Stewards of Gondor: Slashvese Arc
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From the Other River Bank: 11. My Brother's Keeper
Boromir set the book down on the tableslammed it down, really, and was angry with his own lack of control. After Denethor had left him to his misery last night, he had needed hours to crawl and grope his way back to something approaching composure. His dreams had been predictably horrific, though he remembered little of them, save waking to a feeling of stark terror and a racing pulse. The morning had seen him excluded from councilVerethon had told him the steward wanted him to see to his own preparations for the journey, and while Boromir had been relieved that he would not have to face the tension of the council, the dismissal had hurt. After that inauspicious start, the day had deteriorated from there. Everythingfrom the obvious worry that hung wraith-like over the city to the most minor and niggling details of mundanitygrated upon his already strained nerves 'til the very fabric of existence seemed a vast and intricate machine with but one purpose: to torture him. To run hither and thither, overseeing on the one hand the preparations his father had set in motion, and on the other the responsibilities that he would have to leave to others, had frustrated him beyond belief, and the ream of correspondence that he had then had to write in order to be certain that all went as required as concerned Osgiliath had stretched his patience dangerously thin. And for all that he knew it was absurd, he could not help but feel that every person he encountered somehow knew his secret, and he had had to fight the urge to flinch each time he met another's eyes. He wanted to scream at the ghost-self he had become, wanted to vomit, to purge this world from his being, but he could not be rid of himself. Considering the violence of those feelings, that he had managed to get through the day at all without exploding was a triumph of self-discipline, but Boromir felt no satisfaction at the victory. What does it matter, when discipline cannot dictate what I feel in my very blood whenever I see Faramir?
For all his agonized self-loathing, Boromir, like most men in his circumstances, had managed to achieve a truce with himself long ago, else he would have been driven mad. And though the most recent crisis with Faramir had come dangerously close to sending him plummeting back down into the abyss of doubt and panic that had claimed him when first he realized the ways of his heart, he had slowly begun to come to terms with the changed situation. Faramir's anxieties and newfound wariness of him, his painful and abortive overturesall of these things might hurt, but Boromir had been learning to accept them, and to begin to hope for a new (and more honest) peace between himself and his brother. But Denethor had shattered that fragile self-reconciliation, leaving him adrift in agonized doubt. His father's ruthless denunciation, even if carried out in private, had rubbed his face in the shamefulness of his desire, exposing him at last to the direct and unrelenting scorn that homosexuality woke in most others. For the first time, he had been forced to look his lust in the face and truly see it, rather than allowing it to pass as felt but unexamined and suppressed in his daily life. And he had been disgusted but even disgust could not break him from the grip of his own passions. In the end, Denethor's impassioned tirade had done naught to ease either his love or his lust for his brother; rather, it seemed almost to have inflamed it. Why that should be, I know not! Perversity, perhaps, and have I ever fully appreciated the difference between "pervert" and "perverse" before? People look to me for strength, for leadership in time of war, but none know the rot that lies beneath, save two! I have no choice but to continue the path that I have always walked, and pretend that I have still pride enough to carry a city, but I know better! I know better, and still I hate myself for such doubt!
With the weight of such humiliation, of such profound self-alienation, riding on his shoulders, it was therefore little surprise that his temper was orc-foul, and evidently so in spite of his efforts to disguise it. Those whom he had encountered as he went about the necessary tasks to prepare for a long journey had sensed his mood and walked on eggshells around him, which did nothing to help him. Not that he would have accepted any offers of help, for it simply was not in his nature to speak his pain to others. But pain has never cut like this before! He had suffered injury to within an inch of his life against the Haradrim, seen comrades and friends die screaming on the battlefield, and had had to hold a child amid the bloody wreckage of her village. I lied to her, he remembered. I told her she was safe, that she would one day see her parents again. And Valar help me, I laid her down in death when she bled out in my arms. That had been one of the worst days he had ever endured, and he had never thought to see it surpassed unless (or until) Minas Tirith and Gondor fell to Mordor. But that was before I saw the look in Faramir's eyes when he learned the truth of what I felt for him under the guise of brotherly love. And before I learned the truth of Father's dislike of Faramirbefore I learned how very much my father's son I am! Boromir bowed his head and probed at the sore spot in his mouth where he had bitten through his lip the night before. Salty warmth spilled over his tongue and he grimaced again as he made himself return to the task of packing.
