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Legacy (what is a legacy)

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Legacy, what is a legacy?

It’s planting seeds in a garden

You never get to see

Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

 


 

The mantle of Steward is no small thing.

Even with Beregond’s unwavering support, Aragorn’s confidence, and the city’s overwhelming joy at the end of the War, it sits, heavy as a stone, on his shoulders. Between the ravages of War and the slow decline of Gondor in general, there is much to do, much to fix. That he can bear it, there is no doubt, but it only throws into further relief that things were not as they were before.

That they will never be so again.

Faramir imagines the load will be lighter when Eowyn returns from Rohan. But he cannot fault his beloved for returning home to bury her much-loved uncle, to help her equally adored brother with his own new and weighty role, no matter how much he misses her.

The political is, by far, easier to manage. The lords are all eager to impress their new king, which makes them mercifully pliant when it comes to raising funds for the restoration of the city.

The personal is...painful.

His family, small to begin with, is now reduced to him and him alone. Again, this is something that will be remedied by Eowyn’s return, but for now, sitting in rooms that used to be his father’s, that used to be Boromir’s, it feels as if he is walled up in a tomb. It is too often silent, too often filled with ghosts.

Uncle Imrahil, shrewd as ever, says nothing, but watches him so carefully for two weeks that Faramir knows he is plotting something . He is proven right when Lothiriel arrives in Minas Tirith and can only smile in fond resignation forgoes her usual rooms in her family’s apartments for the guest room of his.

“Officially, I am here to help run the Courts while we are still short a queen,” she says, pouring them both a glass of wine with an elegant bend of her wrist. “Unofficially, I am here to help my dearest cousin with anything he may need. Including cleaning up the truly obscene amounts of clutter I suspect to be in Boromir’s rooms.”

Faramir snorts at that--for all of the wonderful qualities his brother had possessed, neatness had not been one of them. They had all known it. Even Father. “I think that might prove to be an insurmountable task. Even for you, Lothiriel.”

“Hmph,” Lothiriel huffs, though still smiling. “You underestimate me. Besides, nothing can be more frightening than the messes that Amrothos manages to make.”

In truth, he is not sure of the state of Boromir’s rooms. He has not yet had the heart to enter them alone. But with Lothiriel at his side, the thought does not seem so daunting. Despite the sixteen years between them, they have always understood one another well. Save Eowyn, there is no one else he can imagine wanting to be with him as he sorts through the things Boromir has left behind.

Clutter and hopes and time that should have been his , he thinks. And me.

Lothiriel’s hand closes over his, pulling him from his sudden melancholy. She knows him well enough to have likely guessed where his thoughts have gone and squeezes his fingers in comfort. “I confess, I do have ulterior motives for coming.”

There is a teasing lilt to her voice, well-learned after twenty years of being the youngest and only girl in a house full of Men. He is helpless to resist it--and it is much to be preferred to the now-usual sensation of heartache that comes with thinking of his brother. “Oh?” Faramir asks, tone matching hers.

Lothiriel’s smile widens, turns mischievous. It is the same smile she has had since she was small enough to ride on his shoulders, and the sight of it lightens his heart.  “I have heard tale that one of Gondor’s most famed bachelors is finally considering taking a bride. And not just any bride--a wild Shieldmaiden from the North!”

“I would not call Eowyn wild,” he murmurs, “ bold, perhaps. Beautiful, of course, and good, undoubtedly.”

His cousin’s expression has morphed from one of teasing into genuine delight. “You do love her. Oh, Faramir, I am so happy for you! Tell me more of her, this White Lady, who has succeeded in winning your heart where the women of Gondor could not.”

There is little he would rather speak of than Eowyn, and thoughts of her and Lothiriel’s obvious, sincere interest are enough to keep the ever-present grief at bay.

 


 

“Sweet Elbereth,” Lothiriel groans the next morning, peering into Boromir’s study, “how did he ever get any work done?”

Faramir chuckles, despite the slow, steady ache in his chest that had begun the moment they’d unlocked the doors. The clutter is as bad as he feared, made even worse by the fine layer of dust coating all visible surfaces. These rooms should have been maintained, even with Boromir’s absence, but he suspects his father had refused to allow anyone to touch them. Or had the cleaning of a dead man’s rooms been deemed unimportant, with the end of the world looming so near?

He will never know the real reason. Not from his father, at least.

