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The Long Road Home (R) Print

Written by Minx

26 March 2005 | 14519 words

[ all pages ]

Characters: Faramir, Argaorn, Gimli, Legolas, OCs
Warnings: Angst, violence
Notes: This fic is already up in a few places on the net, but under a different author name. I wrote this before I started writing slash. It was first attempt to write a LOTR fic, and an angsty Faramir one at that. And then I started writing slash, and stuck to writing slash.:-) This fic is also up on ff.net under the author name orion5.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to JRR Tolkien.
Summary: Post-ROTK, a small trip brings more trouble than ever imagined, and Faramir is forced to confront old aches and new nightmares, spoilers for ROTK


1. The Return Home

The four horses raced swiftly along all through the day egged on by their riders, slowing down only when the lengthening shadows of the twilight impeded progress through the thickly wooded plain they were traversing. All was silent around them, barring the rustle of leaves. Bits of pale sunlight glinted through the trees, the only bright spots in the gloomy forest, as the spent horses now trotted slowly through thick undergrowth.

All four riders were grim faced, a reminder of the events of the past day. The golden haired Elf leading the procession skilfully negotiated his horse through the trees, his fellow travellers following; two dark haired men and a Dwarf. It was the Dwarf who noticed his dark haired companion’s trouble. He swiftly urged his steed forward, albeit with a little difficulty, cursing the day he had left the safety of the ground in favour of an equine repose, and caught up with the two leaders.

“Aragorn,” he whispered slightly. Aragorn turned back to face his friend, worry edging his eyes, the strain of the last few days had taken its toll on him, as on all of them.

“What is it, Gimli?”

“We must stop for the night,” the Dwarf stated emphatically.

The Elf at the lead turned around frowning,” We still have a long way to go,” he pointed out, “We must make up for lost time.”

“Legolas, Faramir cannot go much further,” Gimli interrupted him, “He is tiring, although he won’t say it.”

Aragorn turned around to see the fourth of his party, the younger man had been bringing up the rear of the party and now with Gimli having ridden up front he had fallen back a little more. He felt a little guilt surge through his heart as Faramir looked up from his horse having suddenly realised that he had fallen back, and urged his horse ahead a little.

“Gimli is right,” Legolas told him, “He should get some rest. We have ridden hard all through the day, and most of last night,” Legolas felt a slight shudder as the events of the last night came rushing back to his mind. Faramir had caught up with them by now, his face hooded and lowered as indeed it had been all through the day.

“We are going to stop for the night,” Aragorn told him.

“There is a clearing a little way ahead,” Legolas added.

Faramir jerked his head up the hood still shadowing his face and replied to his King, “But my lord, we must move on.”

“No,” Legolas stated blandly, “No sense moving on now, it is getting darker, and I will not let this beautiful horse injure herself in this dense growth.”

Faramir opened his mouth to protest, but Aragorn spoke before him, “Yes, Legolas, and some of us are tired too,” he said mildly. They had slept for barely two hours the night before.

Faramir shrugged. Part of him was glad to get a rest, he could barely hang on to his horse, the other part just wanted to get out of this accursed forest, into the light, warm sunlight, but then he reminded himself it was evening, and realised he’d almost fallen off to sleep. The concentration he’d maintained all day long was slipping off, and an immense weariness was washing itself over him. He had had next to no sleep last night, what little he had had been plagued by nightmares, the same old ones and a terrible new one that he knew would never leave him again. He immediately blocked the thought out of his mind. He pushed his hood off, and ran a hand through his hair tiredly, nodding at his companions.

Gimli smiled to himself from behind him. He’d been watching him for a while and had noticed the tired stoop of the shoulders. More than once he had thought that his new friend might slip off his horse.

Aragorn took in the face of his young Steward as it turned towards him. He’d expected to see a sense of betrayal in the grey eyes, or anger or disappointment. But what he got to see instead was shame and a sense of failure. And pain. But it was only for an instant, then the face dropped again.

