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the clear ringing of silver trumpets

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i. The Steward and the King

Boromir leaves as soon as the Council draws to a close. He does not go far - just enough to put some distance between him and the rest of the group.

He has little patience for myths and legends - he would prefer to focus on the future’s gathering darkness than to walk aimlessly through the shadows of the past. But today, he seems to have found himself within a living legend. Isildur’s Bane, and Elendil’s sword, and prophecies and riddles and dreams, springing to life everywhere he looks.

And then there is the ranger of the North. Descended from Isildur, Elrond had said. Chief of the Dúnedain. That makes him heir to the throne of Gondor. It makes him his king.

It also makes him-

“Boromir,” he hears a voice call, interrupting his thoughts, and he turns to see Aragorn standing in the doorway.

He does not look like the kings of legend, with their fair faces and their decorations. His face is stern and his grey eyes are cautious, and his hair is shaggy and flecked with grey. He wears a simple dark cloak, worn and frayed around the edges.

“It is Aragorn, is it not?” he says, even though he knows exactly what his name is.

“I am sorry that we were not introduced before the Council,” Aragorn says. “I would have spoken with you.”

“Well, we are speaking now, are we not?”

Aragorn meets his eyes calmly. “You know that my blood holds a claim to the realm of Gondor,” he says.

“And do you mean to claim it?”

“I mean to protect the Ringbearer,” he says. “The road is long between here and the White City.”

“And after?” Boromir asks. “Do you wish to be king?”

Aragorn sighs. “My wishes are not relevant.”

Boromir clenches his teeth. “You cannot be a good king without a wish to rule, without a drive to care for the people.”

“I did not say I do not care,” Aragorn says calmly. “But simply that my desires matter little.”

“That is very dutiful of you,” Boromir says, moving to turn away.

“Do you know the lay of the steward and the king?” Aragorn asks suddenly.

Boromir closes his eyes briefly. Of course he knows it - every child in Gondor knows it. He is opening his mouth to answer when Aragorn begins to sing.

If Gondor lies without a king
If Arnor lacks a lord
There must be measures put in place
To see the realm restored

A broken sword will need a forge
To reunite the blade
A broken lineage will need
A different kind of flame

The steward of the City fair
The chieftain of the north
Will be united, two as one
And forever henceforth

For what has been torn by the wars
And broken by its fears
Shall be re-fastened by a bond
To last throughout the years

Into the city they shall come
And through the streets shall ride
To rule together, bound in love
At one another’s side.

Boromir sighs inwardly. Faramir had teased him endlessly about the song when they were young boys, about the handsome king that would ride out of the storybooks to claim his hand for the good of the realm.

“They are fair words,” he says carefully. “Nothing more.”

“You do not trust them?” Aragorn asks.

“I trust action,” Boromir replies.

“Are they not words of action?”

“They are words,” he says. “They fall from the tongue easily and disappear on the wind.”

“A word can wield as much power as a sword or an axe,” Aragorn replies. “Was it not words that brought you here to Rivendell? Were you not driven by the need to make sense of mysterious words?”

Aragorn is right. His dream riddle still echoes in his mind - And the Halfling forth shall stand - and he sighs. “Then tell me,” he says. “What sense do you make from these words?”

“They speak of the reunification of the two kingdoms,” Aragorn says. “Through betrothal.”

“Yes, that is what they have always meant in Gondor,” Boromir replies.

“So you do know them?”

“It is a romantic myth,” Boromir replies dismissively. “It is not practical - I do not believe my father will react well if you ask for his hand in marriage.”

“And I do not believe it is your father I am intended to marry,” Aragorn replies. “I do not think you believe that, either.”

They stare at one another, each taking the measure of each other’s mettle.

“Do you wish to claim my hand, then?” Boromir asks.

“I do not wish to claim anything,” Aragorn replies, his eyes flashing. “But I believe the words hold truth - reuniting the realm means reuniting the people. It will be a stronger rule.”

