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26 January 2008 | 1095 words | Work in Progress
TITLE: Borne Upon a Dark Wind: AU2
WARNINGS: AU, Dark, Rape, Sadism
DISC: Not true, never happened, total fantasy!
FEEDBACK: Always appreciated!
OK, back in um, holy crap, 2005, I was working on a Dark AU, Borne Upon a Dark Wind that dispensed with Ring, had Aragorn’s family line corrupted by and worshipping Sauron for a while, and Aragorn taking Faramir prisoner in Ithilien while conquering Ithilien. Luckily for Faramir, Rhisiart was there (a character sneakily based on Sean Bean’s Richard Sharpe, happy sigh). Now, that’s still incomplete yes I know I know I am sorry what can I say, I have all these ideas and no patience although I plan to get back to it someday. But recently, as always happens under pressure, I’ve been fantasizing a little more extreme storylines, so here’s what might happen is the plot had gone differently at one key moment in the original AU.
In the original, after Faramir has been rescued, Denethor comes to meet with Aragorn who tries to persuade him to send Faramir back, in exchange for Aragorn’s cousin, as surety of fair dealing for their agreements. In the original AU, Boromir and Rhisiart smuggle Faramir away because Denethor wants to think for a night, but what I kept coming back to recently was: what if it hadn’t happened that way? Here’s the answer!
So this story branches off into, well, an AU of the AU.
The grey water stretched around the boat, ripples from the creaking oars lost in the current. Faramir sat, looking down at the water, forcing himself not to look up, not to confront Aragorn who sat in the prow.
Between them, two men rowed in easy rhythm.
The night mist gathered, curdling. Against the fading shades of day, Faramir saw the earlier scene, wondering if there was any moment when he could have changed the path that had led him here.
Denethor leaned back, dark eyes on Aragorn, and spoke. “You have sent messages that you and your master will cease fighting if granted undisputed rule over Ithilien and the withdrawal of Gondor’s forces from Osgiliath. Is that all?”
Aragorn nodded, hand wrapped around his goblet, long fingers still against the metal.
Faramir forced himself to look away.
“Earlier, you asked for much more. Why this sudden change?”
“My lord had hopes of achieving much more. He did not expect the failing might of Gondor to stand against the forces brought under his banner.” Aragorn raised his goblet to Boromir. “He miscalculated. I have told him that we cannot win this war.”
Denethor snorted, folding his hands on the polished wood. “The forces of Mordor are vast. Do you expect me to believe he could not bring another army against us?”
“Perhaps he could, but his forces have many duties. I have no desire to spend months sitting on the bank of Anduin and know that you have not yet lit the beacons to call Rohan.”
After an uncounted time, as the tent darkened, Denethor pushed his empty goblet away.
“If I accept your offer, what surety can you make that the next season will not bring another attack against my City?”
Aragorn smiled, teeth gleaming against the short dark beard. “My blood kin,” he said. He laid a hand on the arm of the dark-haired man sitting on his right. “Halbarad. My cousin. He will return with you to Minas Tirith. And you, my lord, may choose one of your blood who will be my guest as well. That way, if either of us breaks our word, we do so knowing our kinsman will be the first to die.”
The jaws of the trap closed.
“No.” Boromir stood.
In the silence, the only sound Faramir heard was the pounding of his heart which became a roaring in his ears.
“Such a thing is not uncommon,” Denethor said mildly. “Very well, I agree.”
Hot liquid flooded Faramir’s mouth, and he swallowed bitterness, forcing his sickness down.
He did not recall much of what had then happened. Boromir’s protests had been loud until Denethor’s men had surrounded him.
Denethor had left without saying a word.
Faramir had sat, silent, until Aragorn had taken his arm, pulling him up, to leave the tent.
As if in a dream, Faramir heard the grating sound of the prow against the eastern bank.
He was back in Ithilien.
Numb, Faramir waited until Aragorn called him, then stood, legs shaking, and cautiously stepped out of the boat.
Aragorn pushed him ahead, up the bank. Faramir saw the large tent shining in the dusk, the black banner in front hanging still, in shadow.
He could not remember how many days it had been since Aragorn had branded him. His hand went to his chest, feeling the healing brand under his clothing.
He had defied Aragorn before. I am Gondor’s. Living or dead.
But Gondor had betrayed him, sending him back here.
The guard pulled the flap open.
Golden light shone inside, touched rich fabrics. The warm air, rich with herbs and smoke, stroked his face as he stopped, muscles frozen, unable to step inside.
Arms slid around his waist, warmth pressed against his back. The only escape was forward, and he wrenched free and stumbled into the tent to stand, head down.
He was lost in darkness.
He turned, lifting his head. Aragorn stood in front of the closed tent flap, arms crossed. His red shirt was open at the throat, and somewhere between the boat and the tent, he had cast away his cloak. Lamplight streaked his hair with gold, touched on gleams of jewels and metal.
There was nothing outside this tent, nothing except this man.
Faramir took one step forward, another, and stood within arm’s reach. Another breath, and he dropped to his knees. It was almost pleasurable, as if a weight he had borne for years was suddenly gone.
He had failed Gondor, and Gondor had cast him away.
Aragorn breathed in, the sound loud in the quiet.
Faramir bowed his head, rounding his back, leaning forward until his forehead pressed against the rugs that covered the ground of Ithilien, his arms braced, hands open. The fabric was soft against his skin, and he could smell dust and dried grasses. He rested, body relaxing, as he gave up the burden he could no longer carry.
A hand touched his head.
“What is this?”
Faramir spoke without moving. “Faramir of Gondor is no more. I am yours, my lord.
To Be Continued
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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: kabaue , traveller , kabaue , Laurel