6. Chapter Five: Brothers
Since these stories are set after the War of the Ring, it becomes difficult to write about Boromir in this context as part of the Fellowship. So I will write this from the point of view of Faramir, using his memories of his brother as the basis of this story. While I have tried to write the other stories in this series with some humor, in the case Boromir, I have decided to take a different tone. This will be somewhat bitter sweet.
He hated this day.
It was not as if it was the first time he had to endure it, or even the second. It had been quite a number of years since this annual ritual had begun and still Faramir, Lord of Lord of Emyn Arnen, Prince of Ithilien found it as difficult to tolerate, as it was the first. The irony of it was, he himself had begun the practice. When the War of the Ring had ended, his life, as he knew it had changed so dramatically, that he had been left rudderless for a time. For so many years, he knew who he was and what life expected of him. It was very comforting to have no illusions about what lay ahead in the future and though Faramir had sometimes wished that certain elements of his life were different, he was mostly comfortable with what had to be.
Then Boromir died and everything changed.
The death of his brother had more effect upon his life then even the return of Gondor’s king. The loss of the Stewardship was incidental next to and it was to his good fortune that the king was a man worthy of his respect and his unswerving loyalty. However much of Faramir’s affection for Aragorn stemmed from the fact he reminded Faramir a great deal of his fallen brother. They both had the same dedication to Gondor and feared not the responsibility that came with being in power but embraced it as a sacred charge. He knew on some level, Aragorn felt responsible for him too as if by living while Boromir died, he was bound to protect to Faramir.
Their friendship had become what it was because of this duty and in the years since Aragorn had become king, it had deepened in substance to be more then either would have imagined. Aragorn could march into a thousand wars and Faramir knew without doubt, that he would be marching right alongside him on every one of those occasions. Still Aragorn’s friendship could not take the place of the brother who had fallen before the war had even begun. It stung to no that Boromir was apart of none of the world changing events that transpired with the War of the Ring, especially when Boromir had battled Mordor for so long and deserved to be present when Sauron finally fell.
So now he was faced with yet another anniversary of Boromir’s fall at Parth Galen, trying to untangle the knots inside his stomach enough so that he could see the day through without too much emotional torment. He had thought the years would make it easier but the prosperity of his life brought to home how much of it was due to his brother’s death and thus served to renew the pain of his loss.
There was a pattern to his guilt that was as steeped in ritual as the reverence paid to Boromir during the anniversary of his death. It had become so ingrained into him that there was no avoiding it and even Eowyn, his wife had learnt that there were no words to say that could break this cycle of sadness that come upon her husband annually. He noticed that she ensured that she was never far from their home whenever this day came upon them and he loved her even more for it. He wished he could shake the feeling of sadness that seeped into him from the moment he awoke until he went to sleep again that night because Boromir himself would have no patience with his guilt. However, whenever such logical thoughts assailed him, Faramir would counter with the argument that if Boromir were here, everything would be different.
He would not be here playing at being Lord of Emyn Arnen, Prince of Ithilien and more precisely the Steward of Gondor.
Even now, the knowledge that he was Steward of Gondor bothered him more than he would care to admit. In truth, the title was obsolete since the king’s return. These days, it was merely obligatory; a thoughtful keepsake Aragorn had allowed Faramir in deference to those who had protected Gondor before his return. The power of the Ruling Stewards had ended when his father Denethor had passed into the next world, bringing an end to a tradition that began with the death of King Eärnur and the establishment of Mardil Voronwë as the first Steward.
He was never supposed to lay claim to that title. All of Gondor knew it, perhaps even those who now lived under his protection in Ithilien. To them, he was the wild card that was never expected to be played. Before the return of the king, Gondor’s expectations of the Stewards and himself for that matter had been very precise. He was the younger son that was doomed to come second always, in the eyes of his people and his father. Denethor had never made it a secret with whom his favor lay and despite Faramir’s bitter disappointment at never being able to measure up to his father’s expectations, deep inside him he knew that Denethor had good reason for his choice. Boromir had always been better than he.
Existing in his brother’s shadow, even now, was something that Faramir had become accustomed to from the earliest memories of his life. In truth, Faramir could not blame everyone for thinking so highly of his brother when he himself, would feel awe in Boromir’s presence. They were five years apart in age but by the time he grew old enough to understand his situation in life, his brother was already on his way to becoming a great warrior. In those early years at least, Faramir drew comfort from their mother but Finduilas had passed on when he was but six years old and by then Denethor had already chosen his favorite between the two boys.
And it was clearly not Faramir.
