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23 June 2011 | 2723 words | Work in Progress
Title: Scarlet Runes
Summary: Punishment, hm. He chastises himself for using that term even in thought, for it speaks of spite on his behalf, of hurt unforgiven – and had he not been told it was all being done for his own good?
Notes: based on Book canon for personality and appearance of the characters.
Written for the 2011 Midsummer Retakes.
Request by Angelstar3999: Elrond/Faramir – I would like a story where Faramir is raised by some other than Denethor (Haldir, Thranduil, Celeborn, Erestor, Glorfindel, or any other elf that you might think of. I am not picky.) The reason he is or was raised by the elf-person of your choice is up to you. I will leave up to you on how Faramir meets and falls for Elrond, but I would like Faramir to be a bottom at least even a demanding bottom if that is better. Maybe Faramir can make Elrond jealous over something. (Not picky) I will leave the rest up to you.
“Can you see?” Faramir stretched his arm, pointing. Had his horse been equipped with stirrups, he might have felt like even standing up in them, although his companion’s sombre presence would likely have withheld him anyway. “Another hour at most.”
She nodded, absently, without a word, as though their approaching arrival was of no import to her.
He leaned over and touched her hand holding the reins, for she alone of their small company rode in a saddle and had a bridle – to at least in part compensate for the weariness the long journey was bound to inflict upon her. “Are you very tired?”
The maiden raised her gaze at him and curved her lips in a gentle smile, as though apoligising for the trouble she was causing. He felt sorry he had asked.
Neither of them had ever been this side of the Misty Mountains, let alone to such a fabled site, but it felt profoundly inappropriate to get exuberantly excited in the company of someone so listless and frail… She had always been a little too thin to appear fully healthy, and recently had been turning downright gaunt. Her paleness had the translucency of skimmed milk, and even the gold of her hair seemed to have faded.
An additional, albeit not entirely rational, reason Faramir felt deep sympathy for her was that she bore a name that had first belonged to another, just like his own mother had. Faramir could not quite penetrate the thinking behind naming one’s daughter after, or at least the same as, someone who had met a rather unenviable fate, but perhaps Aredhel’s father had had his reasons…
In either case – although, truth be told, he was glad for the occasion to leave the old familiar Mirkwood with its no less familiar vicinity and see a bit of the world around – he genuinely hoped the trip would indeed prove fruitful for her. For, among other things, it had not escaped his ear – although he did hope it had escaped hers – what some, and not altogether few, of the other elves thought of Aredhel’s plight and the according remedy to be administered. They were on the whole an unromantic people, the Wood Elves – close to earth, as he defined it to himself, non-squeamish in a pragmatic kind of way – and in their view the maiden’s trouble came mostly from having remained a maiden for far too long. It was true she was no sapling, however much she looked a bud rather than a blossom: he did not know the exact figure, yet it was beyond question the Lady counted centuries in dozens. Yet he did not, and never had, for that matter, endeavoured to grasp the logic for determining when an Elf was due, or overdue, in terms of entering marriage: probably his human blood prevented him, and having spent the better part of his conscious life among these folk made little difference. All he knew it disgusted him when they made vulgar metaphors along the lines of a flower needing a bee and exchanged meaningful looks.
Not that she was missing out on much, if Faramir’s opinion were to be asked.
To be fair, he had never given it a try with an Elf… At times this seemed strange even to him himself, for the arrangements of his life made it far easier to find an elven mate than a human one, and yet he persistently avoided his foster-people when it came to the sensual, rather going after the ones of his own kind. Of his own kind in both senses, for they had always been men, every single one of them – not that there had been that many, really.
He had never questioned this streak in himself with any degree of depth, wary, perhaps, that doing so would take him too far back in time to matters he would rather not think of. He had little trust in women, although no woman had ever meant him ill – he even liked them, with a gentle brotherly affection, often with a sadness mixed in, yet to desire one, a daughter of either Men or Elves, seemed to him a notion as strange as imagining himself sporting a pair of pointy ears.
