Eówyn was gone – with her brother – back to Edoras. Their time together had been short – they had just met, it seemed, and she was gone. Faramir knew in his hart that it would not be forever. They had made promises, before she left; he would be patient and would wait for her return. He was hoping she would return for the wedding of Elessar, King and Arwen, daughter of Elrond. He was more than hoping; he had spoken to Aragorn of the matter. Aragorn had sent errand riders to Rohan with the invitation for Eómer, but also one for Eówyn. Faramir had sighed in relief as he watched the errand rider, the one who carried the invitation to his love, start for Edoras.
He walked to the parapet near the Houses of Healing. This was their spot – a treasured spot. On days such as this, when he missed her most terribly, he would come to this place. Yet today, the nearness of her memory could not dispel the disquiet in his heart. He felt lost and alone. Aragorn was busy with affairs of the newly rejoined kingdom of Gondor and Arnor. Also, Arwen was working feverishly with his mother’s sister and other women of Gondor on wedding preparations. Any leisure time Aragorn might have had was taken as soon as he left the Great Hall. Her emissaries would pounce on him with questions about guests and seating and refreshments and entertainment. The poor man stayed as long as possible in the Great Hall.
Faramir smiled at the fury that had taken over Minas Tirith. Elves and Dwarves were coming daily to the City working diligently to help with repairs. Faramir had never seen such fervor for a task. The people of the City were at first astonished at the great influx of these strange peoples, but soon were caught up in the excitement of restoring Gondor to its former glory.
He shook his head. What would be the cause of this disquiet? Frowning, he tried to remember the date. Time had done strange things these last months since Mordor had fallen. First, he had been too ill to count one day from the next. Then, she came into his life and time had stood still. He searched his memory. She had been gone almost two months now. It must be July. His brow creased and the smile that had been on his lips as he thought of his beloved, vanished. Tears sprang to his eyes and his gut spasmed.
‘Boromir,’ he whispered. ‘Boromir, my brother.’ He slumped against the wall and slid to the ground, knees bent. He laid his head on his folded arms and wept bitterly.
‘Boromir!’ It was the fourth of July – the last day he had seen his brother alive just a short year ago. A hated day!
Pippin was compelled to wander the streets of Gondor. He felt he was looking for someone, but he wasn’t sure. His feet led him towards the Houses of Healing. He had not been here for sometime. Merry was healed and back with his cousins. All was well. Yet, here he was wandering the streets. He knew it was close to elevenses. His stomach knew it; yet, he could not find it in his heart to go to the dining hall. He went towards those Houses where he himself had been healed. There, by the parapet where he had watched such horror on the Pelennor, he found Faramir. He stopped short. The hairs on the back of his neck rising. Fear gripped his heart. What was he doing sitting on the ground? He started to run forward calling Faramir’s name.
Through his misery and sorrow, Faramir at last heard his name being called. It seemed the calling had been going on for some time. He looked up and a little creature stood beside him, concern washing over his face. He blinked and recognized him.
‘Pippin!’ he cried in anguish. Pippin quickly knelt down and held his friend’s hand.
‘What ails you, Faramir?’ he asked, stunned by the tears that cascaded down Faramir’s face.
‘I have lost him. I have truly lost him. What will I do? How will I survive this?’
Tears rolled down Pippin’s face. ‘Who have you lost, Faramir?’
‘My brother. I was his little brother, did you know that, Pippin? And I have lost him.’ Sobs shook the man’s broad shoulders.
Pippin sat next to him; words escaped him. The anguish there. He held his hand and sobbed with him. He thought of the tall man who had saved his life on so many occasions. The last time he had seen him was still burned in his memory.
‘Why today, Faramir? Why has this come to you today?’
