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Clear Conscience (The Clear Shot Remix)  by Dreamflower

FOREWORD

I recently participated for the first time in a full-length remix challenge, in which one is assigned another author, and given leave to change or expand on, one of her stories.  I was assigned Claudia, and I chose her story, "The Clear Shot".  It was an AU in which Boromir and Faramir travelled to the North in their youth, and Boromir accidentally shoots Frodo, seriously injuring him. But Frodo recovers, and develops a friendship with them at the same time.http://claudia603.livejournal.com/tag/clear+shot

I wondered how such an event would affect the future: if such an encounter had taken place, what would Boromir's and Frodo's reactions be when they see one another once more over the table at the Council of Elrond?

Author’s note: There are several quotations in the story, indicated by italics. Unless otherwise marked by an asterisk, they are taken from LotR, the books; other sources are marked, and are taken either from the original story, or from the movie.

CLEAR CONSCIENCE (THE CLEAR SHOT REMIX)

CHAPTER ONE: RIVENDELL

Boromir found himself fairly stunned to realize who two of the people sitting across from him at the Council table were. They stared back at him in equal amazement, the expression on the face of younger of the two gradually changing from puzzlement to a wide smile.

“Boromir!” was the joyful exclamation.

Boromir allowed himself his own smile. “Frodo and Bilbo Baggins! Of all the people whom I might have expected to see here in Imladris, you are the last! What brings you to this place, my small friends?” he asked curiously.

Bilbo’s expression suddenly hardened and grew guarded, and Frodo’s face grew troubled; they exchanged glances.

Frodo replied, “I believe that we will soon enough find out what has brought all of us here.”

And suddenly Boromir recalled the words of the dream: “the halfling forth shall stand…”“The halfling” could only be Frodo! Of course that would explain why the dream had come to Faramir and himself! But what did the rest of it mean? He could not explore those questions yet--the Council would be beginning soon.

Boromir took his seat at the Council table; but his eyes never left the distressed face of Frodo Baggins. What could this mean?

Frodo gazed across the table at Boromir. He’d been a callow lad in his tweens when he had been the victim of the Man’s error. He had been shot in mistake for a deer. Boromir, who had shot the fateful arrow, and his brother Faramir, had been travelling in the North to learn about those lands, and had been horrified at what had happened. The two of them had seen Frodo to Bree and a healer. And that had brought Frodo to his first acquaintance with Strider, as well, though he’d been so ill at the time he could scarcely recall him. They had been several days in the Ranger’s company on the journey to Rivendell before Frodo finally remembered who he was, and why it had been so easy to trust him: he had been brought in to help with Frodo’s healing all those years ago.

He remembered so easily how grief and guilt-stricken the young Men had been. They were only youths themselves at the time. For a brief period, they thought Frodo had actually died of his wounds, and had been devastated. But after Frodo’s recovery, he had made friends of them, and it was wonderful, if puzzling, to see Boromir now. Of course, Boromir *was* the son of the Steward of Gondor--it made sense that he might find himself at this Council.

His mind shied away. This Council, here to decide what to do with the Ring. Frodo shuddered, and with an effort of will, kept his hand away from It, though he longed to touch it and reassure himself It was still there.

Then Frodo felt Elrond’s hand upon his shoulder, and heard, as if from far away, the Lord of Rivendell introducing him: “Here, my friends, is the hobbit, Frodo son of Drogo. Few have ever come hither through greater peril or on an errand more urgent.”

The Council had begun…

_________________________________

Boromir felt as though he had been turned to stone, like one of the statues in the Hall of Kings.

He kept seeing the quiet desperation on the hobbit‘s face when Frodo had said, “I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.”

How could all of them allow Frodo, so innocent of the world, so small and helpless, to undertake a task of such peril--especially since Boromir was still not convinced that it was the only solution?

He remembered his own horror, that night so long ago, when his ill-timed and ill-considered shot had placed Frodo in peril of his life; his fear at having taken an innocent life, his uncertainty over what was best to do for his victim. Had it not been for Faramir’s cooler head--and even then, though Faramir was the younger, his head had been cooler--Boromir might have watched Frodo’s life drain away, paralyzed by his own indecision. And then, to believe that after all their effort to bring him to healing, that they had lost him after all--the memory still haunted his dreams from time to time.

He glanced once more at Frodo, surrounded now by Aragorn, Elrond, Mithrandir and Bilbo. Though he wanted badly to speak to Frodo, he could not bring himself to interrupt now.

He knew only one thing: he would not let anything else happen to Frodo. He would *have* to be one of the Company that travelled South. Finally, he would have found a way to amend his dreadful error--he vowed to stand between Frodo and danger however long they might travel together.

Frodo looked over at some of the other people who had been at the Council. His blue eyes rested on Boromir. He wanted very much to talk to the Man, to learn more of that dream he had described, to ask about Faramir.

They would be here in Rivendell for some time before setting out. There would be plenty of time for conversation.

As it was, it was three days before they had such a chance. Frodo was with his two cousins and his servant, whom he introduced to Boromir.

