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Return of the King - by IceAngel

SUMMARY/EXPLANATION - A short AU on what would have happened if Boromir had succeeded in taking the ring from Frodo and brought it home to Minas Tirith. Faramir's POV.

DISCLAIMER - All characters, places, etc. belong to J.R.R. Tolkien



~He would have stretched out his hand to this thing and taking it he would have fallen. He would have kept it for his own, and when he returned you would not have known your son~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Boromir has returned. But he is no longer my brother. His eyes are darkened with his own greed and lust for power. The silver trumpets called him home, and yet their music fell upon deaf ears. They were calling home the son of the Steward, but Boromir now called himself King.

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I was summoned to the Great Hall upon his arrival, and rushed to meet the brother I had so long missed. But as he embraced me a golden chain slipped from beneath his shirt, and upon it there was a golden ring. I drew back. The chain was far too small for him. It had belonged to another, and still I know not the fate of the one who bore it before.

"I have returned," he said, both to his father and to me. Denethor's eyes were alight with pride and wonder, but to his credit he did suspect the change in his son had been caused by Isilder's bane. Yes, I understood what hung on the chain around my brother's neck, as did my father. Ever since the rhyme that had taken my brother away had been spoken, it had been in the back of both our minds.

"You have brought it to me," Denethor rose and approached his son, holding out his hand. "Let me see it my son, and then it must be hidden away, not used unless, unless the greatest need drives us. How could any have ever doubted you would bring me this mighty gift?" He shot me a look and I felt my stomach drop.

I knew at once that Boromir would never give up his prize, his new found power. He would use it to fuel his own rise to greatness, and he would fall, as others who had taken a burden not meant for them had fallen before him.

Boromir drew away from his father, his hand tightly clutching the ring. "Father, I have returned," he said again, as if from a practised speech. "I bring hope to our city, a hope that can only be realised if the one who holds it is king."

Then it was Denethor's turn to take a step backwards as he beheld the son who proposed undermining his rule. The blood of our family was strong, but not that of a King. It was not Boromir's place or right to claim that which was not his.

The doors of the great hall were thrown open, and four palace guards entered, bearing the casket of litheron that had so long sat in Rath Dinen. Boromir had clearly planned this from the beginning, and my heart burned inside to see the way he gazed upon it.

"The crown," Denethor breathed, at last understanding what the treasure of the enemy had done to his beloved son. "Boromir, my son. This gift is not yours to keep, it is mine by right! You must give it to me and think no more about this folly!"

"Faramir," Boromir said, disregarding his father's voice as he had never done before. "Open the casket, my brother, bring the crown to me."

I stayed where I was, fixed to the spot with horror and dread at what my brother had become. A darkness swirled around him as he ascended the steps to the throne of the King. The chair had remained unfilled for an age or more. His long cloak swept up the stairs behind him and at last he turned, fixing his gaze upon us.

Denethor stood still, his back rigid and his piercing eyes never wavering from those of his son. Boromir seemed to be greatly disturbed by Denethor's eyes upon him and he waved a hand to the guards. "My father, you must retire. I have tired you out with my home-coming. You must not fear for our people now I have returned. All will bow to my rule and those who do not will be cast out or destroyed! I have brought Gondor the power it needs to defeat Sauron for all time, and I will rule on high. Our people will never have occasion to fear again!"

My father, to his horror, was taken by the arms by two of Boromir's people and escorted from the room. It was as though the fearful figure and presence of the Steward I had known all my life had drained out of him with the betrayal of his son, and even his pride seemed to have withered.

I was left alone with my brother. He, standing before the King's throne, and I on the low ground beneath him. I was calm on the outside, but on the inside a tempest of emotions swirled around my heart. Boromir, my big brother. Boromir, the one to whom I could always tell everything. Boromir, the one who had taken the quest that was clearly meant for myself. Boromir, no, it was not Boromir who stood before me now, eyes shining with dark power. It was not my brother, it was only a shadow of what he had become.

