A/N -NEW-: Firstly, I want to apologize to anyone who's been waiting for an update of this story. Things happened and all thoughts of the next chapter were pushed from my mind. So sorry. Secondly, I have been going over past chapters and cleaning them up a bit. It has been pointed out to me I missed a few grammatical and canon errors when I edited the story, after getting it back from my beta. So hopefully now chapter one is correct. I will work on chapters two and three later. Also I was never entirely happy with chapter one. I felt there should be more at the end with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, so I've revised this chapter and added some dialog to it. Nothing has been altered as far as the plot, so you don't have to re-read it if you'd rather just skip to the new material.

My eternal gratitude to Ariel, beta extraordinaire.

Disclaimer: All belongs to master Tolkien, Houghton Mifflin Books, Peter Jackson, New Line Cinema and whoever else the lawyers want to say own a piece of the action.

Feedback both feared and craved


It is said that when a man is near death the events of his life pass before his eyes. However, for Boromir, son of Denethor, all he could see were his failings. As he lay wounded beneath a tall tree, Boromir's mind played back all that had gone wrong in the last few hours of his life. He had failed to save Merry and Pippin from the beasts that now bore them off to a fate he did not know, nor wished to consider. He failed the fellowship by attempting to take the ring from Frodo, and yet failed his father by not succeeding to do so. He disgraced his family's honor by attacking one he had sworn to protect.

The others had warned him. Warned him of the corrupting power of the ring, but he had been too blind to see it until it was too late. He had only intended to speak with Frodo, to try to convince him to let him use the ring against the forces of Mordor. Boromir remembered carrying Frodo from the dark of Moria after Gandalf's fall. He remembered how light he felt in his arms, as though he were no more than a child. However, when Frodo refused him, a rage like none he had ever felt before rose up in him and Boromir used Frodo's small size to his advantage. He attacked, overpowering him and driving that small body to the ground as they struggled for control of the ring. It was only by using the ring's power that Frodo was able to escape. That act had only served to fuel the raging fire that consumed Boromir's soul.

"I see your mind! You will take the ring to Sauron! You will betray us!" He shouted, his normally noble face twisted like a madman. "Curse you! Curse you and all the halflings!"

It was that curse, however, that brought him out from under the ring's spell. As soon as the words had left his lips, his mind flashed back to Merry and Pippin. From the swordplay lesson that had turned into a wrestling match, to the snows of Caradhras, holding one under each arm, carrying them through the deep snow. He remembered Merry's mischievous smile and Pippin's innocent, trusting eyes, and realized that during the two months they had traveled together he had developed a deep affection for the pair. No, he thought, I would sooner wish death upon myself than any harm come to them.

"Frodo? Frodo, what have I done?" He cried out. His voice was shaking from the shame and horror of his actions. "Please, Frodo. Frodo I'm sorry!" However, it was no use. He was nowhere to be found.

Boromir wandered through the forest, half hoping to come upon the ring-bearer, half dreading it. It was then that he heard it: the sounds of a battle being fought. He could hear the clash of sword meeting sword, the clamoring of armor and the grunts and shrieks of the Orcs. Franticly he began running towards them. He had almost reached the battle site when a new set of voices reached his ears and he froze in horror.

"Hey! Hey, you! Over here! Hey, over here!"

No, Merry! What are you doing!

"Hey! This way!" Pippin's voice was like a beacon to him, and he pushed his body harder than he had ever done before, desperately trying to reach them in time.

"It's working!"

Hold on little ones!

"I know it's working! Run!"

I'm almost there!

As Boromir rounded a patch of trees, he saw them. Merry and Pippin were trapped; Orcs were descending on them from all sides. One of the monsters reared back its arm and was about to deliver a fatal blow when Boromir reached them. He grasped the Orc's arm mid swing and drove his sword into it. Taking the weapon from his dead opponent's hand, he quickly buried it into the back of another.

There's too many of them. We cannot hold out here. As soon as he had the chance, he quickly put the Horn of Gondor to his lips and sounded it. Hurry Aragorn, we will not last much longer.

As soon as he had the chance, he quickly put the Horn of Gondor to his lips and sounded it.

"Run!" Boromir called to the frightened hobbits. He stepped in front of another Orc and swiftly dispatched it only to have two more take it's place. Boromir's only thought was to put as much distance between them and the approaching hoard. "Run!" He called again, but Merry and Pippin would no sooner leave Boromir alone in battle than he would leave them. Dropping their swords, they spied a more hobbit like weapon: throwing stones. As all trespassing beasts in the shire knew, if any hobbit stooped for a stone, it was best to get under cover quickly. One after another, the little warriors found their targets and made fast work of them. Boromir was beginning to have hope that they might survive the encounter when it happened.

