Ah, Flick, this has been both easy and hard. It was easy to conceive, because parts of it have always been there. But it was painfully hard to write down, and I am betting you already know why – North, (who sends her love and birthday wishes) is *furious* about being excised from this one. She would not budge for awhile, and I am left looking at it and seeing her absence. Without her, I can’t help feeling it wants to be longer – or perhaps two shorter things. It still needs beta, and all suggestions are solicited, though North may not allow me to incorporate changes. I hope in the meanwhile it will give you an inkling of where I was headed.
Story from me, art (which outclasses me cold, so is at the end) from JIm
And One White Tree
He had started carving the little boat not long after his first trip up river. The idea had begun to form on the road home, and he had smiled, recognizing a ritual in the act of being born. It was his brother’s laughter that rang in his head – teasing, but always quick to accept whatever new custom Faramir had devised.
From the time they were small, Faramir had invented rituals to connect him to those he loved... especially his brother. He did not insist that Boromir take part, but the truth was that Boromir wanted to be included, wanted to have his grounded-in-the-daylight reality anchoring Faramir to his real world as much as he wanted to be connected to Faramir’s otherworldly manner. And so they had sent their dreams to sea together as boys, buried silver spoons wrapped in withered leaves in the garden under a full moon to see if they could make a white tree grow, even jabbed their thumbs and taken an oath to be blood brothers when Faramir decided he needed to be *sure* their blood flowed in each others veins. They spoke less about these things as they grew, but Boromir had left on his journey wearing three braided red cords.* There had been no question of his leaving without them.
Now, Faramir had sent a boat, and he knew he would send one every year. But though the moment of their final farewell, standing with Blade in Anduin’s embrace, would never leave him, it was not the boat he remembered in every detail. And he could not rest unless it was just as it should be.
Finally, he understood both his reluctance to ask for aid, and the reason he could not let it go. This one thing had always hung between the Steward and the King – they could not share the man who had meant so much to both of them, since neither had the heart to make the other remember the loss.
Now it was his brother’s presence, palpable and insistent, that guided the game, and though his heart pounded as he steeled himself, Faramir found he was smiling again. Blade could hardly have been more present in the room.
“Elessar,” he began quietly, slowly unwrapping the latest carving, “I need your aid…”
The light of morning found them, still spilling stories and memories, the table covered with sketches and notes.
The journey up river had not seemed so lonely this year, though Faramir was still not ready to let anyone but the big grey horse accompany him on that private ride into his own past. The little elven boat, carved prow rearing and candlelight dancing within, had been full of letters though - each tied with a red cord, each tucked safely inside.
And the boat unveiled today, reproduced in the white stone of the city, had come to stand for the redemption of them all. Resting at the base of the white tree, it was now a cenotaph, a memorial and a promise – to every soul that had journeyed west, everyone who had been carried in time of need, every spirit that had been buoyed up in an hour of darkness. And always, a reminder of the one who had gone before to open the way.
Winter howled with beauty and rage across the heights of the upper city, making sure spring knew it would not leave forever. Cloaks flying heedless about them, two men had come to stand vigil in the dark.
“She has weathered a storm on her very first night,” the Steward whispered as they approached the sleek prow. “Nothing will daunt her now.”
The wind gave a last tug at the sky and the black clouds scudded away from the face of the moon like rising birds. “Faramir, look!” Aragorn pointed down into the swirling rain and the sparking silver leaves that had filled the boat. “She is full of stars!”
* the red cords refer to Avon's story, Ties of Love, a very lovely eddy in our Electronic Anduin.