Just an idea that has been swimming round my head for some time. Very short first chapter. The others will be much longer.
The title "Krummavísur" comes from an Icelandic folksong about a raven.
Also, I don't own LOTR.
Nouns were the thing, thought Faramir. He had yet to put any research into nouns, having spent the past several weeks of his spare time pouring over various interpretations of Sindarin grammar structure. Boromir's deep bellylaughs drifted across the table, tearing the boy from his musings. He focused half-heartedly on the conversation, tucking his thoughts away, and stabbed his knife into a particularly fatty slice of beef. There was no animosity between the boys, despite their father's ever-increasing affection for the eldest and cold indifference towards the other. And yet, Faramir thought, he would not have minded his father listening to him so raptly, with such love glowing in his eyes and mirth on his lips as he shared his interests in history and music. But to have an audience on the subject of language, on the tales of Isildur and the fairytale-like elves that his mother had sparked an adoring fascination in - he would not have minded that at all.
It was a silly thing to wish for, Faramir knew. A childish fantasy; his father had long since made quite clear that the Steward of Gondor was a busy man with very limited time for laughter or warmth, and what little he did possess was too small a reserve to be shared by both boys. Boromir, as eldest and the professed favourite son, inherited all of that attention. He occupied himself with memorised strings of elvish poetry instead, his knife carving abstract patterns into the potato and broiled beef as Boromir and the Steward chuckled over old barracks jokes. Perhaps if he remained silent long enough, Faramir mused, he might be able to win himself an excuse to return to his rooms and finish his notations on the past participle.
"Hold your fork properly, Faramir." His father's voice, ever cold and edged with stone, as though it drew its deep treble from the walls of the Citadel itself, drew Faramir's eyes from his plate.
As quickly as the attention had turned on him, so it swung back to the subject of the military and recent Corsair attacks on the coastal villages. Faramir found his attention waning once more, his grip round the cool metal of the fork slipping. Patience was more than a virtue at dinners such as these. With his brother occupied and the conversation firmly stuck on matters that neither concerned nor interested him, it became a necessity. Enveloped in his thoughts, he counted the minutes passing, the amount of times Boromir referred to killing something, the breadrolls and sprouts of broccoli on their plates. In time the entire affair would come to a close, with Denethor excusing himself to his office and Boromir returning to his younger brother's rooms to chat over a mug of strong tea. It was the promise of this visit alone that kept Faramir's mouth shut and his eyes on his untouched food. Their time together grew shorter the older they became. For Boromir, the constant demand of Easterling attacks and spats with rogue bands of Southron soldiers meant that he was rarely in the Citadel and disinclined to take letters from home, while Faramir found himself struggling to stretch his shortly-supplied spare time over the gaps left between gruelling weekdays of training at the military academy and weekends in the Citadel. He set his fork on the table and reached for the wine.
Boromir had launched into a re-enactment of a conversation he had held with a rude beermaiden the night before. Faramir counted the action verbs and the predicates. What was the Sindarin equivalent of "breast"? Fifteen minutes - twenty, thirty at the latest - and he would have Boromir all to himself. Half an hour, and he could return to his rooms in peace and regal his brother with the stories he had kept locked away in the back of his mind, lest he slip and share one with his father, who no doubt would brush them off as banal and a waste of time. They would laugh, Boromir and he, snort into their tea and giggle on the balcony at the goings-on below. When the night grew chill and the fire flicked weakly in the grate, Boromir would claim exhaustion and make to excuse himself to bed but linger. It was the nighttime ritual, an unspoken nudge for Faramir to feign a headache or some other malady so that the older boy would have a reason to stay with him longer. All week he had been looking forward to it, and now that the moment was nearly upon them he found his appetite non-existent. To his left, the Steward had pulled back his chair to allow for the dessert to be set down.
Soon, whispered an impatient little voice in the back of his head. So soon. No more than twenty minutes more and he could leave this tedium. Grinning to himself, he made to push back his own chair to make way for the dish of fruit and cakes. His elbow caught the edge of the fork that had been laid to rest on the very edge of the table. It fell with a heady clatter that echoed round the large room and drew the eyes of all present to his flushed cheeks and narrowed eyes. Hoping vainly that the mishap would go unremarked upon, he stooped to pick it up.
Denethor had turned his gaze on the bowl of strawberries by his left arm, but Faramir could feel the depthless, grey eyes boring into his forehead as vividly as if they had been fixed on him. "If you cannot hold your silverware properly," began the lord slowly in the same dry tone he used to reproach the servants for small breaches in protocol, "you have no place at this table."
The room had fallen silent. His cheeks seared with the flush of blood. His skin smarting, Faramir licked his lips and nodded quietly. "Yes, Father."
"You may leave."
As calm as the deep voice was, as disinterested as the man appeared, there was no denying the dismissal in his waved hand and raised eyebrows. In the depths of Faramir's gut a protest churned. He bit it back, as usual, and rose jerkily to his feet.
"Goodnight, Father - " Long legs were a curse, truly, always tangling themselves round chair legs and catching the edges of the table. " - Boromir." His shoulders slumped; he hung his head, anxious not to catch Denethor's eye.
"Faramir," intoned the man, just as his pubescently large feet reached the doorway. Faramir stopped short, his heart sinking. "Let us have a chat after dinner, you and I."