If I Could

By Evendim

This is a not for profit work of fan fiction based upon the works of J.R.R. Tolkien

This is a re-write of one of my earlier stories: 'Love Is the Drug' which I decided to resurrect for Ithil-Valon, who professed it to be her favourite.

ooOoo

If I could
I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes
Give you courage in a world of compromise
Yes, I would
If I could
I would teach you all the things I've never learned
And I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned
Yes, I would
If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
But the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow
So I could let you go
If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
But I know that I can never cry your tears
But I would
If I could

Osgiliath: Fortress of the Stars. 3015, Third Age

Boromir was pacing the ramparts. Pausing momentarily, he borrowed a spyglass from the Officer of the Watch in order to scan the horizon. Passing the object back to its owner, the Captain General slammed one gauntleted fist into the open palm of his other hand, a sign of agitation to those who knew him well.

"Where is he," Boromir muttered, at the same time pushing his blond hair out of his eyes, yet another trait that betrayed Boromir's emotional state.

"Patience, he has many leagues to cover, and all of them upon foot, let us not forget," said Ancir, the only son and heir of Forlong of Lossarnach, and Boromir's Adjutant.

"We are losing the advantage of daylight, and I would not wish to be abroad betwixt here and Minas Tirith after nightfall, especially as we must ride without an escort to avoid attracting undue attention," said Boromir.

"Then postpone the journey," said Ancir, "send to the Citadel; inform the Steward that you and Captain Faramir shall defer travelling tonight due to increased enemy activity. It would not even be a falsehood, for the fleas of Mordor are, indeed, 'hopping' tonight!"

"It is a goodly plan, if flawed," said Boromir, "for the Steward shall merely enquire how it was that the messenger gained the city in safety!"

Ancir shrugged, hauled his black service cloak closer to his chilled body, and uttered a non-committal: "…meh!"

"My lord…!" A newcomer pressed a closed fist against his heart in salute, and then he cast another shadow over Boromir's already stygian day. "Your mount, sir, I regret…"

"He has not dumped my esquire in the horse trough again?" Boromir asked, this latest self-taught trick of Fedranth's had not re-surfaced in two full days, and was therefore overdue a reprise.

"No, he has thrown a shoe, sir, the front near, and the smith regrets he must pack the hoof, and allow the swelling to reduce, before re-shoeing him."

"Oh, Eru, give a mere mortal some respite," said Boromir. "Well, don't just stand there, man, there must be some other mount I may ride!"

"As his lordship wishes," said the irked sergeant as he strode away to comply with his commander's order.

"You are becoming truly un-bori-ble now," Ancir rebuked.

"What…? Do not start, we already have more jesters than any one unit deserves, beginning with that stupid great oaf of a horse, Fedranth. I would render him down for glue, but there is not a vat big enough to take the great clown!"

"You do not mean that, you are merely fractious because you are anxious about your brother's safety," said Ancir.

"I am always anxious about my brother's safety, but that does not mean I would not like to be shot of that great hairy-eared lunatic," said Boromir.

"He is a big boy," Ancir reasoned.

"Seventeen hands high is the usual height of a stallion of Rohan," Boromir stated.

"I was referring to Faramir," said Ancir.

"Ah, yes, Faramir. I still remember the first time I held him. I was just five years old. I know, it is likely sad, but there it is, I vowed in that instant always to protect him, and I still try to keep my vow, even though at thirty and two years he has no need of any man's protection," Boromir replied.

"Yonder," said Ancir as he pointed out the approach road, encouraging Boromir to sight along his arm, the easier to locate two stealthy figures making their way into the city ruins.

"Thank Eru, he is alive and well," said Boromir. "I ought to kill the tiresome little whelp for scaring me like this."

"You are not your father, why must you invent an excuse to conceal from Faramir how very much he means to you? Hurins…!" Ancir shook his head in despair.

Boromir shot his Adjutant a heated glare, and then he took up his briefly discarded gauntlets, and strode towards the stairway leading down from the Ramparts.

"Well, you asked me to always keep you honest, is it my fault that the truth struck too close to home?" Ancir asked as he followed on undaunted.

ooOoo

The city was little more than a ruin now, and the incumbent Steward of Gondor, Denethor, was fielding an ever decreasing army, with ever increasing borders to protect. Likely he wished to discuss with his sons his growing concern over Ithilien, and the upsurge in attacks being launched into the Moon lands from Harad. Just how summoning Captain Faramir of the Ithilien Rangers to attend the Steward in the Citadel, thereby depriving the Ithilien Brigade of her commander, helped their worsening situation Boromir was at a loss to understand.

"There you are!" Boromir said with evident relief, his breathing sketchy. "I had begun to think you had been captured, or worse."

"There is no worse scenario, for death is preferable to capture, when one deals with Harad," said Faramir as he passed his longbow to his bodyguard, a handsome raven-haired man five years Faramir's senior, by the name of Damrod, before going down upon one knee out of deference to his elder brother's rank. Boromir raised Faramir with one hand beneath his elbow, and then the brothers were embracing quite openly, displaying the constancy of their love for one another. Their close bond had kept them both sane in the early years following on from the death of their mother, Lady Finduilas, at a mere thirty eight years, and they had become one another's mainstay.

