Author's Chapter Notes:
Mild violence; nothing will likely traumatize, though.
It should be mine! Damn that Hobbit! He only wants to destroy it so that he can go back to living in blissful ignorance! Always are they ignorant! The world around them crumbles, buckling beneath the influence of the Enemy, but all they care for is their isolated solitude! The Shire is cut off from the world, happily going about its business as it always has, while all around it the land is blackened with evil! They know nothing of the troubles Middle Earth has dealt with for centuries! They are useless! Selfish! Detestable!
The shadowed figure sat alone with his dark thoughts on a log near the bank of the river Anduin, his elbows propped on his knees and his chin resting in his hands. The position seemed casual, but every muscle in the powerful body was tensed.
It could be mine. I need only reach out and take it. How my fingers itch to hold it! What harm would it do if I borrowed it for awhile? I only wish to bring peace to my people! I would not use it for evil!
It could be mine. It should be mine. Long have my people fought bravely against the Shadow. This is Gondor’s only chance for survival. I owe it to my father. I owe it to my people. I owe it to Middle Earth! It should be MINE! It should —
The pleasant, alluring thoughts were cut short by the cold press of steel against his throat. His eyes widened. “I know your thoughts,” a voice whispered darkly into his ear, each word punctuated carefully for precise emphasis. The utterance was a cold caress against his skin. “I know what you would do. And I will not have it.”
The man had difficulty discerning the identity of the one who had spoken. His hand reached up and curled around the slim wrist that held the dagger under his chin, squeezing cruelly until the fingers slackened and the weapon fell useless to the ground. He released his attacker then, spinning to face him. He was not at all prepared for what he saw, and shock reverberated through him as he blurted, “Legolas.”
“Boromir,” came the stiff reply. The sound of his name was nothing like what he was used to hearing spill from the lips of the golden Elf. The lilting nature of the usual inflections of Legolas’s words was gone, having fled in the face of his anger. In fact, upon closer inspection, Boromir realized that nothing about him was familiar. Rage rendered him almost unrecognizable. The fair countenance was contorted in fury, the eyes narrowed to glittering slits and the lips pressed tautly in a thin line.
Legolas also hardly recognized his comrade. The sweat-dampened strands of sandy hair fell limply in front of eyes glowing with dark purpose. The ugly thoughts the man had been entertaining were written clearly on every inch of his face, and the Elf blanched. Boromir was obviously not himself.
The two warriors circled each other warily, never taking their eyes from the other. Tension crackled between them. The irony of their situation was lost to neither of them. After all, they had fought bravely alongside one another until this point, looking out for and protecting the other with absolute resolution. No promise had been made between them, yet they had forged a bond of fraternity through a common purpose that existed no more. No longer were they brothers. No longer were they comrades. Now they were foes.
So much for fellowship, Legolas thought sadly.
The man was the first to attempt an attack. He lunged forward, but the Elf of Mirkwood proved quicker as he expertly dodged, allowing the other’s momentum to bring him down. Stunned, Boromir lay staring up at the clear sky for a few seconds, trying to get his dazed mind wrapped around what had just taken place, but then a boot slammed into his chest, pinning him hard to the leaf-littered ground and knocking the breath from his lungs in a whoosh of air.
Legolas did not remove the crushing weight of his foot as he knelt, grabbing fistfuls of the other’s tunic and dragging the man’s face up until it was mere inches from his. He was utterly sickened by the desire he saw smoldering in the deep-set hazel eyes. Boromir was lost to them, Legolas knew suddenly, and despair almost overwhelmed him at that horrible truth. Boromir wanted to keep the Ring for the good of Gondor, not to destroy it for the good of Middle Earth, and it was too late to hope for his senses to return to him. He was lost. It was too late. It was painfully apparent that the Elf’s patience had taken far too long to run out.