Boromir suspects he is right, but he will not admit that to him, this strange man who acts like he has known him for years, not minutes. “Then what are you asking for?”

“For now, I ask for nothing,” Aragorn says. “Instead I will make you a promise, Boromir son of Denethor: that if I prove worthy of the blood that flows through my veins, if I prove worthy of all the peoples of this land, that I may also prove worthy to you. Only then will I ask.”

“Fair words,” he scoffs.

“No,” Aragorn replies. “Those are words of action.”

He turns and walks out of the room, leaving Boromir behind.

Boromir runs a hand through his hair. The legend is much loved among the people of Gondor, and it will be difficult to avoid, if Aragorn makes himself known. He does not exactly disagree with Aragorn - a marriage between the two of them would make for a more stable transition - but he does not wish to wed simply because it has been pre-ordained in verse.

He pushes it to the back of his mind. It is, as Aragorn had said, a very long road between here and the White City.

ii. Sweet is the Sound of Singing Folk

“Are you and Strider getting married?” Pippin asks.

They’re trudging through the snow on top of Caradhras. Together with Aragorn, he had spent an hour clearing a path through the heavy drifts, and now with Pippin clinging to his back and Merry on Aragorn’s, they are slowly moving forwards.

Boromir looks at Aragorn’s shoulders ahead of him. He is not what he had expected of Isildur’s heir. He had thought he would demand to take the lead, that he would be imperious in his directions, that he would seek any opportunity to find his glory, so that he could ride into Minas Tirith emblazoned with victory.

But he lets Gandalf lead, content to follow his judgement, offering small suggestions where he can. He is quiet and reserved, often spending his evenings smoking and watching the others talk. And he is perceptive, always watching the ground or listening to the wind with a considering expression on his face, always quick to realise when the hobbits are falling behind.

Sometimes, Boromir can feel that discerning gaze on himself, and he shifts under its focus, wondering what it is that Aragorn sees.

Pippin kicks him out of his reverie. “Are you?” he asks again.

Boromir sighs. “Why do you ask?”

“I’ve heard an old song that tells of a wedding between the steward of Gondor - that’s you - and the Chieftain of the North - that’s Strider.”

“I am not the Steward of Gondor,” Boromir replies.

“But you will be!” Pippin says. “Just like Strider will be king.”

“When- if Aragorn becomes king, there will be no need for a steward.”

“Of course not!” Pippin says. “Because you won’t be his steward, you’ll be his husband!”

Boromir sighs.

“It’s a nice song,” Pippin says. “Hobbits have a wedding song - would you like to hear it?”

“No,” Boromir replies, but Pippin is already singing.

O! Sweet is the sound of singing folk
who gather beneath the tall old oak;
to bond two lives forever as one
by stars, by moon, by flowers, by sun!

From Aragorn’s back, he hears Merry join in.

O! Warm are the hands that find their hearth
and steady the feet that know their path;
How lovely it is to be a pair
How happy to have a life to share!

O! Safe are the hearts in careful hands
So let the call ring across the lands!
Oh happy! Oh joy! Oh gladness and glee!
To see two friends pledge their lives to thee.

“We shall sing it at your wedding,” Merry declares.

“First we will all need to get off the mountain,” Boromir says, and they continue on in silence, shoulders hunched against the force of the wind.

When they reach a great drift, they put the hobbits down. Boromir takes a step towards the edge, looking down over the sheer drop. He thinks he can see the mysterious birds from earlier in the day, and he leans forward, trying to get a clearer look. But he leans forward too far, and he feels the world slip away from him.

Strong arms wrap themselves around his chest, pulling him backwards. He leans into the weight and they both go down into the snow, collapsing into the drift. Boromir rolls off Aragorn quickly and gets to his feet, holding out a hand. Aragorn takes it, but continues to hold it once he is upright.

“You tire,” he says. “You push yourself too hard.”

“I push myself no harder than you do yourself,” Boromir replies.