In truth, save for one or two things, he had nearly everything he would need, and was in fact simply shifting items about: from table to desk to shelf, from shelf to chest to bed, and from bed to backpack or saddlebags, and the process repeated itself with some variations and in reverse just to keep his mind occupied. He could not justify taking Silvaríel with him, but he was not quite certain what to do with the book. His esquire would return it to he library, but for some reason, Boromir could not seem to decide where to leave it so that the lad would see it and realize what to do with it. This is ridiculous! he told himself, even as he turned back to rummaging pointlessly in one of the saddlebags.
"You leave tomorrow, I hear," a voice from behind him startled him badly, and Boromir rounded on the intruder fiercely even though he immediately identified him. Faramir, however, gazed back without flinching from the doorway, where he leaned against hands braced to either side of the doorframe. "I hope you did not think to present me with another fait accompli, Boromir." He must have come in only recently, for I was just in the antechamber. Curse it all, I did not hear the doors!
"You might have knocked," Boromir replied rather huffily, reluctant to begin a conversation that could have but one object. More, in light of his newly reborn shame, he feared the possibility of reconciliation. Better for us both if Faramir is kept at a distance. I should never have encouraged him to try to settle matters between us; I should have let him drift away! Never mind that it would have broken his heart to do so, for there were worse things than even a soul in torment, after all. Surely there are !
"I might have," Faramir admitted easily, and quirked a skeptical brow at him. "Had I thought you would answer, I might well have knocked."
"Well, we shall never learn now what I might have done, shall we?" Boromir shot back, deliberately echoing his brother's condemnation earlier that week.
"As to that, perhaps it is better thus. Certainly your discretion helped me in the end," Faramir replied, adroitly turning that bitter jibe against itself, transforming it into something positive. And although Boromir silently cursed his brother's quick mind and glib tongue, he could not help but feel a certain relief to learn that Faramir had apparently made peace with Boromir's rather underhanded dealings. "Have you any plan at all to find Imladris?"
"What matter is it to you? Denethor gave me the task and the time table," Boromir grunted, turning back to his imaginary packing in order to spare himself the sight of his brother. Standing there against the light that spilled in from the other room, his brother's slender, wiry form was all too clearly silhouetted, and Boromir felt his jaw muscles ache from constantly gritting his teeth. For if he had always been ashamed of his too-interested love of Faramir, never before had he blamed his brother for the temptation he presented. Although if I am honest, I suppose I still do not blame him. But if he did not exist, would I even know what I am? Would I know the depths of my own twisted nature? And unbidden, Denethor's voice replied in his mind: Blood always tells! So perhaps it would not have mattered, and he would have fixed upon another, but his heart scoffed at the very notion even as it bled for wanting.
"So I perceive, and a few discreet inquiries revealed the hour of your departure, even," Faramir replied, pausing ere he added significantly, "I could wish that others would trust me more, for I had a difficult time convincing anyone to speak with me on the matter." A pause, then, "Family most of all." Another pause, but as Boromir did not leap to fill the conversational void, Faramir, after a few moments, continued, "What did Denethor do to you, Boromir?" And this time, Boromir stiffened, pausing for just that split second too long. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and struggled for composure as he finished tying his bags shut by feel alone. Then, slowly, he straightened and considered what answer he might make. It was not an easy task, for Faramir's presence proved a disturbing distraction. He could feel his brother's intensity, feel the gravity of his concern and anger all along his body. It was like heat, like sunlight, and when Faramir shifted positions, he felt it, as if they were somehow connected across the space between them. "You cannot keep this within you, Boromir. Or have you forgotten your own words? Some secrets can kill, and I do not doubt that this is one of them."
"Why then, should I expose you to it?" Boromir demanded, turning once more as he changed tactics somewhat, striving (and failing, he suspected) for a reasonable tone. If anger and resentment do not drive him forth, let us try logic such as it is!