The clearing was not far, and they reached it very soon. Legolas jumped lithely off his horse, glad that his injuries from yesterday’s ordeal were healing normally. He shook his head slightly trying not to think of it, of how inadequate and helpless he’d felt all the while. He noticed Faramir dismount slowly, unsteadily, refusing Aragorn’s proffered arm, and the feeling intensified. Aragorn had caught Faramir by the arm by now, and was helping him sit down against a tree. This time the help wasn’t brushed away. The hood of the cloak stayed on and the head sunk slightly to the chest. The Steward looked so spent that it sent another rush of guilt running through the Elf.

Gimli was setting about gathering firewood while Aragorn checked the supplies, and Legolas tethered their horses talking quietly to the creatures in Elvish soothing them after their hectic and tiring day. Faramir raised his head and then stood up, a little too quickly, swaying slightly as he did so. The Dwarf’s strong arm came up to support him as he leaned back against the tree, and shut his eyes to stop the world revolving in front of him.

“And what do you think you are doing?” Gimli asked the man.

“I’ll help you gather firewood,” the reply was soft.

Gimli shook his head intending to refuse help but Faramir brushed past, and began to gather dry wood. A warm fire was blazing away soon, and the travellers began to revel in its warmth as they ate a meal of bread and fruits around it, the dancing flames hypnotically calming them, and taking their cares away, all except one. Faramir picked at the meagre meal and then gave up entirely after going through a single chunk of bread and a few pieces of fruit. He was leaning against a tree, willing himself not to sleep; he couldn’t face his dreams again. Silence reigned except the sound of the fire, and a brook nearby where they had gotten water.

Aragorn sighed as he looked at the young man’s hooded face. The face that looked so much like his brother’s. And Aragorn had been powerless to save Boromir from death. He himself had healed Faramir though, after the siege of Gondor, so that it hurt him even more to watch him like this. The ordeal yesterday had only worsened his bleak mood, which had been festering for a few weeks now.

Ever since the Lady Éowyn had left Gondor, Faramir had slipped into a quiet kind of moroseness. He had looked intensely lonely, and it was not difficult to figure out that he missed his brother and father. He spoke little, and shunned company, even that of Mithrandir. The King’s servants had watched the young man grow up, and were only too ready to comment on his change. He slept little, they said, spending most of his time on the balcony of his room watching the stars. He did not even visit the library, his old favourite haunt; the books there were beginning to gather dust, and he never stepped near the place where his father had burnt himself and almost taken him along. While the fellowship looked upon him as a friend and brother, and he reciprocated the feeling, they could not replace in his heart his only brother Boromir, who had died during the fellowship’s journey. Or his father, whom he had loved unrequited. The details of his father’s suicide had been a hard blow. With Éowyn at his side he had coped, he had laid aside the unhappy thoughts and held her hand, looked at her face, and had loved and felt loved in return. Without her, he felt all the pain he had left buried deep inside come rushing back.

It was this behaviour that had prompted Gandalf to advise Aragorn to let Faramir come along on this trip. Aragorn had been loathe for both him and Faramir to be absent at the same time, but had followed Gandalf’s advice that the young Steward needed a change of atmosphere. If anyone should stay back, Aragorn should, he was King of the realm. But Aragorn found the city stifling too, and had wanted one trip out into the wilderness, albeit a very short one. Gondor was left in the hands of Prince Imrahil and Mithrandir. And the four had set off on their journey towards a small valley not far from the mountains surrounding Mordor where a few small settlements had been formed by some of the slaves from Mordor.

It had been an enjoyable journey, Legolas and Gimli having accompanied their friend without hesitation. They both liked Faramir, and all three wished strongly that they had saved his brother’s life. Faramir too had perked up considerably once away from the city which now held such unhappy memories for him. They had reached the settlement in time and found everything to their satisfaction, the settlers too happy that the King and Steward both cared enough to visit them in person. It was on the way back that everything had gone wrong, and Aragorn was now compelled to berate himself. As King his duty was to look after his subjects and now one of those subjects had been hurt terribly and he had not been able to prevent it.

