21. A Time of Testing
When they returned to camp two hours later, Boromir found that a tent had been set up. "Wherever did you find this?"
"You forget. Mablung's farmstead is only a league to the north. We... borrowed cutlery, dishes and such. In case you decided to stay for an extended period."
Mablung came out of the tent. "All nice and cozy-like, Captain. You could stay here until the snows come."
Faramir blushed. "That would be very nice."
"Glad you agree, Lieutenant," Damrod said. "We also absconded with some fresh meat. Mablung's wife is generous."
The other warrior laughed. "I had to promise I would spend the night with her. Damrod agreed. He does not think you will need more than one to stand guard."
"I will relieve him at the mid night hour." Boromir peeked into the tent and was delighted with what he saw.
"It will not be necessary. I took a small rest while Mablung was gone, in anticipation of just such an event. I am well rested."
"Nevertheless, I will take the second watch."
"As you wish." Damrod knew well, from Boromir's tone, not to push the point further.
"Well, Faramir," Boromir drew his sword and stepped away from his brother. "It is time to see if you can still raise your sword after all this time. I think the last time we sparred was two weeks ago."
"If you had not run off to Amon Dîn, the time would not have been as long," Faramir countered, drawing his own sword.
They practiced for two hours; Boromir was delighted to see that Faramir's reflexes were faster than the last time they had drawn swords together. "Whom have you been sparring with?" He asked after a particularly fierce session.
"Damrod and Mablung. They grew bored, pulling duty in the City."
"My thanks then," Boromir gave them a left-handed salute in the midst of a parry. He then lunged and Faramir easily side-stepped it, bringing his own sword up and almost making contact with Boromir's unprotected left arm.
"Hoy! Well done. Now, try to block this if you can." Another lunge, another thrust, a quick parry. Soon, all could see Faramir's strength ebbing. "About time we stopped. You did well." Boromir grasped Faramir in a warm embrace. "Very well. I think I will recommend that you be placed back on the active roster."
Faramir stepped back. "You truly will?" His voice was sharp with joy and his eyes lit instantly in delight. "Boromir! Thank you."
"There is no need for thanks. Gondor needs all the men it can get. About time you got off your lazy ass and did something useful." His proud smile belied the gentle ribbing. "Where would you want to be posted?"
They sat by the fire; Boromir motioned and Damrod and Mablung sat next to them.
Taking a deep breath, Faramir unhesitatingly spoke. "Ithilien."
Boromir almost fell off the log. "Nay. I will not send you there."
"I know the men there. I know the terrain. I now know the dangers."
Tears sprang to Boromir's eyes, but stayed their course. "I cannot. Not at this time. Not because of the danger." His hand settled upon Faramir's thigh. "You have not yet the endurance for a prolonged battle. Therefore, I will send you to Dol Amroth. I think... Yes." His eyes lit up. "It will be difficult, Faramir. I will ask Uncle Adrahil to place you on one of their ships. The motion will improve your balance. Perhaps one of his warships."
"Yes. Trying to stay afoot in three-fathom swells is not an easy task. You need further work with your balance. This will help. You will have time to practice with your sword too. Wielding a blade as a ship pitches is an experience." Boromir's smile was wide.
"All right. But I go only with the assurance that I will be stationed in Ithilien when I return. How long?"
"Nay! I cannot."
"Two years or I send you to the smithy." Boromir's brow quirked. "Though that is not a bad idea. The work with anvil and hammer would definitely strengthen your muscles."
Faramir paled. "Dol Amroth it is."
Boromir pulled his brother closer, wrapped his arm around his waist, and kissed him - in full view of his men. "I will visit often."
"Let us eat now," Damrod said. "The venison falls from the bone. And we have some nice squash and potatoes, and a bottle of wine."
"Wine?" Boromir smiled. "Break it open."
The soldier did and poured. They took their moment of silence, then quickly downed the first glass.
Boromir eyed the bottle. "Only one?"
"No," Mablung laughed. "Three. One for the daymeal; two for later." He winked at Boromir and smiled.
Boromir nodded, a faint wash of red covered his face. "Thank you."
"Well," Damrod said. "Let us eat. Here, Faramir. Take this piece. And you Boromir." The warrior-cook proceeded to dish out the meal.
All fell upon the food with gusto. At last, accompanied by friendly chatter, they finished. Damrod and Mablung began to gather the dishes and such. They wrapped them in a large cloth and Mablung tied it to his horse.
"Wait. You are not taking them back for your woman to wash?"
"No, Captain. I will wash them. She likes..." the warrior blushed. "She likes to see me with my hands in the tub, washing. She sneaks up... Well, we have a fine time of it. I would not deny her such pleasure, as generous as she has been this day."
Boromir laughed. "Then go and give her my thanks!"
Mablung mounted and rode away. Damrod stepped to the fire and added a few logs. "I will go relieve myself, wash up and then return in but a short time. Is there anything you need?"
"No. Faramir and I will join you in the walk."
Damrod nodded and the brothers walked with him to the stream. They each found a secluded place to relieve themselves, away from the water, then stepped to the stream and laved their hands and faces.
"Perhaps we might return here later for a quick wash?" Boromir whispered to Faramir. "We might be a bit... soiled."
Faramir blushed and shivered in anticipation.
"Best get back to camp now, Captain. The sun sets."
They walked slowly back, relishing the noises of dusk, the sound of the stream.
"If you do not mind, Captain, I would like to guard from a little to the north. It will be a clear night; there is a small hillock where I can watch for quite some distance."
Boromir nodded, remembering their camp was blocked from the hillock's view by a small copse of wild fruit trees. "Very well. Wake me when 'tis time."
Damrod saluted and left them.
Faramir stretched, removed his sword, and sat on a log by the fire. "They are very kind. They love you."
"They have grown to love you too, Faramir. Who could not? Your courage is almost disconcerting."
His little brother blushed. "Not courage, Boromir. I had to return. No matter what. I could not... I had to see you again, before I died. It was the only thought that kept me sane, that gave me the courage to hold on to life."
"Faramir," Boromir sobbed as he took his little brother in his arms. "I love you." He sealed the statement with a long and passionate kiss. Pulling free with difficulty, he smiled. "The men have made the tent quite habitable." He chortled. "Come." He held his hand out and Faramir took it. They walked slowly to the tent, Boromir's arm around Faramir's waist.
When they entered, Faramir gasped. "I cannot believe Mablung lives with such... luxury!"
"It is a bit bewildering, is it not? But then again, Mablung spent a stint on the borders of Harad. I assume he brought most of this back with him."
"The colors are... bright."
Laughing in joy, Boromir embraced Faramir. "Not as bright as your face," he teased, kissing his brother lightly. "Come let us lie down. Much as I hate the thought, you must rest now. We may play later."
Faramir pouted. "I do not need sleep; I need you."
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.