Where History Has Been Fixed
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Shadow of Himself: 4. IV
“I do not know who you are, why you are here, or what you hope to accomplish,” he began, voice dangerously level, “but I am not inclined to be overly kind to those who make my wife cry. You had best have a good reason for doing so.”
His gaze moved from Elf to Dwarf, impatience, anger and protectiveness clearly written in his posture.
But no light of remembrance crossed his stony face. No hint of a smile, nor pleasure in seeing them appeared.
Legolas searched for words that usually came so easily to him, but he floundered, badly shaken by Boromir’s lack of recognition.
Gimli stepped forward. “It was not our intention to upset your wife,” he explained, keeping a close watch on Boromir’s steadily darkening expression, “we were merely seeking to discover how she came to be in possession of her cloak, for, as you can see, we wear its companions.”
Boromir blinked, looking them over more closely, and it was obvious from his reaction that he had not yet noticed this detail. “Oh,” he breathed, a world of understanding in that simple statement. “You are -- you knew me.”
“Once,” Legolas agreed. “Many years ago. And we thought you ---” he had to stop, for something was tightening within his chest, making him unable to breath.
“-- you thought me dead,” Boromir finished, almost sympathetic. His belligerent stance eased somewhat.
“We laid your body in a boat,” Gimli elaborated, struggling to keep his composure, “we drew out the arrows which left those marks there.”
He pointed, and Boromir looked down at his own chest.
The ghost of a smile tugged at the corners of Boromir’s mouth. “I have always thought they looked like arrow-scars,” he mused, tracing one such mark. “But I could never think of why I might have been the target of such weapons.”
Legolas started to speak, but was stopped when Boromir held up one hand.
“I see that my appearance is a shock to you,” he said, “but I wish to make certain that you know my mind, before you say on.” His voice softened, although his eyes grew determined. “I do not wish to know how I came by these scars. In truth, I do not wish to know anything about my life before I awoke in the house of Baragund father of Imriel.”
This was a statement neither Elf nor Dwarf had anticipated.
“But…” in living memory, Gimli had never heard Legolas stammer, “…you do not wish to know where you came from, or what you may have left behind?”
Boromir shook his head. “If you had come perhaps ten years ago, I may have been tempted to learn these things,” he said, “but my family and life are here now. Over time, I have come to accept that my memories will never return to me, and I cannot see that anything you have to say will cause them to do so.”
Gimli gathered his scattered thoughts. “Why?’ he burst out, earning an quelling glance from Legolas and, interestingly, a wry smile from Boromir. “How can you not wish to know all that happened to you in the first forty years of your life? Do you not wish to know of your family, how they fare?”
Boromir gestured to them. “Let us go elsewhere,” he requested, “for I am certain that Imriel is listening at the door, and there is no need to subject her to this talk. And there is less reason to discuss this in the middle of the lane.”
They did not go far; he took them to a small building only a few steps away. Inside, it smelled of sawdust and rope; all around were scattered many wooden carvings of different sizes -- some large enough to be figureheads for ships -- in various stages of completion, and from the rafters hung thick, heavy coils of rigging. Neat rows of tools hung on the walls, and a small furnace sat in one corner. Gimli thought he spied a half-finished doll lying in an undignified heap on a worktable, and despite the situation, found he had to repress a smile.
Boromir did not offer them a place to sit, nor any refreshment, though he poured a cup of something for himself from a tall, thin gourd and took a sip.
“Long ago,” he continued, leaning against one of the worktables, “I desperately wanted to know these things that you can tell me, and my efforts to recall were all in vain. I knew how to wield a sword, how to sail a bit, what foods I liked and disliked -- but nothing of my own history. In that time, I did many foolish, destructive things in order to ease my loss.” He said this simply, without shame, but he reached up and touched the scar on his face in a gesture Leoglas suspected reflexive rather than calculated. “But as the years passed, no place, no person sparked recognition within me, and I began to realize that it was very possible that I would never retrieve any of my past.”
Boromir shrugged, downing the last of his drink, and pouring more. “I will tell you this, though I have no obligation to do so -- the closest I have come to finding my former self is in dreams, and these dreams are so dark and fell that I would not want to know their meaning.” His tanned face paled, the scar leaping out in sharp relief, and he studied the contents of his cup.
“Your wife spoke of this,” Gimli said, and saw his mistake when Boromir looked at him with narrowed eyes. “I am sure you know that she thinks you cast off another woman,” he went on hastily, thankful when amusement flickered across Boromir’s face, “she told us of one such dream only so we would understand why she thought this.”
“The Ring,” Boromir nodded, and Legolas’ stomach lurched sickeningly at the note of greed which throbbed briefly in Boromir’s voice. “Aye. She is convinced that it is a sign that I have a wife somewhere who is still looking for me.“ A fond smile appeared on his face, then was gone. “That dream comes less often than others, mercifully.”
Lost in thought, he traced the rim of the cup with a finger that bore scars of a kind that were only seen on the hands of men who have spent many years handling lines at sea.
His were not the hands of a swordsman, not the hands of a well-loved, privileged Son of Gondor.
They were sailor’s hands.
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