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Chapter 9 – Brothers at Heart
The walls of Minas Tirith rose above the winter wheat that blew across the Fields of Pelennor at an uneven height due to good portions of the wall having been damaged by the catapults used by the forces of Mordor. Repair work continued but some portions were being held in wait for the dwarfs of Erebor to rebuild as a service to honour Aragorn as the restored King of Gondor. Faramir looked from the walls to the fields beyond. The ruts made by the siege engines were healing. Life is its varied form was returning all across the field save one spot where the Witch King fell. Upon that spot no grass would grow. It was a spot of barren dirt surrounded by growth. Faramir’s face grew somber when he thought back to the fact that Eowyn had, along with Merry, killed the Witch King. They had both been enveloped by the Black Breath and he knew how the shadow had harrowed his soul. He knew what the Black Breath had shown him, it had been his dearest desire perverted into his worst nightmare. He had not had the courage to ask what the Black Breath had shown Eowyn.
“My Lord Faramir,” Éomer’s voice interrupted his tortured musings.
Faramir looked at Éomer, the last vestiges of tormented memory leaving his eyes as he spoke, “We are soon to be brothers. If you would allow, I would have no such formalities between us, Brother.” He finished with a question mark on that last word.
Éomer looked upon this man who had won his sister’s heart and brought light into her eyes. He had already a great deal of respect for this man; but his words now kindled brotherly affection as well. “Aye. –Brother.” Faramir felt gratitude in his heart as he acknowledged this acceptance. But it did not seem that Éomer was quite finished. Faramir felt as if the younger man was building up to saying something else. Éomer started hesitantly, “I asked to come out to view the rebuilding because first, I am interested in how goes the restoration, but also to have some time away from the others.”
Fear inexplicably flared within Faramir’s heart. He closed his eyes, belatedly realizing that he had assumed too much in thinking Éomer would consider him his brother. He silently berated himself and prepared for condemnation and denial, the habits of a lifetime spent never being good enough, never meeting with the approval of the one whom he never seemed to please. “What is it that you wished to say,” he found himself saying in that calm, controlled voice that had always awaited rejection in times past. He steeled himself against what always and inevitably lead to pain.
Éomer ventured forward not noticing the change in demeanor of this man he had come to respect greatly. He continued haltingly, “My sister has not had a lot of happiness in her life. Our father died from injuries from an orc attack and our mother, I guess through grief, followed him a little over a year after that. Well, you know a little about that now.” Éomer said, referring to the story of the amulet that Eowyn always wore. “She was only eight when we went to live in Edoras. Uncle Theoden was more than kind, more a father to both of us than an uncle, but going from the relative freedom of our holding to court life was not easy. I was starting to train as a Rider but Eowyn had no such outlet, I realise now, looking back.” Faramir sat his horse listening and waiting for the condemnation to fall. He had started to grasp his reins tighter and the waiting was becoming harder and harder to bear. “Forgive me,” Éomer interrupted himself, “I do not express myself as well as I could. I am not made for such talk.”
Faramir turned saddened and resigned eyes upon Éomer, “It is okay, please say what you are here to say,” again in that calm, controlled voice. He steeled himself again, waiting for the fateful words he knew were coming. This had all been too good to be true. His father was right. He was not worthy of regard or love.
Éomer continued in his own fumbling way, not noticing the tension that was building within his friend. “Well, Court life was not easy for Eowyn, as you have noticed she is not given to concern herself with the fripperies and fantasies that consumes most ladies of the court. And she was thought odd by the other ladies because of it. She devoted herself to tending our uncle, becoming his companion…What I am trying to say in obviously the most roundabout way,” Faramir closed his eyes and bowed his head, telling himself that he could withstand the rejection of Éowyn. He could be alone. That he would survive. Éomer continued, “Is that I want to thank you for giving Éowyn her smile back. There is now hope in her heart because of you. I thank you and as her brother, who loves her more than life. I am very happy about this union.”
Faramir sat his horse only through years of endless training. His heart was pounding in his ears and he could barely hear beyond that sound. Éowyn loved him. She had not sent Éomer out here to tell Faramir there was to be no wedding. He slowly loosened the death grip he had on the reins as they stood near the place where the Witch King had been killed. She loved him.
