You take them anyway, at the last moment, just before Legolas begins to push the boat away from the shore to send him on his journey down the Anduin. You bend over and a tear that you did not know had formed falls on Boromirís lips, on his mouth, now closed and still forever. The grief inside you is a raging animal, clawing and biting into your soul and you know that long after it has become dumb with age, caged by the progress of time, the scars it has carved in your heart will still be there, still threatening to rip open at every opportunity. Finally, you understand why Elves can die of grief. You would do the same if you were free of the bonds that tie you to this world and its fate, and to the promises you have made.
But you wonít die. Not because of this. Because you promised. So you take his hand, colder now than when you were trying to scale Caradhrasí treacherous flanks, and you look at his face, his eyes closed, the darkness behind them deeper than that of Moriaís mines. Somewhere in the back of your mind you make the decision. Because you promised.
You remove your own bracers, the ones youíd had made in Bree when you were there on a reconnaissance trip with Halbarad and life was simpler then, or so it now seems, and you lie them on the ground, kneeling to do so, kneeling for him. You gently undo the clasps of Boromirís bracers, only now truly noticing the design; the White Tree tooled into the tough leather, its silver leaves still shimmering through the blood and grime that covers the crest.
It hits home. Hard. Boromir had been born under the shadow of the dead White Tree of Gondor, had lived there all his life, defending it and all that it stood for, had even gone to search for seedlings with Faramir in the mountains to replace the withered tree. But he will never see the White Tree in bloom: both of them dead now. And you will never be able to resurrect either of them.
Another tear glides down your face; you feel it trail over your cheeks, mingling with the blood that has dried there, sticky Orc blood, as well as your own. You cry in silence as you pull the vambraces tight around your wrists, almost enjoying the pain this causes as the sturdy leather presses against the bruises from the fight with the Uruk-Hai that slew Boromir. Nothing broken, nothing that time will not mend. The bruises will fade, the aches will go away, the cuts will scab over and heal, and probably leave scars on your body; adding another silvery white line to the map of your past. But you donít care; those are not the wounds that matter, this is not the pain that will remain. The pain that you will feel from now on; every time you lie awake at night, the campfire crackling softly, the embers casting an eerie glow on Legolas or Gimli as one of them keeps first watch and you pretend the soft pressure of the vambraces are Boromirís strong hands gripping your wrists as he bends over you and claims you with his hungry kiss. And your hands will work their way furtively and shamefully into your breeches while you try to pretend that they are Boromirís.
Afterwards you will fall asleep because you have to, lying on your side, your head resting on your arm, the leather of the bracers warm and soft against your skin, the White Tree leaving a mark on your cheek, and the fading scent of Boromir enfolding you like loverís arms.