The Beauty of Memory
Faramir had scrolls laid out before them. He seemed intent upon them, but closer perusal would have shown he was looking on them, but not at them. He could hear voices in the background, but could not have said what the voices were saying. No, he was somewhere else altogether.
What he was seeing was something entirely far and away from this room. He was ten years old, his brother a big and strapping fifteen year old, and already full of the fire that would later serve him so well. What many people didn’t know about Boromir was he had unobvious weaknesses, and children and helpless animals were two of them.
Faramir’s fingers tapped on the scrolls absent-mindedly. He could see it before him as though it were but yesterday, the kitten on the parapet, and Boromir climbing out to rescue it. Yes, definite aspects of his brother’s complex personality had been completely overlooked by too many people.
Faramir recalled how Boromir had gently plucked the tiny ball of fur from its precarious perch and, cuddling it to his already developing chest, cautiously crept back into the window. He’d sat on the windowsill for a bit, stroking the kitten to calm it. Faramir could still see the sheepish grin on his young face.
It seemed to Faramir now, looking back, that his brother had been so young, yet daily growing. How he missed him! It is hard to lose a brother, to know one will never see those eyes alight with mirth or passion ever again, never see him wed, never see a child from that union, no one to carry on that particular line. It made him wonder, at times, the use of such memories. For over and over, they played in his mind, sometimes pushing out all other thoughts. It was like the socket where a tooth used to be that one couldn’t keep the tongue out of.
“…Faramir…Lord Faramir…? My Lord Faramir!” the page called rather loudly. It was only then that Faramir realized he had been summoned. How long had the boy been there, calling his name?
“The King, My Lord, wishes to see you.”
Faramir heaved a huge sigh, rose, and followed the boy. They eventually wound up at the fountain, where King Elessar sat beside a boy. No, No, not a boy, this was the halfling, Peregrin. No boy would be in that uniform. The halfling’s arm was still in a sling, a small bandage still bound about his brow. The halfling had nearly been crushed to death saving one of Faramir’s most loyal soldiers, Beregond, from a monstrous troll. The little soldier had killed the troll, and at great price. He had nearly died.
He thought of how small Peregrin was, and how he must have felt when he attacked the troll. Such bravery in the face of danger and great fear, for one cannot be brave without first being afraid. And still, little Peregrin had done this deed, had gone to what must have seemed like his own death, to stop the troll from ripping out Beregond’s throat with it’s teeth.
Gondor had been spared the loss of a fine soldier, a father and a husband. There had been enough grief in Gondor, one more orphan, one more widow, was one more too many. Again, Faramir marveled at the heroism of Gondor’s smallest soldier. Ernil i Pheriannath, he was called.
Yes, it fit. There was something of nobility in the countenance of this little one, one could not help but respect him, for all his personal charm. There was a certain posture in the halfling that stuck Faramir as that of one nobly born, and of at least some accomplishments. And there was something else he could not quite put his finger on, something oh so familiar…
The King and the Ernil sat side by side until Faramir approached, at which time Peregrin rose, and, bowing low despite his healing wounds, greeted Faramir with respect edged in true affection and admiration.
Peregrin poured a goblet of wine, which he politely served to Faramir. They raised their cups in a silent salutation, for their hard won victory and the coming days. No words were needed, and so none were spoken. It would soon be time for the halfling to go home.
Much had remained unsaid, and now King Elessar would have it said. The day Faramir had dreaded had come; the King wanted to discuss Boromir.
The conversation was a long and winding one, mostly taken up by Peregrin, who had loved Boromir from the first, and who had sworn to Gondor to repay his debt in return for Boromir’s sacrifice of his life. Later Faramir would recall this conversation, which consisted of little vignettes of the journey related by both King and halfling. Tales were told of the many great deeds of his brother, and some very amusing anecdotes were shared as well.
Faramir soon found that time had flown by, and found he was smiling and even laughing at the little stories. Still the halfling spoke, a natural storyteller if ever there was one. His gestures were limited by the arm in the sling, but nonetheless animated and very heartfelt. As much as Faramir was enjoying this, he wondered what the King had wanted with him, for no pressing business had been discussed. The wine was getting low, the conversation slowed, and soon the King ordered Peregrin back to his sickbed.
It was when Peregrin saluted him in farewell that Faramir saw that familiarity in him again, and having just been discussing his brother, he then saw what that familiarity was. Somewhere in the bright eyes, he saw it, there in the squared shoulders and the sudden nobility of posture and gesture upon the halfling’s goodbye, Faramir realized that certain gestures and postures, certain looks…
Well, there was no other way to put it! They belonged to Boromir. Obviously, Boromir had been more than a friend to the small soldier, he had been a teacher, and an influence. As Peregrin walked away, Faramir noticed something in his walk as well. It wasn’t quite a strut, but didn’t lack much to qualify it as such. He suddenly burst out with laughter. Peregrin looked over his shoulder and lifted a hand in a short, chopping gesture
that bid farewell. Even this had been a gesture Boromir had used.
It struck Faramir that in this, there was beauty. Life goes on, and so would his brother, in the small but brave form of Gondor’s smallest soldier. No, there would be no children from his brother, exactly…only there was! There, in that small form, in that brave heart and clever mind of the halfling, his brother yet lived. And if Boromir lived in Peregrin, then he could certainly live in Faramir as well.
King Elessar was a very wise man. No words were spoken for yet a while. Then Faramir turned to the King and thanked him.
“There is the memory of beauty, and then there is the beauty of memory, Lord Faramir. Never forget the halfling, Peregrin.” the King said, softly and with great affection, for Peregrin, for Faramir, and yes, for Boromir.
“It was good to see him again, my Lord.” Faramir replied.
“The halfling?” asked the king.
“Yes, Peregrin; it was good to see him. Good also to see Boromir again.” He could smile now even through his greatest grief, thinking, `I will see you again, Boromir, and that very soon.’
Yes, the hands of the King were the hands of a healer. So, it seemed, was the soul of the Ernil i Pheriannath.