3. Chapter 3
Denethor rubbed a tired hand over his eyes before lifting a pen to the parchment. Imrahil was still with them, for Faramir was weak yet, but in the few days past Denethor had fallen back into his work, and there seemed to be mountains of it to catch up on. Imrahil had made much headway, and Denethor would grudgingly admit that the other man was quite astute when it came to such things. He would even admit it in public, he thought, for he did feel gratitude
towards the man whose presence had allowed him to spend much time with his recovering son.
It had been three weeks since Faramir’s fever had broken in the early watches of the morn. The healers were still not sure how it had been broken but so long as it did not come back Denethor
could not find himself caring how as long as it had. There had been some concern it would but it had not yet and though Faramir was fragile still he was on the mend.
The first week Faramir had been able to do little more than wake long enough to take nourishment, and it was often Denethor who coaxed weak broth of flavourless porridge past his lips. The boy had been sick for so long anything else would have made him sick to his stomach, only now was he beginning to eat more solid food.
In the first days after the fever had broken another fear rested upon Denethor’s heart. Three fever seizures had visited Faramir while he lay burning and such things were known to permanently scar the mind of those who were caught by them. But as Faramir gained more strength and grew more lucid there appeared to be no lasting effects. The boy was still being watched carefully but the healers were cautiously hopefully that there would be no lasting effects.
The boy was fragile yet and would be for a time, having only just been moved back to the set of rooms he and Boromir shared a few days ago, but he had been ill for some time and it was to be
expected that his recovery would take time. His little one had, Denethor reflected, been reduced to the very dregs of his strength.
The door of his study creaked open but Denethor did not look up. He was becoming used to Imrahil coming and going, as they often needed the same parchments within the span of a day. Despite his appreciation of Imrahil’s help it would be nice, Denethor thought, when his study was completely his own again.
Denethor felt a slight tug on his pants and, surprised, looked down into a pair of very big, solemn eyes, seemingly larger because of the thin face they were housed in. He immediately scooped the boy up into his lap and tucked the fur cloak that hung on the back of his chair around his thin body. He shook his head; Faramir had gotten out of bed in only his nightclothes after being ill for months and was shivering like a leaf in a storm.
“You should not be out of bed,” Denethor told him slightly more gruffly then he had intended, as Faramir fidgeted in his arms, “Do you want to take ill again?”
The messy mop of dark curls shook as his son settled and back leaned against him. Faramir was tired; the walk to his father’s rooms had never seemed so far before!
“Breath for me, little one,” Denethor instructed, placing a hand on the boy’s chest, relieved to feel none of the rattle that had plagued the boy’s chest for months.
Faramir turned, pressing his cheek against the heavy, soft material of his father’s tunic and curling a thin, delicate hand in the material as was his habit. “You did not come see me yesterday and you have not today either. I missed you!”
Denethor softened at that and his annoyance fled as his son’s bottom lip trembled. He had spent much time with Faramir during his recovery so far, and had not meant to be absent but a matter
he had been pushing back so as to be with his little one had demanded his attention and he taken the better part of yester day and night to finish.
Denethor had planned to visit the child today, after he finished the annoyance that was paperwork. He had actually crept into Faramir’s chambers to simply watch his youngest breath late last night, well after the boy had been tucked in for the night by his brother, who could be found at Faramir’s side for every spare moment he had.
They had come too close to losing him, Denethor thought, and Faramir would not be the only one healing after that experience. Boromir had only begun sleeping easily again within the past
few nights, and only then because he shared a sleeping chamber with his little brother. Denethor himself had been taken by one or two nightmares where Faramir’s breathing had stopped with
that soft sigh, and found himself stealing to his bedside just to reassure himself his little one yet lived.
Faramir had taken ill so soon after Finduilas had left them, so soon that the wounds from her death were still fresh.
They were very alike, his late wife and his youngest. Denethor had feared that the boy would not understand it when Finduilas had passed. It was the opposite. The dear child had understood it too well, and had not voiced a word of protest during her funeral. It had been a desperately cold day and Denethor had not been watching carefully enough, heartbroken as he was.
It was only when the boy had started to cough quietly, trying, at five, to muffle the sounds out of respect, that Denethor had looked down and seen his son shivering fiercely, his lips turned blue from the cold. He had picked the boy up immediately and buried him in the folds of his cloak.
