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Waiting on the Wise, by Rhymer

Author name: Rhymer (rhymer23)
Recipient's name: Linaewen (lin4gondor)
Title: Waiting on the Wise
Rating: PG
Request: "I would like a story featuring Boromir in Rivendell, during the waiting time between the Council of Elrond and the setting out of the Fellowship."
Summary: Boromir endured much hardship on his long journey to Rivendell. What comes after, in the quiet and safety of the House of Elrond, could prove yet harder to endure.

The elves were singing in the starlight, beneath the whispering trees.

Boromir stirred on his couch, half-opening his eyes. He thought there had been a chorus of voices a moment before, but perhaps that was just an echo of a dream. Only a single voice remained, high and pure. He did not understand the words.

His eyes drifted shut.

Woven around that single voice was the noise of the river. At first he heard it just as rushing water, but for a few elusive moments, he almost heard it as music. Then it became the chattering of many people; whispers racing through an army as they stood ready to advance.

The single voice was joined by another, and another, and another. Turning, he saw a shining army of golden elves, singing as they marched beneath their proud banners. Trumpets rang from the ramparts of Minas Tirith, and the armies of Gondor wept with joy. "Behold!" Boromir cried. "Never again shall we speak of the Last Alliance, for I have brought an army of elves to fight alongside us as we save our city from the darkness!"

Starlight danced on the pale stone walls of Minas Tirith, and ten thousand voices rose in song.

But slowly, slowly they faded, and one by one the stars went out.

At length, only one voice remained, and the starlight had been replaced with cold morning. The sound of water was just the racing of a mountain river, and Boromir had been dreaming again.

He threw off the blankets, and stood up, raking his fingers through his hair. Had he really hoped…? He let out a breath. Of course he had. I do not ask for aid, he had said, but he had journeyed alone for four months, and had endured many sleepless nights on guard while nameless horrors prowled in the darkness. Sometimes he had come close to despair, afraid that his journey would unleash the doom of which the riddle spoke. But other times, he had sustained himself with hope and wild daydreams.

A new alliance between elves and Men…? He clenched his fist. Since arriving in Imladris, the only sword he had seen was broken. These elves sang and laughed as the world outside the valley hastened towards night.

Reaching for his cloak, he fastened it around his shoulders, and headed outside. His legs were stiff, and he still felt deeply weary. For the latter half of his journey, he had seldom slept for more than an hour at a time. He lived for action, but he had never pushed himself so far, and for so long, and so alone.

Not far away, someone was laughing. Boromir stiffened, his torn fingertips pressing painfully into his palms. Below him, on a lower terrace, the halfling, Frodo Baggins, was sitting in a nest of cushions, his servant hovering protectively at his side. Frodo looked hunched and weary, like someone recovering from a grave injury. Boromir could not remember the servant's name.

In truth, the entire Council sometimes felt like a dream. Boromir had reached Rivendell in the darkest watches of the night, after months of journeying and fruitless searching. There had been no time to sleep or change his clothes. He had sat there on the porch, exhausted and amazed, scarcely able to believe that he had finally arrived; scarcely able to believe that at last he was in a place where he could sleep without fear.

He was still not sure if he believed it. He was still not sure if it was true.

But it was easy to sleep here, even so. It was too easy.

Boromir yawned. His limbs felt heavy. Although he bore no serious injury, he knew that he was in many ways a wounded man. He had journeyed through danger for too long, and he was beyond weary. It was the responsibility of a captain to know his limits, and to take rest when rest was desperately needed. Boromir would serve Gondor ill if he blundered through the coming weeks still haunted by his journey, and half asleep.

And so, pausing only to eat and drink a little, Boromir returned to his couch, and let the dreaming take him.

But not for long, he told himself. Not for long.


The trumpets were screaming the retreat, but there were few left alive to hear them. Men-at-arms lay slain beneath crumbled towers. The Anduin ran red with blood, and the crows were circling in the blackened sky.

Boromir watched from above, mute, unable to act. He reached out a hand, but it faded, incorporeal as morning mist. He shouted a command, but his voice was nothing, just a whisper of wind in dead leaves.

The enemy armies roared aloud in triumph and hatred. The last trumpet rose high and desperate, then was cut off mid-note. The last of Gondor's banners lay trampled in the mud of the western shore.

Boromir tried to scream his defiance, but he had no voice. He tried to wail, but even grief was denied to him.

Alone amongst the dead men, a single warrior walked, his sword trailing from his shattered hand. As Boromir watched, the warrior sank to his knees, his head sagging forward. Then he sank further, to lie loosely curled on his side. His cheeks were wet with blood and tears, and his eyes blinked once, then did not open again.

"Faramir," Boromir tried to whisper, but he was trapped in silence, and helpless.

Faramir died, and slowly, slowly the snow began to fall.

