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Mag heard the quiet pad of bare feet on flagstones just as she was preparing to leave the Citadel kitchen for the night.
She knew that the young Captain-General spent long hours in his office upstairs; knew, as few did, that sometimes he sought the comfort of the quiet kitchen, tea and biscuits for a late-night snack. She had just risen to get it ready when a strong, sunburned hand on her shoulder stopped her.
“Let me do that, Mag. I know my way around your kitchen well enough.” Confidently he spooned the tea leaves into the teapot, added water from the kettle, set out the jar of honey and two mugs. Knew exactly which crock held the ginger biscuits, but stopped, hesitated, and set out the lemon ones instead. Mag smiled.
“Missing your little brother, are you?” she asked.
Boromir grinned ruefully.“I can not help but worry, proud as I am. I would have been happy to have him here in the Citadel guard, but he always did love the woods, you know that.”
“Aye, he'd had his heart set on Ithilien from the time he saw his first wild rabbit. It bounded off into the woods, and 'All wild rabbits live in Ithilien', you said. 'So I will live there too,' he said, and that was that.”
Boromir laughed. “How do you know that story, Mag? You were not anywhere near.”
I smiled. “But your Nanny was, and she told me, and about how after that your little brother read everything he could about the wild rabbits. About how they were courageous, and loyal to their warren, swift and sly and able to appear and disappear at will. And from there he studied every creature that lived in the woods, and then the woods themselves, and the long history of fair Ithilien, and his fate was sealed.”
His voice suddenly thickened. “I shall miss him so, Mag, every moment, and part of me will be forever wondering and worrying. Is that what love is? Constant fear?”
“Not constant fear, no; but constant care and thought, with him every moment, uplifting him through doubt and dark, sharing in his moments of joy.”
“How will he know, Mag? I embraced him, teasing him that his bow was longer than he was tall, but he blushed and turned away, marching off with his troop. How will he know how proud I am, and how much I love him?”
“Don't worry so,” I smiled. “He'll know.”
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