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After a Lifetime (NC-17) Print

Written by December

07 January 2012 | 46599 words | Work in Progress

[ all pages ]

Many thanks to Alcardilme for the beta.
I would like to dedicate this chapter to Eora.

Chapter 6. Wise Wives

‘Love is no respecter of age or practicality
Neither morality: unabashed
She enters where she will
unheeding that her immortal fires
Burn up human hearts…’

Phillip Pulfrey

When they finally fell asleep the night was already nearly over.

A pale November dawn was breaking when Faramir awoke. He could not have slept for more than a couple of hours, yet he felt surprisingly rested and peaceful. Everything seemed to have finally fallen into place.

There was no shame in him regarding his desire for Boromir, nor for the somewhat peculiar way this desire had to be quenched – and never had been, for now he knew that what he had once taken for shame had only been fear. Fear of Boromir rejecting him, fear of the space this force would take up in their lives if they let it loose, and simply fear of something so unexpected, unprecedented, something so entirely not fitting into his simple familiar model of the world. But no shame, for what was there to be ashamed of? For, long after the frenzied compulsive avidity of their young hale bodies had been appeased, they had kept going, driven by a deeper and far more complex need than that bred of mere lust.

Faramir smiled to himself sleepily: he need not have feared. Everything fit in, and, if anything, this turn of events was only to be expected. This flame may have burned scorchingly in his loins, but in truth it was first born in his heart, for this desire was fruit not of lust, but of love – and it was but one facet of love. And it now seemed only logical to Faramir that once he was old enough to want and be wanted, their love should expand and transform to integrate this yearning.

He himself had as though extended, as though there was physically more of him now. And so it was, for his life did not include only just himself anymore. Faramir had always viewed the two of them as more or less a part of one another, yet now the connection was of some organic, anatomical sort. As two glasses of water, once poured into a single bowl cannot be separated to their previous entities, so Boromir could not be taken out of him after the night that had passed.

And he knew the fear such unity had first engendered in him was indeed ungrounded, for now that they were so much one of the other, he needed not fear losing Boromir, for Boromir could never be lost to him, much as he could never lose the ability to breathe and still go on living. Boromir was the very basis of his existence, and without him Faramir would not be Faramir, he would simply fall apart and cease to be, and what would anything matter then?

It all made perfect sense. Everything made perfect sense.

But then he awoke enough to realise he was alone in the bed and, feeling faintly alarmed, looked over his shoulder and saw his brother standing motionless at the window, leaning heavily on the sill, gazing out. The man was wearing only the simple white nightgown which he never got to put on the night before. Even from the back he looked tense and burdened. Faramir’s high spirits evaporated.

The boy sat up – and flinched, for the movement caused him a sharp pang in his backside that resonated dully through all his nether regions. He had not been aware of it while he was lying still, but it turned out he was extremely sore and sensitive, almost as though he had been recently skinned to the raw flesh on the inside. And no wonder. He could not tell with certainty how many times they had made love last night. He had lost count somewhere after number four or five: he could not have counted the fingers on his own hand by then. Admittedly, it had not been so painful after the first time, and their passion had acquired some tenderness and grown almost languid towards the end of the night, and Boromir had started kissing him the way he had first kissed him: slowly and artfully… But still…

Goodness, I must be like a newlywed lady on the morning after. Or more like someone who has just given birth… Faramir thought grimly and winced again. He would not be much surprised if it turned out his buttocks and upper thighs were bruised, what with all the countless times Boromir’s hips had slammed against them… This reaction of his flesh came as a reminder they had done something unnatural after all, using their bodies not the way they had been intended, and he did not want anything to make him entertain such notions.

And yet… He thought about it again and blessed the pain, for otherwise he would not have believed the night had been real. Not even the fact he had woken up naked in his brother’s bed, said bed being in complete and utter disarray, the whole room filled with the already staling smell of sex, his very skin feeling far from clean in a rather peculiar way, his memory filled with such unbelievable impressions – none of it would have convinced him. But this pain, this echo of that divine-like presence inside him, of the love his brother had pushed into him again and again… Even if it were to never happen again, even if Boromir were to look at him now, shake his head and say ‘look, let’s just forget about it’ – he would still have the knowledge, forever. And if indeed it were never to be again, then Faramir would have chosen to keep the pain, if only he could will his body to never heal this sweetest of wounds.

He heaved a silent sigh and studied the motionless figure by the window for a little longer, trying to read him. Then, moving gingerly, he fetched his tunic and pulled it on.

At last he came apprehensively to Boromir’s side.

Slowly the older brother drew himself up and turned his gaze to Faramir. And the boy was reassured by what he saw in Boromir’s drawn face. There was no angst or regret, only sadness and such weariness that Boromir almost seemed old – but also things more pleasant and hopeful.

Boromir was indeed filled with an unfamiliar sensation of all-encompassing tenderness as he looked into Faramir’s large clear eyes, radiant, wary and grave all at once – and far too experienced for his fifteen years. It pierced the young man to see his little brother’s face lit with that special afterglow, lips slightly swollen from hours of kissing, the outline of his mouth as though smudged. Boys should not look like this.

Last night, it had never occurred to him to apologise for all the pain he had caused Faramir in those dark hours full of lawless pleasure. Had not Faramir’s own body ultimately rewarded the boy for each session of ache he endured? Had Faramir not wanted it, had he not asked for it, with words, with his eyes, with his hips? But now Boromir would have apologised – not for the pain, but for the experience he had given him, for the experience that no doubt had changed all of him

No, boys should not look like this.

