7. Chapter 7

The guests sat down again, and Aragorn bent to Arwen and murmured something in her ear. She looked up at him, and smiled, and he brushed a kiss on her forehead and turned to Faramir.

“Will you take some air with me, my lord Steward?”

Faramir nodded. “Gladly, sire.”

They excused themselves and went out of the hall, servants pushing open the doors and bowing as they went past. Aragorn led the way on to the battlements, taking a pipe out of his robes.

“I hope you will excuse me smoking,” he apologised, finding tinder and lighting the weed. “It is a long habit and not easily broken.”

His companion folded his hands behind his back and shook his head. “I do not understand it as a habit, but it does not bother me,” he said. Aragorn smiled, and contentedly puffed a stream of smoke into the night air. “I was glad to have the opportunity to speak more with the halfling Frodo,” Faramir commented, as they strolled along. “He is a wise and courteous person.”

“And burdened,” Aragorn said, “though his burden may have been destroyed. I think he found pleasure in speaking with you, my lord, and am glad of it.” They came to a bench overlooking the City with the Pelennor below, and sat. “I was, and am, concerned about Frodo’s welfare,” he continued, glancing sideways at Faramir, “but he was not the only one I found in sombre mood tonight.”

Faramir met the King’s eyes with their glint of wisdom and power. “I miss my brother,” he said, after a pause. “I feel inadequate in this position. He should have been here, in my place, Steward of his city. And I cannot help wondering, sometimes, how he succumbed. Why he fell.”

Another stream of smoke spiralled up into the night sky. “The power of the Ring ensnared many great men,” said Aragorn. “Elrond, if you ask him, may tell you of the change it wrought in Isildur himself.”

“It did not ensnare you, my lord,” Faramir murmured.

For a moment, Aragorn said nothing. “No,” he said, eventually. “No, not in the way it did Boromir. But it brought uncertainty, and doubt. If Frodo had not decided to go alone to Mordor, I would have gone with him, though in truth my heart said that my duty lay this way. And Faramir – for let us not stand on ceremony, you and I – your brother died a noble death.”

“So the halflings have told me,” Faramir said, sighing.

Aragorn nodded. “But they do not know the end of his tale. I came upon Boromir too late to help him fight, and too late to attempt to save him, but he was yet alive. He told me he was sorry. At the last he repented, and he died in peace.” He breathed out smoke, and felt some of the strain of holding Boromir’s words to himself go with it.

Faramir bowed his head. “I … I am glad. He always used to say that he wished to die in battle, and take his enemies with him. He would have hated to rule as Steward, really. He was a warrior. He was the Steward’s heir, and would have made a great ruler – but he was a fighter.”

Glancing sideways at his companion, Aragorn took a deep draw on his pipe. “Your mother predicted that he would be, just after his birth.”

Faramir’s head turned abruptly. “My lord?” he said.

“Please, no titles,” Aragorn reminded him. “Yes. Even as a baby, Boromir had the makings of a swordsman. I think it saddened your mother.”

Shaking his head, Faramir seemed lost for words. Eventually he spoke. “I do not understand,” he said. “You knew my mother? You have been here before? Why … why wait until now to tell me?”

“I am sorry,” Aragorn said, meaning it. The younger man’s face was full of confusion, his grey eyes seeking answers. “I could not find the right time. Then your uncle came to me this morning, and informed me that he had recognised me, and he said he thought you should know. It was a long time ago.” He looked out at the stars shining in the night sky above them. “I served here for a while in the Tower Guard. Third Company. And I was one of your grandfather’s advisors. I was with your father’s company when we rode to Dol Amroth.”

Faramir stood up and began to pace, his usual stillness broken. “But that was well-nigh forty years ago! And if you were here then, why did you not claim the throne?”

“I am older than I look.”

Briefly, the pacing stopped, and Aragorn found the sea-grey eyes meeting his. “Yes. Yes, I see that now.” The younger man seemed about to say something else, before breaking off. Aragorn waited another moment and continued.

“And it was not the time, then. Sauron was growing more powerful … Mithrandir was concerned about Saruman …” Aragorn stood and went to lean against the parapet. “I was a stranger. Though by the end, by the time I left, Ecthelion, and maybe your father also, had come to their own conclusions. Although your father never said anything to me.”

“He taught us always that a Steward was the equal of a king,” Faramir said. “That though a Steward would never take the throne, our lineage was as great. That we deserved to rule this City, this land.” He looked up again from his pacing. “Forgive me – but that was what we were taught, Boromir and I. I think I always believed that my father was … not wrong, exactly, but that the glory of a king would far outweigh the severity of a Stewardship.”

“I expect I have disappointed you, then,” Aragorn returned, “for I am just a man like yourself.”

“Disappointed?” Faramir said. “No.” He sat again on the bench. “No. I was wandering, when you called me. Everything was dark, lit only by flame, and I wandered, lost in the mist. And then I heard your voice calling me. There may have been a light. You called, and I awoke.”

“Training with one of the greatest healers of the Age,” Aragorn said, shrugging, “that is all. Knowledge of the right herbs to use, and too many injuries tended after too many battles. That chatterbox Ioreth may quote her proverbs, Faramir, but healing is just one of many skills any man may learn.”

“But you are not any man,” Faramir said, fervently. “You are our king. My king.”

“And you,” said Aragorn, tapping out his pipe, “are my Steward. My most essential advisor. I need you, Faramir. In these first weeks I need you to help me with the running of this City. And later, though you may be in Ithilien, I will still need you to counsel me, to tell me when I am doing things wrong, to stand in my stead should I be called elsewhere.”

Their eyes met, and Faramir nodded – once, hesitantly, and then again, firmly. Aragorn smiled. “Good. And also, I think I will need you to bring the lady Éowyn to the City, every once in a while, to spend some time with Arwen. I think they will understand one another very well, those two.”

“It will be an honour, my …” began Faramir, and broke off, shaking his head. “Nay, it will be my pleasure – Aragorn.”

“There. Now you see,” Aragorn said. “A king and a steward are equals. Your father was right.”

Faramir returned his grin. “Shall we walk a little further?” he suggested, standing up. Aragorn tucked away his pipe, and joined the younger man, and they began to stroll along the battlements away from the Tower. “What was my mother like?” Faramir asked, and Aragorn broke into tales of years long gone.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: Eledhwen

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/29/03

Original Post: 11/07/02

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