Steward and the King, The
25. The Coronation
Boromir did not rise from bed until his esquire came to wake him. He had returned late in the darkness after meeting with Aragorn and had spent the night hoping for sleep that did not come. He had stared at the ceiling though he wanted to be up and pacing. Someone might see and he had had his fill of gossips and whispering. Finally free to move, Boromir ate a light breakfast then slowly dressed.
He returned to the Silent Street and brought out the box holding the winged crown. The box was of black wood and inlaid with silver, which gleamed brightly as he moved from shade to sun, emerging from the tomb and into the street. It was the First of May and flowers bloomed to celebrate the occasion.
The esquire waited for Boromir at the main street, holding his horse. The white rod of the Stewards was attached by loop to his saddle. The man used his free hand to guard that Boromir did not loose hold of the box as he scrambled onto the steed. Boromir nodded his thanks, then headed for the entrance to the third circle and down. The staff was new, the crown was ancient. The Stewards had ruled for nearly a thousand years, he for a handful of weeks. It was the end of an age.
"It will be all right." Hurin and Imrahil stood at their places, waiting.
"What is going to happen?"
Imrahil laughed. "I don't know."
"This is the most important -- "
"Of course it is. Nothing can go wrong."
" 'Follow his lead' -- That's not a ceremony! He should have told me more. How can I do my part if he won't -- "
"Peace, Hurin. This isn't distrust. I don't think Boromir knows."
He snorted. "That's no comfort."
"You're alive and the City rejoices. At Yule, could you have foreseen this?"
"'The Return of the King' -- and I don't know right from left. It will be a madhouse."
"I was there, at the Black Gate, as was Boromir, when the doors open and the tide of Sauron's army surged around us. We were ready to die, and lived. Did you ever stand ready to die?"
The panic in his voice quieted a measure. "Yes, when we lost Poros the last time."
"The man at your shoulder, could he ever do you wrong?" Hurin shook his head. "This bond is battle-forged."
The rough barrier at the broken gate was covered with flowers. Boromir smiled at that, and the crowds of suddenly silent people on either side. He motioned that the gate should be opened, and rode through. It was closed behind him. Hurin reached up to take the box and Boromir pulled the staff out of its loop to give to Imrahil, and dismounted. The Tower Warden looked as if he wanted to ask questions again. He refrained, and Boromir credited that to the Prince's influence. He was grateful for his uncle's support.
To the north of the barrier, King Theoden sat on the chair that had been brought out for him. Eowyn stood on one side and Elfhelm on the other. Behind and to the left stood the rest of the Rohirrim and Gondorian armsmen who had stayed to defend the City. To the south of the gate more of the city's inhabitants and visitors gathered in less order.
Boromir paced quickly to greet King Theoden, then returned to reclaim the box from Hurin, and motioned to Imrahil to walk with him. A small table had been placed a distance out from the barrier. Boromir put the box with the crown upon it, then took his staff from Imrahil and waited.
From the tents marched the returning host, line upon line. They mustered facing the city wall and barrier, so there was a wide empty space where the two waited in the center.
Boromir looked at the host, remembering the oath of service he had already sworn to Elessar in bright sunlight, above the healer's camp. He motioned Imrahil close, as they had discussed earlier. "Be ready, if my voice fails me."
From a gap at the center of the line the Dunedain walked forward, silver and grey, with Aragorn at the head. Gandalf and Eomer were with him, and the two hobbits, Sam and Frodo.
As Aragorn neared the table Boromir stepped close to meet him. "My Lord, you have returned."
"I have come to claim my rule."
Boromir nodded, then raised his voice to speak also to the host. "I accept your word and the truth of many signs that have been given. Yet for the satisfaction of all the people of Gondor that have waited let proofs be said." He then turned and addressed the crowd that watched. "I am Boromir son of Denethor. Denethor was Steward not King, and by his oath that I am bound, he ruled only 'until the return of the King'." There was a low rumble of muffled cheers.
