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a gift beyond measure

Chapter Text

i.

The riders arrive as the sun rises, a young soldier and a maiden. She carries a baby, too young to be away from his mother, and a letter. Lindir offers them rooms to stay in, but they decline and leave the baby and his letter in the house of Elrond.

Aragorn recognizes the handwriting immediately, a relic of his time as Thorongil. He stares at the helpless babe, dozing off in the crib Lindir had brought.

 

ii.

Arwen cradles the baby in her arms, who blinks owlish at her, small hands reaching out to touch her raven locks reverently. “We have a child now, Estel.” She laughs, radiant and glowing as she kisses the baby on the cheek, and not even Elladan and Elrohir find it in them to tease her.

 

iii.

“If you had taken the throne, the lady would not have seen the need to deliver to you her child.” Elrond says gravely. “He is now your responsibility, whether you like it or not. This child will have a role to play in the days to come, as all of us do. However big or small, I know not.” He fixes Aragorn with a piercing gaze.

Aragorn does not answer, his eyes reading the words on the paper but not comprehending them. The strength of a mother bears this child far. “Gondor is so far away.” He tells Elrond. “He will know nothing of his home, his birthplace, or his family.”

The baby is sound asleep in Arwen’s arms, but even then her lullaby does not stop. 

 

iv.

“Those men in the corner, who are they?” Frodo asks Barliman. The man casts a nervous gaze to the dark corner in question. “They’re rangers, both of them. Dangerous folk they are - wandering the wilds. What their right names are I’ve never heard, but the taller one, he’s known as Strider. The one next to him, Hunter. Best not to get on their bad side, Mr Underhill.”

 

v.

“Master Took.” Hunter sits down next to him as Strider walks off. “Are you still hungry?”

Pippin rolls his eyes. “Course I am. We missed so many meals!” As if on cue, his stomach begins to growl. “Sam, do we have tomatoes?” He calls. “Aye, and bacon too.” Samwise rummages through his pack to bring out the requested items.

“You are absolutely marvelous, Samwise Gamgee.” Merry crows, as Pippin scrambles over to help him start a fire. 

“Wait.” A large hand halts Sam in his tracks. “There can be no fires. I sense there is something watching.”

All the hobbits instantly freeze and draw close to each other. “They’re here?” Pippin asks, half-incredulously, half in fright. Hunter smiles lightly instead, ruffling Pippin on the head. “Here,” He hands him a bag of dried stripes of beef. “Share this among you.” 

"You sure?" Pippin asks him tentatively, already reaching his hand into the pouch.

"Yes." Hunter tells him with mirth. "I, too, was once a boy who was always hungry. My mother took to giving me extra snacks on the road, and I have kept the habit. Strider was displeased, of course, but more so because I would not share them with him."

 

vi.

When the Nazgûl appear, Hunter curses in Sindarin when his arrows do nothing to the wraiths. The hobbits huddle behind him, holding their barrow-blades bravely. 

How do you fight a shard of what was once a man, but one no longer? How do you look upon the warped shadow of your forefathers, how do you not feel the centuries of sorrow and fear and pain? How do you live with the weight of it?

 

vii.

When the final Nazgûl is chased away by Strider’s fire, they gather around a gasping Frodo. “It’s my fault.” Hunter says guiltily. “If only I had been more watchful.”

“It’s just a nick, right? Mr Frodo will be okay?” Sam asks, gripping Frodo’s hand tightly. Hunter shakes his head heavily. “This is a Morgul blade.” He picks up the blade that the wraith had left behind, only for it to crumble in his hands. “The wounds that it leaves are not so easily healed by the hands of mortals.”

Strider touches Frodo’s forehead, feels his breath. “Do not blame yourself, ion-nin.” He says, “You’re scaring the hobbits. I do not think this wound is as horrible as it could be. Still, we will make haste to Rivendell and seek Elvish medicine. Do you still have athelas?”

A pouch is pressed into his outstretched hand, and Strider puts some of the dried leaves into his mouth, chewing them before applying the poultice to the cut in Frodo’s shoulder. “What’s that?” Merry asks. “That’s a weed,” There’s a faint note of derision in Sam’s voice, “Kingsfoil.”

“That’s a funny name for a weed.” Pippin interjects, and with their exchange the tension seems to leave Hunter, and he kneels down next to the hobbits. “You fought bravely.” He tells them, and seems to make to say more, but finally keeps his mouth shut.

 

viii.

Strider threw Frodo over his shoulder like a potato sack, and has already vanished into the woods ahead, to Sam’s dismay. “Do not worry.” Hunter tells him, as if sensing his struggles, “You will see him in Rivendell, alive and healthy.”

“I don’t mean to say I don’t trust you or anything, Hunter sir,” Sam says, hands tightening on Bill’s lead. “It’s just, I made a promise to Gandalf. ‘Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee.’ And I don’t mean to!”

Hunter meets his gaze thoughtfully. “Some journeys are meant to be taken alone,” He says slowly, as if mulling over every word. “But still,” He smiles then, “It does not mean friends are not allowed on the road. Come, Master Gamgee. I will teach you some Elvish phrases you can use to calm down Bill.”

 

ix.

Without Strider and Frodo, much of the haste has been taken out of their journey to Rivendell. Merry feels slightly guilty about this, but at the same time relieved. He and Pippin hadn’t exactly signed up for this, being chased around by black riders and what not. Of course, they wouldn’t turn back now - who else would look after Frodo and Sam?

He still doesn’t know what to think about the humans leading them - he sees more of the Big Folk than the others, and he knows that they’re not particularly more trustworthy than hobbits. Hunter looks like a good, honourable sort, while Strider looks like he rolls in mud and leaves on a regular basis. He’s scarier than Hunter, too. Hunter smiles more. Surely they must be related, perhaps brothers, or perhaps father and son? Merry doesn’t know too much about how Big Folk are supposed to look.

But they’ve kept them safe so far, and they had both protected them from the black riders. And they’re good to Pippin, even if Strider acts mean most of the time. For Merry, that’s enough.

 

x.

