The old stone window seat was as I remembered it – broad and long, and worn smooth from generations of use. A faint layer of dust lay over it, though, which was something my father would not have tolerated when I was a child, but, in the midst of war and reconstruction, a rarely used room in the upper reaches of the Steward’s house matters little. I ran my fingers lightly over the seat, feeling once again the way the stone had worn into ribs, before settling myself on it. It seemed to have grown smaller than the seat of my memory and it was only with bent knees that I could fit.
Leaning back against the cool stone I closed my eyes and remembered how once my legs would fit full length, with room still at the end for Boromir. Further back, where memory edges into story and dream, I saw myself sharing the seat with my mother’s full skirts as we waited and watched for Father to ride home. Where was Boromir? There, surely…. Perhaps pacing impatiently around the room or already halfway down the stairs…. or did I not see him because it was his memory I was borrowing? In truth, I no longer know how much of my memory of my mother comes through Boromir.
I turned my head to look out the window. Yes, all was as I remembered it. The seat retained all its old excellence as a spyhole. There, distant over the walls, lay the Northern approach to the Great Gates. There, below and almost behind me so I had to twist slightly to see it, was the street leading to the citadel tunnel. There, straight below me, was the walled courtyard that after my mother’s death was given over to our play and arms practice.
How often had I sat here and waited for the first glimpse of my brother returning from his adventures or duties? How often had I sat here and watched Boromir, endlessly patient, endlessly determined, practise sword strokes or knife play? He was five years my elder, and, though he was as kind and patient as a big brother could be, I had spent much of my childhood watching and waiting for him. He was just too much older and too much bigger for me to be able to keep up with him, as determinedly as I tried.
When Boromir first rode away to war we said our farewells privately in his room and publicly, with Father, in the square on the sixth level – then I raced away up here to watch him ride out, proud on his black horse, the sun glinting on star-bright armour. Here, there had been neither Boromir nor Father to tell me to be brave and I had cried. I could not imagine living without him. I smiled bitterly as I traced a flaw in the glass. The last time I had stood here to try and catch a final glimpse of his beloved form he had been riding away, on my errand, to search for a riddle’s answer in a legendary land.
The summer Boromir was fourteen and I was nine we fought. He was shooting up and, given his first full-sized weapons, ached to be a warrior. He had little time for me and our old plays: I was near his age before I began to understand. That summer I simply wanted my companion back. I probably was the nuisance he called me, but I resented it and retaliated in childishly subtle ways. In turn, when he found his precious sword muddied or berries pelted him during his practise or I crowed too loudly about our tutor’s praise for my translations Boromir used his new strength and height to advantage. He never hurt me, and it never even occurred to me that he might, but I would find myself bundled unceremoniously out of the courtyard or my new pen would be placed on a ledge I could not reach even from the tallest chair.
I spent much of that summer curled up on this seat with a book – always with one eye out for Boromir. He was away from home with his training companions much of the time but still practised for long hours in the courtyard with his weapons. Watching him; young, bold and brave; blade flashing in the sunlight and hair tumbling forward from its careless binding; I saw the stories I loved come alive. I saw Gil-galad leading his army of Elves into almost hopeless battle against great evil, saw Eärnur ride out of Minas Tirith in proud, reckless bravery, saw Hyarmendacil riding south in glorious triumph, even saw Tuor gleaming in gold and silver… for ever after Boromir rode as hero through my books and dreams.
Back even further in my memories, back when I was still a child ruled with despotic kindness by old Fírieth, I would watch from this window as Boromir rode his pony out of the stables on the sixth circle or played in the snow in the courtyard or slipped off through the tunnel in search of adventures. My toy soldiers, battered and scarce of paint having first been Boromir’s, or a book would keep me company on the window seat as I awaited his return.
This room was never used in my memory so it was an excellent refuge from those who wished to wash me and brush me – and later on from those who frowned on my absorption in books. Once Boromir was away fighting, I found in this quiet place a sanctuary from Father’s increasingly uncertain moods and growing disappointment in me. I would study up here and, between pages or as I rested cramped fingers, let my gaze drift over the Pelennor Fields, where Boromir would one day come riding home.