He had not trusted the man who represented Gondor from the very beginning of their tenuous acquaintanceship. He had seen Boromir eyeing the Ring lustfully at the Council meeting Elrond had summoned in Rivendell, but had also witnessed him bravely defeating dozens of Orcs in the depths of Moria, and this had restored his faith in the man’s strength and nobility, soothing his concerns for Frodo and his heavy burden. Surely, Legolas had decided, if he could take on the sinister creatures loyal to Sauron, the son of Denethor was strong enough to resist the call of the Ring. How wrong he had been! The man could defeat everything but his own desire.
“I know your intent, son of Gondor,” he ground out. Blue eyes blazed into Boromir — no, through him. “And hear me, Elbereth, it will not come to pass as long as I draw breath.”
Boromir knew what this Elf was capable of, and he fought valiantly against the instinct to wince. “You have no power against me,” he snarled, “and I do not fear you.”
The Elf smirked, seeing the lie for what it was. “I vowed to protect the Ringbearer with my own life, if need be, and if you are a threat, I must eliminate you. For Frodo I would do it gladly, but I do not wish to stain my hands with the weak blood of a mortal man.”
Enraged, Boromir slapped Legolas as hard as he could manage. It connected with a force strong enough to snap the archer’s head severely to the side, blond hair flying to cover his face and hide his slack-jawed expression of absolute stupefaction.
Boromir knew the element of surprise was his only advantage, and thus did not allow Legolas a chance to regain his senses in enough time to successfully retaliate. The man managed to pull both knees toward his chest and then used his strong legs to throw the Elf off. Legolas crashed into the thick trunk of a massive oak, letting out a yelp of agony as the gnarled roots that stuck up like curled fingers smashed into his side. He did not have a moment to catch his breath as the man hastily advanced toward him. When Boromir reached the prone figure, he stared down, his glaring eyes filled with dark mirth. “And you call yourself a warrior?” he sneered. “You are about as sturdy as a sapling, foolish prince.”
Boromir expected a verbal comeback. He certainly was unprepared for a physical one. Legolas expertly wrapped a foot around the other’s ankle, yanking the man off his feet with one swift tug. There came a satisfying thud as Boromir landed in an unceremonious heap. Having properly quelled the threat, Legolas stood finally, his expression disgusted as he brushed himself off and then spun on his heel to leave. But this man would not so easily be defeated. The moment the prince turned his back, believing his mission complete and meaning to walk away from the skirmish before things got even worse, Boromir took advantage of the opportunity awarded him, leaping to his feet. He sprinted toward and slammed full-force into the retreating form. Both man and Elf went down hard, tumbling over and over through the dry leaves that blanketed the forest floor in a frantic struggle for dominance.
“The Ring will tear your mind asunder, Boromir!” Legolas cried as their thrashing limbs tangled together, desperate to make his friend see how misled he was to think the bane of Isildur could be anything but evil and terrible. “It will drive you first to madness and then to despair!”
“The Ring is the last hope for my people!” the other thundered, for the moment crushing the Elf beneath him and glaring down at him. “I will not let an impetuous young Elf stand in the way of keeping my promise to my father! I am a man of my word! Men have struggled against the might of Sauron long enough! The Ring will make things right again! It is the only chance we have left for survival against the shadows that threaten to consume our city! Our peril is great, and its power is enough to protect us!”
“It will destroy you!” Legolas’s eyes were brimming with tears as he looked up at Boromir, who had risen to his feet once more and was hovering threateningly above him. The ageless blue orbs pleaded with him to listen. “And what of your promise to Frodo? You gave him your word also! Have ALL traces of honor forsaken you in your greed?”
“It will save Gondor!” the man shouted, furiously driving his boot into the Elf’s exposed stomach. Legolas cried out as Boromir’s foot connected with vulnerable flesh. Instinctively, he curled into a protective fetal position, and was immediately rewarded with a swift kick to the left kidney. Gasping as pain flowered through him, he squeezed his eyes shut, hot tears spilling from their corners to trickle onto the ground.