A lesser man might have taken advantage of this state of affairs but Boromir did not. As boys, they were close because their father as a great a ruler as he was, was not an affectionate man. In their childhood, it was their mother who provided the warm embraces and the soft words that only a mother could say to make all ills fade. But when she was gone, he was only six years old to Boromir’s eleven and they had loved their mother very much. Aware perhaps of how her husband could be, she had raised Boromir to always cherish his brother, to protect him, though she never said from his father. Still Boromir despite his warrior heart, had more compassion than most would think it possible and it was easy for him to reach that understanding without her speaking the words.
"Are you awake?" He heard Eowyn’s drowsy voice asking him as she rolled over in their bed, draping an arm around him as she snuggled closer.
"Yes," he said with a little smile, feeling her nuzzle against his neck as she drew nearer to him.
The room was cold as always, an unfortunate side effect of living in the mountains. Although there was usually a fireplace to warm its confines, the flame from last night’s burning had dwindled into nothingness, leaving behind cold ashes in its wake. Eventually a servant would arrive to re-ignite the fire but none would dare invade the sanctity of their lord’s bedchamber without first being asked. Thus in the meantime, the only warmth that either of them could feel was with each other. Faramir was not about to complain.
"Are you all right?" she asked gently, her voice little more then a murmur for she was not entirely awake yet.
"I will live," he remarked clutching her hand in his and holding it tight against his chest, "it is just one day."
"I know," she said softly, "I just want you to know that I am here for you if you need me."
A little smile stole across his face as his heart swelled in love for his wife, prompting him to roll over so that he could look at her. It never ceased to astound him that a creature such as she could ever be his. He stared at Eowyn, basking in the sight of her golden hair framing her lovely face in an unruly tangle, the heavy lidded look of sleep that made her looked alluring and the scent of her that lingered on the sheets.
"What are you looking at?" Eowyn asked when her lids fluttered open and she caught him staring at her.
"At you," he answered, his eyes dancing with affection. "I love you with all my heart, have I told you that of late?"
Eowyn’s face melted into a smile, "not since last night."
"That is far too long," he replied and leaned over to kiss her gently on the lips.
"You are a such a romantic," she laughed when he pulled away a moment later.
"Well one of us has to be," he teased. "Leave it to you and all we will ever do is talk of swords."
"Well one of us has to know about them," she winked playfully before her expression became sober again. "Are you certain you are alright? I know how difficult this day is for you."
"It is difficult but you being by my side helps a great deal," Faramir replied sincerely and was rewarded by another beautiful smile.
"Let us go for a ride today," she suggested, propping herself up on an elbow as she grew more awake. "The hills are lovely at this time of the year."
"Are you attempting to distract me?" He stared at her.
"It depends," Eowyn said coyly, not at all guilty that she had been caught out in her efforts to sooth her lord’s passage through this day.
"Upon whether it has succeeded," she smiled.
"It did," he laughed even though they both knew that no amusement or distraction could make him forget what day it was. "I think I should like to escape these walls today. Perhaps a ride will make this day go faster."
However, even as he said those words, he knew that he was lying. Nothing would make this day go fast, no matter how much he deluded himself into thinking otherwise. It reminded him too much of another day, long ago when he had wished another day would go past quickly and was disappointed that it had not.
It was his birthday.
He was nine years old. It should have been a day to celebrate but Faramir was not about to delude himself that the occasion was going to be anything but uncomfortable, bordering on downright unpleasant. For the last three years since his mother had died, he had been existing with the purpose of never falling under his father’s gaze for too long. In his youthful mind, being noticed by Denethor was not entirely a good thing. When his father did deign to cast his eyes in Faramir’s direction, it was often to point out how lacking he was in comparison to his brother. Unfortunately, hiding away with his books on this occasion was not even a remote possibility. Apparently, his father had remembered his birthday and summoned him to throne room.
It should have pleased him that Denethor had remembered the occasion but for some reason he could not explain, Faramir was filled with trepidation. He approached the dais, upon which the empty throne sat, waiting for Gondor’s king while his father, who was all but a king, sat on a simple black chair of stone at the foot of it. He would have been completely terrified if not for the fact that Boromir was present. His brother stood at Denethor’s side, a little smile of encouragement on his face because he knew how things were between the younger son and his father. Boromir was fourteen years old but already, he was tall enough to be considered older. His limbs were beginning to fill out and there was no doubt that when the time came, he would be a great warrior for his people.
Faramir felt his anxiety ease a little as he reached Denethor, certain he could endure what was coming at knowing his brother was nearby. Denethor’s eyes studied him like the hawk studies a nestling will never fly and Faramir could not help but flinch under his deep scrutiny. Bowing his head and offering Denethor all the civilities that was expected of son by his father and more importantly by the Ruling Steward, Faramir waited in growing uneasiness to be addressed.
"You are nine years old today," Denethor remarked with a smile but his eyes were hard as flint. "I would have celebrated the day but your brother tells me you would detest the fanfare."
"Yes Sir," he said quietly.
