A/N: All I have to say right now is that you're all darn lucky that I have so many stories written and ready to post;-) Don't expect this to continue!! I have, oh, about three more after this one (not counting future stories I have yet to write;-) and I'll post them slowly(ish). Enjoy!

Disclaimer:I own no one in this story, and I know that all of you know that. Ya know, I really think it's stupid how we always put disclaimers before our stories. Everyone KNOWS that nobody owns anything from LOTR, and if they DID they sure as heck would say it!!! So why say anything at all? Oh well;-) Sorry for the repedativeness of the song/poem...it just fit so well for this story. And it is in elvish for the most part! Lol;-) Elvish translation done by yours truly;-)

Ok, I think that's all. Don't forget to review!

Finduilas's Harp

By Dimfuin

Boromir strode through the halls forcefully, walking blindly past servants and courtiers in his haste to escape. Everyone knew it...he saw it on their faces. Everyone in the kingdom was probably aware of the younger son of the steward's return.

And it wasn't just the welcome in the streets that would have heralded Faramir's arrival. Though the people loved him and had welcomed him warmly, once inside the Steward's House it had been distinctly cold and quiet. Faramir had come inside, face still bright in his own quiet way from the people's good cheer, to find nothing. Not even one servant stood waiting to welcome him. Boromir had furrowed his brow and was on the verge of finding out the meaning of this when Faramir had laid a hand on his arm and said quietly, "Never mind, Boromir. I do not find pleasure in large welcomings anyway. You know this." And he had turned and gone up the stairs to his room. Boromir had expected the sounds of his brother lying down to take some rest after his long hard journey, for by his face it was plain that he was bone weary, but he had heard only quiet pacing. Every now and then the footsteps would stop, as if Faramir had sat down to partake of some rest, but before five minutes were up the pacing would again resume. Back and forth, back and forth.

Finally, the sun had set and Faramir had appeared outside his door, dressed in the livery of the city. Boromir had had a maid bring up food, but it was unlikely that Faramir would have touched any of it. Boromir was too wise to send wine. That would not be welcomed by the Lord Steward, if he smelled any on the breath of his younger son.

And now Boromir hurried away from the great hall, trying to put a stop to the yells. He felt cowardly for running like this, but he knew from long experience that he could do nothing. Indeed, it only seemed to anger his father more if he was present. Why can father not simply hear Faramir out for once? Boromir wondered as he burst into the upstairs hall. His footsteps slowed, and he only just then realized where his feet had taken him. He breathed deeply of the still, cool air in the hallway and leaned against the inlaid wall to his right.

"Eru," he prayed, "I can't take this anymore! Why does it always have to be this way when he comes home? I can't play intermediary any longer!"

The sound of heavy footsteps sounded on the steps and Boromir straightened. He did not want a servant to see him in his weakness.

Stepping forward, he trailed the inlaid mosaic of Ecthelion I with his fingertips and allowed himself to be led by his subconscious mind to the door of his brother's room. He only wondered for a split second why his feet had led him there before gently unlatching the door and stepping in.

It was not often that he came into Faramir's rooms, and he blinked at the light from the tapers along the wall and looked about him. So different from his own rooms. Faramir's were always neat and tidy, and somehow pleasing to look at as well. Boromir ran his fingers lightly over a soft skin thrown over a chair and closed his eyes.

"Boromir, look! I caught a rabbit in my trap!"

"Congratulations brother! Won't father be proud."

But as Faramir bent down and looked at the fluffy brown and white wriggling thing caught in the trap, the fierce pride of outdoing his brother at this began to give way to pity.

"See Boromir, the way his eyes are so huge. Surely he is not afraid of me?"

Boromir was at a loss. What could he say to his not yet ten year old brother? "Well..." he began.

"And his body! It's shaking so. He is afraid!" Faramir's gray eyes dilated with tears. "I don't want to kill him, Boromir."