I heard a movement behind me and realised the two remaining guards had lifted the casket and were going to bring it to the flat step before the throne. I moved, and I do not believe it was my own will that forced me to do so. Boromir's eyes were fixed on my face, he had become powerful and at that moment I believed without doubt those who had said the Dark Lord could control the wills of others. For I did not want to approach him, yet I did. Slowly I climbed the steps and stood at last upon the platform before the throne.

"My brother," he said with a frightening fondness that made me shudder, "you at least will understand why I have to do this thing. Why it is my duty."

I shook my head slowly as one of the guards opened the casket and took out the crown. It was indeed beautiful, as white as the tower of Ecthelion with silver and pearl wings on either side, resembling those of a seabird.

Boromir's eyes lit up with a dark light as the crown was placed in my unwilling hands. My body trembled, not from fear, but from the thought that this wondrous sign of purity should be claimed by one who was so clearly controlled by darkness. There was also guilt that I could think this way of my own brother, one who had only done what he did for the good of his country. I pulled my mouth into a hard line and prepared to do what my conscience dictated.

"Place it upon my head, Faramir," Boromir said from his seat upon the chair fate had given him, not sensing the battle of loyalties that was raging inside me. "I will become what we have always hoped for, a king with the power to destroy the Dark Lord!"

I shook my head again, forcing my rebelling legs to take a step backwards. "Nay, Boromir. This is not yours to take."

He rose, seething anger and desperation in his eyes, "Surely you see it, my brother." He held out his hand and moved towards me. We had always been of a similar height, yet now he seemed tall beyond measure. He was so close to me I could hear his erratic breathing, so desperate he was for what I held. "I took it for Gondor, for our family, for you! I saved the halfling from torture and pain in Mordor. The dark powers would have destroyed him, and taken It!" His hand moved unconsciously to the ring beneath his shirt. "I brought it here, where it should have been all along. Elves are said to be wise, but I curse them for their folly! Gandalf, Elrond and the rest, they should have given the ring to me in the beginning, not to that accursed halfling! And now, because of that, his blood is upon my hands, I see his face in my dreams! Tell me, Faramir, how can I escape the torments of my mind!"

I did not answer, there was nothing to say. He looked to me for comfort and yet I could not give it. He had done a terrible, terrible thing, and nothing I could say would change that. He was looking for my forgiveness, and it was some small comfort to me that he still could feel remorse. But that he had killed, or left a living creature dying for the sake of his own greed and foolish motives was beyond me. And again I said to myself that the man before me was not my brother.

Suddenly, his hand shot out and he grabbed my arm with such violence that his nails cut deep into my skin. "Tell me what I did was right! Tell me, Faramir, ease my heart in this as you have always done in the past." There was such desperation in his voice that it was difficult to keep my face hard and stern. As his brother I wished to quiet his fears and reassure him, but as my own person I was so disgusted and afraid of what he had done, what he had become, that I pulled my arm away.

His eyes widened, "You would desert me in my hour of need!" his eyes narrowed suddenly, "I see it all now, you are jealous of me. You wish it was you who would be crowned, and not I!"

As to what had caused the sudden change in heart, I knew not. I opened my mouth to protest but he went on, and as he spoke he seemed to grow darker and more frightening every moment. "I am the king now, and neither you, nor any other can take that away from me! Those who oppose me will be cast into the darkness and forgotten, or killed instantly and displayed as a warning to others. No, my brother, this is my day and you cannot take that from me!"

"Boromir . . ." I began, but again was cut off.

"I will give you another chance," he said, "because you are my brother, my own blood. Here and now you will kneel before me and swear your allegiance. You will place the crown on my head, as is right, and announce to the city that the king has returned at last." He finished his speech, breathing hard and his eyes blazing with an insane light. The hidden threat behind the words did not frighten me, perhaps because I never really believed he would follow it through.

The crown felt heavy in my hands, it was within his grasp if he were to reach out and take it. But he did not, and I knew why.