Boromir walks out, disgruntled, his thumb still bleeding lightly from the unexpected sharpness of the broken heirloom, and almost crashes into another man. He looks like the man Boromir had just left, tall, dark hair, grey eyes. “Sorry.” The other man is quick to apologize. “Have you seen my father? He is tall, dark hair. A Man, not an elf.”

There is something about this Man, something unnerving and jarring but at the same time familiar. “You are another friend of Gandalf the Grey?” He asks instead. The man tilts his head lightly. “Yes.” He answers, a glint in his eyes, “My name is Faramir. And you must be Boromir of Gondor.”

“Faramir?” Boromir repeats, his voice odd. He looks at this young man, really observes him, but the light is too dim. “I saw another man by the mural.” He clears his throat, jerking his chin to behind him. “Perhaps he is your father.”

“Ah.” Faramir smiles, something soothing in it, “Then I would not disturb him. Will you walk with me, Lord Boromir? I have never been to Gondor, and would be grateful to hear of it from you.”

Boromir hesitates again. He knows nothing of this man in front of him, and has humiliated himself in front of his father. By rights he should decline and retire back to his own rooms. “It will be my pleasure.” He says instead.

 

xi.

Boromir is not surprised to see Faramir sitting next to his father at the council of Elrond. He knows that both of them have been raised in Rivendell under the patronage of Lord Elrond, and have been well-travelled over the past decades. In the sunlight, Faramir’s hair is slightly reddish-brown, while his father’s hair is darker and shot with a few strands of silver.

Then the halfling puts down the ring in front of all of them, and he has no more thoughts of dead mothers and dead brothers and absent fathers, for the Ring of Power consumes every fibre of his being.

 

xii.

Then- “He is Aragorn, son of Arathorn. You owe him your allegiance.”

 

xiii.

Boromir slumps into his chair, rage and a deep sense of betrayal simmering within him. For every waking moment in his life Boromir has been fighting against the forces of Mordor. Everyday the shadow encroaches over their land, their lives. The darkness had taken so much from him, from his people, and every day he spends away from Gondor is another day the forces of the dark lord pushes against their borders. 

The elf is wrong. Boromir’s allegiance is to Gondor, to her people. Even if this ranger is Isildur’s heir, he knows nothing of the struggles of their people, of Boromir and his father. And this Faramir, the ranger that calls Aragorn father yet carries the name of his dead brother-

 

ix.

The night before they set off, Merry and Pippin finds Hunter- Faramir- packing some dried kingsfoil into his pack. “You think we’ll need more?” Pippin asks, hopping up to sit next to the human, lit pipe in hand. “Doesn’t hurt to be prepared.” Faramir smiles, “Are you two packed?”

“Sam kicked us out.” Merry says from Pippin’s other side, “Wouldn’t let us help at all.”

“Your idea of packing is throwing stuff at Sam’s head.” Pippin interjects, then holds out his pipe to Faramir in a clear invitation.

Faramir smiles and takes it, and the three of them sit in silence as the smoke wafts in front of them and dissipates in the night sky of Rivendell.

 

x.

“You will stay safe, my son?” Arwen asks Faramir, gently cradling his face. Their soft words of Sindarin are heard only by Aragorn and Legolas, but the maternal tenderness between them is unmistaken by all.

Whereas elves have reservations of showing intimacy with their partners in public, they have no such qualms regarding their children, especially not with the knowledge that this could very well be the last time they meet.

“Will you not sail to Valinor?” He asks, but he already knows her answer, for the Evenstar is around Aragorn’s neck. “Do not let us tie you to this land.” 

She smiles weakly at him, tucks his hair behind his ear. "Did you bring enough athelas?" She asks, "Your father would rather pack his pipeweed than things that would save his life."

Faramir laughs at that. “Stay safe.” She repeats, and kisses his forehead affectionately.

 

xi.

Faramir trail at the end of the party, the thoughts in his mind scattered and chaotic. A heavy weight settles on the same branch he is perched on, and he peers at Boromir from under the hood of his cloak. 

“May I?” The Gondorian asks, and Faramir wordlessly hands over his bow. It’s a longbow that Elrohir and Elladan had given him when he had come of age, a gorgeous piece that is the work of the Galadhrim.

Boromri had not spoken to Faramir ever since the council of Elrond. The night prior to that they had had a good conversation, Faramir drinking in every description of Gondor that Boromir had given. The lush, wild grasses of Ithilien, the rushing waters of the Anduin. The pearl and shine of the Tower of Ecthelion, the vast plains of Pelennor. 

Faramir had thought that perhaps he had offended Boromir in some way, but he cannot figure out how. “This is good craftsmanship.” Boromir says, caressing the neck of the bow. “You are talented with it.”

“Thank you.” Faramir answers sincerely, waiting for the inevitable question that this praise preludes.

Boromir hands the bow back to him and stands up, nodding at him and walking away to where Merry and Pippin are. Faramir tilts his head to one side in confusion, but somehow the grey cloud in his chest has lessened slightly, and he finds it easier to breathe.

 

xii.

“Faramir!” Aragorn calls, and he trots over to where Boromir is play-fighting adorably with Merry and Pippin. “Come help Boromir fight off the Hobbits.”

Tilting his head slightly, Faramir picks up the wooden stick Aragorn had been using and comes to stand next to Boromir. “It’s time to show these hobbits the strength of men.” Boromir teases, smirking at Faramir. Faramir grins back.

 

xiii.

“Faramir, posture.” Aragorn drawls in the midst of shouting instructions to the Hobbits, reminiscent of the years when Faramir had just been a gangly teenager being absolutely pummeled by Glorfindel’s training sword. Faramir throws the stick at Aragorn’s head, blushing. Merry rushes him then, tackles him by the legs. As he trips, Pippin jumps at his chest with a war cry, landing him with his back on the ground.

Both Boromir and Aragorn are laughing above him, which adds fuel to the fire. “A nice showin-” Merry yanks Boromir’s legs and he falls as well.

 

ix.

As they make their way up to Caradhras, Boromir walks next to Faramir. “So, Aragorn found and raised you?”

Faramir nods slowly. “I was brought to Rivendell and given into his care.” He answers. “He has been a father for me ever since. Why do you ask?”

