It was a clear but cold night and although the brisk pace of their walking took some of the chill from their bones, to the various members of the Fellowship it was not as welcome as that derived from the friendly warmth of flickering flames and a cup of hot broth. Fortunately, Aragorn had found a small, but deep cave and after carefully checking to ensure it was unoccupied, Gandalf had allowed the Fellowship to take a brief rest. Safe as they were from prying eyes, he had also agreed to the small fire around which all were now sitting, waiting eagerly for Sam’s excellent broth to be served and doing their best to ignore the current debate between Legolas and Gimli. This time the bone of contention was the two very different interpretations of the meeting in Mirkwood of Thranduil and Glóin.
“Why should I not hold my father’s words as truth? Was it not his merrymaking, and his realm, that your father and his friends were intruding upon? The King was well within his rights to place them all in the dungeon!” Legolas asserted, the anger in his eyes flickering as brightly as the firelight.
“You know not of what you speak, Elf! Need I remind you that you were not there? How then can you fairly judge what happened?” Gimli asked, his gruff, raised voice echoing off the stone walls.
“Nor were you!” Legolas replied victoriously, favouring Gimli with a look of triumph that only served to fuel the Dwarf’s fury and cause him to stare speechlessly at his adversary. Aragorn rolled his eyes in exasperation, but decided it would be best not to interfere in what was essentially a harmless exchange of words.
“Bilbo was, it’s all in his book,” offered Pippin, before Gimli found his voice. It was an attempt to prevent another small battle from raging.
“Aye, and had you taken the time to read it as I did, you would be forced to agree with me.” Legolas observed smugly, certain he had won this argument. The comment was addressed to Gimli who merely huffed and turned his back on the Elf. Legolas, however, was sorely tempted to cast doubt on whether the Dwarf was learned in his letters, which of course he was, but catching Gandalf’s slight shake of his head, he kept his silence. The Elf held both affection and great respect for the Istar, and did not wish to incur his wrath, but he also wondered if the wizard actually could hear his thoughts.
“So where were you when Bilbo came to Mirkwood, Legolas?” Pippin asked, suddenly curious. Boromir smiled at his friend’s audacity and astuteness, character traits that were often overshadowed by the hobbit’s sometimes foolish behaviour.
“I was away to the north, on patrol, and did not return until I was summoned to lead part of the King’s army to Lake Town. I did not meet Bilbo, even after the Battle,” he explained.
“Well that explains why he never mentioned you, but Bilbo did not mention a Queen either. Where was your mother, Legolas?” The sparkle in Legolas’s eyes dimmed with pain.
“She resides in Mandos’s Halls,” was all he would say.
Following the example set by Aragorn and Gandalf, pipes were lit and silence settled on the companions. For a time there was only the crackling sound of the wood as it sacrificed itself to provide heat for the travellers, and the whispered speculation about Legolas’s mother between Merry and Pippin, that was quickly silenced by a warning from Frodo. Sam wisely chose to announce that supper was ready and taking two mugs of broth, Legolas moved away from the unpleasant pipe smoke to join Boromir.
Feeling somewhat melancholy as he thought about his own mother, Boromir had decided he would rest at the mouth of the cave rather than by the fire, and let part of his mind remain alert for danger, and part drifting to other places and times. A time when Faramir was still a young child and followed his doting brother everywhere. The year their mother died.
His younger brother loved exploring the countryside surrounding the White City, and would often beg Boromir to take him when he and his friends did so. Although several years older than Faramir, Boromir was yet a very inexperienced explorer, and had never ventured too far on his own. Nonetheless, this day he decided it was to be only himself and Faramir and during a sudden storm, he was unable to find the path home. Desperate to take shelter from the cold rain and wind, the brothers had stumbled upon a cave much like this, taking refuge until the weather cleared. He still recalled how hotly he had blushed with embarrassment when, following Faramir’s lead, they found the search party that had been sent to find them. Boromir marvelled at the memory of how, at even such a young age, Faramir had begun to show an aptitude for learning the skills of a ranger. He also recalled how humbled he had been by Faramir’s unquestioned loyalty when, seeking to keep his Boromir out of trouble, the younger sibling ‘confessed’ that he had run away from Boromir and that was how they had become lost.
Boromir had taken care to mark the path back to the cave that had become their ‘secret hideout’. The two boys had even stocked it with a few supplies for the nights they occasionally st there. It was not until he began his training as a soldier that Boromir understood the danger they might have faced from Sauron’s minions, and he felt alarmed to think that he might have been placing his younger brother in jeopardy. He would never have forgiven himself if Faramir had come to harm, but it was not until years after her death that he learned that his mother had been well aware of her sons’ continuing little forays, and had ensured that they were followed at all times by a few of Denethor’s guards.
Reaching into his inner pocket, Boromir withdrew the gold chain and locket he always carried and opened it to smile affectionately at the small portrait of Finduilas. Sensing he was not alone, he looked up, surprised to see Legolas sitting close by. He had not heard the Elf approach, but swiftly realised that nor could Aragorn, even though he had lived among Elves.
“What have you there?” Legolas asked, after remaining silent for some minutes while Boromir was apparently lost in thought. He handed the man a mug of broth that Boromir accepted in his free hand, closing the other around the locket, his obvious need for privacy causing Legolas to offer an apology “I am sorry, I did not mean to pry.” He stood to walk away but his movement was halted by Boromir’s softly spoken words.
“There is no need for apology. You may think it a strange thing for a grown man to carry, but ‘tis a picture of my mother,” he said, his voice filled with sorrow and grief that had been buried deep within his soul, but never forgotten.
“Nay it is not strange to continue to love she who gave you life. As I said, my naneth resides in Mandos’ Halls, but she is still as dearly beloved now as she has ever been,” Legolas told him lowering his voice enough to keep the conversation between the two private.
“Do you have a picture of her?” Boromir wondered, sensing much compassion and understanding in the very different, yet, in this matter, kindred spirit of the Elf. Both still mourned their loss.
“Nay, but I need none. I see her eyes in the stars, hear her soft voice on the summer breeze, know her love for me every time her song sings in my heart, feel her touch when I am held close in adar’s embrace.” Legolas said, closing his eyes to hide his unshed tears.
Placing a comforting hand on Legolas’s shoulder, Boromir was surprised to feel the strong, yet gentle grip on his own shoulder as the Elf offered a similar gesture in return. It was a simple overture of friendship, accepted with a brief nod and a smile by both. Boromir leaned closer to whisper in the pointed ear with an air of confidentiality.
“I have read Bilbo’s book too, and I think Thranduil did no less than my father would have in the same circumstances.” Unfortunately, Boromir’s voice was not as soft as he had hoped, and a gruff rumble from near the fire was answered by the silvery tinkle of elvish laughter.