She found him seated in the chair by the window, slouched low, rhythmically pulling at his beard. His bandaged gaze was fixed on some indistinct point on the floor before him, and he seemed completely lost in thought. As she approached, listening to her own soft footfalls on the carpeted floor, she realized he had not noticed her. That was unusual. Usually he could pick up on any minor scuff of boot against carpet, any distant rustle of papers. He could usually tell Gil how many letters she had folded simply by listening to her work. He could sometimes even guess the size of the paper, and when she laughed, saying he had run his hands over all the papers beforehand in order to tease her with these games while she worked, he would chuckle, saying, Gil, I can tell you here and now the make of your boots and whether you wear a belt or not. And he always would.
But now he did not tease or smile or jest. He did not even stir as she approached.
She knew why he brooded. It happened sometimes. On the days, like today, when he was reminded of his blindness – of his vulnerability – of his permanent injury – and he would fall into a dark mood, scowling and silent. And so now he sat, by the window, stroking his beard, staring unseeing at the floor. Ruminating.
Today he had slipped. A common enough stumble, as anyone who was lost in thought would do. But he was blind, and he had slipped for his blindness, on a wet patch of cobblestones in the sixth circle. Impossible to perceive if not by sight. She had been with him, and she had grabbed his arm in an effort to break his fall, but he was too heavy, and his weight was already in it, so they had both gone toppling. She had laughed – must my lord always pull me down with him? – and someone passing on a horse had called, All is well, Lord Steward? But Boromir had disentangled himself, standing abruptly, jerking up to brush himself off and mutter a curse. And then he had gone striding on, heedless of any other obstacles, forcing Gil to hurry after him and place again his hand on her shoulder.
And from that point on, from that mid-morning stumble on, he had sunk into a heavy silence. As the day passed, she began to chide herself for not having noticed the wet cobblestones herself, for having laughed and teased him so lightly when it had happened, for not being able to break this infernal quiet. But all she could do, for the entire long day, was to accept his orders with mild acquiescence. She did not have the courage to say anything else.
She stood for a moment, on the carpet, watching him. He made no move. It was too dark in the room to see him well – he was just a silhouette against the tall windows. And as she stood there, waiting, feeling the awkward silence press against her like a tomb, she finally cleared her throat.
He shifted in his seat.
“Leave, Gil. I have no more need of you.”
“Does my lord wish me to close the windows?”
“Nay. Thank you.”
“My lord will catch cold if I do not.”
Boromir lifted his shrouded gaze to meet her eyes. They knew each other well enough, after so many years, to pick up immediately on these hidden hints and unasked questions. And so he nodded absently, waving his hand to indicate she could close the windows or go dancing around the room for all it mattered to him. And so she walked past him, feeling his presence press against her as she passed, like the heat of a fire, and she pulled the lower window closed. It had a faulty latch, and she had learned long ago that to close the window properly one had to jerk it in, lean on the jamb and press the latch closed tight. It was a noisy affair, and when she had finished, he was facing her.
“’Tis becoming rather dark,” she said, standing now very close to him. “Shall I light the lamps?”
Boromir scowled, looked away.
“You know it means little to me.”
And the smell? she wanted to ask. Will it worsen this foul mood? Another bitter reminder of darker times? Fire flickering against stone walls, chains and a cold hand and shuddering pain in the oppressive dark?
She did not move, but rather stayed there, rooted to the spot, watching him. A sudden wave of emotion passed, so that she shuddered, and wished she could go to him, and embrace him, and speak of everything that weighed on his heart, and lessen that weight, and kiss his hair and breathe into his neck and beg him not to send her away. And to smell the leather and spice and the slight twinge of wine or mead, his familiar smell, and to bury her face into his shoulder, and feel his beard scratching at her cheek. All of it as familiar as her own face, hand, walk, she knew him so well.
But she could not do that. That was madness. And so, instead, she just stood there. Unable to move forward, unwilling to leave.
Eventually, he looked up.
“What is it?”
She decided to risk a more direct question.
“Is my lord well? He has been very quiet.”
