"'You would not ask me to break faith with him?' (Frodo)

'No,' said Faramir, 'But my heart would. For it seems less evil to counsel another man to break troth than to do so oneself, especially if one sees a friend bound unwitting to his own harm.'" (The Two Towers, "The Forbidden Pool")

A Moment of Weakness

He would not look back, Faramir resolved as he returned to Anborn and Damrod, leaving the two Halflings and the strange creature that Frodo had taken custody of behind. He knew that if he did, he would not be able to leave again without trying to convince Frodo to come with him and his men to Minas Tirith.

It was not because of the Ring; he had told Samwise he had no lure or desire to try and take it from his master, and he had spoken truly. There had been a moment, perhaps, when he had found himself wrestling with such a desire—after all, Gondor was sorely in need of aid if they were to withstand the ever-growing tide of the armies of the Nameless One. But whatever lure it might have held for him quickly turned to loathing as he recalled the devastation that the Enemy, even without his chief weapon, had wrought upon the lands of his people. His position in the Rangers had brought him near Minas Morgul all too often, and even from a distance, the sight of what that once-fair city had become repulsed him; he had no wish to risk the same happening to Minas Tirith if the Ring should come to it.

And he also could not quite push back the fresh pang of grief over the irreparable damage the Ring had already done to his family. He could not deny that Boromir had been an ambitious man, particularly when it came to advancing the fortunes of his people. But Faramir also knew that for him to forsake his sense of honor and assault a defenseless Halfling was completely unlike him, and he wondered how the Ring must have preyed upon his brother's mind, that it would be able to twist his love for Gondor against him in such a way. No, Faramir knew in his heart that it had been in his best interest—perhaps the best interest of them all—to walk away. There was no doubt in his mind that out of the two of them, Boromir had been the stronger one, and if the mightiest warrior of Gondor had fallen to its lure so quickly, what hope had he of withstanding it if he did not let it go?

Even so, for a moment, his mind was clouded with doubt. In parting ways with Frodo, and so avoiding the peril himself, had he sealed Minas Tirith's doom at last? If the Halfling could not find a way into Mordor, or if Sméagol betrayed him to his death, as Faramir feared he would, surely the Ring would fall into the Enemy's hands once more. And if so, what then? He paused briefly as he wondered what his father would have to say, when he learned of what he had done. In allowing Frodo, Sam and Sméagol to walk free, he was already disobeying the Steward's direct orders for how to deal with intruders in Ithilien. But to let them go without bringing them to Minas Tirith, knowing that they carried the fate of all Gondor—nay, of all the free peoples of Middle-earth—with them… Faramir knew in his heart that if his choice proved ill, Denethor would not spare even his only remaining son. Nor would he deserve to be spared, he thought. It would be a mercy to be allowed to die fighting in the defense of the City he loved instead of executed as a traitor. But if given the choice to make again, he knew he could not do any differently, nor would he.

But surely, something inside of him argued, there had to be another way for Frodo than to trust the word of his strange guide. He had not managed to hold Sméagol's gaze for long, but it had been long enough to see the cunning and malice that lurked just below the surface. It had been plain to him that Sam, at least, clearly distrusted Gollum, as he called him, and Faramir was certain that it was only Frodo's wishes that bound him to follow as well. If it was true that Frodo's burden was what drew Sméagol to follow, Faramir wondered how long it would be before desire to retake it overcame whatever oaths bound the creature to him.

The path Frodo wished to take greatly disturbed him as well. He had truly told Frodo all he knew of Minas Morgul and Cirith Ungol, but had the nagging feeling that something important was eluding him. He could think of no way to pass unnoticed through the gates of Minas Morgul, nor did he wish to think of what torments that Sam and especially Frodo would be put through if they were caught. And he knew so little of Cirith Ungol, other than it seemed to be haunted by some nameless fear. Even the name made little sense to him, unless perhaps it was the home of some relative of the unusually large spiders that he'd heard dwelt in the Elven forests far to the north. But the Elves seemed able to deal with them well enough, or at least they had not forsaken their home because of them; they would be a terror to the smaller Halflings, but would such a creature really make men quake in fear at just the mention of the name? Perhaps it was some darker evil that dwelt there; after all, nothing so close to the city of the Nine could be pleasant to encounter. Surely if he could convince Frodo to come to Minas Tirith, another way could be found, even if it required accompanying him to Mordor himself in order to give Frodo the aid of someone who could defend him.

It was this concern for Frodo's safety that made him finally break his resolve and look back. But as he did, he could see that the Halflings were already out of sight, and knew that their paths were now truly sundered. There was nothing else to do now but to continue on the one he had chosen, and hope that the decision that had been thrust upon him would not prove ill—especially not for Frodo.

A/N: I'm currently in the process (slowly) of rereading LotR, and since Faramir just left the scene for now in TTT, I couldn't help wondering what he was thinking after his encounter with Frodo and Sam. As for the ending, the more I thought about it, the less sense it made to me that he would have absolutely no clue what was in Cirith Ungol, since he's reputed to have a good grasp of languages and such. ("Ungol" is Sindarin for "spider".) So if he's coming off as a bit all-knowing there, that was my reasoning.