'Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have
and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to;
while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale,
and take a deal of telling anyway.'
As the sun rises, the page comes running to tell the new Steward that his younger brother has finally awoken.
That walk to the Wards seems like the longest journey in Boromir's life.
It is a bright morning, the empty corridor airy and full of light.
He stands silent before the shut door.
He draws a heavy breath, feels his fingers curl into his palms. He would rather face a horde of Uruk-hai, than this.
It had taken weeks, and all of the healing wisdom left in the land to nurse Faramir back to life, and Boromir should be rejoicing in it more than anyone, and yet...
The knot in his stomach is so tight there is a distinct possibility that he might literally be physically sick.
Without warning, the door opens in his face.
The erstwhile leader of the Fellowship, dressed all in white, steps out, wiping his hands dry on a towel as he walks.
His expression is pointedly contained, as though he has no reason to have anything other than practical tasks on his mind.
"I was just changing his dressings," he explains. As though it is actually important.
Boromir purses his lips, nods. As though what they say now makes any difference.
The older man wipes his hands some more, then glances at him sideways, without quite meeting his eyes.
"Boromir, I..." he shakes his head at the futility of trying to put the unspeakable into words. After a moment of hesitation, he places his hand on the man's shoulder. "Just remember, please. It was not your fault."
* * *
"You were a good sport, my old friend."
The Steward raised his head with as much pride as the iron collar around his neck allowed.
"I am no friend of yours, beast."
The grey lips curled, showing the fangs.
"So clever, aren't you just? Thinking you can provoke me into giving you a quick death. How adorable. You mortals never cease to amuse."
"Your arrogance is pathetic."
The armoured hand came close enough for Denethor to feel the raw heat against his cheek. He did not flinch.
"You would like this, old man, wouldn't you? I could burn you to a shell in a minute." The hand was withdrawn, another twisted grin. "But no, that would not do us justice at all, would it now? All those years you gave me, staring into your magic ball in your little tower. That was good fun."
The Steward turned away in distaste.
"You will look at your master when spoken to, Gondorian scum." An invisible force gripped him on the chin and forced his face to turn. Again that self-satisfied sneer. "What we have is special, it would really be quite ungenerous to kill you without repaying the debt. Let no one say I am not a fair-minded lord. Let me entertain you in turn."
He called something quick in the Morgul tongue.
Denethor's eyes widened as a young man was dragged into the chamber and thrown to the floor, but he withheld any further emotion.
"You seem unimpressed, your grace. How disappointing. My boys went to all this trouble."
The captor regarded the bound shape at his feet, struggling to get up against the many tight loops of chain, then gave it a disinterested prod with the pointed tip of his iron boot. Like a cat undecided if it will bother to play with a new toy.
"Oh, but that's right, how very foolish of me. This one was never your favourite, was he? Good thing I have a back up option for you."
At this, the Orc guards returned, dragging in a second man, so alike the first, if a little older.
"No!" Denethor strained against the chains even as his knees went weak and left him hanging by the hands and neck.
The yellow eyes in the visor lit up with interest, the narrow pupils widening into a hungry, gaping void.
"Well," the heavy armour rang and scraped as Sauron walked to stand over the two warriors. "We shall enjoy this very much, shan't we?"