Aragorn just nods and lets go of his hand, and they turn to walk back to the others to collect Frodo and Sam. On the way, Aragorn stumbles, and Boromir reaches out to steady him.

He looks at him closely. “Perhaps we both need to take better care of ourselves,” he says.

“Perhaps,” Aragorn says. “But we cannot always keep our eyes on the way ahead and our own steps at once.”

The man wears responsibility like a cloak - heavy and thick upon his shoulders. It is palpable, somehow, and Boromir can feel it when he looks at him, can hear it in every word he says. He knows something of that burden himself, and he knows well how lonely it can feel.

“Then we watch one another’s steps,” he says.

Aragorn looks surprised, but he smiles slightly. “I suppose we can do that.”

As they travel back with Sam and Frodo on their backs, Boromir again finds his eyes drawn to Aragorn’s shoulders, narrower than his own, and wonders how they bear the weight he places on them.

Yet he also finds himself thinking of how Aragorn’s arms were warm where he’d touched him. And he thinks of Pippin’s song: of hands that find hearths, and feet that find paths.

iii. Hope in the Dark

Boromir opens his eyes to the sight of sunlight through dappled leaves. His chest hurts with every breath, so for a time he simply lies there, staring at the leaves, breathing gently until his body becomes accustomed to the pain.

He has seen these leaves before, he thinks vaguely. Where has he seen them?

It is only then that he suddenly remembers why he is in pain at all, and he sits up with a horrified gasp.

“Hush,” a voice says, and he turns to see the Lady Galadriel sitting by his bed.

“My lady,” he gasps, turning his face away from her eyes, too knowing and too kind all at once.

She places her hand on his chest, gently pushing him to lie down. “You have suffered a grievous injury,” she says. “But you shall live.”

He closes his eyes. “It is as you suspected,” he says. “I failed your test.”

“You tried to take the ring from Frodo,” she says solemnly.

“Yes,” he says.

“Yet you did not seize it, in the end,” she continues.

“Only by chance,” he says. “If I had not fallen, I…” he trails off.

“But you did fall,” she says. “And then you rose to your feet with remorse.”

He turns to look at her.

“You would have given your life for the hobbits, and you very nearly succeeded.”

“It was only what I deserved,” he says. “And now the Fellowship is broken, and all is lost.”

“Perhaps,” she says. “But perhaps not. Hope survives even in the unlikeliest of places - I think you have heard that before, have you not?”

Boromir closes his eyes. It is the last thing, he remembers, before the blackness had taken him. Aragorn had crashed through the trees, his eyes shining and his sword gleaming, his battle cry of “Elendil” ringing through the woods. His hair was a mess and he was covered in blood, but Boromir had looked at him and, for the first time, had seen a king.

Aragorn had knelt by his side. “Boromir,” he had said, the gentle tone in his voice at odds with his panicked expression.

“Aragorn,” he had choked out. “Forgive me.” He had reached up to clutch the back of his head, his fingers awkwardly tangling in his hair. “I have failed you all.”

“No,” Aragorn had said. “No, you have protected us.”

“I have not,” he gasped. “I tried to take the ring from Frodo, and the little ones will be slain, and darkness will fall across the world of men.”

“None of those things have yet come to pass,” Aragorn said. He clutches his hand. “Hope remains.”

Boromir had coughed. “Hope,” he had repeated. “You must go to Minas Tirith.”

“No,” Aragorn had said again. “I will not ride into Minas Tirith until we do so at another’s sides, as we were always meant to.”

Boromir had coughed again, the coppery taste of blood on his lips. “Protect my- our people,” he said. “You must do that for me.”

“First you must do something for me,” Aragorn had said. “You must live.”

The last thing Boromir remembers before the darkness had taken him was the feeling of Aragorn’s lips against his brow.

He opens his eyes and looks back at Galadriel. “Where is Aragorn?” he asks.

“He is tracking the hobbits,” she says. “His path leads away, into the land of men and horses.”

“Rohan,” he breathes.

