by Twinkledru J.

Faramir had woken him during the night, weeping, full of grief and terror. He was whimpering things that might have been panic-garbled words.

This was not entirely unusual; Faramir's nightmares had woken him before. It had taken some moments for Boromir to understand just what it was that was shaking him awake, babbling at him. He sat up slowly, squinting against the darkness and rubbing one balled fist against his eyes.

"Boromir?" His brother's voice was finally clear as he spoke something that made sense. Faramir's voice was thick and nasal; he sniffled as he tugged at Boromir again. "Boromir?" he repeated with even greater urgency, sounding half-panicked. For all that he would babble senselessly when overcome with panic from his dreams, he could speak with great clarity for a four year old child when he wanted to.

"I'm awake, Faramir." He yawned, and then asked, "What is it? Did you have a dream?" He already knew the answer, of course, his dreams were the only thing that could so stir his quiet, watchful baby brother.

"Come, Faramir," he sighed, rubbing his eyes again. "We will find Mama, and -- "

At these words, though, the smaller boy's eyes widened and he shook his head, sobbing anew now as he clung to Boromir. It was not unusual for Faramir's nightmares to wake him, but it was unusual for him to come only to Boromir. Faramir still had his own smaller bed in the same chamber as his brother's, and ordinarily he would simply wake Boromir so as to have someone to reassure him as his older brother took him to Mama and Papa for true comfort.

"Faramir, what is it?" he asked impatiently. "What did you dream?"

His brother could only shake his head, his weeping finally slowing. He clung yet to Boromir, sniffling.

Boromir gave an impatient sigh, rolling his eyes. "Faramir, you're big enough to talk. Tell me, what did you dream this time?"

The sweat was still drying on Faramir's soft curls, but they nonetheless stirred as he shook his head. "No," he said softly, and Boromir could not understand all the sorrow and fear that lay in his eyes, for there was more there than he had ever seen before in one being's face.

"What did you see?" he asked again, because he could not think of anything else to ask. "Faramir, what did you dream?"

Faramir shook his head once more. It was scarcely a whisper this time as he breathed "No... "

Boromir clenched the soft bed covers in his fists and gritted his teeth. "Faramir," he said slowly, and then made the mistake of looking at Faramir.

His brother must have seen something in his eyes, for the littler boy cried out and began sobbing with renewed vigor. Boromir wanted to cry out himself now, shouting in frustration with his brother's irrational behavior. Instead, he closed his eyes, clenching his fists once more until the sound of his brother's sobs could not fail to touch him. He sighed again. "It's all right, Faramir," the older boy said softly. "I'm sorry. I was angry, but it has passed."

The fairer-haired boy turned to him again, still sniffling and whimpering a little. He wondered if the boy would ever stop crying, and held out his arms. Faramir was slight, even for four, and he fit easily into his brother's clumsy hug. Boromir tried to do as he had seen their mother do before, and he managed to smile even through his own frustration. Mama's smile calmed everybody, even Faramir and Papa after dreams like this (for, though Faramir reacted far more wildly to them, Boromir knew that Papa had dreams as well), and Boromir did his best to create some of the warmth that Mama could put into a smile.

"It's all right, Faramir," he said. He tried to sing one of Mama's old lullabyes, more to make Faramir laugh than to actually calm him, for he could never fit his tongue around the strange Elvish words.

Even this, however, did not fully soothe Faramir, who managed to laugh a little bit at his brother's mangling of the words.

"Faramir," he said softly, "will you please tell me what you dreamed? Why do you not go to Mama instead?"

"No Mama," was all that Faramir said as he curled up into a ball, his back to Boromir. "No Mama," he repeated once more, and would say nothing else.

There was a violent cry from their parents' chambers then, one of fear and pain, in a voice that he barely recognized as his father's. Boromir started at even the shout, even muffled as it was, but Faramir shuddered with a little whimper.

"Papa is dreaming, too, I think," Boromir said softly. "Perhaps Mama will tell me in the morning what is wrong, if you will not."

Faramir did not answer. Boromir could not tell if he was asleep or not.


"Boromir. Faramir."

He had been woken in the morning by his father's voice. The sunlight had been cold and bright, and the sky was a brilliant blue over the White City. Papa had stood, an angry, crumbling tower, a single golden rectangle illuminating his chest as sunlight streamed through the small window.

Papa was wearing his breastplate, the one with the Tree. Boromir sat up then, frowning even as he yawned reflexively.

Faramir was already awake, and Boromir saw that his brother was staring up at Papa with the same expression of mingled grief and terror that he had been wearing last night, when he had shaken Boromir awake.

"Papa," Boromir said, looking between the two, "Faramir dreamed last night, and he -- "

"Both of you must dress now," their father said, his voice low. He did not look at his youngest son. "You must look your finest."

"Where are we going?" Boromir asked, curious. He prodded at Faramir, who had not moved. "Is somebody visiting Minas Tirith?"

