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Legacy (NC-17) Print

Written by Carla Jane

30 March 2004 | 95430 words

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Boromir crouched down, running his fingers across the scorched inside surface of what had been a mighty wall only yesterday. There was no other sign of fire, but on every side of the town the wall was pushed outward and down, and blackened by soot. With their barricade demolished, the townspeople had been quick to offer up apologies and tribute to their king and his soldiers despite the fact they had announced their independence of Denethor’s rule from behind the wall when the company had arrived.

“My lord prince,” One of Denethor’s soldiers came to a halt at Boromir’s side. “The king sends word that you should join him in the village square to witness the punishment of the men who instigated the revolt.”

“What weapon…” Boromir stood slowly, still staring down at the toppled wood and brick wall. “I would know what weapon was used that caused this… collapse, Erestor.”

The soldier looked uncomfortable. “It is the king’s own weapon, my lord prince. It is the king you will have to ask if you wish that knowledge. No one I know has ever seen it being employed; only the results it produces.”

“Does our lord Denethor use this strange weapon often?” Boromir questioned. In light of this new tactic, it was now easier to understand how father had conquered so much territory in so little time.

“Not so much now as he did near the start of Gondor’s expansion. Not so often once the army swelled to the size it is now.” The middle-aged soldier frowned. “I expect it was used now since this is a tour rather than a campaign… and our numbers reflect that.”

“Where does he keep this weapon? Does one of the horses carry it? Is it in a wagon?”

“Please, my lord prince. Those are questions for your father. I have never seen the thing in action. Only your father wields it. He only uses at need… and generally in the dark of night. I know nothing about it save what the aftermath looks like and even that varies, depending on the difficulty facing us. It could be a magical sword or box of winged horrors he keeps in his pockets for all I know.”

With one last glare at the unexplainable destruction, Boromir turned on his heel and headed in the direction that Erestor was urging him. He intended to question Denethor about the secret, but the trick would be to pick the right time, place and mood to make the query.

The three royal children had constructed themselves a nest of sorts in the windowless library on the level of the tower that Denethor inhabited. They had gathered up pillows and blankets from empty rooms. Most flat surfaces in the room were covered with candles or lamps although it was seldom that all of them were lit at the same time. Books were stacked in piles and parchments were rolled and stacked in crates. As the world outside grew increasingly colder, the three of them spent more and more time inside their cosy sanctuary.

Éowyn was especially delighted with the situation. With Denethor gone she had been joining in with Faramir and Éomer as they had running swordfights down the long formal corridors near the throne-room. She had forsaken the ladies who attempted to cage her in the mornings and instead spent the time practicing weapons and learning the arts of men with Éomer and Faramir. Éowyn accompanied them on their rides out of Minas Tirith and all over Pelennor Fields. They ate together either in the nursery or here in the library most nights and were together constantly. Since it had grown colder Éowyn had taken to sleeping in the boys’ rooms as well, curled up between Éomer and Faramir, all three of them snuggled together in one bed for warmth.

Faramir might lean on the window-sill and pine for his older brother’s return every night, but Éowyn would be just as happy if Boromir and the king stayed away forever. This very evening was a prime example of the cosiness of the situation. Éowyn was stretched out between her brother’s legs, leaning back on his chest while Faramir’s soothing voice filled the library with a tale from before all the elves sailed west out of Middle-Earth and into legend. Éomer’s chin was resting on the top of Éowyn’s head. He had one arm wrapped around his sister while the other hand propped up the book that Faramir was reading. Faramir was sprawled on his stomach beside them, the side of his body pressed tight against Éomer’s, putting him well within reach so Éowyn could pet his tousled red-gold hair.

When the door crashed open every one of them jumped about a foot and Éowyn let out a shriek. The book went flying and they all scrambled guiltily away from one another. The servants hardly ever bothered them here, and even when they did it was with whispers and cautious movements so this intrusion was completely unexpected. The form that practically filled the small doorway was not, however, a servant.

BOROMIR!” Eyes lighting up as if he’d just seen the sun rise for the first time in a year, Faramir flew across the room and barrelled into his brother’s chest. The hug was returned just as enthusiastically. “You’re cold and wet!” Faramir mumbled without lifting his face out of the leather and fur garments Boromir wore.

“It’s snowing outside. I just got in. I came straight up here from the yard. Ossana, one of the serving girls told me you’ve been hiding here lately.” Boromir grinned down at his younger brother. “I rode ahead of father to rouse the Tower so it’s ready for him. He’s another day behind me.” Gloved hands stroked Faramir’s hair as if attempting to assure each of them that they were together once more. “You’ve grown again, damn you. I’m missing everything.” Faramir was pulled crushingly tight and petted. “I’m sorry I’ve been away so long. I missed you so badly… but there was trouble in Dol Amroth. It was mother’s family, so I didn’t want father to just execute everyone who was annoying him… anyway, we had to stay there a while to sort it out… so as to be sure no one got hurt,” he explained. “Our uncle, Lord Imrahil, sent presents for you, Faramir. Things from over the sea. Father has most of it with him but I brought you… oh…” Boromir finally seemed to take notice of the room and the two other people in it.