The youngest, Peregrin, was open and cheerful, reminding Boromir much of the way Frodo had been when first he met him--”Call me Pippin,” he had said airily, offering his service in the way of these Northerners. “It’s very nice to meet you! I look forward to asking you all about your land!”

Meriadoc however, had regarded him cooly, with his steely grey eyes. “I heard all about what happened,” he said. His expression very clearly said that Boromir would have to earn his trust, and would have to prove himself. But Boromir found himself rather pleased than not at this attitude. Wariness was called for. It was clear that Frodo had a self-appointed protector in his Brandybuck cousin, and Frodo would need all the protection he could get.

Samwise Gamgee, whom Boromir had at first taken for a mere servant, was introduced by Frodo as his friend. And though Sam’s manner was more diffident and less challenging, he saw the same wariness there, and the same determination to protect. He knew that Sam would be another whose regard he would have to earn.

After a few moments of conversation, mostly consisting of Pippin asking questions about Boromir’s journey to the North, Frodo interrupted. “Why don’t you three go ahead to Bilbo’s rooms? He’ll wonder why we’re late! I’d like to have a few words with Boromir first.”

Pippin and Sam agreed immediately, but Merry took a moment to hold Boromir’s eyes, a challenge clear in them, before he, too, nodded. The others left, then, and Boromir finally found himself alone with Frodo.

Frodo chuckled. “Merry and Sam know about what happened, even though they were only children at the time. I am afraid that they have not forgiven you yet. But they will soon get to know you, and will like you as much as I do.”

Boromir raised his brow, and said “What about Peregrin--Pippin?”

“Pippin was only a baby at the time. I am not sure that he ever knew anything about it. But I’m sure that Merry and Sam will tell him now.”

“And will he then be angry with me as well?”

Frodo shook his head. “In some ways Pippin is far more sensible about things that happened in the past than either Merry or Sam. He sees that I consider you a friend, and that will be enough for him.”

“I am glad, then, that at least one of your kin will not think badly of me.”

“Bilbo does not think badly of you now, though he was--intemperate--at the time. But he was very frightened, and fear can make the temper sharp. But I think that he is pleased that you are here now.” Frodo sighed. “He is frightened for other reasons at the present. And I cannot say that I blame him.” Frodo looked off solemnly into the distance, and Boromir suddenly was reminded that however youthful the hobbit might look, he was some years older than Boromir himself. Frodo took a deep breath, and then, sighing turned to Boromir. “And how is Faramir? I am rather surprised that he did not accompany you! I should have dearly liked to see him again as well.”

Boromir shook his head. “Our father gave the errand to me.” He kept quiet about the way in which he had insisted on taking the journey for himself. “Faramir is a Captain of Rangers in Ithilien. He has a good many duties and responsibilities.”

“And you do not?” Frodo raised a skeptical brow, and regarded Boromir shrewdly.

“I do. And one of those duties is to represent my father to the lords of other lands when he cannot do so himself. And *one* of us had to seek the meaning of the dream.” Boromir kept to himself his own doubts--it was likely that Faramir would have done as well or better on this errand. But Boromir had been afraid for his younger brother, and Denethor did not trust his younger son.

Frodo nodded. “Well, I am afraid that I need to go--Bilbo was expecting the four of us to tea, and if I am much later, I’m liable to find nothing left!” And the hobbit went off laughing, while Boromir watched him with troubled eyes.

__________________________________

It did not take Boromir long to make friends with Merry, and though Sam was still shy, he lost his wary attitude. Pippin, of course, treated him as though he were his own long-lost friend, and not much differently than another hobbit. Boromir soon found himself growing quite fond of the other hobbits for their own sakes’ as well as for Frodo’s.

Lord Elrond had asked him to help the younger hobbits learn the uses of their weapons, and although Frodo would have benefited from such instruction as well, it was thought his shoulder was not yet up to the exertion. However, Frodo usually could be found watching as his friends took their lessons. Boromir often found himself included in some of the other activities that occupied the hobbits--their frequent meals, rambles about the gardens of Imladris, taking tea with Bilbo, or sitting with them during evenings in the Hall of Fire.

The day of leavetaking came all too soon. It was but a few days before the turning of the year, when the nine Companions set out from Rivendell.

Author’s note: There are several quotations in the story, indicated by italics. Unless otherwise marked by an asterisk, they are taken from LotR, the books; other sources are so marked, and are taken either from the original story, or from the movie version, as indicated.

CHAPTER TWO: THE JOURNEY SOUTH

Frodo shook his pack off, and sat down wearily. He was used to walking at night beneath the stars, but in the Shire it had been at his own pace, and when he grew tired, he stopped. The journey from Bree to Rivendell had been even more desperate--but he could scarcely remember that. And the months in Rivendell had been, perhaps, too restful.

