18 April 2010 | 5343 words
Title: Find Me
Characters: Faramir, Aragorn, Boromir
Disclaimer: None of the characters, places, and recognizable events mentioned belongs to me. This story is written only for enjoyment, mine, and hopefully yours as well.
Summary: A little boy lost his mother. A man lost his brother. A Captain lost his hope. And as the pain became too much, he chose to hide inside a deep and a dark place. Will he manage to find the way back to the light? And does he want to?
Note: This story was written for the March 2010 Teitho Contest Return of the Light. It placed first. Thanks to those who read and voted!
A child’s clear voice sounded through the marketplace, making those who had come to the White City to trade their goods turn around and smile in amusement. The five-year-old was running wildly along the street, seemingly unimpeded by his torn and bleeding knees. Unruly waves of dark hair were flying around the chubby face, and the smooth cheeks were streaked with tears. “Mama!”
Another boy ran to him, and his brow was furrowed in concern. He was older, but his height showed that he could have seen no more than ten winters. Yet the serious look and the pain behind the silver eyes revealed that he had felt and witnessed more sorrow than a child of his age should.
He knelt down and spread out his arms, letting the running boy land into his embrace. “Shhh, what is it, little brother? What happened?”
“I fell down!” The little one sobbed. “Look!” He pointed at his bleeding knees. To emphasize his point, the boy started crying even more loudly and tears streamed freely down his face.
His older brother rocked him gently, suppressing a sad smile. Not that many years ago his own knees had been constantly covered in blood, as he ran and played along the streets of Minas Tirith. But now… now he felt no desire to play anymore.
“Well, that is good,” he said, ignoring his little brother’s shocked expression. “No great hero has ever lived without receiving a wound at some point. Now you have received your first painful and grievous injury.” He forced his voice to sound serious. “And you are ready to be a hero and to perform great deeds.”
“I want mama!” The injured child sniffed, unimpressed that he was now able to be a great hero.
He felt his brother suddenly tense and looked up, alarmed. “Where is mama?” he breathed, easily letting his panic show.
“She is sleeping now,” the older child replied, trying to smile reassuringly. “You know that she has been ill of late. She needs her rest.”
“When will she get better?” the five-year-old asked. He did not understand. He had been sick and he knew what it was like – he coughed and sneezed and his nose acted funny, but after several days, it would all pass and he could run and play once again. But his mother – his mother had been sick for too long.
“When will she get better?” he repeated, as he had received no reply. But when he looked up, he felt his heart freeze in confusion and fear. Grey eyes were turned far away, and were shining with moisture. He had never seen his brother cry before. “Will she get better?” he barely managed to whisper.
And then, in the next instant, everything turned back to normal. Caring arms were around him once again, and his brother was strong, as he always had been.
“She will get better, Faramir,” the boy whispered fiercely. “She will.”
But even as he spoke, Boromir knew that he had uttered a lie. His mother’s illness was not something that would come and go. She had always appeared frail to him, but in the recent years she had seemed to fade, slowly withering away. Her beauty was untouched, but her spirit was ever diminishing, and her sad, grey eyes were ever turned to the south, where her home had once been. A home she would never see again. Most probably, the boy realized as his heart twisted in pain, she would not even see next spring.
A dark day it was when Finduilas of Dol Amroth left the circles of this word. Grey clouds had gathered over the sky and cold winds blew, roughly striking the faces of the mourners. Cries of despair and sorrow mingled with the songs as the whole City grieved for the gentle and kind lady.
Faramir stared ahead, his eyes unseeing. She was… gone. Never would he hear her voice again, singing lullabies and telling him stories at night. Never again would he feel her warm and comforting arms around him when he was hurt, never again would he feel her gentle caresses, brushing the pain away. The child could not comprehend it. Why? What wrong had he done that his mother did not want to be with him anymore and had left him?
As the shock started to wear off, tears slid down his cheeks. Those were not the loud cries of a carefree child, striving to draw his parents’ attention. No, they were silent tears, filled with grief and longing for something lost forever. He was not the carefree child anymore.
