All These Wore Wings

This story was written for the Snapshot challenge at Henneth Annun , and is based on the painting Brothers By The Anduin by Starlight.

“I thought I would find you here!”

Boromir swung down from his pony and walked cautiously toward the bank of the river. All he could see of his brother at that moment was the soles of his booted feet and the backs of his long legs. Faramir, lying next to a small fleet of handmade boats, leaned far out over the rushing water and let the current tease a wooden vessel from his fingers.

“You’ll freeze if you fall in the river this time of year. Spring is barely here. Not to mention how much trouble you’ll be in.” He lowered himself to sit on the path. “How much more trouble, I should say. Does anyone know where you are?”

“You do,” Faramir replied distractedly, watching the little ship spin away on the current. Sitting up, he reached for the next boat. He cradled it in one hand while attaching and smoothing a painted sail to the mast with the other.

Boromir tried not to smile. “Yes, well you’ve been building boats all week; where else would you be... but you know that isn’t what I mean.”

“I’m always in trouble anyway.” Faramir sat up, raking the damp hair back off his face and appraised his brother with dark serious eyes that did not quite match his impish grin. “Did you hear the gulls last night at sunset? I knew this was going to be the day. I finished all my morning studies before I slept, and if you don’t give me away, and I am back before practice, it is possible no one will miss me.

Boromir nodded. He understood the need to escape for awhile. He, too, had always been in trouble at ten. He had borne his punishments in silence, but had never repented any of his adventures.
“Here—” Faramir finally finished fussing with the sail he was fastening and thrust the little boat into Boromir’s big hand, turning his attention toward the next.

Boromir studied the ship in his hand. The wooden vessel was sturdily made, and plain except for the painted sail, decorated with a flock of swans. Typical of his brother’s style, the quick sketch had been done with a few thick and thin lines but showed a remarkably detailed and finished story unfolding.
“Is this for grandfather?” he asked, and Faramir glanced up at him, and away again.

“No…” he mumbled, holding the top of a wooden mast in his teeth as he pulled the next sail taut. He pointed down the river where the first boat had gone. “That one was for grandfather; Obrothmabâr, with stars on the sail. Yours is Númerrámar, the Wings of the West. Meneldur’s son Aldarion came to Middle-earth in her, and she brought him safely back to Númenor. Launch her; she knows the way home.”

Boromir gently dropped the boat into the water close to shore, and immediately she spun and caught behind a large rock. He sighed. He wasn’t exactly afraid of the water… but he was not comfortable with the idea of landing in the river. He looked to see if Faramir was watching, then leaned cautiously over the rushing flow to disentangle the traveler.

He nearly overbalanced when he jumped at the nudge in the middle of his back, spinning around ready to let his brother know he was not amused – and found a soft brown and white muzzle nuzzling his chest. Thanking the Valar he had not yelped aloud, he stroked the pony’s head and ruffled her ears. “Thala!” he laughed. “You almost earned Faramir a dunking!

Faramir raised one eyebrow in a manner that clearly said, ‘Do you think so?’ but went on silently fussing with his ships as Boromir led the pony into the long grass and hitched her to a small tree out of harm’s way.

Another boat was coursing down the stream when he came back, and he stood and watched it speed away out of sight before sitting on the path again.

“Why are you letting your boats go free?” he asked. “Once Anduin carries them away, you won’t even know what happened to them.”

“That’s the point of the story,” Faramir replied, still watching the water. "They’re boats – they have to sail away. You can’t ever know where they have gone, can you?”

Boromir smiled now, knowing he might draw out a story from his brother’s often intriguing perspective.
“Who are you today, and where are you sailing in these boats?” he laughed.

His brother considered him for a moment, came to a decision, and replied, “I am just Faramir, the same as I always am.” Boromir nodded, thinking, ‘No story today.’

But Faramir slowly let his face light up, and continued. “The boat, though…” He held up the next of the vessels, and Boromir could see gulls decorating the sail. “… the boat is Eärrámë.”

Boromir saw a familiar faraway look in his eyes, and thought Faramir might be swashbuckling in his heart.

“All my boats are wearing wings,” Faramir began, “because that is where the story begins – when Tuor felt the call of the sea, and he followed the sound of the water and the wings of seven great swans.”
“Doesn’t Tuor’s story begin when he’s fostered by the elves?” Boromir asked.

“Not important to this story,” his brother replied, smoothing the sail with his thumb. “Today I am thinking about wings.

“Tuor tried to save Gondolin, but no one would listen to him, and in the end all he could do was fight for her. And everyone in his company wore wings – swan wings or gull wings - on their helms, and their arms and their shields. But they could not fly away from the war.”

