Despair: 1. Despair

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1. Despair

Author's Note: This is a gapfiller, taking place during the journey of the Fellowship from Lothlórien to Amon Hen. I rather disliked Boromir in the books, but was fascinated by his character in the movies, so this story may be considered movieverse.

I want to give a BIG thank you to my talented and trusted beta, Imbecamiel!


~ Despair ~

"Why don't you understand? With the Ring, there would still be a chance. It could save us all. It could save my people!"

Legolas blinked and sat up slowly, roused from his light sleep by loud and increasingly angry voices. His searching gaze fell on Aragorn and Boromir, who stood a short distance away from the camp, facing each other. Boromir's hands were closed into fists, and though Aragorn's stance was still relaxed Legolas noticed a glitter in his eyes that told him his friend was nearing the end of his patience.

Looking around, the elf saw that none of the other members of the Fellowship had awoken. It was the middle of the night, at about the time when Boromir had been supposed to relieve Aragorn of his watch. It was obvious that the man from Gondor had used the opportunity to begin another discussion. Legolas remained where he was, sitting on the ground, watching the two men's every move vigilantly - and especially Boromir's.

"It is you who does not understand," Aragorn answered in a calm, controlled voice. "Or do you simply not want to understand? The Ring is a danger. It can save no one, be they men, elves, dwarves, or hobbits. It cannot save our world. It has only the power to destroy."

"That is nonsense! The Ring follows orders, it does not decide what to do or not to do! It could save as well as destroy. It would follow your orders. Why not use the power which has fallen into our hands? Aragorn, we could-"

"It is enough!" Aragorn interrupted him briskly. "I will not listen to any more of this madness. Boromir, if you truly believe what you say, then you are a fool. This Quest is all the hope the people of Gondor and all other free people of Middle-earth still have. I will not see you endanger it. There will be no more of that talk."

For a long moment, the two men stared at each other, then, finally, Boromir was the first to look away. "Perhaps I am a fool," he said. He spoke quietly, but there was barely suppressed anger in his voice. "Perhaps I have been a fool all along. But if you are looking for madness, do not look for it in me."

With those words he turned and walked off. Aragorn followed him with his gaze until Boromir vanished into the shadows between the trees, where the light of the small campfire could not reach. Legolas saw a strange mixture of anger, worry, and regret in his friend's eyes. "Stubborn fool," the elf could hear him murmur.

Finally, the ranger pressed his lips together tightly, went back to his former sleeping place, and lay down again, so lost in his own thoughts that he did not even notice that Legolas was awake and watching him. The elf studied his friend's face silently, until the lines of strain and fatigue slowly relaxed into sleep. Legolas knew that the burden of leadership had weighed heavily upon the ranger's shoulders since they had left Lothlórien, and he was well aware of how much Boromir's behaviour added to the burden.

The elf knew that Aragorn had long since come to value Boromir and care about him, in spite of the contemptuous way the other man had treated him in the beginning, when they had still been in Rivendell. The Steward's son had proven himself as a valiant warrior and a good friend, but the nearer they came to Gondor, the more desperate he seemed to become. Aragorn was not the only one who feared what this desperation might drive him to do.

Legolas' features hardened slightly as he came to a decision. He rose to his feet without making a sound, and left the camp in the direction Boromir had taken before.

----------

Finding Boromir was easy, as he had known it would be. However angry or exhausted the Gondorian might be, he had a deeply ingrained sense of duty which would never allow him to leave his post. Legolas assumed that the man had learned the hard way that lives depended on discipline, just as he once had. In this case it meant he had had no choice but to stay close to the camp and the sleepers he was supposed to guard.

Legolas spotted the man almost immediately after entering the small wood. Boromir stood motionless beside a large fir tree, staring into the darkness ahead. The elf watched him for a while. The man's muscles were tense and the expression on his face grim. His jaws clenched and unclenched as if he was wrestling with himself.

Something around the man - or perhaps in the air around them both -made the elf feel uneasy, and made the fine hairs in his neck rise. Suddenly Legolas was almost sure that they were not alone. He turned in a circle, his sharp eyes effortlessly penetrating the shadows under the trees around them.

Nothing moved, and there was no sound but the soft rustling of leaves in the wind. No one else was here, and yet the shadows seemed to deepen and something brushed his mind like a feathery touch of cold fingers.

The elf froze, recognizing the feeling immediately, though the dark whisperings had never been meant for him until now. Looking at Boromir again, he noticed that the man almost seemed to be... listening. Suddenly Legolas felt quite sure that Frodo would have bad dreams tonight, and for a moment he wondered if it had been wise to come unarmed.

Then he straightened, reminding himself that the man in front of him was not a foe, but a brother in arms who was facing a danger he was yet unaware of. If anything, what he had sensed tonight made it even more important to talk to Boromir and try to make him listen. His hesitation gave way to stubborn determination, and Legolas stepped closer to the man.

