Summary: Upon the birth of their second child, Faramir and Éowyn teach their firstborn son the importance of being an older brother.
Author's Notes: Painfully short, and for some reason, remarkably difficult to write. I'm a little rusty on the writing front, so please accept my apologies. Elboron is four in this story and patterned after my adorable nephew. Vibrant, talkative, and cheerful. Enjoy! :)
By Lady Wenham
The sun had barely peeked over the eastern horizon when the sound of sharp footfalls echoed through the household. Smiling knowingly, Faramir glanced over the top of his book to spy Elboron's tawny head racing towards him.
"Is he here? Is he here?" cried the tiny child as he bounded up to his father.
"Who?" asked Faramir, placing a marker in his book.
Elboron promptly became exasperated. "My little brother," he answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Where is he?"
"Ah, I see. I'm sorry to say your mother has not yet given birth, little one."
"Not yet?" Elboron echoed in amazement. A small shadow of fear suddenly shone in the child's face. "But it's been all night. Is . . . is something wrong?"
Faramir's eyes sparkled fondly at his son, who paced along the edges of the room in a mixture of excitement and anxiousness. "No, nothing's wrong. You shouldn't worry."
This seemingly did not appease the restless four-year-old. "Why is it taking so long?" he whispered under his breath. Something seemed to occur to him, and he turned his young eyes up towards his father. "I would like my brother now, please."
Faramir chuckled as he reached for the child. Pulling Elboron into his lap, the Steward asked, "And what if you receive a sister?"
Settling comfortably back in his father's arms, Elboron chewed on a single finger as he contemplated this alternative. His brow wrinkled quite comically when he came to his conclusion. "I guess a sister would be all right, but only if she was like Mama and not afraid to get dirty. May I have my little sister now, then? Please?"
"Be the child a boy or girl, it's not for any of us to decide when it comes," Faramir explained, smoothing his son's curls away from his upturned face. "These things take time, treasure. It's worth waiting for."
The little boy looked most serious as he declared, "I do not like waiting, Papa."
"I've noticed. I don't believe I've ever seen you so anxious."
"Why aren't you anxious?" Elboron asked slowly, as if he was unsure of the words he spoke. A second later, he added quietly, "What does anxious mean, Papa?"
Faramir smiled patiently. "It means 'worried.' And I am not anxious because your mother is strong. Don't you recall all the stories of the Shieldmaiden of Rohan? I don't think an infant will best her strength, though perhaps her heart."
Elboron's gaze wavered slightly, and his chin fell. "Papa?" he asked quietly after a few moments. "When the new baby comes, what will happen to me?"
"You'll become an older brother, of course."
The child shook his head. "I know that. But I mean . . . will things be different?"
"Yes, they will," Faramir admitted, "and the changes will not always be to your liking. But know this—being an older brother is the most important job in the world."
"Even more important than being a father?"
Faramir visibly hesitated. "Quite possibly. You'll be closer to your siblings than your mother and I can hope to be, if only for the fact that you're closer in age. You can have a profound impact on his or her life."
"We need to work on your vocabulary, little one. Profound means 'deep.'"
"Then why didn't you just say so?"
"You really do take after your mother, don't you?" Faramir asked with a laugh.
"Since we're on the subject of siblings," the Steward continued, "let me tell you a story about my older brother."
"Uncle Boromir!" the little boy supplied, sitting up in excitement at the prospect of a story, even if it was one he had heard many times before.
"When I was about your age, things were not always easy at home. My mother was ill, and my father had to take care of her and all of Gondor at the same time. It was difficult for him to find time to spend with me, but I was never lonely. Do you know why?"
Elboron shook his head vigorously, even though he had heard the story before and knew the answer.
"Because my older brother looked after me. Boromir didn't have to include me in all his doings. He had friends of his own, and I was considerably younger than him, but I was never left behind. As a result, Boromir and I had a bond that could not be broken. Be good to your siblings, little one, and they'll be on your side for the rest of your life. Now then, do you understand now why being an older brother is so important?"
"Yes, Papa," the child responded.
Before Faramir could reply, there was a quiet knock at the door. Both father and son sat up expectantly. When summoned, the door opened to reveal one of Éowyn's personal servants.
"Your wife calls for you, Lord Faramir," the elderly woman said, her lined face creasing with a kind smile. "The child is here."
"You look beautiful."
Éowyn groaned, peeling her weary eyes apart to glare affectionately at her husband. "You're a terrible liar, but please -- do continue."
Faramir smiled as he smoothed Éowyn's hair back from her hot forehead. "Beautiful and glowing and sweet," he went on.
"Don't you mean sweaty and blotchy and fat?"
Faramir wrinkled his brow as he considered her words. "No . . . though perhaps a little temperamental."
Éowyn chuckled lightly as she glanced down at the tiny child slumbering in her arms. "He's so peaceful. He reminds me of you," she remarked quietly as she traced a finger across his little cheek. "Elboron will want to meet him. Is he awake yet?"
"Oh, yes," Faramir confirmed with a good-natured sigh. "He's been up since the sun rose, demanding to see his little brother."
"How did he know it would be a boy?"
"Wishful thinking on his part, I suppose."
"He'll be delighted, then, that he got his wish. I remember the stories my parents used to tell me – that Éomer was so angry when he received a little sister instead of a brother," Éowyn recalled with a laugh, "but he took to me in the end."
