed boughs above, watching with composed curiosity the movements of those gathered below. Their casual conversation was rudely interrupted by the loud cacophony of avian laughter, from the kookaburras in the rose gum tree upriver, who suddenly proclaimed their announcements for all and sundry on the new day. Aragorn tilted his head and smiled at Coralie, as he held both her hands in his.
“They must be your native birds that I’ve heard so much about.”
“They’re called kookaburras, Aragorn. I think they wanted to say goodbye as well,” her voice caught a little in her throat as she answered him.
Aragorn studied her for a moment, noting with regret, that their leaving was obviously difficult for Coralie to accept. Her red rimmed eyes, and slightly swollen features betrayed the thin smile she had greeted him with that morning. It brought him a small measure of comfort to be able to admire her in the elegant blue gown laced with gold thread, she wore on this, their final morning, though the silken scarf around her head and neck puzzled him.
“Thêldithen, my leaving is hard for me also. Please, do not be sad.”
“I’m trying Aragorn. Really I am. It’s just that now that this day has finally come, it means that tomorrow when I wake up you won’t be here.”
She looked up solemnly at him as she spoke these last words. In response, Aragorn gently bent his head down to hers and kissed her tenderly on the forehead.
“I will keep you in my prayers, Muindor.”
It was the first time she had as brother in Sindarin, and he allowed a small smile to play around the corners of his mouth as he caressed the side of her face. His hand came down to her shoulder, and for an instant he felt her tense a little beneath his touch. Aragorn looked enquiringly at her, but she kept her gaze calm, relaxing just enough beneath his hand, for him to dismiss any fleeting concern he may have held.
Aragorn looked up to see Legolas arrive carrying some supplies with Artapel beside. The two nodded at Aragorn briefly as they walked in the direction of the boats. Coralie watched them pass and nodded at them also. Artapel gave her a grim smile. Legolas returned her nod briefly, before turning just as quickly away. Excusing himself with a small pat to Coralie’s hand, Aragorn went over to join them in order to help with the necessary preparations for the journey ahead.
Támurile slipped up beside Coralie and took her hand in her own as she stood alone watching the three.
“Do you think he noticed anything was wrong?” asked Coralie a little nervously.
Támurile gave her hand a small squeeze. “No, Princess. I’m sure he didn’t. You were a very good actress just now,” she looked up and examined the scarf around Coralie’s neck.
“The scarf hides the bruise well, Princess.”
The Hobbits arrived just then, with Gimli and Boromir in tow. The man’s eyes lit up as he suddenly beheld Coralie standing a little to the side of the river-bank. Excusing himself, from the others he walked over to where she stood with the Elven child. Coralie hurriedly turned, and walked a few paces towards where Haldir stood in the distance with Cirbannel and Talagan. However, she did not get far before she heard his footstep close behind.
“Lady, a word please?”
Coralie froze, but did not face him as Támurile pulled slightly on her hand in an effort to get her to move.
“Would you have me leave without bidding me a proper farewell?”
Coralie reeled inwardly, as memories of the former night’s fiasco tumbled through her mind. She closed her eyes and drew a deep breath, trying to marshal some strength. Támurile’s tiny hand increased her grip on her own.
Suddenly, his hands fell lightly upon her shoulders as she stood their swaying within the boundaries of her own indecision.
“Perhaps this farewell is too painful for my Ladylove, and that is why she cannot find it in her heart to grant me one last kiss?” he whispered into her ear. She flinched a little at first, then seeing the quick glance that Haldir cast in her direction, she forced a smile and turned around to face the man.
“You speak presumptuously Sir, for you have already stolen the last kiss you will ever have from me, last night.” Coralie’s eyes flashed, though her voice
barely rose above a whisper.
Boromir now stood in front of her with his hand placed casually on his sword hilt. Her eyes darted behind him to where Aragorn and the others were busy making preparations to leave.
“Don’t you think you had better go help the others, rather than dilly dallying here with Tammy and I,
on the riverbank?”
Boromir answered with a laugh, and reached for her hand bringing it up to his lips briefly.
“Ah! Such a challenge you present me with, Lady. I crave a moment alone with you, before I have to leave. Can you not ask the child to stand aside for a while?
I have things I wish to discuss with you, that are for your ears only.” his eyes twinkled at Coralie upon making the request.
Coralie glanced quickly around at her surroundings. Haldir stood a little further up the bank with Cirbannel and Talagan, engaged in deep conversation,
whilst the rest of the company were only a little over fifty metres away loading their boats with supplies. Deciding that she felt safe enough in her present
environs to confront the man alone, she asked Támurile to go and wait with Nólemíre and Calentaeg who waited further up the bank beyond Haldir.
Boromir held Coralie’s hand and smiled as the dutiful child, reluctantly drew away. She shot Coralie one last look before leaving, which clearly said that she would be watching, and that unlike last night, help was at hand. Coralie turned towards Boromir, and carefully withdrew her fingers from his broad hand. For a moment, the briefest flash of disappointment shone in his eyes.