Panic seized onto Boromir. "No Faramir, you must! 'Tis part of the challenge that father gave to us. We must complete our tasks."

"No," Faramir said firmly. "I'm going to let him go. He's too little. I have to find a bigger one!" Faramir grasped the trap and sprang it loose. The rabbit limped off into the bushes as Faramir and Boromir watched. "There, now it will be free!" the little boy said happily.

Boromir did not have the heart to tell Faramir that the rabbit would die anyway.

And their father had not been pleased either. But Boromir did not want to dwell on that. With a sigh, he lay the skin back down and walked over to the window. The lights of the city gleamed here and there, showing that there was still life, though the sun was gone. The growing light of Mordor seemed somehow smaller to Boromir, when he saw all those little specks of light.

With a sigh, Boromir turned to the wall and saw with curiosity an instrument strung up. It was a delicate harp, wrought from ivory and silver and inlaid with gold. Memory flooded back to Boromir and with trembling fingers he reached out and plucked the strings. They were perfectly tuned. So Faramir had kept their mother's harp tuned all these years. Did he play it? Boromir could not remember ever having heard it played since...since...

"Bring me my harp. Please."

"But my lady! You have not the strength! You must rest, just as the Lord Steward said. You will be..."

"Please."

Little Faramir stared up with big round eyes at the wasted but still beautiful woman who held him close to her heart. He reached up one small hand and touched a lock of hair that was falling over her face. "Mama?" he asked.

Finduilas smiled softly and kissed the child lightly on the head. "Yes my love, Mama's going to play for you, one last time."

Boromir, who was ten years old at the time, came closer and put one already strong arm around his mother. "Are you sure, mother? You will not exert yourself too much?" he asked.

"No, my strong boy," Fiduilas smiled. "I shan't." At that moment the maid appeared with a small harp made of ivory and silver and inlaid with gold. Finduilas smiled and took it from the girl. Faramir and Boromir snuggled up next to her as she plucked a few chords, seeing if it was in tune, and then she began strumming and singing a song:

"Kard n alaquel, e palurin nala

Ar eller rimbe enel an vanta

Ea loomin, an e rena ilmen

Mennai e elen ilya kalina

Hisie ar loomin, loomi ar leo

Ilya metta, ilya quell"

Finduilas' voice rang through the room, at times strong and bold, at others quiet and weary. And unexplainable sadness entered into her voice for the last line, and Faramir instantly cuddled close to her.

"What does it mean, mother?" Boromir asked. Fiduilas sighed and laid the harp aside, then put an arm around each boy.

"It is elvish, and someday you will learn it well, I hope. But in our tongue it means,

Home is behind, the world ahead

And there are many paths to tread

Through shadow, to the edge of night

Until the stars are all alight

Mist and shadow, cloud and shade

All shall fail, all shall fade."

By the last word, Finduilas' voice was barely a whisper, and Boromir shivered.

"That's terribly sad, mother. Do you like it very much?" He gazed at his mother for a minute. "I say, do you like it very much mother?"

Finduilas stirred and smiled down at Boromir. "It is the song my mother used to sing to me," she said. Then, reaching across the bed to the table, she once again picked up the harp. "Faramir," she said gently, "I want you to have this. You can play a few chords already, and I want you to learn for me."

Faramir looked up at his mother with big eyes and nodded. "Yes mama," he whispered.

"And Boromir?" Finduilas went on, turning to the other boy, "You help him, alright?"

"But---but mother!" Boromir said all in a rush, "Where are you going?"

"I am leaving you, my sons," Finduilas said sadly. "And I am going far, far away. But always remember that I love you. No matter what,"

Boromir hastily wiped a tear away from his cheek and stepped back from the harp. He could only assume that Faramir had kept up his promise and learned how to play it. But had he, Boromir, held up his end of the promise?

