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The Siege (PG-13) Print

Written by Minx

04 April 2004 | 8091 words

Pairing: Faramir/Aragorn
Rating: PG13
Disclaimer: Tolkien’s, not mine.
Summary: – A/F PG13
Post LOTR - When Gondor goes to war against Harad, Faramir has to stay back to rule in Aragorn's stead. But things do not go as planned as Umbar takes advantage of the situation and attacks Minas Tirith.
Rated for mild violence and implied AF slash

Feedback: Please! greenrivervalley@gmail.com

A/N: Mild slash themes.

Part 1


Faramir rubbed his aching temples with his gloved hand as he watched a company of soldiers reinforce the barricades on the gates leading to the second level of the city. He clenched his fists in frustration knowing that the men were working as swiftly as they could. Yet, they had little time. The troops of Umbar were approaching and Minas Tirith had to have its depleted defences in place before they could reach it. It was a small force but then the defence was a small one too, the bulk of Gondor’s forces and her captains away at the borders to deal with the Haradrim army.

He tried to quell the worry the despair rising up his gut and threatening to choke him at the thought of all those he loved away at war, while he had remained back here, once again, to see to the governance of the land and also because he was still healing from injuries. He wondered how they were faring. Aragorn was leading those troops and Faramir was immensely worried for him. The ache in his ribs from the fall he had sustained some weeks prior had returned with a vengeance, as had the dull throb in his shoulders and back, from the strenuous sword fighting practise he had indulged in, in the last few days, as soon as news of an impeding attack by Umbar had reached them. The fall had kept him from practise earlier and the sudden resumption of activity had not gone down well with his healing muscles.

He was exhausted, having had little sleep in the last few days. They had had to work hard to secure the defensive mechanism of the city, and to send away the women and children to the hills. They had been lucky to have some warning atleast of the impeding act for the Corsairs had sailed up the river till Harlond. But even with warning there was little they could do but defend. Going on an offensive was impossible given their numbers. They had signed peace treaties with Umbar and so the sudden attack was a shock to those left behind. But then, Faramir considered, they had signed for peace with Harad too.

With the Corsair sails in view, they had had no choice but to barricade the city and declare a state of siege. It was particularly painful as the memories of the last siege the city had faced were still a little fresh in everyone’s minds. Faramir could not forget easily the despair and dread that had hung so heavily over the City when he had ridden in from Ithilien then. Then, as now, preparations had been frantic. And the people had been worried. He could not forget how his father had succumbed to that despair, and taken his own life. He scrunched his eyes trying to shut out that particular agonising memory. It was good thing he thought tiredly, that the queen as well as his wife were both away in Rohan, away from all these hostilities that seemed to have suddenly descended upon Gondor.

His thoughts returned to Aragorn, the other source of worry that had kept him awake even before Umbar had struck. He was very worried for his king and lover. He wondered how they were faring for no messengers had reached them in the last couple of days. The last they had heard both sides were marching on Harad road, ready to engage in battle. They had just about managed to send out a courier with news of the impeding attack towards Harad Road. But, he would have covered barely half the distance to the meeting ground of the two armies, Faramir knew.

Aragorn and he should have been side by side, he thought, allowing the bitterness to take over. Because of the positions they held, they were forced apart. But he knew now why it had been so important he stay back. It was because of situations like this. He felt the despair descend again, unsure whether he could actually hold the city. The events of the last few weeks had left him morose and he had worried a great deal over his abilities as a soldier, or as he saw it, his lack of them.

The cacophony of sounds brought him back to reality. It took him and the others around him barely a fraction of a second to realise that the Rammas that surrounded the city had been breached, and the Corsairs were now pouring in towards their city.

Earlier -

It had all started at the War Council held a week before the armies were due to march towards Harad. Constant skirmishes had been taking place on the border despite the purported peace between the two nations, and finally Gondor had issued an ultimatum. Harad’s response had seemed to indicate that the only option was war. The political situation there was tense, with two ruling factions fighting for power, the more powerful one being the one behind the recent border troubles. At first they had thought that a show of military strength might act as a deterrent but as matters proceeded it became apparent that a serious conflict could take place if they didn’t make it obvious that they meant business. With that aim in mind, Gondor had called on Rohan’s aid and both armies decided to prepare to the border.

“I shall be leading the first company,” Aragorn had declared to the council members.

“You?” Faramir had asked confused, echoing the sentiments of everyone else in the room.

“Yes,” Aragorn had stated in such a quiet voice that not one of his captains had had the courage to protest.

Éomer and Faramir had tried though.

