21. Hard Day
It had not been a good day, for any of us, and it seemed to be getting worse.
I had gotten very little sleep the night before. Faramir was cutting his first tooth, and nothing soothed him for long. He was uncharacteristically cranky; I was on edge and less than tolerant.
Though I knew Faramir had kept his brother awake as well, Boromir was more energetic than usual, though perhaps he only seemed more energetic duty to my own fatigue. He ran from one toy to the next, hardly taking a moment to play with one before losing interest and moving on. Soldiers, horses, blocks, and balls lay strewn about the nursery like so many fallen foes.
Additionally, Boromir was in one of his belligerent tempers, which were tiring enough when I'd had a good night's rest. He argued with me about everything -- picking up his toys; what he wanted to wear; what he wanted to eat; whether his father was older than his uncle; whether Faramir could talk yet; whether Faramir was a boy or a girl; whether orcs were edible (where he'd gotten that notion, I will never know), and on and on until I was ready to shake him.
After the mid-day meal, I readied Faramir for a nap. He had calmed, though I'd no idea why, and seemed content to gnaw on his tiny fist as I rocked him in my arms. I hoped his good humour would last, although I had my doubts.
Loud banging from the other room told me that Boromir had again begun assaulting something with one of his wooden swords. This was another argument we had had today - whether or not he should be allowed to hit the chairs with his swords. Normally, I allowed this method of play --they were old chairs, already battered, and it could do no harm. Boromir, however, had been furious that I asked him to forgo killing everything in the room for just one day. But my head was throbbing dully, and I was in no mood for such noise.
"Boromir, please stop beating that chair with your sword!" I called to him. Not only was it worsening my headache, I did not want the racket to keep Faramir from sleeping. He looked so tired.
There was silence for a moment, then the banging resumed. I clenched my jaw, and Faramir began to whimper softly. "Ssshhh, little one," I whispered, rubbing his back soothingly. "It's all right. It's just your obstinate brother, slaughtering some furniture."
Though the banging did not abate, Faramir quieted, and gave a yawn that was almost bigger than his own head. I laid him in the crib, and cautiously backed away. His eyes followed me, but he did not protest.
I stalked into the playroom. "Boromir!" I said sharply, and he jumped back from the table he was attacking. "I believe I have asked you to stop that twice today already. You are making a great deal of noise, and I would like Faramir to be able to sleep." Boromir frowned darkly, and grumbled something under his breath. I chose to ignore it. "Now, I am going to finish clearing away these dishes, after which it will be time for your nap as well. And if you do not stop clattering that sword, I am going to throw it over the balcony, do you understand?"
Boromir regarded me thoughtfully. "Yes, I understand," he nodded, tone rather too docile.
"Thank you," I said, as politely as I could. But I knew what the little imp was thinking from the defiant gleam in his eye.
Sure enough, as I began piling the tray with dishes, the banging began again, louder than ever. I took a deep breath, trying to control my exasperation, and turned toward Boromir. I do not know what expression I had on my face, but it must have been fearsome, for Boromir immediately dropped the sword and stepped back from it. "I'll stop," he promised, holding up his hands, "I'll stop, I won't do it any more, I mean it….."
I ignored his words as I picked up the toy and strode toward the doors that led to the balcony.
"No, no --" Boromir protested as he ran after me, pulling at my skirts, "No, I'll stop -- no, that's my favourite!" He howled in dismay as I stepped out onto the balcony and -- after looking to make sure no one stood below-- dropped the toy over the edge. He stood on his toes, trying to see over the railing, but he was still too small. "Oh, get it back, get it back!"
"You shall not get it back," I said shortly, "and if you are going to throw a tantrum about it, then you will not be allowed to play with any of your other swords, either. I told you what would happen if you kept hitting things, Boromir, did I not?"
"Y…yes," he admitted sullenly. He looked tired as well, which was no doubt causing part of his petulance. "But it's mine - it's not fair..."
