This story is rated «R», and carries the warnings «Slash, sexual scenes, dreadful banter and one rude word.».
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18 March 2011 | 9343 words
Pairings: Faramir/Damrod, Faramir/Aragorn
Warnings: Slash, sexual scenes and dreadful ranger banter.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me (save Amelda and Darrion.) All written in good fun with no offence intended!
Author’s Note: I’m not really sure how Damrod is portrayed usually by other authors so this is purely my personal take on his character. Also, I gloss over it a bit (this was just a bit of fun) but Faramir is not the Steward in this story, I’m afraid I must use my artistic licence card on that one and say that since it has no bearing on the story then the reader can decide who is :P Faramir also speaks a lot more informally to Damrod than to his King, in case anyone thought I’d messed up (I kept muddling up the tenses during this so it’s not unprecedented!)
For anyone who’s been following my livejournal lately, this is not the story I’ve been going on about for the last two months; that one is still very much a work-in-progress! This story is one of those things that suddenly demands to be written when one decides to take a short break and ends up writing even more :P I wanted to pair Faramir with someone else for a bit, and, well, this happened…
Moonstruck; in a daze: acting in a rather irrational, dreamy, confused way, often out of love.
It is hard to be certain of one’s own eyes in the flicker of lamplight; in moonlight, even less so. But there is no mistaking what Aragorn sees this night, in the alley beside the tavern, after finishing his pipe, downing his ale and wrapping himself in his cloak to ward off the cool night air. A soft laugh and the shuffle of booted feet upon the dusty cobbles turns his head; two figures, hooded, in collusion, murmuring softly to one another. Aragorn does not mean to stare, but he finds his legs have halted him in a place where the moon’s gaze is shielded by the overhang of the tavern roof, and he finds himself squinting through the grey light, trying to figure out what is strange about this liaison above all others.
It hits him, suddenly, as the pair shift in such a way as to bathe their half-hidden faces in a shard of moonlight for a moment. Whiskered cheeks and the sharp angle of a jaw are enough to tell Aragorn that these are both men, as if height or build were not already indicators. It is also clear that any doings between them are entirely consensual; the slightly taller of the two presses his companion up against the wall, but it is not done forcefully, and the other curls his fingers beneath hood and into hair as their mouths meet soundlessly. Conflicted, Aragorn watches the shudder, the movement, transfixed with a churning in his belly as recognition belatedly filters through his mind.
The beam of moon’s light illuminates again, and Aragorn takes his chance to flee into the shadows, back the way he came, light-headed and utterly bewildered. He is no fool, he knows that not even rangers, from north or south, nor their captains are immune to certain urges or particular lusts. But this ranger, and this captain…Aragorn passes hastily through the gate, striding ever upwards toward the citadel. The knots in his stomach untie and re-tangle themselves as his mind whirls. Damrod, is it? The young man with the laughing eyes and straight brown hair that falls about his shoulders when un-restrained. Aragorn remembers only his looks for he has not yet spoken to him personally, but Faramir’s reports mention him occasionally, and by his opinion this Damrod is a fine soldier and a worthy, honourable man. And newly discovered preferences aside, he remains an asset to his company and his realm.
These recommendations flood Aragorn’s head, and they make a different sense now, for the man Damrod had been kissing so tenderly, fingers weaving into hooded hair, was Faramir. Faramir, who, if moon blinded eyes could be trusted, kissed him back just as willingly, pressing into him, running his hands up and down Damrod’s side as they melded into the shadows.
Faramir. Aragorn’s young captain, his ally, and how he wished he could he say it, his friend. Truth be told, their companionship is still very much a fledgling affair. There has been yet little time for easiness to build between them, with Aragorn’s rebuilding and defence measures requiring Faramir and his men to be sent out into the field to oversee and to keep watch on the still vulnerable areas of the land. Reports come back in timely manners, and the man himself, when he appears in council, is well-spoken and concise, clever and strategically-minded. But he keeps himself distant from Aragorn, more so than with others. The King often catches sight of Faramir conversing with the other council members amiably, or hears his soft laugh when walking with one of his rangers. Having lived his whole life in and around the White City Faramir knows all of the serving folk and healers too, and speaks with them in the manner of old friends. It puts Aragorn out, quietly, and he has become a little jealous.
Closing his bedchamber door behind him Aragorn slumps down onto the bed and runs his hands over his face and back through his hair, dislodging his hood and doing little to relieve the tumult of emotions within. Faramir does not speak to him about anything that is not connected to official political or city business, and seeing him so passionately occupied with Damrod only compounds the Royal headache.
He has long since realised his attraction for Faramir; the younger man is very handsome, anyone would say. But what to do about that was not so forthcoming. He has thought of going slowly, treading carefully toward matters more personal, but he has not even gotten a conversation out of the younger man in the many weeks since they first met. He groans and lies back upon the soft scattered pillows and thinks upon what he has just learned. Fate is fickle, it seems. Faramir shares his preferences, that much is now, blessedly clear. One less awkward conversation to have, Aragorn thinks, and then closes his eyes, knowing the likelihood of that conversation needing to be had are slim now that he knows the other, pertinent, truth; that Faramir is, quite clearly, already taken.
“Was there anything else?”
“Ah, no, no. That will be all for today, I think.”
“Are you sure?”
Aragorn looks up from the council minutes he has been rereading. Faramir hovers nearby, hands resting lightly upon the carved back of the chair he had previously been sitting in. The other councilmen filter from the hall quietly, feet and papers shuffling out of the double doors at the far end of the room. Their quiet mutterings can still be heard, but Aragorn pays them no heed, for Faramir is regarding him with such odd curiosity that not even the topic of today’s council would he recall if asked at that moment.