But Faramir was not really a boy anymore, not the innocent child he had been mere two months ago. He had come to manhood since: had tasted both deathly peril and love. And love it was that filled all his face as he gazed seriously at Boromir: not blind infantile adoration, but a feeling true and clear – unabashed, unconcealed, undaunted love.

And the older brother knew then that indeed things had changed irreversibly.

Boromir smiled at him sadly and, reaching his arm around Faramir’s shoulders, pulled him closer. So Faramir leant against his side and rested his head on his brother’s chest. They stood thua for a while, and Faramir was lulled by the steady rhythm of Boromir’s heartbeat. His brother’s reassuring sturdiness, his warmth, his scent enveloped Faramir, and it seemed that everything could somehow be all right. It was not a child’s naive habitual belief that things would somehow turn out for the best – no, for being held like this did not make him feel or think like a child. Although his brother was taller and broader than him, and both those qualities were profoundly comforting, Faramir did not seem to himself small and vulnerable by comparison. On the contrary, Boromir’s masculinity served only to bring out the boy’s own confidence and strength, making him feel mature and capable, making him feel more of a man himself. And thus he knew that indeed it was right that they should be like this with each other, that their love was of a healthy and beneficial nature, for it did not change or bend either of them, but only made each more of himself, better and truer.

But eventually Boromir sighed and spoke heavily, “So it has come to this after all, huh,” and there was if only a hint of bitter, rueful wonder in his voice.

Faramir said nothing but only pressed himself harder into his brother’s embrace.

After a pause even heavier than his previous words, Boromir went on, “I remember I’ve told you once not to brood over things overmuch. And look at me now! I can’t stop thinking… How are we going to live with all this…?”

Faramir dreaded to ask it, but he saw no way around. “So you think what we did is wrong?”

Boromir snorted softly. “Wrong? Of course it is!” But his voice lacked conviction somehow, and he paused and licked his lips. “And yet… well… I mean…” he frowned and took a deep breath, squinting at some unseen point in the distance. “A man of worth does not share his bed with kin or other men,” he pronounced, “ isn’t this what we’ve been taught? And now I’ve done both at once,” he grinned ironically. “Isn’t it doubly wrong then? Yet it does not seem so – and this is what baffles me so. Had it been a girl from the family, there would’ve been no question, of course… And likewise for sleeping with one of my men. But you are neither – miraculously, you slip through the rules. And I don’t feel bad about what we’ve done. Can something I desire so awfully much truly be so wrong? Or has desire blinded me so that I’ve lost all sense of direction? In my mind I know it was… it was not right, not normal, and yet I do not feel it… In fact, I believe I have never felt it.”

“That is because you love me,” Faramir said quietly.

Boromir looked at him in wonder. To him the logical link Faramir-love was a well familiar one. But like this?

“That makes sense all right,” he replied at length. “But can… can this feeling justify it all?”

“It will have to.”

And next came the task of making it work in practice, daily, as of today, without rehearsal, without a single misstep, for there would be no second chance.

The brothers did not yet dare show up in public together, lest they should prove unable to maintain the semblance of a proper fraternal relationship, if only through holding each other’s gazes a second too long; and thus they arranged to spend the day apart. This particular time it was no difficulty, since Faramir had only just recovered from his wounds and was by no means expected to return to the full warrior’s routine at once.

And Faramir, much as he did miss the exercise, was glad for the excuse. In general he very much enjoyed his practice – far more so than the actual fighting, in fact. He liked the sensation of strength and precision of his own movement, liked to feel his body working against resistance, liked the safe snug weight of the mail, the rhythmic game of swordplay, the residual vibration after the arrow had been shot, the long weight of the lance in his hand, liked how all of it cleared his mind and as though put more breath into his body, giving him the satisfaction of well-done work. His gear had been brought back to the their rooms, and was all cleaned and neatly stored in the antechamber, his sword polished and sheathed, his bow unstrung and laid down to rest, all waiting for their master’s hands.

Yet the state of his lower body was bound to turn any activity from fencing to riding into sheer torture. Besides, on a day like this, if he could not spend it with Boromir, he craved no other company but only solitude. He wanted all to be quiet and unhurried, so that nothing would disturb him and divert his thought from the one thing he wanted to dwell on and bask in, so that no impressions would crowd on his new secret happiness.

Admittedly, he could not help thinking that soon time would come when they would have to be together before their men, before the people in court, before Father… Yet for the moment they could be at ease, and he wanted the day to pass to his best liking.

Yes, and as he was not required to attend breakfast that morning, Faramir took his meal in the palace kitchens, as he sometimes liked to do.

He felt strange walking down the cool shady corridors. To the eyes of those passing him by he knew he was the same as ever: same face, same hair, same clothes, same gait – although a couple of times he thought that eyes had lingered on him longer than usual. But he was completely different now, utterly and absolutely changed! The boy from yesterday had been but a blueprint for the one who lived today. In the course of some several hours he had acquired such knowledge… Knowledge that had changed the picture of the world he had long carried in his mind, had changed the feel of the world, its texture and inner logic. It was as though he had walked out into the street one ordinary day, raised his face and thought: but what is that blazing thing up high in the blue yonder? How is it I have never noticed it before?

Faramir’s gaze fell on a servant carrying a tray of freshly baked buns, a man in his twenties, dressed all in brown and beige – then on a plump maid chattering with a stately middle-aged wife, both laughing. Did they each in their own way know this passion too, a passion that with its intensity rendered everything else so bland and irrelevant? All those around him, did they carry this secret knowledge in themselves as well? Was there a side of them only one other person got to see, the side without which life was nothing but a mockery of life, but a bleak shallow parody?