Now it was all he could do to keep up with the bigger folk. Gandalf was setting them a brisk pace, though Frodo knew that the others could have travelled far more quickly without the hobbits needing to keep up. He cast an eye over the other hobbits--Sam was tending to Bill, his somewhat stiff and slow movements the only clue to his own tiredness; Merry was wearily assisting Gimli in making a place for a fire--Gandalf had told them they were close enough still to Rivendell, and in a hidden enough location that they could yet risk one. “You may as well have one while you can--soon enough we will need to have a cold camp, to keep hidden from prying eyes,” the wizard had said gruffly. Pippin, like Frodo, had cast off his pack and come to sit by Frodo’s side, his face pinched and weary. Frodo placed an arm around his shoulders and pulled his youngest cousin close.

“We shall toughen up soon, I hope, Frodo,” said Pippin lightly. But Frodo saw a hint of anxiety in the green eyes.

“You shall indeed,” said Boromir, who had come to stand over them. He held down a waterskin. “It has only been two nights yet. And I have observed that hobbits are a good deal tougher than they look, and quite a bit tougher than they think themselves.”

Frodo looked up in gratitude. “Thank you, Boromir. I hope you are right.”

The Man smiled. “I am quite sure that I am.”

_____________________________________________

Boromir shrugged his heavy fur-lined cloak again, and tried to brush the snow from his face. Whatever Gandalf might say, there was something uncanny about this snowstorm--and whether it was the Enemy in far-off Mordor, or some other enemy closer to hand, he found it hard to believe that so heavy a snowfall so early in the year could be natural.

The Man blinked. He’d been meant to bring up the rear, but somehow, he’d allowed the hobbits to fall behind him without realizing it. He halted and turned, seeing the four of them leaning into one another, and being nearly blown back by the howling wind. He heard the rumble of stones, and went to stand over them protectively. Frodo looked up appreciatively, his face blue and miserable. As the stones rumbled past, Boromir called out--

“We cannot go further tonight. Let those call it the wind who will, there are fell voices on the air; and these stones are aimed at us!”

________________________________________________

Huddled against Sam and Bill, Frodo watched gratefully as the two Men disappeared along the path they had thrust through the snow. He had seen how gently and carefully they had carried his cousins away. They could not get off this mountain soon enough to suit him.

He flicked a look of annoyance at Gandalf; he was not a little angry at him. Much as he truly loved the old wizard, this time it had been Boromir who had been right, and who had saved all their lives on this cursed mountain. It had been Boromir who had the foresight to bring firewood, Boromir who had called for them to halt before it got too dangerous to move on, and Boromir who had the idea of getting them back down through the snow.

He found himself once more thinking how fortunate he was in having such an old friend along on this journey.

________________________________________________

Boromir knew he was being unreasonably cross. He hated this standing about, waiting. Not only waiting, but waiting on something so uncanny as a “magic door” to be opened by “magic words”. He knew why he felt that way: his father had always been scornful of “wizards” and of Mithrandir in particular, and had little truck with what he called his “conjuring tricks”. On the other hand, he could remember the old man’s kindness and attention to Faramir.

And Boromir had been travelling with the wizard long enough now that he found himself addressing him as “Gandalf” more often than Mithrandir. He’d seen how Gandalf had lit the fire on Caradhras and how he’d dealt with the attack of the Wargs--he did know it was more than simply tricks.

But standing here in the dark, while the old man muttered words that were proving useless, while the hair on the back of his neck prickled was nearly more than he could stand.

They could hear upon the wind the howls of the wolves, and he glanced over to where the pony struggled to flee. Sam was hard put to calm the frantic animal.

“Do not let him run away!” said Boromir. “It seems that we shall need him still, if the wolves do not find us.”

Overcome suddenly with the need to do something--anything at all--he suddenly scooped up a large stone and cast it with all his might into the water. “How I hate this foul pool!”He knew the instant the stone had left his hand he had made a bad mistake, but there was naught he could do about it now. When Frodo asked him “why”, he gave the hobbit an apologetic look, but said nothing. His own irritation and lack of patience disturbed and confused him. He had been in many situations far more dangerous, and none of them had filled him with so much cold dread before. What was wrong with him?

_____________________________________________

Frodo sat himself apart after Aragorn tended his injury, and as they ate their sparse meal; he’d had little appetite--his grief was far too close to the surface. Why? Why had Gandalf sacrificed himself so? Hadn’t he known there would be no chance of succeeding without him? What would they do now without Gandalf’s guidance? He glanced over at Pippin huddled miserably in Merry’s arms, and at Sam, who was trying to forget himself by clearing up after their brief meal. He knew they wished to comfort him, but he did not deserve their comfort. It was his fault after all--Gandalf had left the decision of whether to go into Moria up to him. He’d heard Aragorn’s warnings to the wizard, why had he not understood what it meant? He swallowed down the tears that threatened him. He did not deserve the release of weeping.

He did not notice that Boromir had sat down beside him until the Man spoke. “Gandalf’s death was not in vain. Nor would he have you give up hope,” he said softly.

Frodo gave him a startled look.

