i will return to gondor, says boromir, and aragorn is silent (but watches him closely and thinks of their ancestors — his and boromir’s, and what they would say of this tangle of inheritance)
i will reclaim the mountain, says thorin, and balin is silent (but watches thorin as thorin leads, and balin a step behind; and he thinks of the line of durin and the ancestors who cannot say anything of this fool-driven quest, for they perished all of their own foolishnesses)
boromir reaches for the ring and it leads him to his death; thorin reaches for the mountain, for the gold, for the arkenstone, and he brings his heirs into death with him
boromir reaches for honor and wealth; thorin reaches for inheritance and power; both are lured by the means, the gold that blinds to all green and growing things
boromir whispers my king, i would have followed you to victory, and lies on a forest floor far from home; thorin whispers o hobbit, i would have seen your peace, and lies on a rocky battlefield outside the mouth of his mountain; both never to see their homelands again, though neither belong truly to those places
you are not yourself, hears boromir, and thinks who am i then, if not myself, king of stewards, favored son, who has been given the burden of hope by his father? who am i to ignore my duty in favor of halflings?
you are not yourself, hears thorin, and thinks who am i then, if not king of the mountain, heir of durin, favored by prophecy, who have come this far and endured so much? who am i to cease fighting here, at the doorstep of my fate?
it is only in the last breath before the final blow, before the first arrow, that they realize: they are protectors of family and comrades; they are servants of their peoples; they are led astray by pride; they are gold-blind, power-hungry; they are fools. they are not kings.
i am no thief, says boromir, for denethor taught him well that any tool may be of use in keeping their line on the throne, and what is a hobbit to claim ownership of such a thing? a kind soul, surely, but not mankind who understands better the weight of gold: weight that barely keeps denethor on his throne and boromir in his status
i am not my grandfather, says thorin, for his grandfather is dead of pride and rage; but thorin has spent too long planning vengeance to be full of nothing but rage and pride. too long leading his people, providing for family, remembering the dead.
no, this is not who they are.