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Deleted Scenes (PG-13) Print

Written by Ithiliana

29 March 2004 | 11275 words

Title: Deleted Scenes
By: Ithiliana
Pairings: Frodo/Faramir, Frodo/Sam
Rating: PG-13

Summary: The DELETED scenes that I’d like to see make it back into THE TWO TOWERS. This story draws on both Tolkien’s book and Jackson’s film, interspersed with all the fun stuff that they left out, all about Frodo and Faramir’s meeting in Ithilien. Frodo and Sam have been lovers since Lothlorien, but he understands when Frodo falls (hard) for Faramir since (after all), Frodo and Sam will be leaving soon!

Disclaimer: This story is fan fiction, no intention to trespass on copyright, and I make no money off it at all (despite the capitalist belief that people work just for money!).

Feedback: always appreciated.

Achnowledgements

Thanks to Entwife for being (as usual) a great beta!

Thanks for baranduin for encouragement to write Frodo/Faramir (as well as David/Elijah) and for making me think of BACKRUBS (starts to purr and arch my back).

The story is also especially for baranduin and claudia603 who seem to be fellow travelers on this road of Frodo/Faramir enjoyment (in my case, obsession, but I don’t want to * cough * assume anything about others). Hope to see more F/F fics SOON!

This story covers the time from Frodo and Sam’s capture in Ithilien to the end of the Osgiliath sequence, drawing from both the FILM and the BOOK, although I’ve added a couple of days and more importantly NIGHTS to the chronology.

Italicized sections below are heavily cribbed from Tolkien’s book (although altered-he did write a LOT of long speeches… the perils of being an academic!). Other sections use dialogue from the film (as best I remember it! will have to see again to correct!! only seen it 30 times so still do not have it all memorized), although I’m shifting the narrative to Frodo’s point of view.


The Two Towers: Deleted Scenes

Frodo lay on the ground, half-stunned, trying to breathe. The tall man in green and brown, face masked, leaned down and pulled him to his feet. Frodo saw Sam on the ground, another man holding a sword to his throat. They should have left earlier, but Sam had been happy watching the oliphaunts until the arrows started flying. Sam had been so unhappy ever since he’d asked Smeagol to lead them to Mordor that he hadn’t the heart to force him away from the spectacle.

The tall man looped an arm around his throat and held him tight. Frodo tugged at the arm, feeling helpless. As he had when Boromir tried to take the Ring on Amon Hen. Other men appeared soundlessly from the bushes.

“Bind their hands,” said a man wearing the same green and brown as the others but without a mask. Frodo stared at him, seeing his face half shadowed by his hood. Piercing blue eyes and reddish gold hair seemed almost familiar.

The man who’d thrown him down him pulled his arms behind his back and tied his wrists tightly, then bound a black cloth over Frodo’s face. Frodo felt large hands descend on his shoulders and push him roughly ahead. He was forced to walk without being able to see, always aware of the large man’s bulk behind him. He began to pant, feeling the weight of the Ring around his neck increase, unable to breathe freely through the tight cloth bound over his face. What was going to happen? Where were they going?

After what seemed like hours being pushed along rough paths, Frodo could tell they were going uphill. He could hear the sound of a waterfall and feel dampness on his face. Frodo felt himself picked up and handed to someone, who turned and handed him off to yet another. After he’d been handed off to four or five more men and was feeling dizzy from the turns in mid-air, he was suddenly set back on his feet.

“Here they are, Captain Faramir.”

Hands fumbled at his wrists, untying the bonds, and then the cloth was pulled away from his face. Rubbing his wrists to try to restore some feeling in his hands, he looked around, seeking Sam first, relieved to see him standing next to him.

They were in a cave, many men moving around them, a veil of water falling over the open mouth of the cave behind them.

The man who had commanded the others, who must be Faramir, approached them. “My men tell me that you are orc spies,” he said.

“Spies!” Sam exclaimed. “Now wait just a minute…”

“Well, if you are not spies, then what are you?” The man paused a moment, sitting down on a low chair made from a barrel. “Speak.”

Frodo swallowed. “We are Hobbits of the Shire. My name is Frodo Baggins, and this is Samwise Gamgee.”

“Your bodyguard?” the man said, looking amused.

“His gardener,” Sam replied. [Entwife says I must note in square brackets here: audience laugher. Because they always do. So: AUDIENCE LAUGHS.]

“Where is your companion? That gangrel creature? He had an ill favored look.”

Frodo tried to keep his voice even. “There was no other. We set out from Rivendell with seven companions. One, we lost in Moria. Two were my kin. A Dwarf there was also, and an Elf. And two men: Aragorn, son of Arathorn, and Boromir of Gondor.”

The man straightened in his seat, gaze intent. “You were a friend of Boromir?”

“Yes. For my part.”

The man rose, turning his back to them, pacing away to the edge of the cave. Then he turned to face them. “Then it would grieve you, to learn that he is dead?”

“Dead? How?”

“I had thought that as his companion you might tell me.” A long pause. His voice roughened. “He was my brother.”

Frodo could think of nothing to say. He had barely escaped from Boromir when he tried to take the Ring. Now, he was taken by a company of men, all warlike and strong.

Frodo had felt uneasy around Boromir from the start, no matter how much Merry and Pippin had liked him and sought his attention. Even after Boromir had helped Aragorn save him when the Watcher in the Pool attacked outside the Gate of Moria, even after Boromir had held him back when he would have run to Gandalf at the Bridge of Khazad-Dum, saving his life, Frodo had not trusted him.

His eyes had shone too brightly when he’d held the Ring while climbing Caradhras. And he’d wanted the Ring for Gondor. What would his brother want?

Now Faramir stood before them, face stern. Frodo said nothing.

“Mablung, Damrod, feed them, but keep them separate. I’ll speak to them later.”

Two of the men left what they’d been doing across the cave, and, grabbing Frodo and Sam by the shoulders, took them out of what Frodo soon realized was a single cave among others. The effect was of a labrynth, dark and twisting. Candles set on ledges and a few torches in brackets gave an uncertain light.

Smaller caves opened up in the rock around them. Some openings had doors clumsily fitted with bars across them. The men stopped by one, unbarred and opened it, and pushed Sam inside. As soon as the door shut, Frodo heard Sam pounding on it, calling his name.

Frodo was taken further down to another door. He was pushed inside, left in the dark when the door slammed shut. He shivered. The air inside the caves was cold and damp. But as he had realized in Moria, he was able to see more in the dark since his wounding. Slowly, he moved forward. The space he was in was small, a half-dozen paces long perhaps, not quite that wide. The floor was sand over rock.

Sinking down, his back against the wall, Frodo drew his knees up and wrapped his elven cloak around him, resting his head on his knees. The rock around him kept all sound out. All he could hear was the beating of his heart. The Ring emitted a cold malice. His shoulder ached.

One of the men who’d put him in the room brought him food: bread, cheese, dried fruit. No utensils, just the food on a wooden plate. And a goblet of wine. After so long eating only lembas, he ate and drank eagerly despite his fears. After finishing, he sat alone in the dark, weary and afraid.