“Is that really necessary?” Éomer had asked doubtfully.

“Is it really necessary for you to have ridden in at the head of your Riders when we called for your help?” Aragorn asked him coolly. Éomer had shut up after that.

Faramir hadn’t however.

“What of the affairs of state?” he had asked.

“What of them?”

“I believe the Steward means to ask who will handle the governance of the land in your absence,” Prince Imrahil supplied.

The others around the table nodded. While they felt uncomfortable at the thought of exposing a newly crowned king to the dangers of war, they had expected little else. Kings had a duty towards their people, and Elendil’s heir would hardly be one to shirk his.

“Faramir,” Aragorn stated calmly.

“What?” the steward had gasped out.

“You are the Steward,” Aragorn had pointed out in a tone of long-suffering patience, and with a pointed look at Faramir’s sling.

Faramir had fallen off his horse some weeks ago when a rabbit had run across the animal’s path causing it to shy suddenly. The trail had been hilly and full of rocks, and the fall had been particularly nasty, leaving the Steward with bumps on his head, badly bruised ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and muscles strains in his back. He was still recovering, his movements slow and measured and had been unable to wield a sword until two days prior, and then too, he was just about able to hold it and make a few cursory strokes. The healers made him retain a sling for the shoulder tended to be weak due to old battle injuries.

The members of the War council had nodded in satisfaction and Aragorn had adroitly shifted the discussion towards that of supplies, ignoring Faramir’s attempts to protest. Faramir had tried unsuccessfully several times to steer the conversation back to the subject of his forced absence from the battle, until Aragorn had finally given him an impatient look and suggested they disperse to see to the various preparations needed before meeting again later in the day. He himself had walked off in another direction, leaving Faramir behind, confused and worried.

They had met later that night in Faramir’s chambers, Aragorn having come in search of him. And they had argued over the subject, Faramir pleading madly and Aragorn stubbornly adamant about his decision, professing surprise that Faramir could even question it.

“But I wish to ride with you. I never get to ride with you,” Faramir said plaintively

Aragorn shrugged, “You know it is not possible. I need you to stay here and look after the land for me. It may take weeks, perhaps even months for us to return. You know Éomer would not have asked Éowyn to fill in his stead otherwise.”

“But why me?” Faramir asked almost plaintively.

“Who else? You are my Steward. It is *your* duty!” Aragorn retorted.

“Anyone! The Queen, the Ruling Council, Húrin, anyone. Let me ride with you this once, I beg of you.”

“That is not how it works, and you know the reasons. You are a student of the history of this land, after all! And Arwen is in Rohan remember?”

“But I want to be by your side. You are taking Éomer and Uncle Imrahil and Elphir too. Why do you leave me behind?” Faramir knew he was beginning to sound childish but he felt greatly hurt. In the last war, he had missed the final battle at Aragorn’s side because he had been gravely injured.

A sudden thought struck him with chilling force, “I know I opposed this war earlier, but then I thought we might have scope of peace. I would come with you!”

He had supported a search for a peaceful solution originally, even when the councils had been torn between both options. It was just recently that Ithilien had begun to return to normal, opening up to settlers. War with Harad would push that resettlement process back a great deal, and he was loathe to see that happen. Yet, there was no choice now. The settlers had been evacuated to Minas Tirith now, with just the rangers to hold the fort there. He had to finally support war as an option much as he disliked the idea of his nation once again facing the rigours of battle and its accompanying problems.

“I’m not scared of war!” he cried out, still toying with the horrifying thought that Aragorn might think him craven when it came to fighting. After all, the king had seen nothing of his fighting abilities.

“I did not think you were,” Aragorn stated calmly, unaware of the turmoil in his Steward’s mind.

Faramir felt a sinking feeling in his heart. He was sure of it now. Aragorn probably thought he was incapable of soldiering, based on what he knew of the younger man. Faramir did prefer to indulge in quieter pursuits and when peace had been restored after the war of the ring, he had welcomed a chance to pursue his interests in the arts and reduced his involvement in military matters to the amount necessary. He led his men against Orc attacks and helped maintain Ithilien’s defence but at the same time he had thrown himself whole-heartedly into rebuilding efforts and was often to be found more in the libraries than in the fighting grounds. When he had been younger, that very behaviour of his had been one of his father’s favourite points of verbal ammunition.

