23 December 2012 | 7540 words
Title: Hobbit Wisdom
Author: Nerey Camille
Pairing: Elrond, Éowyn, Éomer, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Frodo, Sam, Legolas, Gimli, Galadriel, Celeborn, Imrahil, Haldir, Erestor, Glorfindel, Elladan and Elrohir, Boromir (as a ghost).
Disclaimer: Written for fun, no money made. All the characters and settings belong to Tolkien.
Summary: at Éowyn and Faramir’s betrothal banquet in Edoras, Merry and Pippin suggest playing a game that tells the participants who their true love is. Just so the soon-to-be-married couple are sure of their feelings for each other.
Notes: As usual, this turned out much longer than I expected. Heartfelt thanks to the marvellous Bell Witch for proof-reading it. All remaining mistakes are mine. Thanks to Iris for her great advice and for illuminating the concept of “fluff” for me. It’s the first time I’ve been asked to write fluff and I’m not sure if I managed it. This is part comedy, part mild angst with hurt/comfort scenes. Not exactly romantic, though perhaps it is, in its own way. The happy ending is not the traditional one, but I still hope the recipient likes the story. No AU (unless you count the ghost).
Written for the 2012 Midwinter Swap.
Request by Angelstar3999: Elrond/Faramir, I would love where there is some plot to the story with a Happy ending. fluffy. (Extra pairing your choice)
The Great Hall of Meduseld was blazing with hundreds of torches. Wine and ale ran freely across the table at Théoden’s funeral feast, and merriness ran just as freely, for after the old King had been finally laid to rest it was now time to drink the new King’s health. Indeed no sire of Rohan had ever been saluted by so many and such illustrious guests. The war had been won, there were a new King and Queen in Gondor; and when the announcement was made that Éowyn, Lady of Rohan, and Faramir, Prince of Ithilien, would soon be married, it seemed that nothing could add to the joy.
But Hobbits have a knack for finding new ways to make life exciting. And Merry and Pippin, who had been talking in whispers for the best part of King Éomer’s speech (after all, no one could reasonably expect them to waste eating time for that purpose), had a very definite idea to improve the evening.
They stood up on their chairs to attract attention and, when it became clear that that was not enough to make them conspicuous among the tall Elves and Men sitting around them, Merry boldly stepped on the table and waved his arms. The hall fell silent.
“My lords and ladies, it is customary in the Shire when a couple get engaged to play a game, the result of which is meant to prove that their love is strong and genuine. As our parting gift, therefore, my kinsman Peregrin and I would like to offer the chance to play that game to our Lord and Lady.”
He looked at Pippin, who bowed to the assembly and took over:
“The game we speak of consists of a series of questions, which each participant must answer truthfully. These questions will reveal the name of the person’s true love. All participants must swear to carry out the game to its end,” he gave a serious look round the table and bowed to Faramir. “My lord?”
“My lady?” questioned Merry, bowing to Éowyn.
The happy couple caught one another’s gaze and smiled.
“We are ready to play,” said Faramir. “But what do you mean by ‘all’?”
“All who witness the game must participate,” said Merry, as if stating the obvious. “Everybody always plays.”
“Of course, no one who is interested in the couple’s happiness would wriggle out of such a moment. In the Shire, I mean,” added Pippin.
“No wonder a Hobbit destroyed the One Ring,” grumbled Gandalf. “They are more to be feared than the plague.”
But of course the Hobbits had made it sound like it would be very rude to refuse to play, and so everyone readied themselves for questions, though none but the wizard and Aragorn (who knew more about Hobbits than the rest) had any inkling of just how awkward these might be. As neither of them feared for themselves, though, they said nothing.
“First,” said Pippin, “we must all smoke the pipe of love.” And he carefully filled Merry’s pipe (which was in better state than his own) with a mixture of herbs that they had both prepared for the occasion. The smoke caused those who inhaled it to become franker and more reckless than usual; and it so happened that its effects were greater on those who were less accustomed to them: that is, Elves and Men who lived far from the Shire.
Soon enough they were all smoking placidly, blowing rings in turns on the pipe and laughing at each other’s performances. Some of the Elves were already singing silly songs and Pippin had to stamp his feet on the table to get attention again.
The set of questions they asked the assembled guests hasn’t reached us, but each question was spoken aloud so that every person in the hall could ponder it, though they were not asked for any answers. The last question was to reveal every present person’s true love, and this they were to say aloud. As each of them realized what their own answer was, looks of embarrassment were exchanged across the table.
“So?” said Pippin, perhaps over-helpfully. “Let’s start. This is the funniest part.”
“As our host, the King of Rohan should have the honour to speak first,” explained Merry.
