Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters. Each and every one belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien.

"I'm sorry, Father, it will never happen again."

"We promise, Father."

Both children kept their heads hung low, except to look pleadingly into their father's eyes. Boromir was the elder of the two, by five years, while Faramir was the youngest. Their father was Denethor II, the Steward of Gondor, residing in the great city of Minas Tirith.

Denethor paced in front of his sons, stopping only to glare at each with extreme disapproval. "I would expect this of Faramir, but not of you, Boromir."

"It was only a game, Father," Boromir protested.

"Tossing rocks at trained soldiers is no game," Denethor said severely. He sighed. "Do not think you are the only ones who suffer from your mother's passing. I suffer as well, and having to raise you two by myself is becoming difficult."

"We will try to make it easier for you, Father," Boromir said softly.

Denethor put a hand on his shoulder. "Thank you, my boy." He looked at Faramir. "Do not disappoint me." He made a waving gesture with his hands and the two young boys left.

When they were at a safe distance from their father, Faramir pulled himself up onto the wall. "I didn't like it when Mother died."

"You probably can't even remember it," Boromir snapped. He hadn't meant to sound harsh, but it had ended up coming out that way. "You were only five years old."

"I do so remember it," Faramir argued. "Father didn't come out of his chamber for days. He didn't speak to us at all--and if he did, it was to tell us to leave him be."

Boromir nodded in remembrance. "You've got a better memory than I thought, Faramir," he said. Then he sighed heavily, remembering the issue that had been nagging at the back of his mind.

"What is it?" Faramir asked, staring at his brother's concerned face.

"Father said I'm to begin training to use a sword properly," Boromir said gloomily, flicking a pebble off of the wall.

"Will you teach me?" Faramir asked.

"You're too young," Boromir replied. He stared at the horizon, which was glowing with an eerie light in the evening. "I don't want to learn, Faramir. Father wants me to be a great soldier like he was once. But I'm afraid--what if I am killed in battle?"

"Don't worry," Faramir said, trying to comfort his brother. "You won't have to really fight until you're a lot older. And then, you'll be such a great swordsman that every Orc you come across will die upon your blade." He smiled reassuringly.

Boromir chuckled slightly at his brother's ignorance. Faramir just didn't understand. The men of Gondor did not survive for long when they enlisted into the army. It was a death sentence. He turned to one of the armed guards of the Citadel. That would be him one day. But perhaps he would be Steward and not have to fight.

"Father?" Boromir entered the great stone hall. Denethor was in the middle of a conversation with another man, but he cut it short upon seeing Boromir. "I must ask you a question."

"All right, boy, speak up." Denethor took a sip from his chalice.

"Will I be a soldier some day, like those who guard your Citadel?" Boromir stopped a few paces from his father.

"Of course you will," Denethor replied.

Boromir looked surprised, and then he pressed on, "Will I not become Steward like you?"

Denethor's hard eyes stared into his son's and said, "You are the strongest in the family, I can see it already. I see myself in you, Boromir. You were built strong--just like those honorable men who guard this Citadel."

"But I'm afraid to fight, Father," Boromir protested.

Denethor, disturbed by the tears in his eldest son's eyes, hesitantly put a hand on Boromir's shoulder. "When the time comes for battle, Boromir, you will be strong and brave, and I know it in my heart that you will not fail me. Nor will you fail Gondor."

Boromir nodded. "Yes, Father. I shall try to be brave and strong."

Denethor eyed him, the hint of a smile on his lips. "You shall try, Boromir?"

"I shall succeed," Boromir said, lowering his head.

"That's a good lad. Good night, my son," Denethor said, signaling the end of the discussion.

Boromir kissed his father's cheek and walked out of the room. He wiped what tears remained out of his eyes and slowly walked to his sleeping quarters. The room was dark and silent; Faramir was already asleep and had neglected to leave a candle lit for his brother. Boromir stumbled through the room, grabbing for his nightshirt. He reached the balcony and drew the curtain shut. As he looked down, the lights of Minas Tirith were still very bright-bright enough for Boromir to get out of his clothes and into his nightshirt, at least. He sighed. His training would start soon and he would no longer be able to act like a child. Dropping his dirtied garments next to his bed, he crawled in and closed his eyes. And silence filled the room once more.