"Because," Faramir replied, letting his arms drop to his sides as he moved out of the doorway, approaching slowly. And now it was his turn to turn Boromir's words back against their author, "I am your brother, and whatever has happened between us, I cannot see you suffer like this!"
"Sometimes pain is deserved," Boromir growled automatically, and instantly regretted the rejoinder, for his brother's eyes narrowed as he ran through the implications of that statement.
"Sometimes it is," the other agreed. "But not always, and there comes a point when even good intentions cannot justify inflicting it on another. One does not punish orcs, after all, for they are irredeemable; neither should a father break his child's bones for a broken tea cup. Whereby does such harshness profit either child or family?"
"You draw a false comparison," Boromir grated.
"And you speak now but to counter me. You believe your own words not at all, and were I to tell you that it was summer, you would say it was winter," Faramir responded.
"Those were games we played as children, Faramir!" Boromir retorted, trying desperately to displace the focus of this conversation even a little. Alas, Faramir was not one to be led astray by a false trail.
"And as a child, you used to trust me better. I know that I have given you little reason to think that I trust you still, but believe that I do. In this moment, I do, and I would have that faith returned!" His brother spoke in a low, urgent voice, his advance bringing him well within arm's reach, and Boromir felt his defenses beginning to succumb to sheer proximity if naught else. "Will you not speak to me about this? What said our father to you that has changed you so?"
"Faramir!" the older man half-groaned, exasperated on the one hand, but also suddenly fearful. Fearful of what, precisely, he was not certainof being too close to the other, of hoping too much, of disappointment, of having been seen as vulnerable. Perhaps he feared himself, and certainly he feared to reveal what Denethor had said and done last night. For whatever else he is, Denethor is still our father and lord. Faramir must never come to lose his respect for the steward of the city, even if he fears and despises him as a father! Boromir glared at the other, hoping that that clear sign of displeasure would convince his brother to leave off questioning. Faramir stood his ground, though, with worried grey eyes fixed upon Boromir's face. His brother laid a hand upon his shoulder, gripping firmly in a gesture of comfort as well as encouragement, and Boromir sucked in a surprised breath.
"Will you not speak?"
"No," Boromir replied with as much force as he could muster.
"You will never be rid of me," Faramir said with quiet certainty. "I told you that once, but I would have you believe it this time."
"Valar help me ! Faramir, this does not concern you!" Boromir said desperately.
"Insofar as my brother is the heir to the stewardship, and my father is the steward of the realm, what troubles you is my concern, as a captain of Gondor if nothing else!" Before which statement Boromir flinched somewhat, unsettled by how closely Faramir's reasoning echoed Denethor'sbut to such different purpose! Faramir now grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a slight shake as if to try to jar him out of his silence. "I know Father's ways better than any other in matters of his displeasure. Can you deny that he cut deeply, or that he abuses the power that he has over you?"
"I think you do not understand," Boromir hissed, closing his eyes once more, struggling against himself. The frightened, crippled part of him that bore the imprint of Denethor's handling violently resisted speech. But the part that could not for all the world lose Faramir's affection entirelyespecially when he knew what Faramir must be enduring to stand before him thuscried out for release, craving what comfort a confession might bring. "I have not the words for this, even if I wished ."
"Try, Boromir," the other insisted. Curse it all! And honestly, he did try, for as he had realized long ago, it was not in him to refuse his brother anything, save only what he deemed harmful to him. As this is! But such was the tone of the other's voice and his own need that for a moment, he nearly overcame the almost atavistic terror that washed through him.
Almost. "I cannot!" he finally managed. "I may not!"