“My true love would be a lady of wondrous beauty, graceful and noble but also joyful and lively. Her hair would be dark as night and her eyes bright as stars. And she would have both Elven and human blood in her veins.”
“My friend, you must be mistaken,” teased Aragorn. “You have described my wife.”
“Nay, there is no mistake,” said the Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth. “He has described my daughter1.”
“I will not say of whom I was thinking, my lords, but Queen Arwen Evenstar is certainly entitled to my ardent love and devoted service,” said Éomer, bowing to her from his chair and blushing a little.
“Alas that I cannot return the worthy affection of the King of Rohan,” said the Queen of Gondor, whose turn to speak it was next. “My only love is Estel.”
Aragorn smiled. Imrahil declared undying love for his wife and then it was the turn of the Elven twins, Elladan and Elrohir, who mentioned each other as their true love. There were murmurs along the table.
“Hm, yes,” said Merry. “It happens sometimes. I mean, the significant other is not always the spouse or prospective spouse. It can be a family relative or a dear friend. It is infrequent, though,” he ended lamely.
“Am I mistaken in guessing that you and Pippin always get each other in this game?” smirked Aragorn.
“Of course we don’t!” said Pippin indignantly. “We are not dumb.”
“We wouldn’t play otherwise,” explained Merry patiently, “it’s too embarrassing. Pippin and I have never yet got a true love in this game.”
Pippin made a strange face at these words, but no one noticed as gazes were now turning to other famous pairs of friends that were in the assembly: Gimli and Legolas, and Frodo and Sam. It was Sam’s turn to speak next.
“It’s a lass in the Shire,” said Sam, stammering and blushing furiously. “I don’t think her name interests anybody here.”
“It’s all right, Sam, we all know it’s Rosie Cotton,” said Merry unconcernedly, making Sam’s pink face turn downright crimson.
Frodo’s expression was reluctant as all eyes turned away from the flushing Sam to him. It was plain that were it not for the promise he had made and the fact that Pippin and Merry were staring at him and awaiting an answer, he would have stayed silent. And when he spoke, everyone understood why.
“Mine is… it’s Sam,” he said miserably.
Samwise Gamgee turned to the master he had accompanied into Mordor, and the two of them exchanged a long, meaningful look. Sam’s eyes glittered with tears. All others beheld the scene with grief. Compassion for Frodo could be felt in the air. Silence lingered on. It was finally broken by Éowyn.
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about, Frodo,” she said gently. “I know what it is to love without hope or return. And my shame is far greater than yours. I must now speak truly, for I am the bride, and he who will be my husband deserves it. I love the Lord Faramir more than anything; but I must acknowledge that my desire for the Lord Aragorn is not extinguished.”
Faramir’s face expressed pain and surprise; but Aragorn smiled kindly.
“No need to be ashamed, my lady,” he said. “Having known Hobbits longer than you, I have some idea of how these games go. It is not unusual to get more than one true love as a result of the set of questions. As long as your love for the Prince of Ithilien is far deeper than your regard for me, the latter is nothing to worry about.”
This last sentence was intended as much for Arwen as for Faramir and Éowyn, for the Queen of Gondor had been looking at her husband and the Lady of Rohan with a less-than-friendly and more-than-worried look.
“I thank you, my liege,” said Éowyn, “though that is easy for you to say, having never loved anyone but your illustrious wife.”
“You are mistaken,” replied Aragorn. “The game’s answer in my case is that Arwen daughter of Elrond is my true love. But there is another, and that is the White Rider.”
Cries of surprise and shock broke out around the table. There was a moment of joyful madness in which Éowyn thought that Aragorn was referring to her; until she understood, of course, that “the White Rider” meant Gandalf.
The wizard didn’t seem embarrassed; if anything, he looked pretty much proud of himself.
“Well, after that, we’ll surely hear that our friends Legolas and Gimli are one another’s love and will soon be married,” said Glorfindel, voicing everyone’s thoughts. Well, almost everyone’s.
“That is the most impertinent nonsense!” cried Gimli the Dwarf indignantly. “Do you mean to insult us? My heart rejoices in my friendship with Legolas. But its love is given to one only, Queen of Morning, wise and valiant and radiant as the sun.” And he rose and bowed to the Lady Galadriel, who acknowledged his compliment with a kind smile.
“And as for me,” said Legolas, “the questions tell me that my true love is a sinistral Elf of bright hair and fair face. I do not know who that might be. But in any case the description does not fit Gimli.”
Neither Galadriel nor any of her maids were sinistral; but then Pippin scanned the hall and his eyes fell on Haldir of Lórien, who was holding his goblet with his left hand. His skin was fair and his hair bright as midday sun.
