Have you ever watched the movie and wondered what Boromir was doing between the time he attacked Frodo and the time he ran to the rescue of Merry and Pippin? This short story is an attempt on my part to answer that question. It is told entirely from Boromir’s point of view, and is based mostly on the film characterization. I hope you enjoy it!
“Frodo, come back! I’m sorry! COME BACK!”
The shouted words echoed endlessly along the ancient trees of Amon Hen, the grief and desperation behind them still evident even as their form faded away. In the moments which followed, the forest fell silent once more, save for the muted sobbing of the richly clad form sprawled beneath its wide, sheltering branches.
The men who had once followed Boromir, eldest son of the ruler of Gondor, heir to its stewardship and its most renowned and respected warrior, would have been startled to see the honored leader in his current disheveled condition. His wild shoulder-length honey-colored hair was strewn with tattered fragments of dry autumn leaves; his costly clothes were covered with the dirt and debris of the dusty forest floor. The rich green Elvish cloak which covered his sturdy frame was draped askew, tangled in with his travel-stained ankle-length leather vest. Even Boromir, ordinarily, would have been shocked at his present appearance.
On this warm fall afternoon, however, events were far from ordinary.
As Boromir wept with heartbreaking sobs into his gloved hands, his anguished mind replayed the horrifying moments just passed, as if to punish himself for the horrendous sin he had almost committed. The Fellowship had stopped to rest before continuing its journey into the hellish region of Mordor, where they hoped to destroy the Ring created by the dark lord Sauron. An object of unspeakable power, it was being carried by the stalwart Hobbit Frodo, who was its bearer and guardian.
Ever since discovering that the long-lost Ring had been found, Boromir had been arguing for its use against Sauron rather than its destruction. Gondor had long been battling the dark forces of its neighbor Mordor; here was the chance to end the bloody fighting and save his beloved kingdom and its crown city, Minas Tirith. Why not use the power of the enemy against him?
It seemed so clear, so logical, that he had turned aside all protestations against his idea. The Ring was a tool of the Dark Lord alone, he was told; it had the power to corrupt even the strongest heart, and anything done with it, no matter how good, would ultimately turn to evil. Boromir had brushed such talk aside, however, convinced it sprang from cowardice and folly. The frustration had mounted with every passing mile of their long journey, through mountains and snow and the depths of the earth, through fire and stone and bottomless grief, until today…
He choked back another sob, unwilling to remember what he had almost done. Surely, surely he had not tried to take the Ring from Frodo by force, throwing him to the ground as a killing rage consumed him. He had only wanted to talk to the Hobbit, persuade him through reason that the journey to Mordor was madness, that greater good could be done by preserving the Ring and lending it to him to defend Gondor. Boromir had never intended to harm him; he only wanted to make him see…
An icy sweat chilled his skin as he recalled what happened next. A furious rage unlike anything he had ever felt before had grasped his mind when Frodo had refused his request, and attacking the Hobbit to take the Ring suddenly seemed perfectly reasonable. His admiration of Frodo’s strength and bravery, his vow to protect the Ringbearer, all were forgotten. Only his blinding desire for the Ring, and the knowledge that little stood between him and the Ring except for a small, insignificant Hobbit, remained. And he had lunged at Frodo, willing to do anything if it meant that the Ring would be his.
Trembling, Boromir blinked and lifted himself a little from the cold woodland floor, his vision swimming through the bitter tears. How long had he lain there, weeping? Fear seized his heart; he had to find Frodo, to convince him that the madness was gone, to express as much as a human tongue possibly could the depths of his contrition. If something happened to the lad because of his folly…
The warrior climbed to his feet as quickly as the wearisome sorrow would allow, his wet gray eyes glancing in all directions. All around him towered the tall trees, falling yellow leaves fluttering through the sunlit air on their journey to rebirth on the ground below. There was no sign of another living being.