"You are not as alone as it might seem to you," the elf spoke up quietly.

Boromir flinched and whirled around, his hand on the hilt of his sword. Legolas wondered if he ever put his weapons down these days, even for sleep. The man recovered quickly from his surprise. His eyes narrowed, and he met the gaze of the elf.

"What would an elf know of my loneliness?" Boromir asked, his voice not hostile, but embittered. "It seems even those of my own race are unable to understand anything I say or feel."

"You and I are more alike than you know," Legolas said. "Have you ever heard of the stronghold of Dol Guldur?"

"I may not be a scholar like my brother," Boromir replied, "but I have always tried to learn anything I could about my enemy. I have heard of his stronghold in the North."

"Dol Guldur was erected in my father's realm. For countless years now its darkness has spread, and creatures of the enemy roam freely through our wood, always growing in number. The Great Greenwood I was born into has been changed into Mirkwood, and the green, light place it once was is now filled with shadows and nameless evils. Many of my people have died to defend our borders, and still die, but we have been fighting a losing battle for a long time now. Each year, we lose ground and are forced further back."

Legolas paused and looked at Boromir, who was listening intently. "I know how it is to live in his shadow," the elf added. "I have been a warrior for a longer time than I care to remember, far longer than you have been alive."

Boromir's gaze turned incredulous at that, then it changed to thoughtfulness while he scrutinized the elf's ageless face, and noticed for the first time the contrast between the elf's youthful appearance and his eyes. Those eyes were old and fathomless, and Boromir suddenly knew that he was being allowed to see something that Legolas usually kept hidden from his companions, save perhaps Aragorn.

This was no longer the seemingly carefree being who would joke with the dwarf, laugh merrily at Merry's and Pippin's antics, and seemed to sing as often as talk. Legolas had changed after Gandalf's fall, as had they all. His songs were sadder now, and his eyes more serious. But never before had Boromir seen him look so strange, so ... elvish.

The man had to look away after only a moment, unable to bear the intensity of that gaze for long, and fearing that those piercing eyes would be able to reach into even the darkest corner of his soul, unearthing secrets that even he himself might not want to face.

"I know how it is to see your people die, and be helpless to stop it," Legolas continued softly, and when Boromir looked up again he found nothing but a deep sadness in the elf's eyes, a sadness he could understand. "I know how it is to have to face darkness day by day, to fight against a superior foe and your own despair. I, too, would give everything to save my people."

Boromir stared at him, sudden hope flaring in his eyes. "Then you at least must be able to understand!" he exclaimed. "You have to see that what we are doing is wrong! As you have said, our enemy is superior. Our only chance is to use his own weapons against him. We are not strong enough, but we can use his power to defeat him!"

There was a strange gleam in the man's eyes now, and it seemed to Legolas that the air around them had suddenly turned colder. "Help me to convince Aragorn of what we both know," Boromir continued forcefully. "Help me to make him understand! He will listen to you. We can save both our people, Legolas! And all we need is right here, within our reach."

Legolas shivered. For the fraction of a second, the ground beneath him seemed to tilt, and he had a vision of himself wielding the Ring of Power. He saw Dol Guldur crumbling to pieces before him and his beloved forest restored to its former beauty. He heard the joyful voices of the wood-elves mingle with the song of the trees, and knew that nothing would ever endanger their peace again.

While he listened, the song changed slightly, and suddenly it seemed to call out to him, lure him, plead with him. Then the vision was gone, leaving him feeling strangely empty and alone. Boromir was still talking to him, but there was also another voice, whispering to him in his own mind. Do you think your father would be spared? Do you not want to save your people and restore what once was?

The loss of the vision and the song made the elf's heart ache, but his confusion abated slowly, and suddenly Legolas realized what was happening to him. "No," he uttered emphatically, "Never!"

Even he himself was not sure whether he was speaking to Boromir or to the voice inside of him, but they both fell silent. The elf took a deep breath and turned his attention to a slightly confused-looking Boromir. "You are mistaken," he said earnestly. "Do not listen to the voice, whatever it promises you. It is lying."

"I do not know what you speak of," the man answered with a frown. "There is no voice. There is no one here but you and me."

Legolas scrutinized the man's face for a long moment, but he was unable to determine whether Boromir truly did not know that the Ring was trying to influence him, or whether he was simply denying it. Both the voice and the coldness seemed to be gone, so he decided to let the matter rest for the moment.

"Perhaps there isn't," he conceded. "But you are still mistaken. You have lived close to Mordor for all your life. You must have seen how the power of the Dark Lord has spread beyond the borders of his barren land, how it contaminates and taints all that it touches. Do you really believe that something made by his hands and holding his power could not be evil?"