Éomer sat looking curiously at his friend and soon-to-be brother slowly realizing that Faramir was, at the very least, distracted. “Brother, did you hear me?”
Brother, Faramir hear that word and it went straight to his soul. He replied, looking straight ahead as he tried desperately hard to bring his bewildered emotions under control, “Yes, my brother,” Faramir stopped over the word letting it penetrate through the anxiety and doubt of the past few minutes, “I heard you.” Faramir turned to look Éomer straight in the eyes, “And allow me to say, she has been my salvation. And I swear to you this day I will never allow her to be unhappy ever again. I will move heaven and earth for her.”
Éomer nodded to him placing his fist on his heart, “Now then,” he began in a determined voice, “before one of us break down into tears, songs or love poetry, I suggest we go and inspect the outer east battlements!”
Faramir gave a short sharp laugh, “Yes, lets!” He touched Brandion’s flanks to set off in a trot, though his spirit was soaring. They arrived at the outer east battlements and repairs were on going. White stone quarried from white cliffs near Dol Amroth was being brought in.
“Why Dol Amroth?” Éomer asked.
Faramir replied, “Because it is the highest quality limestone in all of Gondor. I remember going there when I was young to visit my Aunt and Uncle. My cousins and I would walk on the beaches and view the white cliffs. They were huge, massive.” Faramir’s face held the wonder of that memory. “We would walk up to the sheer cliff face and look straight up. It would make you dizzy just to do it. There was another section that was not quite as high where the foolhardy young could walk along these chiseled steps to the top of the cliffs. Not man made but natural. It was like a rite of passage to prove you were not afraid of heights. It was a tight squeeze and we never told anyone what we were doing. It was time for Amrothos, my youngest cousin to test his mettle and my little cousin, Lothíriel tagged along, not that we knew that at the time.”
3007 T.A. Dol Amroth
Lothíriel had heard her brothers and her cousin Faramir talking about the white cliffs. She knew they were planning on scaling the steps again. They were planning on going right after breakfast and she was going to go with them or at least follow them.
After breakfast she asked her nurse to go and fetch a new pinafore for her doll because she had gotten it all messy from eating too much jam with her strawberry scone and she wanted her doll to be all clean for when they sat and practiced her needlepoint. Lunethiel, she explained, was a very fussy doll and liked to be clean at all times. Her nurse gave her a sideways glance but went to go and retrieve the pinafore. As soon as she left the room Lothíriel flew to the open window and gingerly stepped out and dropped the few feet onto the pathway and she took off running with Lunethiel in tow. She came to the back path that lead to the cliff beach and spotted the boys already far down the path heading for the cliffs. She followed them as carefully and quietly as she could because if they spotted her then they would tell her to go back.
She hid among the various crags along the beach while they just walked along the sandy beach kicking up ocean tide as they headed straight for the cliffs. A couple of times she had to wait for the tide to wash back out and slip to the next enclave. She looked down at her shoes, they were getting wet and sandy but that could not be helped, and she bemoaned the fact that she had really worn the wrong kind of shoes for this excursion, but there had not been time to properly change. While pondering her shoes she saw that the boys had slipped from sight. Chagrined, Lothíriel decided she needed to quicken her pace just a bit. So she took a few more chances and could again see the boys, but poor Lunethiel now had wet feet and the rim of her own dress was a little wet. She stowed Lunethiel inside her pinafore apron so the doll wouldn’t get her feet wet anymore and moved a little more quickly. She saw that they had arrived at the chiseled steps and were starting to climb, Amrothos going last. She waited until Amrothos had made it halfway. She stood at the foot of the chiseled steps and looked up. She bit her lower lip in pensive thought. It looked far steeper from this angle than it had from afar. She screwed her face up in thought and decided that if Amrothos could do it then she could, too. She began climbing. At first it seemed easy. She was even able to look around a little. The view of the sea was amazing. Seagulls flew past her calling to each other. One even looked at her with a quizzical gaze, as if to say, “Odd, little girls aren’t usually attached to cliff faces.” After about ten minutes she was starting to get tired and still had a ways to go. It was so steep that she could not rest or sit. The little steps and paths were too narrow.
