Cloaks and Memories: 2. Chapter 2

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2. Chapter 2

He called me back, back from the dark vale where I cowered under the harsh voice and poisoned words of the Witch King; all about me, the dead and dying lay broken and spoiled: brother, cousin and King amongst them. I wanted to join them in death but death was denied me, and I lingered in grief and pain. Yet the voice was insistent and a gentle hand drew me back to brightness and light and I awoke to find my brother weeping at my side, joy and relief lighting his beloved face. I felt crushed; I had failed, any hopes of completing my quest now frustrated by my weak woman’s body. I welcomed the pain of my broken bones, a small enough token of failure, and I refused the numbing relief of the Healer’s herbs.

The Host marched out in vain hope for the final conflict. From my bed I heard the trumpets blow a farewell salute, the proud notes echoing around the walls of the citadel, answered by the cheers and blessings of those who remained on the walls. I had no hope of victory or of ever seeing kin or comrades in this lifetime. I drew the blankets over my head and wept.

When I could no longer bear the cloistering of the sick room, I begged the Warden to release me; he refused and took me to the new Steward of the city, a fellow inmate of the Healing Halls. Lord Faramir refused to countermand the Warden’s orders. I could see the pity and grief in his countenance but he spoke to me gently. I bowed to his authority and resigned myself to continued confinement. Lord Faramir was gentle and kind, and in his eyes I saw kindled the offer of regard and admiration; I would not acknowledge the offer. I had no room for misplaced consideration. I left him and returned to my room.

Over the next few days, we would meet in the gardens and upon the walls. Sometimes friend Merry joined us and lightened our hearts with his gentle humour and easy, undemanding affection. We spoke of those we had lost and about those dear to us; but mostly we waited and watched in silence. I grew to look forward to his company; he was fair of face and had a stillness and gentleness of spirit that called to me. I saw long-standing pain and griefs in his eyes, and yet he voiced no complaint and sought always to support and comfort me. When a chill wind left me shivering, he drew a beautiful cloak about my shoulders, a treasured heirloom that had been made for his mother; as he struggled to fasten the clasp at my throat, he gave me a look of such deep feeling that I felt myself drowning within his gaze. I pulled away, afraid of the intimacy of the gesture. I caused him pain. He flinched at my withdrawal and I felt shamed by my action but I could not allow myself to open to him.

On the last day, we stood together on the wall, our eyes turned to the shadow in the east. Fear and dread pressed down until I feared I would scream out loud. The roiling blackness rose up and threatened to overwhelm the land; and then suddenly it rolled away and the sun shone and the eagles came, crying of victory and the overthrow of darkness. We stood together, hands clasped tightly, and dared to believe that the future lay before us.

Faramir took up the responsibilities of his office. He discharged himself from the healers’ care and threw himself into the mammoth task of preparing for the return of the King. Merry left with the wagons and I returned to the House of Healing, confused and uncertain, while all around me rejoiced at our liberation and victory. I should have been happy; my brother had survived and the King, the object of my unrequited regard, had triumphed over adversity to now claim his rightful heritage. I cowered within my bower, afraid to face him and unable to see where my future lay. I had chased death and an end to unfulfilled hopes and now my path was clouded; I shuttered my heart and balanced on the precipice of endless empty tomorrows.

Faramir broke down the doors of my self enforced isolation. He drew me forth and challenged me to accept his love and recognise the wishes of my own heart. I looked into his eyes and suddenly everything seemed easy and clear; he loved me and my heart sang. The joy and love in his heart drove away the shadows, and I lost myself in his arms and drowned in the sweetness and passion of his lips. His love healed me and I knew peace. I vowed then to stay within the healing halls, to renounce the sword and to offer my services and to learn gentler arts.

Every day my Lord would visit the House of Healing. He walked the sick-rooms offering words of comfort and comradeship to the men still within our care. He sat at the bedside of those who battled against grievous injuries, his presence welcomed by both healers and sick. His men loved him and I basked in the reflected glow of their regard. We would snatch brief moments together, planning fanciful schemes for the future, before duties and cares called him away.

He pushed himself relentlessly and I would try to ensure that there was food available so that he could eat as we talked. I tasked Tamir, his squire, to ensure that his Lord ate properly and took care of his health. As the days passed I became increasingly concerned; Faramir was grey with fatigue and I suspected that he was often in pain; his arm now constantly either in a sling or tucked into the front of his jacket for support. He denied the pain and brushed aside my concern, refusing to bother the healer, too busy to allow physical weakness to interfere in the discharge of his duties.

One day he came late in the afternoon. Something had happened. His eyes looked haunted, grief and pain clouded his face. He did his rounds as usual, comforting the sick and joking with those he knew well, but even they could see his pain, though he tried hard to disguise it. As he walked into the small chamber that served as an office, he swayed against Tamir and took the offered arm for support. We helped him to a chair and he sat down and laid his head down on his arms on the desk. I sent Tamir to get some tea and hot food. I added a pinch of herbs to the tea and had to coax him to drink; he never spoke but tears soon coursed down his face. I knelt at his side and embraced him and he sobbed against my shoulder until exhaustion finally threatened to overwhelm him. I helped him to his feet and manoeuvred him over to a low padded settle; I covered him with my cloak and sat at his side, comforting him until sleep finally overpowered him.

I banked down the fire and turned down the lamp and left, quietly closing the door. Tamir couldn’t tell me what had transpired to affect his Master so acutely, only that he had had a long private meeting with Hurin, the Warden of the Keys, and the Chamberlain. I bade the squire to prevent anyone disturbing Lord Faramir, confident that the herbs I had administered would ensure that he would sleep for many hours, and not to allow him to leave until he had had a hot meal. I went to my own bed troubled in mind and unsure if he would resent my interference. There was still so much that I didn’t know about Faramir. He had opened his heart to me but of his past he said nothing, locking the door on emotions that threatened his fragile equilibrium.

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.

Story Information

Author: shireling

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 02/08/04

Original Post: 01/12/04

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