17. Loss and Love
A/N: Sexually explicit scene contained in this chapter. "R"-rated!
17. Loss and Love
The members of the fellowship were standing around among the rocks above the Dimrill Dale, looking lost. Aragorn turned to look at the black gates of Moria above us, and grief was raw and painful in his face. "Oh, Gandalf," he cried, his voice strangled. "Did I not warn you? Did I not say, if you pass the doors of Moria, beware? What hope is left to us now?"
He raised his sword in a gesture of last farewell to the gates and then sheathed the sword with shaking hands. I could see how he clenched his hands into fists, in anger and in pain. And when he turned, I was scared. His anger was directed at me. His grey eyes were blazing and his lips were pressed together in a tight, white line. The lines of his face were strained with tension.
I turned around, my heart beating. "Shouldn't we get going?" I asked Legolas, who had hidden his grief behind his unreadable mask of elvish immortality. He was standing close to Gimli, his hand resting lightly on the shoulder of the dwarf. Legolas looked up, needing a second to comprehend my question. "Yes, we should. When night falls, the orcs will swarm out after us.""Yes," agreed Aragorn, who had come to stand behind me. "We must do without hope, but go on nevertheless. Let's go!"
East of the valley the mountains came to an end, and far green lands could be seen beyond, hazy with the distance. To the South the Misty Mountains seemed to go on forever.
On the west side of Dimrill Dale I saw the dark, smooth surface of a large lake.
We followed a rough and broken road down from the threshold of Moria, a dusty track between heather and gorse. Now and again we came upon the remnants of pavement, or heaps of tumbled stonework next to the path. Grassy mounds grown with bushes of rosehips and whitethorn, plants, which grow only where the earth has been moved spoke of buried buildings.
We were getting close to the edge of the lake now, and when Gimli saw a single column which was broken off at the top not far from the road, he called out to Frodo and me, "That is Durin's stone. We cannot pass with at least one glance at the wonder of this dale."
"But be quick," Aragorn ordered.
Gimli followed my gaze and motioned us to follow him. We walked down a long green slope towards the lake. Frodo followed us more slowly, being trailed by a watchful Sam.
The lake was long and oval and indeed shaped almost like a spear-head. Its northern end lay in the dark shadows of the mountains, but on the southern end the sun was shining. The water of the lake was a very dark blue colour like the sky at the height of summer, just before the stars come out, a deep, clear, inky blue. The surface of the lake was smooth and still; it almost looked like glass and not like water at all. It was only an hour after noon, but there were tiny silver pinpricks of stars reflected in the lake, gleaming like diamonds in the depths of the water. In the blue sky above us, however, the sun was shining brightly and no star could be seen at all. And even when we bent down to the water, there was no reflection of our bodies in the water at all.
"There lies the Mirrormere, deep Kheled-zâram, and this pillar marks the spot, where Durin first looked in the Mirrormere," Gimli said. But he did not say anything else, although I remembered well, how Gandalf had wished him to have joy of this sight.
When we had passed the Mirrormere, the road led quickly downwards and ran towards the end of the dale. We passed the spring of the Silverlode, which is so cold that it cannot be consumed. But at the freshet of the Silverlode, with its small fall of icy, crystal clear water, I saw the first glimpse of Lothlórien, an area covered by golden mist where the silver ribbon of the Silverlode disappeared in to the hazy distance of the lowlands.
"There we shall go," Aragorn said, "It is the road Gandalf chose for us.""The woods of Lothlórien are the fairest dwellings of all my people," Legolas said, and for the first time since I knew him, I thought I could detect a hint of emotion in his voice. "There are no trees like the trees of that land! The mellyrn don't lose their leaves in autumn and winter. The leaves turn to gold and only fall when the boughs are green with spring and laden with yellow blossoms. Therefore we call them the golden woods, because their floor is golden and their canopy of leaves is golden, too, but the bark of the mellyrn is smooth and grey like pillars of silver in great, golden halls…" There was a dreamy sparkle in Legolas' green eyes, "Oh, to be there in spring!"
"I'll be glad to get there in winter," Aragorn said. "Now, let's make haste, we have still many miles to go today!"
