Drawn with Love

by MerryK

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” —Carl Jung

Faramir hesitated outside Boromir’s door. It was open, as always, but Boromir was busy at his desk and he, like their father, did not like to be disturbed. Faramir looked at that which he held close to his chest, and, taking a deep breath, walked in.

“Bori?” he asked timidly.

Boromir, who had seen him from the corner of his eye, did not look up, but dipped his pen in the ink again. “Hmm?”

Faramir came forward slowly, until he was standing behind Boromir’s shoulder. “What are you doing?”

“Making a map of the lands surrounding the City, so I never get lost,” answered Boromir.

“It is beautiful,” said Faramir, surprised, and forgetting his errand for the moment. He watched as Boromir’s hand, so large and rough as it seemed, worked magic with his pen. A scritch here, a scratch there, and trees and mountains were given life. From far away it seemed an ordinary map, but Faramir looked closer, seeing that the trees could be identified as willow by the river, and pine near the mountains, and the peaks were snowcapped. Looking deeper, one could see the Houses of Healing in the City, and the Great Gate, and even the window on the top of the Tower of Ecthelion.

“Why do you draw it like that, Bori?” asked Faramir. “It looks almost real.”

“Why not?” shrugged Boromir. “If I am going to have a map, I want it to be accurate.”

Faramir thought that accuracy did not really have to do with this sort of detail, but he didn't say it, remembering why he had come. “Can you—can you draw people too?”

“I suppose so,” said Boromir. “I have drawn you and Ada before. Why do you ask?”

“Because,” said Faramir, eyes welling with tears against his will, “my miniature has broken.”

“What?” asked Boromir in surprise, turning around to look at his brother.

Faramir held out his hands, and on them lay two pieces of painted wood.

“What is this, Fara?” asked Boromir, gently taking the pieces.

“It was my picture of Mama,” said Faramir. “It was the only one I could find, and now it is ruined.”

Boromir put the pieces together, and looked at the small painting. It was not well done, for it had been done from memory, their mother not allowing portraits to be done of her, but it had been Faramir’s only link to her.

“Can you fix it?” asked Faramir.

“No,” said Boromir. “I cannot. But I can make a new one.”

“Can you?” asked Faramir with an intake of breath.

Boromir laid his hand on Faramir’s shoulder and smiled. “Of course I can, and I will. And it will be even better.”

“Thank you,” whispered Faramir with a shadowy smile.

“Now, you should go off to bed,” said Boromir. “It is late. I will take care of everything.”

And so Faramir left, trust and hope shining on his once-sorrowful face. Boromir was in charge now, and everything would be all right. Faramir just knew it.

But as soon as he was gone, Boromir leaned back in his chair and sighed. He had not wanted to be reminded of this, not tonight. It had been three years since her death, and he thought he had recovered. But that little broken picture had uncovered his grief, still raw, still open.

“I miss you, Mama,” he choked out to the broken pieces of wood. A brief moment, and Boromir thought he might weep, but he was nearly a man now, and he convinced himself out of it. There was only one thing to be done. He had promised Faramir that he would have a new picture, and so he would.

Boromir looked at the first miniature with a craftsman's eye, and scorn filled his heart. That was not his mother there. Alas that Faramir should have been left with such a poor resemblance! That might be how Minas Tirith saw the wife of the Steward, but that was not his mother. Opening a drawer, Boromir pulled out some parchment, and then a charcoal pencil.

Swallowing the lump in his throat, Boromir made the first stroke lightly, outlining where he would draw. He had no need to think; his mother’s face was as clear in his mind as if she had tucked him in for bed only an hour before.

The lamp burned lower, but Boromir needed it not; he could have drawn this in his sleep. There was no unnecessary line, no misjudged curve, he only drew. Swiftly the outline began to be filled in, as the softly curving mouth appeared, followed by an aristocratic nose, and then those large soft eyes. The rounded chin, the gently sloping hairline, the slightly elven ears just showing: they all took their place.

