04 April 2007 | 824 words
Family tree‘No! Not like that!’
The steward shook his head in exasperation at his king’s awkwardness.
‘Right foot here… Then a hand there… Left foot in this notch, you see? Then you can pull yourself up, and…’
‘Wait! Wait! You’ve been doing this since you were a child, you know all the secrets. I haven’t climbed a tree for ages and this one never. Give me a chance!’
Faramir laughed and dropped back to the ground.
‘It was our playground. A ship, a cave, a castle. Anything and everything we dreamed of. Boromir pushed me up as soon as I could walk’
‘It’s incredibly tall’ murmured the king, gazing upwards. ‘You must have been terrified.’
‘I don’t remember being so. Boromir always took great care of me. He was the most excellent of brothers. Now! Right foot here, see?’
Aragorn followed in what seemed to Faramir to be painfully slow fashion.
‘I think…’ the king puffed ‘that I really missed out not having brothers of my own. Elladan and Elrohir were ancient before I was even born, so we never shared the sort of camaraderie you and Boromir enjoyed.’
They had made it now to a long straight limb, above which there seemed to be no possible further passage for the next branches were far out of reach. Side by side, hidden high up in the thick canopy, they caught their breaths.
‘A brother is indeed a wonderful thing to have, especially as a child. I’ve sometimes envied you your upbringing in Imladris, but I think I would always have preferred romping across the Pelennor Fields with Boromir.’
‘I rather imagine I might have done as well. Fun wasn’t exactly the order of the day in Rivendell.’
Aragorn sounded more than a little sorry for himself, so Faramir offered a gentle hug.
‘We’re true brothers, you and I, even if we’re not real brothers.’
The king’s smile was warm and grateful, but then he became sad once more.
‘And now I suppose the adventure is over and we have to scramble down again…’
‘No! We’re going right to the top! See if there’s anything left of our old treehouse.’
‘You had a treehouse? Up there?!’
‘We didn’t build it, it was there already. I’ll show you that secret when we reach it.’
‘But how? What are we going to do? Fly?’
‘There always used to be a rope to pull yourself up the trunk with.’
‘But that must have rotted away years ago.’
‘Oh. Yes. I suppose it did. I hadn’t thought of that.’
Faramir balanced himself carefully upon the bough and felt around the trunk.
‘No! It’s still here! Look! Oh….’
Suddenly they were whispering.
‘What is it?’
‘That’s not our old rope. That’s somebody else’s rope!’
‘Who do you think…?’
‘We’re going up to find out!’
Rangers now, and thoroughly enjoying being so, steward and king silently wound their way up the great trunk, over branch and bough, finally sighting the dark shadow of the treehouse amongst the leaves.
‘What if somebody’s up there?’
‘I think we’d know by now if there was. They’d have heard us making all that noise before we found the rope.’
‘You go first. It’s your treehouse.’
Faramir grinned when Aragorn stuck out his tongue in reply.
The last few feet were accomplished as soundlessly as elves. Just below the treehouse they paused before the final push, gathering their strength for whatever they might find.
Aragorn’s curiosity got the better of him, and two noble heads rose simultaneously above the floor of one of the more eccentric flets of Middle-earth. Constructed from rough wood and worked timber along with – quite unbelievably – a tin bath, a fire-guard, what looked like the old curtains from Arwen’s parlour and various unidentifiable odds and ends, the whole ensemble with its many scattered piles of treasure was covered with a firmly fixed sheet of canvas.
‘That’s new,’ Faramir remarked. ‘Good idea. We just used to get wet.’
‘That’s my pipe! And my knife!’
Aragorn lurched forwards to reclaim his property, but was held back and reprimanded.
‘No! They mustn’t know that we know. This place is a special secret and we must keep it so.’
‘But who are they?’
‘Who do you think?’
The king looked surprisingly blank.
‘I said I’d let you into the secret of who built this place. It seems that the current occupants have also left their mark. Look!’
Faramir pointed to where initials had been gouged into the bark, the oldest somewhat mossed over now but still legible:
D + I
Then below, more clearly:
B + F
And newest of all, ragged splinters still surrounding the cuts:
E + E
‘A true brother,’ Faramir whispered, ‘is a marvellous thing to have, whether he’s your real brother or not.’
Aragorn laughed, and hugged the father of his son’s best friend.
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