The uncontrolled tears continued to fall. ‘Because it was a year ago today that I last saw my brother, mounted on his stead, a smile on his lips, and an eagerness in his eyes for the journey he was about to take. Yet, he looked at me and frowned. ‘I will not be gone long, little brother,’ he had said. ‘I will find this Imladris with all haste, bring back aid for Gondor, and take back my Captaincy.’ He had laughed. ‘It is not yours forever, little brother. Do not get a swelled head at the title I leave you!’ He had bent down to clasp my shoulder in farewell and then, something came over him, and he jumped off his horse and hugged me hard. ‘I will return, little brother. I promise, one way or another you will see me again.’
Faramir’s lip started to quiver. ‘The next I saw him was in an Elven boat on the Anduin. He was dressed as for the grave. His hair pushed back, his broken sword laying on his chest, and his eyes forever closed.’ Sobs convulsed him.
Pippin found it impossible to stop his own sobs. That is the way Merry found them. Two of those he held dear, sobbing.
He took one look and ran to the Citadel. Aragorn looked up in surprise as the Hobbit, normally one who made a quiet entrance on his Hobbit feet, rushed noisily into the Great Hall.
‘Aragorn! Aragorn, you must come quickly. Something is wrong with Faramir and Pippin. Please,’ he wailed, ‘come quickly!’
Strider jumped from the throne, threw the papers he was signing to the floor, and ran to Merry, unceremoniously dragging him after him and ran out the door.
‘Where are they? What has happened?’ he shouted as he ran. Fear was in his heart. Was there no respite from sorrow? He had been so busy with the affairs of the kingdom and had not seen these two for days. Now he chided himself. Friends were more important than anything. Had he not learned that during his time with the Fellowship?
They turned the corner and came upon the scene that had so filled Merry with horror. Their two friends had not moved since he first saw them. Aragorn stepped in front of Merry and walked slowly forward.
‘Faramir! Pippin! What ails you? Are you hurt?’
He gasped as the two turned tear-streaked faces and swollen eyes towards him.
Faramir coloured slightly. ‘All is well, Aragorn. I am sorry; we are not injured.’
Aragorn knelt by his friends. ‘Then what is causing this pain?’
‘It is an anniversary of sorts. I would that you forget it and leave us. We will be along shortly.’
‘I will do no such thing, my friend,’ Aragorn said softly. Elessar King sat on the ground next to them while Merry came over quietly.
‘We are your friends, Faramir – Pippin,’ he said with sorrow in his voice. ‘What causes you pain causes me pain. Please – what hurt has come upon you? What anniversary is this that you speak of?’
Faramir told him and Aragorn hung his head. Swift images flooded his mind of the friend that he had failed. Faramir told him of the vision of Boromir in the boat and Aragorn told him how they had sent him over Rauros in his funeral bier. He spoke of Legolas and Gimli and how the three had stood on the shore and sang a lament for their lost friend. Tears glistened on Aragorn’s face as he recounted their sorrow.
‘I am the one who should be sorry, Faramir. You have suffered grievous loss and have not had time to sorrow. The people of Gondor have suffered grievous loss. And what have I done to help them lesson it?’
‘You have done all you could!’ Faramir was appalled. ‘How can you say you have done nothing? Your own Crowning, the revival of the City, the plans for our King’s wedding – all these help dissipate the sorrow of our people. Do not chide yourself for any failing. This is just something that I had to do for myself.’
‘Yes, and something I should have shared in. Boromir is not the only loved one you have lost, my friend,’ he said quietly. ‘There is Denethor also.’
Faramir sighed heavily. ‘And Damrod, my lieutenant and trusted friend, along with all those Rangers, good and true and trustworthy men, who I lost on the Pelennor when we tried to re-take Osgiliath.’ He would not now think of his father nor the kind of death that had taken him.
Aragorn stood. ‘Come, we will go find the others of our company, feed this half-starved Hobbit, and speak of days gone by and the valour of our friends.’
The four walked away from the Houses and Ioreth, watching from a window, her mouth rarely stopped, shook her head as she watched them go. Four men whom she had come to love. Gondor was indeed in good hands.