Faramir felt a vague sense of unease as he read the last few paragraphs of the journal and was unsure why, so he read the words again, the furrows on his brow deepening with concern and alarm. The only time he could recall hearing Mithrandir showing such a harsh attitude to anyone was when he had been speaking with Denethor with whom it was no secret he shared a relationship based on mutual animosity and distrust.
As he read the few disturbing lines for the third time, he found it increasingly hard to believe his brother’s admittedly foolish idea regarding the ring was the sole cause of Mithrandir’s rarely displayed anger, especially since he knew the wizard was fond of, and held Boromir in high regard.
Well, he would just have to seek Mithrandir out tomorrow and ask him for an explanation… or later this morning, Faramir corrected himself as he noticed the sky had begun to turn from the black of night to the dull grey of dawn. Yawning tiredly, he suddenly realised how physically tired and emotionally drained he felt and he decided it was time to retire to his own chamber.
Faramir’s head had barely touched his pillow when his eyes closed and he drifted into much needed slumber that was disturbed several hours later by the Healer who had come to remove the last of his bandages. It was such a delight to be released from the restraining cloths, and the need to keep them dry when he tried to bathe that the Healer had barely left the chamber before Faramir had his bathing tub filling with hot water. A few healing herb were added to the water and with a deep sigh, he sank gratefully into the cleansing and soothing warmth. He had just begun to relax fully when the sharp rapping of a wooden staff on his chamber door and a cheery call for permission to enter signalled the arrival of Mithrandir.
“I am in the bath, and will be for some time yet, Mithrandir,” Faramir called in reply, making his intention plain.
“By all means stay where you are young Steward, we can talk while you bathe,” the wizard said, inviting himself into the bathing chamber and sitting on the small stool that was next to the tub.
“What is so urgent that it cannot wait until I have finished?” Faramir asked with a long suffering roll of his eyes and a welcoming smile that indicated he did not really object to the wizard’s presence.
There had been many times when either he or Boromir had kept the other company in such a manner, for they had learned that their bathing chambers were the best place to hold private conversations.
“I hear that you have been reading Boromir’s journal, and I suspect you may have some questions that perhaps I can answer,” Mithrandir replied with a knowing glance at his young friend.
“Have you read it already?” Faramir asked his eyes glittering with anger at the thought that even as dear a friend as he was the wizard had invaded his privacy.
“Faramir! How could you think that I would do so unless given leave by Boromir or you,” the Mithrandir replied, sounding wounded and making Faramir feel a little guilty for his misplaced distrust.
“I did not mean to offend, but I consider these writings to be a private conversation, although very one sided, between Boromir and me. Please accept my apologies. I do have one question,” Faramir said as he poured a jug of water over his newly washed hair to remove the lather.
Mithrandir nodded, indicating he was listening.
“What did Boromir do or say to make you so angry with him in Rivendell?” This was clearly the question the wizard had been anticipating as indicated by his complete lack of surprise.
“Ah, so he told you about our conversation regarding the ring. I thought he might,” the wizard said sounding pleased to have assumed correctly.
“Aye and I admit I found his suggestions to be rather ludicrous myself, but surely they did not warrant such a harsh rebuke?” Not only were they ludicrous, but spoke of a very poor battle strategy which no one could ever accuse his renowned brother of devising, at least not knowingly. It was the admission that he did not know where his thoughts were at times that would have really worried Faramir had he been there.
“Perhaps not, but he was clearly not himself when he made them and I needed to make him see his own folly and rage is often a good eye opener. I believe his strange ideas may have been the result of the ring trying to tempt him, to control him, so it was the insidious ring and its evil master with whom I was angry, not Boromir.”
“That would certainly explain his own confusion about what he had said,” Faramir agreed. “But if you even suspected he was being lured by the ring, why did you not tell him? Why did you permit him to travel within reach of its power? Why did you let him walk unknowingly down the path that led to his death?” He whispered hoarsely his voice filled with a mix of anguish, frustration and anger.