The boy felt his lips curving into a smile, as though he were playing pretend and struggling not to ruin the act. He had been let on to a secret that everyone knew full well and that everyone pretended they were not aware even existed. It seemed to him any minute now one of the people around would momentarily lift the mask and wink at him: I know that now you know too. Congratulations and welcome to life.

He was ravenous, and the cook, a vivacious aged matron who always smelled of butter and sugar, after putting before him yet another plate of steaming nutritious food, patted him on the head affectionately. Returning to the stoves, she gave the other women, her assistants, a meaningful look and said teasingly, “Dear me, isn’t our young warrior hungry today! If I didn’t know Lord Faramir was just out of the infirmary, I’d’ve thought he’d been up all night, wielding his sword left and right.”

“Or back and forth, perhaps,” said one of the others unassumingly. They all giggled merrily, and Faramir felt his ears burn. His sword? Of course. That was exactly what they meant.

It was only a gentle tease, and a perfectly good-natured one at that, and nobody asked him any embarrassing questions, yet still he grew wary and uncomfortable, for even such jokes were not without a grain of truth.

So after finishing his meal, Faramir did not go to the library as he had initially planned to, his usual interest in literature having inexplicably returned all of a sudden, but headed back to their chambers before the servants’ daily visit.

Young men in general are hardly over-disposed to domestic orderliness, and young men of high nobility, for whom it is a fundamental law of nature that everything will be picked up and cleaned after them, are not disposed to it at all. One thing to do one’s round of duty washing the plates when on a military mission – another to make one’s own bed when at home… Ah, he would have to learn.

Crossing his arms, the boy drummed the fingers of one hand on the opposite arm as he surveyed the battlefield. A ballade of great eloquence could be wrought to relate the heroic deeds of outstanding prowess achieved here just hours ago.

He grinned. Nobody ever put the practicalities into the ballads.

After opening the window to get the heavy tell-tale air out of the chamber, Faramir rumpled up his unslept bed and straightened Boromir’s up a bit, for it, on the contrary, had been in too much of a disarray.

It was then he saw the blood. Right there on the crisp white of the sheets. Not too much, not like someone had been murdered and dismembered, but exactly like someone had entered a new stage of life on this bed. He knew well enough what it was supposed to look like, thanks to the rather ghastly custom of Gondorian families to publicly air their linens on the morning after a wedding – so that everyone could see just how pure the bride had been.

Faramir nearly groaned aloud. Great. Just great – splendid.

No use trying to make the room look like nothing had taken place at all.

Then he snorted softly, wondering what explanation the maids were going to come up with. Both brothers had been seen going to their chambers in the evening, and then leaving early in the morning, so, most probably, they had both been there when the sheets were marked crimson. What – had Boromir invited over a curious gullible lass and entertained himself for the benefit of his little brother’s education? Or had they both had a go? Or, perhaps, there had been two girls, and the bed had been creaking to two different rhythms at once?

Faramir pursed his lips. All right, let them suspect whatever strikes their fancy – so long as they do not suspect correctly.

Then he was visited by an unpleasant guess. If there was blood on the linens, his blood on the linens… Not even bothering to unlace, Faramir yanked his breeches down.

Sucking his teeth, the boy rolled his eyes – this was really too much, it was not even cute anymore. And he had been walking around like this for at least an hour already… Thank heavens above, he had a long dark tunic on top.

Now he would have to change, and wash his clothes and… well, think of a method to prevent his leggings from staining anew. How horribly romantic… Maybe some other people’s first experience of love was all about scarlet roses, moonlight and holding hands – his experience, apparently, was about things of an entirely different sort. But really, he had nobody to be angry with but himself. No one had forced him into this, to say the least…

But no, of course he was not angry or regretful, not even particularly bitter. It was merely fear causing him annoyance, fear that managing this affair was turning out far more complicated than either of them would have ever fathomed, fear that they could give themselves away so easily, so foolishly… Careful, they would have to learn to be careful. Unfair as it might feel, this was the way it was, the way it had to be, and resenting it would only make things worse.

Once before, Faramir had already told himself to grow up and be mature and sensible about things. Now the time to do so had come in earnest.

He nodded to himself grimly and returned to the task at hand with renewed resolve.

His brother’s shirt, the one on which Faramir had spilt his pleasure, had been treacherously concealed by the folds of the dislodged blanket, and was still on the floor. The boy picked it up and, after studying the dried-up mark, sighed wearily: this won’t do at all. There was nothing wrong with having such spots on the linens: this was a men’s bedroom, after all – but on the chest of one’s tunic…? Perhaps he was getting paranoid – but better that than the opposite.

Faramir took the garment to the bathroom and carefully rubbed the blot off without getting the whole thing too wet.

He found the empty little bottle of dark glass, its lavender perfume still lingering on the sheets and his own skin – and all the other bottles as well. The small vessel from the Wards had lasted only the first time, and they had ransacked the bath quarters afterwards, using up whatever salves and lotions that seemed remotely suitable for the task. He brought it all back to the bathroom where such objects would look much less out of place than under Boromir’s pillows and bed.

When he was satisfied with the state of the room, Faramir smiled to himself softly and headed for the library at last.

However, as he stepped out into the main corridor and closed their chambers’ door behind himself, another idea visited him, and, as his gaze fell on the second door to his right, he knew he would delay his date with the books for a little longer still.

