The trilling of a cricket. The trumpet of a goose flying overhead. The shifting of the leaves in the wind. He heard all of this, as he lay quietly beneath the sheltering overhanging branches of an ancient oak. He wiggled his toes in the dirt, reveling in this little freedom. A gentle smile livened his serious expression.

The sun was bright, but the day was cooling. Soon he would have to abandon this little paradise that he had found and return to Minas Tirith with his escort. Boromir would be home soon. Perhaps they would even meet him en route. The prospect eased the boy's disappointment. His brother's presence always made their father's cool demeanor easier to bear.

"Faramir, it is a long ride back to the city. We should leave quickly," his man Willem said, climbing the slope and resting his hand on the hilt of his sword as he awaited the young lord's answer. His bright blue eyes, undimmed by the age that had turned his hair from black to gray, watched his charge with empathy.

"Aye, Willem. Give me but another few moments, and then we shall depart from here," Faramir sighed, and wondered if he would ever see this place again. The air smelled so sweet. Like she had…"Do you think my mother would have liked it here?" he asked suddenly, halting his man before he could return to the waiting horsemen at the foot of the hill.

Willem looked surprised for a moment, and then smiled sadly. "She loved it here, lad. I brought your lady mother here more times than I can remember so that she could watch the wheat. It moves like the sea when the wind is right."

Faramir looked around, his eyebrows knitting together. "This is no farmland, Willem."

The great stretch of land was but a meadow, grown with tall grasses, weeds and wildflowers: pleasing to the eye, but unproductive.

"It was," the soldier replied, plucking a blade of grass from the ground and chewing the end. "Your father ordered it to be torn up after Finduilas was gone."

The younger son looked closer. His well-trained eye saw what he had missed before. This was prime farmland, rich and dark unlike the overworked soil surrounding the villages.

"Did Father love her, Willem?" Faramir asked innocently, pulling his boots – a size or better too large, having once been Boromir's, and naturally his favorite pair.

Startled, the older man knelt and laid his hands over Faramir's and took over the task of tying them. He spoke slowly as he worked.

"Loved her, yes. With all of his heart. But understand her… All of his life, Denethor has been bound by the duty of his forebears. He did not understand how pure and simple her joy in the sea was. Finduilas was fey, a gem among plain stones. Your mother danced on the roof during the storm season. She told me once that the thunder and lightning were dance partners, and that the rain kept the beat.

"She desired the salt sprays as a starving man hungers for sustenance. It killed her, that longing. Your mother had Elvish blood, and it runs in your own veins as well." Willem met his eyes squarely. There was knowledge mirrored in the little lord's calm grey eyes, peace and acceptance mingled with pride and fierce determination. "You hold to that heritage, child. Gondor will depend greatly on you in the years to come."

Willem did not know where this prediction came from, but believed it to be so to the marrow of his bones. He rested a broad hand on Faramir's shoulder. "Be strong."