Lothiriel has made her way over to the desk and reaches out to brush her hand over one of the many notebooks stacked upon it. She gives a sharp ‘ oh ’ in surprise.

“Lothiriel?”

“I know this book. Elphir gave it to him, for his last birthday. He even filled out the first month’s expenses, knowing how little free time Boromir had, and how little he would want to waste that time on recording budgets--”

Her voice catches and Faramir steps closer to squeeze her shoulder.

It is good to be reminded he is not the only one who truly knew Boromir. Who will miss him. Who loved him; for there are so few of their friends left that legitimately knew the man behind the mantle of captain and Steward’s son. The admiration and respect from their fellow soldiers, their people, is not the same as the grief he sees in his cousin, who also knew him in truth. Who could tell stories of Boromir’s weakness for sweet-wine, his dislike of masques, the sound of his booming laugh when he was really and truly amused.

Lothiriel clears her throat and he can see the mask of princess slide over her face. Calm. Collected. Reserved. So unlike the sweet, precocious little girl who used to badger Boromir for piggy-back rides and Faramir for stories. It makes him equal parts sad and proud, to see it. “I will start with the desk,” she declares, “if you would like to tackle that unfortunate chair?”

The chair in question is all but hidden from view under a pile of shirts and breeches. “I thank you for the task.”

There is a flash of amusement on her face before she turns her attention to the desk. The chair is easily managed--Boromir had been broader than him and a bit taller--and it is not hard to decide that most of the clothes should be donated. Save for a few with sentimental value--a shirt their aunt had embroidered for Boromir’s appointment as Captain of the White Tower, a pair of boots from Rohan, sturdily-made, and a surcoat he recognizes from childhood memories of his father--the rest go into a pile easily. The chair, once revealed, is well-worn and comfortable looking. Perhaps he will move it into his own study to have something well-loved by Boromir near him, when difficult times arise.

“Faramir,” Lothiriel murmurs, peering with obvious confusion at one of the ledgers, “I don’t mean to pry but...did Boromir have a secret sweetheart of some kind in the third ring of the city?”

Every part of that sentence is baffling, but Faramir chooses to go with the less incendiary of the bunch, asking, “the third ring?” in an incredulous tone.

Each ring of Minas Tirith has its own distinct reputation. The first was mostly tanners, the second full of blacksmiths and iron-workers, and so on. The third, for whatever reason, is home to a large portion of the city’s worst taverns and whore-houses. It is notorious for poverty and crime like no other. The Kings of Gondor and then their Stewards have been trying to fix it for the better part of two ages, but it has bested them all.

Faramir deliberately ignores the other part of his cousin’s question; Boromir had had a secret sweetheart, but they certainly didn’t live in the notorious third ring. Best not to reveal that, though.

“Yes,” she says, pointing at a line of charges. “He...there is a large amount of money, here, allotted to various places all in the third ring. There is even...oh, Valar, that is an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a doll!” She turns to face him, alarm evident. “Does--is there a child ?”

“No,” Faramir assures her, though he too is mystified by the cost of a child’s plaything--five gold castars for a doll, had Boromir run momentarily mad?--as he eyes the list. “Of that I am sure.”

No, Boromir has no children. For more than a few reasons, but chief among them that Father would have found out. Denethor never would have allowed even his beloved elder son the indignity of a bastard child. Not with the lords of Gondor watching their every move.

“But there must be some reason for this. I know Boromir was never a spendthrift, not like--”

She stops herself before she says your father , but Faramir hears it nonetheless. Yes, the kingdom of Gondor all knows about Denethor’s deep purse and his iron grip around its strings. The War had made it necessary, but Boromir had always been generous to a fault as a result. Regardless, whatever his venture in the third ring had been is bordering on wasteful.

And it was unlike his brother to do anything without cause.

“This is very strange. It is unfortunate that Boromir’s usual accountant has not returned from Anorian or he could offer us clarification,” he says, rubbing his chin. “I suppose I will have to go and discover the truth for myself.”

Lothiriel arches an eyebrow at him. “If you think I am letting you do this alone you are sorely mistaken.”

“You have your duties for Aragorn--

“You know how well he loved Boromir. He would not deny me helping you to plan seating arrangements!”

Faramir gives her a stern look. “You know very well the third ring is no place for a gently-bred lady.”

“Hm,” she says, “I wonder what your lady would say to that, Faramir.”

