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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
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