Faramir's mouth tightened, and he took a step backward, releasing his brother then; and Boromir winced in spite of himself, feeling abandoned, though he supposed he ought to rejoice if that refusal had alienated his brother so. Mayhap he shall now leave ! But his brother remained, watching him, and after awhile, Faramir sighed softly as he dropped his eyes. Glancing about, as if in search of inspiration, Faramir crossed the short distance to the window by the bed and gazed out at the night. Boromir folded his arms across his chest, as if to hold a confession in, and he listened as Faramir's voice drifted gently but seriously from the window embrasure. "Well, if you will say naught, let me be your tongue for a time, as you suggested earlier today. I have given much thought to this matter since last we spoke, so tell me when I begin to stray." Faramir drew a deep breath, seeming to gird himself for the effort, and Boromir listened in silence as his brother's words fell hard upon his ears. "Denethor knows the truth of your that you are from the other river bank, as they say," the other hedged euphemistically, but Boromir still flinched to hear it come frankly from his brother's lips. "I know not for how long, but let us say that he suspected you long before I did. Speak if I stray!" Faramir interrupted himself to glance sharply at Boromir.
"Go on," Boromir said quietly, in a subdued manner, unwilling to tell his brother that Denethor had suspected Faramir for far longer than he had ever doubted Boromir. Besides, he is right in the main: whether for long or for short, Father knew the truth without ever having to ask. I suppose like recognizes like when forced to it.
"What he might have said to you, I can only guess, but I know well what it is to be flayed by his words. It used to destroy me each time I had to face him, and it costs me much still to resist collapse, even after many years of practice. Sometimes I have not the strength, even as I lacked it this morning in council, and afterwards when I could not approach Denethor." Faramir's voice grew harder at that, and Boromir could hear the self-contempt in it ere his brother took another breath to calm himself. When he had regained a measure of control, he continued, "You who have had his love could not stand before him, and I doubt not that he sought to break you." Faramir glanced at him over his shoulder, and there was much sympathy in his face as he said softly, "That much I read from your manner, and yet I cannot say whether he succeeded. This afternoon, you struck me as much changed. How badly are you hurt?" And with that question, the pressure of those eyes, at once similar and utterly dissimilar to his father's, mounted, and grew almost unbearable. Boromir felt his breathing catch slightly, as if the other probed an injury, feeling for the point that would cause him to cry out in pain. "Did he break you, Boromir?"
"I ." Denethor's elder son felt his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth as he struggled with himself to remain silent. But Faramir would not let him go, and as his brother turned from the window and slowly advanced once more, a number of conflicting emotions rose up in response, boiling about the wounded part of his soul. On the one hand, he desperately wanted to keep his secrets, and there was no small anger directed at Faramir for pushing him so hard; on the other, he knew that his brother was right, that he could not hold this within himself. Not all of it at least! Between the two extremes, Boromir felt torn, and could not seem to decide whether there was enough of himself left to even answer Faramir's question.
"Did he, brother?"
"Faramir, do not torture me thus, curse you!" Boromir snarled, alarmed by the pleading in his tone, for it cost him much to beg and even more to curse his brother.
"Then answer me, and thereby end this inquisition," Faramir replied, refusing to allow him to escape. And when he still said naught, his brother frowned, and a sort of dread seemed to creep into his lancing regard. "Boromir ?"
"He said I must redeem myself!" The words came out flatly, harshly, and all in a rush, as if some limit had been reached and breached with but the speaking of his name. Boromir closed his eyes against the chaotic surge of emotion, and felt himself swept away by the current of his own anguish. "For all that I know, he has known for years, and waited for me to weaken enough ." He broke off, unable to finish. Shaking his head violently as if to rid himself of the memory, he demanded bitterly, "What more is there to say? You have wondered why he despised you so? To dissuade me from loving you, I think, for he saw too clearly where my heart lay! That is why he chose me to find Imladris, and not you. It is not for any logic that you or I might present him, but to part us. To give me a chance at redemption a chance to forget you!"
"And did he persuade you in that?" Faramir asked urgently, once more gripping his brother's shoulders, unable to refrain from the gesture for he sensed the other's need of support.
Boromir swallowed hard as everything seemed to come to a head. He stared wordlessly at Faramir for a long moment, at a face and spirit he had loved all the days of his life in one fashion or another. And he wondered, Why are you so close in this moment, and yet so far? Do you even know the pain your touch, so innocent of all harmful intention, can cause? Deliberately, he caught his brother's hands in his and drew them from his shoulders, squeezing tightly, as he replied wearily, "No to my shame, no he could not!"
