18

"Brothers of the Heart"

"Come, sit with me," the new steward beckoned and turned to retrace his steps back into the gardens.

Pippin followed and perched easily on one of the ornately carved benches. He admired the fountain across the way. "It is lovely to see that so many things are returning to normal at last." He indicated the newly repaired fountain with a cascading waterfall with a nod of his curly head. "The flowers are blooming at last," he observed. "I wonder has Sam been busy here?"

Faramir nodded, his fair features lighting up with amusement. "Yes, Samwise has been quite preoccupied with tending to this garden of late. Indeed, it seems to be almost an obsession."

"I'm certain it eases his heart to help things grow again after the long period of destruction we've endured."

"Yes. And I am very glad we have this opportunity at last to speak privately.

"Aye, I feel the same Faramir. I have longed for the chance to sit down and get to know you better."

The pair sat in comfortable silence for several moments before the young steward spoke again. "Peregrin…"

"Pippin, if you please. If you call me Peregrin I'll be thinking my Da is here looking for me and that I've cause to be worried about the safety of my backside," he chuckled.

His companion raised an eyebrow. "I take it you often find yourself in trouble then?"

Merry laughter rang out from the hobbit before he answered in his endearing lilt. "Ah, Faramir! It would seem the two of us have much to learn about one another."

"I'll take that as a yes then," the steward replied dryly. His new friend eyed him with no small amount of curiosity.

"Well, perhaps I can tell you something of myself. I don't imagine you know much of me, except what little my brother may have mentioned during your journey." Faramir raised an eyebrow at the hobbit's ill suppressed snicker. "Did I say something amusing? Why are you looking at me like that?"

Pippin cleared his throat. Obviously the man had a great deal to discover regarding how much his brother had talked about him on the long trip. The hobbit grinned up at him. "Ohhhh, I dunno. I did hear your name mentioned on occasion whilst we travelled." Pippin leaned over and whispered conspiratorially, "And usually in connection with tales of mischief making and comeuppances! Why, I thought that if I ever got to meet you 'twould be almost like looking into a mirror!"

Pippin laughed aloud at Faramir's frown. "Ah, come now! Dinna act so dignified and stiff Faramir. Boromir told us all about your penchant for trouble and getting yourself in over your head. 'Tis a wee bit late for you to be tryin' to cover it up."

"I'm sure I do not know what it is you're referring to, young sir."

Pippin tilted his head and looked at Faramir askance. "Right then. And I'm goin' to be crowned the new King of Gondor, isna that true also?"

"Master Peregrin, your attempt to humour me is admirable however--"

Pippin snorted softly and turned to face the steward fully. "Would you like to be hearing some of the tales that I was told along the way then? Just for fun, dinna you know? And then you may be tellin' me how little I'm aware of the matter, all right?" Pippin watched as the steward's face reddened slightly. He reached over and patted Faramir's hand. "Ah, your brother was very dear to me and I would love to share my memories with you if you will allow me to. I miss him."

Faramir's eyes filled with tears and he sat straight and rigid while trying his best to will them away. Pippin patted his hand again. "'Tis all right and well to weep, Faramir. Heaven knows I've done my share."

Faramir gazed into the twinkling green eyes and found both a deep understanding and a profound sadness there. He did not trust his voice for several moments. Pippin waited. Finally he spoke again. "Please, then. I would dearly love to hear the tales my brother spoke of." His voice fell to a whisper. "And anything else you may tell me about his journey with you."

Pippin nodded. "Aye, there is much to tell. Some of it will make you smile."

He hesitated and Faramir reached over to grasp the small hands in his. "I want to hear all of it," he whispered. "Do not spare my feelings - I want to hear every bit of it."

The smallest guard of the Citadel nodded his understanding. "Verra well. I want you to know I am honoured to sit here with you and to share my stories." His voice fell so low that Faramir had to strain his ears to hear. "Just as I was honoured to travel in the company of your brother…"

The Fellowship settled in early each morning for the day's rest. It had been somewhat difficult for the little ones to become accustomed to marching by moonlight and sleeping by day yet they had stoically persevered. Boromir noted that Pippin was still fairly restless in the morning light and always had a difficult time quieting down in preparation for their respite. The warrior had taken it upon himself to assist and found that an unfailing way to garner the hobbit's attention was to tell stories during their "supper - breakfast". Pippin always focused eagerly on the tales. Before long he and the other hobbits would be nodding off shortly after they ate. The big folk would chuckle fondly at the drooping heads and retreat into their own reverie, relaxing with pipes and quiet talk before retiring.