“It looks like your true love is in this room, Legolas,” said Merry, who had followed Pippin’s gaze.
Legolas’ face went pink with anger.
“Not only do I prefer maids,” he said, “but I am the Prince of Mirkwood and Haldir is a mere border-guard!”
“The game never lies,” said Merry gravely.
“And a plague on the stiff necks of Elven princes,” said Pippin. Aragorn chuckled.
It was next the turn of Erestor and several lords of Rohan to speak, and for a moment no new scandal arose. But all were dreading it now. The next one came from Lórien again.
Gandalf had just boasted that according to the questions he had no true love, when Galadriel sighed broken-heartedly and declared her true love was Gandalf. Though he had undoubtedly suspected it for ages, the open acknowledgement of the truth before so many witnesses was too much for Celeborn, who stood up and refused to play. At which Pippin became indignant and was about to shout something about the stiff necks of Elven princes again. But he was forestalled by Glorfindel, who said lazily that Celeborn didn’t want to reveal his own true love because it was none other than the talan-tree in which he lived. Elves and Men laughed. Galadriel blushed, part from embarrassment and part from anger, and could not decide what to say or whether to support her husband or not. Celeborn stood in a corner of the hall, arms folded over his chest, sulking.
For the second time, silence fell heavily over the hall. Faramir volunteered to appease the upset Elf-lord by drawing attention away from him.
“I also have two true loves,” he said thoughtfully. “One, of course, is Éowyn of Rohan. But she comes after a male, tall, dark-haired, grey-eyed, with both Elven and human blood in his veins. He is a great lord and a healer. I know not his name.”
“Why it’s Strider, of course,” said Sam, before he could restrain himself. Arwen looked more suspicious than ever and Éowyn was staring at Faramir and Aragorn as if she could not decide whom to murder first. But Faramir shook his head.
“King Elessar, although of course I love him, is not my true love. The picture I have in my mind is of one far older, far wiser, and far more beautiful. But for the beauty, I would think it was Gandalf.”
“Do you mean to say I am not beautiful?” asked the wizard crossly. For a moment he stood up and took the wondrous appearance of a god (for he was truly a Maia). Galadriel almost fainted. Aragorn, who being terribly vexed by Faramir’s words had stood up to protest, fell back wordlessly on his seat. Gandalf sat down again muttering “How’s that for beauty?” as he regained the form of an old man.
But Pippin had been again quicker than the rest and was now staring at Elrond. Faramir followed his gaze, cried “No!” and closed his eyes in denial. As everyone realized who Faramir’s true love was, Éowyn let out a shout of rage and left the table, maundering something that sounded like “Why do I always fall in love with men who don’t love me?”
“I do love you, Éowyn!” cried Faramir, and he tried to leave his seat to go after her. But he was stopped by a grey, translucent shadow rising in front of him.
“Yeah, that’s what you say,” said Boromir. “But you prefer Elrond.”
“I do NOT prefer Elrond! Get out of my way!” Faramir was used to his brother’s ghost making appearances, but this was a most inconvenient time. And in front of everyone, too!
“You just said so. Besides, what’s so surprising about it? You were always drawn to wise people versed in lore.”
“I cannot want a man – an Elf – whom I don’t even know!”
“Well, he’s handsome enough, as you said, and…”
“And if I wanted someone versed in lore, why would I be marrying Éowyn? She’s a warrior!”
“Exactly! Elrond is also a warrior. So he has it all,” said Boromir’s ghost, glad that Faramir was at last grasping it.
Faramir shouted something like “Aarghwawag!” but then could not stop thinking that Boromir was right. Elrond was everything he had always wanted. Finally he sank again into his chair and looked miserably at Elrond, who returned a wise, old, beautiful Elven gaze.
Mutterings were now heard everywhere. Remember that Faramir was the male half of the happy soon-to-be-married couple for whom the game was being played. That the groom should confess that he loved anyone more than his bride was something to shock everybody, and especially the King of Rohan and his suite!
Éomer sat kingly in his seat, looking thunderous, and torn between his duty as a host and his insulted honour as both the King and brother of the bride. Pippin and Merry looked for once as if they thought they had messed up. Indeed they had no idea how to deal with this situation. In the Shire the affronted bride would just have cried a few tears, and the marriage would or would not have taken place, but in any event none of these great people would have been upset by it, nor would the peace and good entente of several realms been threatened.
Obviously, they were forgetting that Gandalf was among them.
“Come, come,” said the wizard, “we have not defeated Sauron to quarrel among ourselves. Let us finish this interesting game, since we have pledged ourselves to it, and then let us sleep on the matter. Morn oft brings solutions to the confused mind.”
