Home » Fiction

Warning

This story is rated «NC-17», and carries the warnings «consensual sibling incest, some battle gore.».
Since you have switched on the adult content filter, this story is hidden. To read this story, you have to switch off the adult content filter. [what's this?]

Remember that whether you have the adult content filter switched on or off, this is always an adults only site.

Adamant and Iron (NC-17) Print

Written by Empy

14 April 2004 | 10500 words

Title: Adamant and Iron
Author: Empy [Email]
Pairing: Boromir/Faramir
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the Tolkien estate. No infringement is intended and no money made.
Warning(s): consensual sibcest, some battle gore.
Summary:
Feedback: Yes, please.
A/N: Thanks to my patient and brilliant beta Kirby Crow, and to Seasalt for having the patience to wait.


Osgiliath, the month of Nórui in the year 3018 of the Third Age.

The rain spattered as it hit the broken flagstone, rippling the dirt-grey pools of spillwater and thrumming on the few parapets still standing. Each morning, dawn broke in white and pale grey, empty like new parchment but with no sense of renewal. It was all one lengthened nightmare, no separate days but only a single stretch of pain and death. Faramir could hear the distant rumble from the Mountain of Doom, from the belly of the beast writhing over the Black Land, but even that sound seemed hollow.

A storm was rising. It would strike during the night, and the soldiers were huddling in the poor tents and shelters they had erected on the stony ground. The weather should have been mild, the first warmth of summer beginning, but instead it was raw with cold and rain.

The lantern hanging over his head rocked in the hard wind, the shadows a hysterical flicker on the flagstones. The rain in the air was bitter and would be dark with ash and poison from the Black Land. All their defences were battered, and it would surely only be a matter of time before the Enemy broke through to reclaim Osgiliath once more. The city had been wreathed in battle so many times it was scarcely inhabitable, if one did not count the soldiers who made do with what little shelter they could find. It pained him to think that this had once been a proud city, an outpost on the wide River that stretched all the way down to the Great Sea.

He held his sword low by his side, letting his bare thumb slide along the blood-stained crossguards. The metal warmed slowly, reluctantly, the chill seeping into his limbs even as the warmth of his skin heated the hilt and blade. It was a familiar weapon by now, each ridge of the hilt fitting into his palm. There were nicks in the edge, the once-straight line now jagged like a row of teeth.

This sword has seen too much battle. We all have.

He found he could not recall a day on which he had not held a sword, even though he let his thoughts track back over months past.


The White Citadel of Minas Tirith, the month of Ivanneth in the year 3002 of the Third Age.

He had been very young himself then, barely past his maturity, nineteen to Boromir’s twenty-four, and the sword he had held had been his first proper one, hammered and tempered for him alone.

Boromir’s eyes were blade-grey in the cold moonlight, his hair echoing the black of the marble pillars in the hall where they stood. The statues standing silent vigil along the walls looked on, ringing them in royalty.

“You must know your sword in order to wield it properly,” Boromir said, and Faramir opened his mouth to voice a half-hearted protest, intending to say that he was no novice with the sword even if he preferred the bow. All the same, he knew Denethor did not find an archer’s skills to be commendable enough for a son of the Steward. “The bow is a coward’s weapon,” he had told his son. “A warrior fights face to face with his adversary. He does not skulk among trees a furlong away.”

Faramir wielded the sword slowly, trying to force it to move to his will in slow arcs. The weight was reassuring, a promise of strength. Solid weight, yes, but it was with such ease he lifted the blade to his lips to press a reverent kiss to the graceful line. Cold metal for him to taste: hard, sharp, and arousing.

Boromir closed his eyes, leaning his head backward as he took a deep breath of the cold air. “You learn quickly,” he breathed, his voice low.

“Boromir?” Faramir ventured, puzzled by the strange tone. “Is something amiss?” As soon as he uttered the question, he knew the answer. It was neither fear nor anger that tainted the air, but desire. How arcane. And yet more arcane that he understood the feeling, the realization lacing a slow thrum of tension into his muscles. He sheathed his sword, his hands obeying him only sluggishly.

“It is nothing,” Boromir said, alarmed, his gaze catching Faramir’s for a fleeting moment. “Nothing you need concern yourself with.”

Faramir decided in that short moment that he would not act as a coward. His steps rang on the marble floor, an urgent patter of worn bootsoles that echoed in the high-vaulted hall like heartbeats, and he faintly heard the hollow ring of his cuff-button striking the silver fastenings of Boromir’s tunic. It was a stolen kiss, and it burned his tongue. Boromir was absolutely still in the embrace, and Faramir stumbled back, frightened. Madness. A mad whim; a foolish, foolish deed on his part, one that he feared would sever all bonds between them.

“Faramir,” Boromir whispered, his voice broken and dry like dead leaves rustling in the courtyard. “Faramir, why did you do that?”

“Because I wished to,” Faramir said, his mind feeling skewed beyond measure. “I did not intend to—”

“Do not lie to me, Faramir. Brothers should never lie to each other.”

“It is no lie!” he protested.

“It should be one,” Boromir said quietly. “It should be one spoken through wine, if ever.”

Words he intended to speak fell to dust in his mouth. “Forgive me,” he faltered, “I spoke too freely.” An ill feeling coiled around his gut, and he felt drained of all strength.

Boromir shook his head. “Dear little brother,” he smiled sadly. “My dear young one.” He took a step forward, and Faramir felt nailed to his place. Still smiling wanly, Boromir lifted his hand, his thumb brushing lightly over Faramir’s lower lip. Faramir leaned into the touch, his body refusing to respond to his tries to hinder himself. The touch was so light, so chaste, and yet it stoked heat in him. He closed his eyes, exhaling raggedly.

“Do you not wish this?” he asked.

“You do not know what I feel.”

“Yet I see things you may think hidden,” Faramir said, his tone soft. “What harm is there when we both wish for this?”

“Harm uncounted. You are young. Go find someone who is more suited for your love.” Boromir was shaking his head, his brows knitted with obvious pain.

Faramir found himself suddenly angered by the sad dismissal. “There is no truth in your words,” he said, stepping backward, dislodging Boromir’s hold on him. “You do not mean them. I know you do not.”

“Whether or not I mean them should not be your concern, brother. This is unlawful, surely you know that. You are the lore-learned one.” He gave a little bow, then turned to leave the room. “Think no more of this, Faramir,” he said. “Please.”