But we did not get far before we had to rest again. Frodo and Sam were soon lagging behind. I was stumbling every three steps with weariness. Finally Aragorn and Boromir picked up Frodo and Sam to carry them the last mile to a sheltered resting place Aragorn recalled. This was a copse of fir-trees at the confluence of the Silverlode and the Celebdil, called after the mountain where it had its spring. The rivers plunged together over a fall of stones green with algae and ferns into a small dell, where the water foamed whitely, before continuing in a south-eastern direction as a silver ribbon sparkling in the sunshine. The ground rose steeply above the copse, but close to the river was some level space surrounded by a thicket of harts-tongue and whortle-berry – which Sam pointed out to me later; I was happy to recognize a fir-tree and an oak, those shrubs and bushes were beyond me on earth and doubly so here in Middle-earth.
Anyway, it was a good resting place, safe from prying eyes with wood for a fire and water for drinking and washing. "We will stay here for two hours or so," Aragorn announced. "I have to treat the wounds of the hobbits, and all of us have to eat and rest. I think we are safe for the moment but don't go far from this shelter, and not on your own."
While Aragorn tended to the hobbits, I hurried a few feet down the river, where the thicket of bushes and shrubs grew close to its banks. I considered the possibility of one of my male companions watching me, but then I thought what the hell.
I had not been able to wash thoroughly for more than two weeks. I was itching all over. My hair was greasy and I stank to high heaven. I had a reasonably clean change of clothing left in my backpack and there was even a small amount of shower gel left. I undressed and was in the river in next to no time. The water was icy. It might be safe to drink, but I felt blue with cold within seconds, even if I probably wasn't. There were goose bumps all over my body. And if the ground of the river had not consisted of fine pebbles, I would have broken an ankle in the first thirty seconds in the water, jumping up and down from the cold, as I was.
As I soaped down my body, I realized that I was covered in bruises, and there was a long, shallow gash across my upper right arm, which started bleeding again, when I submerged to wash away the suds. My hair had grown quite a bit, too, and washing it thoroughly in the icy water of the river was an ordeal. When I finally felt I was as clean as I could get, I climbed out of the river, shivering violently. My favourite blue towel was dirty and frayed at the edges.
Somehow it felt strange that I still had something ordinary like a towel. It was strange that after the darkness of Moria I was still able to think about wanting to be clean. It was strange that the sun was still shining.
Gandalf was gone. The thought hit me unexpectedly. What if he would not be back? After all, more than once things had happened up until now that had not been in the books, or had turned out different from the books! What if I had killed him? And Aragorn was blaming me already!
Suddenly my knees went all wobbly and, clothed only in my bra and panties, I sank down at the bank of the river and sobbed into my dirty blue towel. I felt as if my heart was broken. Gandalf had been my anchor. He knew where I came from, his mere presence had reassured me every step of the way that there was a reason for my being here – that I was allowed to be here – that he, at least, wanted me to be here. And now I was all alone.
"Hey, what's the matter, Lothíriel?" a soft voice called out to me. I looked up and saw Boromir approaching from down the river. His hair was damp. Obviously he had used the opportunity for a quick wash, too.
I could only sniffle and mumble something like, "Nothing, really," before I hid my face in my towel in a new flood of tears.
Suddenly I felt myself being held by strong arms. My face was pressed into the soft, velvety fabric of a crimson vest, which smelled all male and spicy of vetiver. "Just cry yourself out," Boromir whispered into my ear, stroking my wet and tangled hair. "I feel the same," he added, and there was anguish in his voice.
Without thinking I clung to Boromir with both hands and buried my face in his chest, letting go of the control I kept on my emotions for the first time since I had come to Middle-earth.
At last the tears stopped, and I looked up at Boromir, my vision still slightly blurred. His grey eyes were dark and full of pity. There was a very tender expression on his face, and suddenly my stomach lurched. I could feel my heart speeding up.
His fingers left my hair and gently trailed down my ear, the line of my jaw, down to my chin. His hands were a little rough and callused, but the touch was exquisitely soft. I drew breath sharply. I looked into his eyes and saw a question there. I gulped. Sudden, unexpected desire rushed through my body.
"I need to know what you think of me," I whispered. "I am not a tart to be had casually. Not even by the son of the Steward of Gondor."
