4. Chapter 4
Denethor was not sure if he hated the gulls that flew into port with the ships bearing his sons’ home from Dol Amroth. They reminded him of his late wife, once he had loved them for that, now he hated the reminder for the pain it brought to his heart.
Today though, he would tolerate them for they accompanied the ship bearing his sons home from Dol Amroth. His boys had been gone four months and through their uncle and grandfather had made sure plenty of letters had been sent, Denethor was impatient to have his children back with him, especially his little one.
The happy shout made Denethor look up. He caught sight of a flash of dark hair in the direction of the bow before it disappeared.
It was like Faramir, Denethor thought, to be so full of energy and life. Relief swept through him. When Imrahil had left at the start of the summer, taking Boromir and Faramir with him to enjoy the Dol Amroth sands, Faramir had still been far too thin and tired very easily.
It had been hard on Denethor to be without his sons all that time but their letters spoke of naught but joy so Denethor could hardly begrudge them the trip. Maybe…Perhaps next year it would not pain him so much…Denethor sighed, no, he would not fool himself. He knew that he had stepped about the soil of Dol Amroth for the last time.
Imrahil had sent letters detailing Faramir’s improving health once a week so, logically, Denethor knew Faramir was fine, healthy and thriving in the sea air as Imrahil had said he would. His heart though, had always feared for the child. He could not help it. It was all he could do not to fill his letters to Faramir with reminders to wear warm clothing in the evenings and get enough rest and so on. Denethor knew the boy’s relatives would take good care of him, for the loved him also, but the worrying did not stop.
His heart lightened a great deal when a bundle of energy topped with excited grey eyes and a mop of sea blown hair flew down the ramp of the vessel and into his arms with a happy cry of, “Papa!”
Denethor caught his child up in his arms and hugged him tight, pressing a kiss to the wind whipped hair that was faintly salty from the sea spray as Faramir’s happy chatter filled his ears. “Slow down, little one, let me look at you. Where is your brother?”
Faramir allowed himself to be set down, grinning impishly and looking back at the boat. Denethor chuckled softly, and ruffled his son’s damp hair as Boromir wobbled down the ramp. Faramir, he knew, was likely to have spent the trip racing around the boat, pestering the sailors and being reminded not to lean too far over the railing to watch the waves. Boromir was likely to have spent the trip leaning over said railing losing his breakfast.
“Boromir does not feel well,” Faramir told their father as Boromir joined them, still a bit green and scowling. “Grandfather says he did not inherit proper sea legs.”
Had Boromir not looked so miserable Denethor would have laughed. He did permit himself a small chuckle after he greeted his eldest with a hug, which Boromir did not duck away from for
once. “Not everyone is made to enjoy sailing, little one. Your uncle and grandfather tried, in vain, to make a sailor out of me when I first courted your mother. The only time I was not ill I fell overboard and nearly drowned. Your grandfather had to haul me out by the collar.”
Boromir managed a chuckle, his colour returning quickly now that his feet were upon solid ground. Faramir giggled and leaned his head against his father, his hand curling in the fabric of his robes. Denethor touched his dark head gently and Faramir smiled up at him.
“Father, is that my…” Boromir began, looking over to where two horses were being led out of the stables.
“Yes, that is the horse the King Theoden saw fit to gift you with and yes, you may ride him,” Denethor replied. “I suspect you have been riding your uncle’s horses all summer as it is.”
Boromir did not blush but looked defiant. They had clashed over this, as they very rarely did, for Boromir wished to ride outside the city, as he would have to, and without guards, which Denethor would not allow. A trip to Rohan, and the freedom of their plains, had sparked this desire within him, but in Gondor it was too dangerous for the Heir of the Steward to roam about without guards, as Boromir longed for.
“And you, little one, shall ride with me, if it is to your liking,” Denethor said, looking down at his son.
Faramir beamed at the prospect. His uncle had taken him riding often during the summer, well, often once he was strong enough again, but his father could rarely do so, and always with the company of his guard. Faramir understood why but he sometimes wished it was not so.
“I suppose that means you are not adverse to it,” Denethor said with a chuckle, his hand still resting atop Faramir’s head.
“No, father!” Faramir replied. “Not at all.”
