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29 December 2007 | 5129 words
Title: A Yule of Hope
Rating: NC17, adult content and implied adult/minor contact
Pairing: Faramir/Denethor, Faramir/Boromir and implied Faramir/Éowyn
Summary: New worries can release old pain.
Feedback: Yes – email or comment below.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine; because if they were I would have given Éowyn and Arwen more major parts to play in the story.
A/N: I wish to thank my beloved beta IgnobleBard for understanding (AGAIN) what I wanted to say but sometimes could not figure the best way to say, and to Jael for her assistance also. They both shaped this story as surely as I did and I am grateful to claim them as my friends.
Written for the 2007 Midwinter Swap.
Request by Lisa14: Denethor has been physically abusing Faramir for years and Boromir has just found out about it. Bonus if it is a post war fic
A Yule of Hope
It was the early hours of Yule Eve in Ithilien and the Lady Éowyn lay upon her bed, heavy with child. Sweat covered her brow, like the first snow fall of the season which now blanketed the countryside as far as the eye could see. Her contractions, though painful, were still far enough apart that the healers said it would be many hours before she delivered
Arwen leaned forward and wiped the Lady’s face with a cool cloth. The uneasy tension that usually existed between them had evaporated when it became known that Éowyn would finally bear a child. Over the ensuing months the bond between the two women had grown stronger so that now Éowyn would not allow anyone except Arwen to tend her during this time.
Now Éowyn grimaced as another contraction seized her, and Arwen again leaned forward, murmuring words of encouragement and urging her friend to breathe through the pain.
In the far corner of the room Faramir whispered an oath and Aragorn turned to him, the pallor of Lady Éowyn was nothing compared to that of her husband. Fresh milk had more color than the face of Lord Faramir at this moment.
Turning at the sound, Arwen scanned Faramir’s face. Not liking what she saw, she ticked her gaze to her husband. There was a maternal fierceness in her eyes and Aragorn immediately decided it would be easier to go up against an entire troop of Orcs than to remain in the room. She nodded her head toward the door and he steered Faramir, who seemed to move on legs made out of grass rather than muscle and bone, outside without a word.
Soft female laughter trailed them down the hall as Aragorn gently chided his steward, “Undoubtedly they think that a man might fight strongly upon the battlefield, yet swoon like a maiden when faced with a birthing bed.”
Faramir sighed shakily, “Aye, but I would not want any of my enemies bearing my children.”
Chuckling, Aragorn followed the prince into the family’s private chambers.
“BOROMIR!” Faramir’s voice rang out. “You made it.”
Aragorn entered his sitting room to find Faramir and Boromir roughly embracing, “Surely you never doubted I would be here for the birth of your first child, brother?”
They released each other as Faramir replied, “Never, Boromir. But you were so far away I wasn’t sure a messenger would reach in you time.”
With a conspiratorial gleam in his eye Boromir glanced over at Aragorn. “Let’s just say I had a hint that Éowyn’s time might be near and I was closer than you knew.”
Faramir turned to Aragorn, “I should have known.”
Aragorn said, “It was all Arwen’s doing, she knew how much it would mean for you to have your brother here and she sent the messenger out.”
Faramir gave a quick nod to Aragorn, “Then I will forever be in the Lady Arwen’s debt.”
Boromir clapped Faramir roughly on the back, nearly sending him sprawling to the floor. A rare frown crossed his face quickly and then was gone. “Come brother, later we can talk of repayment but right now you should eat. I can see that you have lost some weight.”
Servants had left out bread and hard cheese, along with drink, and Faramir eyed the food for a moment before passing it over to take a seat by the fire.
“I think I may have thrown up as much as Éowyn these past months,” he sighed.
Boromir looked puzzled but Aragorn nodded understandingly, “I have done that with all my children, though with Eldarion it was the worst.”
He went to the table and poured three mugs of mulled cider. He handed one to Boromir and then pressed the other one into Faramir’s hand before picking up his own, “You cannot be both husband and father if you are passed out from hunger on the floor, so at least drink this.”
