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Not You (PG) Print

Written by Raven22372

12 November 2011 | 698 words

Technique: Pencil, Watercolours
Character: Faramir/Boromir
Rating: K
Warning: None

This seems a little complicated… roaming the fathomless depths of fandom I found this challenge posted by Iris and perfectly filled by Minx. (In short: The request was about Aragorn being forced to punish his steward). Even though this happens ages ago (measured against internet time) the idea kinda got stuck somewhere in my mind. Where it started mutating immediately. What if it wasn´t Aragorn but Denethor who does the punishment? Because he can´t stand anybody questioning his power… or what do I know, after all he´s Denethor. And what if Boromir was forced to watch? So this piccie came to life, accompanied by a kind of ficlet. I seldom dare to write and I was very glad to have Chaos Erevos who saved me from making myself a complete idot (being betaed still scares me to death anyway). The good things are all hers, the mistakes are all mine.

Extra note: I swear I started to draw this as book Faramir. I just cannot… could anybody please erase this face from my mind?


You are too old for this. Both of you are too old. You, brother, for taking a penalty with the unquestioning humility of an obedient child. You, Father, for letting your wounded pride darken your reason, so much that you stoop to taking the issue into your own hands instead of leaving it to a subordinate. Where have the days gone when the house of Ecthélion was a beacon not of severity but of wisdom?

You spoke against him in council. The second born doubted the steward´s decree, in front of all his advisors. Hardly a great subject, you still thought it important enough to intervene. You spoke wisely and with great respect, pointing out every aspect carefully without dropping any personal remarks or raising your voice over a moderate level. And the council listened to you. Their decision followed your argument and our father bowed to their will.

I did not need to see the lines along his mouth deepen with anger. Somebody would rue this and it was clear to everybody in the room who it would be.

The council members had barely scattered when he ordered both of us to his study. Criticizing the steward´s plans is no trespass – and never should – as long as it happens in an appropriate manner and surely it is not supposed to bring vengeance upon the one who did. But that is not what this is about, not for Lord Denethor, not these days.

You leave it to your body to give away what you do not. It is told by every wince of your shoulders when leather meets flesh, an insuppressible reflex, not bound to your willpower, but your eyes remain stubbornly focused on the pattern of wood on the table top. So much you require his love, so little you offer to gain his forgiveness. Neither by boasting the bravery of the soldiers nor by submitting to his rage. You don’t give him anything other than this stoic gaze, bare of any emotion. Wherever your vulnerable spot lies, little brother, it is not here.

I would jump up and stop this, stop his arm with my own hands, and it is not the knowledge that my actions might provoke worse that causes me to refrain. It is knowing that they would hurt you more than any physical torment ever could. Your kind of courage is an unpretentious one, not meant for minor causes, and I do not dare to lessen your sacrifice by giving in to a weakness of the heart.

You should be proud of him, father. A son who, without fear, speaks his truthful mind should make you proud. And yet all you see is disobedience, insolence and – beware you ever find out I even thought this — threat.

Today I watched a man who faced his fears for the greater good. A man who honours gentleness a higher value than the bravery in battle, and yet reveals a heart of strength. I have seen a steward today, and it was not you, father, it was not you.

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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Minx , dream.in.a.jar , Ria , Sian22

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20 Comment(s)


NB: Comments may contain spoilers!

This is lovely! Both the story and the pic – you are a real multi-talent! Great to hear it was my little challenge that got you started with these, even if you’ve given your own brand new —and very interesting!— spin on it.
Thank you very much for sharing! (And I should really post some more challenges soon!)

Iris    12 November 2011, 16:06    #

Lovely to have Boromir speaking, and speaking so highly of Faramir. It is so rare to have stories that get into the first-born’s mind. And last phrase – wow – so beautiful and so true.
Also impressed by the picture of Faramir. Well done!

— Nerey Camille    12 November 2011, 17:14    #

Ooh! this was beautifully done! You’ve captured so much through Boromir’s voice… the father/son dynamic, the awesomeness of Faramir – that stoic look. Loved reading this. and loved the accompanying art too!

