Title:In A Dream
Rating: PG (maybe as high as PG-13)
Summary: Boromir seeks Faramir out in the middle of the night.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. They belong to some old, dead guy I've never met. I heard his name was Tolkien. (g)
Warnings: None that I know of.
A/N: It's been reworked top to bottom, hopefully strengthening flow, pov, cohesion and readability. It was just to amateur to leave as it was. Hopefully, it really is better and not just that I'm delusional.
Quiet pervaded the Citadel. Long hours had passed since Captain Boromir and the first company had returned to the city victorious. The celebrations had died down, the feasting had finished, and in the darkness of middle-night no servants wandered the halls to possibly disturb the rest of the Steward's heir. Yet between one moment and the next, Boromir was awake.
He opened his eyes on darkness and looked about the room. His ears caught no sound and his eyes no movement—not even the flicker of flame upon the wall.
Sensing no danger, he pushed his torso up on his arms and blinked at the half-familiar shades presented to him. His eyes fixed on the glowing red embers that remained from his fire. Slowly, the realization that it was very late resolved in his mind. It brought no freedom from confusion, however, as he could discern no reason for him to awaken.
Indeed, the last time he had awakened with no seeming source, he had found his brother curled up at the foot of his bed. Frowning in concern, Boromir shifted forward and crawled to the edge to peer over the footrest. The floor before the hearth was empty, however, the only decoration a shag rug his manservant had dug up after learning of the incident. As a precaution, though, he glanced to either side.
Finding those spaces also empty, he almost laid back down. But as long as he had been his people's protector, he had been his brother's longer, and he had seen the younger man little this night. His heart would not let him sleep until he had made sure Faramir was well and where he should be.
Decided, he flung off the covers and slid feet first off the edge. He swayed as he came to standing and had to catch the blankets with his hands to keep from falling on his face.
Shaking his head cleared the sleep a little, but he still felt sluggish and unsteady as he pulled on his robe, belting it while he went to the door. He had slipped out – carefully checking each way and easing the door shut behind him – before he realized he had forgotten to don his slippers.
The marble floor seeped bitter cold into his feet and he lifted his toes away from the stone. He considered returning to his room for footwear, then decided against it. The chill would help wake him up.
He moved quickly down the hall to his brother's bedchamber, but his feet still felt numb by the time he arrived. The cold, even in the dead of winter, had never seemed this bad when he was younger, prowling the halls with Faramir while they pretended to be valiant warriors.
Boromir missed those days when the Shadow had been lighter and the Citadel was a safe refuge for little boys – free of the darkness and fear that plagued even the other levels of the city.
He passed the stand holding the statue of a woman bearing a broad bowl on her lap, her feet crossed before it, and came to the first door past it on the right. Leaving it open to lessen the risk of waking his brother, he crept forward to spy that tousled black hair past the edge of the sheets.
Yet here was thwarted. The bed before him lay empty. The covers were pulled and mussed, twisted and thrown to the side, clear evidence that Faramir had been there, but the man himself was nowhere to be seen.
Frowning, Boromir walked further into the bedroom and peeked into the open bath chamber door, but the room was dark and silent, and no man shadow defied the seeming emptiness of the room. His brother was absent.
Worried now, but not yet alarmed – it was not unprecedented to find Faramir absent from his room in the middle of the night – Boromir retraced his steps and carefully closed the door. When they had both been younger, Faramir had always come to his room when night terrors drove him from his dreams. Boromir believed such nightmares were less frequent now. At the least, he hoped so, but experience and deeper responsibility allowed no respite.
And now, Boromir thought with irritation, he does not always come to me when he is troubled. In truth, though, he could not fault his brother for his independence. Little in these later days did Boromir spend much time in the city. Likely, the change in his brother's habits resulted as much from necessity as inclination. Greatly did Boromir lament the necessity.
And more so in this moment, for it left him at a loss to find his brother. Where would soft-spoken Faramir go to find solace after troubled dreams, if not to his brother? He knew not the answer.
With no clear destination, Boromir simply picked a direction and started walking. He thought better while moving, and he was as likely to chance upon his brother while wandering as while standing before his door. Or so he reasoned with himself.
He found no inspiration in the carved doors, each like to the next, he passed, nor in the tables or vases which lined the walk between great pillars. It wasn't until he chanced upon a mural depicting the view from the King's Balcony that he knew where he should look.
Books were Faramir's favored companions without doubt – answering any and all of questions without judgment or scorn. But companions were not what he sought when troubled, but peace – and his poet's soul found that most readily in the stars and the beauty of nature.