The boy felt lost. Every time he had been sad and hurt, he had run to his mother. And never before had he felt such a grief. All of his instincts screamed at him to run to Finduilas, to bury his teary face in her dress and let her slender hands smooth his wavy hair. But she was gone now. And there was no one to run to. She was gone, and he was… lost. Like one of Uncle Imrahil’s ships, whose anchor had been cut off, and was doomed to ever wander through the vast sea, never to find its harbor.
Find me, he begged silently, to no one in particular. Find me. But his mother was gone and there was no one to find him now.
And then, all of a sudden, there were firm arms around him, pulling him close. A wet face was buried in his hair and a soft whisper caressed his ears.
“I am here, little brother. I am here.”
The child let himself relax in the familiar embrace, and despite the grief he felt a great weight lift off his heart. He was found. He did have an anchor after all.
The child lifted a small fist and hesitantly knocked on the heavy wooden door. As he heard the answer, he rose on his tiptoes and turned the knob.
Denethor was sitting in a chair, staring through the window into the starless night. He did not turn around as his son walked into the room. “What is it, Faramir?” the Steward asked.
“I cannot sleep,” the six-year-old murmured shyly, almost afraid to speak. “Will you tell me a story?’
“You are too old for that,” his father replied sternly. “Now go back to your bed.”
Faramir stood at the door, tears starting to sting at his eyes. Only a year ago his father would often smile at him. He would lift him and place him on his knee, telling him stories of great adventures. And then they would laugh.
Now his father never laughed. Not that he had not been grim and silent before. He had been, and yet on some days he had shown affection, he had shown love, and he had shown joy. Now he never smiled, never held his son, and never even truly talked to him except for an occasional order or a reprimand. Faramir sniffed as he realized the bitter truth – he had lost both of his parents on the same day.
“You used to tell me stories while mama was still alive,” the boy said and as soon as the words left his lips, he knew that he had made a mistake. His father turned around, his eyes burning in dark rage. “How dare you?” He hissed. “Never speak of your mother again, little rascal! You knew nothing about her!”
There were tears in the Steward’s eyes, and he was breathing hard. Faramir stepped back, his eyes wide in fear. He slipped out of the room and pushed the door closed behind him with a sigh of relief.
The child turned to go back to his room, when a hand on his shoulder stopped him.
“Which story do you wish to hear, little brother?”
Despite the weight on his heart, Faramir grinned. “But you have lessons tomorrow and have to get up early,” he protested half-heartedly.
“I can manage with only a few hours of sleep,” Boromir replied proudly. “Let me tell you something, little brother. Sleep is a waste of time. Time that I can spend with you.”
The stories did not help little Faramir go to sleep. On the contrary, they kept him and his brother awake for long hours, joyously discussing the tales and laughing in excitement. Still, neither of the two seemed to mind.
“Father!” The youth strode forward, and his eyes were shining in excitement. There was an old book in his hand. “Father, you have to see what Mithrandir showed me!”
Denethor stared at him, his eyes blazing. “Mithrandir!” he spat. “All I hear is Mithrandir this, Mithrandir that! What reasons made you choose this wizard for your mentor? Is my counsel not wise enough for you?”
Faramir bowed his head, defeated. “Forgive me, father. I meant no disrespect.”
“You will do well to practice your skills with the blade and the bow, instead of reading whatever lies Mithrandir wishes to feed into your head!” the Steward continued.
The youth was about to reply, but reconsidered and looked down. “As you wish, father,” he murmured.
He should have expected this. It had happened many times before. He was young; he kept discovering the world, learning new things. They were exciting him, enchanting him. And he felt the need to share them with his father, to share what amazed him, to share what gave him joy. And he kept going to his father, but every single time he discovered the same truth over and over again – if something fascinated him, his father found it uninteresting or even harmful.