At other times Boromir simply took the first watch and included Pippin until the lad tired enough to not be a disturbance to the rest of their company with his seemingly endless energy. Then he would suggest Pippin tuck himself in and the little one would do so without protest, each giving their self a mental pat on the back for achieving their goal unbeknownst to the other.

Pippin paused in his storytelling and laughed. "Boromir didna think I knew what he was up to but to be telling you the truth I honestly forced myself to stay awake some of those mornings just so I'd be allowed to sit with him on watch. I always had a million questions I still wanted to ask him, you see. I just could never get enough of his tales…or his laughter."

Faramir smiled sadly at his small friend. "Yes, he had a very infectious sort of laughter. The sort that caused those around him to join in readily regardless if they knew the source of his mirth." He was quiet for a moment before he continued. "I would often work hard at provoking him in some way that I knew would eventually cause him to laugh hard and long, just so I could witness his amusement."

"Aye, I must confess having done the same." Pippin's eyes twinkled. "But then, 'twas never much of a task for me to get him to laugh." He thought for a moment. "Or, to get him to respond to my mischief. Whether I was meaning to or not!" Pippin shrugged. "I enjoyed having his attention and many of the things I did were designed to draw that attention to myself and make him laugh…or react." The hobbit tilted his head to one side, thinking. "You know, I never realized why I did that until just this moment."

Faramir's eyes crinkled at the corners in amusement and he joined Pippin in laughter. His own memories of doing just that same thing tugged at his heart and he nodded for him to continue.

"Speaking of which, that reminds me of one of his stories about you."

"Oh, yes?"

Pippin bobbed his head up and down vigorously. "Yes."

"A tale of laughter or of mischief?"

"Well now, the two seem to go hand in hand at times, dinna they?"

"Indeed they often do."

"Ahhh! By all that is good and proper…" Boromir nudged a small grass snake away from his things with the toe of his boot as the company set up camp for the day.

"Here lad," Gimli handed him a long stick to use in shooing the little thing away.

"That is unnecessary," Legolas intervened and scooped up the trespasser quickly, whisking it away from the grimacing warrior's vicinity.

Aragorn smirked at them as he passed, shaking his head in disbelief. "Afraid of a tiny snake Boromir?"

The big man stiffened. "Everyone has their foibles Aragorn." He shivered. "I cannot abide the slithering creatures, never have in fact."

"I admit to not being overly fond of them myself," the dwarf agreed.

"Well, you are both safe now," the Ranger chuckled further irritating the other man.

Nearby their interaction was not missed by two pairs of sharply observant eyes. Pippin nudged Merry and grinned. His cousin raised an eyebrow. "I wonder what the big man would do if one or two of those wee snakes found their way into his bedroll?"

Merry frowned. "Pip, I wouldn't be considering what I think you are. Boromir seems genuinely squeamish about them. He may very well get extremely annoyed with you."

"I agree," Frodo said.

Pippin considered the man for a moment longer then turned back to his cousins and shrugged. "Well, 'twas only a thought."

"And it had better remain only a thought," Frodo warned before rising to help Sam build up the fire with the wood the other hobbit had just returned with.

The companions soon rested in a circle next to the fire as they consumed their meal. Boromir chuckled at the good-natured teasing about the snake. "I am reminded of a prank my little brother once played on me." He looked around the circle at his companions. "Faramir unfortunately knew all about my aversion to snakes and used that knowledge to his advantage at every opportunity. I recall an incident in which he quite outdid himself."

"Oh my, well you must tell us!" Pippin fairly bounced up and down in anticipation. "Did he put a snake in your bed Boromir?"

"Yes, please do tell us your story," Frodo laughed, "Before my cousin gets any more rambunctious."

Boromir settled back against a tree and smiled warmly at the eager lad. "It was not a single snake he placed in my bed. He filled my entire sleeping chamber with a great horde of snakes of every description!" The big man winced at the memory. "You may imagine my chagrin when I opened the door that night and a virtual horde of the nasty creatures came slithering out making their way around and over my feet--"

"WHAT?" Pippin collapsed in a fit of laughter. "Oh no," he moaned falling onto his back and holding his sides as he giggled. "Why, the lad should have been verra proud of himself!"

Boromir snorted. "Without a doubt he was. He put a great deal of effort into collecting all those snakes. It took him days."

