Dwimordene unleashed a very virulent AU birthday nuzgul that bit me repeatedly. This is one of the bites. Also, much of the dialogue, with very little revision, is by necessity from The Breaking of the Fellowship, The Fellowship of the Ring. There is also a passage from the Council of Elrond.
“I was afraid for you,” I told the hobbit when I found him. Frodo looked surprised to see me and none too pleased. “If Aragorn is right and orcs are near, then none of us should wander alone, and you least of all: so much depends on you. And my heart too is heavy. May I stay for a while and talk for a while, since I have found you? It would comfort me. Where there are so many, speech becomes a debate without end. But two together may perhaps find wisdom.”
“You are kind,” he answered civilly enough, “But I do not think any speech will help me. For I know what I must do, but I am afraid of doing it, Boromir: afraid.”
I stood for a long moment listening to the Falls. And to the other voice that was pounding in my head, had been in my head for days now, a Voice whose source I thought I could name. Claim me, and the power of Command is yours! You will save Minas Tirith and Gondor. Men will flock to your banner, and nations give way before your armies!
I found myself moving to sit beside Frodo, drawn like iron filings to a magnet. The litany of conquest was growling insistently within my mind, but my voice was oddly calm as I suggested, “Are you sure that you do not suffer needlessly? I wish to help you.” Take me! He is within your grasp! This miserable little rat has no true claim to me-I came to him by stealth and trickery! “You need counsel in your hard choice. Will you not take mine?”
“I think I already know what counsel you would give, Boromir,” he said a little sadly, “And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning of my heart.”
“Warning? Warning against what?” I asked, and suddenly the sharp alarm of the other Voice sounded in mine. Take me! TAKE ME! I am yours by right, through Isildur’s conquest of my Master, by descent through the Kings of Gondor, and from them to the Ruling Stewards. You are the Heir! I should be YOURS!
“Against delay,” Frodo said. “Against the way that seems easier. Against refusal of the burden on me. Against-well, if it must be said, against trust in the strength and truth of Men.”
Against the way that seems easier. Suddenly, one of my uncle Imrahil’s favorite maxims came to mind. That which is right is usually the most difficult.
Against trust in the strength and truth of Men. The truth of Men…
“Even if there is no collusion, it is easy enough to make people think that there was. We all of us in this room know that I could have Master Andrahar arrested for treason, and subsequently executed without any explanation whatsoever, and outside of Dol Amroth, hardly an eyebrow would be raised. He is Haradric, and the only question being asked would be why the Prince of Dol Amroth had been so gullible as to let this man into his confidence.”
“You told me then that the wise ruler always has something, some secret he can hold close to control everyone in his inner circle. Even those he loves the most. Especially those he loves the most. Because those he loves the most can cause him the most harm…what do you suppose the Prince of Dol Amroth would do, were he to learn that his beloved sister, my mother, did not die of an illness as he had been told? That she died instead from taking overmuch of a sleeping draught, driven to despair by your abuse of her?”
The truth of Men, it seemed, was not a very admirable thing when all was said and done. One could hardly fault Frodo for doubting it. As for the strength of Men…that remained to be seen. The Voice, sensing the gathering of my resolve, lost its stridency, became softer, coaxing, more seductive. Once you have claimed me and saved Gondor, she will deny you nothing. All that you desire will be yours, given gladly. Even him…
And suddenly, Andrahar was in my mind, as if conjured by the Voice. But instead of the carnal images of our times together that it might have used to persuade, to my surprise I found myself back in the Swan Knight armory at Dol Amroth, on a rainy summer day. I was eleven years old, watching as Andra, his hair still blue-black, cleaned his armor. A sense of peaceful contentment pervaded the scene. We were discussing honor.
“My folk believe that people have honor according to their class. They even set a price on it-so much for the slave, so much for the craftsman, the most for the noble. The honor-price, they call it.”
“Is that what you believe, Uncle Andra?” I had asked. Andrahar, who had once been a slave, a thief, a catamite, the lowest of the low, and was now one of Dol Amroth’s pre-eminent warriors, oath-brother to a prince, had smiled wryly.
“A very wise man once told me that in Gondor, anyone could have honor, that they made it for themselves. Even one who had been a slave. What I do know is that, whether in Gondor or Harad, a man who has no honor is less than a slave, no matter his station by birth.”
And the Steward and his Heir held not only their personal honor, but Gondor’s in their hands. I thought of what Faramir would want me to do, and Uncle Imrahil. There was no doubt about Andrahar’s wishes, and I would not have shamed him for the world, for though we could never be together, we were still bound in a way unfathomable to most.
The Voice, having overplayed its hand, snarled in frustration and faded away. I shook myself and looked over at Frodo, only to see the hobbit watching me suspiciously. I wondered if he had been privy to any of what it had been telling me, or what my face had shown. “How do you bear it?” I asked aloud. “I would have been driven mad by now.”
Surprise and relief chased each other across the hobbit’s face. “It is hard, sometimes,” Frodo admitted; then blushing, added, “I am sorry, Boromir, but I thought that for a moment, you…Your face, you see…”
“You were right to fear, for that moment,” I admitted, and shivered. What would it have done, had the Ring claimed me? Had me kill the Halfling, whom I had sworn to protect? I had been spared by the merest of margins a swift slide into Darkness. “And right, I will admit, in your wish to avoid Minas Tirith. My father is not such a one as it would be wise to tempt with such a thing of power. He would wish to wield it for Gondor’s sake.”