"It is unfortunate that you do not socialize more," Denethor added. "A prince who will not rule should at least be a favorite of his people. You will not be able to do that cloistered in your room with only books for company."
"I am sorry," Faramir stammered, uncertain of what to say.
His apology clearly irked Denethor but the Steward made no comment upon it. "I have decided that it is time you begin your instruction. Starting tomorrow, you will be instructed in the use of the sword and how to ride. Theoden has sent me one of his best horse masters to teach you."
The idea of riding was somewhat disconcerting to Faramir. Gondorians were not accustomed to horses as the people of Rohan. As far as he knew, horses were the purview of errand riders, not young lords who could barely reach a stirrup let alone attempt to mount a saddle.
"I do not wish to ride," Faramir spoke before he thought, fear loosening his tongue to speak his mind.
"It is nothing to be afraid of," Boromir interjected quickly before his father could say anything, hoping that Denethor would let the remark slide. "Your tutor knows his craft and he will show you that they are merely beasts to do our bidding, nothing more."
Unfortunately, that was not the end of it as Boromir hoped and Denethor’s voice soon responded sharply, "you are the son of the Steward and you will learn to ride. If you brother could manage it, I do not see why you cannot."
Faramir felt a knife slice through his heart at those words. He had heard them so many times before, that inevitable comparison, and thought himself inured to it by now but each time the words were spoken anew, the words cut just as deeply as the first time.
"I will do my best," he said meekly unable to look his father in the eye because Denethor would know that he was almost on the verge of tears and showing that much weakness to his father was a humiliation he could not bear. He was already feeling ashamed that he was so terribly weak and wondered why again, he could not be like his brother so his father would love him more.
All this Boromir saw on his brother’s face and if Faramir was in pain, then Boromir felt it equally so except his was laced with anger at his father’s coldness.
"That is all that can be expected of you," Denethor remarked. "You may go."
Boromir watched Faramir’s shoulder sag as he left the throne room. Against his side, Boromir’s hands were knotting into fists. He did not speak as he watched Faramir disappear out of the room and reacted only after he and Denethor were alone again.
"Why do you do that to him father?" Boromir asked quietly.
"Do what to him?" Denethor’s gaze met that of his first born.
"Make him feel as if he must live up to some ideal in order to gain your love?" Boromir stared hard at Denethor, anger had made him bold enough to speak his mind.
"I was aware of doing nothing of the kind," Denethor replied. "He is my son just as you are and he must learnt that there is a world beyond books. Gondor needs warriors, not scholars! Scholars will not defeat the Nameless One or the darkness of Mordor! That is the work of warriors. It is time he learnt that. You certainly did not have trouble doing so at his age."
"That is true, "Boromir left Denethor’s side so that he might face his father. "I did not because my mother was still alive and what fears I had, she banished with her words of kindness and her love. Where are those things for Faramir father? Where? They do not come from you, that is for certain and I am not here enough to provide what you will not! He is just a boy and he is alone because you make him feel that way! What way is there for him but to retreat into his books? And I am not entirely convinced that it is a bad thing for warriors are not all merely about skill but also about intelligence. A thousand swords against the dark lord will do little in the greater scheme of things, you told me that. Perhaps in the end, it will be up to the scholars to end the Nameless One’s dark reign."
"Perhaps you are right," Denethor replied, feeling some sliver of guilt in his dealings with his younger son. "He is like his mother and not at all like you. I do not know what is always the best way to treat him."
"With love father," Boromir remarked sharply, picking up the gleaming sword sheathed in its new scabbard resting next to Denethor’s seat, "that is all."
"Where are you going?" Denethor asked as Boromir stormed away from his presence, not even asking to be dismissed.
"To give him his birthday present," Boromir said coldly, "the one you forgot to give him."
It did not take him long to find Faramir once he had left his father. His brother was a creature of habit and the place he often found solace after one of these episodes with their father was usually in the library. The library of Gondor was hardly a pristine place of learning since it was much neglected during Denethor’s reign. The Steward had moved most of the important books into the treasury for his own private use and rarely visited the library any more . It did not surprise Boromir in the least that Faramir would hide within the walls of its dusty confines because it was almost as forgotten by Denethor as he was. Boromir stepped into the room and wondered how Faramir could endure the musty smell of old paper that greeted him upon his entry. He rubbed his nose instinctively and searched through the shelves of leather bound books and rolled parchment scrolls, seeking his brother.
He knew Faramir was inside the library because he could hear the tell tale sounds of his brothers quiet tears. Once again, his heart ached in his chest, cursing his favor at having the share of his father’s love that should have been for Faramir. It was precisely because Faramir reminded him so much of Finduilas that Boromir loved him so, though for his father, that quality was perceived as weakness not strength. Brushing the cobwebs aside, he followed the sounds of his brother’s tears while being lead through the winding rows of bookcases by the fresh air flowing in through an open window.