She looks at him. “Yet your path leads to Minas Tirith,” she says, the hint of a question in her voice.

“I must return,” he says. “I fear what brews in the east. But he…” he trails off.

“He sings for you,” she says suddenly. “In the still hush of the morning, he sings of hope.”

She opens her mouth and begins to sing, and Boromir’s heart clenches in his chest.

As darkness gathers in the east, as moon and stars go out
As paths diverge, and friendships end, and all falls into doubt
I will not fear the rushing dark, the distant sound of drums
For winter ever turns to spring, and sunrise always comes.

Land lies beyond the horizon, seeds hide beneath the ground
The stars persist behind the sun, just waiting to be found
The path is dark beneath your feet, yet surely still it lies
If you can listen to your steps, instead of just your eyes.

And so I trust in things unknown, that lie beyond my sight
And listen for my pathway home, despite the hush of night
I hear a horn that calls to me, that rings out true and clear
It soothes my heart, and lets me know that victory is near.

As the last note dies on the wind, Galadriel smiles at him. “The question is not whether you stumble,” she says, “but where you choose to place your feet afterwards. That is the test.”

iv. When the Pathway Parts

Boromir is standing in the Court of the Fountain, looking out to the East, when they bring the man from Rohan to him.

He had ridden straight for Minas Tirith as soon as he was well enough to ride. It has been no more than eight sunrises since he had fallen on the hills of Amon Hen, but the shadow in the east feels all the darker, and the streets are filled with fear.

He has heard word of a great fleet approaching the Anduin, manned by the corsairs of Umbar. They have allied themselves with Sauron, and will draw much of the men from Lebennin and Belfalas, men that he had counted on for the fight ahead.

Gondor now stands near alone. His only hope is to look north to Rohan, but he hesitates. He has heard word of a mighty battle in the land of horses - a great siege that nearly ended in disaster, were it not for the brave actions of King Théoden. Their reserves will be depleted, and their armies will have suffered losses, and he does not know if they will come when he calls.

It is a terrible thing, to extend a hand into the darkness and wait for it to be clasped, and he, curse him, does not know if he has the courage to do so.

“Lord Boromir,” a voice behind him calls. “Éomer of Rohan is here with news.”

Boromir turns to see a tall man, fair-haired and ruddy-cheeked, striding towards him.

“Boromir?” he asks, reaching out to clasp his hand. “Well met, indeed.”

Boromir returns his clasp. “Théoden’s son?” he asks. “I have heard word of your victory at the Hornburg.”

“It was a near thing,” Éomer replies. “But the Rohirrim are not so easily subdued.” He looks across to the east. “Yet I fear that the greater battle is yet to come.”

Boromir sighs. “We are besieged from all sides,” he says. “The Enemy gathers in the east, and mobilises in the South, and now we hear that the threat comes from Isengard as well?”

“That is the news I bring,” he says. “I parted ways with the forces on the road to Isengard. I do not know what awaits them there, but there were strange sights - a forest that appeared like magic, great trees that struck fear into the Uruk-Hai. I would have feared the trees themselves, but Gandalf counselled against it.”

“Gandalf?” Boromir asks with wonder. “Gandalf lives?”

Éomer smiles. “He sends you his greetings, as do your other companions, the dwarf Gimli, the elf Legolas, and Aragorn son of Arathorn.”

“Aragorn,” he breathes.

“He is a fine warrior,” Éomer says. “And he speaks very highly of you.”

“Where is Aragorn?” he asks.

Éomer frowns. “In Isengard, I believe. But after that, he wishes to take the Paths of the Dead.”

Boromir’s stomach clenches with fear. “The paths of the dead,” he whispers. “They do not suffer the living to pass.”

“Yet he has his heart set on it.”

“Does he wish to throw his life away?” he snaps. “He has men to lead, and wars to wage! He should not be meddling in the affairs of things that are dead and gone.”

“He believes that this is the path appointed to him,” Eomer says.

