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Adraefan: 36. Edoras
Death was not so repugnant. It was a finish, it was peace; the only true peace one could desire. And so Boromir felt no sorrow for old Théoden as they placed him in the ground. No sorrow; only envy. He watched the casket lowered slowly into the mound of green and white as the warm wind whipped across the clearing. Edoras felt cooler than Minas Tirith. Perhaps it was Mount Mindolluin which reflected the sun, warming, warming, baking hot, until the stone burned to the touch. Perhaps it was the vast clearing and the solitary peak Edoras had perched itself on, where the winds were ever blowing, ever rushing past. Whatever the reason, Boromir noticed suddenly how free he felt out of Minas Tirith – out of those confining white walls, where he ever faced the bitterness of his disgrace, constant reminders of his torment – where he ever faced the maddening Peace.
Aye, he felt freer in Edoras. And so, once all had returned into the Golden Hall for the funeral feast, and as Éomer King made his speech to respectful nods and murmured agreement, Boromir drank his ale and watched the crowd and refilled his mug and raised it and drank again, again, again. Indeed, for what did it matter?
“…Eorl the Young; Brego, builder of the Hall; Aldor brother of Baldor the hapless…”
The Hall was full. As Boromir leaned forward, slouching, arching his shoulder blades and staring into his cup, he listened dully to the long list of Rohirrim kings. Few fires were lit, for it was too warm and stuffy, and so they chose to keep this Golden Hall cool and in shadow. The Rohirrim raised their cups and saluted each King, while Éomer stood at the front, holding his own cup, waiting, waiting. And what did it matter? Boromir thought. What of death, when death is the end of all – when the King like the beggar lies with his bones, worm’s meat and…
“…Léofa, Walda, Folca, Folcwine, Fengel, Thengel and…”
Boromir had seen Merry weep at the grave of Théoden, blubbering like a child. Théoden King! Théoden King! Farewell! As a father you were to me, for a little while. The halfling had never shed a single tear for Boromir, indeed no one had; and the hobbit had even begun ignoring him in the Citadel halls. And what was Théoden that Boromir was not? What honor did Théoden win over everyone? That he should be dead, buried, rotting away deep in the earth instead of rotting away above it? Boromir snorted inadvertently, stared deep into his cup. If to die was to garner love, respect, admiration, all the more reason to do it, and quickly too. For Boromir once again, once again, once again… this life is a half-life, to end too late…
Boromir missed when they spoke Théoden’s name, and Éomer drained the cup, but he was jostled back to reality when the entire room began to boom: “Hail, Éomer, King of the Mark!”
Boromir just managed to finish the phrase, muttering only the last syllable, when they all drank, and he too. This mead was bittersweet, thick. It slipped down his throat, burning, and he welcomed that heat, for it meant it was heady. And so he finished his glass, waited for the serving woman to come by with another.
Éomer was speaking now.
“…fair folk of many realms, such as Meduseld has ne’er seen! My friends, I have news – a joy to brighten this day of grief…”
There were murmurs. Éomer smiled, eyeing the couple sitting at the far end of one of the long tables.
“Fair news indeed, my friends: Faramir, Lord Steward of Gondor, Prince of Ithilien, and my brother at heart, has asked the hand of my good sister, the Lady Éowyn.” Exclamations. Gasps. “And! And!” Éomer laughed, urging the crowd to quiet. “And she – after long deliberation and a lengthy establishment of preliminary codes,” more laughter, “has granted it!”
Cheers. Loud cries. Everyone stood, bashed their mugs together, toasted, laughed. Boromir was inadvertently pulled up with this tide, shaken, jostled, congratulated. He smiled, nodded, toasted with the others – yet his mind was in turmoil. They were to wed. And his brother, his brother, Eru, his brother beaming and laughing and granting a discreet kiss on Éowyn’s cheek.
Boromir heard nothing more of what Éomer said, but he saw a laughing banter between Éomer and Aragorn, which everyone else seemed to enjoy. Instead, he sank back into his chair, brooding.