“Come!” said Coralie as she suddenly turned and walked a little way back up the path towards some trees that stood in a small grove there. Boromir gave a little shrug, and followed after her as she marched ahead. Upon reaching the trees, she turned to face him. Coralie looked back towards the group at the river and put herself in a position by which she could still be seen by the group below if needs be. Boromir reached a hand toward her face and was slightly amused to see her flinch from his touch.
“Will you be so coy on our wedding night? I was hoping you wouldn’t. I didn’t think you were the type,” he said his eyes gleaming slightly at the thought.
“You think you have everything worked out don’t you, including me,” stated Coralie matter of factly.
Boromir gave a low chuckle. “No, but that is one thing I am looking forward to discovering about you, Lady.”
Coralie met his amused grin with a steely glare.
“Let me bring you up to speed, Boromir. There will be no wedding.”
“What?” Boromir blinked at her in disbelief.
“You heard me. There is absolutely no way on God’s earth that I would marry a man like you!”
“What do you mean a man like me? I am a Prince! What nonsense are you speaking woman?” spoke Boromir with some indignance.
“Last night…” Coralie began.
Boromir cut her off.
“Last night, you said you would marry me, and you kissed me in the bargain.” he smirked softly.
“You kissed me, and I said no such thing!” replied Coralie quickly.
“But, but I distinctly heard you say `yes’, when I asked you Lady,” Boromir ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Is this some game you are playing with me?” He reached for her hand again and held it fast as he looked into her eyes.
“What could make you change your mind? Come, be reasonable now. I have made you a good offer and would make a worthy husband.”
Coralie stood silent before him.
“Granted, I have not courted you as a lady should be courted. Is that what you wish, so I can prove my sincerity? If so, then you shall have it!” he inclined his head toward her and smiled.
“You just don’t get it do you?” snapped Coralie. She made to withdraw her hand, but Boromir held it fast.
“Tell me what could possibly make you behave this way. You are like night and day woman! Come, Aragorn, would not be displeased by this match. Why would you reject my suit now, when last night you welcomed it?” Boromir’s frustration was rapidly increasing.
Coralie fought to keep her emotions in check and gazed coolly at him in return. Her free hand stole up to the scarf that she had carefully tied around her throat and undid the knot that held it together.
“And do you think that Aragorn would be pleased with your particular style of courting, Boromir? What do you think he would say to this?”
Boromir’s eyes widened as he saw the purple bruise on Coralie’s throat and gasped.
“Who did that to you?” he asked shocked by what he saw. The bruise plainly declared its ripening on her pale, slender throat.
Coralie continued to hold him with her eyes, making no reply in turn. Her accusing stare held him rooted to the spot as all of a sudden the awful realisation that she obviously held him responsible for the mark crashed over him with a deafening roar. Boromir felt his knees buckle under him as he sank slowly to the earth in front of Coralie, still holding her hand.
“No!” he cried hoarse with emotion. “I couldn’t have done that to you, Lady. Not I! I… I don’t understand…Say it is not so!”
“I say it is so, Boromir. It was by your hand that I received this bruised throat. You probably would have squeezed the very life out of me, if I had not been able to free my hand and slap you hard enough to bring you to your senses.” she spat.
“No!” groaned Boromir. “No, I can’t believe it. I would not attack a woman so. I am a man of honour.” Overcome by her accusation, he lowered his head to her hand, repeating his denial. “I wouldn’t treat you so.”
Coralie looked down at the stricken man in front of her, and realised that he was absolutely sincere in his protests.
“You don’t remember do you?” she asked.
“Remember?” he cried looking up at her with the gleam of unshed tears in his eyes. “I have no memory of this!”
“What do you remember then?” she asked softening a little at his despair.
Boromir sighed, “I remember you in the garden, beautiful by starlight, and your eyes shining up at me when you said yes…..”
“Nothing else?” asked Coralie aware of his obvious delusion.
Boromir looked up at her rather sheepishly. “I know that I am not as elegant as some in my manner, and
I was obviously emboldened by the wine,” he cast his eyes down to the river-bank momentarily before looking up at her again.
“But I am a man used to action, and plain speak. I cannot dress my intentions with flowery words. I do not deny that I made my proposal to you as plain as I could. It would be a good match and ensure the union of both our houses. You and I have a greater duty than that we owe ourselves. For we are not the masters of our own fates and desires, but in truth we are the servants of our people and the White City. Our positions may be privileged, but it does not come without a price, Lady. But as for that bruise, I… I cannot believe that I could be capable of such a crime against you. On my honour, I am speaking the truth!”
