It had been a year since Boromir had started his training. Denethor and I would write letters to him all the time to help him in his reading lessons. Occasionally, he would reply, his handwriting still terribly messy and rather hard to read. At least he was trying, that was the main thing.
It had taken me five months to become accustomed to not having my little boy living with me. Sometimes I would naturally go and find him, as I always would. It pained me when I walked into the nursery, only to find it completely empty, as if there had never been a child. Denethor tried his best to keep me in good spirits, and I appreciated his efforts, but the only cure for my longing was to have my son back in my arms.
Finally, a month after his fourth birthday, Boromir was permitted to return to the citadel for a week. I was so pleased, that I went down to the markets and bought him a heap of new toys. I made sure that the nursery was prepared for him, but Denethor came in and told me that Boromir no longer needed to stay in the nursery.
"But he is only four years of age," I said, astounded.
"He is old enough to have a proper chamber," Denethor said, having the last say.
Old enough to have his own chamber! Customs were so different here in Minas Tirith than in Dol Amroth. My father never allowed any of his children to have a proper chamber until they celebrated their seventh birthday. Boromir was far from that age. I moved all of the belongings in the nursery to the luxurious chamber two corridors away. It was rather large – the poster bed was bigger than my own! I knew Boromir would be very comfortable in there, for I knew that Denethor would give nothing but the best to his beloved son. Still, I thought all of this transformation was far too soon.
Two days later, Boromir arrived, dressed handsomely in his dark blue breeches and silver tunic. Valar! Had he changed! His hair was still the same length, yet lighter. His nose had a sprinkle of freckles, probably from being out in the sun too much. I smiled. Those freckles made him look adorable! He also stood with a straighter posture; there was no mistake that he was the son of a Lord. He greeted Denethor first with an embrace. After, Denethor instructed him to kneel before him in future greetings. How ridiculous!
It was my turn to be greeted. I laughed as Boromir ran into my arms, ignoring all protocols of greeting a Lady of High Birth. I did not mind, for I had greatly missed him.
"Mother," he said - his voice much stronger. "I have missed you so much."
I embraced him again and kissed his warm cheek. "I have missed you too, darling."
He grinned. "I hope you are in good health."
I nodded. "That I am. I hope you are also in good health."
"Indeed I am, mother," he said. He was far too mature for his age, though it did not surprise me.
"I wish your visit could be welcomed with warmer news," I started, "but your grandfather, Steward Ecthelion is very ill."
Boromir nodded. "Yes, I know. Father wrote to me about it."
I looked over Boromir's shoulder and saw Denethor talking with our son's governor. "Your grandfather wishes to see you."
Boromir nodded. "I am ready to see him now, if he will accept my presence."
"Of course he will accept your presence," I said, surprised by his words. "You are his grandson."
"But he is the Steward of Gondor," Boromir said. "Surely he has more urgent matters to attend to."
"As I have said, your grandfather is very weak," I replied. "Your father has been put in charge of state matters."
We arrived at the Steward's chamber and were admitted by the guards. Ecthelion was lying in bed, wearing his heavy robe. He was reading was seemed to be a book concerning the laws of Gondor, but I was not certain.
"My lord," I said, curtsying. "I have come to present my son, Boromir to you."
Ecthelion put the book down and smiled warmly at Boromir and I. "Come here," he said, opening his arms.
Boromir frowned and looked up at me with confusion. "Well go and give your grandfather an embrace."
Boromir was still confused, but obeyed. He walked cautiously over to the big bed, climbed onto it, and embraced his grandfather.
"My, you have grown, Boromir," Ecthelion said, eyeing his grandson up and down. "How goes your training?"
"It goes very well, Lord Steward," Boromir replied, sitting back on the bed. "I am at the top of my classes."
Ecthelion grinned. "How marvellous! Which classes?"
"Sword training, literacy, art, geology, sport, and numeracy," Boromir said, counting them on his little fingers. "I like sword training above all."