Even once I was a soldier, too, this room remained a sanctuary. When I was in Minas Tirith on leave this room spoke far more of home to me than the spacious rooms I had been given when I left both the schoolroom and old Firieth’s care. Boromir’s duties more often kept him in the city and, so, if he was in Minas Tirith then during the day, I would sit here and seek for glimpses of him just as I had as a child. I came here at end of each leave too, and from my secret eyrie bade farewell to my city.
After Boromir had gone to search of the ‘Sword that was broken’
I often scanned the horizon from here and dreamed of the day I would see him and his horse appear, as small as midges against the sky. Dark against the light they would ride in, with features slowly seen. Then the first time I was home after I had seen Boromir cradled in death by the Anduin, I came up here in the deeps of a sleepless night. Standing by the window, I watched the grey moonlit plains… and knew that nevermore would I see my brother ride proudly home.
A touch on my leg made me look down.
“Faramir, what are you doing?” Pippin asked.
I looked down at the small face watching me and felt like cursing his endless inquisitiveness. Loyal Pippin, still faithful to Boromir despite what he had done, was the last person I wished to see.
“Remembering Boromir,” I said shortly, and turned back to my window.
Pippin hesitated; I could hear him still there behind me, feet shifting on the floor. Without turning, I offered him a sop.
“Aragorn has ridden out with Arwen, but I believe I saw Elrond in the gardens earlier.”
Again, there was a hesitation and then the faintest of sighs.
“He died bravely,” Pippin offered and I bowed my head in acknowledgement and waited for him to leave.
As his soft footsteps faded, I let out the breath I had been holding and leant forward, arms propped on my knees. Suddenly, I wished Éowyn here. Perhaps I could have told her - she who had seen her foster father fall beneath a smooth-tongued snake’s spell as easily as I had seen Boromir flounder in the great dark wave that drowned Westernesse.
I pushed back from my knees and sat upright again. I stared out the window, searching the wide plains for any sign of Aragorn’s party returning. It was of no use, though. Still I saw last night’s dream replayed - saw that oncoming wave and saw Boromir, proud and gay and brave, taken by it. He was tumbled and tossed as he tried to fight the currents that sucked him down. The great wave roared on, drowning villages and towns – and my brother sank, helpless, below its weight.
I cried. Whither goest thou?
He answered not, and only broken whitecaps filled my sight. A tremor shook me and I bit my lip against it.
Suddenly I felt a presence in the room. I looked up, startled, and found Master Elrond there. As always, he seemed detached and yet brought with him the warmth of sunshine on a gentle summer’s day. Though I had, at Aragorn’s request, spent several days with him in the Minas Tirith libraries I still found him as unreadable. In body and face he looked no older than Boromir, but his eyes held the wisdom of centuries. They watched me now with a gentle compassion.
“Pippin told me that you were remembering Boromir. May I join you? I too have memories to share.”
He was the father of my queen and foster-father to the king I swore allegiance to, but it was not that alone which made it impossible for me to dismiss him as I had Pippin. It was more the deep-rooted dignity that was as much a part of him as beauty is of a willow tree in the flush of spring. I moved my legs off the seat and sat up, facing the room. Elrond sat down beside me with the light grace that seemed to characterise Elves.
“Boromir was a good man – but your memories of him are troubled, are they not?”
I looked away from the eyes that looked through me and my voice was stiff when I replied.
“My memories are my own.”
“But your troubles are not. They are shared by all those who care about you.”
He waited; let silence surround us. I watched my hands as they lay clasped in my lap and tried to forget the image of Boromir going down to death with that proud golden king, Ar-Pharazôn, and all those lordly men. The words that came surprised me by their anger.
“Why did you send Boromir with the ring - have not the Elves foresight? Did you not know it would destroy him?”
“To go was his destiny; he would not have stayed at my word.”