Everything tasted of metal, Faramir reflected, from the stagnant water to the very air they breathed. Air that was dense and insidiously choking, curling in grey mist around them.

The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. I wonder if it has the power to poison a mind and not just a body. Surely this is an illness. It is forbidden lust, for all intents and purposes, and I would do well in forgetting about it altogether.

His cuirass was dented, the metal pressing into his sore ribs. Breathing pained him, and his cheek still smarted from where a stray splinter from a shattered arrowshaft had marred him. He felt ill at ease in the armour, craving instead the supple leathern tunic of an archer. However, staying to command troops in Osgiliath necessitated that he be armoured.

“You are wounded, commander,” a footsoldier said, setting his helm down at his feet before scrubbing his hand over his sweaty head.

“They are only scratches,” Faramir said, shaking his head as he attempted to shift his armour so that it would not chafe him. “You needn’t be concerned with it, Anborn.”

“The lord Boromir requests you, my lord,” the soldier went on.

“Boromir?” Faramir said, quickly rising to his feet. “Where is he?” He knew he should curb his enthusiasm, yet it would not be out of the ordinary for him to desire to see his brother as soon as he could.


He did not have to search long to find his brother. There was a large cluster of men gathered around an archway, and judging from the jubilant laughter and shouting, Boromir was holding court in the middle of that cluster. Forcing a smile, Faramir strode across the old courtyard, gingerly avoiding the sparks that skittered from the makeshift armourer’s smithy set up near the large fire that roared in the middle of the plaza.

“You bring much noise with you,” he said as he reached the group. The men closest to Boromir obediently moved aside.

“Captain Faramir,” Boromir said, turning and reaching his gloved hand out to squeeze Faramir’s shoulder. “I am very proud of you.”

“You make it sound as though I was five and barely managing to fence for an hour with a wooden sword without hurting myself,” Faramir said, schooling his tone to be lighter than his mind felt. “I am no child.”

“Indeed not,” Boromir said. “You are a grown man.” A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth, yet Faramir found himself wondering how much of it was genuine and how much was merely done to afford the illusion of mirth.

“One wearing your cast-offs, no less,” Faramir said, lifting his arm to show the dented metal of the cuirass. “It is good workmanship, but it has taken a sound beating.”

“It is still better than this,” Boromir said, grasping a handful of his own rich cloak. “It bleeds dye in the rain, and it is nowhere near as practical as a simple soldier’s cloak.” He shook his head. “Father has taken a fancy to gaudy things. I am to be the firstborn of all Gondor, it seems, and dressed for the part.”

“You look fit to be a King,” Faramir said, sliding his hand over the silvery trim of the cloak. “Were you one, would you make me Steward?”

“I would have you share in my power,” Boromir said, his voice serious. “But enough of imagined glories. Will you not embrace your brother? Are you not happy to see me?”

“I have missed you,” Faramir sighed as he wrapped his arms tightly around Boromir.

“Later,” Boromir hiss-whispered, half laughing and half burning a promise into Faramir’s skin. “Later in a place less public,” he added, his beard rasping against Faramir’s neck.

The commander standing beside them had turned away, perhaps pretending to count heads. Faramir launched into the familiar ruse of mock headbutts and bruising hugs, knowing Boromir would go along. Laughter, much warmer than he remembered, but not even a move to steal a kiss. Of course not. Later. Always later and in the darkness. There was a comfort in the hard hold around his waist, reminiscent in a burning way of long nights spent feeling strung up between earth and sky, ridden hard and fast by the one who knew him best.

“Who let a boy like you out on the battlefield?” Boromir teased. “You’re barely taller than your sword.”

“It is many years since I was called a boy, and more yet since I was one,” he retorted. “All the same, better someone young than someone nearly feeble.” The banter was old, comfortable in its repetition.

“I should fain prove to you that I am not feeble,” Boromir said, his voice changed and now dangerously close to inviting. He nodded to the commander, his dark hair falling into his face for a brief moment. “Commander, I will hear your report after my brother and I have rested somewhat. The ride here is wearying.” He took Faramir by the arm to pull him aside. “Come now, brother. I wish to—” He broke off for a moment, seeming to consider his next statement. “I only wish to sit in your company for now,” he ended lamely. “Hear what I have missed.”

The commander touched his fingers briefly to his helm, giving a little bow before marching away. As the brothers began walking towards the highest cluster of tents, Boromir leaned close to Faramir to whisper: “Give me a kiss.” The request was a shadow of its usual glib tone. “Only one. Please.”

Faramir balked for a moment. “There are too many soldiers about. If they see this, word will fly to our father, and he will surely break my neck for it.”

Boromir gave a slow shake of his head, but said nothing.

As Boromir lifted his hand to stroke an errant strand of hair out of Faramir’s eyes, he shied away without thinking. A raised eyebrow at the sudden movement, and Boromir leaned in again, lifting Faramir’s hair out of the way to bare his throat. The bruise must still be livid, he thought, closing his eyes.

So right that his touch should burn.


Minas Tirith, the month of Lothron in the year 3004 of the Third Age.

The blade nicked Boromir’s hand for the second time that morning. Faramir gave a wide grin, dancing back a few easy steps.

“You are getting slow, brother,” he teased. “Is old age wearing you down?”

Boromir lifted his head to look at Faramir. He was shirtless, the heat of the bright sun that slanted in through the high windows teasing forth a sheen of sweat, and strands of dark hair clung to his forehead.

There was heat in Faramir’s belly, under his skin, a slow flicker-flame of emotions he knew should not be. Boromir’s eyes were bright with laughter, because to him this was all a game, fighting for sport in a dusty hall.

Faramir found his next thrust parried, and a second later the cold tip of Boromir’s sword rested under his chin. For every breath, the edge would prickle at his skin, forcing him to tilt his head back. His arms hung lax at his sides, the tip of the sword he was holding scoring the floor.

Giving a sly little smile, Boromir tilted his head, taking in Faramir where he stood.

“Now, what should I claim as my prize?” he mused, laughter creeping into his voice.

Faramir closed his eyes, shutting out the far too tempting image of Boromir silhouetted against the sunlight.

The blade reminded him of his position, and he looked again, squinting against the bright light. Shifting, he moved forward, enough to have the steel of the blade nick his flesh. The familiar burn, known to him from battle, failed to clear his mind this time, and the trickle of blood down his neck only served to remind him of a tear.

