eyeus: (White Tree - Bloom)
Title: Hope Prevails
Fandom: Lord of the Rings (Movies)
Pairing: Boromir/ Faramir
Rating: NC-17
Words: 7850 (76900 total)
Summary: “You are a warrior,” says Aragorn. “Of Gondor.” His hand closes tight over Boromir’s shoulder, as if lending Boromir his strength, tethering him to life. “Is there one for whom you fight? A lady-love?”

In his agony from the Uruk’s wounds, Boromir’s answer is entirely too honest. “A brother,” he gasps. “I have a brother.” In arms, in blood, and in bond.

“Then think of him, and live,” Aragorn commands. “He will look for your coming from the White Tower, and you will return home to him.”

A/N: Boromir Lives AU. Boromir survives the events at Amon Hen and reunites with Faramir, but together, they face an even greater peril still.

Incorporates a mixture of both movie and book canon, for a gentler version of what could have been. OST notes will be included at the end, for a sample of the official LOTR tracks and other independent pieces that inspired certain scenes or that scenes were written to.



~


After several days dedicated to healing—Faramir had insisted Boromir have his wounds seen to—and lying about in bed with Faramir, sharing kisses, careful touches, and more than that on occasion, they finally return to the world at large.

Aragorn sets aside time enough for the citizens and soldiers of Minas Tirith to honor their dead. Raises a toast in the Merethrond for those who had fought bravely until the end, a drink to their fallen comrades.

Both Faramir and Boromir take that time to remember their father. To mourn him, and the life that he led, such that it was, until they are once again burdened with the responsibility of their city’s well-being.

Soon after, Aragorn sets Boromir the task, among other things, of searching for trades from which they can obtain the stone and brick and mortar needed to rebuild the city, entrusting him with the myriad duties of a Steward almost immediately.

“I expect you will have no trouble spearheading agreements with the other realms?” Aragorn had said.

“Of course,” Boromir replied, honored that he was to take on the duties of the Steward without another question asked. He had spent countless hours, when not patrolling or protecting the city, in Denethor’s councils, learning, watching, and waiting.

In truth, however, both he and his brother shoulder the responsibilities together, working with the city’s people and craftsmen to see to Minas Tirith’s repairs. Negotiating trade treaties with envoys from both the realms of Elves and Dwarves.

Faramir navigates them through the appointments with representatives from Mirkwood and Erebor—both places having fared better than Gondor, despite the armies Sauron sent to the north—that require tact, diplomacy, and a keen knowledge of both races’ histories. Meanwhile, Boromir steers them through the tasks that call for strategic planning, both of them the Steward in everything but name.

They have hardly a moment to themselves now, and the preparations for Aragorn’s impending coronation does not help matters.

“Boromir?” Faramir says, finding Boromir as he paces the council chambers, scowling at a schematic of Minas Tirith’s outstanding repairs, tacked carefully to the wall. He has just secured Legolas’ promise that he will speak to his father about importing the produce from Minas Tirith’s next harvest, but remains at a standstill about finding the materials to repair the Great Gate. It had been savaged in the last battle by the Orcs’ fiery battering ram, and a temporary barrier has been erected in place of it, the sentry around it now doubled for safety.

“What is it?” Boromir asks. He feels something loosen in his chest at the sight of Faramir, and a slow, soothing warmth spreads down his spine when Faramir smiles and places a hand on his shoulder.

“I have heard your friend Gimli mention a vast resource of mithril in the caves below Helm’s Deep. I should think, that once he and his people settle there and mine that resource, they would be open to trade with us—their craftsmanship and metals in return for our grain and a share of our produce. If,” Faramir adds with a grin, “you have not already promised it all to Mirkwood.”

With an immense sigh of relief at Faramir’s solution for the Great Gate, Boromir graces him with a look, one full of warmth and affection. “I have often thought,” he says, quiet, “that perhaps you should have been the firstborn. That you should have been given the title for the Steward of Gondor.”

From birth, Boromir had known the title would one day be his, along with all its responsibilities—had coveted it dearly—but he finds now an easy harmony in sharing the burden with his brother. Faramir has indeed been his strength, as their mother had foreseen, and Boromir only hopes that his brother draws the same comfort from him.

“We cannot both be Stewards, brother,” Faramir laughs, his hand sliding down to rest easy on Boromir’s forearm. It is as much as he dares, in the common chambers of the White Tower, where any of the maids, guards, or foreign dignitaries could pass by. “There can only be one Steward of Gondor, and I…I would not begrudge you that honor.” He squeezes Boromir’s arm, warm, reassuring.

“There will be a way,” Boromir insists. He clasps Faramir’s forearm in turn. “Perhaps Aragorn will consider a joint Stewardship. Our king is not so blind that he would turn away the counsel of two men who could aid him in different areas equally well.”

Faramir looks doubtful still, but the smallest twitch of a smile tugs at his lips and he nods thoughtfully.