He had gone on to join the army like his brother and the sons of all the lords of the land, for Gondor was always facing strife. For years he had fought in Ithilien and he had led his rangers in holding it against Sauron’s forces. They had survived the influence of the dark forces under his guidance. His body was even now covered in scars from the various skirmishes and battles he had fought in over all these years. He had led capably and he had led well, in the eyes of the other captains. But his father had never been satisfied with him. And so in Faramir’s own eyes, he had done nothing worthy of comment. He had constantly been told that his elder brother was the capable soldier, and hence the better man, and he had believed it and accepted it.

He looked away now in despondency.

“You know you have not yet fully recovered from your injuries,” Aragorn was saying.

“I seem to make a habit of it,” he muttered remembering the last time he had lain in the houses of healing while his uncle had told him of the armies of the West preparing to march. He remembered how he had yearned to go then too, but had been unable to get up. He had been weak then. Even in battle he had been weak, letting his despair cloud him until he had fallen. It was not until Aragorn had awoken him that he had felt the return of hope in his heart.

“I shall be fine in a few days. The sling is not even required anymore,” he had offered, “I want to be with you Aragorn. I want to be near you.”

“You are being selfish,” Aragorn had snapped finally.


“What else am I to assume? You have a position in this land. You are my steward; you rule in my stead should I be unable to do so. I can’t imagine you can actually question this ruling. I thought you were well aware that one of us would have to remain back here unless absolutely necessary. It is only expected.”

He continued after a pause watching as the words sunk into Faramir’s numbed mind, softening his tone, “Surely you understand. This is not just about you or me. We have our people to care for, Faramir. *Our people*. We cannot let them down. It is imperative one of us remain here. They need us. They need confidence and support and assurance. I know you will provide that in my absence.”

Faramir stared back frozen where he stood, the words hitting him deeply. He *had* been selfish. All this while he had been thinking only of how he wanted to be at Aragorn’s side, how he wanted to show the king that he was a warrior too, how he wanted his beloved to see his battle skills and praise him. His face reddened and he gulped unhappily. He felt conflicted, one moment the insecure lover, the other the Steward of a proud and ancient land. Ultimately under Aragorn’s steely gaze, the Steward had to win, and he found himself nodding, and accepting Aragorn’s embrace before they lay down in his bed.

For the next two days, everyone had been busy in meetings, debates and preparations. Messengers kept flying in and out of the city, and the streets buzzed with activity as soldiers said their farewells and others ran around getting together supplies. In all that time, Faramir continued to stew over Aragorn’s decision even as he was unable to get a moment alone with him.

It was only the night before the departure of the troops that they had met again. Aragorn had grabbed him and subjected him to long, bruising kisses. He had revelled in the nearness, trying to forget that Aragorn would be leaving in a few hours. They had melded into each other and allowed their passion to take over, and had made fast and furious love through most of the night. When they had arisen with the sun, his ribs had felt as though on fire and his back had protested viciously from the previous night’s exertions but all that had receded somewhere far away as a sudden ache had assailed his chest with force. Aragorn had kissed him tenderly and held him in his arms, even worried that he might have been too active for his healing body during the night.

He had refuted that, and had quietly and calmly bid the older man farewell, taking care not to let the hurt that refused to leave show. He had solemnly assured him that he would take care of the country and the people for his king, and that they would eagerly await his return.


They were beginning to lose ground, he knew. He shouted to his men at regular intervals to keep to him, and he was beginning to lose count of the number of foot soldiers of Umbar he had disposed of. Even as the men of the city tried everything from oil to arrows to keep the enemy at bay, a huge battering ram had brought down sections of the south wall, allowing the Corsairs access into the first level.

His arms were covered in small cuts from their swords, and though he wore his armour the words had managed to pierce through the gaps and inflict cuts on various other parts of his body too. His forehead was bleeding from where the hilt of an opponents weapon had struck it, and he could feel the blood trickle down the side of his face. His legs were aching miserably as he struggled to keep his footing on the uneven surface of the alleyway in front of the gate they were defending. The streets of Minas Tirith were never designed to have battles fought in them.

The battle continued all morning. It was towards noon when Faramir had moved towards the Southern wall to check on the archers letting loose arrows on another company that was trying to enter, that a soldier from the watch towers on the sixth level came running towards Faramir.

“Captain,” the young soldier was almost breathless.

Faramir turned, wondering what worse news there could possibly be.

“Riders, sir,” the boy informed him, “They have crossed the Anduin and are heading this way. We cannot make out their flags. There is too much smoke on the Pelennor.” There were small fires all over the fields surrounding the city.

Faramir pursed his lips, and exchanged a worried glance with his lieutenant. There was little they could do but what they were already doing. Leaving the lieutenant in command at the wall he returned to the breached south wall with a small troop and joined the other men already in skirmishes there.