It surprised and worried her when he did not bark an insult at her, but rather only nodded wearily.
“Well enough, Gil,” he murmured softly. “Well enough.”
“Is my lord troubled by his meeting with the King?”
“Nay, nay. ‘Tis just…” he swallowed, “’tis just the past, Gil. Old wounds.”
She was so close, she could touch him. If she leaned forward, she could place her hand on his forearm.
“I am sorry to hear of it, my lord,” she said softly, lamely.
At that, he looked up, smiling sadly. And he reached out his hand – his rough, callused hand – so that she took it, instinctively, and he drew her forward slightly.
“Ah, Gil…” he breathed as he leaned back into his chair. “Will you stay a while? Your presence calms a troubled mind.”
For a moment she could not speak, for how her heart beat in her throat, and her hand tingled with nervous sweat, and her cheeks warmed with a rush of blood. But eventually, she managed a strained whisper, “Of course, my lord.”
He was rarely so candid. Only if he was exceptionally tired or drunk did he ever speak of his insecurities, his fears. Otherwise he would ever be the tall, proud Steward, dripping strength, intimidating those around him. Aye, part of her knew he was as human as the rest, but she could not resist succumbing to this powerful idea, she could not resist believing that he was, indeed, a hardened, scarred warrior – capable of leading armies through bloody conflict, capable of so much frightening strength, capable of killing. She did not like to think of him as having weaknesses, as having points of frailty – for that meant he could be harmed, and that meant he could someday fall – and she did not want to think of that. She did not want to worry for him.
But he was blind, and that was his constant trial. His daily war. And it was never so evident as on days like this, when he would slip on something or knock against some unseen object, and spend the rest of the day in a foul mood, brooding. She could still remember the time she had crept back to his apartments after such a day of rumination, late at night, hiding in the shadows, not knowing what she was doing or why, and she had heard his cries. His nightmares, his muffled pleas in the night. She had fled then, tearfully, and never spoken of it to him.
And now? She was still holding his hand.
After a few moments, he leaned forward, pressed his lips against her knuckles. A kiss. The beard prickling. And he stayed there, inhaling. She could imagine his eyes closed beneath that black shroud.
She would have said something. Her usual acerbic comment. A biting remark. But she had gone rigid, and her voice had died in her throat. All she could do was stand frozen, staring down at the top of his head. It was so dark now, hard to see. Blurred. And the room was becoming cold.
A gentle tug. She relented to his silent command and bowed low, not knowing or understanding or thinking or breathing, until she felt his other hand cup her face, draw her near, and into a kiss. Lips. Warmth. The scratching beard. The cold nose. Ale taste lingering.
She must have been particularly unyielding, for after his tentative brush of lips against lips, he immediately relented, dropped her hand, leaned back.
“Forgive me, Gil, I did not mean – ”
“Nay, my lord, I…”
Heart pounding so loud he could probably hear it.
Do something! Say something!
Courage. For how often had she dreamt of a moment like this? How often had she envisioned the perfect world where title and status meant nothing and she could welcome his advances, sink into them, let her heart burn with love? And a life together, as she desired, as she sometimes dreamt, with his laughing smile beside her, and his hand against her hair.
She was always a practical woman. This had led some – even a once angered Boromir – to call her cold, unfeeling. But she knew too well the pain that came with teasing oneself with the impossible. Of hoping, waiting, wanting what could never be had.
But seeing him sitting there, visibly uncomfortable, picking at an irregularity in the oak armrest, she knew there was only one way.
“I…” she began.
He looked up.
She did not know what she had meant to say, but she moved forward, placed her frigid hands against his face and drew him into a clumsy, almost hasty kiss. He returned it immediately, and rose to his feet, and soon his hands were in her hair, and her hands were running over his broad chest and shoulders, embracing him, and their kisses were awkward and inexperienced, straining desire against unfamiliarity. And she could taste the ale on his tongue, and smell the scent of oiled leather and his heavy fur cloak rubbed into his neck, and she could see the faint lines of care on his face.
