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Spartan Letters: 1. Spartan Letters
In "That Which Remains Us," Boromir left a bunch of letters, including one for Faramir and one for his father. I can't believe Faramir didn't do the same, and I would like to see what Faramir would write in a letter like that to his father.--Altariel and Starlight
Thanks to Julie for picking up a serious timeline snafu. Revisions have been made to slot this episode into the chronology properly.
And since SailingToByzantium keeps bringing up things Greek in our discussions, I hope she will find this title appropriate.
The day had barely begun, yet already it felt long. No doubt the darkness was partly to blame: Faramir, armed and armored for battle, removed his gauntlets to light a lamp and seated himself at his desk, facing west with the sunless sky at his back. No use opening the shutters this morning, and he felt cold in any case—cold with a chill that came not of the winter that still held sway. He ought not to be here; he ought to be on his way to the First Circle, to oversee the final preparations of his company ere they rode. Instead he drew a sheet of paper from a drawer and smoothed it, feeling it slide sensuously beneath his palms.
The blank slate of my life, he thought, as he took up the pen, and wondered what he ought to say this time. He had thought that he had said all the last time that he had set himself this task; he had thought himself finished with this task, and the worn out heart within him begged him to set down the pen, to let stand what had gone before and not to force still more honesty onto the page. For he had his orders, whatever he might will, and truly he ought to let this lie and attend to his duty, but Frodo's face looked out starkly from the wells of memory, and 'wells' evoked water evoked Boromir and a grey, elven boat on the pall of Anduin, while memory of Denethor's voice tormented him:
Do you wish, then, that our places had been exchanged? —Yes, I wish that indeed, for Boromir was loyal to me and no wizard's pupil!
So he began:
Let it be said now and believed: I am no wizard's pupil, if by that you mean that I hold Minas Tirith less dear than do you. Let my body be my witness, or if I am not so fortunate, then let my absence speak for itself. I did not flee. I did not set my faith in fading Elves, nor the wisdom of wizards, but put my trust and strength in cold steel, though it be not enough to save us. Thus you see that indeed, our places were exchanged, Boromir's and mine: for 'twas he who passed south to the sea, trusting to a wizard's word and errand, and I who stood the ground here, where Men walk open-eyed beneath this murk.
I have delivered to you all that Boromir asked, thus I have fulfilled that charge. You will find a few of Mother's possessions in my room, to dispose of as you will. That room on the third floor has become somewhat crowded since Boromir's death; I suggest the one in the west wing instead. It has stood empty for so long.
I would, though, that the box Boromir left me go to Uncle—it seems destined to return ever to him, and perhaps that is as Mother would wish it. As for the rest, there is little that cannot be disposed of, either to the library vaults or bestowed at need elsewhere. The chess set should go to Mablung, that he may improve his game, unless he falls with me. And since that seems likely, then I would say give it to Amrothos, if he will have it. The book I borrowed from you three years ago, and which you have not asked for since, you will find on the top shelf in my bedroom, and I thank you for the loan. There is also a journal that perhaps might interest you. Volume six, in the chest at the foot of my bed. Consign the others to the flames unread, please.
I have naught to give you, it seems. Naught that I have not given already, for if you read this, then I have obeyed the command of my lord, to serve in the living and dying. Save perhaps to say that I can no longer trace all the steps that led to this day, to this letter. You seemed to want nothing else, and I know you do not want my regrets. But perhaps, since this is the time for such honesty, I shall gift them you anyway:
I would I had been my brother for you. I would I had not fallen away from the path you set me so young. I would I had been the instrument you wished me to be. I would I had been your Faramir, as Boromir was your Boromir. I would I had not to write this letter today. I would I had no early call to make. I would Osgiliath were lost, and the forts were fallen already, and that this were the end, so that I would not need to anticipate it all the hours of the day, and however many morrows there may be ere the Enemy strikes. I would see Gondor live. I would see you with Mother again, since we are now on the path of fantasy. She could find that laugh line that I have not seen for years, it seems, save ironically. I would I had found it for you. I would have peace between you and Uncle.
I would many things were not that are, and also that much would be that is not. I hear it now: 'Be sparing in your sorrow, Faramir; there is no time.' Aye, there is no time.
Faramir set the pen down, and carefully reread the letter. Then, when he was certain that the ink was dry enough, he folded the letter carefully, dribbled some wax on it and pressed his seal against it ere it cooled. Standing, then, he went and leaned against the mantelpiece over the fireplace, wishing vainly that the warmth of the flames would do something to ease the chill that seemed to have seeped in with his melancholy.
Long he stood, staring at naught, and he was not certain, later, what thoughts had passed through his mind. But finally, he did stir, and he glanced at the letter in his hand. After a moment's hesitation, he tossed it casually into the flames and watched as they consumed it. Edges blackened, wax hissed and melted, and the words within began to disappear.
Satisfied, Faramir returned to the desk, and took out a second sheet. This time, standing, he wrote swiftly, and was almost surprised by his brevity. Almost, he thought, recalling his brother's final letter to him, and he smiled slightly. Almost.
A little later that day, one of the messenger lads brought Denethor a letter addressed to him from Faramir—'In the event of' read the line beneath his name, which was plain enough advertisment of its nature.
"He has gone, my lord," the boy said, seeming somewhat anxious. "He bade me bring it and his good day to you."
The Steward of Gondor had nodded at that, and dismissed the boy, though once alone, he had stared at that letter for he dared not think how long ere setting it aside. But he did not put it in a drawer, and the next three days, it remained upon his desk, seeming to stare at him, though of course, that was nonsense.
And when Imrahil had brought Faramir home, and the palantír had told its tale—when in the still chamber Denethor sat in vigil over his son, when the comfort of a Halfling fell upon deaf ears, one might have seen, had one dared draw nearer, the letter set opened nearby upon a stand. What became of it in the end, who can say? Fed to one fire or another, or swept out by servants in a hurry. Had Pippin turned he might have read:
I fear I must be in the end the wizard's pupil, for he has said to me: 'Your father loves you, Faramir, and will remember it ere the end.' Think not ill of me if I wish to believe him.
Do you wish, then, that our places had been exchanged? –Yes, I wish that indeed, for Boromir was loyal to me and no wizard's pupil! RoTK, "The Siege of Gondor," 94.
'Your father loves you, Faramir, and will remember it ere the end.' RoTK, "The Siege of Gondor," 99.
A/N: This relies on references to "From the Other River Bank," "Father and Sons" and "That Which Remains Us": the box for Imrahil, Boromir's correspondence style, Denethor's packrat hoarding tendencies, and the letters, of course. I think you get the idea, though, even if you haven't read those three stories.
Copyright Dwimordene May 28, 2003
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