Disclaimer:Both Middle-Earth and the characters in this story belong to Tolkien.
Boromir had felt strangely restless all day. Anxiety was something he rarely had to deal with, being a boy quick to act and slow to fear. But now he was undeniably worried about something. About Faramir.
His little brother had disappeared that morning, and understandably so. Denethor had been in a gloomy mood and had blown up completely when the young boy had spilled his drink all over the place at breakfast. But it was unlike Faramir to vanish. It was something Boromir might have done, gone away and sulked for a bit, but it was not like his brother. Faramir would have come to his father and apologized right away, looking completely meek and obedient.
Boromir sat on the ledge of a window surveying Minas Tirith. It was a big place for a little boy to get lost in. It would be impossible to find him if he were there. Boromir was thirteen years old and he was smart. He knew his brother. Faramir would not go out there. He would stay inside. He would find somewhere in the large palace to hide himself.
Unless. . .the vague worries became more substantial. Faramir might not be hiding. He might be stuck somewhere, unable to get out. Trapped somewhere. Lost. . .Hurt. . .
Boromir leapt into action. Action had always been something familiar to him, not idle thoughts and dreams. He called his dog, a beautiful tawny hound, and set off.
His dog went by the curious name of Elendil, for a more faithful canine friend could never be found. She was a lovely thing, and brave. Denethor had given him Elendil four years ago, when he had been little. Denethor had been kindly then, and he had been more involved in the lives of his sons. Boromir thought back wistfully to that happy day.
Boromir's eyes were wide with delight as he held the wriggling puppy his father had handed him. "Thank you," he whispered, fondling its soft fur. "Thank you so much."
"A warrior should always have a faithful dog," Denethor said, smiling at his son's delight. "I think you are ready to own one, and to look after it all by yourself."
"A warrior!" Boromir nearly gasped the words out. "I'm ready?"
"You're my little warrior." Denethor ruffled Boromir's hair kindly. He left the room a few minutes later, after making certain his son wouldn't hurt the little animal by accident.
Boromir ran through the corridors of his home, the puppy tumbling contentedly after him, yelling for his little brother. "Faramir! Come quick! See what I got!"
He found Faramir playing with building blocks in his mother's sitting room. The fire was burning and Finduilas was in a corner, stitching carefully at some small garment.
"Look, Faramir. Father gave me a puppy!" Boromir cried, thrusting the writhing bundle into his brother's outstretched arms. "Take care not to pull its ears. He won't like that."
"Very pretty," Faramir said, clumsily patting the puppy. The obliging animal licked his face enthusiastically, making the little boy giggle.
"He is not pretty," Boromir said imperiously, "He is very brave and savage."
The puppy yawned suddenly, its tiny white teeth showing and its tongue soft and pink. He hardly looked dangerous at all. Boromir sighed. "He will be fierce though, some day. He'll follow me around and do whatever I say and always keep me safe."
"The puppy needs a name," Faramir said solemnly, handing him back to Boromir, who had been getting rather impatient. "What will you call it?"
"Don't know," Boromir shrugged. "Maybe Fang, or something."
"Not Fang," Faramir replied. "Name it after someone brave."
"Someone brave?" Boromir thought for a moment. "Maybe Grandfather."
"Grandfather?" asked Faramir. "That's a funny name."
"I meant, name it after Grandfather. Call it Ecthelion," Boromir said patiently.
"E'thelion?" asked Faramir. "That's too long. I can't say it."
"Do you have any suggestions?" Boromir smiled. Faramir scurried over to the picture book lying by the fire. He picked it up eagerly and dragged it over to his older brother.
"I was reading this," he said. Boromir grinned. The book didn't even have words, though Faramir liked to make up stories to go with the pictures. "It's about King Elendil. He was brave." Boromir flipped through the pages, glancing over the pictures of men in battle. He wondered if this was a suitable book for a four year old to 'read'. "You want me to call it 'Elendil'?"
"Yes," chirped Faramir. The dog wuffed softly. "See? He says so."
At dinner that night, Boromir announced the name of his new dog. "We called him 'Elendil'," he told his family proudly. Finduilas glanced at her husband.
"The puppy isn't a 'he', Boromir," she said gently.