Faramir grimaces--he knows precisely what Eowyn would say, were he to try to deny her something solely out of a desire to protect her. He does not know how his cousin also knows it, having never met his beloved, but finds he cannot be truly angry with her for doing so.

“Have it your way, Lothiriel,” he says, softening his words with a gentle tap to her nose, a gesture leftover from her childhood, “but do not complain when you see something that unsettles you.”

Something flickers in his cousin’s eyes at that. Something dark and sad that makes him want to tuck her into one of the overlarge chairs in the great library, the way he had when she was small and still frightened of the dark.

“I will not,” says Lothiriel.

 


 

Even in the soft light of early morning, the third ring is raucous. Just high enough to have been spared the same level of damage of the lower-levels, its occupants have all mostly returned from the evacuation. There is the yelling of children, the occasional snores of sleeping drunkards, and cat-calls from women as they pass. Faramir cannot blame them--even in his most worn Ranger’s garb and Lothiriel’s oldest cloak, their wealth and status is likely obvious.

Lothiriel, to her credit, flinches at nothing, though he can feel her fingers tighten on his arm as they hurry passed a particularly dirt-encrusted man.

“Are you well?” He asks in a low tone, so as not to be overheard by their escort. They are not alone, of course. Even with all of his skill and experience as a soldier, he would not dare risk taking his cousin into such a place by himself. Three of his guards follow, also as inconspicuously dressed as they can be.

“I have lived through a war too, Faramir,” she says, gently, though not without sadness, “I am not so easy to unsettle, now.”

Frowning, he squeezes her hand. He will need to ask her what it is that she has seen to make her so unflappable, but it is not the time for that. Not when they are approaching one of their destinations: the strangely named Council House . It had been the recipient of a good portion of Boromir’s money and it shows--the street in front of the building is the cleanest they’ve seen since they’ve entered the third ring and the walls are only slightly dingy with grime.

His knock on the door is quickly answered by a middle-aged woman. Her face is lined, but still kindly, and Faramir greets her with a bow. “Good morning, my lady.”

“Good morning,” she answers, wary but polite, “how can I help your lordship?”

Ah. He has not considered how to phrase this. He knows Boromir would never have put money into a brothel and the place is too nice and too quiet for a tavern--

“Who’s there, Mistress Bellil?” Comes a lilting, high voice.

A child’s face peeks out from behind the woman, quickly followed by three others. They’re all young, under ten, and smaller than the Hobbits. But clean. Well-fed.

An orphanage , Faramir realizes. Valar above, Boromir, could you not have told me?

Faramir opens his mouth to explain, but Lothiriel is ahead of him, kneeling in front of their new audience. “We are friends of Lord Boromir,” she says.

There are an abundance of gasps from the children and the woman’s weathered face twists in grief. “Lord Boromir was the best of men,” she says, voice wobbly, “we owe him much.”

“Would you tell us your story?” Faramir asks. “Since he is unable to do so.”

She hesitates, clearly leery of them and the guards lingering at their backs. “I--if he had not told you--”

“I am afraid I was not quite honest when I called us merely his friends. This is the Lord Faramir,” Lothiriel says, laying a hand on his wrist, “and I am Lady Lothiriel. We are--”

“Lord Boromir’s kin,” interrupts Mistress Bellil, face softening. “He spoke of you both. Often and well. Please, come in.”

The inside is a neat, spacious room, with three long tables and benches to match. Nearly every seat is occupied by a child, ranging from the very small to the nearly adult, all looking back at them with wide, curious eyes.

“Oh,” murmurs Lothiriel. “I see we have interrupted breakfast.”

“Children,” says Mistress Bellil, “this is the Lady Lothiriel and Lord Faramir, and--”

“Boromir’s Faramir!” One of the boys, gap-toothed and with a head full of riotous black curls, cries.

The room dissolves into chaos as Faramir finds himself suddenly at the center of a knot of children-- is he really Boromir’s brother, is the war truly over, why did Boromir go away, oh, could they see his horse? --

“Enough, you hellions!” Comes a man’s voice. “Let the man breathe, for Valar’s sake.”

Faramir blinks in surprise at the sound of a familiar voice. He lifts his head to meet an equally familiar pair of grey eyes. The man’s face has deeper wrinkles then the last time he’d seen it, but there is no mistaking Roston of Lossanarch. He had served as Father’s castellan for many years, until a disagreement between them had resulted in him being banished from the courts.