Boromir shrugs, a layer of snow falling off him as he moves. “Simply curious. You seem to me a man of Gondor.” Then his expression softens. “I hope you will let me show you around Gondor, although it is far away.”

Faramir cannot stop the smile over his face. He’s always been sentimental, something the elves had only encouraged. “I would like that very much.” He says, then quietly confesses, “I have never had a similarly aged friend before.”

Boromir’s grin widens and he pats Faramir on the shoulder fondly, as if Faramir’s friendship is the greatest of gifts.

 

x.

Frodo slips and tumbles backward. Luckily Aragorn catches him and helps him stand back up, but then the Hobbit’s hand flies to his neck.

Faramir and Boromir stare at the golden ring, lying innocuously in the snow between them. As Boromir bends down to pick it up, Faramir moves quicker and snatches it up by its chain, jogging forward to drop it in Frodo’s hands.

Even through his gloves, he feels as if it is burning both hot and cold at the same time, and he rubs at it repeatedly until his hands grow numb.

“Are you alright?” Boromir asks as Faramir catches back up to him. Faramir sighs. “The sooner we can deliver that thing to Mount Doom, the sooner I will be at peace.”

“Why do you fear it so much?” Boromir presses, long strides kicking up snow around them, “What are you so afraid of?”

Faramir stops in his tracks, forcing Boromir to a halt as well. “That thing is pure evil.” The younger man grounds out firmly, “There are no lies it will not make just to return to the hands of its Master. Are you so prideful to think you could compete against an ancient force of evil?”

Boromir’s gaze is like fire, molten and roaring. “It is not pride I speak of, but confidence! Why must you doubt men so?”

 

xi.

Faramir is curious, of course. Too inquisitive for Aragorn’s liking, he teases, but has always encouraged. Among Elrond’s elves and among the Dunedain, curiosity is a gift that all revel in. But there are questions that he does not ask, topics he dare not venture. 

How could he, when it had always been Arwen that had rocked him to sleep, soothed him when he was ill, held his hand as he tottered through the trees of Lothlorien? How could he when it had been Aragorn to press his first bow into his hands, then the sword, it had always been Aragorn who sneaked him sweets from the kitchen and Arwen who chased him around the courtyards, it had been Elrond and Elrohir and Elladan that had been brothers and uncles and friends and teachers to him.

So he never asks about his own parents, about where he had come from. Arwen and Aragorn can see the question in his eyes, of course, as clear as day, but they never broach it.

 

xii.

“I have seen into the hearts and minds of us all.” Faramir says. “And I have found them lacking, save for Frodo and Sam.” He does not mention that it is in his own reflection that he sees the most - laid bare, all of his flaws in view.

Faramir turns and starts walking again, but Boromir’s hand darts out to grab his forearm, hot and broiling even in the cold. “Yes, there is weakness in men. There is frailty. But there is courage also, and honor to be found in Men. But you will not see that.”

Then Boromir shoves off into the snow, his gait tense and hostile, a stranger once more.

 

xiii.

“Are you alright, ion-nin?” Aragorn sits down next to him, gently touching the now scabbed cut on his cheek. 

Faramir feels bruised and battered from the way the creature in the water had slapped him around, but he just shrugs. He had figured out the riddle to the Dwarf door quickly, but had failed to notice the creature lurking in the water behind them. He knows Aragorn worries about him, for even though Faramir had been brought up among elves and Dunedain he is not of the same sturdy stock that they are, but he thinks Aragorn thinks him too fragile, sometimes.

Yet if this quest will not kill him, he will pass into the earth long before Aragorn and Arwen. He will grow old, and grey, and hobble into nothingness as his parents remain youthful forever.

 

ix.

He finds himself back to back with Boromir as the goblins swarm the chamber they are in. He stabs his last arrow inside the mouth of a goblin and ducks for the sweeping motion of Boromir’s sword. He fights alongside the older man with a phantom sense of familiarity and trust, a camaraderie that stretches across universes and worlds and time.

 

x.

As the sunlight falls upon his face he stumbles onto his knees, his mind a whirling mess. His fingers curl into Gimli’s armour and then they’re holding one another fiercely, their eyes staring into nowhere and everywhere at the same time, replaying the last few moments in Moria.

Gandalf, gone? 

Strong arms fit around the both of them, and he looks up helplessly at Boromir. The older man gives him a sympathetic smile, and slowly Faramir begins to make sense of the world once again.

Aragorn is shouting something and Boromir is shouting back, but the grim displeasure in his father’s voice jolts Faramir awake and he releases Gimli into Boromir’s hold. “Faramir.” Aragorn barks, perhaps a bit harshly, “On your feet. Now.”

Faramir wordlessly obeys, walking over to gently coax Merry and Pippin up, wiping away their tears with his thumb gently. He turns back, and Aragorn is already walking off.

 

xi.

Aragorn calls Gandalf dear friend, but Faramir calls Gandalf teacher. He lacks the confidence of Aragorn or Arwen to ever see Gandalf as an equal being to himself. In Rivendell, there is always a story to be heard, a tale to be spoken, but none speaks of the events that Gandalf has witnessed and shares to the inquisitive child sat on his lap.

“Ada.” He trots up to Aragorn as they plunge through the rocks. “Is Gandalf really...?”

They are far enough ahead that Aragorn pauses in his footsteps, meeting his son’s gaze, lost and still shocked.

He embraces Faramir, draws him close and lets the younger man bury his face into Aragorn’s shoulder. Many times he had carried the boy back to his bed after a startling nightmare. Faramir would never cry out loud, to Arwen’s distress, even as a baby. He would merely fist his tiny hands into their clothes, clinging to their legs and arms, and weep silent tears where none could see.

“Do not grieve, dear one.” Aragorn soothes in Sindarin. He is no Arwen, but Faramir draws an equal strength from him all the same.

 

xii.

He notices Rumil long before anyone else, and he ducks down to hide a faint smile. Even though Legolas has superior hearing and eyesight, he does not know the ways of the wardens of Lorien. Behind him he hears Gimli boasting to the hobbits again, telling one of his very much embellished stories. He chances a glance upwards, and Orophin winks at him.

He casually falls back as Gimli crows about his superior eyesight, and although Legolas and Aragorn take note of him, they still almost walk straight into Rumil and Orophin's arrows.