“Good,” Denethor said as they moved to the horses, his hand on Faramir’s shoulder, which he now saw was not as thin as when the boy had left. Boromir walked swiftly towards his horse.
Denethor chuckled. Boromir was in such a hurry to grow up and become a warrior. In but five years it would be so and what was five years? Faramir was just past his fifth year and he seemed so very young still, so very new. What would he do when this bold, brash son of his was one of the soldiers he sent out to battle? What would he do when his dear child found it was not all glory as children dreaming of battle so often believe?
Denethor was very proud of Boromir’s ambitions and knew that both his sons would have to become warriors, as nearly all sons of Gondor did. That did not mean he did not fear for them. He had lost sleep worrying about Boromir’s overzealous nature and his concern for Faramir when he would have to become a warrior for the child had a gentle soul, like his wife, and he did not want to rob him of that.
He knew well what responsibility he and his children had for Gondor and what that meant of them but they were his children. And the thought that one day either of his children could meet their end upon some stricken field…
He hugged Faramir tightly as the boy was passed up into his arms upon the horse. Faramir’s smile grew, for he did not sense his father’s anxiety for the coming years, and he kissed his father’s chin, happy for the attention and happy, as much as he loved Dol Amroth, to be home again.
Denethor grinned at him, relaxing somewhat. They were his children and they would stay so for years yet, if not enough years for his heart. And his little one was in no hurry to grow, that he knew, Faramir was content just to be for now, and Denethor was glad of it.
When the reached the stable of the sixth circle and Denethor reached up to take Faramir from the horse, the boy wrapped his arms around his father’s neck securely and nuzzled his face
against his neck. Denethor took the hint, settling Faramir in his arms so he could carry him.
Denethor did not mind it, was, in fact, glad to be able to hold his youngest close for a longer time. It was good to know that he had been missed too, as was evident by the way Faramir clung to him. The boy had not, Denethor realized now, been away from both his parents for so long a time before, and though he had family who loved him dearly in Dol Amroth, it was not the same.
“Are you coming to my study with me, little one?” Denethor asked.
Faramir nodded against his father’s neck and Denethor looked at his eldest. “What of you Boromir?”
“I wish to go bathe and change,” Boromir replied, looking world’s better after the ride through Minis Tirith. The salt of the sea still in his clothing was starting to itch though, for he had been thoroughly doused with it when leaning over the railing so as to not sully the deck.
Denethor chuckled; he suspected Boromir’s reasons and knew them well. He truly made a pitiful sailor, something his wife, who took to the sea as easily as her brother, had found much mirth in.
Denethor set Faramir down once they reached the Citadel, for the boy had begun to squirm, sure now that his father was staying with him for longer. He did keep a hold of his father’s hand though, and climbed into his lap when Denethor sat down in the only comfortable chair in the room, an overstuffed armchair next to the fireplace.
“Did you have a good summer, Faramir?” Denethor asked, wondering at the solemn expression on the boy’s face.
“Oh yes, Papa!” Faramir’s face light up with a grin. “It was wonderful. Uncle and grandfather would not let me do much at first but when I was well it was wonderful.”
“I am very glad to hear that, little one,” Denethor said. “So tell me of your adventures, and I am sure you and your brother had plenty. How did Dol Amroth treat my boys?”
“Dol Amroth was different without Mama,” Faramir reported quietly. “It made me sad sometimes.”
“Ah, little one,” Denethor murmured, understanding Faramir’s sudden stillness now and holding his youngest close and pressing a kiss to his hair. “I thought you enjoyed your time there.”
“I did,” Faramir said quickly. “Dol Amroth is…is…”
Denethor saw his wife’s love of her homeland in his youngest at that moment and understood, for he loved the white streets of his city. And he wondered, for a moment, what it must be to feel such a kinship with the land of two places, for as much as Denethor saw the sea in his son’s eyes, Imrahil said he saw the gleaming white of Minis Tirith and so his little one was a child of both.
“It is special to you,” Denethor finished for him, for Faramir could not seem to find the right words.
Faramir nodded, “But I am glad to be home. I missed you.”
“And I very dearly missed my sons,” Denethor told him, “for the city seems a little greyer without you here with me.”
