1. No More Shadows
The old man had stood watching as they carried young Faramir in and laid him upon a bed. That had been some time ago. They had said he was not dead, but the old man did not quite believe them. From where he now sat in the corner of the room, unremarked and seemingly ignored, Faramir looked pale and cold, though they claimed he burned with fever. He was almost certainly dead -- if not now, then soon enough. Even those who fought to bring relief to the sick and wounded had begun to lose hope that Faramir would recover, and the healers wept in frustration. Yet they labored on, not willing to give up.
They should just let him go, the old man thought sadly. Death would be kinder. What is there to live for? All is lost!
But the healers continued their efforts and did not heed him. The old man's eyes strayed from the face of the unconcious man to watch those who now attended him. The wizard was there -- he had been the one to carry Faramir into the Houses of Healing. He had gone away for a time, but had recently returned with another, a man cloaked in grey, bearing a green stone upon his breast. Who was this secretive stranger? Why had he come? Did he intend harm to Faramir?
But no, it seemed that Faramir was in no danger from the one whom the others called Aragorn; rather, they actually thought this one might be capable of helping the dying one. The old man was surprised at how relieved he felt at the thought. Did he not wish for it to be over? Was it not better to be allowed to die and avoid the shame of the coming defeat? Yet if the boy could be saved....
The old man felt a brief thrill of something in his heart. What was it? Was he afraid? Or... was it actually hope he was feeling? It had been such a long time since he had known hope....
He watched carefully as Aragorn bent over Faramir, a hand upon his brow. The old man could almost see the ensuing struggle, as if the healer battled an unseen force that threated his patient. Why struggle? he thought. Let him go... But Aragorn did not heed his silent wish, and continued to fight.
The old man's attention was suddenly drawn to a young errand boy who had entered the room, carrying some withered leaves wrapped in a cloth. Aragorn was glad to have them, it seemed, for he smiled. Grasping two of the leaves, he breathed on them and crushed them in his hands, and a sudden freshness filled the air. The darkness that had been slowly overwhelming the old man's spirit unexpectedly drew back and he felt a lightness of heart that made him gasp in relief. More leaves were cast into a bowl of steaming water, and the resulting fragrance dispelled the darkness entirely. A new feeling hope rose in in his heart, and with it, sharp fear for Faramir -- but there would be no death for the Steward's son this day, for Faramir was awake and smiling.
The old man wept, for he now saw clearly the folly of his despairing wish for death -- yet he also wept for joy that perhaps he might begin to hope once more, just a little. If death could be thwarted when it seemed so certain, then might not also defeat be somehow avoided? It was doubtful; the enemy was too strong. Yet the old man could not quite bring himself to let go of the newfound sense of hope he was feeling, small though it was.
He breathed in deeply and savored the freshness of scented leaves.
"Walk no more in shadows, but awake!" he heard the man Aragorn say, and Faramir murmurred a reply.
Yes, he agreed silently, eyes closed, breathing deep. No more shadows....
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.