Suddenly a few small rocks and dust fell on her and she shrieked at the unexpected shower and it caused her to slip briefly though she was able to right herself. From up top she her brother Elphir shout “Thiry!! Whatever are you doing down there!”
“Climbing up! You did not invite me so I came anyway!” Lothíriel tried to brazen her way through this ordeal of her own making but she was in truth getting a little scared.
“Thiry!!” She looked up and saw her cousin Faramir shouting, “you should not have come!”
Lothíriel was starting to agree with him but there was not a lot she could do except to go forward. She had looked down, a mistake in and of itself, and realised with a lightening bolt to her senses that way was simply not an option. She looked up and saw the anxious looks on her brother and cousins’ faces. She took a deep breath and willed herself to keep moving forward. She talked to her doll, “Lunethiel, don’t you panic. We will get through this! I will see you safely up top!”
She shouted back up to the top “I’m OK!” after she scooted along a particularly narrow ledge.
All three brothers, Amrothos having finally reached the top, and Faramir were now leaning over the top watching and shouting encouragement. Faramir realised that his little cousin was finally near enough the top that the rope he had with him would reach her so he shouted down, “Thiry! I’m going to throw this rope down. Tie it around your waist and just continue to climb. We can’t pull you to safety because the rockface is too craggy, but at least you will have some protection!”
At this point Lothíriel did not even argue that Amrothos did it without a rope because she was more than a little scared by this time and growing more tired as the minutes rolled by. She shouted, “Yes, please.” In what she hoped was a strong, sure voice.
Faramir’s worry increased as his indomitable little cousin was starting to sound genuinely scared. He dropped the rope down. It reached her and she quickly tied it around her waist in what she hoped was a secure knot and she continued to climb. She placed one foot as surely as she could along the thin ledge and then the other, “We are getting there, Lunethiel. We are getting there.” She whispered to her doll periodically.
The shouts of encouragement from above also rained down on her as well. “You are doing fine, Thiry!” “Not long now!”
Finally, she crested the top and found herself being pulled up the last few feet and then enveloped in a huge bear hug by three brothers and a cousin. She was safe.
When last the hug ended Elphir yelled “What in the name of Eru Iluvatar possessed you to do something like that!!”
“Well,” now that the initial fear of safety had been vanquished, Lothíriel said, “You didn’t invite me and Amrothos said I couldn’t come because climbing wasn’t for girls. But I came anyways.”
Elphir looked at Amrothos and the younger boy said, “What? It’s true.”
“No it isn’t. I can climb, too.” Lothíriel shouted back.
Elphir looked at Amrothos, “You shouldn’t goad your sister! Tisn’t right.” He pulled Amrothos aside.
Faramir knelt down to speak with Lothíriel, “You shouldn’t listen to Amrothos when he is goading you.”
“But he was wrong,” Lothíriel looking at her cousin, “I can climb, too!”
“Yes, you can and better than Amrothos! You know it and I know it. It will be our secret.”
She took Lunethiel out of her pinafore to straight up her dress. Faramir took Lunethiel and held her mouth to his ear. “What’s that?” He held the doll to his ear again, “Ah I see!” He looked at Lothíriel and said, “Lunethiel says that you were very brave, but she was scared. You don’t want to scare her again do you?” handing her back the doll.
Lothíriel said, “No, I suppose that would not be right.”
Faramir smiled and kissed her on the forehead, “That’s my brave and kind girl.”
Lothíriel looked at Lunethiel saying in private conversation, “I did get us to the top though. I got us both to safety, but I was little scared, too!” She confided.
Faramir smiled, “Lothíriel has always been fearless.”
He looked at Éomer who looked a little starstruck, “She is a wonder, indeed.” as he looked at a new slab of limestone with unseeing eyes.
Faramir looked his friend, comprehension taking full root, “She has a kind heart, but a discerning one. She knows a good heart when she sees one. And so do I.” Éomer looked from the slab to his friend in whose eyes he saw a quiet light of approval. Éomer smiled as they resumed their surveying of the outer wall.
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