"Faramir," Boromir breathed, as the snow covered Faramir's face like a shroud. It fell on the shattered hopes of Gondor, covering her dead sons and her fallen glories.

Boromir fell to his knees; this at last was granted to him. The snow was warm against his icy hands, and he saw that it was not snow after all, but flowers. Where they touched the faces of the dead, they made them beautiful.

"No," Boromir whispered. "No." The death of Gondor was not beautiful, and he refused to see it as such.

He dragged himself awake with sheer force of will. He was still in Rivendell. Of course he was still in Rivendell. Throwing off his blankets, he strode out of bed. His heart was pounding, and he pressed a fist against it, and let it race.

He had been away for over four months. Had the western shores of Osgiliath fallen at last? Were the very walls of Minas Tirith assailed? Was Faramir...?

Peace, the air whispered to him. It was there in the scent of the flowers, and the singing of the birds. It was there in the soft play of sunlight through the filigree carvings, and the sound of the river, and the music of the elves. Imladris wanted him to forget, to be at peace, to let each day drift into the next, while he dozed there, smiling and content.

"But I will not be content," he vowed, "not when my people are fighting for their lives."

He reached for his sword belt, and buckled it around his waist. Thus girded, he strode out into the passageway, and across an empty room. He went down stairs and across terraces, and still there was singing, always there was singing.

He found himself at last in a chamber of books and rolled parchment. There at last he stopped, and let out a slow and shuddering breath, scraping his hand across his face. Light fell slantwise from the window. He walked to the nearest case of books, but they had no titles. He almost touched their leather spines, but drew his hand back, tightening it into a fist.

"How Faramir would love this place," he murmured. "But I..."

He had never been one to talk himself. He had always been one for bold action and the pleasures of comrades and companionship. But then he had spent four months alone on the road, and now...?

Footsteps approached from outside. Even in Rivendell, old instincts ruled him, and his hand readied itself for the sword. Turning round, he saw Mithrandir entering the room. "Mithrandir," Boromir greeted him tersely, because his father had no love for the old man.

"Boromir." Mithrandir's eyes were keen in his lined face.

Boromir let out a breath. Faramir's opinion of Mithrandir was far more favourable, of course, and of the two of them, Boromir was more inclined to trust his brother's judgement. "Mithrandir," he said again, more courteously.

Mithrandir began to sort through the rolls of parchment. "Are you well, Boromir?" he asked. "Your journey was long and hard, and with no certain purpose. Such things can cast a shadow on the strongest of men."

Boromir considered the question. Physically he felt better than he had for a long time, he realised. The horrors of the journey were like a fading dream, and he had to work hard to remember them.

"No!" he cried. "No, I am not well. This place... It wants to make me forget."

"Rivendell is a place of healing," Mithrandir said.

"But I don't want healing!" Boromir took a step forward; even the sound of his boots was muted on the stone floors of Imladris. "My people are dying! This place..." He could still hear the singing, even here. "It wants to take away who I am."

Mithrandir took down a book, and opened it. "It can change people, yes, if they let it."

"It wants to ruin me." Boromir pressed his fist to his breast; his heart was still racing. In his dream, the magic of Imladris had kept him powerless. It had turned death into white flowers, and told him it was good.

"Not all change is for the worse," said Mithrandir.

Boromir paced to the window. The glass was cold against his brow. How many days has passed since he had arrived in Rivendell? The magic of the place made it hard to tell. He would start to count them, he resolved, carving them on wood like a prisoner in a cell.

"What are we waiting for?" he asked. Why am I still here? His breath steamed against the window. He pushed himself away from the glass, and stood with his hands gripping the window frame on either side, looking out. "The halfling has the enemy's Ring. The Council in its wisdom has resolved to destroy it, and the halfling has offered to bear it. But still he remains here, and still..."

Still the elves sing, he thought. And still my people die.

"While the Nazgul remain unaccounted for, the Ring must remain in Rivendell," Mithrandir said. "It would be madness to venture blindly into the wilderness with such a deadly treasure."

Boromir gripped his sword, suddenly desperate for action. "Then let me go out with the scouts."

He heard Mithrandir placing his book down on the table. "They have already gone," Mithrandir said gently. "Master Elrond sent out scouts from his household as soon as the Council ended."

Boromir slammed a fist into the window frame. And so the Captain of the White Tower, with all his experience, had been overlooked and excluded! How many counsels had been taken behind closed doors, while he was banished to a bedroom and lulled to sleep like an inconvenient child? He was the son of the steward of Gondor and a mighty captain of war. They should have consulted him!

He closed his eyes. Peace, he heard, but this time not in the lulling voice of Rivendell, but in the voice of his brother. He pictured Faramir smiling fondly at him. Peace, Boromir, you always were inclined to pride. This is nothing to do with you. To the elves, all Men are children, even mighty lords.

