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Under the Influence (R) Print

Written by sian22

12 April 2015 | 14784 words

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The Captain of the Ithilien Rangers stamped his feet as he mounted the townhouse steps, hoping to fling a little of the collected water off his boots and cape. The rain had not let up nor had the wind and he was chilled right through to the very marrow. The long, cramped ride had been an unpleasant one but thank Tulkas, it had been very worth it. Young Brand would live to fight another day. Faramir smiled at the thought. And harry another captain with his enthusiastic questions. Had he ever been that young and eager? Had he driven Eldacar crazy with his need to do everything right? Perhaps. It all seemed so very long ago.

Now safe from the weather’s worst under the small front awning Faramir shook his head. A cascade of drops flew off his hood as he tried to shed more wet before knocking at the door. It was late but he knew Amerith would still be up. A light was burning brightly in the library window just above.

He rapped below the door’s carved crest, wincing as the movement pulled at his side. Valar, for a scratch, the bloody wound stung the blazes. The thought of lying in a soft, raised bed grew even more enticing. His room here at least would be warmer than the citadel…

“Captain!” Willen’s welcome was suffused with warmth. The elderly seneschal was long used Faramir’s irregular comings and goings, he did not ask but simply held the massive door wide open, ushering the younger man quickly in before the wet and wind had too much chance to follow. The wrinkled face held a surprised but happy smile and Faramir returned the grin. Over the years he had grown fond of the old soldier. Discrete. Skilled. Proud and exacting in his work. Willen’s quality always showed.

The older man laid his sodden, heavy cloak carefully over one outsretched arm while Faramir bent hastily to remove his boots. He did not relish the thought of soaking and muddying the warm and heavy carpets.

“Her ladyship is in the library, mi Lord.” Willen explained when Faramir had straightened gingerly up again. He took note, but the Captain declined comment and he held his peace. “Shall I meet you there? Have you supped?” At Faramir’s quick shake of his head, the elder man led the way to the elegant spiral stairs. “Perhaps then some hot soup and bread. And slice of this evening’s excellent cake.” Willen could not quite suppress a knowing smile. He knew the Captain’s eternal fondness for Nerinel’s sweets.

At they reached the bottom step, Faramir rubbed his shaking hands together. He hated asking to be waited on at this late hour but now out of the wet he had realized how very chilled the ride had made him.

“That would be wonderful. But would it be possible to draw a bath? I fear the cold of Helcaraxe is in my bones.” Sitting in damp clothing waiting in the healer halls surely had not helped.

“Of course, Captain. It will be ready directly you have eaten.”

Smiling his thanks the younger man took the marble steps two at a time, hoping the exercise would warm his body up.

He paused at the partly open library door, not wishing to intrude too abruptly on Amerith’s evening plans. In his stocking feet she had not heard him come and so for a moment Faramir had a rare chance to watch her unobserved.

The elegant head was bent over a sheaf of papers on the ornately inlaid desk. The room was brightly lit, candles burned in the window and a fire crackled merrily in the grate. The duchess sat perfectly still, quill in hand, clearly studying carefully some recent correspondence. He looked fondly on the sight and did his best not to chuckle. As always when concentrating just the tip of Amerith’s small pink tongue stuck out between her lips. It was a quite unconscious habit but the more endearing for it. She looked for all the world like a little child in the tutor’s room working hard at difficult sums. What a conundrum the lady was. An utterly incongruous mix of the refined, the politic and the practical, hiding always a well of deep emotion. Over the years they had become dearest friends…

Resting his head against the oaken frame, he waited patiently until she laid her paper down. He cleared his throat loudly in the quiet.

“It is not often I find you working alone on a late week’s eve. Was there no party that took your fancy?”

The quill was dropped and inkwell nearly overturned in the lady’s haste to rise. “Faramir! Oh darling. What a lovely surprise!” She rushed forward, the heavy silk of her gown swishing against the desk, arms outstretched to clasp him in her usual exuberant hug.

Just in time, his own strong hands grabbed her elegant, ink-stained ones. He did not want a touch on his aching flank. For a graze it bloody hurt.

“What? Are you hurt?” she asked, looking him up and down suspiciously.

He held her hands before him and squeezed them in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. Worry creased her high, smooth brow as one auburn eyebrow raised in question. “It is nothing. A scratch. It just hurts. I’ve had much worse.” He flashed the blinding smile that always made her heart skip a beat.

“Indeed.” The thought was not comforting, but it was true. How many times had she held back her fear, worrying to open a letter that arrived too late or an urgent message that proved to be simply a new piece of needed intelligence? She sighed. It never became any easier.

They sat companionably side by side on a deep cushioned couch before the fire. The flickering orange flames cast fleeting pools of light and shadow across his handsome, aquiline features as he quietly recounted the day’s events.

“You are back early.” Of course she knew the details. What patrols were stationed where, when they were due back. She had long been the one to organize Denethor’s more irregular sources of information.

“We met by purest chance a troop of the Wild men of the Wood. They thought us foes at first.” Faramir frowned thoughtfully, remembering the chaos and shock of the short but intense skirmish. “It was truly odd. We ‘Stonehouse folk” they usually trust. For Drúedain to be so distrusting is worrying indeed. I would very much like to know who has been harassing them. I left Mablung to see what he could learn. We have not heard of Dunlendings nor Orcs so close to the Rammas Echor.”

