Still, Denethor had not left the House of the Stewards. Faramir had been hiding for almost an hour, and for almost an hour, Denethor had stalked him. Faramir could hear him walking slowly from crypt to crypt; he shoved his fist in his mouth to keep from screaming. The gentle footsteps moved closer, but no other sound accompanied them. Faramir held still until his muscles began to cramp. His left leg betrayed him, left the safety of his arms, and slid out, pushing his foot forward. The slightest of sounds, but Faramir knew Denethor heard it. The footsteps stopped.
Faramir shivered uncontrollably, then berated himself. Why had he not obeyed Denethor's order when first it had come? 'Twas a simple enough order, routine, yet something in it caused Faramir to panic and run. Did his father know? It was the only logical explanation for the cryptic order. How had he discovered their secret? The shivering grew exponentially as Faramir remembered their last tryst. It had been beautiful, beyond words, but his screams, he must have betrayed them with his screams. Boromir had told him not to worry, but Faramir had, and now, he deemed, rightly so.
"I know you are here, Faramir." The familiar, once-loved voice echoed through the halls of the House. "I can order a detail to comb the place, but I think you would prefer not to be shamed in such a way. I am saddened that you disobeyed a direct order, but that can be remedied. Come out now and all is forgiven." Moments that seemed like a lifetime passed. The gentle voice spoke again. "I am hurt that you would react to an order in this fashion. Hurt because it seems to portray fear. Are you afraid of me, Faramir?"
Such a simple question. Faramir's eyes grew misty; tears fell. Once he had not been afraid of his father, once he had loved him with all his heart, once he had thought him the greatest man in all Middle-earth. But then his mother died. Denethor changed immediately into a cold, hard, grim man. The days of warm hugs and ruffled hair ceased. He had been moved from his own chambers, the ones he shared with Boromir, and put into cold, damp chambers on a floor well above the family's old quarters, ostensibly because of his age.
"I am losing patience, Faramir. Come forward now, else your punishment be heavier than it ought." The footsteps, so very close now, stopped. Faramir held his breath. Denethor must only be a crypt or two from him. "I only want the best for you, my son. And for me." The innuendo in the voice sent Faramir's body into paroxysms of fear. Again, his body betrayed him. He heard Denethor move forward, knew he had been found. He sobbed hysterically as his father turned the corner and stared down at him, his grey eyes held an emotion Faramir could not discern.
"My son," the voice said calmly, a hand held out to him, "do not be afraid. I am your father, not your master. Stand, as an esquire of Gondor. I know you should be punished, but I will preclude that. I see now that fear was your undoing. There is naught to fear, my son. You will come back with me, to my own chambers, and we will talk, as should have been done in the first place. Your age saves you, you know; fourteen is too young for the prescribed punishment, flogging. Had you been but a little older and disobeyed such an order, I would not be allowed leeway to forgive you."
Faramir watched as Denethor's eyes turned to steel. He knew he should take the proffered hand and stand. He knew he should follow his father to his chambers, but he was beyond coherent thought. He watched as Denethor lowered himself to his knees, placing the hand upon his thigh. He jerked backwards; Denethor held firm. Faramir wanted to scream and run, but his traitorous body would not move. He watched the hand move up his leg. Violent shaking assailed him. His father smiled. As Faramir's spasms lessened, his father's hand moved up further and settled between his legs, barely touching Faramir's....
"Hush, Faramir. I will be as gentle as your brother."