But even then, as he held his son’s frigid body close to him to try and warm him, he had felt a slight rattle in his chest. He had torn his eyes away from his wife’s body, laid out in state so those her loved her intimately or simply as their Lady could pay tribute, looking for some way to get the boy inside and do something to ease his breathing.
They were in the front of all the mourners and Denethor could not leave, nor would Faramir let go of him to be passed to his nurse for he did not want to leave his Mama until he had to. Denethor contented himself with holding his son close as he felt the boy’s tears begin to trickle onto his shoulder, resolving to do something about the cold forming in his youngest as soon as the opportunity presented itself, but by then it had already been too late.
“I am sorry, little one,” Denethor said softly, drawing his son closer, stroking the dark hair gently and smiling softly as he saw Faramir’s eyelids droop. “I will not stay away so long again.”
A memory came, unbidden, as Faramir sighed contentedly. Denethor had helped put Faramir to bed whenever the opportunity arose, he did enjoy spending time with wife and son as Finduilas
tucked the smallest member of their family into bed. She had then selected a book from the shelves, smiling as Faramir pointed and untucked the covers in his excitement.
Tucking the child back into bed, and smoothing his hair down with a loving hand, she had read to him until he was fast asleep. All types of stories had been told during the night time ritual but the favourite of both his wife and son had been tales of the Elves.
Denethor wondered who, if any, had taken up that tradition now. He knew Boromir had seen the child to bed before Faramir took ill, indeed, he had tucked him in a few times himself, but he had not read to him and again Faramir had not voiced a complaint. Sometimes Denethor worried for his boys, who were children in a grown-up world with little contact with others of their own age. They had very little chance to play, it seemed, and when they did it was always with each other.
“How would you like it if I put you to bed and read you a story tonight, little one? I fear you are falling asleep on me,” Denethor asked with a warm chuckle. “I also have no doubt your brother and the healer that comes to visit you have realized your absence by now and must be worrying, for I do believe you must have snuck past them to visit with me.”
“I am sorry, Papa.” The head tilted upwards, a faint blush creeping across the pale cheeks even as the big grey eyes shone slightly with surprise and happiness. “I would like a story very much.”
“Good. First we must see the healer,” Denethor’s voice gentled at Faramir’s scowl, “I know their brews taste horrible but they make you well and strong again so it must be endured. I will see there is a cup of cocoa waiting for you afterwards, to make the taste go away.”
At that Faramir smiled again, for he had only been allowed cocoa for two days and it did happen to be his drink of choice. He held on as Denethor shifted so he could properly carry the boy and rose.
It was then Faramir’s soft voice asked a question that both broke Denethor’s heart and made him love his youngest son all the more. “Papa...Do you think...Might you read me a bedtime story on
other nights sometimes? When you are not too busy looking after our city?”
“I think, Faramir, that you might have a story every night when your father looks after his sons as he should,” Denethor told him.
Faramir let out a soft sigh at that. “I know Gondor needs you, Papa, but sometimes...I miss Mama very much.”
Denethor was glad Faramir was not looking at him in that moment. It would simply not do for the child to see his eyes with tears in them. “As do I, little one, as do I.”
Denethor was right, Boromir had been near frantic to find Faramir gone when he returned from dinner and the healer had just sent someone to fetch him when he walked in, Faramir still in his arms and wrapped in his cloak so that only his head was visible. Boromir had hugged his brother almost too tightly when Denethor set him down on the bed, but Faramir voiced no complaint.
Denethor frowned, that was becoming a bad habit in his youngest. It was one thing to bare rather bad situations stoically, it was quite another to do so to this extent, especially for a five year old! Denethor feared it would only lead to more situations such as this one.
The healer plied him with brews of one sort or another, Faramir scowling all the while even as the healer told him he was not to get out of bed unless given permission. After he left Denethor spoilt the lesson slightly by giving both his boys cocoa and settling them into Faramir’s bed for a story.
Boromir, Denethor knew, thought himself too old for such things, and indeed would have protested the hour too early for bed if anyone had suggested it to him. But Faramir’s illness had been trying for him and Denethor wisely said nothing when he found comfort in those little things.
They had both fallen asleep to the story, Boromir first, curled around his little brother as much for his comfort as for Faramir’s. Faramir held out only a few minutes longer, wishing in vain to hear the entire story that night.