“I…am quite sure.” Faramir is being very bold today, Aragorn thinks. Impertinent, even, addressing his King with such familiarity after months of, deliberate or not, impersonal distance.
Faramir is oblivious, of course, to such inner monologues, and continues with such unabashed airiness that Aragorn begins to worry very slightly. “Good, good. I was just wondering. I have heard some strange reports, you see. Unusual activity down in the fifth circle.” He shrugs, and Aragorn vaguely recalls that perhaps the tavern he visited last week was indeed in the fifth circle. Or maybe it was the fourth; he was hardly paying attention on the way back in any case.
“Activity?” Is all he can offer, for Faramir has pulled his chair back out and re-seated himself, shifting closer to Aragorn and resting his arms on the table. He leans in conspiratorially, and Aragorn finds himself inexplicably wondering when it was Faramir had his hair cut. Or perhaps it has been so long now since they were alone together in any capacity that he truly cannot remember what the captain truly looks like. Certainly, at such proximity his comeliness is far more readily apparent.
“Mmm, indeed.” The young captain examines his fingernails, and Aragorn is tempted to reprimand him for such easiness with him just so that he has something productive to say. Or because he should. But he does not, and he knows not why, either. The hall is empty now, save the two of them, so there is no witness to this lack of monarchic assertiveness. “You see,” He continues, and Aragorn schools his gaze to remain locked with Faramir’s, and not upon the young man’s hands, or his mouth, “I hear tell a newcomer paid a visit to a tavern my rangers often frequent. Well-” He laughs softly, and Aragorn smiles nervously, “- I was there, so my report is more than just hear-say.”
“What…was this newcomer like? In appearance?” Aragorn wishes he could sound less idiotic but it is rather urgently evident to him now that Faramir knows something that he was not meant to know, and it is slowly becoming clear too to Aragorn exactly what that something is, though he holds out hope that he is wrong. It had seemed like a good idea at the time; slipping out for an hour or two in his ranger’s garb to enjoy a drink at a tavern where no-one would bother him with anything, and with no guards worrying for his safety either. He would be perfectly alright, if no-one recognised him. And no-one had, or so he had thought.
Faramir shifts, leaning back in his chair and folding his arms. It seems to Aragorn that the young man is rather amused about something; his blue eyes dance with hidden mirth, though his expression stays carefully neutral. “Oh, I am afraid I had had an ale or two when I noticed him, so the memory is a little foggy now that I think upon it. Tall, yes, and dressed much like my men, though I did not recognise him as anyone I had commanded. What I could see of his hair was dark, I think, but lamplight can be deceiving, as you know. And mixed with weed-smoke, well, who can say what was real and what was a figment of my imagination.” He rubbed his chin with the back of his hand. “All in all nothing to be overly concerned about, but a stranger is a stranger, of course, and you can never be too careful.”
Aragorn nods, feeling slightly ill, but no damage had been done yet. No more secret trips to that particular tavern, however, but he can accept that. He tries to work out why he had not noticed Faramir in the tavern but can only recall the moonlight reflecting in Faramir’s eyes in the alley, and he blinks hard, dismissing such thoughts. “Thank you, Faramir, for letting me know of this. Please do keep an eye out for any other…unusual activity, if you would.” He nods to Faramir, hoping to close the matter, and begins to get to his feet. Faramir, however, has other ideas, finally stepping over that tenuous boundary between ease and plain rudeness by placing a hand upon Aragorn’s shoulder and suggesting, with a gentle push, that he remain seated. Aragorn’s eyebrows rise up in question, disbelief and annoyance tempered for the moment, and complies. Faramir is performing that strange mixture of expressions that come from trying to restrain one’s laughter badly.
“My dear King, I must confess, I jest with you.” He laughs softly, letting his hand fall from shoulder to forearm. Aragorn does not move at all, ignoring the part of his mind that reminds him that in any other situation Faramir‘s hand on his arm would not fill him with such dread. “You did not see me, that is clear, but I knew it was you.”
“You were there?” Feign ignorance and this all could be forgotten, Aragorn hopes. He moves his arm away, finally, and Faramir lets him as he reaches instead to neaten the pile of documents in front of his King. He is still sitting so close, looking at him in a way Aragorn cannot decide if he likes or not.
“I…think we have already established that.” Faramir raises his eyebrows and Aragorn makes a face.
“I- yes. Of course.” Fumbling for something to occupy his hands, Aragorn draws his papers from Faramir’s interference with as much nonchalance as he can muster. “I did not see you?”
“Oh, no, you would not. I was near the back, speaking with Damrod. I left soon after, anyhow.” He leans forward. “I knew it was you, though.”
“I just did.”
Aragorn frowns and decides to end this. “Is that all for today, Faramir? Or may I leave?”
If Faramir is perturbed by the acid in Aragorn’s voice he makes no allusion to it. “Of course you may, you are the King.” He rises with Aragorn, and allows him, this time, to gather his papers and leave the table.
“If you would perhaps, remember that in future, Faramir, I would be much obliged.” Aragorn turns from him, frustration finally spilling over. Such liberty this captain takes with his monarch! He is almost at the door when he hears Faramir’s chair scrape further over the flagstones and his voice drift across the room. His blood turns to ice at his words.
“Did my King enjoy the view outside the tavern, that night?” Aragorn dares not show Faramir he has heard, but his legs stop working, and his head turns of its own accord just as it seemed to in the alley. Faramir approaches him quietly as Aragorn’s expression goes from carefully controlled ire to dread in one heartbeat. “You see,” Faramir continues very quietly, “My eyesight was clouded by smoke; and moonlight can play such tricks. But I am certain it was my King who took such interest in what he saw that night. He stayed for many minutes; indeed, I half entertained the idea that he was going to ask to join in.” A half-smile plays on Faramir’s lips, and the lump in Aragorn’s throat is impossible to swallow.
