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by Victoria P.

     Subject: Quality (TTT, Faramir)
     Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 8:55 AM

     Title:  Quality
     Author: Victoria P. []
     Summary: Faramir of Gondor shows his quality
     Rating: G
     Disclaimer: If Faramir were mine, I wouldn't have had to
     write this. 
     Spoilers: For the whole of Faramir's scenes in TTT (movie)
     Archive: Lists, Muse's Fool.
     Feedback: Is better than rings of power any day.
     Notes: Thanks to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg.  Just my
     attempt to reconcile movie!Faramir with book!Faramir. I
     blame the Ring. Some text lifted directly from the book,
     some lifted directly from the movie.  The soldier's name
     comes from a transcript of TTT found on the web.
     Date: February 26, 2003


He hears voices.

He ignores them at first; he has an attack to coordinate and spies to capture and interrogate.

When he sees the captives, he realizes that the voices are not a figment of his imagination; there really is something much larger and darker at work here.

The Halflings startle him. They are creatures of the dream, the dream that sent Boromir to Imladris. Secretly, he still believes he should have been sent instead. Boromir should have been here to defend Osgiliath; he himself should have been sent to Gandalf, who was more a father to him in some ways than his own has been.

He questions the Halflings warily, and finds that the words he wishes to speak stop in his throat. He is harsh with them, harsher than his wont, and it troubles him.

When he is alone, he can still hear echoes of the voices speaking -- his father, his teachers, a lady he had thought of courting once upon a time, before war became his life. They all judge him and find him wanting. He is weighed and measured and found lacking in comparison with Boromir.

If he had but the power to show them all what he is truly made of, no one would ever again question Faramir of Gondor's worth.

He tosses and turns in his sleep, his head full of fire and war. He loves not the arrow for its swiftness, nor the sword for its sharpness, and yet here he is, dreaming of conquest as if it were his very nature.

When he finally understands what has fallen into his hands, he is of two minds. Clearly, the Ring must be destroyed. He knows this full well. No good can come of something so utterly evil. He has seen its effects on the creature, Gollum, driven mad with desire for the Ring and all it represents.

And yet...

What would Boromir do? he asks himself. He may never measure up to his brother, has given up trying, content with his lot in Boromir's shadow, and yet...

He means to tell Frodo that he will offer all the help he can, so that they can go on their perilous way toward Mount Doom. Yet he feels compelled to draw his sword on the defenseless hobbit, threatening one who has never offered him even the hint of harm.

"So... this is the answer to all the riddles. Here in the wild I have you. Two Halflings and a host of men at my call. The Ring of power within my grasp. A chance for Faramir, Captain of Gondor, to show his quality."

Frodo backs up into the wall. His eyes roll back and he grabs the Ring in his hand, pulling himself away from Faramir.

"No," he shouts.

Sam turns on the Man. "Stop it! Leave him alone! Don't you understand? He's got to destroy it. That's where we're going. To Mordor. To the mountain of fire."

Faramir can do naught but stare at them for a long moment, until Madril enters.

"Osgiliath is under attack," the soldier says. "They call for reinforcements."

Sam looks at him with beseeching eyes. "Please. It's such a burden. Will you not help him?"

"Captain?" Madril demands his attention as well.

The hobbits radiate fear, and it feeds the voices in his head, the ones calling his name. Sam's pleas fall on deaf ears, drowned out by the voice of the Ring. He knows, oh, he knows this is exactly what the Ring wants him to think Boromir would have done, and it makes him sick, because Boromir never bullied anyone, never pulled rank, never used his strength at arms to compel a friend or companion into something he didn't wish to do. And he has ever wished to be like Boromir, to be held in the same esteem by their father.

He struggles mightily against his baser instincts, against the power of the Ring, but he fails.

"Prepare to leave," he orders. "The Ring will go to Gondor. "

And now he is doing exactly what he should not do. It is wrong, and yet he is doing it anyway. He cannot reconcile his thoughts and his words, his intentions and his actions. He means to do one thing and finds himself doing another. It is alarming, but every time he changes his mind, something comes up -- Madril is at his side. Osgiliath is falling. His people will fail. Gondor is doomed. All the world will fall into shadow.

