“When you think on those you love, Faramir, look with joy, not sorrow. For none who love you would want any less for you. As for Boromir, as I told your father in council, Boromir died well. Leave it at that.” They were sitting about Denethor’s study, preparing for the day’s duties. Faramir, standing under a painting of the three men of Gondor, looked forlorn. Gandalf had spoken to comfort the man.
“Might I see where he died? Would you take me there, my King?” He turned hopefully towards Aragorn.
“I will. There is a short time open to us before my wedding. Imrahil will not mind watching the City for a few more days.”
“I’m coming with you,” a small, familiar voice piped up.
“Always eavesdropping, Master Peregrin,” Aragorn said with a smile. “Are you so sure you want to go back there?”
Pippin paused for a moment; in his excitement at helping Faramir, he had forgotten exactly what that place meant. Merry stepped forward, put his hand on Pip’s shoulder and whispered in his ear.
“Pippin and I would like to join you.”
“As will I,” the Elf stood and reached a hand towards the Dwarf, who accepted it, pulled himself up out of the great oversized, stuffed chair, and nodded.
“Gandalf?” Aragorn asked.
“I believe I will stay here in Minas Tirith and smoke my pipe in peace. I have wandered too long.”
“Very well. Faramir, we will leave at first light.”
“What about Frodo and Sam?” Pippin asked, not wanting to leave his cousins out of another adventure.
“They stay. Gandalf? Will you watch over them?”
The wizard nodded.
Faramir stood; his mouth agape. These men, friends of his brother, would leave everything and set forth at a moment’s notice?
The journey was not long, compared to the Fellowship’s previous jaunt through Middle-earth, nor was it as difficult as that one. They still had to watch for foul creatures, for the countryside had not been cleared away yet of the debris of war – Easterlings, Orcs, and such. When at last they reached the Falls, they camped for the night. On the morrow, they would climb the stairs and walk to the glen where Boromir fell.
As the campfire waned, Faramir could be seen walking the parameters of their camp. Aragorn stood and joined him.
“It is certainly not your watch, Steward.”
“Nay. It is Pippin’s. I could not sleep.”
“The stairs are treacherous. We will need all our strength to traverse them.”
“He was so close, Aragorn, on Gondor’s soil even.”
“He was. A perfect place to give his life. And he gave it willingly, Faramir. You knew him well. Would he have had it any other way?”
“Nay!” Faramir said heavily. “He would not. But that matters not to me, Aragorn. Do you not understand? He was my brother. I need him. I need him by my side. Always before, he was there for me, in joy and strife. He breathed for me as I breathed for him. I know I can live without him.” He swallowed hard. “I know I can, but I do not want to!” He kicked at the dirt that lay at his feet. “I do not want to,” he whispered forlornly.
He brought his head up. “You know of what I speak, for I have heard that Halbarad was like a brother to you?”
“He was,” Aragorn said quietly. “I miss him. He was not only my cousin, but my right hand man. I grew up with his council, once I left the Last Homely House. He showed me how to be a captain of men.”
“Boromir showed me how to be a man.”
Aragorn’s face grew red. “I cannot pretend to understand what you have lived through these past weeks, Faramir. I can understand the hole in your gut. I feel it too. Not only for Halbarad, though I loved him dearly, but for Boromir.”
“I, too,” the Elf said as he stepped forward. “We sang a lament for him. Before we let his boat… ”
“May I hear it?”
“Gimli!” the Elf called and the Dwarf was by his side in a moment. “We are going to sing Boromir’s lament again. Would you join us?”
“You never gave me the opportunity the first time! Are you going to let me sing one of the pieces now?”
“Which one do you want?” Aragorn asked.
“Well,” the Dwarf growled. “I suppose you should sing of the West Wind, and the Elf, of course, of the South. That leaves the North Wind, for none of us will sing of the East Wind, not yet. I don’t want to sing of the North Wind.”
“Then sing of the West Wind, Gimli, for that is where he has gone. To the Halls of Mandos and beyond.”
“Aye. I will do that then.”
Aragorn stood a little apart from them and looked up into the skies above, crowded with brilliant stars shining as torches in the dark, lighting the path for their friend. Pippin and Merry quickly joined them, noting that something was happening.
Aragorn began to hum - a small song to Elbereth Gilthoniel, asking for a blessing upon what they were about to do.
Then, he motioned to Gimli who sang:
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
"What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?"
"I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey;
I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North. I saw him then no more.
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor."
"O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are."
Then Legolas sang:
From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
"What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve."
"Ask not of me where he doth dwell-so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!"
"O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea's mouth."
Then Aragorn sang:
From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls;
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
"What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away."
"Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought.
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast."
"O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days."