"They must have heard you yell all the way to Mordor, if you don't mind my saying," Sam remarked.

"Indeed Sam, and perhaps even beyond. "Twas with great trepidation that I approached my bed that night."

"Ah, but a good prank is worth as much as a good meal, Boromir! Any hobbit will tell you that - we lay great store by them." His kinsman nodded their agreement.

"Don't I know!"

"And then what happened?"

"I made him clear my room of every single snake naturally! It took him hours to catch them and then I made him search the room again just to make certain he'd gotten them all." Boromir grinned. "And then I paddled his backside as soundly as I ever had before. He was not a happy little boy after that, nor did he think his prank so grand any longer."

The others joined him in laughter. "I should say not," the wizard agreed.

"So you didna tell your Da then?"

Boromir's smile faded. "No lad. I took care of it myself."

Pippin studied his friend closely. "Did I say something wrong?"

Boromir brightened but Pippin couldn't help feeling there was something false about it. "No, I usually saw to my brother's discipline in such matters. 'Twas nothing very extreme after all." The man pulled him into a quick hug. "Just as your cousins do the same for you, yes?"

Pippin scowled as laughter erupted around them once more. "He has a good point there Pip," Merry snickered and thumped him on the back.

"Well, I wouldna exactly calling it doing something for me, but yes, you know they do, Boromir."

"Ah, but to all intents and purposes it is the same."

"I suppose it is."

"The next morning I had all I could do to restrain myself from spanking him again."

"Why is that, Boromir?" Aragorn asked, his curiosity piqued,

"Because there were still snakes in my room!"

Hearty laughter rippled through their circle again.

Boromir shook his head in disgust at the recollection. "Against my better judgment I actually tried laying down that night though I was certain I wouldn't get a moment's sleep. However, I did drift off and awoke to find three of the vile things in the bed with me! I don't think I slept in my own room for a year or more after that." Boromir settled back against a tree and stretched his legs out in front of him. He sighed. "As fate would have it I was about to leave for a long training session in the field with the rest of my company so I wasn't due to return home for two months."

"I wonder if that's why he did it?"

"What?" Boromir sat up straight. "What do you mean, Pippin?"

"If you were about to leave he probably wanted to get your attention."

Boromir thought this over before settling back again. He placed both hands behind his head to cushion it. "Perhaps."

The group fell quiet.

Both remained silent for several minutes at the conclusion of the tale. Pippin wondered how much he should say of what Boromir had revealed to him of their relationship with Denethor and decided to wait.

"I recall that prank."

"Aye, you should. It sounded grand! I did something similar to my youngest sister once with frogs."

Faramir's mouth turned up into a genuine smile at last. "It was grand. It took forever to find and catch all those snakes! And then to get them into his room unseen…" The young steward gazed off into the distance, his soft smile revealing how deeply he was focusing on that long ago picture. He chuckled, "How fortunate for me that my father never found out how I had pestered poor Boromir on the night before his leaving for a long field training."

Pippin held his breath and watched as Faramir's smile faded.

"Yes, fortunate indeed…" Faramir whispered, more to himself than his friend. "Come, you must tell me another story."

"Well," Pippin hesitated. No, he decided, too soon for that. "I will tell you what happened after Boromir told us that story--"

The steward groaned and slapped his palm to his forehead. "Pippin, surely you didn't?"

The youth grinned rather sheepishly. "Well, but then Boromir said that I reminded him of you and he seemed oddly proud of me afterward."

"Oh?"

"Aye."

"All right, I would dearly love to hear the tale."

"But - that was right before he turned me over his knee."

Faramir groaned again. "Peregrin--"

"Pip, if you please."

"Pippin, I have a feeling that all of your tales end similarly."

"Then your feeling would be quite accurate," Pippin said brightly.

Faramir groaned a third time.

"But I told you that earlier. In order to prove my point as it were. Dinna you remember?"

"Yes."

"Do you wish to hear another then?"

Faramir rubbed a hand across his face before replying, "Please, do continue."

"Now Boromir! You must understand I was only trying to lighten your mood just a wee bit." Pippin swung around to his kinsman for support as he backed quickly away from the fast approach of the irate man. "Right Merry?"

"You can leave me out of this one Pip," Merry said with no small amount of certainty.

"But, but--" Pippin continued backing up.

"But nothing Pip. I told you that you'd best be leaving it alone and what did you do? You went ahead and made things worse." Merry glanced at Frodo and Sam for confirmation and each nodded their agreement of his assessment.

