19. Borne On Its Wings
Soon, his father’s wardrobe had been taken away, art hung elsewhere, rugs replaced, the desk traded for Faramir’s own, as were all books and maps. The bed was too large to remove but the linens and bedding would be replaced. Even the type of strewing herbs used was changed. The room was to be completely purged… no part of Denethor would remain, not even his scent, to prod at memories if Faramir was required to sleep here… and he was.
One item remained, a small chest found when the ticking was removed from the bedstead. Faramir pointed at it and flicked his wrist toward the door, as he had done with everything else. No one moved. Faramir looked for the first time at the people he had been commanding, his eyes met Denethor’s valet. "Sir, your father never allowed any of us to touch that chest. I will remove it if necessary, but only after his heir opens it."
Faramir’s hands tightened on the back of the divan that had been supporting him since he arrived. Had he not been keenly aware of the pain and sympathy in the servant’s eyes he would have found someone else to rid him of it, instead he nodded and sat on the bench before opening it.
The silver threads outlining each feather of the silken wing caught his attention, the blue velvet, crushed from being balled tightly in the corner of the chest. He lifted the banner, examining the border design, the trace stitchery. Faramir’s brows furrowed as he recognized the banner. He remembered Imrahil bearing this very standard as he followed his sister along the Rath Dínen; recalled him draping it over Finduilas’s body as she lay in the House of the Stewards.
After the entombment, his uncle shared that Finduilas had sown the banner, gifting him with it the first time he led the Knights of Dol Amroth into battle. He told Faramir that Finduilas would be strengthened on her journey bearing the standard of her first family. The boy knew this to be true for he had witnessed his mother standing on the ship’s wall looking south times uncountable, had watched her eyes light and her back straighten when she recognized the banner of the White Swan in the distance each time Dol Amroth came to Minas Tirith.
Faramir’s eyes filled, realizing there was no tomb remaining to drape this over, it had been destroyed with his father. He sat on his mother’s divan clutching the banner that should have been left with her to his breast, once again consumed with his impotence.
A sudden memory blazed against his closed eyes. He lay dying, his shoulder on fire, the rest of him encased in ice, as the shadow devoured him. Suddenly he was lifted, strong arms surrounded him and he felt a brief instance of warmth as he opened his eyes for the last time and he saw the White Swan standard of Imrahil. His uncle had come to give him strength on his journey as well.
That night, the Steward rested his head in his hands as he sat at his desk; he still wearied too quickly. Leaning back, his eyes lifted to the standard hanging on the wall of his new quarters. The banner that had provided the strength he needed to remain long enough for his King to claim him; the Standard, not of home, but of family.
--chris / firstname.lastname@example.org
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