Disclaimer: Everything that Tolkien created is not mine. However, if his estate will sell me Faramir I will gladly buy him.

Such a Fickle Thing is Love

"Faramir! Faramir, where are you?"

A youth hovering between boyhood and manhood scowled and leaned against his longbow. When his name was shouted again, he called back, "I'm here!"

There was crashing in the underbrush and a young man soon appeared, a sword strapped to his side and chain mail over his tunic. "Faramir, what are you doing out here?" he demanded. "Alone, with no sword? You're not even wearing any mail!"

"Rangers don't wear any armor," Faramir mumbled. "It clanks too much."

His older brother sighed and shook his head. "You know there are more orcs out every day. What were you planning on doing if a party of them stumbled upon you out here?"

Faramir didn't answer. Instead, he grabbed an arrow from his quiver, drew his bowstring taut, and let fly with a shot which embedded itself in a crack in a stone all falling into ruin about fifty feet distant.

"Nice shot," Boromir said. "But you still shouldn't be out here alone."

Shouldering his bow and going to retrieve the arrow, Faramir replied, "That was the idea behind coming out here, to be alone."

"May I ask why?"

"You can ask, but it doesn't mean I'll tell you."

"Faramir, don't be childish."

The boy stiffened, his hand froze on the arrow he'd been about to pull out. Wheeling around, he demanded, "Childish? When have I ever had the chance to be childish?"

Boromir sighed. "Tell me what's wrong, little brother. I know you aren't stupid enough to come out here without good reason."

With a snort, Faramir repeated. "Good reason. Ha." He fingered his bow in silence for a moment before asking in a guarded tone, "Remember that girl I told you about?"

"Some petty noble's daughter, wasn't she? I don't remember her name."

"Elada," Faramir informed him in a depressed sounding voice. "I finally worked up the nerve to say something to her today."

"Ah." Boromir sat down on the crumbling wall. "It didn't go well, then?"

Faramir raised his eyebrows and shrugged. "That may be understating it. She laughed in my face. Hard. And she tossed her hair before sauntering off." Pausing, he added thoughtfully, "She took the flowers, though."

Boromir gave a little snort of laughter but checked himself at the murderous glare his brother shot at him. "She was always hanging around, though. I was sure she fancied you."

"Aha, but that's the best part," Faramir said, a very cynical little smile on his face. "It was you she actually fancied. Bet she'd be heartbroken to learn you didn't even know her name."

"Can I laugh now?" Boromir asked seriously.

"Oh, fine. Go ahead."

His older brother did so, at great length, until finally he was able to bring himself under control and say, "Faramir, there are many, many women who will prefer you to me, have no doubt about that."

"Where are they hiding?" he asked gloomily.

Boromir put a hand on the boy's wiry shoulder. "Don't let this one break your heart. There'll be plenty of time for that." Becoming lost in his own thoughts for a second, he said a little distantly, "It's amazing how many tarts there are that only give you a second glance because of your station in life."

Faramir looked sharply at him, surprised that his brother would speak in such a way about women. "It sounds like you don't tell me everything."

"No, and we're talking about you at the moment, so I shouldn't have said that."

Curious about his brother's secret life but holding too much respect for him to ask, Faramir shrugged. "I don't want to talk about myself all that much. There's nothing more to say."

Boromir scrutinized him. "Do you feel any better?"

Reluctantly, Faramir nodded. "I was hoping to wallow in self pity for several more hours, though."

Shaking his head sternly, Boromir said, "You spend enough time doing that. You're far too serious."

Faramir smiled a little, but bit back the comment he wanted to make, that he'd had precious little reason not to be serious in his life. In an attempt to be cheerful, he said, "I hope you're going to offer Elada your heart, now that you know her feelings for you."

"After she scorned my little brother?" Boromir smiled and shook his head. "I think not. Now, what do you say to heading back to the city?"

Finally replacing the arrow in his quiver, Faramir nodded and led the way.

~

Faramir stood on the walls of Minas Tirith, staring to the east at the fires of Mordor. Orcs had raided the ruined Osgiliath that morning, and he'd participated in the counterattack under the command of his brother. Oddly, the brief and bloody battle had been a revelation to him, and he had promptly returned, sought out his sweetheart in his full battle regalia (bloodstains and all) and told her he couldn't see her anymore.

"Faramir?"

The young man turned his head to see his brother approaching. "Hello, Boromir. Have you been to see Father yet?"

Boromir took a place beside him at the wall. "Yes, and he praised our great valor. Many times over."

"Yours and your men, you mean," Faramir said in an emotionless tone.

Sighing, Boromir replied, "Don't trouble yourself with it, Faramir. You fought well. Does anything else need to be said?"

Instead of giving a real answer, Faramir responded, "I don't expect anything else to be said."

