1. Curious Questions
"Only the curious will learn and only the resolute overcome the obstacles to learning." —Eugene S. Wilson
Gandalf was nearly at the end of his rope in his dealings with this stubborn Steward. Truly, Denethor son of Ecthelion had Gondor's best interests in mind, but he was ruthlessly indifferent about the rest of Middle-earth. And what made it worse, he had a clever mind that made good arguments for why he should be so. He was not, in fact, the guardian of Middle-earth, but only the guardian of Gondor. What sort of guardian would he be if he were to care more about other realms than his own, perhaps harming Gondor in aiding others, for greater good or not. Frankly, Gandalf preferred those who did not have such logic. He had to have all his wits about him to combat Denethor.
But just as the tension was growing to a combustable level, a door opened suddenly, and both men turned to see who had interrupted their private audience. A young boy, perhaps seven or eight years old, ran in, only to skid to a stop when he saw the visitor. His eyes widened in fear as he realized the error he had made in thinking his father would be alone.
"Who is this?" asked Gandalf with a smile, but it was a question to which he knew the answer before asking.
"My second son, Faramir," answered Denethor, also looking down at his son. The breaking of the tension was an obvious relief to both men, but Denethor would not have chosen for it to have happened because of his son's free manners, and so his look was less amused.
Of course you are, thought Gandalf to himself. Who could look at those eyes and not see the son of Ecthelion as a boy again? Who could see that face and think you the son of another man?
"I did not mean to intrude," said Faramir, bowing his head.
"You may wait until I am done with Mithrandir, Faramir," said Denethor. His tone was not indulgent, but neither was it particularly annoyed.
Gandalf saw out of the corner of his eye that Faramir was peeking up at him, and he gave him a quick wink. Faramir gave a little gasp and lowered his head again.
"I believe, Lord Steward, that our business is complete here," said Gandalf.
"Indeed, Mithrandir," said Denethor. "Your lodgings are prepared for you, but perhaps you would care to join me for supper?"
"If you do not mind, I would rather dine alone. I am weary with my traveling."
Denethor nodded, but there was no regret in his eyes. Gandalf turned to depart, after sending another smile to Faramir, who was still standing by his father's side. The boy was obviously embarrassed, and as Gandalf enjoyed seeing such a natural presence after dealing with formality and stiffness all day, he rewarded it how he could.
The moment the door closed behind the grey-clad wizard, Denethor sighed and lowered himself into the Steward's chair. "What did you want, Faramir? You do realize that it is very unlikely that you will get it after such a rude interruption, of course."
"I just wanted to see Mithrandir," muttered Faramir.
"Do not mumble, child," said Denethor. "And do not try to conceal anything from me. There was more to your purpose than this, I know."
"It was nothing important," said Faramir.
Denethor eyed him intently, but Faramir's eyes were lowered, shielding him from Denethor's look.
"Then, if you please, you will leave my presence and return to whatever you were doing previously."
Faramir nodded, and departed. He waited until he was out of the Hall before running after Gandalf.
"Mithrandir?" he called.
Gandalf knew he was coming, but turned around as if he was surprised. "Young Faramir?"
"You are an Istari, are you not? Like Lord Curunir?"
"I am," said Gandalf. "Are you not frightened of me?" And he leaned down over Faramir, eyes flashing mischievous fire.
"No," said Faramir, voice steady even if he stepped back a little. "Because you are good."
"Who told you such a tale? It is false, I am sure," said the wizard, secretly pleased that the boy took his teasing in good stride; his elder brother had balked and avoided Gandalf ever after. "But never mind. Why do you wish to know?"
"Because if you are, I wanted to know if you had been in the West, in Numenor. Ada says that you have been here for a very long time, and you look very old, so I thought you might."
"How old do you think I am?" asked Gandalf with a chuckle.
"More than a thousand, I think," said Faramir, wrinkling his nose as he thought. "You look like it, anyway," he added honestly.
"Ah," said Gandalf. "No, I was not in Numenor, but I once lived in Westernesse."
"Elvenhome?" asked Faramir eagerly. "Then you saw Earendil?"
"I did," admitted Gandalf. "Why do you ask?"
"I wanted to know what color his eyes were," said Faramir.
Gandalf choked a little, and began to cough.
"Mithrandir? Should I fetch water for you?"
