In empty halls of white stone, a brother and a friend meet to discuss one whom they both loved. They discover that, despite their appearances, they are not so different…
Disclaimer- I do not own LotR
Peregrin Took, Guard of the Citadel, wandered through unfamiliar halls of cold white stone, hearing only his own soft footsteps echoing in his ears. The strange new encumbrance of mail and leather weighed almost as heavy as the burden of responsibilities and loyalties that he was oath and honour bound to hold to. He rested a hand on the hilt of the sword he had been presented with in place of his own. It mimicked the style of the swords of the general soldiery of Gondor, but it did not seem to be some sort of short sword or dagger- rather it seemed as though it had been designed as a long blade for a small person. However, the blade showed signs of being sharpened and the hilt and scabbard looked old and used, despite their excellent condition. Clearly it had not been forged for him alone- this sword was older than that. It was decidedly odd.
Suddenly, the young hobbit found himself in a large room, whose walls were festooned with hundreds of weapons- great spears and longbows- neatly arrayed in huge racks. So this was one of the many armouries of the city. Pippin gazed at the rows and rows of weaponry, at once awed and saddened by it- that there should be such need for these tools of death…
As he studied the room, he began to wonder about his part in the inevitable combat to come. Hobbits were not renowned as great warriors, it was true, but he had learned things on the road. Indeed, Boromir had said that he and Merry were two of the best pupils…Boromir. At the thought of his valiant, honourable friend, Pippin dropped his gaze to the floor and sniffed back tears that threatened to gather in his eyes. He died to save them. A life laid down in defence of his comrades.
Pippin wiped his eyes with a gloved hand, drawing his sword and staring at it- what skill he had was all due to the brave Gondorian's patient and understanding tutoring. Almost instinctively he altered his stance and adjusted his grip on the one-handed hilt. If it came to battle he would not dishonour his friend's memory by cowering behind the strength of others. He began to go through the sword drills that Boromir had taught him, getting used to wielding a blade in the slightly confining mail hauberk and silver-and-sable coat. It was hard- the weight of the armour made his movements slower, more clumsy, but he persevered until his thrusts, slashes and defensive parries were swift, clean movements.
He was not sure how long he had been working when he heard a sword being drawn behind him as someone entered the room. Purely on instinct, he turned and lunged, his sword meeting a much larger, heavier blade with a resounding clang.
He looked up and up, craning his neck to stare into unreadable grey eyes and hastily withdrew and sheathed his sword, stammering apologies as he bowed respectfully to the second son of the Steward. Faramir smiled and waved his words aside, placing his own sword in its leather-bound sheath. "It is I who should apologise, Master Perian. I have long known not to sneak up on a warrior holding a sword- I should not have made an exception in your case."
Pippin blushed slightly at the man's words and smiled shyly at him. "There is no reason for you to apologise, my lord Faramir."
For a moment, man and hobbit regarded each other. Pippin curiously studied the features of Boromir's brother- Faramir's face was gentler, wiser, somehow kinder and more open. There was more definition to the noble brow, but there was still a great resemblance between the two. The grey eyes were just as deep, just as mysterious and there was that same spark of life and courage. He could feel those eyes studying him in turn- no doubt the man was wondering at his height and how strange he looked in his uniform.
The man's smile widened. He strode to a nearby bench and sat. "Please, join me- Peregrin, is it?"
Pippin trotted over to sit next to him, replying "It is, my lord, but my friends call me Pippin." He gulped and looked up at the man. "Your brother called me Pippin."
Faramir closed his eyes momentarily and took a deep breath. Pippin hurriedly turned away, wondering if he had said the wrong thing, and silently cursed his foolish tongue- stupid to talk of Boromir to his grieving brother.
"You were a friend to my brother…Pippin?" Faramir's voice cut through his thoughts.
"Aye, my lord, I liked your brother very much- I liked him from the first. He was so very big but he was extremely careful around us hobbits- halflings, that is. We often talked of lives and our upbringings and we shared many stories and jokes. I think Merry and I knew him better than Frodo or Sam- around us he much relaxed his stern manner. He even consented to teach us swordplay," Pippin paused, aware of how carefully Faramir seemed to take in every word.