And Faramir and Boromir’s lives as well--Faramir had only been freshly eighteen at the time, a newly minted Ranger, and unprepared for the sudden loss of the man he’d always regarded as an uncle.

“Roston?” He asks, voice barely above a whisper.

The older man smiles, though it’s tinged with nervousness. “Good morning, Lord Faramir. Don’t mind the little ones. They mean well, but it’s not often that we have such grand guests--”

Faramir is hugging him before he can finish the sentence. He’s far taller than him now, and the older man feels thin and wiry in his embrace, but he cannot be bothered with the changes time has wrought at the moment. To have some piece of his childhood restored to him, in the wake of so much loss--

“Good to see you too, lad,” says Roston, clearly as close to tears as Faramir feels. “So very good.”

Faramir laughs, leaning back enough to grasp Roston’s shoulders warmly. “How? Why? When--”

“All stories I am happy to answer, once breakfast has been served. Will you and your lady join us? Though I must say, lad, she’s a bit young for you! And not at all as fair-haired as the gossip said she was!”

Lothiriel laughs even as Faramir feels heat creep into his cheeks.

“I am afraid you’ve mistaken me for the Lady Eowyn,” she says, stepping forward to take Roston’s worn hands in hers, “a great compliment, if misplaced. I am nowhere near as exciting as the Slayer of the Witch King. Only Faramir’s cousin.”

Roston’s mouth goes slack with surprise. Faramir knows why; the last time he’d seen Lothiriel, she’d been scarcely 2, a snuggly cherub of a child with silky black hair and wide brown eyes that could charm even Father at his most mercurial into gentleness.

“Lady Lothiriel,” he says. “It is a pleasure to see you again as well.”

She turns an inquisitive look on Faramir. He smiles, putting an arm around her shoulders. “This is Rostron. He was Father’s castellan for many years, and a dear friend.”

“A dear friend of Faramir’s will surely be a dear friend of mine,” she says, smiling warmly at the older man.

Roston clears his throat, looking equal parts embarrassed and pleased. “Well, then. Thank you, my lady. Come now. Sit with us.”

 


 

The fare Mistress Bellill provides is simple yet hardy. Faramir hesitates, even as the children and Roston dig in around them. It feels....wrong, to take what surely is some of their limited supplies, even if it is meant in welcome. The larders of the Steward are well-stocked, largely undiminished even by the War and his own donations to relief efforts.

“Don’t fret, lad,” Roston says, clearly reading his reluctance. “We’re well stocked enough to feed the Steward of Minas Tirith a meal. It’s not fancy, but it keeps a belly full.”

He is right. Faramir has eaten far more elegant meals, but there’s something to be said for the simple, full taste of a well-cooked meal. Even more to be said for the endearing sight of Lothiriel surrounded by a gaggle of girls, ranging from tiny toddlers to near women-grown, all intent on making the most of meeting a “real live princess”. And being in Roston’s presence again, as the older man bounces a small boy on his knee as he eats, reminds Faramir of simpler times, when the man had done the same for him.

“Roston,” Faramir finally says, once the former-castellan has set his mug down with a definitive finish, “how is it that you are here? That this place exists?”

The older man clears his throat, leaning back on the bench even as the toddler in his lap gives a rather ferocious tug on his beard. “Boromir came to me not six months after I’d been dismissed. Said he had something important in mind that he would trust only me with. It was a tiny house and maybe five or six children; all orphans, of various low-ranking soldiers he’d served with. He knew, as we all do, that the third ring is often overlooked. Can you help them, Roston? Teach them right and wrong, as you did for Faramir and I? How could I refuse a request like that? Of course, Boromir , I said. Anything you need . And where better could there be, to open a place like this?”

Faramir nods in agreement. There are other orphanages throughout the city. All are relatively well-funded, by either their respective rings or by patrons amongst the nobility. It’s not uncommon for children to be adopted, should a marriage have proven barren but still happy, or amongst the tradesmen who need apprentices to carry on their trades. But the third ring, poor and unliked as it is...without this house, it is likely that many of the children here would have starved, or begun lives of crime before they were scarcely out of childhood.

But the amount of money Boromir had been spending had been far too exorbitant to only be flowing into the orphanage.