But he can save it. He can fix it.

He cannot sleep; the dreams of war are too close to reality, and the constant whispering in his head has begun distracting him, leading him into daydreams as they march toward Osgiliath.

He sees himself wearing the Ring, sitting upon the throne of Gondor, finally taking his rightful place as King. Not in ten thousand years, his father had told Boromir, could the Steward's line usurp Isildur's heirs. But with the Ring, ah, then blood would tell. For are they not also descended from Elendil? And have they not ruled Gondor in his stead, with wise and loving hands over the past thousand years?

But he wants it not for himself, but for his father. He is not so far under its influence yet, that he would take the burden on himself. He knows he is not worthy, but with this gift, he may finally win his father's favor.

At Osgiliath, Frodo again pleads with him, but he is implacable.

"Take them to my father. Tell him Faramir sends a mighty gift. A weapon that will change our fortunes in this war." He imagines the joy on his father's face, the honor that will be his once the Enemy is defeated and Gondor once again lives in peaceful splendor, the banner of the White Tree flying from the tower of Echthelion.

Sam pulls away from the soldiers and faces him, defiance writ in every line of his being.

"You want to know what happened to Boromir?" he says, chin lifted pugnaciously. "You want to know why your brother died? He tried to take the Ring from Frodo. After swearing an oath to protect him, he tried to kill him. The Ring drove your brother mad."

Faramir freezes. He feels the truth of Sam's words, but the voices in his head -- his father's, Boromir's, the Ring's -- tell him it isn't so.

A shout of "Watch out!" breaks the moment, and boulder crashes into a tower overhead and shatters it.

Frodo's eyes roll in his head and he stares at Faramir.

Sam, ever alert to his master's mood swings, says, "Mr. Frodo?"

"They're here," Frodo says. "They've come."

Faramir looks toward the sky and sees -- "Nazgl!" he shouts, grabbing the hobbits and thrusting them into a corner. "Stay here. Keep out of sight. Take cover." He rushes to help his men.

When next he looks toward the Halflings, Frodo is standing on the bridge, holding the Ring out toward the Ringwraith. He moves as if to put the Ring on his finger, and the Nazgl moves inexorably nearer.

For a moment, the scene is frozen, and for the rest of his life Faramir will recall it in acid-etched detail, the bright gold of the Ring glinting in the light, the Halfling swaying toward the flying Nazgl, the great dark wings beating slowly, blotting out the sun.

And then Sam rushes in and knocks Frodo over, freeing Faramir from his untimely paralysis. He releases an arrow and shoots the winged beast on which the Nazgl rides. His aim is true and the beast shrieks in pain and fury; the Nazgl turns away.

Frodo and Sam tumble down the stairs, and for the moment, Faramir loses sight of them. The Ring has driven Gollum mad, and it has taken hold of Frodo as well. No one can withstand its evil, he thinks. It compelled Boromir into madness, and has been wreaking havoc on his own mind.

The blood of Nmenor runs in his veins, and he will resist the Enemy's tricks at last. It is the least he can do to honor his fallen brother, and the bravery these two hobbits have shown in shouldering the doom of Men.

He hastens to the place where they stand, remembering the scene that just played out before him, and stops short at Frodo's words.

"What are we holding onto, Sam?"

"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo," Sam replies. "And it's worth fighting for. "

Simple words of confirmation, just at the moment he needs to hear them. He walks to them and kneels in front of Frodo.

"I think at last we understand one another, Frodo Baggins," he says. He is free of the Ring's temptation now; his head is clear, free of the voices that have plagued him since it came into his vicinity.

Madril says, "You know the laws of our country, the laws of your father. If you let them go, your life will be forfeit."

He feels light as a linden leaf, and even amid the destruction of Osgiliath and the sacrifice of his own life, hope springs anew in his breast.

"Then it is forfeit," he says. "Release them."

And while his decision may never win him his father's love, he has honored Gandalf's memory and teaching. He has shown his quality, been tested and for once, has not found himself wanting.



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