He managed a half smile. His reflection looked back at him from the steamed window, and he could almost imagine that he was looking at Faramir himself. You speak wisely, my brother. I came here not as a lord but as a petitioner seeking counsel from the wise.

"How long before they return?" Boromir kept his voice steady. "And what will happen then?"

"That remains to be seen," Mithrandir said.

Boromir ran his finger across the glass, drawing lines in the steam. There was another question, of course. There was something else that needed to be considered. There was something else that had to be spoken aloud. "Is…" He hesitated, unsure whether to use an honorific. But honours had to be earned. "Is Aragorn still in Rivendell?"

"He went out scouting with the sons of Elrond," said Mithrandir, "within hours of the Council ending."

Was that pity in his voice, or worse still, understanding? Boromir wiped the last of the mist away with one fierce gesture, and walked away.


The last leaves of autumn had fallen, and the trees were black and bare.

Boromir had scratched ten lines on his bedstead since his talk with Mithrandir, but he had no idea what date it was in the world outside. Winter came later in the south, but in truth Boromir had scarcely marked the way that leaves changed in autumn. Faramir, Captain of Rangers, talked about the flight of winter birds and the changing colours of leaves and the growth of flowers; but Boromir, Captain of the White Tower, considered only the likelihood of bad weather and the supply of provender and the hours of daylight available to his armies.

But then he had journeyed alone in the wilds for four months. Alone and so close to danger, he had been forced to notice so many things that he had never noticed before. He had never seen the stars so often or so closely. Never before had he staked his life on the sudden silence of a bird.

But enough of that, he thought, as he started running. He crossed the bridge, and ran up the steeply sloping path on the far side of the vale. His muscles protested, but soon settled into the old rhythm. His blood coursed through his body, and his chest was heaving with fast, controlled breaths.

It was a relief, really. It felt a little like coming home.

The air was cold, but soon his face was dripping with sweat. He reached the high moorland, and crossed it, weaving through the outcrops and the bare brown heather. Sunlight shone down on him, weak and watery.

He paused at last, and bent forward with his hands on his knees. Apart from the sound of his own breathing, all was silent. There was no singing and no birds. Here, at least, he was free from the lethargy that sought to consume him in Rivendell. He had overheard the old halfling, Bilbo, call it contentment, but he called it what it was: lethargy and enchantment.

But not here, and not now. Drawing his sword, he assumed a ready position, then went through the old routines, passing from guard to guard. It felt good. Already he had felt his palms softening, losing their calluses. Although his journey had been dreadful, he had seldom been called upon to fight.

He ran through the whole sequence once, then twice, then a third time. It would be better to spar with a real opponent, of course, but there was nobody within a thousand miles whom he trusted enough to fight.

With a cry, he sheathed his sword again. He carried onwards, walking briskly at first, then jogging. He crossed the plateau, then followed the path downwards, until he overlooked the lower reaches of the valley. Sunlight sparkled on the Ford of the Bruinen below him, and beyond that…

He stopped running. Beyond that, to the south, lay the ruined road that he had travelled, and beyond that, far beyond that, lay home.

"Home," he murmured. Maybe he should just leave now; just keep on walking and never turn back. He had fulfilled his mission. He had found Imladris. He had asked his question of the Wise, and the Wise had given their answer. There was nothing to keep him here.


He let out a breath. He had never been prone to daydreaming until the enforced solitude of his journey, but now the imaginings came all too easily. He saw himself returning empty handed. He saw the disappointment in the eyes of his father. He saw his hard-pressed people look up in hope as their Captain returned to them, then slump in despair when they saw that he had left them for the best part of a year, and returned with nothing.

"Nothing," he breathed.

What had he gained by all this? For months, he had sustained himself with the hope that he risked all this for the good of Gondor. But the halfling had brought the Ring to Rivendell before ever Boromir had arrived. The Council had been planned, and the Wise had already made their decisions. If Boromir had not been there, nothing would have gone differently.

"Nothing?" he asked, then laughed bitterly, because it seemed as if this was all he could say.

Because something had been awakened by his coming. It seemed as if the words of his riddle had been taken as an invitation for the supposed heir of Isildur to sweep down on Minas Tirith. Boromir had left his people without a Captain at the time of their greatest need. Would he return to find that he was no longer their Captain, and to see his own father reduced to a beggar in the streets?

As he had done so often on his lonely journey, he imagined Faramir speaking to him. But it would be worth it, would it not, Faramir said, if it were the price of Gondor being saved?

Boromir closed his eyes. Yes, he thought. Perhaps. He would risk all for Gondor. He would sacrifice all for Gondor. If this indeed were the price, he thought. If. If. If.