Faramir was shaking so badly it took two attempts before the mug met his lips. He drew several long swallows and, while somewhat visibly relieved, his hand still trembled as he lowered it to his lap.
Aragorn stared into the fire, recalling the day he was told that Arwen had gone into labor for the first time. “I felt as weak and helpless as a newborn lamb on the day Eldarion was born. Elladan and Elrohir sat with me for hours. You would have thought I was the one giving birth the way they tended me.”
He laughed a bit at this memory, relived when Faramir joined him with nervous laughter of his own as Boromir snorted into his cider. “The first child is always the worst; it will be much easier with your second one. You will see.”
“There will be no more children,” Faramir said, a little too quickly. He glanced at Aragorn and then to Boromir before looking away and taking another sip of his cider.
But Aragorn was lost in his own remembrances and he misunderstood the remark, “Arwen has said on more than one occasion the pain she felt on the birthing bed is nothing compared to the joy she feels at raising our children. Your lady bears this pain out of her love for both you and the new life she is about to bring into this world.”
“Aye,” Faramir agreed, as if relieved that Aragorn had not divined the true meaning of his remark. “It is only that it seems unnatural to be so powerless to ease her pain at this time.”
Aragorn smiled gently. “It is the way of things that we must battle while our women wait and worry, yet it is we who must wait and worry while our women fight to bring our children into the world.”
“Your words are true,” Faramir agreed, “Though Éowyn has never been content to merely wait while those she loves face battle.”
Aragorn chuckled. “Indeed, she has not. Your children shall be fortunate to have such strength in their lineage.”
Faramir shrugged, “I can only hope…” his voice died and he stared into the fire. Aragorn patiently waited and when he continued, his voice seemed to come from a great distance, “I only fear that being a parent may require more strength than I possess.”
Nervous, he turned away, and in the firelight’s glow Aragorn could see that Faramir’s hair looked limp and unwashed. He started to smile at the thought that he was picking up some of Arwen’s observations, but it quickly faded when he noticed the tightness of skin against bone. The bulk of winter clothing Faramir had shed earlier now revealed clothes that hung loosely upon his frame. His eyes had dark circles under them, and the thumbnail of his left hand looked bitten down. He began to wonder if something was weighing on Faramir other than his worry for his wife and baby.
“You need not be concerned about that, my friend. We all fret that we might make mistakes, but we all find our way.” Aragorn said.
“For once, my liege, you are wrong.” Faramir turned to Aragorn, his gaze was unflinching in the firelight, “I cannot bear that I might make the…mistakes…my father made raising me.”
Boromir had remained silent while Aragorn counseled his brother, but now he gave Faramir a thoughtful look, though he still declined to speak.
Aragorn glanced from Faramir over to Boromir then back to his steward again. “You need not worry about that either, Faramir. You are a better man than he.”
“Am I?” Faramir laughed bitterly. “I have been told by those who knew my father in his youth that we are much alike in appearance and temperament.”
Boromir chimed in “Aye, I have heard this as well. Many say I look like our grandsire Ecthelion, but it is the faded recollections of old men, my brother, nothing more.”
Faramir snorted at that remark but made no other comment.
Aragon thought for a moment before continuing, “Believe me when I tell you this, Faramir. You are not your father.”
Two sets of eyes turned towards Aragorn though it was a surprised Faramir who spoke, “You say that as though you knew him.”
“Aye.” Draining the last of his cider, Aragorn stood, “I did, just as I knew Ecthelion.” He moved over to the table to refill his mug, aware that Faramir’s eyes never left him. “Many years ago, before you or Boromir were born, I served your grandfather in Gondor for nearly twenty-three years. I was the one who led the attack on Umbar, which you might remember from your histories as I have heard you paid more attention to your studies than Boromir did.” Both Boromir and Faramir laughed ruefully as Aragorn continued, “Your father was one of Ecthelion’s advisors and I clashed with him on more than one occasion. He was a stubborn man, proud, and sure of his decisions.”
The fire popped and then hissed as tree sap began to burn. Faramir studied his king through thoughtful eyes. For the first time he truly understood the weight of years that Aragorn must carry on his shoulders. This man had been alive and fighting in a time that had been sung about by bards and minstrels since Faramir himself had been a youth.
