Title: Fate Spares Him For Some Other End
Rating: PG-13 for a few gruesome images
Characters: Boromir, Faramir
Categories: Angst, Drama
Summary: Caught alone in the wilderness, the sons of Denethor are suddenly attacked by a band of orcs, leaving one brother gravely wounded and the other to ensure his survival.
Disclaimer: Boromir and Faramir are Tolkien's. The situation is mine.
Author's Note: I'm back! Sorry for the delay, but believe me – a broken elbow was not in my plans when I started this story, nor was learning how to write with my left hand (a difficult, but not impossible task).
This is dedicated with love to all who have reviewed thus far, even after my considerable absence. Your encouragement was greatly appreciated! I think your reviews even helped me to heal faster! Thank you all! A special thanks goes out to Evendim for helping me with a dialogue problem I ran into. And also to my sister who kept asking me when I was going to "get back to work." Well, sis, here it is.
Fate Spares Him For Some Other End
Chapter Four – Complications
The sudden, panicked cry shattered the uneasy stillness of the night, startling the solitary figure huddled next to the small, flickering fire. Boromir jerked his head to his left where his brother lay sleeping and saw the wounded man's pale face contort into a mask of pure terror. Before he could stretch his arm out and awaken him, however, Faramir cried out again, louder this time, "No! Boromir! BOROMIR!"
"Shhh, it is all right, Faramir," the elder brother soothed, placing one gloved hand carefully on the other's chest and gently smoothing the dark hair back from his forehead with the other, a comforting gesture as well as a practical one as it kept the restless head still. He frowned slightly upon seeing how damp the young man's hair had become in the short time that had passed since he had last checked him. Despite the disturbing find, he continued to utter a stream of reassurances, his deep voice calm and even. "It was just a dream. Wake up, little brother. Do not let your dreams haunt you. I am here. Shhh, shhh, it is all right. Wake up, Faramir. Wake up."
But Faramir seemed unable to hear his calming words and let out another horrible cry as he attempted to sit up, heedless of his wounded shoulder, his upper body surging up so abruptly that he nearly knocked Boromir off balance. The other man held his position, though, and firmly grasping the upper arms of the struggling man, he managed to press him back onto the abandoned blanket. "Faramir!" he called sharply, fear beginning to overshadow his previous shock. "Open your eyes! Wake up!"
Finally, the young man's eyes flew open, the gray depths wide and unfocused. He stared up at his brother blankly as Boromir spoke to him, but it was several long, anxious moments before he was able to shake off the residual effects of the nightmare that had gripped him and managed to focus on the older man. "Boromir?" he whispered, gazing up at him in disbelief.
"Yes, it is I," he replied softly, squeezing his right shoulder.
"But…but you were…I saw – " Faramir gasped, his voice stammering as he slowly lifted his shaking right hand up to Boromir's face, as if to be certain that what he was seeing was indeed real. "The arrow…you were wounded and I – I – "
Boromir flinched inwardly as the hot hand touched his face, his sharp mind instantly perceiving the reason for its unnatural warmth. Fever, it whispered warningly, but he pushed the thought aside to deal with the present; he had to calm his brother before he could examine him further. He placed his own hand over his brother's and held it tightly to his cheek. "It was just a dream, Faramir. That is all. Nothing but a dream."
"But it felt so real," he shuddered, eyes still wide with fear. "The arrow pierced you and you were bleeding but there was so much blood and I could not – " As Faramir's words tumbled over one another, he grew agitated and attempted to rise a second time, though he quickly abandoned the idea as the raw, gaping hole in his shoulder flared to life. With a sharp cry of pain, he slumped back and closed his eyes, his dark eyelashes a vast contrast against his blanched skin.
As Faramir's left hand grasped at the blanket that covered him and tried to ride out the sudden wave of pain, Boromir clutched his little brother's hand in his own larger one. A small part of him could not help but feel relief – for the pain, terrible as it was, had served to shock the young man into stillness and silence…and hopefully, awareness. The pain slowly diminished, and when the young man was finally able to open his eyes and meet his brother's, there was naught in them but a lingering pain. The fear, terror, and disorientation had all fled, leaving behind only a pair of weary gray eyes.