For there were too many questions, and too many uncertainties. Too many things remained to be proved. It took more than a heirloom to make a king. It took more than a broken sword to save a beleaguered city that had stood alone for so very long.

Boromir turned to the west, to the distant featureless hills. If Aragorn told the truth, battles were being fought in this quiet country, just as fierce as any that were being fought in the south, but Boromir had been left behind in Rivendell, and had no way of proving this claim. He could have gone out with the scouts. He could have ridden with Aragorn's Rangers and fought alongside the man who might one day claim to be his King. But instead Aragorn was off with the sons of Elrond, more loyal to the north than to Gondor; more elf than pure, honest Man.

He found himself moving forward, heading once more towards the Ford and the homeward road. Half way down, he stopped again, and sank down on a boulder.

He remembered the journey. Now he was away from Rivendell, he remembered it in vivid, terrible detail. His sweat was evaporating in the winter air, and he shivered with the cold. I do not want to do it again, he thought. Not alone.

He could not return empty-handed, with just a partial answer to his riddle. I saw the Enemy's Ring, father, but I walked away, and now it could be anywhere. I saw the sword of Elendil, but I let it go, as well as the one who wields it.

And so there was nothing for it but to return to Rivendell, and wait on the Wise.


The sun was low when he neared the hidden valley, and lights were sparkling down below. He paused on the brink, reluctant to start the descent. His shadow stretched away to the east, dark against the heather.

He placed his foot upon the path. As he did so, someone hailed him, and he saw a halfling hurrying along the edge of the cliff.

"Oh," said the halfling, as he drew near. "You're not an elf." It was not one of the halflings who had been present at the Council. "Meriadoc Brandybuck, at your service, at yours and your family's. Or is it just dwarves who say that? Please come quickly. Pippin's fallen down a tree. Or, rather, the tree's fallen down and taken him with it. He was looking at an old magpie nest, you see, and I'm dreadfully afraid that... Well. Please come."

"I am Boromir, son of Denethor," Boromir said, "from Minas Tirith in Gondor."

"Gondor?" the halfling said. "Where's that? No, don't tell me. We need to hurry."

The halfling scurried away, scrambling over the uneven ground that lay at the crest of the sheer sides of the valley. Boromir followed at a steady pace. What ridiculous, ignorant, child-like creatures these halflings were! Falling down trees, and stealing from magpie nests! And this was the sort of creature to whom the Wise had entrusted the greatest weapon of the age?

After a while, they crossed a tiny tributary that plunged down to the main valley in a slender waterfall. It was narrow enough for Boromir to cross it in a single leap, while the halfling ran through it unconcerned, wetting those strange feet of his. Beyond it, the sides of the valley became less sheer, and treetops showed above the edge, rooted on ledges below. Exposed rock and bare earth showed that this was a precarious edge, prone to rock falls.

At length the halfling stopped, at the site of the most recent landslip of all. "It just started walking," he said, panting with the effort of his running. "The tree, I mean. 'Not again!' Pippin said, but it's not a willow this time. I told him not to climb it, but he never does listen."

"Walking?" Boromir chuckled.

"That's what it looked like." Beneath the flush of exertion, the halfling was very pale, Boromir realised, and his hands were scraped and bleeding. "The tree and the rocks and the earth, they all went slipping over the edge, and Pippin went with them." He wiped his hand across his eyes. "Please can you help him? I tried, but I can't reach."

Kneeling down to spread his weight, Boromir approached the edge cautiously. Although the valley side was not quite sheer, it was steep enough to kill, and littered with sharp outcrops and jagged boulders. The tree in question had once been firmly rooted on the edge, but the earth had clearly been crumbling away from beneath its roots for years. When the halfling had climbed it, the last of the earth had crumbled, and the tree had slipped downwards, coming to a precarious rest on an outcrop a dozen feet below.

"Pippin!" the halfling shouted. "This is Boromir. He's going to save you."

"Oh," said a voice from down below. "That's good. Because I don't think I can hold on for much longer, Merry."

Near the location of the rock fall, the ground was too unstable for climbing. Boromir edged away cautiously until the ground felt more secure, then stood up, and walked a few more steps along the cliff edge. Peering over, he surveyed the terrain. He could understand why a halfling unused to mountains had dismissed it as unscaleable, but Boromir studied it carefully, and found sufficient handholds to bear him, just.

"I'll climb down here," he called down, "to avoid the risk of further rock falls above you, then move along the cliff towards you." It occurred to him that the halfling was probably very afraid. Boromir knew how to encourage disheartened warriors, but had no idea how to comfort a terrified child. "No need to be afraid," he said cheerfully. "I'm used to mountains. We'll have you up in no time."

He unfastened his sword, hesitated for a moment, then gave it to the other halfling, Merry. "It will only get in the way," he explained. "Take good care of it, and this, too. They are very precious to me." Passing over the Horn of Gondor was harder still, and his hands lingered on it, unable to let it go.