I did not answer and, after a few moments, Elrond continued, “Be comforted that he died defending those who could not defend themselves: that he died as he lived. Boromir spoke at our Council of how Gondor protected all those who sheltered behind her and how peace and freedom were thus maintained. Boromir gave his life to protect his companions. It is not given to all the chance to die with such grace.”
There was comfort, nay, healing, in his voice but the chill of my dream remained.
“Your words are kind, Master Elrond, and I thank you for them… but there is more darkness to Boromir’s death than they show.” I paused. “Frodo will not say so - but it is clear that Sam
believes that he feared for his life at Boromir’s hands. So, for the fell power of the Ring Boromir abandoned his loyalty to his companions and his care for those weaker.”
I turned to look at Elrond as I finished, searching his face for a response. Grey eyes full of an ancient wisdom held mine for a long moment, and then he smiled.
“Even had your brother been everything you have ever believed him to be he may still have been defeated by Sauron’s power. Sauron and his rings have trapped and destroyed many noble and strong men. You
deem that you would not have fallen, but I tell you that you cannot know. None of us can know our strength until it is tested – and few indeed must face as terrible a test as did Boromir of Gondor.”
Elrond waited and I did not speak. How could I reveal the weakness I saw in Boromir?
“But you have known of your brother’s death for weeks; why does it trouble you so now?”
There was a command in both his voice and eyes and I found I could not ignore it. Locking my hands together to still their shaking I searched for words. To my surprise, they seemed to come easily. I told him of how I had dreamed for so long of the foundering of Númenor, the swallowing of that proud land, and of those men who hungered for power. I told him of how I saw the curving grey-green mountains of water crash down over the land, saw gilded buildings knocked down and richly-clad men dragged below the dark water. Then I told him how in the dark reaches of the night I now saw my brother, proud and fearless, taken by the wave and perish in that darkness unescapable. Finally, I stopped with no more words left. I leant my head in my hands and stared at the floor and the lacing of footprints in the dust – my boots, Elrond’s light shoes and Pippin’s broad bare feet.
“You fear your brother was no longer of the faithful, that he abandoned the duties his role as Gondor’s Captain-General bound to him?”
I shuddered at the words but faintly nodded.
“Yet Boromir sought not glory for himself but safety for his people and all they defend. Those who brought the wrath of the Valar upon Westernesse sought only to increase their own power and possessions. Ar-Pharazôn cared not for the good of his people but for his own desires. Yes, Boromir son of Denethor was a proud man and one who was anxious for glory – such are the penalties of being mortal – but he was not one who was shadowed. In the end, he kept faith with his companions and with the vows he swore as a soldier. Blame your brother not for falling to the lures of Sauron when he whispered of safety for you, his father and his beloved land.”
I nodded again, this time more definitely. The coldness that had filled me since I was first visited by the dream, three days earlier, eased a little. I swallowed to steady my voice before I spoke.
“Why came the dream? I have ever loved Boromir; seen none to rival him in all of Gondor, nay, all history and legend. Why do I dream of his fall – of a punishment?”
I watched Elrond anxiously, knowing now that I had reached the heart of my unease. How could I come to misdoubt my own brother?
“He left you: you are angry,” Elrond said simply.
I frowned, unable to accept that. I saw in Elrond’s eyes that he understood what I felt.
“Many generations of men ago my brother chose to be a king of men, and thus to leave me. I knew that each of us must choose our own doom, and that both his pride and his fiery, impatient courage made him more Man than Elf, yet I found it hard to forgive him his choice. You feel that your brother took your doom – in your dreams did the message first appear and to you was the quest for its meaning first given. Boromir did it to spare you, but you are no longer the motherless child he once protected. You are a soldier and a man now - and you have much of your brother’s pride.”
I flushed a little as I recognised the truth in what he said. Boromir’s words to our father and the elders had been true, he was indeed the older and the hardier, but I had wanted that great errand. Instead, he had taken what should have been my doom - and he had fallen. To me had been left Father, Gondor, a fight we could neither abandon nor win – and life without him.
I realised Elrond was watching me and acknowledged with a nod my acceptance this time of his words. He clasped my arm.