Pippin turned his eyes to the others. "Gandalf?"

"You'll get no sympathy from me Peregrin."

"Aragorn?" Pippin's voice was creeping into a much higher range while the colour staining his cheeks grew distinctly rosier.

"Indeed," grunted the Ranger. "As a matter of fact you had best count your lucky stars you chose to play your prank on Boromir and not me. I doubt I would go as easy on you as I'm certain he will."

"Easy?" Boromir stopped his move towards the hobbit and rounded on Aragorn. "You actually think I'm going to go easy on him after heput snakes in my bedroll and turned my hair green??"

"'Twas only a wee bit of an herb dye," Pippin wailed in protest, "it'll wear off in no time a'tall!"

"Actually, I thought the herb dye was a nice touch myself," Merry whispered to his older cousin. Frodo regarded him with a withering stare of disapproval. "Well…it was." Merry's voice trailed off as they both returned their attention to the warrior and their young cousin.

Jitters of laughter rippled through the rest of the company. It had been pretty amusing to watch as the man tucked his unsuspecting olive green hair into his bedroll only to leap suddenly from its confines as if a fire had been lit beneath him. The high pitched yell rivaled even Pippin's best as Boromir thrust his hand down into his blankets and hurled away several of the small grass snakes. In his frenzy he also noticed the colour of his long, once flaxen locks and a howl of dismay erupted as if torn from his throat.

Pippin yelped as Boromir reached him at last, sweeping him off his feet and hauling him easily to the nearest place to sit. Flinging him over one knee Boromir quickly divested him of his britches and began spanking him soundly, his hand rising and falling sharply as he easily ignored the cries of alarm.

Much later, from underneath his bed of blankets Pippin observed Boromir as he took his place on watch before creeping out to join him. With a mumbled but sincere apology he was welcomed back into the man's good graces with ease. They sat together for a long while without speaking. Finally Pippin said, "Boromir? I really am sorry." The big man chuckled, surprising him, and looked down into the upturned face. "What?" Pippin wrinkled his brow, puzzled.

"Thank you Pip. Your little bout of mischief was very naughty, especially because you know how I feel about snakes."

"Of course," Pippin agreed cheerfully. "Else it would'na have been any fun!"

"Hmm, fun for you perhaps. Just don't ever do it again!" The man favored him with an exaggerated frown.

"I willna, I promise."

"But it did bring to mind the fond remembrance of my brother's silly prank once more."

"You're welcome then!"

"Little imp."

"You don't learn your lessons easily it would seem."

"Aye, and you dinna either from what I've heard tell."

"Honestly Peregrin--"

"Pippin."

"Indeed. It's a small wonder Boromir didn't tan you into the next age."

"Well, you should know, eh? Seeing as how my mischief reminded him so much of you!"

"You don't have to keep reminding me."

"It seems you need reminding because you keep protesting the obvious."

"Why don't you tell me a different story? Something that doesn't end in a paddling."

"I dinna have any stories like that."

"Very well, then tell me one that didn't remind Boromir of tanning me!"

"I dinna have any like that either. And stop all that sighing. It makes me think the wind is picking up and it's going to rain."

"Who is responsible for this?" A loud and very angry voice boomed from just inside the little clearing before the woods where they camped.

The bellow was enough to cause them all to cringe, but none more so than the two youngest hobbits. For Merry it was an automatic gesture every time the big man yelled about something. For whatever it was Boromir was angry about at any given time his youngest cousin was no doubt at the heart of it. Ever since the beginning of their journey Pippin had delighted in finding out just how far he could push the boundaries of good sense regarding anything involving the Gondorian. His constant testing of where the limits lay was coupled with the playing of every sort of prank he could think up, all directed in some way at the man. Merry had been thinking that Boromir was likely to soon lose all of his patience with the lad and by the sound of that roar most likely that time was at hand.

"Whatever is wrong my dear Boromir?" The wizard stopped what he was doing and peered into the woods. "Oh."

A moment later Gandalf was joined by the rest of their Fellowship standing in a semicircle near the edge of the river. A very wet and miserable warrior was clawing his way carefully up the side of the riverbank, a fire in his eyes and a determined set of his jaw revealing just how seriously upset he was. Boromir darted a sharp look around at the same time he flung away the algae he picked from his long hair by the handful and shook water and mud from his clothing. He pulled Pippin's scarf from where he had tucked it inside his shirt and held it out for all to see.