Boromir was on top of him again in an instant, his heart unyielding to the pitiful picture the golden prince made in his agony. He shifted all his weight atop his opponent, pressing his knees into the archer’s chest with dreadful force. “Honor, be damned — Frodo be damned — the Ring will be mine!” he growled, closing his hands around the graceful neck and constricting brutally. He watched with sick fascination as the blue eyes widened in mounting horror at the realization that this could easily become a fight to the death. The man was perfectly willing to kill him over the Ring, and he watched this knowledge creep over the Elf’s face. Legolas’s fear, normally hidden by a careful and impenetrable mask of stoicism, was betrayed by his horrified expression. Legolas had foolishly underestimated how far Boromir might be willing to take this. It seemed fate had decreed that he would pay the highest price for his fierce loyalty to the young Hobbit from the Shire. He would pay with his life.
He had already made peace with the resolution that he would die for this cause if he had to, and indeed harbored no qualms whatsoever about that prospect, but this was not the way he intended to do it.
It seemed forever dragged by as Legolas fought for air before unconsciousness began tugging insistently at the edges of his spirit. But he would not give up so easily. Blindly, his hands fluttered up and locked around Boromir’s, trying vainly to loosen the offending grasp. Then the Elf thought better of it, reared his arm back, and sent his elbow smashing into the other’s face. Screaming in rage, Boromir fell onto his side, cupping his hand over his nose as bright blood ran from it. There came a blur of gold and green, and then Legolas was upon him.
Boromir’s free fist twisted in the pale hair ruthlessly enough to elicit a cry of agony from the prince, but Legolas did not relinquish his position of control. “The Ring will never be yours!” he declared through teeth gritted with the effort to hold the body of Boromir beneath him. His own body was screaming in agony.
“And who will stop me? Frodo does not have the strength to defy me,” Boromir sneered, blood still dripping from his nostrils to collect in his unkempt hair. “If I so wished, I could dispose of him easily, much as I intend for you.”
Legolas maneuvered easily to yank the other to his feet without sacrificing his advantage. He took him by the shoulders and shook him hard enough to make his teeth rattle. “You will not lay a hand on Frodo,” he hissed. “Do you understand?”
“Frodo is hardly sturdy enough these days to stand on his own two feet. How would he succeed in stopping me?”
“Then why do you suppose a Hobbit carries the Ring, rather than a man?” the prince deadpanned. “Even Frodo, a creature more than half your size and weakened by the evil that casts its dark influence over him, is stronger than you.”
“The Ring would be better carried by me. The Halfling’s resolve is decimated by its promises; he is tempted by its call even as I am. Do you not see? He is no more suited to destroy it than Isildur. Elrond is a fool to think Frodo should bear the burden.”
“We all will help Frodo bear it. We each have a part to play in aiding the Ringbearer. Gandalf advises him with his endless wisdom. Aragorn, Gimli, and I protect him with our respective weapons. The other Hobbits bolster his courage with their unfaltering optimism and playful banter.” His grip on the tensed shoulders tightened. “And for your part, you will leave him alone. If you try to harm him, none of us will take pity on you for your destroyed mind. I know your skills with a sword and would not seek to discredit them, but believe me, son of Denethor, seven to one is more than even you can come out of with success. Not only are the odds stacked against you, the Fellowship is as well. Mind your step. I know your dark thoughts, and Aragorn suspects as much.”
“I do not fear the Fellowship, Aragorn especially. The heir of Isildur will never rise to his destiny. He will never be more than a tracker, a healer, a ranger. He will forever be limited by his lack of bravery. Aragorn is weak.”
That did it. Legolas’s reaction was instantaneous. He grabbed the man of Gondor roughly by his powerfully broad shoulders, slamming him into the trunk of a nearby tree. The Elf looked as if he wanted to strangle Boromir with his bare hands. His lips curled into a snarl. “Do not ever speak that way about Aragorn again,” he all but shouted. “EVER! That man will be your king someday, and if I must, I will follow you to his crowning ceremony and force you onto your knees in deference to him! You will lower your chin when he addresses you if I have to take you by the hair and drag your head down myself. You will respect him or live to regret it. By the Valar, Boromir, I swear it!”