Roston smiles when he says as much. “Aye. You know Boromir; he was never one to do anything halfway. There’s at least six, maybe seven, other houses he funded.”

“All orphanages?” Faramir asks.

“Oh, no,” interjects Mistress Bellil. “There’s a woman’s shelter over on 6th Lane, a library between 12th and 14th, and more than a few food-halls for veterans and their families scattered throughout the third ring.”

Faramir blinks in surprise. Valar, Boromir had been single-handedly aiding an entire ring of the city! All without anyone’s knowledge!

Or condemnation , he thinks, or praise .

The other noble lords would have been baffled by his use of his wealth at best, and outwardly derogatory at worst. Father--well, it would have depended on the day. No doubt he would have lauded it as another example of Boromir’s nobility, his endless strength, but Faramir is not sure even he would have applauded his son and heir for such a large drain on his personal finances, nor devoting such large amounts of time to something besides the protection of Gondor.

“I think it was intention to start here, where the need was greatest,” Roston explains. “I have no doubt he would have spread his money to the other rings, given opportunity, but…”

But he will never return to do so. The city over knows how Boromir’s story ended.

“There’s not a person in the third ring who doesn’t speak highly of him,” Mistress Bellil hastily adds. “He didn’t shy away from any who needed help.”

“Not the drunks, not the whores--beg your pardon, Bellil, but that’s what they are--not the poor. He never came in his armor nor his fine clothes. Just in plain leather, ready with a smile, a story, and some coin for whoever needed it.”

Faramir is torn between immense pride and selfish, irrational hurt. Oh, it is all very like Boromir, to see the needs of their people and tackle them in an immediate, tangible way. But why had he not told him? Why had he not asked for his assistance?

Roston’s hand clapping on his shoulder startles him out of his gloomy thoughts. “You are upset.”

“I--no. It is only--”

“You are wondering why he did not tell you. He wanted to, many times. But he feared...he feared what your father’s repercussions would be. For you, for the houses he’d opened here. And you cannot deny that the fewer people who know a secret, the less likely it is to come out.”

That is true. And Faramir cannot fault him for having done so much good for so many, even if he was unaware of it.

“And are you and the other houses still receiving funding?”

Mistress Bellil and Roston share a look. “Well...we are running low. The downside of it being a secret is that with Boromir away and then….gone, there was no one we could go to with our concerns. He’d left money enough to see us all through winter, but after that...”

A sudden burst of laughing shrieks draws all of their attention. Lothiriel is down on the floor on her hands and knees. There is a giggling toddler on her back, at least three fleeing from her, as she prowls after them, declaring herself a mighty oliphaunt from Harad, come to tickle them with her trunk. The children all seem familiar enough with the rules: keep out of her reach, that benches or chairs may be used as safe zones, and that only one “rider” may direct her at a time…

Which is odd. The game is something he and Boromir had invented as children and then passed on to their younger cousins from Dol Amroth. Both he and Boromir had served as Lothiriel’s own “oliphaunts” numerous times. He has not heard of anyone else ever playing it--

Faramir’s throat suddenly feels very tight. The reason why they know of the game is abruptly apparent: Boromir must have taught them. It would have been very like him. A fearsome soldier, a valiant leader of Men; but also an older brother and cousin for many years, with the good heart to match.

Boromir may be gone, yes. But the legacy of his kindness should not--cannot--fade into the background, unknown when compared to the tales of his valor and strength.

“Roston, Mistress Bellil,” he manages to croak, “I do not want all of the work Boromir did to be in vain. Tell me: what can I do to help you? Help the other places he created?”

Mistress Bellil and Roston both look aghast.

“Lad, that’s--that’s not why I told you all of this, we would never presume--”

“Oh, Lord Faramir, it is not your responsibility--”

“But it must be,” he interrupts. “If Boromir of Gondor would see it done, so would I.”

“And me as well,” pipes in Lothiriel, who must have drifted over sometime during their talk. She is as serious as Faramir’s ever seen her, despite being disheveled and still sporting a child on her back. “For I have funds and time enough to be of some use, too.”

Both cook and castellan try to refuse them, but in the end, Faramir and Lothiriel’s insistence wears them down.

“I--I have a list,” Mistress Bellil admits, in a small voice. “Nothing extravagant, only the necessities--”

“Please add a few wants, Mistress Bellill,” Lothiriel insists. “I cannot imagine you lack for them, with this many children under one roof.”

