7. Chapter 7
"Make way! Make way for the wounded!"
The dreaded shouts seemed to echo through the stone city. The wagon wheels thundered along the stone road up and up and up to the sixth level, carrying the wounded soldiers directly to the Houses of Healing. The first moved with frightening speed and mothers pulled children quickly from the streets at the hollered calls to make way.
In front of the wagons rode a messenger, only ahead because he had more speed then the wounded weighted wagons. The young man looked exhausted, his face pale and smudged with dirt. He looked as if he had come directly from a battle, most likely because he had.
He did not stop at the stables used to house the soldier's horses. He did not stop until the last and, if given the choice, he likely would have ridden into the citadel itself rather than pause. He flew on weary feet through the great doors and into the great building as the wagons turned on hurried wheels and healers rushed out to greet them. Controlled chaos consumed the Houses within moments.
The messenger was halted before the broad, tall, oak doors of the council chambers. "You cannot disturb the meeting, soldier, not for anything less than a catastrophe."
"The Lord Boromir is dying, can you think of a greater catastrophe?" the trembling messenger asked with a thin, weary voice.
The guard who had stopped him paled considerably. "Open the doors!"
The messenger squeaked inside as soon as they had rolled open and faced the council members with no small amount of fear. He bowed hurriedly and raised very cautious eyes to the Steward, who had risen in surprise, his face dark with anger, at the interruption.
"My Lord Steward, your son was wounded and has been returned to the city. The healers," the messenger gulped, "they fear he will not survive."
All the blood drained from the Steward's face and, for a brief moment, he closed his eyes. When he opened them they were shuttered and it would have taken one with powers beyond those of men to read the direction of his thoughts.
"My Lords, it appears the situation that has been building will no longer be ignored. We shall cease in the debate of these petty concerns and focus on the matter of our fighting troops and the debate shall be swift," Denethor gazed with hard eyes around the room. "For I must soon go to the side of my beloved son."
All hell broke loose in the council chambers and the messenger was dismissed with the flick of a hand. Denethor sat as one of stone as the oak doors shut, all about him squabbling to have their voice heard above the others.
Faramir was waiting with Anborn as his arm was bound when the wagons arrived. Both were quickly dismissed, the wounded soldiers being brought in taking precedence to the soothing of a twelve year old with an already bound, sprained wrist.
Both boys we told sternly to scamper and were doing just so when Faramir caught sight of the first stretcher being borne inside and the familiar bloodied form that rested upon it. Anborn looked at his elder classmate uncertainly but Faramir continued, seeing the younger boy out of the Houses before sneaking back.
He found his brother's room by carefully scooting along the ledge under the windows and peeking inside until he found the one where Boromir lay, healers fussing about him.
There was... blood. A great deal of it. And his brother's face seemed paler than the white linen pillow they rested his head upon. A dollop of red, the size of a raspberry, edged out of the corner of his mouth and wove down his chin and neck like a ribbon.
Faramir knew what that meant, could mean, please, make it not mean that. Injuries inside, he had had some healing lessons, just enough to know what to do to help until a real healer got there. Injuries inside that they would not be able to help, unless, maybe, perhaps...
"Rise his mouth out. He has bitten the inside of his cheek and we do not want him choking on his own blood," a healer ordered, moving into Faramir's view so he could no longer see his brother's face. "Did it recently, probably when he was being moved here."
"There are more important wounds to take care of," someone said.
A body moved. Boromir's ghost like face was in view again but he was being held down. The bandages around his leg were being cut off. They had become stuck by crusted blood and blood that still seeped from the wound.
"Damnit, who did these stitches," someone muttered, taking in the gory mess. Faramir thought he might be sick and had to look away for a moment.
"Soldier, probably, is that the worst?" The simply clothing Boromir had been dressed in had been cut away. Several wounds blossomed red against the beige bandages that seemed darker than his pale skin.
"The longest and the deepest. It nearly hit an artery." The wound, a chasm in Boromir's thigh, flesh painted red with blood against stiff, jagged black stitches, was being thoroughly cleaned.
"He has other wounds. They bled quite a bit but they are not threatening anything important." The was one on his chest, the bandage half hanging off before it was taken off completely. Blood sluggishly bubbled up at the end when the bandage was removed.
"The leg wound does not look like it will become infected either." Faramir saw the tiny silver glint of a needle.
"Lucky, that, he has a bit of a fever, not high though, probably from being moved about." It flashed as it hovered above his brother's flesh.