Boromir laughed cruelly. “You and your stupid ranger sicken me.”
“You sicken me, Boromir,” Legolas announced, shaking his head. His face was contorted in disgust. “You and your stupid Ring sicken me, and I would like nothing more than to destroy you once and for all before you destroy Middle Earth once and for all, but to my mind you are not worth my energy. It would better be exerted for the protection for good rather than wasted on the protection from evil.” He released Boromir then, backing away, shoulders slumped. There would be no reaching the senses of the man now, he knew. He wanted only to walk back to the small camp the Fellowship had taken respite in, and forget that this whole thing had ever happened. He was too late.
He sighed. “Go now, Boromir, and snuff the fires of your temper before returning to camp. I do not wish to worry the others.” The Elf turned then, meaning once more to walk away from the confrontation, but again he quickly regretted his gesture of clemency as his sharp ears detected a cold, metallic ring as Boromir unsheathed his sword from its ornate scabbard.
“I will not stand to have you insult me, son of Thranduil.” The hatred the prince perceived in the other’s voice at once chilled his heart and seared his soul.
Turning back to face the threat, Legolas did not hesitate to return the gesture of warning. He quickly reached behind him and drew his long knives. “Nor will I stand to have you threaten the well-being of the Ringbearer for your own selfish reasons.” His quiver and bow he set against a tree, knowing that his favored short-range weapon would do him no good in such an intimate confrontation. All this was done without so much as glancing away.
“And destroying the last hope of Middle Earth is not selfish?!” Boromir growled.
Deep blue eyes locked now onto Boromir’s face, ablaze with rage. “Stand down, mortal,” he ordered coolly, leveling his knives at chest-level and standing stiffly, ready to leap forward at any moment should the action prove necessary. “You are a fool indeed if you think you could kill me.”
“Your touting of your immortality is futile,” the man sneered, “for I know that it only makes you eternal, not invincible. A child of the Firstborn may still die upon the sharp end of a sword.”
Legolas sighed. “I do not wish to kill you. We were friends once, if you can be bothered to ignore the call of the Ring long enough to think for yourself and recall it. Once we fought on the same side. Have you already forgotten?”
“I never much cared for you, Elf. I always knew you might prove too perceptive for your own good.”
“I have tried to be fair with my assumptions about you. I even sympathized with your ignorance at the Council, Boromir,” Legolas said. “You had no idea then what this weapon of the Enemy could do. You did not know its evil purpose, but now don’t you see what it is doing to Frodo? How it deteriorates him? Would you wish that degradation of spirit on yourself? Is the Ring worth more than your dignity?”
“This is none of your concern, Legolas!” Boromir snapped. “Your people are leaving these shores. What need have you to stay and defend these lands? Men will prevail. We will restore Middle Earth to the glorious days of our forefathers. The Elves will fade until they are nothing but the stuff of legend. And men will govern all, and this world will flourish for it. Your work here is over.”
Legolas’s eyes snapped fire. “This is my world too!”
“Your time here wanes. The Elves have controlled Middle Earth long enough. Give Gondor a chance to rule. We are a valiant nation of men.”
“I do not plan to leave Middle Earth for many centuries yet. My work here is far from over. I would see these lands restored, the kingdoms rebuilt, and allegiances reformed. And I do not wish to work beneath the shadows of Sauron any longer! If the Ring falls into the hands of the men of Gondor, however valiant they may be, Boromir, no force will stop the armies of the Dark Lord from taking the city and recapturing their prize.”
Boromir frowned. “We have long held the host of Sauron at bay and kept him from sundering our home.”
“As have my people,” the Elf returned, “and Mirkwood is closer to Mordor than your city. We Elves are not foolish enough —or arrogant enough, perhaps— to believe we are enough to contend with Sauron. It will take the union of every army fighting for prosperity to defeat the Eye and those who are loyal to it. One nation is not nearly enough, even yours.”