Denethor had tucked the blankets around them, pressing a kiss to both their foreheads before turning the lamp down low. The two brothers did not normally sleep as such, nor would Denethor normally permit it, but he had recently been making exceptions for quite a few things he would not normally tolerate. It would do them both good, the closeness, for both suffered from their mother’s death and Faramir’s near death still.
Denethor lingered a few moments more, glad his son’s cared so for each other, before posting two of the Tower Guard at the door, as he had done to make sure it would be noticed immediately if Faramir showed signs of further illness, and returning to his work.
Aragorn was surprised to hear a childish giggle, for there had been no children he had known of in Rivendell since he had passed into manhood. Then he saw he was in a garden, one he recognized as being in Gondor, and realized he must have fallen asleep in the large, overstuffed armchair he preferred in the Hall of Fire again.
It also meant he had a visitor and that visitor was busying himself by leaping into Aragorn’s arms. Aragorn laughed, and caught the child easily. “Tithenmin! I did not expect to see you again so soon!”
Since he had healed Faramir they had shared one dream, and it was a short one as his foster brothers had returned home from a hunt that day and decided, despite their Adar’s warning, it would be a good idea to wake their little brother up quite suddenly. Elrohir had nearly had a finger sliced off, for Aragorn simply could not sleep without the dagger there any longer.
Faramir was back to his former self in his dreams, and it was by that that Aragorn knew the illness had been successful chased from him, though they were no closer to figuring out who had
inflicted the unnatural fever upon the child. Aragorn was glad to see it, glad to see the boy smiling as he let go of Aragorn and looked up at him with sparkling grey eyes.
“Me either! Where are we? This looks like the gardens at the Halls but smaller and messier,” Faramir questioned.
Aragorn started, realizing this was a garden Ecthelion had puttered about in when he had the time, which was rarely, hence its unkempt appearance. But...if Faramir had not been the one to find him in dreams then Aragorn must have been the one who wished to see him.
“These are the gardens of a friend of mine, he found the pursuit relaxing but had little time to pursue it,” Aragorn answered. “Have you been feeling better?”
Faramir nodded absently, exploring the garden. “I’m allowed to have better food to eat now. I hate soup. But I’m not allowed to do much yet. I think I made the healer cross because I snuck out of bed to visit my Papa.”
Aragorn chuckled, “You should not be out of, tithenmin. You do not want to take ill again, do you?”
Faramir scowled, “That’s what he said.”
Aragorn felt like throwing his head back and laughing. Now that he was removed from the situation he could find a hint of humour in his relationship with the Steward of Gondor though he was very glad he no longer had to deal with that man on a regular basis.
“You should listen to your father,” Aragorn said his voice sounding funny even to his own ears. “He is a...wise man.”
Faramir looked at him from where he had pulled a dandelion from the midst of a patch of irises. “You know my Papa?”
“Somewhat, once,” Aragorn responded.
“You have been to Gondor then?” Faramir questioned eagerly.
“How do you know your father did not visit my home?” Aragorn asked with a smile.
“Papa never leaves Gondor,” Faramir replied.
“No, I suppose he would not journey so far, for the place I call home is quite some distance,” Aragorn said. “We did meet in Gondor.”
“Why did you leave?” Faramir asked.
“Many reasons,” Aragorn replied. “I missed my father and brothers.”
“You have a brother too?” Faramir’s ears perked up.
Aragorn chuckled for he had quickly learned of the great love between the brothers of Gondor. It did not surprise him, though he knew many royal siblings feuded, all those he knew personally
were very close. Elrond’s twin boys, his own adopted brothers, could bickered incessantly for sport if the mood hit them but drawing a weapon to Elrohir was equal to cutting your own throat,
so quickly would Elladan slay you. They accepted Aragorn as their own as well, and Aragorn knew he would be as inclined to cheerfully slay anyone who dared try to harm those he called his
“Worse, I have twin brothers and they are Elven,” Aragorn said seriously.
Faramir wrinkled his nose, “That does not sound like a bad thing.”
“It is not, normally, but my brothers enjoy playing pranks on each other and me,” Aragorn told him. “And these two Elf brothers of mine are better prank pullers than I.”
Faramir giggled, “Boromir does not play pranks on me...”
Aragorn smiled as Faramir launched into the tale of one of his and Boromir’s adventures. They must make, he thought, quite the pair.
