Waiting for Boromir
Fari picked at his dinner and glanced down the table again. His dad was talking to Uncle Reg and he looked happy. Not that his dad wouldn't be happy to talk to Uncle Reg, but he wondered why his dad was happy, after what had occurred earlier that day.
His father was smiling when he'd come to dinner. Aunt Pearl had asked him where Ivy was and he'd said she'd gone to Buckland with Estella. Then he sat down and started talking to Uncle Reg about the wheat crop.
Fari pushed the potatoes around his plate. He just couldn't eat, because he was worried and it was making his stomach hurt. He'd heard Ivy leave, not long after tea. Right after she'd had a row with his dad.
He hadn't heard what they were fighting about. All he had heard were the angry voices through the walls.
Then he'd heard their bedroom door open, followed by a slam. A few moments later, he heard the door open again and Estella calling down the hall, "Wait, Ivy!"
He'd curled up on his bed, worried. His dad and Ivy had had a few arguments before, but he'd never heard them fight like that. When he heard the door again, he went to look out in the hall. He just caught sight of his dad, far down the hallway, going into his study and closing the door behind him. Fari had felt a thrill of fear. His Dad had done that after fights with Diamond, too, and he'd always come out drunk.
But he didn't look at all drunk now, talking to Uncle Reg. He looked happy. Was he happy Ivy left? Fari thought his dad loved her. But the fight made him wonder if maybe he was going to divorce Ivy, too.
He put down his fork and got up, ignoring his cousins' queries, and raced out of the dining room. He didn't want them to see him cry. He hurried through the hallway, but came to a sudden stop in front of his father's study. This time, he could do something.
He entered the study, going to the desk and opening the top drawer. He picked up the little brass key and went over to the cabinet set in the bookcase. He made sure it was locked and dropped the key in his pocket. If his Dad was going to fight with Ivy, he'd do his best to make sure he couldn't drink.
Fari hid in his room the rest of the day, not wanting to see anyone. His dad came to see him that evening.
His dad sat on the edge of his bed. "Are you all right, Fari?" he asked.
"I'm fine." Fari kept his eyes on his book, a book of Elvish poetry. Ivy was starting to teach him Sindarin and she'd given him the book to practice with. He wondered if she'd still want to teach him, if she was leaving.
"I'd heard you left dinner early and then you didn't come to supper. Are you feeling all right?"
"I'm fine," Fari said, still not looking at his father. "My stomach hurt, but I'm better now." The words were blurring in front of him. He thought about asking his Dad about Ivy, but then decided he didn't want to talk about it now. He didn't want to hear that she had left them.
His dad sat coughed slightly. "Ivy and Estella went to Buckland today. I'll be going tomorrow morning. We should be back in a day or two, though."
"Can I go?" Fari asked, finally looking up at his father. He could talk to Theo about this. Theo always figured things out.
"No, Fari, not this time." His dad patted his leg. "We'll be back soon." Fari thought he looked a looked worried at first, but then he smiled. "And we'll have something very important to talk about when we get back."
Fari nodded and went back to looking at his book.
"Are you sure you're all right?"
He nodded. "I'm just kind of tired, Dad." He closed his book. "I think I'll go to bed now."
"All right, Fari." His Dad got up and leaned over to kiss his forehead. "Goodnight." He tucked Fari under his blankets and blew out the candle before he left.
Fari rolled over and buried his face in his pillow, which was soon damp with tears. He supposed Ivy would have to come back and get her things and then they'd go to Michel Delving with Uncle Sam, like his dad had to do with Diamond. Fari wiped his nose on his sleeve. He didn't want Ivy to leave.
He came to breakfast just as his father was leaving.
"I'm going to Buckland now," his Dad said, patting his head. "You mind your aunts while I'm gone. You can stay with Aunt Vinca."
Fari nearly protested that he was old enough to stay in their wing of the Smials by himself, but he realized he didn't want to be alone, without his Dad or Ivy in the next room. He'd go stay with Aunt Vinca.
Two days later, he was playing in the garden with his cousins when Aunt Nel came to find him. "Your father's back," she said. "He wants to see you in his study." She looked around at his cousins. "The rest of you, it's time for supper."
Fari followed them in, dragging his feet a little. He wasn't looking forward to this. Aunt Nel hadn't mentioned Ivy, so his father must have come back alone. But when he got to the study, his Dad and Ivy were both sitting on a couch, talking. And they both looked very happy. His heart sank. Ivy was happy about leaving, too?
