More than Fellowship
I had most of this part written before posting part 1. Please don't expect that I will have the next part out so quickly.
The fellowship had stopped for the first night. Everyone was still a bit edgy with each other. Aragorn and Legolas sat next to Gandalf.
"We're being watched and followed." Legolas said.
"I know." Gandalf smiled. "They mean us no harm. They think to protect us. They think to undo what is already set in stone, but it is no matter to the likes of them. They have rewritten the foretold future before. They have thwarted that which has been prophesied."
"Who has?" Aragorn asked, but he knew. His heart knew who it was. Just as he knew Arwen had been the one of the ones to aid them.
"You know of whom I speak, Aragorn."
"I know, but four women and an immortal creature that feeds off blood? How much protection could they offer, Gandalf? They will be an extra burden."
"They will surprise you."
"They followed us?" Legolas asked. "Those five?"
"Indeed. The wounded one rides on a horse led by the redheaded sorceress. They trail. They all follow the vampire. He follows our scents."
"How did they..."
"Legolas Greenleaf, did you not hear that whispering in the verge at the start of the meeting? It was the Lady Winifred and Master Spike running into Sam while they were all eavesdropping."
"What are we discussing so privately?" Boromir asked.
"How we are being followed."
"Those women think to protect us, Boromir." Aragorn said with a slight smirk knowing exactly what effect his lazy statement of something that had not been noticed by Boromir would have on the proud man of Gondor.
Gandalf gave Aragorn one of his "Gandalf" looks as Boromir stomped off to find their shadows, but the old wizard felt the same as he did for certain. He just didn't like the idea of those four women trailing after them with only Spike for protection.
How little they would learn they knew about these four women and the vampire with them.
Fred actually squealed in fright when Boromir came stomping through the trees towards them. He was being chased by an angry Aragorn and an equally as angry Legolas. Although only Aragorn knew how angry Legolas was. The elf bore hardly any expression at all. Everyone looked up in shock. Boromir froze when he felt the tip of a blade at his throat.
"Oh, it's you." Cordelia lowered her sword and walked back to the campfire. "You should be more careful. I could have taken your head off." Cordelia shook her head. "And what a nice head it is. Just as nice as blonde elf boy's ass."
The three men of the fellowship just stared. Not only because Boromir was pondering that the lady thought he had a nice head or that Legolas was very confused about why his backside was considered so nice, but because of how the lady Cordelia looked now.
You could barely see her. She was dressed in a dark purple riding coat that Aragorn swore was one of Arwen's. The belled sleeves of the velvet let you see the violet dress under it. The woman looked regal. As he scanned the small camp he noticed they all were wearing different clothing. Willow was dressed the same as Cordelia in a dress and riding coat, but hers was dark blue. The redhead's hair was also infused with braids. Arwen's handiwork. Fred was dressed just like Legolas or any other elf out in the wild. She had on black tights and boots with a deep red tunic and over-tunic complete with a gray cape. Her long brown hair fell in four simple braids, two in the back and one on each side of her head. She looked truly elvish dressed so with her thin frame, and there was even a quiver of arrows on her back. All she needed was ears carrying points, and she would truly look an elf. Spike was all in black, complete with black cloak. The only thing of him besides his hair that was not done dark was the silver of the sword at his side. He was eyeing the intruders to their camp warily, one hand on said sword.
But it was when Tara rose and let the blanket fall from around her shoulders that the most reaction was made. Aragorn stunned. She really was very pretty, not as lovely as Arwen, but he could appreciate her fine form. He'd heard the hobbits talking about it, but now that he really was looking he was amazed. She was very lovely. Apparently Boromir thought so too because he gasped out loud. Or that might have been because of how quickly she stood because once she did, Boromir's attention turned back to Cordelia. Aragorn saw Legolas tilt his head to the side at Tara, as if he were trying to figure her out. That was a bit amusing.
