The Gift of Death, Chapter 30
Boromir had a bath, and Dawn accommodatingly scrubbed his back, nagging him to shave off his beard as she did. He might have been annoyed by her prattling had he not been so happy to be with her again. He was somewhat baffled by her behaviour—she seemed to cry much more than he had remembered. Surely he had not been away so long that he’d forgotten she was ever a weepy lass?
No, he recalled Faramir telling him that it was common for a breeding woman to collapse into a sodden mess over naught. Dawn had wept to see him again, had wept when he undressed and she saw his new scars—he thought them quite dashing, personally—had wept when he had removed his beard and stood before her, scrubbed and clean-shaven and combed.
“Come, sweet, you must cease,” he pleaded gently. “Do you wish your sister’s first sight of you in many days to be of red eyes and swollen face?” He pulled her into the bathing room and pumped some cool water into a basic. “Here, splash your poor eyes; they look sore enough to make me cry.”
He stood there so tall and broad, looking so manly and not about to weep, that Dawn couldn’t keep from smiling. “I’m sorry,” she sniffled, and dashed water over her face. It felt heavenly on her overheated face. “I just can’t seem to help it.”
He enfolded her in his arms and rested his cheek on her smooth hair. “Was it very hard, these past weeks without Buffy or me?”
“Not really,” Dawn replied, allowing him to lead her from the small chamber and out into the garden. She tilted back her head, marveling at the clear light streaming down over them. Ever since that weird earthquake, the air had taken on a different quality, as if it were cleaner somehow, moist and fresh. “I was worried about you all, of course, but you’re all so good at the butt-kicking that I knew you’d be ok.” She grinned at him. “I just missed you, something awful.”
“And I you. Ever was I thinking of you and our babe.” He placed a possessive hand on her belly. “How does it fare?”
“Seems pretty good,” she replied, covering his hand with hers. “I’m eating more than Merry these days, which scares everyone, and there’s the crying. Oh! And the puking. That’s kind of a drag.” Her grin turned wry. “But you gotta pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues.”
Boromir blinked at her. “No, didn’t catch any of that,” he said finally.
Dawn rolled her eyes. “Some things are worth suffering for,” she clarified, and he nodded in comprehension.
“So they are,” he agreed. “And speaking of suffering, there is the matter of a coronation to attend.”
“Oh, man, do we have to?” Dawn knew there was a little bit of a whine to her voice, but couldn’t help it. Standing around in the sun while people made speeches was not her idea of fun.
Boromir tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow and led her out to the street. “Yes, we do.”
“But you’re not the Steward, Faramir is,” she persisted as they passed through the fifth gate. “He’s the one who has to welcome Aragorn to the city, and then Gandalf will crown him, and blah blah.”
He shot her an amused glance and guided her around a steaming pile of horse apples. “Though my duty is no longer that of the Steward, still I must make an appearance, as must my betrothed,” Boromir replied. “And he is Aragorn no longer, but Elessar.”
Dawn frowned. “How many names is this guy going to have?” she demanded. “First he was Estel, then Strider, then Aragorn, and now Elessar. What’s next, Frank?”
“King Frank.” Boromir frowned. “That does not sound very regal. No, I do not like that at all. Elessar is vastly better.” Dawn giggled.
They walked in silence through three more gates, stopping before the ruined remains that the Witch-King had trashed. “Such fear, such despair, the last time we stood here together,” Boromir said quietly.
“And now, such joy,” Faramir said behind them. He was resplendently dressed for his role as Steward, and didn’t look too upset for a guy about to hand over the keys to the kingdom he’d always thought would be, if not his, then his brother’s. Beside him, Eowyn was wearing a gown of deepest purple, and her hair shone brighter than the sun against it, falling to her hips, unbound and wavy.
“I’m nervous,” Dawn confided in her as the brothers spoke about the ceremony. “What if I yack?”
“Do not be nervous,” Eowyn admonished soothingly. “You will not…uh… yack. For you have learned well these weeks all I have taught you about being a lady, and look very well besides.” She raked her critical gaze over Dawn, but could find nothing amiss in the other woman’s grey-blue gown and the silver circlet binding her sleek brown hair. She reached out and gently pinched Dawn’s pale cheeks, bringing some colour into them. “Now lift up your head in pride, for it is time to proceed.”
She stepped back and took Faramir’s arm, and the two of them swept out toward the assembled Host and people of Minas Tirith outside in the field, looking impossibly majestic. Boromir smiled at Dawn, proud to have such a beauty on his arm, and she found her courage buoyed by his satisfaction in her.