 

xiii.

He is startled when Boromir sits down next to him on the flet. “You knew they were following us.” The Man says lightly. Faramir shrugs. “You are not angry with me anymore?”

A hand slowly lands on Faramir’s hair, and he stares at Boromir in confusion as the older man tousles his hair like he does with the Hobbits. "I will not have our friendship marred over an argument." Boromir proclaims.

A weight is lifted off Faramir’s chest, and he turns to face the other man fully, rearranging his legs so he is cross-legged instead of dangling a leg over the side of the flet. “My mother used to bring me to Lothlorien.” He tells Boromir, “She is the granddaughter of the lords of these Woods. When my father was away, I spent many years of my childhood here.” 

“The female elf you were with before we departed Rivendell.” Boromir deduces. “Elleth.” Faramir corrects instinctively, and Boromir assents. “The elleth you were with. She is Lord Elrond’s daughter.”

“Indeed.” Faramir nods, and glances over at Haldir and Aragorn in a small motion. “Haldir and his brothers were the one to teach me the bow and arrow. Glorfindel teaches me the sword, of course, when I am in Rivendell. But as my father prefers the blade, I prefer the bow and arrow to support him.”

“Come.” Boromir leans forward in interest, “While the adults debate, I will have you tell me your stories. You have heard enough of mine.”

 

xiv.

As such, Faramir is the one to sit down next to Boromir after the Lord and Lady bade them to rest. “Something worries you, mellon-nin.” He says. There is a pained look in the other man’s eye, something fearful and shameful all the same. 

“I will have you tell me.” Faramir insists. “I will not have you leave Lothlorien troubled as such.”

Boromir looks to him, and something crumbles within the older man. “I heard her voice inside my head. She spoke of my father and the fall of Gondor. She said to me, 'Even now, there is hope left.' But I cannot see it. It is long since we had any hope. My father is a noble man, but his rule is failing. And now our… our people lose faith. He looks to me to make things right and I — I would do it. I would see the glory of Gondor restored.”

Faramir lays a hand on his shoulder, feels his trembling underneath. “You will.” He reassures, “And we will see it done with you.”

“We will not leave Gondor to fend the darkness alone.” Aragorn materializes on Boromir’s other side, his presence strong and reassuring, a sense of something more radiating from him that drives Faramir to his knees, if he could bid his limbs move.

Boromir looks up at Aragorn, turning away from Faramir, but the reverence in his voice is obvious to all. "Have you ever seen it, Aragorn? The White Tower of Ecthelion, glimmering like a spike of pearl and silver. Its banners caught high in the morning breeze. Have you ever been called home by the clear ringing of silver trumpets?"

"I have seen the White City, long ago." Aragorn sits down on the other side of Boromir, something wistful in his tone, but no less sincere.

"One day, our paths will lead us there. And the tower guard shall take up the call: "'The Lords of Gondor have returned!'" Boromir covers Faramir’s hand with his, the elation in his expression taking both Faramir and Aragorn with him to heights higher, higher, higher.

 

xv.

"Do you have space in your bag, Sam?" Faramir asks, holding out a large bag of dried meats and cheese, "I have been given yet more athelas, and I confess you Hobbits require more snacks than I anticipated."

“More?” Sam asks incredulously, taking the pouch from him and folding it into his own belongings expertly, “Do you think we’ll need more?”

Faramir only laughs at that. “A ranger should always be prepared, especially one who travels with Strider.” Sam looks at him suspiciously in that innocent and inoffensive way only Hobbits are capable of. “Right you are, Hunter sir.” He says evenly, slinging his heavy bag over his shoulders and eyeing the boats gingerly.

“I could lift you in it,” Faramir takes pity on him, “I know the water.”

But Sam shakes his head resolutely. “I’d be no use to anyone if I can’t get in and out of boats by myself, wouldn’t it?” He says, and with trepidation, steps into the boat. The boat wobbles, but steadies easily, as all Elvish boats do. Sam was never in any danger of falling over. But with the wide smile that spreads across the young Hobbit’s face, Faramir keeps that information to himself.

 

xvi.

Lady Galadriel’s first gift to him is an Elvish dagger, identical to what his father carries. Her second gift to him is a kiss on the forehead, the same that a mother would give to her son.

 

xvii.

Rumil and Orophin’s gift to him is a late night’s cold swim while Haldir laughs.

 

xviii.

Faramir is startled out of a dream of fire and smoke to raised voices. Squinting, he sees Boromir and Aragorn facing each other, something hostile brewing between them. Sleep claims him once again. In the morning he will witness the Argonath, witness their countenance with awe as Aragorn explains their tale to the Hobbits, and Gondor does not seem so far away, after all.

 

xix.

“We make camp here and recover our strength.” Aragorn instructs. “We cross the lake at nightfall. Hide the boats and continue on foot. We approach Mordor from the north."

Boromir pats Faramir on the shoulder. “Shall we go look for firewood?” He asks. “Perhaps you could hunt something for a hearty meal. Lembas is good and all, but I believe the Hobbits are getting sick of it.”

Faramir smiles at that, dropping his pack with Gimli and taking only his weapons with him. “Aye, it takes much to satisfy our ravenous Hobbits.” He teases Pippin, who is in earshot. The young thing sticks his tongue out at both of them but does not deny it, likely looking forward to a good cooked meal as much as Boromir and Faramir is.

Soon Boromir’s arms are half-filled with firewood and Faramir strings three rabbits and a pheasant together as the two men make light conversation about their childhoods, as they favour. “Should we turn back?” Faramir asks, “I believe we have enough.”

“Indeed.” Boromir agrees, but then he turns, as if something has caught his eye. And then he walks off as if in a trance, as if forgetting that Faramir was beside him. Alarmed, Faramir follows.

 

xx.

Then- "What chance do you think you have? They will find you! They will take the Ring and you will beg for death before the end!"

Boromir, frightening the Hobbits? Faramir tosses the bundle in his hands in Frodo’s direction, and before Boromir can tackle Frodo, he’s leaping across the earth to crash into Boromir, pinning him onto the ground. “Run, Frodo!” He calls without looking back.

