2. Remembering Boromir
I turned my head to look out the window. Yes, all was as I remembered it. The seat retained all its old excellence as a spyhole. There, distant over the walls, lay the Northern approach to the Great Gates; there, below and almost behind me so I had to twist slightly to see it, was the street leading to the citadel tunnel; there, straight below me, was the walled courtyard that after my mother’s death was given over to our play and arms practice. How often had I sat here and waited for the first glimpse of my brother returning from his adventures or duties? How often had I sat here and watched Boromir, endlessly patient, endlessly determined, practise sword strokes or knife play? He was five years my elder and, as determined a tagger-on as I was and as kind and patient as he was, I had spent much of my childhood waiting for him. I closed my eyes and let the memories flow over me.
When Boromir first rode away to war I farewelled him privately in his room and publicly, with Father, in the square on the sixth level – then raced away up here to watch him ride out, proud on his black horse, the sun glinting on star-bright armour. Here, there had been neither Boromir nor Father to tell me to be brave and I had cried. I could not imagine living without him. I smiled bitterly as I traced a flaw in the glass. The last time I had stood here to try and catch a final glimpse of his beloved fair form he had been riding away, on my errand, to search for a riddle’s answer in a legendary land.
The summer he was 14 and I was nine we fought. He was shooting up and, promoted to full-sized weapons for the first time, aching to be a warrior. He had little time for me and our old plays: I was near his age before I began to understand. That summer I just wanted my companion back. I probably was the nuisance he called me but I resented it and retaliated in childishly subtle ways. I spent much of that summer curled up on this seat with a book – always with one eye out for Boromir. He was away from home with his training companions much of the time but still practised for long hours in the courtyard with his weapons, while I watched from my eyrie. Watching him, blade flashing in the sunlight, his hair tumbling forward from the tie he impatiently dragged it back with, young and bold and brave, I saw the stories I loved come alive. I saw Gil-galad leading his army of Elves into almost hopeless battle against great evil, saw Eärnur ride out of Minas Tirith in proud, reckless bravery, saw Hyarmendacil riding south in glorious triumph, saw even Tuor gleaming in gold and silver… for ever after Boromir rode as hero through my books and dreams.
Back even further in my memories, back when I was still a child ruled with despotic kindness by old Fírieth, I would watch from this window as Boromir rode his pony out of the stables on the sixth circle or played in the snow in the courtyard or slipped off through the tunnel in search of adventures. My toy soldiers – battered and scarce of paint having first been Boromir’s – or a book would keep me company on the window seat as I awaited his return.
This room was never used in my memory so it was an excellent refuge from those who wished to wash me and brush me – and later on from those who frowned on my absorption in books. Once Boromir was away fighting I found in this quiet place a sanctuary from Father’s increasingly uncertain moods and growing disappointment in me. I would study up here and, between pages or as I rested cramped fingers, let my gaze drift over the Pelennor Fields, where Boromir would one day come riding home.
I came up here once after Boromir had gone. It was the first time I was home after I had seen Boromir cradled in death by the Anduin. I came up here in the deeps of night and stood and watched the grey moonlit plains… and knew that nevermore would I see my brother ride proudly home.
A touch on my leg made me look down.
“Faramir, what are you doing?” Pippin asked.
I knew full what I owed him, and, more, I was grateful to him for his loyalty to Boromir but still he was the last person I wished to see.
“Remembering Boromir,” I said shortly, and turned back to my window.
Pippin hesitated; I could hear him still there behind me, feet shifting on the floor. Without turning, I offered him a sop.
“Aragorn has ridden out with Arwen but I believe I saw Elrond in the gardens earlier.”
Again, there was a hesitation and then the faintest of sighs.
“He died bravely,” Pippin offered and I bowed my head in acknowledgement and waited for him to leave.
