5. Chapter 5
The time was dragging on. I had sent Pippin away for a while, the poor little soul looking so uncomfortable after being in the same position for quite long. He assured me he would be back shortly.
I wondered at my own attachment to the creature. Was it because of his indomitable spirit that I liked him so? Or was it his slight frame in the black and silver livery that brought back the memories of my sons when they were younger, all their cares still ahead of them, the same look of innocence and wonder in their eyes? But, most likely, what appealed to me most was the fact that, notwithstanding the oath I had heard form Pippin, he was certainly not the one to bow to anyone except for appearances’ sake. He was so friendly to me only a short while after our acquaintance, so full of heartfelt compassion, so enthusiastic and admiring while describing Boromir that I could not but develop a liking of him. He had seen enough horrors in his life, and yet not enough to harden him the way it did me… and I envied him.
For the first time in many years, a thought slowly crept into my head: could I have prevented this collapse of everything I held dear? Could I have withstood the fatal impact of the Enemy through that cursed stone? I still had a will of my own, however many horrible blackouts I suffered. Was it I who brought death upon my house?
For the palantír had not wholly possessed me. In the worst moments, I wondered at the sort of man I had become; one part of me filled with black despair after the horrendous visions I saw in its misty depths, another screaming silently, struggling to break free, searching frantically for a helping hand; but whenever I was ready to reach out, it would drag me down like a foul-stinking quagmire, and I would roar with rage at those near me… my poor Faramir getting the blows most often.
How many times did I see his eyes darken with pain at my harsh and angry words? I dare not count. Nor can I count the times when I stopped at his door, laying my hand against the wood, summoning the courage to push it open, to rush to my child, to tell him everything and beg for his forgiveness and maybe for his help, too… and walking away, for I knew we were too far apart by that time, that I had lost his trust, long ago, when I neglected the cares of a little lonely boy with defiant grey eyes…
Now I wonder, was I right to think this? Maybe, had I tried to mend the rift between us instead of leaving it be, I would now have my son alive beside me.
When he came to inform me of Boromir’s fall, I had already known.
The palantír had showed me everything.
Horror-stricken, I watched as black-feathered arrows pierced my son’s broad chest, sending him to his knees. I heard him gasp with pain, then scramble to his feet again and cleave another Orc’s head. More arrows came; he fought on, blood trickling from the corner of his mouth, eyes wide and almost black with pain and the realization of a coming end. And I saw a wild desire to live, to fight, to love, just for a little while more…
I fell to the floor, my legs giving way under the crushing grief. He was no more… my son, my love and pride, and it was like a cold hand gripping my guts and twisting them into an icy knot. Then I realized someone was speaking to me, begging me to awake from the stupor that had taken me.
I turned my head slowly, and my eyes focused on Faramir, who was sitting on the floor behind me, his strong arms wrapped around me tightly. First all that was written on his face was fear and concern for me; then I noticed his pallor, his tangled hair, and, the most ominous sign, his red-rimmed and moist eyes. He had been weeping, and that had a truly terrible meaning.
I had held my hopes even after the sound of Boromir’s horn, even after the scene that cursed stone had showed me, but at the sight of my younger son’s tears all of them turned to dust.
“Boromir?” I managed to whisper.
He just lowered his head onto my shoulder, and I heard a muffled sob that was meant as a confirmation.
“Orc arrows… I saw him in a vision, floating down the Anduin in an Elven boat.” He drew a deep breath to compose himself. “There must have been some companions who arrayed him for his… last journey.”
I leaned back onto him, feeling the strong arms holding me protectively, his brow once again on my shoulder. I felt strangely numb, aware only of the warm touch, thinking absently that it had been like ages since I was that close to Faramir.
“It is cold here,” he finally said in a very gentle voice. “Let me help you to your chamber, Father.”
I just gave a nod. He helped me to my feet.
“Can you walk? Will you manage the stairs?” There was none of his usual aloofness about him, only love and concern shining in his tearful eyes. I suddenly felt an enormous gratitude for his being with me.
“Yes, Faramir, I think I will.”
We were prepared to leave the chamber, when his eyes wandered around curiously. That was only natural, even in the circumstances, for he had never been inside Ecthelion’s Tower. All of a sudden, he gave a terrified gasp and made a step towards the round table in the centre, where the palantír was. I had forgotten to cover the thing with its cloth.
“Faramir, NO!” I rushed to the stone and threw the cloth onto it. “Don’t… don’t look.”
He was white as a sheet when he looked at me again. “Father… no, it cannot be… why, what is it doing here? Have you looked into it?”
I sighed. “That is why I do not want you to do it, son.”
He staggered backwards to the wall and pressed his palms to it, as if to steady himself.
“When I came in… you already knew about Boromir, did you not?
And you knew of many things… many plans of the Enemy…” His eyes widened in horror. “Father… Did He speak to you?”
“Did He, Father?” He sounded almost angry.
I did not answer, for that seemed unnecessary. He had already known. I felt so weary… so weak. The war… the palantír…
Boromir… My vision blurred with tears. I was dimly aware of Faramir at my side, his arm once again around my shoulders, guiding me towards the exit.
Next thing, my son was barking orders in a very uncharacteristic manner, and soon I discerned the familiar furniture in my bedchamber. I was sitting in an armchair. Faramir had built up the fire, and the room was suffused in a warm glow. Then he moved to the door and took a steaming mug from a servant, then dismissed him.
“Here, drink. Drink this.” Some other time, I would have smiled at his commanding tone; now, I just took the mug and sipped the hot brew. After I finished it, he took the mug from me and, having placed it on the table, sat on the floor in front of my chair and took both my hands in his.
