03 July 2008 | 2355 words
Title: Of Pain and Sweetness
Pairing: Aragorn & Faramir
Summary: They shared a night together a long time ago, but pain and unspoken words kept them apart. Now Aragorn needs help and Faramir is the one who is watching. Became the prequel to ‘The Coldest Winter’ but stands well on its own.
Warnings: A/F slash, albeit mild. If this is not your cup of tea, please leave! And, oh, it is very sad… sort of, in the beginning at least. A little.
Disclaimer: Obviously not Tolkien, but I repeat: not Tolkien, just me.
Of Pain and Sweetness
Aragorn was standing, no, he was leaning – heavily – against the doorframe. He hated it. How, how in the world, was he supposed to make it all the way? To his bed. To lie down, and sleep. He dared to lift a hand and wipe the sweat off his brow. He swayed slightly and pain raced through him with the force of an entire army, or so it felt.
For balance and support he placed his hand on the wood again. The palace was dimly lit at this time of night. It made it harder to see, to make out corners and watch out for rugs on the floor, but Aragorn had insisted he did not need more torches. He was fine. Right.
He had never meant for it to get this late, but there had been much paperwork and he never liked to leave things unfinished. So he had sat there through sundown and the lighting of the winter stars. Later, the waning moon rose, cold and impersonal, to shine down upon the White City. Gondor, where Aragorn was King.
Some King, who could not walk to his chambers without resting against the walls of his own home.
They had done their best, Gandalf, and the healers of both Gondor and Rivendell. With joined forces and knowledge they had worked day and night, all while Aragorn waded through hazy landscapes in his fever-dreams. Yes, they had done their best; he really could not blame them.
As pain slowly released its grip, at least slightly, Aragorn breathed more easily. He forced himself to take a few more steps. Almost there… away from the door and into the room… He dragged his left leg forward, the one that had been most injured, and hissed when a burning sting coursed from his foot towards his hip. Stars, very different from those in the dark sky outside, danced before him and he closed his eyes. It did not help, it never really did.
Faramir, Steward of Gondor, had watched Aragorn leave his office much later than he ought to have left. He watched and he followed, ever so quiet and discrete. If Aragorn found out, he would probably be displeased, but Faramir decided it was worth the risk. What if he fell? What if he slipped? What if he was attacked? By an orc? By several? By an army? Well. If he fell. It would be bad enough.
Now he was standing in the shadows several feet away from the door that led to Aragorn’s chambers. The King had specifically asked the servants not to light any extra torches and although Faramir could understand why, he would not have agreed to the idea had his opinion been asked for.
The progress was slow. He himself would have walked the distance in a couple of minutes, but they had been on their feet now for much, much longer. Or, in Aragorn’s case, had done his best to stay on his feet.
It was painful to watch; Faramir would have helped him if he had not wowed to stay out of sight. Soon it would be over though, and they would both be in bed. Separate beds, naturally.
Even at the thought, Faramir felt a rush of excitement. A rush he quenched immediately. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, which indicated anything. At all. Except for a memory that was old and should have been long lost by now. Indeed, it would be nice if you could expatriate memories.
A rustling sound pulled him out of his brooding. In front of him, Aragorn had made it through the door but now he had slipped down to the floor. Faramir cursed his own inattention, crossed the corridor with a few steps and sank down beside Aragorn who was very pale.
Pain and weariness had won. He did not even have enough strength to get angry. He was beaten, conquered and crushed. A King who could not even master his own legs. He felt his shallow breathing slow but that was no comfort since the pounding in his head only increased. The floor would be his bed tonight… No more moving around… no more…
Soft words slipped into his mind. They made their way through the hammering and past the throbbing. They slid in between the soreness and the ache, and wove a web of sweetness that seemed so unreal that Aragorn’s first response was to dismiss it. Then it became impossible as strong arms wrapped around him and he was raised from the floor.
No more moving, please…
All those soft words, and then, suddenly, another type of softness.
His bed, oh Valar, his bed!
There was a hand on his forehead now, gently stroking, while indistinguishable words still swam around him. He surrendered once more, but this time it was not to pain. Gently, sleep embraced him.
Faramir blinked as awareness came back to him. He had fallen asleep in the chair beside Aragorn’s bed. He was stiff and cold; the fire had burnt down and the palace was completely quiet. It must be in the middle of the night for there was no light sliding in from behind the curtains. A heavy sigh escaped him.
He really had only one choice: he would have to leave now before Aragorn woke up.
Yes, he needed to leave.
Faramir shook his head and got to his feet, a bit unsteady after sleeping in such an awkward position. Without thinking, or by reflex, he pushed the chair backwards with a screeching sound. Cursing under his breath he decided he would still try to leave unrecognised, but in his bed Aragorn shifted and made a muffled sound.
His voice was sleepy, almost dreamy, but there was a sharpness in it which made it clear Aragorn was definitely awake. Faramir froze.
“Faramir, I would know you anywhere, even in this darkness. It will not do to try to escape,” Aragorn spoke softer now, as if he had identified danger and realised there was none.
The Steward turned slowly towards the bed.
“Aragorn,” he began. “I did not intend to be seen.”
Faramir took a few steps in Aragorn’s direction. He needed to think of something that was not the truth.
“I did not want to be seen because I know you do not want to be seen. I am sorry.“ He was grateful for the lack of light in the room, but even so it was impossible to look straight at Aragorn. He swallowed but said no more.