“You carry a heavy burden, Frodo. Do not carry the weight of the dead.”*

Just then, Aragorn gave the signal to move on. Boromir stood, and gave Frodo a hand up. He still could not bring himself to speak, but he looked up at the Man with gratitude.

On they moved, into the woods.

_______________________________________

Never had Boromir felt so unsettled as he had since they entered this uncanny place. What was it the Lady of the Golden Wood had done to him? His mind was his own!

Yes--yes, it was true, if he could persuade Frodo to come to Minas Tirith, he would do so. The Council had no way to be certain that the Ring would react the way they had said! Why, no one had made a trial of it yet! How could they possibly know that the Ring would turn all to evil? If Aragorn, who was the rightful heir of Isildur was afraid to wield it, then he was certain his father would not be! The Stewards had the strength, he was sure, to resist Sauron as they had always done!

But no, he had sworn to protect Frodo. That meant doing as Frodo wished, and if he could not persuade him, he would follow after him in his folly.

Yet, whispered a small voice in his head, would it not protect Frodo better if you separated him from this evil thing?

________________________________________

Frodo looked over to the boat where Boromir paddled, with Merry and Pippin seated next to him. His cousins were far too quiet, and Boromir looked almost angry.

Boromir had scarcely spoken to him since they had left Lothlórien. He had turned aside and feigned not to hear when Frodo approached, and he had been silent and sullen. Frodo had overheard more than one whispered argument between Aragorn and Boromir, and he was quite certain he was the cause of it.

It was true, when Boromir had approached him once, just before their departure from the Golden Wood, and asked him to consider the idea of turning aside and staying in his city for a while, in order to replenish supplies and to rest, Frodo had refused; he simply wanted to get on with his task and get it over with. He wondered if that was what had angered the Man. He felt saddened; he valued their long-standing friendship. He did not want to lose it.

He’d lost enough to the Ring already.

___________________________________

*Spoken dialogue from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Extended Edition DVD

 

 

AUTHOR'S NOTE: There are several quotations in the story, indicated by italics. Unless otherwise marked by an asterisk, they are taken from LotR, the books; other sources are marked, and are taken either from the original story, or from the movie.

CHAPTER THREE: AT PARTH GALEN

Frodo heard the sound of heavy footsteps, heedlessly loud. Quickly he hid himself behind a nearby tree. But it was only Boromir--he started to speak out to his friend, yet something held him back.

The Man had such an expression of torment on his face--what was wrong with him? Suddenly, a ragged shout seemed torn from Boromir’s throat, and he sank to his knees, sobbing. “No!” he said, over and over. “No, I will not--I will not harm him again! Never again!”

Boromir put his hands over his ears, as if to shut out some voice that was speaking unwelcome words. “Not even to save him from himself, not even to save him from It, will I try to use force on him. If he will not come to Minas Tirith of his own free will, I will *not* try to make him! I will follow and protect him all the way to the Mountain of Fire, if I must. I will! No! Leave me be!”

With a shock, as though he had suddenly fallen into deep and freezing waters, Frodo realized what it was. The Ring! It had been calling to Boromir! That was what had been troubling the Man since they had left the Golden Wood!

Frodo had been exerting his will to protect Sam and his cousins from the Ring--but clearly, he had not been thinking far enough. He narrowed his eyes, and gathered his will. “Be still! Leave him alone!”he thought fiercely. It was a struggle, not only to make It draw back from Boromir, but to keep his own hand away from It. He could hear It laughing at him--“You cannot completely subdue me. I will have him sooner or later, or if not him, one of the others.”

He knew. Now he knew. He had not a strong enough will to protect everyone else from the Ring’s constant pull, not all the time. And It was growing stronger. He had to get away, leave them all behind--for It would keep at the others until It had torn the Fellowship apart.

He watched, as Boromir straightened up, and drew a deep breath. The Man rose, and shaking his head, he turned and walked slowly away.

Frodo heaved a sigh, and leaned back against the tree trunk. It had to be. He had to leave them all behind.

____________________________________

As he walked, deliberately slowly, to give himself time to recover his composure, Boromir forced his mind away from the Ring. Though It was the reason for their Quest, It was not his chief concern. He had lost track of that after they had left Moria, pre-occupied with danger and grief, and forgetting that his main worry should be Frodo himself. Frodo, who bore a burden that should never have been his…No!That was the trap that had nearly ensnared him before, thinking in his pride that he had more strength to bear the burden than Frodo. What madness had possessed him to even think of throwing his honor away so? How could he have ever guessed that he, himself, might be the greatest threat to Frodo?

His heart still heavy with concern and sorrow, he returned to the others, certain that by now Frodo would have come back with his decision. Grim and sad, he went and sat among the others.

“Where have you been, Boromir?” asked Aragorn, “have you seen Frodo?”

Glancing about himself, startled, Boromir realized that Frodo had not returned. He looked up sharply. “No--I went in search of him--I feared his being unguarded. But I did not see him anywhere, and thought that he must have returned.” He stood up far more quickly than he had sat down.

Sam leaped up. “He should be back! It’s been longer than you said, Strider! He should’ve come back by now!”

