32. A Forgotten Bargain
"I fear that I have." Boromir admitted. "I'm sorry."
"You have made your atonement - and survived it! -" the Voice scolded. "Now it is time for you to be about My work."
Slowly, "I remember now. It still seems too much like a reward."
"Olorin would not agree with you, nor would my vice-regents in Arda, with some justice." Now the Voice sounded sad. "You have earned peace, son, and I am sending you back to sorrow and strife."
"Such is the life of Men, the only life I have ever known. It does not frighten me. Though I could wish You had chosen a stronger one for Your emissary."
"You expected too much of yourself." now the Voice sounded almost impatient. "That was your father's failing as well, a pride that demanded more than any Man can give." kindly: "I expect much of my Younger Children, no less than the renewal of Arda itself, but that is not to say you may never put a foot wrong. If you see your errors and amend them I am satisfied."
"I fear there will be many more mistakes for You to forgive, but I will do my best."
"I know you will - and it will be enough." ************************************************
Boromir woke in one of the little bedrooms of the house at Crickhollow looking up at a too low ceiling, vaulted in imitation of a Hobbit hole, with a nagging ache in his shield arm. This time it was the small bones of the shoulder that were broken. Still it could have been much worse. If Pippin had not interfered he, Boromir, undoubtedly would have died. Though hopefully not without taking Draugoth with him.
It seemed he was going to be staying in Middle Earth a while yet, perhaps quite a while. The prospect was far from unwelcome but returning to life after being dead twenty years was bound to cause difficulties. He had no idea what he was going to do - but didn't doubt that his friends would be overflowing with suggestions.
Most of his clothes had been ruined by the werewolf's blood but shirt and breeches had proved salvageable. He donned them and went out to look for his companions.
He found them enjoying a picnic meal on the lawn: Merry and Pippin and Sam, Mistress Estella, two attractive Hobbit ladies Boromir didn't recognize, his brother and nephew, Gimli and Legolas and Aragorn.
"There you are at last!" Merry greeted him. "You've practically slept the clock round, my friend, we were begining to wonder if we should wake you."
"I had a long day." Boromir answered, sitting on the grass between Merry and Aragorn. Looked at the array of food laid out on checked and striped cloths. "Is this afternoon tea or dinner?"
"More a combined lunch-tea-dinner." Pippin admitted. "We just woke up a few hours ago ourselves."
"Yesterday was a hard day, after some few hard weeks, for us all." said Aragorn.
"You can say that again!" Pippin agreed. "I don't think I've travelled and fought so much since the War." glanced at the pretty, fair haired Hobbit woman beside him. "Even Diamond's had enough excitement to suit her."
"Maybe a little too much, even for me." she conceeded ruefully, then broke into a pixie grin. "Still, I wouldn't have missed it for anything!"
"Pippin said his wife was a lady of spirit and courage." Boromir observed with a bow in her direction.
"I'm sure he said nothing of the kind." Diamond retorted cheerfully. "but Estella said you were a right charmer and clearly that's true enough!"
"Men have very nice manners." the Hobbit woman next to Sam, Mistress Gamgee presumably, agreed. "I noticed it at Annuminas."
"Pity they aren't catching." from Estella.
"There you go again, making us look bad!" Merry scolded.
"I'm just glad he's here to do it." said Pippin. "Looks like old Gandalf was wrong for once."
Boromir shook his head. "Mithrandir predicted I would die in battle, and so I will - someday. I made the mistake of assuming he meant *this* battle with Draugoth. Though I might well have died had you not intervened, Pippin."
His friend shuddered. "I know, I saw." pulled himself together. "So what are you going to do now you've killed your werewolf?"
"I don't know." Boromir admitted, looked questioningly at his King.
But it was Faramir who answered. "You are coming home with me of course."
Boromir knew the sudden surge of longing for his city showed on his face but said quietly; "I am not sure that is a good idea, Brother." "Why not?" his nephew wanted to know, clearly astonished.
"I was the elder and the heir." Boromir reminded him. "That could cause difficulties for your father."
"It is my right to name whomsoever I please as my Steward," Aragorn said mildly, "and I am quite satisfied with the one I have."
Boromir smiled at him. "I am glad to hear it." to Faramir. "I was trained as a captain of war - I wouldn't know how to govern a land at peace."
"You will learn." said the King. "As it happens I have need of a Steward here in the north for my city of Annuminas and the Royal Domains.* My grandmother, who holds them for me, begins to feel her age and would welcome assistance."
"She's one hundred and ninety-six years old!" Pippin put in, wide eyed.
Boromir was equally impressed. "A very venerable lady!" In the south the Dunedain's span had shrunk to little more than that of other Men. It would seem the Numenorean blood ran truer here in the North.
"She doesn't look much older than Strider." the Thain continued. "Of course he's nearly a hundred himself. Rangers live a very long time."
Boromir looked at his King in surprise. He had realized Aragorn was considerably older than himself but so much as that?
"I told you I was older than I looked." the King reminded him mildly.
"Boromir must come home with me first." Faramir insisted. "He must see Minas Anor for himself." smiled at his brother's questioning look. "Yes we have taken back the old name. I want you to meet your other nephews and your niece. And there is at least one other who will be glad to see you again."
For a moment Boromir couldn't think what his brother was talking about, then he remembered: Idril. his little foster sister who Faramir claimed was in love with him - though Boromir wasn't sure he believed that. And if it did prove to be true he had no idea what he was going to do about it.
"And you must see Moria restored to her glory." Gimli said enthusiastically, interupting his thoughts. "and my realm of the Glittering Caves."
"And my fair forests of Ithilien." added Legolas.
"The great southern road has been rebuilt since you followed it north to Rivendell," said Aragorn, "and the cities of Cardol and Tharbad."
They were all smiling and Boromir found himself grinning in return. "Clearly there is much for me to see and a great deal of catching up to be done." ***********************************************
* These are the ancient Principalities of Dor-Lomin, (the Evendim Hills) and Dunhirion, (the land between the Brandywine and the southern Ered Luin, including the Shire).
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