A/N: Without giving too much plot away, I suggest that those of you who dislike the very AU “Boromir lives” scenario should read no further.
Disclaimer: LOTR belongs to the creative genius of JRR Tolkien, not me.
The ruins of several crumbled, weatherworn statues and buildings were the only testament to the almost forgotten realm of the kings of old to be found at Amon Hen, the ancient place belonging to another time. The eroded stonework was mostly hidden amongst the trees and covered in overgrowth and however impressive it may have once been, it was now nothing more than a ghost of the past. The desolation served as a painful reminder to Faramir of the reason for his lone pilgrimage. There was no denying that, as dearly as he wished it was not so, it was here that Boromir had met his death. A fitting place to do so perhaps, for one who placed so much pride in, and held so much respect for his heritage, Faramir realised, but the notion provided little consolation in his sorrow.
There was an eerie sense of an unnamed presence lurking in the shadows, as if his ancestors were still here in spirit, watching over him, and Faramir swore he could feel the eyes in the broken faces of the statues following his movements. Instead of finding it unnerving, the young Steward felt humbled by the air of power and majesty of those long since passed that encompassed him as he explored. It was a feeling something akin to that which Legolas claimed to be able to sense when he walked in the ancient forests of Ithilien where Elves once lived, Faramir thought, wishing he could have seen both realms in all their splendour. It was comforting to think that now Sauron had been defeated and peace was slowly returning to Arda, at least the kingdom of Men might return to its former glory. Sadly the Elves were leaving for the Undying lands.
The tree-studded glade in which the last son of the line of Stewards stood was just as described to him by Aragorn and Legolas, who both also still grieved for their lost friend. Faramir instinctively sensed a faint link to his beloved brother, and strangely enough did not question the why of it.
Compelled by a pull on his heartstrings, and drawn by unspoken whispers, he found himself standing before the tree encircled by the bodies of the many Uruks Boromir had killed whilst defending himself and the hobbits. Having grown well accustomed to ignoring the sight and stench of death, Faramir sat with his back resting against the trunk in an uncanny imitation of the position in which his brother had drawn his last breath.
Faramir closed his eyes and allowed his thoughts to drift back to happier times with his brother… rowdy nights in the tavern favoured by Gondor’s soldiers, quiet nights with the rangers on the rare nights Boromir had visited Henneth Annûn, affectionate embraces, secret smiles of pride and respect or of mischief making when the mood struck. The memories were bittersweet, yet the strong sense he had of Boromir filled his heart with the fleeting false hope that somehow his brother’s death was a lie. He was almost convinced he could see the warm smile and glittering eyes on the face he remembered so well coming towards him until the truth of the black arrows that Aragorn had removed from Boromir’s wounds caught his eye. Faramir’s tears of grief fell freely as he mourned his loss and bid his brother a final farewell.
Twilight was upon him when he finally made his way to the river and the soothing sound of the water gently lapping against the rocky shore at Parth Galen that was but a whispered echo of the thunder of the Falls farther downstream.
With a heavy heart and eyes that searched for he knew not what, Faramir wandered amongst the scattered remnants of a campsite that had been hastily abandoned by the three hunters in favour of pursuit and rescue of Merry and Pippin. He was not surprised to see the area littered with garments, so ragged, dirty and torn as to be barely recognisable as such, left by the scavenging animals that no doubt had rummaged through the travel packs in search of food. Nor was he surprised to find the grey elvish boat that Aragorn had mentioned was left behind, a boat the like of which he only seen once before as it carried its precious cargo to places unknown.
Taking a moment to admire the beauty and craftsmanship, he ran a hand along the smooth curve of the bow, and along the neck of the swan figurehead that adorned it, smiling sadly at the irony of Boromir’s bier being of elvish make. His brother had often scorned the interest and fascination Faramir displayed in the fair folk. So it was that it had pleased Faramir, and truth be told made him a little envious, when he learned that Legolas and Boromir had become friends. He hoped that he would do likewise with the Elf who rather than answer the call of the sea, had decided to remain for a time and set up a colony in Ithilien.
Looking into the boat, Faramir saw that tucked tightly beneath the seat was a pack that he recognised as belonging to his brother. It had not been ravaged like the others, protected as it was by being in a less accessible location. Boromir’s spare clothes were still neatly packed along with a few items of elvish make that Faramir surmised were to be gifts for himself and Denethor. In fact the leather bound journal he found wrapped in oilskin was already inscribed with a brief message in Boromir’s fine hand.
“Little brother, think of me fondly as you fill these pages… Boromir.”
Always, Faramir promised silently. He spent the rest of the late afternoon searching the area for any undamaged possessions belonging to the members of the Fellowship, packing the items he found into the boat to keep them safe until he could send a patrol to retrieve both.
The appearance of the first stars against the backdrop of rapidly falling darkness signalled that it was time to settle for the night. A small campfire and a meagre meal soon followed, the light of the flickering flames casting a soft, almost comforting glow, but not enough to dispel Faramir of the uneasy feeling that he was definitely being watched from the shadows.
Many a time he had camped alone in the forests he patrolled as a ranger, but never before had he felt so unsettled. Although the war was won, constant small battles were still being fought throughout Gondor with enemies who refused to accept defeat, so for his own peace of mind Faramir quickly scouted the surrounding area. Finding nothing amiss aside from a few nocturnal creatures searching for food, he was satisfied was indeed alone, yet it was well into the night before he fell into a troubled sleep with the leather bound journal held close to his heart.
Boromir haunted dreams that began pleasantly then turned slowly to the darkness of nightmares in which Faramir was forced to stand by helplessly as Boromir fought and died, feeling the pain as if it were his own as each arrow found its mark.
“Help me, little brother, help me…” a dying Boromir pleaded over and over again, his hand shaking with the effort to reach out for Faramir, who no matter how hard he tried could not move a muscle.
“No!” he screamed when the light in Boromir’s eyes faded completely. The tightness of the pain caused by his wildly racing heart forced Faramir awake with a breathless gasp, and his eyes filled with tears as his sweat soaked body was wracked with sobs of grief. Regaining his composure when he felt the cold touch of the icy cold river water on his face, an emotionally drained and physically exhausted Faramir decided it was time to return to the city he loved and called home no less than Boromir had.
Retracing his path, he stopped at the glade to once more pay his final respects to his brother, and then headed for home, still unable to dispel the vague feeling that he was being watched. No it was more than that, he realised as he imagined he heard his name whispered by the wind and the rustling leaves. He scoffed at the fanciful notion, chiding himself that he possessed no such elvish abilities. Nonetheless a part of him knew he was being called by the ghosts he was leaving behind.