The ladies otherwise occupied, Faramir turns his attention back to Roston. There are--oh Valar--tears in the older man’s eyes.

“Roston,” he starts, but he waves him off, reaching out to clasp Faramir’s shoulder.

“I always knew you and Boromir were destined for greatness. That you were both men that Gondor would need, if we were to survive. But this is more than the strength of the warrior, or the leadership of the Steward. This is--this is kindness, Faramir. And I am very glad to have seen it in him, and in you. It gives me hope. And that is more valuable than any gold you could offer me.”

Faramir has to blink back tears of his own, helpless to wrap Roston in another embrace.

“Your mother would be proud,” Roston murmurs, “and your father, too, if he could stop being stubborn long enough to admit it.”

List acquired and the children placated by a promise from both of them to visit again soon, he and Lothiriel set out to the next closest house. His heart feels overfull and light, all at once, and the expression on his cousin’s face reflects the same.

“We should tell the King,” she says. “He strikes me as the most noble of Men, and I cannot imagine him not supporting the continuation of Boromir’s legacy. And with his support, we may bring others in who will want to offer their own forms of assistance.”

Faramir nods. Well-intentioned and helpful as Boromir’s actions had been, even his wealth would not have been enough to support all of these dependents forever.

“Oh, Boromir,” Lothiriel sighs suddenly, voice tight with repressed tears, “how is it possible that he was even better than we already thought him?”

Faramir squeezes her hand where it rests in the crook of his elbow. “I do not know. But I...I am glad of it. That there is something of his that will be here for years to come.”

She manages a small smile at that. “You mean besides his equally wonderful brother who is every bit as good?”

He nudges her. “And his youngest cousin who makes a wonderful oliphaunt? You know, I have not thought of that game in years --”

“Well, it has been quite some time since I was small enough to perch on your shoulders…”

They grin at each other, heartache lessened in the face of good memories and the soft morning sunshine. One of his guards clears his throat, reminding them that they are still in the middle of one of the market squares of the third ring, and they press on to the next house.

 


 

The women’s shelter requires more beds and medicinal herbs. The library--well-stocked for such a poor area--requires a few new keepers to maintain the books and offer classes to injured and retired soldiers. The food-halls, unsurprisingly, have the most dire needs, with their stores very depleted by the sheer numbers of hungry mouths.

Aragorn looks very thoughtful when they tell him all of this, stroking his chin as Lothiriel launches into a perhaps too passionate description of all the businesses Boromir has made possible. She is young, and well-intentioned, so Faramir suspects that Aragorn does not mind that she is bordering on lecturing the High King of Gondor.

“--and we could garner support from the nobles--if they know Boromir endorsed these places, they will scramble to attach their names to such a venture--”

Aragorn holds up a hand, smiling slightly as he does so.

“I think it a wonderful idea. I’d like to volunteer my own services to the women’s shelter, should they require a healer--”

“Oh, but,” Lothiriel starts, clearly startled at both his easy acquiescence and the implication that the King of Gondor would be at ease treating former brothel workers, “sire, you are the King--”

“And I was taught that a King belongs to his people,” he says. “All of them, no matter their circumstances.”

Faramir stifles a laugh as Lothiriel clearly tries to digest this.

“I take it we have your permission to continue Boromir’s work, sire?”

“My permission and my admiration,” Aragorn confirms. “Please do not hesitate to ask me for more help, if need be.”

Lothiriel’s earlier prediction comes true: once word gets out about the houses in the third ring, Boromir’s involvement with them, and Aragorn’s staunch support, they are practically swimming in nobles that want to offer funds and resources. Some are surprising--Faramir certainly hadn’t expected Forlong the Fat’s heir, Lord Forgam, to take such an interest in keeping the library well-stocked with books--and others damn near baffling. Aunt Ivriniel volunteering to single-handedly fund the women’s shelter had caused poor Lothiriel to nearly topple out of her chair.

“Tch,” their aunt clucks, clearly thinking Lothiriel is overreacting, “as if you could trust those poor dears to the patronage of a man! What does a man know of childbirth? Or losing a husband? Nothing, that’s what!”

Faramir wisely chooses to point out that Ivriniel, 72 and never-married, does not know much about those two things either.

“Besides,” she says, fixing him with a steady look, “it is what Findulas would have done. I will honor my sister the way you are honoring your brother, nephew. It is only right.”