He did not notice the figure approaching-not until its arrow had buried itself deep in his shoulder. Boromir staggered and dropped to his knees. Time seemed to slow, and the world suddenly lurched to the side, like a ship's deck being tossed by rough waves. Dazed, he drew a ragged breath and looked to where the arrow's shaft protruded from his body. It was difficult for him to tell how bad the injury was, life or death was often decided by less than an inch.

His mind quickly came back into focus as he realized the Orcs were now approaching Merry and Pippin. Gathering all his strength, he launched himself from the ground and buried his sword into three more of them. Boromir turned in time to see the creature ready another arrow and release it. Quickly he brought his sword up and batted the arrow away. More Orcs approached; again and again, Boromir fought them back. His strength was beginning to fail, his arms were like leaded weights and his lungs burned as though he were breathing fire. Again, he saw the Orc prepare to fire, only this time he did not move fast enough. Shifting to his right, he was not able to completely escape the arrow's path and it pierced his arm just above his elbow. The added pain from this new assault, coupled with weakness from blood loss, finally drove Boromir to his knees for good. He watched helplessly as Merry and Pippin were carried off screaming, reaching out to him, looking towards him in desperation and sorrow. Slowly he closed his eyes, and a pain worse than any caused by weapon welled in his heart.

Forgive me. Boromir's soul cried out. Forgive me for failing you, my brothers. Opening his eyes, he saw the creature standing directly in front of him. It was larger and more deadly than a simple Orc. Is this one of the Orc soldiers of Saruman that Gandalf spoke of?

Boromir's soul cried out. Opening his eyes, he saw the creature standing directly in front of him. It was larger and more deadly than a simple Orc.

He saw the rage in its evil eyes that its prey had dared to evade two of its shots. It drew back a final arrow, aimed at Boromir's heart. He knew there would be no escape this time. Boromir took one last breath and stared into the eyes of his assassin, unwilling to give it the satisfaction of showing it his fear. I can at least die with honor. Unable to keep from trembling, he waited for the blow that would end his life. At that moment, Boromir saw movement from the corner of his eye. Aragorn. The arrow was released just as Aragorn reached them. Boromir quickly pushed himself to the side, the arrow missing him by hair's breadth.

Slowly he crawled to the shelter of a tree, resting his back against its base. As he lay on the cold earth, he helplessly listened as Aragorn battled this new breed of Orc. He tried to move, tried to help him, but his body refused to obey his commands. With each new sound, his sense of dread grew. Boromir heard Aragorn give one final yell, and then the thud of a body falling to the ground reached his ears. He closed his eyes and waited; who would he see when he opened them? Would it be the ranger? Or would he again look into the face of death? As footsteps approached, he heard a single word uttered and hope swelled in his heart.

"No."

It was Aragorn. He was alive. Boromir knew there was not time to waste. The Orcs that has taken Merry and Pippin were moving swiftly. Aragorn and the others had to be quick if they were to catch them.

"They took the little ones!" he cried as Aragorn knelt by his side.

"Hold still." Aragorn began examining Boromir's wounds, trying to determine the extent of his injuries.

As he watched Aragorn's hands move over his chest, Boromir had a sudden flash of panic. The ring! "Frodo, where is Frodo?" he asked, fearing what Aragorn would say.

"I let Frodo go."

"Then you did what I could not." Relief flooded Boromir's mind. At least the ring is still safe.

"Leave it." He pleaded as Aragorn moved to work on the arrow imbedded in his shoulder. "You must follow the Orcs. You cannot let harm come to Merry and Pippin."

"We cannot leave you unprotected. You are too weak, too badly injured to defend yourself if attacked again."

"They were not after me. Once they had the halflings I meant nothing to them." Boromir was desperate. The more time Aragorn wasted on him, the greater the danger to the hobbits. "You must save them. Aragorn please, do not let my failure be complete."

"No Boromir, you did not fail. You fought bravely. You have kept you honor."

"No," Boromir felt his face grow hot with shame, "I attacked Frodo. I tried to take the ring. Forgive me, I did not see."

"I know. Frodo told me as much. He said that the ring had taken you. He cast no blame on you Boromir, nor do I. The ring is beyond our reach now. It will call to you no longer. Now keep still, I need to stop the bleeding."