The woman was in a dark green linen dress with what looked like leather body armor over her. The brown leather was burned and marked with elvish writings. It was laced up with leather cord. It cinched tight at her waist and caused her breasts to push up slightly. Her hair was piled atop her head in a weaving of braid, but several pieces had already fallen loose. She looked like a wood nymph.
"Perhaps you should join us instead of trailing us." Aragorn said. They would slow them a bit, but he did not like the idea of four women traveling with only the blood drinker for their protection
Willow was just watching Aragorn. She could sense his thoughts. She glanced at Tara. The blonde witch nodded. Oh was the fellowship in for a treat. Sunnydale women who ran with slayers were hard to kill and very resourceful, and Fred had survived five years in a harsh alterna-dimension. Plus there was Spike. Who was, well, Spike. Mr. British Badass. He'd survived Angelus. Twice.
But they all gathered their things anyway. Best to join up. It was more fun that way.
They'd started going higher and higher. Over taller and taller hills. Sam was keeping them in good eats though. Cordelia was in heaven with the way he managed to make some of the grossest looking things taste yummy. She'd mentioned several times taking the hobbit home to be her live-in cook. Fred was trying to learn her longbow from Spike, who surprisingly was very good with a bow. He'd told them Angelus had made him learn it on a whim once. Legolas watched the two of them, but never commented. Willow and Tara spent a great deal of time asking Gandalf questions about his brand of magic. He, in turn, asked them many questions about theirs. Aragorn noticed that Willow kept her eyes on Spike as much as she did Tara. It wasn't so much distrustful watching as it was keeping an eye on "her people". It was when they'd stopped to rest one day for lunch that they are realized the real cementing of the group had taken place.
Boromir had started teaching Merry and Pippin to sword fight properly.
"Can I get a little time in?" Cordelia asked.
Aragorn sat up a little straighter as the woman started taking off layers of clothing. It was soon that she was standing there in a sleeveless tunic, a pair of tights, and her boots. The articles of clothing that remained left nothing much to the imagination. He had no idea that was what was hiding under her layers of borrowed clothing.
Cordelia stalked towards Boromir with her sword. "Let's go."
He was too busy taking in all the curves he was seeing to actually process that she wanted to fight him. "Lady-" He jumped when she tapped the blade of his sword with hers.
"Who are you calling a lady?"
Spike grinned at Fred.
The wiry girl leaned over to him. "She practices with Angel."
"Does she then?"
"About three times a week."
"How does she do?"
"She can take him, but I think sometimes Angel lets her."
"I'll bet he does... look at her. She could take me any day."
Fred glared. "Now you're just being dirty. She's really good with a sword though."
"Bloody hell, this ought to be good then."
Spike and Fred dropped down next to Aragorn. Frodo and Sam gathered in. Merry and Pippin were off to the side with their swords propped to the ground. Gandalf leaned up a bit to watch from afar. This got Gimli to lumber over to stand with Merry and Pippin. Willow and Tara took notice as well. Legolas pretended not to be interested, but Tara could see he was watching as closely as the rest of them.
Cordelia circled Boromir slowly. This was her chance to put some of that training with Angel to use.
"I've no wish to hurt you, little girl."
"Who you calling a little girl, you big ox?"
He swung at her. She blocked. It was an easy shot to block. He was just playing with her. That pissed Cordelia off. She had a very sharp and pointy sword. He damn well better start taking her seriously. They circled. Then Cordelia just unleashed. She was swinging her sword like crazy and advancing on Boromir the likes of which most of the group had never seen. Aragorn nearly dropped his pipe. She was damned good with a sword - for a woman. Boromir was wearing an expression that was part shock and part strain.
Cordelia clipped his sword at the hilt and knocked it up and out of his grasp. She reached out and caught it in her left hand. She stepped back and pointed both swords at him with a wicked grin on her face. Her sword was pointed straight at his heart in her right hand while his was in her left hand. Her left arm arched above her head with the sword in it pointing down at him at an angle. She was just showing off. She couldn't handle two swords for anything, but he didn't have to know that.