Turning on his heel, Boromir retraced his steps to appropriate intersecting hall. Reaching the outer door to the Citadel, Boromir paused with his hands pressed against the hard wood and cursed his decision not to return to his room for his slippers. Cold as the marble floors were, the stonework outside would be worse. Yet the only choices before him were to go back (which would be an unforgivable waste of time if he was wrong) or go forward.
He pushed the door open resolutely and stepped out. The stone was as cold as he had imagined, and he wrapped his arms about himself for warmth. But here, at least, he met good fortune, for his brother was clearly visible just around the corner, leaning on the far railing in the shadow.
Quick and quiet, he approached, until he stood but feet from the other. "Why do you not sleep, brother?"
Faramir started and glanced back quickly, guilt layered over his dark eyes, then he smiled and the look was gone. "I believe I should be asking you," he retorted, "for it was Captain Boromir and not Faramir who returned from the sleepless wilds just this day."
"Ah, but I asked first." He smiled as leaned his hip against the rail. "Besides, I'm older."
The happiness faded from Faramir's expression as he looked out over the city. "I could not sleep," he answered. "I thought it might help to get some fresh air."
"Most would have opened a window."
His brother's look turned sly. "But then I would not have the advantage of a fresh view to go with it."
"A fresh view?" Boromir skeptical glance took in the dark shrouded plains, all layered shadow and blank shapes. "You have contemplated this same view a thousand times, little brother. I seriously doubt it can still be considered 'fresh'."
"That is because you do not view it appropriately."
"Appropriately." The hint of a smile curved Faramir's lips. Boromir had seen the look too often not to recognize the gleam – whether he could see it or not – that went with it. He would get no assistance in this matter from his brother, nor, he thought, from the night darkened plains and sleeping city below. Out-maneuvered, he decided on a different tactic: "What happened?"
Being blunt had long served him well, and this instance proved not an exception.
Faramir sighed. "Nothing that will not keep 'til the morning, brother, I assure you. Get you your sleep. Gondor's best captain, you may be, but even the best captain may be thwarted if he falls asleep on his feet."
"Even then the enemy would fly before me!" he boasted. "But I shall never get back to sleep so long as I don't know what troubles you."
"I daresay you could," the younger man disagreed with a sidelong glance.
Boromir clamped his teeth against a yawn and lifted his chin. After but a moment, Faramir's shoulders slumped and he turned from the city. His eyes traced a path back to the Citadel, slow and meandering. " 'Twas nothing unusual, brother. I merely had a dream."
Boromir knew better than most that there was frequently little usual about Faramir's dreams, even when they were simple dreams. "Nightmare?"
"Nay," Faramir said, "just a dream."
More determined than reassured (nothing good had ever come of disturbing night visions Faramir called "just dreams") he settled more comfortably against the balustrade. "What did you see, then?"
"Nothing of import," Faramir dismissed quickly.
Too quickly. "Brother."
"Just tell me. We will both be back to bed quicker if you do."
Faramir remained silent, but Boromir merely settled in to wait. Much as he felt the responsibility to protect his brother from harm, he knew Faramir felt the same – and if his protection took different forms than the protection Boromir lavished, it was no less effective. Their uncle liked to tease that although Boromir had greater strength, Faramir had greater sense – so much the better for both if they shared their strengths.
He gazed at the stars while he waited, tracing the constellations that came readily to view, and didn't turn from them when he saw Faramir watching him from the corner of his eye, though he tensed when Faramir suddenly stalked forward. Only three steps later, however, he stopped.
"I was standing here," Faramir said. He spread his hands, splaying his fingers, then faced his brother. "What time it was, day or night, winter or spring, I could not tell, but the lands north, east, south and west of me were clear and easily visible, all save the black lands vibrant with color. They stretched into the distance beyond my sight and I was struck breathless by their beauty. I almost fancied I stood in the lands of old, such as is remembered now only in legends.
"Then a great darkness grew in the east, dark even beyond the fall of night, and it stretched to cover the sky, spreading west, as if a veil was being pulled over all the lands. A death shroud from Mordor, it seemed to me, and it engulfed all the lands it touched. Terror fell on me beneath its pall, and it seemed the world was ending, or had ended, and all that remained was doom.
"Yet away to the west, a pale light lingered, like a single candle in the night, or a lone star poking through the clouds. It defied the darkness and drew my eye. Looking at it, I felt much of my terror fall away. And a voice, clear yet distant, cried out:
'Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall counsels be taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur's Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.'
"I would swear the light grew brighter the longer I stared, but between one more and the next, as if in the blink of an eye, I was awake and the light was gone. Only the words were left, to echo in my mind."