The walls of the city had been considered unassailable, yet in recent times this was the second instance of their being breached. The thought did not help his flagging energy levels any. He wondered how Aragorn might be faring and that made him morose. Harad seemed to mean serious business here. The Valar alone knew what might be happening at the border. He found himself wishing he were at Aragorn’s side. His strength was ebbing away slowly and it was only the thought of his king that made him stay on his feet. With Aragorn at his side, he knew he would have had energy enough just from the other man’s presence near him.

And now there was this other troop heading their way. It would reach the city by evening, and they knew not if they were friend or foe. Probably foe, he thought as he took on one of the Corsair foot soldiers, parrying him in the narrow street, scrambling to keep his footing on the broken masonry that littered the ground. The ram had destroyed many of the buildings in this section, and the soldiers from both sides had to not just fight each other but also falling chunks of debris.

They would lose the city, he thought desperately. And even if they did not, they had lost enough that when Aragorn received the message he would be forced to divert troops here, thus weakening the campaign against Harad. He had made a promise to Aragorn and he would not be able to keep it because he was so inept. He should have started the barricading process earlier. He should have gone on an offensive first. He should have stopped them at Harlond. He should have known the walls were still weak, still being rebuilt by the dwarven folk, not yet ready to endure another assault. He was craven! He had backed away from entering into a war, preferring instead to let it come to him, in the process putting all his men in danger.

He had failed. Black despair clouded his strained mind.

He thrust into his opponent once again and received a parry in return that shoved him against the half-collapsed building behind them. He was almost brought to his knees, struggling to catch his breath, and did not notice the large chunk of stonework dislodge from the building and descending upon him and the Corsair until the last moment. Despite their efforts to dodge it, it hit the Corsair on his head sending him sprawling onto Faramir, who in turn received a glancing blow from a second chunk that followed it. He fell heavily to the ground; the enemy soldier sprawled across his legs. Stray pieces of debris continued to rain down upon them. His head and back hurt fiercely and he almost blacked out. He tried to move but the weight of the other man held his tired limbs down. He tried to shout for help, but all that would come out was a strangled whimper.

Atleast his lieutenants were still out there to lead the men. But then, all that was there was defeat. He lay there among the stones and dust fat spiralling towards unconsciousness, silently begging Aragorn forgiveness for losing his city, silently begging his men their forgiveness for failing them.

In the distance he trumpets blowing, and was immediately reminded of Aragorn. He laughed bitterly at himself. Aragorn was away on Harad Road, and Faramir had failed him. The sound of the trumpet, suspiciously like Aragorn’ s herald, floated in from the distance yet again, as he finally succumbed to the blackness.

Part 2

They had heard the horns sound out, and then there was an exclamation of surprise from everyone as a white flag went up in the Haradrim camp. Aragorn had stared back in amazement at his captains and wondered what could have happened.

The explanation came soon enough when two riders left the Haradrim lines and rode towards the wary Gondorian camp. With their hands held out to show they were unarmed, they dismounted and handed a scroll to the captain who met them. The message was dispatched at once to Aragorn’s tent.

A coup in Harad had ensured a change of power. The new ruler of Harad had never favoured the war. He had wanted peace. And knowing that Gondor shared that desire, he had promptly put a halt to hostilities from his end, hoping Gondor’s king would do the same.

Gondor’s king was only too happy to oblige. Hasty treaties had been prepared, pored over quickly yet carefully, and signed and then the armies began to withdraw. It had neared the end of day when they had received news of the impeding attack of the Corsairs on the city. It had left them utterly dismayed. Celebrations turned to wary contemplation at the thought of the small force left behind.

A part of the force was despatched ahead to provide immediate relief, the rest of the army following as logistical constraints allowed. Aragorn and Prince Imrahil rode at the head themselves, both worried and anxious as to the fate of the city, and of Faramir. The swiftest horses had been pulled out and they had set off immediately.

“Atleast Faramir is there. Thank the Valar for the traditions of the city that dictate the Steward staying behind should the king ride to war,” Imrahil said heavily.

Aragorn could not keep the tenseness resulting from the situation out of his face. Faramir! He hoped he was all right.

“I wonder how they fare?” he said worriedly.

“Faramir will handle it well, Aragorn. You need have no worry on that count.”

“I am sure he will. But I worry about the strength of the defence we left behind. There are so few men,” Aragorn replied, “and Faramir is not in his best health. I do not want him to exert himself, or worse still get hurt,” he gulped at the thought of his beloved lover being injured.

Imrahil did not reply. He too was worried for his nephew.

“He wanted to ride alongside me,” Aragorn said unhappily.