"Speaking of Éomer, I wonder if you could talk to Elboron a little about his uncle. I got the impression while we were talking this morning that he feels a little insecure about having a sibling. He's worried he might be forgotten, I suppose, or unneeded, so I spent some time telling him about the importance of being an older brother."
"I think I can do that. Why don't you call him in?"
Before Faramir even turned around to leave, a swift shuffle of feet and a raucous knock sounded at the closed door. "I'm here! I'm here!" cried a muffled voice.
Elboron wore an unassuming look of innocence when his father opened the door. "How long have you been out there?" Faramir asked suspiciously.
"Um . . ."
"Didn't I tell you to wait in the nursery?"
"Um . . ."
Faramir tried valiantly not to laugh at his son's comical expression. "We will talk about that later, but for now, come in and meet your new little brother."
"Brother?" Elboron gasped in delight at this revelation and took a moment to do a little dance. "It's a boy! It's a boy!" He beckoned his father to pick him up so he could see the red face peaking through the blankets in his mother's arms. Immediately Elboron's expression melted into a look of distaste. "He looks like a walnut."
His father stifled a laugh. "How unfortunate. I rather thought he looked like you."
"Papa!" the boy protested indignantly. "I do not look like a walnut!"
"No, you do not, and neither does he," Faramir said. "See there – his nose? That's your nose as well, and a fine one at that. That nose belongs to your mother. And see his strong brow line? That is your Uncle Éomer's. Do you see the resemblance?"
"I still think he looks like a walnut," answered the little boy with a shake of his head.
"And he has my eyes. The same eyes as your Uncle Boromir's."
Elboron lit up at that. "And mine!"
"Yes, and yours," Faramir agreed. "Well, what do you think of him? Does he meet with your approval?"
"He's not a girl," Elboron said appreciatively. "He'll do."
It wasn't until Faramir left to tend to his duties that Éowyn decided to speak with Elboron. With the new baby sleeping peacefully in his cradle beside the bed, Éowyn could finally pay a little attention to her firstborn, mindful of Faramir's words earlier – that Elboron was worried about his place now that there was a second child. Perhaps giving him a few brotherly responsibilities with the baby would help ease his mind. Still too weak to rise from bed and too exhausted to sleep, she cuddled Elboron close and bestowed a kiss upon his brow. He was very much his mother's child – free-spirited and wild – a fact that caused both of his parents to adore him.
Elboron chatted away pleasantly as he tugged the covers up around his mother's shoulders, trying his best to make her comfortable. "How come the baby took so long to get here, Momma? I waited and waited, and Papa said I had to be patient, but I was all patiented out. What are you gonna name the baby, Momma? Can I name it? Because I could think of a good name, and none of the other children would laugh at him. I'm a good brother, aren't I? I told Papa I would be, and I am. Hey, do you wanna see a magic trick?"
Éowyn smiled weakly at his babbling, wondering how so many words could come spilling out of one tiny child. "Perhaps a bit later, treasure, when I've rested."
Elboron offered a wide, toothy smile. "Okay, Momma."
"Your father said you two had a talk this morning about your Uncle Boromir."
Nodding animatedly, Elboron said, "Papa told me that being a big brother is the most important job in the world."
"He's right," Éowyn agreed. "Would you like to hear a story about my older brother? Your Uncle Éomer?" She waited until he nodded before she began. "When I was your age, I wasn't as big and strong as you are."
Éowyn shook her head. "Not at all. I had a difficult time when I was younger. I was very small, you see, and I struggled with keeping up the other children and learning how to take care of myself."
"But you're so good at it now," Elboron protested.
"There's a reason for that," she explained. "Your uncle – my brother – was always very large for his age, like you are, and he was also well respected. He could have easily stood up for me anytime I was in the slightest bit of trouble, but had he done that, I would have never learned to stand on my own feet. He watched out for me, of course, and made certain I was always safe, but he let me stand up for myself, particularly after my mother and father were no longer there. He supported me and upheld me, but let me work through my problems on my own. I learned independence from him, and it's served me well through the years."
Elboron glanced thoughtfully over at his little brother's crib. "So I'm supposed to protect him, but not protect him? I don't understand. What do I have to do?"
"Exactly what you're doing now, treasure. Watch out for your little brother. Be mindful of his struggles, but let him learn things for himself. He'll grow up to be strong, just like you."
"And you and Papa?"
Éowyn smiled at her firstborn. "Exactly."
Lifting his chin resolutely, Elboron rose from the bed and approached the baby's crib. He stared curiously at the sleeping child before turning to his mother. "Can I talk to him, Momma?"
"Of course. Make sure not to wake him, though."
Elboron turned back towards the crib and spoke in a loud whisper that made his mother chuckle. "Hello, I'm Elboron, your big brother. You don't have a name yet, but don't worry. I'll work on thinking you up a good one. You seem tired, so I won't stay long, but I wanted to tell you that I'm gonna take care of you, just like my uncles took care of my parents. Our parents. So don't worry about anything, okay?"
With that, he leaned down and bestowed a kiss on the newborn's forehead. "Sleep well, little brother. I love you . . . even if you do look like a walnut."
I told you I was rusty. :) Reviews and encouragement welcome (and needed).