Her heart was thundering madly now. He broke away, breathing hard, to say, “My sweet Gil, I…” and he faltered for a moment, smiled slightly. “Long have I desired this.”
She kissed him again, and moved forward, so that they pressed against each other, and she wanted nothing more than to wrap herself in his arms completely, and stay like that forever. And he drew her away from the cold ledge by the windows, and they moved blindly towards the wide bed, always with those fierce, passionate kisses – like drawing poison from a wound, like swallowing fire – so that a lip was bitten, and teeth knocked, and she gasped for breath. And there, as Gil felt the edge of the mattress press against her thigh, Boromir stopped, pulled away, leaving his hands against her cheeks.
A bemused smile. He ran his fingers lightly over her face – examining, studying, seeing through touch – and she closed her eyes as his thumb drew over her brow and around her cheekbone, and she smiled when he turned his hand over, brushed his harsh knuckles against her cheek, sighing.
“You are lovely when you smile,” he whispered.
At this, her smile broadened, and a knot formed in her throat, and she leaned forward to kiss him again.
She had been with two other Men before. The first, at fifteen, a thin, gangly boy who had bedded her more to test his ground than for any affection for her. She had hated it, biting her lip at the pain, stifling her tears as he bucked forward and pulled out with impersonal haste. He was a stable-hand from the fifth circle, and she had liked him well enough, but not enough for this. Yet he had been forceful, and she had relented, thinking it better to fulfill than to tease – as her older friends would always say.
The second had been a soldier they had brought in from Osgiliath. He had taken her roughly, and without preamble, one night when they had been left alone in their wing of the House of Healing. She had feared what he would do if she refused, feared what the Healers would say if she cried out. But afterwards, she had sworn never again. Love was a vile thing false boys teased with – wooing the young girl as easily as one could lure a hare into a trap. Love did not exist; at least, not for the poor.
Boromir paused in their embrace to once again run his hands over her face and smile. And she smiled as well, feeling her chest constrict and her nerves come alive for how much she loved this Man and wished only to be with him. Part of her screamed that this was impossible, this would only end in pain, he was only fulfilling his desires with her because she was at hand. Finding whatever pleasure he could on a cold, empty night. But when his hands drifted to her doublet, he paused, and raised his shrouded gaze.
“If you desire,” his fingers trembled at the top button, she could feel him stir against her thigh, “I will stop here.”
Can one stop? Is it possible? After years of waiting, of wanting, is it possible to stop?
She responded by taking his own jacket, and beginning with the latches at his collar, and undoing them, and moving down towards the buttons. He strained his neck, kissed her, began undoing her doublet, and they laughed nervously at their haste. A doublet, an overshirt, breeches, the boots. Moving to the bed, onto it, up, up, up towards the pillows, where she could smell his scent, captured in the sheets. But unclothed she shivered, for these chambers were cold, and rarely did Boromir allow a lit torch within his room for how he despised the smell. The hearth went unused.
Perhaps it was the cold, perhaps he sensed the prickling of her skin, but he moved forward, lying against her, stroking her hair, breathing audibly. And all his heat, all the desire and burning fire within him warmed her, so that she embraced him, feeling the barreled chest and broad shoulders, and held him close. And he kissed her, blindly, in the dark, moving over her face and down her neck and over her collarbone. He fumbled for a moment, found the fur blanket, pulled it over them. And she ran her hand through his hair – gripped his neck – moved up – found the bandage impeding her.
And there she stopped, and he stopped as well.
She had seen him without the shroud many times – but always only brief snatches when he redid the knot, or removed it to wash his face. Always with his eyes closed. And she would catch only a flash of scars, but that was it.
But now, she reached up, and kissed him, while with her hands she moved to pull away the bandage. He froze, his muscles going taut, and he started to say something as she pulled it away, slowly, slowly, gently. He grimaced.
Entangling his hair, it was off.
Moonlight. She could see he kept his eyes closed.
Lightly, she ran her fingertips over his brow and onto his eyes. He twitched, made to pull away, but she did not hesitate or recoil, and so he stayed.
