Title: Never Again|
Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me. No copyright infringement
Summary: Boromir doesn't die but is captured together with the hobbits.
Alternative Universe, hurt/comfort.
"Pippin." Merry's voice was soft and quiet in the darkness. "Don't cry."
But how could I stop crying? At the distance, Boromir's suppressed
sounds of pain were going on and on. I didn't want to look. I buried my
face into the crooks of my elbows, and the cloth of the sleeves was
already wet with tears. But I couldn't help raising my head and looking,
again and again.
There was a small fire, which created more shadows than gave light, and
the crowd of orcs and other creatures, Uruk-Hai, nearly blocked Boromir
from my view. He was kneeling, his arms wrenched behind his back and
tied. The shafts of the arrows still stuck from his shoulder and chest, even
though the finned ends were cut off.
The biggest of the creatures, the one with white smears of paint on its
face - that one that had shot at him - took the shaft, slick with blood, and
pulled. The choking sound Boromir made was awful; as if blood was
bubbling in his throat, as if he was trying to swallow his scream. I
thrashed in my place, trying to stick my fingers into my ears not to hear it
but in a way it was even worse. And besides, even if I didn't hear it, I still
knew it was going on.
But oh, it was so unbearable.
"Will they never, ever stop?" I bit my lip: my voice sounded so squealing.
Merry's eyes were glittering in the darkness, and half of his face seemed
not white but dark where blood coated it. He was so weak he couldn't
even raise his head, and seeing him like that seemed to cut another gash
in my heart.
One more burst of laughter reached me from the crowd at the fire. The
Uruk-Hai didn't pull the arrow out. He had been doing it for a while by
now, I didn't know for how long. He shoved the arrow in again, and
twisted, and Boromir started falling on the ground but the orcs caught him
and shook him upright, and I heard them curse and slap him - until he
apparently came round and they held him for the creature's amusement
I curled as tight as I could, pressing my forehead to my knees, but I
couldn't stay like this even for a while. It was not over; nothing was going
to be over.
Boromir was here because of us. I think it was the most terrible thought
of all, the one I even was afraid of thinking and tried to banish, and yet it
came back again and again. He'd tried to protect us, fighting against all
those orcs, and there had been too many of them but I'd thought someone
would hear, Strider would hear his horn and come to help us. Even when
he had been wounded, once, twice, I still hoped someone would come.
And then more orcs had come, and they'd caught Merry, and I was
grabbed, and that creature, the creature with a bow pointed it at me and
said to Boromir: 'Drop your sword or they'll die.'
Boromir looked up with such an expression that I felt my heart rending in
two, and he let his sword fall, as if it were too heavy for him, and turned
to the Uruk-Hai, looked at him steadily, waiting for the death blow.
But it hadn't come. They had carried Merry and me away, and Boromir's
hands were tied, and they dragged him with us, yanking the rope when he
slowed down. And he walked, kept walking, even though his face was
chalk-white and washed with sweat and his eyes like black pits of coal.
And now they were playing with him, turning the arrows in his wounds,
and he tried not to scream, and it was even more frightening this way.
"Stop fidgeting, you little scum." An orc's knee pressed on my back,
pushing me into the ground so hard that my breath was knocked out. The
orc was watching us, all the time, even though we were tied hands and
feet. He held me like that, until I thought I would never be allowed to
breathe again, and then let me go and I coughed and shivered.
I had thought life was miserable when Gandalf died because of me -
because I couldn't keep my hands away from things in Moria, and
everything had gone so wrong, and I had brought orcs and Barlog on us.
But now I knew what miserable was really. Frodo was gone alone - and I
didn't know what happened to the others - and Merry was hurt - and
He shouldn't have been here, he shouldn't have tried to protect us and got
captured! It was so unfair, how could life be unfair like that?