"Faramir," Boromir called out as he approached, aware that it would embarrass his brother if he were to see his tears.
"Go away!" A tearful but angry voice returned promptly.
"Do you not want your birthday present?" Boromir asked, pausing just beyond sight of his brother. Without seeing where he was, Boromir knew that Faramir was most likely perched on the windowsill, overlooking the beauty of Minas Tirith below him as he wept his tears.
"No!" Faramir returned petulantly. "I do not want anything ever again!"
Boromir rolled his eyes and supposed that comforting someone was not always meant to be easy and he had played this role with Faramir too many times in the past three years to expect it to unfold any other way. "You do not have to be ashamed brother," Boromir said gently. "When I first rode a horse, I was afraid."
"You were not!" Faramir countered immediately. "I remember when you first learnt and you were not afraid at all!"
Boromir muttered under his breath, supposing he should thought a little more before using that example to show empathy for his brother "I was afraid but I did not show it."
"You are never afraid," Faramir replied softly. "Father knows that. That is why he loves you and hates me."
There was so much pain in those few words that Boromir let out a strained breath, trying to control his own emotions. As much as he loved his father, he was furious with Denethor for being so one sided and no matter much he tried to fight for Faramir, it only succeeded in deepening Denethor’s favor because he appeared to be defender of the weak that the Steward needed him to be. He knew that Denethor did love Faramir but Denethor had a specific vision of how his son should be and at this point in time, Faramir did not meet that harsh standard.
"He does not hate you Faramir," Boromir stepped into the small alcove within which Faramir was taking refuge on the window. "He simply does not understand you."
Faramir had wiped away his tears but the redness of his cheeks and his eyes indicated that he had been crying. He did not meet his brother’s gaze, perhaps being somewhat ashamed for being caught weeping like a little babe. Boromir pulled up a chair and sat down, wishing more than anything that their mother was here for she always knew how to dry their tears and soothed whatever pains they felt.
"I wish I was like you," Faramir swallowed. "I wish I was a great warrior."
"A great warrior?" Boromir snorted in amusement at that description. "I am an no more a warrior than you. At the moment, I follow the real warriors of Gondor and learnt from them. That is my whole existence, if I cannot hunt it, fight it or kill it, it is not worth knowing. My entire life is to learn to wage war, sometimes I think I prefer your books to so bloody a future."
"But you are so good at being a warrior," Faramir exclaimed with no small measure of bewilderment. While his father may be someone he feared and avoided, Boromir was another thing entirely. He fairly worshipped his older brother who was kind and brave and appeared unafraid of standing up to anyone or anything, even Denethor in his defense. "One day you will be Steward of Gondor, perhaps even a king."
"Steward is all that destiny will allow I am afraid to say," Boromir replied. "But I must learn just as you will must learn how to be a warrior. Father thinks that all you care of is books, that is not entirely true now is it?"
"No," Faramir shook his head. He would like to ride to far away places and fight terrible evils that he read about in books. He did not want his world to simply in the pages of this musty collection, he wanted a world beyond this room but he was a little afraid as well. "I would like to be learn how to fight and be a warrior as you."
"Well then you had better accept your present," Boromir retorted, producing the sword that had not been given to his brother earlier.
"My present?" Faramir looked up in interest.
"Father had it made for you," Boromir explained as he handed the weapon towards Faramir who was not curious enough to emerge from his place to take it.
Unlike the normal broadswords wielded by warriors of Gondor, the blade presented to Faramir resembled more a dagger than an actual sword. Its size was in order to let its master bear it easily and it was crafted by dwarf smiths who ensured that it was light enough for Faramir to wield. It was the perfect weapon for a child to use in his first instruction to become a swordsman. Faramir took the sword and removed it from the scabbard, staring at it with such fascination that Boromir knew at that instant that Denethor was terribly mistaken that all Faramir would ever be was a scholar. Though he did not know how to wield it with any measure of skill, he held the weapon like he could master it in time.
"What do you think?" Boromir asked as he saw Faramir draw it gingerly out of its scabbard.
"Father had this made for me?" Faramir asked, unable to believe that Denethor would expend the energy to acquire him such a gift.
"Yes," Boromir nodded. "He was rather surprised when I told him that you were not as lost in your books as he believed. Once he thought he might have another son who has a warrior spirit, there was nothing to stop him from ordering your gift made by the dwarfs. I think that is also part of the reason he wants you learn to ride a horse now, I doubted it ever occurred to him that you might want to learn."
"I do want to learn," Faramir admitted, "I am just a little afraid."
"Well then perhaps this day is not so entirely bad is it?" He cracked a smile and felt his heart warm when Faramir returned it with one of his own.
"He still likes you better," Faramir pointed out.
"He knows me better," Boromir countered, "perhaps we should help him get to know you as well."
