The Call of Duty
It was a remarkably warm October morning when Faramir found his infant relation thrust into his arms by the babe's frantic mother. "Lord Imrahil will be here soon, and Lothiriel is nowhere to be found. Will you watch Olthir for me?" Faramir had no objection, and so took his second cousin out into the gardens which surrounded the castle of Dol Amroth.
Only three months old, the child was the second son of his cousin Elphir, heir to the Princedom of Dol Amroth. His name, which meant Dreamer, was not very apt that day, for he was wide awake and very interested in his surroundings. Faramir felt a happy thrill in holding him, watching his exaggerated movements as he tried to grasp at flowers and stems, his big dreamy blue eyes intense on his purpose, and he felt a secret desire to have one of his own. Not merely a wish, this thought, for he was to be married to Eowyn the following summer. Boromir had rather scoffed at babies, seeing in them only the men they would become, but Faramir had always secretly adored them for what they were: little, soft, rather damp bundles of precious innocent life.
For a while he wandered purposeless, but as he once drew near to the front of the gardens, he saw a lordly escort approaching, and Lord Turthorion of Dor-En-Ernil rode up to the front gate. When he dismounted and saw Faramir, he bowed low, marveling that the man could look lordly even when cradling a baby in his arms. Faramir nodded his head in response.
"My Lord Steward!" said Turthorion. "I had not expected to find you here."
"I had not intended to be here until a few days ago," Faramir answered. "You are here to consult with my uncle, are you not?" he asked.
"Indeed, my lord."
"He is not arrived yet, but perhaps you would join me in the gardens? I would wish to speak to you."
Turthorion bowed. "As you wish, lord."
It was a brilliantly sunny day, so bright that Faramir walked westwards to avoid squinting. It seemed almost a shame to be serious; days like these should be enjoyed with hobbit spirit, he thought. There was a softness about the gardens, also, somewhat incongruous with the fact that the plants had to be very hardy to survive so near to the sea. The scents of the flowers mingled strangely, but not unpleasantly, with the salty sea breeze. But despite the location, Faramir managed to be quite focused on his subject.
"Lord Turthorion," began Faramir as soon as they were alone, "you were a close companion of my uncle, Prince Imrahil, and therefore I also knew you, though not well. However, we are not strangers to each other, and so I have noticed that you seem to be avoiding me whenever we meet. I date the beginning of this behavior to when King Elessar was crowned and the council of the lords that met before then. As I am the protector of the King's interests, I thought it wise to ask you if you still bore any of the doubts you expressed then, which might explain this."
Turthorion shook his head gravely, saying: "Quite the contrary, my lord. He has shown remarkable skill in his rule thus far, surpassing all expectations. He is no politician, indeed, but I am quite satisfied with our king. To tell the truth, I believe that he won most hearts when he retained you as Steward, lord. I have never seen a kinder nor a wiser decision made."
Faramir did not know how to answer this, and so remained silent, paying attention to Olthir, who was trying to escape. Turthorion was only some years older than Faramir himself, but he was a grave and serious man who had shown great loyalty, and Faramir felt that his praise was not mindless and held much worth. He continued, as well:
"But he has not won the hearts through that alone; he is a most capable ruler, and is fitting in well. In fact, do you know how he has such knowledge of Gondor and its workings? He has been here before, I would deem, for otherwise his instinct is uncanny in regards to important dates and military organization."
Faramir's mind flashed back to five months before.
It had been through Imrahil, and his recognition, that Faramir had first learned of Aragorn's past identity as Thorongil. At the time he had not thought much on it, but later one evening, he approached his sovereign on the point.
"My lord Aragorn," he began, "may I ask why you have not yet told your people that you were once known here as Captain Thorongil? They already begin to love you on their own, but the process would be easier if they recognized you as the once-beloved captain, I believe."
Aragorn smiled at Faramir. "Ever you seek to further my interests, O most worthy Arandur," he said, using the Sindarin name for the Stewards. "That is a thoughtful question, and one I had expected that you would ask soon. But I also have thought on it, and, as admirable as your intentions are, how do you think the people would take the news that their king was once a spy and left them without explanation in their hour of need?"
Faramir's face when Aragorn said 'spy' — a matchless blend of indignance, disbelief, scorn, and loyalty — was worthy of song. "Yes, Faramir, I say spy, not because I thought of myself as such, but because that is how many will see it. Since he is assumed lost, the people look back with a regretful sigh, but were Thorongil brought back to life as Elessar, they might have a few bitter words to say to him."
"That is true," admitted Faramir, "for I myself am curious on the subject, though I at least assume you can explain yourself."
"Oh certainly," said Aragorn dryly, "but I am not at all certain that the people would think reconnaissance in Mordor more important than the protection of Gondor, nor a long training process a suitable excuse for a hidden identity. I can see that many would feel betrayed, and uncomfortable, thinking of what they might have said to their King in ignorance. And, I think that I would rather have them love me for myself than anything else. No, Thorongil's time is ended."
"Was that it?" asked Faramir. "We are all grateful for that in hindsight, I am sure; or would be, if the general populace were ready for a detailed explanation of the workings of the Quest. I understand why you would wish to keep it secret still. But," he added, remembering the council, "if there were a position where I thought it would be beneficial, might I have your permission to disclose this information to those who approached me quietly on the subject of your past? It would be very difficult for me to keep people in the dark where I thought such news would be useful."
