This story is rated «R», and carries the warnings «AU».
Since you have switched on the adult content filter, this story is hidden. To read this story, you have to switch off the adult content filter. [what's this?]
Remember that whether you have the adult content filter switched on or off, this is always an adults only site.
01 March 2010 | 8657 words
Pairing: Faramir/Boromir/Aragorn, Denethor, Éowyn
Summary: Faramir struggles with existing bonds, Boromir struggles to steer clear of them
A/N notes: Bálin is pronounced Bay-lin… unless my elfish research is crap, which is entirely probable.
Sequel to: Fresh Fuel for Charred Coal
The residents of Minas Tirith tacked wooden boards or thick tapestries across their windows. None imagined the enemy getting past the gates, but one astute soldier warned his family of looters from the townlands and once one house barricaded, more followed. Those who had no wood or fabrics pushed cupboards in front of the openings. Many of them bartered what they could spare for bread and cheese and wine. Candles and sweets, formerly sought after items, were of little value as war approached and people from the countryside swarmed into the city. The streets were packed with chaos.
So it was no surprise to Faramir that few people recognized him as he slipped through each gate, including the first, which meant not even his recognition call was blasted. His borrowed horse slowed at each turn, puckered skin at his shoulder pulling with each tug on the reins. He couldn’t be sure how many days he traveled down river before waking from fever, though he was certain his future King would have his hide when he next saw him. The wound wasn’t fatal but Aragorn’s healing had burned the daylight they could have used to look for Merry and Pippin.
They’d all camped on the bank below Rauros, Aragorn and Legolas to cross the river at first light, while Gimli would accompany Faramir down river with the boat they’d dragged down the slope. But Fara had slipped into it in the middle of the night and pushed off silently, leaving all three no choice but to go after the orcs.
He dropped to the ground with minimal discomfort, let Mablung hand their mounts to a hand. The guards at the door were tense. He heard his father’s voice as he stepped across the threshold, tight and low. “Erect the gallows on the morn.”
“No!” Faramir recognized this voice as Sam’s. He saw the hobbit pull away from a guard and throw himself to his knees. “Please your lordship. We aint’ done nuthin’ wrong. There weren’t a sign anywheres that said we couldn’t tress on yer pass or we wouldn’t have, honest.”
“If yer needin’ t’ kill somebody, kill me, but let Mr. Frodo go-”
“Father!” Every breathing soul in the hall turned as Faramir strode up the aisle. Denethor’s cup fell to the flagstones.
“Father, do not harm them. They are innocent and in great haste.”
Denethor’s eyes raked over Faramir, warring between disbelief and hope. Faramir kneeled before him. “Father.”
Trembling hands carded through his hair. Faramir could feel Denethor’s need to know he was real.
“What trick is this? I saw your death.”
“Saw Father?” Denethor’s bewildered eyes changed then, guarded. Faramir knew this mood and adjusted his tone. “Can you not see now that I’ve come home to you?”
Strong hands pulled him up, hugged him tight to his father’s breast. Faramir felt his breath crushed and his chest ached from the pressure. He saw a relief pass over Endahil’s face as the chamberlain stood behind Denethor’s chair. Faramir stepped back to address the Steward.
“You must release them, Father. War is at our doorstep and they have a part to play.”
“They have trespassed against Gondor. As you think so highly of them, you may plead their case. But for now they will be kept under arrest.”
“Father they must leave with all haste.”
“You will not tell me why?”
Faramir studied his father. The man had aged nearly a decade since he’d seen him nine months prior. The valleys through his face were deeper, his beloved gray eyes bright with a fever that had nothing to do with illness. Faramir’s heart ached for the warm memories of strong arms surrounding him, adulation unnamed, but always felt. But what he saw now reminded him of the sensibility Denethor lost each time he’d visited the tower, though now grown much more absent.
Denethor’s jaw tightened. His eyes never strayed from Fara’s face as he spoke in a low tone, “Set the prisoners under lock.”
Faramir leapt behind the chair and drew his knife. He pulled Endahil into a lock, blade at the man’s throat. “Let them go, Father.”
“Captain Faramir. Unhand him.”
“Unhand them.” Then Faramir whispered into Endahil’s ear, “I won’t harm you, Endhail, but Father is a stranger to reason.”
Denethor looked between Frodo and Endahil, glared at Faramir. Fara could see the thought process moving at great speed. He knew his father was Steward first and would sacrifice his chamberlain if needed. But he also knew this shrewd man had grown to trust his son’s instincts. The question was whether Denethor was willing to be upstaged by them.