“With the help of the proud men of Gondor, I could crush Sauron.”
“You are nothing but a weakling. You cannot keep your eyes, mind, or heart off a tiny circle of gold. It drives you to distraction in a time of war! You cannot focus on what needs to be done for your lust for power and dominance! And you think your people will have the strength of spirit to lead this world after the Elves have gone?”
Boromir chose to ignore the insults. He smirked. “It calls to you even as it does me. Do not dare to insult me with futile denial. It whispers promises of valor and power into your pointed ears as well, dear prince, and I know this with absolute certainty.”
“Aye,” Legolas answered coolly, “it calls to me. But when the Dark One uses the Ring as his vessel of communication to me, I hear naught but falsehoods and deceptions. I do not crave valor or power. I do not wish to be King of Mirkwood, much less of Middle Earth. I hope that my father never abdicates his throne —or Valar forbid, is slain— for I am wholly content as a prince of my forest and I wield my authority only when necessary to protect my people.
“I do not allow others to bow to me, and would never expect deference. I am an equal, and I do what I can with the power given me, and do not wish for more. Why is that not ever enough for you? Why must you greedy men always desire more?
“Above all else, I crave peace, and the Ring will never be able to grant that.”
A tense moment of silence followed. The two warriors still held their weapons trained on each other, but neither made a threatening move. Their discussion had cooled their tempers for the moment at least.
Boromir tightened his hold on his sword’s hilt, but only in frustration, not intent to make use of it. “The Ring promises eternal life, fame, and power, if not literally, then at least in legends and lore. For you, it is not alluring, for you are already immortal, well-renowned, and royal. All this is a given. For men, it is different. We live briefly and then we die. If we wish to be remembered, we must do valiant things worthy of the scrolls of history.”
Boromir was utterly speechless as he watched a single sparkling tear slide down the pale cheek. Legolas turned his face away sharply, mortified, closing his eyes. It took all the man’s resolve to steel himself against the shock and pity that coursed over his spirit.
The Elf refused to look at the man. He was clearly ashamed, but when he spoke, his voice betrayed none of it. “Immortality is a curse as well as a blessing. To be forced to live forever, watching those you love and those who love you be claimed by the cold hand of Death, and knowing that you will never see them again. That is the irony of immortality: it offers no ability to stay or even slow the inevitable ends of others, and no advice to assuage the pain of outliving.”
Boromir shook his head. None of this made sense to him! He wanted to know what forever felt like! Why was that so much to ask? He did not understand why anyone would speak ill of such a wondrous present from the powers that be, and nothing about Legolas gave Boromir reason to think he deserved it. And yet he, along with the rest of the Firstborn, would survive on and on until he tired of these lands and answered the insistent call of the sea, while mere mortals such as himself would be forced to succumb sooner or later to the call of death. For them, leaving these lands was not a choice. It was the cruelest fate.
“You would tout and then renounce your granted eternal life? I would give anything for that gift, and you think nothing of it! If all Elves think as you do, each one of you is a disgrace to your maker! Ilúvatar ought to be ashamed of you, Legolas!”
The Elf seethed before him, but said nothing. He did not wish to offer credibility to the stupidity of the man’s words by acknowledging them. That did not, of course, mean they did not infuriate him.
Thunder rumbled threateningly above the two warriors. They did not even appear to hear it. They were languishing now in a silent stare-down.
Boromir’s patience proved inferior. He broke the solitude of the stalemate. Howling a battle cry, he rushed toward Legolas, who readied himself by spreading his feet, effectively assuming a better fighting stance. Narrowing his sharp eyes, he watched Boromir’s rapid approach.
Suddenly, everything was quiet, as if the whole world watched the attack with bated breath. The man swung the gleaming sword in a graceful arc. The silver blade whistled as it sliced through the air, descending upon its target with mind-boggling speed. If Legolas failed to stay the progress, it would undoubtedly divide the Elf completely and neatly in half.
