Written for Celeritas for her fandom birthday, and for Raksha, who ever loves Faramir. Enjoy! Beta by RiverOtter.
Faramir returned to his rooms after greeting the party that had come from the Golden Wood, Imladris, and other points north of Gondor. His mind was in a turmoil of impressions and growing appreciation for the life his new Lord King had known. “Raised in Imladris, and by the fabled Lord Elrond himself!” he said to himself. “And that is the woman he has loved for most of his life! No wonder he would look at none of our maidens!”
And tomorrow, he understood, there would be held a royal marriage, and one of such partners as had not been joined in two ages of this world! He found himself shivering at the thought of it as he paused by the door to the library, the library that had once been his father’s and was now his. On an impulse he turned, thrusting open the doors, and crossed to the shelves nearest the desk.
The two volumes in brown calfskin, each stamped in silver (not silver, he realized, but mithril!) with a ship bearing a star, stood side by side as they had since he took this room for his own. For some years, ever since the two volumes had been given to him by his cousin Húrin’s wife Lynessë before their marriage, he had kept these with his own private goods, in a chest within the hidden retreat of Henneth Annun where his father would not find them and divest him of the two volumes. After the victory of the Pelennor one of his Rangers had brought that chest to the City and had given it into the keeping of the Seneschal. who in turn had placed it in Faramir’s accustomed bedroom. He had then had this room redone to reflect what he knew of Faramir’s own tastes, and had done the same with the suite that had always been given to the use of the Ruling Steward, leaving, however, Faramir with the right to choose when and if he would change quarters.
Well, Eómer and Eówyn of Rohan would be returning shortly, at which time he would have his beloved meet with the Housekeeper and Seneschal to direct the final transformation of those rooms to the ones he and she would share during their stays within the Citadel once they were husband and wife. But Faramir had brought his personal books, including these two, here, glad to have them by him. They were fine ones, beautifully bound, and he treasured them both even as he felt they were intended for others. He took the older one off the shelf and opened it, reading the Quenya inscription once more. To my younger son. May you never doubt my love for you, although what you desire most must seem as unreachable to you as the love sought by Beren. So it read.
“I have now seen what it was you have so desired, and understand why it has seemed so impossible to attain,” he whispered, closing the book. As he examined the stamping once more he murmured, “How, my Lord, did my father come into possession of this? Did you once loan it to him, back when you were Thorongil? Did you stay for a time here within the Citadel and leave it inadvertently? Did he take it by stealth as he did my own book of tales from my things I’d intended to take with me to the visit in Dol Amroth? If so, why? Was it out of spite, or to try to learn more of your secrets? Did he take this up to the chamber within the Tower of Ecthelion where the Palantir was kept, hoping it would somehow give the Seeing Stone more incentive to show him your movements once you fled Gondor, seeking to espy you from afar and divine when it might be you should return to reclaim throne and Winged Crown for the heirs of Elendil and Isildur? Or did he hide it away in the storeroom immediately, consigning your memory to ignominy, hoping that you also should choose to remain hidden in the unknown reaches of the northern wastes?”
He continued to hold the book reverently between his hands for some minutes before laying it with a sigh on the desk, at which time he took up the other book--a book of childish stories written in a spidery hand. Once more he opened it to read the Sindarin inscription Mithrandir had set there. To our beloved Faramir--Sufficient and more may you ever prove. These are traditional tales told in a small land I sometimes visit in the north, set down at my request by a friend who dwells in that land, and bound by another. Perhaps you might in time come to know these folk, although perhaps that is merely the hope of an optimistic fool such as I often am.
Know this, Denethorion--there yet dwells, here and there throughout Arda, such innocence as you know now. Let this volume allow you to keep that fact in mind as the needs for defense steal such innocence from you. And may you never lose the ability to wonder! Yours ever, Mithrandir, known in some lands as Gandalf.
On the first page past the endpapers was a dedication: Written at the request of my dear friend and guide, Gandalf the Grey.
He smiled. “And do I now know some of those to whom these tales are traditional, Mithrandir? Oh, I now must suppose I do! And I am certain I now know the significance of the symbols stamped into the covers of both these books.”