And it hurt. The knowledge that his father could not understand his beliefs, his passions, hurt like salt in a wound. It hurt so much that every single time he swore to himself that he would never do this again. He would never again go to his father to seek understanding and a shared joy for he did not wish to be hurt once again.
But every single time he broke that oath. He felt the need to talk to his father, to share. And so Faramir gave him another chance. And another. And yet, it always ended in the same way.
He should have expected this. He had expected this. Still, it hurt nonetheless.
And all that he wanted was to make his father happy. To make him proud. To make him feel joy that he had raised such a son. But Faramir kept discovering and rediscovering that he could never make his father proud by being who he was and by pursuing what gave him pleasure.
A gentle touch at his elbow redirected his attention, anchoring him in place in his sea of doubts. “Will you tell me what this book is about, little brother?”
The young man snorted sadly. “You are interested in history as much as father is.”
Boromir shook his head. “Everything that interests you interests me too.” He nodded encouragingly. “Tell me.”
February 26, 3019. T.A.
“Father!” The doors of the hall were slammed opened, and a disheveled man stormed inside, breathing hard. Denethor looked up, frowning, and was about to rebuke his son for intruding in such a manner, but one look at the young man’s ashen face stopped him.
“What is it, Faramir?” he asked, and his voice was softer than usual.
The man clenched his fists, trying to suppress the trembling of his hands. Nothing, however, could diminish the shaking of his voice. “I heard Boromir’s horn.”
Denethor was on his feet at an instant, striding towards his younger son, his eyes wide. “When? Where?”
“An hour ago.” Faramir sighed. “But I cannot say if it was real, or just a trick of my mind, or some ill omen perhaps. It seemed to come from the north, but was dim, as if only an echo in my mind.”
The Steward frowned in thought. “This bodes ill, my son,” he said, and his voice was heavy with fear. “No tidings have I heard of your brother since he went away, and no watcher of the borders has seen him pass.”
The two stood silent, as the implications of what the Lord of Gondor had said gradually sank into their hearts. Slowly, Denethor raised his hand and placed in on his son’s shoulder, squeezing lightly in a rare gesture of affection and support. And even though Faramir cherished the contact, his heart was as heavy as on the night when his mother had passed away.
It had been his errand to go to Imladris and seek answers from the Lord Elrond Half-elven. The strange dream had come to him first, and had returned to him many times afterwards, while it had come to Boromir’s sleep only once. Fate had been calling to him to journey to the elven land, but his older brother, protective as always, had claimed the task for himself, fearful that Faramir could come to harm.
Where are you, brother? He wondered, seeking a familiar presence, a familiar comfort that failed to come. His heart was cold in terror, and he hoped to only be trapped inside a nightmare, from which he would soon wake up. But often reality was harsher than the foulest visions and it could offer no escape from the terrors of the night.
February 29, 3019. T.A.
On the third night after the disturbing omen, Faramir sat by the waters of the Anduin, keeping watch over the shores of Osgiliath. The reeds were rustling sadly by the ever-moving stream and the light of the young pale moon caressed the waters through the grey darkness, giving the scene an eerie quality.
Suddenly Faramir saw something floating down the river, glimmering grey. He stood up and walked to the bank. As he moved closer, he could see that the strange shape was a boat, a small one with a high prow. But what was unusual about it was that there was no one to row or steer it.
Awe fell over Faramir, and, unthinking, he walked out into the stream, drawn to the strange vision. Then the boat turned towards him and stayed its pace, and then floated slowly, within a hand’s reach. It drifted deeply, as if bearing a heavy burden, and it seemed to Faramir that it was filled with clear water, giving off pale light.
And there, embraced by that strange water, a warrior lay asleep. A broken sword lay on his knee, and many wounds covered his body. It was Boromir, dead.
A cry left Faramir’s parched throat. He cried to his brother, tried to beg him to stay and ask him where he was going. But Boromir was deaf to his pleas. For the first time, the proud Gondorian had turned away from his brother and refused to answer his cries of grief and despair. For the first time, the older brother could give no comfort for the pain.