The feasting continued deep in the night. And while the Gondorians found this smiling funeral strange, they could not help but be swept away in the ride of gift-giving, drinking, laughing, exaggerating and reminiscing. Indeed, by the time Éomer had announced Faramir’s intention to wed Lady Éowyn, most of the crowd had been too inebriated to fully evaluate the political practicalities of such a move, and so, instead, they simply cheered and congratulated and toasted. The Lord Steward himself was somewhat red-faced, though whether this was from ale or emotion, one could not be sure.
The funeral feast continued. Outside, the sun set.
The great hall of Meduseld was filled to the brim with Rohirrim, Gondorians, hobbits, elves and Gandalf. There was much shouting, dancing, sweat. Smoke, music, cheers. Mugs dropped to crash on the ground. Laughter. Pippin and Merry obliged everyone with a bellowed rendition of the Green Dragon song which, by now, many of the Rohirrim knew as well and so sang along. Other bards also appeared - silencing everyone with their bittersweet songs of Théoden, or enticing the crowd to roaring cheers and heartfelt exclamations with the songs of the Pelennor Fields or Helm’s Deep.
The hours passed, and Boromir found himself squeezed in a wooden table with Gimli and Legolas to one side, and Elrond and Gandalf on the other. He spoke little, but watched the dim, blurred-gold scene over the rim of his ever-present stein. Occasionally, he would catch Lady Arwen's eye across the room, watching him in concern, and he would look away. Meanwhile, Lord Elrond spoke intently and seriously to Gandalf, while the wizard murmured bemused growls over his pipe.
Look. See all this? All for death. All because one Man died. As if his death should have been an accomplishment – old Théoden – and now they glorify and praise and forget his every mortal vice and weakness…
Boromir shook his head to rid it of these black, morbid thoughts. He decided to have more mead – more mead, perhaps, would ease his mood.
Jostling, mingling, dancing, yelling. The feasting, the feasting. Drinking and eating and singing, all loud, all raucous, and becoming more so. With each goblet raised and each bellowed toast, the Men’s minds fell further into disarray, further into the drunken chaos of unwieldy revelry.
Ai me, and what villain have I become? To envy the dead, to hate the living, to have found peace so repulsive?
The mead arrived. He drank.
Too much, it is too much. A villain, indeed.
At one point, Boromir saw his brother and Éowyn pushing through the crowd, hand in hand, making for the door. Boromir stood, swayed drunkenly, stumbled over to them.
“Faramir!” he called.
His brother turned, smiled slightly, though Éowyn’s expression grew somewhat cold. Boromir threaded through the crowd towards them and, with a warm grin, grabbed Faramir by the hair and kissed him on the brow. He then bowed, somewhat unevenly, to Éowyn.
“Enjoying the festivities, brother?” Faramir asked, placing his free hand on Boromir's shoulder to steady him.
“Aye, aye, good brother,” Boromir half-grinned. “More so since I heard the happy news.” He turned to Éowyn and grew solemn. “And, my lady, soon my fair sister-by-marriage, good Éowyn, I would beg your pardon.”
“What for, my lord?” Éowyn asked, bewildered.
“Ai,” Boromir leaned heavily against Faramir, “ai, for it all. For everything. You know what I intend. This past season - since the War – ‘tis all been a chaos, and e’er bitterness, ne’er peace, as it should be...” he swallowed, seemed suddenly taken by a darker emotion.
Faramir squeezed Boromir's shoulder. “Nay, brother. There is nothing to forgive.” Boromir dropped his head, and Faramir placed his hand on his crown. “Let us not brood over the past. It is all finished...”
“Nay, both of you, e'er too kind,” Boromir muttered, looking down at the floor, leaning forward, backward. He looked up with glistening eyes, smiled wanly. “Know simply that I have no quarrel with either of you. Know that you have my love, and I wish you joy. Truly.”
Éowyn took Boromir's hand, squeezed it. “And know that you have our love as well, brother.”
Boromir nodded, looked away quickly, and, seeing his emotion, Faramir laughed and slung his arm around his shoulder.
