1. The Discovery
Actually he had no intention of starting a battle just now. The score of Hobbits trailing behind him armed with axes and firebrands were just there to intimidate the trees into letting them pass. Merry meant to go right through the Forest to the House of Tom Bombadil, Old Tom would know what was going on if anybody did - provided Merry could get him to stop singing long enough to answer questions!
The Bonfire Glade was right where he'd left it. Scrubby and dreary but still a welcome bit of open ground after the closeness of the forest. Looking over his shoulder he saw his Bucklanders relaxing visibly as they cleared the overshadowing trees. Not that he blamed them.
"Let's take a breather." he said and was rewarded by twenty grateful looks.
He glanced away to hide his smile and a flash sun on metal caught his eye. He took a step towards it then stopped in his tracks. There was a Man stretched out under a scrubby bush. Very tall, even for one of the Big Folk, with mail showing on his arms beneath a red tunic studded with gold and a dark leather surcoat. His head was pillowed on a round shield, fair hair falling over his face, hiding it.
Merry's heart began to thud painfully, a name catching at his throat that he didn't dare say or even think.
Cautiously, step by step, he went closer hand tight and sweaty on his sword hilt. And with every step the Man lying there seemed more familiar but it couldn't be - it was impossible. Taking a deep breath he bent and brushed the bright hair off the Man's face with a shaking hand. Blue eyes opened and all doubts vanished.
For a moment the Man stared blankly up at him, then recognition came. "Merry!" struggling upright he swept the Hobbit into an awkward one armed embrace.
He was no ghost, there was solid flesh under the supple leather and the pebbly feel of the mail.
Boromir released him, hand still on his shoulder. "It's good to see you, Little Friend, but what are you doing in this horrible place?"
"What am *I* doing!" Merry sputtered. "My dear Boromir, you're supposed to be *dead*! You died twenty years ago and hundreds of leagues away! What are *you* doing here?"
Something guarded flashed through the blue eyes. "I asked first."
All but speechless with confusion, joy and indignation Merry managed. "I live here."
Boromir blinked. "Here?"
"Not in the middle of the Old Forest of course, Buckland's just a few miles back that way." Merry pointed. "You're on the borders of the Shire."
"Am I?" The Man frowned past him, apparently thinking hard.
Merry started to absently wipe a stickiness from his left hand then looked down and realized it was blood. He looked back at Boromir in alarm suddenly seeing how the Man's shield arm hung limp and the bloody rents down his right arm and side. Of the Orc arrows that had killed him twenty years ago there was no sign. "You're hurt!"
"I've been fighting." Boromir answered simply.
Merry decided not to ask who or what, not just now. "Can you walk?"
A smile. "I'd better. I doubt you could carry me, Little One."
"I'm not alone." reminded of this Merry looked over his shoulder to see his Bucklanders clumped in a staring, slack jawed huddle. "Don't just stand there," he snapped, "Mingo, Dando, help me get him up, Dickon get his shield."
Boromir did manage to walk out of the Old Forest under his own power, leaning on Merry's shoulder. The Hobbit might have found that encouraging if this weren't a Man who'd kept fighting with two Orc arrows in him. There was no guessing how badly he was hurt this time.
There was a little watch house just inside the hedge. Boromir had to practically get down on his hands and knees to fit through the door and, after taking one look at the low raftered ceiling, didn't even try to stand up once inside. Blankets and sheets were all the wrong size and of course the beds were out of the question. Merry bustled about and got him settled somehow on the guardroom floor, sent for a surgeon then sat down to write two letters.
One, to Pippin, was brief:
Come at once. Urgent!!!
The other had to be rather longer. You can't ask the King of the West to drop everything and come running without some explanation - even if you are one of his best friends.
I know this is going to be hard to believe but I've found Boromir alive in the Old Forest. He doesn't want to talk about where he's been or how he got there and he's hurt so I don't like to press but the Forest's been very active lately, if you know what I mean, and I think Boromir knows something about it. Please come at *once* he'll tell *you* - even if he won't talk to Pip or me.
P.S. Lady Arwen, if you're reading this please forward to Aragorn as quickly as possible. It really is *very* urgent. M.B.
He sealed the envelope with the running horse in green wax and handed it to one of his shiriffs. "Remember, give it to the King or the Queen in *person* nobody else." he instructed. "If the Big Folk try and give you an argument say those are my orders and the message is personal and urgent."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.