The place he entered now seemed to be filled with such sad, tangible silence that Faramir caught himself taking care to walk quietly, even holding his breath.

Her quarters had many rooms, and as he walked through, Faramir saw that not one of them looked abandoned or unkempt. The air was clean and fresh, showing the rooms were regularly aired, and everything looked in perfect order, washed, dusted and polished. If anything, the order was a little too perfect for a place where a real person lived. But, of course, it had been quite a while since anyone actually had.

Everything seemed much smaller and plainer than he remembered it, and no wonder, for he had been so much smaller when last coming here, and still in that age when the grown-up world seems mysterious and wondrous. It was almost ten years now, and in these ten years he had not come here once. He had often thought of her, yet had not come.

Slowly Faramir entered the drawing room.

A large rectangle of light from the tall window fell on a round table of black-wood, encrusted with ivory and mother-of-pearl. Two chairs opposite each other stood at the table where everything was arranged for tea for two. As Faramir came closer, he saw the cups were empty and gleaming clean, yet he felt certain they were used on a regular basis.

There was also a porcelain vase full of the last flowers of autumn, the petals white with a gentle greenish tinge. They were slightly limp, but only just slightly, and Faramir knew they could not have been brought here more than three days ago. They had a melancholy look about them, one of loneliness without hope.

Over the back of one of the chairs was neatly draped an elegant shawl of dark-blue, hemmed with stars embroidered in silver-thread and set with river-pearls.

Her shawl.

It was one of those things that rise up from the depths of one’s memory only when one sees them. In his thoughts about his mother, this shawl had never come forth, but now that his eyes fell upon it, Faramir knew she had worn it all the time, and in his mind it became forever connected to her image.

Very carefully he picked it up and brought it to his face. The fabric was soft and cool, and smelled of dust and also, very faintly, of dried rose-petals. It smelled of the past, of the past long gone but not forgotten.

The boy smiled sadly and put it back the way it had been, arranging it over the chair as though covering a woman’s shoulders with it.

He then walked around the table to the other chair and sat down. He cradled the empty teacup in his palms, and gazed into it thoughtfully. Then he sighed and raised his eyes, looking at the seat opposite him.

So he comes here to talk to you.

The boy could not remember Father ever coming here to drink tea while she had been around. Perhaps he did, only not in the children’s presence, yet still Faramir felt certain it was a habit that had formed only after her departure. And the private tenderness with which everything was arranged to her liking…

This tenderness was piercing. The flowers – Father did not like flowers, especially ones like these, with many fleshy petals; the cushions on the chairs, making the seat too soft and cosy; the tea-set – the cups too small and fragile to be comfortably held by a man’s hands. Faramir studied the one he was cradling, so delicately made. On the porcelain so thin it appeared bluish to the light there was painted a pond, and in it a lone silver swan, its neck bent in an elegant arch, the beak a tiny dot of black, wings folded back, all a picture of grace and serenity. This was her set, one she must have brought over from home when she came to Minas Tirith, one she must have liked above all.

Faramir nodded to himself, as though what he saw explained something to him. And in a way it did, although what he had understood evoked consequent questions, ones his knowledge was insufficient to answer. He could sense not only the desolation and sorrow, but also guilt and burdened, uneasy weariness…

The boy grinned to himself and looked up again.

Father takes his secrets to you, and it is you he tells of what plagues him, not us.

Well, and now I too have secrets that I come to share with you.

He had just turned five, and it was a cold dark night in late autumn. He had awoken close to midnight, when the fire in the hearth had already died down and the room was entirely black. Boromir was away at the Wards, again – with a broken collarbone, or a forearm, or some other part of himself. Boromir had always had plenty of spirit – often too much of it, in fact, especially when coupled with lack of skill, which of course never stopped him from climbing trees too slender or trying to tame horses too proud.

Quietly the boy exited their chambers, heading for her quarters nearby. His small bare feet were hardly making a sound. The door was open, and just as quietly he treaded in.

She never reprimanded him for coming over like this – no, this was not his first visit.

But as he stepped over the threshold to her bedroom, he stopped, abruptly forgetting his earlier fears, for he heard that she herself was in distress.

She was in bed, sobbing – with strange whimpering sobs, shallow and frequent. He had never heard anyone weep like this, and the sound of it instantly filled him with uncomprehending dread.

“Mother?” he called in a small voice, but dared not walk on, grasping the doorframe for reassurance instead. “Mother, why are you crying?”

She fell silent at once, yet it was not she who answered him.

“Faramir, get back to your room this very instant,” his father’s voice, faintly breathless, ordered flatly.

Faramir’s breath caught in his throat. Suddenly he was not only frightened, but strangely ashamed. And worst of all, his father’s voice had come from the same place as hers, and Faramir knew it was he who was the cause of Mother’s tears.

But the boy did as he was told and returned to his bed, where he lay curled up till the morning came, not a drop of sleep in his eyes. Something was wrong, he knew something was terribly wrong between them.

Later the following day, when Mother had taken him to her chambers to play after his training and lessons, he had finally worked up the courage to ask her.

“Mother, why was Father hurting you?”

He could not now recall her face, nor the sound of her voice, yet her words his memory had preserved.

“He was not, dear. Father loves me.”

“But… but I heard you crying!”

“I was crying because I was happy.”

“You did not sound happy…”

“Perhaps not – to you. But you are too young to understand this. Simply trust me that it is perfectly all right, and all men express their love in this way.”

