29 July 2006 | 3929 words
Title: I See His Heart
Author: Bell Witch
Rating/Warnings: Incestuous themes. (PG-13)
Disclaimer: I own nothing. This is my first LotR fanfic*. See after the story for further notes.
Summary: Faramir is aware of his brother looking at him differently and so is Denethor.
I see his heart. I’ve seen it for a long time—years now. I did not understand what I was seeing the first time when things changed. I do know when it happened.
It was when I was sixteen and I’d just been told that I would soon be joining the rangers in Ithilien. I would likely not return for a year because there was much to learn and I had waited until late to join a military unit. (Not my fault. I’d have joined the army at fourteen as Boromir had but father forbade it. He wanted something else for me. I thought perhaps that he knew it was not really what I wanted and that he… But it was to be a soldier’s life after all, just not the regular army with Boromir.)
He looked at me then, differently. I thought that perhaps he was seeing me as a man finally and not a boy. I was not fully-grown at sixteen but becoming taller and broader still. Joining the rangers surely meant that I was no longer a child.
It was more than a year before I saw him. I returned to Minas Tirith for a brief stay but he was not there. Back to Ithilien but home again soon to deliver some messages. I saw him then and he saw me.
I understood then how he looked at me and I turned my head away a moment. I was ashamed.
I knew things I hadn’t known before, because so far away from everyone else—with no women at all—men had to do something to relieve their stress. Most did so on their own. Some did not.
The captain did his best not to see such things. I didn’t realise that they happened until once when two men had been caught. It was an accident, no one had been looking and they had merely been unlucky. But the punishment was five lashes and the captain ordered it done with a cane.
I was shocked and someone—Mablung?—explained to me later that it was against our laws. Against nature, it was said. But many captains would turn a blind eye because, really, what did it matter? These men had no other recourse and was it all that important with whom a man slept when they faced death day after day?
No, not really. I told myself that it didn’t matter. That the captain’s choice to use a cane was just. A captain truly against such unions would have picked a more severe method of punishment. Five lashes with a cane leaves no permanent physical scars. Five with a whip might well. Five with a ‘cat almost certainly.
Most men do this because they’ve no other choice. Some prefer it. There are jokes about men like that, which I’ve tried to ignore for they confuse me. I see little difference in lying with a man through preference or necessity though preference makes more sense to me—necessity can be resolved by one’s own hand.
But no one would consider approaching me for such things, and I would not ask them. I do well enough on my own and will take a woman when I can. They are kind to me, good women for the most part, both the barmaids and those who earn money that way. They find rangers easy enough to please—because we have been away from women for so long. They understand and do not mock me for it. Seventeen and no woman for a year, they understand the haste and I appreciate it.
No, no one had ever looked at me that way until Boromir returned and saw me for the first time in so long. I could not believe it, turned away. Looked back and he had composed himself. Surely I had imagined it and put it out of my mind. He was my brother as he ever had been. I told him of my first year of training and all was well.
We saw far less of each other after I joined the rangers. When we did meet again, we embraced as brothers and fellow-warriors and sometimes I would see a look from him that I wish I hadn’t seen. Not from any man would I want such a look—and from my brother…
On one of my visits back to Minas Tirith, I had a nightmare of hands on me. They touched and stroked and made me feel so good at first until I noticed, realised that they were not the hands of a woman. I woke, sweat-soaked and shaking. No…
I watched my brother. He looked at women. He made his way with a tavern wench when we went out for ale, I saw him go off with her. I convinced myself that I imagined things. My brother was a true Man, strong, the best in Gondor and destined to be Captain-General of her armies.
It must be me. I am not as he is. I am bookish even now. I fight very well with a sword and am skilled with a bow also, becoming better all the time because of my keen eye, they say. I fight and have knowledge of strategy and military history. I can plan battles well. But it is not in my blood as in his. Father says so and I know it’s true. It is something I learn even as I learn Elvish or Rohirric or mathematics. It is my secret wish that makes me believe Boromir looks at me so. He is the most important person in all the land to me. Moreso than father, and I should be ashamed of that, too.
But father does not value his second son and Boromir returns my affections, loves me. Not as I’d want, apparently.
