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A Path Through the Grey Shroud

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There is something Boromir feels he has forgotten. All his thoughts feel as unsteady as his steps these past days, weeks. He would lay the blame at the Ring, or at death almost claiming him, yet he knows somehow that it is not what ails him now.

His mind keeps turning to Aragorn, now openly wearing his name, and then skittering away like startled mice. Whenever he tries to grasp at the shape of his unease, his worries turn to mist and slip through his fingers. Yet every night he dreams of fear and a grey shroud, and Aragorn’s face in that darkness.

Aragorn cares for Boromir’s wounds carefully, hands cool and soothing, yet he seems changed, as well, by what came to pass at Amon Hen.

He keeps away and never truly turns his gaze toward Boromir. At first Boromir would suspect his own failings for that, and the urgency of their quest. In the quiet moments, though, he feels eyes upon himself and sometimes when he wakes, his king is there, guarding him in the night. Or perhaps he guards Boromir out of mistrust now that Boromir has proven his true character. The silence wears on him, however, as days pass. He feels anger slowly simmer in his heart and cannot name the cause.

They ride now towards Gondor, yet Boromir feels more uneasy with every step he takes. His nameless worry doubles whenever Aragorn is out of his sight. When Aragorn leaves into the woods while the Rohirrim make camp, Boromir waves the guards away and follows him into the trees alone.

Whatever elven magic saved Boromir’s life has left him with a strange weakness that refuses to subside even after his wounds have turned to scars, but he is well enough to take a walk, at least.

Aragorn looks surprised to see him. He releases his sword at once and Boromir is gladdened at least that there is trust enough between them for this.

“Boromir,” he greets with a tilt of his head. “You should be resting.”

At once the simmering anger boils over.

“I have rested for weeks now. No rest will help with what ails me still.” He does not mean to cast insult on Aragorn’s healing, yet Aragorn’s face turns pained at the words. “Surely I will only get stronger by practicing my sword instead of letting it rust.”

“That is why you have come here, then.” Aragorn nods in understanding, and Boromir allows himself this small lie. When Aragorn steps back ready to leave, however, Boromir stops him.

“Spar with me,” he asks, implores. He can see some battle in Aragorn’s eyes, but at last he nods and unsheathes his own blade.

They go through a few careful, testing swings at each other, Boromir’s arms still heavy and feet slow. When he tries for a true blow, Aragorn parries it easily. The same for the next one, and the next.

“Might be you are not yet well enough–” Aragorn says, when Boromir stumbles and falls to his knee.

“It matters not!” Boromir shouts, surprised at his own boldness. “We ride to war.” He gets up and swings his sword again, the angle of it better, more sure.

“Yet you needn’t fall on a sword to prove yourself.”

“You did not save me from the very brink of death so that I could sit idle while others ride into battle.” Aragorn makes a face so despairing that Boromir has to pause his words. Matters fall into place but moments later.

“You regret it.” Numbness like ice spreads through his veins. This then, is the truth of it.

No. I–” Aragorn falters. “Not for a moment have I regretted that you yet live.” He speaks with certainty such as Boromir has scarce heard, yet some lie still lingers under the truth of his words.

“Why then will you not look at me?” he asks, and tries to land a blow with the blunt side of his sword. “Why is it that we have shared more words today than in all the days since that battle? Why else but for how I broke my word and honour?” His last swing goes wide and Aragorn almost disarms him.

“You did not!” Aragorn exclaims, louder perhaps, than he has ever heard him speak. “It was not you, that proved his weakness that day.” His words turn quiet by the end.

“What manner of madness is this? You refused the call of it and saved me–”

“I did not,” Aragorn interrupts his words as if pained by them again. “I did not save you. I could not, for no man has the power to heal such wounds.”

Boromir shakes his head in confusion and disbelief both. “You speak madness.” He tries to recall those moments, Aragorn’s hands holding him and mending him, yet his attempts slide off his memory like water off a mirror. “No.”

“You died then, and I was too weak to allow you your rest.” Aragorn speaks like admitting some defeat, and Boromir can barely hear him over the sound of his own blood rushing through his veins.

They stand in silence for a moment, and Boromir cannot move for the fear falling over him all anew.

“What did you do?”

“You gave me your oath, before your death, and I...” He swallows his words, but Boromir needs to hear them. After more silence he is given his answer. “I called upon you from whence you were gone after you had breathed your last, and before the Halls of Mandos could claim you anew, I bound your soul to mine.”

“What sorcery--” Boromir hasn’t the breath to ask his question in full. He thinks on the unease that has followed him everywhere since that day. Is it death then, that wants to claim what it was denied?

Aragorn turns away then, as if there is aught left to hide from. “It is not a manner such a thing is meant to be done.”

“Meant to be done? How then is it done?” He has heard nothing of such a thing. It must be elven, for he cannot bear to think he only lives by the black magic of the Enemy.

“It is a bonding. A marriage.” Aragorn falls silent again, then, and looks to the trees where birds chirp, unknowing and uncaring of the fates of men.

“We are wed,” he says, and knows not what his voice sounds like. It is not a question, in truth, for Aragorn would not jest over such a matter. Boromir tries to find his long simmering anger, but it seems to be dissolved by what he has learned today. Yet he feels unmoored as ever, still.

“Not in truth. It could be undone, still, yet I do not know...”

“You know not how?” Boromir asks, because it would shed reason to the strangeness between them. That Aragorn regrets not Boromir’s life, but the manner he himself is bound by it.

“Oh, by the Valar, I know how,” Aragorn says and turns to him, his sorrow turned to anger. “I know not if you would live, were I to untwine you from myself.” A silence stretches between them.

Aragorn sheaths his sword and turns away again.

“What manner of illness ails me?” Boromir asks before Aragorn leaves him once again. “What weakness?” Is it death walking in his steps? No tale of such a thing ends well, that he has heard.

“I know not, in truth. You are not truly mine, yet not death’s either. It wearies your soul to be cast between worlds in such a manner, I think.” Aragorn stands with his back to him, his voice filled with guilt and sorrow again.

This, then, is the truth. That Aragorn wished so strongly to keep him at his side, that he tore Boromir from death. He knows not how to speak on what he feels, the way it gladdens him and scares him all at once. He throws down his sword and takes a step forward, puts his hand on Aragorn’s shoulder.

He hasn’t the words when Aragorn turns to him, so he embraces him instead. Aragorn’s arms settle around him carefully, and it feels like peace, like a balm on his soul and some unseen wound healed.

“I am yours,” Boromir says, and seals this oath with a kiss, as one does when getting wed.