Denethor nodded once and the guards let Frodo and Sam go. Faramir backed toward the door with Endahil, Mablung at his side. He lowered his voice, “Mablung, take them round Mindoillin. Show them the way to Cirith Ungol. Go.”
Mablung drew his dagger and pulled Frodo through the corridor, Sam rushing after until their footsteps could no longer be heard. Faramir tightened his hold on Endahil. “I hope you know what you’re doing, Fara.” The smallest slice of fear in the old man’s voice saddened him, but he had made his choice now.
He looked around the room. Several guards stood, wary, eyes traveling back and forth between Denethor and Faramir as if they watched a joust. Denethor had sat again, tapping a finger against the arm of his chair, watching expectantly as if waiting for the moment Faramir would realize just how badly he’d errored.
When he judged his time had come to a close, Faramir lay down his knife and knelt before his father, who slapped him hard and ordered him under arrest.
Hathol had watched them spar for hours, the North Man and the Outlaw. No swords were needed, no daggers. Their eyes cut sharp enough as they oversaw the work. The ships were still far enough south that the banks were more green than brown, but the heat between these two was oppressive, rippled off them in waves to pull the rest of the men in, distracting them from their fear of the Dead while they sailed upwind, likely to their own deaths. Their quarrel seemed more than who got Captain’s Quarters.
The lean one… Aragorn… Hathol had heard he was the absent king coming to stake his claim, but Hathol was not dense enough to fall for that old joke. He did have a way about him though, kind of lofty and imposing like, through the dirt and all. You knew he was just one of them rangers, but you wanted to follow him, would march straight into the fire just to feel the quality that surrounded him.
The fair one was moody, avoiding the ranger with a bite in his stance, yet constantly watching him, those green eyes churning with stormclouds. He was just a lowborn drudge like the rest of them, but he sure was a beauty with all that golden sweaty skin, if you fell in for that kind of thing. Not that Hathol did, of course.
Oh the other stole his fair share of glances as well, and you could tell this Aragorn was sizing up the younger one, a bit of an appetite below. But he was cunning, sly about it, biding his time, whereas the cocky plodder couldn’t hide his ire if he were down ten pounds and just rolled a three. You wouldn’t want to cross either one of them, and you definitely wouldn’t want to get between them.
The one they called Bálin had given the men permission to get drunk. Most took the liberty. None wanted to be awake while the Dead walked the deck that evening. Hathol hadn’t gotten as much as he’d have liked, so he woke with a start when he heard footsteps descend the ladder.
It was almost impossible to see with only one lantern near the ladder, but he spied Bálin tumbling out of his hammock as that ranger dropped down to the planks, his eyes searching across the field of snoring men. His sight must have been keen for he quickly crossed to Bálin in a stance of challenge, voice dropped low and fierce, “They’re all drunk?”
“Twas not your place to allow it.”
“As much as anyone’s.”
“There can be only one captain.”
“Did I miss the vote then? Ye ain’t King yet so I deem the position open.”
Aragorn shoved, knocking the other man against the protruding bones of the ship, pressing his forearm against Bálin’s neck. Hathol ran a finger under his own collar, the air heating up around him. He glanced around, but it looked as if he was the only observer.
“You wish to challenge me?”
Bálin struggled, his sleeve caught on a jagged board. He barely registered the question while he tugged desperately on the fabric.
“Hold!” Aragorn’s whispered command caught Bálin’s attention, stopped his twisting. Bálin’s bearing shifted then, as though a mask slid into place, and his voice turned to venomous honey.
“Ye sulk behind false names. Do ye fear yer title?” Aragorn shoved him away, disgusted.
“The stones you cast are blindly reflective… Boromir.”
The name rolled off the ranger’s lips like a blackbird’s call in mid-summer. Hathol had heard it before, some history lesson about Gondor, where the only water they held was the thin ribbon of the Anduin. He rarely paid attention to old stories but for those of his own country. In Dol Amroth, they were usually of the sea.
“My status does not affect other men.”
“Only one man.” Aragorn leaned in. “Have you ever led men?”
Bálin, or Boromir, whoever he was, puffed up just then, like a peacock. “I led men to Pelargir; men with no allegiance.”
“But you did not lead them back.”
Boromir turned his head toward the hammocks behind him, searching over the men one by one. Hathol wasn’t sure who he looked for. The only soldiers on the ship were those of Imrahil’s. The North Men followed Aragorn.
At last Boromir swung back to Aragorn, bravado forgotten. “No. I did not.”
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/ignite. 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: Vanwa Hravani , Anastasiya