In later years, in times of open war, the room had stayed dark, but it had lost its menacing qualities. The voices in the corridor had disappeared when he had left to lead the life of a soldier. Just one voice had remained, the only real voice of his childhood fears. As a battle tested soldier he did not fear to enter the room any more. He only longed to hear the voice without the touch of coldness, harshness and bitterness; longed to hear warmth in a voice that never had a kind word for him, that never was at peace.
He has never really known peace. Peace did not come to stay in the realms of Gondor and in the hearts of its most noble household for a long time. Neither the peace of arms not the peace of mind.
He never associated peace with this dark room. He never thought about peace while being here, let alone voice the word. None of the masters of the dark room did have the chance to enjoy peace for a very long time. Neither the one who was the demon of his childhood, nor the one who had kept him safe in his childhood days, who had been born to be the next master of the dark room.
Both of them were gone, and he desperately hoped they had found some peace.
The dark room remained, and it was his room now.
He opened the heavy wooden door, expecting to hear the voices from the past, and he was not disappointed. The voices still lurked in the dark shadows of the heavy desk, between the books in the dusty shelves, even behind the paintings, maps and tapestries on the stone walls.
He had to force himself to step into the murky twilight, to quickly stride by the desk and the shelves and draw the heavy curtains.
Bright sunlight flooded into the room.
The shadows disappeared.
The voices grew silent.
With the warm sunlight of spring, a first, shy feeling of peace found its way into the room, invisible to the casual eye, but he immediately noticed it while standing at the window.
A whisper of peace smiled at Faramir, son of Denethor, brother of Boromir, Steward of Gondor.
He allowed a sigh to escape his lips as he moved his eyes about his father’s study, bathed in sunlight for the first time in uncountable years. The room appeared different somehow, not as menacing as the child had seen the great desk, not as formal as the young Captain had believed it to be, not as empty as he had always thought it to be; cleared of all personal belongings, of beauty, of the person who had, after the death of his wife, worked here in the late hours of the night until the first light of morning.
He suddenly noticed the wooden chest below the window. As a child he had believed that a demon slept inside this chest, one of the demons whose voices haunted the corridor. His brother had told him about the demon when he had been very young, when their mother had still been alive, when the shadows had been barely noticeable. As a boy, Boromir had sometimes sat down on that chest to talk to their father. Nobody else had ever been allowed to sit on the heavy chest, no other child had ever spent enough time in this room to feel the need to sit down. The chest had just always been there, an unimportant item of furniture, and he had always chosen to ignore it.
He had never seen it open before.
He did not know what to expect. His eyes widened in surprise when he carefully examined the interior of the big chest with his gaze. The chest was almost empty. Only three small items had been stored there, three items that appeared small and unimportant to the eye, but he immediately recognized them as items of great value to the man who had decided to keep them locked in this safe place.
There were the two pieces of the Horn of Gondor, the only remains of the son and brother who had set out to solve a riddle and found both the desired answer and death on his journey.
There was a small handkerchief, in one corner someone had started to decorate it with an embroidered blue swan. The embroidery had never been finished, the beloved wife and mother whose hands had wielded the needle had grown weak and finally still before being able to finish the delicate task.
Faramir picked up his brother’s great horn and his mother’s handkerchief. He pressed both items to his heart, and suddenly his eyes dampened with tears. He closed his eyes, and there they were:
His brother, tall and strong, a smile on his fair face, his sword at his side, his great horn slung over his shoulder. His mother, beautiful and sad, singing to him in the darkness of the night. He did not remember her face, but he could recall her soft voice, always filled with great love for her two young sons. He would see them again, when his time came to join them in mortal death, and he was sure that there was nothing he could do to lose their love, and nothing would ever lessen his love for them.
Suddenly he understood why his father kept the broken horn and the unfinished handkerchief in the wooden chest. Those two items were all that was left of his beloved wife and son, and he had locked them in the chest, as he had locked their memory in his heart.
Faramir kissed the handkerchief and the pieces of the horn and carefully put them back into the chest. The chest was a safekeeping of memories, and he would not use it for any other purpose. But something was missing. He left the room, to return a few minutes later with a white piece of cloth in his hands.
The white banner of the Ruling Stewards no longer fluttered in the wind at the top of the White Tower; it had been replaced by the banner of the king. The white banner was all Faramir had left of the man who had been Steward of Gondor above all else, but who had also been his father who had always had his younger son’s love. Faramir kissed the banner and placed it next to the horn and handkerchief into the big chest. Then he closed the heavy lid.
They were all there, his father, his mother, his brother, hidden in this chest and kept safe in his heart. Maybe, one day, his sons and daughter would sit on this chest just like Boromir a long time ago, dangling their legs and chattering to their father the Steward who sat behind the great desk. The sun would lighten the room, would mingle with their laughter and sparkle in their eyes. If he was lucky, his sons would have his brother’s dark hair and fair face, his daughters the golden hair and beautiful smile of the woman he loved. He would love them equally, his children, and there would be no demons, neither in this room nor lurking in the chest, for locked in this chest were memories he would share with them, memories of the past, of death, hurt, pain, ghosts and hard words, but above all memories of love.
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.