Letting the matter drop, Boromir said nothing for some time, and the brothers stood in silence together. Finally, however, the elder of the two remarked, "Something seems to be troubling you."

"Oh." Faramir shrugged. "It's nothing, really. I'm just wondering if I've done something very stupid or not."

"What did you do?" Boromir asked curiously.

"I told Thrainas that things weren't…working."

"I'm surprised it took you this long."

Faramir raised his eyebrows. "Did you know something I didn't?"

"I know that marriage was the last thing on my mind when I was twenty-two. And your little paramour talked of little else."

"That's what I thought." Faramir stared vaguely into the distance and said, "It was the skirmish today in Osgiliath that did it. I saw my life with her flash in front of my eyes and I just thought, this is what I'm fighting for? And it dawned on me that I don't love her. I never have." He sighed. "I know I've treated her badly, but honestly, as that orc swung at my head, I couldn't imagine spending another moment with the girl. She really was a very bad conversationalist."

Boromir smiled slightly. "And her other assets weren't enough to hold your attention?"

"No. Apparently I haven't spent enough time around soldiers to think that way."

"Actually, the minute you start thinking like that is when you know you've spent too much time around them." The comment drew a grin from Faramir, and Boromir continued, "I don't know that you're asking for my advice, but as I've never much cared whether or not you're asking, I'll give it anyway."

"This should be good."

Boromir ignored the remark, holding back a smile. "You didn't do anything wrong, which of course you know."

Shrugging, Faramir replied, "It's better to hear it from someone else."

"Particularly someone you respect as much as your older brother."

Faramir raised his eyebrows and laughed. "Yes. That's exactly right."

"Well, here's another bit of advice for you. Don't bother spending time around anyone who isn't completely worth your while."

Looking at him seriously, Faramir said, "Now, that's very wise." His mouth twitched in amusement, and Boromir swung his fist playfully at him. Faramir ducked, laughing, and removed himself from harm's way. "What? That was a compliment!"

Boromir gave him a mock angered look. "If it was such a compliment, then why are you standing beyond the reach of my arm?"

The young man was about to respond, when a voice called harshly, "Faramir!"

Both Faramir and Boromir stopped, and the former's face quickly grew somber. "Father," he greeted as Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, approached them.

Denethor appeared sour and sounded the same way when he asked sharply, "Should the two of you not be taking your rest? Instead I find you gallivanting about. And you, Faramir, you should not be burdening your brother with your troubles. He has enough to concern himself with."

Boromir, always able to pacify their father, said, "Neither of us felt the need for rest. We were speaking of lighter matters, Father. Surely that is more beneficial than lying about?"

For once, Denethor did not seem mollified by his older son. "Lighter matters," he grunted. "Yes. Leave us, Boromir. I wish to speak with Faramir."

Faramir kept his face empty of all expression as his brother slowly walked away, saying only, "What is it you wish to speak to me about, Father?"

Staring at his son with an unreadable look in his eyes, Denethor replied, "This girl. I had hoped you would marry her."

Faramir did not react to the statement, though the thought, "marry me off, you mean," flashed through his mind. "Yes, Father, so did others. I myself had doubts, though, and expressed them today."

"The girl comes from a fine family. She is more than you deserve."

At this, Faramir's eyes flashed. "And I have no feelings for her save the very basest. She may as well marry a dog for all the happiness I would bring her."

It was not often that his younger son spoke angrily to Denethor, and the Steward was shocked into momentary silence. He recovered quickly, however, and snapped, "See how you scorn your father's wishes! You will not get far in life, Faramir. You will not get far at all." With those words, he stormed away, back to the Citadel.

Faramir just sighed and leaned against the wall once more, watching the east and wondering what the morrow would bring.

~

Minas Tirith was in the full bloom of spring, with bouquets and garlands of wildflowers hung on every doorway and column. There was more to celebrate than just the arrival of spring, however. Captain Boromir had just returned with his men from a very successful campaign in Osgiliath. They had repelled an attack from Mordor and had somehow managed to keep the corpses of Gondorian men from piling up too high.

Faramir had been there to congratulate his brother, of course. And he had stayed for as much as the celebration as he could bear. But he'd been forced to seek solitude by his roiling emotions, most likely far too soon for propriety's sake. There was a place he went to at times like these--a little ledge, a niche, really--near the Houses of Healing. The times that he had used it were few, since he was rarely greatly upset, but when he had need of quiet, it was peerless.

He was sitting there, contemplating the events that had led up to that moment, when a voice said, "Somehow I knew I'd find you here, little brother."

Faramir didn't look up. "Am I that transparent with my emotions?"

Boromir sat down next to him. "No. But none know you as well as I do."