Scars. Thin, spidery lines. As her own vision adjusted to the darkness, she saw these scars. Just on one side of the face, by the temple. And his breathing, ragged now, uneven. In the moonlight, as it caught the side of his face, and she brushed her fingertips lightly over his ravaged eyes, her heart nearly burst for how she loved this Man. Yet he remained tense, waiting.
“Will you show me your eyes?” she whispered.
He swallowed visibly, turned his head so that it fell into shadow. “Nay, Gil, I – ”
He fumbled for words until eventually he fell silent, breathing shallow, leaning over her, while she kept her hands on his cheeks. They remained like so for several moments, as the fur blanket warmed them, and she felt his stomach pushing against her with each slow inhalation.
Finally, she reached up and kissed him lightly on the temple, at the scars. When she lay back down into the pillow, he seemed to relax. And and and… And so he opened his useless eyes, blinking self-consciously, several times, turning his face away slightly, holding his breath. And he had turned his face into the moonlight, inadvertently, so that she could see the blue light reflected in his ruined gaze.
An iris, cut through, almost shredded. Another, milky white. For a moment Gil simply stared. He stopped blinking, looked on, though she could feel his entire body tense as he waited. Waited for what? Waited for judgement, for repulsion, for her to turn cold, and rigid, and unkind. Waited for what?
Hands upon his face. Gently pulling him down. And she laid two kisses on each eye – one, two – lingering, slow kisses. So that he shuddered, and lowered himself into the pillow beside her, groaning, Ai, Gilthaethil…
And so they made love. With much awkward fumbling and shifting and searching and testing and whispering. He used his hands to see, running them over her, feeling every curve, while she guided him, so that his kisses were slow and meaningful and sometimes clumsy. And he dragged his face against her bosom, so that his beard scratched her, rough, while she brushed her fingertips against him, feeling the knotted skin at his shoulder, chest, side. And she helped him find her, so that as he slipped into her, moaning long, leaning forward, she nearly cried out from the swell of feeling.
To feel, to see, to hear and smell. To taste the lover and know his every mark and imperfection. To lose oneself in another, and feel the heart ignite with fire, fire, burning fire straining against the ribcage, fire in the mind, in the chest, down, everywhere, while he moans, Gilthaethil, Gilthaethil… and she cannot help but breathe heated whispers into his ear, urging.
And when the desire debilitates, and suddenly cannot be controlled, runs wild, coursing through every vein and nerve – shuddering through so that any movement becomes unbearably sensual, and every brush of skin against skin, even the lightest kiss, the tongue, sends warm waves throughout, and it becomes too much, too much, too much…
He groaned, spent.
A kiss against his cheek. A hand against the heavily muscled shoulder and arm, now damp with sweat. A sigh.
They lay. The chill cooling them. The feel of the fur blanket, heavy.
He turned on his side, brushed his hand over her hair. They lay wrapped around each other, entangled. And she watched him, inhaled him. Her vision had sharpened – she could see details now – and so she openly studied his uneven, dissimilar pupils, his shreds of color in one eye and absence of it in the other, both bloodshot. So close.
“What is it like?”
“’Tis not unsightly.”
“Do not tease, Gil. I know my eyes are offensive.”
She reached out, touched the bridge of his nose, brushing lightly to the right.
“It was a blow?”
“Do they pain you?”
Boromir leaned forward, into her brushing fingers, so that his face sank into the pillow, sank into her shoulder, and there he nodded slightly, exhaling. “Sometimes.” When she made to pull away, he hastened to say, “Nay. Your touch comforts.”
She smiled in the dark.
“Are you smiling?”
“I thought so.”
And he smiled as well, leaned forward, kissed her, and she slipped her arm under his, hot, and they embraced. She exhaled against his shoulder.
“…But I cannot sleep here.”
“All the Citadel will talk of it.”
“I care not.”
“Only tonight. But I will leave before the attendant comes in the morning.”
“Very well…” he half-grinned, leaned forward to kiss her brow, murmured, “Then next time I shall come to your chambers. For I would love you, Gil, every night. And I would desire to find you here, by my side, every morning as I awake.”
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.