B2MeM Challenge: g50 The Steward and his Sons: The Palantír, g51: Brothers
Warnings: Hints of domestic violence.
Characters: Boromir, Faramir, Denethor
Summary: "'Yet between the brothers there was great love, and had been since childhood, when Boromir was the helper and protector of Faramir.'" (Appendix A, RotK)
Faramir had been waiting for their nightly chess match but their father had tarried and he had fallen asleep upon the board, knight firmly held within his left palm.
Boromir always regretted not waking him, not carrying him away, but he could not have known, could he? When Denethor returned, he seemed at first not to notice they were there but sat at his desk, elbows propped on thighs, head clutched between his hands, gripping the dark hair as if he were going to rip it off his scalp.
Boromir dared not move. He never knew the Lord of the White Tower could look so pathetically like a wretch, was shocked, frightened. Faramir, however, knew naught and, upon waking and seeing their father's cloak draped upon one of the chairs, asked, "Are you ready for our game, Father?"
Boromir watched the whole thing play out as if he were outside his body, horrified yet unable to move.
"Are you ready, Father?" the question was repeated.
Slowly, Denethor rose, pivoted to face his younger son. He was pale as a plague-stricken man but his eyes smoldered with a terrible, frightening fire that Boromir in his eighteen years had never seen before.
"What?" Denethor asked in a raspy, almost crone-like voice.
And Faramir went mute.
Transfixed, Boromir watched as the two stares of the people he loved most in the world locked on each other, saw the moment when Faramir flinched in fear-- or was it revulsion?-- and Denethor's eyes widened in... shame?
The air in the room crackled as Denethor drew himself up, jaws trembling so hard that they could have detached from his skull. In two strides he crossed the distance between them, rose his hand--
And still Boromir could not move. He was a man, a soldier, but that day he had quailed like a child.
It had happened too fast for him to do anything, yes? He did not comprehend what was going on, yes?
But, in his brother's eyes he read the truth: He had been there. And he had failed him.