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What If... Frodo and Ladyhawk Baggins

The healing tents of Ithilien were quietly abuzz with the waking of the Ring-bearer. His companion still slept, but it was believed he would wake later in the day. The joyous reunion between the members of the Fellowship was spoken of throughout the encampment, though there was no small amount of speculation as to why Boromir had not yet joined the happy company. It was said he waited in the King’s tent. Someone said he paced, and someone else said he sat quietly staring at nothing. Still others nodded sagely and said he probably did both, each in its turn.

A hushed whisper raced through the camp when a boy was sent to fetch the Lord Boromir to join the Fellowship in the healing tent. Not a man could be seen actually watching Gondor’s Son traverse the distance between the two tents; but for a stableboy who was only halfheartedly reprimanded for staring. Most observed surreptitiously, under half-closed eyes, in the guise of performing some menial task.

Boromir stopped in front of the healing tent and raised his chin, ever so slightly. His hands clenched and unclenched several times. He swallowed hard and squared his shoulders, then stepped through the opening.

Though Aragorn and Gandalf both first asked him if Boromir might join them, and he gave his consent, Frodo was not prepared for the explosion of memories at the sight of the Man himself. The hobbit trembled and could not hide the fear in his eyes as he relived the attack. He struggled not to recoil when Boromir took but two steps into the enclosure. Frodo’s breathing quickened, and his heart raced, instantly prepared to flee, if needed. You are safe, he reminded himself.

Boromir stopped the moment he noted the horror in Frodo’s eyes. His own memories of their last encounter flooded into him, filling him with disgust and self-loathing at his own behavior. His courageous acts and staunch support of Aragorn over the past month fell away as nothing. The warrior bowed his head and hunched his shoulders in abject shame and remorse, prepared to accept whatever punishment was deemed appropriate for such a treacherous deed as his.

Not a word was spoken. It seemed as though all within the tent held their breath, waiting.

Slowly, Frodo stood. He endeavored to swallow his fear and stepped toward the Man. Then he took another step and stopped, still several paces away.

Gradually, Boromir’s knees seemed to buckle, and he knelt. Still, without looking at Frodo, he bowed at his waist, then sat back on his heels. He continued to bend until his face touched the ground and his hands reached forward and lay inches from the hobbit’s feet.

Frodo’s eyes widened, in surprise and wonder, at Boromir’s utter submission. Tentatively, he reached out his bandaged hand and touched the Man’s shoulder.

Boromir trembled but otherwise did not move.

Long moments passed, then Frodo murmured, “I understand. It was not you, but the Ring. More than you know, I understand...” Frodo cleared his throat. “I forgive you.”

Boromir shuddered, and tears began to flow, slowly at first, then in a torrent.

Frodo shifted his marred hand to gently encourage Boromir to rise from his almost prone position. The warrior raised tormented eyes and found himself face to face with the Ring-bearer, who searched his eyes, intently.

Unable to bear it, Boromir stared steadfastly at the ground again for a moment, then found himself compelled to look again into the steady gaze of the Ring-bearer. Finally, he choked through his tears, "I am sorry, Frodo."

Frodo smiled in reassurance, tears streaming down his cheeks. "I know. The deed is done. It is over... for both of us."

The merest of smiles of understanding passed between the two.

Boromir could not move, captured by the forgiveness in Frodo’s eyes.

At last, Frodo slipped his arms around Boromir’s neck and embraced him. Boromir hesitated then returned the embrace, gently, and wept.