Merry and Pippin jumped up as well. “He should have! This is bad!” exclaimed Merry.

“But where did he go? Where is he?” cried Pippin “He’s been away ages now.”

“It has been over an hour,” said Aragorn grimly.

“An hour since he vanished!” shouted Sam. “We must try and find him at once. Come on!”

“Wait a moment!” cried Aragorn. “We must divide up into pairs, and arrange--here, hold on! Wait!”

It was no good. They took no notice of him. Sam had dashed off first, Merry and Pippin had followed, and were already disappearing westward into the trees by the shore, shouting: Frodo! Frodo! in their clear, high hobbit-voices. Legolas and Gimli were running. A sudden panic or madness seemed to have fallen on the Company.

“We shall all be scattered and lost,” groaned Aragorn. “Boromir! Go after those two young hobbits, and guard them at the least, even if you cannot find Frodo. Come back to this spot, if you find him, or any traces of him. I shall return soon.”

Aragorn sprang swiftly away in pursuit of Sam.

Boromir had scarcely needed Aragorn’s command--he darted off in the direction he had last seen Merry and Pippin heading. He could hear their frantic voices, crying out for their missing cousin.

But suddenly, the shouts changed to cries of fear, and Boromir heard the unmistakable sound of Orcs! He leaped through the trees, to see the two hobbits back to back, laying about, as best they could, with their small swords. He managed a grim smile as he saw Merry land a mighty blow and watched one of the creature’s hands go flying, black blood spurting! And it seemed that was not the only such blow his small pupils had landed!

Boromir drove among them, his mighty sword cutting a wide swath through the Orcs. He slew several, and then as some of them fled, he tried to lead Merry and Pippin away from the danger. But they had not gone far, when they were attacked once more, by an even larger force. He drew his horn, and blew several mighty blasts. This dismayed the Orcs, and they drew back, but when no answer came, they attacked with renewed fury.

He was engaged with a particularly large and fierce goblin--much larger than any he had ever encountered before--when out of the corner of his eye, he saw archers. He threw his shield up in time to catch the first of the arrows, but he knew his moments must be numbered.

Then he saw something flash through the air, and one of the archers fell as though pole-axed. Then another and another--but he had no attention to spare for that, and returned to fighting with his opponent, knowing that there were too many for him.

Suddenly, he heard again Merry’s and Pippin’s voices, crying out in fear. He dispatched his foe just in time to see the two being carried off in the arms of Orcs. Many of the creatures broke off the fight and followed, but not enough to allow Boromir to do so.

Just then, and not a moment too soon, Aragorn, with Anduril flashing, and Legolas and Gimli joined the fray. But now Boromir was engaged with two foes at once. He scarcely saw the blow coming--he deflected the edge of the foul beast’s sword, but the flat of it connected with the back of his head…

 

CHAPTER FOUR: ITHILIEN

Frodo and Sam crouched hidden deep in the fern, listening.

There was no doubt of the voices. They were speaking low and furtively, but they were near, and coming nearer. Then, one spoke quite clearly, close at hand.

“Here! Here is where the smoke came from!” it said. “ ‘Twill be nigh at hand. In the fern, no doubt. We shall have it like a coney in a trap. Then we shall learn what kind of thing it is.”

“Aye, and what it knows,” said a second voice.

At once, four men came striding through the fern from different directions. Since flight and hiding were no longer possible, Frodo and Sam sprang to their feet, drawing their swords.

The Men stared in astonishment at the small and unfamiliar creatures who stood there so defiantly. But one of them looked even more astonished than the others. “Frodo? Frodo Baggins?”

Frodo lowered Sting with an amazed look of delight. “Faramir! Oh, Faramir! It’s you! Boromir *told* me you were in Ithilien! Is that where we are?” He turned to his companion, who still held up his sword, though his expression had changed from fear to confusion. “Sam! It’s Boromir’s brother, Faramir!”

Faramir stared in amazement, and as he gazed into the oh, so familiar blue eyes, suddenly his mind went back to that night, so many years ago, when he and Boromir were still barely more than children themselves, it seemed now to him…

Boromir aimed and shot in the direction of the movement.

Boromir and Faramir both heard something fall in the brush.

“See?” Boromir clapped Faramir on the shoulder. “My aim never fails.”

“Was it a deer?” Faramir asked. His heart had sped up, and he felt nervous, though he was not sure why.

Boromir climbed to his feet with a determined light in his eyes. “Let us see. Hopefully we will feast on more than dried fruit tonight.”

They entered the woods where they had heard the creature fall, and Faramir’s skin turned cold when he saw a small figure with dark curly hair lying on his stomach on the ground. This was no beast.

“Boromir—“

Boromir let out a sick gasp and fell to his knees beside the small figure. “I’ve shot a child.” He looked up in agony. “What is he doing here, in the wilderness, so far from home…?”