Quickly stepping back, Boromir swept the sword to the side as if to rebuke it. The smile on his face faded, replaced by a look of mingled anger and worry.

“What is it that makes you let me hurt you?” Stepping close, Boromir touched the tips of his fingers to the shallow cut.

The sunlight glittered on Boromir’s skin, on the lock of hair plastered against his forehead. The image was so tempting Faramir could not help himself. Letting his own sword fall, mindless of all advice not to harm the blade, he cupped Boromir’s face in his hands, laying a light kiss to the sweat-sheened forehead. Salt and dust, far too distant. Tilting Boromir’s chin up, he pressed a hard kiss to Boromir’s mouth.

A final mistake, Faramir thought, thinking his brother would now wrench himself free. Yet, to his great surprise, Boromir did not move. Instead, his lips parted under Faramir’s, and the kiss quickened into something deep and heated. The skin under Faramir’s hands seemed to burn with a strange fever. Relinquishing his hold, Faramir let his hand slide downward until it rested above Boromir’s heart. The beat under his palm was a rapid thrum, quickening even further as he let his tongue explore Boromir’s mouth. A taste sweeter than any other, far surpassing kisses from any previous lovers.

Faramir broke the kiss, leaning backward. The sunlight, previously warm on his skin, now felt like a sheen of ice.

“Boromir,” Faramir began, feeling the words swell in his mouth, “This is not—”

“Be silent,” Boromir interrupted, his voice filled with need, “Grant me this, for once.”

“I am powerless to resist it, and you know it,” Faramir murmured, his eyes closed. “You snare me with words, brother. You tie me down with promises as fair and frail as ice.”

“Frail promises? Have I even once broken my promises to you?”

“Perhaps the question should be if you ever promised me anything,” Faramir said. “You have both made and withdrawn your offers so many times your promises begin to wear thin.”


“You hide your wounds again, Faramir,” Boromir chided, startling Faramir out of the reverie.

I hide more wounds than you than you think, Boromir.

There was a little sound from Boromir, exasperated and angry. “He should not lay his hand on you,” he gritted out. It was not a question any longer, only a resigned statement. “He has no ri—”

“It is of my own doing,” Faramir hastened to say. “It is my own fault and my ill-chosen words.”

It took little effort of mind to recall how he got the bruise. A stray comment on the Steward’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge his younger son’s efforts was all it took, and he remembered what it felt like to be shaken like a kitten in the maw of a Warg. Age may have weighed Denethor, but his strength had not fully waned, and when angered, he was still a foe to be wary of.

“You need not coddle me,” Faramir said softly. “I am a grown man.”

“But the only brother I have,” Boromir said, leaning in to press a light kiss to the bruise.

“He drives you too hard,” Faramir said, neatly shouldering aside the statement that meant far more to him than he cared to admit even to himself. His voice rang a little muffled by Boromir’s shoulder as he went on speaking. “These latter days bring folly, brother mine. We are torn apart by circumstance and command, kept away from each other through endless battles and debates.”

“Do you think he knows of this?” Boromir asked, shifting in the embrace.

Faramir shifted, then tightened his hold somewhat. “I know not. I only hope we are kin so close it blinds him.”


The White Citadel of Minas Tirith, the month of Noruí in the year 3009 of the Third Age.

Faramir could hear the guards call to each other as the current watch ended, and he saw the midday sunlight glitter of their helms and spears.

“The sentinels,” Boromir said as he noticed what Faramir had caught sight of. “They always watch, and they are far from blind.”

“They will think we are conspiring. Merely whispering,” Faramir said, but shared in part Boromir’s anxiety. “What cause would they have to think that we are trading more than words? We are afforded some amount of credence as we are the Steward’s sons.”

“If you can think up a lie to cover our tracks, then surely the sentinels can think up some other reason for this than simple whispers?”

“It is my place to be sombre, Boromir. If you think it such a sure thing that we will be found out, then I trust you know of a better place for this? Come now, we have played hide-and-seek here so many times there is scarce a paving-stone I do not know. I know which recesses are not seen even from the high perch of the guards.”

“What you cannot see from above can be seen on ground level. Your logic falters a little there, brother. We cannot risk being in the open.”

Faramir gave the statement some thought, then nodded. He could feel a wide smile tug at the corners of his mouth. “Then perhaps we should make use of the grand hall of feasts that has stood so silent and empty of late?”

Searching his mind, he attempted to recall the location of the smaller entrance to Merethrond, and he snapped his fingers as he remembered. “Follow me,” he said. “I will show you that all my poring over old books has not been in vain. There is a smaller entrance to the hall, but it is half forgotten now. If my memory serves me right, the door will not be locked.”

“You are a good deal more devious than you let on,” Boromir said as they entered the dark hallway. He left no time for Faramir to reply, but instead pinned the younger man to the stone wall. Faramir offered no resistance, because there was no doubt in his mind.

As they broke the kiss to breathe, Faramir gave a slight smile. “I fail to understand what is so delightful in cornering me at every turn. Is there no way to sate these desires of yours?”

“I think you know the way well,” Boromir retorted, his voice a little breathless. “And more often than not, it is you who are the hungry one, so silence your barbs about hunger not sated. Will we or will we not?”

“You were never good at pillow talk, brother,” Faramir laughed.

“I see it is not needed,” Boromir said, his hands now more rough than gentle.

“Here?” Faramir asked, voice breathless. Boromir nodded, already undoing the fastenings of Faramir’s shirt with nimble fingers.

“Right here,” Boromir confirmed. “I do not wish to wait any longer than is necessary. If we are swift and silent, then no one shall be any the wiser.”

“I cannot promise to be silent,” Faramir said, his breath catching unevenly on the words, “nor can I promise to be content with swiftness alone.”

“Greedy little one,” Boromir murmured, biting at Faramir’s earlobe. “You want velvet bedding and a proper seduction.”

“Would you not give me that?” Faramir asked. “I do not ask for utter indulgence, yet I will not be content with a quick and dirty liaison, shoved up against a wall in a place neither appropriate nor private.”

Boromir laughed, the sound low and husky. “I seem to remember you being perfectly satisfied with a quick and dirty liaison not one week back.”

“You are hopeless, brother.”

“Very well,” Boromir sighed. He leaned in for another kiss, taking his leisurely time. “Not here. Not now. Perhaps I should seek gratification elsewhere? I do not think I can stand this torment much longer.”