Boromir is far stronger than Faramir, and he quickly gains the upper ground. Faramir is the one pinned to the leaves as strong fingers wrap around his throat. Boromir’s grip is tight and unrelenting, and Faramir’s vision begins to go hazy. This is how he should die, then, choked by a friend. 

His hands flail, and then he remembers and manages to pull the Elvish dagger from his boot, piercing Boromir’s thigh with it.

The weight lifts from him and he gasps for breath, harsh and dissonant, echoing in his own ears. Large hands cradle his head and tilt him to a side, making it easier for air to rush into his lungs. It could have been seconds, a minute, perhaps longer than an hour, but Faramir is frozen by the thought of lying at the brink of death.

Dimly he is aware that his senses return to him, and there is a litany of heart wrenching apologies from Boromir, fearful and tentative and shy.

 

xxi.

“Faramir... Faramir... Frodo... What have I done?... Please... Frodo... I’m sorry... Faramir... Please!”

 

xxii.

As Frodo stares at the lone boat and the wide expanse of water in front of him, he realizes that he is still clinging onto the dead animals Faramir had thrown into his arms. His grip has crushed one of the rabbit’s hind legs. Fitting, perhaps, that after all that had just happened, all he would carry away from the fellowship would be three rabbits and a pheasant.

 

xxiii.

Faramir hobbles back to camp, a trail of dead uruks behind him. He knows not where Boromir has gone, only that uruks had fallen upon him, thinking him easy pickings. He may feel like a battalion of horses had just trodded over him, but he is still yet capable of separating uruk heads from their bodies.

Gimli finds him halfway and practically drags him back. “We thought they took you too, laddie.” He says gruffly, easing him off by the fire. “Too?” He rasps out, closing his eyes as Aragorn’s cold touch covers his throat. 

“Aye.” Gimli sighs. “They took the Hobbits. Merry and Pippin.”

A renewed strength shoots through Faramir and he claws at Aragorn’s forearm, forcing his eyes open. “Frodo? Is he alright?”

“I let him go.” Aragorn reassures him in Sindarin, “Rest, my son. I will take care of you.” Then Faramir slips into sleep.

 

xxiv.

He is lightly awoken by taps to his cheek. “Arise, my son.” Aragorn’s voice is soft and gentle, the lilting tones of Sindarin like an enchanting lullaby. “You must wake now.”

“I am awake.” He replies, taking Aragorn’s hand and lets himself be dragged onto his feet. “What happens now?”

“Legolas, Gimli, and myself will pursue the Uruks and save our friends.” Aragorn says in Westron, drawing the attention of the elf and the dwarf. “You will take Boromir through Ithilien, and journey with him to Minas Tirith.”

Faramir turns to see Boromir lying on his cloak, unconscious, covered with blood. “Uruk arrows.” Aragorn explains, placing a hand on his shoulder. “By the grace of the Valar they have not pierced his heart. But even with all your athelas he hangs onto his life by a mere thread. Alas, the hour grows late. We must go lest the trail go cold.”

“We’ll smash in some orc heads for you, laddie.” Gimli says by way of parting, and Legolas merely nods at him. “Stay safe, ion-nin.” Aragorn cradles Faramir’s face and presses their foreheads together, “Keep Boromir safe, as well, so I can bloody him up for you.” 

His fingers trail across the bruises on Faramir’s throat lightly, and the Fellowship breaks up.

 

xxv.

Boromir comes to when Faramir is trying to dry the insides of the boat. “What are you doing?” He hears from a voice raspy and weak. “Save your strength.” He answers. “I pushed the boat over Rauros in hopes that it will stay for us, and it has. It will make our journey easier.”

“Frodo!” Boromir gasps, and Faramir registers the sharp intake of breath as Boromir tries to push himself up. He hurries to the older man’s side, helping him sit up. The other man’s eyes swim in and out of reality, as if years have been drained out of him. “Faramir,” He breathes out, “I am so sorry. I have failed you.”

“You have done nothing of the sort, dear friend.” Faramir soothes, supporting him over to the boat, “It was the ring. Now come, we will go to Ithilien and search for your people there.”

“No,” Boromir shakes his head, but lets Faramir lay him down on the boat. Or perhaps he is too weak to make any further protest. “No. No.”

 

xxvi.

It does not take long for Gondor’s rangers to find Faramir and Boromir. Two of them, both masked, peel from the shadows when the two of them stop to take rest. Boromir protests briefly at Faramir having to be blindfolded, but Faramir shakes his head and quiets him.

The rangers are gentle with their guiding motions as he stumbles along, disquieted by the lack of vision. He may not have Legolas’ elf eyes, but he’s always been confident in his sight as an archer, and to have that taken away from him is disconcerting. He feels like a gangly teenager again, stumbling after the footsteps of his father, uncertain and wavering.

 

xxvii.

The rangers eye him with mixed suspicion and gratitude. Suspicion, because he holds himself awkwardly, a Man yet not, and he lacks the easy confidence or experience of Aragorn. Instead he sits tentatively in the middle of the cavern, half-heartedly biting at the pieces of bread the rangers have given him. Boromir has been whisked away by their leeches immediately, and there is none to defend him. He should hold himself in shame, that he should rely on others as such, he chastises, but he has spent so long amongst elves and the Dunedain that the number of his years have lost meaning. What is three decades when compared to the blood of Numenor, to immortality?

He is but a child compared to the neverending passing of time.

 

xxviii.

“I am Madril, Captain of the Ithilien Rangers.” A severe man with greying hair sits down opposite Faramir. “On behalf of Gondor, I thank you for returning Lord Boromir to us.”

Faramir inclines his head lightly. “Boromir is a dear friend.” He says. “It is no chore.”

“Still, you have given us much hope.” Madril tells him. “We feared him lost when we found the Horn of Gondor, cloven into two. But now you have returned him to us, and we need not bring bad tidings to the Steward. They will be looking for his coming from the White Tower, and will never need to know that Boromir was almost lost to them.”

“He will be well, then?” Faramir asks, eyes drifting to where Boromir is being tended to. Madril nods. “They are confident. But I come to ask of your intentions. We can guide you to where we found you, or perhaps to Osgiliath if you so wish.”

