10. Paving Stones
Besides, Faramir was expected in the Council this morning and returning from the Great Gates would only make him late.
They bid each other farewell with a tight hug and quiet cautions. Then, determined not to look back, Boromir spoke softly to his horse and lead the animal into the street.
'Don't look back,' he recited to himself. 'A Soldier doesn't look back.'
The paving stones in this street were some of the most striking in the city. Multiple shades of creme, brown, and, primarily, slate were laid out in random order. Scattered throughout, and least in number, were stones of nearly pure white. He wondered if Faramir still loved this street. It was too late to ask now, however.
'Don't look back.'
He tried to remember how old Faramir had been; certainly before their mother died. He couldn't remember why they had been all the way down here on their own. Walking into the street, Faramir had begun to leap from white stone to white stone. His dark hair flew about his head and he swung his balled fists with each leap. Borormir followed in a more sedate manner, too mature to make such a spectacle of himself.
After the first few mighty bounds, Faramir began to chant. "DON'T step on the BLACK or you'll FALL and break your BACK." Each two-footed landing gave meter to his rhyme.
"I see no black stones here," Boromir informed him. Faramir chose to ignore him and continued his haphazard way along the street.
After a moment Boromir tried again, "Where did you learn that rhyme?"
"EVERYbody KNOWS it, BORomir," he answered with childish scorn.
The adult Boromir finally remembered that this had been the street where Faramir's nurse lived before Finduilas retained her. She often returned to visit her family, sometimes bringing Faramir to play with the children. Faramir must have learned it from them. After their mother died, Faramir's freedoms were curtailed and the nurse soon dismissed in favor of tutors and learning self-sufficience.
Boromir watched the paving stones pass under his feet. What, to a child, would be a great leap, to a man was little more than a step. His eyes found the next white stone and he angled his course to deliberately step on it. None of the stones were very large; his two feet would completely cover this stone and it was impossible to avoid the 'black' ones. Truly a game only a child could play.
The next white stone was a little further to the other side. He lengthened his stride to reach it. Another white stone he skipped in favor of the one beyond. He was forced to add a small hop to his stride to reach it, and again for the next one.
Back at the gate, Faramir hid his bemused smile behind a hand as he watched his brother hop out of sight.
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