Merry sat in stunned silence, hardly daring to move for fear he would wake up and discover he had been dreaming. Boromir alive? How could this be? It was simply too incredible!
"Are... are you certain of this?" he stammered, grasping Dernhelm's sleeve anxiously. "Did you see him yourself?"
"No, of course not," Dernhelm replied patiently. "We two have hardly been out of one another's sight these past days, so how could I have seen him?"
"You're right, I'm being foolish," Merry said, shaking his head. "I remember now, you said that commander told you about Boromir -- Elfhelm, his name is, I think? Did he see Boromir, then? Can it really be true?"
Dernhelm gently removed his sleeve from Merry's clenched fist and sat down next to him. He took Merry's hand in his and patted it soothingly. "Elfhelm did not see him, no. But the scouts who met with the King this evening have seen him; they reported that Boromir and his men are only half a day's ride from here. The commanders have met with these scouts and questioned every detail, but there is no doubt that the message they bring is no falsehood. Thrydwulf and Hunlaf are honorable men devoted to the house of Éomer and they speak the truth -- Boromir of Gondor lives and awaits the coming of Théoden King so that he may join us on the morrow and ride to Mundberg."
Merry sat quietly for a moment, letting the reality of the news sink in.
"Boromir's alive!" he said wonderingly. "He's waiting for us... he's going to join us! Tomorrow! I'm going to see him tomorrow!"
Merry suddenly leaped to his feet, whooping for joy. A few Riders who were resting nearby started at the unexpected shout, but their alarm quickly turned to amusement when they realized the cause.
"Hush now," Dernhelm cautioned. "It is good news, indeed, but you must try to be more quiet in your excitement."
"I'm sorry," said Merry contritely. "It's hard not to shout, though. I'm that happy! I can't wait to meet him, he'll be so surprised to see me here!"
Merry looked suddenly thoughtful. "Boromir won't know I'm here, will he?" he said slowly. "He hasn't seen me since that day when... when he fought the Orcs, and Pip and I were captured. He probably thinks we're still captives, he won't know any of the news."
"When he sees you, he will learn otherwise," Dernhelm reassured him.
"But how will I meet him?" Merry fretted. "He'll probably ride with the King and Éomer, and I won't be able to get close." Merry sighed deeply. "It won't be enough for me to just see him from afar. I want... I have to talk to him, to touch him... to be sure he's really all right...."
"Fear not!" Dernhelm broke in. "My lord Elfhelm will see to it. He will inform the lord Boromir of your presence with us and arrange for you to meet him. It is true that you may not be able to travel together, for Boromir will most certainly ride with the King; but you will have your time together, nonetheless. It will not be enough for all you have to say to one another, perhaps, but it will have to do."
"It will be enough," Merry said happily. "Just to talk with him a bit, face to face, will be enough."
While the others cleared away the remains of the evening meal and made final preparations for riding out the following day, Boromir sat gazing into the fire, lost in thought. Grithnir watched him for a time, trying to discern his captain's mood. He was concerned about Boromir's long silence, but he hesitated to interrupt.
"Come, Grithnir!" Boromir said, suddenly turning to face his lieutenant. "Sit with me and ask your questions. I know you are concerned about something; that frown of yours gives you away."
Grithnir ducked his head, embarrassed. "You know me too well, lord!" he said as he joined Boromir by the fire. "I did not realize I was frowning. I thought I was better at hiding my concern than that!"
"I should not have told you," Boromir chuckled. "Now you will learn to school your face and I will have to learn anew how to read you! But tell me now, what troubles you?"
"I would ask you the same, my captain, for you are the source of my trouble," Grithnir responded. "You have been very quiet this evening, more so than has been your wont of late. It concerns me. Is there anything wrong? Are your wounds paining you?"
"Nay, Grithnir, I am not in pain," Boromir said reassuringly. "I am well-rested and stronger than I have been for some time. I am feeling more confident in my ability to take part in the coming battle, as well, thanks to the light hauberk and helm Gwaeron has found for me. I may not be able to swing a sword at full strength just yet, but at least I have armor now that will protect me from the enemy's blade and bow."
"It comforts us also to know that you have such protection," Grithnir agreed. "I am pleased to hear your wounds are not giving you discomfort. But something troubles you, nonetheless. What is it, if I may ask?"
"You know me well, Grithnir," Boromir laughed. "Well enough to know when I am troubled and keeping it to myself. I suspect you might even be able to guess some of what is on my mind. Am I right?"
Grithnir smiled. "Yes, I suppose I could hazard a guess or two. I imagine your thoughts are taken up with tomorrow and our meeting with the Riders of Rohan. You think of the words of condolence you must say to Théoden at the loss of his son and heir, even as you wonder how your own brother fares on the battlefront. And you wonder if any of your companions still live, and if so, do they ride with the Rohirrim?"
"See?" Boromir nodded. "You do know me well. You are right, of course. All those things are indeed weighing heavily on my mind." The look on Boromir's face grew serious, and he sighed heavily. "It was a grievous blow to hear from Eadric of the loss of Théodred. We were of similar age, we two, and had formed a friendship over the years, though we did not meet often. I will miss him. His loss makes me feel all the more concerned for Faramir, as you suggest -- but also for my friends with whom I was traveling, particularly since I have had no word of them since we parted. I have some hope in my heart that I might see them soon, even tomorrow, if they ride with Théoden. I wish I knew for certain where they might be and how they fare...."