“We could not have had that,” Imrahil pointed out.

“No… but… it was his ardent desire. He was greatly disappointed by my decision. It saddened me to see him so unhappy.”

He still remembered how quiet Faramir had been at his departure. Their night of passion had given him strength, just by the mere fact that it had been Faramir he had held in his arms. He hoped Faramir too had derived a similar strength. He knew the younger man had worried for him, and suddenly he understood how his Steward had felt at the thought of being so far away while his lover was in the thick of danger. He felt the frustration build up inside him, and he urged his horse on.

Imrahil replied after a pause, “He wished to fight by your side. He considers it his duty to ensure he is near you so he can keep you safe.”

Aragorn gave the Prince of Dol Amroth a look of consternation at that, “Keep me safe? I had been wielding a sword for many years already when he was still an infant! I do not need anyone to keep me safe.”

Imrahil smiled at the testy response, knowing that the anger was directed more at his choice of words than at his nephew, “Like all your captains, he too feels it is necessary to defend your life,” he explained, “And perhaps there are other reasons for his disappointment.”

“Such as?”

Imrahil paused uncomfortably, “I am not sure. But I spoke to him before I left and his words left much unsaid.”

“I think he wishes to prove his courage to you,” he said after some thought.

“What?” Aragorn could not understand exactly what the prince wished to imply. Faramir was one of the bravest people he had known.

“Yes,” Imrahil stated decidedly, “He wishes to prove his worth to you.”

“But why?” Aragorn exclaimed, “I am well aware of his worth, his courage.”

“He is afraid you may think him incapable in the art of warfare.”

“But I don’t!”

“I do not say you do,” Imrahil sighed, “Perhaps deep down inside, he wishes to convince himself of the fact that he is a worthy man. He has been told too often by too many people that he is more a thinker and dreamer and less a soldier.”

“He is as good a soldier as he is a thinker,” Aragorn declared hotly. He was quite sure he knew whom atleast one of those people might have been. It was not that he did not respect Denethor’s work as Steward of Gondor. He just felt he could have been a little more sensitive where his younger son had been concerned. After all, Faramir had indeed displayed adeptness at both soldiering and learning, just as Denethor himself had done.

Imrahil smiled at him sadly and nodded in agreement.

“And there is nothing wrong in having dreams. We build on our dreams after all. And a thinker is as essential to the land as a soldier,” Aragorn continued, his lips pursed tight. Faramir’s hopes were converting Ithilien back into the wonderful land it had once been.

“But we are at war now. He was frustrated at having to sit back and do nothing in Minas Tirith while the rest of us fight here.”

“He is not doing *nothing*. He is looking after his people,” Aragorn said firmly.

“To him, he is doing nothing. He feels he has let you down by being injured right now.”

“I would have him stay even were he uninjured.”

“Then perhaps it is good he was still ailing. For I think you would have found it harder to make him stay back then. And stay back he need have, because the people needed him. I am sure he understands that but he refuses to see it.”

“Why would he think I could ever think he lacks courage?” Aragorn demanded plaintively after a while, “What have *I* ever said to him that he could think so?”

“’Tis not you, Sire. It is the attitude he has grown up to and the times he grew up in. We valued soldiering greatly for the times were such. He thinks his value as a warrior is not as great as of the other captains.”

“Then he thinks wrong!”

“It will do him good to hear so from your lips, My Lord.”

Aragorn secretly thought there were a lot of things his lips could do that might provide better succour to the young steward, but if Imrahil said this one thing was necessary, he’d willingly do it. And then, he’d indulge in the other plans he had for his lips and Faramir.

If all goes well, a voice in his mind spoke up, unwilling to voice the dread he feared in clearer terms than that.

“Do not fear,” Imrahil said suddenly as though realising the fearful thoughts crossing Aragorn’s mind, “the city will hold. Faramir has defended it before; he will do it again. He shall certainly hold out, atleast until we come.”

They rode hard and fast taking only the briefest possible halts, and announced their arrival in a flurry of trumpets sounding out in the fading light. They would attack their attackers and they were making no secret of the fact.

Upon arrival, at first glance, the city seemed to be in confusion although, to their relief it stood, a little battered but proud and glorious as always. A section of the wall had been breached and tiny skirmishes taking place all over the lower levels. The arrival of their small troop had not gone unnoticed even before the heralds had blown their horns. Umbar had attacked secure in the knowledge that Harad would keep the bulk of Gondor’s force busy for a few weeks yet, and the signs that the army was returning had caused worry. A larger army was not something they were prepared to face. The Corsair camp was starting to disintegrate. Their commander had withdrawn by the time Aragorn’s men had neared the city, and any men he had left behind, having no leader were following their own counsel, some fighting, and some having given up.