Frodo nodded. “So Master Elrond said during the Council, if you remember. That powerful folk would wish to wield it for the good. But it was not made for anything save domination, and twists everything it touches.” He sighed, a deep and weary sigh from the depths of his soul. “I must go to Mordor, Boromir. And I must go now.” He gave me an apologetic and somewhat cautious look. “And forgive me, but I think it best that I go alone. The Ring has begun to work its evil upon you all.”
I thought of this little scholar, with no knowledge of what it would take to survive in a barren wilderness, traipsing alone into Mordor. It seemed the slimmest of chances to wager the fate of Middle-earth upon. The only possible advantage to the situation that I could see was that he was so small that he might be able to stealth his way in. He needs a Ranger now, came the thought. Aragorn…or Faramir. It might have been for this very moment that the dream was sent to my brother. Have I ruined everything by taking the errand for myself?
“Take Aragorn, at the least,” I urged him, rising to my feet. I towered over him and a moment’s alarm crossed his face, then it cleared. I could take no offense at his worry, for it was certainly merited. “It would not be the first time he has been within Mordor’s fences and I think he would be safe enough from the Ring.”
He nodded. “I think so as well, and would be glad of his company. But Sam will never forgive me.” Glancing upwards, he asked almost shyly, “Will you look after them for me? Sam and Merry and Pippin?”
“With my life,” I promised, and managed a smile. “They will travel with me to Gondor and be kept in such safety as may be managed until your return.“ He smiled back at me and got up as well.
“That eases my heart, Boromir. Thank you. Come. We should go back now and tell them what I have decided.”
We had but begun to make our way back down the hill when the noise of battle came to our ears. Orcs, and if my ears could be believed, a great number of them. Frodo drew his Sting. The blade was blazing blue. He gave me a wide-eyed glance, then, never at a lack for courage, started to run towards the sound of conflict. I leapt forward, grabbed his shoulder and yanked him back.
Startled, he struggled. Perhaps he thought I had succumbed at last. I was quick to seize his sword arm, having no desire to end up perforated like that orc chieftain in Moria, and eventually he ceased fighting me, staring up at me in mute fury.
“You cannot go to them!” I told him urgently. “There are too many orcs and there is nothing you can do! You must not be caught, Frodo! All depends upon you!”
I watched in pity as the realization sank in. “’On him alone is any charge laid,’” Frodo murmured. “‘Neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy.’ Merry. Pippin. Sam,” he said, bowing his head in grief.
“I will go to them as soon as I get you to the boats!” I promised, and after a moment, he nodded. Drawing my own blade, I accompanied him warily back to campsite. We knew already from the direction of the clamor that the others had been drawn away but we did not tarry and kept our eyes roaming the surrounding forest as we seized his pack, some blankets and some food, then raced for the lawn by the water where the boats lay. We encountered no orcs upon the way, and Sting’s blade glowed only faintly once we were there, but it still made my back itch to put up my blade as I had to do if I were to help him launch the boat. We had just stowed the supplies and were pushing the boat into the water, when there came a crashing sound in the underbrush close by.
I spun around and drew my blade as Sam Gamgee burst forth, burdened with pack and blankets and food of his own, his short sword in his broad, brown gardener’s hand. He eyed me with truculent suspicion.
“And just what do you think you are doing, Mr. Boromir?”
Frodo looked at me apologetically. “He was helping me with the boat, Sam.”
Sam frowned. He looked near to tears. “Oh, Mr. Frodo, that’s hard! That’s hard, trying to go without me and all. If I hadn’t a guessed right, where would you be now?”
“Safely on my way?” Frodo suggested.
“Safely!” exclaimed Sam. “You weren’t taking him, were you? That doesn’t seem safe to me! He’s no Strider, he ain’t!”
“No, Sam. I am going to Mordor, and I am going alone.”
“All alone and without me to help you? I can’t bear it, it’ll be the death of me.”
“It would be the death of you to come with me, Sam” Frodo said, “and I cannot bear that.”
“Not so certain as being left behind,” Sam declared.
“I am going to Mordor, Sam.” Frodo’s voice was firm.
Sam’s voice was equally firm. “I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.”
I had wondered upon first meeting Frodo and Sam if they were lovers, as Andra and I were. But after a time, I had come to realize that their relationship most resembled that of Andrahar and my uncle-two souls bound more closely than most brothers. Sam was Frodo’s shield-man, whether he realized it or not, and I found myself speaking suddenly, moved by an inexplicable impulse.
“Frodo. Let him come with you.”
“Boromir. You of all people know why I must go alone.”
“I know that Sam is made of pretty stern stuff.” Sam gave me a look of astonished gratitude. “And that the burden is too great to bear alone. And that-” Here the words rushed forth, seeming to come from some place outside myself. Certainly I was not prone to poesy in the normal way of things. “-in the dark places you are going to, love may well be the only light you will have.”
Frodo gave me a keen look. “I might say the same of you, my lord Boromir” he said; then laughed suddenly, shaking his head ruefully in surrender. “So my plan is all spoilt! It is no good trying to escape you, Sam! But I’m glad. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along!”
With a whoop, Sam scrambled into the boat, and I threw his gear in after him. Once he had settled, Frodo took up the oars and looked at me pleadingly. “Find them. Help them.”
I nodded as I shoved the boat into the water. “If you find the opposite shore taken, come back and we will make another plan.”
“Very well. Go safely, Boromir of Gondor.”
“Valar guard and guide, Frodo Baggins.”
I watched for a few moments, as Frodo rowed the boat swiftly towards the center of the river. My championing Sam had apparently reconciled him with me, for the little gardener turned awkwardly so that he could look back over his shoulder and wave. I returned the gesture, then, drawing my sword once more, turned and plunged back into the trees, in search of the Fellowship.