Merry and Pippin started clapping. Boromir looked thoroughly pissed. Outmaneuvered by a woman. Cordelia suddenly felt a bit bad for taking him down a rung in front of his peers at the look on his face. She stepped to him slowly and handed him his sword.
"Don't take it so hard, handsome. I had an excellent teacher." She leaned up and kissed his cheek lightly.
Aragorn swore the man blushed. He would have too. Cordelia was quite the woman. She was definitely more than she appeared to be, and for that Aragorn was glad. They would need her brand of strength in the coming days. Arwen was his heart's mate, but a man could appreciate the fine qualities of a lady such as Cordelia without forgetting whom he loved. He found himself wondering if Boromir was free to do more than appreciate such fine qualities from afar.
Perhaps he would ask him. He sensed that Boromir would benefit from her strength, for it was different than his. Boromir of Gondor was certainly not lacking in strength, just vision and trust, and those were two things the Lady Cordelia seemed to have in abundance. After all, she trusted the blood drinker to a point, and he had been her enemy in the past.
It was when they paused again in the setting sun a few days later that the girls finally found a chance to be girlie. They were all sitting on a fallen log. Boromir was sparring with Merry and Pippin again. Aragorn was talking to Gandalf. Spike and Gimli were watching Boromir, Merry, and Pippin while sharing a pipe. Sam and Frodo were trying to gather wood for the dinner fire.
But the girls were watching none of that.
All eyes were on Legolas. He appeared to be arranging his arrows and cleaning or polishing his bow.
"I wish there was a way to get him to put his back to us and do toe touches."
They all looked at Cordelia.
"He's just so pretty." Fred said dreamily. "I don't even mind his Spock ears."
"All elves have pointy ears. Arwen had pointy ears. That didn't make her any less babe-a-licious."
Everyone looked at Willow.
"I'm gay also." Tara said nodding back to Legolas. "But I'll admit he's cute. I'm no judge, but I'd say that is definitely what boy cuteness looks like. If I were going to be attracted to a guy. It'd be him."
"Oh he's cute, all right."
They all sighed.
"I just wanna lick him."
They all looked at Fred.
"Agreed." The other three mumbled.
Willow snickered. "Have you guys noticed how Aragorn's kinda Angel-y."
"He is not." Cordelia said.
"He is a little, Cordy."
"He's all broody and introspective guy. You know, old Angel."
"Well, okay. I'll go with that. Who's Boromir?"
They all looked at Cordelia.
"Let's play. Aragorn is Angel. Out of the AI team and the Scooby Gang who is Boromir?"
"Charles." Fred said. "He rushes in. He acts much braver than he is. Doesn't always think."
Willow grinned. "Gimli?"
"Anya." Tara said. "Always says what he thinks, gets flustered when people don't take him seriously."
Willow and Tara looked at each other. "Giles."
"Oh, he's totally Giles." Cordelia said as she looked at Fred. "You have really got to meet Giles, Fred. You two would adore each other. He's just about as smart as you are."
"Wesley." Fred and Cordelia said in unison.
"Wesley?" Willow asked.
"Wes isn't the Wes you two knew." Cordelia said with a bit of a sad look in her eyes. "Good heart, good intentions. Not always the best with the choices. Tries to be brave, but ends up getting knocked around."
"Xander." Cordelia said quickly. "Of course Pippin's a bit of a Xander as well."
Willow tilted her head. "How do you figure Sam is Xander?"
"Hello, the food."
Willow and Tara laughed.
Cordelia looked at Fred. "You'd love Xander too, Fred. He's great."
"It's good to hear you say that." Willow smiled.
"It's good to be able to."
"What about Legolas?" Tara asked. "Who's he?"
"He's an entity unto himself." Cordelia said. "We know no one like him. He is part Angel, part Spike, part Oz, and part Lindsey McDonald."
