Denethor Decides

by Vison
Denethor Decides to Send Boromir, Not Faramir…

Another dinner alone. Two sons, and neither here to bear me company at table! Only servants, and they creep away as soon as might be. The bottle is empty, and if I want another glass I must ring the bell and wait for someone to come and then wait for someone to bring the bottle and open it and decant it and pour it out for me…..ah, it is not worth the trouble….when did I last have a merry meal? With talk, and jests, and laughter? I cannot remember when……but long since, I know.

This glassware, as delicate as a soap bubble….. Finduilas brought it, when we were wed. Packed up in sawdust and laden on the wains that the oxen pulled…..all her goods and gear….brought here to this dark house. It was not dark then. Not while she lived to bless it. And I have not even a likeness of her, it was something we spoke of, something we only talked of and never did. She and I and the boys, we were to be painted. That fellow-what's his name-the painter? He came, I remember, when she was ill….and who is there left here now who remembers her lovely face? Only me. Only me. Things would have been different, if she had lived…..sometimes I still hear her step. Light as swansdown, she walked, and the shine of her hair…….all her things here, in our bedchamber…her looking glass. If I look just so, mayhap I will see her in the glass. She would sit here and brush out her hair, and smile at me as I came in and closed the door behind me…..I do not think of her often, not any more…..but these days she comes to my mind, is it because I grow older? There are times when the past seems closer than the future…

Midsummer. The long days. Up in the North they call them the White Nights, and up there they say the Sun burns all night and the folk do not rest, but dance and carouse in the gloaming, then go to their duties without sleeping….I am so long in my chambers that I scarce know if it be night or day…..but there is the Moon, rising over Anduin. Torches move about the streets and they are changing the Guard in the Citadel. It is time I went to my rest, but I cannot sleep. It is not dreams that disturb me……but if I lie down my eyes will not close, the darkness does not bring sleep… No. Tonight I will not go to the Tower. Tonight I will rest here, in my own chamber! The scent of roses is borne on the evening air, and the Moon will spill that cool light over the floor…..

Someone is come in. I hear the door, and the murmur of voices. Faramir, off duty, and come to his father's house to sleep. The servants wait upon him and smile, they will see him fed and see that the wine is brought to him…..I should go down, I suppose. But he will be at it again. The dream! Let me go, Father, let me go. I will go to Imladris….they say this Halfelven, the most Wise, he will know, Father….Faramir's eyes are heavy, he does not sleep well, either…this dream will not let him rest. He looks at me with those eyes, his mother's, eyes…I could never refuse her anything, either….There! The outer door again. Boromir. Why could they not have been here at dinner? No use to say Duty. I know their hours, their comings and goings…..merrier dinners in the mess, no doubt….Boromir's voice, rumbling….then laughter…..

There are brothers, they say, who quarrel. Who cannot sit at table together without sharp words. But not my sons. Surely no man ever had such sons as I have. If only she could see them, the men they have become! It is Faramir who is most like her, and Boromir who is most like….who? He is not like me, my bold boy, Lord Boromir…..such a man was my grandfather, they say. A mighty warrior. I never knew him, but my grandmother I knew…..she was as fierce as any Eagle, I remember. A terrible old woman…..Will I ever be a grandfather, I wonder? Is this a time for marrying? I fear it is not. They could have their choice of any maiden in the city-indeed, there are scarce any High enough for my sons…..Boromir does not think of marriage, he is given over to War. And Faramir, I do not know what he thinks, behind those troubled eyes…. I did not marry young, either. I saw no woman who pleased me until that time I went to Dol Amroth, and there she was at the Prince's court, the fairest flower in the garden…..

This dream, and the questions. The Halfling? Somewhere in the corner of my mind, there is some tale, but I cannot recall it….and Isuldur's Bane? Mithrandir knows somewhat of these matters, but just when I might wish to hold council with Mithrandir, he is not here. He thinks to come and go here at his will, but he forgets that I am Lord of this city. Lord of the city! For how long? The Enemy grows mightier each day, hordes of Orcs and traitorous men, like ants in some ghastly anthill….but no Queen there, only a ghastly king, and his red Eye… one must know about the Stone… draws me. He draws me, but yet I can defy him…..he would know who I am…but he only knows who I am not. The Lawful master of the Stone! No, that I am not, there is no lawful Master now………The Sword that was Broken, the verse says. Narsil? Was that not the name of Isuldur's sword? Mouldering in the dirt, somewhere in the North, most likely, rusted to dust….this Elrond Halfelven, if he even exists off there in Imladris, what can he know that I do not? It is only a dream. It may be that other men dream this dream, some device of the enemy, not just my sons. Only once has it come to Boromir, he says, but that may be only because he falls wearier into his bed, and is not so given to thought as is Faramir….

One of them must go, I suppose. Since might of arms will not avail us for much longer, maybe Elven magic will, if it is there. I can trust no one else to go! I am surrounded by fools and cowards….So I must send one of my own sons, they vie with each other to go; one longs for adventure and one longs for advice! It is a long way, that much is sure, and whichever of them goes will be missed so sorely here! Not just by me but by the whole city. Yet the sooner the better. If good can come of this wild goose chase, then it had better be as quick as may be…

If I send Faramir-even to myself I do not wish to say this, but if I send Faramir, can he, will he be cozened by these Elves and Wizards? He was always so apt to Mithrandir's hand, so eager to learn whatever that Wizard would teach him…..oh, no Evil, no, he is a trusty man, he thinks only of Gondor and his duty to his father…..but at times…at times he and I do not see that duty with the same eyes…he is young, he cannot know all that I know. He cannot know what the Stone shows me, curse it! Curse the day I ever dared to uncover that vile thing….No, it had better be Boromir…he is hardy and bold, and he will be watchful and wary, and remember his father and the need of Minas Tirith….he has somewhat of hardness about him, my son Boromir, somewhat more of ambition, somewhat less of gentleness…these Halfelven folk will not dazzle Boromir with song and starshine….

Three months, a little more, to ride that far North, if the maps be right. Three months there, three months back, at the least…half a year! What road to take? Through Rohan? What of Theoden? What of Saruman, at Isengard? How many to send with him? The fewer that go, the quicker they will travel….I must go to my study…the maps are there. Where is that bell pull?

Here! You-bring lamps to my Study, and tell the Lord Faramir and the Lord Boromir to attend me there…..yes, yes, both of them! And bring wine, and my warm slippers. The floor is cold……………..