Besides, with men there could be no ties, nothing promised, nothing asked – with men it was simple and clear as day, and on his scales the virtue of clarity had great weight.
The Men he found among the Lake people, with whom the Wood Elves, conveniently, had plenty of dealings, mainly of the commercial nature. Well, he added to it some dealings of his own – similarly business-like and brief, for the most part, unless their schedules allowed to tarry overnight, which, however, never made it any less business-like. Dark-haired, often boskily bearded, the skin of their hands reddened by hard work and frequent exposure to cold water, succinct in their speech almost to the point of coming across rude, they were invariably headstrong and straightforward in their passion.
No, if the males he had been with were anything to judge by – again, there had not been that awfully many, although still enough to make any conclusions more or less statistically trustworthy – he truly did not reckon the Lady was missing out on much.
Shove in, pull out, shove in again, grunt. Not that he minded – far from it, but at first he had been rather unimpressed. Was this all there was to it, really? But indeed, whenever Faramir was in the active position, he found the other wanting to be treated in just the same way, the harder the better and never mind the coarseness, while an attempt at anything remotely artful was met with dull puzzlement at best. It was now long since he had accepted this as the modus operandi for these things. Disillusionment was not exactly a novel concept for him.
As for the Elves, he did not know. Maybe blonds did not do it for him. Or, maybe, it was that all the years he had spent with them, living his days as one of them, had never erased for him the border, never made him feel as one of their lot – and in that they were not desirable to him. It did not help that he could never take them – both the youths and the more seasoned ones – quite seriously. There was a certain purposelessness about them that estranged him. This, too, likely was his human heritage, from his previous life, short as that had been. A Man had so few years he had to make something of them, had to have a direction and an appropriate pace to get there in time. A Man’s old age was merciless and swift in coming, wherefore one could not afford to while one’s strong years away on wine, hunts, pranks and general dalliance, singing merry nonsensical songs and once in a while stopping to get sentimental over how beautiful the setting sun looked through the pendulous green-adorned branches of a white birch. Yet for an Elf, at least for one of Mirkwood, for he had never known any others, this was a perfectly normal behaviour – the expected behaviour, in fact, for was not Faramir on regular basis teasingly accused of being ‘deep’ and even ‘morbid’, although the latter was, of course, a blatant exaggeration? Were not his many projects more often than not met with a grace that did not, however, result in any even relatively immediate action, it all being approved yet cheerfully tossed into the heap of tasks to be done someday when ‘our schedule clears’? ‘What schedule?!’ he had wanted to shout in the beginning, but now he was used to it. He could not blame them, really – they had forever.
Nor could he blame them for not taking him seriously in turn. They were fond of him, in a way – they even had, and more than once at that, told him he was kind, although what that was predicated upon besides his lack of the common habit of teasing and taunting everyone around him, he could never discern. Were there to be selected one word to describe their overall opinion of him, it would have been ‘amusing’. Amusing in his need to dwell – they would call it ‘brood’ – on things, in his need to constantly apply himself to a cause, seeing rest as something to be deserved rather than something to be enjoyed, amusing in being startled when they crept up on him from behind – yes, they still got him nearly half the time, despite all his training. Amusing in changing so fast. After his tenth birthday he had given up on hoping to receive something besides baby toys for presents. ‘Sorry, it’s just not possible to keep up with you,’ he had been told with a nonchalant smile. And even though he had more than once caught appraising glances from the guards and servants – and on one occasion even received a pat on the behind that had been positioned as jocular but did not feel it – Faramir was under a strong impression everyone still deemed him, on some levels at least, a child.
That being said, it must be pointed out he considered himself greatly fortunate in where life had taken him. Admittedly, he was generally inclined to feeling fortunate rather than not, to counting the riches he had rather than the ones he did not. Either way, there was no bitterness left in him – confusion, maybe, but that he had learnt to get along with and not take personally. Life, as a rule, was full of confusion – accept it as a fact and move on. He had learnt to be cautious, to watch out for his heart, yet he took care to not let his skin become altogether too tough either. He judged the best approach to be to believe in second chances without counting on them.