What could Aragorn say to that? Caught red-handed, though he had not been aware how long he had stood there, gaping, as it were, in the half-light. And Faramir had seen him, and made no indication until now.
“If I had known how eager you would be I would have invited you outside instead.” Faramir stands squarely before him, expression strangely gentle, looking at him with odd assurance. Aragorn’s mind processes all of this slowly and in strange order, and he wishes that Faramir himself were not so bewitching as to confuse the matter further.
“I did not mean to…intrude.” Quietly proud of at least one coherent sentence getting out Aragorn nevertheless wishes for escape. But Faramir holds him there with his gaze only, a blue-eyed prison he cannot convince himself to break out of. Not yet. He turns to eave yet again, but Faramir halts him with words spoken softly, belaying his earlier belligerence.
“Would you have come, if I had asked you and not Damrod?”
Aragorn wants to answer him truthfully, fighting past the insanity in his mind to give Faramir the response he has been quietly wishing he could give, but instead, he remembers exactly who Faramir dares to proposition, who he dares to speak to in such a manner, and the words come out before he can stop them, and the emotion they carry is altered from disbelief to anger, for it is easier that way.
“Think carefully, Captain Faramir, upon whom you address and how you address him when you put forth such volatile notions. What I do with my own free time is of little concern to you, the same as your private activities remain solely of consequence to yourself.” He steps away from Faramir, who looks up at him silently, all jests forgotten as the briefest flash of hurt is visible in his gaze. Aragorn curses himself, silently, but he must not falter. “That said, would that you had thought more carefully before revealing such preferences to one who rules a realm where those things are not seen as natural.”
He turns on his heel and leaves the hall, parchments crumpling in his hands, letting the door swing behind him, neither knowing nor caring whether Faramir follows him or remains. What awful things he has just said, he knows, denying himself and shunning a man who does not deserve such speech. He wants to turn back, throw open the doors, apologise, wind his fingers into Faramir‘s hair… But it is far too late, the damage perhaps irreparable.
It is only when Aragorn is safely ensconced in his study that he notices the paper Faramir has slipped in amongst his documents. The crumpled, hastily folded scrap of parchment, torn at the edges, dotted with spilled wax.
The one that says, in Faramir’s inimitably neat hand; We are not together.
Well, obviously, Aragorn thinks. And then he realises, as the sick feeling in his innards increases tenfold, that Faramir means himself and Damrod.
“Well, he’s an arse then.”
Hot vegetable broth and thick, crusty bread can not divert even Damrod’s opinion, even speaking, as he is, with a mouthful of both. Faramir ignores him, stirring his own bowl listlessly. The tavern is quiet enough for midday, half-filled with men and women and the occasional stable-boy settling for a quick lunch on a sunny day. Faramir watches one of the serving maids negotiate some empty chairs while carrying trays of steaming food toward her patrons and sighs.
“Oh, cheer up for goodness’ sake.” Damrod looks at him incredulously. Faramir rolls his eyes and diverts his gaze back toward his soup. His companion shrugs and sets about scooping the contents of his bowl into a heel of bread, biting into it without spillage. Faramir looks up at him and pushes his meal aside, running his hands through his un-tied hair.
“I’ve made an idiot of all of this, haven’t I?”
Damrod swallows and wipes his chin with his hand. “Well, “ He says, pointing at his captain. “Yes, you have, to put it bluntly. But it’s not unfixable.”
“Ha!” Faramir lets himself smile, possibly for the first time since his Royal altercation that morning. “And what, pray tell, can I do to fix this? I think I was a step away from being exiled, truth be told.”
“Oh, I hardly think it was that bad.” Damrod puts down his bread and dusts his hands off, reaching up to re-tie his own hair which has loosened itself once again.
“You weren’t there, my friend. I walk a very fine line at the moment, I think.” Shaking his head, Faramir sets about eating his lunch once more. Damrod leans back, bites his lip and gives such a over-exaggerated performance of pondering the situation that Faramir must laugh. “Oh, give over Damrod.”
Damrod grins and resumes his bread filling, taking another bite and coming to a decision mid-mouthful again. “Look, just give him a few days. I mean, I’ve never been King-” Faramir snorts. “- but I imagine he’s stressed out a lot. I mean, why else would our ‘Raggy slip off down here the other night?” Faramir’s look is withering but Damrod ploughs ahead, any nickname-induced outrage deftly ignored. “To relax, Fara‘.”
Faramir almost chokes on his bread. “Are you addled? ’Raggy is bad enough! What, do I call you ‘Rod now, do I?”
Damrod shrugs and grins back .“Right, forget all that just now. Look-” He throws a large crumb at Faramir who at least makes an effort to cool his mirth. “…look. He came here to escape all the doings at court and whatnot. Imagine, rebuilding an entire realm on your own, well, mostly. It’s not easy. So he comes down here to have a drink and spend an hour or two free from folk pestering him about building a bridge or a chicken-house or whatever.”
“Your point, Damrod?” Faramir tears his bread apart and dips it into his broth, his icy glare wasted on his friend who is orating all of this to an imaginary audience somewhere in the middle-distance.
“My point, Faramir, is that he overreacted. With you. Because he was stressed.” Damrod nods gravely, and Faramir rolls his eyes again. “I bet you anything you like he’s sitting up there right now wishing he could apologise to you. Or-,” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, “-he’s up there thinking of a way to seduce you. Right now. Think about it, he-”
“Shut up, Damrod.” Faramir throws the crumb back and pushes away his half-empty bowl, suddenly not hungry. “Let’s count off my transgressions, shall we?” He holds up his hands, pointing to a finger in turn. “Firstly, I have exposed his habit of leaving the citadel unrecognised, so he cannot do that any more. Secondly, I accuse him of spying on you and I, and enjoying it. Thirdly, I, for all intents and purposes, proposition him in the council hall, for the sake of the gods. Fourthly, and obviously, in doing all of this, though he will have figured it out by what he saw in any case, I have confirmed my…tastes, and I don’t need to reiterate his feelings to you on those. And finally, I left him that bloody note, so even if he did feel he overreacted, he still has that damned thing to remind him that what I said wasn’t just something blown out of proportion in hindsight.”
