Disclaimer: All Tolkienís, none of it mine.

The Silence of Sound

He is my son.

He stands at the foot of the dais, looking up at me, and the hurt in his eyes is a living thing between us.

A man less wise than he might have thought his brotherís death would bring us closer, but it is clear that he expected my harsh welcome in the way he will not allow himself to flinch, in his calmly reasoned words.

In the careful distance that he keeps.

Even if I intend to speak gently to him, my mouth misgives me and bitterness pours forth.† And he knows this well.

I had received the remnants of the Horn of Gondor scant hours before that wizard arrived.† There had been no other message; there was no need.† I knew as well as he that Boromir was dead.†

I had thought that he might comfort me in my grief, that his presence might assuage the heartache I felt.†

I wanted . .† . †

And then, to discover that he had had the Thing that his brother had died for in his hands and let it go . . . I let my anger and despair take control.

He would help me up when I fall, would come close enough to let me touch him, but I can only see Boromir.

I do touch him then; I see it in his eyes, when I order him to leave me, the pain that is so much a part of him flaring brighter for a moment.

And to watch him walk away, leaving me in that cold barren room . . . I long to reach out to him.

But I have built up a wall of words between us, a barrier of cruel cutting comments, of derision, of scorn, and now I cannot breach it, and he cannot reach me from the other side.

I cannot say anything because of how he reminds me of my beloved Finduilas, whose hair shone brilliant gold and red, whose eyes were now green, now blue.

I cannot say anything because of the way my father doted on my younger brother, even though I was the one who would be Steward after him.

I cannot say anything because he reminds me of me.

And as he leaves me in the empty echoing chamber of white and shadows, I slump back into the Stewardís chair, and uselessly wish . . .

But he, too, is my son, as much as the one who will not return.† And I cherish him..

***

He is my son.

He stands before me, tall and brave, and if his spirit is bowed by the weight I thrust upon him, he does not show it.

Now, he must truly take his brotherís place, he must display the bravery of which I know he is capable.

Even had I given Boromir this mission, I know well that there would have been some consultation between them on how best to accomplish it.† Boromir was ever the leader, but he was no strategist.† My clever son . . . he planned the battles his brother won.

But I cannot even couch it as an indication of the esteem in which I hold him.† Habit too long ingrained forces words from my mouth that I would not have spoken otherwise; a memory of the bitter cup I mixed for myself making my lips lie.

For I would not trade one son for the other; I would have them both with me, or would be dead in their steads.

And I am unsure of why his eyes well with tears, though his voice is steady.† Does he believe I wish to kill him?† Absurd!† They are merely orcs, and will turn tail and run at the first show of force.

As he walks away, I can see his fatigue in his step, but his shoulders are broad, and I know he can carry the burden.† His grief will make him strong, and he will do as I require of him, and he will return in triumph.

He is my son, and I am proud of him.

But I cannot speak as he walks away.

***

He is my son.

And now he lays before me, arrows embedded in his flesh, motionless and pale on the stretcher, beneath the lifeless trunk of the tree of the King.

Faramir! Say not that he has fallen!

I was always over-harsh with him, I always compared him to his elder brother who seemed to me to be the more able . . . but I never wanted this in my heart.

A father should not live to see his sons fall, and now my grief is doubled.† He lies so still, and the armor hides his breath from me, so that I cannot help but think that his life has already sped.† I am alone, as I have not been since my own father died, since my dear wife . . .

I cannot bear the knowledge that my line has ended, that my sons are dead, and stagger away.

When I look over the wall . . .

It cannot be.† The very fields of the Pelennor are black with Sauronís host, and I wither inside.† How could I have sent my son against that?† I thought it was nothing more than a few companies of orcs harassing Osgiliath, as they have always done in our lifetimes . . .

But it is not; this is the end of us all.† And my sonís reluctance, his words and manner as he left me at my meal are made clear.

He truly believed I was sending him to his death.

But I never meant . . .

I turn back briefly, to see the Halfling crouched over my son, calling that he needs medicine only and will recover.

No.† It is too late.† My sons are gone, and there is no reason for me to live, a useless husk of a man.

I cannot apologize, I cannot take back bitter words that should never have been heard.

All I can do is show his spirit my repentance, to cast myself into flames with him and burn.

He is my son, and I love him.

But I cannot say it, for now, he will not hear . . .

***

April 13, 2005

©randi (K. Shepard), 2005