Then he laughed suddenly, wryly, bitterly. The Wise entrusted the Ring to a halfling, but Boromir was too wise to entrust his sword to such a creature without serious qualms. What a world they lived in!

But sometimes there was no choice, and this whole journey had been one wild, desperate last throw of the dice. He yielded his grip.

"I will keep them safe for you," Merry vowed solemnly.

Boromir nodded; he had known many Men who had accepted a charge less graciously. Moving to the edge, he lowered himself over. It was many years since Gondor had been peaceful enough for him to sport on the mountains, but the old skills remained. Within minutes, he was a dozen feet down. Anchoring himself on a solid outcrop, he looked along the cliff edge. He could see the halfling clearly now, clinging precariously to the top branches of the tree. The tree had tilted sideways, and most of it hung suspended over the drop, held up only by the friction between the rough branches and the jagged rock.

"Almost there," Boromir said encouragingly. He began to edge sideways. It became harder at the end, of course, when he reached the branches. "Can you climb up higher?" he asked.

"A little bit, maybe," Pippin said. "The tree keeps moving."

"I'm nearly there," Boromir assured him. "I've nearly got you."

"You hear that, Pippin?" came from the voice of Merry. He was directly above them, peering over the crumbling edge.

"Get away from the edge!" Boromir shouted, as Pippin clambered upwards, and the tree lurched beneath him. The cliff edge crumbled. Boromir lunged at Pippin, grasping his wrist with one hand as he snatched at an outcrop with the other. He felt branches tearing at him, as earth and pebbles rained down on him, and then something larger, that struck him on the brow, and then the whole world went reeling.


He did not entirely lose consciousness, although he was not fully awake, either. He was aware of holding on, and a small voice talking to him, always talking to him. He was aware of pain, but he was used to that. He was floundering in the Greyflood, swept under by the flood. He was hiding beneath a ruined causeway, while faceless creatures hunted him on the green road above. He was sitting exhausted in the Council, as a halfling held up a token of hope and doom.

"...silly, really," the voice was saying.

Boromir blinked. His eyes were sticky, clogged with grit. He tried to speak, but only a faint sound came out.

"I thought there was something shiny in the nest, so I climbed up. Merry told me not to, but I'm better at climbing than he is. But it was just the sunlight shining on wet moss, after all."

Blood was trickling down the side of Boromir's face. He blinked again, and let out a careful breath. A rock had struck him a glancing blow on the side of the head, he thought, but he had no other injury.

"Can you...?" the voice said. Pippin, Boromir thought. His name is Pippin. "Now you're awake, can you...? It's a little uncomfortable, you see."

He was still holding on, Boromir realised. Somehow, even as awareness had almost left him, he had kept his grip on both the rock face and the halfling. He remembered it dimly, in memory snatched as if from a dream: the tree sliding away from them; rocks falling; and a ledge, a ledge that could only be reached if he hurled himself there, if he grasped it desperately, one-handed; if he held on.

Pippin was half crushed beneath him, he realised. There was little space to roll over, but he did what he could.

"Thank you," Pippin said, wriggling free. His feet overhung the edge of the cliff, and fine grains of earth rained down when he moved. "You never let go," he said. "I was talking and talking to you, and I don't think you could hear me, but you never let go."

"No," Boromir agreed. "I never do." He was gradually becoming more aware. They had fallen half a dozen feet further down the slope, he realised. Here on the cliff face, there was no sunlight.

"Merry's gone to get help," Pippin said. "They'll be back soon, just you wait and see. He's taking good care of your sword and horn, so don't go fretting about that."

Boromir relaxed his grip as much as he dared, easing the tired muscles, then tightened it again. He's talking to me as if I'm a child. It was so incongruous that he almost laughed.

"I expect you think we're very silly," Pippin said sadly. "We just had to get out and do something. Rivendell's a wonderful place, of course, but it's not really a place for running in, if you know what I mean."

Boromir looked at him, seeing him properly for the first time. The halfling's face was scratched from the branches, and the muscles round his eyes showed clear signs of strain, although his voice had never been anything other than cheerful. He was young, clearly, but he was no child.

"I do," Boromir said slowly. "I do know what you mean."

"It's good for Frodo, of course," said Pippin, "because he was hurt so badly. But I think..." He gave a strange laugh. "What a place to say this! And I don't even know you, not really. But if we fall..." He let out a breath. "I think they're going to leave us behind."

Blood was trickling down the side of Boromir's neck. Even from here, he could hear the river roaring far below. "You want to go with the Ring-bearer?" he asked.

"Of course we do!" Pippin said. "Of course it will be dangerous: we know that; we saw the Black Riders. But Frodo... He's been given this burden, and he's our cousin, our friend. How can we wander safely home while he and Sam are heading off into danger? I couldn't bear it."