The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream, for there was no waking.
Faramir stood, staring at the spot where the boat had disappeared. As its soft glimmer melted away, all the pale light around him faded, leaving only the darkness of the night. Clouds hid the moon and the starts, and the young man knew that those clouds would never leave his heart again.
Boromir was gone. Gone were the smiles and merry laughter, gone was the gentle voice that would offer wisdom and understanding, ever as a ray of light piercing the darkness. Gone were the caring arms, that would always offer him comfort and support. Gone was the beloved face, sometimes set in a stern and a proud expression, sometimes giving way to joy.
Gone was the one who had found him when he had been lost in a sea of darkness and despair. Gone was his anchor, holding him in place, as the cruel waves crushed against him. He was gone, and now Faramir was lost once again. Sinking deeper and deeper into the sea of grief, with nothing to hold on to and to stay his fall.
Find me, he begged silently into the night. Find me.
But there was no one to find him, and there would never be. Ever again.
March 13, 3019. T.A.
Faramir’s hand clutched the handle of the blade as if it was a lifeline, holding him to reality. His recent conversation with his father was running wildly through his mind. Denethor had accused him once again of having no respect for his counsel and being a “wizard’s pupil”. And this time, he had not spared him the blunt truth – the Steward wished that his two sons had traded places and Faramir had gone to Imladris, and that Boromir still lived.
Faramir could not blame his father, for he wished the same. And yet, it hurt. He had lost his mother first, and then his brother. And now, he had lost his father’s love. He had no family left.
All he had wanted was to make his father proud. But he knew that he could never make Denethor proud by being who he was – gentle, kind, and compassionate, slow to anger and quick to forgive, finding more joy in books and music, than in weapons and battle. No, to make his father proud, he had to take the place of the lost beloved son, and to be like him.
The battle for Osgiliath was one that he could not win, and he could see it now. Boromir would have found victory, a treacherous part of his heart whispered, and yet his rational mind knew that it was not so. No one could triumph against such an enemy.
This was a battle he could not win. And yet, he could at least make sure that as many men as possible would manage to retreat to the City. What safety they would find there he could not yet say, but this was the most he could give them now.
And so he stayed with the rearguard, determined to remain for as long as there were men retreating. And when a mounted champion of Harad rode into their midst, Faramir faced him fearlessly, holding him at bay. But he never saw the deadly dart flying towards him, and as he felt it pierce his skin, it was too late to escape.
A strange darkness spread over him, and he felt a shadow of coldness and despair wash over his heart. It was not only the wound, he knew. Everyone living so close to the Shadow had often heard of this. The Black Breath.
Suddenly, Faramir smiled, finding the thought strangely comforting. This was the end then. Never again would he have to wake up every morning to find out that he had not awoken from a nightmare, but had awoken into a reality worse that the darkest of his dreams. It was over. And he did not fight the shadow, but welcomed it, letting it engulf his heart.
Drown me. Take me. Make me sleep. And may I never wake again.
And then, it was dark.
March 15, 3019. T.A.
For how long Faramir had dwelt in this land of shadows, he did not know. It could have minutes only, but it could have been Ages too. The passage of time was different in this unknown realm. No, he doubted it had been that long, for he was not yet dead. Unless, of course, this was the place where mortals were sent after they left the circles of the world, but he doubted it. That was the Gift of Ilúvatar after all, and no gift could be so dark, not even the gift of death.
How long did he have to wait until he died? And where would he be sent after that? Would he see his mother and Boromir, or would they be parted forever?
It was so cold here. The shadows were ever reaching towards him, caressing him with their dark tendrils, freezing him everywhere they touched. He was grateful for the cold. In the same way as an injured man would press a piece of ice against his bruise to take away the pain, now the cold in his heart was dulling his ache. All the grief was but a bitter memory he did not wish to dwell on. He was glad that he was here, wherever here was, and not there, in the world of the living. For there it hurt too much.