"He will not be up and about for a while but he will not lose the leg either. That is something to be thankful about." It dove into his thigh, the wound cleaned and opened and being sewn shut again. Faramir felt the bottom drop out of his stomach as the healer stitched flesh back together.
He had to turn away and shakily slid down so he was sitting on the ledge, his legs dangling over. There were bushes below him. He leaned forward, clutching his stomach, and heaved.
Shivering, back against the cold stone, he waited, listening. He could not stand to see anymore. He could not. That was his brother, his Boromir in there being... being sewn together like a pillow!
The hubbub died eventually. Stitched, cleaned, bandaged and dosed with potions, the healers had done all they could for the Heir to the Stewardship. He would, they thought, recover, but first his fever had to break and then he had to wake up.
After those two feats were accomplished they would have to deal with the consequences of the leg injury and the weakness that would accompany the bloodloss. There was little doubt he would recover, the wounds being more superficial than had first been thought, but that recovery would last a time.
A nurse remained with him, for there were other wounded to see, and more still arriving, and the healers were needed elsewhere. When it had quieted, when the nurse seemed occupied fashioning serviceable bandages, Faramir peeked through the window again and, seeing there was no one but the quiet nurse about, slipped through the window.
The nurse looked up and frowned at the pale visitor. If this had been any other they would have found themselves emptying bed pans and cleaning out stables for months to come but... She found herself looking at the pale face of the Steward's youngest son and Boromir's beloved brother.
"You should not be here, child," she said quietly though it was unlikely Boromir would wake for some time.
"My brother is hurt, where else would I be?" Faramir replied. His voice shook slightly but his grey eyes were resolute.
"You will find a way to sneak back in if I turn you out," the nurse smiled only slightly. "You will keep quiet and stay out of the healers' way should the need arise?"
Faramir nodded solemnly. "Please let me stay with him. He might need me."
The nurse sighed and said neither yea nor nay but uttered no sound when Faramir curled up near his brother in the corner of the bed, as if guarding him, there was no protest. The nurse thought the younger boy would fall asleep there.
Faramir did not but watched his brother's pale face closely as if by his will alone he could tie Gondor's favourite son to their land for just awhile longer, no matter what injuries befell him...
"My lord," the nurse said, "I will return shortly so you may have a few private moments."
Denethor nodded curtly. The council had gone too long for his liking. Night had already fallen and passed into the next day before he could venture to his son's side. The healer had briefed him upon entering the Houses that Boromir's injuries, while severe, were not fatal wounds, though it had first appeared they might have been. He would need time to recover but he would be fine.
Denethor thought he had felt his heart start beating again at that news.
He entered the quiet room, glad to finally be with his son, hoping he did not look too ill because Denethor did not know if he could stand that at the moment and looked to the bed where his son lay sleeping only to find himself met with a pair of wary grey eyes. Faramir was wedged between the wall and his brother, half curled protectively around his head, listening to Boromir breathe.
Father and son regarded each other warily for long moments. Faramir knew the one person who could order him from his brother's side was his father and Denethor knew the only way to keep Faramir from his brother would be to order guards to the room for the child would simply sneak back in!
But, and Denethor felt himself soften, Boromir would not wish them to be at odds and his brother's presence might well buoy the ill man's health. The healers would have made sure he stayed away otherwise, not even Denethor had the courage to try and cross them!
That in mind, Denethor smiled gently at his youngest, knowing Faramir was most likely as distressed as he over Boromir injuries.
"Come here, child, you cannot be comfortable there," Denethor offered quietly, gesturing to the chair beside the one he had taken.
Faramir looked at him with eyes that were clearly distrustful but relief at his eldest's condition simmered his temper, which had too often of late been on a constant boil. Faramir had too often borne the blunt edge of that temper and though Denethor always managed to justify the harsh words he spoke to his youngest, sometimes, when he later thought of it, he felt perhaps he went too far.
Faramir slowly untangled himself, slipping away from the bed awkwardly but carefully so not to disturb his brother. Denethor did not fail to notice that Faramir moved very stiffly and he had little doubt the boy had been there for some time.
"How long have you been here?" Denethor asked quietly, putting a hand on his son's thin shoulder, surprising them both. For a moment, Denethor thought to take the touch away but... No, he left it there.
"Since my archery lesson ended," Faramir said uncomfortably. "But my lessons were canceled after my weapons' practice because my tutor is ill."