Boromir turns to look back at the east. Is this what Aragorn meant, when he said that he would prove worthy of the people of Gondor? Does he risk martyring himself to achieve a feat of legend?

He sighs. “He will do what he thinks he must,” he says. “Gondor will face the coming battle without him.”

“But not without Rohan,” Éomer says. “It would be our honour to stand with you.”

Boromir turns to clasp his wrist. “No,” he says. “It would be my honour to stand with you, united once more as Men of the West.”

Éomer nods. “I must return to the Rohirrim for the muster,” he says. “It will take some time.”

A huge clap of thunder echoes from the east. “Yet we have very little of it,” Boromir says.

“Then you must find another way to pass the message, faster than the horse rides.”

Boromir meets his knowing gaze. “It has been long since the beacons of Gondor were lit,” he says. “But it seems we walk through history and legend in these dark times.”

Éomer smiles. “Rohan will the heed the call,” he says. “But that is not the only reason you should light them.”

Boromir raises an eyebrow.

“It would ease his heart, to know that you live,” Éomer says.

Boromir feels a clenching in his chest, and he turns away to look back out to the East.

“There is a song we sing, for companions who find themselves separated by distance,” Éomer says, and he begins to sing.

When the pathway parts, and the cherries cleave,
When the riders roam, and the brothers leave,
When the seeds are strewn, and the birds take flight,
When one walks by day, and their love by night

Then the heart will ache, and the mind will yearn
Then the soul will quake, and the skin will burn
But the pain is pure, and the fears are fair
And the sorrow is such a sweet affair

For the riders return again for home
And the birds come back from whence they’ve flown
Look into the skies! Listen to the ground!
For the sign that love will again be found.

He nods to Boromir, clasping his fist to his chest, then turns and walks out of the courtyard.

Boromir takes a deep breath and follows him, calling for the beacons to be lit. And he watches the lights spring across the mountains, growing more and more distant, he hopes that Rohan will see the call, and that Aragorn will see the sign.

v. The People’s Song

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields is bloody and vicious, and Boromir is exhausted. The forces of Mordor feel relentless: endless waves of orcs and trolls and Easterlings. His men have fought bravely, but he does not know how much longer they can hold.

He looks across to the north, where he sees the forces of Rohan holding back a wave of orcs. Éomer had been true to his word, and their armies arrived at dawn, resolute and steadfast against the coming shadow. Yet they also tire; he can see heads of the horses drooping, and the men flagging.

Movement out of the corner of his eye catches his attention, and he flings up his shield to block a volley of arrows. Tightening his grip on his sword, he swings himself around to fling himself back into the fray once more.

There are too many of them: Easterlings with heavy axes, Southrons dressed in bright scarlet, and even the Variags of Khand, some of them in fearful chariots. He can hear his men yelling something, pointing at the river, and he turns to see heavy boats slowly making their way up the Anduin.

“The Corsairs of Umbar,” he mutters to himself. “So we have lost Belfalas, and the Ethir, and Lebennin too.”

He feels a wave of despair, and he closes his eyes briefly. In that split second, he thinks of Aragorn, who must have perished in the Paths of the Dead. He thinks of the promise he had made him, under the eaves of Rivendell, a promise that he would prove himself worthy.

But he had never asked Boromir to prove his own worth in return. He had simply asked for hope. So if this is to be his last moments on this earth, then that is what he shall do with them.

He opens his eyes, blazing with resolve, and he holds his sword aloft to catch the sunlight.

“Stand, Men of the West!” he cries. “They cannot take our hope from us!”

Yet as he looks back to the ships, a great white standard unfurls from the topmast, with the White Tree of Gondor crowned by the Seven Stars of Elendil. And as the ship pulls into dock, Aragorn leaps from the stern, his own sword gleaming in the sunlight.

He looks like a king. He looks like his king.

The battlefield erupts into chaos. His men are cheering, and their foes are scattering, but Boromir only has eyes for the stern face of the man who walks directly towards him, paying no mind to the battlefield around him.