“What note?” Damrod has finished his broth and bread, and piles their bowls and cutlery together in the centre of the table.
“I wrote him a stupid note.”
“Yes, I’ve gathered that.”
Faramir makes a face, waving away Damrod’s out-with-it gestures and looking at the ceiling. “I wrote him a note saying that we weren’t together. As in you and I.”
“Gods, you’re infuriating. Look, I…I was trying to tell him that I was, you know, available. I mean he obviously saw us and got ideas.”
Damrod smiles at the serving girl as she clears their plates, waiting until she is well out of earshot before continuing, leaning across the table. “Could you not have just told him?”
“Don’t you think that’s what I was trying to do?” Faramir runs his hands through his hair once more, succeeding in tousling it further. “I mean, I went about it all the wrong way, but Let’s see you stand before the King, the King, and tell him you’ve secretly fancied him for months but obviously you can’t say anything because, last time you checked, you both had cocks.”
“You‘ve checked his-”
“Oh, leave it out, will you. “ Faramir gets to his feet, pulling his cloak from the back of his chair and fixing it around his shoulders. “I’ve got to go.”
Damrod looks up at him from his chair, wide-eyed and pleading. “Don’t leave me this way, Faramir.” He laughs half-way through, rather spoiling the effect.
“If you ever lose a eye or something Damrod, you’d make a fine addition to any mummers’ troupes we might have in the city. Be thankful you’re so skilled with the bow or else I’d be sending you to the nearest costumier.” Faramir smirks, stepping away from and avoiding Damrod’s half-hearted swipe.
“Oh, ha ha. Seriously though, Faramir, I’m sure it’s not all as bad as you’re making it out to be.” He gets to his feet, donning his cloak as they both make their way to the tavern door. “Why don’t you apologise?”
Faramir squints in the sun as they stand on the cobbles outside the tavern. The air is chilly despite the brightness of the day, and Faramir pulls his cloak more tightly around him before they head off. “I don’t think I should be seen within a circle of the citadel for at least another week, my good friend.”
“Well, I hear Rohan’s nice this time of year.”
Faramir shakes his head at him as they make their way along the street. Damrod whistles tunelessly for a while, stopping as they reach the fifth gate. After Faramir gives the passwords, and they pass through the great stone arch, Damrod suddenly speaks, quietly and seriously for the first time that afternoon.
“So you…really like him, don’t you?”
Faramir glances up at him, a reverie clearly shattered. “Who?”
“Oh, Éomer King; who d’you bloody think? ’Rag-… Aragorn. Whoever. You like him a lot.” When Faramir looks at him apprehensively Damrod smiles. “You can tell me, I’m not hurt. From the start we agreed that me and you…well, you know. We were never serious. I mean, I’d…never send you away. But, you’re like my brother, you know. Nothing deeper.” He sets his shoulders back, an image of nonchalance. “The other night…well, it’s always been a thing we’ve had. But never a thing, you know?”
Faramir makes a face, then puts an arm around Damrod’s shoulders. “I know. You’ve always been a good friend to me, Damrod.” His voice is suddenly quiet, and Damrod tactfully subdues his gregarious mood further as they walk together. Faramir looks up. “I like him, quite a bit. A lot, really. Too much, probably. But-…today was the first time we’ve ever spoken together about something other than the realm. And it was also our first argument.” He glances at Damrod who smiles sympathetically. “Tell me what to do with myself. Even if we could repair and start again, he made his own tastes quite apparent.”
“True.” Damrod stoops to lift a fallen apple from the ground, dusting it off and replacing it upon the trader’s stall they now walk past. The stall-woman smiles at them, winding her unruly hair back into a knot. When Damrod joins Faramir again, he seems to have come to a decision. They set off again, down the slope toward the fourth gate. “You want to know what I think you should do?” Faramir nods, defeated. “Go to him, apologise and begin building your friendship. There’s not much you can do if he doesn’t like men, you know.”
“Oh, keep your voice down, for goodness’ sake!” Faramir hisses at him, looking behind him as if expecting a legion of listeners to be dogging their heels. Damrod laughs, unperturbed by potential gossipmongers.
“Make the best of it, Faramir. If pursuing him romantically is fruitless then settle for friendship. I dare say that’s better than avoiding the citadel for the rest of your life, isn’t it?”
Damrod bats him on the arm lightly. “Is that all you can offer me? You asked for advice!”
“I know, and thank you. Really.” Faramir looks up at him, stopping mid-stride in the street. “I’ve got a lot to think about, you know.”
“Oh, I know.” Sighing, Damrod pulls his hood up over his straight hair and rests a hand on the hilt of his dagger, deciding now is as good a time as any to declare; “I’ve got to go along to Darry’s and collect new arrow-heads.”
Faramir smirks. “And going to the smithy requires hiding one‘s face because…?”
“Right, I’ve had enough of your cheek this afternoon.” Damrod points at Faramir, ignoring the other man’s scoff. “Bloody-…” He steps closer, a stage-whisper apparently more appropriate. “Bloody Amelda lives beside Darrion.“
“Ah.” Faramir nods with exaggerated understanding. “Your latest paramour?”
“Yes, with emphasis on late. I can’t get rid of her. I‘m hounded, Faramir. Hounded.” More amateur dramatics, this time the back of a hand draped witheringly over his brow.
