Rating: G
Summary: A one-shot dealing with the scene in The Two Towers where Sam, Frodo and Faramir go their separate ways.
Feedback: Constructive criticism is welcome. I attempt to keep as close to book canon as possible. Ideas on how to improve in this area are particularly welcome.
Disclaimer: The places, situations and characters of The Lord of the Rings belong to the Tolkien Estate. This work contains no original characters. No money is being made from this work.
Author's Note: I am more indebted to Tolkien than usual.  Selections from this story are directly taken from The Two Towers.  These will be indicated by italics.  An * indicates sections that are phrases from Tolkien (both TTT and RoTK) placed in a different context.

"The Parting"

They stood under the boughs of the woods again. No noise of the falls could be heard, for a long southward slope lay now between them and the ravine in which the stream flowed. To the west they could see light through the trees, as if the world came there to a sudden end, at a brink looking out only on to sky.

Sam narrowed his eyes and looked directly at the light beyond the forest. A change was come over him; the desire to linger was not strong. The times were not few, after setting out from Imladris, when the desire to tarry had seized Sam. Not to turn back, for there was no chance of Frodo turning back, and in the end, he was where Frodo was, but to merely stay.  Of course, the desire to move forward again always returned to Samwise, and although he had these moments of hesitation, he never let Frodo know about them, and would often, in fact, urge Frodo onward.  They had been lucky that the desire to linger had never taken both of them at the same time.

The option of lingering, remaining hidden from the dangers of Middle-Earth under the auspices of needing food or rest or protection for extraordinary dangers, was hard to turn down.  Yet it was an option Samwise had turned down again and again.  He knew as well as Frodo that the Ring had to be destroyed; he understood that battle would rage, victory of good forces would be nearly worthless, and a shadow would be ever present unless Frodo fufilled his charge.

Yet, the simple fact remainded that fufilling his charge was likely to put Mr. Frodo in a more than considerable amount of danger, which was exactly what Sam felt duty-bound to prevent.  The times when Sam wanted to linger were the times when he was overwhelmed, the times when he felt the only way to keep Mr. Frodo safe was to stay in a sanctuary, for the rest of time, if necessary. As he reasoned, he could convince him to stay a day, and then two days, and then a third to recover from their hunger, and so on, for as long as was necessary.

Working out the best ways to keep Frodo shielded from the evil that Arda had to offer occupied most of Sam's time in thought. The pleasant atmosphere in Henneth Annun had allowed him to think calmly and deeply on these affairs. Without knowing it, he had allowed one of the two instructions that had been waging war without ceasing in his mind since Elrond's fair dwelling to emerge victorious. Perhaps it was seeing evil taint the tranquility of Ithilien, but at long last, Sam fully and finally conceded to himself that he had to keep Mr. Frodo safe, but not at the cost of impeding his progress toward the most dangerous place in Middle-Earth.  He pushed the desire to linger away forever.  Never would he be seduced by it again, even for a passing moment.

'Here is the last parting of our ways,' said Faramir. 'If you take my counsel, you will not turn eastward yet.

Frodo, son of Drogo, if you truly would take my counsel, you would remove from the path to Cirith Ungol, and you would share more deeply the suspicion of Samwise, son of Hamfast, of your questionable guide,' thought Denethor's youngest son.

Faramir did not believe that these hobbits had come to him by mere chance, but he had lain awake many nights pondering how deeply he was meant to intervene with them. He had provided them proper meals and peaceful rest, but was that to be the extent of it?

The path that their guide was going to lead them down had darkness at its end. Not doom, not that Faramir could sense, at any rate, but a cold, choking darkness from which Faramir could not forsee escape. Perhaps that was merely Mordor itself that he felt, but he did not think this to be the case. Again, he put himself to the question: had these hobbits come to him so that he could relieve them of the burden of the Gollum-creature and place them on a safer and more prudent path to Mount Doom?

He again arrived at the same answer: as far as matters of Isildur's Bane were concerned, undue intercession was not wise. What little Frodo knew of the Ring's previous bearers, he had woven together. It was evident to Faramir that the Ring somehow tried to manipulate not only its bearers, but those around its bearers. Knowing the Ring to be a work of Sauron, Faramir reasoned that these manipulations were toward an evil end. Therefore, the best service he could do Frodo and Sam, who seemed resistant, in a way, to the thing, would be to let them follow the couse of action they agreed upon between themselves. He could not be positive that any intervention on his part would not be affected, even in the slightest, by Isildur's Bane. Theirs was a path beyond his control and sight.

During his thought, his eyes had been drawn toward the light. He was still, almost carven, and the breeze did not seem to touch his face with proud bones and ivory skin, nor disturb his dark hair. He was kingly, beautiful, powerful, and seemed older than his years.*

Frodo gazed upon him and was reminded much more of Aragorn than Boromir.* He felt kindred with Faramir, and despaired that he would likely never have the chance to speak with him again. Frodo suspected he would have been able to learn much from this man. When Faramir once again made eye contact with the two of them, Frodo gave him a warm smile.

Samwise did not imitate Frodo in this regard. His look was surprisingly penetrating.

'You have seen my internal debate, Samwise, and you know, somehow, that the idea of forcibly altering your path crossed my mind, however fleetingly, thought Faramir.  'I was foolish to denigrate your wit, for you see deeply in your way as well.'

Resolved, Faramir continued. 'Go straight on, for thus you will have the cover of the woodland for many miles. On your west is an edge where the land falls into the great vales, sometimes suddenly and sheer, sometimes in long hillsides. Keep near to this edge and the skirts of the forest. In the beginning of your journey you may walk under daylight, I think. The land dreams in a false peace, and for a while all evil is withdrawn. Fare you well, while you may!'

Thus did Faramir let them go, and there was goodwill all around at their parting.