Frodo didn’t know how long he’d been sitting in the dark when he heard the bar outside the door lifted. Perhaps he had dozed. He raised his head, blinking his eyes in what seemed to be a blinding light. He realized it was only a torch held by Faramir.

“We must talk further, Frodo Baggins,” he said, coming into the room and placing the torch in a bracket on the wall beside the door. The door shut behind him but was not barred. Frodo wondered vaguely if he could somehow get past the man, escape, if he put on the Ring. But his thought of putting it on caused an outpouring of malice and glee from the Ring. Frodo shuddered. He could not wear the Ring now, so close to the Black Land.

Faramir considered him for a moment, then knelt down.

much cribbing from TT follows in this “deleted scene”

“I am commanded to slay all whom I find in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor. But I would not slay man or beast needlessly, and take the time to judge your situation. But there is much you have not told me, Frodo.”

Frodo sat as straight as he could. “I am not free to speak as I would. You are Boromir’s brother. Perhaps you know of his dream in which he saw a pale light in the West and learned that Isildur’s Bane has awoken, the prophecy of the Doom of Man?”

Faramir nodded. “I know of this dream, and it is some token of your truth that you also know of it.”

“The Nine of us set out from Rivendell on a journey that concerned Isildur’s Bane. What I would ask is how do you know of Boromir’s death? He was alive and strong when we parted.” Frodo kept his voice even although he feared that the orcs he had fled may have killed the others. He remembered how Aragorn had commanded him to run and gone out to face the orcs alone.

“Some eleven days ago, at night, I was sitting by the waters of Anduin, keeping guard. We must watch the shores near Osgiliath which is partly held by our enemies. As I sat there, thinking all the world asleep, I saw a boat on the River. Small and grey, it was surrounded by a pale light. I was afraid, but drawn to it,” Faramir paused, sorrow marking his face. “The boat was full of clear water, shining, and in the water lay my brother Boromir, dead. The boat passed me, like a dream. And yet it was no dream.”

“When we left Lothlorien, the elves provided us with grey boats of their making, with which we traveled down the Great River to the Falls of Rauros. It was there I left my companions as orcs attacked us,” Frodo hesitated, careful of saying too much. He did not want to tell Faramir of his brother’s attack on him or his desire for the Ring.

“So you can tell me nothing of his death?”

“Nothing. But if your reckoning of days is right, that was the day Sam and I left, and you fill me with dread. For if Boromir was slain, I fear all my companions perished as well. Will you not put aside your doubt of me and let me go? I have a deed to do, or to attempt, before I too am slain. And all the more so if we two hobbits are all that remain.”

Faramir shifted. “I cannot. We are at war, and Sauron is marshalling more forces against us as we speak. You must tell me more of Isildur’s Bane. All know that Isildur was killed by an orc’s arrow, but how could one more orc arrow be the sign of the Doom of Man?”

Frodo sat silent, shutting his eyes to avoid Faramir’s penetrating gaze, like and unlike Boromir’s. He could not lie to this man, yet he could feel the Ring reaching out to try Faramir’s defenses, to wear him down as he had Boromir.

“I cannot tell you. Gandalf told me..”

“You know Gandalf?” Faramir interrupted him.

“I knew him for years. He was my friend and guide before…”

Faramir’s voice sharpened. “Why do you say ‘knew’ and ‘was’?”

Behind his closed eyes, Frodo saw Gandalf stagger, then fall into the abyss, a sight he saw in his dreams every night. “Gandalf fell in Moria.”

“These are evil tidings.”

A pause, and Frodo heard Faramir move, then felt him sit down again, closer to Frodo. A warm hand settled on Frodo’s shoulder.

“Frodo. Look at me.”

Trying to gather his strength, Frodo opened his eyes and looked up, straight into the blue eyes that seemed to read all his thoughts. Could he keep anything from this man? He feared not. The Ring burned gleefully against his chest.

After carrying it for so long, Frodo thought he could tell when it was becoming more active. He’d felt a similar sensation, growing in strength, the last time he’d talked to Boromir as his pleasant face changed expression, growing hideous when he claimed the Ring for his own.

Faramir’s voice startled him, pulled him from the memory of Boromir’s attack. “I knew the Grey Pilgrim from my childhood. We called him Mithrandir, but he told me once he was known as Gandalf in the North. An evil fate has pursued your fellowship although it is hard to believe that one so wise and powerful could perish from Middle Earth. I believe that you mean no harm to Gondor, but you must tell me more. Otherwise, I must take you back to stand before my father, Denethor, Steward of Gondor.”

Frodo heard Faramir’s voice change as he said his father’s name and shivered. A note harsh and cold as iron sounded. Frodo pressed his hand to his chest, feeling as if he had to hold the Ring back. It wanted to go to Gondor. He could tell.

“Please….let me go.” He curled into himself more tightly, burying his face against his knees, feeling Faramir’s warm hand slide over his shoulder to rest on his back.

The two sat there a moment, not moving. Frodo was shivering from cold and exhaustion as well as the attempt to control the Ring, fearing to look at Faramir, afraid he would see that same hideous distortion of his features.

Time passed, measured only by the beating of Frodo’s heart. He was surprised to feel the hand move gently, tracing circles on his shoulder blades, back and forth. A gentle warmth began to build in Frodo. As he began to breathe more easily, he could feel the Ring subside, lighten, the sullen weight fading away, as Faramir’s attention shifted from Denethor and Gondor to….something else. To someone else.

Frodo felt both hands cup his head, gentle fingers running through his curls. Light pressure encouraged him to look up into what he now saw were the gentlest blue eyes in the world.

Faramir leaned over, slowly, giving Frodo every chance to pull away. Frodo found himself leaning forward as well, his hands moving from trying to restrain the Ring to touching the emblem of the White Tree on Faramir’s chest.

They embraced, their lips coming together like fire, flames building inside each of them that each somehow felt inside the other, feeding on each other’s feelings.

Frodo fell forward, or perhaps Faramir pulled him into his arms, to hold him more closely. Frodo could still feel the Ring between them, but only the weight not the active malice that had been growing, not that sense of another’s will seeking to dominate his.

As his mouth opened to Faramir’s probing tongue, even the sensation of weight dissipated. He wrapped his arms and legs around the warm body, straining upward. Only slowly did he realize that Faramir was pulling back, holding him by the arms, trying to push him away.

He moaned softly, tightening his legs, thrusting his hips forward, grinding himself against Faramir’s legs. He could feel what Faramir was feeling, the same hot tingling circling in, focusing and growing to a single ache, an ache that only the other could heal. Not only that, he could feel the other’s hardness as well.

Why was Faramir pushing him away?

“Frodo, no. Listen to me, Frodo, please.”

Reluctantly, Frodo opened his eyes.

“We cannot do this. Please, Frodo.” Sweat glistened on Faramir’s face, but he kept exerting gentle pressure to push Frodo away.

Frodo relaxed his legs and allowed Faramir to move him gently to the cold floor beside him, one arm around his shoulders.

