Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me. No copyright infringement
Summary: Denethor doesn't find joy in punishing his son. He really
It was his duty. There was no joy for him in what he was doing. The letter
was a crumpled ball in his hand, a pathetic, small scrap of paper covered
in an ink-blue web of shaky writing. His son's handwriting usually was
nearly calligraphic but the reason of its unsteadiness must have been in
the subject, Denethor thought.
His hand still throbbed faintly, feeling very warm with the memory of
raising it and hitting, again and again. He breathed hard, slightly winded,
as he looked at the curled figure at his feet.
Trickles of blood ran quickly from the boy's nose, dripping down on the
floor. A lot of blood; Denethor almost felt remorse. Shouldn't have hit
him with his ringed hand; he was sure he'd split Faramir's lips more than
once. The boy's legs were pulled up to his belly, arms wrapped around his
chest as if he was still trying to shield himself from the worst blows, not
that it had helped him.
He hadn't cried out; hadn't made a sound for all the time, not giving
himself away to the guards standing watch outside the door. Denethor
quickly suppressed a jolt of pride. Of course the boy would be discreet -
he wouldn't want anyone to know about his depravity, would he? Now
Faramir's sides heaved, shivers going through his body as if he'd run a
All those long limbs... and so thin he almost seemed frail. Sixteen years
old. He looked like a young dog, his expression always so eager, only a
wagging tail lacked as he looked at Denethor or at his brother, seeking
their approval. Well, he looked more like a stray dog now - a stray beaten
dog. At least his ribs were not broken; nothing was broken, Denethor was
circumspect about it.
The long eyelashes, the eyelashes that made Denethor think about the
boy's mother every time - rose slowly, as if they were too heavy, and
trembled over the dark, terrified eyes, no irises visible around the dilated
pupils. He hadn't wept, Denethor thought, despite everything there were
Faramir looked up at him - slowly, obviously making himself face his
father. His breath was rattled and his arms still clasped around his chest.
Denethor shifted, made a step, his fur cloak trailing behind him on the
stone floor - and the boy nearly started back away from him, gasping, but
managed to control himself, stayed quiet - only his eyes grew huge and
Could you hurt him any more than that, Denethor thought with a twinge
of guilt. And answered: yes, I would if I could.
He opened his fist a little and saw how Faramir's eyes flew wide open,
becoming helpless, doomed and unbearably guilty. How could the boy
look like this, Denethor thought - so vulnerable, so damn easy to hurt?
Partly it made him want to hug him and protect him from this life, and at
the same time a part of Denethor's mind seethed in anger. He was the
Steward's son, he had obligations to face, he couldn't afford such
"Do you know what would happen if this letter got to someone else's
His voice sounded cold, perfectly level and he knew this coldness
affected his son worse than anger or violence would. He could see his
reflection in Faramir's eyes - his towering figure mirrored in enormous
black pupils. Faramir's throat moved convulsively as he swallowed - and
then a small, tentative nod came. The boy recalled himself quickly,
though, his bleeding lips moving.
A surge of anger washed through Denethor, making him want to yell, to
hit him again. Why did you write it then, boy? But he knew there would
be no answer to this question, just a waste of time to ask it. He made
another step, not coming closer, just shifting from one foot to the other.
"I should've broken all the fingers of your hand that wrote such things."
He saw Faramir's right hand clench convulsively, as if trying to hide
under his clothes - and then go still deliberately. There was some strange
intoxicating feeling in the knowledge that had he decided to proceed with
this disciplinary measure, Faramir would have let him - would hold his
hand steady and conveniently for him and muffle his screams against his
sleeve while Denethor would break his fingers.
He was a good son - almost a flawless son. Sometimes Denethor got
surprised how easy it was to hate him for that. So much like his mother...
and it had been so easy to love her. He couldn't live through such a
A good son - but a very bad brother, wasn't he?
"Does Boromir know?" The crumpled letter balanced on his upturned
palm, and now Faramir couldn't help cringing. His eyes seemed to be
glued to an almost innocent-looking piece of paper - the eyes of a trapped
animal, already wounded and expecting to be wounded again.
Don't look like that, something in Denethor wanted to scream, don't make
me want to hurt you more.
Faramir's voice was a near whisper, raspy and hoarse.
"No, sir. Of course not."
"You didn't send him any letter like that, did you? Or maybe something
full of similar folly?"
He knew the answer but he wanted to make sure.
"No, sir." Some blood leaked from the boy's mouth, probably a tooth
broken, as Faramir continued, even more quietly. "I was not going to send
it. I just... I just wrote it."
Right. The boy who prefers to spend time with books and old parchments
rather than with a sword - no wonder he would one day want to trust his
feelings to a paper, the most silent and most betraying confidant of all.
Maybe... maybe a lifetime ago Denethor had done things like that as well.
He understood. But he didn't want to remember.
He made another step to his son, leaning, the hem of his cloak brushing
against Faramir's body, and even this lightest touch sent a shiver through
the boy. Was he that hurt - or just his nerves were on the edge? Denethor
leaned closer, looking at the tilted up, blood-smeared face - saying very
quietly but every word undeniably clear.
"Why didn't you burn it then?"
The boy shook, his body crumbling, as if invisible ropes that held him
were cut, his breath hitched, still not quite sobbing, as he curled tighter.
The words came muffled, and full of remorse, nearly indecipherable if
Denethor hadn't listened so attentively.
"I burned them. I did. I just... I wrote them again."