And so Boromir’s legacy gains patrons and support throughout Gondor.

The orphanage, though, Faramir claims as his own. It is clear, from Roston’s presence alone, that that particular project meant the most to Boromir. To entrust its continued well-being to anyone else would feel…wrong.

I hear you have taken on a new project , Eowyn writes him in her next letter, making him miss her so much he aches with it, may I offer my own help, as your wife-to-be?

Eowyn, though, he does not mind sharing Boromir’s most-treasured place with. There is nothing he would like more, he assures her, and has to hide a smile behind his hand at Lothiriel’s excitement when a wagon-load of supplies--supple leather for boots, practice swords for any boys old enough to begin training, and half a dozen intricately carved wooden rocking horses--arrive from Rohan, bearing Eowyn’s sigil and love.

“Oh, I like her already,” Lothiriel declares, running a gentle hand along the smooth, sturdy seat of one of the toy horses.

“I am glad of it,” says Faramir, “for she has sent a letter for you and you alone with instructions on what is to be done with all of this.”   

Eyes bright with excitement, Lothiriel snatches it from his fingers, startling a surprised laugh out of him. Princess though she is, it is good to see something of the little girl he will always remember fondly in her grown-up expressions and actions.

Soon enough, she is writing to Eowyn enough to match even his level of correspondence, and he finds himself relieved at the thought of his cousin and beloved being friends already.

 


 

Mercifully, between the Stewardship and his guardianship of the orphanage, the winter and early spring months speed by until it is May again. May, with all its sunshine and warmth and brightness, made utterly dim in comparison to the shine of Eowyn’s hair when she all but throws herself down from Windfola and into his waiting arms.

Why did we agree to such a long betrothal?” She complains, arms tight enough around his waist to nearly hurt--not that he would ever dream of complaining about it, after so many months apart.

He is unable to keep from pressing his lips to the crown of her head, despite the disapproving glare he receives from her fearsome brother for doing so. “An excellent question, my love,” he says.

She tips her head back to meet his eyes. Eowyn frowns, just a little, reaching up to touch his cheek. “You look tired. Is Aragorn overworking you?”

Faramir cannot help but laugh. “No. He is a most gracious lord. I fear the overworking has been my own doing.”

“The orphanage,” she states. It is not a question. “Then it is doubly good that I have come.”

“Yes,” he agrees, bending his face towards hers, eager to remember the softness of her mouth, the sensation of her fingers in his hair--

“A- hem ,” rumbles the King of Rohan.

Eowyn makes a frustrated noise, turning her own rather frightening glare on Eomer. “Is there something you need, brother?”

“For you two to remember you are in public,” is the succinct answer, which succeeds in making Faramir blush, “and to not renew your habit of kissing in plain view of countless people--”

Eowyn opens her mouth to retort--likely something damning about the Steward’s house being far less public than the walls of the House of Healing--but she is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Lothiriel, slightly wind-swept and pink cheeked as she hurries into the stableyard.

“You are finally here!” She cries. “Oh, Eowyn--that is, Lady Eowyn--”

“Just Eowyn is fine,” his beloved murmurs, stepping out of his arms to extend her hands towards his cousin, “if it is alright that I call you ‘just Lothiriel’--”

Lothiriel laughs, bright and happy, catching Eowyn’s hands with her own. “Yes, please!”

Faramir’s happiness at the sincerity of the affection between them is as deep in person as it had become in writing is interrupted by a strange, strangled noise coming from the direction of the King of Rohan. Eomer, so often taciturn and solemn, looks nothing less than bowled over. Faramir follows his gaze and has to clap a hand to his mouth to keep from laughing; it is very apparent it is Lothiriel that has so stunned the man. He cannot say he blames him, for his little cousin has grown into a beautiful woman, lively and intelligent, and likely very different than the other Gondorian women the King of Rohan has met.

Boromir, too, would be amused. And by his own betrothal to Eowyn as well. It is difficult to say what Prince Theodred’s reaction would have been, but what he knows of the man from his brother’s stories, he imagines warm humor, with a touch of exasperation at his entire family being tied into Boromir’s own, would heavily feature.

“My cousin,” he murmurs in a low tone, grin widening when Eomer gives a guilty start, “Lothiriel, of Dol Amroth.”

“Imrahil has a daughter?”