Éomer preformed a bow that one of their instructors had been drilling into him. “Welcome home, Prince Boromir.”

Wrinkling her nose up at her brother’s action, Éowyn simply glared at Boromir, knowing that his return meant everything was about to be turned upside-down again.

“Mercy, Faramir. If father sees this mess he will bloody all your backs. This is his private library. You’re not supposed to be playing in here. I don’t even dare to come in here without being invited.” Boromir swept his gaze over the nest of fabric and light. “You had best fix this girl; make it look like you were never here. Now! In case he rides faster than I expect. Call a servant if you need to… just fix it… quickly!” Faramir’s arm was caught when he moved as if to help Éowyn with the job. “Men don’t clean,” Boromir objected in a genuinely confused tone of voice. “Come downstairs with me and help me with my saddlebags, Faramir.” After a moment’s consideration, Boromir looked to Éomer as well. “I suppose you had best come as well. I’ve instructions that need to be passed out all over the Tower. You can help.”

Éomer hesitated a moment, torn between staying with his sister and following the orders of the crown Prince. Boromir frowned at the display of indecision and withdrew, pulling Faramir along by a firm grip on his hand. “Either come along if you’re a boy… or stay here and act the part of a girl. It’s your choice.”

“I’ll come back and help as soon as I can,” Éomer whispered before chasing after the other boys.

Stunned by the sudden desertion, Éowyn stared after them for several minutes; half expecting that at least her beloved Éomer would return to her side. When it didn’t happen, Éowyn seized the nearest heavy volume from one of the tables and threw it as hard as she could against the full-length mirror that hung on the far wall in a fit of temper. There was no way she was going to slink away, covering her tracks behind her. Let Denethor get angry. She didn’t care.

Expecting the satisfying smash of breaking glass, Éowyn was astonished by silence. Confused, she picked up another book, and after a moment’s consideration, Éowyn threw it at the mirror as well. Watching this time, she saw the volume vanish upon impact rather than shattering the outrageously expensive treasure.

Hands held out before her, Éowyn approached the mirror. They had been careful not to jar the tall piece of silvered glass before this. Mirrors were worth a great deal and the three of them hadn’t dared to trifle with the king’s indulgent bit of decoration. When her fingers came into contact with the cool surface there was a tingle that made Éowyn snatch them back again. Disgusted with her own fear, Éowyn firmed her resolve and reached out once more. Upon pushing, her entire hand disappeared into the surface of the mirror as if it were a nothing more than the reflective surface of a pond.

With a nervous glance over her shoulder, Éowyn held her breath, turned back to the mirror and stepped forward into near darkness. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust after the brightness of the library. The room Éowyn now stood in was larger than the one she’d left. The only illumination, however, was from a glassy globe that sat on a table in the centre of the room.

Turning in a slow circle, Éowyn gazed all around the secret room seeing such things as she never would have expected in such a civilized place as Minas Tirith. Odd, twisty looking, dried out creatures hung from hooks on one wall. Bits of metal decorated with dully glittering jewels lay scattered about. The candles in here were unlit but teared with wax and wider around than her closed fist. Scraps of fabric were overflowing from a chest in the shadows, sheets and towels as well as bits of clothing escaped the chest including a court tunic of crimson with flecked gold sleeves such as Boromir was in the habit of wearing. Strangely, most of the material seemed soiled and crumpled.

Almost by accident Éowyn’s fingers happened to drift across the pages of open book on the table. The contact sent little shivers of delight dancing under her skin. Bending closer, she could see the printing. It was painfully precise and clear as if whoever had set down the words was investing their complete attention to the project, which was a pleasant change from some of the messier texts in the library. Skimming the page she saw a great many historically famous names such as ‘Isildur’, ‘Gil-Galad’, and ‘Hurin’. Flipping pages Éowyn glanced at accounts of battles, and other tales. The word ‘demon’ appeared more often as she got closer to the middle of the book.

Bending and squinting at the text, Éowyn murmured to herself. “I wish it wasn’t so dark in here.” Immediately the slight illumination from the globe brightened to fill the room like sunlight. The change backed her up several steps into a bookcase. Turning, Éowyn saw bindings of everything from the blackest leather to thin wood, to actual gold. These books were obviously far more valuable than the collection she and the boys had been perusing in the outer library.

A giggle rose up out of Éowyn’s chest and burst past her lips. Denethor was clearly hiding this place for a reason. She was certain Faramir had no clue it was here and she had her doubts that even Boromir was aware of the room or he would have been even more disturbed by their intrusion into the outer library. It wouldn’t do to linger here, not now, not when Denethor was due home at any moment but the next time Éowyn was absolutely certain the king would be away from the tower for the entire day, she fully intended to begin exploring the contents of this room more fully.

