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102
An Unexpected Welcome

Grey Havens

Challenge:

"You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right."

-Maya Angelou

Write a story or poem, or create a piece of art on the theme of leaving or returning home.

Title: An Unexpected Welcome

Author: Linda Hoyland

Characters/Pairing: Aragorn, Faramir, Arwen

Rating: PG

Warnings: none

Book/Source: LOTR book-verse

Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

For once, the sight of the White City did not gladden Faramir's heart. Minas Tirith still looked forlorn with the broken gate and damaged walls. He chided himself inwardly for his low spirits and tried to think of cheerful things; it had been most enjoyable to visit his Uncle in Dol Amroth, men were busy rebuilding the walls and now the King returned dwelt within the City.

It had been at the King's insistence that Faramir had returned home with his uncle after King Théoden had been laid to rest. Concerned for his Steward's health, King Elessar had insisted that he take a short holiday.

Now, there was no delaying his return to the Citadel any longer, a return to his empty rooms, so close to those once inhabited by his father and brother, and now abode to the King and Queen. It was still hard to take in that never again would Boromir warmly embrace him, nor his father take him to task for some failing, real or imagined. And this was his only home now, until his new house in Ithilien was built. The Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien could no longer dwell amongst his Rangers simply as their Captain. It would have been far different if Éowyn had been at his side for this homecoming, but she was still needed in her native land to assist her brother.

It was not good brooding, though, over what could not be changed. Faramir shook himself inwardly. He had already decided to dedicate himself to serving Gondor and her new lord. The first moment he had beheld Aragorn he had loved him, but this love was mixed with overwhelming awe combined with a fear that should he fail in performing his duties in any way, the King would be no more pleased with him than his father had been, for all his present kindness. Faramir knew he owed everything to Aragorn, life, lands, and titles. The Steward still felt sometimes that he must be dreaming and he would wake up and find it had all vanished again.

Faramir rode through the city streets, responding to friendly greetings called out by the people he passed. He took a deep breath on the threshold of his rooms and smiled a warm greeting at the servant who took his luggage.

"You have guests, my lord," said the man. "They are waiting for you in the living room."

"Guests? Who is visiting me?"

"Your pardon, my lord, but they gave no names."

Faramir debated whether he should first wash and change his travel-stained clothes first, or greet his mysterious guests. He decided to do the former would be lacking in courtesy. He made his way to the living room and opened the door. To his amazement, the King and Queen were sitting either side of his hearth. They both rose to their feet. Aragorn warmly embraced Faramir while the Queen clasped his hand.

He froze, yearning to accept the affection offered to him, but bewildered that his new lord and his lady should greet him thus, and uncertain how to respond. His father had always insisted on being greeted in a formal manner and derided displays of affection as being only for women and small children.

"Welcome home, my Steward!" said Aragorn. "I forbade your servant to tell you who was here; we wished it to surprise you."

"Indeed, my lord, it is gladdens my heart to see you and your lady," said Faramir. "Please forgive me that I have neither washed nor changed my clothes after the journey."

"That matters not," said the Queen and gave him a radiant smile.

"We are here only for a few moments," said the King. "When we heard you had arrived in the City, we feared this might be a lonely homecoming for you without either your lady or the brother you loved here to greet you, so we hastened here."

"We should like you to dine with us tonight," said the Queen.

Faramir hesitated. He yearned to accept the invitation, but surely the newlywed couple would rather be alone together and were simply trying to be kind? He recalled too all the times his father had berated him for saying the wrong thing at the dinner table. What if he offended the King and Queen in some way?

"That is kind of you, my lady, my lord," he said. "I have much work to catch up with, though."

"You should not exert yourself so soon after a long journey and when still recovering from your battle hurts," said Aragorn. "I forbid you to work tonight. Unless you are too tired, we shall expect you in an hour."

"Until then, "said the Queen, smiling at Faramir again.

His every excuse overruled, the Steward called to the servants to bring water for bathing and to look out his best clothes.

000

Later that night, after a simple but delicious meal of carrot soup, poached salmon and fruit pie, accompanied by a fine wine and agreeable conversation concerning old lore, Faramir could only reflect how different his homecoming had been to what he had expected. His heart soared. His admiration for the King had grown ever greater. Truly, Aragorn was the greatest man of the age, and he, Faramir was most fortunate to be his Steward.

A/n. This ficlet was written for a challenge in 2011 and since languished forgotten on my hard drive.

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