A/N: Tolkien's characters. Written for the 50 lyrics fanfic challenge on LJ.
Boromir had never seen his father cry.
Many a time, he had held Faramir when his younger brother sobbed over a scraped knee or other minor wound, or attempted to distract the little boy from some childhood agony by bringing his attention to the wonders of the world around them. Boromir being Boromir, this generally ended up being some bird to chase or bug to study, or a dog wandering loose about the Citadel to romp with (though the last had scared Faramir even more, the first time the animal had licked his face).
As the brothers got older, Boromir also dragged his sibling to watch the soldiers at weapons practice. It always calmed Boromir, at least. There was something joyous in their movements, something freeing in the way they came together, blades darting like swallows, like fighting hawks. Archery was all right, but nothing made his heart race like watching the swordsmen.
He did not understand why this made his mother cry. She did not wail like Faramir did when their nanny insisted that they could not bring any stray kittens into the room, but Boromir had seen the silent tears welling up as she watched him follow the soldiers around after practice, and seen her turn away when he played with the small dagger he wore at his side. He knew why she silently wept when she thought of Dol Amroth, or thought he did, but why the exhilaration of pure weapons-mastery was lost upon her, Boromir knew not. His father would come to watch with him, or even go a few rounds against the armsmaster himself, when he had the time, but his mother would simply put a cool hand to her mouth and try to withhold her tears. Boromir decided that it must be some sort of girl thing, since his nanny disapproved of him spending overmuch time with the soldiers, as well. But Nanny Camithiel never cried about it. She had forbidden him to repeat some of what the soldiers had taught him to say, but she had always been more angered than saddened by such words. Boromir hated to upset his mother, but all of the governess's threats aside, the thrill of weapons practice was simply too much to resist.
His parents had made the best of the situation, using swordsmanship lessons as reward, or revocation of such as punishment. But there came a day at last, when even the kinetic joy of blade clashing against blade was not enough. It felt wrong to be out and enjoying himself when his mother was walled in, confined to her rooms. Boromir's parents had attempted to shield the boys from sorrows, but Boromir had learned long ago to listen and not show that he listened. And so the words drifted to him, in ones and twos, from his father and the Steward's advisors and servants and the soldiers and the dewy-eyed ladies of the court and worst of all, those tight-lipped, wan-faced healers.
"Complications," the advisors whispered, fearful of upsetting their lord.
"Right ill," the maids would declare, clicking their tongues sympathetically as they moved about their business.
"Weak," said the soldiers, shaking grim heads. Nanny Camithiel forbade him from repeating that one, too.
"Sorrow," he heard the ladies say, and then they would dab at their eyes. He never understood that one.
But even that was not so bad as the healers' pronouncements: "We don't know." But they were supposed to know everything! "I'm sorry, my Lord." There were a great lot of people in this world who were sorry for one thing or another. Boromir thought that things would be much better if the healers were not amongst them. What did sympathy change? "She would like to see you, milord. And the children, as well."
Boromir had thrown down his sword, heedless of the punishment his armsmaster would likely mete out for such childish behaviour. He ran to catch up with his father's long strides, and noticed that behind Denethor, his governess had kilted up her skirts in order to match the Steward's pace as well. Faramir stared wide-eyed at his elder brother from her hip. Normally, Faramir would have been too large and too willful for their nanny to carry, at the age of five, but there was no way that he would have been able to keep up with the step on his own two legs. Pausing with the children at the doorway to the rather stuffy sickroom, Nanny Camithiel had set Faramir down, curtsied, and left, making no more contact with the family than a gentle touch to her elder ward's shoulder. Boromir lingered there for a few moments after she left, uncertain that this pale, painfully thin woman propped up against the pillows could truly be his mother.
But there was his father, sitting at the side of her bed, holding her hand, and speaking softly. She reached up for him, and Denethor willingly lowered his face to meet her trembling hand, whispering something that made her laugh hoarsely. "My boys," she called, opening her free arm to them. Denethor still held her left hand tightly in his. Faramir took his brother's hand, leading Boromir to the bed, then indicated that he wanted up. Boromir gave him a lift, then scrambled up beside him. "My darlings." Their mother wrapped a pale arm about them, and Boromir reached around Faramir to hug her back. His little brother had the sense of it; this meeting did not require any more words than their mother was willing to offer. He looked content and sleepy, burrowed between his mother and older brother.
Boromir wished that he might feel so calm. But maybe Faramir would help with that, he was always a little hot rock. The warmth of his little brother at his side was comforting, at least; Boromir could almost pretend they were snuggled up to share a picture book, or watch their mother fold fantastical creatures out of cloth, as she had when the boys were very little. Despite Boromir's longings, though, his mother's hand was cold at the back of his neck, and she trembled as she reached to pull Denethor closer. "All my darlings."
Normally, Boromir disliked watching his parents kiss. It was an awful thing, for a ten-year-old to be forcibly reminded that his mother was indeed a girl and liked that sort of thing. Even worse, to be reminded that his father, - who was otherwise a very wise and sensible man, - liked that too. But this time, Boromir just held his mother tighter.
For a few moments, maybe a few hours, the four of them lay together silently, resting in a parody of familial closeness and comfort. Boromir could hear his little brother's deep, contented sighs, feel his mother's cool hand languidly stroke his hair. His father's breath was more irregular than his own or Faramir's, but there was no water in the Steward's eyes as he leaned over his wife, his forehead rested against her chest and his arms about her, much as Boromir or Faramir might have done when they needed a hug. She put a hand against their father's back in the same way she might comfort her children, as well. Slowly, though, her eyes closed, and the hand in Boromir's hair stilled.
"Leave us," their father directed, his eyes shut tightly as well.
Boromir reluctantly pulled away from his mother's embrace, gathering up his sleepy younger brother. "Come on, Faramir. Mama needs to rest," he said, cutting off the little one's protests. "We'll be back soon," he reassured himself as much as his younger brother.
Thirty years later, he had still never seen his father cry, but the sound had been enough to mark the fall of a young boy's world.