Coralie cast her eyes downwards at the man who still knelt at her feet, and looked carefully into his eyes. She saw only earnest sincerity mixed with sorrow, and in place of anger, she now felt pity rise within her for this man, who looked almost broken by the revelation, that he had been capable of inflicting physical harm upon her. She quickly looked down to the boats to see Legolas stop what he was doing for a moment, to look up at them. His gaze fixed them both with enquiry and Coralie whispered to Boromir, still kneeling at her feet resting with her hand in his.
“Get up! You are drawing unnecessary attention to us.”
Boromir rose to his feet weary with resignation. His memory of the previous night’s events played over in his mind, but his were obviously, vastly different to what had actually transpired, underneath the starlight in the garden.
“Lady, let me…”
“Keep your voice down,” insisted Coralie with an urgent whisper as she retied the scarf about her head and throat.
“Would you really have Aragorn find out? What do you think the result would be?”
Boromir followed Coralie’s gaze briefly down to the river, where Legolas stood watching the two. “He would probably have my head, and so he should, considering the harm I have caused you. You have my humblest apologies, Lady. I must go and inform Aragorn of what I have done.”
Coralie grasped his arm as he turned to walk away.
“You will do no such thing!” she cried hoarsely.
“But my honour is at stake here, Lady. I must make amends.”
“I am the one you must make amends to Boromir, and not Aragorn. Listen to me….” She held him firmly as he made to move away. “If you tell Aragorn of what you have done, you will not only lose what little honour you have left, but most likely your life. Don’t be a fool!”
“Do you wish to tell him yourself?” he asked examining her expression carefully for a moment. He was a little surprised that she had not gone to him already, but now he could see by the firm resolve on her features, that she had no intention of doing so either.
“What would you have me do then?” he asked.
“You shall not speak of this matter to anyone. It is clear to me that you were not yourself when you did this. I don’t know why this was the case. This is something you will have to search out for yourself. But I am not a shrink and this would probably take years of therapy to sort out anyway.”
Boromir gave her a quizzical look.
“Never mind. The important thing now is for you to carry on as before. You will say nothing of this to Aragorn. You will go with the Fellowship as previously ordained, and your honour will remain intact. No one need know anything different.” Coralie’s clipped tone penetrated his arguments.
“But why are you doing this? Any other Lady would have complained loudly to her kinsman of my improper advances,” spoke Boromir not understanding her motives.
“Because they need you, Boromir. They are going into great danger, and they need you to fight beside them. I would rather that you go with them, and draw swords along side Aragorn, in defence of what is right and good, and be remembered for your honourable deeds in battle, than for the folly of one night in a garden.”
“Lady, you are far too generous,” Boromir’s voice caught a little in his throat.
“Maybe so, Boromir. But the Quest is far more important than any vain posturing on our part over honour at the moment. Now it is me that is asking you to be practical, for the sake of Middle Earth. You were quick to remind me of my so-called duties toward Gondor. Now it is my turn to remind you of your greater duty toward all of us.”
Boromir stood silent before her, as he weighed up all that she had said in his mind. He had a grim foreboding of something, but he could not identify the reason for it. Could she be trying to confuse him, only to help him dig his grave at some other time, when the opportunity would present itself for the revelation of his misdeeds to become more widely known? There was much that he did not understand about this woman he so desperately wanted. And aye, he wanted her still, with such desperate longing. But what could have gone so amiss, during the night that he had almost taken her life? And what hope would he have in the future to press his suit, knowing that he had behaved so ungallantly toward her? He wished with all his might that he could remember some small part of what had transpired, so that he could understand his actions.
Boromir understood that he had to surrender to her demands in spite of himself. She was right of course. To tell Aragorn of what he had done would only serve to bring his life to a quicker than expected end, without glory or honour. His house would be disgraced, and the outcome of the Quest would be in more jeopardy than it already was, with its slim chance of success. It would be far better to remain silent after all. Honour meant everything, and perhaps when this war was over, he could find some way to make amends and renew his suit with the lady. Boromir gazed down into Coralie’s reddened eyes that waited coolly for his reply. Her courage and beauty struck at his heart, as though she had wielded a sword for the final stroke herself.
“I will do as you ask,” he agreed with a sigh.
Coralie looked over his shoulder to see the group at the boats, including Aragorn, now looking up at them.
“You had better join the others. They have all noticed your absence now, and if you remain here with me much longer, they will get suspicious. Let there be no more talk of what happened between us. You must pretend it never happened. Are you capable of that before you take your leave?”
Boromir drew himself up to his full height.
“I am capable of anything you would ask of me, Lady. I would ask only one thing of you in return.”
“And what is that?”
“That you could find it in your heart somehow to forgive me. I have obviously behaved in a churlish manner toward you. Although, you have clearly decided not to inform Aragorn of my disgraceful deed, I will carry the thought of what I have done, with me henceforth from now. Last night, when I asked you to marry me, I wanted you to give me some measure of hope for a poor soldier. Now, I would only ask for the hope of forgiveness. These present times are uncertain at best, and I would prefer to take your forgiveness as a banner of hope with me into battle, rather than your deserved disdain.”