He idly listened to the boy’s chatter as his thoughts strayed to earlier that evening. He and Elrond had gotten into an argument earlier in the evening that had frustrated Aragorn to no end.
He almost wanted the Elf Lord to lose his patience, just to show the situation aggravated him as much as it did Aragorn, but Elrond always managed to display such an appearance of cool indifference whenever they quarrelled.
It was not that Elrond did not care; Aragorn knew that was far from the case. The Elf Aragorn knew as his Ada would always love him, would always care, it was just Elrond’s way of staying calm during arguments as Aragorn could not.
They had been discussing a book Aragorn had been browsing through idly while he lingered in Rivendell for a time but the discussion had turned to Gondor and the fact it had an absent King
and that always turned into an argument. Elrond wanted to see his son fulfil his destiny and Aragorn did not have the slightest inclination to make the Stewardship a thing of the past by reclaiming his thrown.
He had no desire to rule, Elrond knew this and normally they avoided the topic, agreeing to disagree on the matter, but...that night they had just fallen into it. It ended with Aragorn retreating to the Hall of Fire, though he knew they would mend things by the time they broke their fast tomorrow.
It bothered him, still, the knowledge that he had this Kingdom waiting to be claimed. He would have been content to be Estel of Imladis for all his days.
Why should he take the reign from the line of Stewards? However much he did not enjoy Denethor’s company the man was a good Steward and if his two sons were made of the metal he could see in Faramir even now...Why did Gondor need him?
What would it be like, he wondered briefly, to have a future where so much did not rest on his shoulders? What would it be like if he were not fettered to this old, destiny ridden line?
“...but then Uncle Imrahil found us and took us back to Mama, who was not very happy,” Faramir finished, and Aragorn realized he had missed most of the tale.
“That sounds to be quite an adventure,” Aragorn murmured.
“Boromir thought so,” Faramir nodded, hair falling in his eyes as he did. Aragorn brushed it back for him. “Dol Amroth is different than Minis Tirith though.”
“How so, tithenmin?” Aragorn asked.
“Dol Amroth is for fun,” Faramir said. “Boromir and I do not have lessons, at least none that we do not enjoy, and Mama’s family is not so serious as Papa has to be and we do not have to be the
Steward’s sons there, because grandfather is in charge, so we do not always have to remember to be as good as when we are at home.”
Aragorn drew in a sharp breath, unnerved by the astuteness of this child. Sometimes he forgot he was looking not only at Faramir but at Gondor’s child, who had been so since before his first breath. Aragorn had, at least, a childhood oblivious of his heritage, Faramir was steeped in it from the moment he was first aware.
“But Gondor is special and Papa and Boromir and my tutors always say we will defend it until our last breath but I am too young to,” Faramir’s brow creased. “Boromir and I go watch the soldiers practise often, he wants to hurry and grow so he can join the army but I do not want him to.”
“It is a great honour to serve in Gondor’s army, tithenmin,” Aragorn said gently.
“But soldiers die,” Faramir said flatly, “and I do not want Boromir to die, I do not want any of our people to die.”
“Sometimes it must be so, Faramir,” Aragorn fumbled for words, wondering with bewilderment how he had ended up in this conversation. “Sometimes there is no choice and soldiers must
Aragorn paused on the verge of saying ‘everyone will die.’ It would not do to scare the child like that. “...or bad things will happen.”
Faramir sighed unhappily, “I know, my tutor said so too, but I still do not like it.”
“Very few people do,” Aragorn told him. “But you should not worry about such things. Boromir will not join the army until he is of age, and he still has some years to go, and you have even more.”
Faramir did not look happy still but nodded and climbed back into Aragorn’s lap, leaning against him. “Are you in the army?”
“Not quite,” Aragorn told him, “but I have seen my share of battle and will see more in the future.”
“Will you be careful?” Faramir asked quietly.
Aragorn brushed a hand over the child’s cheek, “I am always careful, tithenmin. Do not worry for me, I will be fine.”
It seemed to mollify Faramir, who began chattering again, this time about a story his father was reading him, which his mother had already read to him. He did not mind though, he told Aragorn, because he liked the story and his father read it differently than his mother had, making it almost like a new story.
It made Aragorn’s thoughts dwell on another subject he and his Adar simply never discussed. Arwen.