“Besides,” adds Boromir, circling a thumb over the crook of Faramir’s elbow, where his pulse point should be, “did not Isildur and his brother Anárion rule Gondor in a joint kingship for long years? Perhaps the idea is not so far-fetched after all!”

It is just as well then, that when Boromir finally has the chance to introduce his brother to Aragorn days later, Aragorn surprises them with an announcement of his own.

“Faramir!” Aragorn nods, his eyes sparking with a new warmth, a light evident since he had taken up the mantle of Gondor’s king. “I have heard a great deal about you, both from your brother, and other members of the Fellowship.” He pauses to tip a nod at Boromir, smiling. “But mostly from your brother.”

Boromir can see Faramir’s feet shift self-consciously, but he has the good grace not to flush at Aragorn’s compliment. “Good things, I hope?” Faramir asks, and when Aragorn nods, he laughs, before remembering himself and hastily sketching a bow. “It is well to finally meet you, my Lord.”

Aragorn clears his throat, modest, before continuing. “Of that matter…I know the coronation has yet to happen, but as your work together has been exemplary thus far, I plan to make an announcement: that all those from Denethor’s line shall have the title of Steward to the King. That you may both continue to serve in your father’s stead, in a dual Stewardship, sharing the responsibilities that come with it.”

At their stunned silence, he adds quickly, “If, however, you have any qualms regarding my decision, it would be no trouble at all to create a new official office for one of you—”

No, no qualms at all,” Boromir and Faramir say immediately, nearly in unison, and they share a smile between them, of equal and unspoken understanding.

Aragorn must see something in their expressions, some gesture of theirs that is endearingly identical, because he smiles and clasps a hand to each of their shoulders. “Good!” he says, beaming. “Not for all the power or gold in this realm would I part you two any longer.”

They are left wondering what he means by that, but before they can question Aragorn’s meaning, he has moved onto the subject of granting them lands for their services—that he plans to bestow upon them the princedom of Ithilien, and if they wish it, the lordship of Emyn Arnen—before a page arrives to inform them that there is to be a reconvening with the Dwarves of the Iron Hills regarding trade tariffs.

Aragorn chooses this moment to conveniently make his exit, saying that he will leave the matter in their capable hands.

When Boromir releases a long-suffering sigh, Faramir laughs and claps him on the back. “You did not think being Steward was going to be all heroic battles and Orc-ruin, did you?”

Boromir snorts. “I did not. But I am glad you are with me in this, little brother.” He pauses, thoughtful, and clasps Faramir’s forearm, all warmth and affection in this long-familiar gesture. “As in all things.”

“Of course,” says Faramir, solemn now. He squeezes Boromir’s shoulder in turn. “I would not have it otherwise.”

~


The day Aragorn is to be crowned, the sky is the clearest blue, with nary a cloud to be seen.

Both Boromir and Faramir are glad for the decision they made to hold the coronation before the walls of Minas Tirith on this auspicious day; they had entertained, at first, the idea of holding it within the highest circle of the city, in the presence of the White Tree. But seeing now the masses of people, their guests numbering in the tens of thousands—those from within the city and those who have flocked here from all corners of the land—the city’s seventh circle could not have accommodated crowds of this size. Of this sheer number.

Knights of Gondor and of Rohan have established a wide berth starting from what once was the Great Gate for the proceedings, and two opposing lines now stand sentinel, keeping the crowds at bay for the celebrations. A cluster of the soldiers under Boromir’s command form a barrier over the Gate, and Boromir and Faramir themselves stand before them, accompanied by their friends, Húrin—named Warden of the Keys, who is to let Aragorn into the city and take his place as king—and Éomer and Éowyn of Rohan.

“Well?” Boromir teases, when he finds Faramir fidgeting at a loose thread in his robes, the garment soft and dark, as if woven from the night sky itself. He nudges Faramir with his hip. “Can I count on you not to forget your lines from a bout of childish nervousness?”

“If I can count on you not to forget your lines from old age,” Faramir returns deftly, elbowing him in the ribs.

The exchange earns them a reproving glance from Húrin. Éomer, for his part, casts his eyes skyward and sighs, while Éowyn gives them both a knowing smile, one Boromir hopes is more for the witty nature of their banter, than empathy for the nature of their relationship.

It is just as well that at that moment, Aragorn appears, accompanied by Gandalf and their four Halfling friends. Frodo and Sam incline their heads respectfully in their direction, while Merry and Pippin nod cheerfully at them, and Boromir cannot help but beam back, wide and bright and genuine.

Aragorn nods at each of them in turn, starting first with Boromir and ending with Éomer. He looks resplendent in his plated armour, shining, silver, a night-dark mantle draped across his shoulders, its edges embroidered with intricate golden flowers. With this raiment alone, he looks every inch the king Gondor has waited for. The captain Boromir has sworn to follow.

A single, solitary trumpet blast sounds out, and a hush falls upon the crowd.

Boromir kneels, with Faramir following suit at his side, before Aragorn. Presents with both hands the white rod, hallmark of the Stewards, that their father had held for long years. “The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office,” he says, bowing his head.