Coralie regarded the man before she answered. “I forgive you Boromir. I know you were in the grip of something last night, what exactly I do not know. We have been through much together, you and I, as indeed all of us have, and there is probably much evil that we will have to face before this is over. I know that at heart you are a good man, and mean well in spite of your recent actions. I am a big girl, Boromir. I will get over it.”
“Lady, you are the bravest woman I have ever known. I admit that I was wrong in my initial estimation of you. Perhaps when this is over, and peace has returned to Middle Earth, you could let me begin making amends to you in some way,” he bent his head and kissed Coralie softly on the hand. “I will take my leave of you now, Lady. I am forever in your debt,” his voice caught in his throat, and he abruptly turned away.
“What do you think all that is about?” asked Sam, as he looked up after thanking Haldir for the length of rope which he had stowed in his boat. Sam was nervous enough about his coming voyage on the water, in what looked like the most fragile craft he had ever seen. He was anxious for any distraction to divert his attention.
Haldir and the other Hobbits followed his gaze up to the trees where Boromir could be seen clearly kneeling before Coralie with her hand in his.
“Oh didn’t you hear, Sam? Boromir asked Coralie to marry him last night and she said yes!” announced Merry.
“Don’t talk drivel. Coralie doesn’t love Boromir,” Sam returned.
“Oh but it’s true, Sam. Merry and I saw her accept his proposal with our own eyes. Looks to me like he’s asking her again for some reason. Never thought of him as the romantic type. Now give over, Sam. Looks like I won that bet now, doesn’t it?’ smiled Pippin triumphantly.
Haldir raised his eyebrows at him.
“Really? And what bet was that now, Master Pippin?”
Pippin scratched at his ear. “Oh who would be the first to win a kiss from Coralie. Legolas or Boromir. We saw Boromir and Coralie kissing in the garden last night. Looks like Boromir has won the prize!”
“I would hardly think it honorable to be making such wagers where i titheniel is concerned, young Pippin,” said Haldir with distaste.
“That’s what I told him,” added Frodo with a sigh. Sam gave him a worried look. The past few days he had not been himself. He had rather hoped that the festivities of last night would cheer him up a little, but now his beloved master was again succumbing to the melancholy that had plagued him of late. Sam knew it to be the Ring, but was at a loss what to do.
“Well, whatever you may think, both Merry, Artapel and I saw Coralie kiss Boromir last night. You may not believe me, but surely you have no reason not to trust Artapel. He wasn’t involved in our bet,” said Pippin.
“I should hope not!” interjected Haldir as he watched Coralie and Boromir more carefully now.
“Come on Merry. Let’s go see what sort of foodstuffs we will be taking with us,” said Pippin.
The two of them walked away in the direction of the other boats.
Boromir and Coralie sitting in a tree!
First comes love!
Then comes marriage!
Then comes Coralie with a baby carriage!
They both guffawed loudly and slapped each other on the back as they approached the others. Gimli looked up at the two of them laughing.
“And what do you two young Hobbits find so amusing?” he asked.
“We saw Coralie kissing Boromir in the garden last night!” spouted Pippin as Merry suddenly stamped him on the foot. “Ow! What did you do that for?” cried Pippin hopping around holding his foot.
“What?” boomed Aragorn’s voice from behind.
Pippin gulped as Aragorn suddenly strode over towards him.
“Um…. We saw Coralie kissing Boromir in the garden last night,” he grimaced as Aragorn’s face clouded over. “But it’s alright! Really it is.”
“What could possibly be alright about it, Pippin,” demanded Aragorn who suddenly cast a look towards Legolas. The Elf had stopped work momentarily, to look up towards the trees where Coralie and Boromir stood together. Aragorn then looked up towards the two himself.
“What is going on?”
Legolas turned toward Aragorn. “Apparently Boromir asked the Lady to marry him last night, and she accepted his proposal.” he said stiffly.
“How could this be? She told me nothing of this.”
“Perhaps she thought it more proper for Boromir to make his intentions known to you first, as you are her kinsman. Who can understand the fickle nature of mortal women?” Legolas turned back towards the boats as Aragorn continued to study the two beneath the trees.
“I cannot believe this. Are you making this up Pippin? You led us on a merry dance before with certain exaggerations about the Lady’s behaviour, on an earlier occasion. Is this more of your mischief?” Aragorn arched an eyebrow at the Hobbit who swallowed and shuffled his feet under his scrutiny. Artapel stepped forward.
“It is true, Aragorn. I was also witness to this event.”
Aragorn looked at the Elf, hardly daring to believe what he had just heard. “You had better tell me all you know, Artapel.”
Artapel relayed his version of the events with crisp efficiency, whilst the Hobbits sought to embellish at every opportunity afforded to them.
“Are you sure that he did not take advantage of her in some way?”