"No," Papa said roughly. "No, nobody is visiting."

"Leaving," Faramir whispered then. This was one of the moments when his voice was terribly clear, even whispered as the word had been. Boromir stared at him, and then at Papa, who looked at Faramir with a strange expression that was as cold as the morning air. Papa's eyes remained on Faramir for only a horrible second, and then he turned his attention back to Boromir.

His voice was softer now. "Help your brother dress, too, Boromir. There is very little time to be lost."

"Yes, Papa," Faramir whispered. His words went unheeded by their father, who turned as if to go.

"Papa," Boromir finally burst out, his courage surprising even him -- Papa was terrifying right now. "Papa, what is going on?" Did everybody in the White City know what was causing such chaos in his family these past few hours? Was it only he who had been left entirely without aid or explanations? "Why did you shout last night, when Faramir was crying over some dream? Why are you -- "

Their father turned back then, and Boromir faltered at his dark eyes. For a long few moments, silence reigned in the boys' chamber.

And then, a ghost of something that might, might, have been called a smile alighted for one moment -- just one moment -- on Papa's face, and he turned and began once more to walk away. "You sound like your mother, Boromir," he murmured, and Boromir was not sure if Papa had even been really speaking to him.

He sighed. That was no answer.

The boys had dressed quickly and quietly. Boromir had taken his brother's hand and led him out of the room and into the darker stone corridor. Faramir was very still now, and very quiet. He did not look at Boromir. He did not look at anything.

Papa was waiting outside of his and Mama's chambers. Like Faramir, he was not looking at anything in particular -- not that Boromir could see, at any rate -- and, like Faramir, he wore an expression on his face that seemed to be made up of too much for Boromir to even guess at, much less fully comprehend.

Their footsteps seemed impossibly loud, but Papa did not look up as they approached him. Boromir, knowing somehow that he must direct this, tried to think of what he might say. At last, he simply settled on saying, clearly, "Papa."

His father started, and looked at the boys as though he had forgotten them. "Yes." Papa was stone; Boromir could not have guessed what he might be thinking. He could only tell that everyone was afraid and sad, for reasons that, it seemed, everyone but he himself knew.

"Your mother wants to speak to you boys," was all that Papa said. "She is ill, and she cannot get out of bed. Boromir, you first."

"Papa," he asked again, "what is going on? Why is Mama -- "

"Go, Boromir." Papa did not look at either of them. Faramir quailed as Boromir squeezed his hand once, then released it.

The chambers were mostly dim, but for the one small window that looked out over the city. Mama was in her bed, staring through that window. He could not see her face, only that she seemed very different from herself -- she looked skinny, and she did not move very much.

"Mama?" Boromir's voice was startling, even to himself, in the stillness of the chambers. His mother started, turned to him and smiled gently. Her face frightened him a little; she looked tired and weak. His proud, strong, graceful Mama, who was always merry, seemed very small and weary.

"Good morning, Boromir," she said. "Isn't the city beautiful this morning? But, then, it is always beautiful."

"Papa said that you wanted to speak to me."

Mama's smile did not waver. "Yes, and I do." She beckoned him closer. "Come here, Boromir."

She seemed ready to say something, but looked out the window once again. "Boromir," she asked as a breeze reached them even here, within the chambers, through the tiny window high above the city, "you have never seen the sea, have you?"

"No, Mama."

Mama seemed to be breathing in as much of the fresh air as she could. She stared out at the open sky, at the distant landscape, with a strange expression on her face. Her smile was nearly gone now, and she looked very sad and frail, so much so that he scarcely recognized her. "I should have taken you to see my family before. You would have liked the sea, I think. I hope that one day, your path will lead you there." She sighed then, and turned to him, some of her smile appearing again.

He drew slowly closer to the bed. Mama's smile was not its full self, and he was not calmed by it. "Mama," he began, "Mama, Faramir had one of his dreams last night."

The smile, which had already been merely a shadow of its usual self, faded altogether now. "That is not surprising," Mama said softly. "Why did you not bring him to me?" she asked, and her strange, dull tone suggested that she, like everyone else, knew more than she was telling Boromir.

"He would not let me," Boromir said. "I did not understand it. He was wild with fear, Mama. Nor would he tell me what he had dreamed of that had made him so frightened."

She stroked his hair. "No, I suppose he would not want to come to me. I think I can guess what he might have dreamed, Boromir, and I am sorry that you were forced, so suddenly, to care for him yourself."

"I don't mind it, Mama," he said. "But he frightened me last night, and he would not even tell me what he had dreamed. It made me angry," he admitted finally.

"I know that it must have." Mama, he somehow understood now, knew what he had felt, the frustration of not knowing and of being seemingly helpless, and the fear and anger that went with those feelings. "It's all right. Your Papa has made me angry, sometimes, when he will not tell me what the dreams are that trouble him so. You and I must simply accept that we are meant to do and to know, not to dream. There is nothing any less noble about it. We are human, and there is no shame in that."