Now that the king is restored, it is only right that the people see the symbol of the Stewards’ power returned. The thought does not stay Boromir’s fear that Aragorn will indeed dismiss him from his service, however, and he dreads the words I release you from your duty, so much that a palpable tremor runs through his hands. He feels Faramir’s eyes upon him, steady, as if to say, I am with you brother, however Aragorn’s decision plays out. Knows his brother would reach out for him, if he could.

Boromir’s hands tremble for but a moment longer before Aragorn takes the rod from him, gentle, and his hands close around Boromir’s, steadying them.

“The office of the Stewards of Gondor is not ended,” Aragorn announces for all to hear, reassuring. “It shall be yours and your heirs, as long as my line shall last.” He smiles down at the two of them, kind, and holds out the white rod, somehow beautiful, renewed, in his hands. “Rise, Boromir, Faramir, sons of Denethor, Stewards of Gondor. Rise now, and do your duty.”

With this, Aragorn has fulfilled his promise to them, has made their dual Stewardship official, and Boromir and Faramir share a smile, equally bright and wide in their joy, as they take back the rod from Aragorn.

When Boromir has risen to his feet once more, his voice rings out, resonant, above the crowds. “People of Gondor,” he begins. “Hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold—” he bows his head toward Aragorn, respectful, “—one has come to claim the kingship again at last. Here is Aragorn, son of Arathorn.”

At this announcement of Aragorn’s lineage, Boromir pauses, the memory of when he last heard those words rising to mind.

He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn, Legolas had said, when the Fellowship had gathered for the first time in Rivendell. You owe him your allegiance.

Boromir wishes now he could swallow his callous words from back then, of Gondor has no king—Gondor needs no king, in shame. But what was said has been said, and he has since proved he believes the very antithesis of those thoughtless words, in actions and in deed.

Faramir nods at him now, an extra push of courage, and Boromir finds his voice again.

“He is Chieftain of the Dúnedain of Arnor. Captain of the Host of the West. Bearer of the Star of the North and wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle, whose hands bring healing. This is Elessar, of the line of Valandil, Isildur's son, Elendil's son of Númenor.” Boromir takes a breath, before bellowing, “Shall he be king and enter into the City and dwell there?”

The roaring din of approval among the gathered people is deafening, and Aragorn’s deepest smile at the sound of it warms Boromir’s heart.

Faramir stands forward now, bold, brave, and raises his hand for the crowd’s silence. When the crowd has calmed once more, Faramir speaks, his voice clear like the brightest bells, filling Boromir’s chest with pride and affection. “People of Gondor,” he says. “Today, using the authority of the Steward, I have had brought here the crown of Eärnur, the last king. In the hopes that this crown shall sit upon a king’s brow once more.”

With that, Faramir withdraws to Boromir’s side again, and they take their place among friends and fellow soldiers, of Gondor and of Rohan. Boromir is grateful that Faramir had volunteered to take the role of presenting the crown; with his usual tact, Faramir has gracefully sidestepped mention of the custom of the prior king passing on the crown to his heir, or failing that, the new king having to wrench it from the hands of his father in the tombs.

Four guards, dressed in the armour of the Citadel, step forward now, bearing a black casket rimmed with silver. They present it to Gandalf, whom Aragorn has chosen to set the crown upon his head in place of his father. Gandalf opens the casket, and from it lifts the ancient crown.

It is a silver circlet, the prow and stern of which take the shape of a seabird’s wings, and the band of which is carved with interlaced patterns, intricate. Set in the crown’s high prow is the White Tree, in an accent of gold, and adorning each side of the crown are stars—token symbols of the seven stars of Elendil and his captains.

Gandalf smiles, sage, and sets the crown upon Aragorn’s head. “Now come the days of the King!” he announces. “May they be blessed.”

Aragorn turns to the gathered people, then. “This day does not belong to one man,” he says, humble, “but to all. Let us together rebuild this world, that we may share in the days of peace.”

Together, Boromir and Faramir watch as their king takes a breath and intones a verse:

Et Eärello Endorenna utúlien
Sinome maruvan ar Hildinyar
tenn' Ambar-metta


The words seem compelling, and the melody otherworldly and fey. Boromir only recognizes the language as Quenya from the tomes Faramir would share with him in their younger days, and he sees now the curiously fond smile curving Faramir’s lips.

“It is a beautiful song,” Boromir offers, feeling boorish and uncultured. Surely, if anyone knows the meaning, the importance of Aragorn’s words, it would be Faramir, and he feels a measure of shame at not having listened more closely to Faramir’s eager rambling all those years ago.

“It is,” agrees Faramir, and his grin curves all the wider at Boromir’s sullen expression. He takes Boromir’s hand in his, under cover of the banners and knights surrounding them, careful to hide their joined hands within their cloaks. “It is the Oath of Elendil,” he explains. “The words he spoke when first he came out of the Sea, on the wings of the wind. It means, ‘Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world.’”