As his soft footsteps faded, I let out the breath I had been holding and leant forward, arms propped on my knees. Suddenly, I wished Éowyn here. Perhaps I could have told her - she who had seen her foster father fall beneath a smooth-tongued snake’s spell as easily as I had seen Boromir flounder in the great dark wave that drowned Westernesse. I pushed back from my knees, opened my eyes wide and stared out the window, trying to see the first sign of Aragorn’s party returning. It was of no use. Still I saw the last night’s dream replayed - saw that oncoming wave and saw Boromir, proud and gay and brave, taken by it. He was tumbled and tossed by it as he tried to fight the currents that sucked him down. The great wave roared on, drowning villages and towns – and my brother sank, helpless, below its weight.
Boromir! I cried. Whither goest thou?
He answered not, and only broken whitecaps filled my sight. A tremor shook me and I bit my lip against it.
Suddenly I felt a presence in the room. I looked up, startled, and found Elrond watching me. As always, he seemed detached and yet brought with him the warmth of sunshine on a gentle summer’s day. I had spent several days with him in the Minas Tirith libraries but still found him as unreadable as ever. Though in body and face he looked no older than Boromir yet his eyes held the wisdom of centuries. They watched me now with a gentle compassion.
“Pippin told me that you were remembering Boromir. May I join you? I too have memories to share.”
He was the father of my queen and foster-father to the king I swore allegiance to, but it was not that alone which made it impossible for me to dismiss him as I had Pippin. It was more that presence of his: a deep-rooted dignity that was as much a part of him as beauty is of a willow tree in the flush of spring. I moved my legs down and swung around to face the room. Elrond sat down beside me with an Elf’s light grace.
“Boromir was a good man – but your memories of him are troubled, are they not?”
I looked away from the eyes that looked through me and my voice was stiff.
“My memories are my own.”
“But your troubles are not. They are shared by all those who care about you.”
He waited; let silence surround us. I watched my hands as they lay clasped in my lap and tried to forget the image of Boromir going down to death with that proud golden king, Ar-Pharazôn, and all those lordly men. The words that came surprised me.
“Why sent you Boromir with the ring? Have not Elves foresight? Knew you not it would destroy him?”
“To go was his destiny – and he would not have stayed at my word.”
I did not answer and after a few moments Elrond continued,
“Be comforted that he died defending those who could not defend themselves: that he died as he lived. Boromir spoke at our Council of how Gondor protects all those who shelter behind her and how peace and freedom is thus maintained. It is not given to all a chance to die with such grace.”
There was comfort, nay, healing in his voice but the chill of my dream remained.
“Your words are kind, Master Elrond, and I thank you for them… but there is more darkness to Boromir’s death than they show.” I paused. “Frodo will not say so - but it is clear that Sam believes that he feared for his life at Boromir’s hands. For the fell power of the Ring Boromir abandoned his loyalty to his companions and his care for those weaker.”
I turned to look at Elrond as I finished, searching his face for a response. Those unreadable grey eyes met mine for a long moment and then he smiled.
“Even had your brother been everything you have ever believed him to be he may still have been defeated by Sauron’s dark power. Sauron and his rings have trapped and destroyed finer and stronger men. You deem that if you had been the one chosen you would not have fallen – but I tell you that you cannot know. None of us can know our strength until it is tested – and few indeed must face as terrible a test as Boromir of Gondor did.”
Elrond waited and I did not speak. His eyes locked with mine and then I could not have spoken.
“But you have known of your brother’s death for weeks; why does it trouble you so now?”
I locked my hands together to still their shaking and reluctantly searched for words. I told Elrond of how I had dreamed for so long of the foundering of Númenor, the swallowing of that proud land, and of those men who hungered for power. I told him of how I saw the curving grey-green mountains of water crash down over the land, saw gilded buildings knocked down and richly-clad men dragged below the dark water. Then I told him how in the dark reaches of the night I now saw my brother, proud and fearless, taken by the wave and perish in that darkness unescapable. I stopped with no more words left. I leant my head in my hands and stared at the floor and the lacing of footprints there in the dust – my boots, Elrond’s light shoes and Pippin’s broad bare feet.
“You fear your brother was no longer of the faithful, that he abandoned the duties his role as Gondor’s Captain-General bound to him?”
