Author's Beginning Note Thingy: If anyone even reads these… (I admit, I usually don't. --;;;) I absolutely do NOT own any of these characters, and should the opportunity arise for me to ever be allowed to purchase a Tolkien character, it would be Haldir, not Boromir, Sam, Gollum, Shelob, or Frodo. Uhh, right, that said… I am NOT, repeat, NOT IMPLYING ANYTHING between these two. I HATE Lord of the Rings slash. All other slash, however, is OK! - Enjoy.
It was surprising, that now, of all times, he thought of all the hobbits in The Shire, living merrily in their holes, so completely unaware of all the troubles in the world. He realized why he related to them in such a way now, and found, also to his surprise that it was not bitterness that filled his heart because of it, but almost a sense of contemplative pity. A realization of something he'd never seen portrayed so blatantly to him before, and though he wished no ill fate upon them, he also resented their ignorance… There they were, cozy and safe in their homeland, blissfully unaware of anything beyond the borders of the farthing in which they lived, or sometimes even the borders of their own towns… they knew nothing of sadness, despair… they called their petty skirmishes over who got the last pint of ale anger, and they called a stubbed toe on a protruding tree-root pain. But they didn't know pain… not pain as he felt right now.
He wished they never would. All the sweet, smiling children… he hoped they would never feel that pain as he did, a sharp stinging, deep down, jabbing at his heart, though it originated by his neck. A sickly hotness spread out from it, encircling his body and eventually making it go numb, as he slumped forward and allowed himself to be caught by the hideous legs of the creature above him.
But they would experience pain… and suffering. They would be tortured and beaten. Executed, just as he had foreseen in the Lady's mirror… all because he was careless, in his joy at coming to the end of this long, darkened tunnel, foul smelling and wet, careless enough to let himself run, without looking where he was running to. He had run blindly, straight into the clutches of the accursed spider that he'd managed to avoid for so long. He had failed his quest. It was over.
Barely conscious, he still had reason enough to know that even though this immense shadow that now held his fate in it's clawed fingers would not be interested in a thin band of gold hanging loosely about his neck, that even though it would probably be consumed along with him, and taken in to burn a hole in it's stinking belly, he had failed. He had no hope now. He heard, faintly beyond the haze, the shrieking of Gollum. He had betrayed them, and along with his shrill yells, he heard Sam screaming as well. Screaming in pain.
There was no comfort for him now. No glimmering thread of hope to hang onto as he fell into the dark abyss. He was dead, dying, and if Sam managed to fight off the stealthy creature that had led them this far into the mazelike cave, he would not be able to change a thing about the gigantic beast that now blocked the way. He had doomed Middle Earth to its terrible fate. A fate that he never truly thought that he, one small hobbit of Bag End, could actually manage to change. The darkness deepened, and Frodo gave way to exhaustion, and closed his eyes, never again expecting to wake…
From the bottom up, feeling began to return. Feeling of something hard and cold beneath him. It felt like stone, not the same stone of the cave, however it was not filthy and uneven, it was smooth, and felt clean to the touch of his palms. His body felt so heavy, and he could not yet muster the strength to open his eyes, or even lift a finger from the floor that was now chilling his skin.
He waited what he meant to be a moment, but felt like eternity. He was comfortable, in some strange way, on the bare hard floor, it felt suddenly like his feather bed in his own home, but he knew it was impossible. He was delirious, having visions from a fever. But if he had a fever, then he must be alive… but he had thought for sure that…
Frodo pushed those thoughts aside, and tried to be rational. Something had hit him, and his neck still stung painfully in the place that it had. That accursed spider, Shelob… though he could find little memory of anything else in his head. He slowly lifted his hand, sliding his arm over and touching the spot. But he felt no blood, no space or opening, no wound on his body where he was sure one should be.