“Oh, to have your troubles, Damrod.” Faramir shakes his head and pulls his gloves from his belt, putting them on as Damrod blusters.
“If you’d open your bloody eyes once in a while you’d see you’ve got women practically queuing up to bed you. If you were really a good friend you’d try and, you know, divert some of their attentions from me once in a while. Starting with Amelda.”
“Much-” States Faramir with grave aplomb, “-as I wish to help you in such matters I really should point out, again, that these patient ladies lack a certain something and therefore fail to entrap me with their allure.”
“Is that ‘something’ a cock?”
“Goodbye, Damrod.” Faramir places a gloved hand upon his friend’s arm, nodding in farewell. Damrod sighs and gives in, smiling and waving him off as his captain makes his way toward the fourth gate, head already bowed in deep thought. Out of the corner of his eye, Damrod suddenly notices a worryingly familiar shock of curly blonde hair approaching through the milling crowd, and he pulls his hood further down over his face, making a very determined beeline toward Darrion’s smithy. For all his advice to Faramir, when it comes to Amelda, Damrod chooses escape every time.
An apology, that is what is needed. But how to go about it? What to say? Aragorn stands before the mirror in his chamber and thinks what an idiot of a man it is that stares back at him.
It really does not bear thinking about. For roughly thirty seconds, had he had the courage, he could have been far more than simply friends with Faramir. But no. He had not only denied him, but humiliated the poor man into probably never coming within ten feet of him ever again. If Faramir was missing from tomorrows council Aragorn would not be surprised, nor would he chase him up. Best to let sleeping captains lie, and all.
Aragorn swallows cool water from the cup in his hand and goes over his current situation once more. It is midnight, or near enough, and here he is, standing in the moonlight before his mirror, half dressed and sleepless. It began when the moon’s glare bore down upon his bed through a crack in the shutters. After tossing and turning for a good twenty minutes he kicked off the covers in frustration and went to close the gods-be-damned casement for good.
But at the windowsill he had stopped, and an unknown force bade him throw open the shutters instead. Stark white light spilled from the panes and into his bare chest, bathing him in an alien brightness, and he knew then that he was now likely to get little sleep.
He cannot think of moonlight now without feeling his stomach twist, without wishing it had been himself and not Damrod in Faramir and the moon’s embrace. And so, he had found himself before the mirror in the half-light, for he finds that if one can regard one’s self while puzzling a dilemma it often speeds things along somewhat. It is almost as good as having someone there to talk to, though Aragorn does not speak aloud.
Looking at himself, he wonders strangely what Faramir sees in him. Would he find him attractive beneath the royal velvets? Not bad for eighty-seven, and then he realises with a soft jolt of clarity that such fancies are useless. Faramir will not want him now, if he ever truly did.
Aragorn sets the cup down upon his dresser and sits on the edge of the bed, head in hands. Tonight the mirror is not helping. Seeing the delicate trail of dark hair that marches downwards from his navel does not provide answers, and in fact serves only to suggest that were another stomach pressed against his, one whose hairs are coppery, perhaps more thinly scattered, (for who knows?), then he might be a lot happier.
Copper hair parted by callused fingers, divided into separate curls that wind around each digit of their own accord. He thinks also of Faramir’s eyes, clear blue orbs that looked upon him first and foremost with distant respect, and then lately with hurt and with shame. Aragorn would capture that moment in between, where those eyes had creased half-shut in a smile, jest or no. He would have Faramir wind him up as much as he wished, so long as he could find out exactly where the battle-scars on his body were.
There is a knock at his door, and for a moment it is so inconceivable to Aragorn that anyone should wish to see him at this time of night that he simply stares across the room as if that will serve some purpose. It comes again, a soft double-tap on the oak, and Aragorn gathers himself enough finally to call out; “Wait a minute!” before scrambling for his bedshirt. At this time of night it can only be bad news, and he does not wish to be half-naked when it is delivered.
Pausing before the mirror once again to ensure his hair is not entirely ridiculous Aragorn reaches for the door and unlocks it, expecting a grim faced guard on the other side, or an under-steward bearing urgent news. Pulling it wide open, he stops and stares and suddenly finds his tongue disobedient.
Faramir stands there, hand raised as if about to knock once more. His expression is, if anything, a mirror of Aragorn’s, though it is clear Faramir has not suffered from the King’s insomnia. His eyes are heavy-lidded even in their surprise, and his hair is a sleep-sculpture of intriguing design.
Strange, the things that come to the tip of one’s tongue in moments such as these, and Aragorn is certainly no stranger to such idiocies. “How did you get in here?” He manages, knowing he sounds a fool but it at least prolongs the inevitable difficulty.
When Faramir looks at him, lost, Aragorn nods over Faramir’s shoulder, indicating the door at the far end of his study that connects his bedchamber with the corridor without. Faramir shrugs. “Guard let me in.”
“Oh.” Bloody useless guard then, but then what threat does Faramir pose to his king? Threat other than many ripe opportunities to place one’s foot in one’s mouth, that is. “Would-…do you want to come in?” There is a lot of incredulity going on, and Aragorn knows he is providing the majority of it. Faramir shakes his head, dislodging the hair he has shoved behind one ear.
“I…am not really dressed for…visiting.” There is the ghost of a smile and Aragorn notices that Faramir is indeed also attired in his bedclothes, albeit rather more thoughtfully, for he has at least put a bathrobe on over his nightshirt before seeking company. “I will not trouble you for long, in any case. I…er, I came to apologise. Your grace.” He adds softly, looking anywhere but at Aragorn.
“Faramir…” He begins, but the words are reluctant. It is an ugly task, to remind Faramir of the terrible things he said by forming an apology of his own, and of course, there is still the small matter of letting Faramir know that he likes men too. And that he likes Faramir too, by the way.
