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3
Facing the future

The Characters are the property of the Tolkien

Estate.

With thanks to Raksha for her help with this chapter.


~~~

Faramir paled, “No, please, my lord, I beg you, that is I am well and you must be weary as am I and…” He struggled to hide his terror. Faramir was no coward. But the memory of being made to stand before that desk while his father raged at him, knowing that a beating would follow his liege-lord's tirade, still tore at his heart.

The memory of the lash cutting into his flesh over and over again was more than he could endure at present. It was far worse than fighting enemies on the battlefield as at least then he could fight back, not he had ever taken pleasure in killing, but in time of war it was unavoidable.To have struck his father and liege- lord even in self-defence would have been treason, which carried the penalty of death.

Aragorn, always astute, realised he had badly miscalculated how to approach Faramir as having seen the scars, it took no great leap of the imagination to read what was going through his mind.

He resolved to be more cautious in future when dealing with his Steward and be careful how he worded any request to see Faramir's wounds. He also felt it would be better to be seated on the couch by the window, rather than at the desk next time he had to see his Faramir in this room, It was going to take time to gain his Steward's trust and convince him he was safe in his presence.For now, he would do what he could, though using his healing powers through several layers of thick cloth was unlikely to be very effective.

He realised that Faramir’s experiences, culminating with almost being burned alive by his father after vainly seeking to please him for as long as he could remember, or so Imrahil had told him, were likely to have long lasting effects .The man had been pushed to the very limits and obviously been left with a terror of authority figures, which Aragorn would have to work hard to help him overcome.

Imrahil had told him, that Denethor had greatly favoured Boromir over his brother and nothing that Faramir had ever done was good enough to please his father. Things were going to change for Denethor’s younger and unappreciated son from now on. Aragorn felt strongly protective towards the likeable young man.

He got up and moved from behind the desk to stand beside by his Steward, gesturing him to rise, and placing a comforting hand on his uninjured shoulder .He met Faramir’s terrified gaze, his eyes filled with compassion.

Very gently, he then placed his other hand over Faramir’s wounded shoulder. The Steward tensed slightly, fighting an urge to take a step backward ,then relaxed at the sudden sensation of warmth flooding through the injured joint.

Faramir looked puzzled, obviously far more accustomed to a reprimand than to any show of affection or comfort from his liege lord.

“Yes, indeed I am weary, you are most considerate of me.” he said quietly, taking Faramir’s hands in his own and noting the wildly racing pulse. These were the hands of an archer, though only time would tell if he would ever be strong enough again to wield a bow. However,the long sensitive fingers, suggested a man who might be happier in more peaceful pursuits.

“You have no need to fear me, Faramir,” he gently, “ You have my word you will never be beaten again. I do not intend to rule through brute force .I will look at your wounds another time, but do come to me at once and ask for my aid if you are in pain. Go now and rest, you have had a long day and we still have the Banquet tonight to attend. And thank you for organising such a perfect coronation for me!” He was amazed at what Faramir had achieved, especially as he was still recovering from both his wounds and the effects of the Black Breath.

“Yes, my lord,” Faramir replied obediently, marvelling that the King seemed able to read his thoughts, while inwardly determined that Aragorn should not see his shameful scars again. He sighed with relief at the compassion and generosity shown towards him .His heart brimmed with overwhelming love for his new Lord even though he was so afraid of him.

He bent to kiss Aragorn’s ring before leaving, in the gesture of respect, that he was accustomed to his father demanding ,and promptly banged his nose against the King’s who had bent towards him at the same instant.

He flushed scarlet at yet another unforgivable lapse. To his surprise Aragorn laughed.“We both have the hazard of Numenorean noses!”he grinned,”But pray tell me what you were trying to do?”

“I wished to kiss your ring prior to leaving,sire, as you had dismissed me.”

Aragorn laughed again but not unkindly, “By all means, kiss me if you so wish, but on the brow, rather than the ring if you please! Also there is no need to bow on other than formal occasions!”

“But you are the King, sire!”

“ It seems so as everyone has told me that I am today! That does not mean my touch has the power to turn you into a frog or something!”Aragorn gently teased.

To underline the point, he lightly kissed his Steward on the forehead, as was the customary gesture of greeting or parting between friends or kin in Gondor.

Faramir looked dumbfounded. Although taken aback ,he was rather touched that the King should say farewell in this fashion. However, he was far too reticent to return the gesture.

Instead he bowed again and said,“I wish you a restful afternoon, sire, if I may now take my leave?”

After giving him permission,Aragorn stood staring at the door with a mixture of affection, exasperation and wry amusement.

The King settled again behind the desk. Much as he would have liked to rest, there was already a mountain of paperwork, which required his signature. He noted with gratitude that Faramir had organised it to make it as easy for him as possible.

Today, he had taken on a heavy burden of responsibility, and although he had desired it most of his adult life, that made it none the easier. He needed a friend and ally by his side to share the load. At least ,Faramir had agreed to remain as Steward, for if he had not, Aragorn had no idea what he would have done as ruling Gondor was very different than being Chieftain of the Rangers in the North.

He was determined to befriend his nervous Steward however long it took. He liked Faramir and was certain that underneath his shyness, Faramir liked him too. He was dreading the departure of his friends in the Fellowship and King Eomer.He feared life in Minas Tirith might be very lonely.

Like Faramir, he was grieving for loved ones he had lost during the conflict, most especially Halbarad, his kinsman. Losing him was like losing a part of himself. They had been thought-bonded for many years and loved each other as brothers.

He hoped fervently that Elrond would bring Arwen to him now he had fulfilled all the conditions set in place before he could marry her. Yet, he could not yet be certain that what he had dreamed of since he was twenty years old, would finally become reality.

The White Tree stood in the courtyard dead and barren, as would be the fate of his line, if Arwen did not come.

Even if he were married, he would still need a friend in this vast stone city. Life here would take a great deal of getting used to, after so many years living as a ranger in the wilds. Faramir had been a ranger too, so he would surely understand.

He felt if he could only get to know the man, they would have a lot in common He could sense the air of Numenor around Faramir,almost as pure, as it was around himself. They were both of similar lineage, although Aragorn’s was much purer.

Once he could persuade the younger man to be at ease with him, he was certain they would make the perfect combination to give Gondor the kind of rule she deserved, once King and Steward were not only comrades but friends too.

The following days he sat in judgement and made treaties, settled disputes with former foes, showed clemency to Beregond by promoting him to Faramir’s service and then formally announced Faramir was to be Prince of Ithilien and build his Estate in Emyn Arnen..The look of rapture on his face and that of Lady Eowyn’s was worth far more than the value of the gift.

Being King would not be easy. However,with Faramir at his side to give him counsel and hopefully in time friendship too, he was sure he would succeed.

The End

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