Even worse than he imagined, wasn't it all? But the truth was Denethor
knew how bad it was. He knew his son - his quiet, reserved, scholarly, too
serious child. Faramir was not of one of those who would seek
satisfaction for desires of his mind and his body in different places.
Sometimes it even had seemed to Denethor he didn't have body desires at
all. Well, it turned to be untrue... and what an object of his desire he'd
"You will not," he said straightening, his body towering again, his words
sounding final. Faramir's light-brown head of tangled hair shifted slightly
as the boy nodded, acknowledging his words, his face still hidden. "You
will not write these letters again. You will never say a word about it to
any human being. You will never reveal, not in a word, not in an action,
that your feelings to your brother are anything but... brotherly. Never in
your lifetime. Do you understand me?"
He saw Faramir looking up, as he talked, the expression of the boy's eyes
nearly screaming in conflict. A part of it obviously was relief at being
told what to do. Yes, let his father decide how to deal with his depravity,
how to protect them all from it. A part of it was absolute, naked misery.
Never in his lifetime. It probably seemed impossibly long for him now, at
But Denethor knew that feelings faded; that grief that today seemed
unbearable, taking all the life from your body, tomorrow would become
just an ever-present shadow. It wouldn't always hurt like this, he almost
wanted to say. He didn't say it, of course.
He knew what he had to do. This loss Faramir felt now - it meant there
was still some hope in him, some aspiration, one day, to inform his
brother of his feelings. Denethor couldn't allow it. He couldn't risk.
Boromir had to be untainted. He loved his little brother too much - what if
he would decide that he could... could return Faramir's feelings?
Nay, it wasn't possible. It couldn't be allowed.
"Just think about it." His voice dropped as he moved away, to the table,
letting the crumpled letter fall onto a rune-decorated metal plate. He knew
Faramir's eyes were on him, even without looking back - he knew his son
never stopped watching him as he took a sconce, tilting it. Drops of wax
fell onto the paper but at the next moment reluctant flame caught it. "Just
think what would happen if Boromir knew. What would he feel knowing
that you want more from him than he can ever give you? How would he
be able to touch you knowing that you want and maybe seek another kind
of touch from him?"
The paper flared with the flame for a moment and then dwindled, turning
into a black clot of soot. That was all; burned. Destroyed. Just like
Faramir's hopes were destroyed, if he was foolish enough to have any.
Denethor heard a hitching breath behind him, the boy struggling with his
tears. Would it have been any comfort for him to keep this letter? The last
memento of daring to speak of his love.
It would be too dangerous. And it was over, anyway.
Denethor turned, seeing Faramir's trembling lips, swollen with suppressed
tears, and walked towards him, his voice still quiet and soft as before.
"You wouldn't want to hurt your brother like that, would you? You
wouldn't want to hurt me like that - for do you know what shame would
befall on me if someone got to know?"
Faramir's eyes were full, tears gathering on his enormous eyelashes but
his gaze was not dark any more but grey, childish and unbearably
"You wouldn't want to hurt yourself like that, son," Denethor said.
And that was it, Faramir's breath choking, tears becoming too much for
his eyes and streaming down, and now he was sobbing and shaking,
trying to curl into himself. Denethor didn't let him, lowering himself onto
one knee, his cloak pooling around him, and reached his palm to
The boy lunged to his palm, the very palm that had hit him again and
again just a short while ago - pushing his face into it, muffling his sobs
against Denethor's hand.
His face was wet - with blood and tears, and became even wetter, and
Denethor could feel the moist eyelashes trembling, fluttering against his
skin, and Faramir's breath was so hot and broken against his wrist.
Denethor stayed still and waited, his eyes cold and distant, looking away -
and yet there was something in him that almost was giving in at this
moment. Something that wanted to turn this calculated touch into
something more, something sincere.
It was so seldom he touched his son otherwise than in punishment. Now it
was a necessary thing, it sealed his success in what he intended to
achieve. He had to make sure that Faramir wouldn't do it ever again.
He never let the ice break inside himself. There was something in
Denethor that he protected with more fierceness than anything in the
outer world. Faramir's sobs subsided. A moment later Denethor took his
hand away and got up in one smooth movement.
He was merciful, he told himself; he'd been a good father, he'd done
everything that was demanded from him. And now he spared Faramir
from shame, which the boy undoubtedly had to feel, by turning away
"Rise," he said without looking. "And leave."
Behind him, Faramir got up and walked to the door quietly. For a moment
he stopped as if wanted to say something but didn't dare. The door opened
and closed again. The shapeless ball of the burnt letter on the table
crumbled and scattered into black flakes in front of Denethor's eyes.
* * *
I miss you so much, brother. So much that sometimes it seems I can't
even breathe. You don't need to comfort me, I'm not a little child and I
know you have your duties. I know you will come back and everything
will be like before, at least for a time being.
But the days without you are so long. Too long. And I think too much,
and remember too much, and your room, it is empty, and the clothes you
left don't hold your smell any more.
I walk around the places where we used to walk together and imagine I
can feel you with me. And sometimes I stand in the little niche on the
upper floor, the one where your last arrival you took that girl - what was
her name? - and kissed her there. I was watching you, did you know that?
As you held her in your arms and pressed your lips to her mouth, and
kissed her everywhere, her eyes, her chin, her neck, and she was laughing
and squirming when your beard rubbed against her skin.
I wanted to be in her place then, brother, I wanted to be her for you."