"That is a long time to stay here when you dislike the healers so," Denethor said quietly, frowning. Tonight, this morning, he could not find it in him to lecture the boy. His relief was too great and Faramir was distracting him from his dark thoughts. "I am
sure he will appreciate it. You are a good brother to him."
"I was scared for him. There was so much blood..." Faramir shuddered and Denethor wondered how much the healers had let him see. He frowned, too much, he thought, for his son looked haunted by it.
"He will be fine, Faramir. The wounds are not bad. He will be weak for a time but he is in no danger," Denethor assured him.
Faramir let out a relieved sigh and seemed to wilt. Denethor's arm wrapped around his shoulders quickly, suddenly worried about his youngest as Faramir was the colour of the marble walls. Faramir shuddered once, his tired mind overwhelmed with the knowledge that his brother would be fine after so many hours of worrying. Hearing his father say it... It made it feel true.
Denethor tenderly wiped away the tears of relief that had squeezed out of Faramir's eyes without comment. He marvelled for a moment again at the closeness of his children and wondered absently when Faramir had learned to weep silently. The thought was discomforting. He drew his young son's head against his shoulder and let him cry, as the boy's fingers clutched at Denethor's tunic.
Denethor kept an arm around him when the tears halted and Faramir sagged against his father. "You should rest, child."
Faramir bit his lip. "I do not want to leave. He might need me."
It touched Denethor, that devotion and he sighed softly. Faramir would not sleep away from his brother, not under these circumstances and he could not be annoyed with the boy's loyalty. "Rest your head on my shoulder and see if you cannot rest. I will wake you if there is a change."
Faramir hesitated for a moment, wondering if this was some sort of trick, then curled up on the chair beside his father, laying his head against the still strong shoulder. Denethor stilled for a moment, but then his arm drew Faramir a bit closer and Denethor's cloak was thrown around him.
And then Faramir's grey eyes looked up at him with such surprise and gratitude... Denethor was sorely tempted to stroke the dark hair that tickled his neck softly. In that moment he could find no fault in his youngest son. The boy was worried about his dear brother, devoted to Gondor's golden warrior when he lay injured; there was no fault in that surely!
Faramir was still a child in many ways, Denethor thought, and that child had thought he would lose his big brother. He deserved the comfort and Denethor found, to his surprise, that it helped settle his nerves further to be near to this child while watching over his other son.
He was precious, this nearly grown up child. Faramir was on the cusp of adulthood in the eyes of Gondor and when he reached that age... Denethor swallowed. Then he would have to worry of him too and Faramir was not the warrior his brother was!
Denethor tightened his hold slightly on his youngest. He did not want his little one to grow up. He wanted to hold on to the sunny little boy who used to clamour into his lap and chatter away to him.
Already they were often at odds, for Faramir was not Boromir, and could never be what Boromir had become to Denethor and the people of Gondor. Boromir was their bright star, their beacon of hope even now. Faramir did not shine so, nor did he want to, and Denethor knew that there was a kind of strength to him but it was not the kind Denethor needed for Gondor. In another time, yes, but with Mordor creeping on the edges of their country...
Faramir was not a warrior but he needed to be a warrior. Denethor was at his wits' end with the child, who was not his brother, who still had misgivings about killing another creature. That would change, Denethor knew, with his first battle but Faramir would have to survive that first battle for it to be given the chance!
Denethor knew he had been a swine these past months in the treatment of his youngest son. The boy tried so hard to please him and he was well spoken of by many but Denethor found he could not always control his increasingly irrational anger when it came to his youngest son.
He watched Faramir at his sword practise and saw weakness. He looked into the palantir and saw such weaknesses cost men their lives. Sons of other father's. He did not want to send Faramir to such a fate.
It terrified Denethor at times, that thought, and he tried to force Faramir to drive himself further but... He was not sure he went about it the right way. Faramir tried so hard to please him, the problem was he had not yet, not really, not with the sword which Denethor thought would be the weapon his son was most likely to wield most often.
He knew Faramir was confused and hurt at his actions sometimes. He had never been so gruff, and yes, even cruel at times, when dealing with the child before. He feared one day he would hurt Faramir too deeply and he did not wish to do so. He only wished to keep his son from being gutted by an Orc spear.
He did love his sons dearly. Boromir, his golden child, his warrior and Faramir, his little one whom he so wished could stay his little one forever. Then he would not have to worry of him fighting for his life in battle, nor use hurtful words to make sure he pushed himself harder in his use of the sword.