Fortunately, Elven reflexes proved reliable. Legolas lifted his crossed knives at precisely the right moment and caught the sword of Gondor between them. A shower of hot sparks exploded as metal screeched shrilly upon metal. He grunted with the effort of halting the rapid, deadly descent of the heavy sword. His wrists ached in agony, but his trembling fingers held fast to his weapons’ hilts, the knuckles white with strain.
Bracing his feet, Boromir stood his ground. His unwavering determination was clear on his face, but his arms were positively shaking with the strained effort of holding his opponent at bay.
Legolas locked his elbows and lunged forward, shoving Boromir backwards with astounding strength. The man stumbled.
Boromir spun, swinging his mighty sword. Had Legolas not ducked, it would have severed the blond head cleanly at the neck.
Retaliation was swift.
The lithe warrior’s movements were in perfect rhythm, like poetry in motion. His knives flashed in the foliage-filtered sunlight as they sang a fell song of death. He leapt forward and slashed with unparalleled speed, agility, and precision borne of centuries of practice and experience.
Time skidded to a halt as his left blade sliced through vulnerable skin. They both froze in sudden understanding of the startling turn of events. Checkmate.
Legolas seemed almost as startled by his successful hit as his opponent, who let out a howl of agony. They both watched with morbid interest as hot blood spurted from the laceration on his right bicep, staining the crackling leaves at their feet a deep crimson.
Utterly caught up in the moment, Legolas had no time to react as Boromir cuffed him, and he fell against an enormous boulder with a surprised cry, slamming into the unyielding rock. Releasing a rather loud string of Elvish obscenities, he tried to stand, but Boromir’s right foot connected severely with his chest. Legolas opened his mouth to scream in anguish, but no sound came out. There was simply no air! He could hardly bring himself to inhale. When he finally managed to suck air into his burning lungs, his ribs shouted in protest, and he could only gasp. They were at best fractured, and at worst broken. The man stepped forward and continued his assault, striking the archer on the side of his head with the hilt of his sword. The impact was unbelievably afflicting, consolidated in that one area with such force that it broke the delicate skin of the scalp. Warm, sticky blood oozed from it, mingling red with gold as it streaked through his hair. Legolas’s sight blurred, but he fought to remain alert. He could not afford to fall into blessed oblivion, although with the pain he was suffering, it seemed awfully tempting.
But Boromir was advancing quickly, and Legolas knew he had to get to his feet before the man could do more damage, and it was horribly clear from the malicious glint in the hazel eyes that that was exactly what he intended to do, should the Elf give him the chance. For the life of him, however, Legolas could not get his shaking legs to cooperate. The pain was so intense it made his vision swim. He groaned in misery, struggling to rise, and managed to lift himself almost halfway before tipping forward and landing on his knees. There he knelt, too tired to do anything more, his shoulders slumping and his head lowering in shameful defeat. Boromir was upon him then. He grabbed a greedy handful of the abundant blond hair which had fallen forward to curtain his face. He yanked viciously, forcing the kneeling warrior to look up. Legolas stared up at him, hate burning in his clear eyes, but Boromir was undeterred.
“Stupid Elf,” he growled. “You will not get in my way. The Ring should have been entrusted to me. I would see my city restored to all its blinding glory! I would see the Tower of Ecthelion shimmer brilliantly in the midmorning sun! I would see my father’s assumed kingdom stand strong against the forces of evil! What gives you the right to begrudge me such a simple desire?!”
“You are an idiot, Boromir, if you believe the Ring could serve any will but Sauron’s! You cannot wield it for any purpose other than vengeance! It is evil!”
Boromir struck again the insolent Elf. His voice was chilling as he declared, “You would take the Ring if you believed it could save your home! If it could protect Mirkwood, you would steal it as I would! You are as bound to that green forest as I am to that white city, Legolas, and if you love it as much as you say, you would do anything to keep it safe and see it flourish!”
