"He loves you."
Aragorn recognized the truth in Arwen's words even as they left her lips.
"You love him, too."
Recognized the truth and hid from it. Ignored it. Denied its power. But fate could not be ignored. Destiny was not to be denied. Fate had placed him in the company of the Steward's son, and destiny had forged the bond between them. A bond he could not acknowledge in Imladris, close to everything, everyone, he held dear, but one that slowly became possible when the Fellowship left Elrond's realm.
Even so, he passed the first part of their journey resolutely avoiding the Steward's son. He spent his time consulting with Gandalf or talking to Legolas or keeping watch over the Hobbits. But with only eight companions, Boromir was never far from his sight, and he could not help noticing him.
And once he noticed him, he began to recognize certain truths about Boromir: that Boromir was always willing to lend his strength to the others; that he always did so much more than his share; that the grim soldier had a playful side and an honest affection for the youngest Hobbits, an affection so at odds with the arrogant pride in which he had wrapped himself at Elrond's council. He realized that, beyond being a Captain of Gondor and his father's heir, Boromir was a good man, loyal and true to his friends and his city both.
He began to lower his guard when Boromir was near, to accompany him on the hunt, to share with him stories of fighting Orcs and Goblins. A friendship grew between them as their wariness faded, and as the bonds of friendship flourished, Aragorn found he could finally acknowledge Arwen's truth: he did love Boromir, as Boromir loved him. And with that love acknowledged, it was only a matter of time before they turned feeling into action, before they let flesh speak of the bond between them.
In a forest glade at the end of a successful hunt, with the sky as their only witness, they finally consummated their love. Under the trees and open sky, they shared their bodies and their hearts. Aragorn had been astounded at how unguarded Boromir was, how eager. Even more surprising had been discovering the strength of his own emotions. He had never sought to find another love, and yet fate had given him one that he cared for as deeply as Arwen.
Aragorn counted himself lucky to have found two such loves in one lifetime. Of the two, Arwen was his anchor, the bedrock upon which his soul rested. She was the Evenstar, a steady light shining with a clear, pure brilliance that would always call him home.
Boromir's light was a brighter and bolder one. He blazed with a ferocious, passionate intensity, now waxing, now waning, but always burning fiercely. And always, Aragorn was aware that a brighter light would burn out the sooner. If only he had known how little time that light had left.
At least they had found a measure of happiness in the time given them: their days were spent travelling toward their goal, sharing the good company of the Fellowship; their nights were spent discovering joy in the sharing of their flesh, finding comfort in the ease of each other's arms.
But that happiness was as brief as it was blessed.
The shadows began to grow as they approached the foot of Caradhras, where the crebain, Saruman's feathered spies, were the harbingers of the growing darkness. As the Fellowship drew closer to its master's domain, the Ring's power grew. On the side of the mountain, Aragorn heard the call of the Ring for the first time since Frodo had revealed it in Elrond's hall. He could hear its whispering each night as he approached the realm of sleep, could hear its promises of victory and redemption, lies all, but tempting, nonetheless.
He wondered what the others heard, what lures they were offered, what shimmering treasures the enemy held before them. He hoped against hope that he was the only one plagued by such temptations. He hoped the others would be spared.
His hopes came to naught.
On the mountain, Frodo fell, losing the Ring for an instant. And in the snow, Boromir picked up the golden band, his eyes tormented by its deceit, his hand trembling from its lure.
Aragorn's own hand had gone immediately to his sword, prepared to slay Gondor's Captain if he moved to claim the Ring, aware of the cost to his own heart if he was forced to kill the man who had claimed his love. But death had not come that day. Boromir had returned the Ring and Aragorn had not spilled blood on the snow.
Their lovemaking that night had a desperation that was new. It seemed that Boromir asked for a forgiveness with his body that he could not with his voice. For his part, Aragorn tried to surround Boromir with his love, to fill him so completely that there would be no room for the call of the Ring.
From that day forward, their love had begun to unravel, to fray like a threadbare cloth that had seen too many winters.
A new wariness grew between them. Aragorn could only watch helplessly as Boromir pulled away from him, as the light left his eyes. He despaired as the touches between them became fewer and more hesitant.
Then came Moria. And darkness. And death.
Gandalf's fall had shaken all the company, even the hardened soldier of Gondor. Needing rest and shelter and protection from the Orcs who now pursued them, they sought refuge in Galadriel's domain.