Faramir seemed reluctant and preferred to concentrate on his gift by testing its weight in his hand and slashing at the air like he was a real swordsman.
"Faramir, I know he is a hard man but he must be," Boromir added in a more serious tone. "The Steward must be hard to protect all of Gondor from Mordor. The demon residing beyond the mountains has made him this way but that does not mean he loves you not. He simply finds it difficult to show it because he does not know you like I do."
"Nobody know me like you do Boromir," Faramir lowered the sword in his hand, "nobody at all."
"Come here," Boromir took a step towards him and gave him a warm embrace. "You are my brother and I will always protect you but you must learn to stand on your own. Your path is your own to walk Faramir, do not let father sway you from it if that is what you truly desire."
"I will," Faramir replied and then brandished his sword with a playful gleam in his eyes, "starting right this minute!"
"Oh you want to fight?" Boromir chuckled and drew his own sword, more than prepared to engage his brother in a mock battle, "I’ll teach you to challenge me…!"
"Where are you?" He heard Eowyn’s voice in his ear and turned to his wife who was astride her horse next to him.
"Right here with you," he answered, throwing her a warm smile as they continued their ride through the resplendent beauty of Emyn Arnen. It was summer and the heat of the day, tickled their skin with its sunshine. They were surrounded by the hills that made up the mountain range with the cascade of Henneth Annûn flowing in the distance. Eowyn had suggested they ride to his former refuge and Faramir could not deny that it was lovely enough to warrant the effort. His wife was taking great pains to see him through this day and he was not going to disappoint her by being anything less than enthusiastic.
"You seemed very far away then," she remarked.
"I was," he confessed because she could always see through him so easily. "I was thinking of my brother."
"On this day, that is hardly surprising," she replied sympathetically as they made their way through a grass covered knoll towards the trail leading through the hills, "you loved him a great deal."
"I did," Faramir nodded. "With my father’s favor, he did not have to fight for me but he did and often. I wish he was still here, he deserves to be."
"He died doing what he did best, protecting the weak," Eowyn reminded. "What happened with the One Ring was not his fault."
"I know," Faramir nodded, knowing more about the One Ring then she did. He knew its power of seduction and how it would have tricked Boromir into thinking that acquiring it would be the way to save Gondor. Of all the terrible deeds that Sauron had been responsible, it was for that which Faramir hated him most, the corruption of his brother by that damned ring. "I wonder though how it would have been if he had lived. Would he have followed Aragorn as king if our father had opposed it?"
"I think he would have done what was best for Gondor," Eowyn answered without doubt.
For a second, Faramir did not speak, his face riddled with remorse she could not begin to understand. "It was hard knowing that he was dead, hearing that his need to protect me lead to his death. Until this day, I still believe I should have gone in his place. I understood Isildur’s Bane far better than he did. I know what it was capable of from the times that Gandalf began studying the old texts, trying to discern the history and lore of the One Ring."
"You cannot blame yourself," she touched him arm gently, her eyes filled with worry that he might do just that.
"I do not blame myself but I should have gone. Hearing of his death was a blow that I never dared imagine for fear it would come true. But there was hardly time to mourn him with the Battle of Pelennor and that wound struck upon me by the beast of Angmar."
Hearing Faramir speak of the Witch King made Eowyn shudder slightly, even though she was the one who had killed the terrible creature in the end. In better times, Faramir had often joked that he had married her out of gratitude for killing the enemy that had almost ended his life. Yet there was no humor in his voice as he spoke now, words dripping with bitterness as well as sadness.
"When I awoke, I had lost everything, not merely my brother, but also my father and what I thought was my future," Faramir recounted quietly what it had been like to awake in the House of Healing and discover that he had lost his entire family. "In the face of such loss, I cannot help but think that if I had gone, everything would have been different."
They could not be stopped.
They were coming.
The enemy had driven them back against the river, with their fortress burning in flames behind them. The eastern forces were dwindled to himself, Boromir, who struggling to move through the water besides him and two others who were fighting exhaustion to keep going. He cast a glimpse over his shoulder and saw the ruins of the Osiligath behind him. Boromir’s hand was locked around his arm, ensuring that they made the crossing together. Their clothes and weapons were a terrible weight to carry across the Anduin but they were too terrified to relinquish their only means of protection. The bridge they had defended so valiantly as the eastern forces were driven back now lay beneath the dark water of the river.
Even through the rush of water around their ears, they could hear the cries of victory from the forces of the Enemy; Easterling voices mingled with that of orcs and Uruk Hai as they howled their triumphant push through the eastern shores that would soon spill upon the western lands. Fighting exhaustion and fear, they forced all thoughts of what was behind them in order and fixed their minds on crossing the river to safe shores on the other side. Throughout this ordeal, Boromir’s hand had remained clenched around Faramir’s arm, frightened to let his brother go in case he disappeared like so many others who had done during the battle that had been fought here. Even though Faramir was a seasoned warrior by now and a Ranger of Ithilien, to Boromir he was always going to be his younger brother and the need to protect him was equally eternal.