“I would not bring that wretched thing within five hundred leagues of Mirkwood!”
“You lie,” spat Boromir. “You may not long for power, but you long for prosperity. The Ring could grant that, if only you wield it for the right reasons.”
“Frodo bears the Ring! It is his burden! He made the choice to carry it when no one else would! What gives you the right to declare it yours? If you desired it so desperately, why did you not take it at the Council?”
Boromir frowned. “Frodo? Frodo. Always Frodo! Curse Frodo! I have done nothing to Frodo! Everyone worries for him, but you find it appropriate to threaten me without warrant for his sake! Why do you insist on delivering a preemptive accusation against actions I have never committed?”
“It is only a matter of time,” the Elf answered calmly. “Clearly you are not in possession of enough self-control to resist the sickness within you.”
“My, but you are arrogant, son of Thranduil. Arrogant, and a hypocrite. You possess not the self-control to resist the temptation to threaten me, and over such a trivial matter!”
“I did not threaten you because I was spoiling for an argument! I am trying to help you, Boromir! Can you not see that through the haze of your twisted lust?”
“The Ring is MINE!” the man thundered, suddenly leaping toward the other warrior in a rapid attack. Legolas stepped aside, then kicked Boromir’s now quickly passing form, and he fell with a resounding thump, dropping his blade in the long grass.
“It will never be yours.” Legolas spoke with total conviction, ire lacing each word. After a few minutes, Boromir turned over limply, his muscles aching from the collision with the very solid forest floor.
Suddenly, a flash of silver drew his gaze, and the man was shocked beyond belief by the dire circumstance he found himself caught in now. A blade nicked again at the skin of his throat, this time drawing beads of bright red blood. How did we come full circle back to this moment? he thought warily, then decided with no lack of derision, Perhaps it’s Elf-magic. They’ve learned how to travel back in time. Indeed he was realizing quickly that he was in the very same predicament he had first faced before this ugly confrontation had really escalated into full swing. It was not a knife of Elvish making, however, that Legolas gripped between hands slick with sweat. Not this time. This time, it was the sword of Gondor. The irony of being threatened with his own weapon was not lost on Boromir, but he hardly had the time to mull it over.
“I should kill you now,” the Elf mused aloud in a chilly murmur. “I should end your miserable life. It is painfully clear to me that you will only cause this Fellowship grief, should I allow your skulking existence to continue. You are worthless now that the Ring has taken hold of your soul and sundered you from your sense of reason. It steals your very essence, Boromir, and fills the void with dark magic. I will never trust you again, and I cannot afford to be so distracted while on such a dangerous quest. There are more important things to consider now than the life of one man.”
“Then kill me,” Boromir hissed.
Legolas gritted even white teeth, wanting more than anything to make good on his word. He tried, but his mind kept insisting that he have mercy on the man, who clearly was beside himself with greed and lust beyond his control. The Ring had that effect on everyone who listened to its taunting whispers. Even Frodo seemed to sway under its influence. He had watched the desire flicker through the Hobbit’s eyes, had seen him grip the dreaded thing through the fabric of his shirt and smile in relief that it still hung there. It obviously drove him to distraction. A strange thought occurred to him, pulling him from his anger into introspection. Rationalization, even. Would he kill Frodo, if the small creature exhibited the same symptoms? No! I could never! But with Boromir…it is different. He is dangerous. Frodo is innocent and unskilled. Boromir is quite adept with a blade, and as such could easily kill us all if we stand in the way of his beloved lust-object…perhaps I should see to it that he never has the chance…
Just as his resolve to do what had to be done for the good of the others was settling into terrible place, the Ring released Boromir from its foul embrace. Suddenly, the shadow lifted from the man’s gaze, startling the Elf. Boromir’s face went lax for a moment, and then his expression turned to one of honest confusion as he realized the Elf was holding him at knifepoint; and with his own sword, no less. “Legolas?” he asked haltingly, his voice meek. “What are you…” He trailed off in shock.