“Ah,” Boromir smiles, in understanding. “That is beautiful, indeed.”

And as Aragorn nears them in his procession before he enters the city, Boromir and Faramir bow honourably to him together, side by side as they have always hoped to. In matching ceremonial robes and cloaks, the borders and collars of which are embroidered with golden flowers, the traditional finery of the officials of Gondor.

Faramir’s are a rich, midnight blue, his garments glittering and darkening both as the light shines upon it, reminiscent of the sea against the night sky. Boromir’s are the deepest crimson, the fiery red of a sky before the sun dips below the horizon. In this, their robes match their temperaments well, Boromir being the quicker to action, fierce when there is need for it, and Faramir being ever perceptive, with his careful, well-thought out ways. Both brothers bear breastplates proudly emblazoned with the White Tree of Gondor.

The afternoon breeze brings with it the fragrance of the White Tree’s new blossoms, from high above the city. Scatters the petals, beautiful, across the crowds and in the path of Aragorn’s procession, as he reunites with his love, the Lady Arwen, hidden as she was within the host of Elves.

And if, in the ensuing clamor of celebration, Boromir slips his hand into Faramir’s once more and threads his fingers through the spaces between, no one is the wiser.

~


Later, when nearly all the ale has been broken out, and every other drink in Minas Tirith’s cellars besides, Boromir pours both Faramir and himself a generous portion of the wine he has been hoarding in his rooms. For an occasion such as this. Aragorn has by now entered the Citadel, and the King’s standard, of seven stars set about the White Tree and a winged crown, flies high from the White Tower of Ecthelion. It is a symbol of hope, a declaration that Gondor’s king has finally come home.

“Remember today, little brother,” says Boromir. He tips their steins together with an audible clink, as they stand beneath the flower-laden branches of the White Tree. “Today—today life is good.” It is an echo of his words from so long ago, but he would have Faramir remember these words in happiness, not the sorrow from their parting before.

Faramir smiles into his drink, and upon finding that no one is watching them, despite how crowded the courtyard is, he leans in close. “Boromir,” he says. “From now on, every day—as long as I have it with you—life is good.” He fixes Boromir with a heated look, one full of such promise and good things to come, that it makes Boromir think he can weather all the dark times, the dark places of the world, if only he is with Faramir.

His brother has always made him want more, dare more, and this moment is no exception.

“Oh,” Boromir blinks. He swallows hard as he nods, in complete agreement with Faramir’s sentiment. Faramir has always had a way with words, but even now, in the distant presence of their friends, their comrades, he still knows just what to say, to stir that swell of affection in Boromir’s chest. “Yes.”

After, when they find a space for themselves, secreted away in a little-used chamber in the White Tower, Faramir pins him to the wall, kissing him again and again, hard and deep and good. Presses his tongue into Boromir’s mouth, to taste, to plunder, before yielding sweetly under Boromir’s conquest in turn.

In his haste to reciprocate, Boromir ends up spilling his wine on himself, and never has he been more thankful than in that moment that his finest robes are the color of the wine, a velvet deep and rich and red.

~


The banquet following the coronation that evening is a boisterous affair, the Merethrond rife with the sound of song and laughter, and the cooks delve at last into stores of food meant to last the winters, to produce a feast worth remembering. Each table in the grand hall is laden with golden biscuits and hot, buttered rolls, platters of roast mutton and fowl with rich gravy for the flavoring, and dishes piled high with everything from shelled peas and sweet corn to seasoned squash and potatoes. An abundance of ripe cheeses and succulent sausages completes each tableau, alongside desserts of luscious berry pies, frosted cookies, and cream cakes bordered by cinnamon spice tarts.

And when both Boromir and Faramir have had their fill of the roasted meats and cheese and wine—the drink courtesy of the Elves’ own endless supplies—a single, reverberating beat of a drum sounds, signifying the start of a dance.

Several stifling court dances follow, before the other soldiers and the lasses in their company break into some of the more common folk dances, and the hall is once again lively, filled with a wild and raucous joy.

Boromir enjoys himself well enough, amusing himself with the surprising grace of Elves and Dwarves both, and clapping in time with the music, spinning the ladies that join him—noblewomen and relatives of visiting dignitaries—briefly in the dance this way and that.

He is surprised to find, however, that on the last turn, instead of his arms circling yet another of the numerous, nameless maidens, his arms are full of Faramir. Finds that he does not very much mind at all.

A quick glance at the darkened corners of the hall proves his suspicions correct: one of the women has indeed slipped away, leaving them at odd numbers. Her hurried, unannounced departure could perhaps be attributed to—

“A tryst with a lover,” Faramir muses, his voice pitched low, and Boromir could swear, inviting.

“Oh?” Boromir grins, as they press their palms together and prance a circle around each other. “And have you any of your own to attend? Perhaps with one of the maidens you may have taken a fancy to?”