After what seemed like hours instead of minutes, they finally felt the shale sand of the shore under their boots as they dragged themselves out of the freezing water. All four collapsed along the embankment of the Anduin, weary not merely from their crossing of the river but also from the battle that had preceded it. Gazing across the river, Boromir felt his stomach clench at the sight of the fires burning in midst of the ruined Osiligath. Their flames lit up the sky as if it were day and in that illumination, they could all see the bodies of their dead comrades lying on the ground, blooding the earth where they had fallen. Boromir did not think the Enemy would give them leave to reclaim their dead or send them into the next life like honored warriors should be when they had died in battle.
"We need to regroup," Faramir remarked once the breath had returned to him. "We need to strengthen our line of defense. Now that they have driven us off the Osiligath, they will be far bolder. They will try to cross the river."
"They will not try," Boromir said grimly, wiping a strand of wet hair from his eyes. "They will do it. There is nothing to stop them. Our own forces as defeated and what there is, will soon be withdrawn to defend Minas Tirith. Father will not expend them here when the heart of Gondor is under threat."
"We need allies," Faramir nodded, agreeing with Boromir’s assessment of the situation and yet he did not feel happy about abandoning these lands to the Enemy. "Father must asked Theoden for aid."
"I do not know whether they will help us," Boromir replied. "Rumor has it that Theoden no longer rules the court of Meduseld, his counselor does and he does not seem predisposed to angering the Enemy lest Rohan should suffer our fate."
"We have an alliance," Faramir stared at him in shock, unable to believe that the Rohirrim would ignore a call for help. "They must help us."
"Alliances are broken every day brother," Boromir answered sadly, "and I fear that unless something extraordinary happens in Meduseld, we will receive no aid from Theoden.’
They rested a little more at the shore before embarking wearily on the trek to rejoin what was left of their forces guarding the Western Shore. Their arrival in camp did nothing to improve the morale of the troops who knew what had taken place at the Osiligath. Their failure to defend the last bridge from the Enemy weighed heavily on their minds and when though he was exhausted, he found no sleep when he was finally shown a place to rest.
Faramir, on the other hand, had fallen asleep immediately and Boromir envied him his ability to do so. Faramir seemed to be able to handle the unfortunate turns of life much better than he. In that way, he was like their father though Faramir would never believe it and neither would Denethor for that matter. Like their father, Faramir worried little about things he could not change, choosing instead to move on to things that were within his control unlike Boromir whose natural stubbornness would not allow him to relent, even in the face of overwhelming odds. However, his brother also knew when it was necessary to hold his ground and on the eastern shore, Boromir had never seen him more determined or never been prouder to be fighting at his side.
Suddenly his attention was drawn away from his thoughts by the sound of Faramir releasing an uncomfortable groan in his sleep. Boromir sat up immediately in his bedroll and saw him brother twitching in his slumber. He wondered if Faramir was being visited by nightmares. After what they had endured, it was certainly possible and not unexpected. Whatever his brother was seeing in the dreamscape was clearly agitating him by the increasing anxiety he was displaying in his restless tossing and turning. Boromir was almost tempted to wake him when suddenly Faramir sat upright, his body covered in perspiration.
"Faramir, are you alright?" He asked with concern.
Faramir ran his finger through his still wet hair and took a deep breath as if to steady himself. He looked clearly unsettled and Boromir wondered what horrors had he seen in his dream.
"Yes," he answered after a few seconds when he was aware of Boromir’s gaze upon him. "I am fine. I was having a dream."
"More like a nightmare if you woke up with such abruptness," Boromir remarked, propping himself up on one elbow as he regarded his brother.
"It was strange," Faramir muttered softly, clearly troubled by what he had seen but appearing reluctant to speak of it. "I have never dreamed in that manner before."
"What do you mean?" Boromir questioned.
"With such urgency," he confessed. "It felt as if something important needed revelation but I cannot for the life of me understand what it was."
"Tell me," Boromir asked looking at him intently, similarly unsettled as Faramir now.
Faramir stared at his brother, understanding more of what he had seen in his dream state then he would care to admit. In the years since his youth, he remembered how Boromir felt about his father remaining a Steward even though he was by all rights a king. It irked him that no matter how Denethor or the sons of Denethor fought for the kingdom of Gondor, they would never be considered its rightful rulers. While Faramir had no desire to be king or a prince for that matter, the question plagued Boromir and what Faramir had seen in his dream stabbed the very heart of that wound.
As much as he loved his brother, Faramir also feared for Boromir because he knew what was coming even though he was uncertain of how it all would turn out exactly. Yet the dream had revealed enough for him to know that Boromir was in great danger and it had little to do with orcs or even Sauron and everything to do with Boromir himself.
Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.
For once in his life, he and his father were in agreement. Denethor did not wish Boromir to make the journey to find Imladris, the dwelling place of the elven lord Elrond who was considered the greatest lore master in Middle earth. The dream that he had hoped to keep to himself had returned not only to him on another night but also to Boromir. With Gondor on the brink of falling to the Nameless One’s forces, his brother was more eager to find help for his people in any way possible, even if it meant travelling across Middle earth to reach the fabled Imladris. When they had brought their dream to their father Denethor, who had for years kept all the ancient texts of Gondor within his treasury, instead of the library where they should be, it was Denethor who told them of Imladris or Rivendell as it was known to the Westernesse.
Faramir who knew more than anyone could have possibly imagined about Isildur’s Bane, had beseeched his father to let him go to Imladris, to answer the riddle that was plaguing both him and his brother. Denethor was more than happy to let this happen until Boromir demanded that he go instead and his insistence on going gave Faramir real concern. Denethor was not eager to let his son, the High Warden of the White Tower and the captain-general of his army to leave for so long a time, especially when Gondor was in the midst of war.
However, Boromir was determined no matter how much Faramir or Denethor attempted to convince him otherwise. While Denethor’s desire to keep his son close was for obvious reasons, Faramir was gripped with a good deal of concern for his brother. Faramir knew a good deal about the One Ring, how it used the desires of its wearer against themselves. Boromir’s determination to save Gondor and see their father finally become the king he should be was a fire burning inside him and was the kind of passion that could become dangerous if manipulated.
Despite Faramir’s earnest efforts to dissuade his brother from the course Boromir had chosen, to let Faramir go in his place, the captain of Gondor would hear none of it. He was intent on going and after awhile, even Denethor had relented and given his son permission to take his leave of Minas Tirith much to Faramir’s regret. Boromir claimed that the journey to Imladris was long and treacherous, that he would not place his younger brother in such peril but Faramir knew better. Boromir’s mind was beginning to churn with the same fever that had forced Isildur to keep the ring for himself instead of destroying it as he should have when it was cut from Sauron’s finger.
Faramir had remembered praying that Elrond of Imladris was as wise enough to ensure that Boromir would never came within arm’s reach of that damned ring.
"Are you certain that you wish to do this?" Faramir asked Boromir one final time as he prepared to mount his horse in order to begin the long journey to Imlardis.
"My answer has not changed since the last time you asked," Boromir retorted, casting a look at his brother as he readied his horse and saddle for the ride ahead. "Yes, I am certain I wish to go. The way is perilous between us and the valley of the elves, I would spare you that danger."
Faramir bit his tongue, aware that as much as Boromir may attempt to convince himself that his decision to embark upon this journey was for his brother's protection, there was a darker reason for this insistence on going himself. However, Faramir would not be unkind enough to say so, not when the journey to Imladris would ensure that they did not see each other for quite some time. Faramir did not want their parting to be laced with bitterness even though there was a heavy feeling in his heart that he could not dispel, a feeling that held the portents of tragedy.
"I am old enough to fend for myself you know," Faramir remarked instead. "Being a Ranger has made it a necessary requirement. I am not a child that I need your protection."
"I know," Boromir softened a little in his manner. "But you are my brother and the only person save my father whom I care about in this world. I would not risk you for anything."
"It is for you that I fear," Faramir replied, touched by the sentiment but undeceived at that being the only reason for Boromir's decision to go instead of him. "You go too often where others fear to tread and you have more bravery then you have sense. I fear that you may be tricked into believing that you can handle any situation when it is you that is being handled."
Boromir stared at him oddly, not understanding the full weight of his words. There would be a time in the future when Faramir would wonder if he had, would the course of events that led to his death taken a different turn.
"You say the oddest things at times brother," Boromir shook his head turning away.
Faramir let out a deep sigh, realising that he could not sway his brother’s mind on the course he had chosen to embark. There was nothing left to say even though a warning about Isildur’s Bane lingered on the tip of his tongue, wanting badly to be heard while there was still time. However, Faramir knew to utter anything about the One Ring would do more harm than good because speaking it out loud would give it power in Boromir’s mind for the span of the journey to Imladris. Isildur’s Bane was now a mere shadow of hope for Boromir, something for which he grasped at wildly in his efforts to save Gondor and their people. It was not real to him and Faramir hope he would never come within sight of it for that to change.
"Boromir!" Faramir called out suddenly when his brother faced his horse again.
Boromir turned around to the receiving end of a fierce embrace. For a moment, he was filled with surprise as he felt Faramir hugging him tight, in a manner he had not done since he was a small boy, weeping tears caused by Denethor, dried by his older brother’s love and kind words. The gesture filled the captain of Gondor with deep sentiment and there was something in this that made his heart ache; though he knew not why.
