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Duty Bound  by Bodkin

Epilogue – A Question Answered

A drift of fine smoke stung the warrior’s nose and made him blink.

‘What happened?’ Pippin’s fluting voice sounded concerned.

Boromir’s eyes took on the look of a rain-washed mountain slope in winter.  A gentle hand, rather smaller than most, closed on his arm and the tall man was surprised by the understanding in Frodo’s face.  It was at times like this that he realised that the halfling was older by far than he looked and had his own experiences of the vicissitudes of life.

‘She died,’ he said simply.

‘You must miss her very much.’  Pippin sounded sad, touched by the tragedy he automatically assumed hid behind the words.

‘I do,’ Boromir said.  ‘I think that, in some ways, the longer I have spent without her, the larger the gap that her absence creates.’

‘You have not married again?’ Aragorn asked.   The eyes of hobbits, dwarf and elf fixed on him with varying degrees of disbelief.  ‘It is not uncommon among men,’ he said defensively.  ‘Especially when there are other considerations.’

Boromir shrugged.  ‘I have not married again,’ he confirmed.  ‘Although I daresay at some point that my father will insist on it – if we survive the assaults on us long enough for him to give it some thought, at any event.  The Stewardship must have heirs of our blood – and neither my brother nor I are in positions that could be considered safe.’

Merry’s sharp features contained a greater understanding.  ‘Duty,’ he said.

‘Duty,’ Boromir agreed.  ‘Yet obedience to necessity can have its rewards.’  He glanced at the lean Ranger who was fingering his pipe thoughtfully in the absence of any of his noxious weed.  ‘As I am sure you must have learned.’

Mithrandir watched them under his bushy eyebrows.  Time – and conversation and shared danger – might yet meld this unlikely group into a true fellowship, but it seemed unlikely.

The man of Gondor glanced at the stick his fingers were doggedly stripping of its bark.  There were times, now, when he was glad that the child had not survived to see the skies growing ever darker over Mordor.  Times when he was glad that one innocent, at least, was spared the fate that seemed increasingly likely to bring them all down. 

Yet, there was hope still, however slim.  And he was faced with the duty of helping see that those confronting peril were as ready as they could be.

‘Come, Master Pippin, Master Meriadoc,’ he said.  ‘Let us continue your lessons while we may.’

The hobbits exchanged glances, clearly deciding among themselves that this topic was best left for another day.

‘So, Boromir,’ the youngest hobbit demanded, as he picked up his small sword.  ‘Tell us about your brother.’

A snort of laughter escaped the wizard.  ‘Hobbits,’ he declared with a surprising warmth in his gruff voice.  ‘Boundless curiosity and bottomless appetites.  Hold your tongue, young Took, and save your energy for your training.’

Boromir rose, tall, battle-hardened, scarred in more than body.  He could not control all events – he had come to learn this over more years of warfare than he cared to consider.  He could not always succeed, could not always have what he wanted.  But Gondor’s need called – and it was his task and honour to serve.  ‘Later,’ he said.


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