"Faramir, stop taking my horses!" Boromir protested. "You have your own!"
I looked over to where they stood playing with soldiers at one of the low tables, and saw Faramir watching me. When I caught his eye, he made a grumbling noise, almost slammed the horse in question on the tabletop, and pushed it towards Boromir.
I did not make them share all their toys; I thought that each should have a few that belonged to him alone. If they wanted to share those special toys voluntarily, they could, but I would not force them to. Everything else, however, was a "sharing toy", like the wooden army they were playing with now.
Usually this arrangement worked well, but today Faramir seemed determined to test both my patience and Boromir's, for he kept trying to hoard all the toys, and got very cross when one of us reminded him that he needed to share.
I went back to the mending, wondering what had gotten into him; Faramir was the most even-tempered child I'd ever met, even when he was ill. I wondered if he was entering some sort of disobedient period; I had not been expecting that so soon-- he was barely past two years old.
"No, those are mine too!" I heard Boromir say, clearly frustrated. "These are mine, and those are yours. We're sharing, you can't –" he broke off with a screech, and I looked up just in time to see him shove Faramir, hard, right in the chest.
"Boromir!" I leapt up and ran across the room. Boromir was wailing and holding onto his own hand; Faramir was sprawled on the ground, glaring at both of us, showing no signs of being injured. "What in the name of –"
"He bit me!" Boromir bellowed in disbelief. "That stupid little orc baby bit me!"
"He what?!" Startled, I glanced at Faramir, who was getting to his feet. "Let me see, duckling."
Boromir held his hand out, now crying, and with good reason. Faramir had bitten his brother's thumb nearly to the bone. I stared at Faramir in astonishment, but he had returned to playing with the soldiers, as if nothing had happened.
I turned my attention back to Boromir, put an arm around him and held him close. "Come, duckling," I said, gently patting his back, "I know it hurts –" he leaned against me as he sobbed, " –but will you let me take care of it? It does need to be washed and bandaged."
He looked skeptical and a little frightened. I coaxed, "It will only take a moment, Boromir. It will be all right – I will be very careful, I promise."
He gulped, and nodded, though reluctantly. Relieved that he was not going to put up a fight, I fetched the witch hazel I kept for tending their scrapes and bruises, then took Boromir into my lap, hoping this would calm him. I examined the bite more closely, still unable to believe that my peaceful little Faramir had done such a thing. It was bleeding quite freely, which was good, but the mark was very ugly and I thought it would definitely leave a scar.
Sighing to myself, I set about cleansing the wound, being overly cautious – I did not want to hurt him further. He tried to remain perfectly still while I worked, but his arm trembled under my hand and tears continued to trickle down his face.
Finally I was done, and I wrapped his hand with a bit of cloth, hugging him comfortingly. "That was not so terrible, was it?" I asked, smiling at him. "But I am afraid it may need to be stitched, little one."
Unexpectedly, Boromir slid off my lap and whirled on his brother, furious. "You stupid orc baby!" he scolded. "You don't bite! Biting is bad!"
With no warning, Faramir threw the toy in his hand at Boromir, and ran at his brother so quickly that I almost did not catch him in time. I managed to pluck him off his feet before he could inflict any more damage, though he kicked and shoved at me with small fists.
Stunned, I decided it was best to remove Faramir from the situation, so I carried him into his room, deposited him in the crib, and had to pull my hand away quickly when he made as if he were going to sink his sharp little teeth into me next. "Faramir!" I exclaimed, shocked. "No! You do not bite! No biting, do you understand me?" I was started to get exasperated with him, which was not precisely fair– he was still just a baby - but my tone of voice did make him look a bit startled, which was certainly an improvement over the lack of remorse.
"Now I am going to help the healer see to Boromir, and so help me, if you try to get out of this bed…." I tried to think of something suitable, "..then I will take Hanu away and give him to Boromir. Do you understand?"
