28. By Any Other Name
The sunlight was perfect, neither too warm nor too weak; the breeze was light, and from the west for once. Faramir was overjoyed to be able to run and shout as he pleased, although of course his "shouting" consisted mostly shrieks of happiness and funny little noises, as he still had not spoken more than his brother's name.
He ran ahead of me, stopping to inspect flowers and bushes; chased a squirrel down the path and partway up a huge old oak before I got nervous and made him climb down; dug in the tilled dirt of an unplanted flowerbed -- he even managed to catch a grasshopper and brought it to me for inspection, beaming proudly. He also stuffed several sticks, leaves, fallen petals, and rocks into my pockets for safe-keeping. I exclaimed properly over all the little treasures he found, and allowed him to lead me where ever he wanted to go.
"Shall we have lunch?" I asked him, smiling at his dirty face. "We can sit by the pond and watch the fish while we eat, if you like."
He gave a pleased chirp, nodding his head as he tugged at my hand. Laughing, I followed him – he knew the way as well as I. When he was smaller, he had nearly fallen in trying to catch one of the fat orange fish which swam there, and even now, it was almost impossible to keep his hands out of the water.
"You may splash to your heart's content in a bit, little one," I said as I spread a blanket on the grass, "but first you must eat."
He gave the pond a longing glance, but obediently came to sit by me as I opened the luncheon basket. Mag had provided us with bread and cheese, cold chicken and potatoes, boiled eggs, lovely olives and carrots, two plums, and the small cheese pastries that Faramir adored, as well as a flask of lemon water. I wondered if perhaps she'd thought Boromir was going to be with us; it seemed a great deal of food for just Faramir and me.
But I had forgotten that Faramir had not eaten much breakfast; now he ate everything I offered him and still wanted more. "You should have told me that you were hungry," I teased, brushing crumbs from his cheek. "I cannot remember the last time I saw you eat so much!"
He merely grinned at me, then his eyes went wide. "Oooooo!" he breathed, pointing.
I turned to see a mother duck coming waddling across the grass, followed by four young ones. "Oh, how sweet," I exclaimed. "You have not seen the ducks before, have you? Shall we try to feed them?"
Faramir immediately held out the pastry in his hand toward the ducks, and I chuckled. "I think that they will not like the cheese, love," I said, smiling at him. "Ducks and their ducklings prefer bread."
"Bo'mir?" he said, glancing around the garden eagerly.
I looked as well, and saw no-one but us. "No, Boromir is not here. Now," I tore a piece of bread into smaller pieces, "if you toss these gently at the ducks, they will eat it."
He did as instructed (though his bread-tossing was anything but gentle), and gasped in delight when the birds ran toward his offering, quacking and peeping. The ducks that made their home in the gardens were very tame creatures indeed, and once those bits of bread were gone, the mother and her little flock came toward where we sat on the ground.
Hastily, I put most of the food back into the small hamper, so that the birds would not eat something that might make them ill, and said, "Faramir, you may give them all that bread if you like – but make the pieces small so that the ducklings do not choke."
"Bo'mir!" he said again, now standing and looking toward the Tower.
I wondered if he was simply missing his brother, but put the thought aside, saying, "Here, come sit with me, and we shall feed them together." One full-grown duck rarely became aggressive, but I did not want Faramir's fingers to get bitten by a defensive mother.
He agreed cheerfully, and arranged himself in my lap, extending his hand for a share of the bread, which I gave him. He would tear off a piece, hold it out toward one particular duckling, then burst into uncontrollable giggles when the duck jerked the bread from his hand. He looked up at me, grinning and chattering in delight and I had to grin back at him.
"That is their mother," I said, pointing, and he nodded, "and those are her little ducklings. They must live very nearby, for they are too small to –"
"Bo'mir?" Faramir said yet again, twisting to look up at me. "Bo'mir?"
I did not know why he was convinced that his brother was about, but then he pointed to the ducklings, repeating puzzledly, "Bo'mir?"
I started laughing so loudly that the ducks scurried a safe distance away. "Oh, no, little one!" I said. "Boromir is not really a duckling, that is just what I call him! "
He narrowed his eyes at me, clearly thinking this over. "Bo'mir," he said, shaking his head.
"No, not Boromir," I agreed, still chuckling. "Those are not Boromir, any more than you are really a rabbit. Those – " I indicated the ducks again, who were wandering away, "those are baby ducklings. Boromir is your brother, and he is at lessons."
Faramir made a noise that sounded very like, "Hmph," and scowled at me, and I burst into laughter again at his annoyed expression.
"I am sorry, Faramir," I said. "I was not trying to trick you. It is just – well, I have always called Boromir 'duckling'. But no matter what I call him, I promise - he is still your big brother."
He grumbled under his breath, then all at once his face lightened. He pointed off into the distance, then asked me something, judging by the tone of his voice, and pointed to himself. I gave a moment's thought to what buildings lay in that direction – guardhouse, stables, dog kennels, hawk mews, chicken pens -- "Oh!" I exclaimed. "You would like to go see the rabbits?"
Faramir nodded, grinning widely.
"We certainly may," I replied. "And we still have some carrots left, do we not? Perhaps we can feed those to them."
He clapped his hands, pleased, and helped me fold up the blanket, then we began to walk toward where the rabbit hutches were kept. Rather, I walked, and Faramir hopped, stopping every so often to look up at me. I laughed, and he tilted his head, twitching his nose. "Yes," I assured him, "you are very like a rabbit."
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.