“It was already too late, the ring had taken hold deep in his mind by the time I realised what afflicted him. I could only hope that he was strong enough to resist its influence, because telling him would have made no difference. He would not have believed me, the ring would have convinced him I was lying, trying to take it for myself. For all the power that I possess, I could not control the influence the hateful thing had over Boromir, Frodo, Bilbo or anyone else for that matter,” Mithrandir explained.
“And even Master Elrond could not convince Isildur to destroy it and he had only held it a short time,” Faramir muttered under his breath as he recalled part of what he had read earlier. “But could he not have stayed in Rivendell, away from the ring?” he asked, accepting the towel Mithrandir handed him as he stepped out of the bath.
“Would the stubborn Boromir we know and love have been content to stay in safety when his city was under threat and the ring was still calling to him, offering him false hope?” Mithrandir asked, not needing to hear the answer that was obvious to them both.
“It was far better that he travel with us, rather than having him follow in our shadows waiting for a chance to take the ring from Frodo. Believe me, Faramir, I thought of Boromir as an honourable man with remarkable courage and strength of will, and I dreaded seeing him succumb to the darkness as the days wore on. But there was nothing to be done, the fate of us all has already been sung and neither the words nor the melody can be changed.” There was no argument that could be made against this, Faramir was reluctantly forced to admit.
“Perhaps he would not have been lost had I been there to talk with him, for judging by what I have read so far, he was sorely in need of my support,” he said, taking the blame onto himself , almost learning first hand what it took to anger Mithrandir.
“What nonsense you speak, Faramir! You may have been able to ease his fears and even talked some sense into him, but in the end he would have turned against you and his fate would have been the same. Besides, you had more than enough to contend with here in Minas Tirith,” the wizard reminded his young friend who was suddenly looking decidedly too pale for Mithrandir’s liking. “You are still suffering the after effects of your ordeal, Faramir. Perhaps it would be best if you did not further risk your health by spending all night reading your brother’s journal which will undoubtedly become even more distressing towards the end.”
“I know how he died, Mithrandir, but I wish to understand why, and only he can answer those questions. I know his words and thoughts will be painful to read, but it will be a bittersweet pain that I will gladly endure for one last glimpse of my brother. I will not desert him in his hour of darkness, for no matter how deep into the abyss he falls, to me he will still be the Boromir I know and love… just as Father always was,” he added, speaking the last words with a tenderness Mithrandir had not expected to hear from one who had suffered so much at his father’s hands.
“As you wish, but please try and take some more rest now. I will have a meal tray sent from the kitchens and perhaps ask Éowyn to call on you?” Faramir nodded to all but the last.
“Aye, I would like to see her, but not while I am like this. I will do as you suggest and hopefully I will be well enough to join you all for the evening meal,” he replied with a smile of affection for the wizard that did much to ease his concern for his young friend.
After an hour of tossing and turning unsuccessfully trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, Faramir found himself back in Boromir’s chamber, engrossed in the next entry in his brother’s journal.
...Well, brother, Mithrandir and I managed to finish our morning meal just as the Halflings arrived and deciding it was time I made their acquaintance, I begged an introduction from our mutual friend. I had already briefly met Bilbo, the former bearer of the ring, and of course Frodo, his nephew who now carries it, at the council meeting and so I needed only to be introduced to Sam, Merry and Pippin as they prefer to be called.
What a delightfully charming and friendly folk these Halflings are, Faramir! And Mithrandir did not exaggerate the amount of food they can eat, especially Merry and Pippin to whom I took an instant liking, that was returned warmly. Never before have I laughed so much at the morning meal for these two were constantly jesting and teasing one another as well as everyone else in sight.