But if I want it, why does it give me nightmares?
Years pass in this manner. My training is past and I am fully a ranger. I’ve already held smaller commands and soon I think I will be one of the lieutenants directly responsible after only the captain. I imagine that this is why I’ve been called to see the steward and I am correct. Boromir is so proud and we go out that night to celebrate.
It starts so well and ends so strangely that it triggers the nightmare again—the one with the hands and not the one with the wave. Why must he look at me like that? What does he want from me? The next day, Boromir is temperamental at breakfast and father is very unhappy. After he is finished eating, Boromir stomps off with barely a by-your-leave and I know that he is going to the practice grounds. I do not follow.
The message that the steward wishes to speak with me in his private office reaches me later that day and I know that it must have to do with Boromir.
“This is your fault!” These words father says to me in that very familiar cold voice.
“My lord, I’m not sure what you mean.” I am trying to be calm.
“It is because of that wizard I am almost certain,” Lord Denethor continues, ignoring that I’ve spoken. “It must be a spell that you’ve… No matter. Tonight the matter will be settled. The arrangements are made—report to this address after your supper. I expect that you can make your way there on your own and with a certain stealth?”
I take the bit of parchment and nod, still not understanding. An unknown address on the fourth level where I shall report, although concealing that it’s me. It’s not so warm that to wear the hood of my cloak would be noticeable, but the situation makes me very uncomfortable and I don’t know why.
I understand almost as soon as I enter. It is the sort of establishment that I’ve rarely been to. As the son of the steward, women have always been accommodating and so I’ve been with barmaids and other paid women but only rarely have I come to a house such as this. Someone greets me, not from in front but a side door.
“My lord?” Courteous, kind even. “Please come this way.”
The lady holds the door for me. It leads into a medium-sized sitting room with a door on the other end also.
“I was told to expect you, sir. Everything has been taken care of already so you need only enjoy yourself.” She smiles at me. “The entire night, so that you need not leave until you are ready. Food will be sent up in the morning for both of you.”
I nod, feeling very stupid even though she is nothing but polite to me. There’s no sense of laughter or mockery behind her eyes.
I simply don’t understand why father would pay for me to have a woman like this, an obviously expensive one. The door at the end of the room opens and there is a man there, slightly older than myself, I’d guess.
“This way, my lord.”
I follow down a hall and up some stairs, down another hall and into a room. It is large, with a fireplace and table and chairs and an open door leading to a bedroom. I go in and the door closes behind me. Surprisingly, the man is in the room with me.
“Thank you, but I think you can go now,” I say to him. Looking about the room, I see no one else and look into the bedroom. “Where is the young lady?”
The look on the man’s face is genuinely surprised and a bit disturbed.
“Young lady?” he asks. “Please excuse me, my lord. My name is Gareth and I am your companion for the evening.”
“What?” I look at him more closely now. I see nothing… strange about him. He looks like a man in fine clothing. Certainly not a fighter but in good health and pleasant enough to look at, I suppose. He is clean-shaven which is a bit unusual but not unheard of. I can’t… he’s… “I don’t understand.”
He nods and waves to one of the chairs.
“If you’ll sit, I can explain.” He seats himself and waits for me. He looks far calmer than I feel and he smiles even as the woman downstairs did—kindly.
“I don’t understand,” I repeat. I am a lieutenant now but I sound like a complete idiot, I’m sure. This is so far from anything I ever expected that I am at a loss.
“I was told that you’d never been with a man before. It’s quite all right. I am here for you. I have some instructions but I wanted to meet you and speak with you a little before we began.” He sat back. “You’re a little older than I was expecting and, yes, I do know who you are. I’ll not tell anyone—no one here would speak of it.”
“That’s…” I have no idea of what I’m supposed to say. Father sent me to a brothel to lie with a man? My head is spinning: I can’t believe it.
“I know,” Gareth says. “I am supposed to help you get past this, to make you understand and turn you back toward women. That’s what one of the orders was. I say now that I believe this to be a foolish order. Some men prefer other men and that is how they are. I don’t think this will change your preference and I felt that I should say that.”
He sits quietly for a moment, studying me and it makes me feel very strange. He is not looking at me with desire but rather curiosity.
