by Varda

When Aragorn had attacked the orc Boromir had tried to crawl away, but when he reached the nearest tree he could go no further and lay against it. He drew ever shorter breaths, the bright late afternooon sun fading to darkness before his eyes. He could hear as if from a great distance the sound of battle, sword on sword, but had no strength to lift his head to look. He closed his eyes.

Then as if in a vivid dream he saw his brother Faramir. His face was sad, but he embraced Boromir and wished him a safe journey to Rivendell. There was no resentment that Boromir had claimed the errand sent to Faramir in a dream, to seek in Imladris for the sword that was broken, and the halfling of the prophecy. His face was so clear, Boromir tried to speak to his brother, but started awake with a cry of pain when he moved.

Boromir looked about for help, but all around were only the deserted woods. Despair settled on him; he would never now see Faramir again, nor his father. And he had wronged Faramir. He had been wrong to take the errand from his brother. He had been wrong all along.

All around him where he lay were orcs. Orcs he had killed. Flies buzzed around the carcasses, droning in the quiet air. It was not the first battlefield Boromir had seen but he knew this was one he would not leave alive. A great swathe of forest grass had been trampled by the orcs as they ran off leaving him to their savage lieutenant. And as they had gone they had taken the hobbits.

Merry and Pippin! The memory rushed back and Boromir felt a stab of grief worse than any arrow. They had taken the little ones! Boromir closed his eyes; he had told them to run away, but they had stayed with him, fighting as best they could with their small swords. For a few heartbeats Boromir was back on that sunlit mountainside teaching the little pair to parry and strike. They had remembered well, and Boromir had no heart to tell them to run away again. He had never run away in his life; why should he tell his friends to run away?

When he fell to the third arrow Boromir looked up and saw the two little warriors staring at him with horror and pity, then unable to bear it any longer they had run past him to fall on his attackers. Despite his pain Boromir smiled grimly to himself; the snarls of surprise and uncertainty as the hobbits struck at the orcs with their swords, the great dark brutes milling about then seizing the little pair and carrying them off.

Had they been hurt? Boromir's gaze had dimmed then, but he had seen a glimpse of yellow waistcoat through the trees; that was Merry. They had been taken hostage, he was sure. A last sight of the hobbits gripped by massive hands and long claws came into Boromir's mind and he shut his eyes on the vision and bowed his head, unable to help them, unable to help himself.

Then he thought about the hobbits' kinsman, Frodo, and his despair deepened. He remembered with merciless clarity his attack on the defenceless hobbit. Shame burned Boromir and he was glad he would never leave this forest, that he would not ever have to face the consequences of what he had done...

He was cold; a deadly chill had invaded his body and he felt sleepy. He put up a hand to the arrow in his left shoulder and felt the shaft slippery with blood and the black orc fletches sharp as spines. His hand fell back. The pain was not as bad now. He could not feel it. He could not feel anything, only it was so hard to breath; every breath took such effort, it was hardly worthwhile anymore. He could taste blood and wondered suddenly where the orc had gone, and where was Aragorn?

At the thought of Aragorn a flutter of hope stirred in Boromir. For a dazed moment he thought how much Aragorn was like Faramir, how much Aragorn was like a brother. He wished he would come back. He heard a rustle in the leaves and opening his eyes he raised his head with what strength remained to him and looked round.

On this black day he expected no better than to see the great orc coming back to finish him off. But hurrying towards him through the last light of the afternoon sun was Aragorn. As his strength ebbed away Boromir felt hope kindle in him again....