"It was a dream, was it not?" The soft words were spoken more as a statement than a question.
"And you…" Faramir hesitated slightly, nervously picking at the blanket with his left hand. "You are well?"
He nodded, smiling slightly. "I am fine, brother. You, however, were not so fortunate."
"So it seems," Faramir replied mildly, looking off to his right to gaze at the yellow and orange flames of the fire, the dancing flames casting shadows over his fair features.
Ah, brother, you have become more adept at the use of non-answers in my absence, Boromir thought wryly and then repeated his thoughts aloud with a smirk.
"I have learned much while you were away," came the simple reply.
"Yes, so it seems," Boromir repeated, attempting to, and succeeding in bringing forth a small smile upon the other's face. "Now," he said briskly, "Let us get some water into you, eh?" As he searched for the closest water skin, he nonchalantly pulled off the thick gloves that had warmed his hands as the night had grown cooler. I should not have been wearing them at all, he silently berated himself as he eased a hand under Faramir's neck and helped him to drink. As soon as his hand touched his brother's bare skin, he knew that what he had feared most had come to pass.
Faramir had a fever.
As if shock and blood loss were not enough to battle, now he has to suffer through a fever as well. If only I had not worn the gloves…If only I had noticed this sooner…His eyes closed as a heavy sigh escaped him.
"Boromir? What is the matter?"
The soft voice drew him from his self-scathing thoughts, and it was then that he realized that Faramir had pushed the water skin away and was peering up at him, a concerned look upon his pale face. For a few brief moments, his resolve wavered, and uncertainty flooded him. Should he tell Faramir the truth and risk the chance of worrying him further? Or should he be completely honest, as he himself would liked to be treated, if he were in his brother's place? In the end, he could not bring himself to look into those familiar gray eyes and lie, even if it was to comfort him. "You have a fever, Faramir," he sighed.
Faramir looked up at him, his gaze unwavering. "Yes, I am aware of that. Is that what is bothering you so?"
"What? You…you knew that…" Boromir stammered, momentarily too stunned to complete an entire sentence. He swallowed, took a deep breath, and tried again. "You knew you had a fever and you said nothing? Did you plan on informing me of this any time soon?" his voice rose steadily as he spoke.
"I saw no reason to worry you. You fuss, Boromir," the young man interrupted, seeing Boromir's mouth open in protest and deciding it best to keep speaking without letting his brother make a sound. "You have always fussed over me, dear brother, especially whenever I was sick with fever as a child. But I am not a child, and I will not have you treating me as such!"
Those frustrated words struck a chord deep within the soldier's heart, words that unknowingly echoed the exact same ones that he had spoke to his first field commander. The man had purposefully sheltered him from all of the mundane tasks and assignments that encompassed Army life, naively thinking he was doing the young Steward's Heir a favor by sparing him from tasks that he felt were 'below his station in life.' When he had figured out what was happening and why, he had immediately confronted the officer about it and saw that it was changed. He had had no wish to be coddled, either.
On the heels of that memory, though, came another darker one. He shivered, remembering that it was only three days later that he had been wounded in battle for the first time, a grievous sword wound that had nearly killed him…at the tender age of seventeen…the same age that Faramir was now.
He cleared his throat, barely suppressing a second shiver at the painful memories that had surfaced and at the uneasiness stirring within. "I know that you are not a child, but you will always be my little brother, and as such, it is my right – no, my privilege – to worry over your health and welfare. A fever is not something to be trifled with," he said sternly, "even if it seems unimportant at the time. Do you understand?"
Faramir stubbornly refused to admit that he might have been mistaken. "Boromir, I may not be as experienced a soldier as you, but even I know that when a man is wounded and loses blood, he is bound to catch fever." He paused for a moment to catch his breath, his weary body spent from the short but spirited conversation. "Surely you know this as well as I."
"Of course I know." Now he was the one to look away, preferring to look at the ground rather than at his brother's understanding face. "It is just that I…I had hoped that you…" his voice trailed off into the night.
"…that I would not be afflicted?"