"And he spoke of you. He spoke of how he looked after you and how much he missed you. He told me…" Pippin faltered and took a deep breath, continuing. "He told me that he would very much like for us to meet." Pippin looked up at Faramir again, seeing his eyes were closed, a single tear slowly travelling down his cheek. "I think that he loved you very much, my lord, even if he could not say those words."
Faramir took a quavering breath and opened his eyes, wiping his face with gloved hands. He sat silent for a moment in reflection of the things Pippin had told him, then turned and bestowed upon the hobbit one of the warmest smiles the hobbit had ever received. "Thank you, Pippin, for telling me this. You have brought me great comfort. From Frodo's words, I had thought that my brother might have died an ignoble death, alone and friendless."
"I promise you, my lord, the Boromir's death was the most noble and self-sacrificing act I have witnessed in my short life. He gave his life for me, and he did not die friendless. He died as one of my greatest friends and I am honoured to have known him," Pippin choked, overcome with emotion, and buried his face in his hands, feeling the sorrow and misery of the last few days overwhelm him. Tears began to fall from his eyes, the tears of one separated from his soul-friend, the tears of one who has suffered but kept that suffering inside.
He felt strong arms wrap around him and he was pulled into a large warm body. He instinctively curled into Faramir's chest, sobbing helplessly. The man simply held him, letting him cry out his grief, gently stroking his back until his tears ran out and he pulled back, sniffing a little, red-eyed and somewhat embarrassed. "I am sorry, my lord. We hobbits are an emotional people- I did not mean…"
Faramir interrupted him. "Do not apologise, Pippin. Tears shed for a friend are not an evil. And you have left behind two great friends, I understand- my brother, and another perian, who even now is with the Horse-Lords."
"My cousin, Merry," Pippin confirmed, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe his face. "As close to me as a brother, my lord."
Faramir shook his head. "We are friends, are we not? Please, I would have you call me by my name."
Pippin smiled a true, bright, shining smile. "I would like that, Faramir. I would like for us to be friends."
"Then come, little friend- tell me of your life and your family. I have heard tales of your home from your companions, but I would gladly hear more."
Eagerly Pippin launched into a rapid joyous chatter, hearing the man laugh at his excited tone as he recounted fond memories of a distant peaceful land. Faramir listened, a wide grin on his face, as Pippin described his family's less-than-reputable history and their position in the Shire. He was only interrupted once, as he spoke of his father, Thain Paladin I.
"Thain?" Faramir asked, rolling his tongue around the unfamiliar word.
Pippin nodded. "The head of the family, and the sort of lord of the Shire." He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to recall his lessons on the family. "The Thain looks after the Shire until the return of the King," he quoted, softly.
Faramir looked thoughtful. "So he carries the same burden of office as the Steward- looking after the lands and leadership of the King…You are heir to this title?"
"Indeed. Though I fear my father, despite his love for me, despairs of my ever being responsible enough for it," Pippin replied, somewhat forlornly.
"Then we are not so different, you and I. My father always thought me a disappointment. I could never please him, no matter what I did."
Pippin placed an empathetic hand on Faramir's arm and the two sat in silence for a while. Then Faramir shook himself out of his reverie and gently thumped the hobbit's shoulder. "Come then, Pippin, it is time I took my brother's place as your teacher. We cannot have Gondor's Citadel Guards losing their skill."
They both stood and drew their swords. Pippin lifted his small blade and took up his stance, seeing Faramir mirror his actions. A sudden thought occurred to him. "Did Boromir instruct you in the art of swordplay, Faramir?"
Faramir grinned. "He did. And I used that very sword, wearing that very armour. They were made for me when I was a mere boy, desperate to prove himself to his older, wiser, all-knowing brother."
Pippin returned that grin just as cheekily. "Then I promise not to dishonour it, Faramir. Prepare yourself!" With that he launched a rapid assault at the laughing man. The clang of their swords rang out with their laughter as the son of the Steward and the future Thain of the Shire tested the skills taught to them by the brave strong man that was brother to one and friend to the other.