"Well, lads!" exclaimed Gimli eagerly. "Now that we've settled that, we'd best be deciding who's going after the young hobbits, and who is to go with Frodo. Will the new Ringbearer need a companion as well? What say you? Do you have any suggestions, Aragorn?"
"At the moment, no," Aragorn smiled. "But I shall give it much thought, Gimli. Right now, I think Frodo needs me, for he is worn out after the stress of handing over the Ring. Let me care for him and then we will speak of this together."
"What are you waiting for, then?" Gimli huffed, immediately concerned for Frodo. "We'll wait for you, don't you worry about that. We'll just talk amongst ourselves until you're ready. Just make sure Frodo is well, that's the important thing."
"I'm all right!" Frodo interjected. "I am tired, but I feel eased and lighter already. I... I am sorry I faltered in the end. I thought it might be easier knowing there was no other way... but I couldn't do it alone. Even Bilbo needed Gandalf's help to give it away, and I guess I'm no different."
"But you really did do it yourself in the end, Mr. Frodo," Sam objected. "And just like Mr. Bilbo, you should be right as rain again, now that the Ring is gone from you. Right?"
"I hope so, Sam!" Frodo said fervently.
In spite of Frodo's protests, Aragorn checked him over carefully, adjusting his bandages and administering another dose of athelas. Soothed and drowsy, Frodo fell asleep while Sam sat close by, his master's hand still clasped in his own. Aragorn joined the others who were waiting quietly for him. They had attempted to talk over plans and ideas while they waited, but had come to no conclusions. Of more concern to them at the moment was Frodo's health after his significant accomplishment of giving away the Ring.
"How is Frodo?" Boromir asked as Aragorn approached.
"He spoke the truth," Aragorn answered. "He seems to be none the worse for his exertions. Sleep is what he needs now, most of all."
Everyone breathed sighs of relief, but Boromir looked doubtful. "I wonder...." Boromir hesitated, and Aragorn looked quizzically at him.
"What is it, Boromir?"
"Frodo did well giving up the Ring," Boromir said slowly. "I do believe he will be right as rain, as Sam puts it. But though he says he feels lighter now that he is free of the burden, I think it would be wise if I put some distance between us as soon as possible. I fear it will not be easy for him to have me close by, knowing the thing he carried for so many years is now in my possession. He will still desire it, in spite of his willingness to give it up to another to destroy it."
"You are right, Boromir," Aragorn agreed solemnly. "No matter how firm his conviction to abjure the Ring, in his weakened state it will be difficult for him to resist its pull. He might even try to take it back, and that would not end well."
"No." Boromir shuddered at the thought of their roles reversed, with Frodo as the one maddened by want for the Ring and himself as the one opposing him.
"I concur," Legolas said. "Frodo should not go with Boromir. The question is, should anyone go with Boromir? It seems dangerous to suggest that he should go alone -- not so much because we do not trust him to accomplish what he has vowed to do, but is it truly safe for any one of us to be alone with the Ring, particularly as it grows in power drawing nigh to Mordor?" The Elf glanced apologetically at Boromir. "And what will happen if Boromir is hurt or even killed, with no one beside him to carry on the Quest?"
"You cut to the heart of the matter, Legolas," Boromir replied. "I am not offended by your doubts; it is indeed a risky thing to entrust such a mission to one who has failed in the past without making certain he will follow through and not fall to the danger a second time. I have been thinking about what Frodo said to me, and I believe I agree with him now -- I am confident I will not fail nor fall to the Ring. You can trust me to go alone. Even so, I would welcome a companion with me on this venture, to guard me from that falling as well as to take on the Quest should I not be able to continue -- just as I have taken it on from Frodo. But we are few now, and I do not know how we can divide our Fellowship, if I am to be accompanied in addition to Merry and Pippin's rescue and Frodo's journey to safety."
"That is the crux of the matter," Aragorn agreed. "Here then is my judgment; then tell me if you agree or not. I will go after Merry and Pippin, and Gimli will accompany me. At least two will be needed for that rescue, I deem, and Gimli's heart has been yearning for it since the little ones were taken. He will prove a valuable companion to me if it comes to battle against the orcs who have stolen our companions.