“Would you like me to take off your boots for you?” he asks. I shake my head and take them off myself, which makes him smile. “I can take your cloak, if you like.”
Shaking my head, I unclasp it and let it fall back on the chair. His eyebrow raises for a moment.
“Is there anything I can get for you? Wine?” Again, I shake my head and simply look down at the floor. I can’t believe I am here, that father sent me here. What am I supposed to do? I am startled by the feeling of a hand on my face. It is not so soft as a woman’s hand but neither is it a rough, warrior’s hand.
“This is going to be very difficult if you will not speak to me. I can understand that you are a bit nervous but it will work out. I will go slowly—there is no rush.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say or do.” I bite my lip.
“Do not worry, please. I am here because you don’t know what to do. I do know and I will help you. Do you at least know what things two men can do together?”
It seems an honest question, not like he’s making fun and I nod.
“I’ve heard people talking about it. They make jokes.” I cringe, thinking of what I’ve just said.
“I’ve heard those jokes, too,” he says easily. “All my life I’ve heard them. That’s just one thing but there are others. Many things are just the same as with women and I trust you’ve lain with a woman before. They said you had.”
“Yes.” What is just the same as with women?
“Well, it will start off the same.” He pauses a moment before taking off his own boots and setting them neatly by a chair. He removes his belt and tunic and stands before me in shirt and leggings only. “Before you take any more clothing off, let’s start. It will be easier, I think, to do this in stages.”
I’m not sure what he means at all until he’s before me, one hand on my shoulder and the other slips to the back of my head, urging it forward.
No! Our lips barely touch before I pull away sharply, stepping back. His expression is very surprised as he lets me go.
“You’ve not even kissed a man before?” he asks, incredulous.
“Please excuse me, but this doesn’t make any sense. I was paid to lie with you knowing that you’d never been with a man before, to take you—although that’s something that is rarely asked of me—and I guess make you see how wrong it was for you to desire other men. But you do not desire men at all.”
“No, I don’t,” I say, miserably. “I never have.”
Gareth looks beyond puzzled and I could almost laugh. It isn’t me, I’m not supposed to be here at all. Father saw and he thought it was my fault—it isn’t me, it’s…
“Then why did your father send you here?” He steps slightly closer, inquiring.
“Don’t touch me.”
Alarmed, he steps away, eyes wide and head shaking.
“No, no, I would never do that. I could not do that, not with someone who did not wish it.” He speaks with great conviction and I think I understand why: it is because he knows.
“Do men… hurt you?” I cannot help but ask.
“Not here they don’t,” he says. “No one ever hurt me here. This is a fine house and we are not required to accept any customer that we do not wish. But I have not always been so lucky and, ironically, it was my father who first sold me.”
“He sold you?” I am aghast. “That is against the law.”
“Bound me as an apprentice, really. In theory, I was to become a tanner but that’s not what I did. Father was not pleased at having a son like me and so he got rid of me the best way he could. I was fourteen then.” He holds his head up. “Five years and then my master was finally killed in a fight. I don’t know what happened but I’m sure he deserved it. They found me when they came to clean out his shop after two days. It is well they didn’t wait longer or I’d have died. There was a chain.”
He holds his leg out and turns it sideways. He has white, scarred flesh around his ankle.
“But then you ended up here? How?”
“It was luck, really. It might not seem that way to some, but I was nineteen then and knew no real trade. I had no intention of going back to my family and decided to sell myself and, as it happened, the first person who bought me suggested that I’d do better off the street. He suggested this place, even brought me in. I still see him sometimes.” Gareth shook his head, smiling at the same time. “Believe me, this is not so bad. Look where I have to stay—my rooms are better than any other place I’ve ever been. I am well treated and well paid. They have taught me things here—when I am too old to be a companion I’ll still be able to work here doing various things. In many ways, I’m better off than you are.”
That startles me very much.
“But I’m not…”
“You are doing something you don’t wish to do. You do it very well, lieutenant, but it’s not your preference. And your father sent you here when it’s obviously not you who desires men. Who is it then?”
I am silent, shocked. He is correct, of course, but nobody would say that except Mithrandir for whom it’s no secret that I’d rather be a scholar than a soldier.