“My lord, forgive me, but, hear me out. Please.” Blue eyes glance up through tousled hair and Aragorn halts his attempts at speech. The younger man swallows, then begins, words flowing from him so eloquently that Aragorn must assume some serious rehearsal has gone on prior to this meeting. “I must ask you for forgiveness for my behaviour in the council hall this morning. I spoke out of turn and took liberties with you that I do not have the leave to take. With my words I made implications that were both unfounded and unwelcome, and disrespectful to my King. I come to you now to try and rebuild what relationship we have left, for I would not have my King see me as insolent, irresponsible nor dishonourable.” He looks up finally, jaw set. “I am sorry for my ill words. Your business is your own, and it is not for me to bring it to light or make assumptions about it. I…” And he falters here, suddenly. “Knowing as I do now your stance on…men such as I, I would-… I would not have said those things, not even in jest.”
Gone is the defiance, the almost-cocky attitude of that morning, and gone also is the quiet confidence that Faramir more usually displays; the assured smile, the clear voice. Aragorn hates himself at once for the scorn he did not mean to show to this good man, the new assumptions he has given Faramir cause to make.
When the silences stretches out Faramir nods to himself and bites his lip. “I will not keep you any longer from your bed.” He turns to go, and since his tongue is still unreliable Aragorn has no choice but to place a hand on Faramir’s shoulder to halt him. The look Faramir directs at him in the dim light is impossible to discern; trepidation, hope, despair, impatience?
“There is something you should know.” Aragorn attempts to steer the younger man into the room but there is resistance. “Please, I do not wish to conduct this over the threshold.” He offers a soft smile, but Faramir lingers in the doorway and says nothing.
He grits his teeth and steels himself. “As you wish.” He releases Faramir and to his relief the captain does not flee yet. He stands there, in house-shoes and bathrobe, and waits for Aragorn to have out with it.
“My business is my own, you are correct.” He begins, and to his relief his voice does not waver noticeably. “But your business is your own concern, Faramir. I should never have said those things to you. The acid came to my tongue because you frightened me. You provoked a feeling within me that I was not prepared for and the only way to escape from it that I could see was to pull rank and dismiss you.” He reaches blindly for Faramir’s hand and grasps it lightly, lifting it up between them and looking at the other man over the ridges of their knuckles. “Will you forgive me?” He says softly, and presses a kiss far too delicate to be one of mere courtesy upon the back of Faramir’s hand.
Another long silence passes before the hand turns in Aragorn’s grasp and gently opens against his cheek. The King lets his own hand fall and his eyes close briefly. Faramir’s hand shakes almost imperceptibly.
“My lord?” He says, and Aragorn makes eye-contact with him again. When no rebuke is offered Faramir slowly slides his hand forward, fanning his fingers into the tangle of long, dark waves. “My lord…” The hand falls, suddenly, quickly, and Faramir steps back in shock as if released from a trance.
“Captain,” Aragorn says, voice so low it is little more than a rasp. And then Faramir seems to shake himself and come to a decision for he inhales suddenly and surges forward, fingers tearing into that dark hair again as he tilts Aragorn’s head back and pushes his tongue into his mouth. Aragorn slams back against the doorframe as their bodies come together and he can do nothing but yield and he does so with fervour, fighting the surprise and giving in to the attraction to Faramir he has always felt. His knees begin to buckle as Faramir bears down on him. Their tongues are sliding together and the way Faramir’s stubble scrapes against his top lip only excites Aragorn further. They can sort everything out later; the apologies, their friendship, whatever may come of this, but for now, Aragorn yields.
Faramir claws at him, pulling at his collar and running his hands through Aragorn’s hair in equal measures. It is not the tender caress of the alleyway, but he is not kissing Damrod. And if Aragorn has any complaints about the manner in which he is being so ardently courted he cannot utter them now, for Faramir gives up on the collar and sends his hands searching beneath the hem of Aragorn’s shirt, coming up flat against his belly and sliding around to haul the King closer by the waist. All this without once breaking contact; the kiss only deepens, and Aragorn’s knees give way finally and they stumble together, over the threshold and into the King’s bedchamber.
Faramir pulls away, though he does not release Aragorn from the loop of his arms. “You like men, then.” He offers a half-laugh, panting with eyes wild and searching.
Aragorn bites back a smile, equally breathless, leaning into him, questing after another kiss, but Faramir deflects him for the moment with a dart of the head. “Faramir…those things I said…I meant none of them, you must believe me.”
“Oh, I think the evidence is rather damning.” At this Faramir brings a hand around and down between their bodies, curling it over the bulge that has appeared between Aragorn’s legs. The King gasps. “Do you like that?” Aragorn nods, pressing his lips gently to Faramir’s neck and leaving a kiss there. “I forgive you, by the way.”
“Spend the night with me.” Aragorn leans back, drawing his hands up and framing Faramir’s face between them. The younger man looks at him but before he can respond he is gifted with a tender brush of lip against lip, as Aragorn strives to recreate what he saw in the moonlight.
Faramir returns the kiss, murmuring against soft skin and the prickle of Aragorn’s beard. “I cannot.” And before Aragorn can frown over the rejection in his words he adds, mouth against his King’s; “Not yet.”
“Of course, forgive me.” Aragorn laughs softly, sudden nerves playing havoc. Faramir’s eyes are half-shut and they crease even more as he smiles openly.
“We do not know each other well enough. Yet. My lord.” Faramir leans in again and their smiles meld together as they resume their exploration of one another, one small step at a time.
“I thought you were not spending the night?”
Aragorn smiles and reaches across the bed to trail his fingertips down through the hair upon Faramir’s chest. They like atop the covers in some disarray; Faramir has lost his robe, his shirt and his house-shoes somewhere in the journey from door to bed and Aragorn is equally bare-chested. The night is quiet, and despite their bruised lips and quickened breath they have fallen into a gentle respite together, lying apart after tumbling onto the bed in a welter of arms and legs.
