They were sitting on the other side of Nimrodel, the river, as Legolas told them the tales of Lothlórien, kept in the hearts of the elves of Mirkwood. Tales of sunlight and starlight upon the meadows beside the Great River, before the world was grey.
As a silence fell, they felt they could hear the sweet voice of a young elf-maiden, singing sadly to herself. Legolas said softly, "Do you hear the voice of Nimrodel? I will sing to you of the maiden Nimrodel, she who bore the same name as this river that she dwelt beside, long ago. In our tongue it is a fair song, and even in Westron speech it may be pleasing to the ear."
As he sang, Gimli thought he saw tears in the brown eyes of the elf.
An elven-maid there was of old
A shining star by day
Her mantle white was edged with gold
Her shoes of silver-grey.
A star was bound upon her brow
A light was on her hair
As sun upon the golden boughs
In Lórien the fair.
Her hair was long, her limbs were white
And fair she was and free;
And in the wind she went as light
As leaf of linden-tree.
Beside the falls of Nimrodel
By water clear and cool,
Her voice as falling silver fell
Into the shining pool.
Where now she wanders none can tell
In sunlight or in shade;
For lost of yore was Nimrodel
And in the mountains strayed.
The elven-ship in haven grey
Beneath the mountain lee
Awaited her for many a day
Beside the roaring sea.
A wind by night in Northern lands
Arose, and loud it cried,
And drove the ship from elven-strands
Across the streaming tide.
When dawn came dim the land was lost
The mountains sinking grey
Beyond the heaving waves that tossed
Their plumes of blinding spray.
Amroth beheld the fading shore
Now low beyond the swell,
And cursed the faithless ship that bore
Him far from Nimrodel.
Of old was he an Elven king
A lord of tree and glen
When golden were the boughs in spring
In fair Lothlórien.
From helm to sea they saw him leap
As arrow from the string
And dive into the water deep
As mew upon the wing.
The wind was in his flowing hair,
The foam about him shone;
Afar they saw him strong and fair
Go riding like a swan.
But from the West has come no word
And on the Hither Shore
No tidings Elven-folk have heard
Of Amroth evermore
Legolas ceased singing. There were more verses, but even singing these had brought tears to his eyes. The songs of the elves were powerful in their emotions, and few could sing them through without feeling something.
A small hand touched his knee, and he looked down to see Merry beside him. "That was beautiful," the Hobbit said. "But why is it so sad?"
"Many songs of the Elves are sad, little one. We were happier in times past, before we began to fade and feel the call to go West. But you are right, it is a beautiful song. I do not do it the justice that more of my kinsfolk would."
They got to their feet and continued on, into Lothlórien proper. Gimli seemed ill at ease, warning the Hobbits to stay close. He said ominously, "They say a great sorceress lives here, an elf-witch of terrible power. All those who look upon her fall under her spell, and are never seen again. Well, this is one dwarf she won't ensnare so easily! I have the eyes of a hawk, and the ears of a fox!"
Almost too fast to be seen, a dozen blonde-haired elves dropped from the branches or appeared from behind trees, each aiming an arrow at a member of the Fellowship. Legolas had drawn his bow the instant the other Elves appeared, but he seemed unsure as to whether these were enemies or not.
One blonde Elf, this one without a notched arrow to his bow, stepped forward, saying smugly, "the dwarf breathed so loud we could have shot him in the dark."
Aragorn, realising who this Elf was by his arrogance alone, resheathed Anduril and bowed his head. "Haldir of Lothlórien, we seek refuge," he said to the elf, in Haldir's own language.
The arrogance in the Elf's face was unseemly in such a beautiful creature, but Aragorn ignored it, as he ignored Gimli's blustering about wishing to go back. Haldir, hearing this, turned to the dwarf, a slight smirk on his face.
"You have entered the realm of the Lady of the Wood. You cannot go back. Come, she is waiting."
They were led through Lothlórien's myriad of pathways until they came to the open-plan area where Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn were seated. They descended the steps together, a white light seeming to emanate from their fair skin.
Celeborn seemed struck dumb with sorrow upon hearing of Gandalf's fall into shadow, but Galadriel nonetheless managed to welcome them to Lothlórien and offer rest and peace, for a time at least. Gratefully accepting, the Fellowship retired for the night.
The Fellowship remained in Lothlórien for several days, recovering their strength. On the morning of the third day, Boromir sought solitude in the numerous pathways of Lothlórien.
His thoughts were in turmoil. The Ring called to him, so strongly that he feared he would give in, sooner or later. To that end, he kept himself away from Frodo as much as possible. Distance made the temptation easier to bear. And above all, Boromir did not want to betray the Fellowship.
His wanderings took him to one of the many rivers in Lothlórien. The sun was high in the sky, and it was warm enough that the water would do him no harm. Removing his clothing, Boromir entered the river, shivering slightly at the chill of the water until his body adjusted to it.
For the first time since Caradhras, he felt the release of having nothing more than leisure on his mind. Ducking his head under the water to completely soak his hair, Boromir laughed out loud, sending a flurry of air bubbles to the surface.