“Come, brother, ‘tis time for bed. It seems you have enjoyed the merriment more than enough, for the drink softens you and yokes tears from your eyes.” Boromir laughed, congested. Faramir continued, “Come, we shall find you a bed. Walk with us.”
“Nay, I would be but the cart’s third wheel,” Boromir shook his head loosely. “Go on, I will remain here a little while longer. Have no worries. We will see each other on the morrow.”
“Aye, indeed,” boomed a sudden voice. Old Imrahil of Dol Amroth came into view, emerging from the blur around them. He held a glass of ale in one hand and, judging by his own loose steps and reddened cheeks, he was in no better condition than Boromir. “Go on, my young doves. Out of this seething mass, ha! I will see to it that this nephew finds a bed.”
Faramir and Éowyn laughed, nodded, and, after the usual, if somewhat clumsy, formalities were exchanged of a kiss on the hand and a back-pounding embrace, they began to push through the mass again, towards the door. Boromir watched them disentangle themselves from a number of other drunken conversations and congratulations, until they finally disappeared out the great door.
He turned to Imrahil, who was watching him seriously.
“The King tells me you go to escort the halflings,” Imrahil murmured.
“Aye,” Boromir said. He swayed backward. A derisive snort. “A useless task. He gives it to me for I am nothing but a weight on the Citadel now.”
“So I have heard…” Imrahil spoke into his ale, downed it.
“And what of Belfalas?” Boromir grunted.
“The pestilence continues in the south,” he stifled a belch. “But things are brighter inland. Crops are being sown, fields tended. We heal.”
Boromir remained silent.
“Do not linger there,” Imrahil murmured into his ear. He placed a hand on Boromir’s arm. “You know it brings nothing but further torment.”
With a repugnant scoff, Boromir shook his arm free. “Aye, and what would you know of it?”
Imrahil did not speak. Boromir glared at the surrounding revelers. And he dropped his voice so low that Imrahil had to lean in to hear; a low, rasping growl. “Aye… aye… would that I had died on Galen fields or Moria mines. With all the glories of a soldier, and none of his scorn, none of his brooding idleness. Aye… such was my end.” He swallowed, disgusted. “Now by a dismal death must I be taken.”
The festivities continued. A nearby group erupted into laughter. Dancing.
“The drink makes you harsh, nephew.”
“Bah! The drink! Always the drink!”
And with that, Boromir threw up his hands, snarling, and left his uncle.
He pushed his way through the crowd, not caring for formalities or etiquette, and found the nearest barrel of mead. He found a goblet, dumped the previous contents out onto the floor, and filled it with mead. He drank this all, moved to refill. But a hand on his shoulder startled him.
“E’er the grim, self-pitying Man,” Dínendal said, appearing. He smiled slightly.
Boromir turned his shoulder, refilled his goblet.
“And is it the custom of elves to lay their pointed ears on words meant for others?” he muttered.
Dínendal shrugged. “I was near, and you spoke loud enough so that I could hear. ‘Tis no fault of mine if a Man cannot control his own bellowing.”
With refilled goblet and ugly scowl, Boromir turned, walked away. Dínendal followed.
“What mean you, Dínendal? Mean you to chide me as they all do? To advise in matters you know nothing of? Or only to mock?”
“None of it.”
They moved away from the crowds, passing King Elessar and Lady Arwen, who both nodded graciously, impassively, anonymously, in their direction. There was a darker corner, where the Men were somewhat quieter, calmer. Boromir sat at one of these tables, away from the others. Dínendal took a seat beside him.
“I mean to help,” the elf leaned back against the table, watched the laughing merriment. “Remember that I am your friend, Boromir.”
Boromir snorted. “Still?” He drank.
“Aye, still,” Dínendal’s lips quirked. “Despite all your attempts to offend me into disappearing back to my ‘elfish kingdom.’”
Boromir was silent. He stared into his cup’s contents. Here, in the shadow, the mead looked nearly black – orc’s blood – sloshing around in his cup.