“That is extortion and you know it well,” Faramir grinned, feeling more relaxed and less argumentative. He slid his hand down Boromir’s front, warily and easily picking his way into the folds and layers of fabric. As he brushed his fingers over Boromir’s stomach, the older man gave an exasperated little sound, pushing his hips forward. Giving an easy smile, Faramir wrapped his fingers around the heated flesh. Stroke and gauge, the motion slow and gentle. He drew himself up to be able to kiss Boromir. He could easily muffle each soft whimper, and he relished in the feeling of control.

“Does this content you then, brother dear?” he asked, quickening his pace and being rewarded with a hoarsely muttered curse. “It is quick and it is dirty,” he said, a smile in his voice. He ceased his motion for a second, delighting in the frustrated hiss from Boromir. “Promise me a liaison full and long this night, and perhaps I shall see it fit to end this,” he went on, tracing the tip of his tongue lightly over Boromir’s lips.


Faramir closed his eyes briefly as he relived the memory. It seemed as if all better times were just that: memories, dusty ghost hours far too long gone.

The sunset was muted, all colour rusted like a wash of blood had coated the sky. Blood in the sky and on the ground, blood on his armour and in his mouth. Not even the crude spirits the footsoldiers passed around could clear the taint from his palate. He could hear the horses whinnying and stamping, restless with good cause. The darkness afforded a cloak for the Enemy, and their troops were already decimated enough to make any attack serious.

He flinched at the touch of a hand to his shoulder. “You are very skittish for a commander,” Boromir smiled mildly.

“I can never rest easy on a battlefield,” he replied. “And I should not, at any rate. I must be valiant. When there is a threat nearby, I cannot sit idle and wish that a solution will present itself.”

“There are sentinels out. They know their tasks and are to be trusted.” Boromir brushed his fingers over Faramir’s cheek. “Come, you need to rest. You have been on your feet since yesterday morn. A sleepless commander is a poor one.”

“Will you rest with me?” Faramir asked.

“If that is what you wish,” Boromir said, wrapping his arm around Faramir’s shoulders.

“I wish I could somehow keep all this misery from entering my mind. It festers in my mind like a wound badly healed, and I find little rest,” he sighed.


The rain that began to fall was cold but blessedly clear, and Faramir could see the soldiers around them turn their faces up to the sky. Frigid water washed their wounds, and he stood there, the chill seeping into his limbs as the rain lashed at him.

“Faramir, you fool, come inside!” Boromir called, striding towards him. “The rain will chill you to death!”

“Not in so short a time,” Faramir said, yet looked back down. Trails of water ran down his forehead, washing grime into his eyes, and he blinked against the sting. “Group in tents,” he called to his men. “There will be no attack before dawn.”

He let his brother walk him to the highest tent, and obediently ducked in. There was scarcely time for him to shed his rain-sodden cloak before Boromir had him in a hard grip. “You play with your life,” he breathed, half in jest. “You forget that those around you would have you for their own.”

The kiss was as much his as it was Boromir’s. “Careful,” he breathed. “This is not a hidden place.”

“I have commanded troops longer than you have, Faramir. If you tell troops at midday that there will be no attack before dawn, they will not come to their commander until dawn. We will be quite undisturbed.” He pushed Faramir down to sit. “Now take those sodden clothes off. You reek like a wet dog.”

Even inside the tent, the air was chill, and Faramir gave a few shivers as he drew the dry tunic on. All the while, Boromir sat across from him, leaning his elbows on his knees as he regarded Faramir. “That is my shirt,” Boromir said, a note of wonder creeping into his voice. “I remember the collar.”

“You had outgrown it,” Faramir said, his tone light even as Boromir furrowed his brow.

“But why would you bring it here?” Boromir asked as he watched Faramir fasten the last clasp. “It does not bother me,” he hastened to add, “It only seems strange.”

“The folly of youth, perhaps,” Faramir shrugged, affronted by the remark. Taking the wineskin from the table, he filled a goblet for himself. “It is a fanciful idea, one I surely must have picked out of one of the dusty tomes I am so fond of.”

“I hope that wine will slake that venom out of your voice, Faramir. You are not one to denigrate yourself, and whatever words Father has seen fit to scold you with do not fall well from your mouth. Miming his speech is the true folly here, and a sport of children.”

“Was that not why you were sent here? To watch over your infant brother and see that he holds himself as a Captain should? He is my father also, and I know his ways. He sends you so that he can be sure of victory.”

“Faramir…” Boromir began, then halted. He shook his head, his gaze cast down. “I was not sent here to wrest control from you, yet I am Captain-General. Your troops are still yours to command, yet I will do what I must with respect to my title.”

“You sound so bookish, yet there is much for you to learn. Have your command if you think that is the true strife here.” He drew a deep breath, pressing the tips of his fingers to his forehead. “Convince me I am alive,” he said at length. “Convince me that there is more than war and misery and death.”


Faramir could feel dirt-smeared skin under his hands as he twisted, and there was a taste of black and oily blood in his mouth, a tang of blood that belonged to neither. Only poison, that blood, poison to fever him as he moved again, pushing against the wickedly clever hands that held him.

There was no time to prepare, to do what he wished, only time to fondle and stroke, hard and a little too rushed. His heartbeat was rapid and heady in his ears, and it melded with the hard thrum of rain-laced wind pelting against the tent canvas. The lamplight tinted both their faces a sickly yellow-grey, and he shut his eyes to keep the night and the battle outside.

They had time enough for Boromir to remind him that he was still alive. Time enough to break all the laws and to claw at the ground while biting down on the traitorous screams. Faramir’s entire body was strung tight with tension, from far too many days of waiting.

“Hold tighter,” Boromir hissed, pressing close, desperate in his pillaging lust. “Hurt me if you must.”

Faramir’s head snapped back, impacting painfully with the hard ground. There was white fire in his veins, so soon tainted with the poison black of fear. He would be battered from this, and he would have bruises to add to his tally, bruises no one would care to count for they were to be expected. Red blood and black blood melding, blending to an ashen taste in his mouth. There was a sound akin to a strangled sob, but he could not even tell who had uttered it. Callused and familiar hands holding him, stroking him hard and to a fever pitch, flesh against flesh in the wretched dark of Osgiliath. Blood-fever while soldiers lay in huddled wait outside, heat in the strange rainstorm. Swollen lips against his own, wringing a stuttered confession of sighs out of him.