"He's a girl?" asked Boromir in dismay. The puppy tugged at his shoes from under the table.
"Call it 'Ellie'," suggested Faramir.
Boromir smiled and let his hand brush over Elendil's glossy back. He had already checked his little brother's bedroom, and his own. Faramir was not there. Boromir was growing increasingly puzzled. Where was the child? Where had he gone?
Boromir hurried down the hallway, coming to an abrupt stop when his saw his father striding down it as well.
"What are you doing?" asked Denethor.
"I'm looking for Faramir, father," Boromir said. "Have you seen him?"
"The boy's probably off somewhere sulking," Denethor said with a wave of his hand. "Don't worry about him."
"I'm sorry, Father, but I'm worried," Boromir replied, managing to sound respectful.
Denethor changed his tune quite abruptly. "You're a good son, Boromir, a good son. Faramir is a rebellious little boy. He doesn't deserve a brother like you."
Boromir smiled. "Thank you. But I'm sure Faramir doesn't mean to-"
Denethor shook his head. "He might not mean to, but he could learn. I must be going. And if you see your brother, tell him he must come to dinner this evening."
Denethor strode away swiftly, followed by his usual servants. Boromir sighed unhappily, brushing his amber hair away from his face.
"Come on, Ellie," he said softly. "We must go on."
The next place he went to was his mother's old room. She had spent many happy, and unhappy, days there, sewing, singing, or reading. She had died there. Sometimes Faramir went to the empty little room, and sat there quietly, remembering. Boromir took after his father quite a bit, but Faramir was like his mother. He had loved her very much.
Boromir stood in the sitting room. It was cold, and Faramir was not there. In a corner was the bed she had lain in as she had died. He had only been able to watch.
Boromir sat quietly on the floor beside his mother's bed, watching her sew. She was a great seamstress, and the stars she embroidered on her blue shawl made it sparkle and come alive. But she quickly became tired of such work. She was not usually clumsy, but the needle had pricked her finger several times. Boromir's heart was sore. He remembered when she had been able to deftly whip the silver thread over and through the cloth, making it take wonderful forms on her material.
She laid her work down and looked at her son. "It hurts you, doesn't it?"
He couldn't put the feeling into words, but somehow she could capture his emotion simply with her eyes. He knew how he felt, and he knew she understood.
Her face was flushed, but it only made her more beautiful, and though her hair was black, it always looked as if the sun were shining on it. But her eyes were dark with secrets and sometimes with pain. She drew a shaky sighing breath and caught Boromir's eyes again.
"Only the darkest paths lead to the heart," Finduilas said softly. She picked up her stitchery again and went back to work, acting as if she had never spoken. Boromir simply thought, watching the fire cast dancing shadows on the wall, and on his mother.
"What do you mean?" he asked finally.
"I'm dying," she said, never stopping her sewing. "You would call that a dark path, would you not? Do you know why I'm dying?"
He shook his head, his eyes very wide. "Why?"
"I am heartsick," she said. "I am fading. . .Do you know what heals this pain?"
"No." The word was nearly a whimper.
"Death," she said. She kept on sewing, and suddenly held up her blue shawl. "I wonder why I try. There are many stars. I will never catch them all. So many stars. . ." she repeated. "So many stars. They all sing to me at night. You don't know how beautifully they sing. I can't hear them, but they are singing. I must hear them!"
"Mother?" Her mind was wandering. She didn't know how much this hurt him. Boromir stood now, his hand on her bed, afraid to touch her.
"So many stars. I'll never catch them all," she sighed, and then, with a girlish laugh, "Do you see this?" She waved her shawl so that it looked like the waves of an ocean. "This is a net and I am catching the stars in it. They'll sing to me, Boromir. Someday they'll sing."
"Please don't talk like this," he pleaded.
"When I die I'll hear the stars, and you will hear me singing," Finduilas said, her voice light and breathless. "I'll sing to you. How I want to die, and to find my heart again. You don't know what it's like to live here, and see the stars, but never hear them sing."
"Mother!" he cried sharply. She folded her shawl-net and looked at him, her eyes no longer so bright, but dull and listless.
"I'm hurting you," she said softly. "I want to die. Then I'll find my heart again."
Boromir fled the little room, no longer empty, but filled with memories.