"Legolas will remain with Frodo and Sam, for I doubt Sam will want to be parted from his master no matter where Frodo goes. Legolas is well-suited to guard both Frodo and Sam, and can care for Frodo's wounds as the need arises. He is also strong, and can carry Frodo to a place of safety for further healing when the time comes. However, Frodo cannot be moved as yet, so Legolas will have to stay here until Frodo's head has healed sufficiently. It cannot be helped; head wounds such as this require rest and limited movement, and his leg will heal better if it is kept still and straight. Once Frodo can travel, it will be up to Legolas as to where to take Frodo -- Lothlórien is a possibility, as is Minas Tirith. Whether Frodo will be able to travel before war breaks and cuts off all roads to safety, I do not know. At least this place will be relatively secure for him, now that the orcs have been and gone.
"That leaves Boromir to go alone. I can see no other way -- but I am content. Like Frodo, I do not fear him falling to the Ring, and I trust in his ability to reach Mordor without mishap. He is strong and knows the terrain well, and has support along the way which he can call upon if the need arises. We can trust him to see this done."
"Yes!" Gimli grinned, slapping his axe. "I like this arrangement. I am sorry the Elf will not be accompanying us, but I can rest easy that Frodo will be in good hands. And Boromir will be fine, mark my words! When do we leave, Aragorn? I am ready when you are!"
Legolas smiled at Gimli, and inclined his head toward Aragorn in agreement. "I will stay with Frodo, and Sam will help me care for him. As for where we will go when Frodo is ready to travel...."
Boromir reached out and touched Legolas on the arm to get his attention. "If I may say a word, Legolas? I have a suggestion for you concerning this matter. There is an outpost of Gondor along the Anduin, some two leagues from the foot of the Falls of Rauros, where a small force of Men is stationed; they guard our northern borders and keep watch on the River and the marshes to the East. It is actually not far from here in distance, though the path is not an easy one. The camp can be reached by taking the North Stair, a steep portage-way cut into the cliff face for the use of those traveling the Anduin. That is the way I intend to go to reach the plains. I cannot manage one of our boats alone on that stair, but there will be boats at the northern camp, and I will take to the River there, traveling at least as far as Cair Andros -- after that, we shall see!
"But what I wish to mention to you, Legolas, is this: I will tell the men there of you and the hobbits, and charge them with aiding you while you wait here. They can supply you with protection, food and whatever else you may need, and when the time comes, they will see you safely to Minas Tirith -- or wherever you deem to be a safe haven for Frodo. At my word, they will make certain you are welcomed anywhere in Gondor."
"That is an excellent suggestion, Boromir," Legolas replied. "I will leave that in your hands, then, and will await the coming of Men of Gondor to help us."
"I am relieved!" Aragorn exclaimed. "It is well that Gondor takes thought for even its most distant borders, so that unexpected help is close by in our hour of need."
Boromir rose and began gathering the few things he would need for his journey. "Perhaps it would be best if I leave at once," he explained to the others. "If I am gone before Frodo wakes, it will go easier on him."
Aragorn sighed heavily. "It is a good thought, Boromir. Now that it comes to it, I am reluctant to part from you -- but Gimli and I must also be on our way, as well, for every moment's delay puts Merry and Pippin at more risk. I shall hold you to your promise that we meet again when all is done!"
"I will not forget that promise!" Boromir vowed, gripping Aragorn by the hand in farewell. He took his leave from Legolas and Gimli in like manner, and then approached Sam, who remained by Frodo's side.
"Farewell, Sam," he said, kneeling down to place a hand on the hobbit's shoulder. "I am sorry you cannot continue with me, for I know that having you at my side would have been a help against the wiles of the Ring. But you are needed here. I know you will take good care of Frodo. Give him my greetings and my blessing when he wakes."
"I'll do that, Mr. Boromir, sir! He'll understand why you had to go without saying goodbye yourself, don't worry about that. Have a care now, and don't let that Ring talk you into doing anything you shouldn't!"
"I give you my word that I will not listen," Boromir promised. "Farewell!"
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.