A Bond Remembered.
Summer 2991 TA
Raindrops had chased Faramir away from the ramparts of the Citadel on the seventh level of Minas Tirith where he had been reading his latest acquisition from the Citadel’s library. It had just started to sprinkle, but he did not want the pages of the book to get wet because it would have given his father yet another reason to become cross with him. So many things made him cross these days and try as the little boy might he could never seem to escape his father’s displeasure. So Faramir decided to seek a drier place in which to lose himself within the pages of the book. He preferred the world of books to the real world. In books, all problems were solved and people lived happily at the end of the story. Real life wasn’t like that. His mother had died almost three years ago and it seemed that she had taken all the happiness with her. He had been so sad and cried so much after she had gone away, but never in public, after his Father had berated him for doing so. He said that those from the house of Mardil did not cry. They were strong and never allow their emotions to show. If that were true then, his father was a paragon of the House of Mardil. He never cried. In fact Faramir had begun to wonder if the man had any emotions at all any more. He said as much to Boromir when his brother had found him trying not to cry and hiding in his window seat in his bedchamber a couple months ago. Faramir had been ashamed of his tears because he never saw Denethor shed any. Boromir had hugged him and soothed away his tears saying it was all right to cry because that way we knew that we remembered Mama. Soon, he explained, we would remember her in different ways but it was all right to cry for now. Faramir noticed that the fact that Denethor never seemed to cry did not seem to bother his brother overly much but it had concerned him greatly. If you cried to remember, then did that mean that Denethor did not remember their mother, the little boy mused. That did not seem right to Faramir, but Boromir would not lie to him so Faramir continue to worry about their father.
Over the last couple of years his father had become more distant. Before his mother went away Faramir had memories of his father laughing and playing with him, but this didn’t seem to happen anymore. Now more often than not Denethor seemed to look straight through his youngest son almost as if Faramir were not there, or if he did notice him it was only to find fault. Other times he caught him looking him with a feeling that Faramir did not quite understand but left him feeling unhappy all the same. Faramir was convinced that when his mother died she took all the happiness with her. Nothing he’d seen since had since had told him otherwise.
As he turned the corner to go to his favourite secret reading place, where he kept the things that meant the most to him he heard a sound that he could not at first place but that he belatedly recognized as someone crying. This concerned him and he began to follow the sound of the distress and to his surprise, it lead him straight to the unused little storage room that was his secret hide away. He gently pushed the open door further to see who was inside. At first, he stood stock-still. He saw but could not believe his eyes. It was his father sitting on the floor sobbing away over the blue mantle with stars that had belong to Findulas. Faramir kept it up here because it was soft and warm and reminded him of his mother. A flash went through Faramir and he felt much better. His father was crying, that meant that he must remember Mama, just like Boromir said. He put his hand on his father’s shoulder and said, “It’s all right to cry, Papa! That only means that we remember Mama. So it’s all right.”
His father stiffened upon hearing the young voice behind him, and whirled around to see his second son looking at him with compassion in his eyes. He was so like his mother. The same slight features and reddish-blond hair. The same perceptive intelligence in gentle blue eyes, the same kindness, but whereas he had loved these qualities in Findulas, they unnerved him in her son. Looking the boy up and down, he turned eyes of blazing anger and shame upon the child.
“How dare you sneak up on me like that!” he hissed. Faramir took a step back looking as if he’d just been slapped.
“I’m sorry, papa. I-I meant you no harm! I was only trying to make you feel better. You’ve seemed so sad of late! And I thought I could help.” Faramir’s eyes grew bigger by the second and his lower lip started to tremble as he stumbled through his apology.
Denethor stood up quickly to tower over the boy and keeping hold of Findulas’ mantle saying, “You have no right to steal your dear mother’s cloak, you little thief.”
“I didn’t steal it!” Faramir cried as he paled, tears streaming down his face and backing away from his father’s anger.
“Sneaking and stealing, your mother would be ashamed of you right now!” Denethor charged angrily, raising his hand to strike the boy for his insolence.
“I didn’t do anything wrong.” the little boy cried ducking to avoid the blow. With one snuffling last look at his father, he ran away crying down the hall.
Anger immediately fled after the boy and Denethor was left with nothing but the shame. He lowered his hand; blow never delivered, and bowed his head, collapsing upon the nearby wooden bench. He thought of Findulas’ last words to him. “Love him, promise me that.” Denethor had promised, given his word to his dying wife, that he would love and cherish his second son as much as he did the first. His heart twinged as he realized that he had not always lived up to those words, now being a glaring example. He sighed, he was always short with the boy he could not seem to help himself in that. And he had been surprised by the child’s approach, his words unsettling him. He had not meant to accuse the boy, but the words just came tumbling out. Finding the little enclave had been shock enough, but to be discovered having found it especially in the state he was in, it had been just too much for him and he snapped.