The Ring swung heavily against his chest. He looked away from Faramir, ashamed.

“Frodo? Are you all right?”

“I was.” Frodo sighed. For a brief time he had almost forgotten the Ring, the growing burden of it, his fear that the quest would claim his life. Almost. But it all crashed down on him again.

A sudden pounding on the door behind them shocked Frodo.

“Captain Faramir? You must come.”

Faramir came easily to his feet. “I’m coming.” He paused a moment, looking at Frodo, still sitting at his feet, then pushed the door open. “Put Frodo with Samwise. We don’t need to keep them separated any more.”

“Yes, sir.”

As Faramir left the room, the man outside, one of the two who had captured them, came in and pulled Frodo to his feet. Taking the torch, he pushed Frodo along the corridor, unbarred a door and let Frodo enter.

Sam looked up, blinking in the light. “Mr. Frodo!”

The light disappeared when the man shut the door and barred it, but Frodo moved cautiously forward, sitting down next to Sam.

Sam leaned forward, fumbling in the dark, to run his hands over Frodo’s arms. “Are you all right? What happened?”

“Nothing bad, Sam. Captain Faramir asked me more questions. He told me he’d seen Boromir, dead, in an elven boat on the River. He knows about the dream, about Isildur’s Bane.” Frodo paused. So much had happened in so brief a time. He could not tell Sam about what had just happened with Faramir. He had never lied to Sam, but he just couldn’t tell him this.

“We have to be careful. He’s Boromir’s brother, and he’s going to want the Ring if he finds out about it.” Sam sounded worried. Frodo had told him about Boromir’s attempt, of course, during one of the long cold nights when they lay in each other’s arms on the Emyn Muil.

“I know, Sam.” Frodo’s hand crept up to press against the Ring. “But his orders are to kill anyone he finds in this land without leave from his father, the Steward of Gondor. The best we can hope for is that he’ll take us back to answer to Denethor.”

“That’s bad.”

They sat for a few minutes in the dark.

Sam said, “No matter what happens, we can’t do anything about it now. I don’t know what time it is, but we need to sleep.”

“Yes,” Frodo said. “I could sleep even here.”

“Then let me hold you.”

Sam scooted over, and they lay down together, Frodo on the inside, with Sam’s arms and cloak around him. Held warmly by Sam, Frodo’s thoughts drifted back to Faramir’s kiss in the brief moment before he fell asleep

Frodo woke to find Faramir bending over him. For a second old fears seized him and he sat up and shrank away.

“There is nothing to fear,” said Faramir.

“Is it morning?” asked Frodo yawning, conscious of the warmth of Sam curled against his back as well as the gentle look in Faramir’s eyes.

“No, but I desire your counsel. Will you come?”

“I will,” said Frodo, rising and shivering a little in the cold air.

As soon as he left Sam’s side, Sam woke suddenly, his hand flying to his empty swordbelt. “Frodo!”

“I’m here, Sam.”

“You may come with your master, Samwise, if you wish. I have asked him to advise me.” Faramir stood over them, two men at his back.

Sam stood next to Frodo. “I’ll come.”

They passed through the cave, past rows of men sleeping along the wall. As they went by the cave-mouth Frodo saw that the water was now become a dazzling veil of silk and pearls and silver thread: melting icicles of moonlight. But he could not pause to admire it. Frodo and Sam followed Faramir through a narrow doorway in the wall of the cave. They went along a black passage, then up many wet steps, and so came to a path that led to a flight of steps that climbed steeply up. At last they came out of the stony darkness.

Frodo followed Faramir out onto a path, feeling Sam’s warm bulk still at his back, knowing that the two men followed them, silently. To their right, the torrent fell, splashing over many terraces, filled with a dark force of water flecked with foam. Frodo lifted his eyes. Past Faramir, far off in the West the full moon was sinking. Pale mists shimmered below. A black darkness loomed beyond, and in it glinted, here and there, cold, sharp, remote, the peaks of the White Mountains of the realm of Gondor.

Sam muttered to him, “It’s a fine view, Mr. Frodo, but chilly. What’s going on?”

Faramir looked back at them. When he spoke, his voice was low. “This path is narrow, Frodo, so you cannot both come. Samwise, you only accompany your master, so please stay back. Frodo, look. Down there.”

Frodo stepped forward and looked down. Far below he saw a dark pool surrounded by rocks fed by the fall beside him. A frog-like figure dived into the pool. A moment later it emerged, pulling itself up onto a rock, a fish in its mouth. Frodo’s heart sank. Smeagol.

“To enter the Forbidden Pool is death.” Faramir said.

Frodo looked up at him then saw the groups of men on either side of them, bows bent.

“They wait for my command. Shall I shoot?” Faramir raised his hand, looking intently at Frodo.

Frodo writhed inside, shivering with pity and disgust. He had lied to Faramir, and now Faramir was forcing him to either speak or to see Smeagol killed before his eyes. A long breath, then, “Wait. This creature is bound to me, and I to him.”

Frodo looked up at Faramir, fearing what he would see in his eyes, to meet a quizzical glance.

“Let me go down to him, please.”

Faramir nodded, gesturing for one of the men to lead Frodo down to the pool. Frodo went quietly, looking down when he saw Sam’s accusing eyes.


(This next scene takes place after Gollum’s capture-which I may or may not put in-I can delete a scene too, heh! and am getting impatient to get to the Good Stuff! Who wants to hang around cold riverbank any longer, getting splashed with cold water (shiver), Gollum smelling all fishy (bleah), rather get back to the cave and what WOULD have been a nice warm fire if I didn’t inconveniently reread these chapters last night to discover that NO FIRES ARE ALLOWED in the cave which makes strategic sense, but oh, darn….anyway, back to that nice cave that is warmer than the riverbank and smells much less of fish)

Faramir escorted Frodo back to the cave after directing his men to bind Gollum and to take Samwise back to the barred room. Wrapping his elven cloak more closely around him, Frodo shivered as they left the dark passage. Faramir looked around at the sleeping men, then directed Frodo to a smaller room. One torch cast a dim light over the supplies against the walls.

Faramir pulled a stool out for Frodo to sit on and got them both wine. Then he sat cross legged on the floor in front of Frodo.

Frodo clasped the goblet in both hands, staring down into the red depths. Silence.

“Frodo.”

He refused to look up. Faramir’s hand slipped under his chin, pushing up until their eyes met.

“You do know this creature then. You must speak. His life is forfeit by our laws.”

“As are mine and Sam’s. By your laws.” Frodo stared defiantly at Faramir.

“I have not yet reached a judgment concerning you and Samwise. Can you tell me why this creature should be spared? You say you are bound. What is he to you, and you to him?” Faramir’s tone was even, not harsh, but had no trace of the gentleness Frodo remembered in his voice and lips from before. But the hand cupping his chin was warm, the touch feather light.

A long pause, then, Frodo answered as briefly as he dared. “He is our guide.”

“Where is he leading you?”

“I cannot say.” Frodo shut his eyes, turned his head sharply away from Faramir.