When he surfaced for air, Aragorn was standing by the water's edge, looking wistfully at the clear river. The Ranger clearly hadn't noticed Boromir yet, and the Man of Gondor intended to make the most of that fact. He took a deep breath and slid back underwater.
The water by the bank was displaced soon after as Aragorn dived in, cutting through the water like a stooping falcon after a trout. Boromir swiftly swam over to where Aragorn had straightened up and, reaching his arms around the waist of the taller man, pulled him backward under the water.
He surfaced, laughing. Aragorn was floundering a few metres away, spluttering and spitting out water. The Ranger wiped water out of his eyes and glared at Boromir, though the glare was spoiled by the laughter threatening to envelop him.
"Boromir, why did you do that?"
"You needed something to relax you," Boromir replied. "Since...Moria, you have had the cares of us all on your shoulders. I know what a burden leadership is. I felt that, perhaps, you could forget for a while."
Treading water, Aragorn considered the other man. Without warning, he launched himself at Boromir, sending them both splashing underwater again.
An hour or so later, Aragorn and Boromir lay on the grassy verge by the river, clad only in breeches and thin shirts. Their skin was still damp from their exercise in the water, and droplets clung to their hair.
Boromir stared up at the crystalline sky and said softly, "have you ever seen the White City, Aragorn? The tower of Ecthelion glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver, its banners caught high in the morning breeze. Have you ever been called home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?"
"I have seen the White City, long ago. Why do you speak of it now, Boromir? Until this day you have held your silence concerning Gondor."
"Until this day I have not had cause to believe I will never see Gondor again."
Aragorn rolled onto his elbow. "What? Boromir, don't be ridiculous. The silver trumpets will call you home again. Do not search for death where it need not exist."
Boromir's smile was bittersweet. "Do you honestly think we can succeed at this quest without another loss? Gandalf was the first; I cannot believe that he will be the only one among us to fall."
Aragorn silenced him by planting his mouth firmly over Boromir's. The other man made a soft sound of surprise that turned into one of pleasure as Aragorn's tongue explored his mouth, as the Ranger's hands deftly divested Boromir of his shirt. Pulling briefly away from Aragorn, Boromir whispered teasingly, "my, aren't you the eager one. This is unlike you, Aragorn."
"Don't try to tell me you don't want this."
Aragorn's tone was more pleading than Boromir liked to hear. He disabused Aragorn of that notion by renewing their kiss, his hands removing Aragorn's shirt as his mouth made itself busy along the Ranger's chiseled jaw and down his throat.
A tiny pool of water had collected in the hollow of Aragorns throat, deposited there as the Man lay down. Boromir gently sucked the area, causing the man beneath him to squirm as his tongue flicked over the sensitive skin.
Aragorn made to say something, but Boromir covered his mouth lightly with a hand. "Shh. Let me do this. You take on too much, Aragorn. I intend to relieve you of all I can."
Smiling to himself, he moved his attention to the well-defined muscles of Aragorn's chest. Lightly pressing his mouth against the delightfully warm, slightly damp skin, he kissed his way down to the Ranger's navel, producing a variety of small noises from the man. Returning to Aragorn's fact, he placed a series of light nips along his neck to his earlobe.
Aragorn's hands against his chest made him look down. The Ranger said breathlessly, "what if someone comes...?"
"What if they do?" Boromir asked in turn, taking one of Aragorn's hands and, one by one, drawing the fingers into his mouth. He flicked his tongue across the sensitive palm, then made his way up Aragorn's arm to the crook of his elbow. He paused and looked at the Ranger, who by now was pale-faced and almost trembling with pleasure. "Do you want to...?"
Aragorn's gasp was enough confirmation. Removing their remaining clothing took all of ten seconds. Boromir lay behind the Ranger, gently kissing the back of his neck and producing some interesting sounds. When he was sure that they were both ready waiting proved difficult for him, he wanted to be inside Aragorn now he slid forward.
Aragorn's sharp cry was muffled by his own hands, though within seconds the Ranger lost the capacity to do anything beyond clench his fists and make several sounds of pleasure. Boromir worked slowly and rhythmically, timing each thrust to keep Aragorn at the peak of pleasure.
They both came simultaneously, releasing days of pent-up tension along with their seed. They lay entangled in each other's arms for some time, Boromir occasionally lifting his mouth to Aragorn's to share another kiss. It was only when the sun began to sink below the horizon that the two men stirred.
"We should get back to the Fellowship," Aragorn said, reluctant to leave the warm circle of Boromir's arms. "We have been gone for most of the day."
"Then back to the Fellowship we shall go. But remember, dear Ranger, that when I see the burdens of leadership bearing heavily on you, I shall contrive a way for us to be alone," Boromir purred, claiming Aragorn's mouth as his again.
When the kiss broke, Aragorn murmured into Boromir's skin, "I'll have to let the burdens of leadership bear heavily on me more often."