Slowly he forced his eyelids to rise, looking around as best he could without turning his head. His neck was still stiff. The room was pure white. Marble, he guessed, inlayed with silver and pearl, twining it's way around the treelike pillars, up to the ceiling where it impersonated a night sky, and then back down to the floor spreading beneath his feet like vines, and forming into the shapes of leaves and flowers. Runes he couldn't make out or understand lined the walls, verses and tales from old languages, lost and long forgotten.
He was in a long, endless hallway, it was shining, immaculate and clean, as if no soul had trodden on it's slippery floors since it's creation, if it even was created. It didn't seem to him that this place could have a beginning and an end, a start and a finish. It was endless, as endless as time.
He slowly got up onto his shaky feet, his knees wobbled as he took a few unsure steps. Where was he? Hadn't he just been in the dark pits of Mordor? What was this new place he'd been transported to? He looked down at himself. His clothes were new, clean and new. No frayed threads, no tattered cuffs and collars, no scuffmarks or stains of dirt and sweat covering their white fabric… and he was clean, too. Besides the pain and slight stiffness in his neck, he was unhurt. Shaken and nervous, but unhurt.
Quickly, he inspected himself in all the places he could remember feeling pain. No cut on his face, no wound on his neck. No bruises on his arms and legs, no scrapes on his hands and knees. The only thing of note he could find was the distinctive, and ghostly pale scar on his shoulder, long and thin from the Witch King's blade.
Where am I…? He thought, gazing around, then found himself speaking it aloud to the emptiness, his voice echoing, "Where am I?"
Somehow, he thought he could hear an answer, but it was faint and he could not make it out. He shook his head. He must be dreaming, this can't be real… "Where are you?" He found himself calling out, "Who are you…?"
The voice became clearer, and he was now sure that it came from behind him. He spun on his heel, almost losing his balance by forgetting that his stance was still shaky. He caught himself, stumbling back slightly, then straightening, his dark eyes wide as they stared into light. It was pure, colorless, yet he saw it and could tell it was there. He felt that he could reach out and touch it, and that it would be solid if he did so, but he dared not move.
Slowly, the formless pool began to take shape into the figure of a man. He was tall, well built. Colors began to fill in the empty space. Dark gray eyes, straight brown hair, dark in hue as well, extending to broad shoulders. His cloth seemed like that of royalty. The man was wearing a long, sleeveless jacket made of black leather, tied shut in front where it bore an image of a white tree. Beneath it, he wore a deep navy blue tunic, long-sleeved, with silver trim at the collar. On his arms he wore light metal gauntlets, engraved with stars and moons. At his hip was a broadsword hanging from a belt of golden star-shaped leaves, it looked familiar to Frodo, like the trees he had seen in the woods of Lothlorien, but that place was a far off memory to him now. The cloak and pin were familiar, too, Frodo thought, much like his own… Booted feet lightly touched the ground as the figure took complete, three-dimensional shape.
It must be a dream… Frodo thought, staring wide-eyed at the man before him, who stared patiently back as Frodo gathered his thoughts. He quickly shook his head, sending his already messy raven hair in front of his face again, before looking up into the man's eyes finally, and questioning disbelievingly, "Boromir…?"
The man before him smiled, a full, wholehearted grin, and nodded. "Yes, Frodo… that's right. I'm glad to see you recognize an old face…"
The hobbit stared in awe for a long, silent moment, before slowly stammering, "But… but Faramir told me you were dead!"
"Faramir…?" Boromir asked him curiously, "You've met my little brother have you?" then he beamed… "How is he doing as of late…?"
The hobbit was quiet for a long time… he'd never remembered seeing the captain of Gondor this genuinely happy. In fact… his last memories of him were… Frodo winced… slightly less than flattering. A flash of an image entered his mind… the very man standing in front of him, hair tousled, and eyes mad with fury and desire… he sighed heavily, pushing the image away, and looked back up at the current depiction of the very same captain that stood there, showing a weary smile. "Faramir… is of good health. He caught Sam and I, along with Gollum inside the borders of Ithilien… he didn't believe us when I spoke of you, and told us of your fate, and your relation… and we were as surprised to hear that of him as he was to hear of you from us."