"No," Boromir agreed. He almost left it there, but found himself saying more. "My people are in danger. I would do anything to save them."

The edge of the ledge shifted a little, and stones began to trickle downwards. Pippin squawked, and pressed closer to Boromir's side. "I hope they come soon, Gandalf or the elves."

"They will," Boromir assured him.

The wind was picking up. On the far side of the valley, rooks were roosting. Boromir's head was pulsing with pain, but that in a way was a comfort. Injury he was familiar with. Danger he thrived on. He was made for action, not for languishing in a garden of singing elves.

Another piece of the ledge crumbled and fell. Boromir looked down. The tree had fallen almost to the valley floor. Although the valley sides were not quite sheer, there was little to break a fall. Men on Mindolluin had perished to less. They will not come in time, he thought.

Peering upwards, he saw a narrow fingerhold several feet above him, and a cleft and an outcrop that could take him back to the route he had followed downwards, but the gap between them was greater than he would have liked. He would hazard it alone, perhaps, but not with Pippin on his back.

Pippin gasped as a stream of stones fell from site of the original rock fall. "If you need to climb up by yourself…" he said. "You're taller than me, and I just thought..."

The ledge they were clinging to quaked. No time, Boromir thought. He would just have to do it. Failure was not something he would contemplate.

"Can you wrap your arms around my neck and hold on tight?" He twisted position as much as he could, to allow Pippin to reach his back. "Why wait on the Wise?" he said. "Come, Master Pippin, let us take our fate into our own hands, you and I.

Pippin was heavier than he expected. Boromir found a firm grip for his right hand, and then for the left. His toe found a deep score in the moss, gouged by the tree as it fell. It was not enough. He worked it deeper with his toe, and found the small notch in the rock beneath it. He hauled himself up, feeling the extra strain of the halfling's weight.

As they left it, the ledge broke away completely, crashing down the cliff. Pippin cried out, but said nothing. Boromir could feel the halfling's heart pounding against his back. No going back now, he thought.

It was time to hazard the gap. He closed his eyes just for a moment, considering the weight of his burden, assessing the difference it would make to the way he moved. His head throbbed with pain, and he felt himself swirling on the brink of a dark vortex. He opened his eyes and blinked, until he was anchored again.

No time, he thought. Sometimes you just had to do what you had to do. He made the leap, found the cleft, and held on. His body slammed against stone, driving the breath from his lungs. His feet flailed for a moment, but then his right foot found the outcrop.

"Almost there," Boromir gasped. He would have expected the halfling to wriggle and prattle, but Pippin was very still, making himself as easy a burden as he could.

And after that, it was just a case of climbing. As the sun was setting on the mountains, Boromir dragged them over the brink.

They were already half way back to Rivendell when the rescue party met them.


Boromir refused to let the elves tend him. It was just a minor injury, he told them, and he had suffered worse wounds on his journey, and tended them alone. Although he would accept the need for sleep, he refused to be lulled.

In the morning, girded once again with sword and horn, he sought an audience of Master Elrond.

"You will not send the halfling alone?" he asked.

Elrond was as unreadable as a statue of cold stone. "No indeed," he said. "Armies will not avail us, but it is in my mind to send him with a small company who will travel with him at least part of the way."

Boromir ran his fingers over the smooth surface of the horn. "Who?"

"That remains to be decided."

Boromir curled his hand into a fist. The knuckles were cracked, still bleeding from the rock face. "I wish to be one of them."

Elrond raised an eyebrow. "Instead of returning to your people?"

"I would have returned weeks ago, if returning was all I sought." Boromir paced away, stopping with his hand on one smooth marble pillar. "Whichever route he takes, our roads will be the same for many leagues. And even if you are truly resolved to send the Ring into the Land of Shadow, Gondor is the only sensible route."

"If we are resolved?" Elrond said quietly. "You were at the Council, Boromir."

"I was." Boromir passed his hand across his face, smoothing away all feelings. "I left my people in their time of need. I journeyed for four months because I came as a humble petitioner, seeking the counsel of the Wise. It would be foolish to ignore their counsel. It would make everything..." He spread his hand. "Meaningless," he said. "But..."

Elrond just looked at him, silent, inscrutable.

Why wait on the Wise?

"I have to play my part," Boromir said.

Elrond was silent for a very long time, looking at him with keen, ancient eyes, but what he saw there, he did not say. "Then you shall be one of the company," he said, at last.

Boromir nodded just once, and began to walk away. But then, struck by a sudden whim, he turned back. "The other halflings wish to come. I know they are small, but there is courage in them, and loyalty. They have great love for their kinsman, and would brave great dangers for him."

"Love and loyalty have led to many a misstep," Elrond said, "when unaccompanied by wisdom."