“He should sleep,” Legolas said softly inclining his head in the same direction.

Aragorn nodded, and picking up a small kettle of hot water, crushed some herbs in it. He poured some of the resultant tea into a bowl, and walking over to Faramir, lightly touched him on the shoulder. Faramir jerked up and shied away, the hood fell back and revealed a terrified face that relaxed after seeing that it was only Aragorn. The firelight played on the strained expression of his face creating shadows that added to the strangely hunted look he had displayed all day.

“My lord.” The eyes strayed downwards again.

“Drink this, and then I will see to your injuries,” Aragorn put an arm around his shoulder, wishing Faramir would stop being so formal but knowing that would not happen right now.

Faramir stared at the bowl, the brownish liquid looked totally unappetizing, and cast a wary eye at his King, “What is it?”

“It’ll help reduce the pain,” Aragorn said soothingly.

“It’ll put me to sleep,” Faramir stated flatly.

Aragorn sighed, “That too.”

“Will you wake me up for my watch?”

Gimli looked up from his dinner plate with a frown, while Legolas raised his eyebrows. Aragorn however simply nodded. He had no intention of doing any such thing but if saying so would get Faramir to drink up the tea, then he would say so. Besides, the brew was so potent he’d sleep deep for the next few hours.

Faramir drunk up the brew, and then hugged his cloak tighter around him. Aragorn reached out to remove it, “I need to tend to your wounds,” he said patiently.

The younger man’s breathing became a little ragged, as the cloak was gently removed off his shoulders, and he was pushed onto the ground. Legolas bunched up the cloak, and Aragorn gently lowered him onto the makeshift pillow. He had screwed his eyes shut tight. But the moment Aragorn hand brushed against his torn shirt to remove it, the grey eyes flew open in terror.

“No!”

“Sshh…” Legolas said softly holding him back, “It’s only us.”

“I’m sorry,” it came out soft, almost sobbing. Gimli brought some hot water for Aragorn to use, and then helped him undress Faramir.

Faramir had shut his eyes tight again, trying not to flinch every time someone’s hands touched his bare skin. He kept reminding himself these were his friends, but even then he could not hold back a small whimper when his clothes had been taken off, as the memories of the day before assaulted him. Tears of shame coursed down his cheeks; he felt like a coward, but could do little. Aragorn heaved a sigh of relief when the brew finally took effect sending his patient into a deep slumber. He wished he’d given him some last night; the nightmares had woken them all up, and he knew the Steward hadn’t gone back to sleep after that.

The wounds had been tended to the night before, so all Aragorn had to do was reapply some salve, and reassure himself that they were healing. He pressed his lips tight at the sight of the livid bruises and marks. But, it was nothing compared to the mental and emotional anguish inflicted.

They worked rapidly, and then redressed Faramir, covering him with thick blankets to ward off the growing chill. Aragorn checked on Legolas’ injuries, satisfying himself that they were healing and then the three friends sat around the fire for a while dividing up the watch.

Legolas looked at the sleeping figure and said sadly, “That is twice I have failed him.”

“We,” growled Gimli.

“It’s not your fault,” Aragorn told the Elf, “If we had come sooner…”

“But you came soon enough to get us out alive,” Legolas said, “ I was there. I should have done something.”

“You still haven’t told us how you got captured by those bandits,” Aragorn said. There had been little time to swap stories yesterday, they had been in too much of a hurry.

Their company had split in two near a small but dense wood on the way home the morning before, since on awakening, they had noticed the presence of strangers not far from their camp. At the same time, they had spotted other tracks in an opposite direction, and had therefore split up to investigate. Peace was still a fragile commodity in the middle earth.

Legolas began to describe how Faramir and he had left their horses in camp and headed towards the strangers’ camp.

A scream cut off his voice mid-sentence.

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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: LN Tora , , Mel

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NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

cool story bro :) last couple of chapters made me lol too XD

— Power Of Funk    29 June 2010, 22:59    #

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Minx

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