I find it interesting that my earliest memory is of meeting my little brother for the first time. He was just so small and helpless. I fell in love with him immediately and vowed (with my little wooden sword by my side and my favorite toy as a witness) to always protect him no matter what the cost. I could not have predicted what – or rather who – I would have to protect him from the most.
You see, Father was never really the same after Mother died. He began to favor me over Faramir, which was rather disconcerting. It seems that I am similar in appearance to my mother (thought I can’t really remember what she looked like) while my brother resembles my father. They both have the same basic build and a noble air about them. I’ve always wished I had that noble air. It makes them both seem so strong.
I am, of course, the better swordsman and always beat my brother in feats of strength. Mostly it’s because I’m older and have had more time to practice, but part of it is because I love the physical work. It’s exhilarating to move your muscles in new – and often painful – ways and the thrill of bringing down an enemy – whether it be an orc or an opponent on the practice court – always leaves me breathless.
Faramir, on the other hand, cared more about his brains. He was always reading and talking about the old days, which just made Father mad. I’ve warned him many times to keep his mouth shut, but he never listens. He just keeps reading and writing and talking about when a king ruled and everything was much more… magical. To tell you the truth, it was fascinating, but the idea of Father not being in charge and being under someone else’s rule was quite frightening.
Despite our differences, Faramir and I have always gotten along well. The only big fight we ever got into happened when I was twenty and he was fifteen. I don’t think he ever really forgave me…
See, this particular day happened to be Faramir’s fifteenth birthday. He was so proud of himself because he had just mastered a difficult maneuver with his sword and he wanted to show it to Father. Now that I think back on it, he was probably trying desperately to gain Father’s approval, but it didn’t really occur to me at the time.
Anyway, he was showing this maneuver to Father and, for the first time that I could remember Father was smiling at Faramir, obviously pleased. For some reason, I became extremely jealous of Faramir. I don’t know why that specific emotion entered my being. I should have been so happy for him, but instead all I could think about was how Father’s approval should be mine and mine alone. I stepped forward and showed off a much more complicated move than the one Faramir had been doing.
When I finished, Father was beaming at me. He walked forward and hugged me then turned to Faramir.
“You have a long way to go.”
It’s funny how seven little words can do so much damage and mean so much more than they say. It was easy to tell by the sound of Father’s voice that he was really saying, “You will never be as good as your brother.”
The look on Faramir’s face brought me out of my strange mood and crushed my heart at the same time. I opened my mouth to say something, but Faramir’s fist beat the words of apology to my mouth. I reeled back, tasting blood and quite sure that a tooth or two had fallen out.
In that moment, all the times I had protected Faramir flashed through my mind. Hundreds of encounters passed before my eyes in a matter of seconds. All the times I had stopped Father from beating him for harmless mistakes. All the times I had taken the blame in Faramir’s stead. All the times I had lightened Father’s mood before he heard of something Faramir had done. All of those incidents were reduced to nothing in what I had just done to him. The one time he had finally earned the approval he had yearned for all his life, and I had taken it away from him. And now, I needed to protect him more than ever, for Father was walking toward him with a mad gleam in his eyes.
I jumped up and stood between Father and Faramir, though the action caused my stomach to churn and my head to swim uncomfortably. “Please Father,” I said weakly. “I’ll take care of this.”
Father looked at me skeptically, but finally nodded, trusting that I would take care of Faramir’s punishment myself.
As soon as Father was gone, I turned to face Faramir only to find that he was walking away from me. “Faramir!” I called, trying to catch up with him while trying to ignore the ache in my head.
“Stay away from me!” he yelled over his shoulder. I could tell by the sound of his voice that he was crying and it broke my heart all over again.
Finally, I caught up to him and grabbed his shoulder, gently pulling him to a stop. “Faramir, please, hear me out.”