Boromir's voice trailed off, and he was silent for a time. Then he smiled and rose to his feet.
"Indeed, you have guessed well, Grithnir," Boromir said, reaching out a hand to draw Grithnir to his feet. "But you do not know all that is on my mind. Come with me, now. There is a matter I wish to share with you, but I would do so in a more private place."
"As you wish, my lord!"
Grithnir followed Boromir outside, where they stood together on the porch, leaning against the railing as they gazed out into the darkness. The night was heavy with the murk of Mordor, and the pale glimmer of torches that lit the path to the horses' picket did little to dispel the gloom.
When Boromir spoke again it was slowly, as if he chose his words carefully. "As I said just now, I do wonder how my companions fare, and if I will see them again ere long. It does seem possible, if not likely, that some of them might have met with the Rohirrim and be riding with them to battle in Gondor. I must admit, my heart yearns to see them again -- but there is more to it than that."
Grithnir gave no answer, for he knew none was expected. He waited for his captain to find the words he needed to share what was on his heart.
"You are younger than I," Boromir continued. "You would not have met him, but perhaps you remember tales of the great warrior Thorongil?"
"Yes, of course I do," Grithnir responded, surprised. "He was a strong man, so they say; a fearsome warrior who served Gondor under Echthelion for a time, then went away never to return. His prowess with a sword was renowned and men everywhere loved him and followed him."
"Yes," Boromir said with a smile. "That was Thorongil. You wonder why I mention him, who was important at a point in Gondor's past, but has little bearing on the present? But I say to you, he has everything to do with the present! I have met him, Grithnir. In fact, I traveled with him in my journey south; it is he who brought me back from the brink of death before you arrived with Linhir to continue my healing."
"But... my lord, how can this be?" Grithnir stammered. "Do you tell me that this Aragorn you have spoken of, who healed you; your companion since you began your journey from the northern valley -- he is Thorongil? How is that possible?"
Boromir shook his head. "I know, it is hard to fathom. Yet it is so. I knew Thorongil when I was a child, during that brief time before he went away. Though I was very young then, when I saw him once more at the Council of Elrond in Imladris, I recognized him. He knew me, as well."
"Why... why are you telling me this, my lord?" Grithnir hesitated. "This hardly seems like a matter suitable to share with a subordinate, no matter how trusted. Such a personal matter...."
"It is that, Grithnir. But I am not telling you all this simply on a whim. I do not lightly burden you with such personal matters -- no, there is another reason why you must hear what I have to say."
"Go on then, my captain. I am listening."
"You have heard me speak of my traveling companions; you know Aragorn was a member of my party, though you did not have the opportunity to meet him. You also know that Legolas the Elf went to join him in the pursuit of the Uruk-hai who made captive several of our companions. When that task is completed, Aragorn will come to Gondor. He has promised to come. By what road, I do not know, but he will come to Minas Tirith to lend his strength in her defense. I am glad of this, for he is a worthy man, strong and capable; I have come to know him and trust him. But it will change things in ways you cannot imagine, Grithnir."
"I do not understand, my lord. Change things how? Because he is also Thorongil, who was once a great warrior of Gondor? I can see he might be welcomed for that, but would that change things so very much?"
"It will, Grithnir," Boromir said emphatically. "For not only is Aragorn Thorongil, he is also the heir of Isildur, and the bearer of the Sword that was Broken. He lays claim to Gondor's throne as King."
Grithnir gasped. "The King? He is the King returning?"
"But then..." Grithnir paused, hesitating. "Do you... do you support his claim, my lord?"
"At first, I was not sure of him," Boromir said slowly. "It was something to recognize him and know him as someone I had trusted once, and might trust again. It was reassuring to know that he was no stranger to Gondor and her needs. But it took time for me to sort out, time to come to terms with the implications for my father -- and yes, for myself. But truly, there is no questioning his claim, nor his ability to back that claim with strength and honor. I realize that now. He is a worthy man and will make a good King. So yes, I do support him. And yet, it is not as simple as that. I do not know what my father will think of this, nor do I know as yet what my role will be in presenting it to him. But we shall worry about that when the time comes. What matters now is what may come tomorrow. In the event Aragorn rides with the Rohirrim, I wanted you to know who he is in truth, for his coming will affect all of us deeply. Eadric and his scouts did not speak of him, yet it may be.... I do not know. In any case, I felt you should know."
"Yes, I understand now," Grithnir nodded. "I thank you, my lord, for entrusting me with word of the King returned! It is a deep matter, to be sure, and one that must have weighed heavily on you, even though you care for this man and call him a friend. But fear not -- he will be welcome! I will support you, of course, and I know the others will feel as I do. We serve you and your house, to the death. If this man has won your allegiance and you support his claim as King, that is all we need to know. We will follow you -- and him, if that is where you lead. A man who has won the love and support of my lord Boromir of Gondor must indeed be a man to follow!"
"You honor me with your service, Grithnir," Boromir said gratefully. "I thank you. Your unquestioning loyalty will not go unrewarded!"
"Serving you all the days of my life is the only reward I require, my captain!"
"So be it, Grithnir. I would have it no other way."
Author's note: For the tale of Boromir's recognition of Aragorn as Thorongil, see Reforged.
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.