Legolas gave the man a moment to think about his words, before he added, "I would rather die than touch or use anything that has been corrupted by him."

"You are a warrior," Boromir answered slowly. "To live or to die is your choice. But what about your people? Would you deprive them of their lives just because you do not approve of the means you have to save them?"

"The means you are speaking of cannot be used to save them," Legolas answered quietly. "They can only be used to destroy them, enslave them, or condemn them to a fate that is even worse than death. Yes, I would rather see my people die than watch them be distorted into a tortured shadow of what they once were. I know they would rather lose their lives than be ruled by a Dark Lord, whatever his name may be."

For the first time, Boromir did not find any words to say. He scrutinized the elf in front of him, but all he found in Legolas' eyes was unwavering conviction and determination. Their eyes met.

Legolas read a hint of insecurity in the man's gaze, and he knew that he had finally managed to shake the Boromir's belief in the Ring as the only solution to all their problems. He hoped with all his heart that it would be enough to make Boromir reconsider the path he was about to choose, and that the man would prove strong enough to resist the temptation offered to him.

"Think about my words, Son of Gondor," Legolas said, holding the man's gaze. "That is all I ask of you. I have no wish to see Gondor fall, and neither does Aragorn."

They looked at each other silently for a while. Then, knowing there was nothing more he could do, and needing to deal with the events of this night just as much as Boromir did, Legolas turned around and began to walk away. The elf felt wearier than he had in a long time, as if he had fought a battle instead of having a conversation. He wished he knew whether he had won or been defeated.

Boromir did not follow him, but stayed where he was, a thoughtful, troubled expression on his face.

----------

Back in the camp, Legolas' first thought was for Frodo. The hobbit was asleep, but his hand was clenched into a fist and Legolas knew what he held so tightly. While he was still watching, Frodo began to move restlessly and to murmur something, and finally turned over in his sleep. Legolas sighed softly, knowing that there was nothing he could do to help Frodo carry this specific burden.

He could only hope that he had at least been able to help Aragorn tonight. When he was just about to walk back to his sleeping place, a hand closed around his arm, holding him back. "Where have you been?" a soft voice asked. "I was beginning to get worried."

Legolas turned away from Frodo and found himself looking into the face of a concerned ranger. So much for lightening Aragorn's burden, he thought. "I was trying to talk to Boromir," he said in the same tone of voice.

Aragorn tugged lightly at his arm, and Legolas followed him to the edge of the camp. "I am not sure if it was any use," the elf added, speaking a bit louder now that they had some distance between them and the sleepers. "The Ring is calling to him, Estel. And it also tried to influence me."

Legolas saw alarm in Aragorn's eyes, and shook his head. "It did not harm me in any way, but it took me by surprise. I will have to be more watchful from now on."

There was a touch of sadness in the elf's face that worried the ranger, but he chose not to comment on it. "I woke up some time ago and found you and Boromir missing and Frodo tossing and turning in his sleep," he said. "None of the others even so much as stirred. I knew there was danger, but I did not know what form it would take. I feared - I do not know what I feared. I am glad you are back."

He looked into Legolas' eyes, allowing him to read the deep concern he had felt. "Be careful, my friend," he asked.

"I will," Legolas answered gently.

"We will all have to be careful," he continued after a moment. "This journey will get even more dangerous the further we go." He turned his head slightly, looking at Frodo. "Its influence and power will grow. It may be that the ones sent to protect the Ringbearer will pose the greatest danger to him in the end."

Aragorn's features hardened slightly, his gaze also resting on the hobbit. "I know," he whispered.

"We can only watch each other and each other's backs and go on," Legolas concluded.

Aragorn looked in the direction Legolas had come from, and back at the elf, a silent question in his eyes.

"He is thinking now," the elf answered. "It is not too late. I hope he will understand."

"I hope so, too," Aragorn said quietly. He put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Thank you for trying. You did what I could not - you made him listen. Maybe the battle is not lost yet."

"Let us rest now," Legolas suggested. "Dawn will come soon, and we will both need our strength."

Aragorn nodded, and they went silently back into the camp. The ranger fell asleep shortly after lying down again, and Legolas listened to his even breathing, allowing it to calm the worry in his heart. He watched the trees for a while, but there was no movement. Finally, he looked up at the stars, taking comfort in the knowledge that the same silvery light would be seen and the same distant song be heard in a forest far to the North.

Be safe, he thought, and then his eyes finally glazed over and he entered the peaceful realm of elven dreams.

----------

In the dark hours before dawn, a man came out of the small wood and walked slowly back to the camp. He watched the sleepers silently for a long time, and his gaze lingered on Frodo. He did not move until the darkness around them turned into the grey twilight of early dawn, and the look in his eyes was inscrutable.

- The End -


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: Silivren Tinu

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: General

Rating: General

Last Updated: 01/13/07

Original Post: 01/06/07

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