Aragorn props himself up on an elbow, facing the younger man who has closed his eyes and lies contentedly on his back. “What goes on between you and Damrod, if you are not together?” He punctuates this with a gentle nudge, splaying his toes against Faramir’s bare calf. “We both know what I saw.”
The younger man shrugs, folding his arms beneath his head and affording Aragorn a proper view of the shadows his ribs create beneath his skin. “It is a thing we have, sometimes. Lately mostly when drink is involved, I admit.” He glances at Aragorn with slitted eyes. “It is not always only confined to kissing, either, if you must know.”
Faramir closes his eyes again as Aragorn contemplates this. Shifting his foot again so that their ankles lie interlocked, the King decides to finish the matter once and for all. “So, the note…” Faramir draws his hands over his face and groans. “By your being here tonight I gather that your…liasions with Damrod are at an end?”
“Yes.” He says, and it seems the matter is put to rest, but he adds, shooting Aragorn a despairing glance; “Can we burn that bloody note?”
“If you like.” Aragorn smiles. The moonlight divides Faramir’s body into thirds, highlighting the hollows and angles of his chest and stomach and leaving everything else; shoulders and face, hips and legs, in deep shadow. His body is slim but toned and the urge to run a fingertip along the pale scars etched across his flesh is one Aragorn unwillingly suppresses.
“Might as well burn this too.” Faramir sits up, squinting in the moonbeam before leaning over the side of the bed and rummaging around in his discarded robe. At length, he straightens and hands Aragorn a sheet of sealed and folded parchment.
“What is it?” Aragorn take it and sits up, mirroring Faramir who arranges himself cross-legged on the bed.
“My resignation from the council. Do not take offence, but I came here originally to apologise and give you that letter.” He shrugs again, a smile tempting his lips. “I woke up with the notion. I did not expect this outcome.”
“Nor had I.” Aragorn turns the parchment over in his hands but does not open it. “I would not have let you resign, you know.”
“No.” He sets the letter aside on the bedside table and leans forward, reaching out to Faramir who allows himself to be pulled forward. It seems Aragorn only wanted a kiss, for his eyes open wide and he lets out a huff of laughter as Faramir straddles him on all fours, forcing him to lie back against the pillows.
“I will not stay long, my lord. I do not know you well enough.” He repeats, showing off his straight teeth once again in a grin. “Yet.”
The King plants his palms solidly in the dip of Faramir’s waist. “Aragorn. Call me that, and now you know me a little better.”
“I would know you more. I mean, I would know you better. I would be with you, Aragorn.” Faramir’s head bobs near Aragorn’s ear, the tumble of auburn atop his head brushing the other man’s cheek. He leaves a kiss on the hinge of his jaw, and then another on the underside. “We should start from the beginning.”
“Mmm.” Aragorn agrees, though he feels his body already reawakening with Faramir’s proximity. Faramir notices this and draws back, mischief in his eyes.
“Before I go…” He draws his hands downwards over Aragorn’s chest, letting the fingertips explore collarbone and scar, rib and hair, ever downwards as Aragorn twitches and sighs beneath. Pressing a quick, hard kiss to his mouth Faramir frees him from his smallclothes and smiles wickedly. Before Aragorn can protest, though he knows not why he would, the younger man’s hair spreads across the King’s stomach and a tender kiss is delivered between his legs.
“Faramir…” But there is no answer, and soon Aragorn gives up and forgets what it was he was going to say, throwing back his head against the pillows as a hot tongue trails up and down the arc of his erection. And then, when Faramir takes him deep into his mouth, swallowing against him, he loses all notion of anything other than himself and Faramir and the waves that crash through his body ever more violently. His hands fist in the bed sheets and he cries out, softly at first, a breathy “ah!“ that slowly becomes more prolonged as Faramir continues with both skill and fervour.
After, when Aragorn’s breathing has subdued and his vision steadied enough to look upon the other man in focus, he is presented with a windswept Faramir, hair in utter disorder, running the back of his hand over his mouth to remove the last traces of Aragorn’s climax. His arousal is obvious beneath his smallclothes and Aragorn sits up and leans forward, body aching with the last vestiges of that blindness-inducing explosion. He tastes himself on Faramir’s tongue, something he never thought really possible, and sighs contentedly.
“I should go now.” Faramir offers, looking at him apologetically and slinging his arms around Aragorn’s neck. “The servants will wonder where I am come morning.”
“You may as well stay, the night is almost done with.” Aragorn can barely keep his eyes open as the torpor of afterglow catches up with him. He rubs his nose against Faramir’s and kisses his cheek. “Sleep in my arms.”
“I do not deny that would be something I would like, but really…we should start from the beginning.”
Aragorn loops his arms around Faramir’s waist, drawing him even closer. “But what about you? I have had my pleasure.”
The younger man laughs gently. “I can see to myself.” And at Aragorn’s frown, adds; “None of that. There will be chance enough for you to kiss me elsewhere. But not tonight.”
Aragorn relents at this rebuke and rests his chin on Faramir’s shoulder. They remain in this embrace for a long time, rocking gently as Faramir buries his face into Aragorn’s hair and begins to hum a quiet melody. The moon and the shadows both fight to claim them, and when they fall onto the bed again it is hard to tell which wins the battle.
“Is she here?“
A hiss in his ear and Faramir jumps, turning in his chair to see a be-hooded and rather tense Damrod hovering behind him.
“Is who here?”
“Amelda, you clod.”
“I don’t know?”
Damrod pulls out the chair beside Faramir and sits down with a sigh. “Useless.”
