33. Chapter Thirty-Three
Boromir left the guest quarters and headed back to his own suite of rooms in the Citadel. He needed time to absorb the terrible things he had heard about his son and his mother. They had been forcibly taken from an inn in Lake Town Province, bound and gagged and transported down river in a ship.
From the River Celduin to the Sea of Rhûn, Laeriel had followed the kidnappers, intent on stealing back her family. She had been outnumbered and had never found the opportunity to save them. Once the kidnappers sold them to the slavers and they left Rhûn, traveling over land into Khand, trailing them had become harder. Shifting sands and mighty winds made following the tracks difficult. Travel by day in the scorching heat was unbearable and by night too cold.
He could hear the frustration in her voice as she told her desperate story. She had lost the trail and had followed as far into Harad as she dared. Without knowing for sure where the slavers were headed, Laeriel had had to turn around and seek out help. Help she knew she would find in the King of Gondor.
Boromir shook his head as he entered his rooms. He had no idea how Laeriel had found the strength to leave her family behind and return to Gondor. He didn't think he could.
"Have you learned anything else, Boromir? Do you remember Aragorn's daughter?"
"Faramir…I didn't realize you were here."
"Where else would I be? Your son is in danger. You need me."
Boromir sighed. His son. He didn't even know his son. Hadn't known about him. Why hadn't Adariel come to him when she found herself with child? Even if she had taken another lover and wasn't sure of the child's parentage, according to the Lady Laeriel, Brannon looked exactly like him. After the birth it would have been obvious, and yet ten years had passed since he had seen her, nine since Brannon's birth and he was just now finding out that he had a son, an heir.
"The Lady Laeriel has no idea where they are or if they are even together any longer. She is distraught beyond measure, Faramir. And though I don't know my son and have not seen his mother in ten years, I can feel the pit of despair closing in about me. What if I never get the chance to know my son? Or tell his mother how much I have loved her all these years?"
Faramir watched as Boromir strode to the window to look south toward Harad. He knew what he was thinking as he stared at the horizon, imagining the distant sands. He was thinking that he would never find his son.
"You must have faith and hope, brother. That is why the Lady Laeriel has come to you and Aragorn. She is trusting of hope and memories that her family will be found and returned to her safe and sound. Hope in you and memories of her love with Aragorn. That is all she has now."
"I find it is hard to have faith, Fara…why did she not come to me when she found herself with child? I would have protected her, married her. I would know my son!"
"Why did you not look for her after you recovered? Or even after the fall of Sauron? Why did you wait for her to come to you?"
Boromir turned from the window and the anguish he felt was etched deeply into his features. "I tried! I asked her so many questions about herself. Everything she told me was a lie. After I healed from the wounds I suffered at Amon Hen, I asked the rangers in the city if they knew the men she had been with. No one knew them. She was in the wind. Hell even the name she gave me when we were together was not her own!"
"I am sorry, Boromir. Is she the reason why Éowyn has not been able to introduce any of her friends from Rohan or Ithilien to you?"
Boromir sat in the chair, hanging his head. "I did try to find a woman, to find comfort over the years. But I was constantly haunted by blue-grey eyes and hair the color of sun ripened wheat; haunted by a woman that could wield a sword, string a bow or ride a steed with the best of any warrior."
"Aragorn's daughter really got to you."
Boromir heard the soft laughter in his brother's voice. He wanted to be angry with Faramir, but he could see the humor in his situation. He had been in love with a woman for ten years, a woman whose true name he had never known until now.
"Faramir…I have to find them."
"You will," Faramir said, placing his hand on his brother's shoulder.
Aragorn walked slowly towards the King's apartments, every bone, muscle and nerve in his boding screaming for rest. He was exhausted, both physically and mentally. He was no longer a young man, no matter what blood ran through his veins. He needed rest. All he wanted now was a bite of food to quiet his belly, a stiff drink to silence his rambling thoughts and a soft bed for his aching body.
He entered the royal apartments and found Arwen sitting by the fire, waiting for him. When she heard the door close, she stood and smiled at him.
"You didn't need to wait up for me," he said, walking around her to the fireplace.
"I…I am sorry, Estel, for everything. I never meant to harm Laeriel in any way. Are you still angry with me?"