I shuddered at the words but faintly nodded.
“Yet he sought not glory for himself but safety for his people and all they defend. Those who brought the wrath of the Valar upon Westernesse sought only to increase their own power and possessions. Ar-Pharazôn cared not for the good of his people but for his own desires. Yes, Boromir son of Denethor was a proud man and one who was anxious for glory – such are the penalties of being mortal – but he was not one who was shadowed. In the end, he kept faith with his companions and with the vows he swore as a soldier. Blame him not for falling to the lures of Sauron when he whispered of safety for you, his father and his beloved land.”
I nodded again, this time more definitely. The coldness that had filled me since I was first visited by the dream, three days before, eased a little. I swallowed to steady my voice.
“Why came the dream? I have ever loved Boromir; seen none to rival him in all of Gondor, nay, all history and legend. Why do I dream of his fall – of a punishment?”
I watched Elrond anxiously, knowing now that I had reached the heart of my unease. How could I come to misdoubt my own brother?
“He left you and you are angry,” Elrond said simply.
I frowned, unable to accept that. Elrond seemed to know what I was feeling.
“Many generations of men ago my brother chose to be a king of men - and thus to leave me. I knew that each of us must choose our own doom, and that both his pride and his fiery, impatient, courage made him more Man than Elf, yet I found it hard to forgive him his choice. Your brother took your doom – it was in your dreams the message first appeared and it was to you the quest for its meaning was first given. He did it to spare you, but you are no longer the motherless child he once protected. You are a soldier and a man now - and you have much of your brother’s pride.”
I flushed a little as I recognised the truth in what he said. Boromir’s words to our father and the elders had been true - he was indeed the older and the hardier – but I had wanted that great errand. Instead, he had taken what should have been my doom - and he had fallen. To me had been left Father, Gondor, a fight we could neither abandon nor win – and life without him.
I realised Elrond was watching me and acknowledged with a nod my acceptance of his words. He clasped my arm.
“Remember that your brother was much more than a sum of his parts. Pride, rashness, bravery, kindness, strength, fearlessness, loyalty, passion and boldness all made him Boromir and yet he was more – more than we can describe. He succumbed to the Ring’s temptation – but gave his life in heroic struggle to save the least of his companions. When he spoke of you during his stay in Rivendell, I saw a gentler man than the one of his public speeches and reported deeds. He was proud, even jealous, of his position – yet he honoured Aragorn, who would take much of it from him. He was the strength of Gondor – as strong and true as the rock that Minas Tirith is built on – but in his very strength of heart the Ring found a weakness.”
Tears burned in my throat and eyes as I nodded.
“You see him swept away by the wave that drowned Númenor yet you also saw him at peace in the Anduin. He may have foundered beneath that crashing wall of water – but he reached some far shore. Boromir did not die in darkness.”
“Thank you,” I said in a cracked whisper, through lips that seemed stiff and unwilling to move.
I turned to look out the window once more: saw sunlight glint on star-bright armour, saw proud youth and fiery steed, saw my brother ride bold and gay to battle.
Elrond stood. His hand touched my shoulder for a moment.
“Remember this – Boromir loved you.”
I smiled for a moment, even as I wept.
As Elrond’s footsteps faded, I saw my brother swing up on to his horse and settle his fur-lined cloak. He turned a last time to watch the rising sun paint the White Tower in golden shades and fey did he look. With a smile, he raised his great silver-tipped horn and sounded it long and boldly. Then I watched Boromir ride away for the last time, proud and unshadowed.
AN: This is still very beta so all feedback is welcome. While there are several sections in here giving me conniptions (frankly I’m well tired of trying to do all-wise Elf-Lord, particularly and stay in both period and character – I’d write an action story next except that might require plot) the end is probably my biggest worry. Does it come off? Would it be better to end it on ‘I know’ with the last part either removed or moved further up? Do Elrond’s words of wisdom seem okay or do we just go over the same ground repeatedly?
Other than that please point out any holes/problems/boring bits/language or canon glitches/general goopiness.
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.