For Cairistiona's birthday.
“And where are Master Frodo and Prince Faramir?” the new King asked the page Sephardion.
“They have not come forth from the lesser audience chamber where they met earlier in the day with the errand rider come from Lossarnach, my liege,” the youth answered.
“Is the errand rider yet with them?”
“No, he did not stay long, and has gone on to the barracks in the Sixth Circle where he has been granted a place to rest for the night before he returns again homeward.”
The Lord King Elessar nodded his understanding and dismissed the young Man. Why it was that his new Steward and the Ringbearer lingered yet within the lesser audience chamber he could not yet know, but something in the errand rider’s message must have been sufficiently important to need discussion between the two of them. Perhaps he should join them and learn what matter so captured their attention….
It was Frodo Baggins who answered the King’s knock at the door, and Aragorn was surprised at the expression of relief to be seen on the Hobbit’s face. “Oh, bless you, Aragorn—I am not certain how the current situation should be met.”
He could hear Faramir’s pleasant tenor voice raised in a dirge he remembered from his days as Ecthelion’s favorite Captain and was surprised. He looked over Frodo’s head and saw Faramir standing on the opposite side of the room looking at a painting done of the dead White Tree, a wine cup in his hand that he waved gently as he sang the doleful tune. “What has brought this on?” he asked the Hobbit in low tones.
“You heard that an errand rider came from Lossarnach to bring greetings to Faramir?”
“Yes, I was told this.”
“Apparently Lord Forlong’s heir thought to dispatch to Faramir a gift of wine to mark his new estate as Prince of Ithilien, a tun of which is to be delivered to the Steward’s own wine stores in the lower city. But the messenger brought with him three wineskins full of the drink to give to Faramir directly as samples of what will soon arrive. He would not accept a drink of the wine himself in return for his errand, but Faramir saw both himself and me served, using the goblets kept on the side table within the room. It’s quite potent, so I’ve not accepted any more, but I fear that Faramir has indulged perhaps more than is strictly good for him. He stated after his first sip of it that this was a vintage that both his father and his brother favored, and he became quite solemn. The more he drinks the more sad he’s become, until a few minutes ago he began singing this song, he says in honor of the fallen.”
Aragorn nodded, understanding the situation. “Do not worry, Frodo—this was bound to hit him eventually. You must realize that he has not truly had a chance to mourn for the loss of his brother and his father. He is one born to duty, much as you yourself are, and in the past few weeks since their deaths he has been able to do little but to face one matter of state after another. The knowledge of how much Boromir and his father loved this wine would have finally brought to mind the fact that they are gone from him indeed. And, for the first time since the siege was lifted he has leisure to allow the grief its way that he might at last truly put it behind him.
“You may remain if you wish, but perhaps you would be more comfortable back at the guesthouse for the evening. I can keep Faramir company as he works through his grief. Know this—my kinsman Halbarad, who was as a brother to me from the time I returned to my own people when I first came of age, was also lost in the battles. Perhaps if you will send word to Halbarad’s brothers Hardorn and Halladan asking that they join us here we can all drink to the memory of those we have lost who were so dear to us. For all need to mourn when the time is right for it.”
Frodo smiled in understanding. “I see. And you, too, wish to mourn Lord Denethor and Boromir as much as he does, I think.”
Aragorn laid his hand on Frodo’s head. “I do. In spite of the suspicion Denethor came in time to show toward me, still I liked and honored him well. We were indeed as close as brothers when I first came to Gondor so long ago. I wish he had not become jealous of the regard shown me by his father and the people of the land, for he and I shared so much love for lore and the traditions of our people. As for Boromir—having fought side by side with him as we did along the way and having come to honor him as I did for his integrity, I could almost wish that he were my Steward now, in spite of the love I now feel for his brother.”
“I will go to summon your friend’s brothers, but do you mind if I remain? For although I did not know your kinsman or Lord Denethor, I still find myself grieving for Boromir, and am so glad that he realized that the actions he took at the end were brought on by the Ring rather than by his own bent.”
“And it is to those who fell we raise our glasses…” intoned Faramir.
Aragorn gave his young Steward a glance, and nodded. “He will not begrudge you your presence here tonight, Frodo. But go and fetch Halladan and Hardorn. They, too, have had little chance to mourn properly. We shall all do so thoroughly this evening.”
Reassured, the Hobbit left upon his errand, knowing that all would be the better for having been allowed to grieve for those lost in the war.