"You'll dig a hole in the ground, fretting like this," Merry said in a feeble
voice. I smiled, because he said it so that I smiled, but then more tears
The figures of orcs and Uruk-Hai were just dark shapes when my eyes
were blurry like this and I couldn't anything clearly - but as soon as I
blinked, I could see, and I could hear all the time, and oh, Boromir was
breathing in this horrible, horrible way, shallow and very fast. And the
Uruk-Hai took the arrow in his shoulder again and pulled - and now it
came out, and at the next moment they shoved a burning wood into his
wound, and this time he cried out and fell.
Please, I begged, please stop torturing him. I couldn't bear it, it felt as if
something in my mind was going to split. And if they kept going on like
that - Boromir would die, he surely would die.
But maybe they didn't care.
He couldn't die. It just couldn't happen. He was so good - to us, to
everyone. He'd hugged us when we hid from the spies of Saruman. And
he'd carried Merry and me through the snow of Caradhras. And he'd held
us when jumping over the bridge in Moria. His arms were so big and
warm - and careful, as if he was partly afraid he could break us, even
though I told him many times we hobbits were not that easy to break.
And sometimes it felt like his arms were the only thing that was there of
the world for me, and there was nothing beyond, and I cared for nothing.
And sometimes I... I thought indecent things, of how his hands would
have felt over my body, not just holding me, but roaming, doing things.
Where would he touch me then? And what about *other* parts of his
Perverted hobbit, me.
Boromir was so different. When I looked up at him, something in me
lurched, and I felt scary and good, like when swings go very high and
then down, and you feel as if you're falling but you know you won't hit
And now he was there, and the sounds he made were such soft moans that
I knew he had to be unconscious and couldn't control himself. And the
orcs laughed, and the Uruk-Hai was doing something with his other
wound, and then there was burning wood again, and Boromir came round
and thrashed on the ground and they held him while they poured
something onto his wounds.
I thought I just couldn't stand any more of that. I'd just go insane and that
would be all. And then it was over, and they grabbed him and dragged to
us, threw him on the ground near to me. Boromir's hands were still tied
and he cried out when falling. But somehow I was still glad because he
was here, he was with us again, and maybe he wouldn't die.
I think I would fight to death if the orc that guarded us would try to stop
me. But I think he was losing interest, and I crawled on my knees and
elbows near to Boromir.
He still was breathing like that, such small, shallow gasps, as if he was
drowning, and I could feel his chest heaving. His smell was of sweat,
blood and the stuff that they put in his wounds, very harsh and nasty, but I
didn't care, I didn't care at all. I didn't want to hurt him but I wanted to be
closer, to make sure he was all right. His hair was wet and his face
clammy as I touched it with my tied hands, and he jerked a little and
"Oh dear," I whispered pushing closer to him, pressing my cheek to his
good shoulder. My mouth was half-opened and I could feel the coarse
cloth of his tunic against my lips, the brackish taste of blood on it. "Oh
dear." No matter that I'd never called him like that before.
Please, please answer me. He shivered a little.
His voice was so faint and hoarse, and I couldn't help, I started crying
"Are you all right, little one?"
"Yes," I said through the tears.
"His head is hurt."
"I'm sorry," he said. There was little light, just from the moon, and
Boromir's face looked so white, almost bluish, bruises and drying blood
dark on it. I could see his throat trembling as he talked. "I failed you. I
should've been dead. I failed everyone. I tried to take the Ring from
"No," I said, "no. I don't care."
I didn't care for the Ring - and he could do nothing wrong, I knew it. He
just couldn't. I didn't want him to torment himself over it. I felt him sigh -
and I rubbed my face against his chest, because I didn't know what else to
say, I didn't know how to comfort him. I'd always been said to talk too
much but now words escaped me. My tears soaked into his torn, bloodied
He didn't push me away and he didn't say anything for a very long time.
Finally my eyes and nose was so swollen that I could barely breathe - and
then tears seemed to subside.
"I'm all wet because of you," Boromir said. I sniffed and asked:
"Do you want me to go away?"
"No," he said softly. "If you don't want to."
