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22
The Gate of the Year

The Gate of the Year

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year

'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied, 'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'- Minnie Louise Haskins 1908

With grateful thanks to Raksha


~~~

It seemed that half of Minas Tirith wanted to see the new King light the Mettarë fire. For the first time in living memory, that the people of Gondor celebrated the festival with hope. Many had lost loved ones and fighting continued in the South and East, but Sauron was no more, the air was so longer foul with ash, but fresh and sweet, and the King had returned.

Anxious not to detract attention from the King and Queen, the Steward stood a little to the side. He pulled his cloak more tightly around his shoulders. Faramir's memories were still painful at times, as were his war wounds, yet he was well content. A year ago, the future had seemed so bleak with the Enemy's threat growing daily, his brother departed on a desperate mission and his father’s moods turning ever more strange. His father and brother were now gone forever, but he had a new lord and a new life.

Faramir watched as Aragorn, his Queen at his side, walked amongst the people. Despite the chill in the night air, the King wore no gloves and reached out towards those who approached him. Faramir thought how very unlike his father the King was; where his father had been cold and distant, Aragorn was warm and easy to approach. That the common folk loved Aragorn was plain for all to see; from the smiles on their faces, to the lovingly made gifts they offered to him and his lady, all of which were received with as much gratitude as if they were priceless jewels.

A herald blew a silver trumpet and the crowd fell silent. “My dear people,” Aragorn said in a loud voice. “We may no longer mark the New Year on this day, but we do mark a new beginning for our beloved land. We have walked though the night of shadow and sacrifice into the light of new hope. Let the light in our hearts be rekindled with Anor’s strengthening rays!”

A guard handed Aragorn a flaming brand. He flung it into the heart of the bonfire, which quickly caught alight and flared up.

Faramir found himself shuddering, but not from the cold. His father had tried to burn him alive on such a fire! He recalled nothing of the terrible events, yet fire at times disturbed him deeply. Suddenly, he felt very alone. His beloved brother was no more. Éowyn’s presence would have hearted him, but she was needed beside her brother in Rohan for a while yet He swallowed hard and took a step backward; thinking to melt into the crowd ere anyone could notice his disquiet. Then a firm yet gentle hand grasped his shoulder. Healing warmth flooded through his body at the touch. Startled, he turned and found himself looking at his King.

Aragorn said nothing, but his grey eyes were filled with kindness and compassion. The Star of Elendil that encircled his brow reflected the light from the blazing fire. As Faramir looked at him, living flames seemed to dance upon the King’s brow and brightness surrounded him. Faramir relaxed, warmed by a sudden, joyful realisation: light had returned Gondor in the person of the King himself.

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