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The Gull's Cry
"The thing that most matters in this world is the process of creation. What kind of mystery is this that makes the simple wish of telling stories turn into a passion, that a human being would be willing to die for it; die of hunger, cold or whatever, just to do something that you can't see or touch and that, in the end, if you think about it, can't be used for anything?"
He’s gone. The one being more precious to me than anything else I’ve ever held dear is gone. His lips, usually warm and responsive, are now stiff and cold. I can feel his entire body hardening under my hands, succumbing to the cruel embrace of death. His wonderful gray eyes that once held such a loving gaze are now empty, completely devoid of life. I knew that I would eventually have to look at them like this, cold and glazed, but not this soon. Gently, I lay a hand over them and close the lids, then I kiss each one. A tear escapes my eyes and lands on his grime covered cheek.
I hear Aragorn move quietly behind me and I can anticipate what he is going to say.
"Legolas, I’m sorry to have to say this but we cannot stay here. We have to move on."
My eyes still lingering upon Boromir’s face, I answer him, "I know. But we cannot leave him like this, we must give him a proper burial, one worthy of him, of the man that he was... " My voice trembles at this last word. I feel Aragorn place his hand on my shoulder in a comforting manner.
"That I leave up to you. Whatever you decide, we will do, but I must remind you, time is pressing."
Time. I wish time would stand still, that this second be infinite so I could spend an eternity admiring your countenance, an eternity in which to hold you and cherish you, even if I am only holding onto a memory. But I am not to have my wish, time is fleeting. With each minute we remain here Merry and Pippin are carried further away from us. I made a promise to you, my love, and I will not break it. As long as I can draw breath, I will hold true to it, neither sleep nor weariness will overcome me until I see them safe.
But first I must tend to him and what is to be his final resting place, a duty which I hoped I would not have to do for many years. Digging a cavity in the ground to hold his body would take to long, likewise would be the building of a cairn and he would not wish me to tarry so.
"We will place him in one of the boats along with his weapons and those of his fallen enemies and send him over the Falls of Rauros. The river will take care of his body, maybe even take him as far as the sea."
"A fitting funeral for a noble man. We shall do so. Do you want help carrying him?"
"No, I can bear him."
Carefully, I take him into my arms and I stand. Already his body feels so alien, his once plaint muscles are now drawn taut; the cold of his skin chills my bones. His is not a light body, but the weight does not bother me. Soon I will have to relinquish it forever, so I’ll treasure every moment.
We arrive at the shore and gently I lay him on one of the boats. My eyes stray to the three black arrows that have pierced his strong frame. I am loath to handle them, I fear their vile touch will burn me, yet I cannot tolerate seeing them mar his flesh. I firmly grab one of them and tug it cautiously until the foul implement comes out. Some blood emerges from the wound and I swiftly dab at it with my sleeve so it will not ruin his clothing further. I repeat the process with the other two, then I remove his elven cloak and cushion his head with it. I tenderly arrange his long, auburn hair, knowing it will be the last chance I have to caress those strands. Gimli and Aragorn set the weapons beneath his feet while I array his broken sword and his fractured horn on his lap. His shield I set beside him.
"Legolas, it’s time."
No, I want to say, it is too soon, too soon, just a few more minutes, give me a few more moments with him, don’t make me leave him yet. But I know these words would be in vain. I have to let you go.
I lift his hands to his chest and accommodate the fingers to grasp the hilt of his sword. Holding onto them, I lean down and kiss one, then I move forward and place another lingering kiss on his forehead.
"Be safe, my love. Do not worry, I will not leave your work unfinished. Maybe we will meet again, if the gods are kind."
My eyes water again; I wipe at them with the back of my hand before any tears can fall. I take a deep, shaky breath.
"I’m... I’m ready." I’m really not, but I don’t think I ever will be, and we must continue.
We tie the prow of our boat to the stern of his and drive them both into the water. We paddle as far as we can to where the water picks up its pace preceding the falls and let lose his boat. My breath catches and the tears rise unbidden as I observe him slowly drift off towards the horizon.
"No, come back... don’t... " the whispered words die in my throat as the face I love more than life slowly vanishes from my sight. I bend my head and struggled to control the sobs that threatened to erupt from my chest. I lift my hand to my eyes; tears escape the closed lids. My breath trembles.
"They will look for him from the White Tower, but he will not return from mountain or from sea."
Aragorn sings now, a mournful dirge in honor of Boromir.
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
‘What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?’
‘I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey;
I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North. I saw him then no more.
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor.’
‘O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.’
It tears at me, the words, the question, for it is never to be, never will he be found again. Nevertheless, I lift my voice to continue the bitter melody, my heart bleeding with every word that passes my lips.
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sand hills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
‘What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me At eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.’
‘Ask not of me where he doth dwell--so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the South Wind sends to me!’
‘O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth.’
I have not the strength to finish, my voice fails me. Aragorn must continue for me.
From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls;
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
‘What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
‘What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away.’
‘Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought.
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.’
‘O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.’
I raise my eyes and look towards the edge of the falls where my love has found his final destiny. My vision blurs; tears beset me once more. My soul quakes at the near-fatal blow of the knowledge that his fair face is never to be seen by my eyes again.
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