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Requiem

Chapter 3: Requiem

by NancyBrooke

Across the Court of the Fountain a young man strode with purpose, his heavy booted feet beating a military tattoo over the otherwise silent flagstones. The early-afternoon sun shone brightly on his blonding hair, and shaped a shadow just recently grown to that of a man’s. A brightly polished sword hung expectantly from his hand.

“Boromir!”

Behind him, from the door of the White Tower, a boy emerged; tall for his age and thin but possessed of a grace beyond his 10 years. Auburn hair fell over sea-blue eyes and was brushed away with a sigh of frustration. Catching sight of his older brother’s long straight back heading for the tunnel that would take him out of the Citadel the boy hurried after.

“Boromir!”

But for the second time he received no answer. The boy stretched his gait and began to run before realizing the distance between him and his quarry had already grown too great. He stopped with a contemplative pout, and then squinted in the glare of the polished white stones. There was nothing for it but to call again.

“Boromir, please!”

It was the please that did it. Boromir, elder son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor, stopped and turned, eyes reaching to find his little brother Faramir alone in the empty court. He saw the ever-unruly lock of hair fall again as Faramir’s small but wide shoulders begin to droop and the silence between the boys lengthened. Boromir hefted the sword in his hand.

“What?”

As if his word were a cannon it sent Faramir off and running again.

“Wait!”

Breathless, the boy reached his brother’s side a moment later.

Arms akimbo, the elder gazed down, sea-green eyes narrowing, newly acquired frown darkening his otherwise fair face. But his sword lowered and his voice softened.

“What is it?”

Chewing his lower lip, the boy squinted up into his brother’s face.

“Where are you going?”

“I have things to do. No--,” a terse gesture cut off Faramir’s unvoiced plea; “you can’t come.” Then with practiced precision Boromir turned on one heel to go.

“But Father said …” Right behind him now, his brother followed.

“I know what Father said.”

“Father said we should stay here and use this time to remember.”

“I know what father said.”

His brother’s impatient growl stopped Faramir in his tracks. He watched, a little hurt as the gulf between them again widened. But he was not so easily deterred.

“Boromir!”

“What?” Though he stopped at once, this time, Boromir still let his back represent him.

“I have something I wanted to ask you …” In no time Faramir was at his side again and had come around to face his brother. He lifted Boromir’s free hand in his own, and was encouraged when his brother didn’t pull away. “What … what did you think of the music?”

Boromir pursed his lips, another sign of growing irritation. He really did have something he needed to do, someplace he said he’d be, but he could see a question festering behind his brother’s sea-blue eyes, unvoiced. He gave the long hand in his a short squeeze and then freed it. Then he slipped an arm around the younger one’s shoulders and moved beside him.

“What did I think of the music?” Slowly, the two brothers walked together toward the tunnel gate. “Well, I liked it better than last year. I thought …”

Then Boromir grew silent. What had he thought? For weeks he had been dreading the morning’s service, a concert in memory of their mother’s death five years since. He had ached over his father’s unwillingness to let time dull the pain of their loss, had chafed at the new suit of clothes he had had to stand fittings for (and discarded at the first opportunity), and leapt at every chance to make those around him feel his misery. But once he’d taken his father’s side, entered the hall between his father and brother and seen the faces of his uncles all weeping fresh tears … what had he thought?

“I thought … I thought the music was good, clever and interesting, and the … the what do you call her?”

“The singer? The orlinna?”

“Yes; she had a fine, clear voice.” He pulled his brother against him for a moment: “pretty face, too,” and chuckled at the little shake of the auburn head. Then Boromir continued, serious. “And I liked how the viol sounded so mournful, like sea birds. I thought … I thought Mother would have liked that.”

He felt rather than saw his brother stop beside him.

“Would she?” If there had been any other noise in the court, Boromir would have had to strain to hear.

He gazed down into the sea-blue eyes, now wide and searching. “Yes, Faramir, I think she would.”

“Boromir …”

“Yes, Faramir?”

But again, the lurking question went unasked.

Faramir ducked his head and looked down at his feet. “I … I never knew you … listened.”

Squatting down then Boromir took a turn looking up into his brother’s face and smiled for the first time that morning. Then he spoke with mock sternness:

“Faramir, as a son of our father you know that listening is one thing at which I get a great deal of practice!”

When a little laugh escaped his brother’s lips Boromir rose, satisfied, and without thinking brushed back the always errant auburn locks, then laughed as his little brother took a step away and did it himself.

Then Boromir raised his sword as if in warning. “Now, I have to go.” Turning, only a few long steps carried him to the tunnel’s mouth. He saluted the ever-present guard in his winged helmet and passed through the gate into the darkness that would take him from the citadel against his father’s wishes.

His thoughts were already moving away toward the trial he would face that afternoon before the small piping voice of his brother called him back again.

“Boromir … wait, please.”

In near darkness the soldier-in-training turned at once, frustration quickly rising in his voice.

“What is it, Faramir?”

Back at the entrance his brother’s silhouette looked fragile and thin against the bright afternoon sunlight. The usually bright voice wavered.

“I don’t … I don’t … I wanted …”

“Faramir …”

“I wanted to ask you …”

“What?!”

“I wanted to ask you what you remember about Mother!”

The plaintive cry buffeted echoing about his ears as Boromir closed his eyes in the darkness. So that’s what all this was about. He hung his head and held out one hand where he knew his brother would see it. He spoke quietly:

“Come here.”

