West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

First Watch
Three days' journey out of Rivendell, Boromir takes stock of his unlikely new companions.
Author: Adrienne
Rating: R

 

Rivendell held the company for far longer than Boromir would have liked. Even with Elrond's domain three days behind them, a sentient stir lingered in the wood. Boromir scanned each ravine--each copse of trees, each patch of brush--with weary eyes. Had these halflings no mind for keeping an eye out? The two youngest ambled just ahead of him; the one called Merry seemed alert enough, but he was mostly occupied with keeping the little green-eyed one's barely intelligible chatter to a minimum. Pip, Merry called him--ah, yes, Pippin. How on earth that dialect passed for Common Speech, Boromir could not tell, nor how Merry and the others managed to decipher it.

The others. Boromir glanced ahead, beyond the silent, dignified sparring of Elf and Dwarf. The two small figures seemed to move almost in unison, the fair-haired one just a step behind his master, heavy-laden with cookware and who knew what else--pipeweed, by Boromir's guess. He snorted. Not a pause for food or rest went by that Merry and Gandalf and even Aragorn dared go without puffing on the noisome stuff. Frodo seemed indifferent, partaking of it rarely, save for when that servant of his--Ham, Sam, something like that?--lit up his own simple pipe. Boromir narrowed his eyes, watching the servant come up level with Frodo, remembering how they'd sat curled against a tree trunk the evening before, sharing that blasted Old Toby--

Yes. Boromir wasn't mistaken: Frodo had reached for his companion's hand, and on the second try, held fast. They turned their heads for a moment, each toward the other, eyes meeting, the impact striking a silent, indecipherable chord. Boromir looked away quickly as the servant's sharp hazel eyes flicked back in his direction. After a moment, Boromir looked up. Frodo hadn't noticed, apparently, and his pack-pony seemed perfectly content to squeeze his master's hand all the tighter.

A short peal of laughter from Pippin turned Boromir's attention back to the pair in front of him. Merry's hand was clapped tight over Pippin's mouth; he leaned to hiss something that sounded at best mildly threatening in the younger halfling's ear. Pippin responded with something that was half sneeze and half giggle, and Boromir couldn't help but smile as Merry struggled against a jaw-splitting grin. Rather endearing they were, those two, really, but the others...

"We ought to stop," Legolas cautioned, his voice soft, yet clear enough to carry to the Gandalf at the head of the company. "The rain will arrive before nightfall. It's nearly dusk, and we started early. The small ones will need rest--"

"I'll need no such thing," Gimli replied staunchly, fists clenching at his sides for emphasis. Legolas merely turned his head and gazed hard in the opposite direction, awaiting more valid response.

"Of course he doesn't!" Pippin whispered in Merry's ear, as near as Boromir could tell. "Everyone"--something--"Dwarves'vegot--"

"Master Peregrin, that's quite enough," Aragorn said from behind. Boromir turned and watched him lead Bill to a halt. "Gandalf, I'm in agreement with Legolas. We'll camp..."

Legolas. Isildur's heir and his wretched, perfect Elf-talk. And he'd even taken over leading good Ol' Bill for a while, so that Frodo's dimwit of a servant could--

"Very well," came the wizard's sonorous reply, and the entire company drifted still. "Aragorn, lead on."

"Scan for a grove of trees--not too thick, not too sparse," the Ranger said in Boromir's ear, one hand briefly on his shoulder. He rathered to stay and perhaps figure out what Pippin was whispering to Merry this time, but two pairs of eyes much more disconcerting were fixed on him from ahead, the Ringbearer's bright and oddly cold in the thickening dusk. He returned the servant's faint scowl and stalked after Aragorn (yes--if his name was Ham, then he right and well deserved it).

They found their grove--almost too near, too fortuitously placed. Grace of the Elves indeed. Boromir leaned against a sturdy oak and watched the halflings unpack. Merry and Pippin claimed a patch of ground immediately beside the place where Gandalf had set himself to building a fire. Boromir's eyes came to rest not far from where Frodo's servant had tethered Bill. The Ringbearer looked tired; he patiently shook out his blankets amidst the roots of another oak, glancing aside to where his servant stood staring at what was left to discern of the sky. Boromir was startled when Frodo spoke--it seemed that this one, too, had a that might carry for miles despite its softness.

"What do you see, Sam?"

Ham, Boromir thought stubbornly. He's thick enough to withstand a lightning strike for sure.

"It'll come fast, sir," Sam murmured, moving over to Frodo. He drew up the hood of his master's cloak carefully, and then reached to tend to his own--wait, no, he changed his mind and then leaned and--

Boromir didn't have time to blink at what he thought he had seen; something small and energetic had tripped spectacularly over his foot. Boromir huffed in annoyance, but he leaned to offer Pippin a hand all the same. The halfling regarded Boromir with wide, wary eyes as Boromir knelt to steady him, pat him on the back.

"Careful, little one. It would do us only ill to attract the attention of--"

"Wolvesmerrysaidthere're--"

"Per"--Peregrin?, could he be sure it was--"Pippin. Slow down, I can hardly--"

"Wolves," Pippin said more clearly, fingers hesitantly grasping at Boromir's cloak. "Merry...saidthere--were--wolves."