Push harder, twist in my grip so that I may catch flame and burn this winter away. Please. It is a simple and courteous request.

Please.

His heart galloped in his chest, raising the familiar coppery taste in his mouth as he neared his peak. Fingers wrapped snug and firm around his cock, stroking just so, in imitation of a body. As good as one, and his brow furrowed as he thrust his hips forward. A snarl from Boromir as he met the thrust halfway, slick grip nearly faltering. This will have to do, he had said, extracting omission with kisses. It was perhaps enough for now, but he knew it would content neither for very long. Beasts in this darkness, he thought, licentious beasts, hard and hot as they stroked each other in a mirrored act.

Do this for me as I do it for you, brother beloved.

He broke the kiss to gasp for air, a high and ugly sound. He was so close, teetering on the edge, and yet he wished he could stay in that state for so much longer. The clumsy, cold and half-dressed state where he was hard and Boromir’s hands were warm and firm as they teased him and demanded his release.

“Spend for me, little brother. Spend hard and spend now,” Boromir whispered, his voice raspy and wicked. A callused thumb skated over the tip of his cock, friction and pain for a split second before all turned white.

Brother mine.

He would have cursed out loud in a quaking voice had he been able to, but found both voice and words stolen from him. His fingers clenched, and he had time to register more pain as Boromir bit into his shoulder. Convulsions, and muffled grunts like those of a great beast in pain.

I grant you this, brother. I do not tempt: I give.

Precious echoed through his mind. Precious and far too close. You should scald me like the Ring scalded Isildur’s hand, you should leave me nothing but a burned-out husk of a man.

He grew greedy, the lust rising to swallow the hesitance in a single dark wave. He pressed closer to Boromir, both needing the heat and craving it. The Black Land seemed to leech the very warmth out of his limbs, leaving behind only a leaden apathy.

“It pains me to say this,” Boromir murmured, “but you will have to sleep on your own pallet this night. It would not do to have your soldiers come to wake us and find us a sordid tangle of limbs.”

Faramir gave a snort of laughter at the statement, but rose obediently after stealing a final kiss from Boromir. The makeshift bed was neither steady nor comfortable, but it would serve its purpose. Drawing his blanket tighter around himself, he drifted into a fretful sleep.


The parchment under his hands was brittle with age, fraying at the edges. The ink had perhaps once been a rich black, but now it was no more than a greying whisper of runes. As he followed the lines with his fingers, he noted that the map was marked, criss-crossing wide lines that veered wildly over the lands drawn.

“Will you sit here all night poring over the maps? The borders will not change even if you stare at them for hours,” Boromir said, settling his hands on Faramir’s shoulders. Faramir intended to reply, but fell silent as he heard the loud creak of the door-hinges.

“Faramir is ever at your side when you are home, Boromir,” the Steward commented as he took his place in the high-backed chair at the head of the table. “Boromir? Are you listening or have you fallen to fanciful reveries just like your brother?”

“Of course I am listening,” Boromir said, clenching his fingers slightly, bunching the fabric of Faramir’s robes.

“Then let me see your eyes. You forget how easily I can read you.”

As Faramir looked up, he caught Denethor’s gaze. The grey of his eyes was black in light of the chamber, black as the night sky. There was neither rebuke nor understanding in the gaze, only a chilling blankness. It was like being underwater, drowned in blackness, Faramir thought.

Boromir did not lift his gaze.

“You will tell me the truth in time, my son. If not willingly, then I shall do my best to wrest it from you.”

“Father—” Faramir began, but halted as he saw Denethor’s brows knit and his gaze darken even further.

“Ever ready with an explanation, Faramir. I did not ask your opinion, and I will not have you blithely lie in his stead!”

Denethor swept his hand out to the side, the flat of his palm toppling one of the high bottles of ink that stood on the table. It overturned, spilling black ink over the maps. The bottle teetered on the edge of the table, then took the plunge and shattered on the flagstones in a shower of shards and jet droplets. The inked shadow widened, seeking out new territory, covering Osgiliath on the brittle parchment.

Boromir remained standing, leaning heavily on the table and staring mutely at the tabletop and the ruined maps he rested his hands on.

All movement was slowed, sound was silenced and the pressure was devastating. His heart would not beat properly, but fluttered in his chest in painful leaps and bounds.


He woke suddenly, blinking into the darkness. The images of the dream had been all too vivid, and the voice would not quit his mind. All the same, the more he strove to remember the words, the further they slipped from his reach.

Boromir slept still, with his back turned to Faramir but still so very close. Faramir found that he himself had not even shifted. His hand was splayed over his own chest, over the heart.

Judging by the wan light that filtered through the opening of the tent, it was not yet dawn. Faramir lay staring into the crossing beams of the tent roof for a moment, attempting to even out his rapid breathing. As he turned his head, looking to the side, he could discern Boromir’s sleeping shape, the broad chest rising and falling for each calm breath. He carefully stretched his hand out, letting his fingers brush the bare skin of Boromir’s arm. Warm skin under his touch, and confirmation that Boromir at least was real and no spectre.

Shifting restlessly on his narrow bunk, Faramir attempted to find some rest again, but suspected it would be a losing battle.


“You have not slept well,” Boromir said as they stood surveying the mist-drenched slope ahead. “You tossed in your sleep as though you were pained.”

“It was a strange dream,” Faramir contented himself with saying, “and not one I can interpret with ease.” He could see droplets of water on the metal of his armour, and the raw cold was seeping into his limbs.

“Lay aside those worries now. I would have you set your mind on this battle, not on dream-images.”

He looked up in askance. “I know what is real and what is an image, Boromir. We are both better off if you do not tell me obvious things.”

Boromir looked down at the ground in front of them, seeming to count the hoofmarks embedded in the damp soil. “We are bickering like old women. We are not enemies to each other, so let lie your ire.”

“I will do so when you stop addressing me like a half-grown child. It is wearying enough to ever stand in your shadow and have you bask in Father’s praise.”

“So this is all a matter of petty jealousy?” Boromir asked. “Is it a contrivance of the Enemy that sets us against each other?” He furrowed his brow as he turned to look at Faramir.

“My temper seems increasingly short of late,” Faramir admitted, keeping his gaze on the plain in front of them. “Whether it is from ill influence or not, I cannot tell.”