Padding back over to the copy of the mirror that hung within this room as well, Éowyn tested her escape with one hand. It passed easily out. “Umm…” Feeling silly, Éowyn spoke aloud. “Could you turn down the light again, please, back to where it was?”

When the globe dimmed at her request, Éowyn couldn’t contain yet another giggle. Delving into this secret would more than compensate the next time Boromir came, dragged the boys away and ignored her. Gathering up the fallen books that would have betrayed her discovery of this secret place, Éowyn retreated back out to Denethor’s library.

It had taken a great deal of coaxing and several promises that Boromir was not looking forward to fulfilling, but it was worth it. An entire month in Faramir’s company was stretched out before Boromir like a gold-paved road. Provided that they stayed on the western side of the Anduin and made it back to Minas Tirith on time, Boromir had permission to take his little brother anywhere he wanted to, within the borders of Gondor. It was an unprecedented freedom.

Of course, they were being shadowed by twenty-five armed guards, but the soldiers were keeping their distance, allowing the brothers the illusion of privacy and that illusion was more than substantial enough for Boromir right now. Sitting at a table outside a small village inn, Boromir grinned across at his brother. Faramir was looking at the innkeeper’s sister with the kind of puzzled fascination that only a newly turned thirteen-year-old could muster. The woman had been shooting flirtatious glances at Boromir ever since the two of them had arrived. When they checked in, she had made a point of asking Boromir if he was absolutely certain that he didn’t want his own room.

Temptation nipped at Boromir in response to the pretty woman’s determined offers but Boromir didn’t dare give in. Not only would that leave Faramir alone for the night in a strange place, but it could also spell disaster if Father ever found out. Boromir knew it made no sense, but every now and again it felt as if Denethor’s eyes were fixed on him somehow, despite the separation. Perhaps the king had a spy watching them. No matter, it all came down to Boromir being unwilling to risk this excursion with his brother to satisfy his curiosity about the way of things between women and men.

As if conjured by his misgivings, Boromir noticed that his admirer was back. She was leaning over their table, yet again. Her posture provided both young men with a clear view down the front of her light summer blouse.

“Is there anything else I can fetch for you sirs a’ fore we shut down for the night? Anything at all?” She gazed pointedly at Boromir and licked her lips.

“No, thank you.” Boromir looked politely up from her breasts to meet inviting blue eyes. “It’s late. We’ll be retiring in a few moments.”

“Should slip in and get the room ready for you?” she pressed. Seeming to consider, her head tilted toward Faramir. “If you’ve brought your young brother out for some life lessons, perhaps I could help out. Show him a bit o’ fun a’ fore you have a turn, young lord.”

Boromir hadn’t given out their ranks but their wealth and station were obvious by their fine horses, clothing and bearing. All too aware of Faramir’s wide eyes and open mouth, Boromir tried once more to politely decline her offers. “No. Thank you, but no. Faramir is too young for that sort of thing.”

Looking a bit puzzled, as if she was considering the name and attempting to place it, the woman withdrew.

“Come, little brother.” Boromir sat aside his empty cup and climbed upright. “Let’s call it a night.” He caught Faramir’s arm and tugged. It was cooler inside the long, low building. Their gear had been stashed in an airy room at the far western corner of the inn.

Faramir continued to look over his shoulder all the way to the quarters. “She wanted to…” Faramir sounded amazed. “… to come to our room and do…” His cheeks darkened.

“Yes, she did.” Boromir closed the door and threw the bolt. “But I do not think it would have been wise.” The sunset’s light was enough illumination for the moment. “It would be inappropriate, considering who we are.”

Faramir’s nod of agreement was less than enthusiastic. “Have you ever, Boromir?” He dropped onto one of the beds. “Have you ever been with a woman before?”

Blowing out a long breath, Boromir walked over to the window. This wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have with his brother. Still, Boromir had never purposefully lied to Faramir and he didn’t want to start. “I have too many other demands on my attention.”

“You must have kissed a girl,” Faramir insisted. “I have. Two of them.” His tone was cautious; as if he were afraid someone would overhear the confession and punish him for telling.

“I have done…” Boromir paused. “… things.” A sigh gusted out. “Don’t rush it, Faramir. You’re still young. Don’t tangle yourself up in anything that doesn’t feel… honest. You have years ahead of you to fall in love.”

“They were just kisses,” Faramir qualified. “It’s not love. The only person I’ll ever love is you, Boromir.”

The statement made Boromir tense up. A protest was forced out of his chest. “Do not!”

Faramir flinched as if he’d been struck.