Faramir turned the figure over so that he lay on his back. The lad’s face was pale. Though he was the size of a child of eight or nine, his face looked older, as if he were an older teenager or young man. He was still breathing, but his eyes – a brilliant shade of sky blue – were wide and full of pain. He clutched at his belly, where Boromir’s arrow was deeply imbedded. Blood seeped outward from the wound, soaking the brown vest the lad wore. Faramir noticed that the little one wore no shoes and that hair covered his tough feet.

“Boromir,” Faramir said, his voice faint. “You’ve shot one of the halflings.”**

Faramir shook his head free of the memories, as Mablung touched his arm.

“Captain, you *know*these strange creatures?” The other rangers looked at Frodo and Sam with suspicion.

“They are halflings, pheriannath, Mablung. And I met this one many years ago, when Boromir and I journeyed in the far lands of the North.” He turned to the hobbits. “Frodo, what are you *doing* here?”

“Do you recall the errand your brother was sent on? The riddling words of the dream you both shared?

Seek for the sword that was broken
In Imladris it dwells…”

Faramir’s jaw dropped in astonishment. “*You* are the halfling of whom the dream spoke? But of course! And what of Isildur’s Bane?”

“That is hidden,” said Frodo. “Doubtless it will be made clear in time.”

“We must learn more of this,” said Faramir, “and know what brings you so far east under the shadow of yonder--,” he pointed and said no name. “But not now. We have business in hand. You are in peril, and would not have gone far by field or road this day. There will be hard hand strokes nigh at hand ere the day is full. Then death or swift flight back to Anduin. I will leave two to guard you, for your good and for mine. If I return, I will speak more with you.”

“Farewell!” said Frodo. “Please take care, for I would not for all the world have found you here, only to have you come to harm ere we can speak more freely! I wish that we could be of aid to you, but I am afraid our small swords would be of little use to such doughty men as you! May the light shine on your swords.”

Faramir smiled, and clasped Frodo’s shoulder briefly in farewell. Then he turned to his men. “Mablung! Damrod! Take you good care of them--Frodo is a dear friend, and I would not have him come to harm!”

___________________________________

It had been with many an apology that Faramir saw to the binding of Frodo’s and Sam’s eyes, but it was worth the journey, Frodo thought, to come to such a place of refuge after all their terrible toil. He and Sam had made such a meal among friends as they had not known since Lothlórien. Afterwards, Faramir had taken them away from the earshot of his men, and Frodo confided his errand.

“I had to leave, Faramir! If you could have seen the torment on your brother’s face, as he fought off the Ring’s temptation. I could not subject him--or any of my other friends--to any more of that.”

“Ah! Boromir!” exclaimed Faramir. “Such a sore trial of your honor must have been hard indeed! I think, Frodo, that it was as well you had already his sworn friendship ere you met in Rivendell. My heart tells me he might not have fared so well otherwise!”

Sam nodded emphatically. “Mr. Faramir, sir, your brother was sore tempted! From the first, he kept saying as how it could help your country and your father! But I don’t think as how that’s the way it would have gone!”

“Minas Tirith needs no such tainted help! Better she go down in flames and sorrow, fighting the Enemy, than to rely on such evil means to secure her victory!”

“I think,” said Frodo, with sad horror on his face, “that if the One went to your city, there would soon be two cities of Minas Morgul, grinning at each other across a dead land filled with rottenness.

“I do not doubt you, Frodo! Take your rest, you and Samwise.”

But Frodo and Sam were not fated to sleep the night through--they were roused as the Moon was just setting, and all to the fault of Gollum…

____________________________________________

The next morning, Frodo pressed Faramir to allow him and Sam to leave. Faramir was loathe to trust them to Gollum’s guidance, but realized he had no choice.

There were tears on both sides, as he and Frodo embraced in farewell.

“Farewell, Frodo Baggins! And to you also, Samwise Gamgee. Be wary, the both of you, of this creature you have taken up. I do not think he would find it hard to betray you! I do not hope to see you again on any other day under the Sun. Yet if ever beyond hope you return to the lands of the living, and we re-tell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief, I shall rejoice to be with you once more! Until that time, or some time beyond the Seeing-stones of Númenor, farewell!”

He rose and bowed low to Frodo, and drawing the curtain passed out into the cave.

Frodo stood for a moment, watching. He had never thought to encounter an old friend so far from home. He drew a hand across his brow, and turned. “Well, Sam! Sméagol! Let us be on our way.” 

But he went onward with a heavy heart.

______________________________

**Quoted from “Clear Shot” by Claudia

 

CHAPTER FIVE: CORMALLEN

Boromir was drowsy but content, as he sat on a folding wooden chair next to Frodo’s cot. There was a minor throbbing in his injured shield arm which was wrapped and carried in a sling close to his body, and his head still ached from the blow which had rendered him unconscious during the battle before the Black Gate. But Frodo was alive, and so were Sam and Pippin.

He or Aragorn or Legolas or Gimli or Gandalf had been at their sides ever since the battle ended. But he knew who needed to be here most…

Just then, a small figure darted into the tent with a cry of grief. Legolas was behind him, shaking his head sadly.