“I see. Come with me, and I will take you back to Samwise.”

Refusing to look at Faramir, Frodo got up and followed him back to the barred room and went inside. At least this time, Faramir left them a candle.

Sam jumped up as the bar fell across the door. “Frodo!”

“Nothing happened, Sam.”

They sat side by side, Sam’s arm around Frodo.

“You should use the Ring, Mr. Frodo. Put it on and escape,” Sam said.

“I can’t, Sam. I’m sorry…you were right. The Ring is taking me. If I put it on, He’d see me. He’d take me.” Frodo shuddered, and Sam draped his elven cloak over his shoulders and knees, then, held him, strong and warm.

Frodo closed his eyes and rested his head on Sam’s shoulder.

He and Sam had been friends since they met when Bilbo took Frodo in after his parents drowned. The other Hobbits in the area were not very friendly to him, considering him an Outsider from Buckland and, more than that, thinking of Bilbo as queer because of his travels and reading.

But the Gaffer, who worked in Bilbo’s garden and lived just down the road in Bagshot Row, and his family didn’t share the general opinion of Bilbo’s queerness. Sam didn’t shun Frodo like the other Hobbit children did, and he and Frodo roamed the woods of the Shire together, looking for mushrooms. More, they learned to read books together, Bilbo encouraging both of them to learn to read despite the prejudice against it in the Shire.

In recent years, they hadn’t been able to spend as much time together because Sam had to take over more and more of his Gaffer’s job. At times Frodo felt guilty because Bilbo’s money meant that he had so much more leisure than Sam did. He could read more, learn Elvish. But whenever he saw Sam in the garden, he could see Sam’s delight and love for all growing things, and sometimes he envied Sam.

Sam would not be left behind when Frodo had to leave the Shire. He had been spying on Frodo and Gandalf before he was caught, and he dearly wanted to see the Elves.

Frodo wondered what Gandalf had feared, that he made Sam promise never to leave him, but Frodo would never know because Gandalf had fallen.

And then he and Sam had become lovers in Lothlorien. Maybe that’s what Gandalf had meant.

Frodo remembered the day vividly.


Sitting under one of the huge mallorn trees, Frodo stretched his toes out and relaxed, drowsing in the shade the tree cast. A gentle breeze rustled through the leaves, and the constant sense of song this place evoked in him was running in his mind. He didn’t remember how many days they’d been here, but he was beginning to feel healed, stronger, more able to go on.

The magic in this place, that Sam had complained about not seeing, was a song that seemed to run in his mind day and night, to flow from ground, tree, and sky, into his veins, making him feel better than he had in months, since before he left the Shire because he hadn’t felt this good even in Rivendell after his wounding on Weathertop.

“Mr. Frodo,” a voice woke him. “Are you all right?”

He opened his eyes to see Sam standing above him, looking anxious. Poor Sam, he’d spent so much time since they left Rivendell worrying about him. Frodo smiled at him.

“Perfectly all right, Sam, dear. Just dozing after that huge lunch.”

Sam sat down beside him, stroking his arm. “There was far too little to eat between Rivendell and here. I was glad to see you eating like a hobbit again!”

“Lie down, Sam, or I’ll get a crick in my neck trying to talk to you. The ground in Lothlorien is much more comfortable than in the Shire—superior Elf grass, no doubt!” Frodo grinned, remembering Sam’s complaint about the dirty great tree roots sticking in his back. Neither had thought they would be able to sleep on the ground although they had soon learned better. After Strider dragged them on one of his day-long marches, they’d slept like the dead.

Frodo shivered a little at that thought, and Sam leaned up on his elbow to check on him.

“Are you sure you’re all right?”

Frodo laughed out loud, startling himself. He was feeling so much better, and Sam refused to believe it. Maybe he just had to prove it to him!

Refusing to think about what he was doing, Frodo reached out and grabbed Sam around the neck, pulling him down, kissing him on the mouth. After a startled moment, Sam returned the kiss. Frodo opened his lips, probing with his tongue, sharing an even deeper kiss with growing enthusiasm. He could feel Sam’s enthusiasm growing as well.

Sam raised his head a moment, running his hand through Frodo’s hair, looking deep into his eyes. “Are you sure?” he asked.

Frodo laughed and ran his hands up under Sam’s suspenders, sliding them off his shoulders. “Sam, dear, do you think I’m an idiot?”

“No, of course not, why would you think that?” Sam blushed.

“Because you’re always asking me if I’m sure, or if I’m all right, or if I’m hungry. I know you promised Gandalf you’d look after me,” Frodo levered his leg around Sam’s and rolled him over on his back, ending up on top. “But maybe you need to get a little more imaginative about how you’re taking care of me!”

He luxuriated in the soft firmness beneath him, and laughed again when Sam’s strong arms flew around him like wild birds released from a trap.

They were alternately ravenous and shy with each other that first time, tearing at each other’s clothes, kissing skin pale from the winter’s travel, then blushing and turning aside. One would hesitate, afraid of hurting the other, who only wanted more and more…..but their timing soon improved.


Frodo smiled in the dark, feeling the steady rise and fall of Sam’s breath. He raised his head, lips brushing Sam’s cheek, searching for his warm mouth. Sam’s arms tightened around him, his mouth opening to Frodo’s tongue.

The door banged open, and light flooded the small room. Frodo and Sam froze like small animals cornered by a predator. It was Faramir, looming tall in the doorway. He drew his sword.

Frodo and Sam jumped up, moving away from each other, trained by Aragorn to know that standing together would make them an easier target.

“So this is the answer to all the riddles,” Faramir said slowly, advancing on Frodo, the sword pointed at his breast.

Frodo shivered, seeing the vacancy in his eyes, the hardness of his face, feeling the Ring’s malice growing, feeding on Faramir’s lust for One Ring, his lust for Frodo. He backed away slowly, Faramir following. But there was no room to escape.

“Here I have you, in the Wild, two Halflings, and a host of men at my command. And the Ring of Power is within my grasp.”

Frodo backed into the wall behind him, unable to retreat any further. Gollum had told Faramir about the Ring!

Sam stood, helpless, across the room, hands clenched.

Faramir’s sword delicately slipped down Frodo’s skin, under his shirt, burning cold, sliding under the chain the Ring hung upon to pull it out. The sharp blade tilted, shining and deadly, near Frodo’s throat, and Faramir’s eyes burned into him.

Frodo could hear the One Ring calling to Faramir, offering him power greater than either Denethor or Boromir had ever known, the kingship and restoration of the White Tree, complete victory over Sauron, Osgiliath regaining her lost power and beauty, a Queen among cities.

Frodo could feel himself slipping under the dark wave Faramir did not see rising behind his vision of the Shining City, the wave like the foul water closing over his head in the Dead Marshes. He could feel the Ring gloating over its conquest, using Faramir’s own nobility and desire to help his City to rape him, take him down into Darkness with the dead. Frodo could not allow that to happen.

“No,” he shouted, knocking the swordblade away, and throwing himself across the room, scrabbling at the wall behind Sam. Lost in the blazing fury of the Ring, intent only on escaping, saving Faramir, he shoved at the wall.