"Oh my," gasped Sam as he glanced about the circle at his kinsman. He noted first his master's ashen features before taking in the equally pale countenance Merry displayed.

Only Pippin seemed to be oddly enjoying the man's discomfiture. "My scarf! Why, wherever did you find it?"

"He's gone too far this time," Frodo whispered to Sam.

"Fishing?" Aragorn inquired innocently while the Gondorian fumed. Legolas snickered politely into his hand while the dwarf laughed outright.

"Aye laddie, if we only knew ye were goin' after the big one we would've come along to help you! You should've let us in on your intention," Gimli chuckled shamelessly.

Boromir regarded the dwarf with his frostiest stare before turning to the Ranger. "ARAGORN!"

Aragorn calmly removed the pipe from his mouth and inclined his head in reply. "Yes?"

"He needs to be punished. Thoroughly!"

"Who needs to be punished?" Aragorn asked.

Boromir stared at him incredulously before bellowing, "Whom do you think I'm talking about?" The man darted a look around wildly at his companions before laying eyes on Pippin. "YOU! Come here now!"

The amused look quickly drained from the halfling's face and Pippin unconsciously moved a step closer to his cousins.

"Calm down Boromir, I'm certain he meant no harm."

"MEANT NO--WHAT?" Boromir looked ready to explode.

"Take some deep breathes," Gimli suggested. "And tell us what happened."

Their remarks only served to infuriate the man further. "I WILL NOT CALM DOWN!" Boromir whirled in a circle showering them all with water from his clothing. He shook the scarf in fury. "He planted this at the water's edge, dangling from a tree limb that swept low in the river. He meant for me to think he had fallen in! A more unbelievably thoughtless prank I don't think I have ever seen!"

"But are you sure Pippin put it there on purpose?" Legolas wondered.

"That is true, Boromir," Gandalf said. "I suggest that before you pronounce judgment you first ask the lad if he had anything at all to do with your swim."

"WHAT?" The dripping warrior turned in a circle, taking them all in. He pointed at the smallest hobbit half hidden behind his cousins. "After all the pushing at the limits of common sense this boy has done just this past week alone? You would suggest I actually ASK him to admit he did this and give him the chance to say no?"

"It is only fair," Aragorn said.

The small group went totally silent as Boromir stood regarding Pippin. Finally he sighed. "Very well. Pippin?"

The hobbit in question poked his head around his cousin's shoulder. "Aye?" Merry pulled him by the arm and pushed him to stand in front of him.

Gandalf gestured impatiently for him to come forth. Pippin slowly approached the wizard and came to a stop a careful distance from them both. He waited, trying his best to appear innocent.

Boromir sighed and lowered himself on one knee. He placed a hand on Pippin's shoulder and looked into the little one's eyes. "Tell me the truth Peregrin. Did you do it? Did you mean for me to think you had fallen in the river and needed help?"

Pippin squirmed uncomfortably. He had toyed with the notion of fibbing to the big man, but now looking up into those earnest gray eyes he found he simply could not. Pippin realized he finally had the answer to his question about how far he could push him. Reluctantly he nodded. "Aye," he said in a small voice.

Boromir sat back on his heel, taken by surprise. He had at least expected a bit more protest from the lad. "You did?" Pippin nodded again. "You freely admit 'twas no accident? It was another of your pranks?"

"Yes Boromir." Pippin hung his head in regret. "I'm sorry. I went a wee bit too far this time."

"Yes, you did." The big man stood and looked down at him thoughtfully. "But, I am proud of you for admitting it, especially when there was the possibility you might have gotten away with it. That was a very mature thing to do in spite of what you did that got you to that point." Boromir placed a comforting hand on the small shoulder. "You reminded me of my little brother just then."

Pippin looked up quickly and wrinkled his brow. "I did?"

Boromir nodded solemnly. "No matter how much mischief my brother did, when he was caught out at last he always admitted to his wrong doing and accepted the consequences. You can be proud of yourself for doing the same."

"Umm, thank you." Pippin glanced uneasily over his shoulder at Merry before turning back. "Uhh, well now, you mentioned consequences - canna we just per'aps let it go this time then? Seeing as how I did own up and all. I mean, 'twould be a gesture of good faith on both our parts then, would'na you say?" Pippin grinned up hopefully.

Boromir shook his head in amazement at the little one's audacity. Little scamp! "Indeed, young one. You do remind me of my brother just now, and very much so!"