"I know that by now, my lady," he told me, and his voice was deep with emotion.
A sudden feeling of shock raced through me. He couldn't be falling in love with me!
But then he lowered his head and kissed me, and I could not think anymore at all.
His lips were soft and firm. He kissed slowly, moving his lips across my mouth in a lingering caress. His left hand cupped the back of my head, his right tightening on my hand.
He increased his pressure on my lips, and I parted them willingly. Ever so lightly he tickled the insides of my lips with his tongue, teasing me. All reason gone from my mind, I slipped my hands around his neck. I kissed him back, sliding my tongue into his mouth, rubbing along his tongue in a kiss that was no longer soft, but hot with desire.
He let himself sink back onto the grass, taking me with him. I came to lie on top of him, the velvet of his vest tickling my stomach, his belt buckle pressing cold and hard into my softer flesh, further down his desire touchable through the straining leather of his trousers. His hands were closing around my back, holding me tightly against him.
I kissed his cheeks, soft again, trailing feathery kisses back to his lips. Around his eyes and his mouth were deep lines, which had not been there in Rivendell, and there was a hint of desperation in his eyes. As if he felt just as lost and confused as I was feeling.
I deepened my kiss again, and the moment passed, and desire overwhelmed any other emotion. He groaned. Tightening his hold on me, he rolled us around, bringing himself above me. His eyes were blazing, as he began stroking my body. He started at my collarbone, tracing the bones with his fingertips, kissing the soft indentation at its centre, and then trailing down his tongue to my breasts. He removed my bra carefully, putting it aside in a slow movement. When he looked at my uncovered breasts, he sighed with delight.
He cupped my breasts in his large, callused hands, massaging them and kissing them at the same time. Time and space lost their meaning, when he trailed his fingers down my sides, tickling me ever so slightly. I was already straining against the strength of his body, when he reached down between my legs at last. Delicately, expertly, he found my hidden spot of desire. I had to press my lips together not to moan loudly. When I thought I could take it no longer, he swiftly shed his clothes. His body was lean and well muscled, a warrior's body. His chest was covered with dark curly hair. Silvery pale old scars was visible here and there. I followed the lines of the scars with my fingertips, and he shivered against me. He was circumcised. And he was big.
I stroked down his sides to his hips, all at once apprehensive.
But he kissed me again, deeply, his tongue caressing my own. Then he resumed kissing me down from my throat to my navel, and lower still. Even if I had wanted, I could not have moved away, caught in the strength of his hold. This feeling of helplessness was strangely exhilarating. The throbbing low inside my body increased to an almost unbearable level. Boromir seemed to notice, for he closed the last distance between our bodies.
Slowly, ever so slowly, he shoved himself inside of me. I had never been filled like this and could barely keep from screaming with pleasure. Lost in desire I deepened my kiss of his shoulder into a bite to muffle any sound I might make, wrenching a low moan of desire from his lips in return.
Once inside of me, he began to move against me in slow, but firm rocking motion.
And Gods, did he take his time! The world disappeared around me. My world was narrowed to the feeling of Boromir inside of me, holding on to me. And again, I felt the throbbing deep down inside of me increase to the most delicate edge of desire, where you are almost bursting with release, but not quite, not quite yet. He seemed to know exactly how I was feeling because he moved even slower. Only when I thought my heart would explode, he thrust into me powerfully, again and again and again, and I was lost, lost in an explosion of feeling that was so intense it was almost painful. He followed only a second after me, his face open and vulnerable with our passion. He moaned lowly, as he moved against me one more time. Then he lowered himself down on his elbows, kissing my lips gently, not yet withdrawing.
I felt utterly spent, but complete and at peace with the world, held by his loving arms. When he withdrew and slid down next to me, drawing my head to lie on his chest, embracing me tightly. We lay there for quite some time, without speaking, dozing in the aftermath of passion.
Only when I shivered slightly as the cool breeze rising from the river blew across my naked body, he raised himself up. "We should get dressed. Aragorn will want to move on."
"Yes," I agreed, drowsily. "It's a wonder Gimli has not come looking for us already."
"Now that would be awkward, wouldn't it?" Boromir asked, grinning slightly.