"Less likely in this weather," Boromir replied with a chuckle, indicating the sky. "Get back to your Merry and tell him he'd best not scare you off, not if he wants warming against the chill."

Pippin let go of Boromir's cloak and took a step back, the sharp, impish features hardening. "What'sitt'youwhether'e--"

"Pip, come back here. I'm sorry, really I am..."

Boromir sighed and watched Pippin fix him with a last uncertain look before dashing back to Merry. In no time at all, the two sat very close, arms wrapped around each other. Ah, but they were affectionate creatures, which might explain with some degree of believability why Frodo's servant might--possibly--have...

Boromir's eyes wandered back to the other pair. Frodo sat cross-legged on his blanket--no, blankets, now. Sam had added his own to the pile, and had gone to join the wizard in poking at the newborn flames. Frodo's eyes were fixed on Sam, full of that same strange intensity he'd seen pass between them as they walked. Boromir sighed and turned to his own unpacking, as light as it was. No use staring, after all. He'd never get a glimpse of it, not with that green cloak tucked up so carefully around Frodo's neck and shoulders...

Boromir paused over the buckle of his pack. Perhaps he wasn't so dull as he seemed, that Sam-who-would-be-Ham. Even when he couldn't walk alongside Frodo, his eyes certainly never left the darker halfling's form, no, not even for an instant--

"Somethin' to eat, sir?"

Boromir looked up, barely succeeded at preventing himself from jumping. Those hazel eyes were burning into him something fierce, fist shifting on the piece of beaten cookware dangling at his side. Boromir sniffed. "Taking orders, are you?"

"If you like, sir." Sam neither altered his expression, nor blinked. Aragorn was by the fire now, watching the exchange with intent.

Boromir mustered a wan smile, rummaged in his pack till he came up with something wrapped in a piece of cloth (something that he hoped was still good). He waved it for both halfling and Ranger to see. "No, thank you. I'm taken care of."

"All the less bother," Sam muttered clearly as he walked away, eyes burning into Boromir's for a moment longer before he turned to rejoin his master.

Boromir looked down in order to evade Aragorn's silent, piercing reprimand. Boromir unwrapped the jerky and biscuit angrily, finding them terribly stale, but tolerable. What did Isildur's heir know the Steward's suffering, his people's grief? Nothing indeed. A sad day, to say the least, when a halfling desired the ring more than even--

Boromir clenched his jaw, swallowed. That Sam's intent wouldn't go undiscovered, not if Boromir had a mind or the means to go about it properly. Cleverly. Boromir finished his dry fare, sat back, and closed his eyes. It would do to listen for a while. The simmer of sausage or something like it, wind picking up in the leaves overhead--and over the smell of Sam's cooking, the clear tartness of rain--

Drops began to fall, then, fine and cool as mist through the trees. Sam muttered something; there was the sound of plates and cutlery all around, murmurs, babble from Pippin, grunts from the Dwarf. Eventually they subsided back to their places with plates full; Boromir could tell by the even click and scrape of forks and knives, hums of pleasure from the halflings nearest the fire. As for Frodo and Sam, he couldn't quite tell--ah, but there. Sam murmuring something softly, perhaps to make sure all was to his master's liking. Frodo's softer reply, a moment of silence that stretched Boromir once more into wondering--

Had he really seen them kiss?

Just a brief moment, and he had turned in the very instant Pippin went hurtling over the toe of his boot. They had leaned into each other; no mistaking that. Perhaps it wasn't considered out of the ordinary, or a custom between their gentry and serving class, or...well, Boromir couldn't allow himself to consider the alternative. Not yet. Not until he might see for himself...if...

Sam wouldn't have the Ring, oh, no. He wouldn't. Though, Boromir had to admit, if indeed that is what he sought, and was using his master's--inclination, perhaps, if indeed it were so--to reach it...

Unthinkable, that they might all be outwitted by one so small. Unthinkable. Well, it wouldn't happen, not--

"Boromir." Aragorn. Curse him.

"Yes?" Boromir opened his eyes.

"You'll stand watch first tonight. Gimli will follow."

Boromir nodded, closed his eyes, listened till Aragorn's footsteps were nothingness.

--not on his watch.

The very chance had been handed to him. Yes, if anything were to happen, indeed, it would be under cover of darkness. Both of Boromir's previous watches had been late, so late that nearly all had been deep in slumber, except a few fitful stirrings from Pippin, quickly soothed away by Merry. Always tight and quiet, Frodo and Sam were, wrapped tightly together in cloaks and blankets, Sam's limbs a tender cage, a safety--

So perfectly devised. And if Boromir's guess were wrong, then ten times a fool, that little servant, for not realizing what it was that lay so constantly within his reach.

Boromir chose to watch the remainder of their meager feast. One by one, the companions set their plates aside and murmured exchanges or good-nights, all frowning in their turn up at the slow, steady drizzle. Merry wrapped Pippin close against his chest, tugged a cloak securely over them. In but a little time, they were still. As the others settled, Aragorn caught his eye from across the fire. Boromir nodded, this time all but imperceptible. The Ranger stretched out, back against his own tree trunk, and pulled his hood down over his eyes. The remnants of his pipe fizzled out as the rain gathered strength: the drops were substantial now, and much colder.