Boromir nodded, keeping his eyes ever-fixed on Frodo, but he now had a queer look on his face, "Gollum…?" he asked out of sheer curiousity, "Was he following you? Did he give you any trouble?"
Frodo bit his lip once more, a flash of recent events entering his mind. The hot, sickening sting of the ancient spider… Gollum's hysterical, joyful shrieking, and Sam's surprised yell as he was sent crashing into the rocky ground. "He tricked us…" he replied softly, eyes downward-cast. "He led us this far into Mordor… over the marshes, through Ithilien, and the crossroads, all the way up to the very gates of the Dark Land itself, where we were forced to turn back and seek another path… and so he led us to Minas Morgul, and we found the tunnels in the pass of Cirith Ungol…"
A frown came to Boromir's face as Frodo reached his current stopping point. Cirith Ungol… he recognized the name… an ancient evil lived there, one that even orcs dared not confront. And yet this Gollum creature was bold enough to lead the poor hobbits literally, he thought, into the beast's mouth… is that what the ring did to you, Gollum? Was it so strong a lust that it would drive one to those extents? He closed his eyes, and suppressed a shudder. Finally, it seemed that now, in death, he understood the true nature of this evil.
Frodo stopped, innocently watching the Gondorian. His eyes were wide, hesitant. It was then the man realized that the ringbearer had already long since finished his tale… he smiled meekly, as the hobbit's brow furrowed, "Boromir," he asked, "Is something wrong?"
Not waiting for an answer, even the slightest shake of his head, he continued straight into, "Where are we…? How can you be here? Are we… dead?"
The captain of Gondor couldn't help but chuckle at this. Even now, after all the places and trials he had been through, Frodo was still no less the simple, light-minded little hobbit that he was when they had departed on this adventure from Rivendell.
"We are in the Halls of Mandose…" he replied, "You may have heard of it from elvish lore…" he watched the ringbearer's curious face, alight in a way he hadn't seen it be in so long, "It is strange, that one of your kind should come here in the end… only the elves remain in this place, and men stay for a time immediately after their death, and then go to somewhere else, but my time to depart has not come yet."
Frodo nodded in understanding, and watched as Boromir knelt down in front of him, a warm smile on his wearied face. "And the same goes for you, little one… but in a different way." He said in a soft, almost nurturing voice.
"I don't understand…" Frodo said shakily, fighting the instinct to retreat a step or two from the intimidating man, unconsciously clutching a handful of the fabric over the spot on his chest where the ring wasn't…
"You, my little friend," Boromir explained, "Are not dead yet."
"What…?" Frodo began, "But I thought…"
"Your time has not come. It is not your fate to be here yet…" he went on, "You must go back, you cannot stay and linger here, for there is a quest still at hand. One that it is your fate to complete."
The hobbit shook his head quickly, "No, Boromir… I've failed." He pulled down the collar of the shirt he wore, exposing his neck where no chain, nor ring was to be seen of, "Mordor has already won, I am dead, and I lost the ring."
"Do you really believe that?" the man asked, "Do you truly want to believe that it is all over? That you have failed, and Middle Earth is doomed?" Staring down at the smaller figure, he saw a glistening in his eyes, a face so young, yet so aged by worry and fear… Gently, he took the creature into his arms. The hobbit's last trivial question had been confirmed… Boromir was, in fact, standing right here, in the flesh, in front of him… and it was not merely an apparition, an illusion, a foul trick by a dark sorcerer, or some dream that had entered his mind…
"I'm sorry," the captain admitted, "You see, you have always seen what the ring is capable of doing to people. I did not. For that reason you must destroy it. So that others may not be so tempted as I was, because it was that temptation that was my downfall… Go back and fulfill this quest, for truly you are the only one who is able to do it."
