"Do you miss her, then?"
Aragorn looked up from the leather strap he was trying to attach to his scabbard to replace the old, broken one and glanced sideways at Boromir. Who sat there peaceably, looking at him, his arms comfortably resting on his knees. A well-worn cloth dangled from his hand, while the polished broadsword that lay at his feet reflected the last daylight back at them both.
"Who?" he asked, knowing full well whom Boromir meant. But he wanted so much to see her name form on Boromir's lips.
"Your betrothed. Arwen."
He was silent for a moment, trying to gauge Boromir's intentions, but in the other man's eyes he saw nothing but honest interest. He looked down again at the strap in his hands, still stiff and strong smelling and not yet worn and malleable from constant use.
"Do I miss her? I don't know, really. I guess I've missed her for so long that I am now completely used to us not being together. It is as if this hole inside me has been filled with missing; but this nothingness has been there for so long that I do not know how I would feel if we finally were together."
He sighed softly before he continued, looking at his hands holding the leather, stroking it almost thoughtlessly.
"My life is a lonely one, Boromir. I live in the woods, alone for months at a time and the only thing I can hold on to is the thought that she will be there, waiting for me, welcoming me home again. She is the light of my life, the guiding light that reminds me that there is more than Sauron and orcs and wounds from a fight and the filth and smell that goes with living in the woods for weeks. So yes, I think I miss her."
Boromir was silent for a while before he answered, his voice soft and thoughtful.
"I think I was never truly alone, not once in my entire life until I undertook the journey to Rivendell to seek Elrond's council on our dream. Minas Tirith is a busy city, bustling with people and a Captain of the Guard is always surrounded by his men. Lonely I have been sometimes, but never alone. At first I thought I would go mad when I rode out alone with no one to accompany me, but after I lost count of the days I started to get used to it. I think I actually enjoyed it, the solitude, the chance to think my own thoughts through for once and not be bothered with quick decisions to be made for everyone around me. And I have continued to think about things, even after I arrived in Rivendell, even after going on this quest. I have thought about loss and loneliness and love a lot since then. And about what it means to be near the one you love."
Boromir looked at the sword at his feet, lying polished and shining on its worn leather scabbard. Noticing a last fleck of rust on the blade, he spit on the cloth and wiped it away before he continued.
"Do you love her, Aragorn?"
Aragorn swallowed, momentarily at a loss for words, fumbling around for them in his mind until he found the right ones, hoping they'd fit.
"Yes, Boromir, I do love her. To be honest I don't know how I could not love her. I have done so since I first saw her in the garden of Rivendell. I thought that Luthien had returned to grace our world with her beauty anew and I could not help myself falling in love with her. But it is a hard and unrewarding love. I cannot marry her until I am King of Arnor and Gondor," he glanced sideways to see Boromir flinch just the tiniest bit, "and sometimes I do not even know if it is worth the price. Love and politics should never mingle, although it seems I have managed to get myself entangled in such situations on more than one occasion."
"You mean Legolas?"
Aragorn's shock was clear as a slow smile crept over Boromir's face.
"How did you know? It was so long ago. We never talked about it. Arwen, she doesn't..."
"I am no fool, Aragorn; I have had my share of relationships although I never found anyone fit to marry. I can see love when it's there, especially a valiant one like yours."
He laid his hand on Aragorn's knee, fingers folding around the man's kneecap, fingertips pressure points conveying more than words could ever do. He spoke anyway.
"Don't worry, my friend, you need not tell me anything about it and, moreover, your secret is safe with me. Rest assured I won't embarrass you in Elrond's house."
Aragorn did not speak but looked at the hand resting on his knee. Warmth radiated through the fabric of his breeches, body heat outlining Boromir's hand on his skin. So different from the hands he'd known till now. These were human hands, big, callused hands, warrior's hands, and yet they were touching him with an unexpected gentleness. He could not remain silent, he wanted Boromir to understand.
"We have a history, Legolas and I. He was my first love and for that reason he will remain special to me. When I fell in love with Arwen and made my choice between the two of them; he took it hard and we did not part in the best of ways. Years ago we met by chance again in the dark forest of Mirkwood and there I learned a valuable lesson from him. For he taught me that Eru, the One, has given both mortal and Elven hearts the capacity for infinite love."
And then he put down the strap on the mossy ground, next to the bright shiny sword, and laid his leather clad right hand over Boromir's.