One day I was thinking about
'might-have-beens', and this little story came to me. The idea has been
discussed before, and tales have been written about it, so I thought
I'd share my own idea of what might have been, if things had been
The setting as I have described it has been taken from "The Field of Cormallen" (ROTK).
"Well, Sam," said Frodo, as he adjusted his
ragged shirt in an attempt to hide the worst of its worn condition
amongst the folds of cloth; "I do not feel I am dressed to meet a King,
nor anyone else, for that matter, but I am ready. What about you?"
"I'm with you, Mr. Frodo," replied Sam. "I'm
as ready as I'll ever be, I guess. I'm hopin' Mr. Gandalf does as he
promised and finds us some better clothes, real soon. But he did say
these clothes would do..."
"I did say that, Sam, and I meant it," said
Gandalf, with a chuckle. He was waiting patiently at the edge of the
beech-grove where their beds were laid. "Do not worry, the King will
not mind how you are dressed, nor will anyone else, for that matter."
Frodo and Sam looked at one another, then
laughed in unison at the look of mirrored chagrin and shyness they saw
on each others' faces. They were both worried about meeting this King
whom Gandalf had told them about, but the wizard's confidence was
somewhat comforting, and they felt they could do nothing else but trust
him. Their old clothes would have to do.
They followed Gandalf across a long green
lawn that glowed in the sunshine. A stream ran down before them between
flowering banks, until it came to a green wood at the lawn's foot and
passed on under an archway of trees, through which they could see the
shimmer of water far away.
As they approached the edge of the wood, the
flash of sunlight on metal caught their eye; looking, they saw a Man
standing, half in the shadows and half in the sunlight. He was leaning
at his ease against the trunk of a tree laden with scarlet blossoms.
The sun gleamed on his long shirt of mail, and upon the sword at his
side. His leather surcoat was emblazoned with an emblem of a white
tree, and the tunic that showed beneath it was scarlet with gold trim
-- the scarlet color being a near match for the blossoms that swung
overhead. The man's features were dark under the shadow of the tree,
but the sun peeping through the leaves shone dappled upon his head, and
where the light touched, his hair glowed auburn. His face was turned
away from them, towards the shimmering water beyond the trees.
"Is that the King?" whispered Sam, hanging
back in dismay. He tugged at his clothing in an effort to straighten
it. He felt shabby and ill-dressed compared to the tall knight in his
gleaming armor. "Is he waiting for us?"
"No, that is not the King" replied Gandalf
with a gentle smile. "But he is a friend of the King, one of his most
trusted companions. And yes, he is waiting for you. Long has he waited
to speak with you, and with Frodo in particular."
"With me? But why?" stammered Frodo. "Who is he, if not a king? And what does he want with me?"
Gandalf only smiled and shook his head.
"That is for him to say; I will not take from him that honor and duty."
Gandalf indicated that they should go on
before him, so Frodo and Sam walked forward, anxiously. As they
approached, the Man turned and smiled at them, and they knew him.
It was Boromir.
Boromir looked out through the trees towards
the glimmering waters of Anduin in the distance. He had been waiting
here since he had first heard the news that the Halflings were awake
and ready to be brought before the King. This was a good place for
their meeting, the meeting he had hoped for and dreaded since that
fateful day at Amon Hen. Beyond the wood, Aragorn waited, with the host
of the Free Peoples; but here, it was quiet and secluded. They would
not be interrupted, for Aragorn had given orders that no one was to
follow Boromir here, or disturb him until his meeting was finished.
Aragorn knew, better than anyone, how important this was to him.
Boromir knew that if he did not speak with
Frodo and Sam now, before they joined the host that awaited them, he
would never have another chance to speak with them alone. The things
that needed to be said, would not be said, and the final healing he so
greatly desired would not take place.
And that will not do, thought Boromir. I must
speak with Frodo and Sam, and I must do it now, no matter what the
outcome. I do not know how they will respond to me, but it matters not.
I will say what must be said, for my own peace of mind, and leave the
rest with them.
Gandalf, too, had understood, when Boromir
had spoken of his intention, and he had promised that they would have
whatever time they needed together.
Boromir heard a murmur of voices and turned.
They were coming. Boromir smiled; it was so good to see them again,
alive! Then, before fear of the consequences could hold him back, he
straightened, and walked quickly towards them.
"Boromir!" the hobbits cried in unison, when they finally found their voices.
"Boromir!" repeated Frodo, confused. "But... Faramir said he was dead..."
"He was mistaken," said Gandalf from behind.
Frodo and Sam watched silently as Boromir
approached them across the green lawn. Boromir could not read their
expressions. His throat went suddenly dry, and he felt his heart stop,
briefly, sickeningly; but he did not pause, and his smile did not
falter. He approached slowly now, his hands held out in a gesture of
peace and vulnerability. He willed himself to look at Frodo, to meet
his gaze. What was that look in his eyes? Was it surprise? Fear?
Hatred? No... none of those... Caution, perhaps...
Boromir stood before the two hobbits, and
realized he had forgotten everything he had thought to say; all his
rehearsed words and apologies were gone, lost in the wide blue gaze of
Frodo's eyes, and the slight narrowing look of suspicion in Sam's.
He turned quickly to Sam, and before he could object or draw back, Boromir knelt, and placed his hands on Sam's shoulders.
"Do not worry, Sam, you will not have to
fight me," Boromir said with a sad smile. "You have nothing to fear
from me any longer."
Sam looked startled, then abashed, as Boromir looked at him knowingly.