Artapel noted Aragorn’s hand move to rest on the hilt of his sword at this question. Carefully he turned over the events in his mind before answering.
“I can only tell you that I heard no cry, nor witnessed any struggle on her part, Aragorn. The man, for his part, gave me the distinct impression that this was more than mutually agreeable to both of them, and he seemed genuinely happy. I could discern nothing sinister or improper from my observations, brief though they were.”
“Are you sure?” asked Aragorn.
Artapel nodded, “I am sure.”
“And what of the Lady? What was her explanation?”
“She left the scene almost immediately, Aragorn. I think she was a little embarrassed, it was obvious that this was meant to be a private affair, and clearly we were the intruders.”
Aragorn ran a hand through his dark locks. “I cannot fathom this. I thought…” his voice trailed off as he watched Coralie and Boromir more keenly.
“If anything really had been amiss last night, do you not think it strange that i titheniel would seek to say farewell to the man alone?” added Artapel.
“Anyway, Aragorn. What would be so wrong about Boromir asking Coralie to marry him? I would have thought he would be more than worthy of her. After all he is a prince of Gondor. It’s not like he is some lowly farmer or blacksmith or street merchant! He’s a prince and she will be his princess. I think it’s perfect!” interjected Pippin.
“Master Pippin, I think you have said enough!” said Gimli with a shake of his head. He had noticed Legolas’ back stiffen at his words.
Boromir was walking toward them now. Aragorn kept his eyes on the man, taking careful note of his demeanour. He had all the look of a man who had just taken leave of his Lady with great reluctance. Then he cast his eyes up toward Coralie who still stood alone watching his retreat. There was nothing to indicate that his presence had been unwelcome.
“Masters Pippin and Merry, I would thank you to keep silent about this matter until I have heard from Boromir myself. It would be dishonorable for you to pre-empt him in any way, ” he turned towards the Hobbits who shuffled nervously. “Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, yes” they replied together.
Suddenly there was a loud hail from the water behind. Turning as one they could see Galadriel approaching them aboard a beautifully carved vessel in the shape of a swan.
“Ah!” sighed Aragorn. “Now there is no time for me to ask Thêldithen regarding this matter myself, and I suspect it will be some time before Boromir talks to me about it either, as he will soon put all thoughts of the Lady aside for the moment. He is a soldier, and he is not one to be slack in his duty,” he turned once more before Galadriel arrived to look at Coralie who stood now with the Elven child at her side. “Thêldithen, why didn’t you tell me?” he thought quietly before turning back to the river.
Galadriel stood behind Celeborn, clad in white, with a circlet of golden flowers in her hair; she played upon a harp as her sweet voice fell sadly upon the waters between them.
I sang of leaves,
Of leaves of gold,
And leaves of gold there grew:
Of wind I sang,
A wind there came
And in the branches blew.
Beyond the sun,
Beyond the Moon,
The foam was on the Sea,
And by the strand of Ilmarin
There grew a golden Tree.
Beneath the stars of Ever-eve
In Eldamar it shone,
In Eldamar beside the walls
Of Elven Tirion.
There long the golden leaves
Have grown upon the branching years
While here beyond the Sundering Seas
Now fall the Elven-tears.
The Winter comes,
The bare and leafless Day;
The leaves are falling in the stream,
The River flows away.
Too long I have dwelt
upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown
Have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships
I now would sing,
What ship would come to me
What ship would bear me ever back
Across so wide a Sea?
When the vessel drew near the shore, Celeborn alighted first then held his hand for the Lady Galadriel. The Fellowship stood before the two as Galadriel bade them farewell.
“We have come to bid you our last farewell, and to speed you with blessings from our land.” She walked in front of each one as they bowed before her. Celeborn then addressed them, regarding the journey which lay ahead.
“As you go down the water,” he said, “you will find that the trees will fail, and you will come to a barren country. There the River flows in stony vales amid high moors, until at last after many leagues it comes to the tall island of Tindrock, that we call Tol Brandir. There it casts its arms about the steep shores of the isle, and falls with a great noise and smoke over the cataracts of Rauros down into the Nindalf, the Wetwang as it is called in your tongue. That is a wide region of sluggish fen where the stream becomes tortuous and much divided. There the Entwash flows in by many mouths from the Forest of Fangorn in the west. About that stream, on this side of the Great River, lies Rohan. On the further side are the bleak hills of the Emyn Muil. The wind blows from the East there, for they look out, over the Dead Marshes and the Noman-lands to Cirith Gorgor and the black gates of Mordor.
‘Boromir and any that go with him seeking Minas Tirith, will do well to leave the Great River above Rauros and cross the Entwash before it finds the marshes. Yet they should not go too far up that stream, nor risk becoming entangled in the Forest of Fangorn. That is a strange land, and is now little known. But Boromir and Aragorn doubtless do not need this warning.”