Aragorn smiled at the look on Faramir’s face, “I am old, but not so old my friend that I cannot remember what your father looked like when he was little more than the age you are now.” He took another drink of cider as he sat down again.
“Then you know the likeness I carry of him is true.”
“There are some similarities,” Aragorn conceded.
Faramir scowled but Aragorn turned to look at Boromir. “Just as you remind me of your grandsire Ecthelion. He loved a good battle, a good bottle of wine, and a good woman, though not always in that order.”
Boromir laughed but Faramir still remained pensive and did not speak.
“But on the day I healed you, I saw the man you were on the inside and that is who I see when I look at you, not your father.”
Faramir nodded his agreement before he replied, “My father was a good man in many ways. The people loved him; my mother loved him… before the madness. After that…” He looked at his hands, his finger touching the ring he wore on his right hand, the signet of the Stewards. The ring was all Faramir had left of his father, and he wore it still, which had always seemed odd to Aragorn considering what had transpired between them just before Denethor’s death. “After that, he was not the same. A good man can do terrible things, Aragorn.” He glanced over at his brother and then down again. “Terrible things.” he repeated, his voice taking on the pain of memories.
He looked at Aragorn and gave him a weak smile. “But Boromir was different from both of us and my father loved him like no other. In this one thing we were alike for I too love my brother deeply.”
Aragorn replied, “Your brother is a noble man, though not without flaws of his own, as you know.”
Boromir stirred again, a wry looking crossing his face at some unspoken recollection.
Faramir turned bright unblinking eyes upon him and replied, “Yet his was the only loving touch I ever knew until I met Éowyn.”
Aragorn glanced quickly over at Boromir. He could tell from his Steward’s face that this conversation had taken a most unexpected turn. But Boromir refused to meet his eyes and instead continued to stare into the fire.
It was only by the barest of margins that Aragorn quelled a shudder. Such things were not unknown in his realm but he would have preferred to battle Sauron again than have to deal with the honesty of those words. Thoughtfully he stared at the mug in his hands; tipping it back and forth, watching the movement of the cider as his mind sorted through this information. If giving birth were physically as painful as this conversation was emotionally, Aragorn thought that he too was going to owe Arwen a debt he could never repay.
But they were at the heart of the matter now, and Aragorn carefully continued, “And your father’s touch?”
Like a swift sword stroke came the reply, “Was painful compared to that of my brother.”
Now Boromir turned and his entire attention was focused on Faramir, though he did not speak. For his own part Aragorn was rendered speechless and even the fire seemed silent with this revelation, the flames having died down once the sap had been consumed. Fire and water, both purified, but there could be no cleansing of memories. He felt useless, a healer who could not heal.
“Did you know that for many years I resented you for healing me?” Faramir said.
Surprised to have his thoughts seemingly plucked from thin air, Aragorn turned to stare at his friend; he had forgotten that the blood of Westernesse had run in Denethor’s lineage as well. But Faramir seemed mesmerized by the few remaining flames and gave no indication that he had said anything out of the ordinary.
The moment passed and truthfully he replied, “No.”
Faramir looked at him, “Would it have mattered if you did?”
He looked back at the fire, “It never mattered to my father.”
They were back to Denethor again. Aragorn looked over at Boromir, expecting him to deny this but the look with which Boromir now favored him spoke volumes.
Mentally sighing, Aragorn reached out and placed his hand upon his friend’s shoulder. Beneath his palm he could feel the trembling muscles.
“Again I tell you, you are not your father.”
Faramir divined his intention and shrugged Aragorn’s hand off, “I would not be so easily read, Sire.”
”Fine then,” Aragorn said. “Stop speaking in riddles and tell me what is wrong.”
Time spun out with the fragility of a spider’s web before Faramir finally replied, “I don’t think I can. These memories, they run deep. I tried to forget them and I thought I had…until Éowyn became pregnant. Now…” he shrugged, “Well, it hardly matters now. My child will be born to a damaged man.”