Clouds slowly covered the sky as the last note was sung. Faramir stood in awe, tears streaming down his face. Aragorn pulled him close and hugged him. Gimli, Legolas and the Hobbits joined them.
Morning came and with it the slow, arduous climb. When they had finally reached the top of the stairs, all fell onto the soft green earth in relief. Sounds of ragged breathing floated through the air.
Aragorn began to hum again. Gimli threw a gauntlet at him. “We’ve had enough of your singing, Aragorn. ‘Tis time to make a fire, have some food before our Hobbit friends faint with hunger, and then go onward. You have something that needs doing back in Minas Tirith. If we stop and sing at every opportunity, you will miss a certain lady Elf.”
Aragorn chuckled. “Well, then, Master Dwarf, you speak wisely, as you always have. Let us collect the wood…” He drew in a sharp breath.
Pippin shivered. “I will do it. I did it before.”
Merry’s eyes had opened wide as saucers.
Faramir, stunned at the behavior of his companions, stood with mouth agape. “What ails you?” he asked as he looked about him in consternation. There were no signs of an enemy or anything else untoward.
Aragorn held up a hand as tears streamed down his face. “Too close to what has happened before. Too broken the heart. Too raw the pain and sorrow.” He walked towards the lake that lay before them. Bending, he filled his hands with water and washed the tears away. But they would not stop, and Faramir noted that his King’s shoulders shook. The man had not stopped crying.
Legolas strode towards his friend and crouched next to him. Pippin wailed and ran into the woods, Merry following as fast as he could. Faramir just stood there.
After a few moments, Aragorn stood and looked upon the waters. Gimli strode forward and offered him a pipe. Aragorn accepted it, gratefully clasping the Dwarf on the shoulder. Legolas lit the pipe for him. All three stood there, looking out towards the waters in silence.
Faramir sat upon a piece of driftwood and waited.
A half hour later, Merry and Pippin emerged from the woods, their hands filled with wood and kindling. They strode in silence towards the beach and laid the wood down. Merry walked to the Dwarf’s side and whispered to him. The Dwarf turned and walked to the waiting wood. Quickly, he lit it and the fire roared.
“Well done, Hobbits. A good fire and true.” He spoke quietly.
“We have caught a few rabbits, too. We thought fresh meat might be nice.” Pippin kept his voice just as low.
”I’m not hungry at the moment, but I think a stew would be perfect. Perhaps for a little later?”
The Hobbits looked at each other in chagrin. Merry shrugged his shoulders and got the pots while Pippin cleaned the rabbits. He walked to the water and washed them and filled the pot. He looked up at his friends who still stood quietly on the edge of the lake. Shrugging his shoulders, he walked back to the fire and handed Merry the pot. Merry had cut the rabbits into pieces; he put them into the water, along with some carrots and potatoes they had brought with them, and placed the pot over the fire.
Faramir still sat; his whole body was filled with silence and foreboding.
The Hobbits stood and ran to Aragorn. “What is it, Strider?” Merry asked.
“Would it harm you to wait another hour for your meal?”
“The stew will take some time to cook. What did you have in mind?”
“I would go to the dale now.”
“Yes.” Pippin nodded his head emphatically. “I want to go now, too.”
Faramir stood as he watched his friends prepare for the last leg of their journey. Aragorn walked over to him.
“Forgive us. This is hallowed ground. Much happened here and our hearts and minds are taken, as if the moment is now.”
“I… I think I understand. Are we going… are we going there now?”
“We are. Follow me.” With that, he turned and led the group into the forest. Within a short time, they were there. None had any doubt that this is where the last stand of Boromir was. The carrion creatures had left little visible of those the warrior of Gondor had slain in his defense of the Hobbits, but they all knew the place. Weapons still lay strewn about, though Aragorn and his companions had collected quite a few to place at Boromir’s feet in the boat.
Faramir waited as they stood about. At last, he could stand it no longer. “Is this the place?”
“It is, Faramir. Here,” and Aragorn pointed to a small depression and a large tree.
Faramir stood still for a moment. Then, he walked to the tree and sat upon the ground in the exact spot where Boromir lay, breathing his last.
“Tell me exactly what happened here, Aragorn. Please?”
“I knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo ' he said. "I am sorry. I have paid." His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. "They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them." He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again.
"Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed."
"No!" I said, taking his hand and kissing his brow. "You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!"
"Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?" I asked.
But Boromir did not speak again.
Faramir swallowed hard. “I am grateful, my King,” the Prince of Ithilien said through his tears, “that you gave him back his honour.”
“I did not. He had never lost it. Not in my mind. He succumbed to the Ring. Had not my own ancestor done the same? I know not what grace protected me.”
“Nor I, when it came to me at Henneth-Annûn.”