Something like a smile tugged at Faramir's lips and he nodded slowly. "Then you remain Boromir. After what I saw today, I feared it might be otherwise."
"You surprise me," Boromir replied, searching his brother's face for sign of wavering and finding none. "I doubt not that your words are kindly meant, but Faramir, can you speak them without pain?" Boromir demanded. "Would you not wish that I not look to you?"
"I would not have you turn away at least. Boromir, you know that I cannot love you as you would wish," his brother replied. "But neither can I abandon you; for even as I cannot dictate your heart, I ought not to let your love dictate my own."
"As simple as that?"
"As simple as that, and the more complicated for being so simple!" At which, Boromir gave an exaggerated sigh and shook his head, and the slight smile that curved his lips was a real one, for all that the pain remained.
"Your logic, as always, remains impenetrable!" He glanced down at the hands he still held, wondering what on earth he would do now that Faramir was not pulling away from him. Nothing suggested itself as an obvious solution, yet he could not seem to relinquish his grip, feeling his brother's physical hold on him as a steadying influence. Closing his eyes, he shook his head and his let his posture slip somewhat as, of a sudden, all the day's tension seemed to dissipate at once, as sometimes happened after a hard-fought battle. "Valar, I am tired!"
"Then sleep, Boromir, for you need the rest," Faramir advised.
"I doubt that I could!" Which was an admission that implied more than the a stranger might think, for both brothers had learned early on to take what rest they could whenever they could, war being the uncertain but exhausting endeavor that it was. Faramir's recent insomnia was therefore the more remarkable, indicative of the potency of that dream, and Boromir's current doubts were equally cause for worry.
"You must!" Faramir replied, eliciting a snort of subdued laughter from his brother.
"Must I?" He squeezed Faramir's hands in his a moment, opening his eyes to gaze at his brother again. "You are not my father!"
"Fortunately," Faramir replied dryly.
"Quite. But you are no less my tormentor, Faramir," Boromir said seriously, deciding that he might as well address what lay still unresolved between them. For otherwise, I may never have another chance to do so, and certainly I shall not rest unless I have at least tried to make him see what I see! "I know you mean well to come here, and think not that I am not grateful to you for your pains. But come a few hours, or even a few minutes, and I fear you may flee once more! Your head, as ever, would rule your heart, but in this I cannot trust your logic above your feelings, love," he said very deliberately, watching Faramir's reaction to the endearment. His brother blinked, then frowned, and Boromir could not be certain but he thought the hands within his trembled a bit. "See?"
Faramir's brow knit as he considered this, and after a few moments' thought, he sighed softly and raised his eyes once more to Boromir's. "You may be right, brother, but earlier today, I would not have dreamt of coming here, nor of chasing after you on a crowded street when you wished to avoid me."
Something about that admission touched on memory, dislodging and nudging words to the fore of Boromir's mind, and he closed his eyes once more as he murmured, "'Let me touch now mortal sickness that my love shall learn its toll!' Your Silvaríel knew well the darkness of our desires, Faramir! But to which side shall we fall, you and I? I cannot live with this uncertainty this wavering on your part, though I understand it well enough. If you cannot learn to love me fullynot as a lover but only as you did beforethen seek me no more. Let me find what peace I can alone!"
Faramir bit his lip, considering his brother's request. Or rather, his plea! And he is right to make it, for it is not fair to him that I am so so inconstant. Alas that intuition spoke truly, for I know not whether I have the strength to grant his wish and mine! "I would regain what once we had," he said slowly. "For in truth, I miss you more than you might think possible. But I know not how to prove myself to you, Boromir, or even to myself, if I am honest!" Faramir replied, seeming weary now in his turn. His brother gave a slight shrug, as if in surrender to the uncertainty of the moment. "Know, though, that I would gladly return to what we had, if only you would satisfy me as to one point first, brother."
"And what point is that?"
"If we could between us devise a test that would convince you of my sincerity in this matter, would you wish for me to succeed? Or would you have me keep my distance? For in spite of your words, it is clear to me that you also are in doubt over this."