“Boromir?” Aragorn turned to his steward but no answer was forthcoming, instead Boromir just shook his head, shifted nervously once, then stilled.
Faramir cocked his head to the side as he looked at Boromir. “He cannot help you my King, not even my beloved brother knows it all.”
Boromir returned his brother’s gaze, his eyebrows raised questioningly. Faramir gave an almost imperceptible shrug, his eyes clouded with abashed pain.
As far as he had traveled over the years Aragorn had never trod upon ground like this before, but there was a despairing sadness to Faramir and Aragorn had been a healer long before he had been king. Reaching out he clasped his hand upon his friend’s shoulder again, only barely hearing Faramir say, “Careful my liege of what you may find should you go down this path.”
“Aragorn, please,” Boromir said. “Do you think this is necessary, or even wise?”
“I have always believed the way to deal with any problem is to face it head on. In the case of memories, getting them to surface is the only way to master them. If you disagree, I will not attempt this.” He looked from Boromir to Faramir and back again, waiting for a reply.
“It is not for myself I fear,” Faramir said quietly, “but for you, my king. Some things are simply better left alone.”
Boromir could see that Faramir was preparing to withdraw and he had a sudden flash of his own, Faramir distancing himself from his child in an attempt to avoid hurting him, only to have the child grow up deprived of his father’s consideration.
“And some things are not, brother,” Boromir broke in. “Aragorn healed you once, perhaps he can do it again, and in a way that will remove your regrets.”
Faramir looked at his cup, thinking over Boromir’s words. A chance to finally be free of the memories and pain was tempting…
“Very well,” he said to Aragorn at last. “I have held the past to myself long enough. For my child do I allow this. Proceed.”
Reaching out with his mind, Aragorn plunged into the choppy sea of memories, his groin stirred briefly at the initial breech. There was always something a bit sexual about the first contact, it was the curse of his gift. Beneath his hand Faramir also felt it, for he stirred once then stilled.
From long experience Aragorn had learned not to fight the initial first barrage an invaded mind would send to protect itself, useless information designed to ensure the looker went no further than the surface.
Deep he went and again his groin surged.
The baritone voice of an unknown tutor, “Excellent, Faramir, you have an aptitude for letters. Your father feared you would be slow to pick them up.”
Boromir’s laughter rang out through his consciousness then the heavy clang of blade upon blade.
“Good, brother. You learn quicker than father thought you would.”
“Idiot boy, you will not fail me.”
Stinging lashes upon young skin, hot shameful tears running down cheeks still plump with baby fat, and a piping childish voice, “Please father, I love you. I will not make any more mistakes.”
The only reply a grunt then the slamming of his bedroom door.
Now the tears come flooding out of him, the strong embrace of Boromir’s arms (only recently out of childhood himself) cradling him close, allowing him to weep his pain away. Later, with clumsy care, Boromir tends the wounds, treating them with a salve used on the horses.
But it’s the conversation that sticks in Faramir’s mind.
“I try so hard, but no matter what I do father does not love me as he loves you.”
To his youthful credit Boromir does not deny it, instead he says diffidently, “You just have to try harder, do everything father says without question.”
Faramir loves Boromir and he takes those words to heart. Sometimes his father seems pleased, but most times not. He grows to accept the indifference of his father and says nothing; it is only the encouragement of Boromir that keeps him going.
Time passes and he has given up thinking that his father is even aware of his presence, until one night when he is on the cusp of his teens and Denethor pays him a visit. He is not sure what his father wants of him but all the same he recalls Boromir’s admonishment of obedience, and so he acquiesces.
The next morning it is Boromir who finds him, Boromir who again treats his wounds – Boromir touching him gently with youthful hands that are gaining their first sword calluses. Touching Faramir in places where just the night before Denethor has roughly plunged in – soothing him with soft words, using the horse salve to again ease Faramir’s pain.
