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Shining City

by StarsingerSaathi

Title : Shining City
Author : Saathi
Mail : StarsingerSaathi@cuteandcuddly.com Rating : PG-13/R
Pairing: Aragorn/Boromir
Category : Slash, angst, etc.
Date : 2/19/2002
Archive? Ask me, it's yours.
Website : n/a

Disclaimer : No Ownee, No Money, no Sue-me? Please?

Summary - Aragorn and Boromir reach an understanding. Yes, sex is involved. No flames.

Author's Note: Same story, 2 POVs. Kind of unusually done. Written for my roomie, Zelda, cuz no one else I know would have put up with, let alone encouraged the plot bunnies. Next up, hobbit poppy pile... maybe.


I do not know what to think of him. The Ring surely pulls at him as well as I, but I, one for whom the temptation runs in blood more than mind and heart, have long endured the reality of refusing such lures. Growing up in Elrond's house has taught me this well, for he made sure that I knew the Ring's history with my kin. I did not know that I would be faced with the Ring, but Elrond ensured my readiness nonetheless.

I am bound to the Elf-lord in more than my childhood teachings. He bound me to him with beauty in his daughter, in love with her voice and in heart with her own love. But this temptation, too, he kept from my reach.

And this temptation, too, has offered itself to me. The star of mithril around my neck proves this, and I accepted it gladly, especially when her voice of moonlight and ages long past whispered that her heart was free to give to whom she chose.

She chose me, and my heart rejoiced.

The Ring is always there, a temptation I could take easily, if not freely. It would give itself to me at any time, and I fear the day when Frodo offers it. Even now, my blood thrums in response to its nearness, its availability...

And my heart pines for my love, so far away from its place beside me.

But my mind is set on a course alongside these others, all valiant and brave, and I would not abandon such a quest of great import for a comfortable bed with a kind and affectionate lover. She would not take me if I left this road anyway, for I would show a weakness far greater than my ancestor's if I ran from the face of peril. I would show myself a coward.

I am not a coward, if I am anything at all.

I walk beside the hobbits and envy them, for their partners travel with them. Frodo can curl up in Sam's arms every night and find solace there from the great burden he carries. Pippin has Merry to tease away all the self-doubt in his eyes when he's misstepped. Legolas seems to be particularly single-minded and comfortable in his role as righteous paladin - though, I suppose, so must I...

I do not know what to make of Boromir. My mind returns to his presence time and again. I would not have chosen him as a companion for this mission, but he has proven his worth. His arm is steady, if not his heart.

He sits all too near me at the fire, and it has been my watch for over an hour now. He must speak soon, and he seems all too reluctant to begin. A conflict between us seems imminent, and perhaps we should clear it from the air before it affects the rest. Before it consumes one or the other of us.

I am very good at keeping things from consuming me. But, from his occasional glances, it seems that more than this quest consumes his mind, and heart. I hope it does not singe me, this fire...

And, all too soon, he speaks.

"Our shining city," he begins, "will be lost." His voice is rough, disheartened. I wonder at the 'our'. He knows, but I did not expect him to ever acknowledge my heritage.

"You cannot be sure," I reply before the words are thought through.

"I can. I know Gondor's peril better than you do." I let silence settle on these words, add weight to however he chooses to continue. "You have been in the wilds, far from the city walls. You do not see that my father, once a great leader of men, has been distracted by a bauble he keeps in greatest secrecy. He has begun to lose all his strength, without losing his grip on all he commands..." Boromir's voice drops in shame. It is a long, broken heartbeat later when he whispers, "We need a leader." His eyes meet mine. "We need a King. But I do not see one, only shards that need to be forged anew."

How do I answer him? I stand, and hold out a hand. "Come, walk the perimeter with me. Perhaps our words may fare better in the solace of darkness." And, I fear, our voices may begin to rise to volumes best suited away from sleeping ears.

He does not take my hand, but he rises with a nod.

We walk in near-silent step, pushing aside branches for each other. A strange companionship, this, one of soldiers and woodsmen. I keep the silence until I am certain I hear nothing out of the ordinary. My duty as watchman finished for the moment, I speak.

"There will be a King. The sword will be reforged. Gondor will not fall." He stops, faces me with a bit of that heat simmering behind his contempt. I play with many embers here... If I ignite one, it will be ruin; if I ignite the other, I cannot guarantee that he will not be consumed, and I along with him.

"How can you be sure?" He asks, acid in his voice.

The trick is to know when one spark can ignite the other, without all burning to ash.

"Because I am here, Steward's son. I have taken an oath that I will not break. I do not turn my back on my heritage. My deeds are for the safety of Middle-Earth, all of it, including the shining city that is our birthright. Ours, Boromir. Do not think that your deeds will mean nothing once the sword shows whole again. Do not think that by moving too soon, you will prove a king unnecessary by your own glory. You know the old verses. Do not discount the wisdom of ages, simply because the age is not our present one."