“Stop is! Leave him alone,” Sam confronted Faramir. “Don’t you understand? He’s got to destroy it. That’s where we’re going, into Mordor, to the Mountain of Fire. Please, it’s such a burden. Will you not help him?”

Frodo could tell by Sam’s voice that he was weeping but could not help him. He had to go, get away. His hands clawed at the rock, and he pushed himself up the rough cave wall, climbing, seeking for traction.

“Captain Faramir. Osgiliath is under attack. They are calling for reinforcement…..Captain!”

Frodo tried to press himself through the wall, feeling the Ring growing, throbbing, the fiery wheel, the Eye, blazing in his mind, coming to take him.

“Prepare to leave.” Faramir’s voice. “The Ring will go to Gondor. Sam, go with Damrod and make sure Frodo’s and your packs are ready for the journey to Osgiliath.”

Silence.

Frodo was alone in the Dark, with the Eye.

Warm hands gently grasped his shoulders, turned him away from the cave wall.

“Frodo, please, listen to me. I will take you and Sam to Minas Tirith. You will both be safe there, the Ring will be safe, a weapon to hold over Sauron’s. You will be healed there, I promise you.”

Frodo shook his head, staring into Faramir’s eyes. He was still standing on a small ledge, so they were eye to eye. He couldn’t speak, but he had to make him understand. He could feel that Faramir believed what he was saying, that the Ring was masking its evil with beauty, making these promises to Faramir.

More than that, he could feel Faramir’s feelings for Frodo himself, loving and deep, that the Ring was trying to pervert. His apparent severity was an attempt to act the role of military leader that Boromir had been so brilliant at. His father and his people needed that military leader now.

Deep down, Faramir preferred reading, gardens, the quiet talk that Frodo himself so loved. He had to do what his people and city needed, as Frodo was pushing himself to act since he had volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor at the Council of Elrond.

Frodo hated the insights the Ring was giving him but was horribly aroused. This knowledge was unnatural, unfair, but he wanted to feel more of Faramir. He twisted away from Faramir’s hands, but instead of trying to escape, flung his arms around his neck, forcing his mouth open in a frantic kiss.

Faramir’s arms closed around him in return, his body thrusting forward to pin Frodo’s against the cave wall. Frodo felt his hands sliding down his back, inside his pants, closing on the soft flesh, cupping underneath, probing inside. Frodo pulled his legs up and around Faramir’s waist and thrust forward.

Driven by the Ring and his own fears, Frodo did not want gentleness, only forgetfulness, and he sensed Faramir felt the same. There was no time for anything beyond brutal haste, a mutual release not mutual pleasure, both seeking a darkness that could drown the flaming Eye.

They achieved it within a few minutes, and Faramir sank to his knees, still holding Frodo. For a few moments, the only sound was their breathing, harsh, sobbing.

Faramir was the first to recover. Moving carefully, he unwound Frodo and set him gently down, then he left. Frodo sat huddled on the cold floor. The Ring had subsided, but he wondered how much of a hold it had gained on Faramir. When Faramir returned, he was holding Frodo’s pack and a cloth.

Kneeling beside Frodo, he set the pack and cloth down beside him. “We will be leaving for Osgiliath soon. You and Sam will travel with us, unbound, but we will have to keep this Gollum creature bound.” He caressed Frodo’s head. “We will talk, later, I promise. Here,” pressing the warm, damp cloth into Frodo’s hand. “Come out when you are ready.” He rose to join his men.

“Faramir.”

“Yes, Frodo?”

“You must let me go.” Frodo’s hands closed on the cloth, twisting convulsively. “The Ring..”

“The Ring will go to Gondor, Frodo. Come out when you are ready.”

Frodo used the cloth to clean himself, then picked up his pack and followed Faramir.

They left Henneth Annûn before it was light. Frodo and Sam were unbound, as Faramir had promised, with their weapons and packs restored to them for the march. However, a tall man marched behind each, hands on their shoulders. Gollum’s hands were bound, and one of the men held the rope, sword in hand, driving him along.

A long day’s march led them through the glades of Ithihlien. Frodo wished he had more time to appreciate the beauty of the trees and shrubs, the early spring flowers (Sam would know their names). They had traveled far South since leaving the Shire, but only in this lost garden of Gondor had they seen the approach of spring. But there was no time. He was pushed along, straining to keep up with the long strides of Faramir’s men.

The men finally stopped after dark to make camp in a clearing. Gollum was tied to a tree, but Frodo and Sam allowed to sit side by side although Frodo noticed that at least one of the men was always watching them.

Frodo saw with sorrow that Gollum would not meet his eyes. With what little emotion he had to spare, Frodo was sorry that Smeagol felt betrayed. He could not make him understand that the betrayal was the only way to save his life. As he sat beside Sam, Frodo wondered if perhaps death would have been better.

After eating, most of the men rolled up in their cloaks and slept. Those on watch could be seen around the fire, and, Frodo suspected, were also in the woods. He doubted even a hobbit could escape from these men, any more than from the Rangers of the North.

Frodo and Sam lay down beside each other, but not as close to each other as they did when they were alone. Frodo could tell by Sam’s regular breathing that he was asleep, but although Frodo was aching from the long day’s march, he could not sleep. Not yet.

Hearing someone approach, Frodo sat up. He was not surprised to see Faramir.

“Will you come with me, Frodo?”

Frodo nodded and stood up. Faramir’s voice was low, pleasant. He seemed to be himself again, and Frodo noticed that he was not wearing his sword.

They walked quietly past the guards in the clearing, Faramir nodding to them as they passed.

“We dare not go far from camp, not out of sight of the fire. Although formerly Orcs did not dare come this close to the River, in the last year, this has changed.” Faramir stopped, sat down.

Frodo stood in front of him. The silence grew.

“I had not realized that Halflings could move so quietly in the woods,” said Faramir. “Your people would make excellent—”

“Spies?” Frodo asked, coldly. “Slaves under the Dark Lord would have little choice, no doubt, but to follow orders.”

“I did not mean that,” Faramir protested. “I mean you and your people no harm, Frodo!”

Frodo sighed and sank to the ground beside Faramir. He could feel Faramir’s sincerity and desire to help. The Ring was quiescent at the moment although he no longer made the mistake of thinking it inactive. But apparently the fact that they were moving toward the White City satisfied it.

“I know. I’m sorry, but, you must understand. If the Ring goes to Gondor, if it is claimed by you or your father, then the world will be lost.” Frodo hoped he could make Faramir understand.

“Do not fear-we know the Enemy’s Ring is evil. But holding the Ring, keeping it from him, will weaken him.”

Frodo wondered if telling Faramir what happened to Boromir would change his mind, would help him see the danger of the Ring.

He saw again the hideous way Boromir’s face had changed, heard the grating in his voice as he promised torments as if seeing them in a vision, that “they will find you, they will take the Ring, and you will beg for death before they are done.” Frodo could almost feel Boromir’s hard hands tearing at his clothes, probing his body, searching for the Ring, claiming it for himself, before Frodo had slipped it on and escaped.