“Indeed we have heard of Fangorn in Minas Tirith,” said Boromir. “But what I have heard seems to me for the most part old wives’ tales, such as we tell to our children. All that lies north of Rohan is now to us so far away that fancy can wander freely there. Of old Fangorn lay upon the borders of our realm; but it is now many lives of men since any of us visited it, to prove or disprove the legends that have come down from distant years.”
Nólemíre approached Galadriel with a golden cup, filled with white mead, which she handed to her Lady with a small curtsey.
“Now it is time to drink the cup of farewell,” she said. “Drink, Lord of the Galadrim! And let not your heart be sad, though night must follow soon, and already our evening draweth nigh.”
After he had drunk, she brought the cup to each of the Company and bade them drink in farewell. When they had all drunk, she addressed them again.
“We have drunk the cup of parting,” she said, “and the shadows fall between us. But before you go, I have brought in my ship gifts which the Lord and Lady of the Galadrim now offer you in memory of Lothlórien.” She called each in turn. Nólemíre stood beside the lady with the gifts she had gathered for the Company.
“Here is the gift of Celeborn and Galadriel to the leader of your company,” she said to Aragorn, and she gave him a sheath that had been made to fit his sword. It was overlaid with a tracery of flowers and leaves wrought of silver and gold. Many gems, set in Elven -runes traced out the name of Andúril and the lineage of the sword.
“The blade that is drawn from this sheath, shall not be stained or broken, even in defeat,” she said. “But is there aught else you desire of me at our parting? For darkness will flow between us, and it may be that we shall not meet again, unless it be far hence upon a road that has no returning.”
“Lady, you know all my desire, and long held in keeping the only treasure that I seek. Yet it is not yours to give me, even if you would; and only through darkness shall I come to it.” he answered.
“Yet maybe this will lighten your heart,” said Galadriel; “for it was left in my care to be given to you, should you pass through this land.” She held aloft a great stone of clear green, which was set in a silver brooch, that was wrought in the likeness of an eagle with outspread wings; and as he held it up, it flashed in the sun shining through the leaves of spring. “This stone I gave to Celebrían my daughter, and she to hers; and now it comes to you as a token of hope. In this hour take the name that was foretold for you, Elessar, the Elfstone of the house of Elendil!”
Aragorn took the brooch and pinned it to his chest, and those who saw him, now wondered at how tall and kingly he looked, and it seemed to them, that all the years of toil and care had fallen from his shoulders.
“For the gifts you have given me I thank you,” he said, “O Lady of Lórien of whom were sprung Celebrian and Arwen Evenstar. What praise could I say more?”
Galadriel bowed her head at Aragorn’s fair praise before turning to Boromir. To him she gave a belt of gold, and to Merry and Pippin, she gave small silver belts, each held with a golden clasp wrought as a flower. Turning to Legolas, she gave him a bow such as the Galadrim used. Longer and stouter than those of Mirkwood, strung with an Elven Hair. With it went a quiver of arrows.
“For you my little gardener and lover of trees,” she said to Sam, “I have only a small gift.” She handed the Hobbit a small wooden box, set with a single letter atop. “Here is set G for Galadriel, though it may stand for garden in your tongue. In this box there is earth from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow from my orchard, and such blessing as Galadriel has still to bestow is upon it. It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle Earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Galadriel, and catch a glimpse far off of Lórien, that you have seen only in our winter. For our spring and our summer are gone by, and they will never be seen on earth again save in memory.”
Sam turned red up to his ears, and mumbled softly as he bowed awkwardly and thanked the Lady.
“And what gift would a Dwarf ask of the Elves?” said Galadriel, turning to Gimli.
“None, Lady,” answered Gimli. “It is enough for me to have seen the Lady of the Galadrim, and to have heard her gentle words.”
“Hear all ye Elves!” she cried to those about her. “Let none say again that Dwarves are grasping and ungracious! Yet surely, Gimli son of Glóin, you desire something that I could give? Name it I bid you! You shall not be the only guest without a gift.”
“There is nothing Lady Galadriel,” said Gimli, bowing low and stammering. “Nothing, unless it might be – unless it is permitted to ask, nay, to name a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine. But you commanded me my hearts desire.”
The waiting Elves, stirred and murmured for a moment. Even Celeborn stood in wonder at the Dwarf’s forwardness, but Galadriel only smiled softly at him.
“It is said that the skill of the Dwarves is in their hands rather than in their tongues,” she said; “yet that is not true of Gimli. For none have ever made to me a request so bold and yet so courteous. And how shall I refuse, since I commanded him to speak? But tell me, what would you do with such a gift?”
“Treasure it, Lady,” he answered, “in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. And if ever I return to the smithies of my home, it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.”
Galadriel laughed sweetly in reply, and unbraided one of her long tresses, and taking three strands of her golden hair, she handed them to the Dwarf who held them with great reverence.