It took them some time to figure things out. Aragorn had raced to the citadel as soon as possible, and found the captain of the guard there and received an update from him. They quickly managed to start the process of restoring order, calling for a round up the troops, and informed the captain of the return of peace, and also began the process of clearing up the city. Aragorn asked the captain of the guard to inform Faramir that he had arrived. He assumed that since he was not to be found in the citadel, he must still be elsewhere dealing with the leftover Corsairs. The captain of the guard patiently gave him all the information he required.

Imrahil and he had found out that things were not really as confused as they looked. Faramir had had the evacuation started at the first signs of the attack, so that most of the civilian population not capable of fighting were well on their way to the mountains by now. The defences had been arranged with precision and efficiency using the limited resources to the fullest advantage. The lieutenants, captains and guards all had their orders and they had followed them impeccably, so that the loss was minimal. The city itself was not badly affected save for sections of the first level where some buildings had either collapsed or were near that stage. And Faramir himself had led the defence.

“Where is he?” a worried Aragorn finally demanded after impatiently waiting for almost two hours for the younger man to appear, thereby bringing to his company’s notice the fact that their friend was missing. The enemy had effectively been vanquished now, and all the soldiers were returning to their respective commands. Faramir should have been there with them.

“He was leading from the front,” Aragorn was informed. A quick search among the troops revealed that the young captain was nowhere to be found.

“Have the injured been brought up from the first level?” the king asked trying to keep his voice steady.

They were still being brought up but Faramir was not among them.

Aragorn found himself racing to the lower levels in Imrahil at his heels. They separated to search through the winding streets. It was dark but given that the clean up work had started and that the injured were still being moved, the torches in the streets shone bright. Aragorn wandered through the fallen stonework; stopping every now and then to offer words of comfort to the injured soldiers he came across. Most had already been moved but a few were still around waiting, for the houses of healing were on the sixth level and it would take the volunteers time to traverse back and forth.

He finally came across a small alleyway, not far from the gates to the second level. It was darkened and the access was almost blocked by a huge stone column that had dislodged from one of the houses. Aragorn grabbed a torch from one of the holders on the street, and entered the narrow path, carefully climbing over the barricade, watching out for any loose stones or shingle that could cause him to slip.

He found Faramir, unconscious and bleeding from various injuries, unmoving on the paved stones of a tiny alleyway, the lifeless body of a corsair lying limply across his lower body, and the debris of a section of the wall surrounding him. Large chunks of stone and masonry lay all around. The black tunic had turned grey from the dust that had settled over him, and even his face seemed a strange ashen hue, though Aragorn was unable to tell whether that too was stone dust or whether his friend was so pale.

Placing the torch between two stones, Aragorn scooped up his injured Steward carefully in his arms, alarmed to note the complete lack of movement. He hugged him tight to his chest, and walked back towards the street. The fallen column stood in his way and he was fearful of jolting Faramir. Seeing a horseman riding up to the second level, he hurriedly hailed him, and carefully handed Faramir’s prone body to him, noting the look of dismay that crossed the young soldier’s face when he realised it was his captain and steward who was lying unconscious in his arms. Crossing over Aragorn took him in his own arms, and when the soldier offered his horse, gratefully accepted.

It was nearly dawn when Faramir had been settled into a room in the houses of healing. He had been cleaned and tended to, and now lay on a cot, still unconscious. His clothes had been replaced by a thin white sleeping robe that simply made him seem more ashen. Aragorn had had to see to other matters, but he kept looking for anyone from the houses to tell him news of Faramir. All he had learnt as yet was that the younger man was badly bruised all over. His shoulder, back and rib injuries had all been aggravated a great deal, and he had additional bruises and cuts on his head and arms and legs. The head injury seemed to have knocked him out.

Imrahil and Aragorn fretted and worried all day, spending much time in his room in between the numerous duties that they found they now had. When Aragorn had stopped by to sit with him a while, he had been struck by how gaunt and pale the Steward looked. A closer scrutiny revealed lines where none had been before, exhaustion and something else that Aragorn could not place at first. Then he realised he was seeing in the slumped muscles and the tense lines the same despair he had noticed when he had first come across Faramir. He had healed him then, pulling him out of the shadows left from fighting long days under the influence of the black breath. He sucked a noisy breath in, wondering what had caused such worry to appear on Faramir’s visage.