He often wondered; idly when he was out alone in the wild with only the stars for company what it would be to have a family, with her, of course. He never thought of having one without her it just...no longer made sense when he did.
Elrond, of course, had declared he would not allow it until Aragorn claimed his birthright. That solution, Aragorn thought, left neither of them happy, for to have Arwen Aragorn would have to claim his Kingship, which he did not want, and for Elrond to see his son face his destiny, as he wished him to, he would have to lose his only daughter to mortality, which Aragorn knew haunted him.
It was a confusing situation, more so because of Aragorn’s relationship with Elrond and the twins. They were his family, Elrond was his Ada, the only one he remembered knowing, and Elrohir and Elladan considered themselves his brothers but...he was in love with Arwen. Their sister.
Blasted Elves, Aragorn thought with fondness, who fails to mention a sister for some 30 odd years. I never knew her, or even of her, until I was grown, how was I to see her as my sister when she was but a beautiful stranger who had captured my heart upon first glance?
It was something the twins had not understood, how could they when 30 years was nothing to them, a drop in an ocean of endless life? It had caused some...friction in the family, even after Arwen departed again for Lothlorien.
Aragorn left for a time, no longer sure he could call Rivendell his home, but the strain that had weighed so heavily on all of them had abated when he had been brought home by Legolas. The twins had not spoken to him again of their sister, his relationship with them picking up as before. Elrond had spoken to him, but as his Ada before anything else. They had not spoken of his love
for Arwen since, though it had not abated and Aragorn was well aware Elrond knew it. The wounds were healed, but still tender.
It did not stop thinking about her though, and the life he wished they could have together. He was acutely aware that Denethor, who was only a year older than him, had two quickly growing children, one the dear boy chattering away in his lap. It was the one thing the Steward of Gondor had that Aragorn sometimes yearned for himself.
It would come, one day, he knew, for all that he despised that he was tied to such a linage he sometimes he would not see it die. For now it was only a passing thought, and if Aragorn was honest with himself he knew he was not ready to be the things a family would demand him to be. Sometimes, though he would never admit it to anyone, growing up among the Elves made him feel impossibly young.
The dream shifted, and Aragorn found himself in another garden, one he did not recognize, but one he could recognize as being within the white city. Faramir was distracted from his tale and
Aragorn quickly realized that he was stirring towards wakefulness, the boy’s dreams taking the forefront again.
“I will see you again, tithenmin, but I do believe someone is trying to wake me, most likely one of those brothers I told you about,” Aragorn said warmly.
Faramir looked up at him, “You did not really tell me about them...You must have as many stories about them as I!”
“Likely more,” Aragorn agreed. “And when we meet in our dreams again I will tell you some, would you like that?”
“Very much, Estel! Brothers do the silliest things,” Faramir said, hugging Aragorn tightly for a moment.
“Indeed, you rest and be well before you let yours pull you into any further adventures...”
“Was the evening’s entertainment really that boring to you, Estel?” A familiar voice asked a hint of amusement colouring it.
“Adar,” Aragorn blinked as the Elf Lord’s face came into focus, he was crouching to his height. “I apologize, I did not mean to fall asleep, I did not disturb anything, did I?”
“No, Estel, you did not begin to snore in the midst of Lindir’s songs, if that is what you are asking,” Elrond smiled slightly, for his son had done something similar before. “Your brothers noticed you had fallen asleep and when they departed they told me.”
“Good,” Aragorn murmured, “Lindir still reminds me of that, I did not mean to fall asleep.”
“I was under the impression you had come home for a rest, so if you decided to fall asleep it is not a concern, unless you do it at the dinner table again,” Elrond told him. “I do believe you would be more comfortable in your own bed though.”
“Yes, Adar,” Aragorn mumbled, feeling a blush stain his cheeks.
“Estel...” Elrond sighed, halting Aragorn as he began to rise from the chair by putting his hands on his shoulders. He touched the stubbled cheek gently, making Aragorn meet his eyes. “It was not my intent to upset you tonight, forgive me the words that hurt you.”
“Of course,” Aragorn murmured, “If you forgive me mine.”
The Elf Lord smiled gently, and nodded, “Now, I am quite sure, comfortable as it is in that chair your back will thank you for sleeping in your own room tonight. Off to bed with you, child.”
“I am not a child,” Aragorn protested automatically, as he had been doing since he reached the age of fifteen.