Seeing the effect those two small words had on his brother, Boromir tried to ease the denial. “You WILL fall in love someday, little one. Most everyone does. You’ll marry some sweet-faced girl and have an entire handful of children… so I can pick out the cleverest one to be king when I get tired. Then once he’s on the throne you and I can sit by the river and grow old together.”

Faramir looked puzzled. “Aren’t you going to get married and have your own sons?”

“No, I don’t think I will,” Boromir answered, gravely honest. Part of him suspected that Denethor would never allow such a thing and yet another portion wasn’t sure it would be a desirable thing even if it was allowed someday. Women were strange creatures. Boromir couldn’t think of a single one besides his mother that he had ever been comfortable spending time with. “I think I would much rather trust you with the raising of the next king. I’m not good with women and children. I’m…” He frowned. “I’m too much like father.”

“You were good with me.”

“Ah, but you, my love, are a special case,” Boromir insisted. The look Boromir turned on his brother was weighted with adoration. Faramir really was the most beautiful being on the face of the earth. “The very stars in the sky can’t help but fall for someone so endearing as you.” The room was darkening quickly now and yet Boromir continued to stare at his brother.

Faramir had shed his outer-clothing and wore just the thin chemise he planned on sleeping in. A shiver ran through Boromir at the sight. For just the briefest moment Boromir considered what would happen if he crossed over and dared to lay hands on that slim, much beloved body. If he were careful and far gentler than Denethor, perhaps Faramir’s body would respond willingly. Perhaps Boromir would have the chance to feel his much adored, dearest love arch into his touch. To hear beautiful Faramir sigh and plead would be the sweetest music. To feel Faramir’s lips tremble and part under his own would be… unforgivable.

With one hand, Boromir squeezed his other wrist viciously bringing back the pain of the rope burn there, punishing himself for even considering such an idea. “I’m FAR too much like father,” Boromir repeated in an undertone, just for himself.

“Are you all right?” Faramir inquired. His head tipped to one side and a bit of yellow-red hair hid the sparkle that was Faramir’s eyes.

“I’m just tired… and so should you be. Get into bed.” Boromir’s throat was tight. He felt as if he were strangling. He needed the blanket to cover Faramir’s body before another bout of unwholesome fancy could tear into his mind. “Not another word out of you.” Turning away, Boromir wrenched at his wrists harder than needful as he pulled off his bracers to provide some grounding pain. It would be safe to undress and slip in between crisp sheets in just a moment or two, Boromir decided. The low light should hide the livid marks that Denethor’s farewell had left on Boromir’s skin as well as his shameful arousal. “We’ve long days of travel ahead of us, Faramir. We both need our sleep.”

“Boromir?” Faramir’s tone was cautious as he tested the admonishment to be silent.

Huffing out a sigh, Boromir kept his back to his brother. “Yes, my only love.” His voice sounded hoarse and awkward to his own ears.

Faramir fiddled with his blanket, shaking it out. “One of the kitchen servants said that you used to kiss boys instead of girls.” There was a pause, then a strained chuckle. “Éomer gave him a bloody nose and told him to keep his mind on his work and his mouth shut.”

Their half-brother might be an irritant at times, but he did have his finer moments. “That’s fair good advice most of the time,” Boromir evaded. His chest hurt. He wanted this conversation over and done with, but he couldn’t help but want to drown in the sweet torment of hearing Faramir’s voice daring to speak of such things.

“Boromir,” Faramir pushed. “Did you?”

“I kissed girls. I kissed boys,” the elder prince finally admitted. “I don’t kiss either anymore.” Until a few moments ago, Boromir hadn’t been certain he would ever feel the desire to kiss anyone.

“Why?” The ropes supporting Faramir’s mattress squeaked as he shifted in place on his bed. “Tell me the truth.”

The noise stiffened Boromir’s shaft even more, bringing with it a vision of how the mattress might protest if it had to support the weight of both of them as their bodies twisted together. “Because…” Boromir sought franticly for the right words, for safe words to use. Faramir now needed to be shielded from more than just father. “Because honouring our father, loving my brother, and learning to properly rule this country are the only things I have room in my life for.” A hint of bitterness that he didn’t intend to give voice to tainted Boromir’s tone.

Faramir was silent for a time. His presence seemed to be heavy with thought. When he finally spoke it was in a gentle, supportive whisper. “Don’t ever think that you’re alone, Boromir. I will always be here to help you. I will always love you, no matter what happens.”

“Shouldn’t I be the one saying that, little one? I’m the oldest.” The jest was weak, but the attempt was there. It hurt to hear such an innocent declaration, it suddenly hurt in ways Boromir had never imagined it could just hours ago.

“You have, hundreds of times,” Faramir reminded his brother. “In words and actions. I just thought you should know that the path goes in both directions… and that I’m walking it with you.”

