8. The White Bird
As the ten-year-old boy turned over in his bed, he did the first thing he always did when this happened: he looked over to his little brother's bed across the room, to make sure he was all right. After a moment, he sighed.
The bed was empty.
Sitting up, he brushed his long, straight blonde hair from his eyes and quickly scanned the large bedchamber. Faramir wasn't by the bookcase, the first place Boromir always checked for him when the boy wasn't in his bed. He wasn't in the corner where Boromir's wooden weapons lay untidily strewn about. Then his gaze flicked over to the tall windows, where the moonbeams were streaming into the chamber. A tiny form knelt before the windowsill staring into the starlit night sky.
Something twinged in Boromir's stomach and he slid carefully out of his bed, frowning. The five-year-old hadn't been sleeping well since their mother's death, some six months before, and while he'd been getting better lately, it looked like tonight was not going well.
Quietly Boromir strode across the cold stone floor, trying to be as noiseless as possible. Father would be angry at Faramir for getting Boromir out of bed, if they were discovered.
The younger boy didn't move, his head resting on his crossed arms, the moonlight crowning his thick head of reddish-blonde curls with a halo of silver. At the last moment, the small head turned slightly, and Boromir knew he'd been noticed.
"Are you ill?" Boromir whispered, trying not to wake their nurses next door.
The little head shook slowly, once.
Boromir pursed his lips, throwing a nervous glance at the nurses' door. "You should get back in bed," he said softly, stepping forward and putting a hand gently on his brother's tiny shoulder. "Father won't like it if he finds out you've been up."
He heard a faint sniffle, and Faramir turned to him, his large blue eyes shining in the moon's glow. "I was thinkin' 'bout Mother," the child replied sadly, in a whisper that was just a little too loud.
"Shh!" Boromir said, kneeling beside him quickly and putting a finger to his lips. After a glance at the door, he put his arm around Faramir and leaned in close, his expression turning serious. "Another bad dream?"
"No," sighed Faramir, much softer this time, as he looked back out the window. "I wish she was coming back."
"So do I," Boromir agreed sadly, tightening his hold on his little brother. He never knew what to say at times like this, and hoped that the hug was enough.
Faramir sniffed again. "Do you think she misses us, like we miss her?"
The older boy nodded. "Mmm-hmm," he said, following Faramir's gaze into the starry heavens. "But it's said the dead can see us from where they are, so she can see us when she wants to. Remember, that's what Gandalf told us."
"I know," murmured the little boy, brushing some long, straying curls from his eyes. "But how can we tell if she's watching?"
His brother frowned for a moment, thinking. Suddenly he pointed out the window and whispered sharply, "Look!"
On a wall not far away sat a small white bird, bathed in moonlight and watching the two young boys intently. At being seen, it chirped a little and ruffled its feathers.
"Remember that old story Nurse Aryn told us, about the white bird?" Boromir murmured quickly. "When spirits reach their new home, they send a white bird back to their loved ones to let them know they're safe. So if you see a white bird watching you, that means someone who's passed on is thinking of you, and wants you to know they're all right."
Faramir gazed at the bird, his eyes completely round. The little bird hopped a few inches closer to the window, blinked, then chirped and flew away, soaring over the rooftops of Minas Tirith into the stars.
Faramir gasped, staring after the bird. "Do you think Mother sent that bird?" he finally whispered, his voice full of awe.
Privately, Boromir didn't really believe in such superstitions, but he would not have told Faramir this for any amount of gold. "Of course," he replied, giving the little boy a squeeze. "See, she knew you'd be worried, and wants you to know she still loves us and misses us."
Faramir slowly gasped, still staring into the sky. "I hope he 'members to tell her we miss her, too."
Boromir climbed to his feet. "I'm sure he will," he said, "but if you don't go back to bed, he might come back and see you're still awake, and tattletale to Mother on you. She'd want you asleep by now, I'm sure."
He helped the little boy up as Faramir yawned and rubbed his eyes, and guided his brother back to his bed as silently as possible.
"I'm glad Mother sent that bird," Faramir whispered as he slid back into bed. "I hope she sends one to Father, too. He's so sad."
"I'm sure she will," Boromir replied, tucking Faramir in and feeling bad that Faramir had noticed how sorrowful their father had been lately. The boy didn't need to be troubled by that, too. He gave the boy a very quick good-night kiss on the forehead.
Faramir's eyes were closed as Boromir stood, and after waiting a moment to make sure his brother was all right, the older boy padded quickly back to his own bed and climbed in, relieved. Maybe the old belief was true, and maybe it wasn't; either way, it helped his brother, and that was all that mattered.
He settled back in, and both boys were soon sound asleep. Neither of them saw the white bird return and perch on the windowsill to watch them, or saw it fly away to the West at the break of dawn.
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.