Faramir worries his lip with teeth for all but a moment, thinking, before breaking into a sly smile. “Why yes, there was one that caught my fancy,” he says. He takes Boromir’s hands in his for a circular turn, before Boromir must wind his arms around Faramir’s waist again.

“Ah,” Boromir says, his throat dry, as they make their way across the floor, in careful, controlled pirouettes. A curious pang of jealousy throbs in his chest, but he would not begrudge his brother another lover; he knows he has no right to possess Faramir forever, to hoard Faramir’s time and love and life for his own.

Even if another part of him wants to. Wants to sink claws into Faramir, to claim him for his own, for as long as Faramir will let him.

Boromir,” Faramir reprimands, laughing, when Boromir misses a step in their dance, nearly sending them both tumbling to the ground. Leans in, his lips near enough to brush the shell of Boromir’s ear, sending a shiver of anticipation down his spine. “There is one who caught my fancy,” Faramir says. “With hair the hue of molten honey, and a smile that rivals the brightness of the sun. Eyes the color of the wild sea in a storm.” He smiles then, the edges of his mouth soft and fond. “How could I not be captivated?”

Boromir snorts, arching a brow in disbelief. “It was only her visage that captivated you?” Certainly his brother cannot be faulted for being drawn to such fine features, but he hopes there is more substance to his attraction than that.

Faramir’s lips tilt into a wider grin. “Not only.” His eyes are alight with mirth now. “I would tell you of her laugh—a pleasing, low baritone, like the soft beat of a snare drum in song. Her hands, though calloused and rough, that could heal any hurt, and calm any fear. And then…”

Having furrowed his brow at the word baritone to describe the lady’s laugh, Boromir frowns. “Are you speaking of one of the maids? One of the healers, perhaps?” He knows of no other Faramir could know the touch of, in healing his hurts, and soothing his fears. When he looks into Faramir’s eyes, he finds his brother’s eyes suddenly brighter than they should be, as if they were rimmed with tears. “Faramir?” he asks, careful. “Are you all right?”

The music has ended by now, the pleasant strumming of harp strings and delicate notes of flutes fading into the night, and Boromir ushers Faramir to a secluded section of the hall, away from the guests. Away from whoever has reduced his brother to this, heartbroken and lovelorn.

“And then,” Faramir charges on, as if he has not heard Boromir, “he had the gall to take on a journey to a place none had heard of, save in the old texts and legends. To leave me for months without word of his whereabouts, until I received a sign, a token of his, sundered in two.

“I thought him dead,” rasps Faramir, his fingers closing around Boromir’s hands, tight. “And all I could think was that I would no longer know the touch of your calloused hands. The sound of your low, resonant laugh, that would let me weather even the darkest of times.” He swallows audibly, before his hands slide into the hair at the base of Boromir’s neck, twisting, not tight enough to hurt, but hard enough to be possessive and angry and afraid. “I feared I would never again see the sun’s light on your hair, the color of the honey we would steal from the kitchens as children. I…I could not bear the loss of you. Could not see a future without you in it.”

Boromir swallows hard around the lump that has formed in his throat. What began in jest between them has taken a different turn; has changed from joke to confession, Faramir’s pronouns of her drifting slowly into you and me and we.

“Oh, Faramir,” he says, his heart lodged in his throat. He folds his brother into his arms, letting Faramir fit himself into the hollow of his neck. Kisses the crown of his head, making sure Faramir knows with every touch and every kiss that he is here, he is safe, he is alive.

“Even when you returned, from that fateful place in my vision, yet another battle would take you from me.” Faramir shakes his head, the furrow of his brow and the draw of his mouth relaying his anguish, subtle as the signs are. “I would have gone with you, Boromir, if I could.” His hands clench tight in the fabric of Boromir’s cloak, trembling. “I would have gone with you to the end. Would have been by your side for every battle, and every hurt. I would have shared in each of your defeats and your triumphs the same.”

“And you will,” says Boromir, gentle, as he loops his arms around Faramir’s waist, hitching him in, tight. “You will yet.”

From this, Boromir knows it will only ever be Faramir who breaks him open like this, lays him out open and raw, his admission striking a chord deep within him. Just as he knows they will be the only ones to put each other back together.

He lets Faramir crush their mouths against each other, to reaffirm that they are safe, that they are together. Lets Faramir bully his way between his legs and push him against the wall of the alcove, to kiss him again and again, like a drowning man desperate for air, until Faramir’s thirst for him has been slaked, until he has had his fill of kisses, his share of promises that they shall not be parted again.

Until Faramir’s hands stop trembling and he simply leans against Boromir for support, content to revel in the safety and comfort his brother provides.

“Do you feel ready to rejoin the festivities?” Boromir asks, when Faramir’s shaky breaths have evened out, steadier, quiet. “I believe I just heard the sound of another barrel of liquor rolled out for rejoicing.” He quirks a grin at Faramir. Perhaps they can find time for another stein of wine or two with their comrades, before he takes Faramir to bed, to calm him and soothe his fears.