And then, Boromir stopped. He looked at his drawing, the expression in the eyes, the mood of the mouth. It was all accurate, and yet his mother had not come to life. With a quick movement, he suddenly put the parchment in the flame. No, there was something wrong. He could not accept such work.

He pulled another piece of thicker parchment from the drawer, and then went to a nearby cupboard and took out his paints. If Faramir wished to remember their mother, he should not remember her as a lifeless drawing, black lines on a sheet of parchment. No, she would be living and breathing before him, as if one might reach out and touch her, and smell the scent of lilacs about her hair.

Boromir had not painted in a long time, and his hand trembled a little as he dipped his brush. And then, unsummoned from his mind came his first memory of his mother, laughing in the sun as she ran on the beach, her feet leaving shallow prints in the yellow-grey sand. The wind billowed her hair in a cloud about her face, and she turned around and smiled to her son where he sat on a blanket in the warm salt grass. And Boromir hesitated no longer. Down swept his brush, and with smooth motions the paint obediently took the shape of his mind's rememberance.

There, the cloud of dusky sable framed her face, so soft that it did not shine in the light, so long that it would wrap around her like a cloak. There, a strand of hair, like a thread of a thundercloud, escaped and curled around her chin. As he washed his brush, he looked through his paints for the perfect grey for her eyes. Slate? Dove? Iron? And then his eye fell on the pearl grey, and he smiled. Mixing it on his board with a touch of lavender, he finished the eyes in short soft strokes. Sweet pea and peach were mixed together for her laughing lips, and a touch of rose brushed her cheekbones. And then Boromir paused. It was completed, but there was something missing. And with swift strokes he added a seashell brooch before laying his brush down at last.

It was perfect. Boromir would accept no less, and it was perfect.

And then, with completion, his mood ended, and he was once again a thirteen year-old boy who was awake very late in the night. He rubbed his eyes, yawned, and stumbled off to bed.

The next morning, after a quiet breakfast, Boromir beckoned to Faramir.

“I made your picture,” he said, and handed him the framed portrait.

“Oh Bori,” gasped Faramir. “It is Mama!”

“Of course it is,” said Boromir, confused. “Did you not want that?”

“But it is not like the other one,” said Faramir. And he reached out a hesitant finger to touch the picture, as if it might not be just a picture, but a vivid illusion created from memory. “How did you do it?”

“I don’t know,” said Boromir truthfully. “I just painted her.”

“Did you really do this just for me?” asked Faramir, in quiet awe. “Thank you, Bori. Now she can watch me while I sleep again.”

Boromir mussed Faramir’s hair lovingly, and went off to his lessons. Faramir stood for a moment, then, holding the picture very carefully, he ran to his room.

That night, as Denethor tucked Faramir in, he looked at the nightstand.

“This is new,” he said, seeing the picture and pausing.

Faramir yawned and said sleepily: “Bori made it for me. It is most beautiful.”

“Yes,” said Denethor absent-mindedly. Faramir yawned one last time, and closed his eyes. Denethor leaned over to blow out the candle, but then he glanced again at the picture. Taking it gently in his hand, he stared at it for a minute, losing himself in its details, in the love that was so plainly visible before him.

Finduilas? Have you indeed been conjured up by your son? Can you perhaps see me as plainly as I see you tonight? His hands trembled. Then, in a strangely protective movement, Denethor hugged the portrait tightly and rocked back and forth, swallowing the tears that threatened to storm him.

“Oh, my son,” he whispered to the night. “Oh, my Boromir, you know not what a gift you have given.”

And then, reluctantly, gently, carefully, he placed the picture back. His hand lingered over it, as if unwilling to say farewell again to that beloved face. But then, a ghost of a smile crossed his mouth. He leaned over and blew out the candle, then kissed the frame, and silently exited the room.

The End