1. Too Late For Misgivings
"Then your route is settled," said Faramir, turning his gaze from the map to his brother, and the older man chuckled.
"As much as it can be," he replied. "The Great West Road to Edoras, and then north until I can stumble across it."
Faramir laughed. "Well, somewhat more certain than that," he said, "though I confess I wish the way were yet more sure."
"I go to find a legend of Elves," said Boromir, lifting the thin edge of the leather on which the map was drawn. "How sure might the way be?" he asked, his grey eyes sparkling, and he rolled the leather swiftly into a snug cylinder.
Faramir's smile faded.
"I would accompany you, brother," he said softly, his eyes shadowed.
"No, Faramir, you cannot," Boromir answered, tucking the map into its case. "Father should not lose both his sons to this dream, and he will need you far more than he will need me, for all he does not see it now." Ah, that he should see it soon, Boromir thought, and his heart ached for the love the Steward granted so easily to him, and with such miserliness to Faramir. "He will need your sense, and your patience," Boromir continued. "You are by far the wiser of us two."
"Yes, yes, and you the sturdier," said Faramir, his irritated tone belying Boromir's sense of his brother's patience, and startling him. "I know, I heard this all at council. But my heart bids me otherwise, and would have us change places, or at least go together into this uncertainty."
Boromir opened his mouth to answer, then hesitated. Was Faramir right? The way was uncertain, and the destination also, and not to Boromir's liking. He'd had no dealings with Elves, and indeed, wondered if this Imladris even existed. Faramir was the lore-master, Faramir the diplomat. Lessons hard learned in dealing with their father, he thought bitterly, remembering so many confrontations between father and younger son, so many times when Faramir had prevailed only by use of careful persuasion. Not manipulation, as did others with such talents as Faramir possessed, but gentle diplomacy never the less. Finally, he glanced at Faramir and said, "Come. I must depart soon, or wait another day." Together the two men, so alike in appearance, yet so unlike in temperament, stepped out into the warm summer air.
"We are not our own men, my brother," Boromir said finally, his voice almost a sigh. "Were we, then indeed I would have you by my side. But we are the Steward's sons, and cannot do always as we wish." He turned to Faramir then, and his gaze was penetrating. "If I said to you, now, 'come with me, Faramir,' would you? would you leave Gondor, and the Steward to perchance have no heirs, at the end?"
Boromir's heart clenched, awaiting his brother's answer, for indeed, if he said yes.... There was no more denial in Boromir. He would be swayed, and he would sway their father as well. Faramir started to answer, then paused, and looked away, and Boromir saw his gaze fall on the withered tree that still stood in the fountain, drops of water sparkling in its dead branches, turning the tree to silver. Still, a dead thing, Boromir thought, which only stood for reverence of a long-dead King. Or for hope of a new one. But no King came, and the Stewards ruled over times that grew more troubled with each day. Far to the east, the crest of Mount Doom lit the world with blood.
Finally, Faramir shook his head.
"You have the truth of it, my brother," he said, and glanced at Boromir with humor in his eyes. "Are you certain I am the wiser? Perhaps you are, indeed, and you should stay to counsel our father in these dark days. After all, 't'was I who had the dream first, and you but once. Who shall say which of us was meant to go?"
Boromir lowered his gaze, and pressed his hand to his face, feeling every one of his years, and sore from the precision of Faramir's unintended blow.
"I have thought long on this," he said finally, "though perhaps you believed otherwise. I am not so wise as you," glancing at his brother with a smile, "but I am not without discernment. It may well be that I usurp your rightful place in this."
"You spoke nothing of this at council," he said. "What think you - that I am incapable of the journey?"
"Oh, no my brother," said Boromir, shaking his head, and he chuckled. "Captain of Ithilien's Rangers? You are no doubt more capable than I of finding the hidden city of this Elrond the Halfelven, if indeed it is more than legend."
"Then why?" and at Faramir's tone, Boromir felt his resolve weaken once again. Hurt was in it, but less hurt than honest confusion. And again, Boromir doubted his decision. Why should not his younger brother take this path? Why should not Faramir seek for Imladris, and let Boromir stay, and lead the armies, and counsel Denethor? Indeed, it was what Denethor wanted, and to wait another day for Faramir to prepare before starting the journey, what would be one day in a journey of so many? But again, Boromir felt cold at the thought of Faramir leaving on this quest.
