1. In the Flames
Faramir stood in front of the door of the royal chambers. In his arms he held a large stack of papers for the king to look through. He swallowed hard, raised his hand, and knocked timidly on the heavy wooden door.
"Come in!"cried an affable voice inside. He opened the door and went in. Aragorn was sitting at his desk, about halfway across the room.
"Ah, Faramir! Come in, come in!" The king was in a very good mood today!
"Has there been a time when I haven't been in a good mood?" Aragorn asked, a twinkle in his eyes.
Faramir blushed. Had he actually said that out loud? He started to stammer an apology, but Aragorn cut him off.
"Faramir, really! I thought I told you not to stand on formality when we are alone!"
"Yes, sire." Faramir responded automatically. Aragorn raised one eyebrow. "Yes, Aragorn," he hastily amended.
"That's better! Now, pull up that chair, and show me what today's stack of papers is." He motioned to a chair standing by the fire as he spoke. Faramir set down the papers he was holding and walked over to the chair. As he started to pick it up, something in the fire caught his eye. He stared at the fire, transfixed, the red light reflecting in his eyes; then suddenly his legs crumpled beneath him, and he knew no more.
When he came to, the first thing he noticed was a wonderful fragrance. It was like sunshine on roses and all the beautiful things in the world rolled into one. He almost felt as if he had smelt it before, but the memory eluded his befuddled mind. The second thing he noticed was that someone was holding him! He struggled slightly and tried to sit up, but the arms held him firmly.
"Easy now," said a voice behind him. It was Aragorn. Faramir started to relax slightly at the comforting touch and soothing voice, but then he saw the fire again. He whimpered, and tried to move away, but Aragorn held him tight.
"What is it, Faramir?" Aragorn murmured. "What is it, mellon-nîn?"
"The fire," was all Faramir could say.
"Did you see something inside?" Aragorn asked. The Steward nodded miserably. "What did you see?" Aragorn asked gently.
It was a full minute before Faramir could slowly reply, but Aragorn waited patiently.
"My father," he said at last. "He is standing in the flames, and burning, burning, burning!" Faramir's voice, which had started out low and frightened, rose to a hysterical scream as he spoke.
"Easy now," Aragorn repeated, soothingly. "Let me get you away from the fire." He picked up his trembling friend and carried him to a soft couch that stood across the room by the wall.
He lay his Steward on the couch then knelt next to him.
"Would it help you to tell me about it?" He asked, after setting Faramir down. "I don't know," the man murmured.
"Then speak, and let me know," Aragorn said, in a voice that did not allow
Faramir swallowed hard before answering.
"Whenever I am near a fire, I see my father. He is standing in the flames. He holds
something in his hands, I cannot see what it is. It looks like a great, black crystal, ball." "The Palantir," Aragorn murmured.
Faramir stopped and gave him a strange look.
"I'm sorry. Please continue," said Aragorn encouragingly.
"That's all there is. I see, that, then either it fades," Faramir's voice sank to an agonized whisper, "or I faint."
"My friend!" exclaimed Aragorn in shock, and pity.
"So you see what kind of man you have for a Steward. I should throw myself into the flames and rid Gondor and her King of such a pitiful example of a man!" Faramir bowed his head in sorrow.
Aragorn caught the younger man into his arms. "Faramir, Faramir!" he cried. "Never say such a thing!"
"But my king, it is true! I am not worthy to serve you!"
"My friend, my friend, no! I only wish you had told me this before! Please," Aragorn almost seemed to be begging now. "Please, let me try help you. Remember, mellon-nîn, 'the hands of the king are the hands of a healer!'"
After much more talk, Faramir accepted Aragorn's offer of help and healing.
Faramir smiled. Yes, he had accepted. And now, he was sitting by the fireside, watching the flames dance without fear. He turned to Aragorn sitting next to him. "Do you remember when I told you of my visions in the flames?" he asked.
"Remember? How could I forget! When you collapsed, I thought I was going to have to enter the vale of death to find you again!" He smiled. "But, by the grace of the Valar, I did not." He put his arm around Faramir's shoulders, drawing him close.
They leaned back and watched the fire dance. It was good, sitting here, together, around the fireside.