Boromir's eyes fell on the only remaining movement--Sam settling his master in their blankets, leaning to press--yes, a kiss--to Frodo's pale forehead. The Ringbearer reached up, touched Sam's face briefly. Sam murmured something and settled close over Frodo, and with a hum and a whisper, they lay still.

Boromir stood, quiet and cautious, scanning the encampment. Shifts and tired sounds emerged at intervals, none consisting of the sort of startlement he had hoped for. If Frodo and Sam were not asleep, they were somewhere near it; the only stirring from either of them was the slight, restless movement of Frodo's fingers through his servant's hair. Boromir slipped into shadow, avoiding castings of ember and shadow from the dying fire. He had learned to creep in silence as well as any Ranger, surely, for as he made his way to the far side of the grove, Aragorn made no stir. And if his concealment behind a clump of gorse not far from where the Ringbearer lay were perilous, well--it was only one watch, was it not?, and he was willing to risk one peril in favor of catching another. He shifted quietly, finding that through the crook of branch, then leaf, and branch again, he had an adequate window. Dying, crackling glimmers rose at intervals, illuminating Frodo's pale, hooded face cradled against a sturdy shoulder.

Nigh an hour had passed when rain at last melted into a damp, cooling breeze and a murmur roused Boromir from brooding. He blinked and pitched forward as much as he dared: Frodo's eyes were open in the darkness, his lips parting and closing by turns against the fabric of Sam's cloak, his fingers keeping insistent time in Sam's hair, winding at the nape of his neck. Boromir's breath caught as, after a few moments of this, the servant lifted his head. Frodo turned his own until they touched, profile to profile. His free hand fluttered up to Sam's cheek, a spiderlike stirring in the dark.

"Me dear?" Sam's whisper left a tingle trickling down Boromir's collar.

"Sam." Frodo's reply was hardly less fervent.

Boromir's eyes widened as he watched Sam shift a bit, leaning to kiss those parted lips. Frodo murmured something that was quickly lost in it, neck arching up to accept the offering--even relish it, if Boromir's eyes did not deceive him. No mistaking it, not now: Frodo's fingers tightened and contracted in Sam's hair, tangling, another muffled sound diffusing with the kiss--this one more like a moan. Sam eased his mouth away from Frodo's, working a hand beneath Frodo's head to gently cradle it. He shifted just a little, and Frodo gave the faintest trace of a whimper.

"I know, sir," Sam whispered, and bent to kiss Frodo's forehead. "But this ain't no soft bed, and if you catch a chill--"

"You'll warm me," Frodo murmured. He caught Sam's mouth again, tugged him down with amazing strength. This time, the whimper was Sam's, and after--only silence.

Boromir watched with eyes wide and heart hammering. They moved surely and carefully, blankets barely slipping away. They continued to kiss slowly, deeply, gasping now and again when something gave way between them--a slip of the blankets revealed Sam's callused hands smoothing his master's shirt away, Sam's own buttons being carefully worked at by Frodo's slim, smooth ones. In a moment, this view was taken; Sam paused to pull the blankets back up. Frodo stilled, too, and clung for brief seconds, as if relinquishing a shiver to Sam's welcome warmth.

Boromir's breath caught. He hadn't glimpsed the Ring. Was it already gone? If Sam had managed to take--so fast--

A movement more convulsive than the halflings' previous ones snapped him back to attention. They had stopped kissing; their mouths were crushed together and eyes tightly closed, heavy breaths fighting the wish to emerge as cries. The blankets had ridden back again, this time halfway to Sam's waist. Frodo had kicked up, wrapped one leg tight around him. Their breeches were loose, undone. Sam's hand fisted near Frodo's head, fingers twining half in blanket and half in dark curls. And there, just at his wrist, the gleam of snaking silver, then gold--

The fool. Did Sam truly not realize--

"Oh, Frodo..."

The Ringbearer made only the softest reply. In an instant, their mouths fused again, and Boromir watched with a strange sense of loss. Frodo wound his arms tight around Sam's neck, trailing his mouth up to Sam's ear. What things he whispered were lost to breeze and rustling, and the leaves seemed all too glad to cover the scant sounds rising above the halflings' rolling and squirming, and soon they settled into a rhythm that seemed both comfortable and familiar, if not terribly tangled, and he would never forget those final moments--

Frodo's head thrown back. Fingers gripping Sam's shoulders, tight and bloodless. Sam's hips thrust forward. Fingers gripping Frodo's shoulders, tight and--

Boromir turned away, favoring the darkness to the halflings' climax. Not a sound, not even a strangled cry or muffled groan to finish. Only breath, after a spell, tense and shuddering. Not enough to wake even the lightest sleeping among them, and that surely had to be Pippin. Pippin, snug in Merry's arms. And, hearing the others kiss softly, settle back into sleep, he wondered... No, he mustn't. Boromir twisted the fur fringe of his cloak, let it slide through his vision with a sting, his fingers with a sigh--

Ringless.

 

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