He had gone pale. “I shall never!” he assured her with passion. “I shall never make a lady cry like this.”

She had laughed softly. “You are not meant to want to just yet. But in due time you shall. My little one, please don’t dwell on this, you do not know what you are talking about. And one more thing, love,” she added after a pause, “Father said to tell you he does not want you coming to my bedroom anymore.”

Faramir had obeyed. At that age it had not yet occurred to him he actually could disobey.

And soon enough, had he even chosen to go against his father’s will, there would have been no one for him to come to.

Until he had left childhood firmly behind, and his irrational fears with it, it had been a veritable trial for him. When his brother slept in the same room, there was never a problem, yet Faramir had never learnt to deal with the darkness when on his own, to talk himself out of fearing it, or to grow used to it and stop noticing it – but he had trained himself to put up with it, to endure its exhaustive weight, its sinister visions and sounds. And he prided himself that each and every time he had to spend a night without his brother he resisted the temptation to make it easy for himself, to light just one tiny flame. The candle was ever on his bedside table, within arm’s reach. It would be so easy, so quick, no one would know, no one would scorn him. And yet he knew that what comfort he would find in chasing out the mischievous shadows would be completely ruined by his own conscience, for he would stop respecting himself for such a weakness of character.

He suspected that such unreasonable stubbornness on his behalf was in truth Boromir’s fault. It had been, and in part still was one of Boromir’s favourite entertainments to build his little brother’s character.

Faramir loved sweets, always had. And Boromir knew it.

Often when they were given dessert, one big portion for them to share, Boromir would beam at him and say, “I dare you not to have any.”

Faramir would sigh hopelessly and always ask the same pointless question, “Why?”

The older boy would beam even broader and shrug, “Just because.” It was not that he wanted to have all the dessert, which he in fact did not. No, it was precisely ‘just because.’ And he would eat it slowly, piece by piece, pointedly savouring each bite, and Faramir would watch, his mouth watering. At some point, when Boromir had had his full and it was no longer fun for him, he would shrug again and push the dish towards his little brother, “Here, you can have it, I don’t want any more.”

But Faramir would avert his face and say quietly, “No.”

Boromir would raise his brows, “But you want it.”

Faramir would look at him sulkily and repeat, “No.” And in a way, it was true. His first ‘no’ was always said mostly out of sheer stubbornness, but once it had been voiced, the second ‘no’ came in earnest. He knew he would not enjoy the prize if it was to be had in such circumstances.

Boromir would puff his cheeks in exasperation. “Look, this is stupid. I don’t want it either.” But he would not get up, for how could he, the heir of Gondor, go back on his own prank?

And thus they would sit opposite each other in gloomy silence, Boromir laboriously stuffing the rest of the generous serving into his mouth, glaring at his brother, Faramir louring back.

When the plate was empty, Boromir would shake his head incredulously. “You know, I just marvel at you.”

But Faramir knew that, in truth, Boromir respected him for acting like this, and would have been gravely disappointed had Faramir accepted his offering. The same way he would have been disappointed if he came to know that Faramir lit a candle to ward off the darkness. Giving in to fear was weakness, and giving in to a fear childish and ungrounded was weakness doubled.

Faramir had never told him about it at all.

He had told Father, though. It had slipped out during a talk on some entirely unrelated topic, the subject coming to the tip of Faramir’s tongue by a play of association.

Denethor had looked at him keenly, tilting his head to the side a little. “Why?” he had asked softly, although not gently. “What is there to frighten you in the absence of light in your own bedroom? A soldier out on a foray fears his enemy may be using the night as disguise, but do you not know you are safe within the city walls, that your body is out of reach of any vile beast or Man?”

Faramir had lowered his eyes, blushing, and replied quietly, “Yes, of course. I do not know, Father. This is silly, but… I start imagining I see faces watching me from the darkness, only I cannot see properly, for it obscures the features from my eyes, and that is the worst, that I do not know exactly how they look. It makes me feel… defenceless. And because I cannot see, I start imagining, and it only gets worse…”

His father’s strange response had brought him little comfort. “Ah, so you think it would comfort you if you knew the appearance of that which lurks in the shadows?”

Faramir had frowned in uneasy puzzlement. “Well, I suppose so.”

Denethor’s thin lips had curved into an ironic grin. “It would not,” he said flatly. “For the reality, my son, oft comes to be a dozen times more horrendous than what horrors your own mind could ever paint for you. It is best these things are left undescribed. And if ever your thought succeeds to penetrate the mitigating veils, the true image would brand itself right here,” at this he reached over and tapped Faramir on the middle of his forehead, making the boy stare at him wide-eyed. “You would never rid of it. You would walk by day, and still it would be with you. So stop being foolish, and do not worry about what it is not your place to worry about. ‘Faces in the darkness’, oh Valar…”

Faramir blinked, frowning at the small cup in his hands. He had started off thinking of Mother, yet his thought had taken its own trail and come to Boromir and Father. His thought was bound to come to them regardless…

Faramir heaved a long thoughtful sigh and nodded to himself. “I understand now, Mother,” he whispered. And I would like to hope you would have understood me in turn.

And suddenly his throat constricted, and for a moment he thought he might cry. Speaking aloud of their situation, even if to ears that could not hear, made him realise with deafening starkness that in truth never and to no one could he mention it or anything remotely pertaining to it. He could never allow the hope that they might be understood. This was simply one of those things that people to whom it had not happened could not comprehend. He may open his heart in his imagination, convincing himself of solidarity and compassion on the behalf of his unseen listener – but never could such fantasy be embodied in reality.

