“Would it offend you if I said I wish my father had come?”
Boromir smiled gently. “No, nephew, and I think he would have liked to if I had not beaten him to it.”
Elboron raised an eyebrow at his uncle, long dead of course, but looking very well preserved. Elboron supposed spirits were. “May I ask why?”
Boromir shrugged a bit sadly. “You are in pain and he would feel it like a blow. I sought to spare him that and comfort you. He will be there at the end, have no doubt of that.”
Elboron acknowledged the truth of that statement by inclining his head. The lack of Beren’s presence in these past three months had been crippling. That last death had shattered his increasingly fragile heart and nothing, it seemed, could be done to stop the pain.
“I have lived too long,” Elboron said carefully, aware he was speaking to one who did not receive such a chance. “These years are wasted on me. They could be better used by others.”
Boromir chuckled, “You are very much your father’s son.”
Elboron smiled slightly. “I take that as the highest compliment, though many would say I am very much like you.”
“There is no basis to compare with now,” Boromir said without bitterness. “I never made old bones. It is likely I would have been a crotchety old goat. You have born the years as gracefully as my brother, up until late, and have the same penchant for dreaming of ghosts.”
Elboron laughed softly. “Ah, true, I suppose, though you are the one who comes to me now. My ghosts happen to be more recent.”
“You should sound more bitter of that,” Boromir observed.
“I suppose...” Elboron shrugged. “I have loved well and often enough that when many of my loves have gone before me I feel great pain. I suppose I am lucky enough to have had such great loves and thus should not complain.”
“Wise man,” Boromir complimented.
“I have the years,” Elboron chuckled. “And I do not think it will be long now before I find myself reunited with my lost ones.”
Boromir nodded, “No, not long.”
Elboron smiled. A funny thing, he supposed, to smile at death.
But, he thought, there was little reason to linger. His wife was dead some ten years. His little brother and sister three and five years gone. His eldest son, perhaps most painful, last year left him. And his Beren gone ahead too.
Eirien, his littlest sister, lived yet, but she could not travel to him nor he to her and feared he was quickly becoming a burden upon his younger son, Barahir, though his child would never admit such a thing. Elboron knew it, though and that he did not wish.
“I fear I do not understand it,” Elboron said, after a time. “Why some are left to linger past their years while others are cut short in years.”
Boromir shook his head. “I do not pretend to know how such things are measured.”
“Tell me, Uncle,” Elboron queried, and it felt odd, somehow, addressing Boromir of Gondor as such not because he was, in these years, a legend, but because he felt so much older man with him, who appeared in his prime while Elboron appeared a very old man. “After my mother died, my father... Near they end he told me not to worry for they were with him and had been often in the years after my mother’s death. I always hoped it was not wishful thinking on his part but...”
Boromir smiled, “But you have not felt anyone with you as your time comes.”
Elboron swallowed, “Father...said he would be with me when the time came.”
“Your father,” Boromir began, “has not been far from you and quite a few others have lingered close by as well. Just because you cannot feel them yet does not mean they are not there.”
“My brother,” he continued, his eyes tender, “Well, my brother was always special. Your gifts are not the same. His gift was stronger and he always... felt more, saw more. Still, he did not see everything.”
Boromir looked at his nephew carefully, “You have no idea how very maddening it is to watch someone you love and not be able to reach out and touch them, talk to them. Faramir and I were very close and I loved him dearly but until I knew he felt me, until I knew he needed to feel me with him I only saw glimpses of his life.”
“I was with him at the end, yes, and so were others,” Boromir told him. “I was with him for other moments as well, when he had no idea I was there. I could not bear to watch his life but I could not bear to miss it either and I was not the only one who watched.”
Elboron raised an eyebrow. “That sounds ridiculously creepy.”
Boromir laughed and just the sound of it made his nephew smile. Boromir had a booming laugh and when he laughed truly it seemed to infuse every inch of his face with joy.