"No, Mama," Boromir said, for lack of anything better. He did not understand, and it frustrated him, but he somehow guessed that Mama was going to explain things to him. Mama, it seemed, knew what this frustration was like.

"Boromir," Mama said gently, "you must promise me something."

"What is that, Mama?"

"Promise me that you will take care of your brother, Boromir. I do not think that Papa will understand how he must, nor why he does not want to. Perhaps you will not either, but -- " Mama broke off for a moment, coughing. There was not much violence to it, but after Mama had finished coughing, she remained silent for some time. At last, she spoke once more. "You can make him smile. Papa has never been able to do that, only you and I, and it is good for Faramir."

Boromir nodded. "Mama," he began then, and she looked at him. Mama smiled warmly then, and whatever he had been afraid of, he was not anymore. "Mama, what is wrong? Why are you still in bed? When Faramir woke me last night, I heard Papa cry out, too."

Mama frowned, and stroked his cheek. "Oh Boromir," she said sadly. "You could not know, of course -- I have never regretted that you do not have your father's Sight, like Faramir does, but I wish that Faramir were a little older, so that he might tell you what he dreamed."

Boromir tried once again not to show his frustration. That was no answer!

"Boromir, you know that I have been ill," Mama said quietly. "I am very ill, and I have not wanted to trouble your father."

"I know," Boromir said.

"Boromir," Mama continued softly, "they do not think -- I do not think -- that I am going to live much longer than today."

He stared at her. "You're dying?" he asked bluntly. "Mama, do you mean that you are going to die?"

Mama reached out then and took his hands in her own. "I -- yes, Boromir. I mean that I am dying. I will probably die today."

"But the healers," he said softly. "The healers must -- "

Mama shook her head and kissed one of his hands. "Boromir, perhaps the healers might have been able to help me had I gone to them in the very beginning, but I did not guess until it was too late that the sadness in my heart might have been eating away my strength and life, too. I think that only the hands of the King could heal me now, but the Kings have abandoned Gondor." She looked sadly out the window then.

"Why were you sad, Mama?" he asked. "Mama, was it us? Did we make you sad? Did Faramir and I do something wrong?"

His mother gasped then, her gaze going immediately back to him. She squeezed his hands very tightly. "Oh Boromir, of course not. You must never think that you have made me sad. You and your brother have brought me naught but the greatest joy. Perhaps I was dying first, and that was what made me sad, for it meant that I would be free of all pain and sorrow, but it also meant that I would have to leave my precious, beautiful sons behind." His mother, who always before had been a force of happiness and strength in their family, his merry, proud, strong mother, he realized, was weeping. Boromir, knowing that Papa, if he were in the room, would have scolded him for being far too old for this, climbed onto her bed and hugged her tightly.

She returned his embrace, her larger, more graceful arms holding him as tightly as he clung to her. "I love you, my darling boy," she whispered, her cheeks wet. She kissed his hair. "You must remember to smile, and make Faramir smile, and you must never be afraid to try and get what you want, rather than let the longing destroy you."

"Yes, Mama," he whispered.

She let him cling to her for a little longer, and then her arms began to loosen a bit. She kissed him again. "Now, go and get your brother, Boromir. I want to speak with him alone, as I have spoken with you."

Boromir hesitated, afraid of what might happen if he turned away and was not looking. He did not want her to leave yet. But Mama smiled once more then, and, as ever, her smile made him think that maybe, somehow, things might be all right. "Yes, Mama," he said, and slid off of her bed.

"You must look out for Faramir, and for Gondor, Boromir," she called. "Your father is a good man, and he loves them both, but he sees far, and the things that are close beside him seem smaller in his gaze."

"I will, Mama," Boromir answered. "I will."

"I love you, Boromir," she said finally. "Remember what I said -- you and your brother have never brought me anything but the greatest joy."

He turned then, and ran back to her side. "I love you too, Mama."


When Faramir had gone inside, Boromir had looked up at his father and smiled at him slightly. Papa had looked down at him, seemingly about to be angry, but then he smiled back. "You have your mother's smile, Boromir," was all that he said, and then he turned away and stalked down the corridor.

Faramir came out of the room some time later. He had clearly been weeping again, and Boromir let the littler boy run and cling tightly to him, even going so far as to rub his back gently -- he had seen Mama do it before, and it always seemed to calm Faramir.

Papa appeared again then, walking more quietly up to them. He seemed ready to say something, but looked inside the chambers and hurried into there instead.

"Come, Faramir," Boromir said softly. "We have not yet eaten, and you," he added, teasingly, "are small enough without starving."

Faramir did not laugh, but instead tightened his grip on Boromir's hand as his brother led him down the steps.

"And after we eat," Boromir continued, "we ought to go outside for awhile. Mama is right, it is a beautiful morning, and there is not much light in here."


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