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a gift beyond measure

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(“My father’s madness is deeply rooted. He was vocally against your return, my king.” Boromir says bitterly. “And I am a man of weakness. I do not believe I will be comfortable taking up his mantle.”

“But that is why you must.” Imrahil insists. “The people need to see the Steward and the King reunited. They may adore Aragorn now, but it is the line of Stewards whom they trust, despite the years.”

“I do not want it!” Boromir spits, and Aragorn lays a hand on his shoulder in both warning and reassurance. “Mellon-nin, I do not believe you will fail your duties.” He soothes, “But if you do not want the white rod, I will not make you take it.” Imrahil moves to protest, but Aragorn shoots him a warning glance. “I still need a Captain-General, after all, and there is no other that I will trust with Gondor’s borders.”

Boromir looks at him with gratitude, winning a smile in return. “Yet, the question of Steward still remains.” Imrahil sighs. “The next closest in blood would be Hurin, Master of Keys. But I do not think he is someone you want at your right hand. Perhaps the people will be satisfied enough by having the blood of Steward as your Captain-General. I know not.”

The doors fling open, and Gandalf sweeps in, Faramir and an old woman trailing behind him. Boromir and Aragorn exchange a confused look. “What is going on?” Boromir asks as Faramir walks towards him. “Why is Ioreth here?”

“I have no clue.” The younger man says, still clad in the simple clothing from the House of Healing, “Gandalf said it was of utmost importance.”

Imrahil strolls forward, too, his eyes narrowed. “Who is this?” He asks, gesturing towards Faramir. Aragorn holds Faramir’s hand gently, cautioning him not to speak, and steps forward to stop Imrahil in his tracks. The prince freezes slightly, then he seems to shrink, or at least fold himself in deference. 

“My ward.” Aragorn answers him, and throws one last indecipherable look at Faramir. “My ward, Faramir, son of Denethor.”)

 

(“What?” Faramir, of all people, is the first to break the silence. “What do you speak of? I do not- I do not understand.”

Next to him, Boromir is stricken with a shocked hope. “Surely you jest!” He exclaims. “You cannot mean that my mother-”

“Ioreth here delivered Lady Finduilas’ second-born to Rivendell, per the Lady’s instructions.” Gandalf says calmly. “I believe a letter was also brought with the babe. A sign of goodwill, from the house of Stewards to the line of Elendil. Closest in blood, I would suppose.”)

 

(“Mother.” He says helplessly. “This changes everything.”

Arwen gives him a fondly exasperated look. “This changes nothing.” She says. “Are you not the son of your father? Are you not the son I raised, I took care of? We did not raise you to be the son of a Steward, my beloved Faramir. We raised you to be a good man, and in that you have done so and far more.”

Faramir continues to stare at her, clearly unconvinced. So much like his father, she muses, and she takes his hand and leads him to a mirror. “Look into your reflection my son.” She says. “What do you see?”

His brows furrow a little, the way it always does when he is thinking hard of a puzzle or riddle that Elrohir and Elladan had come up for him. “I see a young man.” He starts hesitantly. “He is weary. Could use a few more nights of good rest, and perhaps a few more meals. He is... he is alive.”

Arwen brushes his hair back and tucks it behind his ear. “When did you start thinking like a soldier, dear one?” She asks. “Where are your poems, your history? What do you see?”

He tries to look at her, trying to anticipate her wants, but she keeps his eyes firmly ahead of him.

“I see Faramir.” He chokes out. “He is worn, troubled, but he knows the worst has already passed by. He longs for the comfort of books and trees. He is wracked with self-doubt, for he has discovered that he is no warrior like his father. He fears the responsibility laid on his shoulders. He knows not how- He- I do not know what I am supposed to be looking for, mother.”

Arwen hums in soft encouragement. “Perhaps I should tell you what I see, dear one.” Her voice is soft and gentle, all encompassing and patient. “I see my son. I see my child that I have raised, held at my bosom. I see a young man who has done all that he can for those he loves, and has done well. I see a young man who sees not his strengths, but his flaws, yet I tell you, I am so proud of him. I see my son, for whatever name or title he bears, he will still be my son, and is forever worthy of all the love I have to give. I thank the Valar everyday that the Lady Finduilas has entrusted me with you, my dear, for you are my son, Faramir! And I am with you, in every step forward, for I am your mother and have chosen to share in your worries and burdens.”

Faramir looks into the mirror, meets his own gaze, and perhaps, then, he is beginning to see.)