The heart of Faramir was eased of care as he led the company, for beside him rode the Lady Éowyn, fair as the morn; and they laughed together in sweet contentment as they journeyed. Soon they came to the edges of the encampment, which was still quiet; few were astir at that early hour.
There, just at the entrance to the middle way leading to the central pavilion, at the head of a small group of men, two small figures waited: one clad in the black and silver of Minas Tirith, and the other in the white and green of Rohan. Both bowed low at the approach of the company and raised laughing faces to greet them. The first of them spoke to Faramir as he dismounted.
“Welcome my Lords, and twice welcome, fair Lady of Rohan! I’m sent to greet you all and say to Lord Faramir and Lord Húrin that you and your company are awaited in the great tent yonder.”
“Why, our thanks to you, O Prince among Halflings!” Faramir smiled. “Word has come to Minas Tirith of your great deeds on the Battle Plain. You honour your service,” he said, relinquishing his reins with a smile of thanks to a liveried man of Rohan who came up to lead his horse away.
Éowyn, whose arm was still in a sling, nevertheless managed to slip off her mount with the grace of one born to the saddle. She smiled on Meriadoc with affection as he took her hand and kissed it. “It is a great joy to see you again, my valiant friend. I must suppose that my brother keeps you busy in his service, as you are awake so early to receive us!”
“To tell the truth, we insisted on being the ones to greet you,” Merry confessed with a faint blush. “In any case, I’d wake up earlier than this for the privilege of escorting the loveliest lady in Gondor and the Mark, and so would Pippin here,” he added with a cheeky smile.
“I see that I must have a care lest the lady be beguiled away by the blandishments of the halflings!” Faramir said, with a mock frown.
At this moment, they were interrupted by a glad shout: “Éowyn! At last!” And the tall young king of Rohan swooped upon his sister to catch her by the waist and swing her high into his embrace. He whirled her around with a joyous torrent of words in his own language, and she laughed down at him, half in delight and half in admonishment at this exuberant display. All who beheld their reunion smiled fondly at the great love that was apparent between brother and sister.
“You are well? I see that you carry your arm in a sling even now,” Éomer said, putting her down to stand on her own feet. “I have longed to see you these past weeks, for there are many things we must speak of, and parchment cannot contain all that I have to tell you!”
“I am more than well, dear brother. My arm is quite healed, although the healers will not let me put off the sling for a week or two yet. I have much to tell you also,” Éowyn said, with a glance and sweet smile at Faramir, who returned it with a grave but tender salute of his own.
Éomer looked upon this exchange and then studied his sister’s face thoughtfully. “It seems so indeed.”
He turned from his sister towards the company of men from Minas Tirith, and inclined his head formally, saluting them in Gondorian fashion. “Well met, Lord Faramir, Lord Húrin, and nobles of Gondor. It is a joy to see you all well.”
“Hail Éomer, King of the Mark,” Faramir returned, with a courtly half bow, and the other men echoed him.
“I thank you for escorting my sister hither, and shall now steal her away for private converse. I pray your forgiveness for this abrupt parting, and hope to have more speech with you all by and by.” Then the King of Rohan bore his sister off, while the rest of the company followed Peregrin to the large pavilion at the center of the camp.
Within it was a sizeable company, which included the fair twin sons of Elrond, Prince Imrahil, and several captains of Gondor and the Dúnedain of the North.
Faramir heeded no other but walked directly to the tall man who sat at the center of the gathering. Greatly he had desired this moment of reunion; for his memories of the king were brief and dreamlike from the first few moments of his recall from long wandering in the shadows, and he wished to look again with waking eyes on the man he had recognised in his heart from the first instant of meeting.
Aragorn was simply dressed, his only adornment the great green Elfstone that his people in Minas Tirith already knew him by. Yet here indeed were the majesty and power Faramir had glimpsed so fleetingly, and the wisdom and valour. And also, he saw that the king was a man tempered by his experiences to patience and compassion. He thought that he should have known him anywhere as a King from the high race of old, and he bent to one knee.
“My King, I have waited and made ready for your return as you bade me; what now are your commands?”
Aragorn took his hand and raised him to sit at his side. “I rejoice to see you again, and so well restored to health, Lord Faramir.” And he presented him to those of the company that were not already known to him: the Lords Elladan and Elrohir, and the captains from the North.
Now Faramir in his turn presented the chief men of Minas Tirith, and many courteous words passed between them all. Then they spoke of the ceremonies that would welcome the King back on the first day of May.
“The time approaches, Lord, that Gondor has longed for: when the Steward may surrender his charge and the rule of the realm to its rightful keeper. This I shall do in the sight of all the people before you enter the city.”
Aragorn shook his head. “The rule of the Kingdom you may surrender, Lord Faramir, but not your charge. I would have you continue as Steward of this realm as the men of your line have done since Húrin’s day.”
