Faramir, Boromir, Denethor, and other LotR characters belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. This fic is dedicated to Diana. Thanks are due to shirebound and Baylor, whose excellent drabbles have inspired this.
"For the last time, Faramir, lay down that book and come to sword practice!"
"I only have one more page, Father," began the child, but Denethor lost all patience. Riiip! The leaf was in the fire.
His father sternly said, "The son of a Steward must not be this childish. Boromir does not act so."
The boy kept silent to avoid further taunts. To his surprise, when Denethor wasn't looking, he felt a singed, but readable, paper stuffed into his hand. Faramir looked up as Boromir put a finger to his lips.
"You always were a sissy," the brother whispered.
Faramir shook his head. "I still refuse to believe that you are going so far, when you are the heir!"
"My dear younger brother," replied the elder, packing his horse, "though you may be more expendable than I, you are more likely to require that expendability...in death."
Faramir sighed as he handed Boromir his horn. "Promise that you will return from Imladris. Father needs you. Without you he might turn mad."
Boromir spoke earnestly as he mounted. "Faramir, I swear to you that the Horn of Gondor will be cloven in two before I abandon this land."
And What of Your Kin?
To pass the time of their march, the hobbits had been discussing their family trees and ancestors in bewildering detail, to the bemusement of the other Walkers.
"And what of your kin?" Merry asked Boromir, suddenly.
The man smiled. "It is not nearly as intricate as your families. I only have a father and younger brother."
Sam was amazed. "How small a family."
"Perhaps," Boromir replied, "but they are very dear to me."
Pippin nodded in assent. "Is your brother anything like you?"
"Well, not really, though he is a good man."
"Do you miss him?" asked Frodo.
Down the Falls
He only saw the body for what seemed like an instant before the swift river carried it away, but Faramir knew that face anywhere. Pain struck his heart as he saw a curved object washing in the waves. Rushing forwards to save it, his worst fear was realized. The proudly carved heirloom was broken. The Horn of Gondor was cloven in two.
Faramir stared at the halves in his hands, sighing. "He always kept a promise, even to the last. Even to the fall." While watching the boat disappear, a knot constricted his throat.
"May thou rest in the Sea."
You Wish We Had Been Exchanged
Though he had known his father would grieve, this obsession was frightening. Denethor's pain was now unleashed on his remaining son, the pressure on him was hightened unbearably. Finally, Faramir could endure it no longer.
"You wish we had been exchanged," he accused. "That I had died and Boromir had lived."
"I do wish that," whispered the Steward.
Something in Faramir snapped. "Do you not realize that I am also pained? That his death causes me anguish as well? Or do you imagine me unfeeling, as well as irresponsible?"
There was no reply, and he did not wait for one.
Few men glimpse their own funeral. When Faramir weakly opened his eyes, the entire scene felt unreal. He saw Mithrandir and the hobbit, Peregrin, who both bore expressions of horror. He felt the numerous wounds from his battle, and a new pain of burnt flesh. Most disturbing of all was the sight of his father, and his look, for just before Denethor died, a final flicker of sanity lit his mind. Their eyes met for a final time. Faramir remembered Mithrandir's prophecy, now come true.
"He will realize his love before the end."
Alas that the end should be so.
Life would never be as before, he knew. Faramir never thought he would miss his father so, but he felt the ache. It pained him further that Denethor's death had been dishonorable, and was nearly his own. Such thoughts troubled him deep into the night, keeping him awake.
"Why are you awake, darling?" a soft voice asked him.
"I still mourn my brother and father, to tell the truth. All my family has left me."
Eowyn gave him a comforting kiss. "Then we shall begin another one."
Faramir smiled at his wife beside him. The war did have its compensations.