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02 April 2011 | 14742 words
Part 9 and last
We’re at an inn about half-way back to Minas Tirith from Northern Ithilien, and a welcome relief it is to be in a soft bed, I’ll tell you, for with every passing year my old bones get a little more reluctant to do these long rides. And besides… well, maybe more about that later.
Anyway, the pretext of this journey we took – that’s Aragorn and I, in case there’s any doubt – was a formal visit to the Elvish colony in this part of the country. But I don’t think there was ever any question about our real destination, though we said not a word about it to each other, even after the Elvish formalities were concluded. We simply set our horses’ heads towards Henneth Annûn.
We left the horses on long tethers in a shady glade with plenty of fodder and water. The paths through the woods into the hideout are narrow, winding and steep. Aragorn paused. “No blindfolds this time?” he asked with a smile. He was remembering how we Northern Rangers used to blindfold any strangers we brought there, even those we had reason to trust.
“No,” I said. “No-one is going in blindly.” And feeling curiously confident, I held out my hand to him. He took it, and though we have never walked thus together before, his hand felt entirely right in mine as we passed beneath the breeze-swayed branches, negotiated difficulties in the path, and heard the songs of summer birds and the waterfall’s splashing serenading us. Soon we entered the side-tunnels, and our path was dark until we emerged into the riot of rainbow light that is Henneth Annûn on a midsummer afternoon.
All too vividly I remembered our last encounter here: freezing, dark, awkward, exciting, and very nearly the end of our long friendship. We turned to each other, both saying “Forgive me” in the same instant.
“What have you to be forgiven for?” I asked him reproachfully. “I was entirely at fault.”
“Nay, Faramir, there was no fault, except mine in speaking so incautiously. Do you think I could possibly have wished to bring trouble between you and Éowyn? You were happy together; you were faithful to each other. The circumstances were entirely wrong. Had I only managed to keep my blabbing mouth shut…”
I shook my head at him. “And then I proved myself a fool and a coward,” I told him harshly. “But circumstances have changed, and I am determined to be neither today.” I advanced a pace upon him, and he stepped back.
“What do you want, Faramir?” he asked, and never was there a smile so devilish or so attractive. His second step back took him up against the wall of the cave.
I put a hand on either side of his head. “I want you, Aragorn son of Arathorn,” I told him. “I desire your body and I crave your love.” I leaned in and kissed him, and he responded instantly, bringing a hand up behind my head to cradle it.
When at last we broke apart for breath, he ran a gentle finger down my cheek. “I knew you would work it out,” he said with a contented grin. “My love you have already, and you know it. As for the rest, take whatever you desire!”
He was strong and wild and willing in my arms that night. It seemed we could not get enough of each other, returning again and again to the loving battle. And finally, towards dawn, I achieved my greatest satisfaction, persuading him – and it took some notable persuasion, believe me – to take of me whatever he desired. It was a great victory for him over all those years of self-denial, and we celebrated quietly for a long time afterwards, cuddling and kissing, unable to let go of each other, hot and sticky though we were on our moth-eaten old blankets on the cave floor.
The sun came up, and we bathed in the old Ranger fashion, swinging buckets into the waterfall and splashing the cold water upon each other. That inevitably led to wrestling and more kinds of naked gymnastics. I have never before had a lover who could physically outmatch me. It was utterly exhilarating.
That was yesterday. We spent the day taking our ease, and we talked long and seriously about many things, most especially about Arwen and Legolas, and I confessed myself a jealous idiot, especially when it came to the idea of Legolas in his bed. He laughed at that, and put his arms around me again, and told me that he grew up with Elves and even so it had taken him many years to get used to their ways of thinking.
I am content with that, at least for now. It is as Legolas told me in the orchard: Aragorn cannot be my possession. There are other, prior claims. But, as of two nights ago, he is my lover. There it is on paper – he is my lover! – and every time I look at the words I am filled with incredulous joy.
Epilogue – 5 Cermië
When we got home to Minas Tirith, there was nothing much going on in the Great Hall, but Aragorn strode confidently to the little withdrawing-room behind the Thrones. There, as he had somehow known, Legolas and Arwen were waiting, hand in hand, to welcome us back. Aragorn swept his wife into a lingering kiss on the lips, and then Legolas received a similar lingering kiss, while I stood a few paces back and fidgeted in confusion.
“Well?” asked Arwen impatiently, and at Aragorn’s little nod she flew to my side, threw her arms around me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “I am so glad, Faramir! I am so glad!” Her embrace was soft, and tinged with an exquisite, slightly stimulating perfume.
As she released me, Legolas caught my eye and raised his eyebrows. I felt myself flushing, but when he politely said, “May I?” it was with no great reluctance that I proffered my cheek to be kissed by that most beautiful and mysterious being.
I felt a little knot of panic pulling tight within me. In acquiring one lover, had I somehow acquired expectations from three? Aragorn slipped his arms around me from behind and steadied me, murmuring. “No coercion, my love. Never. Remember that. It is their creed and mine.”
“Details!” demanded Arwen.
“Yes, we want details!” seconded Legolas.
Aragorn laughed aloud. “Terrifying, aren’t they, Faramir?” he said. “But with you at my side I feel less out-numbered! No details, my sweet Elven harpies. If Faramir wants to tell you what happened, he will tell you in his own good time. As for me, my lips are… otherwise occupied!” And with that he swung me into a kiss that was prolonged and anything but coerced.
I knew at that moment that my life would never be dull or bleak again. And I am happy.
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