Sometimes it was difficult to tell what he did and did not understand, since he had yet to speak, but usually he managed to make himself clear enough. And right now he had snatched up his precious rabbit and was scowling darkly, which relieved me. He had crawled out of this bed more than once, and I did not want to have to deal with his peculiar temper right now. "Very well," I said, hoping that he would calm down after some time alone. "I will be back when we are done."
Faramir ignored me, threw himself to the mattress, and curled up in a tight little ball, muttering to Hanu.
Completely bewildered, I left him to it, and went to ask one of the guards to send for a healer. He looked curious, but nodded.
Boromir was sitting in the chair I had vacated, and was peeking under the makeshift bandage. "Do not poke at it, " I told him. "Now come sit with me, and tell me what happened, Boromir."
"He wasn't sharing!" Boromir said as he climbed into my lap. "I was just showing him which toys were mine and he bit me!" He was near tears again, as confused as I was and outraged as well. "I didn't do anything, Nanny, he just bit me like a dreadful little monster!" he insisted, echoing words I had said to him more than once about how not to behave.
I believed him when he said that he'd not done anything. Boromir would usually confess to misbehaviour when asked directly, and he was not good at hiding things, either. I sighed to myself; I hoped Faramir was not going to turn into a biter – the climbing was bad enough.
The healer arrived, and after a quick examination, agreed that the wound would need several stitches. "Certainly don't want his sword hand to get infected," she said, and I wanted to slap her. Of course he had been taking swordsmanship lessons, but he was only seven years old, and I did not like thinking of him as a soldier.
He sat in my lap, and I held his hand motionless on the tabletop and whispered to him soothingly as she worked. He whimpered quietly and his whole body was tense, but did not scream or try to pull away. I was glad that it went quickly – I did not like to see him in even this small amount of pain.
She wrapped his hand in a clean bandage, bade me to keep the wound clean with the witch hazel infusion (as if I did not know that already), and gave me a small jar of ointment to help it heal.
As the healer was leaving, the kitchen girl arrived with the lunch tray, and I repressed a groan, knowing that she would spread news of the healer's visit all over the Citadel. "Wait a moment, if you will," I said to her.
I hastily wrote a note to Lady Finduilas, telling her what had happened, and assuring her that Boromir was fine. I would have liked to have been a bit more formal, but I could not risk the lady and lord hearing of this from servants' gossip. I gave the note to the kitchen maid, and bade her deliver it to Lady Finduilas.
I set Boromir at the table, and went to fetch Faramir. He had fallen asleep, and I touched his forehead with the back of my hand, wondering if perhaps he were falling ill, but he had no fever. Maybe he was simply cranky, and that was the cause of his unusual behaviour? I let him sleep, hoping this was in fact the case.
By the time Faramir awoke, Boromir was gone again to his lessons; I had sent a note to his tutor as well, explaining that he might not be in a particularly attentive mood.
Faramir ate his lunch, then I put him on the floor to play. I studied him, looking for signs of foul temper, but he seemed happy enough. "Why on earth did you bite Boromir?" I wondered aloud.
He glanced up at me, frowning and clutching his blocks to his chest. "Bo'mir," he stated flatly, and began sweeping every toy near him into his lap.
Was it just that he did not want to share? Or perhaps that he preferred to play by himself? Well, I could certainly arrange that.
And I did – that evening, when the boys were playing, I kept them strictly separated, after explaining why to Boromir. He was more than willing to agree, since his thumb was aching, and his mood uncertain. He kept shooting suspicious glances across the room at his little brother, who did not appear to notice or care.
Lady Finduilas and Lord Denethor both appeared later, making me very nervous indeed. Fortunately, Boromir was already asleep, and could not put on a big show, as he was wont to do when showing his parents even the most minor of scratches.
"And what precisely are you planning to do about this?" Lord Denethor demanded. "It is not acceptable that any child should behave so!" Much less one of mine, I could all but hear him say.