“It is unlike you.” Boromir gave a mirthless laugh. “I am the hot-tempered one, if one need be named. I can only hope you are not taking after me.”


Faramir could hear the chants of the Easterlings echo in the vale, and the clamour rose to be deafening as they set to striking their shields with their spears. Intimidation, all of it, but he could not help but feel that he would have been better off had he been carrying his bow. It was not a coward’s way out to him – if anything, he thought it far more merciful to be felled by an arrow than to die by the sword.

“Hold line,” he called, gathering the reins. His horse neighed, restless and frightened. “Do not give way!” he shouted, hearing the words echo hollow. His next command was drowned in the cacophony of hoofbeats and shouts

He felt like a dead shell, a mindless, roaring spectre that rushed against the stream of Easterlings that billowed over the hills.

They are men like myself, and I must slay them without remorse.

A spearpoint struck him in the shoulder, rocking him back in the saddle and all but toppling him, but he soon righted himself. Spurring the horse back towards the smaller troop of Haradrim, he lashed out, the blade of his sword nothing more than a line of grey in the air. The bruised shoulder ached already, and the pain that laced its steady fire under his skin was nearly vicious enough to cost him the use of that arm.

Closer up, he could hear the harsh taunts the warriors shouted at him. Half he could understand, half of the guttural snarls of curses and invocations.

His sword broke and splintered as it hit the heavy shield, and he nearly dropped the hilt in shock. The Haradrim in front of him gave a high cry, a grotesque mixture of laughter and triumphant rage. Faramir spurred his horse to the side, tearing up a spear from where it had pierced the soil, and swung it around, mindless and heedless of the danger. The rider fell from the stroke, and his steed trampled him. Faramir winced at the sight, and threw the spear to the side.

He could feel his hackles rising as a wild horncall was cut abruptly short. Had he not immediately heard the tone was wrong, he would have turned his horse and galloped madly back to make certain Boromir was safe. As of now, he did not know if the fallen caller was one of their own or one of the Haradrim.

Were it only that you are not harmed, Boromir, he thought.

“Damrod! Give me a sword,” he called to one of his soldiers passing by. The man looked up, clearly surprised, but gave a brief salute and then handed his own sword over to Faramir.

The weight of the blade was unfamiliar, but he had no time to reflect over it as he spurred his horse back. All that mattered was that the weapon would serve him.


Faramir winced as he trod in blood, the soil around the fallen greedily drinking in all the carrion had to give. Accepting a cup of water from one of his men, he grimaced anew, this time at the bitter taste. All things were poisoned in this land, and even the purest of things would be tainted.

The bodies of the fallen men had been carried away, but he could still feel the stench of clay mixed with blood and bile. The youngest of the footsoldiers were pale and silent, and Faramir wished he could have comforted them, but also knew that they had to be hardened to withstand the brutality of war.

“There are more fallen than there are those well enough to fight,” Boromir said, settling to sit next to Faramir on the toppled pillar. “The enemy seems stricken with some strange madness that makes them fight without heed to their own lives. Surely they have the aid of the Nameless One, else they would not be so fierce.”

Faramir nodded wearily. “And our own troops are stricken with fear, even those counted as the boldest. This is a losing battle, Boromir. We cannot hold out much longer. Osgiliath will fall ere long!”

“This black mood ill becomes you. Even if we had your troop of archers to add to our tally, they would but make a small dent in the Enemy’s defences.”

“It would still be a dent,” Faramir sighed. “All the same, it would be too little too late. If we mustered every hale warrior in Gondor, there might be hope, but that, alas, is not possible.” He stood, drawing on his gloves. “If we can keep the bridge, it would help somewhat. Lead you troop with mine. We will take the horses and some of the men over to the other bank. The rest will try to stay the enemy at the pier of the bridge.”


Faramir’s horse reared back, champing the bit and tossing its head. He gave a swift touch of his spurs to its side, but the gelding refused to move forward.

“We must take the bridge by foot,” he called, turning back in the saddle. “The horses will not pass it.”

The horse snorted, tossing its head again, the knotted and tangled mane flying. Mud squelched under its hooves as it backed away, finally turning, and Faramir let it take the course it wanted. Best perhaps to trust the animal in this matter. Further away, he could hear a wild and high scream, and gave a shudder. Fell creatures were afoot, hiding in every recess and hollow. Osgiliath had long since become a ghost citadel, a shell of a city for the ailing soldiers to hide in as they fought the hopeless battle against the Nameless One.

He spurred his horse to a trot, trying not to wince at the sight of the mangled bodies that littered the path to the bridge. Far too many fallen, and far too many of them young and hale. There were fallen Haradrim among the dead, their painted bodies morbid eddies of colour amid the grey.

As he reached the end of the troop line, he turned to address his men.

“The horses will not pass the bridge,” he said. “We have no choice but to leave the horses or try to drive them over the ford.”

The soldiers obediently dismounted, most of them beginning to lead their mounts toward the edge of the water. The horses neighed in protest, but Faramir could not discern if the animals wanted to break free and gallop away or if they feared even the river.

The small troop Faramir had chosen to command had grouped on the bridge, behind the flank that held the piers. The men were restless, stomping their feet and shifting about in the narrow space, and their voices rose and fell in hushed curses.

As soon as he sighted the Haradrim riders galloping toward them, he knew the battle could only have one end. All he could do was try to offer resistance and hope their losses would not be too grievous. The men closest to him shook their heads as he looked at them.

“There is no way we can win this, commander,” one of them said. “They are far too many!”

“Neither can we afford to give up now,” Faramir hissed. “You must fight.”

His conviction threatened to collapse when he saw his men fail.

“Retreat!” he shouted, dimly hearing Boromir echo the cry somewhere in the roar and clamour of the struggle. Drawing breath, he repeated the command, his throat raw with shouting.

The Easterlings and Haradrim advanced inexorably, and as his men were driven further back over the bridge, Faramir felt the first wispy threads of alarm wrap around him. It was all a trap, he realized, a plot to sever way to the city and drown the troops in the process. The supports of the bridge had been chipped away, and as he cast his gaze down, he caught a glimpse of an Easterling heaving a last blow to the chipped stone.

As the bridge crumbled from underneath them, plunging them into the icy water of the river in a chaos of mortar, blood and smoke, his only clear thought was one of loss.

