Summary: Merry introduces himself to Boromir. Among the subjects they discuss are maps and battles. Pippin and Gimli make very short appearances.
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Merry and Pippin had quickly come to the conclusion that they were the least-informed members of the Fellowship, and they speedily went about devising a plan to increase their awareness. Chief among their goals was to learn about those in the Fellowship that they did not know well. Both had become better acquainted with Legolas the Elf during their stay in Rivendell, but Gimli the Dwarf and Boromir, the other man, remained elusive to them. Merry told Pippin to go introduce himself to Gimli, and he would introduce himself to Boromir.
"There's something I have to ask him anyway," said Merry, twiddling the buttons on his waistcoat.
"As you wish," replied Pippin, who went off to locate Gimli.
Boromir was cleaning his gear as Merry approached. Even sitting, he was a great man in stature. Merry had heard whispers of this man's renown in battle, and though he wore no visible symbols of these triumphs, his valor and honor were easily sensed, and Merry was glad that he was with the Fellowship. Though he seemed to be giving full attention to his shield, he was obviously aware of his surroundings, because he looked up, and then down, at Merry when the hobbit was still a few paces from him.
"You aren't too terribly busy? I mean, have you the time to talk, you see, I wouldn't wish to disturb you..." stuttered Merry. This was not exactly the impression the Brandybuck, who was usually quick with speech, wished to convey. Merry was surprised by how easily a smile came to Boromir's face and at the chuckle that issued forth from his lips. "Not at all, little one. I would enjoy the company."
Reminding himself to discuss the usage of the phrase "little one" at a later time, Merry hoisted himself onto the boulder next to Boromir. The man looked surprised that he was able to do it without aid. Taking a deep breath, Merry began that which he had rehearsed: "I have been developing an interest in maps during my time in Rivendell, and I have heard tell that your journey there involved roads that are not commonly used. Might you tell me about your path, and about the maps that you used to decide upon it?"
Boromir had certainly not been expecting this query. Then again, he really didn't know what to expect from any of these halflings, did he? He was certainly more than happy to answer the question, and took no small pleasure in the halfling's comment that the maps in Minas Tirith sounded more detailed than the ones he had been given access to while in the house of Elrond. This discussion led to another on cartography; Merry apparently wished to rework some of the maps of his homeland upon returning. While having never made a proper map himself, with drawings and color, Boromir was certainly skilled in pacing out distances, determining the relationship of objects to each other, and orienting landmarks to the stars. He had Merry practice some pacing (which turned out to be complicated by the sheer magnitude of difference between his pace and the hobbit's), which he did very well.
"You learn quickly, Master Brandybuck," said Boromir, genuinely meaning his compliment, "you would be an excellent mind in battle, I think."
"I think," said the hobbit, "that while I am most honored by your compliment, that it is also one of the most preposterous things I have ever heard. I am afraid that I do not have the stomach for battle, as I would much rather smoke my pipe and perhaps look at a book. I'm sorry to disappoint you."
"Your people are not overly pretty with words, and that is an admirable trait," said Boromir, with complete sincerity. "I hold to my assessment though, and I am certainly more knowledgeable in what makes a good mind in battle than you are." Here he winked. "I hope our path is free of battle, but if battle we must meet, do not discount wholly the chance that you might surprise yourself," he said.
"I promise that I will not do so," replied Merry.
A glance in the direction of Pippin and Gimli strongly suggested that Gloin's son had been able to get perhaps a word or two in edgewise during his conversation with the young Took. Surrender was in his face, and he did not even try to respond verbally anymore; he just nodded.
"Pardon me, Master Boromir," said Merry, "but I must go and save Master Dwarf from Pippin. He's a good lad, of course, or else I would not have let him come and had him sent back to the Shire (Boromir laughed here again), but he talks much. As I once did as well. At a later time?" He did not wait for Boromir's reply of, "It would please me," before dashing over to Pippin and Gimli.
Continuing to work on his shield, Boromir did not feel that it was necessary to hide his bemused smile. He had never understood why others were so quick to deny that they had the potential to be brave, honorable, and steady-minded in a pressure situation. He had seen the same look time and again on the faces of his men in the aftermath of battle: sheer disbelief that they had done great things.
'It is a pity,' thought Boromir, 'that most Men feel great things are beyond their reach, and are content to leave the greatest deeds to men who are merely called 'great.' I am certain that there was a time where such was not the case, and that must have been a glorious time indeed!' Numenor was not on his mind as he thought this; if battle had taught him one thing it was that the spear that saved his life could come from the hands of one whose blood ran nearly true to Westernesse—or one whose blood did not.
He looked up. Merry had plates for supper under one arm, was dragging Frodo by the other, was telling Sam exactly what quantities of which food to cook, and explaining something or another to Pippin. "I see these things well," murmured Boromir, "and I am right about this halfling." Putting his weapons away properly, he rose for a bit to eat.