"Yep. It would be awkward to explain why the dwarf fainted," I quipped, feeling soothed and at ease. We dressed swiftly, but as there was still no sound from the others, we did not go back to the copse, but stayed at the bank of the river to eat a piece of way bread each and some dried fruit Boromir had in his pockets. There was not much variety left to our provisions, but today it tasted like delicacies, spiced by Boromir's kisses.
When we were ready to return to the others, Boromir caught my arm and drew me into a tight embrace. "Lothíriel, I know this is neither the appropriate time or place, and you will want to get to know me better and meet my family, and I can understand if you won't answer right away, but," he hesitated, looking at me with a nervous and a bit frightened expression on his face.
No, I thought. Oh no. This could not be possibly happening. My stomach lurched sickly.
"But," Boromir continued, "I am not a man casual in his desires. When we reach Minas Tirith, I would ask you to consider allowing me to court you according to the customs of my people. I have never met a woman who is so smart and brave and independent such as you. I feel drawn to you in a way I have never experienced before. No, don't say anything. I understand if, after we – er – and the circumstances…" he trailed off, his lips slightly quivering. This speech was obviously difficult for the lord and warrior, who was used to leadership and control of all matters of life.
I swallowed hard; with the passion spent, my mind was clear again, and I felt as if my heart was breaking. I leaned my forehead against Boromir's chest, hiding my tears and my pain. "Of course you may court me." I took a deep, strained breath. "When - when we reach Minas Tirith."
Boromir's embrace tightened and when I looked up, his face was completely relaxed and shining with hope.
We made our way back to the copse just in time. Aragorn was angry and told us we were too late, and he could not spare the time to send someone looking for every member of the company whenever we rested for a bit. I did not say anything to that, blushing hotly. Boromir looked the ranger straight in the eye and said, "Sorry, it won't happen again," in an extremely cool voice.
We had not been back to the road for more than two hours when the day was fading into twilight. It was only January, and night fell quickly. Mist rose from the river and the hollows around us, and only on the golden woods in the distance the last pale light of the evening still lingered.
We walked on as the night darkened and many bright stars appeared in the sky.
Aragorn and Legolas were leading the company now, followed by Merry and Pippin. After the hobbits I walked, and Boromir was one or two steps behind me. Behind Boromir Sam was walking, glancing across his shoulders now and again uneasily. Gimli and Frodo brought up the rear. Frodo had drawn Sting, but luckily the blade remained dull, only now and again blinking silvery in the light of the stars.
There were no orcs close behind us, yet.
We walked up another hill and found ourselves looking down into a wide valley, opening onto the plains far to the East. From the valley the rushing sound of many leaves in the wind drifted up to us.
"This is Lothlórien!" Aragorn said, relief evident in his voice. "We will rest here for the night. It is another five miles to the Gates, but that is too far to reach tonight. But even the outskirts of Lórien may hold enough elvish blessing to ward off any peril which might be following us."
"If there are any Elves left here in these days of shadows," Gimli grumbled.
"I have never been here," Legolas said, "but I have heard that Lórien is not yet deserted."
"No, it isn't," Aragorn confirmed, his eyes shining, the light of happy memories, no doubt. "But they keep to the heart of these woods. Tonight we are on our own. We will head into the woods for a ways and then seek shelter."
I felt Boromir tense up beside me. "What is it?" I whispered.
Boromir licked his lips nervously. He looked at Frodo, and a painful shadow passed across his face. "Nothing," he answered in the end. "It's only, I have heard strange rumours about these woods. There's supposed to be a great sorceress living in these woods, allowing no one to leave unscathed."
He was frightened, I realized. And the ring was wearing him down. Had no one bothered to tell him how to shield his mind? Would it be too late to show him now?
I felt the dark knowledge of his fate choke me. I should never have allowed him to kiss me, never have… I swallowed hard and gripped his hand. "Don't worry, Boromir. The Lady in the Wood is not evil. She will help us. Trust me." I could see that he wanted to ask how I knew this, but when I did not say anything else he squeezed my hand in return, and followed Aragorn into the wood with confident strides.
We had not walked far into the forest, when we reached a swiftly flowing stream which came down from a wooded slope leading up into the mountains to the West.
"This is the river Nimrodel," Legolas said, his voice full of joy. "It is remembered still in many songs of my people. If you bathe your feet in its water, your weariness will fade away."