And at this he suddenly felt settled and collected, as though having arrived at some inner consensus. He smiled and stood up swiftly, pushing the chair back with a scrape. He had not come here to be gloomy and mournful, to dwell on losses and enigmatic behaviours. He had come here because he was burgeoning with happiness, with joy, because he was full of life, full of love, and he wanted so badly to share his joy with someone, to let someone know how happy, how lucky he was.

And he came up to her chair once again, and pulled up her shawl, and threw it over his own shoulders, and brought it to his chest, and spinned around, as though in a dance, the energy of his happiness demanding to express itself.

But you were wrong, after all – about me. I would not be the one who makes anyone cry: you know what Boromir is like.

At this he threw his head back and laughed merrily. No, of course you don’t know that! And you don’t know what I’m like in this sense. Had you ever imagined what men we would grow up into? Certainly not ones like this! He laughed again. But you would understand. I know you would not stop loving us for this.

He sighed.

You would have been happy for us.

He liked to come here once in a while, even though his studies had called for it less and less often, pushed out of his schedule by his military practice. Today of all days he wanted to be here the most, the serene airy halls, so quiet and unperturbed, presenting a delicious contrast to the visions and sensations of the night before, visions that would now and again whirl at him all of a sudden, overpowering him completely, making him stop in his tracks and lean against a pillar or bookshelf, his gaze turning inwards, a faint incredulous smile spreading on his swollen lips.

As he ran his fingers absently over the bindings, some of leather, some of cloth, Faramir told himself that mere hours ago these very fingers had touched the skin of Boromir’s chest, twirled in his long black hair, gripped at the straining muscles of his powerful back, caressed his cheek when he lay slipping into exhausted forgetfulness. The boy thought these old volumes were lucky to be now touched by the same hand that had touched Boromir. He doubted he would ever be able to stop thinking about it.

He browsed the aisles idly, wondering what sort of reading he was up to. The poetry section was soon left behind: too slow and elegiac for his current mood. The works on Gondorian war history all seemed surprisingly dull and overwhelmingly long, too…

Eventually Faramir wandered into the further part of the Library which he seldom visited. He came upon a shelf with some old diaries and lingered there. The boy leafed through a journal of a steward’s court man from long ago and put it back. Boring.

Then his eye was caught by a rather thick notebook bound in purple leather decorated with little gems. He picked it up curiously. “A Wise Wife’s Notes. How I Preserve Happiness in My Home,” read the title. Faramir snorted and frowned. What a strange topic for a book! Women learnt these things from their mothers and aunts, not library manuscripts. And what could a ‘wise wife’ actually have to put on so many pages? How to…? How to do – what? he wondered, and opened the journal.

At first it was mostly on domestic maintenance and beauty tips, but when he was almost disappointed enough to put it down – he turned one more page and came upon a chapter of a completely different sort.

As for Boromir, his day began in a much less pleasant manner.

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29 Comment(s)

That’s one very promising beginning and I’ll patiently wait for any update!

— bijou    Tuesday 29 June 2010, 19:52    #

Ok, и сейчас я хочу сказать тебе две вещи, которые я еще не говорила, но которые пришли мне в голову во время чтения: первое, ты будто читаешь мои мысли. Я нахожусь в вечной нужде по рассказам о Фарамире и Боромире (моя любимая пара) и Фарамире-Арагорне (потому что это моя вторая любимая пара). И тут ты вдруг пишешь о них, причем именно в том контексте, который мне всегда хотелось видеть. А во-вторых, нашла еще одну точку соприкосновения – отношения с отцом. Да, именно такими они и должны были быть.
Я просто бузумно рада!Ты отразила все мои желания даже без моих просьб. Фэнкью вэри мач! Но, пожалуйста, не тени слишком долго!

— Anastassiya    Wednesday 30 June 2010, 17:23    #

This is very intriguing. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

— balrog    Monday 5 July 2010, 20:54    #

Great beginning. Very nicely done! Definitely will try to be patient… not good at patience!

Alcardilmë    Wednesday 7 July 2010, 6:30    #

Fascinating first chapter. Even the summary was intriguing!

— trixie    Saturday 10 July 2010, 5:09    #

Very interesting. Faramir has grown so much in the second chapter—you have his thoughts and feelings… I don’t have the right words. Perfectly?

— Bell Witch    Tuesday 17 August 2010, 6:43    #

Dear December,

I’m torn by two thoughts: first, I was upset a little that after such frank declaration of affection from Boromir nothing happened between them and second, I’m even glad that nothing happened, because I would like to see “liaison” not between boys but between adult wise men who perfectly understand what they do.
I very like that Faramir’s sudden outburst of indignation when Boromir displayed his trouble regarding his brother’s condition and I wanted even Faramir to be more stubborn and harsh in that moment.
Your descriptions of Faramir’s formation as a warrior and captain are gorgeous and I’m glad you paid so much attention to this question but I want more emotions and feelings in your story! Give them to me!!! Only you can do it!
And thank you for this wonderful story!