“We are never lost, not even when parted from each other,” they had promised in childhood, clasping hands to seal the oath. It had never seemed childish to him.

He is lost to me now, we are both lost in death.

Yet, as he struggled in the muddled water, he felt the hard grasp of hands hauling him to the surface. The air was stolen from his lungs, and the heavy armour weighed him down, making it nearly too great an effort to struggle to the surface. He could barely see anything in the muddled water, save for flashes of black and red, jarred by splinters of white. He kicked desperately, treading water to keep his head above the surface as the shock began to seep into his limbs.

“Are you wounded?” Boromir asked, worry plain on his features. There was a thin trail of blood at the edge of his mouth, but he seemed not to notice. “Faramir, tell me you are well,” he went on, struggling to climb the slippery bank.

Faramir managed a weak shake of his head, and the movement made his wet hair slide into his face, blinding him for a moment. As he lifted his hand to stroke it away, he gave a wince at the pain in his shoulder.

The mist billowed around them, a thick mat of water as grey as the sky. He coughed and spat where he kneeled on the riverbank, feeling bruised and battered beyond belief. The river-water burned in his throat, and his bitten lip leeched its iron taste into his mouth.

Four men, himself and Boromir included, were still alive. Four out of an entire troop. The inlet was clogged with broken bodies and masonry, and he gagged at the sight.

“We are alive. That is all that matters,” Boromir said, sagging heavily against the stone wall. He leaned in close, taking a firm hold of Faramir’s neck to hold him in place. “Give me a kiss, sweet brother,” he murmured. “Let me know we both live.” Faramir offered no protest or resistance, and his lips parted under Boromir’s.

Give me a kiss.

A courteous request in the midst of brutality.

Give me.

The kiss was a forbidden gift still. It was a fragment of sweetness in the midst of war, among metal and dirt. Flesh linking with eager flesh between sword blades and spear tips.

Dawn was breaking, in grey and faint red. Faint red like the thin smear of blood on his skin, blood he did not even know the origin of. It was the eve of a cold and wan summer, akin more to dark autumn.


“We ride back to the White City,” Faramir said, watching Boromir from the corner of his eye. His brother gave a small nod. “Anborn and Damrod, find horses that are not tired, if you can.”

“We are lucky if we can find even four horses in this chaos. They have been driven mad by the beasts that are under the control of the Enemy, and if they have not fled, they will throw their riders,” Boromir said, his face grim.

“Then we will take that risk,” Faramir said. “We must get back. If we linger, the enemy will seek us out and kill us.”

At length, Anborn and Damrod returned, leading horses that seemed more wild than tamed. The saddles were blood-stained, bearing mute witness to the violent end of their riders.

“These will have to do,” Faramir said as he mounted, not caring to adjust the stirrups even though they were too short. “Ride fast, for there is precious little time to lose.”

They did not need to give passwords at the Great Gate, for the guards hastened to open the heavy doors as the four men rode nearer. The sentinels rushed out to meet them, worry plainly written on their features.

“Where is the rest of the troop, my Lord?”

“Crushed by mortar or run through by swords,” Boromir said, his voice cold and clipped. “The Enemy drove us back, and our defeat was grievous.” He dismounted, handing the reins of the exhausted horse to a stable boy who had been alerted by the commotion.

The men nodded, then gave quick salutes and hastened to tell the others, leaving Boromir and Faramir in relative solitude.

“What are we going to tell him?” Faramir asked as he dismounted, wincing at the pain in his battered body.

Boromir shook his head. “That we lost the battle, and the troop also. There was nothing we could truly do to offer resistance.”

“I will take the blame,” Faramir said, his mouth forming words his mind had not spoken. “I will face his ire, for he will blame me firsthand, not you.”

“No,” Boromir said forcefully, grasping Faramir’s shoulder hard enough to hurt. “Lay not yourself on the line for my sake! Suffering will not ennoble you, and you know as well as I do that his anger will be less if I admit fault.”

“He will not even see it a fault.”

“You speak lies convincingly, Faramir, but the bitterness so ill becomes you. Let me do this,” Boromir said, already striding towards the second gate, his sodden cloak swaying like the burden it surely was. “I know his ways, and I know how he bends his will this way and thither.”

Weighing his choices, Faramir found himself caught. “No,” he said, more for himself than for the benefit of others listening. The soldiers nearby regarded them both with a curious respect, but none moved forth to ask anything. The hush that lay over the first circle hurt his ears, so used had he become to the constant cacophony of assault. All the worse, the silence would not let him forget. As he winced, the wound running along his hairline began to bleed anew.

The sunlight filtering into the city was sharp and harsh, the light that always preceded a rainstorm with thunder. It threw everything into sharp contrast, even the fatigue he felt. He quickened his pace to catch up with his brother. “Boromir, you are being a fool. You have scarcely drawn breath since you scolded me for willingly taking the blame, and already you rush to be berated by our father. You are very inconsistent for a man known for his valour and resolve.”

“This is neither the time nor the place to bicker. He knows in part what has happened, surely, as he has sat bent over his seeing-stone.”

“But how can you know what it is he has seen?” Faramir asked as they climbed the wide stairs.

Boromir strode through the archway at the top of the stairs, then halted. He turned to look at his brother. “Faramir,” he said, his voice so low it was little more than a breath. “Trust me when I say I would never let him hurt you.”

“I fear you would not be able to do that,” Faramir confessed, his voice hushed to near inaudibility. “You know his temper. When he is enraged, all men do well to keep away from him. That you protect me feeds his wrath. Should the worst come to pass, he will take it to mean that you care for me too much.”

Boromir leaned his forehead against Faramir’s, clasping his free hand to his brother’s neck.

“I know,” he sighed, his voice broken. “And that wrath would bring me down as well, for he will hold us both guilty. As we indeed are,” he went on, the words heated on Faramir’s skin. “The same sin is on our mind, just as the same blood runs in our veins.”

“Blood will draw you to my side,” Faramir said suddenly, quoting from some arcane song he did not recall ever learning. “Blood-fever,” he murmured, finally opening his eyes to look at Boromir.

Boromir made a small sound in the back of his throat, half exasperated and half despairing. “It is fever I will gladly endure,” he whispered, as if suddenly mindful of the echoing hallway around them. “It is a fever that burns me even now.”

