Faramir stopped in the middle of making a notation and rubbed his weary eyes. The words were beginning to blur together on the page …repairs on First Level South should be seen to with all alacrity… but after so much forced inaction, even the simple act of reading these reports made him feel quite unaccountably productive.
It is productive, he reminded himself. It is vital to know which areas of the City sustained the worst damage. And you should accustom yourself to such work, for this surely will not be the last of its kind that King Elessar will require of you.
He stretched, took a sip of his stone-cold lemon-and-ginger tea, and turned back to the document in front of him. He resolutely did not look at the ever-growing pile on the corner of his desk; he certainly would not be allowed to take on all that work tonight.
Absorbed by the report as he was, Faramir was only distantly aware that someone had entered his office. The footfall was light, confident, and familiar –likely simply a kitchen maid bringing in food and tea – and he did not so much as pause in his reading.
…already cordoned off dangerously unstable areas, yet this is only a stop-gap…
He started almost violently, both at the light touch and the calm, oh-so-recognizable voice, and just stared, mouth agape. “Nanny?” he finally managed to spit out, hardly daring to believe what he thought he was seeing.
“I hope I am disturbing you,” she said, and even in his shock, Faramir did not miss the tears glistening in her eyes, “for I am assured that you should not be working this late, nor by such poor light.”
She reached out, laid her other hand on his shoulder, and Faramir had a moment to wonder who told her. He stood slowly, taking her hands in his. “I am well,” he said quietly. “Though I am sure you did not yet believe until this very moment.”
He had been taller than her by a head and a half when they’d last met, but it still felt odd, to be looming over her, when in many of his dearest memories he was looking up at her. She seemed as she always had - Faramir could not see that the years had changed her much, beyond a few strands of silvery-grey in her dark hair – but he did not remember ever having seen her cry before.
At seeing her do so now, he could not help but embrace her warmly – another oddness, being forcibly made aware of how slight she was; had always been, he imagined. He had never thought of her as a small person – anyone who would hold their ground against his father and Boromir could not be “small”, in any sense of the word.
“I am quicker to tire than I might like,” he said, “but that will fade with time. I am well, Nan –“ he broke off, unable to decide. “I suppose I should not call you ‘Nanny’ any longer, should I?”
She drew back and though her cheeks were tear-stained, she leveled a stern glare at him that made Faramir very conscious that his tunic was rumpled and his hair was not neatly combed. “If you call me anything else, I shall be quite cross,” she informed him, straightening that self-same tunic with a brisk tug. “Look at the state of you, you have not risen from that chair for a moment since you stepped foot in this room, I’ll warrant. And do you even remember your last meal?”
Faramir had to check the urge to shift nervously from foot to foot as he had as a child when being scolded. “I seem to recall porridge…” he began sheepishly, then very nearly ducked his head when Nanny gave an exasperated sigh.
“You have worked straight through the mid-day bell,” she told him, “and sunset is rapidly approaching. I do not know what those healers are thinking, allowing you to push yourself in this manner. Is this what they call ‘keeping a close eye’ on your progress? For I do not think – “ Nanny broke off, narrowing her eyes at the sudden grin on Faramir’s face. “Whatever are you smiling at in such a mischievous manner?”
“I am glad to see you,” Faramir admitted readily, and was not surprised to feel tears spring to his own eyes. “I have missed you, Nanny.”
She stepped forward then, put her arms around him as she had done so many times when he was a boy, angry or upset, injured or frightened by a dream, soothing him with words or with just her presence. It somehow seemed even more comforting now that it had been then, and Faramir wished he was not so tall, so that he might rest his head on her shoulder.
“I have missed you as well, rabbit,” she said, her voice not quite steady. “Would that I could have been here for you in these dark times.”
“You are here now,” Faramir returned, and his eyes were still damp. “And I would have word of your family, for I am sure you did not make the long journey to the White City on my account alone.”
“You are right in one thing and wrong in the other,” Nanny said a bit tartly, “for while it is true that I have come to care for my husband and son, I would indeed have made the journey from Dol Amroth for you alone, for you are also my family, foolish boy.”
He glanced swiftly down at the floor, blinking back a resurgence of tears, and Nanny softened, studying him closely. As always, Faramir had the impression that she was trying to see through him. “I would have word of your family as well,” she said, hesitant but quietly encouraging. “If you will speak of it.”
Faramir abruptly found his throat too tight to speak; Nanny took him by the shoulders, and gently pushed him back down into the chair. “I will ring for dinner,” she said, brushing his hair away from his face, “and you shall tell me what you can, for if I know you at all, you have yet to spend much time in remembrance, and instead have spent a great deal in dark thoughts.”
Faramir looked at her, and had the most peculiar sensation of time folding back on itself. He could not even begin to count how many times he had peered up at her in this way, seen that very same look of concern and compassion in her eyes. “Yes, Nanny,” he said meekly.
She gave a half-chuckle, leaned forward, and placed a light kiss on his forehead before going towards the bell-pull, and Faramir felt as if a weight he did not even know that he bore had been taken from him.