1. Ever Faithful
His thigh burned. The arrow had only grazed it, but still, it burned. Boromir of Gondor knew that at least an hour had passed since first they were attacked. Crouched down behind the boulder like this, he mostly relied upon his senses of hearing and smell to tell him if more of the enemy was about. The rain was not helping.
His fingers too burned. The effort of holding his arrow nocked, but the string loose, was become unbearable. His hands began to shake. Boromir lowered the bow and looked at the boy lying next to him. Some fishing trip this has turned out to be, he sighed.
"I am well, Boromir," Faramir whispered, his face drawn and white. "Just thirsty." His voice cracked.
The fear and pain Boromir saw in his twelve-year old brother's eyes sent shivers through him. He checked Faramir's shoulder. The bleeding had slowed, but the arrow, imbedded deep, shook as Faramir trembled.
"Where is the patrol?" Boromir hissed under his breath. "They should have returned by now." He took a quick breath as a terrible thought sped through his mind. They might be dead, caught unawares as Faramir and I were. The Heir of the Steward sent a quick plea to the Valar Help us.
"I can walk," Faramir whispered. "Can you?" His brow furrowed.
"Be not anxious for me, Faramir. I can walk, but I am… concerned." Boromir knew neither one of them, in the state they were in, would be able to outrun the enemy if they were caught out in the open. He only had three arrows left. He could put enough weight on his leg to walk, but not battle with a sword. That skill took mobility, and he would have none. The burning in his thigh increased. A slow fear began to creep into his stomach. Where is the patrol? He made up his mind. They could wait no longer.
"Come, Faramir." He helped his brother stand. Faramir swayed and Boromir quickly wrapped his arm around his brother's thin waist. Boromir kept his eyes and ears open as they headed west, towards the City. They were only about a league from the Rammas, but Boromir doubted they could make it on their own. If there were any more Southrons on this side of the River, they were doomed. Where is the patrol? He listened and silently cursed. They were making too much noise. Surprised, he looked down. It was his fault! His leg dragged a bit. His own wound must be deeper than he first thought. He bit his lip and continued on.
As they walked, Boromir noted Faramir's shoulder began to bleed again. The arrow wobbled against his skin. The elder brother stopped. "I must break the arrow, Faramir. I am sorry. It will hurt, but if I leave it long, it will open the wound further."
Faramir nodded. "Help me lie down."
When his little brother lay on the ground, Boromir gave him his dirk cover. "Bite on this."
Faramir put the leather piece between his teeth and bit down.
Boromir's hands shook.
"Do not fear hurting me," Faramir said, pulling the piece from his mouth. "It hurts more bobbing about." His grin turned ludicrous. "Just do it quickly. I will be fine." He put the bit back into his mouth.
Boromir bit his lip, grasped the shaft immediately above the wound in one hand, placed his other hand on the higher point and pushed the one while pulling the other – hard. The arrow broke.
Tears streamed down Faramir's cheeks.
Boromir held him close. "Such a brave little brother." His voice broke.
They sat thus for some moments. "We must continue," Boromir whispered at last. "Are you ready?"
Faramir squeezed Boromir's hand, then nodded. Boromir helped him stand. The older brother gave a quick glance about them, discerned the correct direction, and moved forward. The rain stopped. An hour passed, then two. The wound in Boromir's thigh began bleeding again, a slow, sickeningly warm trickle ran down into his boot. He tried to continue walking, but stumbled. Faramir fell. Boromir dropped to his knees. "Faramir?"
"I cannot go further. I am sorry, Boromir. You should go on without me. You can find the patrol and bring them back to me."
"I will not leave you," Boromir took off his cloak, folded it, and laid it under Faramir's head. "We stay here. The patrol is overdue; they will come." He sat down heavily, bowed his head, and sent another silent plea to the Valar. Help us.
When his head snapped forward, he knew it was time to move on again. If he kept still, he would fall asleep and they would both be found and murdered. Or worse. He shivered as fleeting images of the few dead that he had seen left by the Southrons flashed through his mind. He could not let them find Faramir. He stood, yelped in surprise at the pain, then walked about a bit. The pain lessened. At last, he took a drink from his flask, and stooped. He picked up his unconscious brother and gently slung him over his shoulders, then wrapped his cloak as best he could around his own shoulders. He began to walk towards the setting sun.
He swallowed at the thought. The sun is setting. If there are Orcs… but no, there cannot be Orcs on this side of the River. Father would have known. He gritted his teeth and walked onward. Sweat beaded upon his brow, and after only a short time, began to run in rivulets from his forehead, spilling across his mouth, and running down his not-quite full beard. He stumbled, straightened himself, repositioned Faramir's body, and moved forward, ever slower. Tears misted his eyes, but the seventeen-year old blinked them away. No time now for weakness. Faramir needs me.
