Hands and Eyes: 1. A Question

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1. A Question

Title: Hands and Eyes; a Question
Author: Illwynd
Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this story except my arrangements of words. Tolkien owns the rest. I wish I were making money, but alas I am goofing off.
Summary: In Hollin, Aragorn muses; is Boromir young or old?
Characters: Boromir and Aragorn
Notes: Mostly bookverse, a smidge of movieverse here and there. Also there's a couple sentences straight from the book. Obviously I didn't write those.

Morning in Hollin. It is not my watch, but sleep is elusive and I sit, awake and trying to appear as watchful as he is. Instead of watching the lands around me, though, or the rest of our sleeping companions, I find myself studying him. He sits perched on a low stone, his body composed in a posture of alert ease- back straight, head up, but one ankle is hooked under his other knee, his leg kicked out in front of him. His eyes slowly scan the horizon, switching back to the foreground, swiveling as slowly and surely as a sentinel walking a perimeter. I sit on my blanket on the ground near him, not too close but near enough to note his every breath. His hands are the only part of him that seem restless. First they are running slowly along the smooth rim of his shield next to him. Then they stray to the lanyard of his horn that hangs from his belt. He twists the leather line between his fingers, endlessly looping and straightening it.

My mind wanders as I watch him, entranced by the motion of his hands. I find myself thinking about the place we are in, Hollin, a land where once the Noldor lived. I recall Legolas' words yesterday when we arrived here:

"Only I hear the stones lament them: deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone. They are gone."

I have heard enough tales of the works of the Noldor that his words are no mystery to me as they likely are to the younger hobbits. Named Wise, but perhaps Skilled would have been a better word, in these very lands they wrought the greatest of their craft. Here also they hearkened to Sauron in their discontent and desire for new knowledge, and learned from him, and when they forged the Elven rings, he guided their hands. The lesson in this is clear, and is still learned by young elves, but few enough of the race of Men have ever heard the tale. The skilled hands of the Noldor are, at least in part, the reason for this journey.

I still watch him as I pull myself out of my reverie. His hands have gone back to the rim of his shield. His thumb runs along its smoothness, and his fingers trace gentle patterns on its leather with unintended grace. His eyes still gaze out calmly across the countryside. I notice something for the first time… his hands are not young. I can see the creases of his years on the backs of his knuckles, the fine wrinkles between the fingers. I am far older than he, but for him the prime of life is passing. I knew this, but hadn't really felt it until now. I suppose this is because I had never before studied his hands; his proud tall form does not betray his age, and his face is much younger. His grey eyes still shine with the optimism and spirit of youth, and his bright confident smile is young also. His hands, I feel sure, tell the truer story. They are not hands that have spent much time with quill and ink, or with the tools of building, or even with the softness of companionable skin or other comforts. I can see the little scars etched here and there, pale against the rest of the skin, and in places the skin is darkened as if stained by ground-in dirt. His hands have been friend to his sword and shield for so long I am sure he could scrub them all day and still the scent of leather and metal would linger. He has spent his life in the service of his people, and this has taken its toll on hands that might have created beauty or given comfort, if fate had been kinder. Somehow I doubt that the trade was unfair to any but he himself. The death of our enemies by his hands may be deemed greater in worth than all the fairest works of the Noldor, and less likely to leave such a bitter legacy. Still I wonder if it pains him that age may overtake him, and leave him with only those battle-worn hands, and no memory of finer things.

I realize he has broken his visual pacing of the lands, and has turned slightly towards me, and found me staring at him. We look at each other in silence, my last thoughts resounding in my mind though my face is, I hope, blank of my vague sadness for him. I see his expression change rapidly, the watchfulness he had shown moments ago when gazing out at the horizon torn by a small worried frown and narrowed eyes. What is it that I see in his eyes? Suspicion, annoyance to be caught under my scrutiny? Perhaps his own private worries? It is gone before I can be certain, as his brow smoothes over with a little shake of his head as if casting away thoughts, and one corner of his mouth turns up in a grin.

"'Tis not a bad place to have to watch. This is a fair land, and the weather is fairer still. Whether or not clear skies make us easier to spot in the wilderness, I welcome the sunlight that shows me this." His hand leaves its work on the shield and sweeps up in a small gesture at the surrounding lands. Inside I laugh. I needn't have worried about him; anyone who knows that the fairest things are made by no hand has missed none of life's joys.

"I agree." I say with a nod.

"So is that why you do not sleep? This will still be here for your watch, later." He replies with a tiny laugh.

"In truth I think my mind is restless with worry about our task." I say, somewhat surprised at my own words, unconsidered, but probably true.

His smile falls, though his eyes still shine. "Tonight will come soon enough. Leave the worries for then, and enjoy some rest while you can get it, friend." I nod again, still meeting his level gaze. Strangely, his few words have calmed me and I do begin to feel tired. I shift to stretch out on my blanket, and he laughs softly again, adding, "I will be sure to wake you first if there is anything you need to worry about."

"You have my thanks for that, Boromir." I say, smiling as I lie down. Before my eyes close, I turn towards him and see that his eyes still sparkle as he takes in the loveliness of Hollin under the guise of his ceaseless watch, but his hands have gone back to the lanyard, unwilling to stop their nervous work. As I fall asleep, I wonder which part of him is lying.


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.

Story Information

Author: Illwynd

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 08/20/05

Original Post: 08/20/05

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