Author's note: Thanks to my friend Irena for her help in translating to English and to Cairistiona for beta-reading. *hug*
And no, I don't own Lord of the Rings.
"I miss her." The voice of a six year old boy trembled, but he didn't start to cry.
"I know, little brother," replied the older boy sympathetically. "I miss her too."
Their mother died six months ago, and it seemed as if the sun that had been lighting their family died with her too. Since that day their father had become sullen and withdrawn. Warmth faded from his eyes; only rarely would he direct a smile to his firstborn son.
Boromir put his arm around his brother's shoulder. Faramir sometimes had nightmares, just like tonight. Rain was pouring since last afternoon, and during the night the thundering began. Heavy raindrops hit the windows and streamed down the windowpanes, while lightning shed ghastly light into the dark room. A few moments ago Faramir knocked on his brother's door, scared and on the verge of tears. Like many times before, Boromir moved aside and his little brother climbed to bed, seeking words of comfort.
For words of comfort they would not hear from their father.
"What do you think, where is she now?" asked Faramir in a weak voice.
"I don't know. Nobody knows that," sighed Boromir. "The elder say that after death the souls of Men depart from Arda and go to a better place, where there is no sorrow."
A lightning that lit the room for a moment revealed a thoughtful face of the younger boy.
"What is a soul, Bori? Have you ever seen one?"
The older brother frowned. He was troubled by that too. He didn't know the answer, nor had he ever seen a soul. But now he had to try to answer, for it was important to Faramir. He couldn't let his brother down. He thought about it.
"I think the soul is everything that makes a person. His or her characteristics and personality and everything," he said slowly, hoping he was not mistaken. "I am not sure, but I think that sometimes you can see the soul in the eyes of people. And in their smile."
The drumming of raindrops on the window was the only sound that filled the room for a while.
"Yes, you can see it. You could see it in Mama. She had the most wonderful soul on Arda," Faramir said with childish, but absolute certainty in his voice and a smile on his face.
"Yes, she had," repeated the older brother wistfully. Although he showed it less than his brother did, he too missed her very much. Then he turned to Faramir. "And we'll always remember that. We will always carry her in our hearts."
They were silent for a while, but it was not an uneasy silence. The younger boy was calmed by his brother's presence and his words of comfort.
"Yes, little one?"
"I think I can go to sleep now. Will you see me off to my room?"
Only a few small candles cast weak, dim light in a long, large dark hall. The two boys crossed the short distance between their rooms in just a few moments. Their bare feet didn't make even the slightest sound.
"Thank you, Bori," said Faramir in his tiny little voice as he crawled into bed. He pulled the blanket up to his chin.
"You're welcome, little brother. I am always here for you. Whenever you are sad, whenever you are troubled, just come to me." Boromir smiled and kissed his brother's brow. "Sleep peacefully," he added, heading towards the door. He had already found his way to the door through the darkness and was almost pressing the handle, when a quiet call stopped him.
"Bori? Something just crossed my mind. I wonder..."
"What?" asked Boromir, standing next to the door.
"Do you think Mama can see us?"
"I believe she can," replied the older brother, and he really meant it. It was an encouraging, comforting thought; if their mother could really see them, it meant that she was with them in some way, no matter how distant she was. "And we'll do our best to make her proud of us, won't we, little brother?"
"We will." With those words he quieted down and fell asleep.
Lightning flashed in the night, and a moment later a thunder resounded throughout the palace. But none of those gathered in the Steward's chamber took notice of the weather, least of all Faramir. The midwife has just laid a baby in his arms. Holding the newborn son in his arms, he shivered, overwhelmed with feelings. His heart beat like crazy. All sounds died out and faded away. He felt as if he were flying, all the way to the sky and even further, and his heart grew, full of pride and warmth. A father. I have become a father. The thought slowly entered his mind, though he did not fully comprehend it yet. He didn't even notice the tears of joy rolling down his cheeks.
Raising his head a little, he met his best friend's gaze and become aware of his surroundings and friends. Aragorn smiled broadly. Behind him were Legolas and Gimli, and next to them Prince Imrahil, his uncle. Their smiles were accompanied by merry congratulations and hugs. Everyone spoke at the same time, celebrating the happy event. Faramir couldn't take his eyes off his son, exalted and enchanted. He started walking excitedly from one friend to another, showing them his little son with pride. He did not want to let him out of his arms even for a moment. Then one more thunder clap, louder than the one a little while ago, roared in the night, and Faramir startlingly felt this sound awaken the distant memories and carry him away from this special moment... into one other night, distant and almost forgotten. He closed his eyes and found himself in Minas Tirith, in his old little room in the palace.
The storm was raging then too. The thunder's deafening roar resounded, the shadows were dark and menacing. A nightmare had crept once again into the dream of the small, frightened boy. But not everything was frightening. His brother's low voice brought comfort and chased away loneliness and fear. It spoke of their mother, of her love for them, and of how they will always be together in their hearts.
Faramir opened his eyes and smiled, giving his attention again to the baby in his arms. In his son's eyes he saw the eyes of his mother; in his mother's image, so clear in his mind despite the years, he saw the eyes of his son.
"I hope you really can see us, mum..." he whispered almost inaudibly, staring at the distance. His sight was blurred with tears. "I will tell your grandson all about you."
Little one, you will hear all about your grandma and how she was the best mother in the world, he added inside himself, speaking wordlessly to his son. And about your uncle, the best brother on Arda. And about your grandfather... who had a good heart hidden somewhere deep inside his rigid exterior, shattered forever by the death of his beloved wife.
Then he felt a hand touching his shoulder. Having turned around, he saw Aragorn standing next to him. The king's face had altered; he sensed a change in his friend and concern replaced joy.
"Everything is fine," Faramir answered the unspoken question wistfully. "Only a surge of memories of those who are no longer with us... especially of my mother."
For a moment there was silence, filled with the murmur of the rain and the crackling of fire in the hearth.
"Your mother was a wonderful woman with a big and generous heart, always ready to help others," said Aragorn softly a few moments later. "And she will always live in you and your children," he added. Having heard of whom they spoke, a shadow of grief crossed Imrahil's face.
"I know," Faramir nodded and smiled again, watching his son. "She will always be in our hearts. The one who is loved never dies."
I hope you can see us, mum, he repeated inside himself. And wherever souls of Men journey, I hope that one day we'll all be together again.