1. A Son to Be Proud Of
Boromir meticulously checked over his horse's harness and tack, adjusting the bridle, settling the pad under the saddle and carefully tightening the girth. His own gear was neatly put away in the saddle bags: all he would need for a long journey, as well as sufficient food supplies to take him through the first stage of his travels. The routine of disciplined preparation was soothing and helped to calm him after a difficult and sorrowful leave-taking between himself and his father.
His horse stood quietly submitting to Boromir's ministrations, gazing at him solemnly with a bright eye.
"I see you are ready to be off, then, Arroch," Boromir said with a smile. "More ready than I, to be sure! I know, I know -- it is time to be away on our journey north. But now that it comes to it, I cannot help feeling reluctant to leave Father and Faramir alone. How will they fare without me here to bridge the ever-widening gap between them?"
Arroch gazed back at him unblinkingly, as if waiting for Boromir to continue.
"Father was stern and distant at our parting," Boromir said sadly. "It was more of a final lecture on adherence to duty for Faramir while I stood in attendance than a proper farewell. Faramir needed no such lecture! He knows well what his responsibilities are while I am gone, and he is committed to seeing it done, and done well."
Boromir sighed and shook his head. "Perhaps I am worrying needlessly! It could very well be that they will fare better without me than with me present. It may even be a good thing that I go and leave them to work their way back towards one another on their own. It has been too many years now that I have served as the peacekeeper between them -- yes, you may laugh at that, Arroch! I see that roll of your eye! I know I am hardly a man qualified to keep peace when I am happiest with sword in hand in the midst of a battle. But that seems to be my familial role: to stand between father and brother and try my best to explain one to the other. But mayhap my role as mediator has hindered the growth of their relationship rather than aided it. With me gone, they will be forced to try to understand one another and work together. Yes, perhaps it will be good that I go...."
Dipping his hand into a sack of grain that stood nearby, Boromir scooped up a handful and held it out to Arroch. The horse nuzzled his hand and began to munch on the grain.
"I remember years ago when Faramir was young," Boromir mused. "He used to lean against Father's knee, hanging upon his every word. Father relished that attention, telling him many marvelous tales of battle and the histories of Gondor. He was so proud of Faramir's eagerness to learn! But Father grew grim and withdrawn over the years, becoming set in his ways and in his opinions, and he ceased to notice Faramir's attention. It was long before I noticed Father's withdrawal into coolness, but no doubt Faramir saw that change much earlier than I, and regretted it.
"Faramir worked hard at becoming a son Father could be proud of -- and in all eyes but Father's, he has succeeded! He has become the kind of man Gondor needs: a wise man, patient and strong, who sees the broad view more clearly than any of us. Father doubts him, perhaps, because he is less prone to choose war and valor of arms over the quiet ways of peace. But Faramir is no less a man for that! Ah, you nod your head in agreement, Arroch! So, even the beasts of Gondor acknowleged his worth!"
Boromir rubbed Arroch's forehead affectionately, and held forth one last helping of grain.
"I am glad I was able to finally convince Father of Faramir's worth as a captain," he continued softly. "Faramir has done wonders with the men in Ithilien; they trust him and follow him unquestioningly. Faramir's leadership there upon the borders of the Black Land keeps Gondor safe, and I can rest easy knowing he is there and in charge. I know that Ithilien and all of Gondor will be in good hands while I am gone, for Faramir is emininently capable of leading and protecting our people. Nonetheless...."
Boromir sighed heavily as he wiped his hands clean of the remains of the grain.
"Faramir is eminently capable," he repeated. "Yet Father does not seem to see it -- or else, he sees, but requires even more. He acknowledges Faramir's position as a captain and leader in Ithilien; yet he remains cold and doubtful, questioning Faramir's decisions at every turn, forcing me to defend my brother's choices. Why cannot Father have the same faith in Faramir that I have? Why must he doubt him?"
Boromir leaned against the horse's broad side, taking comfort in Arroch's strong warmth.
"I know in my heart that Father sees Faramir's quality and recognizes it for what it is -- the quality of Númenor, the ability to rule the hearts of men in wisdom and love. There is no doubt in me that Father loves Faramir well... but he cannot seem to show it! Why does no one else see this? Father loves Faramir indeed, but he seems afraid to give his trust, afraid to say the words: 'I love you.' This is obvious to me, but the reason for it continues to elude me. Why is he like this, I wonder? Does he believe that expressing or even showing his love will weaken Faramir? Is it easier for Father to show me love because I am bold and strong? Faramir is no less strong than I, but his boldness is of a different sort than mine; perhaps Father sees that difference as weakness, and fears to add to it.
"I am bold to choose and act, chancing the consequences. Faramir is more likely to make his choices slowly and thoughtfully, but when a decision is made, he will not swerve from it, no matter who opposes him -- even if it be Father. It takes a special kind of boldness to stand up to Father when he disagrees over a course of action, but Faramir is strong in that way! Yet even when they oppose one another, Faramir is considerate and thoughtful, meek in bearing and in word. He listens with discernment, and when he continues in his chosen course of action, he remains respectful of other opinions.
"Father has often expressed dissatisfaction with Faramir's meekness, claiming it is a quality unsuitable for a leader of men; he no doubt equates meekness with being soft or weak. I might tend to think the same in another man, but I know my brother well, and I can say with authority that Faramir is not weak! It is true that he is gentle and kind, patient and humble -- yet this is not due to a lack of spirit or a desire to avoid provocation or battle. He does not lack confidence in himself or in his ability to make decisions and act upon them. Faramir's strength is this: that he is not afraid to choose a different way. Even I do not always understand why he chooses as he does, but I trust him and I know he will always follow through with strength and honor.
"Father seems not to trust Faramir. Faramir wants to please Father, and he acts accordingly much of the time; then Father is content. Yet Faramir often sees matters differently than Father does, and will go his own way. Is that why Father does not trust him? Because Faramir chooses differently? Why then am I so much more trustworthy, when I am apt to act without thinking things through? Does Father fear that Faramir's choices might be bad for Gondor?"
Boromir sighed again and shrugged helplessly. "If that is the case, then there is little I can do other than to continue to serve as the bridge between them, supporting Faramir before Father and showing him to be worthy of trust, then doing my best to temper Father's coldness towards Faramir, saying the words of love which he cannot voice himself. As I have served them in the past, so I will continue to serve them upon my return."
Straightening purposefully, Boromir checked the girth on the saddle once more, then grasped Arroch's bridle and pulled him forward gently.
"Come, friend Arroch!" he exclaimed. "You have been patient with me as I poured out my heart to you, and I thank you for it. My mind is more settled now, and I am ready to move forward. My parting from my father was not quite what I wished it to be, but there are still words I can say to Faramir to soften the lecture he received. He awaits me at the city gate for a final farewell between brothers. Let us go to him and then be on our way. I have said I have no doubts of Faramir's worth -- let my trust of him be made evident in a parting that shows to him a high, confident heart, rather than a heart full of fear for my family.
"All will be well, Arroch. Faramir will see to it...."