With a heavy sigh, Faramir said, "I cannot dispute that. Since you know me so well, it doubtless won't surprise you that I am sitting here thinking the same thing over and over again."

"And that is?"

Faramir turned away. "Such a fickle thing is love." His voice caught as he said, "Boromir, I am nearly thirty years old. Do I not have the right to marry?"

His brother's expression grew more concerned. "Something's happened. What?"

Faramir drew a shaky breath and looked down, refusing to let his eyes be seen. "The engagement has been broken. I will not be wed at Midsummer. Grena prefers someone else to me and has for quite some time, apparently."

Boromir wordlessly put his arm around Faramir and hugged him tightly, able to see at last the unshed tears that threatened to fall from his eyes. The brothers remained that way for several minutes while Faramir's breathing gradually became less shuddering. "Don't cry, little brother," Boromir said softly. "After all you've come through, don't cry about this."

"I think I may have lost my faith in all things romantic," Faramir mumbled. "Grena realized once and for all that I would never be Steward and that Father does not love me best or even at all, and she made a decisive move for her second choice." He paused to roughly wipe his eyes. "I didn't know her at all."

Boromir comfortingly kept his arm around the younger man. "She was cruel. And she's not worth your sorrow. Don't dwell on it."

"No, I won't. I can't. But it's difficult to come to grips with. And I still must face telling Father, and then I must face everything that comes after, and it's all a little overwhelming at this moment." Faramir cleared his throat and added in a quieter tone, "And I am no longer that young."

"You are young," Boromir reassured him. "For instance, you're younger than me. It's I who should be saying that, not you. And don't despair about women. There is always at least one that can make you happy."

"Or quite a few, in your case," Faramir said with the barest of smiles.

Boromir smiled back at him. "I knew your wit would return eventually. Trust me, Faramir, there will be another."

After a long moment of silence, Faramir said cautiously, "I had a dream."

"A dream?"

"Aye. There was a great plain with winds whipping the yellow grass back and forth. And then, on this plain, I saw a woman in white riding a horse as well as any man, her golden hair streaming out behind her." He sighed. "I did not see her closely, but I'm sure she was quite beautiful."

Boromir didn't speak for a minute while he pondered this information. Finally, he merely asked, "What do you think it means?"

"Perhaps I will somehow come to know and love this woman?" Faramir shrugged. "If that's the case, I hope I do not meet her for a long while, for I will not love anyone easily in the near future." Suddenly, he laughed a little weakly. "You know, Boromir, it's just occurred to me that you're here for all of my worse moments, but I for none of yours."

"Which is exactly the way it should be," Boromir replied firmly. "You deserve at least that much from me."

Faramir glanced at the ground, thinking, yes, you could not give me a father, though you tried your hardest. Instead, he said sincerely, "Boromir, you are more than I deserve." When his brother opened his mouth to protest, Faramir held up a hand and added, "I won't hear a word to the contrary. This should be a day for you to celebrate, and here you are with me, ruining the best hours of the festivities."

Boromir looked at him seriously. "Any time spent with you is more valuable than whatever time I would spend celebrating. You do yourself an injustice to suggest otherwise, and you're fully aware of it. So come, little brother. No more gloom. You will find your White Lady, and when you do, I'd better be the first to hear about it."

Faramir embraced his brother briefly. "You will be. But right now you should return to the Citadel, since they're honoring you there."

"I will go on the condition that you come with me."

Smiling, Faramir conceded, "I'll go. But don't expect any great feats of socializing from me."

With those words, the brothers stood and together made their way back to the Citadel.

~

The fire exploding from Mount Doom seemed more hellish than usual, the skies over Mordor and the Pelennor Fields blacker. Faramir observed this from the Houses of Healing, where he had been consigned to wait for the doom of the world. Yet, oddly, that doom no longer seemed quite as terrible, not when he knew he would be spending his last days with the Lady of Rohan. As he gazed towards Mordor, he murmured, "Well, Boromir, I've found her, my White Lady of Rohan. As promised, you're the first to know--even before her, in fact." His chest tightened momentarily at the thought of his brother. It still seemed so inconceivable that he could be gone, shot down far from Gondor while protecting, of all things, two Halflings who had both appeared in Minas Tirith since. Perhaps it was stranger that he was carrying on a conversation with Boromir, though. "I shouldn't call her mine," Faramir continued thoughtfully, "for I do not think she'll ever be truly mine. And I would have it no other way." He smiled slightly. "I love her spirit and the wild, untamed quality she has about her. It lurks beneath the surface and I catch glimpses of it when she thinks an injustice is being done to her." Below him, in the gardens, a fair woman in the white garb of the Houses of Healing appeared. She raised her head and looked at him, then lifted her hand in greeting. Faramir returned the gesture and thought to himself, now all that's left to do is see if she will have me.