“My brother goes now, content and respected,” he muttered, “with a fair wife, an enviable title, and all the love and affection Gondor can bestow…” he picked at the cup’s edge, “I am jealous.”
“Brothers oft are.”
A long silence.
“…and you are still troubled by Barad-dûr?”
Boromir nearly started in his seat, snapping around, slamming the goblet on the table with a resounding crack.
“Plague take you, Dínendal, what manner of question is that? Pour salt in my wounds and call it a cure!”
“I thought only to say,” Dínendal held up his hands quickly, “that mayhap you dwell on it, and, in your own dragged out self-torment, you may not e’en see noble Faramir’s joy.” He placed a hand on Boromir’s shoulder. “Be happy for your brother, Boromir. And Imrahil is right – they are all right – you must learn to forget.”
“I try to forget,” Boromir muttered, took a long swallow.
“Aye, but that,” he eyed the goblet, “is temporary, and you know it.”
“Find me a more durable drug and I will take it.”
“I do not think there exist such drugs. No drug can heal a troubled mind.”
“Then how may a Man do it?”
Dínendal was silent.
At length, he spoke: “I know not.” He smiled. “I am but a pointy-eared elf.”
A short bark of laughter escaped Boromir, but that laugh nearly turned to a sob, for his hands trembled and his smile was an ugly grimace. But he choked away the emotion, placed the shaking goblet on the table, clasped his hands until the knuckles turned white and the trembling disappeared.
“Dínendal, why do you speak to me of this?” he asked, but he was not angry. Only weary. “Why can you not leave me be?”
Dínendal did not answer. Boromir glanced at him, saw the elf’s face was darkening with its own distress. Dínendal crossed his arms, looked away.
“You have ne’er spoken of it to me,” he said softly. “You have ne’er told me of Barad-dûr.”
Boromir inhaled sharply, his tremor growing worse.
“And why should you want to know of it?”
“You say you hear Amdír?”
Boromir remained silent.
“What does he say?”
The elf’s intensity grew, so that Boromir finally blurted out, shifting: “What manner of questioning is this?”
“I desire to know.”
“I do not wish to tell.”
“My friend, I would trade you all the silence in the world if you would but tell me one phrase.”
Tension like sparks.
“Boromir, I must know,” the elf’s voice shook, and he lowered it, hissing, so that the others nearby would not hear. In another part of Meduseld, a dance, a new song started. More laughter. Dínendal continued, “Boromir, I fear I will forget him... Already I cannot remember the shade of Amdír’s eyes, the music of Golradir’s laugh. I try to recall certain moments – certain things they said, a word’s cadence – and what was so vividly clear before has now grown muddy. And with each day, with each moment, it grows more and more blurred.”
Dínendal hesitated, seeing Boromir shifting, stirring, clenching and unclenching his hands, his chin trembling.
“My friend… I know it is a torment. I know you do but wish to forget. Yet I must know – Amdír was – he was a good soul, you know this – and you heard him, mayhap you e’en saw him – in those last moments…”
Boromir dragged his palm against his eyes, continued to clasp and unclasp his shaking hands. Tears. His nose grew congested. And the weight, the weight, the painful weight bearing down, pressing against his throat and pouring out like a wound…
Dínendal was watching him, the elf’s brow lifted, yet his eyes were clear.
“Boromir, tell me. I must know. I cannot bear it. You say you can still hear him. What does he say?”
Boromir’s breathing was ragged. Several long minutes passed.
A group of Rohirrim erupted into boisterous laughter.
Someone began giving a toast.
Boromir turned his face, kept it in shadow, for the tears, the abrupt tears, soaking down and running along every scar like rivulets, spreading over his cheek in an uneven pattern, soaking down into his beard, chilling his neck.
He felt Dínendal beside him. Still.
“He calls for help…” Voice shaking, very, very low. Swallowing. “And then he speaks in elvish, I know not what he says. It – it is sometimes spoken low – like a chant, or a prayer – but quickly, because there is no time – just before they…”
Boromir stopped. He was leaning forward, elbows on knees, his every muscle tense. Dínendal waited beside him, making no move.