He swallowed, trying to collect himself, and wiped at his tear-soaked face as he looked around. Taking a deep breath, he glanced over his clothes and frowned with self-disgust at his disheveled state. More in an effort to order his thoughts through activity than out of concern for his appearance, Boromir quickly brushed off his garments and drew his fingers through his long fair hair, pulling out the last few bits of dry leaves. His mind settled but his heart still heavy, he lifted his gray eyes and once more searched for his missing companion.
“Frodo!” he called again, his voice rough, as he took a few steps forward. When no reply reached his ears, he paused and took a breath to shout again, but a thought stopped the sound in his throat. Even if the Halfling heard him, what chance was there that he would answer, given Boromir’s treatment of him? Shame swept over him, and the shout passed his lips as a melancholy sigh, but he walked on, too restless from guilt to stop. Perhaps Frodo would see that he was no longer in danger, and show himself.
His soldier’s mind began to form a strategy for his next course of action, should the Hobbit remain elusive. Should he go back to the others and confess what had happened? The idea caused him to shudder; he would almost rather march into Mordor alone than face the anger and accusations of his companions, once they found out what he had done.
Merry and Pippin! Boromir’s lips tightened as a burning sadness rolled over him. The two Halflings had earned a special place in his jaded heart; during the course of their journey he had taken them under his wing, tutoring them in the arts of swordplay and seeing to their protection in times of danger. Their childlike exuberance had eased the burdens of his war-weary soul and reminded him fondly of his own little brother, Faramir, when they were both young and still unknowing of the evils of the world. What would they say when they learned he had attacked their cousin? His shoulders drooped a bit at the thought of their wide, bewildered eyes, full of astonishment at his betrayal. Would they ever forgive him? Bitter grief choked his heart; few punishments would be as hard to bear as the loss of their trust and friendship.
Aragorn, too, would be enraged and suspicious; the Ranger had seen Boromir’s behavior on Caradhras, had witnessed the Ring’s enticement of his heart. But as the heir to the throne of Gondor, he would also understand that it had all been for that land which they both loved, that Boromir had only wanted to save their people. He hadn’t meant what happened, but once it had started…
Boromir shivered and wrapped his arms about himself, his eyes no longer seeing the bright fall afternoon shimmering around him. He hadn’t even noticed the madness invading his mind at the time, it had crept upon him so slowly, but now he could remember vividly how its cold fingers had so gripped his soul. One moment he had been quietly trying to persuade Frodo to help him; the next, a strange iciness had taken hold, and all concern for the Halfling’s well-being was simply gone. All that remained was the Ring, and his desire to possess it by any means possible.
He walked on, his thoughts still turned inward, his booted feet plodding dully along the leaf-strewn forest floor. It had been such an odd feeling, like being submerged in a frozen lake full of black water. He trembled at the searing memory of the emptiness which had brushed his heart. There had been no light there, not even the light of hope for Gondor; the driving desire for the Ring had blotted even that from his mind. But at the time, the blindness had not seemed noticeable; it was only now, in the brightness of reason, that he could see how closely the corruption had come to consuming him.
Boromir stopped, blinking as the sunlit forest around him swam back into his sight. He gulped the warm air for a moment, grateful to return from even the memory of the horrific darkness. The black sorcery of Sauron had almost claimed him; he would never be able to purge the recollection of its terrible touch from his mind. He had battled Mordor’s legions all of his life, but now, it seemed, he understood for the first time the true depths of its evil. The thought of that evil swallowing Gondor, and all of Middle-earth, caused his heart to nearly break with horror.
For an instant the memory of the madness overwhelmed him, and he reeled at its power. All thoughts of trying to take the ring to use in defense of his beloved city fled; another attempt would only bring the madness upon him again, and he felt as if he would rather face a million Orcs than endure even one more moment of such torture. He would prefer to fall as Boromir than be victorious as a mere shell of himself, his every action twisted to fulfill the cruel intentions of the Dark Lord. No, Aragorn had been right; the only way to truly save his city would be to destroy the Ring, and end Sauron’s reign forever.
And to do that, they had to find Frodo.
