Strangers From a Distant Land

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

(Sarah POV)

As they turned into the Anduin, Gimli spoke, mostly to Legolas.

"I have taken my worst wound at this parting," he declared, "having looked my last upon that which is fairest. Henceforth I will call nothing fair unless it be her gift to me."

"What was her gift?" Legolas asked. Sarah was curious as well, she knew what it was, but she wondered how Lady Galadriel had gotten it to him, as she hadn't seen her cut any hair.

"I asked her for one hair from her golden head," Gimli told them. "She gave me three."

Sarah turned to ask how, and then thought better of it when she saw Gimli's face. She turned back around, and watched the water slip by.

The dark trees towered on each side, giving off an atmosphere of watchful wariness. Sarah found herself constantly looking over her shoulder constantly. Before long they came to a place where the bank sloped down gently to meet the water's edge. Aragorn directed his boat towards this place.

"We stop here for the night," he called over his shoulder as he did so.

The boats were surprisingly easy to pull up to the bank. Legolas was able to do theirs singlehandedly, while Gimli and Sarah grabbed a couple of the bags. They joined the other's further up the sandy beach. Pippin and Merry had already started a fire, and Sam had begun to break out his pots and pans. Sarah was walking around aimlessly when her hand was grabbed and she was dragged into the trees.

"Maggie!" Sarah all but shouted.

"Shh!" her friend hushed, "be quiet!"

"What are you doing?" Sarah hissed, this time softly.

"I need to talk to you without the Fellowship over hearing."

"About what?" Sarah was a bit calmer, but still annoyed.

Maggie looked around nervously before pulling Sarah down so that she could whisper in her ear.


Sarah straightened up, startled. "Boromir? What about him?"

"Sh! Not so loud!" Maggie looked panicked for a moment, before relaxing slightly.

Sarah sighed. "Alright, what about him?"

Maggie echoed the noise and plopped on the ground, patting the bracken beside her prompting Sarah to sit down beside her.

"It's Amon Hen," she began. Sarah stiffened.

In her mind's eye she pictured the scene from the movie. Arrow after arrow slammed into her friend's torso. What had before been an only slightly sad scene now made her want to curl up in a little ball and sob. Suddenly she realized what Maggie was getting at.

"I agree."

Maggie blinked. "Huh?" she asked intelligently.

"If you're saying," Sarah answered, "That we need to save Boromir, then I agree, canon be darned."

"Good. I was afraid that you would take a lot of convincing."

There was silence for a moment, and then Maggie began to speak again. "Speaking of Boromir, he's been starting to stare at me for long whiles."

Sarah gave her a sharp look. "It's started?"

Maggie nodded. "Yeah. He keeps paddling up closer to us when we're in the boats, and Pippin mentioned him muttering under his breath to himself."

"I'll talk to him," Sarah promised. "So, what are we going to do at Amon Hen? I don't want Boromir to fall."

"Neither do I," agreed Maggie, "but I do need to go to Mordor," she shuddered, "and I can't have the whole Fellowship trooping after me!"

Sarah thought for just a moment. "Even with all your knowledge," she said slowly, "you're going to need help, and Frodo and Sam deserve to go with you, after all that happened in the book, even if it hasn't yet, and won't, for some of it, they deserve to go with you."

Maggie nodded. "I agree. And that leaves you free to keep Boromir alive. Speaking of that, how are we going to do that? It's not like we can keep him away from battle."

There was a long silence while thought how to do it. Suddenly Maggie jumped up excitedly and started pacing in a circle around Sarah.

"Eureka!" she exclaimed, abet quietly. "I got it!" Kneeling down again, she whispered the plan into Sarah's ear. As she did so, her friend's smile got broader and broader.

"We can do it, we can really do it!" she whispered.

The next few days passed quietly. There was a discussion on how long they had stayed in Lothlorien, where Frodo made know a fact that should have remained hidden, but other than that, it was uneventful. The next exciting thing happened about a week after leaving the Golden Wood. They had once again camped on the side of the river, and Sarah was trying to convince Maggie to eat.

"Come on, Mags. Sam made this just for you."

"I'm not hungry."

Sarah sighed and came to sit beside her on the rock. "Maggie," she said.

"I'm not hungry, okay?" Maggie snapped, and then immediately look guilty. "Sorry."

Sarah put her arm around her. "It's starting, isn't it?" she asked.

"It's been 'starting' as you put it, for several days. Almost since we left Lorien," Maggie told her. "There's not much that you can do, except take It, and that's not going to happen."

"There is something you can do," Sarah insisted. "You can start by keeping up your strength, and you can start that by eating that soup Sam made you, and sleeping at night like a normal human being, or hobbit."

With a small smile, Maggie accepted the bowl from Sarah, though she made no move to eat, except to pick up the spoon and start stirring it thoughtfully.

"That's just the thing," she said after a long moment, "when I sleep, I get dreams, awful dreams of something happening at home, ones of Mom being… held… in Barad-dur, and how all that could end if I just used It."

"Oh Maggie." Sarah gave her friend a hug. They sat like that for a long while. Half an hour later Maggie's head started getting very heavy on Sarah's shoulder, and she realized that her friend had fallen asleep. She gently took the bowl from her hands, and then looked up to see if she could find anyone of man-size to help her movie Maggie from the rock where they were sitting. She caught Legolas's eye as he walked between the boats, transferring baggage.

With a small smile, he came over and gently lifted the hobbit out of Sarah's embrace and laid her down next to her pack. Sarah came over and draped a blanket over her form, tucking it in around the edges. Setting the soup down by her head she left her, heading over to where the rest of the Fellowship was sitting around Sam's small fire. A quick glance around showed her that both Pippin and Boromir were missing from the group. Another quick glance found Pippin snoring against a tree, and Boromir's foot peeking out from behind a boulder. After accepting her soup from Sam, she grabbed another bowl for him and walked over to where he was sitting.

