6. Chapter 6
For a long moment everything was swirling around the two of us, there was nothing… not even the deadly darkness enveloping the world; there were just his eyes, unusually bright and aware, struggling to express all the things that had never been said. I stared mutely at him, then fell forward and buried my face in the pillow just beside his head, unable to hold back burning tears. Then something whispered into my ear, Look at him. You might never have this chance again. It is not the time to grieve yet, but you have been granted a wonderful gift, so use it, talk to him, tell him everything now he is awake, for later grief will be all that will be left for you.
I lifted my head with an effort. He was still looking at me, eyes nearly black with emotions I could not read. I placed both my hands upon his cheeks, stroking them lightly, then kissed his hot brow and moved my lips to his eyes, trying to convey everything with the touch, everything: all my regrets, and remorse, and my desperate plea for forgiveness, and, most of all, my fervent, pained love for him. I heard him sigh softly and contentedly, and when I finally withdrew, I saw his face glow with pleasure and peace.
“My dear boy,” I whispered, blinking back tears, for fear something might steal these precious moments. “How I love you… I would give my own life not to see you like this.”
“I know,” he breathed almost inaudibly. “I have…always known…always…and…F-father…” each word seemed to cost him enormous strain, “I…love you…too…” He closed his eyes, and for a dreadful moment I thought he was unconscious again, but then he opened them anew and tried to speak. I placed my fingers over his lips.
“Be silent, child. You will need your strength to recover.”
He gave me just a faint shadow of a smile. “I will not. Black…Breath…is deadly…you know this.” The smile grew wider. “And…I am no child, Father.”
I smiled, too, in spite of myself. “I remember you telling me this when you were…fifteen? But do not speak of death, Faramir. Are you not the one to hope until the last moment?”
His eyes filled with sorrow. “No…I know it is the end. I don’t want it to be…don’t want…to leave you all…all alone…” Suddenly there was fear in his gaze. “Father, I…I am so frightened…it’s dark there, not a flicker of light, nothing…” His voice gained in strength, he was desperately trying to say everything to me, lest he have no other chance, which, I realized with horror, was most probably true. “I had to fight so hard…so hard to come back, I wanted to see you again, to tell you…how sorry I am…and I couldn’t, I didn’t see any way back…and then, somehow, I knew you wanted me back…” he trailed off, exhausted.
I patted his immobile hand, then kissed him on the cheek again. “Sorry… What is there for you to be sorry about? It is I who is to blame for all… Oh, Faramir, if only…”
He cut me short by slightly squeezing my fingers again. “No, Father, I won’t hear anything of the kind.” His eyes hardened suddenly, making me feel like a scolded child. “I was such a terrible fool…stubborn and proud and…childish…”
His eyes closed again for a moment; it was increasingly difficult for him to speak, but when I tried to soothe him again, he even managed to shake his head.
“They sing…sing praises to me for my wisdom…and all…but I failed…I failed you, Father…no, no,” he forestalled my protests, “I do not mean the…the Ring…I don’t regret that…but…but…” he seemed to be fighting for every breath, his voice becoming so quiet I had to bend down to his lips to hear the words, “I should have…h-helped you…with the Seeing Stone…I…should have…noticed…earlier…”
Blinded with grief and horror, I slid my arm behind his back to hold him up and maybe ease his breathing, whispering into his ear, “Shh, child… be still, be still… I am here, I am with you…”
After a while he continued, “I was…so cross with you, so angry…”
I smiled sadly. “You had every right to be so, son.”
“No, no… Remember, Father… once, when I was…very young…soon after Mother died…you told me that when people are…are angry or sad they would say things…they do not really mean?”
I held him close, tears once again conquering me. How long ago it all seemed, that little boy looking at me with big, unhappy but still hopeful eyes with flickers of flames dancing in their depths! How easy it had been then to resolve all his tragedies, big and small alike, to wipe away his tears and with them all his worries…
“I did not think you still remembered that,” I whispered into his hair.
“I do,” he said. “You were not yourself…when you said those harsh words…and I…chose…not to think of that…instead I just got angry and…and would not listen to you…”
I embraced him still tighter, my heart being shattered into a thousand pieces. How could this have happened… it was all wrong, losing your children to that hateful force which had already veiled half the horizon, which had mockingly robbed me of myself just to throw this moment of light at me cruelly, so that I could realize all the clearer the nearness of doom, of the impenetrable darkness that would soon take us… and there was no escape, no hope, no life, nothing to cling to.
Faramir was too exhausted to speak now; he just lay back in my arms, breath barely discernible, eyes closed, but I knew he was not unconscious, for his fingers were still wrapped loosely around mine, stroking them gently, the only movement left to him.
“Tell me…a story…Father…” he whispered feebly after another long while.
“What?” I nearly jumped.
“Please,” he smiled. “I just want…to hear your voice… yet for a little while…I cannot see well, and it gets darker and darker…I will not stay much longer…”
I was about to protest, but the words died on my lips. I remembered what they told of the dying, of how their eyesight would fail when the end neared… Suddenly, my tears were gone. I received the gift of my son being awake with me as he breathed his last. I had failed him much too often throughout his life; I had neglected his cares as a small child; I had paid no heed to his worries as he entered adolescence; I had known nothing of his loves, his disappointments, his fears; I had led him to believe he meant nothing to me, that he was an unwanted and unfortunate addition to my family… but that had to stop. All he needed now was me; all I could offer him was a distraction from the clouds of darkness slowly surrounding him, and that would I do at whatever cost. If he is to leave me today, I will do everything to ease the way for him…
I shifted behind him, bringing him into a more comfortable position, gripping his hand tightly and reassuringly, my other hand resting on his sweaty brow.
