Disclaimer: All characters from The Lord of the Rings belong to J.R.R. Tolkien, his estate and heirs, and to New Line Cinema.

No Apologies Necessary

It was a beautiful day.

Faramir lay on his back, staring up at the sky.  Clouds, large and white and pillowy, drifted lazily across the expanse of blue.  The green scent of crushed grass rose around him in the warm air, and he breathed deep, closing his eyes.

A timeless time later, something tickled at his face and, snorting, he tried to brush it away.  After a moment, it returned, tentatively brushing his nose, and he sneezed.

Boromir’s chuckle curled around his heart.  “And here I thought you wished to spend time with me, little brother,” he said, and Faramir opened his eyes just in time to catch his brother’s face twist into a pout.  “Yet here you are, drowsing the day away…”

Rocking upright, Faramir grinned back.  “As if you yourself weren’t nearly asleep in the sun, and have the red nose to prove it.”

Boromir sighed, flopping back down on the grass beside him.  “Perhaps I was,” he admitted softly, then peered up at Faramir from one grass-green eye.  “But ‘tis hard work, doing all that Father asks,” he went on, his tone teasing.  “Perhaps you should be glad that you’re not the eldest son, after all.”

Faramir turned away, good humor dissolving as if it had never been.  He hunched his shoulders.  “Your responsibilities are ones I would gladly bear,” he muttered, “did Father’s regard accompany them.”

His brother sighed again, the sound filled with regret this time, and he heard the rustle of fabric as he sat up again.  “Faramir,” he said, “’tis not how I meant it at all.”

For a long moment, he was silent, then he released a short breath, trying to ease the ache in his chest.  “Aye, I know it,” he replied, and dug his fingers into the earth, clenching soil and blades of grass in his fist.  “But that doesn’t mean ‘tis any easier to bear.”

Boromir said nothing, and the silence stretched uncomfortably between them, the contentment of the day lost.

What it was that made Faramir speak again, what goaded him, he did not know.  But he found himself asking, “What is it like, to fight the Orcs?”

When Boromir didn’t respond, he glanced at his brother over one shoulder, and saw that he was pale beneath his sunburnt cheeks, mouth working without sound.  Finally, turning away from Faramir’s intent gaze, he muttered, “You will find out soon enough, little brother.  You need not hurry that day.”

“Nay,” and his tone was dark and angry, sullen counterpoint to the white drifts of clouds, “tell me how it feels, Boromir.  What is it like to lead men into battle? To kill the enemy with such skill and fervor that men hold you in awe?  What is it like to know that the Steward puts all his hopes in you?  To…”

Suddenly Faramir was enveloped in strong arms, crushed to his brother’s broad chest. “Nay, Faramir,” Boromir whispered in his ear, “nay, do not…”

He struggled, but Boromir was the stronger as well as the elder, and Faramir could do nothing but hide his face and ignore the shameful tears that dampened his brother’s tunic.

“Faramir,” his brother said, his voice soft and pleading.  “I know you want only for Father to find you worthy, but please, do not wish for your childhood to be over so soon.” He combed his fingers through the tangled waves of Faramir’s hair.  “Battling the Eye’s forces… it is a dark and horrible thing, filled with blood and death, and I wonder now that it is something I ever wanted.”

Faramir lifted his head and let the warm breeze dry the tears lingering on his cheeks.  “But it is something you must do,” he stated quietly.

His brother looked away.  “Aye.”

“And whether or not it brings me Father’s regard, it is something I must do as well.”  When Boromir opened his mouth to protest, he shook his head and went on, “I can do no less than you to protect our people, brother.  Do not ask me to shirk what you do not.”

Swallowing heavily, Boromir closed his eyes and nodded.  “I know,” he replied, his words lost in the breeze.

With a trace of bitterness, he went on, “And perhaps my death in service to Gondor will let Father – ”

He broke off when Boromir shook him hard.  “I love you, little brother,” Boromir growled in his ear, “but never say that again, or I shall do something I’ll…” He stopped in turn, his voice cracking.  It was a long moment before he could continue, and when he did, he sounded pained, lost, as Faramir had never heard him.  “I cannot bear that you think so little of what I value so much.”

Stunned, Faramir just stared, watching emotion flicker over his brother’s face.  Before he managed to summon any words, Boromir tightened his embrace.  “There would be no joy in the world for me if you were to die.”

For the first time, he realized the depth of feeling Boromir had for him.  And knowing that the one he admired above all others would be lost if he died…

“I’m sorry.” He embraced his brother in apology, and felt wide, callused palms skim up his back in response.

August 23, 2008
© randi (K. Shepard), 2008