“Wait for me!” Merry cried, running up. “I am here!” He grabbed at Dawn’s hand. “You are looking very queenly,” he told her, and was rewarded with a brilliant, if wobbly, smile.
Lifting her chin, she strode between them as if she’d been born to rule. The aisle cleared through the crowd was long, and at the end stood Aragorn. Or Elessar, whichever it was this week, Dawn thought grumpily. As they drew nearer, she began recognizing people. A flash of white and red drew her attention. It was Gimli—the red was his beard, of course, but the white was a vast bandage swathing his head. Dawn sucked in her breath in dismay, but Boromir patted her arm comfortingly and assured her the dwarf was fine.
But she wasn’t really paying attention any longer, for standing behind Gimli was her sister and Legolas. Buffy waved enthusiastically, and Dawn forgot to be queenly for a moment, waving back until Boromir, grinning widely, grasped her arm and pulled it back down. “Calmly, sweet. Calmly.”
Buffy was doing some sort of bizarre pantomime, pointing to her stomach and then jerking forward as if heaving. “Oh!” Dawn exclaimed. “She wants to know if I’ve got morning sickness.” She nodded vigourously, and Buffy bit her lip in sympathy. Beside her, Legolas was grinning.
“Can you not at least pretend that this is a solemn occasion?” Boromir asked wryly.
“Sorry,” Dawn replied, chastened. They came to a halt. A few paces before them, Faramir removed a really old-looking crown from a box and began speaking. Dawn was sure it was all very inspirational, but it was high noon and her dress, though of very fine cloth, was starting to get pretty hot, and she had a persistent itch in the middle of her back as well. She tuned out and looked around. There was Haldir, smirking like usual. She blew him a kiss, and grinned when he blinked in surprise.
“Impressive, sweet,” Boromir murmured in her ear. “It is not often you can surprise an elf.”
“Especially that one,” added Merry from the corner of his mouth. Dawn smiled serenely and wished she could reach that itch…
Faramir handed the crown to Elessar, but he gave it back, saying that the Ring-bearer should bring it to him. Dawn’s wavering attention snapped back. “Frodo?” she whispered as a small figure, shoulders bowed as though under a great weight, came forward to take the crown. She blinked furiously to keep from crying yet again.
“Frodo,” Merry whispered as well, and Dawn took one look at the tears that streamed down his face and felt her own control slip. Frodo carried the crown to Gandalf, and Elessar knelt before the wizard, head bowed in utter humility. To the right of them, Frodo rejoined two other small figures: Sam and Pippin. “Oh, they are all safe. I am glad,” Merry said.
Once it was on Elessar’s head, and he stood once more, a brightness appeared to suffuse him, as if there were a single spotlight upon him. He seemed taller, somehow, taller and stronger and handsomer and wiser.
“Behold the King!” Faramir shouted, and Dawn jumped about seven feet when trumpets began blaring in celebration. “The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office,” Faramir continued, bowing before Elessar, but his head flew up again when the new King spoke.
“That office is not ended, for I shall have need of such men as you and your brother.” Elessar replied, and his smile encompassed both Faramir and Boromir alike. “Join me now, as I enter the White City for the first time as its ruler.”
Then Faramir and Eowyn stepped to one side, and Boromir and Merry pulled Dawn to the other, and Elessar passed them flanked by Gandalf and Frodo to enter the city. Falling in behind, there was all of thirty seconds of dignified solemnity before Buffy’s voice could be heard.
“Coming through, make way! Hey, shove over, Porky.”
“Porky?” demanded Haldir in outrage, while Legolas laughed in the background.
Then Buffy was hugging her, and Dawn was crying again, and everything was alright once more. “You didn’t die again, did you?” Dawn asked with a trembling, soggy smile.
Buffy pulled up short. “Hey!” she exclaimed. “You know, I didn’t!” Turning to Legolas, she beamed up at him. “I didn’t die this time!”
“Sometime to be proud of, certainly,” he murmured before gracing his sister-in-law with a lovely smile. “You are well, Minuial?”
“Mostly,” she replied, giving him a one-armed hug, reluctant to release her sister from the other. “You?”
“I too am fine.” He certainly didn’t look any the worse for wear, unlike poor Gimli.
“What happened to you, Dwarf?” she demanded playfully.
“Troll,” he replied succinctly. “Bashed the nasal of my helm into me. Bled like a stuck pig,” he announced with pride. “But in the end, triumph was ours!”
