10 July 2011 | 2712 words
Faramir returns from a scouting trip – wet and exhausted. AU, since Boromir is alive.
A delayed birthday gift for the lovely and most wonderful Iris, who works so hard to make this site the bestest place on the internet:) And who was also kind enough to read through this before I posted it, make suggestsions and help with the title. She’s the best!:) hugs
It was late in the afternoon when the rangers rode hastily into the citadel stables. The skies were leaden with dark clouds, and a stiff, cold breeze blew dried leaves and hay across the stableyard as they dismounted. They had ridden out a day earlier to gather information on the movement of a band of troops led by a renegade Haradric overlord. Faramir dismounted rapidly, and handed his horse over to the young stablehand who had come running in at the sound of the clatter.
He would have stayed to help rub the horse down, but they were late in arriving, and he knew before he saw the young guardsman hurrying towards him, that he was needed in the captain general’s council chamber. Boromir would need the information he and his scouts had gathered, immediately, if he were to plan his troop movements that night. The enemy was not large in number, nor seemingly well-organised, and a small force would be adequate, Faramir had reasoned, if they attacked from the right positions. He had left his more experienced rangers in the strongholds around those positions to keep watch.But Boromir needed time to get his men into the right positions, especially as the weather was prone to be inclement these days. He and his scouts should have returned nearly an hour earlier if the weather had held up.
He stopped for a few moments to speak to his scouts; they were young and still raw; but they had ridden hard, especially when the weather had roughened.
“You did well, lads,” he said gently, “Get some rest now.”
He shrugged off his damp cloak awkwardly, as he walked, wincing a little as his aching muscles protested at the painful movements. Gareth, one of the scouts had taken a tumble while crossing a swift stream, and Faramir had jumped in to help him out. The stones at the water bed had been very slippery, and Faramir had stumbled as well in helping the lad out; a much worse fall, for he’d landed on a stony bank filled with sharp gravel and hard slate. He hadn’t paid much attention then, involved more in calming down a wet and worried Gareth.
He was quite thankful he had chosen the newer recruits to ride back with. If Damrod or Anborn had ridden back with him, they would have made him stay back, especially as the bruises and scratches he’d sustained made themselves felt later on the ride. He’d held himself stiffly through the latter half of the ride, talking instead to the two boys of their homes.
He’d report to Boromir, detail out his thoughts, and then sink into a nice, hot tub, and then sleep for an hour perhaps. He’d be ready to join Boromir in the attack after that.
He knocked cursorily on Boromir’s doors and entered only to stop abruptly at the busy scene in front of him. A large map covered most of the table, and bent over it were not just Boromir but also the king, two of the military commanders and two councilors. They turned at his entrance.
“My lords,” he murmured, aware suddenly that he looked extremely untidy; his clothes were splattered with mud, and bits of grass. And he was quite sure he had tears on his tunic and his trousers from his fall. And his damp, muddy cloak hung heavily on his arm. He tugged nervously at his tunic. A babble of voices greeted his arrival.
“Faramir!” Boromir called out from across the table. “I am glad to see you. Though I did not expect you back till later tonight. But come, come your news is much awaited.”
“Faramir!” Iroven, one of the chief councilors, said at the same time, “Come on in… tell us what news you have…”
And clear through the ramble of voices, the king’s gentle voice, “Faramir!” There seemed to Faramir’s tired ears a rich, full note of welcome in that one word, and he found himself smiling shyly in greeting at the king, as he entered.
“Come inside,” Aragorn said, smiling at him, “Leave your cloak on that table there. Boromir, give him some warmed wine; it is cold outside.”
He accepted the wine gratefully, and then immediately got round to reporting his findings, as clearly and concisely as possible. Mardil, one of Boromir’s captains, placed pegs on the maps as he spoke, marking the areas he talked about.
“Well, that’s interesting,” Boromir mused, “I think you speak rightly. Perhaps we may well manage this with a small troop in day or perhaps two. The men can be back well in time for the autumn festival. That will gladden them.”
He began rapidly placing a new set of pegs around the map, “I would send two companies across the river here, which I will lead, and Mardil, I would have you bring a company over from this crossing to the south…”
“Surely, a larger company from the south,” Iroven interrupted.
“In the summers perhaps,” Boromir replied, “When the trails are dry.”
“I am inclined to agree with Boromir,” Mardil responded.
Iroven began shaking his head, as he responded, with what to Faramir seemed a rather detailed listing of older skirmishes fought in the same area. He tried to listen so as to offer suggestions, but the area they spoke was not one he had spent much time in. He tugged instead at his damp tunic. The wine had helped him warm a little, but it was getting colder as the evening progressed.