Of course this was the most sensible thing to do, so Éomer stopped frowning and called Éowyn back. Everybody settled, and even Celeborn consented to occupy his seat again, though he obstinately refused to play. Haldir had the floor and he declared his greatest love was for Celeborn. This earned him a proud satisfied smile from the Lord of Lórien, a suspicious stare from his wife and a sulky look from Legolas, who muttered “I bet he does it only because he thinks it’s the most advantageous thing for him to say.”
“Very likely,” said Glorfindel cheerfully, without lowering his voice. “Well, my true love is not in this hall. He doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s the Balrog I fought a long time ago.”
“What?” shouted Pippin.
“Mellyrn! You must be mad!” exclaimed Celeborn, who had not yet regained the full control of his emotions.
“Ah, yes. The Balrogs’ dark seduction…” said Gandalf dreamily.
“What is a Balrog?” asked Éowyn.
“A demon of the ancient world. Glorfindel was killed by one many ages ago and he was allowed to come back into the world,” explained Aragorn.
“He loves a demon that killed him?” asked Éomer, in the same tone in which he might have said “These Elves are mad.”
“It’s not only they’re deadly, they’re also horrible to see, all shadow and flame!” cried Sam, looking at Gandalf as if the wizard had personally affronted him.
“And they addle people’s brains,” said Pippin.
“Yes, clearly if you get into a fight with a Balrog you’re never the same again,” echoed Merry.
“You forget that Balrogs are Maiar, demi-gods just as Sauron and Saruman and Gandalf,” put in Aragorn, talking to Sam. “That means they can take a dazzling and compelling appearance if they want to. They could charm someone into being irresistibly in love with them if they wished to.”
“Which clearly they do, at least one of them,” breathed Éowyn.
“Do you mean that Gandalf is a demi-god?” asked Éomer, looking impressed.
“Yes, I am,” said Gandalf. “Now could we please get on with the game?”
“Of course, Gandalf,” said Galadriel in the sweetest of voices, and she used her mental powers to force everybody to concentrate. “It is Merry and Pippin’s turn to speak.”
“I don’t have any true love, I’ve already told you that Pippin and I never get any in this ga…” started Merry, but he had no time to finish the sentence.
“Mine is Faramir,” said Pippin.
Astonished faces looked at the younger Hobbit, who blushed hard and glanced down. Éowyn and Sam looked shocked. Frodo’s expression was understanding. Aragorn’s was mildly curious. But none were more affronted than Merry, who looked at Pippin as if lost for words for several moments then burst out: “You never told me!”
“Well, well, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll get over it. Now, let’s finish this foolish game,” said Gandalf. “It is Elrond’s turn, and he’s the last, thank Elbereth.”
“My love is Faramir,” said Elrond, carefully looking at his hands.
“This is the most incredible nonsense!” Faramir almost shouted, extending his hand at the night for emphasis.
“Yes, it is,” Elrond answered calmly.
They were standing before the gates of Meduseld, looking on the city of Edoras covered in moonlight.
“Things cannot remain so! What about Éowyn’s heart? And the political situation, too! When you said that you loved me… I thought Éomer was going to kill me and then throw both the Elven and Gondorian guests out of Edoras!”
“I am well aware of it. A disaster was only prevented by Gandalf’s intervention. Learning that the wizard is a Maia has made an impression on the young King from which he has not yet recovered. But he will soon, and by that time we must have found a solution. You need not tell me this.”
“The solution is simple enough: this game is the greatest stupidity ever devised. We must ignore it!”
“You cannot deny your public admission that you love me above the Lady of Rohan,” said Elrond reasonably. “You may, of course, ignore the results of the game. But can you deny what your own heart tells you? Do you not love me?”
They looked at each other.
“Yes, I do,” said Faramir in a whisper. “You are marvellously beautiful.”
“So are you. And I love you also.”
“But how can this be? We barely know each other!”
“We are both skilled to judge a Man – or an Elf – at a glance, and we have observed each other closely enough,” said Elrond wisely. “I would hazard it didn’t take you more than this to love Éowyn – or Aragorn.”
Faramir had to admit that it was true.
“But what do we do? We cannot marry or… or… be a couple!”
“Do you feel physically attracted to me?” asked Elrond.
“I mean, do you wish to have intercourse with me?”
“Inter… No! It’s nothing like that!” exclaimed Faramir, blushing crimson and almost sick with embarrassment.
“Then what is it?”
“I don’t know. I would not be parted from you, I would want to learn from you and love you and tend to you…” He lifted two grey eyes shining with hope. “Why wouldn’t you stay in Minas Tirith? The Queen is your daughter, and the King is your foster-son and you love him. Why deprive yourself and all who love you, when you could remain with us for the rest of our lives? That is but a little while to you.”