“I don’t know. There must be something that I can’t see,” I say. “I’ve had dreams. And so you’re wrong about that, anyway.”
I move toward him but he holds out his hand.
“You do not want me and you certainly don’t want me to take you as I was told to. And yet your father saw something. If not you, then it can only be your brother who prefers men.” Gareth looks at me sadly. “He saw Lord Boromir looking at you, did he not?”
“No!” He’s unarmed, not a fighter so I cannot challenge him in that way. Still, I will not allow him to say such a thing about my brother. “It is my fault, I did something, somehow. I didn’t mean to but I must have done something and it’s all my fault. I will lie with you… If you give me a moment to calm down, then I can…”
“You seem an honest man, so why do you try to tell yourself this falsehood? You desire women and your brother desires men at least in part. There is naught wrong with that.” Gareth stops a moment. “Well, provided that he is able to provide Gondor with an heir. But otherwise he is as he was made.”
“He isn’t. I can do this…” It’s not true: Boromir doesn’t want men. He doesn’t want me. Except he does, and I am his brother. It’s wrong. He wants me—his own brother.
“I don’t know if you can do this or not but I don’t think you should do it simply because your father will not see the truth.” He sits again and thinks. “I’m not sure what to do exactly. You’re supposed to spend the night with me but I cannot accept the payment for this. You may sleep here—I will find another place. Or sleep in a chair. Or get the money for you now if you’d rather simply return to the citadel tonight.”
“I can’t go back. I’ll spend the night here, only a chair is fine for me. And… the money was for your company so I suppose you may keep it. If you like, you can talk with me.”
And so I spend a night speaking with a man named Gareth, born in the second circle, sold for a slave, basically, and released to become what he is. And he has more freedom than I do. He is kind and intelligent enough to be interesting to speak with. He does not say anything more about my brother. I return to the citadel in the morning and report to Lord Denethor.
“Never again, my lord. I will not look at a man in such a way.” He knows I speak truly. He knows that I never did look. He doesn’t know that nothing happened last night. He has to know that Boromir hasn’t changed.
Except that he has. Later in the day he comes to my rooms, fuming. I have never seen him look at me with so much venom.
“You spent the night at a brothel—with a man!”
I cannot deny it and so I only nod. He must know that father sent me.
“How could you do that?”
“I did not have any choice in the matter,” I say. “I was ordered to go even as I was ordered to join the rangers all those years ago.”
His face is nearly purple with rage. He’s spluttering and trying to decide what to say, I can tell.
“Lord Denethor told me to go there,” I tell my brother quietly.
Crack! The backhanded hit is enough to snap my head to the side. It hurts quite badly but I’m more stunned, as is Boromir, who is looking from his hand to my face like he doesn’t quite know what happened. He’s angry and hurt and ashamed all at once, completely without words and simply willing me to understand.
I see his heart. He wishes that I would have come to him with these desires. He knows that I don’t want men, that it is his wish and father’s stubbornness that sent me to that place. I don’t know what he was told but he is afraid for me and jealous also. He thinks some man there lay with me. My brother, heir to the stewardship, future Captain-General and the finest man in all of Gondor is jealous because he thinks some man in a brothel has had what he desires. His own brother.
He stands still for a moment as though realising what it is he’s just shown me. His eyes cloud over.
“Please excuse me, Faramir. I… am so sorry.” He turns and leaves without another word. He trains and practices for several days, riding, fighting, shooting, and I barely see him at all. Soon it is time for me to return to Ithilien and I am pleased to go.
I know that when next we meet he will embrace me like a brother, clasp my forearm like a warrior, and I’ll see a flicker in his eyes of something that I shouldn’t see. I’ll look away and, by the time I look back, it will be gone.
Author’s notes: One thing I never planned to do was write a Boromir/Faramir story. I’m not sure if this qualifies as that since they’re not actually together. It came as a result of ideas while thinking on the character of Faramir, who I play in an online RPG.
*My only previous experience with LotR fanfic is segments written for the interactive Faramir fic attached to the Faramir Fanfiction Archive
I am not anti-gay and I’ve written slash. Views expressed are my opinions of what the culture may have been like.
Written July 2006.
NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]
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