“We saw each other once or twice – I am not sure – he was beaten, but he did not seem… he did not cower – we called to each other… The orcs were foolish, they did not see our importance until, until, until I… once they learned of my part in the Fellowship, they – Amdír – they brought him before me – and – it – I think that is what killed him – I think I did – they asked and asked and he… but – I – I did not tell them…”
“I do not think I told them.”
He held his breath – not trusting himself to speak further, breathe further, think further – no, no, nothing, it is nothing, only death, it is all finished, all finished, no more – and so he held his breath, clenched his jaw, gritted his teeth, and waited for the unbearable knot in his throat to unravel. Dínendal also waited, seemingly for more, but, seeing his friend’s distress, eventually eased his own rigidity. He placed a hand on Boromir’s shoulder, squeezed.
“Thank you, my friend.”
Boromir nodded, choked back another sob, ran again his hand over his face. He sat for several moments, waiting and waiting and waiting for the tears to ebb, the elf’s hand on his shoulder, strong. When his voice steadied enough, he spoke:
“Did you three not travel for an Age ere you met me? How is it that they are so easily forgotten?”
“Not easily forgotten, my friend… It is just that I desire something tangible, some way to hear them and see them again.”
“Well, it is no use, Dínendal, they are dead.”
Dínendal looked away, chastised. “I know.”
They sat. Boromir finally released all the pressure his elbows had been putting on his old knees, and he leaned back with a ragged sigh. He was thankful for the shadow to hide his red-rimmed eyes, for a moment later a maidservant arrived, loaded tray in hand. Away from the laughing, jostling, singing crowd, she spoke quietly.
“Will you desire anything, masters?” she asked.
She obliged and handed Boromir a filled mug. And then she smiled warmly at Dínendal.
“Nothing for me, thank you,” Dínendal murmured.
Boromir drank. He and Dínendal did not speak for the remainder of the evening. Rather they sat at this table, half in shadow, watching the merriment wax and wane, Boromir drinking and Dínendal silent, considering. Eventually, the feast began to dissolve – Men left, helped by their more sober companions, the few who remained chatting quietly, tiredly. Somewhere further off, Éomer, always the last, was telling a small group of Men a story of the War – for they laughed and murmured and nodded.
Boromir drank enough so that his legs were lost to him, and eventually he lost all sense completely. He did not register when Dínendal and a slightly drunken Imrahil dragged him out of the Hall, babbling and muttering, thanking them and urging them to go on without him, that he could manage. He did not hear Imrahil laugh, saying, Ever courteous, nephew, after a barrel of ale! He did not feel any preliminary nausea before his sudden retching halfway through the corridor, though, once he had vomited, some sense came to him. Enough to feel embarrassment at what he had done, but not much else.
He perceived none of this until, at some unknown hour in the night, when all Meduseld slept, he found himself leaning heavily against a door, knocking on it. How long he had been standing there on wobbling legs, knocking on this mysterious door, he could not say, but eventually it opened. And Faramir appeared, squinting in the dim light and bare-chested, for the night was hot. He held a candle.
“Boromir?” he whispered.
Boromir fell forward slightly at the loss of support, but he caught himself on his brother’s shoulder. Vaguely, he perceived someone else in Faramir’s disheveled bed. But the room was too dark to see who it was.
“Brother, what is it?” Faramir hissed. “’Tis deepest night.”
And without preamble, without reason, without explanation, Boromir dissolved into shaking sobs and pulled Faramir into a weeping embrace.
“Ai, Faramir, young Faramir, my dear brother,” he choked on his tears, grabbed his brother’s hair, “e’er the wiser, ai, e’er the wiser – ”
“Shhh,” Faramir urged. He disentangled himself from Boromir’s crushing embrace, helped the Man outside. Once they were in the corridor, Faramir closed the door quietly, held Boromir by the shoulder.
“Brother, what tears are these? What has happened?”