No, he couldn’t tell Faramir about his brother.

Faramir’s warm arm slid around his shoulders. “Frodo, I wanted to talk to you about what happened. Forgive me.”

Frodo had been so intent on trying to convince Faramir to let him go that he had almost forgotten…almost but not entirely as the warm feeling that swept over his body forced him to admit.

“Why are you apologizing? I seem to remember…..” Frodo searched for words, “well, grabbing you first.”

“True, but, I could have, should have, stopped it.”

Frodo scooted closer to Faramir, trying to see as much of his face as possible in the moonlit dark.

“You did stop me once,” Frodo pointed out.

“True,” Faramir breathed out a low laugh. “If you are representative of the species, hobbits are apparently stubborn creatures.”

“We are. But, truly, Faramir, I was seeking…...something myself, perhaps using you. Perhaps I should be apologizing.”

“Perhaps we can agree to both apologize, and to accept each other’s apology.”

“Very well.”

Frodo felt comfortable in the silence that followed, oddly safe, and disappointed when Faramir rose to his feet again.

“We should not linger here-you need to sleep. We will reach Osgiliath tomorrow.”

Faramir extended his hand, and Frodo accepted it and being pulled to his feet. He felt, well, disappointed, though he didn’t know what he expected. They walked back to camp together, and Frodo wrapped himself in his cloak, lying down next to Sam.

The next day’s march was the same as the first. He had no chance to talk to either Sam or Faramir.

As the sun was setting, they climbed a last hill covered in heather. From the top, Frodo could see a large city made of stone built along both banks of a great river. Smoke was rising from the city.

“Osgiliath burns! Mordor has come,” came mutters from around him.

The Ring roused again, fierce glee at the sight and sound flooding through Frodo. He staggered, pressing his hand to his chest. Turning, frantic, he appealed to Faramir again.

“The Ring will not save Gondor. It has only the power to destroy. Please, let me go!”

The failing light seemed to turn all their faces grey, stonelike.

Faramir looked at him as if he didn’t recognize him. “Hurry.”

The man behind Frodo seized his shoulders, pushing him forward. For the first time, Frodo tried to fight him, twisting against the strength of the large hands. “Faramir! You must let me go!”

No answer. The men moved quickly around them, dragging Gollum and pushing Sam and Frodo towards the city.

As they entered the city, Frodo could see many men in black armor in the streets, defending it. Stones and arrows rained around them, and Faramir’s men broke formation, moving single file through the streets, dodging. The man who held Frodo placed his body between the hobbit and the barrage of arrows coming from the River.

They paused when an older man leading another group of men clad in green and brown approached them. “Faramir, the orcs have taken the bridges. We’ll be overrun by nightfall.”

Faramir gestured to the men holding Frodo and Sam to come forward. Frodo clutched at Sam’s sleeve, lurching under the weight of the Ring, gasping, “His eye is almost on me, Sam.”

He could see Sam try to reply, his lips moving, but a roaring filled his ears, drowning all outside sound, until Faramir’s voice seemed to restore his hearing.

“Take them to my father. Tell him that Faramir has sent a mighty gift, a weapon that will change our fortunes in this war.” Faramir turned away to lead his men back into the battle.

The men holding the hobbits shoved them forward for others to take.

Sam suddenly fought them, pulling away, to shout at Faramir’s back. “Do you want to know what happened to Boromir?”

Faramir stopped, swinging around to stare at Sam.

Sam stared back, unafraid. “He tried to kill Frodo and take the Ring, after swearing an oath to protect him. The Ring drove your brother mad.”

Frodo swayed, feeling the sick cold that had touched him in the Shire, sought him at Bree, and attacked him on Weathertop suddenly come over him again. The Nazgûl. He looked up at Faramir. “They’ve come. They’re here.”

At that moment, a cold inhuman shriek rose over the city. Frodo could see the dark wings that had stalked them in the Dead Marshes. Men quailed at the powerful despair carried by that voice, a more potent weapon than any arrow or stone.

“Nazgûl!” Faramir shouted. He reached forward and grabbed Frodo’s cloak, pulling him along as he ran. Frodo stumbled, unable to feel his body. He could hear Sam running behind them. Faramir thrust him into an archway and told him to stay under cover. Sam joined him.

Faramir ran back to his men, shouting. Above his head, the fell beast swooped, huge and rank, ridden by the Dark King. Frodo knew from the burning in his shoulder that this Nazgûl was the one who had used the Morgul knife on him at Weathertop. A chill voice surrounded him, sapping his will.

Frodo felt as if he was shrinking, another consciousness taking over his body, forcing his legs to move. Numbly, he watched as his body moved through the battle, up a set of stairs, and came to the top of a wall. Dimly, he heard Sam shouting behind him, but he could not understand his words.

A cold and stinking wind blasted around him, and the Nazgûl riding the fell beast rose up in front of him, the invisible face, the deep blackness masked by the black robe, reaching out to Frodo. Unable to stop, he felt his hand draw out the Ring and raise it up, ready to put it on. As soon as the Ring was on his finger, the Dead King would seize him and take him to Mordor. He could feel the gloating readiness as the will of the sorcerer King, neither dead nor alive, overrode his nerves and muscles. All he could do was shut his eyes and hope he would not have to see the Wraith when it struck.

Strong arms seized him from behind, and Frodo felt himself falling backwards, strong warm hands pulling his apart. The will inside him still fought to make him put on the Ring. Opening his eyes, he saw the beast hovering, snapping at him, until struck by an arrow. The beast and its ride rose suddenly, shrieking in unison.

Frodo felt himself propelled down and over, tumbling down the flight of stairs he had climbed, held by what had to be an enemy. His will blazed up. They were always trying to take his Precious from him. He had to fight. He’d kill them.

He twisted as they hit the ground, landed on top, and drew Sting. Beneath his clutching hand, he could see the foul little orc now, grinning and slobbering at him, stinking and covered with slime. It was trying to talk. What was it saying?

“Frodo, it’s me! It’s your Sam! Don’t you know your Sam?”

Frodo blinked, panting and confused. His vision slowly cleared, and, to his horror, he saw Sting’s blade pressing into Sam’s throat! He was trying to kill Sam!

Horrified, Frodo recoiled, dropping Sting, and collapsing. “I can’t do this, Sam,” he forced out.

“I know.” Sam rolled over, feeling his throat. “It’s all wrong. We shouldn’t even be here.” He stood, clutching the wall in order to keep on his feet. “But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really matter. Full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn’t want to know the ending because how could things go back the way they were. But you realize that in the end, it’s only a passing thing, the Shadow, and when the sun shines again, it’ll shine out all the clearer. Folks in those stories had lots of changes of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. And I think I understand why they did. They had something they believed in”

“What do we believe in, Sam?” Frodo could not remember what existed beyond the darkness and the Eye.

Sam pulled him to his feet. “Why, that there’s some good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for!”

Frodo stared into Sam’s eyes, seeing the love and hope Sam felt for him, holding on to that even if he couldn’t quite believe in what Sam was saying. Maybe later he could. Faramir approached, carrying a bow and kneeling beside them. Frodo turned to face him.

“I think we understand each other now, Frodo Baggins,” Faramir told him.

The older man loomed up again. “You know the laws of our country, the laws of your father. If you release them, your life will be forfeit.”

Faramir stood. “Then it is forfeit. Release them.”

Going to his knee again, he held out his hand to Frodo. “But night is fast approaching. Will you not stay here and rest this night? I will provide you with more supplies, and in the morning, an escort to see you out of the City and on your way. I promise, you will not be detained any further.”

Frodo nodded.

Later that evening, he and Sam were resting in a small room in one of the few intact buildings on the street. They had shared the evening meal with Faramir’s men, eating at least three helpings of everything they were offered, and had finished packing the supplies Faramir had ordered be given to them. Gollum was locked in another room, but they knew he would be released with them in the morning. Sam, at least, was not happy about that.

A light step sounded outside the doorway to their room, and Sam and Frodo rose to their feet. Frodo trusted Faramir (he wasn’t sure Sam did), but still, there were many men in the city who may have heard talk of the Ring.

Frodo relaxed when he saw it was Faramir and smiled a welcome. Faramir stood just outside the doorway.

“One last time, Frodo, I have come to ask you to walk with me,” Faramir said.

Sam moved forward, hand near his sword. “Why?”

Frodo was surprised to see Sam so aggressive. “Sam, he won’t hurt me.”

“I think he already has.” Sam was now between Frodo and Faramir. “What do you want with him now?” Sam’s voice roughened, his hand now on his swordhilt.

Faramir went down on one knee. Frodo liked how he did that rather than always forcing the hobbits to crane their heads back to see his face. Few men thought about that when talking to hobbits as a result of which hobbits in the company of men often had permanent cricks in their necks!

“Sam, I am no threat to your master. I care for him greatly and would like to spend some time with him before we part. Given the nature of this war, we shall probably never see each other again.”

Frodo could not believe that Faramir had said what he said. He moved forward to stand next to Sam, placing his hand on Sam’s arm, feeling the clenched muscles. “Sam, I..” he didn’t know what to say.

“I know. I’ve known since the start. And I wasn’t asleep when you went off into the woods with him,” Sam shrugged Frodo’s hand off, still glaring at Faramir. “I won’t let you hurt him anymore than you already have.”

Frodo pulled Sam’s arm, forcing him to look away from Faramir, moving between Sam and Faramir.

“I should have told you, Sam,” he said, “but…I was afraid. He hasn’t hurt me, he hasn’t forced me. I can’t explain it. I know I love you and always will. But-” Frodo’s throat seemed to close at the hurt in Sam’s eyes, but he felt his arm relax slightly.

Sam touched Frodo’s face. “You love him, too.” It wasn’t a question, and wasn’t quite an accusation.

Frodo nodded.

Sam nodded, once, then stepped back. “All right, then. Go with him for tonight. I can’t understand it, but I love you, and if you need him tonight, I want you to have him. For tonight.”

He turned away from Frodo to confront Faramir directly. “Because we’ll have all the rest of our nights together because I’m not leaving him no matter what happens. I came on this trip to take care of him, and I’ll be the one who dies with him, if need be, Captain of Gondor, not you. I just want you to know that.”

Faramir nodded, and Frodo could see the tears shining in his eyes. Wordlessly, he bowed his head to Sam, then stood.

“Master Samwise, I know little of the North, or your homeland the Shire, but I see that even the gardeners of that land are brave and honorable beyond reckoning. If we survive this war, I hope to visit and learn from you.” Faramir held his hand out to Frodo.

Frodo hugged Sam, whispering ‘I love you’ in his ear, and took Faramir’s hand.

They walked along the streets and climbed to the top of the wall that faced the river. Frodo could not believe how peaceful the evening was, after the battle earlier. He could see a few men on guard, but the enemy seemed to have totally withdrawn. Stars were coming out overhead.

“The land dreams in a false peace,” Faramir said, pausing to look out over the River. “As far as we can tell, the Enemy has completely withdrawn for the moment. I believe it will be safe for you to travel under daylight tomorrow, although you should take care in future to travel under cover of darkness.”

They sat side by side for a while in the calm night air, talking about their pasts. The recent present had been horrifying, and Frodo doubted either of them could believe in a future. So that left their childhoods, and they found they shared much, despite the differences.

The loss of a boy’s parent in Minas Tirith was as hard as the loss of a young hobbit’s parents in the Shire. Both loved Gandalf and kept the memory of his visits green. They talked about poetry, and Faramir urged Frodo to tell him all he could of the elves at Rivendell and in Lothlorien.

“For we are sundered now and fear what we should love,” he said.

Finally, a silence fell. Frodo felt Faramir’s eyes on him, and looked up.

“Frodo, what happened before, when you were captive, should never have happened..”

“I thought we agreed to accept the apologies,” Frodo interrupted him.

“Yes, but….it was still wrong of me. And even knowing it was wrong, I could not leave you tonight, I had to come, and..”

“I’m glad you did,” Frodo said, smiling at him.

“And now that you are my guest, I should leave you to get some rest during this last night. But..” Faramir hesitated, struggling.

Frodo, though the link he had experienced with Faramir earlier was fading, thought he could guess what Faramir was afraid to say. He held out his hand. “I would rather spend this last night with you.”

Faramir grasped his hand, smiling. Without further conversation, they left the wall and returned to one of the half-ruined buildings. Inside a small room, Faramir had left his pack and bedroll along with some supplies. A small fire burned in the fireplace, and the door was intact.

“The quarters are not much,” he said, smiling at Frodo, “but I am not in command in Osgiliath, so I know we will not be interrupted.”

Now that they were alone, in the quiet, without any immediate crisis, Frodo wasn’t sure he knew what to do. So much had happened in the last two days.

Faramir sat on a low stool in front of the fire and held out his hand. Frodo took it. Now, it all seemed easy. He walked forward into the circle of Faramir’s arms.

Their kiss was like a pledge to begin again, chaste at first, a soft brush of closed lips, that slowly grew into something more. Sweetness and warmth began to grow into that earlier flame. Frodo opened his mouth to Faramir’s tongue, felt his own sucked back into Faramir’s mouth. Hard and burning, this kiss metamorphosed into a dying fall, a farewell before love died.

Frodo fumbled at the leather covering Faramir’s chest, then pulled back a little. “I have no idea how to get you out of that….that…uniform,” he said.

Faramir chuckled. “My experiences so far have shown me hobbits are much more sensible about clothing.” He stood up to unlace various articles of clothing as Frodo watched approvingly. Green and brown leather and heavy cloth came off in various pieces to be replaced by pale skin covered with reddish golden hair.

Sitting down, he ran his fingers up under Frodo’s suspenders. “I could get this off you,” he murmured, “but I think I’d like to watch you take it off.”

Frodo was more than willing, and in much less time, his clothing was on the floor as well. They embraced again, sliding down to the floor.