They were close enough to kiss, Faramir noted, yet both of them held back, strung into distance by fear and hesitance. So achingly close, only breaths between them, the slightest of distances to cross – and yet the void gaped between them, wide and black.

“No,” Faramir said, the single negative more hurtful to him than to his brother, surely. “Not here. It is my turn now to offer a later occasion.”


Denethor did not rise as the brothers entered the room. He remained seated at the map table, his broad back turned towards them, as though he would not even offer the simple courtesy of acknowledging their arrival.

“So you have both returned,” Denethor said, but there was little joy in his voice. “I hear rumour already that you are without your troop.”

“It should cease to be counted as rumour, for it is fact,” Boromir said, stepping forward and half in front of Faramir. “The Enemy overtook us, and we could do aught but flee. The last bridge of Osgiliath has been razed, and in that battle we lost the troop. Only four of us survived.”

“The agents of the enemy were not many, so said the scouts that were sent out. How is it that you were so ill prepared for this?” He turned in his chair, letting the ink-spattered map he had been holding rest on the table.

Faramir stepped forward, clearing his throat before he spoke. “They hid the number of their host, and made our scouts err in their report.”

“Are you sure it was not ill leadership?” Denethor countered. “It does not pay well to be lax when taking stock of the enemy. Your sentinels are not hard of sight, and you have not failed like this before.”

“Neither he nor his sentinels were lax, father,” Boromir said, his voice edged with irritation. “They were fatigued, as were indeed my men and I also. This contrivance of the Enemy was no simple diversion!”

“Lack of sleep is no excuse.”

“They would have beaten us all the same. We were outnumbered,” Faramir said, meeting his father’s stormy gaze levelly.

Boromir said nothing, his features schooled in still and grim determination.

“You will stay, Faramir,” the Steward said as he rose. “I need report of your progress, and you must gather your strength.” He walked over to his sons, his tread slow and measured, and placed his hand briefly on Faramir’s shoulder. “It gladdens me to see you hale, my son.”

Faramir bent his head, the touch seeming to him uncommonly heavy. “Yes, father.” He felt more ill at ease than ever, his stained and torn clothing reeking of blood and grit. His battered shoulder ached, and he felt at his least valiant when Denethor spoke to him as though he was a misbehaving child.

“Take some rest, Boromir,” the Steward said. “I will call for you if I need to hear your counsel.”

As the heavy door swung shut behind Boromir, Denethor moved to stand behind Faramir once more. He placed his hands on Faramir’s shoulders, and Faramir closed his eyes, awaiting the caustic comment that surely was to follow.

“You love your brother, do you not?” Denethor’s voice was a bone-cold curse. His chill hands clenched around Faramir’s shoulders, and Faramir could hear the flutter and thrum of his own pulse echoing in his head. Far too true, far too harsh and knowing.

“Of course I love him,” Faramir said, “He is my brother.” He kept his gaze locked on his hands where they rested on the dark wood of the table.

Denethor gave a sound close to a hiss, and Faramir winced as the fingers clenched harder.

“You know what I speak of. Do not think you can guile me with petty words. You desire him,” Denethor said, his voice like the hiss of an adder. The last three words were rank with poison.

“I —” Faramir tried, his voice shamefully weak. “You are wrong,” he said, determined not to reveal anything.

“You forget how easily I can read you, my son. Easily as an open book.”

“Your accusations are false, father. For once, your sense is deathly wrong.”

“So now you rise to contest your elders. If it is not desire that clouds your thoughts, then pray tell me what it is.”

“Is it not reason enough that I have seen overmuch battle in these past few days?”

“Overmuch battle, you say,” Denethor said, letting go of Faramir’s shoulders. “So you seem indeed to be more at home in the hills of Ithilien where you may hide to your heart’s content. Like the Woodland folk who lie in wait among tree and bush, bending their bow and killing at distance and in secrecy.” Denethor leaned in, his voice pitched to sound sincere and confiding, but the words sent raw chills skittering down Faramir’s spine.

“Go now, and tell your brother I wish to speak to him. There is much I need to hear yet, and he at least has not failed me in giving report.”

Denethor turned to gather the maps from the table, and as one of them slipped from his grasp, Faramir noticed the wide ink stain that covered all of Gondor. He said nothing, and instead straightened up and left the room, all the time feeling the weight of his father’s gaze on his back.

As he walked down the chill and silent corridor, it seemed to stretch and become a gorge walled with ice. He knew all too well what Denethor was capable of, and that he would not cease his inquisitions until he was content with the answers.

I see what you do not, and I know his ways better than you may ever, brother. I but wish I could now repay the favour and speak in your stead. In these matters, I am the stronger one. Who better to pit against a liar than another liar?

As he reached the door that led to Boromir’s chambers, he paused and drew a deep breath before stepping inside. The sound of the latch clicking into place behind him was loud, shattering the fragile silence.

“He wishes to speak to you, Boromir.”

“You make it sound like a death sentence,” Boromir said, rising from his chair. “I have given report to him before, and I well know to watch my words in his presence. You worry too much.”

“Words are not the only thing that may give you away. That you are his eldest son gives you little leeway, and even that is solely dependent on his mood,” Faramir said as he stepped aside to allow Boromir passage. He briefly clasped his hand to his brother’s shoulder. “You must do more than merely watch your words or deviate from the truth. You must tell lies and keep your mind closed.”

Boromir took a deep breath and squared his shoulders before he walked down the corridor. Faramir stood leaning against the doorframe, watching Boromir’s receding shape and realizing all he could do was hope that the Steward would be blind to the truth.

I can only hope we are kin so close it blinds him.

NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]

Enjoyed this story? Then be sure to let the author know by posting a comment at http://www.faramirfiction.com/Fiction/adamant-and-iron. Positive feedback is what keeps authors writing more stories!



Thank the author

The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author:

  [ what's this? ]

View all recent Thanks


1 Comment(s)


NB: Comments may contain spoilers!

Wow, this story is amazing! Very suspenseful and emotional. Will there be a sequel?

— Gurke    28 December 2011, 01:43    #

Subscribe to comments | Get comments by email | View all recent comments


Comment

  Rules & Help

All fields except 'Web' are required.
Your email address will NOT be displayed publicly. It will only be sent to the author so she (he) can reply to your comment in private. If you want to keep track of comments on this article, you can subscribe to its comments feed.


About the Author


Empy For more stories, visit "LiveJournal":http://empy.livejournal.com/tag/fic.