Beregar was well-known to Boromir, for they had served together in the past, and Boromir had also spent considerable time at Cair Andros in his capacity as Captain-General of Gondor's fighting forces. Boromir was pleased to see that the fortress was as prepared as it possibly could be for an attack from the East.
"Indeed, we are ready and on high alert," Beregar assured him. "I wish I had more men, of course, but it is the same for all of Gondor's defenses in this time -- there are not enough men to go around."
"It is so," Boromir nodded. "Yet you are still willing to hold men in reserve for the garrison at Osgiliath, should it be needed. It is a wise precaution, to keep some men back though they could be keeping vigil on these walls instead of waiting in reserve. It is difficult to predict where Mordor will press its strength when the evil day comes, and we must be prepared for all eventualities."
"Captain Faramir said the same," responded Beregar with a smile. "It is at his word that I hold back some of my men in this manner. You have only just missed him, in fact; he and several of his Rangers passed through here only a day ago. He was returning to Ithilien after meeting with the council in Minas Tirith."
Boromir could not keep from grinning. "That is well, then!" he rejoiced. "The next part of my journey takes me to Ithilien to seek my brother. It is good to hear that he will be at home when I come to call!"
"You will not be returning to Minas Tirith as yet?" Beregar questioned. "I had thought to send you with reports to the Lord Steward...."
Boromir sighed and his face grew grave. "Nay, I will not be going that way just yet. It would be best if you sent your missives by another messenger. I cannot truly say at this point when I will return to the City."
"Or whether you will return at all?" Beregar guessed, looking keenly at Boromir. "I do not need you to tell me that you are on a mission and have some important duty to perform that brings you back to Gondor from so unexpected a direction. You do not even know if you will return from this secret quest of yours, am I right?"
"Indeed, you are correct, Beregar. But tell no one of this as yet. I have some hope for a successful outcome to this quest of mine, but I cannot speak of it further. Faramir will keep you informed if the need arises, for I must include him in this venture; I have great need of his wisdom and his knowledge of the Enemy's movements in Ithilien."
"Fear not, my lord! I will say nothing of my guesses to anyone. Now, will you take your rest with us this night and see over the garrison? The men would be greatly encouraged if you would address them before you continue your journey."
Boromir's smile returned. "It would be an honor and my great pleasure!"
Boromir and Faramir stood side by side, facing west in a moment of silence. When the solemn moment had passed, they turned as one and sat down to their meal together.
"It is long since I observed the Standing Silence with you here in this place," Boromir remarked. "It pleases me greatly that I can do so now!"
"No more than it pleases me," laughed Faramir. "I can hardly believe you are here, in fact; I keep wondering if this a dream from which I will awaken to find you still far away, lost in the northern wilderness."
"It is no dream," Boromir replied. "Though at times it does take on that aspect for me, as well!"
"So your journey north proved fruitful," Faramir went on, his voice dropping significantly so that there was no chance of them being overheard. "You found the answer to the riddle."
"Indeed, Faramir, I found many answers to questions I had not even thought to ask! Questions about myself and what kind of man I am. The answers were not always what I wished to hear...."
Faramir reached across and laid a hand on Boromir's arm, gripping it firmly. "Say no more, my brother. Have we not already spoken of this? You have told me everything that passed on your journey, both good and bad. Was my comfort and reassurance of your quality insufficient? Do you still look back on what is past, over and done?"
"You remind me of Frodo," Boromir laughed. "You say the same things -- things like, 'do not look back on what is past if you have been forgiven and moved on from it.' Your comfort to me was quite sufficient, never fear. It is just... seeing how quickly you grasped everything I told you, of the Quest, of the Sword-That-Was-Broken... of Isildur's Bane... you accepted it all and moved on. You felt no need to see the thing, nor did you sense any desire for it! Your concern was only for me and for how you could aid me in seeing this task finished. You are a better, stronger man than I, Faramir! If you had gone on the Quest in my stead, things could have been different...."
"How am I a better, stronger man because I feel no pull to claim this thing?" Faramir demanded, shaking Boromir's arm gently. "My vows to Gondor and my people have made me able to see my way clearly; choosing that way does not make me stronger than you nor does it make me better. Is not the man of quality the one who has struggled and learned from his mistakes, coming out of the darkness stronger in his convictions and his understanding of himself? If I had gone on the Quest in your stead, who knows if things would have gone as they should? Even if I did not fall to the temptation of this thing that you carry, that does not mean matters would have turned out well or even right. What happened was meant to happen, that is all. As your friend Frodo suggests, you must stop looking back on what might have been; rather, look forward to what you have been given to do. Let us speak no more of who is better and who is not -- you are here now and in your hand is a duty to be done, a task for which you are infinitely well-prepared and undeniably capable of doing."
Boromir grinned and grabbed his brother, pulling him into a tight embrace.
"That is why I knew I had to come here and share all this with you, my brother," he whispered into Faramir's shoulder. "All the reassurances spoken by my companions in the Fellowship, all the confirmation that this task is for me to do and no other, all the forgiveness given and the insight gained -- none of it counts or has any truth behind it until I hear those same words of trust and forgiveness from you, my brother, spoken in my presence with your hand on my arm and your voice in my ear. Now I am ready! My heart is soothed and my restoration is complete!"
Boromir departed the hidden fastness of Henneth Annûn well-rested and eager to take on the next leg of the journey -- gaining passage into Mordor. Faramir had confirmed Boromir's plan to attempt the high mountain pass as the only one that had a possibility of success, but he had been frustrated by his brother's continued determination to do it alone. Faramir had begged him to take someone with him, but Boromir had refused.
"I know Ithilien as well as you do, my brother," he had said. "I will find my way easily without a guide. You have assured me that there is currently no troop movement in the area, and the way to the pass is clear of the enemy. It will be less noticeable if I travel alone, and now that you have clothed me in Ranger garb, I shall travel all the more unseen through the forest. In any case, I want no one with me in this venture; who knows what strength this thing I carry will gain as we draw ever closer to the place of its forging? It is better that I remain alone, so that no one else is tempted to fall as I almost did. I am confident in my own will to resist it now, but I doubt what others might be called to do if they are with me."
It was this last statement that convinced Faramir to let Boromir go alone, with his blessing.
"Not much longer," Boromir said sighing at the memory of their last conversation together. Peering through the underbrush where he lay hidden as he took a short rest, Boromir could see ahead of him the mountain for which he was aiming. He gripped the Ring where it lay under his shirt. "No, not much longer now...."
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.