“I suppose it does,” Boromir admitted, smiling. “Private moments were not infringed on, I assure you. Valar! I was interested in my little brother’s life but not that interested!”
Elboron chuckled, and for a moment relished the feeling of being able to laugh without breaking down into a fit of coughing. “I am curious now, who else had been spying on my father?”
“I would not call it spying so much as...” Boromir floundered for a fitting word. “As being able to observe what we were missing and it is not as if anyone is given the privilege of such looks. My mother saw glimpses, as did I, and my father very often did.”
“That does not comfort me,” Elboron said, his face darkening slightly.
“No, I suppose it would not,” Boromir allowed. He looked carefully at the nephew he had never known in life. “They are reconciled, for what it is worth, and that brings peace to both of them. Your father yearned for that.”
“They did not exactly part well,” Elboron said dryly.
Boromir raised an eyebrow and smiled ruefully. “You certainly are as stubborn as I.”
Elboron laughed. “I have been told so before!”
Boromir smiled at his nephew. “Any who compare you to me are paying me a greater compliment than I deserve. I would hold you the better man.”
Elboron flushed. “Many would argue otherwise.”
“Yes, well, greatness is often exaggerated after death and it was as such for me. Those who loved me did shelter my memory from hard truths, I believe, though you know I was flawed, as I was,” Boromir commented. His voice remained unaffected but Elboron caught the hint of lingering grief and pain in otherwise clear green eyes.
Elboron shrugged, “Such is the nature of loss, I believe, and such things are swept aside in the face of such courage and valour as was yours. Those closest though, remember us as who we were not an ideal that others lament the loss of. My father grieved for you all his life but he never forgot who you were from whom you were perceived to be.”
“I know,” Boromir said, sitting back and smiling fondly at the simple thought of his younger brother whom he adored despite all passage of time.
Elboron wished, not for the first time, that he could have known this man in life, if only for the joy it would have brought his father, but truly for many other reasons as well. Suddenly, unexpectedly, the yearning for his family, particularly his father, grew very strong.
“I miss them,” Elboron said quietly. “I miss him so very much of late.”
“I understand it,” Boromir told him, compassion colouring his voice. As he lay dying he had had the strength of his, finally!, King to support him into the next realm of being but vaguely he had wished for his mother in those moments, distracted by trying to convey to Aragorn all that needed to be said.
Knowing how close Elboron was to his father Boromir did not find it surprising that he yearned for him in this time of pain and sorrow. The love Faramir and Éowyn had lavished on their children was reflected in the devotion it had inspired in them, as could so too be seen in the tender attendance of Barahir on his ailing, beloved parent.
It was only through this love that certain choices could be borne without bitterness, if still with great sorrow.
“Tell me,” Elboron began with quiet desperation in his voice. “If you may, if you can, tell me that I shall not have to tarry much longer. Tell me my time has come.”
Boromir swallowed and saw clearly the age in Elboron and the weariness and pain. He came forward and knelt before him and took Elboron’s face in his hands, kissing his brow in blessing.
“Will I see them?” Elboron asked hoarsely. “Before the end, will I see them?”
Boromir took his hands, both of them, and held firmly. “Yes.”
Elboron slumped and bit back a relieved sob. “When?”
“Soon.” Boromir’s eyes were compassionate as they looked at the nephew he had never known in life. He removed a hand from Elboron’s trembling ones and touched his face tenderly. “Very, very soon you will be given rest and will wake no more. I promise.”
Everything went dark.
There was the scrape of a chair against the stone floor. Elboron realized he was awake.
There was a movement at his side. Elboron turned his head as much as he was able and felt a hand brush against his. He frowned, concentrated...
“Dar?” he asked, voice slight, aged, and slurred in a manner he had no control over.
His hand was taken and lips whispered against his papery skin before it was enfolded in gentle warmth. “Here, Boro, mellon-nîn.”