In line with this philosophy he had written back – it could not be said that he had written ‘home’, no, just ‘back’ – only once, asking if… He had not asked if he could return, if the decision could, perhaps, be reversed after this much time, if he was wanted, missed. He had many times composed various parts of that letter in his head, and had long since picked the least needy phrasing he could think of. He had asked if, possibly, anyone was interested in him paying a visit, a short one though, he had many duties entrusted to him. His lord would give him leave for the trip, he had assured – without having first spoken to Thranduil, truth be told, but he had felt certain his lord would not care enough to try and forbid it.
Only upon setting it down in ink did he realise how much the matter had been on his mind the past years, how much courage he had actually had to gather to take such a step. His heart painful in his chest, he had sealed the scroll, telling himself to not get his hopes up.
The reply had never come.
Faramir had waited over a year, allowing for all possible and impossible delays, before sitting down to write another one, for the first message must have, of course, been lost. And there, with the quill ready to dip into the horn, he realised he no longer wanted to. This, around him, was the only home he properly remembered, one where reward and punishment, albeit not always measured out in moderation, did not violate the fundamental logic of things.
Punishment, hm. He chastised himself for using that term in his thoughts, for it spoke of spite, of hurt unforgiven – and had he not been told it was all being done for his own good, that he had nothing to forgive? Yet he remembered, among the few things the many subsequent experiences had not clouded out of his child’s memory, the anger directed not only at the general injustice of life, but at him personally. He had, before the episode with the letter, often questioned the rigor of the impression carried from so long back, from when his was the skewed perspective of a little boy, and yet, even on his most hopeful days, he had never been able to talk himself into believing he had imagined it. It was as though he had been judged the one to blame for the tragedy, as though the sole reason what had happened had happened was to ensure the promise would be carried out.
Well, it had been carried out all right.
And perhaps, as had been foreseen, it had indeed worked for his benefit. For one, he had learnt to know better than to expect to be taken care of – learnt that even if his best interest was kept in mind, the notion of his ‘best interest’ was in itself extremely relative, and that even crying, pleading or hanging on the rim of someone else’s robe to try and hinder their walking away could succeed at nothing but adding to his own misery. Extrapolating, he had come to understand, difficult as that could be when living among an undying people, that nothing in this world was either fundamentally permanent, for there existed not a thing that could not be lost or taken away – nor safely stable, for stability was in nature like a camp-fire, enduring only so long as it was fretted over and unceasingly sustained, which activities hardly add to the sensation of peace and serenity.
His swift growing up had been further facilitated by the fact that King Thranduil, although generally not unkind, was a capricious man given to losing his temper. And Faramir, having been sensible even at that early age, soon figured that, despite his handsome dowry, a floor-long sable cloak included, he would have to earn, or at least deserve, his keep, for King Thranduil had too many children, nephews and nieces of his own to dote on a boy who was, to call a black squirrel for a black squirrel, nobody to him.
It now seemed all the circumstances had turned out for the best and Faramir’s own personal efforts paid off, for here he was – only slightly closer to thirty than to twenty, cutting his hair in the fashion of Men rather than Elves and forever a stranger in his own home, yet already a distinguished officer in the Elvenking’s host and presently entrusted with the honourable responsibility of escorting the Lady Aredhel on the potentially perilous journey to the legendary Imladris. Someone more given to conceit could have spent the trip feeling proud of himself, yet for Faramir turning to speculate on the actual or potential degree of his own greatness was bound to either embarrass or simply bore him. And such as it was, there were indeed far more noteworthy matters to turn his attention to, such as the maiden’s puzzling illness and the hope of her finding relief in the hands of one of the most versed healers in all of Middle-earth.
To be continued…
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