“I couldn’t stand it,” said Elrond. “Arwen and Aragorn love each other, and it is the kind of love that makes everything around them pale in comparison. I would not feel loved and I couldn’t stand to see them grow older and die. But you could come to live in Rivendell,” he added eagerly, “there you could study, you would have tales, and books, and music, and all the things that you yearn for. You love woods and water, you love poetry and lore and beauty. You would be happy there… and I would be with you.”
“Yes…” Faramir sighed. The words of Elrond evoked a wonderful picture in his mind, and he desired nothing more than to make it come true, until a few small facts he had almost forgotten burst his bubble. “I can’t! I would love to come. But I also love the White City. It is my home. I want to see it rebuilt and happy under the rule of the King. I want to be with Aragorn. I have duties to my King and to my country. I couldn’t possibly ignore them. And Éowyn! Would she be happy in Rivendell, so far from her home, with no other men or women to be with? Dear me! I had almost forgotten. How could I go to Rivendell to live with you, after our declaration tonight? What would people think of us? Can you imagine what it would mean to Éowyn?”
“What I imagine,” said Elrond bitterly, “is that you care for Éowyn more than for me.”
“It is not only about Éowyn. It is also about my country and my King.”
“Oh, fine! You love Aragorn more than me, then. Well, I am used to it. Everyone does.”
“What are you talking about?” said Faramir, surprised and angry. “You won’t even stay in Middle-earth for me!”
“Hm, hm,” came a small voice behind them. They turned as one to find Pippin, clearing his throat and saying in a stammering voice:
“My lords, we have found a way to help you with this situation.”
“Help us, how?” Elrond and Faramir said together.
“Well, everyone was very upset, especially the King of Rohan and his sister. And, don’t you know, we Hobbits are rather renowned for our common sense – though perhaps you may think that I am not the best of my kind to boast such a quality – so Merry and I suggested…” (Merry, who was behind Pippin, kicked him sharply in the ribs.) “I suggested that we ought to get together the most sensible amongst us to help you see the path out of your plight.”
Elrond and Faramir stood silent, as if asking “So what?”
“Er, yes. That would mean that we have summoned a council – a bit like you did in Rivendell, my lord. After discussing among us who knew most of such matters, we have chosen the Lady Arwen, Sam Gamgee, and Gimli son of Glóin, as the ones with the clearer answers to the game, to advise you as to what is best for you. Gandalf would be the, er, the external advisor with a non-prejudiced point of view. He has prevailed upon the King of Rohan and his sister to accept that the members of the council find a suitable solution. They are all waiting for you inside, my lords.”
Faramir was rather angry to hear that other people were to discuss and decide what he should do! But then he remembered that young Peregrin Took had said he loved him. Besides, what else could they do?
“Thank you, Peregrin son of Paladin,” he said kindly. “I know you have done this out of your wish to help. Such friendship as you are showing is a precious gift. I will come. My lord Elrond?”
“It would be indeed a strange thing, to be advised by my own daughter. Still, Arwen has always shown wisdom when looking into other people’s hearts. I will go with you, Lord Faramir.”
Inside a small room adjacent to the hall there waited the four people that were to advise them. The eight of them sat down and Faramir and Elrond were asked to describe their feelings, desires, and projects concerning each other. When that had been answered, the witnesses exchanged looks, each reluctant to be the first to hazard an opinion.
“I will not speak for my father,” said Arwen Evenstar eventually, “but it seems to me that you, Faramir, are looking for a father rather than a lover. Could that be so?”
“I always desired to be loved by my parents,” said Faramir reluctantly. “But my mother died when I was a little child, and my father never showed me much affection. I always dreamt of someone who would love me and teach me lore and beauty and wisdom, as I would have wished my parents to do.”
Gandalf nodded gravely.
“I always knew how thirsty you were for love, knowledge and approval. And I would have given them to you, if I had had the time.”
“You were busy doing things on which thousands of lives depended.”
“Yet I am sorry that your life was so lonely.”
“When Aragorn brought me back, I thought… perhaps…” said Faramir without meeting anyone’s eye. “But of course he is busy with greater cares.”
“He has just gained what he has been fighting for all his life,” said Gimli reasonably. “If I was him, I too would have eyes for no one else.”
“If a father is what you crave, none could be better than the Lord of Imladris,” said Arwen. “He is the wisest, kindest…”
“Thank you, my daughter, there is no need,” said Elrond, waving a hand to silence her. Faramir noticed he looked rather unhappy.