Faramir said nothing but Denethor thought he understood. Denethor felt a slight pang in his heart. He would have kept his boys from learning that the world seemed a little less bright after
great loss, if only for a little while longer.
"Papa," Faramir’s voice brought Denethor out of his thoughts. He frowned, the boy seemed very hesitant.
“Yes, little one?” Denethor encouraged.
Faramir looked up at his father. “I am worried about Boromir.”
Denethor frowned slightly, “Why are you worried about your brother?”
“He is still sad about Mama and…me too, I think,” Faramir was frowning in concentration and slight distress. “He is happy in the day but…”
“But?” Denethor prompted when Faramir fell silent.
Faramir shook his head. “Not supposed to tell. I promised I would not tell uncle.”
“I am not your uncle,” Denethor pointed out.
“Same thing,” Faramir replied miserably.
“Faramir, if there is something wrong with your brother you must tell me for his sake,” Denethor told him gently. “It is not right to break a promise but sometimes, so to help a person, you must.”
Denethor thought Faramir’s expression was rather tragic and his voice was very small. “He cries at night…I hear him and I do not know what to do!”
Denethor sighed, not surprised but dismayed nonetheless. He knew his eldest grieved still but would rarely except comfort, and both Denethor and Imrahil had tried to speak more than once
to him only to be met coldly. He thought himself grown up and therefore thought he had to hide his grief. It was an awkward situation and it pained Denethor to know that his eldest would have, if he was aggrieved before, confided in his mother.
Now though it was her passing that was the source of the pain and fear.
“I could not just listen to him crying, Papa,” Faramir said quietly, sniffling himself. “He needs more hugs.”
“I know, dear heart,” Denethor sighed and Faramir cuddled close to his father. Faramir’s grief was so much easy to sooth because he did not seek to hide it from his father. From the general public, yes, Denethor had noticed that even when the boy was ill, but not from his father.
Boromir though…comfort could not be forced upon him but…Denethor sighed. “Faramir, would you do a duty for me?”
Faramir looked up at his father in confusion at the change in subject. Denethor smiled gently, “When you think your brother seems sad can you give him a big hug?”
Faramir frowned, hesitating, “Not supposed to get out of bed.”
“For this you may,” Denethor told him and paused, briefly debating, before continuing. “Your brother believes he is too old for hugs.”
“But he hugs me,” Faramir began, then understanding dawned and his face light up in a grin. “I can help!”
“Yes, but if you ever feel sad, like your brother does, you should come to me, little one,” Denethor told him gently. “I will speak to your brother also, for such sorrow should not be kept inside.”
Faramir nodded solemnly then quite suddenly threw his arms around his father’s neck and hugged him tightly, shocking Denethor, whose eyes teared at the words of his youngest child. “I
can hug you too, Papa.”
“Oh child,” Denethor managed around the lump in his throat. “I know, my little one. I know. You make my life very happy, Faramir. You and your brother…you make me very happy.”
“I am glad,” Faramir murmured, his words muffled as his face pressed against his father’s shoulder. “You are not coming to Dol Amroth with us again, are you? I heard grandfather say so.”
“No, child, I will not,” Denethor told him, his voice gentle. “It makes me sad too, being there. For me, the hurt is too great..”
“Does it ever go away?” Faramir asked and his voice trembled.
Too perceptive, the child was too perceptive, Denethor thought, and knew he could not lie to Faramir and say that the hurt would go away, fade, yes, but not disappear. He should have spoken with both his sons about this sooner, and they should have had proper time to grieve. Life, however, did not seem to wish to make things easy for any of them.
“No, Faramir, it does not go away,” Denethor told him quietly. “But it gets better.The sadness fades with time.”
“Will you tell Boromir that too?” Faramir asked.
“Yes, I will,” Denethor promised, kissing the top of Faramir’s head.
For a time, they sat together quietly, and Denethor began to think Faramir fell asleep. It would not be unusual, it was along journey and he did not doubt Faramir had spent all of it racing about the ship. He was startled when his son spoke up again, quite suddenly.
"When we were in Dol Amroth I figured out what our names mean," Faramir began. For a moment Denethor was confused, wondering at the change in subject, but the child had to have had many adventures during the summer, and Denethor did very much want to hear them.
