15 October 2007 | 2209 words
Title: Before His Eyes
Warnings: Very very AU. Character death (not in the story but discussed); a main character from LotR (and no it’s not Boromir).
Disclaimer: All make-believe; the characters belong to Tolkien but I’ve taken them out to play
Author’s Note: Written for the dave_uncensored Daisy’s B-day Fic Challenge.
For helynhighwater who requested: Faramir/Aragorn. Most of the fic with them involves H/C with Faramir as the hurt one. I’d like to see that turned around so Faramir gets to save the day for once. I’m afraid this is probably highly unrealistic but I hope it’s kind of what you asked for and that you enjoy it.
Aragorn stood looking out across the Pelennor, eyes open but sightless to the vista before him. His stance was strong, shoulders squared and head high. But Faramir could feel the underlying tension and sorrow radiating from Aragorn despite the outward appearance of calm.
He wondered if he was the only person to see the two sides of Gondor’s king. His public face was evident to everyone. Confident and just, Aragorn was an incomparable ruler. He listened to the advice of his counselors, granted audience to neighboring leaders, and read every missive brought before him with a careful and studious eye. He demanded that all research be thorough and even-handed, all sides of an issue equally represented.
But as much as Aragorn was engaged and present, Faramir could see the reserved and unhappy man underneath. Whether he was presiding over a meeting or leading a group to see first-hand what trials the people of his country were dealing with, he kept a steady reign on his emotions, somehow managing to be both empathetic and distant. In quiet moments it was most evident, when Aragorn was not aware that he was being watched. Faramir would catch sight of him, as he did now, seemingly strong but with a sorrowful edge, something that seemed all too evident to Faramir but he imagined went unnoticed by anyone else.
Many years had passed since Arwen was lost to him, ambushed on her way to Gondor by a band of Orcs escaped from Mordor. Aragorn had given himself time to mourn the loss of his love and Faramir had hoped that it would be enough to help alleviate Aragorn’s grief, that he would be able to move beyond the pain and find some level of peace if not happiness. But his mood did not shift and Faramir began to fear his king would live a lonely existence until he drew his final breath.
He suspected he was more acutely aware of Aragorn’s melancholy because his feelings for the man had long since changed from respect and admiration to undeniable love. He knew he could never expect anything in return from Aragorn except a strong friendship, possibly even a filial devotion, but he had long accepted that he would be in love with this dynamic man for the rest of his days. It was Faramir’s greatest wish that he could provide Aragorn with some measure of comfort through his love, but he suspected that it would both be unwelcome and uncomfortable for the man whose heart had been forever broken by the loss of his beautiful elf maiden.
Now Aragorn stood, his visage regal and assured, his aura filled with misery and defeat. Faramir watched for a few minutes more then stole back into the shadows, retreating to the quarters he maintained in the city. He would not approach, could not endure seeing Aragorn once more push his troubles back behind the impenetrable walls around his soul, to shutter his eyes from others keeping the pain hidden yet still sharp enough to cause constant injury.
Faramir arrived at Minas Tirith several months later to find the streets abuzz with nervous, almost frenetic, energy. Aragorn had slipped out of the city unnoticed sometime between last night and this morning. It wasn’t unusual for the king to leave for a day. There had been occasional disappearances ever since he reclaimed the throne, the need for solitude and to wrest whatever demons had laid claim to him becoming too much to bear, chasing him from the city. Although this caused his guards much consternation, none had ever found a way to stop him. He always returned just after dusk, not happier but at least more settled.
Today, however, there had been reports of wild wargs roaming in the mountains around the city and a couple of patrols had set out to try and find Aragorn. Faramir understood their concern but didn’t expect them to succeed: if Aragorn didn’t want to be found he wouldn’t be. However, Faramir knew where it was likely the king had gone for he had followed him a few times in the past. He suspected each time his presence had been known, but it pleased him that Aragorn seemed to not mind the stealthy “company,” had not even felt the need to acknowledge him. After seeing Aragorn safely to his destination, Faramir had left him to his thoughts.
Now at the urging of the guard, he started toward his study but quickly managed to melt into the back alleys of the city and headed for the hidden passage he knew Aragorn used to make his escapes. Although he understood the guard wanted to keep him safe, he could not idly sit while Aragorn was potentially in danger.
He was glad that he never lost the habit of traveling with his sword and bow as he secretly made his way out of the city and headed into the hills. After about an hour of hiking through forested paths, it began to feel like dusk under the dense trees. He walked purely on instinct, bringing his ranger skills to the fore, until he reached the small fall of water that marked his first landmark. Turning north he followed the stream for a while then crossed a fallen log to the other bank, moving quickly now as he heard distinctive snarls coming from the east.
After another hour of finding natural markers and wayposts, and more directional changes than he could have easily described to even the best of Gondor’s rangers, Faramir emerged into a small clearing to find Aragorn sitting beneath a tree on the far side. The initial sight broke his heart, seeing his friend’s head bent, shoulders shaking with obvious if silent tears. But the picture changed in an instant as Aragorn became fully aware that Faramir stood across from him. His back instantly straightened, but before he could shake himself out of his misery Faramir knelt before him, unable to stop himself from wiping the tears from the cheeks of the man he loved.