“Ada, you have always said that you missed having a real family at home,” said Arwen, undisturbed by Elrond’s obvious reluctance to have his feelings and fatherly merits publicly discussed.
“Have you?” said Faramir hopefully.
“Let us say I have. Let us say I would like to cherish a son and you would like to love a father. Where does that lead us? I still cannot remain in Minas Tirith, nor can you come to live in Rivendell. I am supposed to leave tomorrow morning. What does this council suggest we do?”
“I daresay the Lord Faramir will not be able to love his wife fully until he has settled this matter about his father,” said Sam, blushing and almost not believing that he was daring to speak to the Prince of Ithilien about matters of the heart!
“But that might not take as long as it seems,” said Gimli. “Sometimes a lot can happen in a short time.”
“If I were in the Lord Faramir’s situation,” stuttered Pippin, “I would want to spend time alone with that person. And to hug them.”
Elrond looked as if he was going to be scandalised, but Faramir noticed an eager glint in his eyes.
“Yes, I would like that,” he said on impulse.
A few minutes of earnest debate later, the eight attendants of the meeting filed out of the room and into the great hall, where Éomer was waiting with all his suite. Éowyn was by his side, looking deeply affronted.
“Hail, King of Rohan!” said Gandalf solemnly, moving forward and making an elegant gesture with his staff. “This council has agreed that the Lord Elrond and the Lord Faramir will spend the night together, undisturbed and without witnesses. On the morn, Lord Elrond will leave Rohan with the Fellowship and the Elven delegations and Lord Faramir will remain here, to be united to his bride, if she accepts him.”
“How can I accept a man who declares to love another male and then spends a night with him?” enquired Éowyn.
“The relationship between the Lord Elrond and the Lord Faramir is more like that between a father and a son,” said Arwen gravely, “I give you my word that there is nothing in it to blemish the honour of the Lord Faramir or his love for you. I shall myself regard him as my adopted brother from now on.”
Éowyn bowed, though she still looked unhappy.
“Very well. Since my sister agrees, so be it,” said Éomer. “Let the guests be led to a room where they can spend comfortably the night.”
As he and Elrond were following Éowyn through the corridors of Meduseld, Faramir noticed that she was crying silently.
“Do not be upset, my love,” he whispered anxiously. “I love you more than everything and I will only love you better after tomorrow. This is a necessary step.”
Éowyn ignored him. Crossing a lounge furnished with armchairs and a small hearth she opened a door into a large room.
“In here,” she said coldly, gesturing for them to enter. “Good night, my lords.”
The door closed, and Elrond and Faramir found themselves in a spacious and beautiful room lit by the starlight that came from a great window facing north. In the corner of that same wall there was a hearth, and next to it a pile of wood and a tinderbox. Near the opposite corner stood a great bed with blue hangings. There was a small writing table with a chair, but no settee or armchairs, only a thick bear rug before the earth.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” said Faramir, looking around.
“Is it what you wished for?”
“Yes… it’s just that everything has occurred so quickly.”
“Indeed. It must seem very abrupt, even for a Man,” said Elrond with a small smile. Faramir looked at him in amazement.
“I never thought you had a sense of humour!”
“I do. Gravity is just so useful to impress people. Besides, Celebrían didn’t have a taste for jokes.”
“Is this what you want too?”
“Yes.” Elrond moved to the window, his robes sweeping the floor, his back to Faramir. “I have felt so lonely for many centuries. I am a very affectionate man, and I haven’t had much occasion to express that side of myself since she went away.”
Faramir knew that Elrond’s wife had been waylaid by Orcs and that, though healed in body by Elrond, she could not bear to remain in Middle-earth and had left for Valinor less than a year later.
“You had sons and a daughter…”
“After Celebrían’s ordeal, my sons thought of nothing else but revenge. They became grim hunters, ever roaming in the Wild, never stopping in Imladris for more than rest and counsel. And Arwen! She was always a dreamer. Kind, beautiful, but absent. Her heart was ever in the trees, the bird-songs, the poetry and the old legends, until she met Aragorn. It is like she was not meant to love anybody else. Also, it is not easy to cuddle a creature so beautiful… As for Estel, I loved him and was loved by him for seventeen years, until he met Arwen. Then he forgot everything that was not her, and his mission.”
“Why didn’t you go with your wife?” Faramir knew he was prying, but he needed to know, to understand the person he was ready to give his own secrets to. And somehow, he sensed that Elrond also needed to speak.
“There was so much going on here, so much evil that needed to be fought. I did not feel it was the right thing to do.”
“Do you want me as a son?”
Finally turning from the window, Elrond lay his deep, clear gaze over Faramir.