“Was whose, friend Gimli?” Legolas asked, his voice mellow. “From whose hand did the spear fly, that killed the troll?”
“Who distracted the troll by clinging to its ear-hair?” Buffy asked sourly. “You two have been arguing about this for a month now; can we just let it go?”
Both elf and dwarf gave her exaggerated bows of deference; she sniffed and linked her arm with Dawn’s, and the two women departed while the others burst into laughter.
“So, morning sickness, huh?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty gruesome,” Dawn admitted. “And the crying is getting on everyone’s nerves, especially mine. But on the other hand, I’m totally out-eating Merry, and Eowyn loves having someone to fuss over.” She grinned down at her sister. “How’s newlywed life?”
“Groovy beyond my ability to describe,” Buffy gushed, with the zeal of the faithful toward an agnostic. “I cannot believe you don’t like elves.”
Not long thereafter, there began a mad rush to prepare for the departure of several of their party, for not only did Haldir and his elven forces have to return to Lórien, but Eomer and Eowyn were needed back in Rohan. Dawn hugged her friend tightly, even though Eowyn would be returning within a few weeks, and even brushed a kiss over Haldir’s cheek while he stood patiently and allowed it.
Buffy, however, flung herself into the tall elf’s arms and sobbed. “When will I see you again?” she demanded. “Soon?”
“If Celeborn and Galadriel allow it,” he replied. His time was no longer his own, but belonged to his lord and lady once more. “If your desire for me bites too deeply,” he continued smoothly, grinning when Legolas frowned at his choice of words, “you have but to come visit. Lothlórien is your home, and you are ever welcome in it.” Then he gave Legolas a last fierce look of warning before swinging up onto his horse and kicking it into a trot. He did not look back.
Eowyn and Eomer, and the other of their men, mounted with the fluid grace of those born to the saddle, gave jaunty waves, and were soon naught but a blur in the distance. They would travel together with the elves until they were past the Druaden forest, and then Haldir would turn north while the Rohirrim continued their westerly course.
Life settled down again, just a little. Elessar began issuing all sorts of decrees, not the least of which was to make Boromir the Prince of Ithilien.
Dawn almost had a heart attack when she heard. “I’m gonna be a what?”
“A princess,” Boromir replied soothingly.
“I don’t think I want to be a princess,” Dawn replied anxiously. “I don’t know what to do. I was hopeless helping Faramir run Minas Tirith while you were gone—“
“Do not fret so, sweet. It will be… nice.” He sobered. “But if you are truly opposed to it, I shall refuse the title, and we will stay here.”
“Tis a lovely place,” Gimli offered. “Legolas was quite enamoured of it.”
The aforementioned elf flicked a considering gaze at his wife. “Shall we tell them now, tithen maethoramin? Perhaps it will ease her mind to know?”
“Might as well,” Buffy replied with great cheer. “Dawn, Legolas and I have decided that we’re going to live in Ithilien after all’s said and done-- he wants to start some sort of elf commune there, since there’s no spiders. And it’s nice and close to Minas Tirith, so we’ll be able to hang out with Aragorn, um, Elessar. And you, too… we thought you’d be staying here. But if you were going to be living in Ithilien too…”
“That’s totally different!” Dawn exclaimed, and hugged her sister, then Legolas, and even Gimli (though no one was sure why) before planting a big kiss on Boromir’s cheek. “We’ll be neighbours!”
“Well, I don’t know about neighbours, exactly,” Buffy hedged. “It is a pretty big forest.”
“And knowing Legolas, he’ll want to live up a tree somewhere remote,” Gimli added.
“I am not living up a tree, buster,” Buffy told her husband, eyeing him severely. “Had enough of that in Caras Galadhon.”
“How go your plans for the wedding?” Legolas asked Dawn in an attempt to distract focus from him. It worked admirably, because Buffy and Dawn immediately began discussing the issue. Meanwhile, the males present rolled their eyes in the manner of all men when dealing with women and wedding plans.
“What have I done, to merit such a punishment?” Boromir hissed at the elf when Dawn requested he pay some attention, dammit.
“Don’t listen to them, Dawnie,” Buffy sniffed. “I’m gonna give you a beautiful, fun wedding if I have to kill everyone in Middle-Earth to do it.”
“Ever bloodthirsty,” Legolas murmured, fingering her long braid and giving it a gentle tug.. “Let us hope it will not come to that. We have, after all, just risked life and limb to save everyone in Middle-Earth.”
Minuial = Dawn
mellon = friend
tithen maethoramin = my tiny warrior