He pressed a kiss to Faramir's dark head. Faramir murmured in his sleep. It was a temporary peace between them, Denethor knew, but he would relish it, while it lasted.
Boromir struggled to awareness with the feeling of a hand on his forehead and the heaviness of limbs that refused to properly respond. He was in pain but it was vague, hazy.
So the healers had him. He supposed that was a blessing.
Sleep beckoned. He felt the weariness more acutely than the pain. He felt it from his skin seeping down into his bones.
The memories of the battle and before were foggy but Boromir supposed they must have won if he was still alive. If they had lost he doubted not that his head would be adorning a pike somewhere.
Odd, he knew he should feel more revulsion at that thought. Absently he wondered whether the potions they healers used to dull pain or the simply repetition of life as a soldier had desensitized him to such a thought.
Ah, well, there was another battle to be fought and won, he hoped. This one had a smaller goal, to force his eyelids open, yet they felt as if they were welded shut so a battle it would be.
It took time and had Boromir had the strength to utter curses he would have but dark lashes fluttered against his pale cheeks and swept upwards just slightly, glazed grey eyes opening but a crack. Everything was blurry.
"Boromir, child..." The hand on his forehead moved. His eyes focused.
His father? If his father was there he was in Minas Tirith. Ah, badly hurt then. Damn.
He wanted to say something. His father looked so worried and Boromir noticed, hazily, that there were new lines creasing his face. He managed a garbled moaning noise.
There was a sudden shot of movement. Boromir could not focus enough to understand what it was, at first, but then he heard a cry of joy and his little brother swam into focus.
"Keep him quiet while I fetch the healers," Denethor instructed.
Boromir would have frowned if his face had been co-operating with him. Damn the healers and their potions. Damn blood loss which, he knew, had to have a lot to do with it.
Faramir should not be here. Oh, Boromir was very glad to have him there with him but... Still, Faramir was his little brother. Boromir did not want him to see such things yet!
Faramir's head bent suddenly, and Boromir felt his hand being held gently, almost timidly, by a smaller one. There was a hesitation then the flutter of lips against his skin, as if Faramir was scared even the fragile touch would hurt him.
Boromir felt a tear trail down his cheek. It ran no more than halfway before Faramir wiped it away with timid fingers. He saw his little brother's cheeks were wet too.
Faramir sniffled once and seemed to regain control. He gave Boromir's hand a soft squeeze. "I love you, Boromir."
Boromir would have liked to return the sentiment but the healers poured into the room in the next moment, forcing Faramir to back away and speech was beyond him still. Faramir knew it though, and though they would have been nice the words were not needed between them.
The weariness returned, overwhelmingly so and caught Boromir up in a grip he could not escape. The hum of the healers conferring about him and his father's grim, fiercely proud face, the dim light making the Steward look more a ghost than anything else, accompanied him down into the depths of sleep.
What Denethor felt of his eldest son's recovery, progressing slowly, for there had been several set backs, he did not show. Those who were closest to him felt, in fact, that he grew colder.
Those closest, except for his eldest son. Boromir Denethor doted on to the point where it grew to embarrass the teenager. He knew his injuries stemmed from his own rashness, and if he had not, the master at arms was quick to point it out to him as soon as he was hobbling about the Citadel. It felt odd that his father would praise him and, well, nearly coddle him after such a thing.
As the attention Denethor paid to his eldest increased what he paid to his youngest declined. Faramir felt shunted aside, for all anyone talked about was his brother and he did not mind that but... He and his father had argued too often recently, yes, but... arguing was better than the silences that stretched between them once Boromir returned.
And, worse to Faramir's mind, they were silences his father did not notice for they were not silences to him, only moments filled with the chatter of others and, Faramir thought sadly, probably more pleasing chatter at that. If Boromir was there what need had their father for him?
Denethor was, admittedly, avoiding his youngest son. He had decided, sitting at his eldest's bedside, his youngest son leaning against him in sleep, that until he could control his increasingly reckless temper he would avoid the situations that fueled them.
That he had begun using the palantir again, finding the chest and opening it with the help of a small axe, put him on edge for using it took a good deal of effort and left him weary and irritable. The creatures that his army had gone up against had not been destroyed, merely defeated for a time, and he needed to watch them carefully to ensure they would not harry his people without warning again.
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.