Aragorn eyed his Steward shrewdly, wondering if inquiries had already been made. But Faramir's face was suitably neutral, so Aragorn only responded: "I trust your judgment, Lord Steward. But if you do reveal it, I only ask that the number be kept small."
Then they spoke of other things.
Since then, Faramir had not seen a need to tell anyone.
"My lord?" Turthorion's face clearly showed that he did not understand why Faramir was lost in time.
But in truth, Faramir was now wondering whether it would be good to tell Turthorion. He was beginning to like the man, who was observant and quiet, but had the strength of mind and skills to lead. He was not of high Numenorean descent, indeed, his house was considered one of the lesser ones of the nobility, but Faramir had never let birth distract him from other qualities.
"Turthorion," he began, "you see many things, and have not guessed falsely. Aragorn has been in Gondor many years before." Before the lord could ask questions, Faramir continued: "He was known to us as Thorongil then, and was preparing himself with hard training for the role he would have to bear. I do not know how long he would have stayed if he had not been called, but that which called him from Pelargir has since proved to be an errand of great importance, and he could not come to Gondor again until the War. I tell you this, because I believe you worthy of trust and a man of integrity, but this is a matter to be kept secret. The King does not wish it common knowledge, for reasons of his own."
Turthorion, even had he been a man of hasty words, could not have spoken then, his face a mixture of wonder and confusion at the idea that the King had once been nearly as renowned under a different name. For a moment Faramir could almost imagine that he heard the man's mind busily working out the situation. Then, Turthorion laughed. "Is there anything that the King has not done? Who, in all these years, could have guessed that after a thousand years of waiting, our king would be an elven ranger of the North who served in Gondor's army as a common captain?"
Faramir, at first surprised that the man could laugh, then joined him in the mirth at such a picturesque view. "You are right, Turthorion. Who could guess?"
"My lord," continued Turthorion, "I find that time has softened my views on such subjects. We were all looking for a magnificent and perfect specimen of Numenorean race, of course, when we heard that the king was to return. The sight of him grey-clad in the Houses of Healing, with a noble but scarred face, rather shook us, as did our later knowledge of him. But, you first wondered why I was avoiding you, so I shall tell you. After the first shock had worn off, and the people did not rebel under him, we slowly began to appreciate his majesty more than ever. Far from causing dissension, he has united the people under one banner and to one purpose, bringing a freshness and vitality to Gondor again. He has so succeeded, indeed, that I felt shamed by my original doubt. You were angry at that council, lord, and once I saw how well that anger was warranted, I thought that you might not wish to associate with me anymore."
Faramir's face was quite incredulous. "Did you think that indeed? Let me prove you wrong. I beg pardon for my behavior that day, for you did nothing wrong, and I believe instead that you did me a favor. Did you think that I did not consider what you told me? I did, and as I did not then know about Thorongil, I struggled long with the subject, and in the end trusted to hope alone. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life."
"You were wiser than you knew, my lord," said Turthorion admiringly.
Faramir laughed merrily. "Turthorion, I believe his majesty would be jealous of the blind devotion you give to me. I had hoped to show you that all men deal with difficult choices, and here you act as if I had some great wisdom that led me down the path instead of just the fallible judgment of an ordinary man, however inspired it may seem in hindsight."
Turthorion smiled a little, but he said: "Do you not believe it is so? Do you not believe that the Stewardship was given to you for such a time as this?"
Faramir looked at him with a strange expression, and said after a pause: "In a way, yes, I do. When I look at the Great Years, I cannot but believe that we were carefully placed in our positions, no matter what they were. I was placed in the Stewardship to accept the king, and you were placed in the City at that time for me to understand my purpose more clearly. It is strange, is it not? For men have always looked to the past and bemoaned that men were greater then, that we have not such nobility now as we had then. And yet, when it came to the test, it was our time that was chosen for the renewing of Gondor, and we were the ones chosen to make it so. What special worth was in us, we shall never fully know, but it comforts me when I think that there must have been some."
Turthorion did not speak, but Faramir felt that he understood, more than perhaps any man had understood Faramir before. Olthir had fallen asleep in his arms, and so for some time they walked in silence. Faramir was surprised at how much he had said to Turthorion, and how much of it was the sort of things he would never have revealed to anyone else before, except maybe Frodo. There was something special about Turthorion for Faramir, though: his uncle was so old, his king so new, his cousins so informal, all others in his life from other realms, so that Faramir could never talk about Gondor in this way with them. It felt strangely comfortable to be able to voice those feelings at last, and what was more, Turthorion comprehended them. That council so many months ago in Minas Tirith had opened Faramir's eyes in many ways, and not least of all in showing him the worth to be found in the lesser house of the lords of Dor in Ernil. For though he had now gathered around him an uncle, a king, a mentor, several cousins, a bodyguard, a fiance, and a brother-in-law, it was only now and in the least likely place that Faramir found that he also needed a confidant.
They spoke no more that afternoon, and when Imrahil finally arrived, they parted for that time. But though they saw each other seldom after that, they found that a small but important part of their lives was filled by the other, and once again acknowledged fate's design in placing them first as enemies so that they might become friends.
Author's Notes: Several of my readers asked for more, and though I had not planned anything, I agreed with them that perhaps some ends needed to be wrapped up. I hope this satisfies, and I may perhaps write a sequel at some point about the months between Aragorn's coronation and this chapter. I certainly did not expect Turthorion to take over my story, and even with more screen-time he is not content, and is now demanding a complex personality and backstory...darn characters.
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.