His voice dropped almost to a whisper. “Did you ever think about Gondolin, Boromir? How much their white city sounds like our white city? There were seven gates, and a court for the White Tree. There was another company with wings who stood by Tuor - the house of the Swallow. Their lord was called Duilin — I remember because his name reminds me of mother. And the people of the Heavenly Arch - their captain wore a cloak of Dol Amroth blue with stars all along it. And the people of the Fountain had a lord called Ecthelion, like grandfather. And they thought they were safe, but they …”

He stopped and brought his finger to his mouth, the gesture reminding Boromir of a younger Faramir, biting unconsciously at his thumb when he was frightened. But this time he only licked away a sticky resinous spot from the wood of the boats and went back to straightening the sails.

“Tuor was a mortal, but he was married to an elf. Idril, she was called. She was smart and brave, and she had dreams that warned her that battle was coming, so they made a secret way to escape. And when the war came to the city, she put on her armor and took up her sword and fought. She shone like a star— her mail and her sword and her golden hair. All alone she fought until help could come, and she kept the evil Maeglin from throwing their child down into the flames! Tuor must have been proud to have fallen in love with someone like that, so beautiful and brave! How could he not love her?” He smiled shyly at his brother. “I would like to draw that someday, when I have more skill,” he admitted.

"Then Tuor and Voronwë, who were as close as brothers, who could always trust one another, came to Idril in time, and evil Maeglin was thrown down. And though many in the city perished, they managed to escape, and stay together. And they were together for a long time, until Tour and Idril sailed away into the west, past drowned Númenor, looking for the undying lands.”

Boromir thought he had finally puzzled out the story behind the story, the point Faramir was trying to make him understand. He also felt a great bond between them that nothing would ever break, the steadfast trust that they never questioned, and he now pictured them into Faramir's story - a warrior with a great fate and his dark, serious elfin “brother.” He smiled, thinking about the two greathearted friends, (a little hero worship never hurt a boy his age), and was more than a little pleased to know Faramir still saw him that way.

“I seem to remember that Tuor and Voronwë had many adventures together,” he said. “We will, too. I will soon be old enough to join a company, but even when we are not together, we will always be true friends as well as brothers. And I am not looking for a princess quite yet,” he laughed. “When I do, though, a sword-maiden might be just the thing that would stir my blood...”

He expected his brother to be relieved, knowing they would not too soon be parted. But, there was a light in his brother’s eyes that he had never noticed before; a confident, fearless look on his face. The admiration he had become accustomed to seeing was still there — but something told him Faramir was not so much looking up to him at that moment as looking him in the eye, spreading his own wings.
“You!” Boromir blurted out in his surprise. “You fancy yourself as Tuor!”

Faramir did not look away, and nearly managed not to blush.

“I fancy myself as Faramir,” he laughed after a moment, and Boromir had a fleeting glimpse of the man he would be, still a dreamer but never deceived by his dreams.

Faramir turned and let go of the boat, and they watched it bob in the middle of the stream and turn on a much swifter course than the others, sweeping downstream with her prow pointed before her. Then they set their own course and headed home.

“That was the start of a very good story,” Boromir said as they rode toward the citadel together. “But, you skipped over all the battles and valorous deeds…”

Faramir dismissed his brother’s question with a shake of his head. “We’ll do that another day. I didn’t make soldiers this time; I made boats."


I cannot read about Gondolin, its seven gates and white walls, its watchtower of Minas Tirith, its spiritual nearness to the great river, its ruler who refused to be persuaded... and a dozen other parallels... without thinking of Gondor. I thought that Faramir, reading it as history, would also be struck. I could see his young eye being drawn over and over to the chapter heading --The Fall Of Gondolin (maybe holding his finger over the last three letters...) -- until he found a way to renew his personal belief that something survives.

Faramir's (admittedly disjointed and "trying-not-to-look-too closely-at-the-ending") details of Gondolin all come from the version in The Book Of Lost Tales II (my own favorite version of the story.)

Obrothmabâr, and the mention of the boys grandfather, references from the story Obrothmabâr by Chris, written for the Starlight challenge, in the hope it will encourage her to finish (or at least work on) its sequel.

Now in the midmost of these stood Tuor above all heads, and his mail of silver gleamed; and about him was a press of the stoutest of the folk. Lo! all these wore wings as it were of swans or gulls upon their helms, and the emblem of the White Wing was upon their shields.
-- Book of Lost Tales II

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.


October 2, 2003
scribbles henneth annun   write to me