“The day you were to arrive…” I began.
I must have paced across the sitting room for at least a hundred times, nearly frantic with worry. The heavy door blocked all the sounds from Finduilas’s bedchamber, and that added to my frenzied state.
I had insisted on staying with her throughout the ordeal, being a little sorry for my absence during Boromir’s birth, and had been in fact let in… and then pushed out after the midwife commented on the likelihood of either me losing my conscience or her losing her patience. Just out of the door I nearly tripped over a wailing Boromir who appeared to have been attacked by an angry goose. The poor boy had tried to get to his mother, but the maid would not let him see her, so he went to the kitchens next, to try and get some comfort and probably a cake or two, and there turned over a bucket of water. A proper scolding from the cook followed, and now Boromir was sobbing aloud on the floor.
His face was all covered in ugly red spots from crying, and he had a runny nose. With a feeling of slight disgust I had always felt (to my great shame!) when dealing with such tasks, I helped him blow it into my own handkerchief, making a mental note to throw it out later.
“Where’s M-mother?” he gulped.
“She is fine, only a little busy right now,” I said reassuringly, trying to keep my voice steady. “You know,” I continued with false cheer, “you are going to have a little brother or sister soon. Is that not wonderful?”
“No,” he snapped. “Don’t want babies. They are ugly.”
At heart, I agreed with him, but felt obliged to say, “Ours will be pretty.”
“They are no fun,” Boromir muttered.
“They are, after a few months. They are so funny when they start to speak, and then they try to walk and look like…like…fat little puppies,” I finished, relieved and pleased with a lucky comparison, as my son had been very fascinated with the creatures he found in the stables.
But, eventually, the conversation took the wrong turn. “I wasn’t like a puppy!” Boromir cried indignantly, then turned his back on me and, to my alarm, began to sniffle again.
I took him in my arms. “No, of course you were not, Boromir. I am sorry, I should not have said that. But it will be fun to have a brother or a sister, I promise.”
“But you said babies were like puppies!” I felt a true criminal.
“I made a mistake, all right? You were a very pretty baby, and our little one will be, too,” I assured him. Why did I always say wrong things, I wondered?
When at last we were admitted to the chamber and saw our wife and mother bursting with pride, though quite exhausted. She gave us a warm look, then suddenly burst out laughing. She laughed so hard tears sprang to her eyes and rolled down her flushed cheeks.
“What?” Boromir and I said at the same time.
“Oh, you two…you should see yourselves now…” she groaned. “So…concentrated…absolutely identical expressions…”
Her laughter was now reduced to short giggles. “You even…even keep you hands behind your backs in the same way. Boromir, sweetie, did Father make you walk across the room with him?”
“No,” our son frowned. “But he said babies looked like puppies.” He shot an accusing glance at me.
Finduilas had to bite the edge of her cover to stop another peal of laughter, then grew serious again.
“Here,” she beckoned, “would you like to see the little one?”
She carefully lifted the small bundle that had been lying beside her and presented the newest arrival to us. “It’s a boy,” she announced proudly.
I sighed inwardly and looked down at the tiny red wrinkled creature sleeping peacefully in her arms. This time I would not do what I did when Boromir was born, saying “My goodness, do they all look so terrible?” and earning at least a week of indignant hisses from the new mother. Instead, I took the baby from her, and saw my son open his eyes at me fuzzily.
“He has blue eyes,” I said awkwardly.
“All newborns do,” Finduilas smiled. “They might yet change. Here, let me take him. And Denethor?” she looked at me, her eyes laughing. “He is a big healthy boy. In a couple of weeks he will look much better.”
“He is all right,” I breathed.
Boromir wriggled onto the bed. “Can I see him?”
His mother smiled at him. “Of course, love.” And she put the baby next to him.
I could plainly see that Boromir was disappointed. For a while he just looked at the little one, and then the baby made a huge yawn. Boromir laughed happily and touched his cheek with his finger.
“So soft,” he announced. “Like…like cream.”
“Don’t worry, Father,” he said later, in a very mature manner.
We were sitting at the fire, I with a mug of ale (I needed one!) and Boromir with a huge apple.
“He may yet get pretty,” and he patted my hand reassuringly.
“Thank you,” Faramir whispered. I noticed a tear slowly making its way down his cheek and brushed it away with my finger. He smiled weakly. His eyelids fell heavily, and I was chilled to the bone in horror.
“No…Faramir, please, please, stay with me…” I hugged him frantically to my chest, begging him not to leave, but all I heard was, “Dark…so dark…” and he was silent.
I stood up, letting his limp body slide onto the bed. The story just told brought all to a fatal circle… the day my son arrived in this world and the day he had to leave it came together… were brought together by me. You have done this… you have given him life and you yourself have taken it… you have betrayed him and are not worth him… you are worthless, Denethor, Steward of Gondor, and will sink into oblivion… the Dark Lord will come and devour your precious City, or else the one who claims to be Isildur’s Heir will be crowned and you will have to serve the man you have always despised… and your son is burning in a place devoid of sun or moon; he who loves the light so dearly must be confined in the land of eternal darkness…
The wicked being whispered in my head again, but this time I offered no resistance, for it was speaking the truth. The cold rage took me. You have taken everything from me. You have taken my sons, my land and my honour. But you will not rule my end. My life belongs to ME. As does my son’s, for he cannot decide for himself.
I stepped to the door and opened it. “Guards!” I called.
Orders given, I returned to my son and once again pressed my lips to his brow.
“I will not fail you again, Faramir. I will give you light.”
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.