“Remember that, as with all men, your brother was a mixture of strength and weakness. Pride, kindness, rashness, bravery, strength, fearlessness, loyalty, passion and boldness all were part of him and made him Boromir. Yes, he succumbed to the Ring’s temptation – but still he gave his life in heroic struggle to save the least of his companions. When he spoke of you during his stay in Rivendell, I saw a gentler man than the one of his public speeches and reported deeds. He was proud, even jealous, of his position, yet he honoured Aragorn, who would take much of it from him. Boromir was the strength of Gondor – as strong and true as the rock that Minas Tirith is built on – but it was in this very strength of heart the Ring found a weakness.”
Tears burned in my throat and eyes as I nodded.
“You see him swept away by the wave that drowned Númenor yet you also saw him at peace in the Anduin. He may have foundered beneath that crashing wall of water – but he reached some far shore. Boromir did not die in darkness.”
“Thank you,” I said in a cracked whisper, through lips stiff and unwilling to move.
I turned to look out the window once more: saw sunlight glint on star-bright armour, saw proud youth and fiery steed, saw my brother ride bold and gay to battle.
Elrond stood. His hand touched my shoulder for a moment.
“Remember this – Boromir loved you.”
I smiled for a moment, even as I wept.
As Elrond’s footsteps faded, I saw my brother swing up on to his horse and settle his fur-lined cloak as he turned a last time to watch the rising sun paint the White Tower in golden shades. Bold and fey did he look as, with a smile, he raised his great silver-tipped horn and sounded it long and loudly. Then I watched Boromir ride away for the last time, proud and unshadowed.
*This is a second draft so I hope I have removed some of the problems – on the other hand, I’ve probably introduced others ;-) All feedback would be very welcome, as always. Some areas that particularly worry me are:
- The ending, specifically the “Remember this – Boromir loved you.”/“I know”
section. Can you understand why they are saying this? I know what I want Elrond to convey but I’m not sure if it is getting across. I did try rewriting it to be more explanatory but couldn’t as yet find a satisfactory way to do so.
- This section: “Remember that, as with all men, your brother was a mixture of strength and weakness. Pride, kindness, rashness, bravery, strength, fearlessness, loyalty, passion and boldness all were part of him and made him Boromir.”
This is my attempt to rewrite something that a lot of people identified as not working.
- Another part that has been rewritten because it wasn’t apparently clear what I was saying - I looked down at the small face watching me and felt like cursing his endless inquisitiveness. Loyal Pippin, still faithful to Boromir despite what he had done, was the last person I wished to see
. Does this (a) sound okay and (b) make better sense?
- This sentence: Watching him; young, bold and brave; blade flashing in the sunlight and hair tumbling forward from its careless binding; I saw the stories I loved come alive.
I’ve rewritten it several times but I think most of its problems remain.
*I don’t know I have ever had such plentiful and highly useful feedback as I got for this story so, while errors remain mine, tremendous thanks to:
Nessime, Lyllyn, Paranoidangel, nrink nrink, Flick, Raksha the Demon, Meckinock, Nienna Elanesse, Nilmandra and Ruse.
Eile igen Briain needs special thanks, as she is responsible for the introduction of many of the paragraphs and the ruthless eradication of my beloved dashes ;-)
*Canon crunch alert – and oddly enough no one pointed this out. I watched my hands as they lay clasped in my lap and tried to forget the image of Boromir going down to death with that proud golden king, Ar-Pharazôn, and all those lordly men.
Yes, well – on further research Ar-Pharazôn wasn’t there to be drowned and is in fact buried underground in Aman in the Caves of the Forgotten. *clears throat embarrassedly* However, Boromir drowning with the queen just doesn’t have the same ring to it and in a metaphoric sense Boromir is still dying with him so I decided to assume that as it is Ar-Pharazôn Faramir is drawing his parallel with then his dream might not be historically accurate. After all, that twisting of reality into what-didn’t-quite-happen is very characteristic of most dreams.
Yes, I realise it isn’t a word. Tolkien, however, used it to describe Faramir’s dream – so any complaints need to be addressed to Mr JRR Tolkien ;-)
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.