12. Chapter 12
The funeral rites for King Théoden were planned to take place on the third day after the arrival of the cortege. For two days I had barely a minute to myself; from first light until late into the evening, I rushed between hall, kitchen and guest quarters to ensure that all of the guests were well looked after. I managed to exchange only the briefest of greetings with Faramir; for much of the first day, he remained in his chamber recovering from the journey and on the second day I was much occupied with organising a banquet for the evening, juggling constant interruptions from ever hungry Hobbits. Merry teased me about Faramir until I took him aside and explained that his teasing was likely misplaced as I was no longer sure of Lord Faramir’s intentions; poor Merry was obviously embarrassed that he had caused me discomfort and from then on was rather subdued.
We were coming to the end of the feast and, as was the custom of our Hall, Eomer and I as hosts began to move amongst our guests. We set off along opposite sides of the Hall greeting old friends and welcoming newcomers to our land and our hearts. When I reached the table of the Hobbits, they greeted me enthusiastically, all somewhat under the influence of the ale that had flowed freely throughout the evening. Merry was still uncharacteristically subdued and so I sat by his side and teased him until he was once again his cheerful self. As I took my leave of them, Frodo rose to his feet and drew me aside.
“Talk to him, my Lady” he said pointing with his eyes to the table where Faramir had been placed. “I know I should not intrude on what is a private matter, but he is a dear friend and has suffered much…and I believe his feelings for you are unchanged. Will you not help him? I think he has much that he would share with you, if you would let him!” I was too surprised to answer but I hugged the brave and indomitable Hobbit and made my way to find Faramir.
When I got to his place, it was empty. No one had seen him leave or could tell me how long he had been gone. His platter of food was almost untouched and I feared that he had been taken ill. I was about to send a servant to see if he had retired to his room or if he needed assistance when I was approached by Lord Elrond. He was carrying a cloak and a goblet of warm, spiced wine. He informed me that Faramir was outside seeking refuge from the heat and noise of the Hall and asked if I could spare a few minutes to take him his cloak and the wine as he feared Faramir might catch a chill in the cool night air. I wasn’t deceived by his non-too subtle plotting but I accepted the errand with pleasure, asking the Elf Lord to make my apologies to my other guests.
I collected my own cloak and slipped out through a side door. Faramir was standing at the side of the Golden Hall, the lee of the building protecting him from the worst of the chill evening breeze. He stood at the edge of a sheer drop, though he seemed not to heed the danger; his gaze was fixed on the far horizon, where the last rays of the sunset reflected golden hues onto the snow-capped peaks in the distance. I called to him softly, not wanting to startle him; he turned slowly as if in a dream and although he looked at me, it was as if he were looking at a ghost and it wasn’t until I stepped up and placed a hand on his cheek that he acknowledged my presence.
“I thought you were a dream,” he whispered and then he shuddered. I set down the goblet and pulled the cloak about his shoulders, fastening the clasp. He pulled me to him them and held me tight, but it was an embrace not of passion but of desperation, and when I looked into his face, I saw fear and anxiety. I pulled away slightly, picked up the wine and with a hand under his elbow guided him to a bench against the side of the Hall. I sat to his left, held the goblet to his lips, bade him drink the warm scented wine, and wouldn’t let him be until it was finished. I put my arm around his shoulder, pulling my cloak over his until he was encased in two layers of warm wool. His head lay against my shoulder and I felt some of the tension leave him.
I reached into the pouch at my waist, took out the cloak clasp and placed it on my lap. Quietly I told him of its history and of its significance. I had no doubts now about where my future lay and, taking his hand, I offered him my love, my heart and my future, holding out to him the clasp as a pledge for the future.
But he wouldn’t take the clasp; he folded my fingers around it and placed them back on my lap. I would have pulled away then, fearing that I had misinterpreted his intentions and his wishes, but he held me tight, his arm about my waist.
“From the moment I first saw you, I loved you!” he whispered. “I knew, even then, that you had captured my heart and I thought my heart would burst with the joy of knowing you; even before you knew me or came to love me, I loved you then and I have never stopped, not for one second. I want to spend the rest of my life with you, to make you as happy as you have made me, to grow old with you beside me and to watch our children grow.
“But you do not know me; you have only seen me weak and helpless and mired in fear and doubt. I cannot allow you to bind yourself to me until you understand the real me, what I am and what I have done. I would not have you chain yourself to another golden prison, to bind yourself to a future built on an image or the quick-sands of unrealistic expectations.” As he spoke he became increasingly agitated and I tried to calm him; he tried to pull away from my embrace, but I held him firmly and drew his chin up so that I could see his face.