So I stayed, and I lay there, pressing my face to his chest, stroking his
shoulder with my fingers. And I told him that everything would be all
right, that Strider would find us and that the others would help us.
"Of course, little one," he said.
* * *
They woke us up when the dawn hadn't come yet. No even water, I don't
mention food, and Boromir really looked like a ghost, his face bloodless
and his eyes black and sunken.
The Uruk-Hai, the one with the bow, retied his hands in front of him so
that it was more convenient to make him walk pulling on the rope. He
pulled Boromir's head back by his hair and poured something vile-
smelling to his mouth, and Boromir coughed and choked and tried to spit
it, and the creature held his nose and mouth until he swallowed.
And then, for some moments more the Uruk-Hai's hand stayed on his
face, holding it, tilting it up, and there was something so wrong in it that I
wanted to scream 'Get your hands off him!' - because there was
something on the creature's face, something like interest, a smile curving
his black mouth.
His thumb tugged on Boromir's lips, as if wiping his mouth, and he kept
looking, and Boromir looked back at him, his gaze unwavering - but his
hands behind his back were clenched in fists so hard I thought he was
drawing blood with his fingernails.
"What're you messing about with him?" one of the orcs said. "He's not a
halfling. Kill him, he'll die all the same," and the Uruk-Hai turned and his
fist slammed into the orc's face so hard that I heard the bone of his nose
The orcs hefted us on their backs, and the Uruk-Hai wrapped Boromir's
rope around his wrist and yanked.
They hurried, carrying us away - and despair crawled inside me as I
bounced on the orc's back and saw Merry sagging on another's back next
to me. He perked up a little today, recovering - but oh, he looked so
pitiful with his hair sticky with blood. And we moved faster and faster,
and I couldn't help thinking that the farther we went, the more difficult it
would be for Strider to find us. And what if he decided not to look for us
at all? Frodo was important; they would probably choose to go after him
I couldn't think about it. I was so scared. Yes, nothing horrible had been
done to us yet - but what would happen when we came to Isengard?
And what if for Boromir it would be too late?
I couldn't stand this thought. He couldn't die, he just couldn't. He couldn't
I think I blacked out for a few moments, exhausted with these thoughts.
And for these moments of oblivion I was in a different place and time,
before Moria, even before Caradhras - when everything still seemed so
good and happy. Merry and I were sitting in the shadow of a rock, and
our supper was getting cooked and smelled deliciously. And Boromir
walked up with a bucket of water. I looked at him and he glanced at me,
shrugged and looked away.
"You actually made eyes to him!" Merry's elbow was hard butting under
my ribs. I 'oi'ed and pushed him, and he laughed.
"He didn't notice," I said, a part of me disappointed.
"Don't you try to bite more than you can chew, Pippin?"
"Who said anything about biting?"
And Merry laughed again and I laughed, too.
And then it was all gone, and there was again the reeking back of the orc
in front of my face.
I turned a little and saw Boromir. He kept walking, the rope between him
and the Uruk-Hai jerking every time his steps faltered. His face was like a
mask and his eyes glassy, and I thought I would give my heart now for
him to stop suffering. My heart ached so much all the same that I could
barely stand it.
The night had come, and they dumped us on the ground, and Boromir
slumped onto his knees. There was blood coming from his mouth, a little
bit of it with every his breath. He still was gasping the same way, so hasty
and shallow, and his hair was wet with sweat. There were dirty runs of
some fluid on his tunic, coming from his wounds, and I didn't know if it
was the stuff they had poured into them or something worse.
An orc came up to him and kicked him in the side. The sound Boromir
made was almost inhuman and more blood came from his mouth. I think I
kind of lost it then, flailing and crying and trying to get to him.
Orcs grabbed me. And the Uruk-Hai said something harsh to the orc,
pushing him away, and his hand clenched on Boromir's shoulder, shaking
him up - and he looked at Boromir's face with a strange expression, as if
weighing something in his mind.