Faramir feels no shame as Boromir helps him walk on unsteady legs to the bed, nor does he cry. Emotion is beyond him. Slowly he sinks down upon his bed, grimacing with the first contact of his backside upon the mattress. He’s too weak to support himself and his body flops backwards. He cries out once but it’s a weak sound, an exhalation of self more than anything. Boromir helps him get comfortable, placing a blanket over him. Then he crawls into the bed himself and scoots close to Faramir.
Boromir never speaks of his thoughts and so Aragorn is unable to discern them now. But from this night forward, until Faramir is of age and joins his troop mates in the barracks, Boromir would not allow him to sleep alone.
But that is a future memory. Lying in bed with the weight of Boromir’s arm around his midsection never wavering, he knows his brother loves him. It is enough and finally he sleeps.
Oddly, Faramir does not hate his father. Instead, he works harder than ever to earn Denethor’s love. Riding comes naturally to him (as it does all of those from Denethor’s line) and he throws himself into his battle studies, mastery of the sword takes him longer to pick up, but it is bowmanship that stirs his blood, and a skill wherein he shines. Hours upon hours he practices, until 99 times out of 100 he can hit anything at which he aims.
To Denethor this is still not enough. It is swords, his father says, that will protect Gondor in her time of need, not the waste of wood and string. Faramir’s heart is stung by his father’s rejection, but he is made of stern stuff and he does not cry. It is only Boromir who knows how badly he has been hurt by that comment and it is Boromir who again holds him through the night.
Here Faramir’s thoughts go dark, as a black curtain over a window. There is something bad here, Aragorn can feel it, like unseen lightning behind a grey cloud. Within their shared consciousness he knows Faramir wants him to go on, but something else holds his friend back. It is impossible to imagine anything worse than what he has already seen, and for the first time Aragorn wonders what might have happened had he had taken the throne a generation earlier than what he did? Could he have protected Faramir?
Within their shared inner voice comes Faramir’s reply, “Nothing could have saved me my liege, father always took what he wanted.”
Boromir chooses to break his silence at this time. His inner voice speaks with guilt. “Those things my brother showed you were as I remember them my king, memories I wish he never had to bear. My brother I am so sorry for any part I played in this. I tried to protect you, but beyond the veil I believe is proof that I failed. If you wish I will withdraw and go no further.”
Linked as they are Faramir’s reply comes at once, “Nay brother, you did not fail, I fear it is I who failed you, I am so tired of carrying this burden, please don’t leave me.”
The last came as little more than a whisper and both Aragorn and Boromir felt more than they heard the last of Faramir’s childhood voice in that one statement.
At that moment the fire spluttered, gave a small hiss, and then died. The room was plunged into night except for the light of a few glowing embers. Within the darkness Faramir feels safe enough to relent and the black veil becomes gauzy, thin, but there is a desire beyond the veil and its strength threatens both Aragorn and Boromir by its intensity.
Glancing once at each other, gaining courage by the fact they are there together, Aragorn and Boromir step through the veil.
On the other side Aragorn and Boromir recognize their surroundings. They are in the stone corridor that leads to the family’s private chambers. It’s dimly lit, which tells Aragorn the time must be the earliest hours of a new day. Off to his left he sees the gauzy specter of Faramir and Boromir entwined in the act of love.
“I am not ashamed of that, my king. You must go forward; you must see the entire truth.”
As they move off, here within the fabric of their shared consciousness Aragorn knows what Galadriel offered to Boromir should he turn the quest aside. Aragorn turns to look at his Steward but Boromir just shrugs. “I am not ashamed either, my king.”
It is the only answer he is likely to get and Aragorn focuses ahead as he sees a much younger Faramir turn down another passage, a secondary entrance to the private rooms of the royal family. Faramir knocks once upon a rough hewn wooden door.
Faramir proceeds into the main sitting room; it is empty save for his father. Denethor is sitting upon a low slung divan and appears to be dressed for bed. He’s wearing a loose gown covered by a rich robe and leather slippers upon his feet. The smile on his face gives Aragorn pause; he has seen such smiles before. If he could, he would grab his friend and drag him from this place, and beside him he senses Boromir having the same thought. But this is Faramir’s memory and they are only onlookers.
With one hand Denethor beckons Faramir forward, “I knew you would come.” With the other he frees his erection from the loose confines of his dressing gown.