Minx    12 November 2011, 17:58    #

Aaaaaaalright… I felt I should start by apologizing in general. When I posted this I didn´t notice the text still contained some remarks of my beta. In hindsight it was no big thing, only two or three words, but in case there were any irritations I´d like to say sorry anyway.

And of course thank you all for the nice feedback! It means a lot to me, especially because yesterday I spent a couple of hours feeling really, really stupid.
So where was I?

– Iris –
Why yes, there can never be enough challenges! And I think I like the way your mind works… ;) Oh, and I certainly wouldn´t have dared to change the setting if the challenge hadn´t been taken yet. But since it was already filled “officially” I thought I could take a little more freedom.
The funny thing was that I was vaguely thinking about Faramir hurt/suffering when I stumbled across your post. And – bang! – suddenly there was exactly what I wanted. Strange thing.

– Nerey Camille –
That´s quite interesting; it wasn´t even clear to me that Boromir´s point of view is a rather unusual one in this constellation before you mentioned it. But yes, you´re right, and I couldn´t even tell why it came out that way. I thought about it for a while and I think the situation must affect Boromir in many different ways. Not only that he sees his little brother suffering – he also has to realize that at a point when he, Boromir, has just taken a stroll around the block his little brother has grown up and he´s able to deal with the issue without any help. And he sees Denethor, the man whose decree he would never question doing something completely undignified, something that doesn´t fit for a steward. I wouldn´t say it comes to him that maybe – maybe – his father isn´t the right man for the job anymore but it could at least be a start.
Good gracious, I´ve never thought so much about Boromir´s view! Now see what you have done! ;)

– Minx –
Oh yes, I love him being that way. :) I always saw (and much adored) a subtle kind of strength in Faramir – one that needs no alpha male games and gets only revealed when seriously needed. Most of the time he´s very restrained and ready to step aside – until it gets really important. Then it is “I did what I judged to be right” and even though he´s still kind and polite he wouldn´t say sorry or backpedal. I see it as a sort of “bravery undercover”, hard to see but very impressive once it´s out.
Plus I admit I have a kind of bravery kink. Particularly when it comes with a person you wouldn´t expect to act that way at first sight. For some reason that attracts me much more than watching a “typical” action hero.

— raven22372    13 November 2011, 09:11    #

Wow! Both the story and the artwork are beautifully done. I was concerned at first that this story was going to have kinky sexual connotations, but it doesn’t, although clearly it is about power (and thus arguably is “kinky” in that sense. Denethor is clearly trying to dominate both his sons, IMHO. He is trying to dominate/rule Faramir through physical punishment, and Boromir through emotional punishment, by forcing the older son to watch and not interfere.) Clearly both Faramir and Denethor are movie-based here, rather than the bookverse versions, but I enjoy both versions. While I don’t agree with the implication that moral courage is greater than courage in battle, both kinds are important, and Faramir clearly has plenty of both kinds. Besides, accepting a flogging without outcry or complaint is clearly physical courage, just as standing up and disagreeing with his father before the council, even though Faramir knew what the consequences would be, is an example of moral courage. Again, both the story itself and the artwork that accompanies it are brilliant. Thanks so much for both. Sincerely, Darkover

— Darkover    14 November 2011, 05:54    #

First of all: Please take my excuses for the delay! They past days were cramped with stuff and since you took your time to write such long and thougthful comments you absolutely deserve an answer given with the same care.

To learn that this little work caused so deep and complex thoughts was amazing! I just hope you won´t be disappointed yet I´m afraid that I was indeed a bit driven by kink, even if it´s only a very private one. ;) I must say I have a soft spot for bravery, especially if it comes in such a silent and unpretentious way. Everybody would expect Boromir to act like that, after all he´s the warrior. Yet Faramir (the movie version rather than book-Faramir I guess) is often considered the “soft” one, which might be right as long as “soft” can be read in the meaning of “sensitive”. But once it comes in the meaning of “weak” I would disagree. I think there´s a constant undercurrent of strength in his personality, one that allows him to stay away from the “alpa-male” competitions and that only comes out when it´s needed. Imo he´s much more independent in his thoughts and deeds than Boromir is and it must drive Denethor, the unquestioned ruler, mad that he can´t get a grip on him.