He could hear the faint roar of noises in the background. It was just a meaningless jumbled up roar, the individual noises refusing to separate in his head. He wondered at it briefly, just as he wondered at the immense sluggishness that seemed to have descended over him. He could barely process his thoughts. Then slowly, the roar seemed to recede as awareness floated in. His memories returned first, the sounds of battle coming blasting into his ears, there were people shouting, stone and dust falling, arrows and swords swishing, the resonance of weaponry. And then everything came together in a loud unbearable combination. He could see the debris falling around him; he could hear his men fighting resolutely and calling out to encourage each other. He should help them, he should be there by them, he thought to himself. Not lying here, wherever he was. They needed him, Aragorn had reminded him of that. He had to move.

Slowly he commanded his limbs to move, his eyes still shut, his teeth gritting purposefully, he shifted his leg, and promptly groaned as the pain shot through him. It brought greater awareness in him, however, and he found himself opening his eyes slowly. The noises returned; a low hum of conversation fell into his ears. Perhaps, his men were nearby. He heard soft words and found himself blinking back tears behind his half-closed eyelids as the voice reminded him of Aragorn.

“Faramir,” the whisper came, soft yet strong. He opened his eyes fully, starting as he did so. Aragorn!

He shut his eyes tight, sure that he was dreaming. Well, he might as well enjoy the dream as well as he could, he decided.

“Faramir, wake up now,” Aragorn coaxed him.

He finally gave up and obeyed. He took a clearer look at the faces of the people around him, recognising the king as well as his uncle. They were both there. Something had happened.

“Wh - where . . . ? what happened? You’re here. You’re here,” he kept repeating as though to convince himself. He tried to reach out a hand to touch Aragorn but the movement sent the ain flaring through him. He gasped at that, his entire body seemed to be ion fire, as the movement awoke various muscles.

“Yes, I’m here,” Aragorn assured him, “by your side.”

A healer came up to help him ease himself into a position hat might hurt the least.

Faramir was still confused. He knew he was hurting, but he could not place the sequence of events properly yet. Then the talk from outside the room filtered in, the smell of smoke and war floated through into the small room, and he remembered.

He remembered falling, he remembered giving up, leaving his men leaderless, and he jerked forward again.

“Faramir,” Aragorn admonished softly, as the healer was taken aback by the sudden movement. A bowl full of brew was knocked out of his hands, and it fell to the floor landing with a loud clatter.

“The city,” Faramir breathed out, unmindful of the little mishap he’s aided in, “The city. I could not keep the city. I promised. I lost it.”

The healer had cleaned the mess on the floor somewhat and now moved out to get a fresh batch of the brew. Aragorn moved to Faramir’s side again, this time carefully taking the dazed Steward in his arms, carefully.

“The city stands,” he said quietly, “you held her for me as you said you would. And the people too.”

Faramir blinked up at him, “It stands?”

He nodded, “You kept your promise. You did your duty.”

“You are really here,” Faramir said in wonderment, his hands running over Aragorn’s face and body, “I hoped. I could not do it anymore. I let you down. Forgive me. I hoped it was you, but – but -,” dismay lined the worn features, “what of the war?”

“it is over,” Aragorn assured him.

Faramir stared back in more confusion.

“All is well now. Sleep now my brave one,” the king soothed as the healer returned with the brew in hand. It was designed to aid in lessening pain and putting the patients to sleep.

The warden had assured Aragorn that Faramir was not seriously injured. He was just tremendously exhausted and in pain from the multiple hurts he had suffered, so it would be better if he were to remain in bed a few days more. Aragorn had nodded.

Faramir had awoken from the herb-induced sleep fully aware of all that had occurred, his mind clearer, and his injuries still hurting. He was also still prone to bouts of confusion. But what worried Aragorn over the next day was the sadness emanating from the weakened body. A bleak despair still seemed to weigh heavily upon the troubled mind, and Aragorn could not understand why.

He at patiently at his Steward’s bedside whenever he could for short intervals all during the day, holding his hand gently, silently coaxing him to speak. Finally the quiet man broke his silence at night, after Aragorn had seen to all his duties.

“Forgive me. You have to do so much, yet you come and sit with me so often,” he said.

“What is there to forgive in that?” Aragorn asked in surprise.

“I cause you too much bother. You have so much work to do. And I cannot even help you. It is all my work you are doing. The responsibilities you gave me, and I have not fulfilled them.”

“You are injured!”

He nodded silently, “I tried to rise, but it pains greatly,” he said, a hint of wetness glinting in his eyes under the light of the lamp nearby.