Having made up his mind, he went to his room to change into clothing suitable for the feast to come, and returned to take the two volumes into his hands before going to join the King Elessar in his own rooms.
The King stood over a chest of books apparently newly brought by those who’d come from the north. There was a fond smile on his face as he lifted each volume from the chest and opened it briefly before he set it on the shelves hung from one wall of his sitting room. He glanced at Faramir over his shoulder. “See what has been brought to me from Imladris and my mother’s goods that she had saved for me? Oh, how I wish she had lived to see these days! To see the hope again in her eyes, lighting her features!”
He paused as he noted the two volumes in Faramir’s hands, and suddenly his deeply tanned features became flushed. “More books?” he asked, not completely suppressing what Faramir judged was a thread of excitement and anticipation.
“Yes--two that have been in my possession for some years, my liege. Indeed, one was given to me when I was a boy--and by Mithrandir himself. I thought perhaps you would enjoy having it in your possession for those children you and your new Queen might have in time.” He came near and gave them into the King’s hands.
Quite deliberately, the Man opened the smaller volume and read the inscription there, then paused to smile up into Faramir’s eyes. “Sufficient and more indeed have you proved,” he commented, his eyes filled with delight and pride. “Gandalf judged you well, my friend.” He then riffled through the pages, and at last laughed. “Bless them both, Gandalf and Bilbo! So, Gandalf commissioned the old fellow to do a second volume, and for you this time?”
“A second volume?” Faramir asked, intrigued.
His companion smiled, laid the two books upon a shelf, delved within the chest before him for a moment, and at last came up with a volume bound in a royal blue. “Here,” he said. “I was given this perhaps a year after the defeat of Smaug the Dragon at the hands of Bard the Bowman and indirectly by a very small personage named Bilbo Baggins, known to the Dwarves as the Inestimable Burglar.” So saying, he handed it to Faramir.
For a moment Faramir searched the grey eyes of his liege, seeing the humor and delight reflected there. At last he turned his attention to the book, and opened it to examine the inscription, which was written in the same familiar spidery scrawl as his own book. To young Estel, with my compliments and best wishes for a delightful Yule. B. Baggins, Bag End, Hobbiton, the Westfarthing, the Shire, Eriador, Middle Earth, Arda. He leafed briefly through the pages, seeing there mostly the same stories that were to be found in his own copy.
“Bilbo wrote and bound it himself, he’s told me. And since then he’s done a few more volumes for me, some of them tales from his own adventures. How I’ve treasured them!”
“Bilbo Baggins? Then is he a relative...?”
His Lord was nodding fondly. “He is Frodo’s nominal uncle, although in truth he is Frodo’s first and second cousin, once removed on each side.”
Faramir began to laugh. “You must have heard that many times!”
“Oh indeed, and from Bilbo, Merry, and Pippin repeatedly. Only once from Frodo himself, who is far more practical and believes a single telling is all most folk require.” They laughed together as Faramir held out the blue volume, which the King received back and held to his chest delightedly. At last he took it and placed it on one of the shelves before returning the smaller book bound in brown to Faramir. “I think this should stay with you, and delight those children you and your lady shall one day bring forth to the further enrichment of Middle Earth,” he advised.
“I thank you. I hope, however, you will accept the other back, as I am certain it once was yours.”
The door opened behind him, and both turned as Elrond of Imladris entered, accompanied by his twin sons. He looked from one to the other mortal, noting the presence of the two volumes bound in calfskin, and paused. “So, it is come back to you at last?” he asked, looking meaningfully at the book the King now held in his hands. “You never told me how you came to lose it.”
“No, I never spoke of it.” The King opened it, smiling softly to read the inscription, then slowly turning pages. “Erestor copied this for you, and Elladan illustrated it, and Elrohir bound it, did he not? I remember Glorfindel smiling as you placed it in my hands, that birthday when you gave it to me, and Lindir singing the Lay that night in the Hall of Fire. Meliangiloreth had baked her honey cakes I’d always loved, and Nana had fixed my favorite foods with her own hands. It was a birthday I have never forgotten. Only my Lady Arwen was not there, for she had returned to Lorien once more, although she had sent a shirt she’d made for me. I took that shirt with me to Rohan and Gondor, and left it, left it with this.”