"And now in this day and hour," Boromir continued in the same strong voice, "one has come to claim the kingship at last. He is Aragorn son of Arathorn, Chieftain of the Dunedain of Arnor, Captain of the Host of the West, bearer of the Star of the North, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing, Elessar of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Numenor. Shall he be our King?" Thus he renewed his oath to his people, that he would let them make his answer, that he and they were bound. And they answered Yea with one voice.
Boromir then turned to the table and the black wooden box wherein was Alcarin's crown, last worn by Earnur. As Boromir opened it and saw the crown for the first time in bright sunlight, he was near overwhelmed. The shining silver wings, strong and delicate, the weight of history, made to evoke the glory of He and His sons that had come to this shore from Numenor, he held a legend in his hands.
And out of legend was the man that stood before him -- Blood of kings, he was come, returning at the sign and will of the Valar. Standing before that man -- at once symbol and bringer of new hope -- Boromir felt out of place, acutely aware of the weakness of his limbs, born of too many sleepless nights. He raised the crown up and outwards. Eyes lowered, he snapped them up to focus on his hands, the metal's edge, held a scant hand's breath above the dark hair. Elessar! A shaky breathe drawn in.
Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, his blood roared, the Oath sang. Don't, don't, don't, don't drop it.
His hands were steady, but everything else trembled. His hands lowered. Crowned, the roar of the crowd, he let go, his eyes met Aragorn's for a moment as the joyful sound washed over them. His knees collapsed; he turned it to kneeling. Imrahil knelt behind him. On those motions, the rest of his subjects there also knelt. Eomer and the Rohirrim who watched remained standing, likewise those messangers from the Northern realms, east of the Misty Mountains.
Imrahil had stepped closer as he kneeled, and put a hand on Boromir's back. He's concerned. I don't blame him. Boromir stared at the ground, and gulped in air as if he had been drowning. I had not planned to do this. Yet should I not kneel to my King?
If Aragorn or his uncle said any word, he could not hear it. It was a long minute for the crowds to kneel, for they were packed dense and there was much jostling. Then Imrahil asked quietly if Boromir could stand now, and Boromir signaled assent with a twitch of his head. Imrahil pressed upwards with the hand on his back in the moment before he withdrew it and Boromir's legs responded to that prompting to lift himself back to standing. He turned to the crowd. "All hail -- " he began. It was a horse croak; his voice had been spent.
So Imrahil called it. "All hail the King!" There was another joyful roar.
He turned, saw his King's face and remembered the last matter. He took the white staff from the table and, with better control, knelt again. With both hands he held up the staff. "I surrender my office," he said in a cracked whisper.
Aragorn took hold at the center and Boromir released and lowered his hands though he still looked up. The King's face was solemn, but in his eyes were many more emotions, joy above all. Aragorn kept the staff held outwards. "Well have you performed your duties. Will you accept this office back, in the name of yourself and your heirs, for your honor and in honor of our people?"
"Yes, my Lord."
Aragorn's words could be heard, but not Boromir's. Therefore were the watchers silent until he lifted his hands and there was happy cheer as he retook the staff and stood.
Frodo and Sam waited behind Aragorn with Gandalf. The Dunedain and Elrond's sons stood close beyond that. Aragorn turned and knealt -- the crowd's cheering softened into a buzz of puzzled questioning.
He took one each of their hands in his. "Sam, Frodo," he said to them. "It has been a long road."
Frodo laughed as he stared in amazement at the crown, and thought of the poem Bilbo had written. "Now you glitter, Strider!"
"But not with gold," the King answering laugh was both joyful and sad. "You must tell your dear uncle you said that on this day! I wish he could be here with us now." The murmur from those who watched continued. "I have already thanked you many times for your successful completion of your quest, but they have not," he nodded back at the crowd. "My people have given me welcome. I want them now to make a large noise for you."
Sam was already blushing furiously. Frodo held his wrist tightly so he could not move.