“Faramir, do not shut me out, please. Whatever it is that troubles you can be sorted out, if you will only share it with me.” I would not let him look away; I held his gaze until at last I saw fear replaced with a small ray of hope. “I will listen to all you have to say; I will stay with you. Give me your trust as you have given me your heart; they are both safe within my keeping.”
Cocooned by the blanket of darkness we sat together, my arms around him, his head upon my shoulder. He talked, sometimes so quietly that I strained to hear his words. He talked of his past: of his family, his mother’s death, his estrangement from his father; of the dreams that had taken his brother away on his fateful quest; of his endless battles to protect his land from evil; of the comrades he had lost and the hopelessness of their fight; of the attacks by the Nazgul, the death of his beloved brother and his father’s implacable grief; of his final desperate retreat from Osgiliath; and of falling to the enemy’s arrow and the fell effect of the Black Breath; of his father’s attempt to take his life upon the funeral pyre; of the death of the boy in the House of Healing and his subsequent killing of the prisoner on the Rammas as despair had finally claimed him; and finally of the crippling nature of his injuries and the Healers’ prognosis of his disability.
I don’t know at what point the tears had started but as his words tailed off into silence I could feel the dampness against my shoulder; he wept silently, his body shaking with emotion, I didn’t attempt to stem the flow of tears, seeing in them a release for the dam of emotion that had been held back for too long. I held him tightly and gradually he slipped down until his head lay on my lap. I adjusted our cloaks about him and sat in the darkness, murmuring endearments and caressing his cheeks until finally his weeping eased and the tension left him and he drifted off into exhausted sleep. I kept my vigil as the city around us went to sleep. I rather feared that we would be there all night; we were hidden by the darkness and I wasn’t sure that either of us had been missed.
I tried to gently rouse Faramir but was unable to break through the depth of his exhaustion; I had almost resigned myself to a long vigil when I was rescued by Tamir who had come looking for his Lord. I asked him to return to the Hall and fetch either Prince Imrahil or Lord Elrond, if they were still about; I urged him to be discreet, for I knew Faramir would hate to have his weakness broadcast publicly. Tamir returned quickly, followed by Lord Elrond and Legolas; it took the Elf Lord only a moment to assess the situation and though he too was unable to rouse Faramir, he reassured me with a smile. Legolas and Tamir lifted Faramir and with arms joined behind his back and knees carried him carefully to his chamber.
Lord Elrond helped me to my feet and I made to follow the retreating figures but he detained me. I couldn’t see his face in the darkness but I knew his perceptive gaze was upon me; he didn’t say anything but he understood, and suddenly I was sobbing in his arms; I felt his hands rubbing circles on my back but I could not stop my tears.
“How has he done it?” I sobbed. “How has that brave and gentle soul survived so much pain and hurt? I’ve never once heard him complain. He tears himself in two rather than offer hurt to those he loves. He takes everything life throws at him and asks nothing in return.”
“He is rather remarkable, isn’t he? He has a special something that draws people to him and makes them want to protect him. I wonder that his father failed to see his remarkable qualities.”
“His father must have been a fool!” I couldn’t keep the anger and scorn from my voice.
“No, not a fool, just a sad man, blinded by grief and despair and the spite of the enemy!”
“Will he be all right, My Lord?” I asked as my tears abated.
“His health and his strength are fragile still and his recovery will be slow; he has made good progress so far, and with love and support from those around him, I think he will do very well. His physical recovery will, I think, be easier than the recovery of his spirit…his arm will always be weak but with rest, exercise and good food there is no reason why he shouldn’t recover his former strength and endurance. You, I believe, hold the key to his spiritual recovery. Can you give him the love and support that he needs. It may not be an easy journey; although he hides it well he has been badly hurt by his experiences. You will need strength and patience to help him through this. Do you love him enough to take on this burden?”
“It is no burden!” I cried. “I will do whatever it takes to make him happy!”
“Then I wish you joy, Lady. I believe you will be very good for each other.”
As we walked back to the Hall, I showed the clasp to Lord Elrond and told him of its significance. I asked him if he would ensure that Faramir would find it by his bed when he awoke. He gave me his assurance and he took his leave, promising to look in on Faramir and to make sure he was settled.
I went to my own bed with my heart full of hope.
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.