“I would love to treat you as my son, to give you all the love and knowledge I have to give. I have not met anyone else who was so eager to receive them.”
Looking into those peculiarly vivid eyes, it suddenly seemed to Faramir as if they had a perfect understanding of each other, a comprehension that reached far beyond human or even Elven mind to the confines of time and space. The whole universe in its beauty and sadness was revealed to them, and the deep gaze that was like a crystal channel held all their thoughts and emotions. It held also an unbreakable pledge.
Then the moment passed, and Elrond gestured to the hearth.
“Would you like us to light the fire?”
Faramir nodded, and between them they soon had a bright flame blazing forth. Before this they sat cross-legged on the rug, closer than they had ever been to each other.
“Now, my son, tell me about your sorrows.”
Faramir talked. He spoke of his ache for physical tenderness, for a safe and loving touch that would reach not only the body but the soul. For compassion and comprehension without judgement or encouragement. For permission to be just weak, or afraid, or lost every once in a while.
“I think the fact that I wanted both my parents’ love is one reason why I feel attracted to your beauty,” he whispered so softly that only a Ranger or an Elf could have heard his words.
Elrond answered by opening his arms and Faramir took shelter in them.
“You mean you see in me both your father and mother,” said the Elf. He felt more than he heard Faramir’s nod, and hugged him closer.
“Then be safe, little one, and fear not rejection. Tell me, if you wish, what you would dream of. If it stands in my power, it shall be yours tonight.”
And Faramir told him.
Elrond listened carefully, then kissed softly Faramir’s brow and gently pulled away from his embrace. Keeping only Faramir’s hands in his own, he kissed them and stood up, leaving the young man kneeling on the rug.
“I will be right back,” he whispered, and headed out of the room.
In the lounge he found Éowyn, sitting on an armchair. She had probably been dozing, but at the sound of the door she was instantly wide awake. She jumped to her feet and made an attempt at a curtsey. It was obvious that she’d rather hack at Elrond’s head with a Dwarven axe.
“Please forgive me for disturbing you, lady – could we possibly have some water? No need to heat it – we have made a fire already.”
“Water, my lord?” asked Éowyn, obviously at a loss to understand what he could want it for.
“Yes, please. And if someone could bring my store of herbs from my room…”
He looked at her closely. Éowyn’s face was drained, tense, and miserable.
“I am about to brew a relaxing drink for Faramir, so that he will sleep in peace tonight. He’s told me about his nightmares. You know about them too, don’t you?”
“I will not take him away from you, lady. I give you my word. I only want that which is best for him… and I will give him back. In the morning he shall be more yours than he ever was. I promise.”
Her head dropped a little and a tear glinted in the corner of one of her eyes. She straightened up.
“I will have what you need brought to the room, my lord.”
Soon afterwards the water was boiling in a pot, and Faramir watched in fascination as Elrond sliced plants and crushed petals, his long fingers moving deftly with elegant, precise gestures. Leaving the final preparation to steam on the fire, he knelt down beside Faramir, lifted him up and carried him lovingly to the bed. Faramir lay motionless, eyes wide open, as Elrond soothingly divested him of the heavy clothes he had worn to the banquet – mantle, boots, belt and tunic. The ancient golden torque and the Steward’s ring were also carefully put away. Then Elrond tucked Faramir under the blankets and sat beside him.
“How do you feel now, child?”
“Certainly wanted,” laughed Faramir, but his eyes were full of gratitude. He took Elrond’s hand and kissed it lovingly.
“The brew is ready,” said Elrond, and he helped Faramir to sit up. “Here – better drink it hot.”
Faramir drank in silence. When he finished, he looked at Elrond, who had been observing him in equal quiet.
“It feels a bit awkward to ask this of you.”
“Do not worry. That Hobbit contrivance, the “pipe of love”, is here to help us out.”
Faramir laughed heartily and the corners of Elrond’s lips stretched to a smile. The Elf-lord stood up and slowly let his robe fall to the ground. Beneath it was a long tunic. He undid the clasp of the belt and, noticing that Faramir was looking at it curiously, dropped the girdle into his hands. While the young man played with it, admiring the Elven craft that had created it, Elrond stepped out of his tunic. When Faramir looked up, he was standing in nothing but his pants. The pale flesh of his body seemed to shimmer in the starlight. Faramir extended a hand towards him, then withdrew as Elrond approached to give him space. Elrond slipped under the blankets and, before Faramir could feel more embarrassed, he gathered the young man into his arms. Faramir tensed, then relaxed, his hand feeling the naked back, his leg entwining around the waist. Elrond’s skin was warm – of course, Elves don’t get cold even in a snowstorm. Elrond allowed Faramir to explore his body, gently stroking the young man’s raven hair.
