It was strange, Arwen thought, how destiny could catch one unawares. It had surprised her twice in recent memory,
The first time was years ago now, though it seemed only the last turning of the seasons. She had recently returned from biding with her mother's kin in Lorien and came upon a young man while walking through her father's groves. She had first taken the youth for one of the Mirkwood Elves, sent for fostering in Imladris while she had been absent from this land. It took only a moment for her to scent his mortality; one more to realize who he must be.
She had not been in her father's realm when Arathorn's son had arrived with his mother, but had heard the tales from her brothers. From Elladan, she heard of his exploits as a scabby-kneed youngster, learning woodcraft and the skills of the sword. Elrohir told how, barely in his teens, he had ventured into the wilderness, hunting the Orcs that had killed too many of the races of Elves and Men. Both her brothers spoke with affection and brotherhood of Isildur's heir.
As he stood before her, impossibly young and yet with the beginnings of great wisdom, and great care, in his storm cloud eyes, she knew why her brothers had been won over by this mortal child. Somehow, she recognized within him a part of her soul long lost. She knew with a certainty that her future, her destiny, was tied to this young man. She, who had seen civilizations rise and dynasties fall, who had seen lovers die under the sword of the enemy and others pass over the Sea, abandoned her heart to this stripling willingly in that moment.
The second time was different. The second time it was not her own destiny she stumbled upon, but that of her beloved. And one other.
After the arrival of the Halfling, she had approached the seat of Narsil's shards, eager for Aragorn's company and knowing that he sought out that place when events weighed too heavily on his mind. She found Boromir had come before her.
She turned to leave, not intending to intrude on this first meeting between the heirs of Steward and King. Turned to leave, but could not, trapped by the tension crackling between the two Men. Compelled to observe this private moment, she was shocked by another recognition, but not in the expected place. It was Boromir who drew her this time, for in him she could see her own fate, pulled toward one destined to be King.
She gasped silently, finding it suddenly difficult to obtain enough air as a rare and icy spike of possessiveness penetrated her breast. It melted soon enough, leaving only a cold sorrow for this Man of Gondor in its passing. She could not say how she knew it, but she could sense that this man's fate was not a happy one, knew somehow he deserved better.
She did not speak of what she'd seen until after her father's Council. That night, as she lay in Aragorn's arms, she could stay silent no longer.
"He loves you," she said, not needing to use Boromir's name.
"It was not love I saw in his eyes at the Council."
"He fears and resents you. But he loves you as well, though he may not know it." Arwen ran her hand across Aragorn's chest. "I recognize the signs."
"Are you such an expert at love?" Aragorn asked fondly, brushing her hair from her eyes.
"An expert at falling in love with you, I think," she said with a smile. The smile faded with her next words. "You love him, too."
Aragorn tightened his hold on her and shook his head in response.
"Don't deny it, my heart. Love is not to be ignored. It should open us to possibilities."
"Promise me you won't speak of this again." He kissed her fiercely. "Promise."
She nodded, saddened that not all the ways of Elf-kind had been learned by Arathorn's child.
Though her heart told her differently, she intended to keep her promise, to never speak of the love she saw between the future King and future Steward. But as the time of the Fellowship's departure neared, she could keep silent no longer. She sought out the Captain of Gondor, finding him alone in the woods, close to where she had first seen Aragorn. Unlike that meeting, this one was filled not with joy and wonder, but with distrust and melancholy.
The Man looked up quickly, guilt and disquiet showing in his eyes in equal measure, though the training of his father's court allowed him to treat her with the courtesy due her station.
"My lady." He bowed in greeting. "How may I help you?"
"I would ask a boon of you."
"What would that be?" He waited in polite expectation for her request.
She held his gaze for a moment before speaking, trying to judge the character of the Man before her. She sensed great courage and spirit within him--here was one worthy to assist in the reigning of a kingdom--but she could also feel his father's pride and his own fear.
She searched within herself for the words that would touch this Man, would still that pride and heal the rift between Steward and King. And more. She would have them both acknowledge the love that lay between them, for love was to be cherished, no matter where it was found.
"I would have you lend your strength not only to the Ring bearer's quest, but to Aragorn."
"You would have me defend the heir to Gondor's throne." Prideful anger flashed in his eyes.
"I would have you defend the Man I love." She took in a measured breath before playing her hand fully. "And the one you love."
As Boromir recoiled from her, not in indignation but in shock of discovery, she knew that she had judged aright. But also that she might lose him here and now.
"You are mistaken," Boromir said, and though the words were mild, they were spat out as a curse.
Before he could retreat, Arwen moved to Boromir's side. She laid a soothing hand on his arm, feeling tremors run through his frame. She willed him peace as she would a wild thing caught in her presence.
"Not mistaken. And, understand me well, Boromir, not displeased." She stroked his arm and felt his tension ease under her touch.
"He is your betrothed." Confusion warred with hope in his eyes.
"One love does not negate the other."
"Such infidelity is a kind of treason." She could hear the harsh teachings of his father in those words.
"Not among Elven-kind. And Aragorn was raised in my father's house, not in Minas Tirith's towers." She led him to a wind-fallen tree and bid him sit. "With the luxury of centuries before us, my people have learned that they can love more than one. I would not deny Aragorn the same, though he has only decades before him."
"But we are both men..."
"Love comes where it will and between whom it will. It should not be denied, only cherished."
Boromir said no more, but dropped his head nearly to his chest and gave a great, shuddering sigh. When he finally looked up again, there was regret in his green eyes.
"I will assist your Ranger, however I can. I can promise no more than that."
She nodded silently, saddened that both men seemed so determined to deny what destiny had so clearly wrought between them, but content that Boromir at least was aware of the connection, however he tried to fight it.
She could only send them both on this quest and hope events brought them together. Brought them all together at journey's end.
The departure of the Fellowship was a bitter day for Arwen Undomiel. The Evenstar watched silently as each member of the Fellowship turned one last glance on Rivendell before leaving Elrond's realm. She had said her goodbyes to Aragorn in private and made what peace she could with Boromir. It was only left to send her good thoughts with all their champions, large and small.
She hoped that she would see them all again, in Minas Tirith, if not in the halls of Rivendell. She placed her hope in the day when she and Boromir might share a friendship and more, giving a silent plea to the Valar that all of the travellers might return safely.
Her fears told her otherwise. She felt a dread that the end of this quest would see the death of more than one of the Ringbearer's guardians.
Holding her head high, she quelled her fears, calmed her dread. She put herself in destiny's hands, hoping only that fate would have a care for all she loved.
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