Boromir gapes at some of my words, then his gaze falls closed again when my speech nears its end.

"I do not believe in fate, ranger." I lost him. Time to find the ember I accidentally snuffed.

"Nor do I. But I believe in knowledge. I believe in those more sage than I. I will not move before my time. Too much is at stake for premature actions."

"We wait too long, when salvation is in our midst..."

"The Ring is not for any hand but its maker's!!" I cut in quickly. "And we must do all we can to keep the two from reuniting!"

He seems a bit taken aback. I gentle my voice.

"Boromir, you are a soldier. You are a son. You know the battles men wage, in their hearts and with their fists. Do not allow such a thing to take your heart when giving in will lead to death. Fight; you know in your mind that this is right..."

"I fight too many battles in my heart for my mind to have a say."

Ah, the other spark. Strike while the iron is hot, they say. Just a bit more heat is all I need...

"Man of Gondor, surely one of these battles is better lost... Surely a minor loss can give you strength to win against this greater wall..." My words are softer, kind.

His are not. "You do not know these battles!"

My gloved hand rises to mirror the curve of his face, inches away from his actual skin. "I know Gondor better than you would like to think." His expression is frozen.

"Ranger... do not think this can help." He flees from what I offer, hiding behind contempt.

"Trust in your King, Boromir. In this small thing, I will prove that trust for far greater things..."

He steps closer, into my touch.

Arwen, forgive me.

I know she will. She knows of this kind of thing, and accepts it as it is. She will know of Boromir's conflicts and believe that I won his loyalty fairly, openly, the best way I could.

But when his lips touch mine, I can feel his blaze coursing along my skin, and I am not sure that I will come away from this unchanged. My mouth responds, ardently, and we embrace as only soldiers can.

It is not a new thing, to feel this passion while my heart lies elsewhere. It is not a difficult thing. It is, however, surprising every time. Man or woman, my body responds. I enjoy this, the sensation of skin on mine, rough hair scratching along my cheek.

The rush of cool air on newly exposed skin has an exhilarating effect. My voice rasps out into the night air as his mouth moves from mine, and I bite back the next noises in my throat as I remove his clothing, too.

He is beautiful. All lovers are. But he...he has a body that mirrors his soul. Strong, resilient, but scarred deeply in places you can only see when he is so exposed. I want to free him from all he carries on his shoulders, all the responsibility of a failing father, and a growing threat he, as heir, must face. I want to keep him from these terrible responsibilities, take them as my own...

I want to be the King he needs of me.

I pull us down, onto the haphazard bed of cloaks and clothing we have made, links of chainmail biting into my elbow as I catch our fall. Another bruise from this journey. No matter. It will fade before our travels are half done.

We whisper to each other, half-speaking, the words lost to all but each other...

"Aragorn..." His hands bruise me, his fingernails putting furrows in my forearm, on a shoulder.

"Boromir." I take the pain, allow him to transfer his internal struggle onto my skin. I will heal; I need him to heal as well. So I take it.

His skill is not only in battle. We last long enough to prove that I have acted rightly, that this will mean something to him. But we cannot last long.

He surrenders this conflict as fiercely as he tries to fight the Ring. And when surrendering finally proves to be greater than denying what he wanted of me, he finally speaks truth.

"My King..." It is a broken sob, proof that this wall between us has crumbled.

"I will not fail your trust," I reply in a whisper. "The shining city will not fall, Sauron will be defeated." And I find that in the face of his heat, I may have been forged anew. He was not the only one broken, it seems.

We dress, glances meeting with no more enmity. I understand him, he understands me, and in that we find respect. I see a bit of awe in his eyes, too. It does not settle easily in my mind, this adulation. I revealed myself as a man wearing well a phantom crown - will he still admire me so when the true crown settles on my brow? When I have a queen, and the daily duties that would have fallen to him (were this a different age) are then mine?

He kisses me again before I wake Legolas for the next watch, a wild kiss appropriate after such an interlude. It sets a light simmer in my blood, and I anticipate a recurrence. I don't know if I am hoping for another forging of myself - or hoping simply to rekindle what we found within each other's embrace.

Just before I slip off to sleep, I realize that he is still awake, facing me. His eyes glitter of the firelight.

These flames are dangerous to dance amidst.

The next morning, he shakes me awake. He seems indifferent, as if nothing has changed. This is the mask we will wear for the others, but surely even the foolhardy hobbits may see that an entire battlefield has been abandoned. They must know that a battle has been resolved.

They need not know how, but if they are reassured by our resolution, I will be heartened. Our struggle of wills must have been worrying them after Gandalf fell into the depths of Moria...

