West of the Moon
A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive
Faramir learns mercy from Frodo.
Written for a Waymeet Challenge. Slightly AU, slight violence at the beginning:
"Mr. Frodo, are you in pain?" Sam whispered.
Frodo lifted his head from his knees and opened his eyes. His bruised back ached from leaning against the rough-hewn cave wall. He looked toward the low curved entrance that separated the recess where he and Sam stayed from the main rock-chamber. The lit torches cast an ominous shimmering on the walls.
"He trusted me." Frodo shivered, and once he started, he could not seem to stop. He could barely feel his fingers. The caves were bone-chilling in the early hours of the morning.
Sam did not answer, but he clenched his jaw in that stubborn way he did when he had a lot to say about something but did not want to be disagreeable.
Frodo stared hard at him. "He does not deserve to be harmed. He has suffered enough."
Sam nodded and swallowed. "Maybe so, but it's no good with him being on the loose. He's full of mischief. And even if he weren't, there're enemies all around." He shook his head. "Nothing will ever be all right where that piece of misery is."
"It was the only way I could think of to save his life, but he'll see it as treachery. It's all he knows."
From the main chamber, Gollum shrieked in sudden pain, and the Rangers grunted and laughed.
"What are they doing to him?" Frodo whispered, crawling toward the chamber.
Sam clutched Frodo's shirt, stopping him from leaving their dark recess. "I don't think they'll really hurt him. He's likely biting and scratching at them."
More grunts were followed by the sounds of blows upon flesh and more howls of pain. Frodo's stomach heaved with disgust. He jumped to his feet, heart pounding, fists clenched.
"Mr. Frodo, just you stay out of their way," Sam hissed, pulling his arm.
Frodo shook him off. "I will not let them hurt him. I promised he'd come to no harm."
He leaped into the middle of the clash, throwing himself in front of Gollum before one of the Rangers could kick him. The hard boot instead struck Frodo's ribs.
Frodo cried out, stunned by the pain. Before he could gather his breath, another boot caught him in the back.
A strong arm hauled him to his feet and shoved him into the craggy cave wall. "This does not concern you!" Frodo smacked into the wall face first, and bright agony flared.
From a great distance, Frodo heard Sam's voice. "Don't you lay your hands on him!" Frodo clutched his nose. Blood dripped between his fingers. Whenever he breathed, sharp pain clawed between his ribs. Waves of black dots marred his vision. He stumbled to his knees. It hurt so much to breathe, and he felt helpless to the pain. Gollum shrieked as one of the Rangers tied him, none too gently.
"What has happened?" Faramir's stern voice. "Why were the prisoners not guarded?" Faramir looked around.
Through blurry vision, Frodo glimpsed Sam lying crumpled in a corner. Frodo tried to cry out to him, but only a pathetic rasp passed through his lips. His eyes met Faramir's for a brief moment before he pitched forward into darkness.
When next he woke, he found himself on a small bed of furs. Although he was covered by blankets, he was still cold. His shoulder throbbed and it hurt to breathe. His cheek and nose ached.
Sam! He had been crumpled in a corner, not moving.
Frodo struggled to sit up, but stabbing pain stopped him. He clutched them, hissing. Faramir leaned over him, pushing him back onto the bed.
"Where's Sam?" Frodo whispered, still clutching his ribs.
"Stay still," Faramir said. His voice softened. "Sam will be all right. I have given him a sleeping draught. He hit his head hard."
Frodo struggled to control his breathing. If he took only shallow breaths, then it would not hurt nearly as badly.
"Nobody will hurt you now," Faramir's voice was rough. "I beg your pardon for the discourtesy of my men. They have behaved more as Orcs today than true men of Gondor."
"Where is Gollum?" Frodo asked. He could only imagine how terrified and betrayed Gollum must feel now, tied up and possibly tortured by these men who looked upon Gollum with disgust and fear. "He is a wretched creature. I would not have him suffer--"
Frodo's voice was cut off by a wave of pain that gripped his side again. He gasped for breath until the pain receded into the background. Faramir leaned over him, holding his shoulders to keep him from writhing.
"It seems that you may have cracked a rib. It's a common injury in battle. If you will allow it, I will ease your pain and bind your ribs."
"Thank you," Frodo said.
Faramir unbuttoned Frodo's shirt. Frodo thought about the Ring, hidden under his mithril shirt, and his heart sped. He clutched Faramir's wrist. "Stop."