“Merry!” said Boromir, “they are alive, all three of them, though they look to fare much worse than they actually are!”

“Oh, but Boromir! I should have been here! I should have protected them!” Merry’s anguished expression wrung Boromir’s heart. He held out his uninjured arm, and the young hobbit came to his embrace.

“Meriadoc, you had your own injuries to recover from! And you have done your share and more, on this journey! Why, you saved my life, when the Company was broken at Parth Galen! And you also saved the Lady Éowyn and helped to slay the foul chief of the Nazgûl!”

Merry took a deep hitching breath and nodded. “Oh, but they look dreadful!”

“They do. But they live, as I said, and now you are here, I think they will recover even more quickly!”

Legolas came up and put his hand on Merry’s shoulder. “They have needed the presence of their friend and cousin, Merry! Now, I am going to get some food for you.” The Elf pointed to a small table, on which stood a ewer and basin, “I think perhaps you could do with a wash, and then after you eat, you might rest alongside Pippin--the cot is wide enough that I do not believe you will hurt him.”

Merry nodded absently, and Legolas left. The hobbit reached out and tenderly brushed a curl away from Frodo’s face.

Boromir said nothing, but watched. Merry had done so much--why if it had not been for his quick thinking and accurate aim with a stone, the Orc archers would probably have put an end to Boromir on that awful day. As it was, Boromir had been hard-pressed, and he could not keep enough of the Uruk-hai away. The beasts had still managed to seize the two younger hobbits and make off with them before Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had joined the fray.

He was very proud of Merry and Pippin. He still found it astounding that the two of them had rescued themselves. He, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli had made such a run as had never before been heard of, in pursuit of the Uruk-hai and their captives, only to learn in the end, that the two young hobbits had managed perfectly well without them.

And now all had ended well, after all. Not something he could have begun to imagine, before he had set off to Imladris in search of the answer to a strange riddling dream. Then, all had seemed doomed to despair, and it had appeared to his mind that only the Ring held the answer to Gondor’s problems. He knew that now for the deception it had always been. He only wished that his father could have come to understand.

That had been the Enemy’s only victory, to overturn the mind of the Steward of Gondor, so that now the once proud Denethor was locked up, stripped of his authority, a raving lunatic. He had rejected the healing hands of the King, and Boromir held little hope that his father would ever regain his reason. He had refused to believe that Boromir was alive, and denounced his presence as that of an imposter.

Merry, whom Boromir had been watching solicitously, reached a hand up to dash away a tear, and turned to the Man. He gave a sniff, and said lightly, “Your brother sent a message to you. He said he is very glad you are alive, but that next time, you will have to be the one to stay behind. He’s very tired of that role!”

Boromir chuckled. “I suppose I will have to oblige him then, if there is a next time, for as Steward, I shall have to stay behind!”

Merry managed a smile, and then his look grew sly. “You know, you might soon have a sister-in-law, if your younger brother gets his way!”

Boromir’s jaw dropped. Faramir had never seemed to have much time for the gentler sex. Neither of them had, actually, with the hard press of the Enemy upon their people.

The hobbit nodded smugly. “He has his eye on the White Lady of Rohan, and I’m blessed if I don’t think she returns his regard!”

Boromir managed to close his mouth. Then he laughed. “Ah, little brother, I think you may have found more peril than in battle!”

______________________________________

Pippin awakened a few days later, to Merry’s great relief. The young hobbit was still in great pain, but he was glad to be alive and very glad to see Merry and his other friends once more, and overjoyed to discover that Frodo and Sam yet lived, though Aragorn said they would sleep for some days yet.

One afternoon while Merry was occupied with the King of Rohan, Boromir assisted Pippin to sit up and take the few steps Aragorn had said he was to be allowed. He was panting with exhaustion by the time he had crossed from his cot to Frodo’s. But he stood and leaned against it, brushing the dark curls away from his older cousin’s brow. Then he bent and placed a kiss there. “Silly old Baggins,” he said fondly. “Giving us the slip.” Then his knee started to buckle, and Boromir, who had been watching, caught him up in his arms--for his own injured arm was now nearly well--and carried him back to his own cot.

“I’m sorry to make such trouble, Boromir,” Pippin said meekly.

“You are no trouble at all. You are a great hero, my small friend, and I owe you not only the life of my brother and father, but my own as well. I do wish, however that you had remembered my instructions not to allow your defeated foe to fall upon you!”

“Well, I couldn’t let that troll make a snack of you, Boromir!” He smiled, but then his face grew solemn. “I am sorry about the Lord Denethor, though. Gandalf got him away from the fire in time, but he would not listen to reason.” Denethor had been raving, his statements so clearly mad that even his most devoted servants realized his mind had been overturned. Boromir’s arrival had come not a moment too soon--the sudden vision of his son‘s face in the palantír, alive and fighting to reach the City had distracted the distraught Steward long enough to allow Gandalf to save his life.

Boromir’s gaze grew distant for a moment, and then he shook his head. “My father spent too many years believing in his own strength of will, but he courted madness when he allowed desperation and pride tempt him into using the Seeing-stone. The Enemy had years to work upon him.”