“Faramir,” Pippin spoke quietly, his heart bursting with sorrow, “Boromir died for me and for my cousin. There was no honour lost. Only great honour gained.” Tears streamed down the Hobbit’s face. “That’s why I pledged myself to your father.”
“I understand now. I had wondered.” A smile creased the Steward’s face. “He loved you?”
“For whatever silly reason, he did.” Pippin sniffled. Merry’s arm lay across his shoulder. He, too, sniffled. “But he loved you more.”
“I know,” Faramir whispered. He leaned his head back against the firmness of the tree and closed his eyes, letting his grief have its way with him.
Aragorn said quietly, “We will meet you back at the lake; it is only a short distance from here. As soon as you stand, head towards the direction you are facing. Supper will be waiting.” His friends walked away.
After a time, he felt drops of water hitting his head and his face. He looked up. There were no clouds in the sky, no sign of rain. He ran his hand over his face and touched his tongue to the wetness there. ‘Salt! How odd.’ He smiled slowly. ‘Of course it is. It is only the taste of my own tears.’
Again, more drops fell, this time upon Faramir’s arm. Faramir looked up. Nothing. He looked down and touched one of the errant drops. Touching his tongue to the finger that held the water, he frowned. ‘Salt?’
He sat up; his eyes opened wide. “Boromir?” he called quietly. There was, of course, no answer and Faramir berated himself for even thinking the thought.
More drops fell. A sudden sense, foresight, he knew not what, filled him. “ Boromir,” he whispered. “Brother.”
He waited a moment. The drops stopped. “I miss you.” He swallowed hard. “I have come to say fare well. I hope you do not mind my interrupting your sleep.” His chin shook as he tried to hold back the tears, but they would not stay. His nose promptly filled and ran.
“I… Aragorn has been crowned King. I am his Steward.” His chin shook harder as the tears fell in torrents. “Father is dead. I am alone.”
Wind rustled the leaves of the tree behind him. He felt a warmth encompass him. He chewed his lip. “I do not know what further to say. I hope you are well. How stupid of me! You are dead. How can you be well?” He berated himself again and the warmth against his back deepened.
“Boromir? I just need to know if you are proud of me. I am sorry. It seems foolish. It is foolish, but I need to know. Are you? Did I serve Gondor well?”
The wind blew more strongly and Faramir looked up in surprise. No other tree rustled as did the one he lay under. Again, the sense of warmth grew deeper. He had the strangest feeling that the tree embraced him. Or cuddled him. Or something.
A branch moved in the breeze and wiped at his face. His tears dried in the breeze, but the tears on his arm remained. ‘Tears? That is what they are! Are they Boromir’s?’
A song, ancient and beautiful, filled his ears. It seemed to come from the tree. Faramir leaned back against it, trying to make his back part of the bark, part of the tree. A deep sense of peace filled him.
Dusk was beginning to fall and Pippin walked backwards and forwards, a few paces either way. “I don’t understand where he is.”
“He is with Boromir. Leave him.”
“But maybe Orcs are still about and he’s being dragged away,” Pippin’s voice caught in fear.
Aragorn quickly strode up to him and knelt beside him. “Do not be afraid, Pippin. It is over and done with. There are no Orcs here. Legolas and Gimli have scoured the area. We are all safe.”
With that, the Ranger stood and strode towards the fire; pulling some leaves from his pocket, he breathed on them, crushed them, and threw them into the pot. The smell of rain and sun, orchards and running water filled the area. All sighed in contentment.
At that very moment, Faramir appeared. “I am very hungry. Have the Halflings left anything for the rest of us?”
Looking up in surprise and relief, Aragorn laughed. Faramir’s eyes were clear and bright, all sign of sorrow seemed washed away. “We have held them back, waiting upon your return. Come, let us eat.”
From TTT – ‘He (Aragorn) knelt for a while, bent with weeping, still clasping Boromir's hand.’ I used this as my justification for Aragorn still grieving at the thought of Boromir’s death; the death scene and the subsequent lamentation speaks of deep sorrow by all those present.
The only part of this tale that gave me any qualms was Aragorn leaving Minas Tirith so soon after becoming King. I attribute it to his Ranger’s wanderlust. My father, afflicted with the same wanderlust, would pick up the family and take us on an adventure at the drop of a hat. However, Aragorn had Húrin and Imrahil to leave the City to. Also, some think that Merry and Pippin would not know that the reason they are still in Minas Tirith is because Aragorn is keeping them there as invited guests to his wedding. I don’t think you can keep much from Merry & Pippin. I can just see the four Hobbits with their heads together laughing over the whole idea of secrecy!!!
All the italicized words are from TTT – The Departure of Boromir.