And Boromir, hearing that, frowned, realizing uncomfortably that Faramir did indeed have a point. Would I wish him to prove that he can love me in spite of my love? Would it not be better to learn to live without it? Without even the hope of it? In one way, it would be so much easier if Faramir could not bring himself to overlook Boromir's quite ardent desire for him, for at least then there could be no confusion on Boromir's part. But for years, I have thought there was no hope, and that did not ease my longing! Why must you ask me such questions, Faramir? "Once, I would have said 'yes' without hesitation," he replied at length, and felt more than saw Faramir wince at the qualifier. "After last nightindeed, after this week!and in spite of our father's scorn, I would still say 'yes,' but more cautiously." Boromir released Faramir's hands. But he risked reaching up to gently tug at a lock of hair that fell into Faramir's face, in imitation of his brother' s habit, ere he added, "For Denethor has made me see too much to love you freely and without pain. I fear it is my sentence that if I cannot surrender my passion, then nothing that comes of it shall ever be free of shame. And perhaps it is better thus, for even were you to desire me, I could never let you have so unworthy a lover as myself!"
"I see," Faramir replied, considering this in silence for a short while. "I think you shall not be the only one to burn the midnight oil, brother!"
"Well, had I the luxury, I would do so. But as you advise, I shall try to rest, for I leave at dawn and know not how long the journey shall be," Boromir sighed softly. He turned and went to the bed, gathering the two travel sacks that lay there to set them down on the floor beneath the window.
"Would you have me stay?" Faramir asked suddenly.
"I beg your pardon?" Boromir turned quickly, a perplexed look on his face, for his brother could not possibly mean that the way that it sounded.
"I said, would you have me stay? There is a chair in the other room I could use ."
A chair of course! "And what would you do?" Boromir asked, relieved but curious.
For answer, Faramir crossed to the desk and picked up the book that Boromir had borrowed. "Your citation brought something to mind."
"Ah," Boromir paused, considering the request a moment. He could not fathom his brother's motives at the moment, but he recognized the tone: Faramir had caught on some idea and would not be content until he had explored it further. More, he wanted, for some reason unknown to Boromir, to remain and to refuse him would likely hurt him badly. Well, and what matter is it if he stays to one who sleeps? For despite my earlier words, I feel a need of it desperately, and shall not stay awake for long. "You are welcome to remain if you wish, and you know well where I keep everything."
"But would you wish me to stay?" Faramir asked, emphasizing the pronoun.
"I have always wished you to stay," Boromir responded, and was mildly surprised when that comment elicited naught but a nod. "What of Father? If he catches you here"
"Let him!" Faramir cut him off, and his tone was uncharacteristically sharp. Boromir nodded slightly, accepting the other's defiance even as he shuddered at the thought of that confrontation. May it never occur! he prayed briefly to whatever power might hear a reprobate's plea.
"Well, then, I wish you a good night. May you find what you seek."
"Good night, Boromir," Faramir obediently left for the antechamber, closing the door behind him. And Boromir stood there and wondered whether he ought to bar the door for safety's sake. But what good would that do? It would not keep me here! But such considerations were merely the workings of a tired and dispirited soul, struggling to find a way through inner divisions without surrendering too much of his own essential matter. Matter which, as the course of fortune ran, had been shaped by that conflict, and in some deep sense knew not how to live without it. Considerations about the status of the door were therefore merely specious: Faramir was safe from him, and in truth, there was something oddly reassuring about the idea of him keeping watch just beyond the door. When we were children, I remember he used to come to me whenever he had nightmares. He could not sleep alone. And now, thirty years later, our places are reversed! Though of course, Faramir would never now join him in bed, as he had when they were ten and five. Stop that! he ordered himself. Sleep now, since that is your purpose. Sleep! And let the morning bring what it may, for this is my last night in Minas Tirith for a time, and it will be long ere I lie in safety again.