"Whoa." Willow was looking at her. "Care to explain that one a bit? And who's Lindsey McDonald?"
"Angel in his face. Old Angel or pissed Angel, that lack of expression thing. Plus, he seems kinda lurk-y to me. Part Spike in the blonde and he hops around a lot. Like a cat. Like Spike. And have you noticed the way the boy sits? Well actually he doesn't sit. He lounges. Legs all everywhere. Like Spike. And he's Oz in the laconic sense. He doesn't have to say a lot to say a lot, you know? And Lindsey in the sinfully good looks sense. And his hands are a bit Lindsey-like."
"So who is this Lindsey person?"
"Pure evil in salty goodness form with the voice of an angel. And I said AN angel not THE Angel. THE Angel has the voice of a dying alley cat."
Fred giggled. "Charles mentioned him to me once in his story about the evil faced by Angel Investigations."
"Yeah, he was before your time, Fred."
"He sings good?"
"Can you say stirring the fire in my loins? I knew you could."
"Wow." Willow was grinning.
"I know. He was SO the bad guy, and I was almost a puddle on the floor."
"Yeah. He got out."
Tara smiled. "I love those stories that end with... he got out."
"I have watched you for many days. Would you care to let me teach you?"
The four women jumped. Legolas was standing next to Fred. Where in the hell had he come from? The elf boy needed a bell. Just like Angel with the sneaking up.
Willow and Cordelia looked at on another. "Angel part."
Legolas looked confused.
Fred couldn't think properly.
And the other four people from her dimension knew exactly why. Even Spike.
It was the archery lesson with Legolas.
He was trying to guide her hands again, and she just couldn't think with all the elf wrapped around her from behind. She was going to accidentally shoot someone in the fellowship if Legolas didn't quit trying to teach her the bow. She hadn't felt this stupidly nervous since the ballet. Charles. Remember Charles. But that was a difficult think when the body behind you was giving off heat like nobody's business, and smelled good. Spicy good.
And the hands were not helping. They were very manly hands, despite his near-girlish appearance, and she just shook all over when they touched her.
"Legolas, perhaps the lady has had enough." Aragorn said with a grin on his face.
Great. Just perfect. Aragorn knew. And he thought it was funny. Fred rolled her eyes and scurried off to put as much distance between her and cute elf man as possible.
Aragorn snickered a bit.
"Why do you laugh?" Gandalf asked quietly, so none of the others could hear.
"He has no idea."
Gandalf blinked. "Who has no idea about what?"
"Legolas. They've observed him all afternoon, and he has no inkling of it. Either that or he quite enjoys tormenting the girl. But I can't believe my old friend would do such a thing."
"He is not used to such attentions, Aragorn. He is in your presence. He is used to that attention going to you."
"Do not tell me that you have never noticed the way women look at you."
"I choose not to. There is no point. My heart lies elsewhere."
"But you do admit they see you before Legolas."
"I suppose you are right."
"Do you not wonder why this group never even glances you?"
"Not until NOW." Aragorn sat for a moment. It was true. The four women had practically fallen over themselves for looking at Legolas, but barely glanced his way. He didn't know how he felt about that.
"They all adore her so completely that they do not even entertain the thought of you. You remind them of someone they love. Especially Cordelia. That is hard for them, but Arwen is already special to them, and as you are special to her, they do not think of you."
Aragorn thought on it for a moment. He decided it pleased him that they liked Arwen so much.
The terrain was getting more and more mountain-y, and Cordelia was getting more and more bitchy about it. Even Gandalf looked about ready to strangle her. Willow and Fred spent most of their energies trying to explain that it was just Cordelia's way, not to take her rantings personal. Especially Aragorn. Cordelia seemed to seek him out to rant. Willow knew this was Angel missage. Aragorn was as close to Angel as she had. Spike was being very helpful though. Willow was proud of him. When it looked like Aragorn was about an inch from physically attacking Cordelia to silence her, Spike would swoop in and put the focus of her irritation on himself.