“Yes, it is true,” Aragorn sighed. “But there is nothing to forgive, Faramir. I am grateful to you for… this.” He sounded defeated.
“I meant only to do my duty. I will leave you now to sleep.“ Faramir made ready once more to head for the door.
“Wait.” Aragorn shifted again. “Please, I would not ask this of anyone else but I trust you Faramir, please help me with one thing before you go.” It almost –almost – sounded like a plea.
Faramir turned, once again, to face the bed, “Of course my Lord, what can I do for you?” This time he raised his head to look at his King. In the darkness, Aragorn was – of course – still lying on his back in the position Faramir had placed him, but he had raised his head while talking. He supported it with both his hands. It looked straining. Faramir walked back to the chair and sat down. This close, he saw Aragorn’s eyes and that strange glow they always seemed to carry. Even in here, in the middle of the night, with curtains that banished all light of dawn and day.
“I would ask you to help remove my shirt and boots, and perhaps pull some covers over me,“ Aragorn told him in a small voice that in no way suited him. “I… cannot do so on my own, not tonight.”
Faramir had no answer to that, but before he was even given a chance to think of one, Aragorn continued:
“I know, Faramir, this is not the time or place to discuss any matters that regards… well, what happened,” he began. “Or, perhaps it is the perfect time. Either way, I do need your help, but I realise it might be uncomfortable for you,” he finished quietly.
Faramir stood. A few steps later he could bend down to pull off Aragorn’s boots, making sure he did it as gently as possible and finally he placed them on the floor. Then he came back and bent once again so he could find the laces of Aragorn’s shirt in the darkness. He fumbled and had to work a good long while before he could undo the knot.
Silence. Only breathing.
At last, with a small grunt of victory, he pulled the shirt open. Then his breath caught when he felt the skin underneath and blood rushed to his face.
Then, he sensed how Aragorn raised a hand from where it rested on the covers. He felt it close around his own, and bring it to a pair of lips.
“Faramir,” whispered Aragorn, and his warm breath flowed across the skin. “Forgive me.”
Faramir sank to his knees and rested his forehead against Aragorn’s chest. He breathed the scent of the man he had been so close to for one night, so long ago. Or maybe it was not so long ago, Aragorn had only been King for six months, but it seemed like a lifetime.
“There is nothing to forgive,” he said gently.
Aragorn brought his other hand up to turn Faramir’s head so he could see his eyes. Very softly, he did it, as if he was not yet sure how to act. The King’s beautiful grey eyes rested on him, watching him intently.
“I must ask for your forgiveness, Faramir,“ he said at last. “I should have paid you more attention after that night. I was… heartless. Then, after the accident, I lost all…”
A small spark of –
“Hope,” Faramir breathed.
“Hope.” There were tears in his silver eyes now.
Aragorn kissed his hand once more, warily. Then he kissed his fingers and his palm, every little bit of skin presented to him. Faramir rose, only to sit down on the bed. He gently removed his hand from Aragorn’s lips, and smiled down at his King.
“Maybe you would accept something else?” A third time he bent down, but this was not for pulling off boots or untying knots, this was for something different, much more desired.
Aragorn’s lips met his own in a trembling reunion. They were already moist from tears and tasted a little salty, but behind that first sensation was the true, sweet flavour of the man Faramir had for so long preferred to anyone else. He kissed slowly, let his lips linger on those of Aragorn, and he almost did not dare to breathe.
It was only when he felt a hand cradle his head that he dared to open his mouth and let his tongue brush over Aragorn’s lower lip. The grip on his hair increased and Aragorn kissed him back with more heat. The lips beneath Faramir’s own opened up and let him inside.
Sweet, sweet fate!
That was Aragorn’s tongue, claiming, swirling, licking, dancing! Faramir let go, released fear and constraint. He almost fell on top of the dark haired man on the bed, but he remained conscious enough of his actions so that he did not. Although Aragorn had worked hard to keep most of his strength, he was weaker now than before the accident with the horse. Faramir supported himself on his hands instead, forgetting the hour and the fact that he ought to be tired. Because those were Aragorn’s lips, and they were touching his.
At long last the kiss ended and Faramir raised himself a little. Aragon’s fingers tangled in his hair. There was a smile in the King’s face as he regarded his Steward.
“If you assist me, then perhaps we can make room for you too,“ said Aragorn with a hint of mischief in his voice.
“If you insist,” Faramir smiled back as he rose – very unsteadily this time – to help Aragorn move over to one side. He lifted the long legs one by one, while Aragorn shifted his upper body. When they were done, Faramir sank back upon the bed. Aragorn glanced up at him with a look that carried some of the enormous amount of pain his body probably harboured.
“I feel so weak,” he said quietly. “It must seem to you that I am, I do not know… useless.”
Faramir drew a deep breath, “Aragorn, hear me now, I would never consider you useless! No matter what happened! You are a great King, a great friend and,” another breath, “and a fantastic lover,” he finished. “No matter how many legs you have or how they work.” He licked his lips and swallowed.
A bit more than planned, perhaps.
But from the bed, Aragorn was smiling, and the pain in his eyes was replaced by something else.
“Faramir, stay the night. Stay forever.”
Faramir nodded in response, for a second, unable to speak.
“If you will have me,” he whispered.
“Now and always.”
Strong hands reached out for him and Faramir collapsed on the bed beside Aragorn who brought him close.
Yes, I’d love one of those pretty reviews…
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