"I am sure you do," Ecthelion said proudly. "Which is your least favourite class?"
"Dancing," Boromir answered, crossing his arms. "I don't like moving around like that."
Ecthelion and I laughed together. "It is one of the requirements you must learn so you can come to court," Ecthelion replied. "You shall enjoy it far more at court."
Boromir seemed to think of that possibility, but shook his head. "No, I have to touch girls' hands while I am dancing. I do not like girls. They scream loudly and talk about silly things, like flowers and dolls."
Ecthelion tried to laugh again, but started coughing. "You will learn to appreciate girls when you are older. They are not like boys. They need protecting and looking after."
Boromir frowned and shook his head. "But I do not want to look after a girl. To me it sounds like a waste of time!"
"Your father looks after me," I said, trying to make the topic a little more appealing.
"But I am not like father," Boromir said defensively. "My governor said so. He said that my father does not train with swords, nor has he ever been in battle. One day, I will be in a battle and not looking after a mere girl."
"Perhaps you could do both," Ecthelion suggested.
"Do you mean I should take a girl onto a battlefield?" Boromir asked, tilting his head to the side.
No, no. That would be far too dangerous for a young lady," Ecthelion replied. "What I mean is that you could marry a girl and look after her while you are not on the battlefield."
Boromir's face was shocked by that proposition. "No! I could never do that! I have it all planned out," he said with complete confidence. "I shall spend as much time on the battlefield, defending this realm and leading men, and while I am not defending this country, I will be practising to become an even better soldier of Gondor. I will never stop trying to become a better and better swordsman."
Ecthelion and I exchanged concerned looks. "You do realise that you will be required to marry eventually."
"Nobody can make me do something I do not wish to do," Boromir said, crossing his arms. "I do not like girls, so why would I want to marry one? I would be stuck with her forever!"
Ecthelion sat up a bit straighter and gave Boromir a serious look. "Boromir, listen to me, you are a son of the House of Stewards. Your ancestors have been ruling Gondor in place of King far longer than anyone can remember. As a future Steward yourself, you are expected to marry and produce an heir to continue the Line of Stewards. If you do not do this, you will ruin the Line of Stewards. Do I make myself clear?"
I must have been as shocked as Boromir was by Ecthelion's lecture. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought Ecthelion could speak like that, especially to a child! It was then when I saw where Denethor inherited his forcefulness.
"I do not want to fail my forefathers," Boromir muttered, sliding off the bed. "I bid you a good day, Lord Steward." I watched my son bow and exit the chamber.
"Remember, he is still only a small child," I said to Ecthelion, before leaving the chamber myself.
Denethor had sent for Boromir and was spending some quality father-son time in his study. I decided I wanted to go and visit Voronda's grave. It had been many years since I had last been there. In fact, I have dreaded returning to her grave in fear of the deep wound of her loss re-opening. I placed a bunch of flowers atop of her grave and sat down on the white stone pavement. I kissed my hand and placed it on the slab of tomb.
"I wish you were here," I said, tracing the cracks of the pavement with my finger. "I could really do with your comfort. I feel so... left out these days. Your uncle makes all the decisions concerning Boromir without consulting me. Now, I fear Boromir is not going to have a proper childhood. I do not even know if he plays with toys anymore." I sighed and looked up at the cloudy sky. "I believe I was not born for this life in Minas Tirith. I was not meant to be the First Lady of Gondor. It was not my destiny." I turned my gaze out west, towards the sea. "I long to be free of this city. Free of all the protocols and customs of Gondor. It is utterly hard to remember them all." I sighed and stood up, taking one last look at her grave. "I will always love you, Voronda. I do hope you have found the peace and freedom you deserve."
On my way back to the palace, I saw Mordor glooming on the distance. It made me grow cold and I started to shiver. That place terrified me! I wish to the Valar that Minas Tirith did not have to be its neighbour, but what were the chances of my wish coming true?
I believed I was doomed the moment I married Denethor. Doomed to live a life of complaining, sadness, and longing for the sea.