Boromir's gaze snapped up to Faramir as his brother finished the sentence that he himself had not the heart to speak. Faramir's steady, penetrating eyes stared directly into his own, as if peering into his very soul. The expression in their smokey depths…I have seen that look before, I am sure of it, Boromir thought in the brief pause that his brother took to study him. But who was it? He sat still and watched as understanding finally dawned on the young man's face.
"You cannot protect me from everything, Boromir," he said softly, his voice filled with sadness, sounding older and wiser than his years. "Remember that. It is not a fair burden for you to place upon yourself."
Silence settled over the camp once again, the snapping and popping of the fire strangely loud in the absence of words as each man sat quietly engulfed in his own thoughts. Boromir turned his gaze to the fire, absently staring into the swaying flames as he considered Faramir's words. He is right, he grudgingly admitted to himself after a time. I cannot protect him all the time…but that does not mean that I cannot try. And I will not give up any time soon. He is still so young, and, whether he believes it or not, he does need my help. He is just too stubborn to realize it. We are too much alike, he and I. A smile flashed across his face as that last thought floated through his mind.
And yet…How can one so young sound so wise? he caught himself wondering, recalling all that had been said. I know that I was gone for a long while, but it seems as if he has aged ten years instead of two. What has his life been like these last few years? Shifting his attention back to the form beside him, he began to speak, but found that he had waited too long, for the younger man had fallen asleep, his mouth slightly open in slumber, an endearing habit he had maintained from the craddle.
The north wind blew suddenly, sending a gust of frigid air through the camp that seemed to slash through Boromir as surely as a knife, sinking hundreds of icy blades into his flesh. He ignored the dark hair that was blown into his eyes as he quickly pulled the blankets up to his brother's chin, carefully tucking the loose ends under the still body to keep the wind from ripping them off and attacking the wounded man beneath.
Finally satisfied, he leaned back, shivering from the cold, and wrapped his spare cloak tighter around his own body in a vain attempt to keep warm. "I should have brought more blankets," he muttered under his breath, tucking his bare hands under his arms and eyeing the thick leather gloves longingly, but refusing to put them on. "Who would have thought it would be this cold at this time of year?" He had had the foresight to bring along an extra blanket in addition to his own, but had given both of them to Faramir earlier, as well as the saddle blanket he had taken from his horse, which left him with nothing but his clothes and his cloak…and his gloves. He had tried to give them to Faramir too, but he had blatantly refused them, saying that his hands were warm enough beneath the two blankets that covered him. But after earlier…Boromir could not bring himself to wear them, no matter how cold the night would become. He would be fine, a little chilled perhaps, but he had endured worse weather than this during the previous winter in Ithilien.
Faramir, though…being wounded and trapped in the wilderness was never a good place to find oneself, even for an experienced Ranger with plenty of supplies. But they had lost half of their things when Faramir's mount had been killed, the poor animal having taken an arrow directly to the throat only moments after Boromir had grabbed Faramir. There had been no time to retrieve anything from the dying horse during the attack. In truth, it had been the furthest thing from his mind.
Cold weather. Little supplies. And now this fever…He shook his head as he listed off their problems. Worried did not even begin to describe his current feelings. While Faramir spoke the truth about a fever being normal in his case, the Steward's Heir could not help but feel that something was amiss, though he could not put that feeling into words or adequately explain the reasoning behind it. It was simply that – a feeling. Nothing more.
Or so he kept reminding himself.
I hate having to stay here with Faramir exposed to this kind of weather, he thought, shivering as another gust of frigid wind blew through the camp, causing the small fire to flicker ominously and threaten to go out. But it is too dangerous to move him. His wounds have barely stopped bleeding, and he is so weak from blood lose. If I moved him now in his condition, I could kill him. Besides, the horse is nearly exhausted from the battle and from carrying the both of us away to safety. And he would not be able to see in this wretched darkness. If he tripped, and Faramir fell…He shifted his position on the cold, hard ground, pressing his long legs to his chest, wrapping his arms around them, and laying his chin upon his knees. No, we have no other choice but to remain here for the night and to deal with whatever it might bring.
(Sooner than last time, I promise.)