"So this is Gondor's glory restored," says Boromir, as his horse falls into step beside Faramir's. His voice is soft, in awe. "Aragorn—no, Elessar—has done well."
They have stopped within view of Minas Tirith, basking in the magnificence of its presence and watching the sun rise on the White City. Light, golden and pure, spills upon each crag and peak of architecture rebuilt, illuminating proud homes and towers. And from where they rest atop their horses, Faramir can almost make out the highest circle of the city, where the White Tree is undoubtedly in full bloom, helped along by the warmth of this late spring.
Neither he nor Boromir plan to set foot in the city; they have decided they will not trouble Elessar with their presence, nor bring taint upon his rule.
"I shall wait for you here," Boromir says, as they slow to a stop beneath an old ash. He shares a light kiss with Faramir under its plentiful shade, as its leaf-heavy branches sway lazily in the breeze. But when Boromir readies himself to dismount, Faramir tugs him in, close, by the collar of his cloak. Coaxes him into a longer, sweeter kiss, before undoing the ties of his own cloak and swirling it over Boromir's shoulders, an extra comfort for the time Faramir will be away.
"You will not have long to wait," Faramir promises. He returns the smile Boromir gives him, soft and fond, with one of his own. Watches Boromir dismount and settle beneath the tree, a tattered book on arms and weaponry in hand, before riding toward Minas Tirith. Faramir travels as far as he dares, to the Great Gate before the city walls.
"Lord Faramir!" greets the guardsman at the gate, with a rare and genuine joy as Faramir draws near upon his horse.
"Thalador?" Faramir says in wonder, after a moment's pause. "Is that you?" He had been a boy when Faramir left, the son of one of the men who held Osgiliath against the Orcs under Faramir's command years ago.
"Yes, my lord," Thalador says now, bowing hurriedly and deeply. A lock of pale, cornsilk hair falls over his brow as he does so. "I did not—we did not know you were coming! I shall alert the tower guard immediately!"
"There is no need," Faramir smiles, as he dismounts. "I cannot stay for long."
"Are you certain? I am sure we could prepare a royal welcome, however quickly put together," says Thalador, and yes, Faramir can see the bearing of his father within him, the steel of his backbone and the honey of his tongue both.
"You make a convincing case," laughs Faramir, "but I am certain." He chances a discreet glance back at the great ash a distance off, where Boromir waits for him. He would not leave Boromir for long, lest he think he had been abandoned. Would not make Boromir worry, in this.
Thalador follows his gaze. "Ah," he says, quiet. "So you were successful in your quest."
Faramir stiffens noticeably. How common had this knowledge become? He and Boromir had taken care to avoid the paths Faramir traveled to the village before, and few in Gondor knew of his quest, save for its newly crowned rulers and Gandalf himself.
Noticing his discomfort, Thalador backtracks quickly. "I mean you no harm, Lord Faramir," he says. "Only, my da told me of what he guessed you might do, long years ago. That he wished you success. He served under your…companion's command, also."
Faramir notices how careful Thalador is in choosing his words, especially within earshot of the other guard, a younger man he does not recognize. "I see," Faramir says finally, deciding him trustworthy. He hums, thoughtful, and lets his fingers trail absently over the satchel hanging at his waist. "Then I would ask a favour of you, Thalador."
"Anything, my lord."
"If you could be so kind as to deliver this to the king," Faramir says, producing a letter from the satchel, "you would have my eternal gratitude." He wills his fingers not to tremble as he places the sealed envelope in Thalador's hands.
"I shall deliver it posthaste," Thalador says eagerly.
Faramir only laughs and claps him on the back. "It can wait until your guard duty is over," he assures, "but you have my thanks all the same." He has mounted his horse again when he remembers to call, "Give my regards to your father as well!"
"He will be glad to hear it," Thalador nods, before beckoning Faramir closer. His voice is low when he next speaks, but the words are no less genuine. "And for you, too, Lord Faramir—I wish you luck. Wherever your journey takes you." He beams then, wide and bright and real. "Both of you."
"Oh," says Faramir, something knotting hot and tight in his throat, at this heartfelt sentiment. "Thank you."
It will do in place of a greeting from their king, and Faramir thinks of the letter he has left for Elessar in turn: it details that he is well, that he now travels with a companion to all corners of Middle Earth, and that he wishes the best for Elessar and his family.
"Boromir," Faramir calls as he returns. He finds Boromir has laid their travel-stained cloaks out to dry in the sun, Faramir's a vestige of his years in Gondor, and Boromir's a relic of his time in Lórien. The Elven cloak is all but threadbare now, but still Boromir cherishes it, a reminder of his days with the Fellowship.
