I held him on the night of Boromir's death. Though he had kept too busy to break down during the day while we prepared the body and pursued the hobbits, once he lay down to rest he could not stop weeping. Gimli fell asleep unknowing, but my elfin ears could not help perceiving the man's sorrow, try as he might to mourn in silence to avoid disturbing us. So I went to him, and let him clutch his arms around my back and wet my chest with his tears, though the stench and sweat of men are yet strange to me.
Like Boromir, he is a man, a mortal. One day, he will die. It is hard to imagine, looking at his perpetually youthful face, with cheeks that seem chiseled by a master sculptor and a body toned by years of hard labor. Yet already tiny lines crinkle near his eyes when he smiles. Someday his limbs will lose their flexibility. Discolored growths will mottle his skin. His eyes, bluer than the waters of the Anduin and alight with wit and confidence, will cloud over. His heart will begin to fail.
How do men find the courage to love one another, knowing the fate that awaits them?
It was I who pulled the arrows from Boromir's chest, for Aragorn had not to heart to do so after being forbidden to remove them by his dying friend. The gaping holes in the livid skin will never heal. The stench of excrement and putrefaction will grow steadily until not even a lover could stand to be close to the corpse. I wish that I had not seen Boromir so, for I will never forget that image.
I would rather remember the body of the man in fearless battle with orcs, or teaching the young hobbits to swing a blade. I would rather remember his face when he gazed upon Isildur's heir, with the look he wore only when he knew the other man could not see him -- the devotion he would not confess, certainly not to myself who first told him Aragorn's true name. I know Boromir forgave Aragorn his birthright. I overheard the warrior's last words. I am glad that he had the chance to say them, and that Aragorn had the chance to hear them.
How can men plan their lives, knowing they might end at any moment, with so many words left unspoken, so many vows left unfulfilled?
I am an elf, immortal. Our age may pass, yet I will go over to the Undying Lands to live forever. They say men envy us. When I held Aragorn in the night, I came to know his life in miniature. He burned in grief until sleep overcame him, but in that healing slumber his face softened and I knew that he would one day smile again. His muscles tensed and eased, his stomach growled with hunger. His manhood stiffened and pressed against my thigh. I would have held fast to him even then, but it was not my name he murmured.
Like Boromir, he is a man, a mortal. One day, he will die. Lord Elrond believes that men are dangerous to elves, for they take more risks, they hurry their ambitions. They do not have an eternity to find their place. Their lives unfold before us like brief obsessions, then are gone.
Lord Elrond's daughter would forsake immortality for a few short years with her love, the same man in my thoughts. Arwen does not wish to live forever. I feel certain that if I asked him, Aragorn would say the same. His parents are gone. Boromir is gone. Would he feel the same keen sense of love for them were it not for their loss? Can an elf love as deeply as a man does only by loving a man?
I am an elf, immortal. Yet when I think of Aragorn, I am not certain that I wish to live forever. I want to hold him again, and know the sweat and dust and slow decay that are his rightful inheritance. This is not love as I have known it in my long life. Though it brings deep pain, it promises great joy.
Lord Elrond is right that such ties to men are dangerous, or perhaps the danger lies only in such men as can bring such feelings to an elf. Aragorn has lost Boromir merely for a time -- a short time, compared to the span of an elf's life. For me such a loss would be eternal. Perhaps it would make me like the Nazgūl, starving forever for something that was never mine to hold.
Or perhaps, if I loved enough, I would die of a broken heart. I could bind him by my grief for all the ages left on Earth. There would be songs of my devotion, stories of my passion. If I cleaved truly to him, his name would never fade.
I wonder whether Aragorn would weep for me as he weeps for Boromir, but I think not. Like Boromir, he is a man, a mortal. I am an elf. Still, when he dies, I will cry for him. And I will comfort myself knowing that I would keep him in my clasp forever, if he were mine to keep.
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Story notes: A drabble that grew too long. Ideas borrowed from literary universe, but this is movie-verse. These characters belong to J.R.R. Tolkien.
Chapter end notes: First posted at the LoM on 2002