My opinion meant much to him, as it always had, and if I could not accept him for what he had become, he could not accept himself. He wanted me to tell him he was doing the right thing, that he had nothing to feel guilty for. But I had to try and make him see what he had become. He was no longer the brother who was always there to protect me. Now we each stood on different sides of a wall and there was nothing that would make me cross to the other side.

"I need you by my side, Faramir," he said, "I am right in this and soon you will see it."

"Listen to yourself, Boromir. See what you have become! You must stop this madness before it destroys you!" His mouth twisted as I spoke and his eyes became cruel and hard once more.

"Madness? You are the one who is mad not to see my glory! With this power I will drive the hosts of Mordor back to their darkness. I will cleanse the land of their filth and all will love and fear the King of Gondor for his wrath!" I was afraid when I looked into his dark eyes, afraid that there was nothing left of my brother. Afterwards, I would try to think to myself that he had died before having a chance to return to Minas Tirith. Before betraying his kingdom, his father, and myself.

"Kneel before me, brother, and together we will crush Sauron and eliminate all who oppose me!"

I lowered my head and stepped forwards, Boromir moved to accept me. But instead of kneeling as he expected me to do, I thought of the power and acceptance he would gain through the kingship, and I thought of what he had become. I raised my eyes and spat in his face. His arm moved so quickly I had no time to react. He struck me across the side of the face and I was thrown to the ground with the strength of the blow.

He stepped forwards, towering over me with blazing eyes and a mouth twisted with hate. I lay still, looking up at him while my face stung not only with pain from the blow, but from betrayal. I looked into his eyes, hoping he would show some sign of regret. And to my great surprise he started weeping. He turned away to hide the tears and I could hear his uneven breathing heaving in sobs.

"Boromir . . ," I felt I had to say something. We had argued before, many times, but never like this. And although he had changed so much I could not bear to see him torn between two extremes.

I struggled to my feet, one hand pressed over the gash his riding glove had opened in my cheek. "Boromir, look at me."

He turned, but still he did not look me in the eyes. His face was flushed and one hand was gripping the ring as though he suspected it to be stolen any minute. He looked at my feet and a sweat broke out on his brow.

"You are a danger to me, like father is," he began, and before I could say a word he rushed on, "You see how you make me weak! But I am right, Faramir, I am right. I know it in my heart."

"Your heart is tainted with the power of the ring," I replied, and finally he looked at me. His eyes lingered on the fresh blood on my face then met with mine.

"If you will not join me," he said, hardly getting the words out, "you become my enemy."

I started, and for the first time realised the danger I was in. "Boromir, it does not need to be this way," I said, a hint of desperation in my voice. "You do not need the weapon of the enemy to command! You do not need to be King! You are the greatest warrior, the finest leader, cast it away, brother, cast it away and become yourself once more!"

I thought perhaps I had swayed him for a moment, but to my horror the cruel glint returned to his eyes. "It is no longer the weapon of the enemy. It is mine! And death to those who say otherwise!"

I tried to step back but found I could not. "If you are not my ally," he said again, "you are my enemy. For my own safety I cannot leave you to do as you will." His eyes shifted once again and for a moment I thought I saw something of the old Boromir behind the cruel exterior, but then it was gone again. "I will be kind, for you are my brother and I will not have you killed. But I will show you that I am right in this, I will make you see!"

I did not know whether it was a threat or just an excuse to himself, but I did know that Boromir, in this mood, could be dangerous and unpredictable. I had to get away . . . wait until I could talk sense to him.

I tried my utmost to turn, to retreat down the steps. But I was being held by his will and in his angry mood, the ring fed off his emotion and he became even more powerful. He approached and reached his hand out to touch my face. I had no choice but to let him. He took my chin in his hand and turned my head to see the small wound he had himself inflicted. Through his fingers I felt a shudder run through his body. Suddenly, his fingers tightened and I winced as they dug into the wound.

"I will show you," he promised, his eyes blazing, "I will make you see."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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