Aragorn looked deeply into Faramir’s eyes, trying desperately to pull back the raw emotions he knew were still apparent in his gaze. He marveled at the compassion he saw in Faramir and rejoiced in the simple touch of his fingers against his face. Such gentleness he thought he would never feel again and he found himself falling further into the morass of confusion and despondency that was engulfing him more each day.
His eyes drifted down to the lips that he had memorized years ago, that filled his vision as he slept and fueled many nocturnal fantasies. They were the first things he noticed about Faramir, the first things that excited and scared him in equal measure. At first he had been overwhelmed with guilt, finding himself attracted to someone other than Arwen. Then as the years passed after her death, Aragorn’s affection for Faramir grew. But he could not bring himself to believe his feelings could be returned. So he resigned himself to a silent ache, a secret longing that would never be fulfilled.
But each day found another weight hanging around his neck, another measure of despair heavy on his chest. He stayed true to his duty, committed himself to the responsibilities of the country’s rule, but inside his spirit slowly faded. He wanted the warmth of Faramir’s skin beneath his hands, the brightness of Faramir’s smile lighting his path … he wanted Faramir’s love. Without it he was becoming less, could feel himself dimming, and he could think of nothing to stop the slide.
A strong squeeze of his shoulder brought him back to the present and he realized Faramir had been speaking to him. He reached to grasp at the steward’s cloak and ground himself through the steadiness of his friend’s strength. But the touch, this small connection, stoked the burning desire he had struggled to extinguish. Aragorn could still feel the delicate touch on his face, could still see the tenderness in Faramir’s eyes. Perhaps all these years of torment had been wrought by a foolish man. Perhaps he had been blind to what his steward had always offered him. But could he confess all that he held inside?
Faramir wondered at the discordant emotions that flashed through his sovereign’s eyes. Even more confusing was the final look that settled over Aragorn, so different than anything he had seen in him for many years. But he could hear the vile creatures, now louder in his ears, and he needed to get Aragorn moving.
“We must go now, my lord. Wargs are prowling in the mountains.”
“I heard them. They’re not yet close enough to be of danger and I … I think I should speak with you. We have time.”
“Please, humor one less skilled than you with a sword. Come with me now and we can talk once we are safe within the walls of the city.”
Aragorn wanted nothing more than to unburden his soul, but the worry in Faramir’s face was palpable. He would not hear what was said to him right now, no matter how earnest and forceful the words. Aragorn nodded his acquiescence and they rose from the ground and began the journey back to Minas Tirith.
The commotion that greeted them upon their return quickly grated on Aragorn’s nerves. He understood the concern and knew why leaving without an accompanying guard was not a wise action. But right now he only wanted to be with one man, whether he would find the courage to uncover years of shrouded sentiments or not. Finally Faramir managed to quiet the furor and they were left alone in the steward’s rooms.
Yet Aragorn now found himself at a loss for words. This was the brother of the one he had been too late to save. Deep down did Faramir resent him? Blame him? Would he find it necessary to forgive before he could entertain the possibility of love?
Faramir could sense Aragorn’s hesitancy and strove to alleviate his nerves. “I know that all these years you have been sorely aggrieved over Arwen’s death, that your heart still longs for her.” He looked up and mistook the confusion in Aragorn’s eyes for dejection. In that moment he decided to lay his heart bare before his king, give him everything and more if it would but return a true smile to the handsome face before him.
He stepped closer to Aragorn and held his hands between his own. “I would hold you, my lord. I would chase the demons from your soul and give you all the adoration and passion in this great land. You only need ask and it is yours; I am yours.”
“Am I hearing correctly? Can you actually care for me?”
“Not only care for you, but love you. Love you with every ounce of my being. I know you cannot return my affection, but if it were to bring you even a small ounce of happiness from time to time, a few moments of peace, then I will be content.”
Aragorn stood in shock for a few seconds, unable to believe the amazing fortune that brought this man — that brought his love — into his life.
“My Faramir, my beloved, you are mistaken over the cause of my sorrow. I do still mourn for Arwen; she was my first love and I will always carry a special place for her inside my heart. But as of late my sadness has been because of a belief that I could never have your love.”
Faramir gasped in surprise, struggled to find the words to both protest and challenge this revelation. But Aragorn silenced him with the soft touch of a finger against his lips.
“You offer yourself to me, you offer your love to me, and I eagerly accept both with open arms.”
As night fell across the white city, Faramir pulled his king into a tight embrace. He did not yet fully believe that Aragorn could truly be in love with him, but for now he was happy simply to give warmth and care, to relieve the final burdens that Aragorn still carried, to share affirming and healing breath with the love of his life. Aragorn melted against Faramir and nuzzled into his neck; his breath becoming steady and his heartbeat settling into a gentle rhythm. It had been too long since he had felt such serenity and he thanked all who had heard his silent prayer for the gift he held tightly against his chest.
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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: kabaue , dream.in.a.jar , Byte366 , moontalkerau , Ulaire , Sakana , somerset