They had stopped for lunch. Boromir had instantly taken out swords and tossed them to Merry and Pippin, his nerves on edge because of Cordelia. Anything to work off the tension. Aragorn suggested that Cordelia join them. Pippin groaned. She was pissed, and she always ended up knocking everyone on their butts when she was pissed. Aragorn did not miss Pippin's despair at the thought of sparring with Cordelia.
So he picked up his sword. "Might I get a chance at you?"
The entire group froze. Aragorn was going to spar with Cordy. This ought to be good. Because they both were.
Fred smiled as she took a seat next to Sam. "They have almost as much kye-rumption as Angel and Cordy do."
"They have what?"
"Kye-rumption. It's a Pylean word. Pylea is another place. I stayed there for a while, and that's a nice way of saying it. Kye-rumption is when two great heroes meet on the field of battle and recognize their mutual fate."
"That's interesting." Sam looked at Cordelia and Aragorn circling each other. "And I see what you mean."
"But she's got the moira with Boromir."
"The gut physical attraction between two larger than life souls."
Sam looked over at Boromir to see his hand on his sword. His eyes following every move Cordelia and Aragorn made and not for the sake of watching the fight. He'd hurt the other man if he hurt Cordelia. Already. Boromir was raised to respect strength. Naturally he'd find himself falling for a woman who showed it in abundance.
"Seeing the moira here too, Fred. There's a bit of that with yourself and Legolas as well, ay?"
Fred's eyes widened. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Of course not." Sam said with a cryptic smile on his round face.
Gandalf had called a stop to the battle of wills between Cordelia and Aragorn. It would have gone on forever if he had not. Neither of them would concede. Just when it seemed Aragorn would win, Cordelia seemed to pull reserves of strength from somewhere to hold him at bay. She collapsed on the pallet Fred had put down for her. But only after Aragorn gave her a very telling nod. He gestured at her with his sword as well. Everyone recognized it for what it was. He was acknowledging her skill with a blade. Cordelia felt oddly humbled and honored by it.
"You fought well, lady."
Cordelia snorted, but then she looked at Boromir. He was being totally truthful.
"Thanks, Boromir." She nodded to the space next to her, inviting him to join her in sitting.
He did so. Eagerly. If she had not been so worn-out from knocking swords with Aragorn, Cordelia would have laughed at the speed in which Boromir had joined her on her pallet.
"If you arms ache from the practice, lady, I could rub them in a way that is soothing."
Her eyebrows furrowed. He was sitting awfully close to her. "Are you hitting on me?"
"I would never strike a woman, lady."
"Let's stop with the lady stuff. My name's Cordelia. Use it."
"Thank you for that honor, my la- Cordelia."
"I misspoke. Forgive me." He was flushed and awkward suddenly. Boromir rose to leave.
Cordelia grabbed his arm and made him sit back down. Typical warrior type. Give him something to hack up and a sharp or pointy thing to hack it with, and he was completely sure of himself. Put him in a situation where he was attracted to someone, and he was utterly inept.
"Lighten up, Boromir. And let's have that rubbing."
He smiled sheepishly at her before taking one of her arms in his hands. He began to massage the muscles with his fingertips.
Aragorn used a spare scrap of cloth to wipe his sweaty brow as he watched Cordelia and Boromir. The falling of two people towards any sort of love had never interested him. This, however, amazed him. It was a daring thing in such times. War was coming, and here sat two souls sharing hooded looks and innocent touches. It gave Aragorn a grain of hope somehow. Perhaps there was light at the end of this long tunnel they had suddenly been shoved into.
Along the Misty Mountains to the gap of Rohan.
That was their path. Cordelia was certain she could have done without all the "mountain" of it. They had stopped to rest for the day... and to eat. It seemed every time they were paused long enough for a fire to be made, Sam was making with the food. It also seemed that every time they paused Boromir had the swords out.