"I know you have been angry with me for what
I have done, and rightly so," Boromir went on. "But do not let that
stand between us now; put your anger aside. I ask your forgiveness, and
I beg you to try to trust me a little, if you can. I promise you, I am
no longer the same man who tried to harm your Frodo."
Sam blinked. He opened his mouth, then closed
it again, and bowed his head. After a moment, he looked up again, and
he was smiling.
"I can see that, sir. You do look different
somehow, not so worried, as it were. Happier, I think." A thoughtful
look crossed Sam's face. "Besides, I... well, I guess I can't really
lay any blame on you, not now. Not since.... Well, let's just say, I
understand you better now... what you must've gone through, I mean."
Sam swallowed hard, and attempted a smile. "Hard to say no, it was..."
Boromir nodded solemnly as he laid a hand on Sam's cheek. "Yes. Just so!"
Sam stepped back, and Boromir, still on his
knees, turned his eyes to meet Frodo's. Frodo had composed himself;
whatever it was that Boromir had seen in his eyes in the moment of
their first meeting, was gone now, replaced by something that for all
the world looked like hopeful eagerness.
Boromir held out his hands, and Frodo,
without hesitation, laid his own hands in Boromir's. They were small
and frail, and the bandage on Frodo's right hand was rough on Boromir's
palm. He stroked the wounded hand gently with his thumb; a tear rolled
down his cheek, but he did not notice it.
"I tried to find you... I searched for
hours..." Boromir's voice broke suddenly, and his words trailed off. He
had prepared for this moment for so long, and now that it had come,
words failed him. After a moment, he cleared his throat and went on.
"I am sorry, Frodo. I did not understand, and
in my failure, I hurt you. I might even have tried to kill you if I had
been given the chance, and for that I am truly sorry. Please! Forgive
me, Frodo! Forgive me the pain and the hurt I have caused you, that
made you flee from me into great danger."
"You were not yourself," replied Frodo, never taking his eyes from Boromir's face.
"No, perhaps not. And yet I am still to blame. I should have been stronger..."
"Stronger..." echoed Frodo, and he sighed. He
looked off into the distance, to the East, as if remembering something
that had happened to him in some dark place. He sighed again.
"If only we could have been stronger!" he murmured.
"Do you still fear me, Frodo?" Boromir asked hesitantly.
Frodo turned back to Boromir and shook his head; suddenly, he smiled.
"No, Boromir," he said quietly. "I am not
afraid of you. In truth, I have ever counted you a friend, even when
Evil came between us. I know why you did what you did. I... I am sorry
I did not leave the Company sooner... perhaps if I had, you would have
Now Boromir shook his head. "No, Frodo. It
was for the best, I think; for after that shock, I was free of it.
Though not of the guilt..."
Frodo withdrew his hands gently from
Boromir's, then suddenly he stepped close and embraced him. His words
were muffled as he buried his face in Boromir's shoulder, but Boromir
heard them clearly.
"I forgive you, Boromir, with all my heart!"
Boromir drew in a shuddering breath, and held
Frodo close. After a moment, he held out one arm and beckoned to Sam,
and Sam stepped forward to join the embrace. They remained thus for
some time, holding each other close, as the tears flowed freely.
At last Boromir released them. After kissing each of them on the forehead, he stood.
"We are ready at last," he said to the
waiting Gandalf, and was rewarded with a flash of the wizard's
brilliant smile and a warm laugh.
"I am in no hurry," Gandalf said. "Time spent
in granting forgiveness and the healing of friendships, is time
well-spent. The King knows that, as well; he will not begrudge you the
wait. Though we ought not keep him waiting too long..."
"The King!" exclaimed Sam, scrubbing
furiously at his tear-stained face. "I must look a sight, puffy red
eyes and all, and I'm still to meet a king!"
"We're all in the same condition, Sam!" he
said, wiping his own eyes dry. "Why, I do believe even Gandalf has a
suspicious wetness about the eyes."
"You are very observant, Frodo Baggins,"
answered Gandalf. "It does you credit. But now, if we are all composed,
I suggest we move on. The King is indeed patient, but there is no need
to try that patience more than necessary!"
Turning to Boromir, Gandalf laid a hand on his shoulder. "Boromir, would you do us the honor of leading the way?"
Boromir bowed to Gandalf, and then to Frodo and Sam.
"It would be my pleasure."
The King looked out across the field, from
the high seat where he sat, waiting. Before him the hosts of the Free
Peoples were drawn up in ranks and companies; beyond them were knights
in bright armor and guards in silver and black. At last, a trumpet
sounded. Looking beyond to the edge of the wood, he saw Boromir
approaching, followed by Frodo and Sam, walking hand in hand, and
Gandalf following behind.
Aragorn's eyes were keen and far-seeing, and
even at this distance, he could see the face of his friend. Yes, all
was well! He could read the peace and gladness in Boromir's face and
stride as if it were written upon him with words. His heart flooded
with joy, and Aragorn bowed his head to hide the tears that sprang to
his eyes in that moment.
Fellowship restored! he thought. The day has
come, at last! What hurts that lie behind will no longer consume us,
and the poor choices we made in the past will no longer hold power over
us. New choices are before us, that will determine our destiny. Now
those choices can be made in peace, trusting to the bonds of
Aragorn looked up, and saw that Boromir was
watching him even as he approached the high seat. Aragorn lifted his
hand in greeting, and was answered by a sharp salute, and a smile that
was almost a grin.
Yes, all is well, indeed!