Suddenly, a pale light appeared far away, but slowly moved closer. Was death coming to him at last? Faramir walked forward, curious to solve this new mystery.
As he approached, he saw that before him stood the tall figure of a man. The stranger was cloaked and a hood concealed his face, and yet Faramir could see that his eyes were burning like ambers.
“Who are you, my lord?” Faramir asked, deep inside of him feeling that he had to address the stranger as such. “And why have you come?”
“Faramir, son of Denethor,” the stranger spoke and his voice was gentle, and yet firm and commanding. “Long have I looked for you in this world of shadow, but now I have found you. I have come to bring you back to the light.”
The Steward’s son smiled sadly and shook his head. “There is no light for me left there,” he said. “I do not wish to return.”
“Do you then wish to remain in this darkness?” the stranger asked.
“This darkness is my light,” Faramir replied. “Here the pain is duller and more distant. I do not wish to go back there, where it will return once again.”
“You are missed,” the cloaked man said. “Gondor has need of you still. And many tears will be shed should you depart.”
Faramir snorted in disbelief. “Gondor does not need me. I have never done my land any good. And who would miss me? I have lost everyone I have cared for and everyone that has cared for me.”
Suddenly, the man reached out and grasped his hand. “I know that it hurts to return,” he said, “for I have also known this sorrow. I lost my father when I was a child, and my mother passed away later, but still much sooner than what I was prepared for. Although,” he added softly, “I doubt that anyone is ever prepared for something such as this.” Faramir nodded in silent agreement, and he continued, “And today I lost my beloved cousin. A part of me longs to remain here, with you, and fade away in this world of shadow, for I know that when I come back to the world of the living, the pain of his passing will return anew. But I know that I am still needed, and that there is still beauty and joy left in Middle-earth. And to fight for this joy, and to experience it, is worth the pain.”
“I am sorry for your loss, my lord,” Faramir said sincerely. “But I have to ask you a question. Do you still have loved ones in Middle-earth? Are there still people who anxiously await your return?”
The stranger did not hesitate even for a moment. “I do.”
Faramir smiled sadly. “See? That is the difference between you and me. I have no one to return to.”
The grip on his hand tightened and bright eyes locked with his. “I can see your past.” The stranger’s voice was sad.
“You can see my past?” Faramir asked in wonder. “Can you then see my future? For all that I see is darkness and pain.”
“Perhaps I can,” the stranger said. “I have a vision. Do you wish me to share it with you?” Faramir nodded eagerly. “Come and sit next to me,” the man continued. “Look through my eyes. See what I see.”
Faramir did. And before his eyes the darkness and shadows transformed and turned into a spacious room. A boy, not older than ten, was standing in front of the laden table. Raven-dark hair fell around the young and noble face, and the grey eyes were proud and determined. If souls breathed air in the shadow world, Faramir would have gasped. Boromir?
“Father, father! Look what mother gave me!” The boy cried excitedly, waving a wooden training sword. Faramir frowned. He could never imagine the gentle Finduilas gifting her son with a weapon.
Merry laughter answered the boy, and Faramir’s heart jumped. Long had it been since Denethor had laughed so joyously. But as his eyes turned to the direction the sound had come from, he was shocked to see that the boy’s father was not Denethor, but someone strangely familiar. It was he. Faramir.
“This is a mighty sword, Elboron,” the father said. “I hope you will find pleasure in training with it. You and your mother have always found greater joy in weapons than me.”
“The boy wants to become a warrior, my love,” a woman’s voice answered him. “I do not see why he should not be encouraged.” Faramir stared at her in wonder. She was tall and slender, but he could not see her face, for it was hidden from his view by long, golden locks. Who was she? There were no golden-haired maidens in Gondor.
The vision dissolved, turning back into darkness and shadows, and Faramir turned his wide eyes to the one who had revealed the wondrous scene to him. “What was that?” he asked in disbelief. “Was that my family?”