“It’s dark.” The statement hung in the air, an isolated observation. Boromir sighed. A torturous night lay ahead. “Get some sleep, beloved. We’re going to be testing the horses tomorrow. I want to know how fast my stallion can go at need. I’ve never had the chance to push it full out before.”

“Father and Boromir are leaving AGAIN!” Faramir crossed the room he shared with Éomer and dropped onto the bed where both his half-siblings sat. It was the very same quarters that Éomer had moved into upon arrival at the White Tower, but calling the suite ‘a nursery’ seemed absurd now that both boys were fifteen.

“They’re going to Edoras this time,” Éowyn divulged in an unhappy grumble.

“How do you know that?” Faramir questioned. “Boromir only just found out himself.”

“I know things,” the girl announced in a mysterious tone that she’d begun using more and more often over the last few years. Denethor had left building plans lying out in his secret chamber which Éowyn had seen. The Golden Hall, the very heart of the Riddermark, was going to be altered… desecrated… for the sake of Denethor’s precious pet. It infuriated Éowyn, but she hadn’t yet decided on a course of action. There was a solution within a book in Denethor’s hidden room, but the idea of trying to use that particular tool made Éowyn extremely apprehensive. The time was coming fast however. Next year her and Éomer’s homeland would be handed over to that usurper as a birthday gift if something wasn’t done.

“You should ask if you could go along, Éomer,” Faramir prompted, settling against the footboard of the bed. Faramir had been allowed to accompany his father and brother on an excursion to Pelargir just a few weeks ago, so it wasn’t impossible that Éomer would be allowed to do something similar. “It’s a long trip, but it was your home, so it’s understandable that you’d want to visit there. Boromir would support the request. I’ll even ask him for you.”

“And in that you are much mistaken,” Éowyn countered, moving even closer to her brother so she could run a soothing caress over Éomer’s white-blond hair. “Neither the king nor the crown prince ever intends to allow either of us near our home ever again.”

“Don’t.” Éomer murmured. Catching his sister’s wrist, he forced her to simply hold his hand rather than stroke him. “Éowyn is right.” Éomer returned his gaze to his half-brother. “Our father intends to turn Riddermark over to Boromir. The two of them don’t want me anywhere near our homeland. It would be too politically dangerous.” His thumb brushed absently across Éowyn’s skin.

Éowyn wiggled about so she could meet her brother’s eyes and a smile softened her expression. Her face tipped up but Éomer gave the slightest shake of his head in response and looked pointedly at Faramir.

“You may think you understand, Faramir, but our situations… yours and mine… they’re not the same.”

Faramir huffed out a breath. “They’re not so different, except perhaps that our father prefers you to me. I heard him bragging about your skill as a rider to one of his ministers, Éomer. I’ll never be the warrior Boromir is… or the commander you’re going to become.”

“Not everything is about swords and horses,” Éowyn interrupted. “Nor will it always be about who Denethor prefers.” She favoured Faramir with a look of fond indulgence. “Denethor will not live forever, darling. When he is gone, Boromir will be king and there is nothing in this world so dear to Boromir’s heart as you… but more,” she held up a hand to stall out Faramir’s protest. “Boromir doesn’t like Éomer and I, Faramir. He never has.” Her lips pursed. “Myself more than Éomer even. Nor does it make good political sense to keep us so close the capital. You’ve a talent for such things. You must see that.”

“Boromir would never hurt you!” Faramir defended. “He’s a good man. His mind doesn’t work that way. He only thinks of what’s best for Gondor, not what’s best for him. Whatever honours or places you earn for yourselves… Boromir would never revoke them just because we have different mothers.” His mouth pushed out into a pout. “Besides… Boromir does like Éomer. He just doesn’t show his favour the same way as we do.”

“There is nothing Éomer wants except the Riddermark.” Éowyn’s outburst was impossible to contain. “And Gondor’s king has ruled that Rohan will always be the property of Gondor’s heir.”

“Father says that now, but who knows his mind a year from now, ten years from now, or thirty years from now.”

“One year from now Boromir will reach twenty-one and he intends to seat himself in the Golden Hall of OUR family… and it won’t be on the Queen’s throne that time,” Éowyn hissed. “Bad enough he dared my mother’s chair… I will not suffer him stealing my brother’s birth- right.”

“Éowyn stop!” Éomer caught his sister, pulling her close and setting his fingers over her lips. “You have no call to shout at Faramir. He has ever been our dearest friend here in the Tower. Apologize.”

“I know. I am sorry, my darling.” Éowyn blushed then crept across the short distance that separated her from Faramir. She settled right before him on the bed and took his hands into her’s. “Dearest Faramir. I am sorry.” Leaning in, a kiss was brushed across each of his cheeks. “Forgive me, please.”

Faramir’s face pinked and he reached up to tuck a strand of Éowyn’s long tresses behind her ear. “I’m sorry too, Éowyn. I wish that I could promise to set thing right, but… try not to fret over events that have yet to occur. The future isn’t set in stone and no man… or woman… knows for certain what changes tomorrow might bring.”