“No, indeed you are not,” Elrond observed seriously, “but you will always be *my* child.”
“I know, Ada,” Aragorn responded quietly, not protesting when Elrond pulled him to his feet. He indulged himself in being cared for very rarely, he was tired, he would not be home for much longer a time before he journeyed out into the wilds again, he would indulge himself now.
He was surprised when Elrond escorted him all the way to his rooms, father and son walking in comfortable silence until they reached the door to Aragorn’s room, where Elrond halted his son
and withdrew a small package from within the pockets of his robe.
“Since you cannot seem to sleep without the weight of a dagger in your hand,” Elrond said gently, with a slight smile, “and I wish for no injuries to mar any of my sons I have found you a substitute.”
It was a dagger with a blade so dull it would not have cut butter but it was the weight felt right to his palm, and Aragorn knew that he would indeed by able to sleep with this under his pillow instead of his own dagger.
“It was my brother’s, a very long time ago, and though it has fallen into a sad state you may be able to make it a useful blade before you leave us again,” Elrond said. “May it serve you as well as it did him.”
“I...Thank you,” Aragorn whispered. Elrond, he knew, still missed his twin Elros, Aragorn’s ancestor; though they had been parted so many years ago, to be gifted with any of his possessions...Aragorn knew how great an honour it was.
“Estel...We may not always agree on what your path in this life will be,” Elrond told him gently, “but you are my son, and I will support you whatever path you choose, in the end. My love for you will not change, whether you wear a crown or no, I just wish for your happiness, ion-nin.”
Before Aragorn knew it Elrond had drawn him into a tight embrace, which Aragorn gladly returned. Elrond was reserved with many, but never his children. Aragorn struggled to find the words he wanted, “I know, Ada, I...Thank you, I...Thank you.”
Elrond kissed his son’s brow, understanding what remained unspoken. “You are tired, go seek your bed. I would have you fully rested before you leave us again.”
“Goodnight, Ada,” Aragorn said softly, not wanting to think about his departure from Rivendell in two weeks.
“Goodnight, my Estel,” Elrond said softly, wondering absently how the years he had spent fostering this child of his lost brother’s line had slipped past and why, out of all those who had sought refuge in Rivendell, this mortal man would become one of his own.
It was not easy, Elrond reflected, for Elves to bear any sort of love for mortals, whose lives slipped so swiftly by. He had lost many dear to his heart, both immortal and mortal, his King, his wife, his brother...he would lose Estel, a child of his heart if not his blood, to the sands of time as well and was acutely aware he could lose all his children to mortality. Arwen would be lost to him if her heart bid her bind herself to Estel and Elrond knew that if one of his twins
chose mortality the other would follow.
‘That choice is not before them yet,’ Elrond thought, clinging to what years were left before then, ‘But it will be. It will be.’
It was late when Imrahil finally put away his work, stretched, and snuffed the oil lamps that had been lighting the room. The combined efforts of Denethor and himself had only just finished the
work that Denethor had neglected to tend to his son. Running Gonder produced a stunning amount of paper work that had to be read and signed by the Steward, and, as the two men had operated within the last weeks, read by Imrahil and signed by the Steward.
It was a position of trust and could have been easily abused. Imrahil knew it was a compliment that Denethor had called on him to fulfil the role, for he truly could not have looked after Faramir in as devoted a manner and governed Gondor at the same time. It was the sacrifice of ruling a realm, and one so troubled as Gondor became as Mordor’s shadow darkened.
‘And there has not even been a council meeting yet,’ Imrahil thought wirly, ‘Those fireworks begin tomorrow afternoon and are likely to last all evening.’
Reminding himself to fully brief Denethor on the issues he had taken care of in the past weeks in the morning after Denethor spent time with his sons, Imrahil left the make shift study that had been set up for him. He had to pass Denethor’s on the way and quickly noticed that the oil lamps still burned bright through the slightly ajar door.
Imrahil paused then pushed the door open further and stepped in. Denethor did not look up at him at first, finally becoming used to the traffic Imrahil created in his study. When Imrahil stood quietly, waiting for him to finish, instead of rummaging about to find what he needed Denethor looked up.
“The council is meeting for the first time since Faramir’s health declined tomorrow and there are a few matters I would like to discuss with you tomorrow before then,” Imrahil said.