Boromir shifted, uneasy for no reason he could place.
Then Faramir straightened and his voice firm. "I came here to think. Doubtless I shall not be here much longer, but I need not a nursemaid, brother. Your duty is met. Go back to bed. The night grows old."
But Boromir did not move. Some nameless dread prickled his skin, raising the hairs on the back of his neck. "What does it mean?"
"Nothing, " Faramir said wearily. "Just go back to bed."
"Do you understand it?"
Faramir's glance mingled exasperation and resignation. "No. Not yet."
"Then we must look into it."
"No," Faramir said sharply, startling Boromir badly, "we must not."
"Don't you think it's important?"
"I said not, didn't I?"
"Yes." But claiming unimportance had never yet stopped Faramir from pursuing the information in his dreams. "But mayhap I think different. Now stop trying to get me to go and tell me what you really think. I shall not leave until you do. Is this dream important?"
The younger man scrubbed his hands over his face, slowly approaching the wall. He looked miserable, hunched and troubled, and almost Boromir regretted pushing. He hadn't yet decided to rescind his demand, though, when Faramir answered.
"I don't know," he said softly. "Maybe."
If it was important, though. . . ."We should tell Father."
"No." Faramir smacked the top of the balustrade, gripping it tight. "No, we can't tell Father."
"If it's important—"
"What would you have me do?" His brother whirled on him, rare fire blazing in his eyes. "What would you have me do, Boromir? Already he thinks me delicate, flighty. If we take this to him, he will dismiss it. Figments of my imagination, mayhap, or stress. A pitiful ploy to show my worth! if it is important, Boromir, what then? He will not see it, not on my word."
"Then I will speak with you!"
Faramir leaned back and shook his head slowly. His disappointed eyes never left Boromir's face. "You do not see, brother. You have not seen. It is still just my word. He will hear 'dream' and denounce whatever comes after as a fanciful delusion. After today, he will hear nothing from me—"
"What happened today?" Alarm he had not expected thrummed through him. Both had been in the city. What possibly could have happened? "Faramir?"
His brother shrugged. "I was with him in court today." His eyes wouldn't quite meet Boromir's. "We heard cases all day, and he gave a few of them to me. I was to rule on them. Mistakenly, I thought I could please him."
"We got in an argument. I know better than to let him provoke me—my own father!—but I could not help it. I shamed him. We were not even alone and I defied his will." Faramir gazed sadly over the northern lands. "It probably means nothing. I created it. It means nothing."
It took a moment for Boromir to realize he spoke of the dream and not his experience with father, and by the time he worked it out he felt his momentum undone. In the face of Faramir's confession, he could find no platform upon which to promote his view. He felt helpless, and pain welled swiftly on its heels, knowing his father had done this – had pushed quiet Faramir into striking out in anger. But he had seen too many of their conflicts to doubt Faramir's estimation. Their father would not listen.
He wondered if their father knew how much his disapproval hurt his youngest son, his son who wanted nothing more than to be pleasing in his father's eyes. Frustration tightened his shoulders, but he would not burden Faramir further by expressing it.
With nothing else to do, Boromir pulled his brother into a hug. "It will be well," he said. "I will see it well."
Faramir nodded and pulled away. He offered a smile, but Boromir could see the sorrow that swam in his eyes, brought suddenly so near the surface. "You should go back to bed, Boromir," he said quietly. "Gondor needs her favorite Captain well rested for the morrow. Too long has your bed lamented your absence."
The jest was strained, but he did not feel Faramir would accept anything else. So he said, "And my pillow calls my name."
Faramir smiled and waited, remote as a statue.
Boromir nodded and took a step. But his other foot would not take the second, and he turned back. "I would not leave you alone, my brother."
"I need to be alone," Faramir said. "Fear not for me, dearest brother. I will be well. The night holds no terror."
Still his feet felt rooted. Groping for words, he finally said, "I would make it right."
Faramir's smile was wan as moonlight. "I know." He glanced over the darkened lands. "Please, brother. Go to bed. You will rue your lost sleep ere long."
He thought he would rue this distance between them more, but arguing wouldn't fix it. Not now. He nodded. "Promise me you will get some rest."
It would have to be enough. "Good night, little brother."
They clasped arms, then Boromir forced himself to walk away. His feet were numb as he passed back into the Citadel and down the long hall back to his quarters. His toes tingled uncomfortably, but it was nothing beside his brother's pain.
And he knew not how to fix it. Denethor would not start loving Faramir just because he asked. His dreams, when he slept, were restless.