Boromir rises steadily to his feet, making his way to stand near Faramir and the horse; it is his discreet manner of offering Faramir help with the dismount. "Did you say what you wished to, then?"
"I left a letter for Elessar," Faramir says simply, accepting Boromir's hand in assistance. "He will understand."
"I see," Boromir says, in the way that says he does see, and welcomes Faramir back with a kiss, leisurely and warm. Slips his arms around Faramir's waist, his embrace a recompense for the home Faramir has once again left behind him. Faramir returns the gesture, looping his arms about Boromir's neck as he shares the warmth he carries from Minas Tirith, the home Boromir can only take pleasure in from a distance now.
They spend the day there, atop the small hill in the sight of Minas Tirith, sprawled beneath the shade of the great ash. Curl together in Boromir's bedroll, Faramir's laid over top as a makeshift table and blanket both, while eating a meal of hare they trapped, and berries, red and full and sweet.
"Boromir, stop," Faramir laughs, as his brother crunches casually through the berries, their juice staining Boromir's lips and fingers a wine-dark red. "You will make a mess of our bedrolls. You are a mess," he adds, pretending to be reproachful, but he cannot hide the way Boromir's lips draw his gaze.
Boromir hums, playful, and touches the mess of rose-red juice on his fingers to Faramir's face. Brings their mouths together for a kiss that is all crushed berries and sweetness, leaving Faramir breathless. "Perhaps, but I am your mess, am I not?" he grins.
Faramir huffs another laugh, resigned; leaves his own trail of sticky red kisses along Boromir's neck in retaliation.
Together, they wash the meal down with a stout brew—a gift from the Dwarves of the Iron Hills since their stop there—and settle in to enjoy the day.
No trumpets herald their return to Minas Tirith, and no banners fly high for them from the White Tower, secretive as their homecoming must remain; nor do the tower guards or city-dwellers take up the cry The Lords of Gondor have returned! But Faramir has no need of such fanfares. He partakes in simpler pleasures these days: a battered, dog-eared book in one hand and Boromir's fingers woven into his other.
Boromir's head lolls against Faramir's shoulder, his brother lulled into slumber by the midday sun, and when his shoulders begin sliding into Faramir's lap, Faramir chuckles, soft. Repositions Boromir until his head is properly pillowed in Faramir's lap. With a yawn, Faramir ceases reading, choosing instead to lean back against the tree, enjoying the shade and the warmth of the day. Sets his book into the grass before carding his fingers through Boromir's hair.
He is glad for this moment of respite, as he tires easily these days.
Faramir takes a moment to have another sip of the Dwarves' brew as he watches the sun make its journey across the sky. Drink is not their only keepsake from the Dwarves; having heard from Gimli of the brothers' valour during the war, they were most gracious hosts, and Thorin Stonehelm himself had gifted them a pair of silver rings, perfect, ornate, inlaid with a pattern of decorative knots. Faramir's ring rests on the middle finger of his right hand, while its twin sits on the middle finger of Boromir's left. And while there were no feasts, no ceremonies, nor vows exchanged, on the darkest of nights, Faramir likes to imagine they were wedded; that the rings symbolize the bond he and his brother share, the pattern of the knots embodying the way his and Boromir's lives are irreversibly entwined.
He has never told Boromir of this fiction, but he thinks Boromir knows anyway, as he takes every opportunity to wind their opposing hands together, their rings making a satisfying clink when they slide against each other.
The brew leaves Faramir feeling pleasantly muzzy, and watching the rhythmic rise and fall of Boromir's chest as he takes in soft, shallow breaths lulls Faramir into a slumber of his own.
"Faramir?" Boromir says, sitting up when the last of the sun's light slips into shadow and Minas Tirith stands once again dark and deep in the quiet of the night. He leans in to brush away a strand of hair, prematurely silver among golden-red curls, fallen over Faramir's brow. Adds a kiss to each corner of Faramir's mouth, soft and sweet, as if he cannot help himself. "Where to next, love?"
They have travelled leagues away from the remote village, hidden in fog and marsh, away from the little cottage that was their home for long years. Ridden a beaten path along the woods until the sun broke from its cover of grey mist overhead, for a grand tour of the cities and strongholds of Men, Dwarves, Elves and Halflings, because Faramir's strength, at last, has begun to wane. Only the blood of Númenor that runs through his veins has allowed them this much time together, a fact for which Faramir is ever grateful.
The last few days have consisted of riding through the lands of North Ithilien, after their stop with the Dwarves, to see Minas Tirith restored. When it suits them, however, they follow a nearly nomadic lifestyle, hunting, trapping, and stopping at the occasional village as they require, while sleeping beneath the stars, the night sky a canopy wider and more infinite than that of the childhood bed they shared in secret.