He was bent over, looking down at the ground, his face twisted in an odd shape.

"Are you alright?" Sarah asked, as she set his bowl down in front of him.

He looked up at her, and she saw that his face was contorted not in anger, as she had first thought, but in the shapes that one makes when one is trying desperately not to cry.

"Boromir?" Sarah said, a little startled. Of all those in the Fellowship, Boromir was the last she'd thought would cry.

With a great effort, he seemed to swallow back the sobs that threatened to break out, and to compose himself.

"Yes," he replied, picking up the soup with his hands. A moment passed. "No."

Sarah leaned against the boulder and slid down to a sitting position next to him. "If it helps to talk, I'm here to listen," she said simply.

Boromir took a deep breath and several bites of soup before he began to speak. He started with a question. "Aragorn is Man, is he not, or am I the only one who thinks of him as such?"

Sarah's eyes widened. She was pretty sure that Aragorn and Boromir had just had their little spat, and was also pretty sure where this line of questioning was going.

"Yes…" she answered slowly.

"Then why does he have so little faith in the strength of his own people?" Boromir asked. "I have always thought, and still I believe Gondor to be a great city, a beautiful one, the tower of the Sun glinting in the morning light, the clear ringing of silver trumpets, keeping all the lands about free, a bulwark of the West, and now all I meet think nothing of it. Aragorn told me he would not lead the Company within a hundred leagues of my city. Not our city, the city that he goes to be king of, but mine only."

Sarah wasn't quite sure what to say. Boromir had a point, though he was recounting Aragorn's words slightly differently than she remembered them.

"I think…" she began slowly, "I think that Aragorn spoke out of anger, or fear. You do realize that he does not," she stopped abruptly, realizing that what she was about to say wasn't the best thing.

"Does not," Boromir prompted.

"Never mind," Sarah told him, "ignore that. I guess what I'm say is you both have a point. Aragorn should have more faith in Gondor and the race of Men, but I do not believe that Minas Tirith is the best rout." She held up a hand as Boromir made to interrupt. "Hear me out. To go to Gondor only delays the inevitable, and allows the Enemy time to gain strength. If we take the direct route to Mordor we can get there quickly, hopefully before he even realizes that there are ten people traipsing through his land." She paused. "Or nine, if you end up going to Gondor."

"That is my intention," Boromir confirmed with a nod. Already he looked a lot better. It was a relief to Sarah. No one likes to see men that they look on as older brothers cry, especially if that man is a warrior that you expect to be always strong.

Casting about for a completely different topic of conversation, Sarah pointed up at the stars overhead. They were much brighter than the ones at home, and there were more, it took some getting used to at first – it was so bright at night. "What's that one?" she asked of Boromir in reference to a rather distinctive constellation.

"Remmirath," he replied, "the netted stars."

"And that one?"

"Anarríma, the Sun-border."

And so it went on, until Boromir found himself with a lap-full of sleeping girl.

"Sing us something of your home, would you?" Frodo asked the ninth day of their journey down the Anduin. For once, all three boats were close to each other, not stretched out as they often were.

"Yes! Please do!" all of the other male hobbits echoed him.

"Err…" Maggie and Sarah looked at each other. "Um…"

"What manner of songs do they sing in America?" Gimli asked Sarah, as she was his boat with him.

Maggie looked at Sarah. "It looks like you're going to have to sing," she told her, "unless you want to subject the whole of the Fellowship to my voice." She grinned.

Sarah vehemently shook her head. Her mind went back to that awful day when Maggie had decided to try out for the part of Cosette in the school's Les Mis play. She ended up on the light crew, as far away from the singing as the manager could get her.

"What should I sing?" she asked.

Maggie thought for a moment. "Blessings," she finally said. "It's one of the ones you can sing best."

All except Aragorn and Boromir, who were busy paddling slightly in front, looked at Sarah expectantly. Said girl took a deep breath, and then began to sing.

"We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things
'Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe
When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise."

There was silence for a moment. Sarah had a nice singing voice, though nothing very spectacular, and the song was a pretty one. It was predictably Pippin who broke the quiet.

"It was very beautiful," he complimented. "What is it about?"

"It's a prayer to God," Maggie explained, "Eru Iluvatar He is called here, I think."

Legolas, Sam, Aragorn, Frodo, and Boromir nodded their understanding. Gimli, Merry, and Pippin looked a little lost, though any questions that they might have had were put off the Aragorn looking up.

Two great statues stood there, two men, two great kings of stone. The left hand of each was raised in a gesture of warning on the borders of Gondor as it once was. Each right hand grasped an axe. On their heads were set crumbling helms and crowns. As they passed by them, born along by the swirling water, Sarah saw that the little toe of one was as long as the boat she was sitting in. An awestruck fear fell on her, and in Aragorn's boat she saw Sam hunkering down.

"Behold the Argonath!" Aragorn cried aloud. "Keep the boats in a line, and as far apart as you can! Hold to the middle of the stream!"

A look of wonder was on Boromir's face as he gazed at the likenesses, as it was on all of them, though their attention was soon drawn elsewhere. A strange voice came from Aragorn's boat.

"Fear not!" it said, "Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, my sires of old. Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House of Valandil Isildur's son, heir of Elendil, has naught to dread!"

Boromir could not now say that Aragorn was not fit to be a king. A light was in his eyes, a wind blew his dark hair back from his face, and there was a kingly look about him, very different from the Strider of Bree, or the weathered man of Rivendell.

They passed through the Gates of Kings and into the wide lake, directing their boats to the shore of Amon Hen, the Hill of Sight.

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