20. The Scent of Steel and Leather
From Aragorn she learned of the Council's decision, and that night she walked soft beneath trees, alone and thoughtful.
"Ah, Lúthien," she murmured at last, "who all say lives again in me..." and wrapping arms around herself she felt bone beneath flesh, more comfort than all her thoughts had been. "You escaped your prison in the tall beech trees to go to your Beren at his need, and can I not escape the gentle prison of my father's house? Will I feel his peril in my heart, and forsake all to go to him? And will you go with me, Lúthien?"
Closing her eyes she tilted her head back, and opened them again to the stars.
She lay in the gentle sunlight, and Elrohir twined flowers in her hair. She had been singing for him until a lark had joined her, and then she had stopped, and closed her eyes, to listen to his tune rising into the morning.
Elrohir's voice was like water when he spoke, and said, "I know you love him, my sister, but must you forsake all for him?"
She smiled, and answered, "It is not certain I shall have the choice, for did our father not refuse him my hand 'till he reunites the kingdoms of Men?"
Elrohir chuckled, and plucked another blossom. "Do you doubt he will do it?"
"I know not," she said, "though I believe he is the only one who can."
"And you, a queen in Gondor, a queen of Men. Arwen, our Evenstar," he said, and she sighed into the pain in his voice, "forever among these mortals, and we forever apart."
She turned her evening eyes to him, and shook her head. "Do not grieve for what has not yet come to us," she said gently. "Do not grieve our parting when we are here, now," and she smiled, "and you are braiding flowers in my hair, and I am singing songs for you."
The rain was jewels on her hair and gown as she found the shelter of a small pavilion, and there she saw the Steward's son facing east under the eaves. Her footsteps were soft and she spoke as she approached, saying, "Greetings to you on this wet day," and he turned to her. "I hope I do not disturb you."
"No, lady," he replied, bowing slightly, and after a breath of hesitation he said, "I am Boromir of Gondor."
"I know," she said, coming to stand beside him. "I saw you arrive, and asked my father who you were, for it has been long since Men came to Imladris." He smelled of leather and steel, pungent beside the soft fragrance of the rain, but she found it not unpleasant. He smelled of Men, as Estel did, and as, she knew, the world of Men undoubtedly did. She tasted the thought, turning it over on her tongue, and she breathed in deeply, and wondered what it would be like to live always with that scent of steel and leather.
"You are the lady Arwen, then," he said, turning to her and bowing again. "I have not thanked you for the hospitality of your house."
Smiling, she said, "No thanks are needed, Boromir of Gondor. You journeyed many days, alone and on foot; we are glad to give you comfort."
He chuckled, nodding. "Many days indeed, and somewhat worse for wear."
Yet there was tension in his humour, and Arwen said gently, "You feel confined, here, I think."
He hesitated, and replied, "Forgive me, lady. I am grateful to you and your family, and this place is," and he cast about as though searching for the words, finally merely saying, "beautiful. But I do feel restless. The decision has been made; I would have us act. Time grows short."
"It is a trait of Men I do not understand," she said thoughtfully. "This desire always to be going, always to be doing." She turned to him and he met her eyes, and seemed held there by the question she did not voice. Perplexity was written across his features as he struggled to find an answer, and she was struck suddenly by the realization of how fine those features were, though so different.
Finally he looked back out at the rain that fell in heavy sheets, turning the day the color of his eyes. "Perhaps it is our mortality," he said at last. "We are but a moment compared to you, and must live our whole life in a scant handful of years. Anything we do, we must do in that short time."
The gift of the One to Men, so short a life. "And what would you do, Boromir?" she asked, her voice gentle.
He was quiet for a time, then at last he murmured, almost to himself, "I would see my home again."
When, so many months later, Aragorn told her of Boromir's death, he was surprised that she wept. He held her, and when she could find her voice she said, "I knew him but little; I know not why I weep."
But in her heart, she saw the rain, and the grey eyes that had looked towards this his home with such love; and beside her and within her she saw the fulfillment of a world's hope, this fleeting life of Men that would stay in the world and keep the world, even as they lost it.
She kissed him gently. "I weep for leather and steel," she said, "and for the grey rain, and for the white stones of this city which will never see him more. I weep for the joy of sharing this with you," her murmured words scarcely loud enough for him to hear, sun through shadow, "and for the joy of this fleeting mortal life, and for the peace I have found here, in the home of one who will not come again."
Turning midnight eyes to his of silver and rain, she said, "The sorrow and the joy of it, love. I weep for the sorrow and the joy."
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.