If this journey is to be their last, then Faramir would have them make such a journey, as to be worthy of remembrance.
"Mmhn," Faramir says, yawning. "Osgiliath, I think." He has heard tell of Osgiliath rebuilt, the city hewn from new stone, its spires gleaming once more, risen from the ruin of ash and rubble Mordor's armies had reduced it to. Lifting Boromir's hand to his lips, Faramir cherishes each roughened knuckle with a kiss, his retribution for Boromir kissing him awake. Closes his eyes to breathe in the warm night air even as he rests his forehead against Boromir's hand.
"And Dol Amroth, where Mother was from?" Boromir asks, hopeful.
Faramir smiles. He would love to visit the sea again, watch its waves roll in, with Boromir at his side. Perhaps even reconnect with their uncle there, if he yet lives. "Dol Amroth," he agrees. "And the cities of Rohan. If luck holds, we may even find Gimli and Legolas at Aglarond, in the caverns beneath Helm's Deep. I have heard the caves are a sight to behold, with a radiance like starlight, and water that flows like music into the clearest pools."
"I would like that," Boromir says softly. He sounds lost in thought for a moment, and Faramir knows he is reminiscing of the time he shared with the members of the Fellowship, such that it was.
Faramir stretches against the great ash, satisfied at the pop of the crick in his back. "Beyond that, who can tell?" he says. "We may even make it to The Shire, to see our Halfling friends again. Perhaps enjoy the woods, fields and little rivers they have spoken of so fondly."
He does not make promises too far into the future; their time together is dearer than ever now, and Faramir hopes they can finish their journey before his strength wanes completely. If the end comes, however, they will go together; neither will be left to grieve for the other. Such is the nature of their connection.
"I suppose we shall find out if Merry and Pippin are still the mischief-mongers they once were!" Boromir laughs.
It is a sound so bright and pure that it stirs something in Faramir's heart, affection blooming warm in his chest like the blossoms of the White Tree. Even now, having been together for so long, he still finds new facets of his brother to love, to find wonder in and delight in.
And while there are some in the land old enough to still remember them, who still whisper of their evil and darkness, of the consequences that would surely follow from Faramir's actions, Faramir pays them little mind. He lives each day knowing the result of his actions: sees it in Boromir's smile, wider now, less harried by the shadows that haunt him; the laughter lines at the corners of his eyes, that Faramir knows the shape of by heart, having traced them with his palms, careful, again and again; the silver hair that now streaks Boromir's temples and beard, soft and fine and well-loved by Faramir's fingers.
That Faramir can live to see his brother grow old with him, to live what is left of his lifetime with love, is reward enough. Is consequence enough, if those with their poisoned words are to be believed.
"Faramir?" Boromir asks, sensing his distraction. "What is it that troubles you?" In a voice much smaller, more vulnerable than Boromir should ever be, he adds, "If it is your wish to return to Minas Tirith, I…I will not stand in your way. I would not begrudge you your rightful place beside the throne. Your rightful home."
As if after all this time, after all the plans they have made, he still believes Faramir would forsake him, for his old office as Steward to the King. For such things as the creature comforts of the city.
Faramir shakes his head and smiles, twining his fingers between Boromir's, reassuring; he would have his brother beside him, always.
He casts aside the thoughts and memories of Minas Tirith and its high, gleaming walls; the warmth of the sun's light upon them, and the renewed green of the fields of Pelennor; just sits and watches Boromir, lovely in the moonlight with his wind-swept hair and the hesitant upward tilt of his mouth, the crow's-feet at his eyes so like Faramir's own. It strikes him, then, that he has traded the warmth of Minas Tirith's people and the sun above the city for the warmth of Boromir's smile. Bartered the brightness of the city's shimmering spires, the White Tower of Ecthelion, for the brightness in Boromir's eyes and laugh.
Faramir has given up many things, but in return, gained so much more.
"My rightful place," Faramir says slowly, cupping Boromir's cheeks in his hands, "is beside you." He slides his palm to the base of Boromir's neck, draws him forward for a kiss that is as soft and sweet as it is slow. "Wherever you are, is my home."
He can see the moment his words reach Boromir's heart—that his brother knows Faramir is here to stay, knows they are forever—in the way Boromir's eyes blaze with awareness, bright and hot and hopeful. The way his fingers twine into Faramir's hair, deepening their kiss.
And when Boromir presses promises into skin and whispers words of love in return, none are so dear as And you, mine.
* More visuals that inspired the village can be found here and here.
* The rings the Dwarves gifted to Faramir and Boromir can be seen here.
* Illustrations forthcoming.
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.