— Anastasiya    Tuesday 24 August 2010, 4:23    #

Nastia, thank you!
Mm, contradictions! In your first comment on this story you said the setting of the relationship was just as you would like to see – but now suddenly you wish they waited till they are older. Why the change, my dear?
And you say you’d rather see grown men who know what they are doing – so you think that if they wait a few years, they will understand themselves and each other better…?
In any case, I’m glad you say you are ‘torn’ by opposite wishes – for my part, I just love being torn like that! And, well, at least one of your wishes is sure to come true.
As for ‘more emotions’ – well, well, I wonder what you are going to say after the next two or three chapters…

December    Wednesday 25 August 2010, 9:19    #

М-да, возможно, противоречие здесь действительно есть, моя дорогая. Но только я ведь не говорила, что хочу, чтобы отношения между ними тут же закрутились. Мне вполне нравится мысль о том, что любовь эта проснулась еще в юности и даже проявилась в некоторой степени, а все то, что было с нею связано в интимном плане, началось уже горазда позднее. И я серьезно считаю, что в молодости (такой ранней, кстати) все делается по глупости, согласно порывам, а вот потом уже более осознанно.
А что я скажу после следующих глав, ты узнаешь только тогда, когда напишешь их, диа. А когда это будет…?

— Anastassiya    Thursday 26 August 2010, 8:52    #

Настя, спасибо за ответный коммент)
Такая ранняя молодость – это мы, я так понимаю, о Фарамире? А что же старший брат, ему же уже не 15, мозги уже вроде должны быть, или нет?
Тут, конечно, можно бы изречь классическую фразу про то, что любви все возрасты и т.д., а еще вспомнить Ромео и Джульетту и сколько им было лет – хотя у них там, стоит признать, действительно не очень хорошо все кончилось. Но, какая штука, я с тобой спорить и не буду: в юности в голове действительно дури побольше будет, а тут еще первая любоф… Хотя, как говорится, седина в бороду и пр. так что и в зрелых летах никто не застрахован от безудержных страстей… (это уже см. Том 2 данной истории…)
Но мне вот что интересно: мы с тобой опять вернулись к разговору о “порывах” и “осознанности” – и в данном случае уже ты выступаешьв роли поборника здравого подхода к отношениям)А если честно, мне твоя мысль, что любовь проснулась в юности и потом ждала до зрелости – мне эта мысль тоже очень нравится, честно. Будь я их мамой, я б им так и сказала: мальчики, подождите же вы, эк вас! Но, однако же, в данной ситуации от моих взглядов мало что зависит, у них там своя логика… Так что будем посмотреть, во что это всё выльется.

December    Thursday 26 August 2010, 9:30    #

It looks like you have a long journey planned, and I love the care you are taking with the details along the way.

Faramir’s thoughts on war are very profound and quite in keeping with the character.

Knowing how it will end makes the development of the relationship between the brothers especially wrenching.

— trixie    Saturday 28 August 2010, 16:29    #

trixie, thank you for reading and leaving your kind comment.

Yes, indeed, the journey ahead is a long one…
It has always greatly intrigued me how it came to be that the brothers had turned out to be so different in the end, and what roads had led them to becoming the men we meet at the time of the War. So the subject is getting quite a bit of attention in this story – and I am glad you find it interesting to follow. Which is not to say, of course, that all we are ever going to get here is serious thoughts on the meaning of life and so forth – people (including readers) do need some light-hearted diversion once in a while, right…?

I also very much like how you use the word ‘wrenching’ to describe the brothers’ relationship. I had not thought of it this way before – but now that you mention it, I find that indeed, at least for certain periods of their lives, the term captures the mood perfectly.

Again, thank you for reading, chapter three is soon to be released.

December    Sunday 29 August 2010, 11:22    #

I absolutely agree about the need for “light-hearted diversion”! I think that is especially true for those serving in the military and experiencing and witnessing the things they do. Besides, don’t we all experience the full range of human emotions in our lives? I have read fics that portray them as as always stoic and/or angsty. Other times writers are criticized for “inappropriately” inserting humor. Those in the military are especially in need of diversion from all that they experience and witness and I can’t imagine a relationship between brothers that didn’t include light-hearted moments.

— trixie    Monday 6 September 2010, 18:29    #

trixie, it’s interesting you bring up dealing with military stress. The subject is going to get quite a bit of attention in the following chapters :)
As for humour, I think itthat, as long as it is of the appropriate kindis never out of place per se. Especially in this fandom, since both the Book and Movie sport quite a few moment one can smile at.

Again, thank you for reading!

December    Wednesday 22 September 2010, 13:53    #

Oh my god. You are so brilliant. I have no words.

— cecilia    Wednesday 22 September 2010, 18:23    #

This story is so finely written — every word is relevant, your characterisation of Boromir and Faramir in-depth and very realistic. Thank you for a rich and fascinating tale! (I’m so happy it’s going to be long — it’s wonderful news for us readers ;-)

— bloodybouffoon    Monday 27 September 2010, 16:32    #

Ох-ох, чует мое сердце, ты собираешься нас (т.е. читателей:))) опрокинуть в следующей главе…Такое многообещающее начало и раз! нате вам – конец главы. Нет, это точно подвох. И в следующей главе, наверное, в ком-то из них разыграется чувство “неправильности” происходящего, и все оттянется на неопределенное время.., и вот будет облом!)))))))) Это были так, мысли вслух… Не обижайся))
Ты как всегда на высоте, а Боромир… О, бедный Боромир! И что это Фарамиру вздумалось обнажиться прямо перед ним! Представляю себе, как ему теперь сложно будет объяснить свое “странное” поведение)). Но, видимо, как-нибудь придется. Надеюсь только, ой-ой, тут же нельзя надеяться)), но все же надеюсь, что поведение он свое объяснит своими действиями)).. Жду следующей главы.))

— Anastassiya    Tuesday 28 September 2010, 12:29    #

cecilia, bloodybouffoon, thank you so very much for your kind words! Most appreciated!