Faramir swallows some ale. “It’s not my job to keep track of your love-life, Damrod. Not any more, in any case.” Damrod throws him a long-suffering look which Faramir cheerfully ignores, finishing the last of his ale and beckoning to the serving maid nearby. “Drink?”
“Aye.” Damrod lowers his hood, having apparently deemed the tavern safe from ringlet-headed assailants. His own hair hangs loose, light brown strands dancing across his forehead. The serving maid takes Faramir’s empty tankard and his order and heads back to the bar as the door opens and two young men enter; stable-boys here for lunch.
“Trouble?” Faramir rests his elbows on the table and regards his friend.
Damrod sighs. “With Amelda there’s always trouble. She seems to think we are betrothed, though from whence she got that notion I have no idea.”
Faramir laughs. “I do hope you’ve not been babbling in your cups again. She seems the sort to latch onto any offhand comment.”
“Oh, believe me, I’ve been nowhere near her or her usual haunts for at least the past week. There was a close-shave near Darry’s soon after you buggered off yesterday though. “ He shrugs, accepting his tankard from the maid as Faramir pays her. “I don’t think she saw me.”
“And thank the gods for that.” Faramir raises his tankard in toast as Damrod shakes his head at him and takes a long draught. The tavern door opens once again as the serving maid takes out an empty barrel. The inn is busy enough with patrons coming for lunch or a midday drink. The shutters are open, and the sunlight pours into the low-ceilinged building and warms the tables.
“Speaking of trouble,” Damrod wipes his mouth with his sleeve “Have you decided what to do about you and that King of yours?”
Leaning back his his chair Faramir smiles distantly. “I decided to resign from the council.” Halting Damrod’s outburst with a raised hand, he continues with a laugh; “I’ve since changed my mind.”
Damrod’s eyes are wide and he nods in approval over the rim of his tankard. “Let’s see; you…went to see ‘Raggy last night and he got down on his knees and begged your forgiveness?”
“Er…something like that. Though ‘twas me on my knees, if you must know. Well, hands and knees, on the bed.“ He grins enigmatically at Damrod before making a start on his own ale.
“Wait-…what did you…?”
“Oh, kissing only. Technically.” A large group of traders spill into the tavern, filling the room with the clamour of voices and the scraping of chairs. Faramir glances over at them and Damrod bats him on the shoulder to divert his attention back to the matter at hand.
“So he really is an arse then? Saying all those things when really he liked you too?”
“…yes.” Faramir finds his cheek suddenly burn and he tries to hide this by drinking. Damrod thumps him on the back and laughs heartily. Faramir weathers his humour and fights a grin of his own.
Composing himself finally Damrod leans in close to whisper; “So you…spent the night?”
It is a moment before Faramir can give his answer. The tavern door swings shut again and another ranger takes his seat by the fireplace. He had insisted on leaving, he had told Aragorn he could not stay, but he had fallen asleep in his arms nonetheless, and found himself blinking in the early dawn’s light in them too. The King’s body was warm, and he had pressed a kiss to Faramir’s forehead when he realised he had awoken.
With Damrod there had never been much affection afterwards. But he could get used to the scent of pipe-weed in his hair, he was sure of it.
“We didn’t fuck, if that’s what you’re getting at.” Sometimes the most direct answer was the best choice, especially when it came to Damrod. The other man tutted, shaking his head.
“I barely know the man, Damrod. ‘Twas a good six months into our friendship before I let you into my bed if you’ll remember.”
Outrage writes itself across Damrod’s fine features. “’Twas you who came to me!” When Faramir shakes his head he rolls his eyes. “What then, is that it? You kiss and make up and that’s the end of it?”
“On the contrary, we’ve…agreed to begin things properly. By which I suppose I mean we become friends first.” Finishing his ale Faramir pushes the tankard away, stretching his arms out over the table and hearing his elbows pop.
“With benefits I hope.”
“Hmm, I would say very probably.” He grins and reaches for his cloak.
Damrod eyes him suspiciously “Where are you going?”
“Over there.” Faramir nods toward the fireplace and the solitary table beside it.
Damrod glances over to see that the table is occupied. “Pfft, is that bloke more interesting than me or something?”
“I bloody well hope so.” Faramir pats him on the shoulder in farewell, turning to go.
Faramir looks back at him. “What?”
From behind him, Damrod can see the man seated at the table. His face is hidden by his hood but his dark hair spills out across his shoulders. He lights a pipe, and clarity suddenly dawns on Damrod and he grins, shaking his head.
“Ah, nothing, you go on then.” He raises his hand in farewell and Faramir laughs, turning away again and heading over to the table by the fire. Damrod watches as his captain pulls out a chair opposite the other ranger and seats himself. Only the back of Faramir’s auburn head can be seen, and though his companion’s face is shielded by his hood, his smile is visible amid a whorl of weed-smoke.
“Good for you.” He says to himself, turning back to his ale and draining the last of it. From what he has seen, both today and in passing, the King is indeed very fair. His captain is a lucky man, he thinks, and then freezes in fright as a hand descends upon each of his shoulders and squeezes gently.
“Oh, my love!” Amelda whispers into his ear. “You are a hard man to pin down sometimes!”
“What are you laughing at?”
Faramir turns in his seat in time to see a short, blonde-haired woman plant herself in a very alarmed-looking Damrod’s lap. When Damrod catches his eye Faramir winks at him, and gets a very rude hand gesture in reply.
“Should you stand for such insubordination, Faramir?”
“Oh, I will let him off this time. Seems only fair, going on my recent actions.” Faramir turns back to his companion, who smiles again beneath the shadow of his hood. “Where were we?”
Aragorn bites his lip in a most un-Kingly manner as Faramir’s fingers spread over his knee beneath the table. He covers the captain’s hand with his own, squeezing gently as he exhales a cloud of silver smoke.
“I do believe we were at the beginning…”
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