“Tell us the story,” directed Elrond, taking a seat.
The King closed the book and held it between his hands, looking at the symbols of Eärendil stamped upon its binding. “I dwelt here, here within the Citadel, for some months. There was a conspiracy Lord Ecthelion had become aware of in which agents from Dunland, at the instigation of Mordor, intended to assassinate Denethor as Ecthelion’s heir, his wife, and their unborn child.” He raised his eyes to meet Faramir’s. “Your mother was pregnant then with Boromir, you understand.”
He returned his attention to the book’s cover. “At last the agents came forward, and I was able to capture them. Thengel agreed to accept them into his land as perpetual thralls assigned to lords of his own house. It appears now that the one who provided the two Men to Sauron’s own agents was Saruman the White, an idea none then could seriously entertain. It is too bad, perhaps, that we did not appreciate the truth of it at the time, as it would have allowed us to perhaps better anticipate and accept the reality of the more recent betrayals.
“Your father, Faramir, often spied upon me during that stay. He did not know of his father’s reasons for asking me to dwell so long within the Citadel. Ecthelion would not speak of the news of the plot to him or your mother, fearing to agitate her during her pregnancy and so harm either her or the child she carried. What your father imagined in the depths of his heart as to the reason for that visit I cannot know or say, not for certain. But I found several times that the spy place within my chambers had been used, and my things gone through most carefully. Then one day toward the end of my stay this book went missing. I mentioned its disappearance to Denethor, and he appeared most surprised to hear of the theft.
“I am not convinced he took it. At the time there was a page employed by the Citadel who had light fingers, and he was known to have taken possessions of others he liked or admired, as if in having these things as his own he somehow held a part of those he cared for to himself. He was killed one day near the archery butts in the Sixth Circle. It was a freak accident. I often wondered if he had taken the book.
“He died but a day before I rode south to Dol Amroth with Imrahil to take command with his father of those who would make the assault upon Umbar’s fleet. And, as you know, I did not return to Minas Tirith from that journey. My Lord Ecthelion had all my possessions brought together and placed within a chest and stored away within the storage places against my possible return. After he succeeded his father, Denethor commanded that chest be taken to a particular courtyard and that it be burned before his eyes. Belveramir was ordered to see it done, but he took its contents out of it and hid them in another chest, then filled the first chest, he tells me, with discarded gear from the salle, and burned that instead. So it was that the shirt my Lady made for me so long ago came back to me, as well as my old practice gear, and a few books I had purchased here within Gondor, and some other clothing and possessions that had but little meaning to me. I did not find this book within the chest, and mourned it.”
Faramir felt a lightening within his heart. “Then it is possible that my father never had it within his possession,” he said. “The Lady Lynessë found both of these books within the storeroom where books no longer in the possession of former residents were kept so that future residents might find some to keep upon their own shelves and have something of worth to read. If the page indeed stole it and it was found among his possessions by the Seneschal after his death, then with no real indication as to whom it might have belonged it is likely it would have been placed there at that time.”
The King nodded. “Indeed, that is likely.” He looked up, and his eyes, too, seemed relieved. “And so I now choose to believe it to have happened, Faramir.” He took the book into one hand with decision. “I now accept it back with gladness, rejoicing it is restored to me at last. A few other books are still missing, but I had left them in Henneth Annun. I suspect that those who served with me divided them up between them according to custom, keeping them as mementos of the time Captain Thorongil served among them.” He smiled. “I cannot fault them for it, nor will I regret some had such fond thoughts of me they would remember me by what I left behind.”
He started to place the book upon the shelf, then paused. “No--no not here.” He turned to meet Elrond’s gaze, and smiled fondly. “No, Adar. This one I will keep by me at all times, as I ever did.”
The Elven lord gave his own smile in return. “I am glad to hear that, Estel, my beloved third son.”