"Father shall expect us to present ourselves before him tonight, but I am concerned we are setting out too late to reach the city before the Main Gates are closed against us. What do you think, brother?" Boromir asked.

"Forty miles, on fresh mounts, it is achievable," said Faramir. "I wish to get this interview over with as soon as it may be done, for the situation at the Refuge is grave indeed."

"Very well, if your instinct is to ride, then we shall ride," said Boromir,

"Lead me to my mount. Ancir, shall you see to it that Damrod is fed and quartered? I would be obliged!" Faramir said sincerely as he drew on his gloves and adjusted his sword to accommodate being in the saddle. "Dee, do not fret, all shall be well, I shall bite father's ear about our supply levels, and so this journey shall not be a total waste!"

"Remember, a dead hero is no use to the Ithilien Brigade!" Damrod said softly.

"I may be weary, but I am not suicidal," said Faramir. The two rangers embraced, they were best friends out with their professional roles, and although they hailed from opposite ends of the social order, they had formed a mutual respect and lasting bond. Without further ado, they broke apart, and Faramir hurried after his brother without a backward glance, for Dee was giving off negativity, and it was making Faramir anxious.

Ancir saw Boromir settled in the saddle of one of the cavalry pool mounts. Fedranth was craning his neck over the stable door, sensing that his earlier antics in kicking his stall to smithereens for attention just might have backfired. Boromir's determination to ignore the Dunce was the worst form of punishment.

"Does he have a name?" Boromir asked, for he was making small talk to fill the pregnant pause in their conversation.

"Sirius," Ancir replied.

"The dog star, as opposed to the star dog, yonder," Boromir inclined his head towards his disgraced mount, refusing to acknowledge him beyond this.

"Point me at my noble steed, Ancir," Faramir requested as he hurriedly caught up to Boromir, noting the black pressed into service given Fedranth was incapacitated.

"His name is Cinders," Ancir relayed, "because he is toffee-coloured?"

"Cinders, well, it is original, and why are you and the Dunce divorced, brother?" Faramir asked as he settled his sword by his side, and gathered the reins.

"The Dunce is 'horse de combat'," Boromir said deadpan, and then he gave the black the Office, and they moved off towards the gates.

"I have a bad feeling," said Damrod, and Ancir gave a start. Augh, Rangers, one never heard them approach!

"I have that feeling each and every sunrise," said Ancir, "I used to think it was rheumatism, now I call it fear. Come on, Damrod, soup and a decent wine before the hearth, they are gone beyond our ability to aid them, and it is their duty at day's end."

"There is a word I have come to loathe," said Damrod, and the two fell into companionable silence as they headed towards Boromir's makeshift quarters within a derelict mansion.

ooOoo

"We shall lose the light early, thank you, Mordor, for the outpouring of fug," Boromir complained bitterly.

Faramir, edging his chestnut closer to the docile black his brother rode, laughed aloud and replied: "It is not personal, brother, they do not especially stoke the forges each time you are required to ride home to Minas Tirith."

"You are enjoying this, you strange little ranger," Boromir observed, "Henneth Annun is not challenging enough?"

"It is more challenging than I care for, thank you, but you are not there, and I miss you," said Faramir.

"That is rather a sweet sentiment," said Boromir. "I have been known to miss you too, once in a while."

"Why does he want to see us do you suppose, brother?" Faramir had clearly exhausted his line of small talk, and needed to explore their father's mindset.

"Who may guess, but I suspect that Ithilien shall loom large in his agenda," Boromir replied.

They now rode in silence, for the demands of riding drove the breath from them both. Boromir suddenly gave a shudder, and Faramir picked up on it almost instantly. He, too, was feeling extremely anxious, for the atmosphere was oppressive, and Faramir feared they were being observed. The terrain between the garrison at Osgiliath and the Ramas Echor was largely open ground, but there were random stands of trees that were dense enough to give cover to marauding orc bands. With half the distance to the Tower of Guard already covered, the brothers had actually begun to believe they would dine with their father in the Merethrond, the great Hall of Feasting in the Citadel.

Suddenly Sirius, Boromir's mount, began to grow skittish, sweat formed along his sleek, arched, neck, and Boromir, a consummate rider, picked up on the danger almost instantly.

"There…on the left!" Boromir called above the drumming of their horses hooves. "Yrc…!"

"We can outrun them!" Faramir said with confidence, and Boromir nodded, for at that exact moment he believed his brother was right, and then Sirius squealed aloud, and dropped like a stone, for an orc arrow had struck his neck; a major artery had been severed, and the animal was dead as it fell to the turf, with Boromir trapped under its carcass!

Faramir wheeled Cinders back to his fallen companion, and all the while Boromir was yelling to his younger brother to ride on, to save himself, but Faramir of Ithilien had apparently been struck by loss of hearing, for he reached back to his bow, strung it speedily and with a practiced eye and hand, and then he reached back a second time; for his quiver.

TBC

A/N: The opening lyrics are an extract taken from 'If I could' by Barbra Streisand.