“These words shall go with the gift,” she said. “I do not foretell, for all foretelling is now vain: on the one hand lies darkness, and on the other only hope. But if hope should not fail, then I say to you, Gimli son of Glóin, that your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.
“And you, Ring-bearer,” she said, turning to Frodo. “I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.” Galadriel held up a small crystal phial of light, so clear and bright that its white rays glittered in her hand. “In this phial,” she said, “is caught the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out. Remember Galadriel and her Mirror!”
Frodo held the phial in his hands and looked at it in wonder as it shone between them. Looking up at Galadriel, he saw her once more in all her radiant beauty, no longer terrible and formidable, but regal and beautiful. Accepting the gift, he bowed but could find no words to say.
Seeing that Galadriel had finished with her gift giving, Coralie, Haldir and some of the other Elves came forward to bid the Company farewell. Coralie and Aragorn embraced one last time.
“Keep safe Aragorn. I shall bake Pavlova everyday in the hope that it will bring you back sooner than later,” said Coralie.
Aragorn held her chin and smiled down at her. “Then I think that I will find a whole host of fat Elves dwelling here in Lothlórien upon my return. ”
“May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”
Soft and sure she spoke, and Aragorn kissed her one last time.
Coralie turned to Frodo and took his hands in her own. “I shall miss you especially, Frodo. I will keep you in my prayers. I have a gift of my own to give you Frodo. It is a song, to help speed you on your way. May I?”
Frodo looked up at her and smiled. “I was hoping to hear your voice, one last time before I leave. I know it would comfort me and give me courage for what lies ahead.”
Coralie smiled at him in return. “It is all I have for you, Dear Frodo, and I pray it brings a blessing to you……..
May it be an evening star
Shines down upon you
May it be when darkness falls
Your heart will be true
You walk a lonely road
Oh! How far you are from home
Mornië utúlië (Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornië alantië ( Darkness has fallen)
A promise lies within you now
May it be the shadows call
Will fly away
May it be you journey on
To light the day
When the night is overcome
You may rise to find the sun
Mornië utúlië (Darkness has come)
Believe and you will find your way
Mornië alantië (Darkness has fallen)
A promise lives within you now
A promise lives within you now
Frodo looked up and smiled as the comfort of her song, carried her hopes and blessings toward his heart as a river to a sea. She embraced him and kissed him before turning to Sam.
“Sam, I know you will look after Frodo here. Never was there a truer friend. I have complete confidence in you.” Sam found himself blushing for the second time and stammered his thanks as Coralie bent and kissed him on the cheek. Turning together, they walked over to Aragorn and began to settle themselves in the boat.
Coralie found herself looking down into the sad yet eager faces of Pippin and Merry.
“Yes you shall finally get those kisses you constantly bug me about. Here!” and with that she fiercely embraced the two, kissing them soundly on the cheek one after the other. “There. Let’s hope that satisfies you until I see you again!”
The two Hobbits looked suddenly abashed and kicked at the ground with their feet as Coralie bade them goodbye.
She came to Boromir. For a moment they stood there in awkward silence, before he took her hand in his and kissed it graciously. “Farewell and God speed Boromir. I shall pray that you avail yourself with honour on the battlefield, and that the glory of your deeds be sung from every parapet in Gondor.” The true meaning of her words was not lost upon the man, who discreetly stole one glance toward the scarf about her throat, before he bowed low and kissed her hand one last time.
“You have my promise, Lady.” Turning, he gathered Merry and Pippin and strode over to his small craft with them.
Gimli bowed before her as she approached him.
“I have this for you, Gimli my friend.” Coralie turned to Támurile who had come up quietly behind with some items in her hand. Taking one from the child, she turned and took Gimli’s hand in her own. He gasped as he looked down at his palm, for there upon it lay a glistening white pearl. “I could think of no finer gift for you Gimli for I know how fond you are of precious stones. When I found this one, I thought it was especially fine, and knew that you would treasure it.”
Gimli blinked a little as he looked at Coralie and brought a hand up to his eye in a quick gesture.
“I thank you Lady. Indeed it is something that I will treasure, knowing that it was by your fair hand that it was found.” He kissed her hand and then looking between her and the Elf who waited at his side, he turned abruptly toward his boat.
Legolas had been waiting for him to clamber aboard, before taking his place, knowing full well how uncomfortable the Dwarf would be upon the water, and that he would have to steady it from behind. He gazed at Coralie for an instant and then as if remembering some errand that he had forgotten to do, he turned just as abruptly to join the Dwarf.
“Wait!” she cried to his retreating form. Legolas stopped for a moment, and without turning his head, he answered her.
Támurile handed the other item she held quickly to Coralie.
“I have something for you!”
Legolas turned as Coralie approached. In her hand she held a tiny book, small enough to tuck into a pocket.
“I thought you may like to take my book of English poetry with you. I remembered how much you liked it, Leggy.” He stiffened slightly as she placed the book in his hand, noting the small pink feather that stuck out between the leaves of one of the pages.