"But love and loyalty have led to many great deeds," Boromir retorted. He would risk all for his brother, for his comrades, for his people.

"Yes," Elrond agreed. "I will consider your words."

And that was all Boromir was given. He told himself that it was enough.


It was easier to wait after that, because he knew the waiting would have an ending. But, even so, he was still not free from dreaming.

Minas Tirith was gleaming in the sunlight, her walls whiter than they had ever been. Boromir was soaring above her like a bird, and laughed with joy to see his home spread out beneath him.

But this was no Minas Tirith that he had ever known. The empty mansions were full of life. Gardens grew where there had never been anything but bare stone. The Great Gate was wrought from jewels and mithril, as strong as adamant and as beautiful as a dream. Men strode laughing through the streets, and elves sang beneath the trees.

And Faramir was there, standing beside a White Tree that was fully in flower, and gleaming. Faramir looked older than Boromir remembered, but happier than he had ever been.

"Faramir," Boromir whispered, as he circled on eagle's wings.

And it seemed to him that Faramir heard him, for he looked up, and his eyes were damp, although he was still smiling. His lips moved with the shape of Boromir's name.

Boromir woke to find himself weeping. He dashed the tears away, and smiled.

This is how it could be, he swore. This is how it will be.

"Will be?" he echoed, because the future of Gondor rested on a knife edge, and nothing was certain.

He shook his head, but still he smiled. "Could be," he said, because he had taken the first step. He would do what he could for his people. He would strive to the utmost of his ability.

He would make it happen.

He would come home.




Notes: I enjoyed writing this. As a new writer in this fandom, I hadn't actually written Boromir before, although he was at the top of my "to do" list, and now I definitely want to write him again. I could find no clues whatsoever within The Lord of the Rings as to what Boromir was getting up to during this period, so I had to make it up. I hope it doesn't contradict your own head canon too badly!


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:56 am (UTC)
What a glorious, awesome story! It brought me to tears at the end, it was so poignant. I can scarcely believe you have not written Boromir before, for I found your writing of him spot on and perfect in this tale! :-) This is a very believable take on what Boromir was getting up to during that time -- it's true, there is nothing in canon to tell us. In my head canon, I have thought of him possibly going with the scouts, as you also point out -- but if he did not do that, I can totally see him reacting to the peace of Rivendell in this way. Thank you again for a perfect tale! I look forward to more of your writing, especially if you do Boromir again!
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:03 pm (UTC)
Phew! I'm very relieved to hear that you liked it. I did strongly consider having Boromir go out with the scouts, but after much agonising and dithering, I settled on this scenario, partly because I wanted to have scenes with Gandalf, Merry and Pippin. Once I'd - finally! - settled on the scenario, I really enjoyed writing it. It's given me a whole new understanding and appreciation of Boromir, so thanks! :-)
Jan. 1st, 2014 12:57 am (UTC)
Although he bore no serious injury, he knew that he was in many ways a wounded man.

That's so true, yet I hadn't thought of that before. This is a very thought provoking and well written tale. I feel that you captured Boromir very nicely.
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Until I was researching this story, I hadn't really registered just how long and arduous Boromir's journey was, and how emotionally difficult it must have been. Tolkien does admit in Unfinished Tales that it was a lot harder than the LotR gives him credit for, but I hadn't really comprehended it until now. I do love how researching fanfic can give a whole new understanding of the book. :-)
Jan. 1st, 2014 04:35 am (UTC)
This is amazing! I am so very glad to see more of your writing. This fits perfectly with my head canon in every single way! Right on down to Pip getting himself into more trouble than he or his clever cousin could get out of... And the dreams, the dreams are so vivid and intense that they had me shivering. The part I liked the best, though, was Boromir's conversation with Gandalf. Gandalf said so much without ever saying anything that it actually made my heart hurt for poor Boromir, the man who was doomed from the moment he first appears in the books. Even at 13, when I first read these books, I knew that much about him, and after reading this story, I'm once again reminded of my reactions from way back then when I enjoyed the story for the first time. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us all!
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I spent a good while dithering on what Boromir would be getting up to during this time period, but I knew that I wanted him to talk to Gandalf, and also to have an encounter with Merry and Pippin. In the novel, Pippin reflects that he had always liked Boromir, but we never really see them interacting until the end, so I very much wanted to include that. And I'm sure that Pippin, forced to spend two months doing nothing much in Rivendell, would get himself into trouble somehow. :-)
Jan. 1st, 2014 08:16 am (UTC)
I just loved this, both Boromir's dreams and his rescue of Pippin. I'm glad he was granted a glimspe of the happy future.
Jan. 1st, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I really enjoyed writing it. It's one of those stories that has definitely changed and deepened my appreciation of the book. I'll forever see Boromir differently now, than did before I wrote this.
Jan. 1st, 2014 07:59 pm (UTC)
This was beautifully crafted and the interpersonal interchanges rang true throughout. I loved the various futures for Gondor that Boromir saw while he was recovering in Imladris. I also enjoyed his realization that the hobbits were made of sterner stuff than their initial appearance promised. This was a fun read.