Faramir kneels between his father’s legs. With a motion that speaks of much practice, he takes his father’s member between his lips and begins.
Denethor grips Faramir’s hair tightly and moans his approval. “Such a good son you are.”
The rest is preordained.
Soon it is over and Faramir rests his head against the inside of his father’s thigh while Denethor gently strokes his hair, “You and I are just alike, and I am proud of you.”
It seems this is what Faramir is expecting to hear. He spasms once, crying out as wetness spreads across his leggings.
Revolted, Aragorn jerks his hand away from Faramir’s shoulder the connection between the three of them is so strong that he feels as though the very flesh has been peeled from his hand.
Boromir gains his feet and staggers to the kindling bucket, he only has moments before the dinner he recently ate is disgorged. The metallic tang is strong in his mouth as his stomach heaves again. He would cry out, but to whom? Denethor is long dead, a fact for which Boromir is glad. He knows he would go after his father and nothing but death would stop him from taking away from Denethor what it would seem Denethor had taken away from his beloved brother.
Aragorn wants to leave the room and never come back – and he would if he could. But His eyes have grown accustomed to the dark, and with the aid of that last ember from the fire, he sees Faramir hunched over, forearms resting on his thighs, his fists clenched. The Prince of Ithilien was injured deeply and for the first time he wonders if this is a wound that can truly be healed.
Into this silence Faramir chokes out the last of his story, going from man to boy once more in the last revelation. “Those were the only times Father ever told me he loved me.” With that he began to weep bitter tears.
It is Boromir who goes to Faramir first. Awkwardly he hovers over his brother. Nothing has changed how he feels about Faramir, but until this moment he had never understood how badly his brother had craved their father’s approval and to what depth he would go to get it. It is a revelation that has shaken him to his very core and he does not know what to do.
Fighting down his revulsion at the scene he has just witnessed, Boromir kneels beside Faramir, but he cannot bring himself to touch his brother. The intensity of the weeping tells him that Faramir is still clinging to the memories, his emotions that of the youth he was when Denethor had so callously taken his innocence.
For a long moment the gap between them remains, threatening to become a gulf that could separate the brothers forever. But finally Boromir forces himself to bridge the small distance and he takes Faramir in his arms at last.
Boromir tries to speak but can not say anything past the lump in his throat. Instead he settles for holding his brother close, offering the same understanding he can not voice when they were but untried youths, sons in Denethor’s house where love and affection where things frowned upon.
Watching the two brothers Aragorn is thankful for the relative darkness as his own eyes fill with tears.
Time passes unnoticed before Faramir’s tears began to lessen and eventually draw to a stop. Boromir holds him for a few more moments before releasing him. The room is now pitch black, the last of the embers having gone cold many minutes before. The two men ease away from each other and Aragorn hears both Boromir and Faramir blowing their noses under the cover of darkness.
Aragorn gropes his way to the fireplace and finds a few sticks of kindling unsoiled by Boromir’s earlier sickness. He rekindles the fire, stoking it with sturdy logs that pop and crackle loudly in the sudden stillness of the room. Turning, he is surprised but gratified to see Faramir go to the table, take a bit of bread and cheese, and begin nibbling upon them. Boromir pours two more mugs of cider, handing one to Aragorn before seating himself.
For the next few hours they made inconsequential conversation, Boromir of a sword he was thinking of having made the next time he was down near Aglarond, Faramir of a pony that had already been sent by King Éomer for his first nephew or niece, Aragorn about wanting to visit the Shire the coming summer. Finally, around dawn, a knock came upon the door, startling them. Faramir bade the servant enter and he did, bowing before the three nobles.
“Prince Faramir, the Lady Éowyn has delivered you a healthy son. Both are doing well.”
Faramir seemed genuinely pleased, all his earlier doubts having been stripped away by the combustion of his long suppressed memories. He said to the servant. “The child shall be called Elboron but his family name will be Estel.”
“Estel?” the servant asked, puzzled.
“Aye,” Faramir replied looking at Aragorn, “it means hope.”
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