“The feather is from me, or rather from my galah. I thought you may like to use it as a bookmark,” said Támurile hopefully. Legolas nodded his head toward the child, and smiled gently.
“Thank you Támurile. That was most thoughtful of you,” he drew himself up as Támurile walked away waving farewell, and cast a cool eye over Coralie.
“I thank you for the gift, Lady.” He remained looking into her eyes a moment longer than he had intended. For the briefest instant the silver eyes softened gently as he looked at her, but then just as quickly, the cool silver turned to steel as he drew the doors shut upon their parting. He nodded quickly as he placed the small book inside his jerkin. “I am ever at your service.” He bowed with crisp efficiency then turned suddenly on his heel, striding over to the boat where Gimli sat awkwardly, and climbed neatly in. Coralie stood there for a moment, and felt the earth tilt beneath her feet as the forced courtesy of his words, ground her heart to powder within her breast.
Támurile quickly stole up and placed her hand in Coralie’s.
“He knows, Tammy. He thinks I have given my heart to Boromir,” she gasped as she watched the small crafts pull away from the shore. The boats became smaller in the distance as Galadriel raised her arms in final salute. Her white form, shone beneath the morning sun as she sang them farewell, as their boats speedily joined the current to ripple swiftly down the stream. The Company turned for one last look at Lórien, and it seemed that the land was slipping backwards into the mists of a brighter memory from long ago.
The Lady of the Galadrim, sang one last song of farewell as the current bore them away, and to Frodo she appeared as a bright jewel, glinting brilliantly in the morning light of a forgotten time.
Ai! laurië lantar lassi súrinen,
Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind,
yéni únótimë ve rámar aldaron!
long years numberless as the wings of trees!
Yéni ve lintë yuldar avánier
The long years have passed like swift draughts
mi oromardi lissë-miruvóreva
of the sweet mead in lofty halls
Andúnë pella, Vardo tellumar
beyond the West, beneath the blue vaults of Varda
nu luini yassen tintilar i eleni
wherein the stars tremble
in the voice of her song, holy and queenly.
Sí man i yulma nin enquantuva?
Who now shall refill the cup for me?
An sí Tintallë Varda Oiolossëo
For now the Kindler, Varda, the Queen of the stars,
ve fanyar máryat Elentári ortanë
from Mount Everwhite has uplifted her hands like clouds
ar ilyë tier undulávë lumbulë
and all paths are drowned deep in shadow;
ar sindanóriello caita mornië
and out of a grey country darkness lies
i falmalinnar imbë met,
on the foaming waves between us,
ar hísië untúpa Calaciryo míri oialë.
and mist covers the jewels of Calacirya for ever.
Sí vanwa ná, Rómello vanwa, Valimar!
Now lost, lost to those of the East is Valimar!
Namárië! Nai hiruvalyë Valimar!
Farewell! Maybe thou shalt find Valimar!
Nai elyë hiruva! Namárië!
Maybe even thou shalt find it! Farewell!
“He knows,” sobbed Coralie as the tears tumbled down her cheeks in streams.
She stood forlornly watching the now empty river, as it flowed into the void that held her heart. Támurile stood with her clutching at her hand with what small comfort she could offer. Celeborn and Galadriel noted her obvious distress and walked over to where she stood, haunted by the memory of harsh words spoken in parting.
“Do not be sad Titheniel. Our prayers go with them, and though the path is dark that they must tread, I can see places where the sunlight shines brightly upon their countenances, and upon yours as well. I am sure that he will keep safe and one day return,” spoke Galadriel gently with a comforting arm drawn about her shoulders.
“Who?” Coralie’s voice trembled with pain.
“Boromir,” came her gentle reply.
The name lashed at Coralie’s heart as she looked sorrowfully up into the kind eyes of Galadriel and Celeborn.
She stepped away. “No!” she cried. Sobbing she turned and fled from their presence.
Galadriel and Celeborn looked at one another in sorrow as they watched Coralie flee up the path before them. Támurile wrung her hands in despair, then followed quickly behind.
Coralie felt the path tumble ahead of her in a series of disjointed twists and turns until at last she reached the gum tree. Looking up into its lofty branches, the song of a bellbird rang above, descending as a gentle shower to the ground below. Coralie stood there, breathing hard for a moment, and then exhausted beyond the measure of her reckoning, fell to the earth at the base of the tree and wept.
The water is wide, I can not get o’er
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that will carry two
And both shall row… my love and I.
Their love is plentive… o’er there it grows
It grows and blossoms like a rose
It has a sweet and pleasant smell
No flower on earth can it excel.
The ship there is and she sails the sea
She’s loaded deep as deep can be
But not so deep as the love I’m in
I know not if I sink or swim.
Oh, love is handsome and love is fine
And loves a jewel when it is new
But rain it above it grows so cold
And fades away like morning dew.