Aragorn pulled a small knife from his belt and began to cut Boromir's clothing away from the arrow. Wiping the blood from around the wound Aragorn's fingers gently traced along the veins where his skin had been pierced. Satisfied that no major vessels had been hit, nor any serious internal damage done he let a small smile cross his lips. "You were lucky. Had the arrow struck you even a fraction of an inch to the right I doubt I would be able to help."

Legolas and Gimli had joined them by then. While the dwarf ran for the pack containing their healing herbs and supplies Legolas knelt by his side. Whispering reassurances softly, he placed his hand on Boromir's chest near the arrow. Boromir could feel a sense of calm wash over him, the frantic pounding in his chest slowed to a more normal rate.

"I promise you Boromir," Aragorn said, looking intently into Boromir's eyes, "We will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death. We will follow the Orcs' trail." Boromir cried out in pain as Aragorn swiftly pulled the arrow out. "After we have treated your injuries."

Boromir said nothing further as Aragorn and Legolas administered to him. When Aragorn removed the second arrow, he was better prepared for the pain and merely drew a sharp breath. Once they felt satisfied moving him would not cause more damage they helped him to his feet, and slowly they made their way back to camp. Gimli had built a fire and was heating water to clean the wounds and Aragorn set aside a small amount into which he added various herbs. He brought the mixture to Boromir and held it up to his lips.

"Drink. It will help you regain your strength."

Boromir forced down the bitter draught without complaint. He wanted them to stop fussing about him and be on their way as soon as possible.

"Aragorn," Legolas began. "Frodo and Sam have already reached the eastern shore. Should we not follow them?"

Boromir froze. Legolas was right, their main concern should be aiding the ring-bearer to reach Mordor. But how could they even consider leaving Merry and Pippin to the mercy of their captors?

"Frodo and Sam must continue the journey alone," Aragorn answered after a moment. "This was Frodo's choice. He feared the Ring would corrupt us each in turn." Boromir flinched at that, and wondered if Aragorn intended reveal his shame. But he merely continued. "Frodo's last request of me was to look after the others, especially Sam. With Sam following him, our responsibility now rests with rescuing Frodo's kin."

"And what of our responsibility to Boromir?" Gimli asked gruffly. "He is in no shape to pursue the Orcs. Are we to just leave him here unprotected?"

"I can care for myself," Boromir insisted. "I have suffered worse injuries before. I've been a soldier all my life, I know how to survive while injured."

"I know you do laddie." Gimli leaned forward and clasped Boromir's good shoulder. "But the land has grown more perilous in recent days." He appeared to be deep in thought for a moment, then finally spoke. "I will stay with you."

"No, you must go," he said, propping himself up into a sitting position. "Gimli, you are one of the fiercest warriors I have ever encountered. If there is to be any hope to save the Hobbits, you must go with them."

"Boromir is right." All eyes turned to Aragorn as he spoke. "The Orcs numbers are too great. We must stay together if we are to succeed. Gimli, Legolas, go through our packs. Take only what we need, we must travel light." Aragorn then knelt at Boromir's side. "Boromir, I know you would accompany if us if you could, but you are too weakened by your wounds to keep up. The arrows were not poisoned, so as long as you keep the wounds clean and rest as often as it is safe, you should recover quickly."

Boromir leaned back and watched as the three prepared to leave. They took only weapons, water and lembas, leaving all else at the camp. At last, Aragorn approached him caring two packs.

"I'm leaving you some of the athelas plant," Aragorn began. "Crush some into warm water and bathe the wounds twice a day with it. Also, I have filled a water skin with the draught I made earlier. Try to drink as much of it as you can." He placed the supplies at Boromir's side. "You must try to keep your arm still. Any jarring movements could cause the wounds to reopen. Were the road ahead of you safer, I would bind your arm to your side, but I fear you may need both to defend yourself."

"I understand Aragorn. I will rest here a while longer, and then be on my way." Boromir replied. His voice showed no sign of emotion.

"Where will you go?"

"I will make my way to Minas Tirith. There are a few scattered villages between here and the White City. I will seek shelter and aid from them."

"Good." Aragorn nodded "The first settlement you encounter, stay there as long as you need." Aragorn stood and looked into his friend's eyes. Gone was the dark and haunted look that he had seen so often in the later days of the fellowship. However, what he saw now disturbed him even more. An emptiness had taken possession of Boromir now, giving him the appearance of one already dead.

"Boromir," Aragorn called over his shoulder as he prepared to depart, "it was not you. The ring took hold of you. Even Frodo understood that."

Boromir watched as the three remaining members of the fellowship departed. Laying his head back, he felt a single tear fall. "No Aragorn, not all of it was the ring. A part of it was me. And that," he said softly, "is what frightens me most of all."