"No," coughed Gandalf. "No, young one, I will be well in a moment." He took out a great grey piece of cloth and wiped his face. "Earendil's eyes?"
"Yes," said Faramir. "Boromir is drawing a picture of him for me, though it is a present and I am not supposed to know about it, and I heard him wondering what color the eyes would be." When Gandalf did not answer, overcome by surprised pondering, Faramir's face fell. "Is it a secret? Boromir says that there are many secrets about the Elder Days. No one will tell me how Feanor made the Silmarils, either, or why Tuor could become immortal but not Beren."
"It is not much of a secret," said Gandalf. "But it might be dangerous if too many people knew," he added in a conspiratorial whisper. "They were blue."
"Thank you!" said Faramir with a grin.
"Is there anything else you wish to know about the Elder Days?"
"I don't know," said Faramir, his face twisting as he tried to think very hard. "I think there was, because I wrote down a question to ask Ada, but I did not know that you would be here. It is in my room. Come!"
And he grabbed Gandalf's hand and started off at good pace back to the Citadel. Faramir's room was quite large, but rather unfurnished. Gandalf smiled as he remembered that another Faramir had dwelt in these very chambers, long ago in the days of the Kings.
"Here it is!" said Faramir, taking a scrap of paper from the desk. "Do you know what became of Maglor son of Feanor?"
But before Gandalf could answer, Faramir jumped in surprise, exclaiming in a pained voice: "Titheniel, that hurts!"
As Faramir danced in apparent pain, Gandalf saw a large grey cat clinging to the boy's back.
"Now, there!" said Gandalf as he removed the feline. "That is not nice—Titheniel."
The cat gave suspicious looks, but allowed him to set her on the floor again.
"She didn't scratch you," said Faramir in awe. "She must know who you are. She is very smart."
"Does she always attack you?" asked Gandalf.
"No," said Faramir, as Titheniel wove between his legs. "Only sometimes. She gets jealous when I spend time with Feanor, though."
"Hmm?" asked Gandalf, stunned again. "Feanor?"
"Oh, not the real one," assured Faramir swiftly. "Feanor is my toy helchaew," he added, going over to his bed and picking up a big creature that appeared to be made of cloth and stuffed. It was about two feet tall, very plump, and black with a white belly and a stripe of yellow around the neck.
"Helchaew, eh?" said Gandalf. "You like mythological creatures as well as figures from the past?"
"Yes," admitted Faramir. "Sometimes I like them better than real people. Sometimes."
He paused and then asked: "Mithrandir, do you think that helchaews could be real?"
"I am sure of it," said Gandalf. "Why is his name Feanor? I assure you, he looks nothing like him."
"I know that," said Faramir with a laugh. "I called him that because when he holds the Silmaril on his feet, he looks very pro—protective."
"Silmaril?" asked Gandalf, more and more astonished.
"It's just a crystal," said Faramir disappointedly. He took a large, many-faceted gem from the desk, and put it in on Feanor's feet to demonstrate.
"It is true," agreed Gandalf, "he looks very possessive."
"Mithrandir, is it right to call him Feanor? Boromir says it is cheating, because Feanor had three Silmarils, but I could only buy one, and I did not want to call him Maedhros."
"It is quite all right," said Gandalf with a smile. "Now, I must go to my rest, but perhaps you would care to visit me tomorrow? I would be very glad to answer your questions then, my curious young one."
"Visit you?" asked Faramir with eyes popping out of his head. "Yes, I would, sir! Thank you!"
And Gandalf laughed, fluffed Faramir's dark curls fondly, and retired to his chamber whistling. He could do naught but remember Denethor at that age—equally lore-loving, equally curious, if not quite so gregarious—and looked forward to a long relationship with this youngest son of Gondor.
Author's Notes: Titheniel, Faramir's cat, is the same kitten from my story "Happy Yuletide Indeed". Lord Curunir is Saruman's elvish name, just as Mithrandir is Gandalf's. A helchaew is like a penguin (it is Sindarin for "cold bird"), and Feanor holds the 'Silmaril' like a penguin egg. It is considered a mythological creature, because no one in Middle-earth lives close to the equivalent of the South Pole. There are lots of references in here to the Silmarillion, so if you have not read that book, I apologize for any confusion.
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.