"A shadow is on my heart," he said finally, moving to stand by the glittering fountain. "I fear that whether I go, or you, it is not for counsel only, and the interpreting of a dream, but to some larger purpose. I know not why, except... the dream weighs on my mind, and I cannot think it speaks to Gondor's fate alone."
"No, I am certain it does not," said Faramir, following his brother and standing close behind him. "But we cannot know where this path leads, so what matters that when deciding who should follow?"
Boromir turned to face him, suddenly angry.
"What matters?" he said. "What matters? What matters that I might send my brother to his death on some strange shore, or to a worse fate?" Boromir scowled. "I trust not the Elves," he said, "nor this 'Halfling', nor in any but the sturdy Men of Gondor, and of Rohan, and I would not - I would not - " but here he paused, unable to find the words to tell Faramir of his fear.
Faramir matched his scowl, and replied, "What matters this, I ask you? When need commands, we obey, and need commands that one of us take this quest, but why the elder? why the favored son?"
Suddenly Boromir pulled the younger man into a fierce embrace.
"Faramir," his voice scarcely above a whisper, and thick with unshed tears. "Our father loves you," he said, pressing his hand to Faramir's dark head. "He will have as much need of wisdom as of warriors before this is done, and I fear that whichever of us goes, no son of Gondor will return home from this quest."
Faramir pushed away from his brother then and took Boromir's face between his hands, searching those grey eyes.
"Boromir," he said, "this is not you, to be so troubled. Whence comes this?"
"I know not," he replied, his hands on Faramir's shoulders, dropping his gaze, ashamed at his outburst. "It is a poor sentiment, unbecoming a soldier."
"Nay," said Faramir, shaking his head, "not unbecoming, but unexpected. You fear to go?"
"I fear for you to go," Boromir said, meeting his brother's eyes again, so like his own, but clear as the Great River on a calm day, where his, he knew, were as clouded as those waters in a flood. "I would not lose you," he said, his grip firm, his resolve suddenly as steely as his tone. "I will not lose you. Come - see me off." And with that he pulled his brother to him, his arm around Faramir's shoulders, and started towards the Gate of the Citadel.
Faramir kept silent as they made their way to the stables, kept silent still as Boromir checked the packs that had been strapped to his mount, and then said, "I shall ride with you as far as the north gate of Rammas Echor."
Again, Boromir felt his heart rise to his throat, and he shook his head.
"Were you to ride as far as the gate with me, I would have you ride just a little farther," he said. "Perhaps only as far as the Grey Wood, or Amon Dîn. Then perhaps only as far as Edoras, for surely two men such as we could find provision enough between here and there." He paused, feeling already bereft of his brother and friend. "And surely, then, my will would give way," he continued, "and can you be certain you could leave me there, and return to the Steward, if I asked you to come with me?"
Faramir didn't answer, but dropped his gaze at last. Boromir forced a smile to his lips, forced back the tears that threatened, for though tears would not unman him at such a parting, he did not wish to part from Faramir with tears between them. Taking the bridle of the horse, he said, "Come with me into the daylight. See me off from here. I shall feel your eyes on me as the light of the sun, and my heart shall be lighter for it."
Together the two men stepped out of the cool of the stables and onto the path that would lead Boromir to Imladris, they hoped, and whither then, neither knew. The sun was bright in the sky, the morning cloudless, the lightest breeze still whispering through the air. Boromir turned to his brother, and Faramir clasped the back of the older man's neck, then drew him close, kissing his cheeks, and his forehead.
"Put the shadow from your heart, my brother," he said. "You will come again home."
Returning the embrace, Boromir pressed kisses to his younger brother's cheeks, his forehead, and then his lips, then quickly turned away and swung easily into the saddle of his mount.
"I leave in your hands all that I love," he said, and smiled. "Keep good care of it until I return. And of yourself, most of all." With that, he urged the steed forward, turning once before he passed through the sixth gate, to see Faramir, the bright sun haloing him, lift one hand in farewell. It was almost his undoing. For one brief moment, everything he'd said, all his decisions, all seemed the workings of another mind, flawed and dangerous, and his heart cried out to him to turn back, bring Faramir, or let the younger go in his stead.
But it was late for such misgivings. His breath caught in his throat then, and he silenced that voice, turned his mount to the gate, and in a clatter of hooves on stone, rode through the gate and towards whatever fate was his.
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.