This is in response to a prompt by soubie, who suggested "What about Nanny listening to the boys making an in-depth analysis of killin' stuff, maybe over lunch?" and well, it kind of just asploded.
Characters: Nanny, Boromir, Faramir
Totally G for Gen
“..no, no, no! A halberd? What kind of weapon is that?"
"One that keeps the enemy at a distance, of course. You don't always have to rush into close quarters, you know. All right, maybe you do - "
I stifle a giggle at the brotherly mockery in Faramir's tone, but fail to hold it back at Boromir's reply:
"I am as cautious as the situation calls for - " Faramir bursts into peals of laughter, and with good reason. As if the word "cautious" has ever been applied to Boromir.
"Look here, we can't all be master archers; some of us are more suited to melee - " he's defensive, trying to recouch his tendency of facing all problems head-on as "reasonable" instead of "impulsive", as if we all are not aware of Boromir hates being confined to a bow.
"Some of us are more suited to not painting a giant target on our chest," Faramir points out; I hear Boromir's offended snort. "All I'm saying is that long weapons or ranged weapons are just as effective as a longsword, and stand a much better chance of not allowing the fighter to be chopped into bits by the enemy."
Faramir is waging a losing battle; if countless armsmasters couldn't beat that lesson into my duckling's head, one little brother is certainly not going to succeed.
" 'Chopped into bits', do you really think so little of my ability with a sword - "
"This is not about your ability with a sword, Boromir,it's about the weapon - " They have very different approaches to such martial things, and I am sure there is not a person in Gondor surprised at how Boromir prefers a frontal attack, while Faramir thoughtfully considers the lay of the land first.
But Faramir's voice is growing frustrated, as it often does when he and Boromir fall to discussing such things, and I am not in the mood to have squabbling children ruin this lovely day, so I finish assembling lunch and bring the laden tray into the other room.
They fall silent when I enter; Boromir glares at his brother, who glares back just as fiercely. I ignore them both and place the tray with cold meats, fruits, cheeses, bread, cheese pastries, honey-walnut cakes, and tea on the table. It's a lovely Rohirric piece of heavy, polished wood, intricately carved with horses and winding knotwork that was, in fact, a wedding gift from Faramir.
Faramir glances at me a bit guiltily, while Boromir looks the tray over and complains, "Nanny, tea? Haven't you a drop of ale or wine?"
Normally he is not so bad-mannered, but his temper is up, not that this is an excuse. "I've a good mind to take the cakes back," I say disapprovingly, "if you're going to be so very ingracious about refreshments."
Faramir hides a smirk by piling food onto his plate, while Boromir blushes to the roots of his hair, which makes him appear ten years old, rather than two days short of his twenty-third birthday. "I am sorry, Nanny," he says sheepishly. "I didn't mean to be so rude, I was just carried away – “
“You know that defense will hold no water with me, young man,” I sigh, shaking my head at him. “There is no ‘I was just carried away’; you know perfectly well that you are not some giant hideous beast who can not control his temper with one person simply because you were recently having an argument with another. What would your diplomacy tutor say?”
“That I am a lost cause, and all such diplomatic matters should be conducted by Faramir?”
“You cheeky boy,” I say, fondly despite my intention to hold on to my severity, and Boromir grins so widely that I can’t resist ruffling his hair and planting a kiss on his forehead. “Although it would not surprise me to learn that your diplomacy tutor had, in fact, put that very assessment in writing to your lord father.”
Faramir bursts out laughing again, spraying tiny bits of pastry all over himself and the table, and I roll my eyes, wondering why I ever bothered to attempt to drill manners into these two hard heads. “You are making quite the mess,” I inform him, “and if it has missed your notice, you have started with dessert.”
“It is one of the joys of being an adult,” Faramir says, not at all abashed, “being able to eat dessert first, if one wishes.”
I raise an eyebrow at him, and Faramir simply beams at me, which of course earns him ruffled hair and a kiss to his forehead as well.
“You are coming to my birthday party, are you not?” Boromir asks, leaning forward eagerly, chicken leg in one hand and teacup in the other. The delicate teacup – made of thin, fine china, beautifully painted by an artist from Rhun, of all places – looks tiny in his broad hand. I would be afraid that Boromir would break it in his enthusiasm, but that the tea-set was a wedding gift from him, and he is very fond of it. Most would not guess that Boromir likes fine, lovely things as much as Faramir, for all that most of his own belongings would not be out of place in the tent of the lowest foot soldier.
“Uncle has something elaborate planned, and it’s driving him mad that no-one will give him the smallest hint as to what,” Faramir reveals with a grin. That particular grin tells me that Faramir knows exactly what Lord Imrahil has planned, and that, most likely, he himself has been collaborating with his uncle. I can only imagine how he’s been taunting Boromir.
I have an idea what it might be, but obviously I’ve no intention of sharing my hunch with Boromir. It’s much more fun to watch the impatient creature work himself into a frenzy with trying to guess.
I sit down at the head of the table, between the two boys. Faramir instantly abandons his meal in favour of presenting me with the platters; I can only imagine what his father would think, if he could see his youngest son wait on a former servant in such a way.
“Of course I will be there,” I assure Boromir with a smile. “It is not every year that my duckling has his birthday party in Dol Amroth.”
“Nanny!” Boromir exclaims, scandalized. “I am not a duckling any more! I am going to be twenty-three years old.”
Faramir is, of course, nearly choking on laughter at his brother’s indignation.
“You will always be ‘my duckling’ to me,” I tell him with a smile, “just as Faramir will always be ‘my rabbit’, and all the protests in the wide world will not change that.”
Boromir mutters something into his teacup about “undignified”; even the tips of his ears have gone red, but I can read him as well as ever, and a small part of him is pleased to hear me say it. Faramir, for his part, has never flinched when I absently refer to him as “rabbit”, but rather seems vaguely soothed by the endearment.
“But I will not call you such in company,” I promise, which is easy enough; I rarely did so even when they were boys, “so that you may keep your solemnity in front of your men.” Horror flashes briefly over Boromir’s face, as if the notion of his fellow soldiers calling him by a childhood pet name had only just occurred to him.
“So now then, duckling and rabbit,” I go on (Faramir snorts, and Boromir puts on a long-suffering face), “tell me all the news of Minas Tirith.”