“I saw her, brother, know you I saw her?” He gasped for breath between his sobs. “Our dear mother – ai me – I saw her – dear Faramir, I ne’er told you this, but I saw her…”
Faramir kept having to pull and jerk the candle away from the swaying, unwieldy Boromir, and so eventually he placed it on the ground, straightened, gripped his elder with both hands. Boromir covered his face, wept again.
“Boromir, of what do you speak? What of our mother?”
“Ai!” Boromir pulled Faramir into another embrace, sobbed openly, wailed into his neck. “Forgive me, Faramir! Our dear mother, I did see her in those black hours, and she spoke of you and of our father and all our fates combined and she did bid me resist, resist she said, that I would breathe again and taste water again and see the birds – ”
“Shhh,” Faramir said, though his voice had softened. “You shall wake the entire Hall.” He adjusted himself so that Boromir’s arm wrapped around his shoulder. “Come, let us find your chambers.”
Boromir smiled through his tears, reached a hand up and grabbed Faramir’s chin. “Such a good brother, a good, wise brother.” He sputtered, hung his head, covered his eyes. “I told him, but what could I say? What was there to say? I know not what he cried – alas, poor soul! – and I cannot bear to hear it.”
“I know, brother, I know.”
They began the slow, stumbling walk.
“He is silent, now, but you are right – I linger too long there, alas, all for naught! All Imladris – nothing – all for naught…”
“Not all for naught. Come now, walk with me. I cannot drag you.”
“You know, I have sometimes thought the Valar did wield their influence – they did drag me away from my end – mayhap I offended them, that they robbed me of a soldier’s death. Now these wretched days stretch thin – ”
“You have ne’er been a religious Man.”
“Nay, I have not…”
“Nay, Boromir, come, you cannot sit – ”
Too late. Boromir slid to the floor, stretched his legs out, leaned his head against the wall. Chin trembling, scowling, his face still wet. Faramir hovered over him for a moment. Finally, with a somewhat reluctant sigh, he took a seat as well, on the opposite wall, leaning his bare back against the stone wall. He drew his knees up, rested his arms against them.
Boromir sat for some time, half-conscious, breathing deep. A few minutes passed. He noticed Faramir again, smiled drowsily through his tears.
“Go, brother. Return to your woman. I will not keep you. ‘Tis late.”
Faramir sighed, ran a hand over his face. “Nay, I will wait with you. You cannot sleep here.”
Boromir’s smile faded as he fell once again into a light sleep.
Faramir roused him: “You say you saw our mother.”
Boromir was silent, but he nodded.
“Will you speak of it now?”
“Because I am in such a state?”
Fumbling within his jacket. The slim flask. He worked to open it. Clumsy, slow.
“You will kill yourself with too much drink, brother.”
Boromir snorted. “’Twould be a sorry end.”
Eventually, he gave up, dropping his hand. And on an impulse, Faramir stood, walked to the other side, took a seat beside his brother and took the flask from his limp hand. He began to open it. Boromir spoke, slurring:
“I saw you once.”
“Nay, before. With the elves.”
“Mad, indeed,” Faramir joked, drank from the flask, winced.
Boromir smiled. He wiped his eyes. “Nay, not mad… ‘Twas a legitimate vision, for I did dream it.”
“Aye, a dream of prophecy. The ‘legendary foresight of Faramir,’ you said.”
“And you foretold all that would happen – all that did happen – after Amon Hen.”
“That is strange.”
“Have we not always believed in dreams, brother?”
Faramir handed the flask to Boromir, who took it, drank.
“And…?” Faramir prompted.
A generous swallow. “And?”
“I know little of your trip to Imladris. I know little of the Quest, what little I have heard from the others. I know, again, little about the adraefan,” he took the flask from Boromir, drank, “and I know nothing of Barad-dûr.”
Boromir scowled. “’Tis a long story.”
“Tell me only a part then.”
“Where shall I begin?”
“Wherever you will.”
And so they spoke, or rather, Boromir began a rambling monologue. And Faramir’s old dream, born in times of despondent youth, ripened over years of growing Shadow and despair, matured into bitter adulthood, the dream – the dream to speak with his elder, to share tales of the War, to trade scars, when all was peace – had finally come to fruition. And so Faramir learned much of his brother’s travels, though it was not always told in order, and it was at times difficult to decipher the slow, mumbled words.