"Fari!" His dad got up and came over to him. He shut the door, then took Fari's hand, tugging him over to the couch. "We've got something very important to tell you," he said.
Fari pulled his hand away and stopped. "I already know," he said. "Ivy's leaving."
"What?" They both looked surprised.
"I heard you fighting," Fari said. He crossed his arms tight against his chest. "You were yelling and then Ivy left and..." He squeezed his eyes shut.
"Oh, no, Fari." His Dad hugged him and then he was being guided over to the couch and pulled up into his dad's lap. "Is that why you weren't feeling good? You were worried Ivy wasn't going to come back?" He nodded and his dad hugged him.
Ivy reached over to stroke his arm. "I'm sorry I scared you, Fari." She sighed. "I was being a bit of an idiot."
"We both were," said his Dad. He kissed Fari's forehead. "We just had a disagreement about something, Fari. There's nothing to worry about."
Fari shook his head. "But you always had fights with--"
"Look at me, Fari." His dad tilted Fari's face up to look him in the eyes. "It's not like with Diamond. Not at all." His father hugged him again. "Ivy and I will have disagreements, but we'll still love each other. All right?"
Fari nodded and sighed. "What did you disagree about?"
"Something silly," Ivy said. "We've worked it out, so there's nothing to worry about."
Fari looked up at his father. "But why were you so happy before you left, if you and Ivy had a disagreement?"
"I was happy because of what we want to tell you." His father grinned. "Ivy's going to have a baby."
Fari looked up at his father, then at Ivy, completely surprised. "Really?" he asked. "I'm going to get a brother?"
Ivy laughed. "Or a sister," she said. She leaned over to hug him.
"When?" Fari asked, still a little breathless from the news.
"In the spring," said Ivy.
Fari pouted. "That's an awful long wait."
"I know, Fari. It's a long wait for me and your dad, too." She smiled at him. "So you're happy?" she asked.
He nodded. He was finally going to have a brother, like Theo! "Can I go tell Theo and Eomer?" he asked.
"We'll go in a few days," said his Dad. "We figured you'd want to tell them, so Uncle Merry and Aunt Estella are going to keep it secret for you."
Fari hugged his dad. After he'd been so worried, he was now very, very happy.
Later that night, after his parents had gone to bed, Fari put the key back in his father's desk. He was pretty sure that he wouldn't have to worry anymore.
Fari sighed. "I don't think the baby's ever going to get here." It had been two months since he found out he was going to get a brother, and although Ivy's belly was getting bigger, he still had to wait until spring.
"He'll get here before you know it," said Theo, lying next to him in front of the parlor fire, "then you'll want nothing more than to put him back in."
"Hey!" Eomer sat up and gave Theo a shove. Soon the brothers were wrestling around on the floor, laughing. Fari grinned. He couldn't wait until he had a brother to wrestle with.
"Not in front of the fire!" Aunt Estella scolded, coming into the parlor. "You know better than that!"
Both boys sat up, looking contrite. "Yes, Mum," they said. Aunt Estella nodded and set down a tray. "Here's your tea," she said. "Bring the dishes to the kitchen when you're done." She gave her sons another look that told them to behave, then left.
The boys got up to sit at the little table. "Is Ivy as strict of a mum as Mum?" asked Theo.
Fari shook his head. "Not really. She tells me to clean up my room a lot, but she also does fun things with me. She'll play chess with me or go riding..." He shrugged. Ivy was a mix of cousin and mum.
"That's surprising, considering how bossy she is," said Theo. He thought for a minute. "She might be different after the baby's born, though, because then she'll really be a mum."
Fari hadn't thought of that. He hoped Ivy didn't change too much, because he liked having a mother who was fun.
"Yeah, but then he'll have a little brother or sister to play with instead." Eomer leaned forward. "Don't listen to Theo. Younger brothers are really good." Theo stuck his tongue out at Eomer.
Fari sighed. "I just wish he'd hurry up and get here." He wanted a brother more than anything. When his dad was still married to Diamond, he knew he'd never have a brother. He'd asked once, when he was five, right after his dad had taken him to see the newly born Prim Gamgee.
Theo and Eomer had been there, too, with their Mum and Dad. They'd asked their Mum if they could have another baby, but Aunt Estella had shook her head and laughed. She'd given them hugs and told them that three children were quite enough to keep her busy. Fari had spent the rest of the visit watching Theo and Eomer and the Gamgees, wishing that he could have a brother, too. Even a sister would be better than being alone.