The archer lowered the tip of the sword hesitantly, unsure if he could trust the man. Could this be a ruse? However, Boromir made no move to take advantage of the grace offered, and Legolas relaxed slightly with a sigh of relief. Either Boromir had fought against the shadow and won, or the Ring had simply tired of its seduction of him and had released him. Either way, for the time being at least, the terrible malice had fled.
“You are hurt!” Boromir exclaimed, suddenly noticing the blood that dripped from the tips of the golden hair. “Who did this?!” he roared, leaping to his feet and looking around angrily as if hoping to see the retreating form of some enemy. Legolas could not fight a tired smile. This was the Boromir he knew. Always the protector, this soldier of Gondor.
“You,” he replied simply. He immediately regretted admitting the truth when he saw the reaction it invoked. The man’s mouth dropped open as if his jaw had come unhinged. He just gaped, looking beside himself with horror. Ashamed for his brutal honesty in the face of such pitiful bewilderment, Legolas dropped his gaze. Seeking to distract himself, he bent at the waist gingerly, intending to wipe the blood from the shining shaft of the sword in the grass. Quickly he straightened with a gasp, his hand flying to his injured ribcage, as if afraid it had cracked anew with the motion. His bruised abdomen was aching from the movement too, and his stomach churned with the assault of pain. His eyes drifted closed as he sucked in a pained breath. Elbereth, but Boromir had wounded him far worse than he had first imagined.
The man was watching this awful sequence of pathetic events with misty eyes, his expression as miserable as if his heart had been rent in two. He thought the only injury he had visited upon the fair Elf was the head-wound. Apparently, he had wreaked absolute havoc on the slender body. “Oh, Legolas, what have I done?” he asked, his voice barely above a meek whisper as he fought to speak around the lump that formed in his throat. “What madness brought me to commit this atrocity?”
“The Ring,” came the dry response. Boromir was not surprised by this revelation, but he was disgusted and angered that the stupid adornment had caused such strife between the prince and himself. However, he was relieved to notice that the Elf’s voice was devoid of the disgust and anger he felt so strongly. His stomach knotted as he realized that Legolas simply sounded exhausted, and he was not entirely sure that that was any better.
Boromir hung his head. “I am so sorry, Legolas. Please do not take my actions as evidence of hostility. I assure you I feel nothing but respect for you, and I am utterly furious to know I caused you such harm. I cannot imagine the dark forces that possessed me to do such a thing.”
“You were not yourself,” the Elf offered wearily in explanation. Carefully he took the still-bloodied sword by the blade, offering its hilt to Boromir, who regarded it with eyes wide with apprehension as though dreading what might occur should he have his hands on it again. Seeking to reassure, Legolas grinned weakly. “It matters not. Consider it forgiven, son of Denethor.” Warily, Boromir accepted the weapon and quickly sheathed it without so much as glancing at it. He obviously no longer trusted himself.
“Leave me,” Boromir whispered, but the words were without fury. It was more a pathetic plea than a harsh command.
“No, please, I know what you would say. Please do not tell me that it is all right. It is not all right. Things will never be all right again. I threatened, attacked, and wounded a Firstborn. An ally. A friend. How will I ever redeem myself? No. Leave me, please. I will not take a chance and possibly hurt you again, Legolas. I will be fortunate indeed if I ever can live with myself knowing the wrong I have already done to you.”
The Elf stepped lightly up to his side, placing a consoling hand on the slouched shoulder. “You were not yourself,” he repeated quietly, his long fingers squeezing in a gentle, brotherly gesture of unity, “but I am glad you have returned.”
Boromir sighed, looking down at the pale hand that ensured the sweet grasp the Elf had offered. His thoughts were sorrowful. To have felt a touch of immortality in the touch of an immortal. May that be enough. May you never long for more.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plots are the property of the respective authors. No money is being made from these works. No copyright infringement is intended.
This site is run using eFiction.