And for some reason it was even worse than when they had hit him or
I shrieked and struggled and orcs hit me, and I shrieked more because it
hurt. Boromir's eyes opened, finding me, and after a moment recognition
seeped into them through haziness.
"Leave him," he said. "Leave him alone."
"Don't you know the orders?" another orc barked. "Not to harm the
I was thrown on the ground, still flailing, and the Uruk-Hai made
Boromir get up. He reeled, his face looking lifeless, and then the creature
pulled him somewhere, and he walked.
I wanted to cry out but it was as if all breath was punched out of me. He
was going to kill him, wasn't he? Take him away from the camp and kill?
Because he was growing weak and would die all the same.
"Pippin, stop it." Merry's voice was coming to me as if from afar. "Stop it,
you're hurting yourself."
No, I repeated, no - but I couldn't even say a word because there was no
air in my lungs.
"Breathe, Pippin," Merry said, "breathe."
And I breathed, and then shivers came, and I seemed to babble something
because Merry was talking in a quiet voice to me, saying that we had to
wait, that maybe everything would be all right, and wouldn't the Uruk-Hai
just kill Boromir here if he was intended to do it? And if he intended to
do it, surely he would've already been back, alone?
His voice faltered a little on these words; but I didn't mind, I wanted to
believe him so much. Merry crawled up to me and put his cheek on my
shoulder, and we lay there, and I tried to hear anything beyond the sounds
of the camp but could hear nothing.
And then - I think it was after all my thrashing - I noticed that the rope on
my ankles had slackened. I pulled on it some more, carefully, and it
slipped off, and I saw Merry's stare, and the orc was not looking at us.
I knew what I had to do. Strider had to find us, I had to give him a
So, I ran, and fell, and tore off the elven brooch from my cloak, and by
the time orcs grabbed me again and dragged me back, I knew I had done
what I could. And even when they hit me and cursed me, I still felt
relieved, I knew I had done the right thing.
And then the Uruk-Hai brought Boromir back, and for a moment I felt
such enormous relief. My stupid exultant state was short-lived, though.
Something was wrong, I knew it - even though he was alive, and didn't
look wounded worse than before. But something had changed, and this
feeling was like a knife twisted in my chest.
I crawled closer to Boromir as he lay on the ground, his hands bound and
his face deathly pale in the darkness. I just wanted to feel his chest under
my cheek again, I wanted to be close to him. I wanted to whisper him
about the brooch and what I had done, and that Strider would definitely
find us now. I wanted his approval.
But as I reached to him, he shrank back, and Merry's eyes met mine, huge
"Don't touch him," he whispered.
I didn't. But I stayed close, and after a while he seemed even not to know
where he was, falling into delirium, thrashing in his place and crying
when pain jarred through his wounds.
"Faramir, Faramir," called he, and I could do nothing to help him.
Finally an orc rose and yelled: "Shut him up or I'll..." and I crawled closer
and covered Boromir's mouth with my palm. I pressed my forehead to his
and held onto his, and later the fever seemed to go down. He just shivered
and he didn't pull away when I stayed close to him and pressed my body
Boromir opened his eyes in the grey light of pre-dawn and his voice,
feeble but lucid, reached me.
"If you have a chance, Pippin," he said, "please run."
I shook my head, pressing it to his chest, because I didn't want to leave
But I wondered only how long it would take before he would leave me.
* * *
He'd had that habit of tousling our hair, as if it amused him to feel how
curly it was. Even Frodo's, although he looked a bit strained when doing
it and Frodo clearly didn't like it. I liked it very much until Gimli said to
"You should marry and have children, Boromir, you really are pining for
Next time when Boromir messed up my hair, I shook his hand away,
"I'm not a child."
Perhaps it would have sounded more convincing if at the next moment I
hadn't leaned into his caress again.
Boromir looked at me, with that half-exasperated, half-amused expression
of his, and said:
"No, Master Took, of course you're not."
