Title – Leaves from the Past
Author: Linda Hoyland
Characters/Pairing: Faramir, Denethor
Book/Source: LOTR book-verse
Disclaimer – Middle-earth belongs to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
With Thanks to Raksha
Faramir sighed deeply. He looked out of the window. It was still raining, so it was neither the best of days day for sword or archery practise, nor for riding for pleasure. The council meeting was not until this afternoon, and he would not be joining Éowyn in Ithilien until the morrow. He could put off the unwelcome task no longer. He had no excuses left to delay looking through the trunk containing his father's private papers. They had been languishing in the bottom of a cupboard for more time than he cared to recall. Faramir would have been happy to leave it there, but kept wondering if it contained any information concerning Gondor's affairs that ought to be given to his new lord.
He lifted out the trunk and placed it in on the hearthrug, then knelt beside it and slid the key into the lock. It opened with some difficulty, as if loth to reveal its secrets.
Faramir lifted out a sheaf of yellowing scrolls and glanced at them. They mostly concerned official decrees. He placed them to one side to give to the King.
Beneath the scrolls lay a bundle of letters tied with a red ribbon. Faramir opened the one on the top of the pile. It was in his mother's hand, written from Dol Amroth during a visit there that Faramir vaguely recalled from his childhood. She told her husband that she missed him before recounting howmuch she and her sons were enjoying their time with Prince Imrahil. Faramir replaced it. He would read the letters one day, but not just yet. He only wished that he could recall more about Finduilas.
At the bottom of the trunk, hidden under the other papers lay a bound calfskin volume. Curiously, Faramir opened it. He was surprised it appeared to be a journal. It was written in Quenya, no doubt to make it hard to decipher. The Steward was fluent in the ancient language and it posed no difficulties for him.
The journal began the year Denethor became Steward and the early entries seemed mostly concerned with matters of government. A line caught Faramir's attention. I have decided to use the Seeing Stone. It would be foolish not to take advantage of such a powerful tool. My father claimed it was too dangerous, but I have the strength to master it. I need to know what is happening within my realm and ensure that Thorongil does not return without my knowledge.
Faramir shuddered at the reference to the palantír, which had proved his sire's downfall. He turned over more pages, scanning them quickly. There was a gap in the entries around about the time his mother died. Then they resumed in greater detail than before. His own and his brother's names caught his eye. Boromir grows taller by the day and continues to delight me. His sword master is delighted with his progress and says he will make a fine warrior. Young Faramir is a different matter. His tutor tells me he is a fine scholar, but he shows little interest in the sword. Gondor needs soldiers not scholars in these troubled times and my sons should be a good example to others.
Faramir turned more leaves, looking for familiar names. Mithrandir is here again and my younger son follows him around like a lap dog, hanging on to his every word. I fear he will fill the boy's head with gilded tales of the kings of old. I would not have a son of mine be a Wizard's pupil!
The young Steward took a deep breath. Mithrandir was a great and wise man. Why had their friendship troubled his father so much?
The next entry provided some answers. Mithrandir has gone at last, praise the Valar! Faramir is upset and keeps asking when will he return? If the boy wants a lore- master to consult, why does he not choose his own father? I fear too that the meddling wizard will fill his head with tales of the long gone kings and the White Tree blossoming anew. I do not forget that Thorongil was another of his pupils!
Faramir thought sadly that the answer should have been all too plain. His father had usually been too busy to discuss lore with him. Then he was angered if Faramir's opinion had differed from Denethor's on the rare occasions they did speak of legends and traditions together. Faramir could still recall the way Boromir's eyes glazed over when father and son would debate the origins of the line of Nimloth. Denethor would glance sternly at Faramir and the conversation would swiftly and suddenly turn to Hyarmendacil's victories over the Haradrim or some other feat of arms that interested Boromir.
Faramir perused more pages full of details of government and praise for his brother. Then another entry caught his eye.
My younger son continues to disturb me, even as I increasingly see myself reflected in him. He too has the power to see into men's hearts. Alas, that he wastes this gift on mawkish pity that renders him too slow to strike with the knowledge he has gained. The people love him, though, more than they love me. He reminds me all too much of that scoundrel Thorongil! The days are growing darker and the enemy increasingly draws closer. Soon all hope will be lost.
Faramir continued to turn the pages and read, both dreading and desiring to find a clue that might explain his father's final despair and last dreadful act. Then his eyes lighted up the final entry in the journal.
The enemy are at the gate. The only son left to me is dying. Better we should perish together than be sport for Sauron's creatures. I have heard too that Thorongil is on his way. I would not be his dotard chamberlain and my son his slave! Let the fire cleanse all and ...
The writing had become scarcely legible and the last few words were indecipherable. Faramir snapped the book shut with a shudder. He had read enough. At last, he understood much of his father's coldness towards him, but the knowledge brought him no peace, only pity. His father had known so much and yet understood so little. He thrust the journal back into the bottom of the trunk and locked it. He then called for a servant to take it to the storeroom. He would not destroy this relic of the past, but he very much doubted he would ever open the trunk again.
Written for the 2009 BTME challenge Prompt "Trunk".