For LindaHoyland for her birthday. Enjoy! And with thanks to RiverOtter for the beta.
As they left the Council Chamber, following behind the rest of the lords of the realm, Faramir reached to loosen the neck of his shirt under his surcoat. “I swear,” he sighed, shaking his head and rolling his shoulders to loosen the tension that had set in during the last hour of discussion, “that had Lord Mardiol raised one more question of ‘but what if’ I would have sought out my father’s riding crop to use on him. He has become the most obdurate of Men in the last few years!”
Aragorn Elessar nodded. “My uncle Halbaleg used to comment such people were useful mostly to help us develop patience and diplomatic skills, although he was known more than once to interrupt such individuals to ask just what point was intended or if the speaker had truly thought through the likelihood of such conditions as were being suggested. However, he also pointed out that although nine of ten times such arguments were to the point of absurdity, that one time when such folk manage to bring up possibilities that are indeed valid make them still valuable people to retain on the Council.”
Faramir eyed his friend and king. “Then, you suggest I leave Father’s riding crop wherever it is he left it?”
“Are you truly ignorant of where it is?”
The Steward shrugged. “I suspect, actually, that it was quietly packed away by one of those who helped clean and refit the Steward’s wing while I was in the Houses of Healing, as an object that I probably did not wish to see again. In his last few years, the few times Father went riding he was often cruel to his horse, I thought. I never found I needed a riding crop to get my mount to go faster or to respond more quickly. However, during the years he spent as Steward Father went out of the city, indeed away from the Citadel, less and less often to the point I believe he forgot that horses will do far better when we are willing to cooperate with them than when we seek blind obedience from them.”
He was quiet for a time before adding, “For all his ability to read the hearts of those who came before him, after Mother’s death Father became increasingly unable to fully appreciate why others will think as they will. It is as if he became increasingly blind to the emotions of others or their ability to reason differently than he himself did.”
Aragorn gave a twisted smile. “Ah, but that is the way of it with so many wise yet stubborn Men.”
“I often felt sorry for him,” Faramir said, wistfulness detectable in his voice.
The King nodded. “It is too bad, I think, that Pippin didn’t come into his service years ago when his thinking was less rigid. I find the reasoning of Tooks sufficiently confusing at times to be refreshing, and a wonderful exercise to the mind in trying to follow it.” He turned more purposely toward the doors. “Thinking of which, shall we, you and I, spend the evening in the guesthouse in the Sixth Circle, do you think? Between Peregrin Took’s mercurial mind and Sam’s common sense and Merry’s ability to think several steps ahead and Frodo’s empathy--not to mention the cooking prowess of them all--the evening should prove entertaining, instructive, comfortable, provocative, and most delightful.”
As the two of them headed for their rooms to change into more comfortable garb Faramir added, “And don’t forget most satisfying. I wonder if Master Samwise has found those sturgeons he’d hoped to find in the fish markets? It ought to be a wonderful meal he was planning for tonight.”
“Even if he didn’t find sufficient sturgeon, you would be amazed to learn what he can do with even simple things such as herbs and mushrooms he encounters along his path. And when a Hobbit manages to encounter a truffle! Ah, my friend----”
The guardsmen opening the doors to the Royal and Steward’s wings watched with bemusement as their lords passed within, obviously anticipating good things in the coming evening.