Smiling, Éowyn rested her forehead against his then tipped her face so she could give Faramir another kiss. This time she pressed it to his lips. “Sweet, kind… wise, Faramir. I love you just as dearly as Éomer. I need you to know that.”

The urge was there to back away, but Faramir’s spine was pressed to the wooden footboard of the bed already. Éowyn leaned in again and this time her tongue teased across his lips during the kiss. Her breath puffed, sweet and warm against his mouth, and Éowyn pulled at his bottom lip.

Giving in to the urge to grab something, Faramir chose the only safe surface. His fingers twisted into the blanket underneath him. A squeak of confusion and distress escaped his throat.

Across from them, Éomer’s breath faltered and he tensed. “Éowyn,” his right arm intervened, circling around his sister and drawing her back against his own chest. Éomer, face buried in Éowyn’s long golden hair right at her ear, exhaled a murmur of sound too soft for Faramir to overhear. “Don’t kiss him, not like that. You’re mine.”

Smiling, Éowyn allowed herself to be hugged possessively close to her brother’s breast once more. “While they’re away… father and Boromir,” she began, “While they’re away we should have our own adventure. We could see how far we could climb up Mindolluin. It’s not so far that we couldn’t be back quick as the wind should the need arise.”

Faramir looked from Éowyn’s face to Éomer’s, and back again. It might be a good idea to get the pair of them away from court and all the surrounding eyes and ears that filled the Tower. Something strange was going on between them and Faramir wanted to understand. “We should. We shall,” he agreed. “The day after father and Boromir leave.”

“Go to your brother, Faramir,” Éomer suggested, a little impatiently. “Best you take advantage of what time you have with him. Éowyn and I will still be waiting once he’s gone.”

Nodding thoughtfully, Faramir climbed off the bed and retreated to the door. “I’ll see you a dinner then?” Still frowning, Faramir let himself out of their bedroom.

There were faster ways to travel, but this time comfort was more important than speed to Denethor. The trip was similar to the time Denethor had gone to Edoras to collect a wife, and yet it was completely different. Yes, they travelled with wagons and a large company, but this time there were no women. Soldiers and craftsmen accompanied Denethor and his son. Nor were they travelling from the gloom of one burial to discover death at the other end. This time the king was riding into Rohan to give instructions on the rebuilding of a palace so it was suitable for his beloved Boromir to learn the art of ruling a country. Denethor was going to construct a gift worthy of his young lover.

Smiling, Denethor ran his hand down the line of Boromir’s bare spine. The walls of the tent and full darkness protected them from discovery. That the king and the prince shared a shelter also made things simpler for the men responsible for erecting and dismantling the camp each day. The situation was ideal for both convenience and discretion.

“Are you awake, my love?” Denethor brushed away the blanket covering the curve of Boromir’s bottom and traced into the slight hollow between the cheeks. Reclining, Denethor kissed a shoulder, then nuzzled at Boromir’s ear. His index finger eased deeper into the cleft and rested against the entrance to Boromir’s core.

A shiver betrayed the fact Boromir was awake and aware of the contact. “I have to ride tomorrow, my lord.” Boromir would never dare to refuse Denethor’s advances, but a carefully worded statement might not offend the king. Boromir’s breath hissed out as a fingertip pierced him.

“I can be gentle,” Denethor whispered. “A little oil will ease the path. Not too much though. I like the way your flesh clings to mine. I like how snug you are. It reminds me that I’m the only one.” His finger twisted, attempting to push further in without much success.

“My mouth…” Boromir counter-offered, rolling carefully to escape the invasive touch, and then moving so he was facing Denethor. “I can… please you with my mouth.” Rather than trying to argue it out, Boromir began pressing kisses on the king. That was safer than words in more than one way. Denethor’s moods were unpredictable. There were times when the sound of Boromir using rough language excited the king, but other times it infuriated Denethor that his seemingly innocent lover knew such profanities.

“Your face is rough,” Denethor complained, catching at his son’s chin. Fingers explored, testing skin. “You need to shave more often.”

“Yes, my lord. I will.” Persisting, Boromir pulled free to scatter open-mouthed kisses down Denethor’s throat and chest.

Snatching at lengthy hair, Denethor dragged Boromir’s face up yet again. “My boy is almost a man,” Denethor mused. His grip tightened painfully. “First I will put Meduseld in order for you, and then I will have to find you a wife.”

Boromir froze.

“Not this year, next year,” Denethor continued to study Boromir. “Once you are installed at Edoras you will have to marry. There is a girl in Ethring I am considering for you, and another in Linhir.”

Not knowing how to respond, Boromir continued to hold himself still and quiet.