“I was bidden to remain with Boromir.” Faramir tells him, “Nor will Boromir turn away my companionship.”

Madril fixes him with a level look. Faramir meets his gaze and sees loyalty and strength.

“Very well!” Madril says. “We cannot allow you to leave this place without Lord Boromir’s permission, but we can certainly extend to you our hospitality. Rest, and we will call you when Boromir awakes.”

 

xxix.

As Gollum chokes and flails dramatically over a small bit of lembas, Samwise sighs and reaches into his bag, retrieving two strips of dried beef. “Here.” He says, “Now stop your yelling. The quicker we get out of this blasted bog the better.”

 

xxx.

Slowly but surely Faramir begins to adjust to the world of men. He sits with Damrod and Mablung, two of the rangers, most often, and together they share stories of the Ithilien and Dunedain rangers. Faramir wonders briefly whether Aragorn’s kin can be summoned forth, but it is not in his power to dwell too long on it.

He cannot leave the cavern they are in, so he sits by the waterfall, calm and serene, fletching arrows and sharpening blades for the rangers as they move in and out on their missions. Some join him every now and then to thank him for saving Boromir’s life, although Faramir thinks little of it. Instead, he shares of Elven tales, delighted that men would also find the knowledge of Rivendell as interesting as he does.

Thus, when Boromir finally steadies and takes his first steps out of the cot, Faramir is there to greet him. Boromir’s eyes linger over him, as if having to make sure of himself that Faramir is really standing in front of him.

“I dreamt of many things.” Boromir says later, as they sit around the waterfall, waiting for Madril to return from his patrols. “I dreamt of events when I was a child. I had a younger brother, who perished as a baby.”

Faramir lays a hand on his forearm for comfort, and Boromir clasps Faramir's forearm in return. “He was to be named Faramir, as well.” He says softly. “Valar took my mother and brother away from me, but have brought our paths together.”

“My mother- the one who birthed me gave me my name.” Faramir tells him. “Our mothers are both intelligent women, then.” Boromir says, and they both laugh at the hilarity of it.

 

xxxi.

They stop at Osgiliath on the way to Minas Tirith, carrying Madril’s newest orders. The men are visibly bolstered at the sight of Boromir, and Faramir uses the time to slip away into the highest tower still standing of the city. The riverbank is quiet, and in the sunlight he can squint and imagine Osgiliath as it is in legends and stories, the pinnacle of Gondor’s strength. Then Boromir calls for him and the illusion is broken.

 

xxxii.

They rest in Osgiliath for a few hours. There are far too many exuberant glances from the soldiers stationed there for Faramir’s liking, but he sits with his back to them and pretends not to feel their searing inquisition.

“I was here when we retook Osgiliath.” Boromir tells him ruefully, “Stood on top of that tower and made a fancy speech about it.”

The flag of the white tree flutters in the wind, fragile-looking but yet still clinging on. 

“It must have been a sight.” Faramir agrees, “I hope you did not bore your men with your words.”

“Short and sweet I kept it.” Boromir snorts, “Leaves more time for drinking!”

They both laugh at that, taking a swig at the mugs of ale the men had given them. Then Boromir becomes somber. “Do you think Aragorn will return in time?” He asks.

Faramir tilts his head to a side, glancing at Boromir’s sudden wave of melancholy. “He made a promise.” He tells Boromir.

“He made a promise.” Boromir repeats, “He promised he will not let the White City fall… nor our people fail!"

“Our people.” Faramir repeats, and Boromir smiles at the conviction in his voice.

 

xxxiii.

“Wait.” Boromir suddenly stops their horses and turns back to address Madril. “If, if,” He says hesitantly, “If any halflings pass through- they will look no more than children to you, perhaps. You must let them pass through, and give them provisions, but you need not walk with them.”

Madril frowns in confusion, but nods.

 

xxxiv.

Boromir has Faramir wait outside as he sees the Steward. The splendour of Minas Tirith is vastly different from Rivendell. Whereas Rivendell was always open and airy, Minas Tirith is intimidating. Equally sunk with a rich breadth of history, Minas Tirith guards her secrets like a possessive hound. You can’t just take it, she says, It’s mine.

The scars of war are visible to all, and it puts Faramir ill at ease.

But then he remembers Boromir’s words, his love for his city, his country, his people, and then, if he takes a deep breath, he can see why Boromir loves Minas Tirith so.

 

xxxv.

“Hunter?”

Faramir’s head shoots up, and he sees a Citadel guard approach. “That would be me.” He answers. The guard nods at him, then. “My name is Beregond.” He says, “Lord Boromir instructs me to escort you to your rooms. He believes that he will be in talks with the Lord Steward until late, and bids you to rest.”

Faramir looks out down into the descending levels of the city. “It is still early.” He says. “I find no rest in me. Perhaps I could explore the city for a while?”

“If you desire, I can act as your guide.” Beregond says. “It will not affect my duties.”

There is a certain paternal quality from this man, likely a father of a young child. He reminds Faramir of Aragorn, just a little bit. “Yet it will not do you any benefit to take your time out for me.” He answers, “I do not want to impose.”

Beregond looks a little abashed, but holds himself with the dignity of a man of Gondor. “Lord Boromir instructed me to make your stay welcome.” He tells Faramir. “I intend to do so.”

Then- “Admittedly, I have also heard from him that you spent time with the Dunedain and the elves. My boy would be exceedingly happy if I could go home to him with a tale or two to share.”

 

xxxvi.

“I am very sorry, Faramir.” Boromir says rapidly, “But he insisted on thanking you personally. I must warn you, my father will try to trick you into telling him secrets, or making some sort of promise. I do not think Aragorn will take that lightly.” Just outside the door, he stops again and adds urgently, “You are known to him only as Hunter. I fear he will not take your name... as a happy coincidence.” Another step forward. “And do not mention Aragorn.”

Faramir stares at him helplessly. “Should I not speak, then?” He asks. Boromir flushes, but then sighs. “Perhaps you will think it wise to do so once you meet him.”

 

xxxvii.

