25 March 2011 | 557 words
Pride and Duty – By Nerey Camille
Pairings: Denethor, Aragorn
Warnings: AU, violence, character death.
Disclaimer: The characters are Tolkien’s. No profit is being made.
Note: In this story, Denethor was saved from burning and brought to the Houses of Healing with Faramir. Consequently when Sauron was defeated, Aragorn found himself unwelcome by the Steward…
The dreadful moment had come. The court watched with wide eyes as the two men slowly donned their helmets, drew out their swords, and thinned the distance between themselves. Faramir’s eyes went from the Steward to the heir of Isildur. He didn’t dare call him King, even in the privacy of his mind, for he knew that the moment Aragorn was hailed as the King of Gondor, Denethor would lose his head for insubordination. The Steward had refused to relinquish the throne when Aragorn came back in victory from the Black Gate, and to avoid a civil war the council of the City had decided that the two men should wager battle for the rule of Gondor. Let the Valar decide whose claims were more legitimate.
Faramir snorted. Such was the faith of the council in Denethor son of Ecthelion that they had deemed it a fair decision to pit him against the man who had saved Gondor at her direst hour. It was unfair, as everything connected with Denethor had always been. Yet Faramir could not suffer his father to die, either in combat against a stronger (if not younger) man, or under the executioner’s degrading sword. He wished Denethor would have had the sense to exit gracefully, but that was now of no avail. And just when he was about to bitterly lament his failure to prevent this dishonour, in the split instant before the swords collided, he saw a way out.
Painful. Dramatic. But effective. He thought for a moment of Éowyn, whom he loved and had intended to marry, and regret pierced his mind for her as well as for himself.
The swords clanged, and Denethor fell a step backwards. Faramir drew his own sword, short and keen-edged, and with a steady hand buried it in his chest. He fell to his knees. A cry of horror rended the air, as the Lady of Rohan beheld her betrothed’s action. The opponents halted, staring at the young man who gasped for air. Seconds later, Éowyn was holding Faramir, tears flowing down her face as he gave her a gaze of deepest love and fell lifeless in her arms. Aragorn looked on them with pain and pity, but the expression in Denethor’s eyes was unparalleled. The Steward of Gondor glanced at his dead second son and a flame of fury brightened his eyes. He turned towards Aragorn.
“I know why he did it,” he said, “so that I would have no reason to fight. My heir is gone, and no one will succeed me as the Steward of Gondor. Let your grace have the rule of the White City, which in my heart can only be called Minas Dagnir* now. I will not bow to you, but neither shall I trouble you any more.”
As the crowd saluted Aragorn as the new King of Gondor, the last Steward of the line of Mardil squared his shoulders and proudly walked out of the battlefield.
*Tower of the Bane.
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