“Now tell me all about it,” he said softly. I wondered at the change in my son and told him about it. He shook his head impatiently.
“Never mind the changes, Father. Tell me about the stone.”
So I did, for I was too weary to reason with him. I felt vaguely surprised; that was what my son was like when with his men, giving orders; I had never witnessed his other self, nothing like the quiet and withdrawn young man whose eyes were downcast for most of the time.
When I finished, he was very white in the face again.
“How could you do that, Father…” he whispered.
That angered me. “Do you not see how much good it has done us? We were able to know of the movements of the Enemy’s forces, your precious Rangers could prepare so many successful ambushes, and all thanks to the Seeing Stone!”
“But Father, do you not see it? The Enemy himself is too strong an adversary to play such games. We have had a spy within the Citadel for… for decades! And I am sure he has enjoyed the play.”
I snorted. “He has lost quite a bit of his forces to enjoy it so much.”
Faramir sounded exasperated when he next spoke. “But he can afford it, Father! The loss of a couple of thousands of Orc is nothing for him! But getting inside the Steward’s mind – now that is a success!”
He pressed my hands to his chest, looking beseechingly into my eyes. “Father, I refused to believe the rumours in the City that the Steward is not himself, that he acts strangely, that… that he would take the throne rather than give it to the rightful King, should the latter appear… I know you only too well to believe that these things come from your own mind. Can you not see He is striving to destroy you, and with you our City and our land?”
He stooped to kiss my hands, suddenly turning into a little frightened boy I used to know, and I felt tears slipping onto my skin. “Father… when I was a child, I used to have dreams of a fiery globe consuming you… I had it again and again… I would not tell anyone, for someone told me that you should keep bad dreams a secret, then they will never come true… but they are coming true! Father, I know we do not always get along well, but I love you, and now that I have lost Boromir… I cannot lose you too, I cannot, I do not want it…” He sagged against me heavily, his body shaking with weeping, his lips still pressed to my palm.
I wondered at my own reaction to his outburst. Surely it would be best to embrace him now, so broken and grieved over the death of his brother to get yet another blow; to hold him to my heart and simply weep with him, and then promise never to look into the cursed stone again… But then the wicked being that had made my thoughts its home whispered into my ears, Did you not see him in the palantír? Did you not see how he handed the Crown of Earnur to that upstart from the North? How he helped to crown him King, so that he may take your place?
No, no, I wanted to scream. I will not listen to this. I will not believe such thing about my own son. He is a man of honour. He will follow where his duty lies. I trust him!
And your trust is your undoing, it reasoned. He is ever so reserved with you, why this display of affection today? Perhaps he fears you have started to suspect him of something. Perhaps it is just a cunning strategy of his. You know how bright he is at this, getting people to do what he wants. You think it was you who sent Boromir to his death… but could it not be some clever manipulation on Faramir’s part?
With horror I realised it was getting the upper hand. Another moment, and I will do something terrible to my own child…
“Faramir,” I whispered, “leave me.”
He lifted his head, his face streaked with tears. “Father?..”
“You heard. Leave me alone.” I felt rage surging inside me, and fought desperately to keep it at bay for another instant. “Go away.”
The anguish in his eyes nearly broke my heart. He wanted to say something, but I repeated, “Go away.”
He slowly got to his feet, wiping his face with his sleeve. When our eyes met again, he looked as calm and resolved as ever, a Rangers’ Captain again.
“As you command, my lord.” His expression was unreadable. “Do you wish me to call upon you before leaving at dawn?”
“No,” I answered, nearly succumbing to the blackness about to engulf me. Please, Faramir, leave now… I cannot fight much longer… I may do something I am going to regret eternally…
And he was gone.
The moment the sound of his footfalls died down, I was myself again. I stirred and blinked, then laughed bitterly at the cruel trick that had just been played on me. The Enemy had toyed with me… had held me just enough time, and then released me, gave me over to the torture of my own conscience. How truly inventive…
No, I suddenly filled with resolve. I am no puppet, even to the Dark Lord himself. He ahs taken one son from me; he will not part me from another one. I shall go and see Faramir at once.
I was mildly surprised at finding his door barred. I tapped at it, then, getting no response, called, “Faramir, I want to talk to you, son.
Please, let me in.”
He appeared in the doorway, deathly pale but outwardly calm, still fully dressed. “What is it that you want from me, my lord?” His tone was icy cold.
I nearly groaned aloud in frustration. “Faramir, I… I am sorry. Let me explain…”
He waved his hand, as if in dismissal. “Apologies accepted. Now may I be alone? I am weary, and I have just lost the only person that ever cared for me. Surely I can ask for some solitude? If I may remind you, my lord, I granted you the very thing I am asking of you now.” This said, he closed the door carefully (I would feel better if he had slammed it in my face!) and barred it again.
I stumbled blindly along the hallway. Lost… the thought was throbbing in my head, I have lost them both.
I should have talked to him earlier…
I awoke with a jerk, realising that the long vigil had had its toll on me. Did I dream of all that? It happened mere days earlier, but now these days felt ages. I rubbed my hand across my face, not surprised to find it damp. Then it dawned on me that there was some slight pressure on my other hand. I looked down at it and gasped, for Faramir’s dry hot fingers were wrapped tightly around mine.
I closed my eyes, my heart in my throat, fearing the disappointment, but it never came, for when I opened my eyes again, I stared straight into my son’s, and his lips moved. Though no sound came, I easily discerned the word he breathed.
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.