A hand on my elbow startled me, but of course it was only Faramir, awake from his nap.
As was his habit, he climbed into my lap without a word, making himself comfortable and rubbing at his eyes. He liked to sit quietly as he woke up more completely, and I found it very soothing to simply hold him. There has always been something very comforting about the heavy weight of a sleepy child resting against me..
Once Faramir had settled himself, I turned back to the letter I had received from my sister Braneth, absently combing my fingers through his hair as I read. After a time, he asked, "What are you reading?"
"A letter from my sister," I replied, glancing down at him.
He looked curious. "You have a sister? Do you have a brother, too?"
"I have four brothers," I smiled.
His eyes went wide. "That's a lot," he said. "Are they bigger than you?"
"Two brothers are older than me, but all the others are younger," I replied, wondering why he was suddenly so interested in my family. "I took care of them before I came here to take care of you and Boromir."
Faramir frowned. "But…now who takes care of them?"
"They do not need much looking after now," I said. "The littlest ones – Gwenel and Talagan - are 13 years old."
"Oh," he said, looking much relieved. "That's too big for a nanny, isn't it?"
"It is," I agreed, "though my sister Braneth still takes care of them sometimes. You are never too big for a sister – or brother."
He grinned. "Will I get more brothers or sisters?"
I strongly doubted that. Lady Finduilas had seemed to grow more delicate in the years since Faramir's birth, and she often seemed more distant, as well. But all I said was, "It is always possible."
"What's their names?" he wanted to know. "Are your brothers soldiers?"
"No, but Pilimór is a sailor," I said.
"Like Uncle Imrahil?"
I chuckled at that idea. "No, not like your uncle. Pilimór is a fisherman, with his own. boat. My older brother Mellonar works for my father, traveling all over Gondor. Inthenin is just turned 19, and he …." I trailed off, frowning, for I could not recall what trade Inthenin had taken up. He had only been nine years old when I left Dol Amroth, and Braneth sometimes did not relay all of his activities. They were only three years apart, and did not get along very well. Inthenin was not one to write, and Mother, when she wrote, was so overly dramatic that I never knew what to believe.
Then I remembered a rare letter from my father. "Oh, I was wrong, little one. Inthenin certainly is a solider – I believe he is becoming quite a good archer."
"Like a ranger?" Faramir and Boromir both were fascinated by rangers, for they did not often get to see one, and when they did, would stare with round eyes, whispering excitedly back and forth.
"Not exactly," I said with a smile. "There are no rangers in Dol Amroth, rabbit."
He looked disappointed, then began counting on his fingers. "Pilimór, Mellonar, Inthenin, Gwenel, and Talagan --that is five brothers, and you said four."
"Gwenel is a sister, silly boy," I corrected, though I was impressed that he had remembered all those names."Talagan is a brother – Gwenel's twin - and he is apprenticed as a scribe." Braneth had had the care of the littlest ones, so I always knew what they were doing.
"What's a twin, Nanny?" Faramir wanted to know.
"Twins are two children born on the same day, at the same time, who look very alike, sometimes so alike that you cannot tell one from the other," I explained. "I could not tell Gwenel and Talagan apart when they were babies, but as they got older, it became much easier."
Faramir looked as if he was thinking something over. "Do they have the same birthday?"
"Yes, they do," I nodded.
"I wouldn't like that," he declared. "I wouldn't want to have to share my birthday party with someone else."
"Not even Boromir?" I teased.
"No, I don't want to be twins with him," Faramir said seriously. "I like having a big brother. But he could probably share my birthday party, if he didn't eat all the cakes."
I laughed. "You always have enough cakes at your birthday party, do you not?"
"Yes," Faramir nodded, then changed the subject, as he frequently did when we talked like this. "Gwenel is a sister, and… ummm..who sent the letter?"
"Braneth. Is there any more?"
"There is Minuial," I supplied. "She takes care of the books for our father." No-one had been more surprised than I when I heard that news. But apparently Minuial had showed quite an aptitude for numbers, and, as Father had not been entirely pleased with the man who had been keeping his books, he had been more than happy to turn that task over to his daughter. From Braneth's letters, I knew that Minuial still as flighty as ever when it came to men, but she was all seriousness when it came to the ledgers.
"She takes care of books?" Faramir's eyes lit up. "Like at the archives? Does she dust them and put them back in the right place and tell children to wash their hands before they touch anything?"
I had to laugh. "Not those kinds of books, my rabbit. I mean that she adds and subtracts to see how much money people have paid our father, or to see how much money Father must pay other people."
"Oh," Faramir looked overly displeased at that, as if I had somehow tricked him. "That doesn't sound like as much fun as taking care of real books."
"I do not think it sounds like much fun, either," I admitted. "I prefer taking care of curious little boys."
"I don't know curious," he said, interested as always at hearing a new word. "What is that? Is it good?"
"You are that," I told him, chuckling. "Curious is asking many questions. And yes, I think it is good. Asking questions is how you learn new things."
He gave a self-satisfied little grin. "Is Boromir curious, too?"
"He is," I agreed. "But you two are curious about different things, which is also good."
Though fully awake, Faramir showed no inclination to move. He fell silent a moment, however, and I wondered what question my curious little boy was coming up with next. Finally he asked, "You like taking care of us, Nanny?"
"Of course I do," I assured him, giving him a quick hug. "I would not have come to Minas Tirith if I did not like take care of you."
"Will you ever go back to Dol Amroth?" he went on. "I like it there, when we visit, and Mother likes it a lot, too."
"I will, when you get too big to need a nanny." I was a little wistful, thinking of that inevitable day. However, thinking of the other letter I had received today, I knew that returning home would not be so melancholy, for then I would have a chance to start my own family.
"But I won't be too big for a long time?" Faramir asked anxiously. "I won't be thirteen for a long time."
"Nine years," I said, "well, several months less than nine years. But yes, that is a long time."
Faramir heaved a sigh of relief so deep that I nearly giggled. "Good," he said, sitting up and hugging my neck tightly. "I like having you here."
I hugged him back, kissed his cheek. "And I like being here, my little rabbit."
My words were mostly true, though even after eight and a half years, I had not warmed much to Minas Tirith herself. But I did not have to like the White City; I only had to love and care for the sons of her Steward. And that was no hardship.
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.