As the night wore on in the other room, Faramir sat tucked up in the high-backed chair near the hearth, and though he did read, his attention was not focused. The words washed over him, sweeping through him like the tide only to withdraw again after a time, retreating from the shores of his mind. For though he sought one line among the multitude of Silvaríel's works, in truth he had come here to try once more to enter his brother's mind. The book provided a common point from which to begin, at least, and that was much tonight. This room, as Boromir had indicated with his passing remark, was intimately known to Faramir: surrounded by his brother's possessions, his arrangements, his tastes, it was easier for him to try to think as his brother did. I have always loved him, and he has always loved me that is the constant in our lives, and now that it has been shaken ! Faramir had always assumed before that Boromir, although quick-witted and not wholly unreflective, was not given to internal scrutiny, being generally confident in himself and his abilities. But having learned the extent of his brother's life-long struggle to hide his sexuality from others, Faramir had now doubts about his assumptions. Clearly, Boromir would have suffered doubt about himself, and would have had many opportunities to question his own motivations. Certainly, he still remained far more comfortable on the field than in the council, but rather than being simply a product of a less contemplative disposition, Faramir now wondered whether a part of that stated preference had not been carefully devised as a sort of camouflage. Or perhaps it is more basic than that, even, he thought. Perhaps it is the one place where he need not restrain himself, where his actions require no words and are their own justification. And perhaps that was not as simple as it seemed, Faramir thought with a slight smile for his own complicated ways.
With a soft sigh, he rose, carefully leaving the book open upon a stand, and made a circuit of the room. Boromir's tastes were less varied than his own, and also less subtle. He kept a number of small carvings from various regions of Gondor, and the tapestries on the walls were for color as much as to help keep out the chill of winter days. There were fewer books, and most of them had to do with military history rather than philosophy or art; there was a small collection of weaponry upon one wall, and Faramir knew that in addition to employing them decoratively, Boromir could wield any of them to deadly effect. I suppose I could as well if pressed to it, but not with half the artistry, Faramir decided as he turned back to the book shelf, atop which sat a small, intricately carved box. The curling patterns of raised wood and the inlay of different types of bark to create an almost flame-like impression bore the stamp of the same craftsmanship that the carpet on Faramir's floor did. And why should they not, for they came of the same place. It had been Finduilas' once, and was one of the things that she had brought with her out of Dol Amroth to remind herself of her home. The box had gone back to Imrahil upon her death, and the brothers' uncle had in turn gifted it to Boromir when he had turned sixteen, as a remembrance of the sister that Imrahil had loved. It was therefore doubly a gift, and it was the only keep-sake that Boromir had of his mother. Why this one item, and not any others? It was a question that he could ask of almost anything in this room. Boromir was not much of a collector, Faramir realized suddenly, for all that certain types of objects were repeated throughout the décor. For whereas others who collected carvings would stay with a particular theme or style or artisan, Boromir did not. One example of any given period or style seemed to be enough for him; the same might be said of the books on the shelves or the weapons, none of which were of the same type. Just one . One box, one book of poetry, one city to call home one love just one just one .
Just once! The words he had sought earlier came suddenly to him, and Faramir pondered their significance as he stood gazing at the closed door that led to his brother's sleeping chamber. Just once. He could imagine Boromir asleep within, and who knew what dreams might visit him tonight? What dreams had he last night, I wonder? Faramir thought with a shiver. I would see him at peace! But can I bring myself to do what I think is needed? Ever he sought to stand before me, to shield me when I was threatened weak . From him I learned honor, and also the meaning of courage. We keep each other, and always have, and I would not lose that, either through Father's intervention or my own actions. What constituted the right course in this singular situation, Faramir could not be certain, for no feat of reasoning could lead him from the tangled skein of conflicted allegiances and emotions. Whatever I decide, I must not act half-heartedly, for that would be cruel. Whence comes conviction, though? Whence comes courage enough not to flinch? Closing his eyes, Faramir blew out a sigh and after a few moments he reopened them. In the end, the well-spring of his strength had its roots in many places, but in time of crisis, he knew whither he always turned: towards his brother. With that thought firmly in mind, he blew out the candle by which he had read and stalked across the room. Silent as a hawk on the wing, he opened the door, and slipped inside his brother's chambers .
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