How his hair had become ensnared in the silver chain that held the gem close to his heart was a riddle to Aragorn. But there it was, his long dark locks tangled in the silver ringlets forming the chain that carried his Lady's gift. Elven magic. Arwen's magic. The locks tugged at his scalp painfully every time he moved his head and he reached behind him to try and untangle the chain.
"Here. Let me, Aragorn."
The voice he had come to rely on, to find comfort in, to love even, strong in battle, gentle in love, was close behind him. He felt Boromir come and stand even closer, cold fingers gently touching his neck, lifting the chain free from his skin. Aragorn shivered from the rapidly growing cold of the evening and from the touch he always craved but could not feel nearly often enough. His hands started to cover the hands of his lover, pulling him closer, wanting the touch, wanting to warm those cold fingers, wanting to have Boromir against him.
Boromir could barely feel the thin silver necklace between his fingers, which had become thick and insensitive from a lifetime of hardship and war, but it burned through him nonetheless. A sliver of fire shot to the tips of his fingers, traveled up through his arms, setting him aflame all over. Elven magic. There was a time, only months ago, that the sensation would have been enough for him to spring back and draw his sword and kill the bearer of such a strange thing without thought, judging it yet another monstrous work of the Dark Lord.
Not now. Not today. Not when the man he had come to love more than life itself wore this gem, this man who had been raised by Elves and was bound to marry one someday. Elven magic indeed, for there was no visible catch, and yet the chain sprang open the moment he touched it. He sighed and let the chain drop into his hand, the gem a source of light in his palm. He started to hand the necklace to Aragorn, but a cruel uncertainty was welling up inside him once again, forcing his fingers to close around it and feel the gem trying to burn its way through his hand. He opened his hand and held it out to Aragorn.
"It is a treasure, Aragorn, as is the one who gave it to you," he said and started to turn away, hiding his face from his lover.
Aragorn looked down at the pendant in Boromir's hand and cupped his lover's hand in his own, not letting go, holding his lover in his gaze, wanting to show Boromir that a silver chain could separate but also bind together.
"She is," he said. "But so are you, my Boromir, and just as dear as life itself to me," Aragorn whispered, a horrible recognition dawning on him that one day he might have to choose between the ones he loved once more. He bowed his head, the glory of the day and the joy in the touch of his lover's hands suddenly turning into dark despair.
"Do not make me choose, my love," he whispered, "I cannot choose again. No man should have to make such a choice more than once in his life."
Aragorn bowed his head in misery but strong fingers lifted up his chin, forcing him to look up into green eyes that saw everything, knew everything and forgave everything. Boromir's hand trailed through Aragorn's hair, his fingers hitching in the dirty knots and tangles that weeks of hard traveling had created.
"I will not force you to choose, my love, not ever," Boromir spoke, his voice gentle and low, his own sorrow and uncertainties instantly forgotten at the sight of his lover's misery.
"I do not know what the future holds in store for us and where we will be at the end of this journey but it is a choice you will never have to make, I promise you that much. Let your mind rest and for now, Aragorn, enjoy this, enjoy our moment, because one of us may fall before the evening comes."
As Boromir held up the pendant, the silver chain writhed almost imperceptibly and fastened itself around his lover's throat, the shining gem lying once again smooth against Aragorn's warm skin. Boromir smiled and leaned in to kiss Aragorn, wanting to soothe away the worries and doubts that haunted his lover's mind with something more than words.
Aragorn sighed as he answered Boromir's kiss, realizing then with the clairvoyant certainty that was both the curse and gift of his bloodline that the choice would not be theirs to make, and that to love was the only thing they could do before the night would come forever.