"It's Pippin, really. No need to overdo it," I said.
And then he touched me again, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear,
and his fingers brushed over my ear quickly, over the sharp point of it.
"Oi," I said. It felt like a lick of flame, like when he'd nicked my hand
with his sword by chance - so hot and so... I would give anything to feel it
He smiled and walked away and I kept staring after him and wanting him
* * *
I didn't know how he walked through the third day. There was even more
haste because the orcs talked about riders chasing us. Merry and I had to
walk as well, with just a little water and the horribly tasting stuff that they
made us swallow.
The rope was yanked again and again as the Uruk-Hai dragged Boromir
after him, and on the creature's dark face there was an expression almost
akin to thoughtfulness. Was he regarding whether it was worth continuing
I wanted to scream, and yet as I looked at Boromir's face, nearly blank,
glassy-eyed and so pale that it didn't seem alive any more, my voice was
taken away. Would I have to see him dying in front of my eyes? Would
he die because of me? Because I was weak and got in trouble and he had
to defend me. Because... because I fell in love with him and thought
sometimes that maybe, maybe he felt something towards me as well.
Another night came, darkness falling, and he was taken away from the
camp again. And for a moment, before he was gone, Boromir's eyes
stopped on me. And his gaze was so sad and long, and so meaningful, and
I knew what he wanted to say, I knew what it was.
And then all the things happened, and orcs quarreled, and the riders
attacked, and everything went crazy - but through all that a part of me felt
utterly dead, even as I crawled away, and saw the rope on my wrists, and
ran. I could see in my mind's eye Boromir looking at me. Saying
'farewell' to me.
'If you ever have a chance, run,' he'd told me. And Merry and I ran, and
hid in the forest, and then Treebeard got us. In a way it was better when I
was scared out of my mind because then I almost could stop thinking.
But after we met Gandalf, and Treebeard decided to take us home - then it
came back to me. I didn't cry as we swayed gently with the huge steps of
the Ent - I think I couldn't cry any more by then, at least for a while. I just
sat quietly in the crook of a branch, and when I was silent like that for
very long, Merry looked up at me and said:
"Maybe he is all right. Maybe the riders helped him."
"Oh Merry," I said. "I think I will never be whole again."
* * *
So much had happened after that. Isengard was defeated, and I looked
into the Palanthir and nearly died. And then Gandalf took me to Minas
Tirith and I served Denethor, and met Faramir, and the Ring was
destroyed, and Sauron fell. And Frodo and Sam were back with us.
* * *
"Let me see him! Let me pass!"
I broke free from Gandalf's hands - and ran past Strider, past others - I
don't think they really tried to hold me but they wouldn't be able to
anyway. I ran into the tent and stopped, and my heart lurched in my chest
and stopped too, for a few moments.
He was there, in the half-dark tent, in bed. His eyes were opened. He
didn't turn to me when hearing my steps.
I gasped a little, my heart starting beating again, but now it ached so hard
that I needed to hug my chest to stop this pain. And I was scared. I knew
it would be bad but I didn't know how *bad*.
We had been returning back to Minas Tirith, after our victory, when a
band of orcs and Uruk-Hai attacked us, I think more out of despair than
anything else. Of course we had enough warriors to defeat them, and
Strider - Aragorn - was there, and there hadn't been any real danger. And
then one of the creature falling under Aragorn's sword - I recognized him.
It was that one, the one who'd taken Boromir away from me then. I
recognized him even though there was no white paint on his face any
more and it was painted in blood instead.
I think I went hysterical. I cried and babbled, and Aragorn was the only
one who listened to me, and there was such an expression in his eyes that
I almost couldn't bear to see him like this. Then he'd taken some of his
men and they went to search.
They'd found him. He was alive, even though barely, and his wounds
were treated in a very bad way.
He begged Aragorn to kill him but of course Aragorn couldn't. And it was
the last thing he'd said in days.