As the man pulled away, Frodo swiftly cast a hand across his eyes, then looked up, blinking through the blurry haze of his vision. "So… so then I must go." He said hoarsely, having now decided that one of two things was next to happen: Either he was going to somehow try and regain consciousness in the living world, and fail, thus rendering him stranded in this strange afterlife forever, or he was to succeed and wake up in some place, whether it be a dungeon in the Dark Tower, the very tunnel where he fell, the belly of the spider, or perhaps even his bed, to find that this, and everything else preceding it was but a dream… Still, the halfling forced a smile, "And what am I to tell the others of you, should I chance to see them again?"
Once again, Boromir laughed, "Give them no news… being mortals they will see me soon enough." The captain mused, "…too soon." He added grimly.
"And that means…" the hobbit started, looking over his shoulder down the glimmering hall, then closing his eyes and stretching, letting out a relived sigh, and putting on a mask of false happiness, "…that once I depart… will I ever see you again? Or is this truly the final farewell?"
Boromir shook his head, "I know not of that, little one…" he answered honestly, "I would say yes, the final goodbye. Perhaps, by some miserable chance you may happen upon an ill-fated end before I am gone, and it will not be. But, whether in false optimism or not, I say that will not be your destiny."
"I, too, hope for the latter choice." Frodo added in a quiet tone.
The captain shook his head, "Even in death, though it be premature, you keep your good nature, Frodo." He reached forward and lay a gloved hand on the halfling's shoulder. "May you never lose it to the will of the Dark Lord's ring." Frodo nodded slowly, mentally offering a silent prayer in hopes for the same thing. "And still you keep yourself here! Go, go on… the world is waiting for its savior, and for all you know time may be running out. You must return to life…"
The Hobbit smiled and nodded, giving a short bow to the captain, "And… may you fare well yourself, Boromir… wherever you may still go, on whatever journeys you may still take."
The captain waved him off, letting his eyes drop to his feet, thinking to himself, but not daring to say out loud how much such formalities did not fit the little halfling.
As Boromir redirected his gaze, Frodo took a deep breath, concentrating. On what, he didn't know… but… he thought he could hear something… whatever it was, it brought back more memories of the real world. The cold, the dark… suddenly those were enveloping him too. He stared around in terror, shrinking in the midst of the opaque black haze… surely, this could not be what Boromir had said he was supposed to do… it was better in those halls, he didn't want to leave them!
Then, the thing he had heard before grew clearer… a sweet singing of a familiar voice. To his surprise it reminded him of The Shire. Blurry images of flowery fields, Gandalf's fireworks, and the party tree at Bag End began to pass through his mind… he was on the ground, lying prone on a pile of something soft, yet obviously dirty. These pictures of The Shire were so surreal and like a dream as compared to the rest of his surroundings, which he slowly began to come aware of: a smooth, flat stone ground, a wooden trapdoor on the floor nearby, and a red light hanging from a chain on the ceiling above.
Soon, he realized that the voice he heard singing was his own… only, not his own… he also heard someone else's. Sam! Why, then he was alive! Then, something else drew his attention. A slam below, as if of a stone door, and a hoarse voice saying something. He quieted, as he was trying to sit up, and just then became fully aware of the pained, heavy feeling in his limbs, and the spot on his neck that still throbbed, as well as stripes all along his bare flesh that stung. This sent him down, once more onto his back. He bit his lip, and tasted blood… so he was alive. And it seemed that he would stay so, as he was surely in an orc stronghold, and if they hadn't killed him yet it was likely that they weren't going to. So, as he heard a creaky padding growing louder down below, he let himself slip away, back into the images of The Shire that his eyes beheld only moments earlier, and cast himself off into a relieving dream.
When Boromir looked up again, all signs of the hobbit were gone. Confused for a moment, he then smiled, "Well then, it seems I was right…" he breathed to himself, "Good luck, my dear Frodo… the fate of all the living beings in the world sways in your hands. May you deliver them."