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The Curse of Anira

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When the steward's first son, Boromir, was born, Anira was the midwife who delivered him, and she was there to watch the pleasure of Finduilas at first looking into her newborn's eyes, as well as the pride of the steward when he held his son and heir triumphantly over his head to present him to the people of Minas Tirith.

And Anira, who had remained Boromir's nanny, was there when the second son was born five years later. She stood by with tears in her black, ancient eyes when Finduilas drew her last breath - the delivery too much for her frail form and the loss of blood too great. She was there to see the steward brought to his knees by the grief of his wife's death, and she was there to see his hate-filled gaze turn on his baby son, Faramir, swearing that he would never forgive him for having taken his mother's life.

Anira saw all this, but she saw even more with her mind's eye. She rarely used her gift of foresight, but the deep and binding connection between the two boys was palpable from the moment Boromir entered the room and first laid eyes on his little brother, and the baby ceased to cry and reached out to him. It was a connection unlike anything Anira had ever seen. So when Denethor, Steward of Gondor, struck her, cursed her for a witch, and told her to get out before he would have her executed for killing his wife, she made a decision. Her possessions were few, and she was packed and ready to depart the White City within the hour, but before she left, she stole into the nursery, where she knelt by little Boromir's side and placed a kiss on his cheek.

"Anira?" he asked, distressed when he saw her cry. He had never seen his nanny cry before.

"Hush, all is well, Boromir." She smiled through her tears and lifted him into her arms to carry him to the side of Faramir's cradle.

"My brother," Boromir babbled, gazing adoringly at the blue-eyed baby in the crib. Pride made his cheeks shine.

"Yes, Boromir." Anira held her hand before Boromir's face and touched the pad of her thumb to the centre of his forehead. The little boy watched with interest as she did the same to Faramir, who held completely still, almost not breathing. Then, as if by her instruction, Boromir reached down for Faramir's hand, and Anira watched with a smile when the baby grabbed at the short fingers and held on tight. Holding her own hand over their joined ones, she whispered an incantation, and then she separated their fingers gently and set Boromir back on his feet. She felt perfect contentment settle over her old bones then, because she knew she had done what was right. All else would be decided by those two little hearts, many years on. "I have to leave you now, Boromir," she said, and tears threatened to spill again when she saw the distress in his face.

"But why, Nanny?" he asked with trembling lips and green eyes brimming with tears.

She stroked his damp cheek and sighed. "I will tell you one day, Boromir. When you are older. I will tell you then. Take good care of Faramir. I know you will." And she set him down, turned and walked from the room without looking back, even as she heard Boromir call her name over and over, sobbing. She kept walking, her small bag clutched in one hand, the boys' future in the palm of the other.