"Oh?" Denethor said, smiling. Faramir slid back down so he was sitting in his father’s lap, and Denethor put his arms around his child.
"Boromir was very pleased to be named after a great warrior," Faramir said, stalling. "And it pleased him that his name means faithful jewel. He thought it was a soldier's name."
"That does not surprise me," Denethor chuckled. "Did you figure out your name sake too, little one?"
"Yes, Faramir was a King's son," Faramir replied hesitantly.
"When you were born your mother thought you were a very princely child and talk had began about what would happen to Dol Amroth if your uncle did not have children," Denethor told him, failing to mention Imrahil had not looked like he would be settling down at that point, and had blatantly denied that he would himself. Then, of course, he had by chance met a woman who would become his wife, and that had changed everything. "It looked like, for a time, that
you might be named his Heir for lack of his own children, and would one day be Prince of Dol Amroth. Your mother thought you should have the name of a prince."
"Oh," Faramir said, shifting uncomfortably.
"What is the matter, Faramir? Do you not like your name anymore? It was not what we had originally thought to name you but your mother took a sudden liking to the name and in truth I did not have the courage to dissuade her while she was still heavy with you." Denethor said chuckling.
"It is not that I do not like my name it is just..." Faramir, to Denethor's horror, looked very close to tears. "I do not wish to be merely adequate!"
"Whatever do you mean my little one?" Denethor asked gently, truly not following his train of thought.
"Mir means jewel and phar means suffice so Boromir is loyal but I am merely good enough!" Faramir said, sniffling.
"Oh Faramir." Denethor hugged the boy close. "I do not know by what device your name sake was named but you have all the words mixed up."
"I do?" Faramir asked. "How?"
"You, my son, were...born under a hunter's moon," Denethor told him. "Faras is the root of your name, it means hunt. So Boromir is my faithful jewel and you, dear child, are my jewel of the hunt."
It was a near truth but Denethor was not now, nor did he ever wish to, explain that Faramir was not born but conceived under a hunter's moon, and rather memorably conceived at that upon a beach on Dol Amroth. The name had been his mother's fancy although during the birth she had also said it was to remind Denethor he would be sleeping in his study for the rest of his days.
A similar threat had been issued during Boromir's birth, though that threat had been accompanied by his gentle wife throwing a vase at him. Being pregnant made her rather more…hostile. Boromir's birth had been far more taxing than Faramir's though. Their third
child had had a less memorable conception, neither could mark it, but the loss of the babe had been remembered. They had never named the babe who would have been their daughter.
“No son of mine is simply adequate,” Denethor told Faramir quietly, dropping a kiss to the top of his head. “You are very special and very much loved, always know that.”
“I love you too, Papa,” Faramir said, kissing his father on the cheek.
Denethor smiled at him, “Now, shall we find that brother of yours? He will be wondering what happened to us.”
“YES!” Faramir yelled, content again, his troubles solved for the moment. He forgot how close he was to Denethor’s ear. Faramir, Denethor reflected with a wince as he heard a slight ringing, was normally more mindful of that than Boromir had been.
They found Boromir coming out of their rooms. Denethor let Faramir down because he began to squirm impatiently at the sight of his brother and watched him run to greet his eldest. Denethor’s breath caught in his throat when, once Faramr got within a few feet of his brother, he launched himself at Boromir, trusting his big brother to catch him.
‘One of these times,’ Denthor thought in panic, ‘Someone will not catch him and he will be hurt.’
Boromir caught him though, laughing even as he staggered back from the weight of his little brother. Faramir tended to do such things with Denethor and Imrahil too. The child was so trusting…but Denethor assumed it was normal for one of his age. He was only just six, after all.
“I will watch Faramir until supper if you would like,” Boromir offered, knowing their father had to have work to do, he always did and he had taken time off to be there when they arrived. “Someone needs to make sure he unpacks and finds places for his treasures instead of setting them all on his desk like last time.”
Faramir scowled at him as Boromir hoisted him into a more secure position in his arms. Denethor smiled somewhat sadly, seeing the way Boromir held his brother, just a little more tightly than he would have done before, as if he was afraid Faramir suddenly be torn from him.