Once again he was training Merry and Pippin. Cordelia and Aragorn sat side by side in comfortable camaraderie offering up suggestions to improve the hobbits' skills. Aragorn was having a smoke from his pipe while Cordelia was sharpening her sword. Spike and Fred were nearby working on her bow skills. She tended to work with Spike more and Legolas less because Spike didn't make her hands sweaty, her heart speed up, and her face turn pink when he helped her. Willow and Tara sat with Frodo. Sam began bringing them food as soon as it was cooked to his satisfaction. Legolas was pretending not to watch Spike and Fred. Gimli was arguing that they were taking the long way and should go through the mines of Moria instead of heading for the gap of Rohan. Gandalf didn't agree.
Then Boromir accidentally knocked Pippin's hand with his sword.
But Pippin was already kicking his shins before the apology was out.
Merry and Pippin tackled the man. Cordelia started laughing outright because it was very funny to see the two tiny hobbits bring a man of Boromir's stature low. Aragorn was highly amused by their antics as well.
"For the Shire!"
They were tickling him a bit, and Boromir was chuckling. Cordelia was struck by how nice he looked when he wasn't wearing his usual expression of doom and gloom. It was also sweet that the hobbits were child-size, so she could imagine this would be what Boromir would look like roughing around with his own children. Cordelia thought of Angel and Connor suddenly and felt a pang of guilt that she was here and not with Angel looking for his son.
It was getting a bit rowdy and they were kicking up a lot of dirt. Aragorn set down his pipe and rose to end it.
"Gentlemen, that's enough." He said as he went to grab Merry and Pippin.
The hobbits turned the tables on him though. Each grabbed a calf and took the ranger's legs from under him. Aragorn toppled back into the dirt with a shout of pain because he landed on his tailbone. Big bad future king brought low by a pair of hobbits. Cordelia cackled then. She also made her way to put a stop to it as well only to be sucked into the fray herself. Before she knew what had happened, she was somehow on her back in the dirt... under Boromir.
Not a bad place to be actually.
"Oooooooo." Pippin mocked loudly before he started making kissing noises.
Boromir was up in a flash and setting a dazed Cordelia back on her feet. She wasn't sure what had happened there. She liked Angel, didn't she? However, just then, she had really wanted Boromir to kiss her. She so did not have time for this. She couldn't go having a crush when they were trying to stop the big bad in an alternate dimension. Especially when she liked Angel and also had Groo waiting for her.
Aragorn was settling down Merry and Pippin from their attack of the rowdies when Sam spoke.
"What is that?"
Everyone looked where the hobbit was looking. It looked like a little black rain cloud.
"Nothing." Gimli said. "It's just a whiff of cloud."
"It's moving fast, and against the wind." Boromir replied, his alarm growing.
Legolas was leaning out to look with his elf eyes. "Crebain from Dunland."
"Hide!" Aragorn shouted.
Cordelia didn't know what crebain from Dunland were, but everyone's reaction didn't make her think it was of the good. She gasped when Boromir grabbed her around the waist and pulled her under the cover of some shrubbery. Everyone had reacted to Aragorn's tone. They were all hidden behind rocks and greenery. She could see Tara had her face buried against Willow's chest. Cordelia watched.
Birds. A big flock of birds. Loud ones too. They circled about the rocks then flew off as quickly as they had come up. As soon as the threat passed, the group of weary travelers made their way out of hiding.
"All right... who's seen a certain Hitchcock movie one too many times?" Spike asked. "What was that all about? We're hiding from birds? Why?"
"Spies of Saruman." Gandalf replied.
"Birdie spies? Bloody hell, birds can be spies?"
Gandalf ignored that. "Our passage south is being watched. We must take the pass of Caradhras."
He turned and looked at the mountain in question.
"We're going up that?!" Cordelia fairly shouted.