"It is fair," I contradicted him, "I warned you what would happen, and you did it anyway, just to see if I would do it. What is not fair is that your pounding is keeping your brother awake when he does not feel well!" Boromir's scowl deepened. "It is time for you to rest." He started to protest, and what little patience I had left deserted me. "If you are going to further argue with me, I promise that you are not going to like the results, Boromir son of Denethor son of Ecthelion. Go. Now."
He knew better than to argue; I never called him that unless I was truly at my wit's end. After staring at me for a long moment, he silently turned and walked toward his room, shoulders sagging dramatically.
I was so relieved to have some time to myself that I lingered in cleaning up the meal. I heard Faramir begin to wail, but before I could set down what I had in my hands, he subsided. When he did not cry out again, I turned back to the task at hand. But I could only draw it out so long. Eventually, I finished, and was obliged to go see if Boromir had obeyed. I hoped he had; I did not want to keep quarrelling with a not-quite-six-year old, and he was normally so amicable that it annoyed me more than it should have when he got in these moods.
He was not in his room. Muttering to myself, I started to look in all the normal hiding places -- but then a low murmuring voice from Faramir's room caught my ear. Curious, I went across the hall, peeked in, and found Boromir.
He had dragged a chair from somewhere in the room, and had then proceeded to use it so that he could crawl into the crib with Faramir. They were lying on their backs, side-by-side, and Boromir had a picture-book propped against his bent knees. "That is an oliphaunt," he whispered to Faramir, pointing at the picture. "Say oliphaunt."
Predictably, Faramir had no interest in the book; his head was turned toward Boromir, and I could imagine those oddly solemn eyes studying his older brother.
"You're right, that is a hard word," Boromir agreed, turning the page. "Umm..there. That is a dragon. They fly and spit fire and sometimes they eat up babies. But not you. Father would not let them. Say dragon, Faramir."
Faramir gave a happy gurgle, waving his legs and arms. Boromir sighed. "That didn't sound like dragon," he said, "I think Nanny is right - you can't talk yet. But I'll still show you the pictures. Now this -- this is a troll. See its ugly head?"
I stood outside the door, and listened while Boromir explained the pictures in his own unique way, and Faramir made his cheerful baby noises in reply. I had no intention of disturbing them, but I must have made some sound, for Boromir glanced toward me, and started to sit up, alarmed.
"No, it is all right," I assured him, coming over to lean on the rail of the crib. "But whatever brought you in here?"
"He was crying," Boromir told me as he lay back down, "and he stopped when I came in. He looked lonely." Faramir made a grab for the book, and Boromir held it out of reach. "No, Faramir, you aren't big enough yet." He turned his attention back to me. "May I… may I sleep in here?"
"Of course you may," I said, pleased at the request. "Though you may be a bit crowded. Would you like me to cover you?"
Boromir nodded, and I spread a blanket over the two of them, although Boromir promptly re-arranged it so he could still see the book. "May I sit and listen?" I asked him, and one of his bright smiles lit up his face.
"Oh, yes," he said, "but you can't interrupt."
I smothered a laugh. "I will not interrupt."
Faramir had been watching the two of us with that somber intensity that only very small children seem to be able to manage, and now he gave a fitful, restless murmur that could have easily turned into a squall. "It is all right, Faramir," Boromir said seriously, turning his head to look at the baby, "I will finish reading. But you have to be patient sometimes."
And wonder of wonders, Faramir fell silent, as if he understood Boromir's words.
I went to fetch the daily mending, intending to get a bit done while all was peaceful. But as soon as I'd seated myself in the rocking chair next to the crib, I was lulled to inaction by Boromir's quiet voice. Very soon they both drifted off, and the room was absolutely silent. I attempted to start sewing, but I found myself dozing, and, after such a difficult morning, I was too tired to fight to keep my eyes open. The last thing I recall before falling asleep was a feeling of deep relief that, after six months of ignoring him or complaining about him, Boromir was finally showing an interest in his brother.
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.