Gandalf said I shouldn't have been allowed to see him, as if I were a child
who couldn't handle it. And now I stood here, in front of him, and it made
me feel as if the world was still dark, darker than it had been under
I had thought I would never see him again. My love, my heart, I had
thought I lost him. And now he was here with me - but not with me at the
It was so quiet in the tent. I didn't even hear his breath and I almost didn't
dare to breathe myself. I made a step after step towards the bed, my knees
feeling so weak. I had thought my heart would burst with joy when I'd see
him - and now it felt as if it was swelling with misery.
My hands felt tied, as tied as they had been in the orcs' camp - and I
almost couldn't raise them to touch him. I touched his hair finally. It was
warm and soft, just like I had imagined so many times it would be. Only
Boromir didn't lean into my touch and didn't touch me back.
Will I never hear your voice again, my love?
I had thought it would be enough if he just were alive, just to see him
once more, I would have given anything for it. But now I needed more.
I needed him. Faramir needed him, too.
There was a prickling feeling in my eyes but I didn't cry. I pressed my
forehead to his shoulder, nudging, rubbing against him, like I had been
doing it last time, that awful night.
Please, I thought, please come back.
I wanted to talk to him, and tell him everything I had done, and that Frodo
was safe, and Gondor was safe, and Aragorn was the king now, but I
didn't seem to be able to form any words, my breath was thick with the
tears that I couldn't shed. So I just lay in his bed, pressing to him, in near-
darkness, and listened to his heartbeat.
If you don't ever want me, my love, I thought, it is all right. I'd be able to
live with it. Just please come back, don't shut everything out like this.
It hurt so much, so very, very much.
I think I cried out, muffling my shriek against his shoulder. The pain was
unbearable for a moment, I just couldn't stand it. It felt like my heart was
bursting. I hadn't known it could ever feel like that.
And then - Boromir's hand touched my head, the palm pressing to it,
fingers probing my face carefully.
"Pippin," a hoarse voice said.
I jumped up. Was it true? I hadn't just imagined it, had I? Boromir looked
at me - his eyes still dazed and distant but there was something
recognizing in them. He looked at me and he looked worried.
My chest ached when I saw him like that. There was a shadow on him, as
if he'd lived too long, so long as no one shouldn't live, and seen things
that no one shouldn't see.
But his hand still touched me and he asked in his faint, raspy voice: "You
cried. Did someone hurt you?"
I caught his hand in both of mine, and kissed it, and I couldn't talk, just
shook my head fiercely. He looked so sad.
"Please don't leave again, all right?" I asked finally. He didn't answer. His
eyes were changing again, as if he was going away from me, and I
couldn't bear it, I had to stop it. I clung to his hand and shook it, and he
blinked and then said:
"I'm so tired, Pippin."
No, please. I reached to his face and stroked it and he flinched a little but
then stayed still. He was frowning - but I was glad to see it. Anything was
better than this emptiness in his eyes. There were scars on his face, on the
left side of it, as if his skin was slashed again and again. I touched them
and he turned a little, letting his hair fall over them.
"It is not the scars of honor, Pippin," he said.
And then I couldn't stand it any more. I just flung myself at him and
wrapped my arms around him, and buried my face against his chest - and
I knew I would never let him go, no matter what.
He'd have to tear me away by force if he wanted to get rid of me.
I wouldn't let him go and I wouldn't let him leave me again.
And after a while I felt Boromir's lips press to the top of my head, his
breath warm against my hair.
I will be with you, my love, I thought. I will be strong for you.
I was strong, and I could take care of him. It'd be my turn now, to protect
him, and I could do it. I had saved his brother, hadn't I? I would do
anything for him.
Only if he stayed with me.
"You won't leave," I whispered against his chest. "You can't. I know you
won't. I can't lose you again, I'll die."
His hand rubbed over my back in very small, circular motions.
"No, you won't, little one," he said - and added, after a while, very
quietly. "I promise."
"And I won't leave you," I said. "Never again."