With another sigh, Boromir turned back toward the room and stood uncertainly, looking around. By now his father must have finished with Faramir and he would be coming back. But something drew him toward the fire and he stepped gently over to it to warm his chilled hands. He loved the way the flames danced and flickered, enveloping each other and swallowing the small flickers up. And the sound of popping and crackling was so comforting.

Before long Boromir was staring at the mantle above the fireplace and resting his head upon it. It had been a long day for him too. Maybe he should go try to sleep...

A book of poetry caught his eye and he caught his breath. It was in elvish. His mother had wanted them to learn elvish, so badly. But...but it did not always turn out that way. He cursed himself for remembering all of these things: things that he had locked carefully away in the dark recesses of his mind. But tonight for some reason the past was coming alive, and he was powerless to stop it.

"Did you do it, Faramir? Intentionally?"

"Father, please! 'Twas not his fault. If anything it was mine! I---"

"Be silent! I am asking a question of your brother!"

Denethor held the book at arm's length, as if it were a reeking and foul thing. For once in his life, Boromir was surprised to see his father mad at Faramir. It wasn't as if the sixteen year old had been shirking his duties! He was merely studying.

Faramir stood tall, his stormy eyes an icy gray. "No, father. Not intentionally."

"Ah, then you are merely forgetful and ignorant?" Denethor asked.

"Father, PLEASE!"

"Be QUIET Boromir! Or must I send you to your rooms? You are not too old for that, though you may be one and twenty," Denethor snarled.

Faramir lifted his chin. "My lord," he began, "I beg your forgiveness if I have done wrong in any way. But I beg that you enlighten me of that way in which I have upset you."

"Upset me? Ah, and just shirking your arms lessons is no small matter? Tell me, my son, which is more important: that we know the difference between anor and ithil, or that we are able to defend our country?"

Faramir was silent.

"Well??"

"That we are able to defend our country, my lord," Faramir murmured, so quietly that it was difficult for Boromir to catch the words.

"Good! Listen to me," Denethor said gruffly, "I am a man of literature. I enjoy learning and reading as much as you, but I understand the sacrifices to be made in times like these. Do you think that I would be caught reading all day in the gardens? Hmm? Never! And don't you forget that." Denethor held the book closer and took a look at the cover. "Alcarinqua narn ten Dol Amroth: e edhel. Yulda ed Finduilas."(Glorious tales from Dol Amroth: in elvish. Drawings by Finduilas.) Denethor's face changed abruptly and he held the book tighter. "Where did you get this?"

Faramir's hands unconsciously balled. "Mother gave it to me," he said.

Denethor nodded slowly, then more abruptly. "I see. That is all, Faramir." And he stalked off. Boromir watched Faramir's face carefully as he opened his mouth to say something and then shut it. With one final look at his father, Faramir turned and fled from the room.

"Stop! Stop, Boromir, stop this insanity!" Boromir put his hands to his ears and leaned his forehead against the cool stone of the wall. He must not remember all of these things!

At that moment, slow steps echoed down the corridor and Boromir straightened. The door opened slowly, creaking as if it too was exhausted, and Faramir slipped in. He shut the door gently and slumped against it, raising his hands and placing them on either side of the door. A ragged breath escaped his lips, and he whispered slowly, "Numa, inye aut aluserna numa yonta." (No, I can go on no more.)

"Faramir?" Boromir said quietly. In a flash, Faramir spun around and glared at his brother. "Forgive me," Boromir said apologetically, "I didn't mean to intrude. I was just waiting until you were done."

Faramir nodded wearily, walking over to the fire and standing, looking down at the flames for a long time. "What did he say?" Boromir finally ventured.

"What does he usually say?" Faramir's voice surprised him. It was hollow: totally devoid of emotion or feeling. It was very seldom indeed that Boromir saw his brother this way. "He told me that I did not do a good enough job, and I am to return to my outpost tomorrow."

"What??" Boromir burst out, "You are not even to stay in the city for one week???"