- Erulisse (one L)
Jan. 2nd, 2014 08:26 am (UTC)
Thank you! It took me days of agonising to settle on the scenario and plot, but once I'd decided on it, I had great fun writing it. It pretty much wrote itself. Glad you enjoyed it! :-D
Jan. 2nd, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
This is so wonderful! Poor Boromir, what a battle he fought inside himself. I loved the contrast between the meditative beginning parts and the drama and action of the latter parts. And really, how the two blended together. And of course the burgeoning relationship with Merry and Pippin, from condescension to a growing respect and realization of what they might have in common. Lovely story, you've done very well by Boromir.
Jan. 2nd, 2014 08:28 am (UTC)
Thanks! My main concern when writing it was to do justice to Boromir, so I'm glad you think it worked. It was definitely great fun to write.
Jan. 2nd, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
I love this version of Boromir. He was a soldier and a man of action--even Faramir, who loved and admired his brother said that about him--and sitting and waiting would not sit well with him. He'd have to find something to keep himself busy.

I'd always imagined him spending some of the time training Merry and Pippin to use their swords. But you are right that there would be little for him to do in Rivendell otherwise--that he'd set out on his own training regimen makes sense!

Jan. 2nd, 2014 08:33 am (UTC)
Thanks! I did consider having Boromir go out with the scouts, but I thought that subjecting him to peace and quiet and waiting - i.e. putting him out of his comfort zone - would be a sterner test of his character, and would allow more character exploration. I do like how the movie has that little scene of Boromir giving Merry and Pippin a sword fighting lesson. It's a movie addition that I think actually improves on the books, when we don't really see any interaction between Boromir and Merry and Pippin until the very end.
Jan. 2nd, 2014 03:43 am (UTC)
I love this! Commenters above have already hit on many of my reasons, but I'll just add this:

"You never let go," he said. "I was talking and talking to you, and I don't think you could hear me, but you never let go."
"No," Boromir agreed. "I never do."

Of course Boromir would treat passing out and still hanging on to both Pippin and the cliffside as no big deal! Done it before, normal course of business, whatever.

The dream parts were great, too. I don't think of Boromir as someone who would normally even remember his dreams, but of course since Faramir started having his particular prophetic one, he'd be inclined to pay more attention. And the influence of Imladris probably helped enhance them.

(I wrote a small story on a similar theme - "Other Things". Much shorter and without any hobbits or wizards, but with a similar ending scene.)
Jan. 2nd, 2014 08:41 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm not quite sure how Boromir managed to hold on to Pippin and the cliffside while virtually unconcious from a head injury, but somehow he did. I was determined to include a scene in which he was heroic and awesome. :-D

I'll look out for your story later. Go to go to work now! Um... well, actually probably should have started getting ready for work five minutes ago...
Jan. 5th, 2014 02:42 am (UTC)
You've never written Boromir before? I would never have guessed, you seem to know him so well. I thought this was a wonderful piece - the dreams in particular were very effective and truly dreamlike (no really, not everyone writes dreams well) - and Boromir's frustration spoke to me. And - something I never thought of before - the endless singing and peace must have been just a teeny bit creepy.

There is an immense amount of work in this, and I think I want to come back and reread it later, because there are so many details to take in. Very well done!

Jan. 5th, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm fairly new to the fandom, so haven't yet written most of the characters, although I do hope to rectify this over the coming months. I really relished the challenge of getting to know Boromir better while researching this. It had never really occurred to me, either, that the peace of Rivendell might not always been a good thing, but as soon as I started rereading the relevant chapters, that interpretation of it jumped out at me quite strongly. Not everybody wants or needs their anxieties eased.
Jan. 11th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
I've written my own vision of Boromir in Rivendell, but love to read other people's images as well. How well you capture his impatience and frustration, and indicate how he, Merry, and Pippin came to develop a relationship before they left Rivendell together. Delightful!
Jan. 13th, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it! I deliberately didn't seek out anyone else's versions. I'm new enough in the fandom that I'm still trying to establish my own head canon for the main characters, so am being cautious about what I read. I spent a while working out just what story I wanted to tell, but I knew from the start that I wanted Merry and Pippin to feature. I do feel the lack of interaction between them in the book, given what happens at the end.
Jan. 18th, 2014 04:07 am (UTC)
I started to leave a review of this, but then I realized I wanted to turn it into a proper rec, because the story deserves it. You can find it at my LJ, if you're interested. But I also wanted to tell you how much I loved this. So very well done, all around.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )


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