12. Step By Step
"Let me help you hold it." Boromir took his brother's hand in his own and instantly regretted it. His face reddened and his breath hitched. "If you," he took a deep breath and began again. "If you hold the sword thusly, it will still cut a good swath but will not be as difficult to hold."
Faramir nodded. "I see. It does feel better."
Boromir tried to let Faramir's hand go, but the sword immediately dropped. Shivering slightly, he took his brother's hand into his own again and brought the sword up. "We must practice this for some time; it will strengthen the muscles in your arm and hand and then, you may practice gutting Damrod."
"Are you angry with him, Boromir?"
"He is derelict in his duty."
"He had a tooth that needed care. He will return shortly. In the meantime, perhaps we might talk?"
"We have not time for speech, Faramir. You must work hard to strengthen yourself. We have spent the last month helping you learn to walk. You only need your stave and you can walk everywhere. Now, your back, shoulders and chest need strengthening." He moved his hand and Faramir's moved along with it. The sword moved from left to right in a jagged movement. Every time Boromir tried to let Faramir take the full weight of the sword it dipped and Boromir was again forced to hold his brother's hand. His face shone with sweat. At last, he took the sword from Faramir and helped his brother back into his bed. "Rest now. You did well, for the first try." He turned and filled a cup with water, handed it to Faramir and went over to the window, sitting on the deep sill.
"Boromir. Have I done something wrong?"
"What do you mean?"
"You are distant. You have been distant since your illness. Have I done something wrong?"
"Of course not," Boromir snapped. Faramir still lay under the assumption that Boromir had been ill, when in truth, Boromir had been battling with himself and the rage of lust that consumed him. He looked out the window. "The Pelennor is covered in white. It snowed last night."
Faramir remained silent and, for once, Boromir accepted that silence. "Father intends to visit today, sometime after nuncheon, if his duties allow."
"Why are you not on some assignment, Boromir? Have you been stationed here in Minas Tirith?"
"I am serving here." Not quite a lie.
"I see. You are here everyday. Your duties are light?"
"Since my illness." Very close to a lie.
"Boromir!" Faramir's voice sounded unnaturally high. "Are you still ill? Have you not recovered?"
"I am well enough."
"I am fine. I just need some special medicaments that Siriondil feels should be watched." A definite lie.
"You must rest. Why do you not depart now. Come back tomorrow. I am well enough. When Damrod returns, Boromir, leave me and rest."
The stricken look on Faramir's face filled Boromir with guilt. "I am well enough, Faramir. I would not leave you when there is naught wrong with me but a vague feeling of ill ease." No lie here. Except the feeling was anything but vague.
"Then I will ask Siriondil what is wrong. If he tells me you need rest, then I will insist."
"I will rest. When Damrod returns, I will go to my rooms and rest."
"Now that you are commanding me from your room, would you like me to send Ioreth in? I do not think you have finished that book."
Faramir smiled. "We have, Boromir. We are now reading the Lay of Leithien."
"Oh. I had not realized. Is it about Elves still?"
Faramir laughed. "It is about an Elven maid and her love for a man."
Love! Why did the boy have to mention love? He felt his face turn a deeper shade of scarlet and turned away. "Who are the Elves? Any I have heard of?"
"Boromir. It is Beren and Lúthien."
"Would you like to sit with me while she reads it?"
He could not tell his brother that, if he listened to a story of love that deep, he might push Ioreth aside and... 'Oh, Valar!' he thought miserably and swallowed hard. "I will rest, as you suggested, Faramir."
Thankfully, Damrod entered. "I am going to rest, Damrod. Ioreth should be here shortly. If something untoward happens, send a guard for me immediately."
Damrod nodded and Faramir cleared his throat. Boromir stared for a moment, then went over and kissed his brother on the forehead. "I will see you in the morning."
Boromir near ran from the room and almost stumbled into Siriondil's arms. He pulled himself back and apologized.
"Are you feeling well, Boromir? You look flushed."
"I am fine. It is warm in Faramir's room and I am in need of a bath. I am going to... I am taking relief for the afternoon. I will return on the morrow."
"Of course. I will send someone if Faramir needs you."
"Thank you." Boromir turned and strode away.
'I do not understand.' Siriondil watched the retreating back in wonder. 'What is wrong with him? I should speak with the Steward. Perhaps I am missing some malady? Nay. There is naught wrong with him that I can see. I know what must ail him. He still grieves for Faramir's hurts, yet has not the time to heal himself. I must spend more time in conversation with him. Help him to speak of his fears for Faramir.'
Fears for Faramir were the last things on Boromir's mind; more like fear for himself. For discovery. He shook as he walked, contemplating the repercussions of what would happen if someone discovered his body's betrayal, his mind's wanton way. He would be exiled and Faramir would be devastated. Nay. It would be worse than that. Faramir would hate him, of that he was sure. Would recoil from him. Another shudder racked him. He turned from such thoughts and tried to focus on the last conversation he had with his father.
"No good will come of your hovering, your coddling the boy, Boromir. He will never be whole. Let me send him to the houses on the First Circle. He will be well cared for and you can return to your duties, knowing full well he is in competent hands. He will be happier there, Boromir. He will not dwell on his own hurts as he watches others."
Boromir's ire rose. "He will not be happy doing nothing but sitting in a chair with a rug thrown over his lap and his face pointed to the window. He would go mad."
"I need you in Osgiliath, Boromir. There have been attacks against the garrison. Captain Hador is inexperienced. He lost a whole half company the other day."
"Then send Captain Angrod. He is old, but not dotard. He has experience fighting Orcs. I will not leave Faramir."
"Yet, talk in the City suggests you have done just that, Boromir. Do you tire of your charge already?"
Boromir's cheeks blazed red. 'Hopefully,' Boromir thought, 'Father will think it anger.' He stood up and walked to Denethor's study door. "I will die before I leave him, Father." With that, he turned and left.
As Boromir entered his own rooms, he pulled his arms about him. The fireplace lay untended; the room's cold immediately assailed him, yet the heat that still emanated from his body, he felt certain, could have warmed fourteen rooms. He swore.
'I tire of this never-ending battle that rages within my body,' he thought wildly. 'If I do not control it soon, all will be lost.' Mayhap it would be best to have Faramir removed to the Soldier's Home. 'If I could return to fighting, perhaps I could command this body once more.' No doubt lingered in his mind; if he stayed alone with Faramir one more moment this day, he would have taken his brother in his arms and - what power in all Middle-earth could have stopped him then. He punched his hand into a nearby wall and flinched. 'That would be all I would need now, to break my hand and have to explain it.'
A/N - The Lay of Leithian was a long Elvish lay that told the story of Beren and Lúthien, their Quest for the Silmaril, and their return from Mandos. It was said to be the second longest of all such tales (with the longest being the Narn i Hîn Húrin, the story of Túrin and Nienor). http://tolkiengateway.net/wiki/Lay_of_Leithian
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