1. For Gondor's Sake
In the dark horror that gripped him, Boromir forgot to swim. Water filled his mouth and nostrils, penetrating in, headed towards his lungs. He paddled frantically, feeling his body naturally rising to the surface, but not fast enough. Arms flailing, the darkness fled before the pure panic that was gripping him; he took a breath before he was ready, and broke the surface only to cough. He forgot to flail, and began to sink, and yet the water was not from his throat yet. An arm gripped him, holding him up so that he might retch forth the river water. He did not know the arm nor the face when he regained himself enough to see them, but there was no need to know or thank, the only need was to find the western shore of the Anduin.
Boromir gripped the edge of the bank and drew himself out, with a last retch of water and a little bile as he expelled the foreign substance from his lungs. Flopped in a heap, he looked to the left and the right. It had been a rout. Only he, the man who had lifted him from the water, some other man, and—Faramir had escaped. Boromir struggled to his feet, his armor thankfully discarded but his clothes still deadly heavy and sopping, and walked, stumbling a little, to where his brother sat, staring out across the river.
"You are safe," croaked Boromir, sitting down beside him. He coughed again, the water having left a foul taste in his mouth.
"So are you," responded Faramir. "But only two others. It could not have ended another way, and yet do I feel the loss keenly."
Boromir breathed out, the emptiness in Faramir's tone unfortunately familiar in his brother after such a battle. Wishing to say something, Boromir looked away, and saw the two other men busy with some task. He caught sight of the man who had been rescued with Faramir and he remembered.
"Faramir," he said, "you nearly lost your life today."
Faramir looked at him strangely.
"I did not mean the risk through all today, but at the end, as we were about to jump the bridge," elaborated Boromir. "Your life could have ended right then, as you went back for that man." And Boromir nodded his head towards the man cleaning his sword by the riverbank.
"So is the case for countless soldiers who protected each other today," said Faramir. "But you speak as if I should have given my life more care than that man's."
"Can that man lead Gondor's forces when you are slain?" challenged Boromir. "Yes, of course your life is worth more!" He did not say that Faramir was worth more to his family as well as Gondor—there is no need to state the obvious, he thought.
"But not that much," responded Faramir, some emotion coming into his voice again. "You know me, brother, you know that I do not risk my life needlessly. It was an easy kill there, and now two lives are saved instead of one. Would you have had me remember that I left a man to die when he could have been saved at little risk to my own life?"
"Nay," said Boromir, gripping Faramir's shoulder, "I would have had you feel no guilt at all, but save yourself for the sake of Gondor. Do you know what your problem is, Faramir, why Father continuously pushes you? It is that you care for everyone."
"I have never heard that named a fault before," responded Faramir with a near-snort, and Boromir thought he stiffened a little under his brother's grip.
"You are captain of hundreds, Faramir, you cannot care for each man personally. An officer must be a man who can send men to what may be their death, knowing that the lives of many outweighs the deaths of few." Boromir leaned in as he spoke, and his words were spoken with emphasis, but Faramir's face was turned away until he was finished.
Then the younger man turned and retorted: "An officer must also sacrifice himself for the good of his men, and men will not fight if their officers see them as tools alone. Is it not my decision if I choose to face heartsickness because I show a little attention to those whose lives are often lacking in it?"
"No," said Boromir firmly, "not if your choice weakens Gondor, and Gondor needs her captains' hearts to be whole not broken."
Faramir stood then, and turned fiercely to Boromir, saying: "What Gondor needs, brother, is captains who care! And that is something she has not found in this generation nor the last!"
Boromir said nothing, for the charge, though veiled, was clear to him, and he could not answer it yet. Faramir began to walk away. "Faramir, come back at once!" cried Boromir, standing up and striding quickly after him.
"What can you say brother, that will change my mind?" asked Faramir, his tone once again more icy than hot. "I am not soft, you know this. Whatever troubles my heart about war, I do not let it affect my abilities. But do not tell me to cut out my heart and leave it in my chambers in Minas Tirith; I cannot see men with indifferent eyes."
Boromir gripped his shoulders again, drawing him close. Faramir did not flinch, but looked straight at Boromir, and his eyes were afire. "Listen to me, brother!" said Boromir in a whisper that almost hissed. "A man's heart can only take so much; someday yours will break with too much care."
"I know my own strength there," said Faramir steadily. "How well do you know the strength of the hearts of your men? For they also have hearts; did you not know?" He put up a hand, and pushed Boromir's from his shoulders, and then he walked away again.
Boromir exhaled quickly, and turned away. How simple this would be if he did not love Faramir! He might shake his head and turn away without a further thought. But this was his brother, his beloved little brother, and Boromir's own heart would break if he saw Faramir fall into dark sorrow. Yet, if Faramir would be stubborn, as Boromir knew he would be, Boromir would not push. If Faramir thought his father and brother heartless, as it seemed plain that he did, let it be so!
And Boromir turned away, and they made ready to leave the ruinous battlefield.
"Why did you speak so?" It was the softest Faramir's tone had been to his brother since the battle at Osgiliath.
"You are not the one to journey to Imladris," said Boromir evenly.
"When you had the dream, I thought that your word was what was needed to receive the permission of Father; not that you would claim this mission as your own," said Faramir.
"Do not take this as an insult to you, Faramir," said Boromir. "It is a matter of roles; if we are to seek aid for Gondor, who but the heir is worthy to represent her?"
Faramir looked Boromir straight in the eye, his grey eyes more piercing than usual. "Do not speak such meaningless words, brother, to mollify me," he said. "I do not know what your reasoning is, what is behind this movement, but it has nothing to do with how worthy you think yourself." He sighed, and his hand that had been on the sill fell to his side. "I do not know if I even wish to know," he said softly.
Boromir felt his heart rising in his throat, and he swallowed. "I am sorry."
"I know," said Faramir, but the vaguest hint of understanding did not allay the weariness of his look.
There was nothing more that could be said. Boromir put a hand on Faramir's shoulder, a last touch of affection, and then turned away.
You care too much, little brother. I did not wish for this mission, and I did not wish to cause you grief. But you care too much. If anyone is to take this Quest to the Elves, it must be one who can remain objective. I am sorry, little brother, but so it must be. For Gondor's sake.
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.