We followed him down to the stream, and in the end all of us who were not bare-footed anyway removed their shoes and boots and waded across the stream, whispering and laughing softly. Boromir was holding my hand, and the healing waters of the Nimrodel seemed to ease the tension from his face that had been growing again during our march.
When I slipped back into my socks and shoes on the other side of the river, I felt my own worries and hurts diminished, too, and in my heart a feeling of great joy rose at the passion I had experienced today, and at the trust and hope offered to me by Boromir.
Unforeseen grace in times dark and dangerous, I mused. Thank You, God, wherever You may be.
We rested for a while on the banks of the Nimrodel, and when we had refreshed ourselves with dry bread and many cups of the Nimrodel's clear water, Legolas sang us the song of Nimrodel. The elf had one of the most beautiful voices I had ever heard; it was higher than a soprano and clearer than the river's water.
But the song was sad like most elvish songs of Middle-earth. I sat huddled in Boromir's embrace. Feeling lonely and sad I was not up to circumspect behaviour. So I sat down next to Boromir, and after a moment's hesitation he put his arm around me. Sitting down next to Boromir like that had earned me some looks. Dark and glowering – Aragorn. Frowning and suspicious – Sam. Plainly curious – Merry and Pippin. Absolutely inscrutable – Legolas. Gimli was the only member of the fellowship who had simply ignored this development.
When I looked up at Boromir's fair and noble face as the song ended, I saw tears shimmering in his eyes. A pain seared my heart and I wished I could have the time to get to know him better, to get to know him the way he wanted me to.
When the elf had ended his song, we talked about the safest way to spend the night, and in the end it was decided to try and climb up a tree to seek cover from any pursuit.
Legolas chose a large mallorn to climb upon as the tree to have likely boughs big enough to support even tall men like Aragorn or Boromir.
But when he reached for the lowest branch, a commanding voice sounded from above our heads: "Daro!"
Legolas dropped back to the ground, swaying close to the shelter of the tree trunk.
"Keep back," he hissed at us. "Stand still, don't speak."
Boromir shoved me behind his back, shielding me with his body.
Soft laughter issued from the tree top above us. Then a clear voice addressed Legolas in an obviously elvish language, but it was neither Sindarin, which I understood fairly well by now, nor Quenya, which I did not understand, but would have recognized.
"Who are they, and what do they say?" Merry asked, his eyes gleaming whitely with fear in the shadows.
"They are Elves, of course," Sam said irritably. "That's one of the Silvan dialects, I guess. But there are so many of them, I keep mixing them up."
Everyone looked at Sam full of surprise, save me. I knew that Sam had spent a good deal of his time in Rivendell learning the elvish languages. He had been a better student than I was.
"Indeed they are," Legolas told us. "And they say that you are breathing so loudly they could shoot you with their eyes closed."
Sam clapped his hand to his mouth. I giggled, causing Boromir to turn around and glare at me reproachfully.
"They are friends," I whispered. "I promise." He raised his eyebrows, but relaxed slightly.
Frodo was invited to climb up into the tree. Waiting for someone to come down and bring the message that we might stay was agonizing. Aragorn did not allow us to sit down, but made us stay close to the tree, with himself, Legolas and Boromir watching the darkness for any pursuit hidden behind some shrubs a yard away from us.
Finally the elf who introduced himself as Haldir jumped down out of the darkness, landing as smoothly on his feet as a cat.
"You may stay up in the tree for tonight. Leave your packs hidden in the leaves over there. You won't need your blankets," he said, when Merry made to take his rolled up sleeping bag off his pack. "We have cloaks and furs to spare up on the talan."
Haldir helped the hobbits climb up this tree; his brother Orophin led the rest of us to the one next to it.
Strange as it may sound, I had not trouble climbing up the rope ladder into the top of the tree; perhaps because it was too dark to see how high I was climbing. Up on the wooden platform I lay down next to the tree trunk, which was curving slightly outward, creating a small sheltered hollow. Boromir lay down next to me, so I was in no danger at all of accidentally rolling off the talan in my sleep and falling to my death.
I fell asleep at once, and did not even wake to the noise of the company of orcs, passing into the woods only a short distance down the river during the night.
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.