“Not that I am eager to share you. It tears at my heart that another’s hands will feel your cherished skin… that another person will taste your sweet lips.” Denethor’s thumb rubbed. “But the line must continue. You will need a son.” Boromir was pulled into a searching kiss. “One more year,” Denethor murmured against his lover’s mouth. “One more year then I must share you. You’ll depart my company..” Their cheeks brushed against each other. “However will I replace you, my precious jewel?”

“Not Faramir.” Boromir’s voice was tainted by terror. “You promised me. You swore. Not Faramir.”

The time between Denethor caressing him and slapping Boromir across the face was a mere instant. “Not that I approve of your presumption…” Denethor seized his son and pulled Boromir back into a tender embrace that completely contrasted with his forceful touch. “… but I am considering Éowyn for my bed, not Faramir. She’s such a pretty thing.” Denethor pushed at Boromir’s shoulders. “Enough talking. Suckle me, my jewel.”

Standing on a ledge, Éowyn, Éomer and Faramir, looked out over the patchwork landscape far below them.

“We don’t have much more time,” Éomer observed. “It’s all going to change on Boromir’s birthday next year.” His left arm was wrapped possessively around Éowyn’s shoulders and his expression was solemn. “We’ll both be sixteen next year, Faramir. There’s so much we have sort out before next year. There’s still so much I wanted us to learn.”

“It’s not that serious,” Faramir argued in a gloomy tone. “Not for us. It’s just Boromir’s life that’s going to change.” His gaze drifted north-west, as if searching out Boromir and Edoras.

“I think you’re mistaken.” Éomer frowned even more severely. “Melador hinted to me that I need to be ready for the field by this time next year. He said I need to be able to properly manage a company by then.”

Faramir blinked. “He hasn’t said anything like that to me.”

“Rumour has it, father intends to send you west… and I’m for Ithilien.”

“Where did you hear that?” Faramir’s own brow furrowed and his attention focused back on his companions.

“Around,” Éomer evaded. He had picked up some bits by ease-dropping, other information from soldiers in the tower, and Éowyn had come up with a few important scraps of news as well, although she hadn’t divulged her source. “It doesn’t matter how I heard about it. What matters is that by this time next year the three of us will likely be scattered. We’re not ready, Faramir. There are so many things we should to do before then.”

Éowyn shivered and clung tighter to her brother’s arm. “It frightens me, Faramir.” She turned wide blue eyes his way. “Being alone in the Tower… or worse.” She whispered out the next words. “What if he wants me to get married?”

“You’re only fourteen!”

“Your mother was fifteen when our father married her,” Éowyn reminded Faramir.

A sigh gusted out of Faramir. “It’s not like we can do anything about any of that.”

“Oh Faramir.” Éowyn moved, pulling Éomer with her until she could hold both of the boys’ arms at the same time. “We don’t mean to upset you. We just…” Her head shook, causing her sun-lit gold hair to flow about her shoulders.

Éomer turned, gusting out a deep breath. With a slow, precise move he closed them into a circle where they all faced each other. “We love you, Faramir.” Éomer’s breath against his ear made Faramir shiver. “That’s what we wanted to get across. We just want you to understand that… now… while we’re still all together.”

Éowyn tilted her head to one side to increase her contact with Faramir. If her tentative plans came to fruition, then Faramir’s goodwill was going to matter a great deal. “Dearest Faramir.” She dared a kiss to his cheek.

On his side, Éomer’s one hand cupped the back of Faramir’s head. His fingers caressed the skin at Faramir’s nape, in a strangely purposeful action, as if he were testing the sensation. “Changes are coming,” he repeated needlessly, just to break the silence. “Sometimes the enormity of what lays before us frightens me, but so long as we have each other…” A look of determination flashed across Éomer’s face. “So long as I have Éowyn… and you…” His lips pursed briefly and he moved to brush a kiss across Faramir’s cheek. “We are so much more together than we are alone.”

Weary beyond belief at all the troubles looming on the horizon; Faramir let himself sag into the comfort his half-siblings were offering. Next to Boromir, Éomer and Éowyn were the dearest people he had in the world. He wanted to tell them that everything was going to be all right and they didn’t need to worry, but Faramir suspected that would be a lie. Sighing, Faramir settled for wrapping his arms around them both and holding on tight.

Each of them had spent their share of time standing in front of Denethor’s desk in his office. It was odd, however, for all four of Denethor’s offspring to have been summoned at the same time.

Denethor sat aside the parchment that he had been studying and looked up at his children with a considering frown on his face. They stood in a silent line, eldest to youngest, awaiting their father’s words. Boromir was tight to Faramir’s side, Faramir’s shoulder touched Éomer’s, and Éomer was holding his sister’s hand. He hadn’t expected all of them to draw so closely together. The united front they were presenting to him was slightly disturbing. “Tasks await all of you over the next few weeks,” he began. “At the end of Boromir’s birthday celebrations three of you will be departing Minas Tirith. Boromir will be leaving for Edoras, as everyone is aware.” Denethor looked at his oldest for several long moments. His expression was solemn. Dragging his eyes off Boromir to look at the next in line seemed a great chore. “Faramir, you will be taking a company to Ethring to collect a young lady and bring her here, to the Tower.”