“But, Boromir, I’m not allowed—”

“I know. Come here.”

When the soft scratching of Faramir’s court shoes stopped before Boromir, he opened his eyes and slipped an arm again about the narrow shoulders. Gently he guided his brother out into the light again, dropped the password into the guard’s waiting ear, and lead Faramir on to a bench outside the soldiers barracks away from the guard’s hearing. Boromir laid aside his sword.

He pulled his brother close for a moment, then let him go. “Do you want to tell me what’s bothering you? Now I’m listening.”

A ready smile flashed over the boys face at another of his brother’s rare jests but faded quickly. Faramir shrugged, and then started in a voice soft and small. “Father said we were supposed to use this time for remembering, for thinking about Mother but … but, I don’t … Boromir, I don’t remember very much and I was wondering, since you’re so much older than me, what you remember. Can you tell me, please, Boromir?”

With a deep breath the elder let himself fall back against the warm stone and closed his eyes. The memories were never very far, they would come: how it seemed a gentle breath of wind had accompanied his mother’s every movement and how she had made everything he said sound exciting; how he would often find her gazing out her southward window and have to call her name again and again, and how her ready smile changed when it became a mask for pain. Boromir sifted through them all like playing cards until he found the ones he wanted.

He took another breath and then began. “Mostly I remember how brave she was, and how strong.”

“Strong?”

“Yes, she married Father, didn’t she? she’d have to be strong.”

Boromir congratulated himself on making his brother laugh for the second time and then continued.

Boromir tried to make his voice soft and low almost as if he was reading his little brother a bed-time story again as he hadn’t in years. “Mother taught me things no one else seemed to know or care about, like all the names of stars and where each river begins and all the stories of ancient heroes that I tell you. I learned those from Mother. And music – you get your love of music from her, Faramir; she knew songs from every corner of the realm and would hum them to herself all day. I remember her voice.” Then his own trailed off for a moment, as he wished he could catch a wind and tune to her cadence for his brother to hear. “And Mother could tell you to do something and make it sound like she was asking for help, and when she’d convinced you that her way was best you always felt like you’d thought of it yourself.”

“Even Father?”

“Especially Father.”

Then Boromir stood and put one foot up on the bench where he’d been sitting and leaned out over the eastward wall. Faramir quickly turned and knelt beside him. “Someday, Faramir, I will lead the armies of Gondor into Mordor, and I will hope then to be as good, as loved, and as strong a leader as Mother was.”

Then he turned back; together he and Faramir returned to their places on the bench.

Boromir leaned until their shoulders were touching. “Now, tell me: what do you remember?”

“Me? Oh, very little, really, and nothing important.”

“Tell me.”

Boromir watched as his little brother, usually so talkative and eager, lapsed into silence. After what seemed a long time his little reed-like voice came again.

“I remember her hair, mostly, how dark it was. And how, when she’d hold me, it would fall down around both of us like curtain until it seemed like no one else existed in the world.” The young boy closed his eyes and looked up into the sun until everything dissolved into red and green shapes. “I remember being warm, and safe, and happy. That’s what I remember.”

He turned and opened his sea-blue eyes to look deep into his brother’s sea-green.

Returning his gaze Boromir swallowed, and when he spoke his voice had an unaccustomed roughness.

“Faramir, I think what you remember is more important.”

Showing then a solemness that was to become his hallmark Faramir nodded, thoughtfully. “Thank you, Boromir.”

Boromir nodded once, officially, then stood. “Now, I really must go.”

“Boromir?”

For the last time that morning Boromir allowed himself to be stopped by his brother’s call.

“What?”

“Where are you going?”

The young soldier swung his sword a few times at the air and frowned. “I challenged Dôlmund to a fight and I promised I’d meet him ten minutes ago. He’s going to think I’m a coward.”

Faramir was on his feet in a moment. “But Dôlmund’s been saying for months now he’s the best fighter in the barracks. He says he can beat anybody.”

Boromir looked up almost shyly. “I know.”

Faramir chewed his lower lip, and thought. “Boromir, when did you challenge him?”

“This morning.”

“Before the Service?”

“Yes.”

This time, Faramir only nodded as Boromir returned to him.

Kneeling down Boromir laid aside his sword and placed his hands gently on his brother’s small round shoulders.

“Faramir, this is how I remember Mother. I don’t read books like you do and Mother did, I don’t really care for music or painting like you, and I find schoolwork to be drudgery. But this” he hefted his sword and laid it across a bent knee; “this I am good at. At this I will be the best. This way I will honor her, by being true to myself. Can you understand that?”

His younger brother nodded, and then grinned brightly and suddenly. “You’re going to win.”

“You think so?”

“Yes, Dôlmund’s not as good as he thinks; he has a weak parry on his left and his footwork is slow. I know you can beat him.”

Boromir returned his smile and nodded at his first advisor. “Thank you, Faramir.”

“You’re welcome, Boromir, and good luck.”

“I thought you said I’d win.”

“Just in case.”

Boromir’s smile remained as he watched his brother’s back disappear into the tunnel’s dark, then it faded. He saw suddenly how Faramir’s coltishness would one day grow into her sure and graceful step, how the young head raised to face whatever lay before it, and how Faramir’s sea-blue eyes had looked in the afternoon sun solemn and mournful, reflecting hers. Boromir swung his sword again a few times, heard the music it made in the wind, and then turned on down the street and away.

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Chapter name
Requiem
Created
21 May 2003
Last Edited
21 May 2003
Hits
467
Words
2269