The Elves take little notice of their antics at the table, antics such as a brief food fight that I can not imagine Father tolerating for one minute and no doubt he would be stunned by the behaviour of Bilbo, the elder Baggins. He at least might expected to have some sense of decorum, and a measure of control over his younger kin, but rather then insisting they temper their behaviour joined in with a few humorous stories of his own. Only Frodo and Sam seemed a little reserved, but the younger Baggins is still recovering from his fight with death and Sam has taken the role as his protector very seriously. Also they were both a little wary of me when I asked to see the ring again, for reasons I can not fathom. I was merely curious to see it up close...
“Oh Boromir, be careful!” Faramir whispered, knowing full well it was a warning that came much too late to ears that no longer heard.
...After they had eaten their fill, at least until second breakfast, as Pippin cheerfully informed me, I found myself agreeing to spend the morning with the two younger Halflings. Frodo and Sam did not join us, instead they helped Bilbo back to his chambers for some rest, for he is quite frail and freely admits he is nearing the end of his days. I will take the time to visit him later but for now I am being forcefully dragged out into the gardens.
Merry, Pippin and I spent an extremely enjoyable morning together, exploring the many gardens around the Last Homely House, and when I commented that my younger brother would be disappointed that he was not here to see the beauty of the place he dreamt of, they moved aside for a private conversation after which Pippin disappeared, returning several minutes later with a sketch pad and some charcoal. He had also apparently detoured poast the kitchens for he had carried several warm pastries wrapped in a cloth. I suspect the cook may be wondering where her pies have gone, but they are delicious.
Now as you know, I have no talent for drawing, unless it is maps or battle plans, nonetheless, I was somehow convinced to add a few lines to the picture of Rivendell my new found friends drew for you. They agreed I was less than talented as an artist, but were pleased enough with the pathway and the stone archway that serves as a gate that I drew. If you look closely at the steps in front of the main building, thanks to Merry, you will see a picture of me drawing with two inquisitive heads peering over my shoulder...
Faramir put the journal aside and reached for the rolled up parchment he had practically ignored until now and opened it out to study the drawing more closely. He tenderly traced a finger over the tiny picture of his brother that was small but an excellent likeness, his heart almost bursting with joy when he saw Boromir’s carefree smile. He silently thanked the two who sat either side for bringing such delight to his troubled brother’s face.
Faramir was so pleased he would now be able to thank Merry and Pippin in person and knowing how deeply in their hearts they still held their affection and grief for Boromir, he decided he would take the drawing to the evening meal.
I have never had such an interesting and amusing conversation with people I hardly know, and after the first hour or so, I was so relaxed in their presence that I felt as if we had been friends all our lives. Between the two of them there was not a moment’s silence and when they were not extolling the virtues of everything in the Shire, its ale, the pipe weed, the people and of course their own mischievous ways, they were asking me about the Men of Gondor and our White City, including I hasten to add, what kinds of ale we serve in our taverns and how many pretty bar maids I know. Make no mistake should you meet any of the Halflings, Faramir, they have the height of children, but they are all grown adults, filled with a love of life and unmarred in many ways, but adults nonetheless.
If you need further convincing, just ask to hear some of their drinking songs!
I now understand Mithrandir’s sorrow at having this last peaceful realm brought into the harsh reality of danger and war that we all face.
Thanks to the vigilance of the Rangers , they have never had to confront the evil that exists elsewhere, until the appearance of the Nazgûl that is, and although they are naïve and inexperienced in battle, they certainly do not lack the courage to defend their home and loved ones. And this is as it should be, do you not agree? Had I not already offered my protection and vowed to journey south with the ring bearer, I would have done so now, for I wish to see no harm befall these folk...
“And in the end they could ask for no better champion than Boromir of Gondor,” Faramir thought sadly. Aragorn had recently told him that in his last moments, Boromir had broken free of the thrall with which the ring held him and died honourably and bravely in his desperate attempt to save Merry and Pippin. Remembering this as he read the journal would make the gradual loss of his brother’s inner battle easier to bear, of that Faramir was certain.