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02 April 2011 | 14742 words
29 Nárië, 35th year of the 4th Age
It has been a very long time indeed since I wrote in this book, and I’m afraid it’s partly because I have been ashamed of my inaction. Indeed, in the days after that startling conversation in the orchard with Legolas, I was full of good intentions and actually putting my mind to how I might woo Aragorn, ridiculous though the idea still seems to me in my soberer moments.
I don’t know how to woo: that’s the honest truth. When I was a younger man, I had the occasional dalliance with the maidens at my father’s court, but I was never the one who started it. It seemed that my being the Steward’s son was enough, at least at first. And then, no doubt, I disappointed them, for I was anything but a romancer, and to tell truth, I preferred either my own company or that of my brothers-in-arms to the silliness the girls always seemed to want to indulge in. And then, finally, there was Éowyn, who was about as far from silly as you could possibly get, and I’ve never been entirely sure how I managed to win her heart. It certainly wasn’t the usual way. I’m just endlessly glad that she somehow saw through my awkwardness during those long days when we were convalescing together, and realized that my stammering compliments were born out of real respect and affection as well as attraction to her beauty.
Anyway, I eventually did what I always do when I don’t know something: I went to look it up in the library. And what a futile search that was! On those shelves it is easier by far to find the most obscure lore about the making of fishing lures or the hunting of forest beasts than a simple explanation of how to catch the human you have set your heart on. Amongst the very little that was to be found, most seemed terribly old-fashioned and, being aimed principally at young persons of good family, chiefly consisted of strong warnings about proper behaviour. Nonetheless, I sat dutifully down one afternoon and made copious notes. When I read them through afterwards I could only shake my head; I could not imagine how anything there had the slightest connection to my King and friend.
Nonetheless, the last few weeks have been happy ones. I see Aragorn every day; he seeks my advice now as a matter of course, it seems, even more than he used to in the old days. And his manner with me is so much less constrained than it was that I often think to myself that I would be a fool to disturb this pleasant state of affairs to pursue a chimaera of more. But then there are moments when I am sitting beside him and my fingers itch to touch him; the words of adoration tremble on my tongue, and I realize I have no choice. I must make my attempt or else leave altogether, and I do not think I have the fortitude to abandon his company a second time. Not until all hope is lost.
I wake early these days, and this morning I took myself out to the Pelennor Fields for a walk just after dawn. There is no trace now of the bloody battle that took place here. Instead there are deep and luxuriant grasses of various sorts, dotted with colourful clumps of many different kinds of wild flowers. As I bent to look more closely at some birdsfoot trefoil, an idea came to me from my reading. How long had it been since Aragorn had been given a gift of flowers? Not since his coronation, I would wager. Smiling, I began to gather an armload of fragrant blossoms: yellow coryalis, red campion, and the ever-present cowslip. I even found a stand of spotted orchids, pink and glorious. To these I added a few poppies, the simple white blossoms of the cuckoo flower, and some scarlet pimpernel that I found along the side of the track leading into nearby woods. I was on the hunt now! Into the damp underbrush I went, and there added some more colours to my treasure trove: the pink of the broad-leaved willowherb, and the blue of the bugle. Gathering up a few tall rushes and grasses to give the blooms a proper green nest, I ambled back across the fields to the palace, pleased with myself though not a little self-conscious at how I must appear with my burden of foliage. I decided to go in one of the many side-doors of the Royal Palace, and as luck would have it I came across Legolas doing some gardening.
He stopped me and admired the flowers I had picked. “So full of nature’s vigour and the variety born of Gondor’s warm soil; very appropriate!” he said. “May I have the honour to add one more native flower to your bouquet?” And before I could say yea or nay, he had clipped from his bush a perfect white rose, long stem nearly thornless, and settled it carefully amongst my blossoms, where I must admit it looked quite at home.
“There. A white rose for the white tree.” He smiled his dazzling smile, and if there was mockery in it, he hid it well. “Good luck, Faramir.” He clapped me on the shoulder and turned back to his rosebushes.
I made my way up to Aragorn’s study, not sure whether I wished him to be there or not. As it happened he was not, but Arwen was, hunting down some old letter or other from Rivendell.
“Oh how lovely!” she exclaimed. “Are those for Estel, Faramir? Let me find you a vase to put them in.” She was as good as her word, returning in an instant with a tastefully plain vase, big enough to hold my harvest and with water already in the bottom. I was grateful and irritated at the same time: grateful because I truly had not thought beyond the plucking of the things, and irritated because, if I had ever seriously doubted that Arwen and Legolas were conspiring to aid my feeble romantic efforts, now there could be no doubt.