They were mostly miserable and trudging through the snow when it happened.
Cordelia suddenly had a vision. She started screaming and convulsing and threw herself to the ground. She was rolling about in the snow then.
"Cordelia!" Several of them cried in unison.
Boromir got to her first. Willow and Fred were close behind him. Frodo, who had been walking between Cordelia and Aragorn, got knocked over because he could not get out of the way of her flailing limbs fast enough. He rolled down the mountain a little.
"Frodo." Aragorn grabbed him.
Frodo had lost the ring in his tumble. It was on the ground right near where Cordelia was panting for air in Boromir's arms. Boromir picked it up by the chain it was on as if in a trance. It was Cordelia's first look at the ring. Didn't look like much to her.
Then the evil whispering started. That ring was talking to her. It was giving her more chills than sitting in the snow was.
"Put it down." She whispered, but Boromir did not seem to hear her.
His susceptibility to the evil whisperings of that trinket would be the death of him. She had seen how it would corrupt him. She had to stop him from thinking about the power of that ring. In his heart he had obviously never given up the hope of taking it to Gondor to be used against Mordor, but evil could too easily corrupt the best of intentions. He could not see that as of now. He needed help not straying from the path.
"Boromir." She whispered again, placing a hand on his leg as well. "Don't listen to it. Put it down. Hear my voice, hear me. It lies to you. Drop it."
His hand shook, but it did open. The ring and its chain dropped back onto the snow. Only to be lifted back out by Willow.
"Willow?" Cordelia said.
The redhead was holding the ring by its chain and staring. Her look was glassy and trance-like. Boromir was staring too. It was as if the damned thing had hypnotic powers, but being evil, it likely did have them. Everyone was watching the scene with tense interest.
"Willow." Tara said evenly. "Give it back to Frodo."
"It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing." Boromir whispered.
"Such a little thing." Willow whispered in agreement as she went to touch the ring and not the chain.
"No!" Cordelia slapped it out of her hands.
It landed a few feet away in the snow. Boromir lunged to retrieve it, tossing Cordelia aside. She grabbed for him, but he evaded her. He lifted the ring by its chain.
"Boromir!" Aragorn snapped.
Everyone looked up at his tone. Even Boromir.
"Give the ring to Frodo."
Cordelia held her breath to see what he would do. That thing held a sway over Boromir, and the more she saw it, the less she liked it. It might also have something to do with the more time she spent with him, the more she was liking Boromir. She cared for him already. It did not set well that she had seen him be seduced a bit by the dark side. He handed the ring over, trying to hide how shaken he was by its effect on him. Cordelia knew though. By the way Aragorn had his hand on his sword, Cordelia could tell that he knew too.
Boromir tried to play it off, chuckling a bit as he handed the ring over saying he cared not, then chuckling a bit more when he helped Cordelia to her feet. He didn't let go of her when she was right though. He was shaking a bit.
"Sorry, Boromir. Would you mind helping me? I'm a bit wobbly after that vision."
He looked at her with grateful eyes. "I would never turn away a lady who says she is in need of assistance."
"Vision?" Willow asked, getting to her feet and acting like she hadn't been under the ring's sway as well. "What did you see?"
"Oh the usual. Gloom and doom. Same as before."
It was when half the mountain fell on them, they decided they'd had enough. Saruman was giving them some hellish weather. The hobbits were having a most difficult time making it in the snow. Not to mention how Willow and Tara were huddling together and shivering so hard their teeth were chattering.
It was decided their path had to change.
The gap of Rohan would take them too close to Isengard and Saruman, so the mines of Moria it was. It was well after they were off the snow-topped mountain that Cordelia finally thawed.
They made their way to the entrance of the mines. Everyone was quiet, a bit discouraged. They all felt the same thing... the mountain had defeated them. No one likes to admit defeat. Especially to the weather of all things, but the snow and wind had been too much. If they had continued, the hobbits might not have been with them still on the other side of the pass. They finally made it to the walls of Moria. By then, Cordelia was feeling particularly weary.