Tears sparked in Pippin’s own green eyes. “I should have thought once would be enough.” He shuddered, remembering his own encounter with the palantír.

“You acted out of curiosity and ignorance, Pippin, and yet still managed to keep your mind whole. My father acted out of pride, and even once was too often, when done with such an attitude.” Boromir hung his head, remembering now many things that now were made clear to him. And he knew that his own pride had nearly led him into an even worse folly than his father’s.

Pippin nodded his understanding. Just then, the tent flap opened, and Merry came in, bearing a laden tray. “Supper!” he called cheerfully.

__________________________________________

Frodo gazed about him, nearly staggered at the cheering throng. He and Sam went forward and saw that amidst the clamorous host were set four high-seats built of green turves. Behind the seat upon the far right floated, white upon green, a great horse running free; upon the left was a banner, silver upon blue, a ship swan-prowed faring on the sea;behind the seat at the near right of center was a gonfalon of creamy white bordered in gold, with the Tengwar letters R-ND-R, surmounted by three stars;* but behind the highest throne in the midst of all a great standard was spread in the breeze, and there a white tree flowered upon a sable field beneath a shining crown and seven glittering stars. On the throne sat a mail-clad man, a great sword was laid across his knees, but he wore no helm. As they drew near he rose. And then they knew him, changed as he was, so high and glad of face, kingly, lord of Men, dark-haired with eyes of grey.

Frodo scarcely heard Sam’s own exclamation, as he ran into Aragorn’s arms, and felt his strong embrace. And then, looking over Aragorn’s shoulder, he met Boromir’s shining eyes! And the world felt too full of joy for his heart to contain it.

____________________________________

*“In the same fashion, stewards of Gondor never took any heraldic device of their own, and their banners are white with golden lining. Personal flag of the Steward of Minas Anor showed the letters "R · ND · R" for Arandur ("King's Servant"), surmounted by three five-pointed stars “(UT, Cirion and Eorl).

 

EPILOGUE: MINAS TIRITH

Frodo sat upon a low stone wall, overlooking the Courtyard of the White Tree. It was rare for him to have a moment alone since the coronation--usually Sam was by his side, or one of his cousins. But Sam’s presence had been requested in the gardens of the Houses of Healing, and both Merry and Pippin had duty that afternoon for their respective kings. In the meanwhile, he simply enjoyed basking in the spring sunshine. He closed his eyes, and swung his feet, and felt the breeze playing through his hair. Nights--nights were still difficult. But in the bright sunlight of day, he could be glad he was alive.

Suddenly he was aware of the presence of others. He opened his eyes, and smiled to see Boromir and Faramir standing before him.

“Good afternoon,” he said. “It’s good to see you.”

“May we join you, Frodo?” asked Boromir.

At Frodo’s nod, the brothers sat down by him, one on either side.

Frodo turned to Faramir. “Your foresight is remarkable, Faramir!”

“Why what do you mean?” the Man asked, amused.

“Well, here we are ‘sitting on a wall in the sun’ though we had been beyond all hope of ever seeing one another again!”

Boromir chuckled. “It is good to be together. I am more grateful than I can say to know that all of us came through this Quest, alive, if not completely unscathed. To have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat is no small thing.”

“And it is a victory we owe to you, Frodo,” said Faramir.

Frodo drew a deep breath, but let it out again slowly. He would not argue with his friends--he’d done too much of that lately. None of them seemed to understand his feelings of failure, for claiming the Ring at the last moment. Instead, he merely shook his head, and said “It was a victory achieved by many, and the two of you not least.”

Faramir shook his head. “I did nothing remarkable.”

“You allowed me to go my own way. I did not appreciate at the time what that could have cost you, but I have heard things since I came here that make me realize--you could easily have forfeited your life, allowing me to go on, not bringing me back here to face your father.”

Faramir shuddered, and did not reply.

“And I owe much to you as well, Boromir.”

“You owe me nothing, Frodo. I was one of the Company, and your friend, as well.” Boromir shook his head. “If anything, I owed you my service, after nearly taking your life long ago.”

“You more than repaid that debt, Boromir. You protected my cousins as best you could.” Frodo stopped for a moment. “More than that, you resisted the Ring.”

Boromir looked at Frodo in astonishment. “You know about that?”

Frodo nodded. “It was overhearing your own struggles that made me realize I could not continue to protect the Company from Its constant blandishments. Had I not known, I do not think I would have found the courage to strike out on my own. Though I did not find it possible to leave Sam behind.”

Boromir flushed. “It should never have come to that. I should not have listened even for a moment.”

“No, Boromir, you could not have stopped your ears, nor your mind. But you were able to keep your heart true--and for that you have a clear conscience.”

Faramir smiled. “Aye, brother! And all has ended well for the West and the Free Folk in the end.”

“It has, hasn’t it?” asked Frodo, and for that moment in time, at least, he was able to cast aside all his doubts and enjoy the companionship of good friends.

THE END

 





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