"This will be over soon and I will not ask you to speak." Aragorn said further, then he released their hands and circled behind them, and spread his arms wide, signaling for silence. "My people -- " he called. The crowd hushed. "As you have welcomed me, I wish you to welcome these honored guests. It was by these brave halflings that we all have been saved. I know well the sorrow that every one of us bears for those who have died. By the work of these two we have victory in truth, not uncertain respite, for Sauron is thrown down!" Again, the crowd roared.
Then there was a time of disorder, as the procession was made ready. Theoden had been carried down in a poled chair to save this strength, but he would ride up. Those not in the procession scrambled back through the now-open gate to find a watching point along the zigzag route.
There was a touch on Boromir's arm. He turned. Aragorn smiled at him, and he echoed it back. He's happy, I'm happy -- I didn't let it fall! I still may trip, but it won't be noticed, won't matter. I passed the test. A new age has begun.
There was more, there were words. It was a fog he knew he would not be able to remember. "Hai for Bilbo!" one of the sons of Elrond called merrily, and then he began to half sing, half chant a song that could not have been elven, not for the words nor the language:
Not all those who wander are lost --
It was odd hearing Westron words sung in such a silver voice. The wizard Gandalf introduced him to the heroes. He had not yet met the Ring-destroyers. He muttered words of welcome. He forgot to notice -- no, his mind was too muddled to learn it -- which name belonged to which halfling. Musterings. Hurin and Imrahil had seen to that: some companies had barracks in the city, rearrangement of the campsites. Who should enter, who should wait ...
The horses were brought up from the city entrance, and Imrahil guided Boromir to his. Aragorn claimed Sam to ride before him and Frodo went with Gandalf. "Are you well?" Imrahil asked.
Boromir shook his head sharply. "I may faint," he answered roughly, and laughed without humor. He was glad to see Pippin waiting for him, in his black uniform. "This procession will be till noon." He took two deep breaths before mounting.
"Take care for yourself," Imrahil told him. He gave Pippin an order to keep alert, then lifted the hobbit up to sit before the newly sworn Steward.
Eomer was last to mount, having first aided Theoden. They had waited until the last, for the signal that all was ready. Aragorn's party was at the front. Boromir was content to have the Rohirrim Royalty ride next and then Dol Amroth, before he took his place. The cheering never stopped. Banners, garlands, he had never seen the like.
He became aware of Pippin pinching his wrist -- at the same time he heard voices calling his name -- he looked over to see a group of armsmen, with wives and children. One child of six or eight years, was waving and screaming in front of a soldier he knew, one who came to fight four years before, but left his family in the south. "You are Hennel?!" Boromir called and waved, his voice cracked and ragged. "Welcome!" He was answered with a happy cheer.
Boromir wouldn't and couldn't take joy for himself, but took it for his happy people. The rule he had been looking toward would have been harsh and bitter, full of worry for their safety. How many grim-faced soldiers would I have sent out to die, for the sake of the rest, living under shadow? He was glad he was mounted and not walking. Slowly the roaring in his ears subsided, leaving him bone weary, but able to see the crowd clearly without having to strain his thought.
Prince Imrahil had sent word ahead and when the procession reached its end Beregond was waiting. He took Boromir through a near door and there was a cot there. He lay down and was instantly asleep.
== end chapter ==
Author's notes:This chapter has intermittent JRRT quotes, specifically the first lines of Bilbo's poem for Strider from FotR, and from the chapter "The Steward and the King." The third paragraph of Boromir speaking to the host and crowd is a lightly changed quote of RotK, except Faramir's speech ended "Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell there?"
For comparison, the order of the coronation in the RotK chapter is thus: Aragorn approached, Faramir surrendered, Aragorn returned the staff and told him, 'do now thy office.' Faramir asked the host and the crowd, and gave the crown to Aragorn, who involves Frodo and Gandalf in the crowning, but not Faramir.
The name Hennel is non-canonical.
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.