A STEWARD'S CARE
They would not understand. Even my Boromir could not school his doubt, and Faramir his certain condemnation is of no consequence, but it would mirror my own had my father dared this tool. I am the first, and if I do not use it and prevail, I will be the last.
I know my struggle with the Dark Tower costs me dearly. I am not so wrapt that I do not mark the weariness of mind and limb that passes slowly. I endure these as I do my mail shirt, that I will be always ready. I must, for Gondor.
Its vividness stuns me: darkening skies, a sword, and stranger things, bewildering images made familiar a little from your words and letters since you first dreamt before Osgiliath. Remembering, I let your wonder and excitement calm me, marveling an unnumbered time how unalike we are.
So why comes it now to me? Unless...
Dread fills my belly as it has not since that other letter, years ago: "Dear brother, I am a soldier, too, now."
I will rise, and arm, and lead my men, and hope against my fear, as I must always, that we will speak of it again.
Our men jostle about us, ranger brown mingling with battered silver. Soldiers, they know our time together as brothers is precious. They attend to their own welcomings and heed us not.
The awkwardness of armor is familiar as you embrace me, voice pitched for my ear alone. "Your dream, little brother. It came to me, as well."
I pull back, searching your face although I know you would not mock me.
"It gives me hope that there is something beyond the strength of arrows and armies."
Of custom our gazes seek the West, but maybe we are now also sought.
I reveal but little. Boromir sees no guile, accepting discretion as my right. But as I turn, his brother darts a look at him of such exasperated fondness to set my teeth.
I use each after his talents. Boromir is a greater captain than was I for those very things he will not see. His brother I sent to skulk in Ithilien. In him I see myself, but weak, and I would not have myself for ally, nor send that wizard's pupil in embassy to Elves. Thus I risk what I would keep, hold what I would more gladly lose.
TO THE GATE
They do not waste time on old arguments, 'I should be the one' or 'Even if he were wrong, he is our Lord'. Boromir's hand rests on his brother's shoulder as they descend the circling street in silence. His duty requires that he be single purposed, and he is glad to feel Faramir's strength.
Suddenly, "When you find Imladris you will meet Elves! Oh, Boromir, see everything and remember it for me. You must!"
Boromir laughs as the years fall away and for a moment they are boys again, the younger jealous of the elder's adventures. "Of course I will."
I climb the streets again to watch you dwindle down the Great West Road, the early sun drawing dull glints from your great shield's boss as you glance back. I would stay until the last speck vanishes and dare the luck. But I have been dismissed and suddenly I care only to re-cross Anduin and join my men. Your beloved White City has long been less home to me than fair Ithilien. Without you it is none.
I have not dreamt since Father fixed our courses, west or east. I hold this knowledge in my heart to shield my hope.
I left high summer in Rohan behind, traveling the North Road into autumn. I do not think I will die in the wild, even afoot. My ranger brother made certain I did not grow too accustomed to tent and tavern. I make camp and set snares, hearing his teasing. Remembering our parting.
Death would be failure but not the one I most fear. To take my defense from Gondor and not return more able in that defense would be failure far deeper.
No, more. To return to Gondor shadowed freezes my heart as northern winter could never freeze my body.