A short Frodo/Faramir gift for Baranduin, this is based on a brief clip shown in the ABC Prime Time special on RotK (not book canon, probably not even movie canon -- clip canon!) and explains the difference in Frodo's mood from the time they leave Osgiliath via the sewers to his discussion with "Samwise the Brave."

Duty and Memory
by Laura Mason

The wild hope that flared in his breast died almost instantly, but for one dizzying moment when he saw the diminutive figure and dirty curls, Faramir mistook this strange hobbit for Frodo.

"This is not the first halfling to have crossed your path," Mithrandir observed.

"No," he managed to husk a barely civil reply to his old friend. The halfling carefully cradled before Mithrandir wasn't Frodo, but his delicate features and frame were much closer to Frodo's than Samwise's sturdy build and broad features. Frodo had said that two of his kin were part of the troop journeying from Imladris, Faramir reasoned, trying to pull his attention back to the wizard. But the elfin face before him suddenly bloomed with hope and happiness.

"You've seen Frodo and Sam!"

It was so like Frodo's own happy glow that Faramir had to lower his head briefly to master his emotions. Frodo's joy had been so incandescent, though only briefly glimpsed. Just once -- they'd only had that one moment, alone at last with their minds finally in agreement.

When Faramir asked to speak to Frodo privately, he intended to warn him more thoroughly about the dangers of their path. But seeing Frodo's stubborn courage and the determination in his eyes, Faramir couldn't find words. Instead he knelt to embrace Frodo and wish him farewell.

A comradely kiss was aimed for Frodo's forehead, but the hobbit moved and instead their lips met. Met and remained joined far longer than was customary or appropriate. Before they broke apart, gasping for breath, their mouths had become so acquainted as to be dear friends.

And the glow in Frodo's eyes! No longer did weary pain battle hopelessness. The hobbit was lit from within by joy, his beauty becoming almost unbearable.

"Frodo..." Faramir began, but what could he do? Frodo had to perform his appointed task and destroy the Ring, thereby saving Gondor and all of Middle Earth. Faramir couldn't beg the hobbit to remain with him and abandon the world to darkness. And though he longed to speak words of comfort and promise, Faramir couldn't lie and say they would meet again. "Frodo, my heart goes with you," he managed, completely inadequate words for all he was feeling.

All his wishes were meaningless. Duty superceded their desires. Frodo couldn't abandon his task, and Faramir couldn't abandon his people to accompany and protect Frodo. But even if he could, after hearing what the Ring had done to Boromir and listening to that fell voice tempt him, Faramir knew he should not remain where he might be further tempted by the Ring. He could see himself maddened by its siren voice until his honor and his love were both forgotten.

All Faramir could do was release Frodo, knowing his errand was hopeless and there was no comfort to give him.

"Thank you," the hobbit whispered, his fingertips grazing Faramir's mouth. "Namarie." Those blissful minutes among the ruins of Gondor's pride confused and disturbed Faramir, but they sent Frodo away with a faint smile on rosy, swollen lips.

Faramir watched after him long after he'd moved out of sight, his own hand to his mouth, shaking from the memory of that graceful hand's light touch.

"Captain Faramir, are you unwell?"

He shook his head and came fully back to his present circumstances. His duty was to report to his father, and to lead Mithrandir and this new hobbit to the Citadel. Such memories must wait.

As they rode upward through the city, Faramir realized he could set aside his memories until some future time, unimaginable now, when there would be peace and time for reflection. No matter how distant that time might be, he knew the memory would be waiting, fresh -- and still arousing. For as long as he lived, Faramir could never forget the sweetness of Frodo's mouth.

 

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