Настя, что за слова такие, “облом”, “опрокинуть” – не ты ли говорила, что лучше бы им подождать несколько лет? ;-) Передумала, моя дорогая?)

И мне очень интересно узнать твои мысли в слух, и твои надежды – надеяться, я думаю, вполне даже можно) Так что продолжай)

А что касается Фарамира… Ну, не будет же человек в уличной одежде спать ложиться?))

December    Wednesday 29 September 2010, 16:54    #

ой-ой, милая, не забывай о противоречивости человнеческой натуры))). Сюжет о “взрослой” любви мне, конечно же, самый близкий, однако же когда дело доходит до таких вот моментов, мне вовсе не хочется откладывать их на будущее)). Я вполне терпимо отнесусь, если все случиться, а потом… Сама, короче, решишь))).

— Anastasiya    Thursday 30 September 2010, 5:51    #

Ах да, это я просто не могу не написать)) – помнишь, ты писала, что не любишь, когда мальчики начинают “тупить”? Хи-хи! Вот я тоже не люблю! И если их губы сейчас коснуться друг друга и на этом все кончиться только потому, что Боромир решит свалить, я буду ОЧЕНЬ-НУ-ОЧЕНЬ-И-ОЧЕНЬ сердита)) и раздражена)). Ну, в общем-то, я думаю, ты этого не сделаешь.

— Anastasiya    Thursday 30 September 2010, 5:59    #

A wonderfully written story, as usual. I especially love the second chapter, and the stark contrast between the man Faramir (the warrior) and the boy Faramir (the lover). By the way, the summaries are really good.
Gaaah, authors should not be allowed to provoke such strong curiosity and longing in their readers then leave them hungering for the next chapter… I am impatient to read the rest!

Nerey Camille    Tuesday 30 November 2010, 15:25    #

Ah – a different sort of cliff-hanger – and still a cliff-hanger. My goodness – the depth of your writing is astounding. The depth of what you reveal about the brothers is even more astounding. I adore this story! But – I was looking at the opening blurb and am beginning to think this is not going to end well…… Does anything ever end well for Boromir?

Alcardilmë    Thursday 2 December 2010, 4:33    #

I am at a loss for words; you write so beautifully, so romantic, so…you just light up my dark, dull winter days with this wonderful story! :) Thankyou!

— Admirer :)    Friday 3 December 2010, 15:03    #

what a wonderful story! so beautiful and touching.
i was happy for the brothers, but at the same time, worried for them as well. kind of bittersweet.
thank you so much.

— traveller    Sunday 12 June 2011, 17:56    #

Bravo! You manage to let us know in detail all of the details of the changes in Boromir while still letting us know that he isn’t dwelling or thinking deeply on these matters. Also, you manage to point out his prideful nature in a way that does not make him an unsympathetic character. I feel that these things are an integral part of Boromir’s character (and, unfortunately, his eventual
downfall). Again, well done!

— trixie    Sunday 12 June 2011, 19:13    #

Just noticed I’m so behind on answering comments here…
Thank you, everyone, so much for reading and saying all the kind things! It means very, very much to me.

Hm, I do indeed find it quite impossible to write Boromir without at least a bit of bitterness, the notion just seems to follow him around. And to me that bitterness somehow makes him only the more sympathetic. I remember, as a small child I used to be strongly annoyed by all his human flaws of character which were all the more irritating in contrast to the other protagonists’ total goodness and maturity. But with time I have somehow come to feel a very sharp fondness for him precisely because of this. Not to mention how addictive it is to work with him, he provides such a grateful soil for all sorts of personal conflict :)

December    Tuesday 14 June 2011, 11:37    #

Very good story. Lord of the Rings male pairings are my favorite sort of fanfiction to read. And my most favorite character is of course Faramir. And what makes a more dramatic story than two brothers participating in a love that is by law forbidden? Nothing! I will definitely be dropping in regularly to check for updates. You are a very good writer and I would be happy to read other stories written by you. I would begin writing fanfictions like these myself if only I had a decent Shakespearean tongue!

— Al'iyah    Sunday 26 June 2011, 22:54    #

I absolutely love this story. It is so sexy its incendiary. Great, believable characters with depth and complex issues. Well done. Anxiously await more.

— petey156    Sunday 7 October 2012, 19:34    #

I like it. I drew some pictures yet to it. Will you continue ?

— katiedaly    Monday 21 January 2013, 20:20    #

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About the Author


Greetings, fellow fan, and welcome!

What to expect to find here: All the stories are based on Book-verse for looks and personalities, although you will often find the canon bent (hehe) in terms of events. Please prepare for an unhurried, often bitter-sweet read with lots of sexual tension.

A bit about me for those interested: feisty redhead headquartered in New Zealand. Living in a wooden house in the old forest not far from the sea – probably goes some way to explain why I write what I do. Other than reading and writing, my passions are music, visual arts, travel, gardening, dance, horses, acrobatics, medieval martial arts, jewellery making, banter, and above all chocolate.

Was introduced to Tolkien at the tender age of six, was never the same since.

Always keen to collaborate with all ye good folke in the fandom. Feel free to get in touch if you’re looking for a beta reader, too. Please, also, if you’re one of the dudes in the fandom, I would really really appreciate if you could please take a moment to share a bit of your perspective on how authentically my stories portray relationships between men.

Also, if you’re looking to visit New Zealand, happy to offer a bed and breakfast (second breakfast negotiable).