He rose holding the mantle and he knew he had to find the boy and make what amends he could to him and especially to the memory of his dear Findulas.
Nearly blinded by tears, Faramir ran down the steps and through the corridors to the one room where he knew he would find comfort. His brother’s room. It was a bastion of safety in a world he did not always understand anymore. He knocked and receiving no reply he burst in. Boromir was no where to be found, but Faramir did not have the strength to go any further and he plopped down on his brother’s bed pulling the rich velvet coverlet over his head and proceeded to cry his heart out, his mind racing. A few minutes later somebody was pulling the coverlet back. Faramir looked up and saw his brother sitting there with a very concerned look on his face. He immediately launched himself into his brother’s arms and began to sob anew.
“Shh-Shh! What’s all this about?” Boromir said, wondering what his father had done this time. Faramir started hiccupping he was crying so hard. Boromir just sat there for a bit holding his little brother and stroking his reddish-blond hair in an effort to calm and comfort him.
“I-I didn’t mean to steal it. I just like it because it reminds me of Mama!” Faramir eventually said brokenly, rubbing his eyes and trying to stop crying.
Boromir was still unsure of what he referred to so he gently pressed, “Steal what, dear heart?”
“Mama’s cloak. Papa said I stole it.” Boromir now knew what his little brother was referring to. Their mother’s great blue mantle. It had gone missing and his father had been frantic to find it. If he caught Faramir with it, there was no telling what he might have said to the sensitive child to have upset him so. He held the little boy tighter and said, “I’m sure that Father didn’t mean it that way.”
“No, I didn’t. But I don’t need you to explain my actions, Boromir.” Boromir turned at his father’s voice and felt Faramir stiffen. Denethor appeared at the doorway to Boromir’s room and at first his face was stormy, but then with effort he cleared it and walked inside the room to kneel by the side of the bed placing Findulas’ mantle on the top, next to his two boys.
He looked uncomfortable and this amazed Boromir, who had seen his father wear many masks, but this was not one of them. He started, “Faramir, son. Look at me.” The little boy lifted his head from Boromir’s shoulder, and eyed his father somewhat warily and snuffled. “Son, I am sorry,” he continued rather stiffly as if apologies were not something that came naturally, “You startled me and I said some things that perhaps I should not have,” he said in clipped, spare tones. He then added as an afterthought, “I did not mean to hurt your feelings.”
Faramir continued to stare at him with those big blue eyes. Denethor felt slightly aggrieved that he was obviously expected to say more, but he pushed that feeling aside for the moment and said, “Sometimes an adult behaves in an uncontrolled way and he says things that are incorrect. This is why one should never let their emotions gain control over them, Faramir,” he admonished and then sighed, “I do not think that you are a thief.”
Faramir’s face broke out into a tenuous smile and then said with solemn eyes, “It’s all right, Papa. I did take it without asking.”
Denethor looked at his young son, he never knew what to say to the boy, so unlike Boromir he was. He smiled ruefully saying, “It’s all right, Faramir. You are forgiven.” as he awkwardly patted the little boy’s head and made ready to leave.
A hesitant, “Papa?” stopped him. He looked at Faramir. The boy’s eyes were wide and he bit his lower lip fretfully.
“Yes, Faramir.” Denethor eyed his small son warily, wondering what was now going on in that precocious little mind of his.
Faramir squirmed on Boromir’s lap before saying, “You were crying, d-does that mean that you miss Mama, too?”
Denethor drew back a little, looking as if he were stung. Boromir held his breath and stared intently at his father praying to the Valar that he would not over-react. Faramir was young, he did not realize that you just do not blurt out questions like that. Surely his father realized that, Boromir thought, or rather hoped.
Denethor at first did indeed look as if he might strike the little boy, instead he drew a deep breath and the moment passed. His eyes then softened somewhat as he said, “Yes, Faramir, I do miss Mama,” in a rather strained way.
“So do I,” came the sad little voice. Boromir instinctively held the boy tighter.
Denethor looked at his small son, thinking, “I tell you what,” he answered in a warmer voice than he had been using, “the cloak is yours to keep…to remember your mother.”
A genuinely bright smile lit his son’s small face, “Do you mean it?”
“I have said so.”
Faramir leaned over and impulsively kissed his father on the cheek, “Thank you!” Shining, happy blue eyes looked back at him.
An unexpected warmth stole across Denethor’s heart. He had come seeking the child out of a sense that he had failed in his promise to Findulas and sought to set the record straight but seeing his son’s shining look and sunny smile directed at him allowed him for a few moments to see through to a love for his second son that was too often buried beneath grief, misunderstanding and regret. He and his son gazed at each other; old gray eyes meeting young blue ones and deep within a bond was remembered.