He moved a little away from the table and leaned his tired frame against the mantelpiece, and waited. The walls of the study seemed to close in around him and then move away. He blinked hurriedly.
The voices around the table seemed to get fainter and fainter. He blinked again, wondering whether the argument had been resolved. And then he heard the king’s voice as though from a great distance…calling out his name, and moved forward, expecting to be asked for some information.
Aragorn shook his head and surveyed the map thoughtfully as Iroven continued to argue with Boromir. He made a few mental calculations, and then looked up towards Faramir. The young captain had moved away, and was leaning against the wall; he seemed to be swaying where he stood.
“Faramir,” he said sharply. The younger man stared up at him slowly, and blinked his eyes. He seemed to heave himself off from against the wall; and then blinked again a few times rapidly; before letting them close. Aragorn darted forward swiftly.
Boromir ceased arguing and stared up as he heard his brother’s name.
Faramir let out a soft moan and pitched forward.
Aragorn grabbed the fainting man, and gently cushioned him against his chest.
“Boromir,” he said urgently, spurring his surprised Steward into action, “Clear a chair for him, will you; I think he needs to lie down a while.”
Boromir helped him lower Faramir’s unconscious body onto the chair.
“Lord Iroven, some water please,” Aragorn commanded brusquely, irritated that the other man’s arguments had diverted their attention away from Faramir’s obvious exhaustion. He brushed Faramir’s hair off his face and placed a hand on the forehead and then against his throat, and then began working the ties of his tunic loose. The tunic felt damp, and Faramir’s skin was pale and cold and marked with purpling bruises under it.
Boromir grunted as he skated his fingers over the marks on his brother’s torso.
“Mardil, stoke the fire a little,” Aragorn said, as he gently chafed Faramir’s cold wrists. Taking the water and proffered by Iroven, he rubbed a wet cloth on the younger man’s face and neck. Faramir shifted uneasily under the ministrations and let out a soft sigh.
“There, he’s coming to,” Aragorn said gently, “Faramir,” he murmured softly, and patted the pale cheek softly, smiling gently as the younger man opened his eyes and stared at them out of tired grey eyes, “How do you feel, lad?”
Faramir sighed. He felt so tired! He just wanted to burrow himself under a warm blanket and sleep. He hurt quite a bit, he realised as he shifted. He’d fallen, he remembered, in the stream, trying to pull Gareth out of the swift current. A few hours’ sleep would be enough, he told himself, and tried to slip into the blackness that beckoned him. But there seemed to be so much noise around him! So many people talking; even the king! He sighed again … he would find out what they needed and get back to sleep. He struggled to open his eyes. The king leaned over him, his steel grey eyes sharp and concerned.
“How do you fare, lad?” he was asking; his hand felt heavy on Faramir’s shoulder.
“I am well,” he murmured softly, barely able to keep his eyes open, “Gareth fell, the river was so swift… tried to pull… slipped…”
“Well, that explains the bruises,” Aragorn exclaimed, “Lie back. We’ll take care of you now.” He rubbed a hand gently across Faramir’s head and face.
“Hmm…” Faramir murmured and slipped back into the welcoming darkness.
“That’s right, sleep it off,” Aragorn said soothingly, and then turned to Boromir. “He’s quite badly bruised, I believe. And cold and wet too; I fear he may develop a fever. I would let him sleep through this. Boromir, we should move him somewhere where he may sleep more comfortably. Your chambers, perhaps, or mine.”
“Yes,” Boromir murmured worriedly. He looked a little lost, as he knelt by the chair, holding Faramir’s hand, “He’s so cold; I hadn’t realized.”
“Aye, and he would be tired too from riding all day,” Mardil interjected, “We should have noticed. Poor lad. We can take care of things here, Boromir, while you get Faramir settled in.”
They moved Faramir to Boromir’s rooms; for they were closer; Boromir carried him over, and placed him gently on the bed, while Aragorn gave the servants a few, brief instructions on his requirements.
Aragorn helped him undress the younger man, divesting him of the damp clothing. His lean frame was marked with splatters of mud and clay and purpling bruises. They rubbed him down with towels dipped in warm, herb-laden hot water, working swiftly but gently and then finally covered his bare body with a soft quilt and thick blankets.
“Poor thing; he’s taken quite a few knocks,” Aragorn said.
“I need to go ready the troop,” Boromir said worriedly, staring out of the window. Dusk had fallen over the city.
“He will be fine,” Aragorn said reassuringly, “Besides, you will not let me join the troop, I know… so I will stay with him.”