"We are of course concerned," Lady Finduilas said, and I was grateful for her calm voice, for Lord Denethor too frequently put me on the defensive. "We understand that he is too small to reason with as one would an adult, but there must be something that can be done."
I had to hold back a laugh. I had never found one solution that worked with all children, when it came to biting; I told them so, and tried not to flinch when Lord Denethor looked very displeased with this answer. "Faramir will have to play by himself for a while," I went on, "and Boromir is angry with him. It is very possible that this will be enough to make Faramir understand that his behaviour is not allowed – he does not like to be kept apart from his brother." Usually, I amended to myself. Hopefully.
"That is the whole of your solution?" Lord Denethor was frankly skeptical. "Merely to keep them apart?"
"I am sorry, my lord," I said, trying not to clench my jaw, "I do not know what you would have me do. Faramir is still a baby; there are a limited number of ways to impress proper behaviour upon him."
"Shall we consider this a starting point?" Lady Finduilas interjected smoothly. I had a hunch that she knew perfectly well how Lord Denethor ruffled my feathers. "You shall keep them separated, and if that does not achieve the desired result, then we will visit the topic again?"
"Yes, my lady," I replied demurely, a little too demurely, if the way Lord Denethor raised his eyebrows was any indication. But he agreed with my lady, and they departed, first requesting that Boromir visit them after breakfast the next morning so that they could see the wound for themselves.
Initially the boys were content to stay on opposite sides of the room. Boromir had his stitches to remind him of the indignity of being bitten, and Faramir continued not to care.
After two days, however, Faramir became fretful. He would stand up and peer across the room at his brother wistfully, then go back to playing with his toys half-heartedly. Once he approached me and tugged at my skirt. "Bo'mir?" he asked hopefully.
"I am sorry," I told him gently. "Boys who bite have to play alone, Faramir. And boys who do not share have to play alone."
He heaved a sigh, and wandered off to build a tower with his blocks. A few moments later, Boromir came over to me. "I'm bored by myself, Nanny," he whispered. "When can I play with Faramir again?"
"Not yet, duckling," I told him. "Perhaps tomorrow, or the day after that."
He, too, heaved a sigh, but miraculously, did not argue.
They continued to occupy themselves with their own little games, but every now and then, I would see one cast the other a curious glance. Once Boromir waved at Faramir, who gravely returned the gesture. Shortly after that, Faramir came back over to me, laid his head on my knees, and remained like that for some time. I said nothing, just combed my fingers through his hair while he watched Boromir play.
The next morning, after breakfast had been cleared away, I instructed both of them to "their" sides of the room as I had for the past three days, and Faramir burst into tears. "Bo'mir," he wailed, reaching toward his brother.
I knelt down to face him, and asked sternly, "Are you going to bite any more?" He shook his head emphatically. "Are you going to share the toys without fighting?" A nod, just as emphatic. "Faramir, if you bite him again, Boromir is going to bite you back."
"I am?" Boromir was startled.
"Yes," I said firmly, "You are. But only if he bites you first, understand?" I turned back to Faramir. "No biting, do you understand me?"
He nodded solemnly, and so I said, "All right, you may play together today."
Faramir ran over to his brother; they hugged fiercely, as if they had not seen each other in months, then turned to the business of building a castle with blocks. Boromir chattered amiably, but Faramir was quieter than normal.
About halfway through the morning, I saw Faramir reach out and touch Boromir's bandaged hand. "That's where you bit me," Boromir said matter-of-factly. "Only orcs and dogs bite, Faramir. Biting is mean. You're not supposed to be mean."
Faramir rubbed his eyes as if he were about to start crying again. "Bo'mir," he said softly, and Boromir sighed.
"I know you're sorry," he said, "but don't you do it again!"
Faramir shook his head, and handed the block in his hand to his brother.
I never did figure out exactly what had set Faramir off that day, and though they had various epic battles after that, he never did resort to biting again.
And several days later, when he watched the healer remove the stitches, Faramir gripped my hands tightly, eyes wide and face pale.
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.