I totally agree with you regarding Denethor trying to hold power over both his sons – even though I was only vaguely aware of it during the writing process. Actually it was your comment that make me realize it.
I´m not quite sure whether it is really possible to tell physical from mental strength. Personally I would rather tend to classify “physical” steadfastness as a result of “moral”, means mental, bravery – but then again I think this is an issue you could probably spend long nights to discuss. :)

I must say I´m still baffled about how many things you pointed out that weren´t even all clear to me. And again, it´s unbelievable how much time you sacrificed to write this lovely comment. Thank you so very much!

— raven22372    16 November 2011, 19:23    #

Hi Raven,

Glad that my short comment made you think so much (no, I won’t apologize)! Actually, re-reading the story, Boromir’s understanding of the situation is quite deep and full of nuances, which is, as I said, quite unusual for this character. Faramir and Denethor are usually the ones who understand more than is said. I liked Boromir in this role of an intelligent man who knows his father and brother well and feels deeply about the situation. Especially since he is the heir, so he ought to know how a Steward would act. That makes his compliment of Faramir being a Steward all the more valuable and selfless. Again, bravo and thanks for your long reply!

— Nerey Camille    18 November 2011, 17:22    #

Oh, and by the way, I completely agree about Faramir having that only-comes-out-when-needed kind of strength and courage. And about the fact that that would really infuriate Denethor, because he senses that of the two sons Faramir is the one impossible to control.

— Nerey Camille    18 November 2011, 17:28    #

Heheh, and now you make me think again (which I´m very grateful for). ;)

I must say it took me a while to realize that this is probably the reason for Denethor´s utter dislike. First I thought it was the other way around, that Faramir seems too soft for how he thinks a warrior should be. To me it is thinkable that Denethor, even though it´s said that he “reads in the heart of men”, must feel quite confused by Faramir´s social strategies. And not only these strategies work out better than his own, no, the one who acts this “soft” way dares to stand tall and against all inforcement goes his own way.

Unlike Faramir, who is able to match his father on an intellectual level, Boromir is much more predictable and comparatively easy to control. I´m not sure whether he fully understands Denethor´s subliminal power play. He´s cretainly not the intellectual one in this ménage à trois and often enough he´s more than just a bit self-absorbed. But I think he´s also a noble man with a sense for justice. Their relationship cannot always have been in that unhealthy state and I got the impression Denethor (who, as the book says, is still wearing a chain mail under his garment to keep up the discipline of his own body) did not raise their children as the spoiled heirs of a throne but in awareness of their later duty. And I think Boromir take great efforts to make a worthy successor, just that his ego tends to stand in his way. In the movie version we see him play with the young hobbits and he is much concerned of them, which means he´s basically a good person. Yet he rather appears to sees them as a kind of children or pets, worthy of protection but not to be taken seriously. So I guess he must at least have been through a kind of thinking process when at one point he had to realize that his baby borther, the one he was used to comfort and protect, has been grown up and now insists on making his own decisions and facing the consequences. Which could have easily wrecked their relationship yet obviously it didn´t.

Oh dear, instead of a short reply this has become a mural! If they need some bricks to rebuild Minas Tirith they could start right here! XD Well, I hope I did not bore you over the top and thanks again for all the profound thoughts and the time you took! :)

— raven22372    19 November 2011, 10:16    #

I especially appreciated this phrase ‘Your kind of courage is an unpretentious one, not meant for minor causes.’ A very deep thought here. And also the end – that was powerful.