He rounded on me and shoved me away roughly. “You have no right to ask anything of me!” Tears were flowing down his face in great waves. “You…” He sobbed and tried to catch his breath. I waited in silence, not wanting to anger him further. “You know… more than anyone… how…” Another deep breath, another heart-wrenching sob. “How much… I want him to…” He broke off then and slouched to the ground, burying his face in his hands and sobbing uncontrollably.
I cautiously sat down next to him and waited in silence. When he spoke again, he was much calmer. “Boromir… Why doesn’t he love me?”
Tears began to form in my eyes. I remembered Faramir asking me that same question when he was only seven:
‘Boromir, why doesn’t Daddy love me?’
‘Daddy loves you, Faramir! Why would you think otherwise?’
‘He never says he loves me, and he always says he loves you. And he’s always yelling at me. Is that just his way of saying “I love you?”’
‘Well… Yes, I suppose so.’
“Father loves you, Faramir,” I found myself echoing my own memory. “He just…” I searched for the proper way to explain Father’s emotions. “He just has a hard time showing it.” Somehow, I knew Faramir wouldn’t believe that. Gone were the days that he thought yelling and beating were signs of love from our father.
“No,” Faramir snapped. He looked me in the eyes, tears still trickling down his cheeks. “No, Boromir. He just loves you more.”
I couldn’t deny it. I knew it to be true. I’d known most of my life that it was true. That didn’t make the stating of it any easier to handle.
For a long while neither of us said anything. When I opened my mouth to apologize for my earlier actions, Faramir glared at me. “Why would you do that, Boromir?” he asked, the hurt and anger back in his eyes.
I shook my head and looked at the ground. “I don’t know, Faramir. I truly don’t.”
He stood and looked down at me angrily. “Boromir, didn’t you swear, fifteen years ago this day, that you would always protect me?”
At that moment, I realized how idiotic it had been to tell him about my vow.
I stood as well and faced him. “Yes, little brother, I did.” He opened his mouth angrily, but I held up a hand, forestalling his wrath. “And now I find myself hurting you more than anyone has ever hurt you before. I am ashamed of myself.” I looked down then knelt and drew my sword.
“Boromir… What are you doing?”
“I ask that you bear witness to the renewal of my vow so that I may never break it again.”
He looked uncertain, but he agreed and I repeated my vow just as I had fifteen years before.
After I had finished I stood up and smiled uncertainly at my brother. “Faramir… will you forgive me?”
Faramir smiled sadly. “Not today, brother. Maybe someday, but not today.”
My heart crashed to my feet but I said nothing, knowing that I could only make things worse.
And that is why I am writing this small piece of my history down, the eve before I must leave for Rivendell. I write this in the hopes that one day Faramir will find it and realize why I seem to have broken my vow again. I haven’t. It is only to protect you, Faramir, that I took this quest upon myself. I fear that it may be more dangerous than we believe and I would not have you killed in such an endeavor.
I hope that the ‘someday’ that you will forgive me on comes soon, my brother, and I hope you always know that I love you.
Faramir set the parchment aside, tears falling from his eyes. It had only been a year since he had discovered his brother dead, floating in a boat down the great river, and the memory still haunted him. He rolled up the parchment and walked briskly to the Citadel.
There he found King Aragorn sitting on his throne, deep in thought. Faramir stepped forward and knelt, trying to hide his tears.
“I see that the scroll I found has had an effect on you,” the King said, smiling and gesturing for Faramir to stand.
Wiping his eyes, Faramir replied, “Yes, My Lord. To think that all those years Boromir…” He trailed off as the King raised a hand.
“I did not read what was written in that scroll. It was addressed to you, so I had no right. You need not tell me of its contents.”
Faramir dipped his head. “Thank you, My Lord.” He looked around. “May I be excused now? I need a moment to think.”
“Of course,” Aragorn replied. Faramir bowed once more then left.
As he stepped outside, he drew the memoir close to his chest and smiled slightly through his tears. He looked up to the sky and whispered, “I forgive you, Boromir. I forgave you long ago.” He closed his eyes and said, even softer, “I miss you, brother, and I will always love you.”