“Thank you, Boromir,” Denethor said, ruffling Faramir’s dark hair, an action Boromir would not allow any longer. “I will come by before dinner so that you may show me what you have brought home. Nothing to big and noisy I hope? Your grandfather did not pack any gulls in your suitcases as he threatened, did he?”
Faramir giggled and Boromir grinned. “No gulls, but there was a special seashell he and Faramir found...”
“You can hear the sea in it, Papa!” Faramir exclaimed in excitement, wriggling so much Boromir had to put him down.
“So you brought home the sea instead? We shall be flooded, keep it in your rooms!” Denethor teased.
“Now you are being silly, Papa. The sea should go in the gardens so we can have a close place to swim,” Faramir replied.
Denethor snorted in amusement and Boromir looked surprised. Faramir just grinned impishly.
“My Lord Steward,” a voice came, interrupting the little family. A member of the Tower Guard stood nearby, looking hesitant to interrupt. “I apologize, my lord, but the Lord of Lossarnach has arrived and is asking to speak to you.”
“Very well,” Denethor told him, not pleased. The man was supposed to arrive tomorrow. He looked at his boys fondly. “Put the sea in the bathtub for now and we will figure out what to so with it when I get back.”
Faramir giggled. Boromir smiled and shook his head at the rare mood his father was in. Denethor was rarely so playful, and he had definitely not been so since their mother had died.
Faramir was leaning against his side and Boromir put an arm around his little brother, smiling as he leaned closer. Faramir was such a tactile child, Boromir thought, but he did not mind. It made him feel less lonely, holding him when he wished to be held. It was his job to protect his little brother and he would, always, so he had sworn to his own heart.
When Denethor peeked into his sons’ room that night he found them asleep together. Boromir was curled around his little brother, his face nearly hidden in Faramir’s dark hair. Nearly hidden, for Denethor could see the faint remnants of tears on one barely exposed cheek.
He entered the room, dark save for the lamp that burned low in one corner, and laid his own light, a rather ornate candle stick from his study, on the table. His face was soft as he looked at his children.
With a gentle hand, he brushed Boromir’s sun lightened hair off his face, leaned down, and kissed his brow. Boromir gave a soft sigh, and then buried his head against the pillow and in Faramir’s hair.
Denethor drew back to find two sleepy grey eyes looking up at him. Faramir smiled slightly at his father then yawned hugely.
Denethor put his finger to his lips, for Boromir would be sorely embarrassed if he woke to find his father there. He bent down and kissed Faramir’s brow, leaning over to whisper in his ear, “I love you, little one. Now go to sleep for tomorrow will come early if you do not.”
Faramir nodded, closing his eyes and snuggled further into Boromir’s arms. He felt the touch of his father’s hand on his cheek for a moment before he drifted into sleep.
It was not uncommon, in the coming months, for Lords of the Land to find, when they brought matters to their Steward, that a dark haired child had the run of Denethor’s study. Faramir could often be found, when he was not dodging his brother’s footsteps, laying on his stomach by his father’s desk drawing or reading one of the thin story books that had been brought with him from Dol Amroth.
It was not unusual either to find him sitting in his father’s lap listening intently as his father explained some matter the boy had inquired about. On one memorable occasion one of his Captains had found them playing with Faramir’s toy soldiers, who were lined up along the edges of the large desk. An inquiry as to why was answered by Faramir saying they were guarding his Papa’s paperwork.
It was a change that many, though they chuckled about it, were glad for. Denethor had grown colder and much more grim in the passing of his wife, and more so during Faramir’s illness and
absence during his recovery. The child, serious and solemn in public as duty required him to be, something he understood even then, was still a child and one of the only two who could make Denethor smile still.
Boromir’s spirits seemed to lift, too, after a time. And as life began to settle back to normal for the small family, his night tears ceased, though he still seemed to cling to his brother for moments longer than he would have before.
It was not long, though, before Faramir found himself crawling into bed with his brother, shaking with grief and fear, after waking from his sleep in tears. When Boromir questioned him about it Faramir could not explain why he had woken so, only that his dreams were dark.
What made them so, he could not recall.
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.