Faramir always needed him. That is how it had been since the day the boy was birthed, according to his childhood nurse. Their mother, weakened by a long and excruciating labor, let her five-year old son play with the babe. Boromir was told that his mother oft wondered at the devotion her eldest showed towards his little brother. After but two days, she came to trust her Boromir and let him watch over the babe whenever possible. Thus began their love – the brothers were rarely seen apart. He needed Faramir as much as Faramir needed him.
Boromir stumbled again, and this time, he fell. Trying desperately to keep Faramir safe, he twisted, and felt a sharp pain in his knee as it struck a rock. He held Faramir close, but his brother never woke. He took his cloak off and again covered the boy. Boromir touched his knee. It was fine. The only problem was the bone sticking out below the knee. The Heir of Gondor let his head fall back upon the cool grass and wept. Not for himself, but for Faramir. How can I save him now?
He woke to find the sun setting and the ground cold. He was shivering, his teeth were chattering. Faramir will be cold! He kissed Faramir's brow in imitation of his nurse's routine for determining fever. Hot! He looked about. There was a stream nearby, but he doubted he could reach it. Nay. Faramir must have water. As must I. He crawled, using his left leg to propel him, and reached the little creek. Tears streamed down his face as pain lanced through his leg, down to his toes and up to his hip. He cupped a handful of water and drank. It was cold. If I put it on Faramir's wound, it might help. But what will I carry it in? He felt about him. Nothing. He sighed and pulled off his tunic and then his shirt. Every motion caused his leg to send fire through his body. He dunked the shirt in the creek, put his tunic back on, then pulled himself back to Faramir's side. Tearing the shirt into three pieces, he laid the smaller part on Faramir's forehead. The second piece, he wrapped around the broken arrow shaft. He held the third to his own wound.
When next he woke, night had fallen. Faramir's breath was shallow, hardly detectable. Fear slashed through him, overcoming any other pain. What can I do? How can I help him? A fire! I will light a fire. Even if the enemy sees it, still someone else will. We are near the Rammas. We must be only a half league away at most. Someone must see it. He leaned his head in his hand and wept. Everything is wet. I cannot start a fire. What am I to do? What would one of Father's rangers do?
And then he remembered; he had a flint and char cloth in a wax-covered box in his tunic's pocket. He pulled himself as upright as his broken leg would allow and looked about for dry grass. Only a stone's throw away. Crawling over took the last bit of his strength. He lay next to the dead grass and waited until the pain lessened and his heart slowed. Pulling out two handfuls, he steeled himself and crawled back to Faramir. He found some dried twigs under a small ledge. Boromir pulled the flint from his pocket, his dirk from its bitten sheath in his boot, and found a good, flat stone. He tore off a few pieces of Faramir's shirt and made a cradle with them for the char cloth. After too many tries, Boromir sat back, defeated. The flint would not spark, or when it did, it missed the cloth.
Faramir moaned. The sound tore right into the very core of Boromir's heart. He sat back up and began the slow process again. Chip, blow. Chip, blow. His hands shook when the spark flew onto the cloth. Boromir took three long breaths, then wrapped some of the pieces of Faramir's shirt around it, always gently blowing upon the now smoldering cloth. It caught further and he wrapped some strands of grass around it. The fire licked at the grass and held. His fingers burned slightly, but he did not care. He dare not drop it. Carefully, he lowered it into the cradle he had made, placed small pieces of dried grass upon the fire, and kept a slow, continuous wind upon it. Once it was strong, he threw handfuls of wet grass on the fire and white smoke billowed up. He sat back and wept as the fire grew, smoke pouring from it, and rising up.
Shouts! He looked up, fear coursing through his veins as he heard horses nearby. Voices were shouting out. But in Sindarin. He tried to stand, to shout, but he could not. He put more grass on the fire. He closed his eyes as smoke overwhelmed him, but found himself being clutched tightly. "Boromir!" he heard his father's voice. "Boromir!"
"Father," Boromir wept openly. He held onto his beloved father for but a moment. "Faramir is sorely wounded. An arrow. He will not wake."
"Sleep, son. I will take care of Faramir. Rest now. You have done what was needed."
Boromir closed his eyes and a blessed, wondrous darkness took him.
"When will you wake, Boromir? The Warden says he will not give me food until you are awake."
Boromir blinked. When he finally was able to open his eyes, they felt deliciously tired, he saw Faramir looking down at him. "Faramir!" Unbidden, tears fell. He looked away in embarrassment.
"You saved me, Boromir," his brother whispered. "Like you always do. I love you."
Boromir pulled his brother to him, careful of the shoulder wound, and held him close. "As I always will, little one."
A/N – You know, half the fun of writing is researching. Here is a great page for learning how to start a fire with only a flint and a piece of steel (in this story, Boromir uses his dirk.) http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-start-a-fire-with-flint-and-steel
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