For Raksha, who said anything Faramir would do.
The river rolls bright below the ramparts, where a lonely figure stands watching it. He's watched these walls grow up with Ithilien's green—the garden in bloom once more.
Faramir closes his eyes. The sun is hot and he feels the light still upon his face. And for all he has stood upon this very ground countless times before and let the dawn greet him after a long and weary journey, 'tis not the same. One could tumble the walls, raze the city, let the forest in once more, and still, he would know the difference.
'Tis the light—or the lightness. He came of age under a different sun than the boys playing warrior in the courtyard below. Things had a weight to them then that he misses now—the world swept clean of gods and demons is an open, airy space, yet dimmer—thinned.
We fought for this, he reminds himself, and 'tis perhaps the cut of a new Age that makes him a stranger to himself. The man who fought all those years in Ithilien, the second son too much in the shade, the relentless Ranger-Captain — intimate strangers, all. Some days, half his life and more seem to have happened to another. It needs not much — a change of light or wind, or a glimpse of a waterwheel where once there was none, or the flutter of a green pennant, and he's struck with a split-vision. The world's made strange in such moments, for he cannot fathom how he could have come through that life of yesteryears to this one.
He knows he is not alone in that. He can see it in Aragorn's eyes, in Éowyn's face, in the way Mablung sometimes stands just so — still and listening for a note that's faded to an echo. He can even see it in Bergil — in Bergil, who is no more a beardless boy and who came of age under this paler sun. But he was born beneath another, and it has marked him — left a glamor on the lad, promise of a greatness belonging to a bygone age. It gives him gravity beyond his years and endless good cheer — weighty promise that, pray the One, shall never need to be redeemed.
And truly, that is what they've fought for, all of them — that there should be no more marked as they have been. They have fought for a funeral — for the burial of an Age, and they have won the right to a headstone. Thus he knows that one day the memory of that other time shall fade. Even boys like Bergil shall have long since gone to their graves and taken with them the last dim glow of the splendor and the horror of those days. Then perhaps The War will finally be over in truth.
But not today, and not tomorrow, and despite himself, he is relieved. Despite himself, he mourns the coming of that day, for all he knows too well 'tis the very meaning of his life, however strange it has grown to him.
For today, he will look upon the river and feel the his shadow strange and heavy with memory, and when it looms too large, then he'll be glad of that shine in other faces—beacons to light the way between one life and the other.
The east wind blows, free of the taint that had too long encumbered it.
Faramir breathes it in, and smiles.