A study of the Men of Gondor, before they began to have enemies and kingdoms heaped upon their shoulders. Also, a study of snow, and the challenges and blessings it can bring.
The title was derived originally from Aragorn's perspective, towards Faramir (an older him looking back, obviously), with the idea that Faramir always had his brother to support him, while Aragorn had been a bit alone his first few years among the Rangers. But then Halbarad stepped quietly in, so now I suppose it's generically referring to all three.
This was originally composed after a walk through the park after a major snow storm hit (17 inches!). It started as more of a description-based story, and evolved from there. Enjoy!
The stone walls of Minas Tirith bled with the deep red light of sunset; shone, bright to make one blind, with the pure white of the as-yet untouched snow. It was beautiful, magnificent: a sight to be remembered.
All was lost on the young man who strode through her halls, anger etched deep into his face. He was young, unblemished, strong. He plowed through the downy drifts as if they were air, and their soft cushion muffled his harsh footsteps.
Cold on his face, cold on his hands. But the cool air was a balm to his fevered brow, and distracted him from his aching gut.
He still didn't know if the pain was from his brother's fist, or his own gnawing fear.
It was difficult, walking through snow. He had often played in it as a child, but this snow was different from any Imladris had seen, and hard on his growing body. Heavy and wet, it weighed on his boots and hindered his strides. His company undoubtedly felt the same strain, but they – unlike him – were accustomed to it. He was falling behind.
'Dan? Why can't I walk on snow?
He was sure the air was cold - frigid, even - but he was too worked up to notice. Anger burned hot in his veins, even as the sound of his footsteps began to change. Crunchy, noisy: the snow was more akin to slush here, the lower he descended. And still the only footsteps were his own, loud and hurried. The sound echoed against the white walls.
He knew that once he stopped, the cold would surely catch up to him; so he kept moving. To stay warm; to escape; and, simply, to do something.
He could see his brother now, several paces ahead and moving quickly. His stomach twinged in pain, but he pushed it aside and plowed on. He was smaller than Boromir – built more like their mother – and the snow began to present a challenge, as it crept up his boots and weighed them down.
His brother began to move out of sight.
"Bormir!" he cried.
His brother turned, anger flushing his cheeks and brightening his eyes. But even as Boromir moved, Faramir felt himself slipping, falling-
He was on the ground before he knew what had happened, wet snow soaking into his hair and ice creeping down his neck. For a moment he closed his eyes. He ignored the sound of his younger companions' stifled laughs, avoided the disapproving looks he just knew his elders were giving him. Just for a moment, he tried to pretend he was back in Imladris, making snow angels with 'Dan and 'Ro…
He slid towards his brother, anger forgotten as the boy's moan of pain reached his ears. What would mother say if he allowed his younger brother to be hurt? He cringed at the thought of her frown, and renewed his efforts to reach Faramir. The snow he had so easily stomped through moments before now seemed to rear up to hinder him, and it was with profound relief that he threw himself down beside his brother.
The boy was shaking-
A quiet breath, and he opened his eyes.
Halbarad stood before him, a hand stretched in silent offering. He took it. But even as he levered himself up, face burning, he continued to avoid the gazes of the rest of the Dunedain.
"Come, Estel." His cousin's voice was low as they made to catch up. "We did not wish you to know it – it was to be a surprise – but we are headed to Imladris. Take heart, cousin! You will be home soon enough."
"Thank you, cousin," he smiled.
And he almost forgot to be cold.
If any of you are cringing at part (or, heaven forbid, all) of this story, and are interested in beta-ing, feel free to offer! It's rather nerve wracking to post stories in which you are the only editor…