Title: Cold

Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FrodoAtBagEnd)

E-mail: frodoatbagend@yahoo.com

Characters: Frodo, Sam, Faramir, others

Rating: PG (A bit dark, no profanity, no sex, non-slash)

Summary: Frodo's encounter with one of the Nine in Osgiliath proves ill for him, and Sam and Faramir find themselves working together in spite of themselves.

Feedback: Welcomed. Constructive only, please. . .no flaming.

Story Notes: Movieverse-based , though this then turns and deviates from the movie. Yes, I prefer book canon over the movie, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the movie or the plot bunnies. ;) The closeness and relationships described between Boromir and Faramir are, however, based very closely upon the books themselves, and the information which Tolkien provides there concerning these brothers. And yes, spoilers included.

Dedicated to Baranduin and Claudia.

Chapter Five: Faramir

The little one sleeps, nestled in every warming-stone and blanket I can find in which to wrap him. His servant sits at his side like a faithful guard-dog, one of the mastiffs in the city trained to watch over his master, baring dangerous teeth at anyone who might so much as potentially annoy the owner. I, however, seem to have been accorded conditional approval for providing appropriate warmth and nourishment, though some clear mistrust remains.

And who can blame him in that? For I did, after all, take him, and his master, against their will, allowing my men to treat them as we might have any of the Southron spies, pushing them at a pace which, I now realise, is harsh but not inhumane for men, but must have been torturous for such small bodies.

I did indeed have to take them, to question them.

But I did not have to speak so harshly to them once questions began to be answered.

My father would have been proud, and that thought sickens me. I do wish to please him, particularly now. . .but. . .at what price?

That was one of Boromir's better qualities: he was naturally our father's favoured child, and more like him, yet never would he alter a decision or change his path simply to please Denethor. It was fortunate that they agreed upon most things, for the stubbornness which now haunts my steps is a quality which runs in our blood.

My father might be proud, but I am not. I am ashamed. . .ashamed of treating such small creatures so roughly when there was no need; ashamed of threatening this tiny person, scarcely as tall as my sword's length; ashamed of dragging him by the hand and thrusting him into an antechamber of sorts, of shoving him against the wall and ordering him to stay as one might order a dog, instead of realising that he was very ill.

The matter with the Nazgul was my doing.

It was my fault.

Had I swiftly taken him up, called to the others, we could have run for the stair, and taken refuge below, here, from the start. He needed to be carried to bed and calmed, given stimulants to steady his heart and quiet him, not allowed to wander. . .I dare not think what bruises may result from my actions, and I have had my men pack plenty of cloth for soft padding, bandages and a bit of the arnica cream prepared by the Healers for tending to such injuries.

I have ever considered myself the less hasty one, regretting it in the same thought, for Boromir always seemed bold and courageous, swift and strong, where I seemed to lag behind in comparison, grateful for his patience with me.

If I have treated these little ones thus. . .

I cannot bear to think of what must have happened between Boromir and the bearer of Isildur's Bane.

My brother was not ungentle. . .but he was proud, and very strong.

Holding back a sigh, I rise and turn to the table near the fire, beginning to slice a bit of bread for toasting. Wine-sops are less suitable, perhaps, for one so ill, but we have no milk, and I would rather see him take something more solid than broth before turning him on his way, into that darkness where he insists he must go. And this will be more bracing than bread simply sliced and offered as it is.

Perhaps Gondor will, without this weapon, fall to the Enemy.

Perhaps we almost did.

The Enemy may be everywhere, Mithrandir once told me, and not least within ourselves, if we look not to the guarding of our hearts.

Some few paces away, Frodo stirs in his sleep, whimpering softly, one tiny hand emerging from the covers to seek the chain about his neck. . .and his companion swiftly shushes him tenderly, one hand reaching to cup the Ringbearer's, the other to stroke his brow with a fresh compress.

Pouring the heated wine into a shallow bowl, I add a bit of mulling-spice, then break the toasted bread into small pieces, dropping each bit into the warm mixture as I work.

My last gift to you, little one.

Perhaps Mithrandir was right. Even the smallest things may fell the mighty, and the world be undone by things no larger than a fingertip.

And that which seems but a small and passing thing may make all the difference in the world.

~the end~