I wonder how old they are at the time of these events. Boromir speaks (thinks) as a very mature man – more mature than I typically give him credit for. It’s an interesting topic, because Toliken did say Faramir considered his brother the best man in Gondor and Boromir was of like mind, and yet it’s impossible to assume Boromir did not acknowledge his brother’s merits…

December    20 November 2011, 07:21    #

Oops, right here you got me. I must say I´ve debated that issue and came to no satisfying conclusion. Maybe we sometimes choose a certain POV only with the purpose to sneak into the story and spy on our most beloved character? For it seems that is what I did: using Boromir as a vessel to get a front seat look at his brother. X)

Once I checked the timeline and it turned out that Faramir must be 36 when he meets Frodo and Sam (means Boromir was 40/41 when he joined the fellowship). Even given that apparently in Middle Earth people live a bit longer it seemed at least unusual to me that two grown-up men, both experienced and responsible are still profoundly dominated by their father. And then again, in royal families or industrial dynasties this might be the case.

Though there is no interaction between Boromir and the other family members in the book I got the impression that in the movie version he wasn´t very happy with his task to go to Rivendell. I could imagine that he IS aware of his limits regarding talking and negotiating. Maybe it even doesn´t bother him because in his world of soldiers those are not the most appreciated skills. Which could make it easier for him to accept his brother´s superiority – in a domain that is not his own.

I`m afraid I wasn´t much of help regarding that question. Now the only thing I can do to get out of this was raising a banner that says “Artistic license”. XD

— raven22372    21 November 2011, 06:54    #

Haha, I want one of those licenses, too!

Anyway, what I remember is Faramir telling Frodo that the council had wanted to send him to Rivendell (in the Book), but Boromir put himself forth and “would not be stayed”. I suppose Boromir thought it a very dangerous and responsible mission, since in it lay their only hope, and he wanted to protect his younger brother by taking it up himself. Also, I remember him (Boromir) speaking respectfully about his father at the Council.

As for being dominated by Denethor, personally I find that strange not at all. 1. They lived in a traditional conservative culture by the looks of it, and in our own world not so long ago “talking back” to your parents was inacceptable, regardless of age – and in many countries still is. Parents are the ultimate authority, and going against their will bears serious consequences. Today many people would not agree with that maxim, and I don’t either, but I think it’s important to keep in mind the likely social norms of their times. As another example, remember how both Arwena and Aragorn waited for Elrond’s permission regarding their marriage: they were already betrothed, but still Aragorn sat and waited for Elrond to bring his daughter to him. 2. As you point out, this is the ruling family. In the Book Faramir addresses his father as sire. And indeed, Denethor may’ve been their dad, but he was also their ruler and military commander. In that sense Boromir overruling his father’s decision and going to Imladris instead of Faramir actually shows Denethor’s fondness for his eldest in that he allowed it. And 3. Who wouldn’t be dominated by Denethor? xD Ok, not Gandalf – but who would dominate Gandalf? Maybe Pippin not so much, but he’s ultimately an outsider, he doesn’t feel the full weight of Denethor’s right to power as the other subjects do.

So in that sense, I really like in this story the point of Boromir being as though embarrassed of his father for treating the issue with weakness, for resorting to physical punishment which is not an effective measure against Faramir, furthermore, for doing the indignity of conducting it himself. Indeed, Denethor seems to have lost his cool, as is not entirely atypical for him ;) and gone about the matter in quite an artless manner. And it seems what pains Boromir is half the beating itself, but half the way his father does it, in a fashion unfit for a lord with a proper grasp on things.

December    23 November 2011, 08:28    #

Please take my apologies for the delay – RL is a killer, I tell you.

