1. Birthday Kisses
It was a quiet celebration: no jugglers nor minstrels nor crowds of happy children - just the family, what remained of it, and platters of sweets. Since my sister's death, Denethor had known no joy, not even in this, Faramir's sixth birthday celebration. Faramir received new clothing, a practice sword, and a leather-bound book about the Elendili, his favorite heroes. He accepted them with his mother's well-remembered grace, but his smile never touched his solemn grey eyes.
I brought forth the special present that I had borne from Dol Amroth. I set down the cage and opened its door to release the gift. Faramir gasped in surprise when a tiny, blue-gray puppy stepped cautiously and delicately out of the cage.
"It's just like Mousie!" Boromir cried.
Faramir opened his hands beneath the pup's nose and let her sniff his fingers.
"You are right, Boromir," I replied. "She looks like Mousie, because she is born of her. Mousie wanted her daughter to live with Faramir. The puppy is yours, Faramir. She will love you as her mother did, if you are good and kind to her."
Mouse was my sister's adored Belfalas Greyhound. Denethor could not bear to set eyes on the little dog after Finduilas had left us. I had taken Mouse home with me; heavy with the litter Finduilas had not lived to see.
Two small sounds cheered the quiet chamber: the pup's excited squeak in response to Faramir's touch; and Faramir's answering laugh. He carefully took up the puppy, supporting her against his chest. She nosed the ends of Faramir's hair, then licked his chin.
I remembered my sister holding Mouse as a pup, giggling at her antics. Faramir had always loved his mother's dog; and had fretted at her departure, so soon after Finduilas' passing. But now, both my nephews smiled.
"Oh, Uncle, thank you; she is wondrous!" Faramir exclaimed, his eyes alight with joy. My heart warmed to see the lad so cheered; but I could not accept his thanks.
"Nay Faramir; she is not my gift. Your father bade me bring her here for you."
"Father?" Faramir looked up, utterly surprised, at his stern-faced father. "She is your gift?"
Denethor came to his son, and bent down, his shadow partially engulfing both boys. "Yes, my son. Your mother would have wanted you to have the animal. But you must care well for it, and train it, and keep it out of the Tower Hall."
"I will! Thank you, truly, sire!" Faramir reached up toward the tall grim figure. Denethor stepped back slightly. Then he knelt and placed his hand on Faramir's head.
"A good birthday to you, Faramir," Denethor pronounced quietly, and withdrew to his seat. For a moment, Faramir looked wistfully after his father. But then the puppy found Faramir's fingers, and licked them, and rolled over as the child happily rubbed her belly.
Seeing the boy revel in the puppy's affection, I was saddened that Denethor could still find it so hard to bestow fatherly tenderness upon his younger son. They were both bereaved. Denethor had comforted Boromir, who had held his father's heart in his keeping since his birth. Yet Denethor was too immersed in his own sorrow to reach out to this quiet boy who was so much like him.
I looked back at Denethor. He smiled bleakly, his own eyes alight with unshed tears, as he watched Faramir. Ah. Denethor truly did love his second son. Why did he show it only through the gift of a foolish puppy that now gave Faramir the kisses his father could not spare?
-The End -
The Elendili, i.e. "Elf-Friends", is another name for The Faithful, the group of Númenoreans who were loyal to the Eldar in the face of increasing persecution. Elendil eventually led them to Middle-earth.
In our Age, the puppy would be an Italian Greyhound, a toy greyhound that is sweet and very graceful, and does slightly resemble an extremely pretty mouse. They come in many colors; and have been lapdogs and the companions of kings (Frederick the Great had one). I often visualize Finduilas with an Italian Greyhound, as Denethor does not seem to be a dog person but might allow a small, elegant critter that is easy to keep clean.
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.