Frodo lay quietly in the lee of tumbled rock on the edge of the shoreline near the boats. Sam returned to sit by his side as the others gathered around, sitting in a semicircle before Frodo, waiting for him to speak. The expression on his face was resolute and calm, but Boromir noticed that Frodo's right hand was clutched at his breast; no doubt the Ring lay hidden in Frodo's tightly closed fist. He wondered if the hobbit was having second thoughts. Even if the Ring desired a new master, would the old master be able to give it up?
Frodo took a deep, steadying breath and plunged into what he had to say. "It's a difficult decision in a way," he began slowly. "Not so much because I don't know who to choose, but because whomever I do choose will be given the greatest and most unpredictable burden there ever was to bear, something that may even bring death with it... or worse. It... it's hard to face having to do that to a friend and companion."
"It is no blame to you, Frodo," Aragorn said gently. "Each one of us is ready to take on this burden, especially if it means you will be free of it. We also know you would have been willing to continue as the Ringbearer if Fate had not intervened, so do not take any blame to yourself for seeming to fail in what you vowed to do."
Frodo smiled gratefully. "I won't," he promised. Closing his eyes, he rested for a moment before continuing.
"The Ring is a danger in anyone's hand -- more so for some than for others. Yet each one of you also has qualities that offset that danger, that make you trustworthy as a Ringbearer. So really, I could choose any of you, and be content knowing you could be trusted to see this task through to the end.
"However, there is one among you who is suited in all ways -- one who is strong enough to endure the hardships of the journey, is committed to seeing the Ring kept far from Sauron's reach; one who has knowledge of its wiles and is seared to any desire to claim it or use it. That one is also familiar with the area around Mordor and has the best plan for reaching Mount Doom -- and in my opinion, the best chance of succeeding...."
Boromir gasped and leapt to his feet as all eyes turned to him. "Me? You intend to make me the Ringbearer? But... but how can this be? How can you trust me after what I tried to do? I wish to help you, Frodo -- of course, I do! I wish for you to be free of the burden of it, but... not me, surely! I do not want the Ring! I have abjured it, I want no part of it...."
"Don't you see, Boromir?" Frodo urged, cutting off Boromir's protests. "That is exactly why you are the one who should take it! The Ring no longer has a hold on you -- and that makes you the safest one to bear it. Safer even than I -- for I fear I am growing weak after so many years of keeping it. I do not know how much longer I can hold out against it. I believe I still have the strength it will take to give it over to someone else, but it will be a close thing. The closer we draw to Mordor, the fiercer becomes the battle, for the Ring is growing more powerful and ever more persistent. Who knows if I would have been able to cast it away to destroy it when the time came for it, if I even got as far as the Fiery Mountain? But you... you have your full strength. And did you not hold the Ring in your hand just a short time ago, but let it go again? You put it aside without even a struggle, though it would have been a simple matter to claim it then. But you were not interested. You were seduced and began to fall, but were drawn back in time. I do not believe you will fall again."
Boromir hesitated and gazed at Frodo doubtfully. Without looking away from the Man, Frodo loosened his grip on the Ring and beckoned for Sam to help him sit up. With Sam supporting his back and head, Frodo pulled the Ring out from where it lay hidden under his shirt, and unfastening the chain, held it out. The Ring swung heavily on the end of the chain, glittering and flashing as it caught the light. All eyes were drawn to it.
Frodo stared; his arm trembled and drooped, as if the Ring had suddenly become too heavy to support. Slowly, he began to draw it back, reaching out with his other hand to grasp it. Even as he reached for it, Frodo struggled against the urge and his face filled with panic.
"Help me!" he whispered. His voice gathered strength as Sam grasped his left hand and held it between his.
"Take it, Boromir!" Frodo pleaded. "You understand it now, even as I do; you know the touch of evil and what it can make you do, before you can stop yourself. The Ring's lies are laid bare to you, and you want it no more. I can see that clearly in your eyes and I can read it in your heart as if it were written with words. Therein lies your safety and your strength; now that you are warned, you will be on your guard. I trust you with this, Boromir -- please! Take the Ring while I still have the strength to let it go! Take it to Mordor and cast it into the fire and free us all from this burden!"
Even as he pleaded, he was drawing the Ring back to himself, despite his determination to hand it over to Boromir.
"Very well, Frodo," Boromir said. Stepping forward, he knelt before the hobbit and extended his hand. "If you truly believe I am the one to do this in your stead, and you trust me to do it and not fail you all, then I accept. But you must put the Ring in my hand, Frodo. I will not take it from you. It must be given willingly, or you will never really be free of it. Do you still wish for me to have the Ring, Frodo?"
"I do!" Frodo cried. He pushed forward with determination and laid the Ring in Boromir's open palm. Falling back against Sam, he heaved a great sigh and smiled tiredly.
Sam held him close and ignored the tears streaming down his face. "Well, that's done," he exclaimed tearfully. "Now for a rest at last, Mr. Frodo!"
Boromir gazed at the Ring in his hand for a long moment, then slowly clasped it around his neck, hiding it under his tunic.
How strange, he mused. I thought I would feel different upon taking charge of the Ring, but I do not. 'Tis almost as if I am more myself now than I have been for a long time. I feel confident in my goals once more, secure in the belief my companions have in me to succeed....
Aragorn rose and placed a hand on Boromir's shoulder. "I do not envy you this charge, Boromir!" he said. "But I do believe that you are well-chosen. You have now been named Ringbearer, and so I shall lay the charge upon you that Frodo also received: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor to let any other handle it. Do you hold to your word that you will be the Ringbearer?"
"I do," Boromir answered solemnly.
"Our hopes and the hopes of all free lands committed to the defeat of Sauron are now on your shoulders, Boromir," Aragorn replied. "Do you think you can bear it?"
"I can," Boromir said, and unexpectedly, he laughed. "I am well used to shouldering the hopes of many who have nowhere else to turn. Is that not how it has been in Gondor with my people since the day I first hefted a sword? It will not be such a burden to take on the hopes of a few more. The fact that you trust me with this task is sufficient to lighten the load considerably! My only regret is that you and I are unlikely to go together to Minas Tirith to match our swords in battle. Mine will be a different battle now."
"Yes, a different battle on a different field, but for the same cause," responded Aragorn. "Yet I will not give up hope of meeting you once more in the White City, and drawing swords together."
Boromir laughed again. "Your confidence in me is great, indeed. So be it! We shall meet again after I have done the deed!"
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.