“You tried to rise?” Aragorn was aghast but not really surprised. He had expected no better, “well, don’t try it again till the healers give their permission. And worry not over the work. It is my duty as much as yours.”

“I should be helping you. I’m always confined here when you need me1”

“No, not always! You were by my side so many times when I needed you.”

“Not times like this!”

“No, you were there in worse times!”

They stared at each other, Faramir’s expression still saddened, and Aragorn’s, full of earnestness.

“I gave up,” Faramir said softly, “Just like I did the last time. I thought there was no hope left. I let them down.”

“No you did not. You held out just long enough till we came.”

“But I did not know you were coming! I fell – again. If you had not arrived in time . . .”

“Your lieutenants had everything in control,” Aragorn told him, “They had your orders and they followed them implicitly. And your orders were very apt. You saved the city. You kept your promise.”

“I fell,” Faramir insisted, “I fell! I let them down. I let them down now and I let them down then!

Aragorn needed no explanation of the previous time. He knew Faramir was thinking of the last time he had fought on the Pelennor fields. Denethor had sent Faramir out hurting him with his words, leaving him to think he was fighting a lost cause. And this time, he had fought while physically injured, feeling alone again, and weighed down by a false sense of failure.

“If anyone let them down, it was I. You were injured and I left you alone to take care of things, merely from pride. I wanted to lead the army and I succumbed to that want. But you, you proved more than equal to the task. You overrode my stupidity. You let no one down. You saved the city and you saved my honour.”

“You did not give up. Either this time or the previous time. You were strained to your limits by no fault of yours. You were tired and hurting, both then and now. You are the bravest, most courageous human being. And yet you are compassionate and loving.”

“I’m not brave,” Faramir said in a small voice, the wetness still glistening in the corners of his eyes, “I was so scared. I feared I’d lose everything. I thought there was nothing to return to. And I preferred to fall rather than watch the city fall.”

“You were hit by falling stones, love. It was not your fault. Anyone would lose consciousness. You fought till you fell. If you had truly given up, you would have done so earlier, and without such a fight. You are brave! Never would I have you think otherwise. And you are intelligent, and kind and gentle. I could ask for no better qualities in my Steward and Captain.”

Faramir bit his lip and looked back at Aragorn. He knew those words were heartfelt. Yet the doubts still lingered.

Aragorn could see in the tired face that the doubts still remained. He stroked Faramir’s hand gently. Well, he would simply keep on at him till he was forced to accept them as the entire truth. They had plenty of days ahead of them.

“And you will always have much to return to,” he added solemnly, “All of us love you greatly. Well, some of us more than the others, and I most of all!”

Then he quelled anything Faramir might have had to say in the easiest way he knew of. He leaned forward and captured his lips in a searing kiss.

Aragorn walked briskly away from the throne room. He had had a busy day. The remaining forces had returned, and there had been much information to be exchanged. The civilian population too had begun to return. He had been busy in councils all days long and in briefing sessions with the captains and commanders. Stories had to be exchanged with Éomer and the others, and he could not keep the pleasure out of his voice as he spoke of how Faramir had handled the siege, or the concern when he spoke of his wounded state. Faramir was healing all right, but Aragorn still worried as a matter of course.

He was drained form the events of the day. He hadn’t seen his steward at all and he felt quite tired. He finally reached his destination and pushing the door to Faramir’s chambers in the citadel poked a head in.

The Steward had been moved there earlier in the day, and he now lay buried under a thick coverlet, his face scrunched up in obvious pain as his head pounded incessantly and every tiny injury coating his body flared up in a chorus of aches and pain, when Aragorn entered, and sat down by his side. Reaching a hand out the King gently brushed an errant lock of hair off the younger man’s forehead and stroked his head gently, careful to avoid the inured portions.

Faramir opened his eyes and looking up at him gave him a tiny smile.

“You’re here,” he said sleepily, his tone reflecting a quiet pleasure that hit Aragorn straight in the heart. He shifted slowly, ignoring the tiny stab of pain shooting through his body, and placed his throbbing head on Aragorn’s lap.

“Yes,” Aragorn said continued the slow, rhythmic, stroking motion, before bending down to press a tiny kiss on Faramir’s temple. He could see the obvious signs of relief and relaxation that had crossed the Steward’s face the moment his head had settled in his lap. He knew his very presence gave Faramir comfort, just as Faramir’s very presence slowly helped the tiredness ebb away from his body. He felt his inner strength return, flooding through his body.

“Did you miss me?” he asked softly.

“Yes,” with that, Faramir closed his eyes and let Aragorn’s fingers lull him into a peaceful slumber.


The end

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