Faramir closed his eyes and nodded. "Please, Boromir. It is hard enough for me."

"No! No, this is too much! I shall go speak with him," Boromir growled, and he began striding toward the door. But a strong hand on his arm stopped him.

"No." It was all Faramir needed to say. As Boromir looked into his brother's face he knew exactly what he meant. He had had quite enough of his father that night. Suddenly, Boromir thought he saw part of that little boy who had clung to his mother's harp that day in his brother's lean face, but then it was gone. Faramir swayed suddenly, and Boromir caught him.

"You need rest," he said.

"I am fine. I am in need only of nourishment," Faramir rejoined, shrugging Boromir off and going over to his desk.

"That I see. You did not touch food before you went to see father," Boromir scolded. "And I highly doubt you have lain horizontal for days on end. Why do you not---"

"Stop it Boromir!" Faramir said suddenly, slamming his fist down on the desk. "Stop! I am not a child! Must you always coddle me and pet me? It is bad enough that---" He caught himself just in time and dropped into a chair, putting a hand up to his forehead. "I am sorry. You are right, I must rest if I am to be of any use tomorrow."

Boromir sat slowly, savoring his brother's words. It is bad enough that... how was he going to finish? Do I want to know?

Faramir poured two glasses of spiced wine and handed one to Boromir. The other he set in front of himself, but he seemed more interested in gazing at it than drinking it.

Boromir took his gratefully and sipped of the hot beverage. It seemed to clear his senses somewhat, and he set the vessel down on the table. "Faramir," he began.

Faramir stirred as if from deep thought and looked up at his brother. "Yes?" he asked. His eyes were shadowed by the flickering fire, but Boromir knew he was aware of what he was going to ask.

"Tell me what you were going to say. Please."

Silence, as thick and heavy as the fur rug on the floor fell, and Faramir lifted the cup to his lips. As he lowered it, the only sounds in the room were the popping of the fire and the ragged breathing of the over-tired brother. "It was rashly said, Boromir. I do not need to repeat it."

"Please, Faramir. You are the only brother I have, and I would not have you go back to Ithilien and possible death with this between us. Please," Boromir said. He leaned forward ever so slightly.

Faramir nodded wearily. "'Twas only the words of a fool who has had too much on his mind, but what I was about to say was, 'It is bad enough that Father finds me second to you and must needs rub it in my face every chance he gets. Must you also remind me of my shortcomings?'" And it was said. Boromir drew a long breath, and Faramir began massaging his temple with a shaking hand.

"So," Boromir said. "So."

"Truly, I did not mean it. I--I am overwrought." Faramir stood, wiping a hand across his face and crossing to Boromir. He laid a hand on his brother's shoulder and bowed his head. "Forgive me?"

"Forgive you? There is nothing to forgive, Faramir. It is hard for me to comprehend your life," Boromir said quietly. The realization that he and his brother had not talked for a long, long time fell upon him. He gestured to the seat across from him. "Sit, please."

Faramir sank into the armchair and eyed his brother. "Yes?"

"Tell me," Boromir said, leaning back. "Tell me about your life."

Faramir blinked, and then with a relieved expression, he began talking. He talked of the company in Ithilien, of the duties they had to accomplish. He told him of the dreams he had, of the loneliness he felt for his brother on the long nights on patrol. He talked even as his words slurred with weariness and, more often than not, grief. And finally, he stopped talking. Boromir looked at him steadily, watching as sleep claimed his brother.

"Faramir?" he asked.

"Yes?" Faramir asked drowsily, trying to fend off the shreds of sleep that clung to him.

"Do you play mother's harp?" Boromir asked carefully.

A slow smile spread over Faramir's face. "Would you like to hear it?"

Kard n alaquel, e palurin nala

Ar eller rimbe enel an vanta

Ea loomin, an e rena ilmen

Mennai e elen ilya kalina

Hisie ar loomin, loomi ar leo

Ilya metta, ilya quell.

The End