“In a moment,” says Faramir. He nestles into Boromir’s warmth, his arms looped about Boromir’s waist and joined at the small of his back. “Right now, I only want you.”

Boromir chuckles. “Then you shall have me, little brother, for as long as you wish.”

“Forever,” says Faramir, his voice sounding too small and vulnerable by half. He digs fingers into Boromir’s cloak, possessive, greedy, allows Boromir to do the same. “I wish to have you forever.”

“Forever, then,” Boromir assures him, tilting his mouth to meet Faramir’s in a kiss that is equal parts hungry and eager. He touches his tongue to Faramir’s, tasting the last traces of mulled wine and honeyed fruit, and closes his arms around Faramir’s shoulders tighter, fingers sinking deeper into the soft velvet-blue of his cloak, the way he has always wanted to. “As you wish.”

~


By the time both Boromir and Faramir are ready to join the others, Damrod and several fellow Rangers and soldiers are already deep in their cups, sprawled in compromising positions along benches and beneath tables. They manage to rouse Anborn and Mablung enough to drink to their fallen comrades, as well as drink a toast to their new king and the future—though Éomer, joining them midway with another tankard in hand despite the ruddiness of his cheeks, jests that they should save some drink for Aragorn’s wedding, which is to take place later.

Boromir is standing near a great barrel of wine, wondering whether to ply his brother with more drink to encourage the pleasing flush spreading across Faramir’s face, or to simply give him water before he faints from an excess of drink, when Faramir nudges him low in his side.

“What is it?” Boromir smiles as he leans in, wondering which endearment Faramir will tease him with this time. What sensual sentiments he will whisper in Boromir’s ear, filthy, provocative and all kinds of intoxicating. The last had involved a detailed description of what he planned to do with Boromir and the set of little-used furs in his room, and Faramir had made it quite clear who was to be in charge for that

“Oh,” Boromir says, quiet, as he follows Faramir’s gaze. Looks away just as quickly, before he catches the eye of Frodo and Sam, who are assessing the quality of smoked meats for consumption at a neighboring table. Sam assesses the cuts of meat rather voraciously, while Frodo only looks on and laughs.

“Go on,” says Faramir. “I shall be here if you need me, but I know there is something you have wished to say to them. For quite some time.”

“Perhaps another time,” Boromir hedges quickly. “I would not seek to disrupt their merriment for the sake of my…” My peace of mind, he thinks. I am not ready to face them again, it is too soon. “Faramir, I cannot—

Faramir cups Boromir’s elbow, steadying his arm. He had not known his hands were shaking until Faramir supported him, had taken the stein of wine from him and set it down.

“I have spoken with Frodo,” says Faramir, “and I think you shall find him receptive to what you have to say. He wishes dearly for it, in fact.” With a smile, he rubs circles into Boromir’s back, warm and encouraging. Pushes him in the Halflings’ direction, gentle.

With Faramir at his back and the assurance that he will be there should Boromir need him, Boromir takes the first steps toward Frodo and Sam, his heart beating double time in his chest.

“Boromir!” Frodo cries happily, as Boromir nears. Sam sets his platter of meats down for long enough to angle his body protectively in front of Frodo, and nods guardedly at Boromir. “I didn’t see you with the others, when I woke near the healing halls,” Frodo says, a frown tugging at his mouth. “Where were you?”

“I did not think you would—I did not think my presence was wanted,” Boromir admits, unable to meet Frodo’s eyes. From a distance, he hears Faramir subtly clear his throat, and he raises his head to meet Frodo’s gaze again. “Frodo, Sam. There is…there is something I have wished to say to you, for long months.”

Something softens in Sam’s expression, in the lines of his mouth and the corners of his eyes. “I’ll give you two a moment alone,” Sam offers, turning to Frodo. “But I shan’t be far away.”

Boromir smiles, touched. “No, Sam—what I have to say can be spoken to both of you. I have no need for secrecy or pretense.”

“It’s just, seems to me you’ve been working up to this awful long,” says Sam. He pauses, thoughtful. “And I’d like to let you see it through, if you understand me.” Before Boromir can offer his thanks, Sam tips them a smart nod each and heads to a neighboring table, to join Merry and Pippin in their tipsy carousing.

Not one to waste the opportunity both Faramir and Sam have created for them, Boromir pushes onward. “Frodo,” he tries, “I—for all that has passed between us—you have my sincerest apologies.” Boromir draws in a soft, labored breath. “I am glad you had the fortitude to stand against me then, at Amon Hen. That you did what I could not, and led the ring to its destruction in the fires of Mount Doom.

“But I know not what I may do, to atone for my actions against you back then.” He steps closer to Frodo, in earnest, his voice hushed. “If there is, you need only speak, and I would do it—”

“Boromir,” Frodo says, quiet, and in his voice Boromir can hear not pity, but such empathy that a tear slips out, unbidden, cresting the curve of Boromir’s cheekbone and gliding down his jaw. “You were not yourself that day. None in the Ring’s thrall ever are. It took your desires and twisted them against you—yes,” Frodo nods, at Boromir’s look of surprise. “Faramir has since spoken to me of the burden you carried, one far greater than the ring itself. How the burden of not only restoring Gondor to its former glory, but protecting the city—your people, your home—fell to you.”

