14. Faramir Gets a Letter
It was the death of the Witch King, and Eowyn hated it. Not only was the Nazgul much too large but the artist had put her in a skirt and left out Merry altogether! She had managed to smile graciously at the giver when it was presented to her and then ordered it hung somewhere out of her sight.
After a few moments Faramir's eyes focused on the image of his wife. He had to find her. He caught a passing servant just outside the door to his apartments. "Beor, where is my Lady?"
"The Queen's Garden, m'Lord," the Man answered, "with the young Lords and her little Ladyship."
Faramir avoided the inevitable petitioners idling in the courtyard before the Stewards' House by slipping out a side door opening onto a narrow alley that twisted its way between the tightly packed buildings of the Citadel to the high walled garden that had been a retreat for the Queens of Gondor, and later the wives of the Stewards, for nearly two thousand years.
Eowyn was sitting on the grass beneath a flowering Laurinque tree her golden hair and turquoise dress contrasting with the dark braids and deep yellow gown of her companion, the Lady Idril. Faramir's four year old daughter Feiniel was with them, playing with the golden blossoms fallen from the boughs overhead.
Nine year old Rohandur sat, leaning against another tree, not far away absorbed in a book. Faramir smiled involuntarily; his youngest son was himself all over again, entranced by the legends and lore of ages past. And thanks to the King there would be no need for Rohandur to abandon his studies for arms.
His two middle boys, thirteen year old Aglahad and fifteen year old Cirion, were golden haired and freckled like their mother and too full of energy to sit pouring over heavy books. At the moment they were going at each other with wooden practice swords and getting dangerously close to the fish pond.
Faramir's eye went past them to his eldest son, sitting on a bench beneath a rose covered arbor talking to the prettiest of Eowyn's maidens while the others watched enviously, pretending to work at their sewing. His father smiled again, this time sadly. Arandil was nineteen and very like his uncle to look at but not at all like him in character - or was he?
At nineteen Boromir had been leading troops into battle. Faramir had no way of knowing what his brother might have been like without the threat of Mordor overshadowing his life. Perhaps he too would have flirted with pretty girls in gardens and written poetry. Reminded of his reason for being there Faramir started across the lawn towards his wife.
"Papa!" Feiniel came running to meet him. He hugged her and accepted a wilted nosegay of laurinque blossoms.Then bent to kiss Idril's cheek. Smoky golden eyes narrowed in concern. His foster sister saw at once that something was wrong. As did Eowyn. "What has happened?"
With a smile for his little girl and an apology to Idril he took his wife's arm and led her to a bench shielded from the rest of the garden by a vine hung trellis, sat her down and handed her the letter. She looked at it in dismay and he quickly indicated the proper passage with his finger. "Read here."
It took a little time. Eowyn had been literate in the Common Tongue when he married her, which was by no means usual among the Rohirrim, but the King's letter was written in Sindarin which she'd learned only after her marriage and with difficulty. He watched as she read the paragraph through once, and again to be sure, then looked up at him with wide eyes. "Is such a thing possible?"
"Beren returned from death." he answered.
She looked skeptical. "Seven thousand years ago."
"So did Mithrandir, only twenty years ago."
"That is true." She frowned at the letter. "I remember Boromir, he came often to visit Theodred." she smiled at her husband. "He spoke many times of his brother but you never came with him."
"Fool that I was!" he smiled back, but fleetingly.
"You will go north." it was not a question.
"How can I?" he got up and began to pace. "The Wolf-lord is planning war, Elessar is certain of it, Gondor may be in danger too."
"And small use you will be with your heart in the north even if your body is here." his wife retorted. "So far the only threat we know of is to the Northern Kingdom. If something should happen here I am sure Uncle Imrahil and I will manage somehow until you can return to us." seriously. "Go, Faramir, you will have no peace unless you do."
"I think you are right." He looked around the trellis at Idril, helping Feiniel weave her wilted blossoms into a chain. "Say nothing of this to Idril."
Eowyn looked puzzled, but only for an instant. "No, I will not."
At that moment a loud splash and shrieks of laughter announced the inevitable had finally happened, Cirion and Aglahad had fallen into the fish pond. Their father laughed and their mother closed her eyes in resignation before getting up and going to pull them out before they drowned each other. ****
On one point Eowyn was firm. He must not go alone.
"I was not planning to." he said mildly. "I am not King Elessar." Their liege lord had spent nearly sixty years of his life walking alone into deadly peril and still regarded a royal escort as a concession to the unreasonable fears of his subjects.
"I don't mean guards or attendants." She answered. "I mean a companion, some one you can talk to. Take Arandil."
And so it was he rode out of Minas Tirith the next morning with a small detachment of the White Company, his personal guard, and his eldest son.
He knew of course why Eowyn wanted the boy with him, she hoped he would be of some comfort if Boromir's belief he was doomed to soon return to the Halls of Waiting proved true. But Faramir was frankly looking forward to the look on his brother's face when he first set eyes on this younger version of himself.
"Father," Arandil said suddenly, voice carefully pitched for Faramir's ears alone. "Has something happened to the King?"
He looked at his son in astonishment. "No! no, of course not."
The boy let out a visible sigh of relief. "I couldn't help being afraid," he half apologized. "a letter comes from the north and we ride for Annuminas the very next day."
"Yes I see, it was the obvious thought." Faramir certainly hoped nobody else had had it. That was the kind of rumor that could spark panic. But Eowyn had the letter to show if she had to, proof the King was alive and well.
"Elessar is safe but there is trouble in the North." he told his son. "Draugoth the Wolf-lord has reappeared and seems to be gathering allies for an attack on the Kingdom." he smiled a little at the boy's expression. "I know, why is the Steward of Gondor concerning himself with a matter that properly belongs to the Kings of the North?"
Arandil nodded a little sheepishly.
"I have personal reasons for this journey." Faramir explained quietly. "My brother Boromir has returned from death. He tells King Elessar he was sent by the Powers to kill the Wolf-lord."
For a moment the words simply did not sink in then his son's eyes opened wide. "Returned like Beren?"
"Something like that." Faramir hesitated then continued. "There was more to Boromir's death then the songs tell. He did indeed fall defending Merry and Pippin from the Uruks of Saruman but before that, before the attack that broke the Fellowship, he tried to take the Ring from Frodo."
"No!" Arandil protested. "No surely not -"
"It is so. I have the Ringbearer's own word for it." Faramir bowed his head. "It was the Ring's doing it worked on my brother's desperation, his fear for our people." he looked up and his son saw tears in his eyes. "But Boromir freed himself from its power. He died clean of all taint, I have the King's word and the evidence of my own eyes for that." softly. "I saw him, Arandil, laid out for burial in the Elven boat of Lorien lapped in light....and I knew he had won his last battle, though I did not know then how great a victory."
Arandil shifted uneasily in the saddle. "I don't understand, Father, what does that have to do with my uncle's return?"
"Boromir believes he has been given this opportunity to atone for his attack on the Ringbearer." Faramir explained.
"But you do not."
"No. The One does not break the Ordinances he laid down for the governance of the World save for some great cause. Draugoth is certainly a threat but one our King is fully equal to meeting. And though he may not believe it my brother has naught to atone for." Faramir frowned pensively at the road before them. "I do not know why he has been sent back to us but I cannot believe it is simply to die again destroying the werewolf."
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.