“You live!” Aragorn says, and he reaches for him, clasping the back of his head to bring their brows together.

Boromir reaches up to return the gesture. “You have ridden out of death itself,” he says.

“You returned to me from the brink of death,” Aragorn replies. “I could ask no less of myself.”

Boromir lets his hand fall, and he takes a step back. “But I must ask more of you,” he says. “There is more fighting to be had before the sun sets.”

Aragorn nods. “Then lead on,” he says.

Boromir frowns at him. “You do not wish to lead?”

Aragorn looks surprised. “Your men look to you,” he says simply. “And so do I.”

And so Boromir leads them back into the fray, and they fight alongside one another, sword and shield shining in the sun. And as the sun sinks at last, setting the skies aflame and the mountains awash with the colour of blood, a hush falls over the battlefield, and the Battle for Gondor is won.

Boromir walks across the battlefield, closing the eyes of his fallen brothers. Eventually he feels a hand on his shoulder.

“They did not die in vain,” Aragorn says. “We must believe that.”

He sways slightly on his feet, and Boromir wonders when he last slept. “Come,” he says.

“There is more to be done here,” Aragorn says.

“And it will be done,” Boromir replies. “But not by you - not now. You have done more than enough. You have more than proven yourself.”

Aragorn remains silent, but allows himself to be led to a horse.

“You must return to the city,” Boromir says, helping him into the saddle. “The people will wish to welcome their king.”

Aragorn’s hand grips his wrist. “Together,” he says. “We ride in together.”

Boromir frowns.

“We have come very far to this moment,” Aragorn says. “Do not deny me this now.”

Boromir nods, and goes to mount his own horse. And finally, finally, they ride into the White City together.

It is not like he imagined. There is no cheering and no flowers and no silver trumpets. But people line the streets and, as they pass, drop to their knees in bows.

And as they continue, he hears a soft song begin to roll through the crowd.

Now is a time for glory,
Here in the city fair;
True is the olden story,
Of our triumphant pair;

Soon shall the dawn break yonder
So we will gladly sing;
To our fair lords of Gondor:
The Steward and the King.

He tears his gaze away from the solemn faces of his people to look at Aragorn, who is watching him with an unreadable expression on his face.

When they reach the Citadel they dismount, and Boromir leads Aragorn to his own chambers, where hot water and food and drink awaits them. Aragorn sinks heavily into a chair and begins to clean his face and hands of blood and grime.

“Sauron’s forces are not yet defeated,” Aragorn says. “I fear for the days ahead.”

“We will do what we must,” Boromir replies. “If it would give Frodo and Sam a chance, I would ride into the Black City myself.”

“Hopefully it will not come to that,” Aragorn says.

Boromir watches him. “We shall need to get you some proper armor,” Boromir says. “Something that befits a king.”

Aragorn sighs. “I am not yet king.”

“Are you still on this foolhardy quest for worth?” Boromir snaps. “You have more than proven yourself. Gondor would welcome you as king.”

“And you?” Aragorn asks, raising his eyes to meet his. “Would you welcome me?”

Boromir feels a stab of shame at the thought that this man, this stupid, stubborn, glorious man, might still believe that he has not proven himself in Boromir’s eyes. “You must forgive me,” he says.

He sees Aragorn’s shoulders slump slightly, and he refuses to meet his gaze. “You have done nothing to ask forgiveness for,” he says.

“Oh, but I have,” Boromir replies, and he steps forward to crouch in front of him. “You were always worthy,” he says. “I just could not see it.”

He slides his hand into his hair to cup the back of his head, pulling their lips together. Aragorn’s hands grip his arms as he surges forward into the kiss, his beard scraping against his cheek.

Boromir eventually pulls back to take a breath. “I am not the only one who was mistaken,” he says, with the hint of a smile on his lips.

Aragorn frowns slightly. “In what way?”

“On the day we met, you told me that your desires matter little,” he says. “You are wrong - they matter a great deal to me.”

