A Gift in the Night|
Rating: K - Suitable for Anyone
Summary: Faramir dreams of Parth Gallen
October 30, 3019
The morning dawned cold and grey, and this suited Faramir’s mood perfectly. He was aware that he had been increasingly out of sorts for some days now, though he did his best to hide this from anyone’s notice.
He missed his brother, and mourned for him still even though it had been seven months since he was slain above the falls of Rauros. He had many reasons to feel like the most blessed of him, but his happiness never seemed quite complete without his brother there to share it with.
And this day would have been Boromir’s forty-first birthday.
In anticipation of what he had known would be a difficult day, Faramir had kept his schedule clear, and was able to spend the day hidden away in his study, sparing all but a servant or two from his rare dark mood.
In the evening he met with the men from his former company, many of whom had also served with and under Boromir in Ithilien. Stories were told and toasts made, and Faramir found his spirits were lifted as happy memories were brought to mind again. He knew that this was the sort of memorial that Boromir would have prefered, rather than the pomp and ceremony that a burial in Rath Dinen would have required. Someday he would travel to Parth Galen, but for tonight a tavern full of the men who had loved their captain-general had been more fitting a memorial for a man who had always been so full of life than a marble mausoleum could ever have been.
The stories that he had heard during the evening, some of them new to him, continued to run through his muddled head after he had returned home and was preparing for sleep. He had tried to nurse his tankard of ale, but found it was never less than half full before one or another of the men had it refilled in his brother’s memory. And why should he not drink to his brother’s memory? If today was not a day to over-indulge a little, when was?
Ablutions complete he stood by the window, facing the north-west, and thought of Eowyn as he did every evening. How he wished Boromir could have met her. He closed his eyes for a moment and leaned his forehead against the cool window. In the span of but one month he had lost the one who had stood as the champion of his childhood and found the companion who would be by his side for the rest of his life...
In his current state he did not know if he should consider the fates kind or cruel.
With a sigh he straightened and turned to his bed, and was asleep almost as soon as he had settled the blankets about his shoulders.
When he woke, he found himself to be standing in a small glade within a forest, yet it was unlike the forests of Ithilien that he knew so well and loved. The trees were tall, and their trunks were bare for many feet before the first branches and evergreen needles appeared. They were also spaced widely apart, and a light fog flowed between and around them. The fog seemed almost to glow, giving the space an eerie quality, and yet Faramir felt no fear. Despite the detail and clarity of the setting he knew that he dreamed.
Turning slowly he took in the details of the glade; the brown needle covered path that passed through it, the blackened fallen trunks and boughs that littered the ground, the grey stones that emerged from the soil with no discernable pattern, and the fog that shrouded all in white.
When he saw a figure leaning against a great tree his heart lurched.
He knew the silhouette, would recognise it anywhere.
He approached quickly, footsteps silent on the bed of dead needles, and as he did the beloved face broke into the cocky grin it had so often worn.
“Well met, little brother.”
“Boromir! How are you here? How…”
Pushing himself off the tree Boromir laughed as he shook his head, cutting off the question as he so often had. “You are the one who has dreams, Faramir, and you ask me how this is possible?” He gripped his younger brother’s shoulder and gave him a small shake. “For once do not wonder why, and just be glad for it!”
Faramir grinned, then nodded. “I am, brother. More glad than I can express! I just…” This time he laughed himself, then reached out to grip Boromir’s shoulder in turn. “You are right. Let us not waste this gift with questions of how it came to be.”
He glanced about the glade and saw a fallen tree, covered with green moss but appearing still to be sound, and he gave a quick jerk of his head to indicate it. Boromir gave a small nod in reply and they moved towards it at the same moment, immediately falling into step as they often had while scouting in Ithilien.
They sat side by side on the log, and stretched their legs out in front of them, crossed at the ankles. With their arms crossed the same way, any who had entered the glade at that moment and seen them would have had no doubt they were brothers.
Eventually, Faramir broke the silence that had fallen and asked his most pressing question. “Are you at peace, Boromir?”
Boromir gave a small smile, but then nodded and answered softly. “I am. The Valar are merciful. And I died while defending the helpless.”
Faramir nodded in his turn. “I am glad of it.” He fell silent again, then moved to stand. Boromir stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
“Do not say it. You should not even think it, Faramir.”
“Not speaking it will not make it any less true. It should have been me.” This time he did stand, and walked a few paces away before turning to look back at his brother. “You should have let me go on the journey to Imladris, as I wished to do.”
Boromir sighed when Faramir stood, but then simply shook his head. “It was fated to be me, Faramir. Much happened because I was part of the fellowship that would not have happened had it been you.” He fell silent for a moment, but when Faramir made no effort to reply he continued. “You were able to resist the temptation of the ring, and would not have tried to force Frodo’s decision. But had I not done so, had I not tried to take the ring, it might never have been destroyed. Can you not see that?”
After pacing a few steps away Faramir returned, shaking his head. “You do not know that I would have been able to resist the ring had I been near it for as long as you were, Boromir. Nor can you know that something else might not have happened to push Frodo forward on his quest. Perhaps he might have achieved his goal sooner, and many lives could have been spared! The entire battle…”
Boromir gave a sigh of frustration and cut off what would surely become a litany of possible outcomes. “Oromë spare me, Faramir, sometimes I think you could teach stubbornness to a mule! I am dead. Whether it is right or not, whether it is fair or not, it cannot be changed. I demanded that father let me go, and nothing you or he said would gainsay me.” Standing, he went to stand before his brother. “It was my choice. In the end I gave my last breath in service of Gondor, and of my king. It was a good death, a warrior’s death, and I never asked for more than that.”