Pippin dared to relax a bit and his grin widened as he looked at the others in relief. "All right, whew! Well then…EEEKKKK!" Pippin's diatribe was cut short with a squeal as Boromir snatched him up under one arm and made a determined stride for the nearest boulder. "Waittttttt……."

Faramir's laughter had started out as a chuckle and grown to a full-fledged belly laugh by now. He laughed until he had to wipe the tears from his eyes and then laughed some more. Beside him Pippin sat grinning, pleased he had been able to move his friend to such mirth. Being a master storyteller certainly helped but having the appropriate subject for a tale helped even more!

"Oh my, that sounds so much like exactly what my brother would say! You told that so well!"

Pippin chuckled. "Aye, well and he did say that and a whole lot more. I might add that a good deal of it was emphasized by his hard hand striking my defenseless bottom whilst he said it!" This last caused the young steward to erupt into another fit of merry laughter.

"Yes, I can just hear him. He said the same to me on many occasion and while performing the exact same activity!"

The two companions enjoyed their shared mirth for a while longer before settling down. An occasional ripple of mirth still sounded from them as they eyed one another in appreciation.

"Pere…Pippin. I am so pleased you have shared these stories with me today. Ah, it does lighten my heart to know that my brother's last days were not all spent in hardship and solemnity. I am happy beyond measure that he shared such camaraderie with you and with the rest of your Fellowship."

"Aye, so am I." Pippin sighed and twisted his hands in his lap. "Boromir was a great man and a small piece of my heart stayed with him on that terrible day." The two new friends fell silent for many long moments. Both struggled with their tears. Finally Pippin looked up into Faramir's eyes. "I wish to tell you something else that Boromir told me. I…I dinna know for certain that I should reveal this to you, but I feel in my heart that it is the right thing to do. Perhaps solely for the purpose of helping you to understand just how close I felt to him and the knowledge of his own family he trusted me with. Just as I did the same in sharing deeply personal tales of my own family with him."

Faramir stared at him with some concern. "What is it? What did my brother tell you?"

Pippin took a deep breath and exhaled. Looking straight ahead he began. "Boromir and I shared the watch on many occasions as you know, which afforded us the opportunity to speak privately. I shared some things that are near to my heart, as I said. Because I knew he would'na hurt me with the knowledge. And he trusted me enough to tell me many things about his own life. That's one reason I felt so honoured to be his friend. In spite of any mischief I did Boromir still took me seriously and…well…he treated me like I was his little brother too." Pippin looked up cautiously and was relieved to see the smile on Faramir's face. "I hope that's all right with you…"

Faramir extended an arm and placed it around the hobbit's small shoulders. "Pippin, I am pleased that my brother chose to confide in you and that you shared a friendship that was obviously dear to both of you to the very end." Faramir paused to wipe away a tear from the corner of his eye that threatened to portend many more. He managed to hold his voice steady with some effort. "I am very happy that he had you to look after during that time and delighted that he regarded you so fondly."

"Faramir, your brother also spoke to me of your troubled relationship with your father. And the lengths he sometimes went to in order to protect you from him." The steward hesitated for several long moments and Pippin began to worry.

Faramir squeezed the hobbit's shoulders harder as he choked back his tears. "But who better to possess that knowledge than another member of our family? Who better than another brother?" Faramir tried to stifle the sob that arose from his throat and failed miserably. "And who better than the one responsible for saving my life? From a death at the hands of my own father."

Pippin shuddered at the sudden intrusion of his memories of the violent fiery ending of Lord Denethor. The sight of Faramir resting on a funeral pyre about to be burned alive by his crazed father still haunted many of his waking moments. He thanked all the spirits of Over Heaven that Faramir did not recall much of that time. As for him, he would never forget, never shake the horrific scene that was seared into his mind of that day. If he hadn't arrived in time with Gandalf after Denethor had thrown him out and slammed the door…

Faramir watched the conflicting emotions stirring on the little hobbit's face. Perhaps one day he would tell him that he remembered much more than any of the others realized. But they would fret and worry over him even more than they did now. No, for now he would keep the entirety of the knowledge close to his heart to ponder in the dead of night while he lay unable to slumber. He was certain Pippin too knew all about those sleepless dawns.

The friends shared their tears then, as freely as they had their memories. Both knew they had found in the other a kindred spirit and created a bond that would last a lifetime. No further words were necessary.

END