“Yes,” said daughter answers, turning to beam at both of them, “and three valiant sons, though I believe you have met them already, my lord!”

Eomer makes another punched out sort-of sound that seems close enough to a yes , which has Eowyn’s happy expression morphing into one of undeniable plotting.  

Faramir tucks her hand into the crook of his elbow before she can say anything that will embarrass her brother unduly.

“There will be time to meddle later, my love,” he says. “Let me show you how well your gifts have been put to use, first?”

 


 

It is hard to say who is more pleased with the other: Eowyn with the children, or the children with Eowyn. Lothiriel finds herself quite eclipsed--Eowyn’s fair hair is a source of endless wonderment to the children, boys and girls alike--but is far too-good natured to be upset by this.

“I quite admire her too,” she says in a serious voice to little Maerion, “so I cannot blame you all for liking her so well!”

Eowyn, blushing but clearly pleased, smiles at her.

Faramir and Eomer, who have somehow convinced their guards to wait outside as to not overwhelm the children, lean against the doorway, watching the scene unfold.

“And this was all Boromir’s doing?” Eomer asks.

Faramir nods. “Yes. His way of giving back to the people in other ways than simply defending them.”

“That sounds like him,” Eomer says.

Faramir fixes the younger man with a perplexed look. He was not aware that they had known each other well--Boromir had mostly talked of Theodred, after his trips to Rohan.

Eomer seems to realize he’s receiving an odd look and scrubs the back of his neck. “It sounds like what I was told of him,” he corrects. “My cousin was...very fond of him.”

Ah. So it had not just been him who knew their secret. “It was mutual. I think I heard more tales of Theodred of Rohan than of anyone else in nearly twenty years.”

Eomer is smiling, but Faramir can see the old hurt in his expression, the pain of missing someone dearest to you. “I could say the same of Boromir. I...I am glad that their regard was equal, in that.”

“As am I.”

Eowyn calls both of them over to help some of the littlest boys with the practice swords. Faramir hopes, not for the first time, that Boromir would be happy with what they have achieved thus far.

 


 

Dinner that night is a mercifully small affair, with only Aragorn and his lovely Queen, Lothiriel, Aunt Ivriniel, and Uncle Imrahil, Eomer and Eowyn in attendance.

“To your charitable endeavors, Faramir, Lothiriel,” Aragorn says, toasting them with a wide smile on his face.

“Oh,” Lothiriel says, flushed pink at his praise, “no, sire, we--it is Boromir who should receive the credit. It...it is for him that we have done this.”

There’s a moment of solemn silence around the table. Most of them have fond memories of his brother, and his phantom seems an almost tangible thing. Eowyn’s fingers twining with his under the table helps Faramir find his voice.

“To Boromir,” he says, glad that there is only the smallest tremor to be heard, “to his legacy.”

“To Boromir!” The table echoes. There are more than a few wet faces to be found.

Faramir has just managed to discreetly wipe his own eyes with his sleeve when Eowyn’s fingers tighten in his.

“My love?” He asks.

Look ,” she hisses.

Eomer is speaking to a pink-cheeked and slightly teary-eyed Lothiriel in a low tone, intimately enough that Faramir is unsurprised that his uncle’s eyebrows are nearly touching his hairline and that Aunt Ivriniel looks gleeful enough to crow aloud.

“May I meddle now ?” She pleads.

Faramir chuckles, the dull ache of missing Boromir softening to a manageable level once more. “I do not think he will thank you for it.”

“You men,” she scoffs, though her hand stays in his as she does so, “always sticking together.”

Faramir allows himself to press a discreet kiss to her temple, feeling certain that her brother is far too occupied to notice him doing so. “Allow him some pride, Eowyn. I have it on good authority that an older brother’s worst nightmare is to be teased about their attempts at wooing by their younger sibling.”

Eowyn laughs at that, leaning her head on his shoulder. “If you insist, almost-husband-mine. But do not expect me to be so pliant all of the time, when we are wed!”

“I would not dare,” he says.

There is so much that he regrets that he will not get to share with Boromir--the rebuilding of Gondor, the growth of the orphanage, everything that Eowyn is, the potential hilarity of watching the King of Rohan pay court to their cousin--but that he has been able to continue his good works is satisfaction enough to make the pain of missing him bearable.

We will make you proud, brother, he thinks. We will make sure they know your story.

It is enough, for now.