I can´t believe this is your – what? Fourth? Fifth? – comment regarding this entry and still it comes with another nicely wrapped compliment that makes my day a bit happier. Again, thanks a lot! :D

I see, Holmes, regarding Boromir´s motivation the book and the movie seem to differ. I got the impression that despite of his good intentions the book character generally tends to a rather overbearing manner whereas the move version is more grounded and vulnerable, only with the fatal proneness to fall prey to his own temper. Yet I think one could spend a long hard winter discussing this family´s mental issues with only a break to get some more punch now and then. ;) Not that I had anything against that option…

One thing I especially enjoy about our conversations is the strange but very pleasant feeling of déjà vu when I read your comment and recognize my own thoughts. Indeed, Denethor being not only Big Daddy but also their sovereign and their military leader makes the whole thing a lot more difficult. In fact it rules out the possibility to go “Bye, dad, I think I´ll go to Rohan for a while and check whether the grass is greener over there. If you need me gimme a call.” Tricky thing, a deed that would be a teenage rebellion in any other place is suddenly labelled as high treason.

Oh, that´s an interesting point! I must say I did not consider Boromir´s decision as disobedience but the way you point it out makes sense to me. And who knows, maybe Denethor deliberately lets him walk on a long leash so he can, well, practise for his future role?

Faramir being unaffected by physical punishment… I know I sorta wrote that myself but dude, I´d never thought such a tiny ficlet would gain such a momentum! And the more we talk about it the more it feels to me like something… canon-like. Like an episode set some time before the book starts. Seriously, I must be careful in whose presence I mention this! XD

— raven22372    27 November 2011, 18:57    #

Ooh, overbearing Boromir, yes! You know, when I was first rereading the Book as an adult, I suddenly realised that Boromir, as a person, does not come across as likeable at all. He is valiant and ready to give his life for his comrades, yes, but character-wise… To put it this way, I wouldn’t want ot have a relationship with a man like that, hot as he may be xD In fact, I only like him as much as I actually do because of other characters’ perception of him. You know, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas grieving for him so strongly, and Pippin being in awe of him, and of course Faramir loving him deeply, the latter being the most indicative for me. It seems from his exchange with Frodo that Faramir did not idealise his brother, knowing Boromir’s weaker spots, and yet he loved him very-very much (which I like to interpret in a variety of ways, heh). And it feels to me that Faramir wouldn’t love a ‘bad’ person just because of a blood bond. (Likewise for his father, I don’t think Denethor was a bad person per se, like said before.) Also, Boromir loved his brother equally, and that means he was not touched by the popular opinion that Faramir wasn’t very brave or whatever, and that is highly creditable to B, I think :)

Indeed, I don’t perceive Boromir as very deep or given to self-reflection. But at the same time, I feel that as a good military person and a lordly heir, he would have a great sensitivity to hierarchy and rules of conduct. Rememeber how he accepts Aragorn once Aragorn’s right is proved – even though we know that Boromir did dream of becoming King himself. So in that sense I think it’s very in character for him to have a very intense and complex reaction to this situation in your story.

And speaking of canon. It seems Gondor had quite strict rules. I mean, killing people for looking at a little pond? So I totally buy into the idea that corporal punishments would be widely implemented. Not to forget, Tolkien himself came from a culture where beating and smacking and spanking people for a fault was rather slow to leave the practice…

December    30 November 2011, 08:47    #

Haha, funny you should say that! Because when re-reading the book after years I was surprised to find out that apparently Boromir is not the kind person I remembered him. A warrior? Yes. A protector? No doubt. A husband? Err – no.
One positive aspect about it – at least that was my impression – is that he seems to be aware of it. It´s obvious he has a tendency to, well, brag a little with his strength and his skills as a soldier. Yet he doesn´t seem to define himself as a great negotiator or a very educated person. Perhaps these are talents that are not very important to him which might explain how the “great love between the brothers” (Heh. Heh. Heh.) works. In this case the key to their relationship would not be their resemblance but the difference between their characters. I figure that everything is fine as long as they cover different ranges, means as long as they don´t cross each other´s path. Whereas I could see things changing swiftly once Faramir would turn out the better sword fighter or reveals another skill Boromir claims his own. ;)

Why yes, the Forbidden Pool! I spent ages wondering why it is forbidden and what made them to inflict such draconic punishments especially considering that foreign travellers might be unfamiliar with the rule. And another yes, we tend to forget how swiftly time flies. During my mother´s schooldays it was still common to beat the kids with a stick and that was in the Fifites. So given Tolkien grew up in a world of conservative educating and military, with all its “male” rituals and stuff – I don´think he would have thought of the rules in Gondor being strict over the top. I also believe that in a society facing a permanent physical threat corporal punishments would not be perceived as extraordinarily cruel – at least up to a certain status and/or age. To me it seems that physical penalisation was usually reserved for the lower ranks – or kept out of public.