“It could be,” the man replied. “Perhaps this is what will come to pass if we win the war against the darkness. And if you choose to face the pain and return to us.” There were such warmth and care in this voice that it hurt. Faramir had never heard anyone speak to him in such a manner since the day when Boromir had left for Imladris, never to return again.
“Why do you show me such kindness, my lord, when I have done nothing to deserve it?” he asked in wonder.
The stranger smiled softly. “I have lived many years and traveled many lands. I have met many men, elves, dwarves, and halflings. And few, very few of them, deserve more kindness than you do, Faramir.”
Faramir felt a lump form in his throat. “How did you find me, my lord? How did you know that I needed you?”
The man grasped his hand once again. “I heard your plea for help. And I followed your call.”
“A plea for help?” Faramir was confused. “I have never called for help.”
“Oh, but you did, my friend,” the stranger replied softly. “You called ‘Find me’. It was a desperate call, and so full of grief, that my heart broke and I had to follow.”
Faramir froze. He was not aware that he had called. He was not aware that he had wanted to be found anymore. He had believed that he wanted to remain lost in the sea of darkness and despair. But it seemed that his heart had known better.
And now, he was found. He was saved. By a stranger, who had shown him more care and kindness than he had ever hoped to see again. “Who are you, my lord?” he repeated his first question, which had still remained unanswered.
The man smiled gently. “Look at me, Faramir. Look at me, see me, and know me.” With one swift movement, he removed his hood, revealing his face. A handsome, noble face, young and ancient at the same time. His grey eyes were sparkling and full of life, like the eyes of a youth, and yet wise and bottomless as if he had seen many decades and learned from them. There were warmth and compassion in those eyes, and Faramir had never seen such compassion for him before, except in the eyes of his mother and Boromir.
And Faramir knew him. Though he had never seen this face before, he still knew him in his heart. “My king!” he whispered in wonder and fell to his knees, on impulse grabbing the man’s hand and kissing it.
Aragorn knelt in front of him, grasping his shoulders. “Yes, my friend, it is I. And I have come to find you. You have dwelt in darkness long enough, Faramir, and it is time for you to return. I know that it will hurt,” he said, and his voice was laden with pain. “I knew Boromir. He was a good man, who deserved a better fate, and his passing grieved me greatly. Yet, I know that it is nothing compared to the grief that you now feel.” His grip on Faramir’s shoulders tightened. “I promised your brother that I would not let the City fall. Will you help me fulfill my promise?”
Faramir could not believe his eyes. Many times he had dreamed about the return of the king. He had always imagined a ruler wise and just, who cared deeply for his people and always knew what was best for them. And often he had feared that his dreams were too bold, and that he was asking for too much. But never, even in his boldest dreams, had he imagined that his lord king would look upon him, Faramir, with such care and compassion, with such friendship freely given.
And then, all of a sudden, reality was better than the most pleasant of dreams. And he wanted to return to that reality.
“I will, my lord,” he said. “I will follow you wherever you lead me.”
“Good,” said Aragorn with a smile. “Come, my friend! We have lingered here too long!”
Faramir opened his eyes and took a deep breath. At first, he did not see the anxious faces around him. All he could see was his lord’s weary face, looking at him with relief and warmth in the grey eyes. And then he had his anchor once again, keeping him in place in the raging sea of despair.
If such a king had returned to them, Faramir mused, then perhaps the light had return to Gondor at long last. And perhaps the light had return to Middle-earth. But, most of all, the light had returned to him.
“My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?”
Note: The following sentences are copied from the book:
The boat turned into the stream and passed glimmering on into the night. Dreamlike it was, and yet no dream, for there was no waking. – The Two Towers. Book IV. Chapter 5: “The Window on the West”
“My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?” – The Return of the King. Book V. Chapter 8: “The Houses of Healing”
The entire paragraph reads:
Suddenly Faramir stirred, and he opened his eyes, and he looked on Aragorn who bent over him; and a light of knowledge and love was kindled in his eyes, and he spoke softly. ‘My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?’
I tried to give an explanation of this “knowledge and love” in his eyes.
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