Where History Has Been Fixed
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Shadow of Himself: 3. III
Both did not know what they would do if Randîr was indeed Boromir, whom they had thought dead these last twenty years; both fought to keep expectation from springing to life, for the chance that Randîr and Boromir were the same person was very slim. It made no sense, for the man they had so carefully laid out in the funeral boat had been utterly lifeless. If some breath had stirred his chest, they could not have helped but notice it.
Both Elf and Dwarf could not bear the idea that Boromir might yet have lived when they set him on the Anduin, that they might have been too much in haste to begin their pursuit of the Orcs to see that their companion had not been slain.
Yet deep within their hearts, each fervently hoped that their suspicions were true.
After winding through the narrow lanes, they entered a clearly residential area which held dwellings of greatly differing sizes in various stages of repair.
Imriel slowed in front of a small white house with a blue door and a neatly-kept bed of yellow flowers. She halted so abruptly than Gimli trod on Legolas’ foot before he realized they had stopped walking.
“Do not upset him,” she warned, turning on the with a glare that brooked no argument, “do not try to make him recall some memory that is not there. I bring you here only to prove that you are wrong in your assumptions.”
“We understand,” Legolas said, and he lay a hand that trembled with tension on Gimli’s shoulder.
Gimli did not know who Legolas meant to steady.
Imriel narrowed her eyes at them, and seemed about to speak further, but she did not get the chance.
“There you are! I was very nearly ready to come looking for you, my heart!”
Neither Legolas nor Gimli needed to turn to know the owner of that deep voice.
There came a man they had never thought to see again in this life. He was much changed -- skin bronzed and hair lightened by many hours spent in the sun, a long knife- scar running from temple to chin, body much leaner yet still powerful, lines of age round the corners of his eyes, a distinct limp to his walk -- but he could not be mistaken for anyone but Boromir, son of Denethor.
He was barefoot, clothed only in the rough woven trousers of a common dockworker, and he dripped water as if he had just emerged from the river. With distant horror, Legolas noted that several small white scars stood out against the dark skin of Boromir’s chest, scars which could be nothing but the evidence of orcish arrows.
Gimli simply gaped, unable to form a coherent thought, unable to take his eyes from Boromir.
The happy voice jerked both Elf and Dwarf back to themselves, and now Gimli did give a cry, for his shock had been so complete at seeing Boromir alive and whole that he had not even noticed the small dark-headed girl in Boromir’s arms.
“Ú-chenion man cínon!” Legolas gasped, hand tightening painfully on Gimli’s shoulder. “Is she not the very image of Elboron?”
Imriel had gone to meet Boromir and their daughter. “I see your father has been letting you swim in the river again,” she was saying, face stern but voice teasing, “I hope that this time went better than last?”
Boromir chuckled, and Gimli was painfully, joyfully reminded of a long-ago night on the road to Khazad-dûm. “There were no snakes this time, if that is what you mean,” he answered with a grin, bending to kiss his wife‘s forehead, “although there were several frogs which we unfortunately could not catch to bring home!”
“Unfortunately,” Imriel laughed, nose wrinkling in distaste. “Come, Lalaith,” she said, taking the tiny girl from her father, “your father has customers.”
Something in Imriel’s voice made Boromir study her intently for a moment, then he turned an appraising gaze on the two companions. A shadow came into his eyes, and he drew his wife to him. She hid her face in his shoulder, and he held her tightly, murmuring something into her ear that even Legolas could not catch, although he could hear Imriel’s muffled sobbing.
Lalaith openly stared at the Dwarf and Elf, oblivious to her parents’ interaction, and again Legolas was astounded at how very like Faramir’s son the child was. There were minor differences -- Lalaith’s hair, even wet, was a riot of curls, and her eyes were a dark hazel, but her nose and the line of her chin would be strikingly familiar to any who had seen Elboron as a boy.
After a moment, Boromir released Imriel. “It will be all right,” he told her, laying a tender hand against her cheek. “I will take care of it.”
“I know,” Imriel replied softly, tilting her face up to his with a trusting smile.
“Bregor has sent word that he does not know when he will return, ” Boromir went on, paying the stunned Elf and Dwarf no heed. “He has promised to help unload the skiff when it docks, and it has not yet arrived.”
Imriel shifted her daughter to a more comfortable position on her hip. “And if he returns immediately after the skiff has arrived, it will be the first time,” she said wryly.
Boromir nodded knowingly, and Gimli wished he could have the opportunity to meet this unseen son. He did not think it likely.
Boromir held Imriel to him tightly once more, causing Lalaith to squeak in protest as she was caught between them. He half-smiled, and said something apologetic to his daughter in a rolling language which neither Gimli nor Legolas understood, but Lalaith clearly did, for she giggled and blew her father a kiss.
“Go inside,” Boromir instructed, “and I will join you shortly.”
Imriel clasped his hand, and turned to go. Lalaith continued to stare as over her mother’s shoulder, waving at the Elf and Dwarf as she was carried inside. Gimli started to return the gesture, but let his hand fall when Imriel threw one last, defiant glare at the two of them before slamming the door.
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