When he got home, he'd gone to his mother's parlor.
Diamond glanced up from her embroidery. "What do you want?"
Fari stared at his feet nervously. She always made him nervous. "I went to see Frodo's new sister today," he said in a small voice.
"So?" Diamond turned back to her work. "It's not like they don't have enough children already," she muttered. "Is that all you wanted to tell me?"
"Um..." Fari shivered, suddenly too nervous to ask his question now.
"What is it?" she snapped.
"Can I, um...c-can I get a little brother?"
She looked up at him, scowling, and he shrank back. But instead of getting yelled at, she suddenly laughed. Not like Aunt Estella had laughed, happy and loving, but like she was making fun of him. "Are you joking?" She rolled her eyes.
Fari bit his lip, trying not to cry. Now he wished he'd never asked.
"What's going on?"
Fari turned around. His dad was in the doorway.
"He actually asked me if he could have a little brother." Diamond shook her head. "I was going to tell him that would only happen if you sired some bastards."
His father took a step towards her. "I don't want you to ever talk like that again in front of my son!"
"Then take your son and leave me," she said. She turned back to her embroidery.
Fari stared at his feet, ashamed that he'd started another fight between them. Then his father took his hand, leading him from the room. "I'm sorry, Fari," he said, once they were out in the hall. "I know you want a brother, but..." His father sighed. "You'll have to be happy with cousins."
After that, Fari had given up all hope of having a brother. Theo and Eomer treated him like a brother, but it just wasn't the same.
Then Diamond had left and his father started courting Ivy. When they got married, Fari finally had a real hope that he'd have a little brother someday. And now it was happening!
Fari jumped when a finger poked him in the side. "Why are you staring at your tea?" Theo asked.
"Just thinking about my brother," Fari said.
Fari was bored. He'd been bored since the Brandybucks had gone home a few days ago, after their visit for Ivy's birthday and Yule. And his other cousins were mad at him, because he always spent his time with Theo and Eomer when they were here. So he was walking around Great Smials, trying to stumble across something to do.
He saw the door to his father's study was open and smiled. Maybe his dad could think of something to do. Aunt Pearl always said his dad and Uncle Merry had been experts at finding things to get into when they were boys.
But it wasn't his dad in the study. Ivy was resting on the couch in front of the fire, reading a book. One hand was rubbing her huge stomach. He couldn't wait until the baby came, because then he wouldn't be bored anymore. He'd have his brother.
Maybe he'd ask Ivy about what he could do. According to Theo, she had been good at coming up with things to do, before she grew up.
He came in and sat on the other end of her couch. "Hi, Ivy," he said.
She looked up. "Hi, Fari." She smiled. "Bored?"
"What are your cousins doing?"
"They're mad because I was playing with Theo and Eomer, so they're not talking to me."
She frowned. "Do you want me to talk to them?"
He shook his head. "They'll talk to me in a few days. They always do." He sighed. "Can you think of something to do?"
Ivy thought for a moment. "Well, it's kind of cold to go outside, but I wouldn't be much use for sledding right now anyway," she said, patting her belly. She held up her book. "We can work on some Sindarin, if you like."
He shrugged. "I guess." Sindarin lessons weren't the most exciting thing in the world, but it was better than wandering around the Smials being bored.
She sat up to swing her legs to the floor, wincing a bit.
"Are you all right?" he asked, a little worried about her. She looked like she was in pain.
"I'm fine. Just achy. Estella and your aunts have all assured me it's perfectly normal." She settled back against the couch with a sigh. She patted the spot next to her and he slid over. Then she smiled and took Fari's hand, pressing it to the side of her belly. "Do you feel that?" she asked.
Fari felt the push against his palm. "Does it hurt?"
"No. It just feels kind of...strange. Like this." She reached over and pressed on his belly with her finger, which tickled and made him giggle. "But from the inside."
The movement disappeared from under his hand, but Ivy slid his hand farther up her belly, following the baby's kicks. Fari liked feeling the baby. It made it seem a bit more real, that his little brother was really in there.
"Do you think he can hear us?" asked Fari.
"I don't know. Your father seems to think so. He's always talking to the baby."
Fari leaned over until his cheek was resting on Ivy's stomach. "Um...hello. I'm Fari. Your brother. And you're my little brother." He was rewarded with a kick against his cheek. He looked up at Ivy, grinning. "I think he heard me."
"You know, Fari, it might be a girl."
"No. It's going to be a boy. I'm sure."
"I just don't want you to be disappointed if it's a girl."