Faramir bowed his head and said, “I will serve in whatever fashion you deem fit, my Lord. You command me in this as in all else.”
It was now decided that Elessar would take up his Crown before the Gate of Kings and a great feasting would follow after in the City, that all who came might celebrate the return of the King. When all was settled, the company rose to disperse.
Aragorn stayed Faramir with a hand on his arm. “Lord Faramir, a word.”
“What is your pleasure, Lord?”
“I would know your thoughts in the matter of the Stewardship. Some constraint I sense in you, though what the cause may be, I cannot tell.”
Faramir met his eyes frankly. “Concerning the Stewardship of Gondor, it is an honour that I dreamed not of, Lord. From my earliest youth that was the province of my elder brother. That I should stand in his place never crossed my darkest imaginings. Yet I also have been bred to service of this realm, as Boromir was, and as those of my house have been for generations beyond count. I know my duty in this matter.”
Aragorn took him by the shoulders and spoke earnestly. “Have I wronged you in this? I have no wish to coerce you to another burden unwanted and unsought. I would not see you bound to an onerous duty against your will; you deserve better of me than that.”
Faramir looked long into the King’s face: so stern and resolute, and yet so wise and kind. “And if I were to say that I did not wish this task, and asked you to relieve me of it?” he said.
“Then I would release you from it,” Aragorn replied steadily, “And honour you no less. But I hope very much that you will not ask it of me. I hope this for the sake of the realm of Gondor… and also for my own sake.”
Now Faramir smiled and gripped one of the hands that rested on his shoulder. “Lord, King’s Steward I will be, and serve you with good will. Fealty I have sworn already in my heart, and will do so again gladly before all the world. Do not fear that you force me to an ill-desired end. If I hesitated, it was merely that for a moment I recollected my father, and my brother who should have followed him as Steward.”
He paused, then went on, “As truly as I love this realm, so freely do I pledge you my allegiance. To serve both an honourable duty and an honourable lord will be no burden.”
Aragorn released him with a sigh that spoke of some great care eased. He smiled upon his Steward with such unshadowed delight that a great answering tide of joy and love swept over Faramir.
“May I have your leave now, my King?” he said. “For I desire to greet the Ring-Bearer and Samwise; since they parted from me at Ithilien, they have been always in my thoughts. Others there are also whom I must speak with.”
Aragorn bent a look full of understanding on him and nodded his assent. Faramir kissed the king’s hand respectfully, and went aside to speak with the Prince Imrahil, his uncle. They embraced fondly, and the Prince conducted him first to a tent where Frodo and Samwise were taking their ease. With the two hobbits were Legolas and Gimli. When Frodo saw Faramir, he gave a cry of joy and hurried to meet him, followed closely by Sam, who was grinning widely.
Faramir knelt to greet them. Holding them away from him at arms length, he looked gladly into their faces, then drew them close and kissed each of them on the brow.
“Welcome once again, Frodo and Samwise, to Gondor! Beyond my remotest hopes you have achieved our salvation and returned safely to the lands of the living.”
“I am very glad to see you, Faramir,” Frodo said, “And now we will have time to exchange tales with no shadow of fear hanging over us.”
“And so we shall, when you come to the White City!” Now Faramir turned to Samwise and smiled at him. “Well met again, Master Samwise Gamgee. It seems that you took the chance, in your turn, and showed your quality: the very highest!”
“Now Captain, my Lord: ‘tisn’t fair turning my own words around on me like that!” Sam said, laughing. “By rights I ought to reply with what you said, about the praise of the praiseworthy, though I’d rather you heard the song they made, sir, about Mr.Frodo! Lovely it was!”
“There will be time enough for tales and songs, Sam, and I would learn more of the Shire which breeds such great hearts and wise heads; but now I must leave you for a while. Other duties call me.”
So saying, he bowed to the dwarf and the Elf, and bidding the hobbits farewell, went out with his kinsman, the Prince Imrahil. For a while they walked between the rows of tents, speaking of many matters. Now the Prince told of the great battle outside the Black Gates, and of the celebration at the Field of Cormallen, and all that had followed until the hosts returned at last to Gondor.
“I thank you for all your tidings, my uncle. Now I must ask you, if you will, to lead me to Mithrandir,” Faramir said sombrely.
Now Imrahil looked upon Faramir’s face with a troubled look on his own.
“You cannot keep me from this, Lord. For many weary weeks I have waited, left to feel my way through darkness: to guess after the events that transpired between my return to Minas Tirith unconscious and my waking to the king’s healing hands. None remained in the city to give me the answers I craved. And I shall not now be gainsaid in this matter, nor stayed from hearing the full truth.”
“Very well, kinsman. Though I would keep you from pain if I could, I see that you are resolved upon this, and cannot deny you further.” So saying, Imrahil led him to the tent where Mithrandir could be found. He kissed Faramir on the brow, and left him alone with the wizard.
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.