Boromir looked up gratefully at that, “That is most kind of you,” he said. He moved back to the bed, and placed a hand on Faramir’s pale, warm cheek, “He will truly be well?” he asked anxiously.
“All he needs is rest,” Aragorn said reassuringly, “He’ll be near recovered by the time you return tomorrow. Well enough to await you at the gates I expect!”
Faramir came awake in the night, to a darkened enclosure; his limbs felt leaden and sluggish. He took in the unfamiliar surroundings. Some distance away, the dying embers of a fire glowed orange and yellow. He felt his heart quicken unconsciously at the sight and an involuntary moan escaped his lips. He blinked rapidly and made to move; only to find himself held in place. Panicking, he called out. A pained whimper was all that his aching throat would let out, as the embers continued to glow.
“Faramir,” the king’s soft voice broke through his confused mind. Gentle fingers threaded through his hair and rested on his forehead briefly before running along his head, in slow, stroking motions taking away the miserable thoughts the embers were brining to his mind.
“Ss-sire,” he whispered tiredly. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness around him; he looked into the soft grey eyes of his king. The king had his arms around him; he realized; feeling the warmth of soft fabric against his bare chest.
“How do you feel now?” Aragorn asked gently.
“The troop?” Faramir murmured hoarsely.
“Boromir is seeing to that. Are you hurting anywhere.”
“No…” Faramir said wincing as he moved, “I should go with him,” he added, distressed,. He moved awkwardly to rise, only to be held in place by the king’s arms still around him.
“Nay,” Aragorn said firmly.
“B-but… I must go,” he tried again, worried.
Aragorn pulled him closer; a comforting lavender fragrance wafted to Faramir’s nose.
“Boromir will return soon,” Aragorn said coaxingly, “Rest now. And when Boromir returns we can greet him at the gates.”
“A-again I lie here hurt,” Faramir whispered miserably.
“Nay, I should think always you lead from the front, and take the brunt of what we would otherwise face,” Aragorn said, brushing a strand of hair away from the clammy, pale face, so that he could look into Faramir’s woeful grey eyes.
“You did very well,” he said, “You marked out excellent spots for our attack; and brought in the information this evening itself. We were not expecting you till midnight! Now the troops will reach their assigned spots by dawn and I believe they can complete the attack well and return to Minas Tirith by dusk.”
Faramir still looked unconvinced though.
“I am made to stay back too,” Aragorn told him. That brought on a small twitch from Faramir’s unhappy lips.
“Boromir would do that,” he acknowledged softly, sleepily.
“Aye. But this one time, I find it does not matter as much,” the king said, running his fingers through the younger man’s hair.
“Oh,” Faramir said. He blinked slowly, and felt himself burrow closer to the king.
Aragorn pressed his lips gently over Faramir’s forehead, his fingers continuing to run through the soft, dark hair.
Boromir and his men rode swiftly through the open gates and up the winding city road as the heralds sounded their arrival, the clear ringing tones cutting through the night. At the stables, Boromir dismounted quickly, patted his animal distractedly, and handed over the reins to one of the stablehands. The attack had gone as planned, for they had known just where to position themselves to achieve the most impact.
Boromir had returned now with the advance guard, anxious to see how Faramir fared. His brother had often been susceptible to fevers at season’s change and the earlier drenching would not have helped him. He unstrapped his gauntlets and shrugged off his cloak hurriedly.
He had expected to see his brother here at the stables, for the horns would have sounded when he had crossed the Pelennor. Aragorn had said Faramir would be awake in time to greet him when they returned.
He strode out of the noise and bustle of the stables, crossed the courtyard and entered the citadel. The buildings seemed quieter than usual. He quickened his pace as he made his way towards his chambers. The door to his chambers was ajar, so he walked in, halting as he noticed the empty bed, the blankets strewn haphazardly on it.
Worry and fear gripped his heart, as he stared at the empty bed. He forced himself to take a deep breath. He would need to start with the houses of healing, he decided. Aragorn must have taken Faramir there.
He paused as he heard a soft sound from the terrace outside his rooms. The doors leading out were open. The sound came through again, a soft, strange noise. He came out on to the terrace and sighed. There was a seating alcove in the corner, lined with rugs and cushions. Faramir lay there, sleeping peacefully in Aragorn’s arms, both men wrapped in blankets. His brother let out another soft snore, the same familiar sound he had heard. Boromir smiled quietly as he glanced over his brother, taking in the relaxed features, the exhaustion not so visible in the young face any more, the king’s arms wrapped protectively around the young man and Faramir’s hands resting on the king’s chest.
He closed the door softly, and returned to the stables. This one time he thought, perhaps, the king would not have minded staying back in Minas Tirith.
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