In the shelter of the mallorn trees, Aragorn thought that his companions would find peace. But not all of them found comfort in the protection of Galadriel. The one member of the company whom he most hoped would be healed by the magic of the Elves found only more despair.
Boromir sought solitude in the Elven grove when he should have favoured the company of his friends. Aragorn found him apart from the others, tears staining his cheeks, words of hopelessness on his tongue. Arathorn's heir tried to comfort the son of the Steward with words, but to no avail. Words could not breach the chasm that had grown between them, could not calm the fears in Boromir's soul.
If words would not suffice, then actions must.
Aragorn took Boromir's hand in his own and led him well away from the others, to a place well within the mallorn grove where they were as shielded from the eyes of others as they had been the first time they had shared the pleasures of the flesh.
In that place, surrounded by the rustling of trees, with the whispering wind caressing their faces, Aragorn clutched Boromir to him in the tightest of embraces. He stroked his back and brushed his hair back from his face. Boromir looked at him with a desperate longing, his eyes gone strangely grey in the starlight, then buried his face in Aragorn's neck. He made no sound, but the shuddering heaves that wracked Boromir's body told Aragorn all he needed to know.
He waited until the spasms had passed, then gently encouraged them to lie down together. He held Boromir to him, bestowing kisses on his brow, his cheeks, his neck, tasting the salt of tears as he did. At last, when he felt the other man relax in his arms, he laid a tender kiss on his mouth, rejoicing when the lips opened under his.
He pressed his tongue deeper, feeling a thrill at the coolness of Boromir's mouth. The bitterness of the words that Boromir had spoken disappeared in the sweetness of his kisses. Aragorn let his hands play up and down the body of the man he loved, letting his touch inflame them both until their breaths were coming in gasping sobs and they were both struggling to shed their clothing.
Naked, they came together again, and Aragorn revelled at the feeling of flesh gliding against his own, at the sensation of sure fingers stroking his nipples, his stomach, his cock. He gasped at the feeling of blood filling his organ, pounding at his temples, singing in his veins. Feeling himself approach the precipice, he stayed Boromir's hand and finally spoke.
"No. Not like that. I would have you take me." As Aragorn said the words, he knew how true they were. How he wanted to be possessed, burned, consumed by the passion between them.
Boromir hesitated, and Aragorn encouraged him with his hands, his mouth, his body, until Boromir was near weeping with need. Aragorn took Boromir in his mouth, leaving enough spit to ease what they were about to do, what they needed to do, then he lay back and opened himself to the man he loved.
Though it had been many days since they had shared their bodies, since Caradhas, Boromir fully sheathed himself in Aragorn's body with one thrust. He poised above Aragorn for a moment, mouth open, breath panting, hanging onto this last moment of control. Then control shredded. Throwing his head back, he drove his hips back and forward, driving them both to a frenzy of desire.
Aragorn watched as Boromir was taken by the ecstasy of the flesh. Watched as he squeezed his eyes shut and climaxed. Watched even as his own orgasm overcame him, brought on by Boromir's fist stroking his cock. Watched as Boromir lay on the grass and smiled, the last of his despair gone, replaced by the shining love in his eyes. Aragorn leaned over him and kissed him again, thoroughly, imprinting the moment on his memory and hoping that they would make many more to join it.
It was not to be.
The river journey saw the rift re-open between them. They argued on the banks of the Anduin, the call of the Ring and the competing loyalties of love and duty driving them again apart.
And Amon Hen widened the rift to an unbridgeable chasm. It was there that Boromir stumbled and was redeemed. It was there that they suffered their final separation. It was there that Boromir had died in his arms after a final kiss.
With Boromir's flesh already cooling under his touch and an unregarded moisture on his cheeks, Aragorn considered what might have been.
A future where Frodo's mission had been completed and all members of the Fellowship lived. A time where he ruled the realm of Gondor, with both Queen and Steward at his side. A time where both his loves supported and cherished him and each other.
Death had denied him that future. Fate had denied him his happiness.
They could not be together, but Aragorn would not relinquish his memories of Boromir. Nor would he forget his promises, his vow to protect the city of Gondor and her people.
He took the vambraces from his fallen love, and strapped them tightly on his own wrists, enjoying the bite of the buckle in his flesh as proof that he was still alive, still breathing, in spite of the chill that had settled over his soul. The White Tree incised on their surface would spur on his resolve to follow his fate. And their leather, stained with the sweat of the man who held half his heart, would remind him of all that destiny could cut away.
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