Before I finish this new brickwall I feel the urge to apologize for neglecting some of your longer replies. It is just that RL has turned out as a giant spider that is currently trying to eat me alive and without the help of any elven-made blades I am compelled to make some concessions now and then. However, I welcome each of your messages with great pleasure and some of your sentences will be treasured in my heart for the residual span of my life. Denethor being on Skype with Sauron – you must have heard me laughing even in Mangawhero Falls! XD

— raven22372    1 December 2011, 06:28    #

Yes, indeed, I believe Boromir would consider those other talents you mention to be somewhat ‘sissy’ talents, i.e. for those who cannot or for some strange reason do not want to win with force and prowess. Remember how he said he would rather go through a path full of blades or something like that rather than face the supernatural in the Elven lands? And since indeed Faramir was never into parading his skill and courage, I believe it went very nicely between them on this aspect.

Time flies, yes. On a somewhat related note: just the other day I was reading this paper on psychology, written in 1969 in the USA, speaking about men who have ‘a severe psychological problem of experiencing sexual impulses towards other men’, and apparently they go to a psychoanalyst to ‘deal’ with this problem. And where I’m from, homosexual contact was considered a criminal offense until 1991 and you’d go to jail for it. And seeing as today in UK two guys can happily marry and have a kid, I wonder if Tolkien might’ve been more lenient towards speculations re his characters’ omnipresent ‘love’ for each other if he had been born 50 years later and wrote the Book in our days…

Oh, understand RL well enough, so much for me to do, too. Even the task of arranging a family vacation is proving to eat up so much time, who would have thought. I wanted to get to explore the wild beauties of the land at last – the only problem is, turns out you can hardly do it in such a way that would not for the most part consist of hiking through impassable terrain, trekking on horseback, climbing mountains, crossing glaciers, going down crazy rivers in a boat, descending into caves, etc. which would be entirely fine by me, I love that sort of shit, except that my kid, despite an apparent lack of the gene responsible for fear (and common sense), would simply not pass the height minimum on most of that. Go figure the luck. Very frustrating, I can tell you xD

Indeed, why is it forbidden? It is sacred, ok. But what is ‘sacred’? They don’t really have saints, no, and no temples or anything, so what would qualify a place as sacred besides that is looks cool at sunset? What you said about unaware tourists reminds me of a story a guy I’ve met here told me about how he and a friend went skinny-dipping in a super-sacred Maori lake without knowing it. Tricky, yes xD

Palantirs, heh. Again, if Tolkien lived today, maybe he would have thought up something else. Because in the day when the book was written it must’ve seemed pretty cutting-edge, since in RL you could at best phone somebody, and not everybody had a land-line, and no mobiles or whatever – forget about video-conferencing, lol

December    2 December 2011, 07:29    #

Ah, so lovely! Great story!!

— Laivindur    21 March 2012, 00:12    #

Aww, thank you! That´s the most beautiful present one can get at midnight! :D

— raven22372    21 March 2012, 00:18    #

This is so spare and beautiful in how it is written..You have captured both brothers so well. Boromir’s line about Denethor not being a steward is brilliant. Thank you so much for the story

— sian22    27 June 2014, 16:42    #

I cannot but hide my face with shame and hope you will forgive me the long delay. I was abroad for a while and it was not before today that I read your lovely comment. Thank you so very much for taking your time – and I am immensely delighted the final line works so well for you! :)

— Raven22372    15 July 2014, 16:55    #

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