Faramir’s encounter with Denethor is murky, as if there is something clinging to his skin. Unpleasant is perhaps not the right word for it, but lingering, weighting at Faramir’s heart. Denethor gives fanciful words of gratitude yet Faramir looks into his eyes and sees nothing. He evades questions of his origins, his learning, of the details of their quest. He does not know how much Boromir trusts his own father, he knows not how much Boromir has told.

It is a tragedy indeed, that a child no longer trusts his parent; that a child seeks to shy away from his parent, seeks to only present his best quality to his parent. It is a tragedy when a child seeks to hide his failures from his father’s eye.

He misses his father dearly.

 

xxxviii.

“You need not come.” Boromir’s voice is fond, “I know you are not accustomed to warfare.”

“You are not leaving me behind.” Faramir insists sternly, trailing after the older man. “Even if you should wish it. My father entrusted you into my care, not the other way around.”

“If I should wish it?” Boromir pauses at the top of the stairs, turning to face Faramir. “I wish for many things, Faramir. The fall of the Dark Lord, for one. Peace over Gondor. The restoration of Osgiliath. But it is easy to forget these things, sitting here. Right now, my greatest wish is that you can forgive me my faults, and call me friend and brother.”

“There is nothing to forgive.” There is something thick in Faramir’s voice which is echoed in Boromir’s gaze. “Brother.”

 

xxxix.

Blood and Nazgûl and debris and arrows and death but Osgiliath still belongs to Gondor for one more day.

 

xxxx.

Smeagol does not give in that easily. “But the hobbitses have been nice,” He wails, “Master and the fats hobbitses feeds Smeagol. Takes cares of Smeagol.”

They takes our precious ! Gollum screams, and despite all sorts of acts of kindness and grace some evils are too deeply rooted, some guilt and anger and hatred and bitterness fester in ways that are unfathomable to the mortal eye.

Worse, it is Madril’s derision that cowers Smeagol, that bolsters Gollum. For Madril has no patience for redemption, or understanding. There is only those who are kind and those who pose a danger, and Gollum, as he is, will always be a danger to him and those around him. Madril does not accost any of them, but the distrust he has in Gollum is palpable. The fact that it rouses no pity in Frodo and Sam, for they, too, understand all too well why one looks upon Gollum and does not trust - 

Perhaps, above all, it is simply who Gollum has become, for Gollum leads them to Shelob while gnawing on the last of the dried meat strips Sam has given him. That is the nature of Gollum and the ring he so covets.

 

xl.

“Faramir! Boromir!” Young Pippin runs straight into their arms, but luckily not while Denethor is in earshot. “We are so glad to see you too.” Faramir laughs as Boromir ruffles the little Hobbit’s head. 

“In here, this is Hunter.” Boromir tells Gandalf, and he nods sagely, but then there is Mablung wading through the crowd, a grim look on his face.

 

xli.

“The beacons are lit.” Boromir stares up at the skyline in shock. Faramir follows his gaze and blinks in awe at the small spots of fire and light dancing amidst the growing dark cloud of Sauron.

Then the doors to the hall opens, and it is as if the dark clouds have creeped their tendrils into the very fibre of the city, of the throne it has sworn to serve.

 

xlii.

Lady Galadriel had once told him to trust in himself. To trust in what he can see in the hearts and minds of others. He had been a child then, too young to be awed by Lothlorien, yet old enough to be frightened by how clearly he can see.

“I will go to Osgiliath.” He says. “I am skilled at remaining hidden. I will go and report on the strength of the foe.”

Boromir whirls around, a horrified expression in his face. Faramir looks at Denethor and watches the satisfied smirk dance along the corners of his mouth, and wonders how far a man can fall yet still not reach the bottom.

Both Boromir and Gandalf counsel him, Gandalf more so, but Faramir meets their gaze calmly. “If not me, someone will have to go.” He says. “You knew he desired that decision to be made, and you need to remain and lead Gondor in the battle to come.”

“But it does not have to be you!” Boromir insists, and he grips Faramir’s arms tightly. “You bear no allegiance to Gondor! You do not need to bear arms for her, to die for her!”

“Is my father not Isildur’s heir?” Faramir asks, “Are these not your people, our people? If my actions can spare the life of another, more inexperienced fellow, why should I not do it? Do you yourself not sacrifice daily for her sake?”

Gandalf sighs but makes no other comment, only gathers a stricken Pippin away. There are tears unshed in Boromir’s eyes. “You detest war.” The older man says. “I am proud to call you brother-in-arms, but I see it in you. Death grieves you, no matter if those who fall are those fighting alongside you, or those who fall from your own hands. You need not put yourself through this. I can ask my father to delay this, to push this back until Aragorn comes, or, or perhaps I will come with you!”

“You grieve for me now, brother.” Faramir murmurs. Despite Boromir’s words, there is an understanding that passes between them. Aragorn will not come in time. The beacons are lit, but there is no cause for Rohan to come. 

Faramir pats Boromir’s shoulder, and the other man loosens his grip on Faramir, but turns to pull him into a hug, heartfelt and warm.

 

xliii.

He and Mablung ride out in the cover of the night. Boromir remains reluctant to the very last second, even though Faramir knows it will only further draw Denethor’s ire. The emotional reliance of the Steward on his first-born is frightening; not for its own sake, but for what kind of man this has driven Denethor to become.

During the day the fright of the battle had been overwhelming; in the darkness he counts every body, some of them already headless - the orcs liked to hew their fallen adversaries, he knew, bearing no respect for the living or the dead.

Mablung spots Madril’s body, thankfully still intact, and between the two of them they manage to drag it into the Anduin quietly, letting the current bear him away.

They remain unnoticed but overstay their welcome; with the storm above them, there was simply no way of telling the time of day - the first burst of sunlight that pierces its way through betrays them intimately, and instantly hides in shame behind the swooping figure of a Nazgûl.

The barely manage to scramble back to their horses, and he helps Mablung on first. He slaps the flank of Mablung’s horse, and just manages to lunge forward onto his own as Mablung yanks at the reins of both their steeds, pushing them into a cant. Then a shadow descends upon them and Faramir forgets where he is, who he is, and he is cast into nothingness.

 

xliv.