“Of course. Is an hour long enough? I should like to meet at the eleventh hour, I planned to let Boromir eat with Faramir tomorrow at noon and would be there myself if it is possible,” Denethor replied. “Faramir eats more when one of us is present, the healers tell me.”
“An hour should suffice,” Imrahil said with a nod, then hesitated. “Denethor...Faramir’s birthday is coming swiftly...”
“Yes, a little under a month, his presents are...” Denethor paused and frowned, looked about for a moment. “They are somewhere in this room, that I do know. I am aware of it, and how he spent his last birthday, why do you ask?”
Faramir had turned five only a few days after it had become apparent his mother would never walk again. She had been heartsick with the news, as had her family. Faramir had said nothing when his birthday was a lacklustre affair, in fact the boy had all but forgotten it himself until Denethor brought out his presents. Sad, Imrahil knew, but by then he had known his mother to be dying, so it had seemed to matter little to the child.
“I was thinking of what to gift him, and it came across my mind that there were a few tokens of Dol Amroth that would undoubtedly please him,” Imrahil said. “And then I wondered, as Faramir seems to thrive so in the sea air, if it would not be an idea to have the boys visit in the summer, as they used to with their mother.”
Denethor looked up sharply, “Faramir is unlikely to be fully recovered then.”
“So I have learned from the healers,” Imrahil replied. “But he will be well enough to make the journey without taxing his health.”
“Oh,” Denethor replied, looking shrewdly at his brother-in-law, “You think Dol Amroth’s shores will help him regain his strength.”
“Indeed I do. It is in his blood, he had always thrived there,” Imrahil said. “I would not have him make the journey if the healers do not agree, of course, and thought to take Boromir as well because I doubt they would wish to be parted for long even by then.”
“To be bluntly honest, Imrahil, I want very badly to say no to this but I want to for selfish reasons,” Denethor sighed, and rubbed a weary hand over his eyes. “But it is likely that they would both benefit from time spent there. I will think on it, and discuss it with the healers, and tell you before Faramir’s birthday because that would be quite the pleasant surprise for him. He does love it there, like his mother.”
“It is likely I will not be leaving until the summer anyway, for you still wish for me help while Faramir recovers. I could stay for a week or so here, and you could visit Dol Amroth with them, if you wished,” Imrahil offered.
Denethor drew in a sharp breath, “I...Thank you for your offer, but...No...I...No, I cannot. Dol Amroth without Finduilas...I cannot yet, it would be...too much.”
Imrahil’s gaze softened. He had known Denethor still grieved deeply for his wife. “I understand but, should you reconsider, the offer will remain.”
Denethor nodded but as Imrahil turned to leave he spoke again, “I...I would ask you something I have greatly longed to but for fear of the answer.”
Imrahil looked back at the Steward, not untouched by the grief that was plain on his tired face. “Yes?”
“When Finduilas became ill they called it sea pinning and...The fear has often come to me that...When I heard what the ailment was I made the offer to have her take up permanent residence on Dol Amroth again, and visit often, I more than offered but...” Denethor trailed off. “She did not accept, I do not understand why, I would rather have her alive by the sea than dead because I did not want her to leave this stone city!”
Imrahil was surprised by Denethor’s words. Had his sister not explained it to him? No, somehow that should not surprise him, for he too had thought he knew what it meant, for they had grown up knowing, had lost their own mother to it.
“Denethor,” Imrahil said gently, “what ailed my sister had little to do with removal from the seashore. She did love Dol Amroth but she loved you more. It is called sea pinning...I do not fully know why it is called that, it resembles Elven grief, if I recall correctly, which may explain the name.”
“But my sister did not die from lack of sea air. It was, I fear, something passed on to her by our mother, though she did not show signs of it until much later in life,” Imrahil sighed. “But it too,
set in with my mother after she had lost her third child early though I do believe it would have set in eventually either way. None of us thought it would take Finduilas too.”
“Thank you,” Denethor said quietly. “You have no idea how that...I thought I had...”
“Denethor, you are not to blame for Finduilas death, I know you did all in your power to save her and when you could not tried to ease her passing as best you could,” Imrahil told him. “She was happy here to the very end.”
Denethor could only nod, not trusting his voice and, before he left, Imrahil saw what looked suspiciously like tears on his cheeks...but it could have just been a trick of the dim lighting.
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.