"I won't be." Because it was going to be a boy.
Ivy shifted a bit. "Well, I think the baby's gone back to sleep." She leaned forward slightly and pressed a fist into her lower back. "Could you grab me a pillow, Fari?"
He picked up one of the small pillows from the chair. She put it behind her back and sat back again. "I'll be very glad when the baby is born," she said.
Fari nodded. It was such a long wait to get his brother. He couldn't wait for the baby to come either.
Then he chewed his lip, wondering if he should ask, and decided he might at well since it was Ivy and she always answered his questions. He'd seen foals and puppies be born, and he just wondered... "Will it hurt when he comes out?"
She looked at him for a moment. "It will hurt some," she finally said. She sighed. "Fari, your dad was going to talk to you about this when you were a little older, but since you brought it up... Is there anything you want to know? About how we got the baby, or--"
Fari shook his head. "No. Theo's already told me everything."
"He did what?" Ivy exclaimed. They both looked up at the chuckle from the doorway, where his dad was watching them.
"How long have you been there?" asked Ivy, as his dad came over to sit with them.
"Since you offered the Sindarin lesson," he said. He leaned over to kiss Ivy. "You two are adorable." He ruffled Fari's curls.
"Dad!" Fari whined, pushing his father's hand away. He was too old to be adorable.
"So what did Theo tell you?" his dad asked.
Fari looked up at him, a bit worried. He hoped he didn't just get Theo in trouble. Theo had explained to him how Dad and Ivy had made the baby when Fari had visited Brandy Hall in October. Theo hadn't wanted to tell him at first--he'd said Fari was too young to know that--but Fari had kept asking until he gave in. "He told me that, um..." He glanced at Ivy and felt his face grow warm. It was weird talking about this in front of her.
She smiled at him and patted his shoulder. "How about I leave you two to talk."
"Fari, wake up."
Fari managed to get his eyes open enough to see Aunt Vinca was standing over him. He closed his eyes again. He was exhausted after his long trip from Buckland.
"Fari, the baby's here."
Fari's eyes shot open and he sat up. His brother was here!
"Come on, then," said Aunt Vinca, holding out his trousers. "Get dressed and you can go see your brother."
Fari grinned. He'd known the baby was a boy! His aunt helped him into his clothes and then he looked over at the other two boys, asleep on couches in Aunt Nel's parlor. "Are you going to wake Theo and Eomer?"
"No, their mum said to let them sleep."
Fari nodded in agreement. The both of them were pretty grouchy if they woke up too early.
He followed his aunt over to his family's rooms. She opened the door to his parents' bedroom and pushed him inside.
Ivy was sitting in the bed, his dad sitting on the edge next to her, and in her arms she held a little bundle in a blanket. Fari felt a little nervous then, not knowing what to do next. They were both looking at the baby. They hadn't even noticed he'd come in.
"We're here," said Aunt Vinca.
Dad and Ivy looked up and smiled at him. Ivy patted the bed next to her. "Come see your brother, Fari," she said.
He went and climbed up onto the bed, crawling over to sit next to Ivy. He peeked into the blanket. A little red face was within the folds. His brother.
"His name's Boromir," his Dad said.
"Like Faramir's brother," Fari said, leaning over to get a closer look. Boromir's eyes were shut, like he was sleeping, but he gave a little yawn.
"Would you like to hold him?" Ivy asked.
Fari nodded. He leaned back against the headboard and Ivy placed the baby in his lap. "Keep his head resting on your arm," Ivy said.
Fari had never held a baby. Relatives had offered to let him hold new cousins, but he'd never had any interest in babies before. But he liked holding Boromir.
"Hi, Boromir," he said to the baby. "I'm your brother, Faramir. Well, everyone calls me Fari. We should call you Bori, because Boromir is a lot to say." He touched Bori's tiny hand and the baby grabbed his finger in a tight grip. "We're named after brothers, you know. They're very brave Men from Gondor." He decided he wouldn't tell his brother what happened to Boromir. Not until he was old enough to understand how brave Boromir had been. "Faramir told me he loves his brother very, very much. And I'm going to love you just the same."
He heard a cough and looked up. Aunt Estella was dabbing at her eyes and Uncle Merry looked like he might be wiping away a tear, too. He looked over at his dad and Ivy. They were smiling at him, a bit teary-eyed themselves, Ivy leaning back in his dad's arms.
Fari smiled back, then leaned over and kissed his brother's head. "I'm glad you're here, Bori. I've been waiting for you for a very long time."