He gave a wry grin. “And you have to admit I would have been ill suited to peace, little brother.”
Faramir gave a short laugh that turned into his own slightly twisted smile, but it was a long moment before he replied. “You did always dread having to sit in meeting with the council.”
“Aye, and I think the counselors had as much dread of seeing me there.”
“Oh come, you are being unfair to one at least. Uncle Imrahil was always glad to have you sit with him.”
Laughing loudly, Boromir threw his arm about his brother’s shoulders and led him back to the log. “Aye, he always made sure I had the seat next to his so that he could overhear my comments on the wisdom the sage advisors offered. I believe I kept him highly entertained…”
Now Faramir joined in the laughter, “I can imagine that you did. I am sorry to have missed those conversations.”
They settled on the log again, and spent a moment sitting in companionable silence before Boromir spoke again. “I always knew you would make a fine steward, Faramir. Far better than I would have been.” He looked over at the younger man. “Aragorn is fortunate to have you.”
Faramir glanced down at the signet ring he wore on the littlest finger of his right hand, then up at his brother with a small smile. “I have to admit I am coming to enjoy it. Aragorn is a good man, and truly cares for our people. He will become a great king.”
Boromir smiled as he listened, and looked down at his boots for a long moment before answering. “I never told him this, never gave him my allegiance in any formal way, and that is something that I regret, but I did come to believe he would be the king Gondor needs to lead her into peace.”
Though he had been looking at his brother, Faramir now made a careful study of his boots as well. “I believe he knows, brother. I know he held you in high regard, and that he regrets that he was not able to come to your aid more quickly.”
Nodding, Boromir smiled. “As I knew that, and knew that he came as quickly as he could. But I would tell him the same I told you; it was meant to be, and no fault of his.” His smile turned into a grin, and then into a soft chuckle.
“I do not envy him when the winter comes and he will have no choice but to host and attend balls and dinners and all the events of the season. How the vultures will descend on him to thrust their daughters into his notice. The first king in over a thousand years and he is not married…” He chuckled again, shaking his head in pity. “They will hound him mercilessly.”
Faramir laughed as well. “You do not give him proper credit, brother. He has already decreed that the season is to be limited for this year, as there are so many in mourning.”
Boromir laughed loudly, the sound echoing off the trees about them, and making Faramir smile fully for the first time. “He is a wise man! But it will be only a brief reprieve. You know how tenacious these court mothers can be.”
Faramir answered darkly. “Aye…”
He received a rakish grin in reply. “Speaking of being a wise man, might I congratulate you on having the foresight to promise yourself to the fairest young woman in the city before the vultures returned and could descend, thus sparing yourself the same fate.”
Faramir laughed even as he ran a hand down his face, and to Boromir’s obvious amusement colour came to his cheeks. “That was not the way of it, Boromir! I was hardly looking for a wife while we were in the middle of a war and I was in the houses of healing!” But then he gave a grin of his own. “Though I suppose I was fortunate to be spared being subjected to endless parties and dinners...”
Boromir chuckled, and nudged his younger brother with an elbow. “You are fortunate for more than that, Faramir!”
“And well do I know it.” Faramir’s grin had softened to a warm smile, and his face was alight with happiness. “I wish you could have met her, Boromir. She is… She is all that I could have wished for, and then so much more… More than I could have dreamed of...”
“My brother, the poet, left speechless by a pretty girl.” Boromir shook his head with mock regret. “Perhaps it is just as well that I did not live to see him come to this pass, and laid so low.”
Faramir cuffed his brother on the shoulder, laughing as he did. “You are only jealous because it never happened to you!”
Boromir laughed loudly again, shaking his head. “Nay, I never wished to settle down with a wife and children. That was always for you, little brother.” He put his hand on Faramir’s shoulder, and sobered to a fond smile. “I think she will be good for you, Faramir. She will remind you that you are still young, and should enjoy life!”
As Faramir started to reply the chime of a single silver bell rang through the trees, causing both men to look up. Boromir sighed.
“The night draws to a close, and I must leave, Faramir.”
Both men stood, and for a long moment they regarded one another. The Boromir pulled Faramir into a hard embrace, which Faramir returned.
“I will miss you, Boromir. Always.”
“I know it. But I will be watching you, and will be waiting for you, when your time comes.” He pulled back, and put both hands on Faramir’s shoulders, “Live your life to the fullest, little brother.” He smiled, and kissed his brother’s brow in benediction. “Be happy.”
Even as he spoke the mist that had been surrounding the glade converged about them, and soon both man and trees had dissolved into the white. Faramir woke in his bed, the bedroom filled with the pale light of dawn.
Rising, he went to the window and looked out. To the west were clouds that were tinged a myriad of shades of reds and pinks, showing that the front had passed during the night, and the sky overhead was already blue.
Feeling more at peace than he had in days, Faramir smiled and whispered a prayer of thanks for the gift he had been given during the night.