“Thank you for this,” said Faramir, never stopping his roaming. “I wished so much to know my father, to know who he was as a human, beneath the official attire and the responsibilities that made him wear a mask as real as his clothes… He never allowed us to know him in his vulnerability, his fears, his wounds…”
He played with Elrond’s nipples.
“Your skin is so perfect,” he said in an awed voice. “It is soft as silk, and so completely hairless that but for the shape, I could believe these were a woman’s breasts.”
“Go on,” said Elrond, his sense of humour awakening again.
“Can I undress?”
“Yes, dear one.”
Without his own clothes, Faramir could feel much better the warmth, the beauty, the perfection of Elrond’s presence. He hid his face in Elrond’s chest and sucked his breasts, hardly believing he was being allowed to do this.
“You are so generous,” he whispered. “Don’t you have a desire that I could satisfy?”
“For me, feeling wanted is the only thing that matters,” said Elrond. “Although I would ask you to be careful in your touch. You have missed your parents, but do not forget that I have missed my wife for a long time!”
“I will be careful. It is nice that you take it as a joke,” said Faramir contentedly. “I feel sleepy now.”
“It is the drink.”
Faramir nodded, already half-asleep, and reached to touch Elrond’s cheek.
“Do not be afraid, my child,” said Elrond, stroking his hair. “I shall not leave you. No dreams will haunt you tonight. No dreams shall haunt you henceforth, because I will give you the recipe of the brew. But tonight I will sing to you in the Elvish tongue that you love until you are asleep, and keep singing to you softly all night.”
And so he did.
Elrond’s face was still as a statue in the dissipating darkness, but Faramir felt the coming of day even in his sleep. He awoke quietly to find Elrond’s hand steadily caressing his hair, and Elrond’s voice still humming softly to him in Elvish.
“Good morning, beloved,” said Elrond.
“Morning… You have to leave,” said Faramir sleepily and regretfully. Elrond looked up. The room was still in penumbra, but the clear sky showed that outside dawn was drawing close. The sun would before long start her glorious race across the firmament.
“I thank you for all you have done for me.”
“I am blessed to have you for a son. Your happiness cannot be greater than mine. There is something I want to give you.”
“What is it?”
“Rivendell,” said Elrond simply. “In a short time I shall leave for the Blessed Realm, and Imladris will be left to wither unless someone takes care of it. I give it to you, to go there to study and revel in the beauty of the place whenever you wish. Aragorn will give you the means to maintain it. But that place needs love, and I know no one will put their heart in it like you. It will help you to remember me… and if you come within the next two years, you may still find me there.”
Faramir could find no words: he wept, and hugged Elrond tightly. The Elf-lord had never liked parting moments. He pulled away from Faramir gently and dressed himself. When he was ready, he bent over Faramir and kissed his brow.
“Farewell, beloved. Even in memory, I shall be with you always,” he said quietly.
And he walked out of the room, not wanting to betray the agreement. Éowyn was asleep in her armchair, her head against the wall. Elrond could see that she had been crying, although he had not heard her. He brushed her hand and, noticing that she was stone cold, took out his robe to extend it over her. The sudden weight woke her and she straightened up, looking with surprise at the garment that was slipping to the ground and at the Elf-lord before her.
“He is yours,” he said. “I am sorry to have caused you anxiety. But it will be for the best. I know you will be very happy together.”
And so compassionate was his voice, so understanding his gaze, that Éowyn found herself sobbing in his arms. Elrond held her, rocking her back and forth, talking to her soothingly in soft whispers.
“It is over, now,” he said. “He loves you so much. You should dry your tears and get some real sleep, and then go to him.”
He stood back, and kissed her brow.
“Be a good wife to him,” he said, smiling at her. “Farewell, my daughter.”
Yes, he knew they would be happy. He had the gift of foresight. He knew that the Hobbits would be proud beyond right of the wisdom they had shown in suggesting the game (though that particular bit of the future didn’t take a seer to predict, he had to admit). He knew that Gandalf would understand. Few others would, but that did not matter. He was grateful for this night. He knew the memory of it would be an everlasting balm on a long-made wound. Whether he met Faramir again or not, he would be happy.
From now on, the thought of Minas Tirith and of Rohan would be one of joy. The sun rose, and Elrond of Rivendell hastened towards his room to prepare for departure.
1 Lothíriel, whom Éomer married later.
NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]
Enjoyed this story? Then be sure to let the author know by posting a comment at http://www.faramirfiction.com/Fiction/hobbit-wisdom. Positive feedback is what keeps authors writing more stories!
Thank the author
The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: