Reflections on Absent Men
1. Reflections on Absent Men
Wishes work like curses, thinks Faramir as he watches his wife teach their son to gallop a horse. Everything that he holds dear was originally intended for another -- his adored brother, who insisted on trading fates with him on that long-ago morning after they shared a dream.
Had Boromir lived, he would now be the Steward of Gondor. He would command the armies, oversee the rebuilding of the cities and find himself greeted with the respect of men everywhere. Had he lived, Boromir might very well have married Eowyn and fathered children on her.
And the King would love him. The King loves him still, yet only as a memory. He never held the living Boromir the way he touches Faramir, with the passion of one who has learned not to hold his desires in check until it is too late.
Faramir has never stopped mourning for his brother, but he comprehends now that Boromir's death was the price for his own life. He has everything he ever wanted and many things for which he never dared to wish. The wife, the heir, the home filled with light and music, the respect of the council, the cheers of the people, all fill him with joy. And to see Aragorn smile at him, to follow his summons...Faramir can imagine no greater pleasure.
Perhaps he sealed his brother's doom on the first night he ever dreamed of the scepter in his own hand, a princess at his side and a King on the throne of Gondor. Boromir always remained indistinct in such fantasies, a beloved and distant figure from Faramir's childhood. An icon rather than a man.
Perhaps there was never a place for Boromir in his vision. Now Faramir has everything and his hands have remained clean in claiming them. All that he has ever wished for has come to pass, just as surely as if he had cursed his brother to death.
[ 2 ]
Death is not the end of love. Arwen understood this when she pledged herself to Aragorn -- a man so haunted by his absent parents that their memories were more real to him than the living Men of the South. She could not make her father see it, but her father had grown bitter after so many years deprived of her mother's presence. Elrond comprehends death only as eternal separation, not eternal union.
If she needed confirmation, Arwen received it on the first night she spent with Aragorn after they were reunited, when he could not make love to her but sobbed in her arms. He poured out the tale of his fallen companion carried off by the waters of the Anduin. Such a love could not be borne away in tears or on the tides. It warmed her to be flooded with such feeling, even if Aragorn's fervor at that time was for someone other than herself.
Now Boromir of Gondor hovers like an invisible presence around them. When the armies win victories, when the crops are sown and the cities rebuilt, when men come to the King with gratitude in their eyes, Aragorn will go down to the locked rooms and stand silently before Boromir's portrait, his hands wrapped around the vambraces on his arms as if he were cradling a child. Later, Aragorn will come to Arwen and love her as no elf could ever love another, with all the burning desperation of one who must watch each moment fade.
To love for all the ages of the world could not match this, even if Arwen must share her mortal beloved with his kingdom and sometimes with another man. Elrond in his loneliness can be certain of reunion with Celebrian and need not die of a broken heart. It is why elves do not take consolation in others as men do...as Aragorn does with Faramir, though he does not know she knows, for they have never spoken of it.
Men may die, but such a love as Aragorn's for Boromir is deathless. So too is Arwen's love for him. And that will bind them together beyond the circles of this world, for an eternity unimaginable even to the Elves. No matter its pain, his death will be no curse for her but the ultimate victory.
[ 3 ]
Victory over sleeplessness comes slowly, after hours of lying beside Faramir in a too-small bed, smelling in his hair the smoke from a pipe she recognizes. Eowyn has only met one man who smoked such a pipe -- a stranger to Gondor like herself. The others prefer coarser pipeweed, easily found in the fields of Ithilien.
Her husband has been with the King again.
She does not begrudge him any pleasure he may take from such visits. It is harder to accept the fact that Aragorn will never want her as she wants him, but she realized long ago that it would always be so. It is not as if Faramir truly possesses Aragorn's heart, nor does Aragorn own Faramir's. There will always be another between them -- a man Eowyn knows only from portraits and stories.
She wonders how the Queen must feel about her husband's former companion, whom Arwen must have met in Rivendell before the Fellowship of the Ring set out together on their quest. Did Aragorn love Boromir even then? Or is this a passion born of loss, like her own suffering over Theodred, whose death brought Eowyn to such despair? Aragorn saved her life and Faramir's, yet just as she had been unable to save her cousin, the King had been unable to save the one dearest to him.
Not even her brother, now the King of Rohan, can compete with the legend of the Captain of the White Tower. Eomer bears great friendship for Aragorn and they ride together in war and in peace defending their lands. Yet Eomer cannot replace Boromir as the King's cherished one any more than Faramir can outshine the King's image of the Steward who might have been.
It is a strange fate that they should suffer so much fear and doubt over a man who died so long ago, before any of them understood how much the world would change. Eowyn wonders whether she would have liked Boromir of Gondor -- if she would have found him to be much like his brother, his cousin, the King who still loves him, or more akin to his dark-hearted father, whose memory still gives Faramir nightmares. So much of Eowyn's life has been shaped by Boromir's death. Yet she will never know the man, except as a dream, in curses and in wishes.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.