Arwen had started to fiddle a little with the flowers in the vase, but she stopped herself, saying brightly, “I should let you do that!”
I wished she had continued, for what do I know of such things? I self-consciously shoved the flowers around a bit, trying to make them roughly symmetrical and to pull upwards the blooms of the ones that were getting squashed under leaves. But I doubt I improved matters.
Across the room, Arwen announced her satisfaction at finding the letter she was looking for. “Don’t forget a note to tell him it’s from you,” she advised as she bustled out of the study.
A note. Another thing that had not occurred to me. I found a small scrap of paper and a quill. The feather was considerably worse off from my chewing by the time I came up with, “Warmest regards, Faramir.” Then I folded the scrap of paper and pushed it between two of the uppermost flowers. It looked wrong: too bold, and it disturbed the beauty of the blossoms. So I poked it down a bit, out of sight. Better. Carefully I picked up the vase and placed it dead centre on Aragorn’s big desk, where he couldn’t possibly miss it.
I ran into him at breakfast. He was full of suppressed excitement about something and fairly hustled me through to his study before the last bite had made its way down my gullet. Going to a tall cupboard, he pulled out a brand new, enormous, rolled map. Turning, he tutted at the flowers on his desk.
“Women!” he said cheerfully. “They never seem to grasp that this is a working office!” The vase was banished unceremoniously to the windowsill so that the map could be unrolled. Aragorn explained it enthusiastically – a new division of the Kingdom into districts, each of which would receive its fair share from the Royal Treasury for the building of roads, public buildings and schools, and for the operations of the local judiciary. I immediately spotted a problem with the boundaries of one of the districts, knowing that there were two very different tribes of men, who would not easily agree, brought together within it. That said, though, it was like all of Aragorn’s plans for his Kingdom: bold, and just, and well thought through. I said as much, and rejoiced to see the answering smile on his face. We talked for hours about the new plans, and I barely gave my poor exiled flowers a passing sigh. When all is said and done, there is no question what is more important.
Loënde (midsummer day; or rather, about two hours into 1 Cermië, the day following).
I cannot sleep, so I will write in here instead, even though it is only to record another disaster. Tonight we had the usual midsummer feasting and drinking, and I decided, in my muddled way, that this would be an excellent opportunity to woo my King. Accordingly, I shifted to small beer, so as to have my wits at least a little about me, and joined Aragorn where he was carousing with some of the senior officers of his army. I was greeted warmly, for I believe they consider me a competent commander, but to tell truth I have never felt much at home in that company. One or two of them I know a little better: there is Gransfell, who takes a great interest in cartography, and Perkinnon, whose family is from Northern Ithilien, and who is full of the lore of those parts. But when they gather together, they are all the same, and it is all drinking, swearing, and endless discussion of wars past and sports present. This evening there was much roaring of loud opinions upon the young men who had taken part in the midsummer jousting tournament. And when that was exhausted, we were back in the Ringwar again: old strategies were re-examined, old arguments were re-opened, and the boasting grew fiercer and louder. Aragorn was well into his cups, and took full part in all this, though as was ever his way, it was more in the remembering vein and less in the boasting. Still, it is not my favourite side of him, and I must have been making a sour face at one point, because he stopped and looked at me, then gave me a broad wink. I roused myself then and made an effort to correct some rather erroneous memories of the Siege of Osgiliath. I was rewarded by Aragorn’s broad smile and a mug of ale he pushed across the table to me.
Well, I hung on and outlasted them all as they wandered off soddenly to their chambers. Eventually Aragorn and I were left alone in the smoky little room, gazing at each other across a sea of empty bottles and overturned cups. I pulled myself awkwardly to my feet. Aragorn was even unsteadier as he did the same.
“Not your usual choice of company,” he said in a mild tone, slurring his words a bit.
“You are my choice of company,” I told him boldly.
I saw his eyes flash, and he stepped forward and seized both my shoulders in his strong fists, squeezing perhaps a little harder than he meant to. “Do you mean that, Faramir? Do you?”
The moment had arrived at last. His beloved face was close to mine. “Absolutely,” I said, and closed my eyes, waiting for him to kiss me. Instead, I was released so suddenly I staggered.
“I am a drunken fool!” exclaimed Aragorn, and before half of his name could pass my lips, he slammed angrily through the door. I watched him striding down the hall, uncharacteristically ignoring the servants who scattered out of his path.
I did not follow him. Instead I have retreated here, and I see no possibility of sleep tonight.
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