He dreams of many things. A snowy cold landscape, the depths of Moria, a fire burning among the dead. He dreams of his mother, and then the face of an unfamiliar woman. He dreams of forges and elvish princes, of bloodied blades and screams of young children. But above all that it is the Nazgûl circling his mind, entrapping him in darkness, consuming his every thought and fibre, and all around him are sounds of screaming and dying and blood and blades and fires. He begs for release, he cries for it. But no help came, and no release was given.

 

xlv.

Perhaps he remains trapped there for a lifetime, or perhaps it was only seconds. One moment the fellbeast’s gaping maw stretches across impossible distances, the other he turns around and Aragorn is there. He takes his father’s hand and gasps awake.

“Father.” He manages to say, reverting back to the Sindarin he had grown up with, “You called me.” 

And then he looks into Aragorn’s eyes and his heart swells with the love and worry and care and adoration that his father has to give to him, and he begins to weep. His father sweeps him up into his arms, wordlessly supporting him, loving him, and in his hold Faramir feels his mother, too, her presence ever strong even though she is in a place he cannot reach.

For in the face of loving parents he can be fragile; he can be vulnerable. He can bear his soul and trust that it will be guarded well, that whatever trust he gives will be repaid in return. 

 

xlvi.

Merry watches with him as the army departs for the Black Gate. His father rides in front, a complete stranger yet also befitting at the same time, garbed in the heraldry of Gondor. Boromir rides with him, along with Pippin and Gandalf.

“They will return.” He tells an unhappy Merry. “Frodo will succeed.”

“How can you be so sure?” A voice rings from behind him, and he turns to see a pale lady approaching them. Lady Éowyn of Rohan, Boromir had introduced from a distance earlier. The slayer of the Witch-King.

He lowers his gaze respectfully, instead turning it back to the fluttering banners of his father. “I have seen it.” He answers. “I looked into Frodo’s heart and mind, and there is no one other than he who can succeed in this task. For he is strong and tenacious, and wise beyond his years. And his companion, Samwise, is loyal and faithful, unwavering despite his young age. They will succeed.”

“How can you be so certain?” Lady Éowyn asks sharply. “How do you trust in what you see?”

Faramir smiles at Merry next to him. “There is Elvish blood in me which grants me certain gifts, as I have been told.”

“Will you not look at me as you speak to me, my lord?” Her question is sharp and unforgiving, and Merry looks to her in alarm.

“I am no lord.” He answers. “I am but a ranger. I have faced the Witch-King before, and failed to defend my charges from him. My lady, I do not meet your gaze because I think less of you - which, no measure of respect is higher than that I give to you, save for those I call kin and brothers. Instead, I avert my gaze for you have inadvertently avenged my failings, and I tire of looking into the eyes of strangers and see their soul bared in front of me, when I have done nothing to earn your respect.”

She moves to stand next to him, then. “So you will not meet my gaze for my sake. Yet I tell you I find no fear in letting your elvish gifts look upon me, for I am not ashamed. Will you tell me what ails you, my lord? If you do, perhaps then we should gaze upon each other, as we bare our souls to one another.”

Faramir considers this carefully, and is dimly aware of Merry making himself scarce from their conversation. “You fell under Black Breath as well.” He says. “So did I. I gazed upon a man and saw nothing but madness, and I volunteered myself to bear the brunt of it. Yet Boromir was right. I have seen little of war, and I grieve too much and too intimately for all the life that is lost in it. As I laid in feverish dreams, I felt as if I was bearing the weight of all the lives I have taken, all the lives I have been made responsible for. I know my actions have been necessary and justified, yet I feel myself made vulnerable, that I had taken this duty upon myself yet have not the strength to bear it.”

He leans against the balcony, crossing his arms as he looks at the army, still pouring out of the gates of Minas Tirith. A soft touch lands on his elbow.

“You cannot bear it not because you lack the strength.” Éowyn tells him, and he finally turns to look at her, to take in the smile on her face, her long blonde hair caressed by the gentle breeze. “You have the strength to face what you have done, to measure yourself against the lives of others, friend or foe. I call you lord, for when I saw you I thought that you must be a nobleman of ancient blood. Long did I think that strength comes from the blade, from the arrow, from merciless killing and glory on the battlefield. Yet I fell the Witch-King and knew I was wrong, and I know that you have recognized this too. The bright sword should not be valued for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. You and I took up our blades in the defense of what we love, and now, at the end of it, we can put them down and take rest. If the day comes that we are asked to pick up our swords again, we will find the strength to do so in defense, and not in killing."

Faramir hears what she says, and suddenly the dark clouds that linger seem to be a distant thought. "I would like to be a scholar, in the times of peace that is to come, even though my companions know little of my honest passions." He says aloud. "I would like to once again return to books and lore, to poems and tales. I would like to learn of my companions, those I call friends, in times of peace. I would like to know my brother."

"We have done our dues in the times of war that we were born into." Éowyn agrees. "Perhaps I shall become a healer! I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren. For my hands will no longer seek strife for the sake of it. Now, my lord, will you meet my gaze?”

He looks at her in wonderment, for she is beautiful and strong beyond any measure, but he looks into her heart and mind and he knows she speaks the truth, and the conviction inside of her is so powerful that he cannot help but believe in her words, and be awed.

 

xlvii.

The wedding of his father and mother is a day that Faramir will never forget. He drinks ale with his brother Boromir, he dances with Éowyn even as Éomer glowers in the background. Elrohir and Elladan tease him, of course, but he has plenty of stories about the twins to share with the inquisitive Hobbits. He talks with Frodo and Sam, knows that what he saw in them those many months ago held true, and marvels once again at the quality of Hobbits. Damrod and Mablung greet him like long lost friends as they mingle with the Dunedain, the brothers and uncles that had watched Faramir grow up. Faramir looks around him and thinks to himself that he, too, can come to love Gondor with the same strength that Boromir does.

He watches his parents from afar, watches the wide smile on Aragorn’s face and the maiden-like blush on Arwen’s face, and he has never seen a man and elf so happy before in his life. And at the end of the night, they gather him into their arms, proclaims him their beloved son for all to hear, and he calls them father and mother. All that gaze upon them stops and thinks ah, the King Elessar, his beautiful wife, and the brilliant son they have raised. Look at how they adore and love one another!

Chapter Text

(“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.)