The firelight painted highlights on their skin. Faramir’s hands, calloused from sword and bow, gently explored Frodo’s body. Rolling onto his back, Faramir pulled Frodo on top of him as they kissed. Frodo was fascinated by the softness of the hair on his chest and arms.

Faramir’s hands ran down Frodo’s back, fingers cupping his rear, hands caressing, then dipping down, probing.

Frodo stiffened, murmured, “Oh, yes, please!”

Pausing, Faramir asked, “Have you ever done this before?”

“Oh, yes, Sam and I..” he stopped, guilty, looking away.

Faramir’s hand came back to his face, tilting it back. “Do not fear to speak of Sam. You love him, and I have seen his strength and nobility.”

Frodo smiled, wordless, nearly in tears at the love in Faramir’s voice, then moved forward, spreading his legs and straddling Faramir’s chest, to kiss him.

“Thank you. And now, since I have done this before, I suggest we-” he gasped as Faramir ran his hands up his legs, under his arms, to lift him up.

Frodo found himself on his stomach, with Faramir reaching over him for a flask of sweet oil. Faramir began to massage the oil into his skin, circling around, inserting one finger, slowly, then another. Frodo’s breath quickened, and he spread his legs further apart, feeling the aching start to build, sweet and painful, waves sweeping in and around him. As Faramir’s body arched over him and gently, slowly, entered, Frodo thrust up, wanting more. Understanding the wordless request, Faramir’s rhythm quickened, deepened, and together they rode the wave that built to a climax that took them both by surprise.

As their breathing slowed, Frodo turned under Faramir, pulling his arm around him, cuddling up next to him. Faramir pulled one of his blankets over them both, and hugged Frodo even closer. Sleep took them suddenly.

Some time later, Frodo woke almost as suddenly, unsure of where he was, trying to escape from the dream of Gandalf’s fall. Moonlight shone through a hole in the roof into his eyes. He sat up quickly, fearful, then felt the warm bulk next to him shift. Faramir. They were safe, for the moment, Frodo thought, sliding back down to lie beside Faramir.

“Are you all right?” came a sleepy voice from beside him.

Frodo smiled to himself at how both his lovers seemed to think he was in need of constant attention. As a warm hand moved down to massage his back, he decided that there could be worse things for them to think.

“I’m fine…it was just a dream,” he said.

“A dream? Do you want to talk about it?” Faramir leaned up so that he could rub Frodo’s back with both hands. Frodo stretched with pleasure.

“It’s hard. I keep dreaming of Gandalf’s fall in Moria, as he fought a balrog.”

Faramir’s hands paused. “A balrog? I had not realized the nature of his opponent.”

“It was terrifying, this huge creature of flame and shadow. Gandalf kept it from crossing the bridge, allowed the rest of us to escape, by breaking the bridge. But he fell after it. I keep seeing his face..” Frodo could not talk anymore without crying.

Faramir resumed the backrub, stroking up and down Frodo’s spine. “It is hard to see the death of a comrade, especially one you love. I know of no way to heal this wound.”

“It helps to talk, especially to someone else who loved him.” Frodo shifted a bit, his leg brushing against Faramir’s body, then he realized what he was feeling. He turned his head to look at Faramir, smiling.

“I have always heard that the Sons of Gondor were notable warriors,” he teased, “but nothing about their prowess as lovers…” he began, only to be stopped by a kiss, Faramir’s tongue probing deeply, forcing his lips open.

Faramir rolled Frodo over on his back and, holding his arms, began to kiss his way down his body. His lips moved down Frodo’s throat, pausing to press a ring of kisses at the base of his neck, then moved slowly down his chest. Pausing a moment to suck on each nipple, Faramir’s warm mouth and tongue trailed down to his bellybutton. Frodo groaned aloud as the tongue penetrated him there, circling down. Lower, lower yet, circling down, lapping at the soft skin, tongue curling around, then moving up and down.

Frodo writhed as Faramir lifted his head a moment to blow warm breath against wet skin, softly, teasing. Arching his back, he held his breath until Faramir took pity. Again, the warm mouth descended , sucking him in, harder and harder, forcing him quickly to climax.

Frodo felt as if his bones had just melted, and he could lie here forever.

Leaning over Frodo, Faramir kissed him. “What tales will you tell about the Sons of Gondor, my Halfling?”

“None, for who would believe me? But what of you…” Frodo ran his hand down Faramir’s chest, lower, wanting to give his lover as much pleasure in return.

Sitting up, Frodo pushed at Faramir’s shoulder until he rolled over on his back. Not able to hold him in the same way, Frodo glared at him the way Farmer Maggot had done that day in the mushroom fields. “Lie completely still,” he ordered.

Faramir grinned, but meekly replied, “Yes, master!” gasping in his turn as Frodo poured oil over him and began massaging it in. Using hands and mouth, Frodo began stroking and sucking, eyes closed, enjoying the dizzying sweetness of the scent that rose from oil and flesh, growing in the warmth, a scent that would always stand in his mind for Ithilien, a country that could not be as beautiful as the immortality of Lothlorien but whose beauty shone all the brighter for being mortal.

The moon had sunk into the West when Frodo finished, drawing out the experience as long as he could, slowing his pace, nearly stopping, a respite, before beginning again. Afterwards, he rested his head on Faramir, feeling the pace of heart and breath slow.

Finally, without words, Faramir pulled him up to lie together, arms wrapped around each other, during the last hour before dawn. Neither slept or spoke. They simply existed, together, for a time outside of time, their brief moment of immortality.

When the room lightened, they rose and dressed, still without words. Faramir took him back to the room where Sam was and left them to make their final preparations. Sam was awake and dressed, and had food set out for breakfast. They ate quickly, speaking only briefly and about their journey to come.

Faramir came back with several men to escort them out of the city and on their way. Gollum was still bound, but no longer fought them. They crossed the River again and quickly moved out of the ruined city and into the woods.

At last Faramir paused and ordered Gollum freed. “Here is the last parting of our ways. If you take my counsel, you will not turn eastward yet. Go straight on, for thus you will have the cover of the woodland for many miles. If ever beyond hope, you return to the lands of the living, we will tell our tales, sitting by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief. Until that time, or some other time beyond the vision of the Seeing-stones of Númenor, farewell.”

Frodo and Sam bowed low. “Farewell,” Frodo said. “Elrond Halfelven told me that I should find friendship upon the way, secret and unlooked for. But I looked for no such friendship as you have shown. To have found it turns evil to great good.”

Faramir embraced the hobbits the, stooping, and placing his hands upon their shoulders, and kissing their foreheads. “Go with the good will of all good men!” he said. Faramir turned away, rejoining his men who stood some distance away. Without looking back, the men vanished.

Frodo and Sam looked at each other, Gollum scrabbling off into the woods.

Sam ran his hand down Frodo’s arm to hold his hand. “Are you all right,” he asked.

“Yes, Sam. I am. Thank you.”

They turned the way Faramir had directed them, beginning the last stage of their journey to the Mountain of Fire.

end

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