Gandalf would have seen through our masks. Perhaps that would have been a good thing. His counsel has been oft needed, and will be more so the closer we near to the realm of shadow. I believe I acted rightly in binding Boromir's flame to me... Heat is always best served in a forge, when great wars have begun.

I simply fear what this may do to me over time.

Tonight he takes a shift, and I stay up, seemingly restless. In a way, I am. Not only do I anticipate what is to come, but Legolas seems oddly on edge, and he says that he senses something on the periphery of his mind. My armor is mended, my sword edge keen as ever from my busy hands.

Boromir approaches from behind me after the others are asleep, and stills me with a hand on each shoulder. I do not turn, do not move. I do not do anything at all save speak. "Come, Boromir," I murmur, "And let us talk of rebuilding the glory of men."

He laughs, and an arm slides down my shoulder to catch my elbow and lead us away to the periphery of our camp site. This time, there is no bruising. There are tears, for we go slowly and we speak at greater length than is needed for just our activities.

He is still being pulled by the Ring. He still believes there is some hope in it, and I try to have him believe that it was created for only a hopeless end. He weeps when I say that the glory of Gondor lies not in a circle of gold but in the hearts of men like us. One of my hands lie on his bare chest as I say this, the other hand on my own breast. It is this gesture that makes him weep.

Perhaps he fears that his weakness will return if he is not at my side, but he refuses to bind himself to me, knowing I would turn his devotion away. I refuse have him bind himself to me, not certain that I could turn him away. I do not think I could ever turn him away.

That night, we sleep side by side, but without touching. The others will start wondering if we share blankets, but I do not think I care. My lady's jewel still hangs at my throat.

The next day, he dies. He gives way to the Ring and dies. I come to his side too late, and when we finally drive away the hordes of bastard soldiers, I must hold him as he slips away.

In the end, it is only one ember that shines in his eyes. His last words name me as his King, which makes it echo into eternity. I kiss his forehead in a last gesture of our shared heat, and feel the tears fall unheeded. Gimli has looked away, and the elf has a measure of understanding in his always-clear gaze.

Perhaps my companions understood more than I had hoped. It changes nothing. A hero is still dead. The Fellowship is still scattered.

A great man, more than just the sum of warrior training and noble blood, is no more.

I step into the shadow of the man he believed me to be, and become King.

Shining City, Part 2.

Like his offhand nickname, I see him striding along, in a leadership role now that Gandalf has passed into the abyss below Moria, and I wonder. He seems to have a sheen of... nothing, a mask of devotion on his features, and I want to know how deep that devotion runs. I saw him in that room, the first time, our gazes meeting over the shards of the great sword, and I knew immediately who he was. There was no mistaking that blood, even though he seems to ignore it, to suppress it.

I know he is a devoted man. I see the gleaming evidence of it around his neck, and it only sets another conflict in my mind ablaze. I want this man, I want the Ring, I want a King to lead our people to glory, I want to be that leader.

I cannot have all of that; I doubt that I can have any of it.

Over the course of the journey, these conflicts keep complicating the Fellowship, and I have only myself to blame. How could I have joined in a quest whose very goal I oppose with every fiber of my being? To ensure that it does not fail - because if it does, my fears, my worries, will be proven correct. And I could bear with that outcome even less than if we succeed.

I still like to believe myself a good man. But I doubt, especially when I look at the ranger, the supposed King. He carries the shards of the sword on him as he travels, and it must be a burden, but he does not speak of it. He does not say a word.

And so I wonder. Is he really a steadfast and true leader, or is he simply traveling along in a path he knows he must tread? I know the latter too well. I have the misfortune to be who I am, when I am. But I yearn to break free.

In Aragorn, I see one way towards freedom. But it is blocked by the mithril gleam at his collar.

In the Ring, I see another, but that way, too, is blocked.

I fight myself, every step of the way, to not take my chance and run with it to Gondor's salvation. And my own salvation. I need to find some place within myself where I do not fight what must be.

Perhaps if I speak to this shadow of a King, if I can air out my pains somehow, I will find ease, if not rest...

"Our shining city," I say, "will be lost." I wait for a response, for my voice seems to fail me.

"You cannot be sure." And, for once, his words do not seem so trite, so meaningless. He did not put the superficiality of his duties in his mind before speaking. Exactly what I had hoped for - and feared. I do not want to desire him more, and a heart-to-heart may not help my traitorous emotions.

I put up walls within my heart before I speak.

"I can. I know Gondor's peril better than you do." He does not answer. "You have been in the wilds, far from the city walls. You do not see that my father, once a great leader of men, has been distracted by a bauble he keeps in greatest secrecy. He has begun to lose all his strength, without losing his grip on all he commands..." My voice starts to weaken again, as I speak things I should not be exposing so soon. It is too soon. I whisper, "We need a leader." Then I harden my heart, and give him ice, whispering as I meet his eyes, "We need a King. But I do not see one, only shards that need to be forged anew."