Estel turned around and held out his hand to her. She placed her slender hand in his and he pulled her into his arms. Arwen laid her head against his shoulder, relaxing into his embrace. "No…and I am sorry, as well. I never meant to hurt you," he said, kissing the top of her head. "I should have told you about Laeriel long ago. If I had, this would not have come as such a shock. Can you forgive me?"
Arwen leaned back in his arms and stared up into his face. "There is nothing to forgive. Laeriel was your past, I am your present."
"No…you are my future. I love you, Arwen," Aragorn said, caressing her cheek with his thumb.
"And I love you. Estel, you look awful. There's some dinner left for you," she said, indicating the tray on the table. She reached for the goblet and handed it to him. "And here's some Miruvor. How is Laeriel?"
"She's resting," he said after taking a drink from the goblet she handed him. He could feel the warmth flow through him, the strength that had been sapped from his body being renewed. "Boromir and I spoke with her for several hours after we left you in the hallway. Thank you, by the way, for moving her to more comfortable quarters. She seemed quite comfortable."
"After we spoke, I knew that she had only returned to you because of your daughter. She said she would not have approached you otherwise. I believe her. Do you know why she was so ill?" Arwen asked.
"I think it was despair for her daughter and grandson. Then on top of that, she went several days with no food, water or rest."
"She will recover then?" she asked as he sat at the table to eat.
"Yes…she will need time to regain her strength, but she is going to be fine. Arwen…when we leave tomorrow, Laeriel will want to go with us."
Arwen raised an eyebrow at that, a gesture that reminded Aragorn of her father, Lord Elrond. He had to hold back a chuckle. "She can't go with you, Estel! She is too weak."
"I didn't say I was going to allow her to come. I wanted to know if you would look after her. I understand if you would rather not…"
"We will take care of her, Estel. Do not worry about her."
"We?" he asked, taking a bite of the cold chicken that she had saved for him.
"Éowyn, Faramir and I. We talked this afternoon, the three of us, and we agreed that if Laeriel was anything like Éowyn, she would attempt to accompany you or if you refused her, to follow. We will take care of her, Estel."
"She can be a handful, Arwen. I can't tell you how many times she disobeyed my orders when we were rangers together."
"I think we can handle her. Now, finish your dinner so you can get some sleep. Faramir said you wanted to leave at first light."
"I find I am more tired than hungry. Sleep sounds wonderful. I want to check on the children first," he said, rising from his chair.
Arwen smiled as he headed through the rooms to the nursery, where the three girls slept. She heard the door open and then close softly. She watched as he crossed to the door opposite the nursery and opened the door to Eldarion's room. When he disappeared into the room, she shook her head. Eldarion must have woken up. He would be a while.
Aragorn stared down at his son, his oldest, and his heir. No, that wasn't quite true any longer. Adariel was in oldest child. Would she be his heir as well now? No…he would not take Eldarion's birthright from him. He would have to find another way to honor the fact that Adariel was his daughter.
Then there was the question of Brannon, Boromir's son. His grandson…he still couldn't believe he had a grandson. What was he to do about him? He couldn't very well ignore the fact that he had a grandson any more than he could that he had a grown daughter.
"Eldarion…shh…go back to sleep. I didn't mean to wake you."
Aragorn watched with a smile as his son closed his eyes, resuming his peaceful slumber. Sadly, he thought about Adariel and Brannon. Where were they? Were they able to sleep peacefully? Were they even together any longer?
Quietly, he slipped from Eldarion's room and returned to his chambers. He found Arwen resting against the fluffy pillows, waiting for him.
"The children?" she inquired.
"All sleeping peacefully. Thank the Valar."
Arwen patted the empty side of their bed and watched as he readied for bed. He slid under the covers and laid his head back against the pillows. She listened as his breathing steadily grew harsher and she reached for him, wrapping her arms around him.
"I'm scared, Arwen…" he choked out, his tears sliding down his chiseled cheeks. "They must be so scared…"
"You will find them, Estel. You must trust to hope. Laeriel does, or she wouldn't have come to you. Now sleep, my love. You are exhausted."
Arwen held Aragorn, his head pressed to her breast as that of a small child until he finally succumbed to sleep.
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.