Boromir took a few deep breaths, fully returning to himself, and gathered his thoughts. He should rejoin the others now; together, surely, they would be able to find Frodo. He would confess what had happened; it would be painful to face their anger, but far less painful than seeing Frodo fall to some harm if such an action was not taken. Aragorn might even order Boromir to depart from the Fellowship. This idea caused a twinge of regret, but Boromir could see the wisdom of it. It might be a relief, after all, to get as far away from the Ring’s evil grasp as possible; he knew it would always call to him, having once caressed his mind. Perhaps he could go back to Minas Tirith and aid in its defense…
His thoughts dwelled for a moment on Gondor, his heart swelling as a vision of the White City rose before him. He took a deep breath as the great love he bore for his home flowed through him, tears stinging the corners of his eyes. How he ached to see the White Tower once more, to look out over the high walls and feel the sweet wind of Gondor on his face! It shimmered before him now, restored and cleansed; he could almost touch it. For an instant, he wavered, overwhelmed by the willingness to do anything to bring peace to his people. Anything…and the Ring was so close…perhaps…
A gasp escaped his lips, and he shuddered, angered that such a thought had even crossed his mind. There was no salvation to be found within the Ring’s accursed band, only enslavement and madness; as long as he drew breath, he would never let its evil touch even a stone of those white walls. Its redemption would be found along other paths, even if he was not sure what paths those might be. The Lady had known; he could still hear her whispers of hope echoing gently in his mind. He had only to find the source of that hope, and all would be well.
He sighed, the bright vision of Gondor fading as he began to recollect himself to the world. The longing to return remained, however; he could not help but think how good it would be to see his father and brother again. There was so much he wanted to talk to Faramir about, after all he had endured on this journey. But such a meeting doubtless lay far in the future; better for him to fix his mind on the task at hand, and save such reveries for a time when he had the leisure to contemplate them.
Now resolved, Boromir shook his head to clear it of the few remaining shadows, and began to hasten back to camp, every crunching step increasing in speed. He was unsure how long he had been wandering in thought, and there was so little time to waste.
Suddenly a new sound fell on his ears, and he slowed his pace to listen, his brow knit in confusion. There! In the near distance-the noise of howls and grunting, and the thunder of steel-shod feet pounding on the forest floor. He froze, his gray eyes wide: Orcs!
Cursing himself, he drew his sword and began to run. How long had they been in danger, and he completely oblivious as he wandered about in self-pity! A frantic fear gripped his heart: Had they found Frodo? Was the Ring safe? Or had his folly cursed them all to darkness?
He topped a small rise and skidded to a halt, horror rising in his throat. Before him was a valley; on one side streamed dozens of armored Orcs-although they were much larger and more heavily armed than any Orcs he had ever seen. But whatever they were, they were an enemy to fight, and his warrior’s mind quickly put aside all questions and prepared for the battle.
The creatures seemed to be pursuing something. Boromir quickly turned his gaze to the other side of the valley; two small forms were dashing ahead of the creatures, dodging trees and jumping rocks, nearly out of view now, but he could almost see-
His breath caught in his throat as his eyes grew wide; for an instant he could not move, his blood turning to ice with shock. Merry and Pippin!
Then he was running, his heart pounding as he flew over the forest floor as fast as his legs would carry him. Frodo’s fate was beyond him now, but he could do this, protect the Hobbit’s cousins and his dear friends as well as he was able to, to the death if necessary. The tears on his face dried as he ran, his earlier anguish now forgotten as concern for the Hobbits’ welfare filled his mind.
He crested another rise. The ground before him was strewn with the toppled remains of broken statues and fallen buildings, the ancient ruins of Amon Hen. But in a sunlit clearing beyond their moss-covered forms he could see the two Hobbits-so small in the looming forest around them- stopped now, surrounded by the vile creatures, clutching each other as death closed in from all sides.
Boromir gripped his sword and began running again, his long legs churning madly as he tore around the ruins and up the hill towards the clearing, his green Elven cloak billowing behind him. They had not seen him, there was still a chance, still a hope to drive back the darkness.
He grasped at that hope to give himself strength, and plunged into battle.