Faramir started to question the order but a glare from Denethor strangled off the words before they formed.

“Éomer will be leaving for South Ithilien with a different company two days after Boromir departs,” Denethor continued on in a dull monotone. “Éowyn will be staying here with me.” His gaze ran down the tight line and back again. “Éowyn and I will escort the young lady Faramir is fetching to Edoras once I have confirmed that she is a worthy bride for Boromir.” He smiled thinly at this only daughter. “I am sure that you will be delighted at the opportunity to visit your childhood home once more, Éowyn.”

“I want to go to Ithilien with my brother,” Éowyn protested.

“Nonsense!” Denethor dismissed the demand. “A girl does not belong in the field. Éomer is going out to learn wood-craft and the ways of a soldier, not to play nursemaid.”

“Then let me go with Faramir,” Éowyn persisted. “I will be a companion for this girl he is bringing back.”

“You will remain in Minas Tirith with me,” Denethor flatly refused her. “With all my sons gone I will require your companionship.”

Éowyn went silent. Her gaze shot to Boromir then back to their father. A look of absolute horror marked her pretty face. Denethor was certain that he’d been discreet enough with Boromir and he knew that Boromir had never spoken of their relationship, to his siblings least of all, but it appeared as if Éowyn might know somehow exactly what was going to be expected of her upon Boromir’s departure.

“My lord father.”

Boromir’s tone was even more humble than was usual, which raised suspicions in Denethor instantly. “What is it, Boromir?”

“Once you have inspected the young lady from Ethring, could Faramir continue to escort her? Could Faramir bring her to me in Edoras? Please, my lord.”

“Am I to understand that you would rather host Faramir at Edoras than your father?” The question was posed in an arch tone.

“No, my lord. Never.” Boromir attempted to appease his father. He flinched, almost as if he was about to drop to his knees then aborted the movement at the last instant. “I merely thought that your lordship would have more important things to concern himself with. I would be honoured to have you in the Golden Hall. It is after all, your’s. I realize that my residence there is only occurring at your pleasure.”

Denethor’s hand waved. “Calm yourself, my son. Perhaps you have a point. I’m sending you there to test your skills. Having me show up to peer over your shoulder so soon does suggest a lack of confidence. I told you, Rohan is yours as soon as you take up residence. It will remain yours until that distant day that I am gone and you hand it over to your eldest son on his twenty-first birthday. I should let you become accustomed to your new responsibilities… and the bride I’m sending you… before I come and unsettle you with my attentions.” Denethor leaned back in his chair. “Very well. Faramir may escort the young lady to you. He may stay two weeks to see that she is settled in, and then I will expect him to return to the White City.”

The king’s attention now drifted, taking in the state of his other three children. Faramir seemed strangely distressed, something Denethor didn’t expect. Considering how Faramir and Boromir were so close, the boy should be delighted that he was going to be allowed to join his brother in Rohan even if their time together was limited. Éomer was attempting to offer up a blank expression but Denethor could see the resentment that was boiling in the young man’s eyes.

Éowyn’s mood was the most difficult to pinpoint. Anger, fear, or sadness would make sense, but all Denethor was seeing in his daughter was grim resolve. It was as if Éowyn had already settled on a response to the situation and was charting a course inside her own head. Picking apart his youngest child was going to be much more complicated that he had assumed if this response was typical of the girl. It was going to prove a wonderful distraction after losing his precious Boromir.

Rising to his feet, Denethor smiled coldly at his assembled offspring. “You have been raised amid comfort and privilege. You have never… and will never… want for the necessities of life, but there is a price to pay for all you have. Faramir and Éomer must take up the tasks of travelling through the rest of our lands now that Boromir’s concentration will be fixed on the province of Rohan.”

The urge to argue was clear on both Éomer’s and Faramir’s faces. In eerie coincidence Boromir and Éowyn simultaneously took hold of their full-sibling’s arm as if to restrain the outbursts. Denethor understood Boromir’s behaviour but now it became clear that there was more to Éowyn than the king had expected.

“You are all excused.” Denethor dismissed them with a frown. “I will speak to each of you about the details of your assignments over the next few days.” Watching for it, Denethor saw the formal chill in each of their bows. Their separation was coming none too soon, Denethor decided. He had held on too long, not wanting to part with Boromir. Once the four of them were away from each other, he would have to make a concerted effort to make certain that they didn’t see one another for longer than a day or two over the next several years. That should help sever the exasperatingly strong ties between them.

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Carla Jane All Carla Jane’s fiction: http://disanddatbycj.com/ficish/homepage.htm


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