There were also great gaps – of which Faramir either knew already, such as the death of Gandalf, the temptation on Amon Hen; or of which Faramir could guess, such as the death of First One, and the last battle on Dagorlad. Boromir, fumbling with his doublet and shirt, showed him the mangled knot of skin beside his bicep, right against the shoulder. And he confessed of his varying aches and pains, laughing bitterly that he had aged too soon.
Faramir spoke also. He spoke of Osgiliath and Ithilien and Frodo. And, knowing his brother would probably not recall this night, he spoke of Denethor’s cryptic, hateful remark, when all thought Boromir dead, and all were grieving for him. And this drew tears from the older brother, again his usual reservation softened by alcohol, so that he wept to hear of his father’s despair, his father’s moments of weakness, his father’s cruelty.
Faramir sighed, drank.
“I will not lie and say it did not pain me.”
“You are alone, Faramir, alone in a family of the madman and corpses.”
“Do not say such a thing.”
“Aye, forgive me,” a muffled snort. “Indeed, Imrahil is neither.”
Despite himself, Faramir smiled. Boromir choked back another sob, and this time Faramir slung his arm around his shoulder, gripped his hair.
“Enough of that, now. Come, you would drown us all in your tears tonight,” he smiled sadly, teased, “You have become soft.”
“’Tis all been so trying…” Boromir gasped, his voice strangled. “What if our father knew what became of his firstborn son? A wretched, pitiful Man.”
Faramir sighed, squeezed Boromir’s shoulder, pulled Boromir’s head onto his shoulder. Boromir clenched his teeth at another bout of tears.
“Ah, but he was e’er an intolerant Man, you know this,” Faramir murmured. “Take comfort that I do not think you are a wretch. And neither does the King, nor Dínendal, nor any of the Fellowship and any who know you. Nay, we are just saddened to see your lingering torment…”
“Think you ‘tis weakness?”
“Nay,” Faramir whispered. And there was true sorrow in his voice. “Nay, not at all.”
Boromir looked at Faramir with red-rimmed, glistening eyes. He seemed about to say something, but instead shook his head and half-smiled, chin trembling. Faramir grinned warmly, gave Boromir’s shoulder another squeeze and then began to stand.
“Come, brother, you are tired. And if I tarry any longer Éowyn shall change her mind.”
Faramir stood, grabbed his brother by the forearm and pulled him up. Boromir stumbled, staggered, nearly fell, though Faramir caught him, steadied him. Soon enough they were again zigzagging back to Boromir’s chambers. The torches were not lit in this part of the Hall, and so they walked in darkness, listening to their muffled tread.
After a while, leaning hard against his brother, Boromir spoke:
“I too should find a wife.”
“That is a new turn.” Faramir’s voice sounded amused. “You have ne’er sought any delight in women – apart from the baser sort.”
“Nay, you tease, Faramir… but I do envy you – that you – that you have the Lady Éowyn. Would that I had such a wife waiting for me tonight.”
“Well, at least you have the hobbits.”
Boromir laughed at this, a congested, unexpected, full-throated laugh. Faramir smiled. He planted a kiss on his older brother’s hair.
“Good, that is the brother I wish to hear.”
They walked along the empty corridor, testing a few doors, until they found one which opened. The room was dark, but, in the shadow, they could see various still forms, sleeping. Snores.
Moving as quietly as Boromir’s drunkenness permitted, Faramir helped Boromir into the room and searched for a free bedroll. Sure enough, he found the hobbits, alternatively curled up in a blanket or splayed out with mouth hanging open. And further off, the loud snores of Gimli could be heard.
“There you are, brother,” Faramir whispered with a smile. He lowered Boromir onto the free bedroll next to Sam. “All the hobbits you could desire.”
Boromir chuckled softly, wearily, and collapsed onto the blanket. Faramir straightened.
“Good night, brother.”
But Boromir was already asleep.
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