Boromir swallows, hard. It had been such a burden to carry, such a weight upon his shoulders, one he had only been able to bear for so long because of the quiet strength and support that Faramir had given him. Even then, it had not been enough to save their people, their comrades, against the ever-growing tide of Mordor’s forces.

I ask only for the strength to protect my people, Boromir had said, when he was at his most desperate. When the ring was just beyond arm’s reach. It had called to him, and in its siren song, promised that his people would live, would flourish under the ring’s power.

Had promised that Faramir would be safe, and would never again see battle.

It had known, of Boromir’s most secret and selfish desires, and turned them into his undoing.

Faced with this brutally accurate assessment, Boromir can only nod, even as Frodo clears his throat and nods in Merry and Pippin’s direction. “My kin,” Frodo says, a fond smile spreading slowly over his face, “tell me of how fervently you defended them against Saruman’s army, back in Amon Hen. And Aragorn, of how valiantly you fought at the Black Gate, to turn Sauron’s eye away from Sam and I.

“So you see,” says Frodo softly, “if it was your wish to atone, you have. And by doing so, you have kept your honor; you have shown your quality, and I know it to be of the very highest. If it is guilt, if it is the burden of one moment’s misstep that you have carried all this time, please, carry it no more.”

Stunned by the depth of Frodo’s kindness, Boromir stands stock-still. “Surely there must be something I could…” he tries searchingly.

“You have my respect, Boromir,” Frodo smiles, reassuring, “and my admiration. And if it is my forgiveness you seek, worry not, for there is nothing to forgive.” Frodo casts his gaze upon the ground, and his next words, spoken with utmost sincerity, shake Boromir to the core. “I, too, have known the call of the Ring. Have done unspeakable things in its name.” When he finally meets Boromir’s eyes again, Frodo’s have still the same brightness and spark, but Boromir sees they have known the same fears. The same darkness. “You are not alone.”

With that, Boromir feels something unfurl in his chest, a lightness he had not known until now, a new joy that lifts his spirit and brightens his heart. “Thank you, Frodo,” he says. He could weep, at this understanding, this sense of forgiveness, despite Frodo saying there is nothing to pardon. “Thank you.”

Frodo smiles then, his impish grin contradicting his true age. “I think, at last, we understand one another now,” he says, and he sounds so much like Faramir in that moment that Boromir smiles back instinctually, before Merry and Pippin drag Frodo away to join in their revels.

“Well?” says Faramir, making his way toward Boromir. He curves an arm around Boromir’s shoulders, and upon finding no one else immediately present, dares to slide it lower, subtle, his fingers curling over the jut of Boromir’s hip. “Did you say all that you wished to?”

Boromir nods. “That, and more besides.” He turns to his brother then. “Thank you,” he says softly. “For explaining to Frodo, the burden we—that I—of Gondor, and our city—”

Faramir waves it off, gently dismissive. “It was no trouble.” He squeezes Boromir’s hip, playful. “Now if you are quite done, I should like you to rejoin me in the festivities.” He nods toward the two steins, frothing with ale, that await them at a nearby table.

“I should like nothing more,” Boromir says, laughing, his heart and soul and every inch of his being finally free.

~


Faramir ushers Boromir to the table, where they take up their places among friends, before excusing himself to see to something in the kitchens. Boromir mourns the loss of Faramir’s warmth and subtle touches for all of a moment before Faramir reappears at his side, carrying a slice of treacle tart topped with a dollop of fresh custard he has snuck from the kitchens.

“The cook nearly had my head for taking it,” Faramir laughs, as he sets the plate down before Boromir. “But it is our favorite, after all.” It is a longstanding comfort food of theirs, and this occasion—of having summoned the courage to say the things Boromir for long months could not—certainly calls for it.

Oh,” Boromir sighs happily, eyeing the tart, eager. He looks up, meaning to say Thank you and something akin to I love you, to show his gratitude for Faramir having navigated the chaotic battleground the kitchens must be, just for him.

His next words die in his throat, however, for when Faramir beams at him with the broadest smile, a touch of custard smeared on his nose, Boromir is suddenly struck by the urge to clasp Faramir’s face in his hands. To lick the cream from his nose and see if Faramir’s lovely flush deepens further. To press his thumbs against the crow’s feet of Faramir’s eyes and trace them to where they fan out to his temples, that he can know the shape and curvature of Faramir’s happiness. To dip the pads of his fingers into the crease of Faramir’s jaw as he laughs, and know the texture and sound both of his brother’s laughter.

As it is, he wicks the cream away discreetly, licking the pad of his thumb for a taste of salt and custard and Faramir. Touches Faramir’s knee beneath the table, a brief, fleeting pressure.

It will have to suffice.

