1. Seeing Stars
Two goblets of wine to await the babe's coming, two more taken out of sheer relief that mother and child were well, a tankard of ale when Éomer drank to the health of his sister-son, then several glasses of brandy to toast the birth of Ithilien's heir with the assembled Tower Guards, White Guards, King and Queen; and Faramir was at last beginning to feel somewhat unsteady on his feet.
In fact, he was beginning to feel truly dizzy. A shame, since he wanted to dance again on this first night of his fatherhood. The Elves, newly come with Legolas in the last hour, were dancing gracefully in a large circle on the High Court, hand in hand with the stomping Rohirrim and merry Guards. A few women and maidens wove in and out of the greater ring, led by the Queen, who showed no sign of weariness after the long hours of tending Éowyn. The candles and lanterns shimmered and winked in Faramir's tired gaze. Just how many glasses of elderberry brandy had he taken? In truth, he'd lost count after the fourth, which he had drunk, well, not that long ago. Faramir rubbed his eyes; then tossed his head, trying to refresh it. Another dance might clear the cobwebs! He started towards the chain of revelers, then found himself swaying, and leaning on a well-placed tree.
Oh, it was the White Tree! Faramir looked up and smiled at the stars twinkling like silver flowers. No, those were the Tree's own blossoms. The sight still took his breath away. And my son will grow up with a young, strong White Tree, Faramir thought, his heart pounding with joy. He leaned back his head, inhaling the flowers' sweet smell, until he could see, through the blossoms and leaves, the stars themselves, shining down from the clear night sky. Faramir pulled his weight off the Tree; it was yet a sapling; though already twice the height of a tall man; he feared to damage his land's living sigil. Nor did he wish to affright the Tree's guards, who now watched him so closely.
A firm hand steadied his shoulder. "Easy, lad," said Aragorn. "You will over-balance and find yourself in the fountain."
Faramir found the idea immensely humorous, and laughed loudly. "Would not do at all...for…for the Lord Steward of Gondor to be sheen in shuch a...such a state."
"I must set a good example, y'know." It seemed very important that his friend who was also his King and the deliverer of his people, understand. "Not jusht as Steward, or even Prince. I am a father now; my son must never be ashamed of me!"
"Faramir, your son will love you; and you will be a good and kind father." The joy bubbled up again inside him, spreading into a huge grin that Faramir could feel on his face. He could not stop it, nor did he particularly want to. "My son! I am a father now. It shtill astounds me!"
"Trust me when I say, Faramir, while fatherhood is an astounding gift, you are not the first man to receive it, nor will you be the last." "
Yes, but my lord, do you understand? My Elboron will be the first Shteward-ah-Steward of Gondor since Belecthor II to know a living, flowering White Tree throughout all his life." Faramir grasped his King's shoulder urgently. If he made an effort, most of the words came out whole. "My brother, my father, the Stewards, all of them since Thoron-Thorondir, we have waited and guarded the dead Tree; and now we have a living Tree…and a living King, and my son will inherit both, and honor them in fealty." Faramir could not quite speak of all the joys that flooded his heart, mere words seemed insufficient for once. Perhaps a song? What he really needed to do was to put one foot in front of the other. Yet his legs seemed to be stiff. Or stuck. Was the ground spinning, or was it only his head? Not really spinning, for his head was still firmly attached to the rest of him, but his brow did feel heavy now.
The King's strong arm went round Faramir's shoulders, supporting him. "I think that the King should help his good Steward seek rest before he falls down."
"No need to, to trouble yourself, lord," Faramir protested; his tongue feeling thick and awkward in his mouth. "You are wanted in the dance."
"I have danced and danced, and danced again," Aragorn answered firmly. "I would be just as glad to walk now. And Legolas is a better dancer; he could companion Arwen for hours without wearying. I will brook no argument, Faramir; so come along. It would not do for you to pass out here."
"Shuppose not," Faramir sighed in agreement. It was easier to walk in a straight line with Aragorn's help. At least, he hoped it was straight. Putting one foot in front of the other was enough of a challenge. "Father-my father would have rightly caned me. And I am Steward; mustn't fall down drunk."
"I have it on good authority that Ecthelion once caned your father for passing out in a tavern," Aragorn said. "Your grandfather had very high expectations for his heir."
"I have an heir now, too, Aragorn!" Faramir crowed. "But if he drinks over-much, I shall not punish him with a cane. Better to…to teash him not to drink too much too fast."
"Did I not say that you would be a good father?"
Father! How wondrous a word it could be! "I would see the babe again, and Eowyn, before I seek my bed," Faramir added as they neared the Steward's Residence.
"Eowyn needs to sleep, as does your son."
"My son! Did you see his perfect hands? How do newborn babes come to have such well-shaped little fingers and so strong a grip? Éowyn thinks already of his first sword, but I would fain see those hands open a book, or hold a quill."
"There is no reason why the lad will not be able to do all those tasks, Faramir, but let him get his first night's sleep before he essays them."
Dizzied as he was, Faramir could not miss the humor in his lord's voice. He supposed this was all rather amusing. He certainly had been amused when other men boasted of their children. But now, the infant was his own, his firstborn, the heir of the ancient House of Húrin and the new princedom of Ithilien.
Faramir thought suddenly of all those who had come before him. It was blood that bound them together, blood that flowed like a river through time, backwards and forwards, from Mardil the Good Steward, to Cirion who had treated with Eorl the Young, then down the years to Ecthelion, Denethor, and now to his newborn golden-haired son from beautiful, brave Éowyn, herself a daughter of the House of Eorl.
And what of Boromir, who should have taken the White Rod? For the first time, the memory of his brother did not sting Faramir; for a new son of the Hurinionath had come, born of their blood, to balance Boromir's loss: Elboron, their faithful star.
You would have loved him too, my brother, Faramir said without speaking. He stopped then, in his tracks, realizing that Aragorn's supporting arm had also held his brother during Boromir's last moments. The thought was strangely comforting. It had never occurred to him that a King returned out of legends could be as kind as a father.
Faramir leaned briefly against the King's strong shoulders, then, regaining some measure of balance, straightened to look once more upon the White Tree, shining in the full light of Ithil and all the stars of the heavens.
We will care well for the Tree, Boromir; the King and I and one day my son, he swore.
Smiling, Faramir turned his thoughts from his brother to the wife and child who awaited him, and let his King lead him home.
Author's Notes: The name Elboron, which Tolkien gave to Faramir's semi-canonical son according to History of Middle-earth V. 12, means Faithful Star or Enduring Star.
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.