He hurried down the corridor and suddenly heard voices.
"Do you think he's all right?"
"I'm afraid to look."
"We shouldn't have. We really shouldn't have."
"We can't tell his Lordship. He'll. . ."
"He doesn't care. He isn't looking."
"That's what you hope."
"Hello," said Boromir pleasantly. The two boys whirled around.
"Boromir!" gasped one. He had dark hair and freckles, and a very large mouth, which had dropped open. The other boy was beginning to look sulky and rebellious.
"You wouldn't happen to be speaking of my brother, would you?" Boromir asked, his tone now level. He would have been surprised to know that he looked very much like his father.
Their guilty expressions told him everything. They were younger than him, and he did not think they were bullies, just foolish. But they were older than Faramir. Who knew how they might act towards a little boy?
"No," said the second one. "You mean Faramir? We weren't speaking of him."
He was lying. Boromir knew he was lying. That knowledge made him furious. He leaped forward and caught the boy by the collar. The first one had already rushed from the room, crying, "We didn't mean to! We really didn't!"
Boromir frowned down upon the second boy. "What did you do to him?"
"Nothing! He's down in the big library! We didn't hurt him! We couldn't find the keys! We didn't mean to!" The boy shook himself free and rushed out of the room. Boromir was still angry, but now he was becoming very afraid. What had happened? Was Faramir hurt? It seemed likely.
He hurried down the stairs, through many passageways, constantly looking around. He hated going downstairs. Once, a long time ago, he had become lost in a hidden tunnel. He had been trapped for a while, frightened out of his mind. His mother had found him, finally, by the time he had become nearly hysterical with fear.
The memories were still painful, and he choked down the stubborn panic that threatened him. He would not turn and run. It was foolish to be afraid of the dark and drafty downstairs rooms. Faramir would be scared too. He had to find Faramir.
Only the darkest paths lead to the heart.
If you would not risk pain or defy fear to find something, it was not important enough to venture to find. Faramir was important. Very important.
The darkest paths.
Boromir snatched a torch down from the wall, and slowly began to make his way along the stairs, which were incredibly narrow. He could easily touch both sides at once. He did not think about it. He thought about Faramir.
Finally he came to the bottom, and there was a door. Behind the door was cramped room, filled with books and scrolls and volumes. Faramir loved to go down there and read.
Boromir tried the door, but it was locked. What had those boys done? He beat it with one hand. "Faramir?"
The boy could hear movement in the room, and a little broken voice whispered, "Boromir?"
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine." There was a sniff.
"What happened?" asked Boromir harshly. He was not angry with Faramir. He was angry with the two boys.
"I came down here with two friends. I was in here, and they said they were bored. They left, and the door accidently swung shut. It locked all by itself, and they couldn't find the key. They said they would look for it."
"They didn't look for it," said Boromir. "I will go get it."
"Please don't go!" cried Faramir suddenly. "They left. They didn't come back."
"I'll come back," said Boromir. "You know that."
"All right. Go find it. Please go find it. The candle burned out."
Poor little Faramir, all alone in the dark. Boromir turned and ran up the stairs again, Elendil galloping behind. "No, Ellie, you don't come. Go and keep Faramir company."
She went back down again and panted outside the door.
It seemed like a long time to Boromir as he searched for the keys to the downstairs room. However, his search ended when he banged into a little man he recognized. This was the fellow who was in charge of the keys.
"The room downstairs," gasped Boromir. "It's locked, and Faramir's stuck inside. Do you have the key?"
"Of course," said the man, jovially. He rummaged around for a moment. "Here it is, young sir."
Boromir snatched it with his thanks, and charged back down the stairs again. He shoved the key into the lock and twisted and wriggled it until the door opened. Faramir tumbled out.
"Boromir," he wailed. "I'm so glad you're here!"
"There, there," Boromir said awkwardly. He patted his brother on the back. "Don't fret. I came back."
Faramir looked at his brother, his large grey eyes wide and tearful. "Thank you."
Boromir hugged the child. "I love you, Faramir. I'll never leave you."
"I know," Faramir breathed.
Boromir smiled suddenly. "You must be hungry. Come upstairs and we'll eat dinner."
He had found his heart.