Dorel rode hard across Gondor’s hilly terrain, using cruelty and force to get the most speed out of his exhausted mount.
At last, feeling the horse stumble, sense returned to him, and he pulled roughly back on the reins. The horse gratefully came to a stop, and Dorel dismounted, getting the measure of his surroundings.
He was still in a mountainous area, though it was beginning to be more wooded than the lands surrounding Minas Tirith.
His stomach rumbled, and he began to regret his hasty, prideful departure from the Steward’s halls and table. He had taken only his personal belongings, and had given no thought to provisions of any kind.
“Yes, Dorel,” he said aloud. “A change of clothes will feed you. Your father’s sword will quench your thirst. Your mother’s necklace will shelter you from the cold and the rain.”
His horse neighed quietly in response to his voice, and Dorel looked at the spent mare. She was sweating heavily, and her sides were heaving. Her large brown eyes looked at him with a mixture of fear and exhaustion.
With a sigh, he reached out and tentatively patted her nose.
He would ride no farther today.
Boromir stood outside the door for a full minute before he gathered the courage to lift his hand and knock.
As he waited for someone to answer his knock, he straightened his shirt nervously. By everything holy, he thought, I wish it were anyone but me standing where I am.
He’d been burdened with the duty of telling Sanorë that her father was badly injured and was not expected to survive. His father had refused the responsibility, and Boromir didn’t want to ask Faramir to go.
He heard footsteps, and then the door swung open with a loud creak.
“Sanorë,” Boromir greeted slowly, forcing a smile on his face.
“Boromir! What a surprise,” Sanorë smiled. “My uncle and cousin have gone to the market, but you are welcome to come in.”
She stepped aside and held her arm out invitingly. Boromir stepped in, and she closed the door behind him.
“Can I get you a drink, or, or something?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No, thank you. But perhaps we could take a seat?”
Sanorë smiled. “Of course.”
She led him into a small, but comfortable room that held only a few chairs, a divan, a desk, and a tiny fireplace.
Boromir took a seat on a chair near the door, and Sanorë elected to sit on the divan across from him.
There was an awkward moment of silence, and then, “So, what brings you here today, my lord?”
Boromir, sitting stiffly, looked down at the wooden floors, ill at ease. “Sanorë, I, um.. So, how has your work at the House of Healing agreed with you?”
Sanorë frowned for the first time, and felt the stab of worry. She hated the feeling that settled in her stomach, hated the fact that it automatically made her wonder what horrible thing had occurred. But Boromir was well-expressed and relaxed normally, and now he sat perched on the chair as if it might break, and then he was stumbling over a mundane question. It didn’t fit.
“It has been well, thank you. I like the work, and the warden is a very nice man,” she said, almost cautiously.
Boromir reached out and took her hands from where they lay, neatly folded in her lap. She let him take them, but her scowl deepened, and the feeling in her stomach got worse.
“Sanorë, there’s.. there’s, um, something I have to tell you,” Boromir finally stuttered.
A shiver ran through Sanorë and made her cold. Suddenly, she was grateful for the comforting warmth of Boromir’s hands on hers and not so conscious of the odd feeling it gave her.
“A drove of Orcs attempted a raid on Osgiliath early this morning, and the garrison did repel them, but Sanorë, there were many men wounded, and your father.. he was among them.”
“What?” Sanorë asked stupidly.
“Your father was wounded, Sanorë, and the healers say that the chance that he will survive is very small.”
There. He had said it.
Boromir tensed in his chair, waiting for the sudden, heaving sobs and floods of tears, but they didn’t come.
Sanorë yanked her hands out of Boromir’s and stood up, agitated. “He won’t die,” she asserted. “I know he won’t.”
Boromir stood as well, and he saw in her face that reality had not gotten into her head yet. “Sanorë, being your father doesn’t make Belenor invincible. He is a man, just like any other, and that means he can die. You have to accept it, however much you don’t want to!”
Sanorë faced him, glaring. “What do you want, Boromir?” she said, her voice deceptively soft. “Do you want me to cry and sob and hurl myself into your arms like any other distressed maiden? Do you want me to go into hysterics and be confined to my bed for a week?” Her voice was rising angrily.
“No-,” Boromir tried to say, but she went on.
“I believe you when you say that my father may not survive. I know that he may not. But I am going to keep my head and my hysterics firmly under control, and I am going to ride to Osgiliath as soon as I can to see my father.”
Boromir thought rapidly for a moment. Yes, the preparations were already made. He could ride today. “I was going to Osgiliath tomorrow to assume command of the garrison while your father.. convalesces, how would it be if I rode today instead and escorted you there?”
He was relieved to see Sanorë’s face soften as she looked at him, and then she said, “I don’t need an escort… But thank you! When can we leave?”
“Whenever you are ready.”
Boromir was suddenly assailed by a pleasant warmth as Sanorë threw her arms around his middle and squeezed tight. “You have no idea how much this means!” she whispered.
Boromir returned the hug awkwardly. “Oh, it’s no trouble at all.”
“But you were willing to change all your plans to help me, and that was really nice and thoughtful.”
Boromir was on the verge of instructing Sanorë that it really wasn’t proper for a man and a woman to be alone in a house in such a compromising position, but he honestly liked the feel of her hugging him a little too much to say anything of the kind. And besides, he thought, only her grandmother would really think that we were being compromising.
Just then, the front door swung open, and in walked Uncle Belegnor, Ioreth, and all their bags.
“Ooooo!” Ioreth squawked, dropping a bag that must have contained eggs. The numerous cracklings and crunches the bag emitted convinced Sanorë, who had swiftly put distance between her and Boromir, that the next morning’s breakfast wouldn’t be eggs, at any rate.
Belegnor set his bags down more carefully and walked into the sitting room. “Sanorë, Lord Boromir,” he said reservedly. “Is there anything I need to be told?”
“Yes, sir, two things, actually,” Boromir said. “The first is that this is not what it looks like, and the second–,” and he quickly informed Belenor about the state of his brother.
Belenor took a seat. “I was afraid of this happening,” he said wearily.
“Uncle, Boromir is going to ride with me to Osgiliath in an hour or two. Are you and Ioreth going to come?”
“Tomorrow, child, I will ride. Ioreth will come with me then. You’d better get packing, I think,” Belenor said distractedly.
Sanorë rushed up the stairs to her room as Ioreth knelt down to begin cleaning up the mess she had made with the eggs.
Hey guys! Thanks for reading! Can you guys tell me whether you’d like this to turn into a mainly Boromir story, keep it headed in the direction of Faramir, or just keep it as it is now and let it be varied as to the characters the chapters focus on? -Thanks a million, Alassë