"My lady?" Boromir asked. "Cordelia?"
"I'm just a little winded, a little tired. I'm all right, Boromir."
And like all instances where you really need to be strong and prove you can stand on your own, she stumbled. He caught her to him. Her belly did that funny little flip-flop that a belly likes to do when the right person touches you.
"I'm all right." She snapped, furious with herself for liking his arms around her so much at this early stage of their... whatever she had with Boromir. Because there was definitely something between them. She'd be a fool to deny that.
It had started out as attraction, then moved quickly to her wanting to prove her worth. Then she had fallen into genuine care. There was something noble and manly about him. He had that hero thing she seemed to be attracted to going on. Plus, she had a very strong urge to protect him from himself... and that flipping ring.
"You need rest, lady. Allow me to speak to Gandalf."
"There is not time for rest now, Boromir, and what did I say about using my name?"
"I am sorry, Cordelia. To use you name means bridging a gap between the two of us that I am not sure I am free to bridge."
"Because... you have some woman waiting for you in Gondor?"
He actually chuckled nervously. "No. Because I fear your heart lies elsewhere... Cordelia."
"You do not have to say. I can not help my feelings, and that is no fault of yours. You can not help being as you are. Just know this... I have never met another woman like you. One who wields a sword, one who has the honor and nobility of kings and warriors. I find my loyalty being divided for the first time ever. I have always taken pride in Gondor, my father, the city of Minas Tirith, my brother, but I find myself taking pride in you as well. Be not offended by me and my declarations."
"So not offended here."
He looked away with a flushed face and a smile playing on his lips. She really did like his smile. They walked in silence the rest of the way, him aiding her weary pace.
Soon after that they had finally reached the door to the entrance of the mines. Cordelia got her rest after all... because Gandalf could not open the doors at first. Despite the largest portions of her heart still belonging to Angel, and a smaller part owned by Groo, Cordelia spent her rest leaned against Boromir. His chest made an excellent cushion. She even slept a bit and recovered from her vision.
Boromir was decidedly uncomfortable because Fred kept giggling at him. Willow and Tara were huddled together in much the same fashion as himself and Cordelia and smiling at him in a knowing way. Spike kept looking at him and shaking his head. Aragorn wore this satisfied grin whenever he looked their way.
Boromir was a bit confused by it all. Had they all seen his care for the Lady Cordelia growing? Was he so obvious? He had not seen it until it was near glaring in his face. He had never bowed to anything save his father and Gondor, but he was considering lying prostrate before this woman for the rest of his days. He had been drawn to her upon first seeing her in Lord Elrond's hall. She fought better than men he knew. She sought to protect him from the draw of the ring. It was unnecessary because he knew he could handle himself, but her concern was comforting. It had been many years since a woman had worried over him so. The last had been his mother Finduilas. She had not lived so many years after marrying his father Denethor. Little more than a decade she'd been in her marriage. He had trouble recalling her smile some days. Boromir was sure his brother Faramir remembered her even less for Faramir had only seen five years to Boromir's ten when she faded. Cordelia provoked the same warmth being near his mother had. It seemed he could recall more of her since meeting Cordelia... which was a bit odd because if any of the otherworldly visitors was most like his mother, it was the Lady Tara in her gentleness and soft-spoken nature.
He was still a man of Gondor. His loyalty was still to the White City and its people, but could he not give a small bit of that to the woman slumbering peacefully against part of his chest? He wanted to. For the first time in his life he held someone besides those who carried his blood in his heart's high regard. Always, or at least for as long as he could remember his love had been slated to his father first, then Faramir, then Gondor, and finally to his mother's memory. That had been the way of it since his mother's death. Now he was beginning to doubt he would always love his father first.
Who would have ever suspected he would find such enlightenment on such a perilous quest?
end part 2