"I give you my word that I will not harm you," Faramir said. "But I must remove your shirt in order to bind your ribs."
"No." Frodo crossed his arm over his chest in a protective manner. "It is all right. There is no need to bind my ribs then. Thank you very much for your offer."
Faramir saw the panic in Frodo's eyes and backed away, lifting his hands as if in surrender. "All right. The binding would ease your pain, but the rib will heal on its own."
"Where is Gollum?" Frodo asked.
Faramir dipped a cloth in a bowl of cold water. "He is being guarded, and I have given strict orders not to harm him. Here." He handed Frodo the wet cloth. "Hold this over your nose."
Frodo nodded his thanks and held the cold cloth over his battered nose.
"Constant war has made the men of Gondor bitter and not always kind to strangers," Faramir said. "We are so accustomed to fighting enemies that sometimes we are blinded by it." Faramir's eyes were kind and showed no sign of bitterness, only sad weariness. "Tell me, Frodo. Why did you jump into harm's way?" he asked.
"I promised Gollum my protection." Frodo looked at Faramir, and his voice hardened. "There was no call for the way your men treated him. Surely even just one of them could have subdued him. And it was not enough to beat him. They had to laugh, taking pleasure in it. He is but a small and wretched creature who has borne more years of pain and suffering than you can know."
"Why do you value this creature so much, Frodo? He seems full of mischief, and I deem ...worse."
Frodo nodded. "I once thought that he should be put to death because of the trouble he caused. I believed that until I looked upon him, and when I did, I pitied him. At one time, he was very much like a hobbit, like myself and Samwise. But a great evil--" Frodo cut off, looking at Faramir. Frodo found Faramir to be a sympathetic listener, wise and kind, and easy to talk to. He longed to ease his burden by telling him everything and begging for council.
Faramir paused, and Frodo read much in his perceptive gaze.
"I know of such evils," Faramir finally said. "I do not ask you to tell me more."
"At any rate," Frodo spoke in a soft voice. "A dear friend of mine and leader of our company before he was lost..." His throat caught. His grief for Gandalf was still fresh. "He told me that Gollum may yet have a role to play. I did not understand then. His body and mind are broken by this evil, but sometimes I see a flicker of the person he once was and I have to believe that he can come back."
"What would you have me do with him?" Faramir asked. "I cannot allow him to come and go as he pleases."
"Bring him to me," Frodo said. "I will speak with him the best I can. I will take responsibility for him."
Faramir nodded and left the recess of the cave. Sam stirred and groaned. He held his head, wincing. He looked around the room until he focused on Frodo. "Mr. Frodo? Are you hurt badly?"
"I'm a little battered, but otherwise all right. What about your poor head?"
Sam shook his head. "Hurts worse than times at the Green Dragon when I drank more ale than was good for me. What were you thinking jumping out in the middle of that fight?"
"And you?" Frodo asked. "Did you fully expect you'd save me?"
"I'd have died trying," Sam said with a grin.
"I know you would."
Faramir returned without Gollum. "He is sleeping and I thought it best to leave him be until he wakes." He knelt beside Frodo's make-shift bed. "I looked upon him while he slept. He is a vile, pitiful creature, but I found that my heart stirred with pity, and I considered all you said about him. I will not judge him on what he has become. As long as he serves you well, he will be under Gondor's protection."
Frodo smiled, feeling new warmth and trust for this grave young man, so different from his brother and wise beyond his years. "If I lift my shirt up to my chest, might you still be able to bind my ribs?"
Faramir smiled back. "I can do that."
Frodo unhooked his braces from his breeches and pushed his vest, shirt, and mithril shirt up until they bunched around his upper chest, leaving his ribcage and stomach bare. Faramir wrapped the binding around Frodo's ribs with swift but gentle efficiency and secured it into place. "There. How is that?"
"It does feel better," Frodo said, pulling his shirt back down and securing his braces again. "Thank you very much."
"Thank you, Frodo, son of Drogo. In such dark times, it is easy for good hearts to harden and for men to lose hope. But you see pity in a broken mind and body and I see hope in the desperate task of two halflings."
Frodo pulled the blanket up to his chin and closed his eyes, resting peacefully for the first time since leaving Lothlorien. Gandalf had said he would meet friends in unexpected places, but he did not think it would happen in such a dark land. This alone gave him more hope for the coming journey.
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