"I love you brother," Faramir said softly, his eyes full of sadness so much like their mother’s Boromir thought. "You have played a great part in my life to such extent that I do not think you will every truly know but before you ride Imladris, I will have you know that you have been brother, friend, teacher and my comrade. I will feel the emptiness where you should be until we meet again."
"What frightens you so young one?" Boromir asked as he saw the intense emotions playing across his brother’s face.
Faramir almost told him but he could not say it out loud, fearing that to speak it might make it come true and that was something he could not even begin to imagine, "I will miss you that is all. These are troubled times, it is good to say what is in one’s heart while there is leave to do so."
‘Do not be so grim," Boromir remarked with a wry smile, ruffling Faramir’s hair as if he were a small boy again. "I will go to Imladris and I will find the answer to this riddle. If the gods are kind, we will also find some way to help our people and I will come to home to you and father. We will see each other again Faramir," he said seriously as if he was making an oath and in truth he was. "I promise you that."
Faramir nodded slowly, wanting more than anything else in the world to believe him. "Good journey Boromir," Faramir said finally as Boromir drew away from him and started to climb into his saddle.
"You take care of our father and yourself while I am gone, you are all each other has," Boromir instructed, always playing the part of intermediary between the two. He settled into his saddle, his hands holding the reins of his steed in preparation to depart.
Faramir looked at his brother, the image of the proud warrior astride his horse, appearing ready to ride into the world and fight whatever darkness waited him in it. Whether or not Faramir knew it then but in years to come, it would be this image that his mind would remember when he thought of his brother. A smile crossed his face as he waved Boromir farewell.
"Remember," Boromir grinned as he dug his heels into the flanks of the horse and prompted it into moving, "we will see each other again!"
And as he rode away, Faramir knew that he would not, that he and Boromir would never lay eyes upon each other again.
"He did keep his promise," Faramir declared as he rested with his head on Eowyn’s lap, his body stretched languidly across the blanket she had brought along with their picnic lunch.
"How so?" Eowyn asked as her hand stroked the strands of his gold hair.
They were resting under a tree not far from the cascade of Henneth Annûn where they had dined with the lunch prepared by the cook at their court, enjoying the heat of the day before Faramir began speaking about Boromir again. Eowyn had listened gently, having been accustomed to his need to speak of his brother during this day in the years since becoming his wife. She did not mind for she too sometimes grew melancholy when she thought of Theoden and she knew something of Boromir herself, enough to know that he was a good man, mourned not only by his brother but by her as well.
"Til this day I do not know if it was a vision I saw or had I merely fallen asleep on the banks of the Anduin and dreamt it all during the brief time we had held back the Enemy from Osiligath. Perhaps it is not for me to know for certain what it was. I only know that I saw a boat, a grey boat with a high prow on the waters of the Anduin. I went to it, wading through the water to but it remained beyond my reach. I saw him in that boat, appearing as if he was asleep, peaceful I suppose. I knew then he was dead, that through the grace of forces of I do not understand, I was allowed to say goodbye after a fashion. Perhaps his valor had allowed him to keep his promise to me, I do not know but I knew when the boat sailed away from me that I lost him, I had lost my brother."
Faramir blinked and a warm tear rolled down his cheek and his breath caught his throat. He closed his eyes to regain his composure and felt Eowyn’s finger brushing that stray drop of water from his face.
"He is gone from you but I doubt that you ever lost him Faramir," she said gently. "One so strong and brave and determined to protect you would not be kept from that charge even in death. You may not see him but I know he is here and he watches over you, as only he can. He lives on in your heart, my love, do you not see that? You carry him wherever you go and keep him alive in your thoughts."
"I miss him so much," Faramir whispered, his voice breaking a little. "I wish he could have seen how much the world has changed, how great Gondor has become."
"I’m sure he can," Eowyn smiled, "I’m sure he can."
"I don’t like the look of him," he looked up at his father after catching his first glimpse at the small pink thing in its cradle. Was this the reason his mother’s belly had swollen so and had made Finduilas scream with pain? The child resolved himself not to like this sudden intruder into his life.
"He’s small and ugly," he added firmly.
Denethor cracked a smile and gazed down at his fivc year old son with some amusement at the stare he was giving the infant with such trepidation, "I am certain you will become accustomed to him Boromir."
"I don’t want to," Boromir insisted. "I don’t even like him."
The infant stared at his brother with a frown on his bow shaped lips and Boromir wondered how he could be expected to like something wearing a face like that.
"He won’t always be this small Boromir," Denethor remarked. "Faramir will grow and you will be his older brother. It will be your job to protect him and teach him the ways of the world."
Boromir stared at his father with a raised brow, "all right then," the child conceded that much but refused to admit defeat and added promptly, "but I still won’t like him."
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.