Faramir, for his part, smiles into his ale, disguising it as amusement at the Halflings’ performance from a distance away; their songs, though loud, are less bawdy now, and their dances less lively than when Boromir first knew them, as if the Halflings themselves have become more subdued. As if their joy has been tempered by loss, as everyone’s has. However, Merry and Pippin still put on quite the show, with Frodo and Sam clapping in time to their song.

Later, Faramir lets the little finger of his right hand brush Boromir’s under the table. And when Boromir allows it to linger, Faramir curls it around Boromir’s, bold. The others at their table are too deep in their cups to notice, and the surrounding tables are focused on yet another drinking competition between Legolas and Gimli, of which Éomer is the sole arbiter.

“Captain Faramir!” one of Faramir’s Rangers exclaims, startling them from their reverie as he sets his stein down, heavy, on the table. “And Lord Boromir!” He searches for a space of his own among the others slumped in varying degrees of inebriation along the bench, and eventually shuffles in beside Rador, the recruit who had once borne hope to Faramir of Boromir’s survival. Judging by Rador’s feeble moan when the other Ranger nudges him aside, Rador might indeed have grown better at battle, but has yet to grow better at holding his liquor.

“Gelion!” Boromir greets warmly. He remembers Gelion as one of the few he and Faramir had managed to get to safety at Osgiliath, before the Nazgûl’s attack. Remembers thinking that Gelion was long past his prime, growing long in the tooth, but appreciating that he had been one to nominate Faramir to his position as Captain. To follow him out of loyalty, and belief in Faramir’s leadership. He smiles and inclines his head in an approving nod at Gelion.

Gelion returns the smile, before knocking his stein rather tipsily into Faramir’s, and Faramir returns the gesture with enthusiasm, their toast resulting in the spill of ale on the table and laughter all around.

“It is good to see you in high spirits again!” Gelion says, beaming at Faramir. “I have not seen you smile like this since…” He pauses, as if to sift through his collection of ale-muddled memories. “Since last we retook Osgiliath.”

Faramir only chuckles, neither confirming nor denying it, and the conversation is forgotten as soon as one of the maids arrives with another cask of ale for the taking.

“Is it true?” Boromir asks, when the others have cleared from the table, stumbling to the soldier’s quarters to sleep off the effects of the ale, or foraging at the larger tables for food. He picks at the last crumbs of their tart, though throughout the banquet Boromir has had a larger dessert than treacle tart in mind.

Faramir hums happily, as he takes a swig of ale. “Is what true?”

“That you have not smiled like this, felt joy of this measure since we retook Osgiliath?”

Boromir remembers the day vividly: he had planted Gondor’s flag high upon the ruins, with the announcement, This city, of Osgiliath, has been reclaimed—for Gondor! Had been the first Faramir greeted upon the army’s return, feeling the pure relief and joy in the strength of Faramir’s embrace. Reveled in the warmth of his smile, golden, like the ever-waning sun over the White City, longing to trace the crow’s feet at Faramir’s eyes when he laughed, the sound of it clear and bright and real.

“I know I did when I received the missive that you lived,” Faramir says, the corner of his mouth twitching into a grin. “But even so, I suppose it has been a while.”

“Then I have a new resolution,” Boromir declares. “That I shall give you all the joyful moments I can, that you may smile like this for all the days of your life.”

All the days of my life?” Faramir smiles, beatific. “That is a tall order, indeed.” He covers Boromir’s hand with his beneath the table, no longer content with only the barest of touches, and his smile widens when Boromir curls fingers into his in response. “Perhaps we should start tonight. Slip away for a merrymaking of our own.”

“Mmhn.” Boromir beams, pleased that Faramir shares the same thoughts he has had in mind the entire night. He leans in and fixes Faramir with a look, one laden with such purpose that Faramir visibly shivers. “I shall wait for you in your room, then,” Boromir murmurs, low and enticing. Grins a wolf’s grin, all sharpness and teeth, when Faramir swallows hard, catching his meaning of what is to come.

With that, Boromir rises to his feet, allowing himself one last look back at Faramir, lovely in the waning light of the feasting hall. Tips his brother a nod, despite how sorely tempted he is to take Faramir by the hand and lead him back to their rooms. He could do it, too—could take Faramir back to his room on the pretense that his brother has had too much to drink, and needs a good night’s sleep to offset the effects of his ale consumed—but Faramir does not look nearly intoxicated enough, and Boromir knows not if he can keep his hands, mouth, and lips to himself right now.

And when Faramir nods back, in silent understanding that he will follow, but only when enough time has passed, he grins at Boromir, sly.

I know what you wish, Faramir seems to say, his brother always too clever by half, and Boromir realizes belatedly that his gaze has been riveted to the curve of Faramir’s lips. That he has been pondering how soft and plump they would be, moistened with drink as they are.

I know what you wish, Faramir nods.

And if you would wait but a little longer, you shall have me. In body, in heart, and in soul.


(tbc - Chapter 10b)
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