I let that sink in, and wait for the response - any response. I need him to respond to me.

He stands, and holds out a hand, saying unexpectedly, "Come, walk the perimeter with me. Perhaps our words may fare better in the solace of darkness." I do not take his hand, but I go with him. I wonder if he is as afraid of the silent night alone with me as I am with him.

We do not speak for some time, and my heart falters at each step. I should not be alone with him. I need the light, the warmth of a fire to keep me strong against the pulls on my heart. I find the fire within, but hide it from his gaze as he speaks again.

"There will be a King. The sword will be reforged. Gondor will not fall."

I stop in my tracks. How... predictable. "How can you be so sure?" I ask, the words lashing out. I want to see if he will wince when the blow lands.

He does not. He simply... watches me.

"Because I am here, Steward's son. I have taken an oath that I will not break. I do not turn my back on my heritage. My deeds are for the safety of Middle-Earth, all of it, including the shining city that is our birthright. Ours, Boromir. Do not think that your deeds will mean nothing once the sword shows whole again. Do not think that by moving too soon, you will prove a king unnecessary by your own glory. You know the old verses. Do not discount the wisdom of ages, simply because the age is not our present one."

An interesting speech. When he claimed the city ours, he had almost stolen the heat from my heart. But when he cited the verses, I could not allow any pliancy of will within myself. He has too much education backing up his convictions. I have seen the truth in my very home.

"I do not believe in fate, ranger." How could I, with the fate I have been given thus far? I hate the very concept of fate. Fate means that I am to be so conflicted and restless, and I would not have that as my philosophy, for all the Rings of Power

"Nor do I. But I believe in knowledge. I believe in those more sage than I. I will not move before my time. Too much is at stake for premature actions."

He must play chess. Such games are a waste of time. "We wait too long, when salvation is in our midst..."

He cuts my words off with a snarl, "The Ring is not for any hand but its maker's!! And we must do all we can to keep the two from reuniting!"

Now there's something.

He goes on more quietly, "Boromir, you are a soldier. You are a son. You know the battles men wage, in their hearts and with their fists. Do not allow such a thing to take your heart when giving in will lead to death. Fight; you know in your mind that this is right..."

He has seen me. He has seen though me.

In my surprise, I say too much. "I fight too many battles in my heart for my mind to have a say."

"Man of Gondor, surely one of these battles is better lost... Surely a minor loss can give you strength to win against this greater wall..."

He has trapped me within my own heart's desires...No!

"You do not know these battles!" I lash out between clenched teeth. He cannot.

His hand moves, and breaks me utterly. It is a simple gesture, it does not even touch me, but it destroys me. "I know Gondor better than you would like to think." And his voice makes me into dust.

"Ranger," I say, despairing even as I insult him, "do not think that this can help."

I can never have you, I am saying, Would you offer me the Ring as well?

"Trust in your King, Boromir. In this small thing, I will prove that trust for far greater things..."

I can have my King. I can have the man. They can both exist, in this place, in this time... I take what he offers, stepping into the caress.

I do not care how long it lasts.

I hurt him, even as he is inexpressibly gentle but demanding of me. Such a King... He takes the bruising, the deep scrapes on his skin, as his tithe. As if he is owed this.

I let myself find solace in giving in, if only for the time being.

Afterwards, I call him, "My King." My voice is as broken as I was before I accepted his offer. But now I find a strange calm, a certainty of where I belong in this world. I will stand at his side when he receives the crown. I will watch him until then, to see if my trust is misplaced.

His whispered reply makes this all too unreal: "I will not fail your trust. The shining city will not fall, Sauron will be defeated." There is something new in his voice, that I must note and treasure.

We dress and he wakes the elf for the next watch. I steal a kiss before we bed down separately. I watch him go to sleep, and see him see me watching.

What could not ruin this, I think as I finally drift off to sleep myself. But I savor it before it is ruined, even as it is already shadowed by that moonlight around his neck, and the sunlight around Frodo's neck.

The next night, we slip off again and find solace that is more complete in each other's arms. We speak, we make love... all is balanced, centered, calm. Nothing is safe, but it is enough anyway.

I fall twice the next day. Once for the Ring's lure, and I chase Frodo away.

The second fall was my attempt to make up for the earlier folly. I fight, and I die. It isn't a hero's death if you die during an act of penance for a sin so great...

My last moments are spent in the arms of my King. And all the conflicts are resolved. I cannot have the Ring, at all. I cannot lead my people to glory. I have held the man in my arms whom I have long desired...

And in my final moments, I see the King finally step out of the darkness and into his birthright.


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