His chapped lips parted in what those close would recognize as a grin. The corners of his mouth ached. “Glad of it.”
Hands against his face. A cheek pressed against his, letting him feel the moisture there from tears shed for him. His fingers twitched in the hand that still held them.
“I am only a poor substitute, I know,” Eldarion began.
“No substitute, only owning a different place in my heart,” Elboron told him. Eldarion had lifted the aged hand to his face, letting heavy fingers feel.
“You give me touch again,” Elboron murmured.
“Of course I do,” Eldarion told him. He let Elboron’s hands rest on his neck, holding them there, feeling his pulse beat beneath them. “How could I do otherwise?”
But people had done otherwise. Since he had suffered the fits that lost him the control of his limbs people had often been afraid to touch him, to see death hovering so close.
Not his remaining son, no, Barahir would stay with him, lay beside him and hold him until he fell asleep, which was often, and be there when he woke, which somehow seemed less frequent. And there was a smattering of others who eased his days as best they could.
With Beren still alive it had been different. When he had lost his eyesight Beren had filled that void and led him laughingly, arms about him in some way, seeing for him, always making sure his touch was there and, whenever possible, make sure all his other senses were inflamed. Those times, they nearly made up for the loss and even when the fits robbed him of much of his mobility, and in the end nearly all of it, Beren would stay with him, lay beside him reading, talking, laughing, anything, just always there, always loved and cherished.
Then Beren had slept one night and not woken in the morning and the grief was so much that it triggered another fit, lesser, but enough to further confine him and Elboron began to long for the release of death.
His son tried, tried hard to ease his pain, emotional and physical and both were constant thrums, but he could only do so much.
“My father rides behind me,” Eldarion said quietly.
Elboron’s breathing hitched and then he sighed.
“He will arrive within the day,” Eldarion continued near a whisper.
Silence, Elboron’s audible breathing. Little raspy gasping noises as it always had been for recent months.
“Good,” Elboron sighed. “Good.”
Eldarion made a muffled noise Elboron recognized as him biting his lip to keep from sobbing. He stirred as much as his deadened limbs would allow.
“Dar...Are you angry with me?” Elboron asked.
“No, no, not angry, just sad,” Eldarion managed in a voice with a strangled quality to it. “This is your choice and I understand it but I will miss you, mellon-nîn, and your bad influence on me.”
Elboron made a choking noise that was actually laughter. Eldarion moved a hand to his lips, letting him feel the grin. Elboron remembered that grin.
Impish, impossibly young because Eldarion still looked so very young and there so often. Especially when he was drunk as on the night of his coming of age, when Elboron and Theoan played big brothers to the younger Crown Prince and kept him out all night drinking until he could not see straight.
He had never been anything but a bad influence since then.
“Dar, tell me what it is like outside?” Elboron requested as his hand was moved again.
Eldarion was speaking of the snow still falling outside the window and all over Ithilien when Barahir arrived, weeping. He knew then. And Elboron wished he could hold his son, comfort him, but his body remained motionless despite his will.
Barahir curled up beside him and held him close though, and Elboron knew he would have to settle for that no matter how much he wished it was different.
Eldarion continued to speak, of the white blanket enfolding the Princedom of the Hurins, of the crystal trees Elboron had once patrolled beneath, all the while his hands were touching Elboron’s face, straying into his hair, and Barahir held his father close. It would be easy, Elboron thought, to die like this.
A ghost of a breeze fluttered over his snow white hair and Elboron tilted at the feel of it, for it was not Eldarion’s touch against his face nor Barahir’s arms about him and he saw.
Tears flooded him and he could not speak as they trickled from his blotched, discoloured eyes. Someone wiped the tears from his cheeks with a solid, warm hand. A whisper of cool fingers caressed his forehead.
“I am here, my Boro, there is nothing for you to fear. I am with you.”
Elboron gasped out a sigh, comforted as he waited for the King to come and bring him peace.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.