Aragorn lets out a soft exhalation of laughter and shakes his head, and Boromir leans in to capture his lips once more.

He may not yet be his king, Boromir thinks, but as they press against one another, skin against skin, and as Aragorn trembles under the touch of his hand, he thinks that this, in its way, might be its own form of worship.

vi. Lords of Gondor

Their wedding day dawns fair and bright. The air feels fresh and clear and vast in a way it has not for a very long time. It is hope, he supposes: it is the world opening itself out to the future, like the way the mouth of a river meets the sea.

Their Fellowship is finally reunited, here in the White City. When he had heard word that Frodo was awake he had gone straight to his room. He had dropped to his knees and wept, and Frodo had simply touched his hair.

“If it had not been you, it would have been someone else eventually,” he had said. “Far better that the Fellowship broke on the shores of the Anduin than further along the path.”

“Forgive me,” he had whispered.

Frodo had smiled. “Let us leave the past in the past.”

“Yes,” Gandalf had added, from where he sat by his side. “It is time for us all to look to the future.” He had smiled at him. “And your future holds much love, I think.”

Gimli had laughed and clapped him on the back, and Legolas had given him one of his rare smiles. Merry and Pippin laughed and held onto his legs, nearly tipping him over, and Sam watched him suspiciously but had held his tongue, simply muttering his congratulations.

And through it all, Aragorn had stood in the corner of the room, watching with a smile on his face.

He is still smiling, on this fair, bright morning, when he leaves their bedchamber to go and meet Gandalf to prepare.

Faramir enters to help him dress.

“Well, brother,” he says. “I did not think this day would come.”

“You seemed sure of it when we were young,” Boromir laughs. “Do you remember how you would tease me?”

Faramir smiles. “Of course,” he says, as he fastens his armor in place. “But there have been many dark days between then and now.”

“That there have,” Boromir says. “But I hope there will be fewer in the future.”

“I do not doubt it - certainly not for you and our new king. I have seen the way you two look at one another.” He smiles, slightly wistfully. “It is very well deserved.”

Boromir smirks. “Perhaps not just for me,” he says. “I have placed you next to the horse lord during the ceremony - his name is Éomer of Rohan.”

“We have met,” Faramir says, the hint of a flush on his cheeks.

Boromir knows very well that they have met, and he cannot help but snort. Faramir glares at him. “You go and wed your lord, and I will see to mine.”

Boromir is still laughing when Aragorn enters the room. He is wearing Elendil’s chestplate, and it fits him like he was made for it.

“My king,” Boromir says.

Aragorn approaches him, a look of hesitation on his face. “I will soon be your king,” he says. “But I hope that first and always, I will be your husband.”

“First and always,” Boromir says with a smirk, “you will be the strange, untidy ranger who serenaded me in the halls of Rivendell.”

“I did no such thing,” Aragorn says, but his eyes are alight with amusement.

“You practically burst into song at the sight of my face,” Boromir continues.

“It is a very fair face,” Aragorn says, his eyes dropping to his lips.

Faramir clears his throat, and they startle away from one another.

“Come,” a voice says from the doorway, and they turn to see Gandalf. “It is time.”

As they enter the courtyard at one another’s side, a massive cheer emerges from the crowd.

Boromir stands to the side and watches as Aragorn is crowned king, the silver crown shining on his brow. Finally, Aragorn beckons to him, and he comes to stand by his side.

“I know you do not care for fair words,” Aragorn begins, but Boromir interrupts.

“If the words fall from fair lips,” he says, “then perhaps I do not mind them so much.”

Aragorn smiles at him then, a brilliant, beaming smile. “But I will not give you fair words,” he says. “I will give you action.” He takes his face in his hands and kisses him firmly.

Just before the crowd erupts into a mighty cheer, Boromir hears Pippin somewhere behind him: “You mean he isn’t even going to sing?”

Boromir just closes his eyes and leans into the kiss. It is a wedding, after all, and lips are made for sweeter things than song.