1. The Swimming Lesson
"Don't be a coward," said his brother heartlessly, wading out to where the water lapped about his thighs. "See, I'm not complaining."
The little boy edged in step by step, looking back often to the edge of the bank where his nurse Rhîwen sat in the sun. She waved encouragingly.
"That's right, come out to where I am. Take my hands."
Faramir gasped as his feet lifted.
"Don't open your mouth," instructed Boromir. "Breathe through your nose. I won't let you float away."
As Boromir held his hands, Faramir gradually relaxed and floated, his legs and feet stretched out behind him just below the surface of the water.
"Good, that's good. Now, kick your feet, just a little – don't try to make a big splash."
Tentatively at first, and then more confidently, Faramir did as his brother told him. Boromir kept his own arms stiff against the force of Faramir's kicking, and the small body rose to the surface and began to splash.
"Not quite so hard. Just flutter them and you'll make it easier on yourself."
Faramir tried nodding yes, but the distraction made him sink again. He scowled and kicked harder, then slowed down as Boromir opened his mouth to caution him not to waste effort.
They practiced kicking for some few minutes, until Boromir decided that his brother was ready to try learning to breathe.
"Pay attention, now, Faramir. Keep kicking, but put your head down into the water. Breathe out through your nose if it feels like the water is going to come into it. Then turn your head halfway to the side to breathe in."
His first few attempts were marked by a good deal of spluttering, snorting, and general dismay, but soon Faramir was able to take breaths easily.
"Don't forget to kick!"
Furiously, Faramir kicked again, lifting his head out of the water completely as Boromir supported his arms.
"Now keep practicing your breathing."
He shook his head. "No, I want to stop now and rest and watch you swim." He let go of his grip on his brother's wrists and began wading back towards the bank.
Boromir let himself sink under the water and pushed off rapidly, circling around Faramir and popping up in front of him.
"Are you sure? You're nearly there, you just have to learn to use your arms now."
Faramir nodded. "I want to see you do it first."
"All right." Boromir used his hands to pull himself along the bottom until it became too deep to reach, then thrust with his feet out at an angle from the bank. He knew better than to head straight out across the river; at this spot a bend had formed a pool ideal for swimming, but once out in the full current of Anduin, a boy or man could get pulled away before noticing his danger.
He swam up and down, then, parallel to the shore, until the sun was high and Rhîwen called to him to come and eat.
Faramir had watched him for a while, the had sat quietly in water up to his neck and practiced breathing for quite some time. Finally bored, he waded along the edge of the river looking at the line of sticks, leaves, and other rubbish that had formed when the river receded from its spring height. His nurse's call brought him quickly back.
They had bread, and cheese, and berries, and honeycake for afters. After all his swimming, Boromir ate more even than was usual for him, and Rhîwen had to remind him that he needed to wait before going back into the water.
The brothers wandered back into the grass away from the bank, talking, as Rhîwen pulled her scarf loosely across her face and settled in for a short nap.
"Do you think Mama is going to get better?" asked Faramir in a low voice.
"I don't know." Boromir bit his lip. "I wish they would tell us something."
"Me too," said Faramir, reaching to take his brother's hand.
They walked in silence, then, pausing to point out to each other such objects of interest as a rabbit hole, an odd hump of stone, a passing butterfly. Finally Boromir squinted at the sun and said that they'd waited long enough, they could go back and swim again.
Shouting, they raced back to the river, Boromir winning easily with the long legs of a nine-year-old.
Rhîwen smiled at them. "Ready for some more swimming? Go ahead, you have time before we need to leave."
This time Faramir was less reluctant to go into the cool water.
"All right, I'm going to hold you up by the belly now, so that you can move your arms. Kick and breathe just like you already learned, and put one arm forward, then the other, just as if you were pulling yourself through the water."
He did as Boromir instructed, trying to remember to keep all his limbs moving smoothly while not forgetting to breathe.
"Stop now for a minute," said Boromir. Faramir stood up in the chest-deep water as his brother let go. "Do you think you're ready to try it on your own? I'll be right here."
Faramir hesitated, then nodded firmly. He very much wanted to be able to tell his mother and father that he could swim all by himself.
"Float again, then," his brother instructed. "I'll hold you for a minute to get you going."
Kicking and breathing and moving his arms, Faramir hardly noticed when he was no longer supported. He moved through the water slowly, with much splashing, but on his own. After a few body lengths, he realized that he was really swimming, and the delight was so great that it distracted his attention. He sank briefly, but Boromir with good care had angled him so that he had been moving parallel to shore, and he was able to stand up again. He turned around to see his brother a few yards behind, a huge grin on his face that matched Faramir's own.
"You did it!"
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.