Watching him shiver as he stretched cold fingers toward the fire, she stood and pulled a warm woolen throw from off another chair. “Was anyone seriously hurt?” He smiled as she draped the blanket across his shoulders and gently smoothed it across his back.

“Thank you.” He pulled the soft throw closer around his chest. “Brand took a spear to the gut and Methin a slash across his chest. Both will recover, thanks to Varan and his people.”

She nodded. “That is well. And you rode all that way today?” He grunted and a waved a hand derisively. Such a distance was not unusual when the Rangers were on the move. But somehow today he seemed more taxed. She needed to tread a little carefully, nudge him gently or he would balk at unnecessary fuss.

“You must be tired, darling, riding in that rain and wind, buffeted the whole way. You looked quite chilled. Perhaps you should change first and then eat?”

He was about to open his mouth and protest when Willen set a groaning tray on a low table in front of them.

Amerith waited patiently for more details while Faramir spooned up the thick, hot mushroom soup with relish. She watched him eat eagerly at first, obviously the warmth did him good. And thoughtfully, Nerinel had also provided two cups of warmed winter wine.

He took a long sip from the chased silver cup and sighed contentedly, gesturing to her with the fine tableware. “As always your hospitality, Amerith, is the finest. And a far cry from patrol.”

One long be-ringed hand reached for a piece of hard cheese and a few of the season’s tart early grapes. She inclined her head in thanks but frowned briefly, eyes narrowed thoughtfully as she regarded him for a moment. The silver cup shook quite noticeably as he brought it to his lips. Faramir seemed as chilled as if he had fallen betimes into the river.

The soup was now gone and Faramir started in on the crusty bread, spreading it thickly with good salted butter and taking a largeish bite. It tasted wonderful, light and warm and fresh, and unlike anything he had eaten in weeks. But then reluctantly, listening to her relate the twists and turns of the latest debate in council, he put the slice back down after only a few more bites. His stomach felt oddly cramped. Even the thought of the poppyseed cake was suddenly unappealing. Maybe Amerith was right. He was just too tired and chilled to eat.

When Willen appeared to take the tray away the older man quickly hid a frown. Most of the food was still lay on the plates. This was, in his experience, quite unlike the Captain. He quickly caught his mistress’s sharp, green gaze. She too clearly felt discomfited by her friend’s unusual behaviour. Willen could not think when he had ever seen Lord Faramir pass up sweets. He bent down to take the side handles of silver tray.

“Your bed, my Lord, has been turned down and the bath is drawn, whenever you are ready. I have taken the liberty of placing a warming pan in the bed.”

This information was met with a thankful, tired smile. Faramir turned back to Amerith, now sitting back in the cushions eying the tray warily. “Would you mind? The fire is lovely but I think I won’t be warm until I soak.”

“Of course not darling. Go on up.” She smiled and stood, knowing he was too polite to rise until she did. “You must take not a chill.” She worried intently for a moment that he was ill and of course he caught her thought.

He shook his head, as he rose and pecked her on the cheek. “No, honestly, I am just cold. Thank you for the dinner and the company. Will I see you in the morn?”

“Of course. Ring Willen or myself if there is anything you need.”

Lines of fatigue and, she realized, pain stood in sharp on his fair, smooth face. Torn between respecting his wish to not make a fuss and her wish to be sure that he was all right, she made a swift decision.

“I shall send up some willow bark tea.” Of course had his pride. There was none more stubborn than the Steward, unless it were his younger son, but sometimes she just had to push.

A momentary irritation flashed in the light grey eyes but just as Faramir turned toward the door the pain in his side jabbed sharply once again. Perhaps that would be good idea. He smiled and nodded a little sheepishly. Of course she saw. He should know there was little he could hide from her. ”Thank you Amerith, that will help. Good night.”

The duchess watched her young friend stride out the door, a puzzled frown upon her lips. There was something odd about his movement she could not place. Was he guarding his side, even though it was but a scratch? That made little sense. More likely he had some wicked slash that was crudely bound and he did not anyone want to bother with. She sighed. Men. They acted like fussy babies when they had the barest sniffle but became stone trolls when it was something more serious. Well bother she would. She would check up on him before retiring whether he liked it or not.

———————————-

Faramir sank gratefully down upon the soft feather bed, elbows on his knees and head in hands. For a moment the room spun lazily. Valar he was tired. He wished he could just flop back and sleep as he was, in his clothes, no further effort required on his part. But sadly that would not do.

He grinned ruefully and sniffed, reaching toward the heated pan underneath the sheets. The warmth made the scent of lavender on Amerith’s fine linen rise. The fabric was soft and warm beneath his fingers and he smelled of blood and dirt and horse, more like a crofter than a lord. A bath would take care of that.

Stiff fingers fumbled just a little, as with a tired sigh, Faramir began to undo the laces of his outer tunic. Gingerly he reached up and pulled the jerkin off over his shoulders and his head. Looking around at the neatly appointed room he finally laid the blood-stained garment upon a handy chest. Next he loosened the ties of his linen shirt at neck and cuff and shrugged out, tossing the still damp piece haphazardly and a little guiltily to the floor. He was too tired to fuss with the wardrobe and Nera, at least, was not here to chide him for untidiness.

Padding softly to the mirror, he checked his bandaged side, shivering a little as the room’s tepid air brushed across his skin. No more blood had seeped through the bandage, but he peered closely, frowning. There was a larger line of red below the frayed, wet cloth. Perhaps the arrow had bruised more than he had thought.

He moved to pull up the bindings but hesitated for a moment. The bandages had been soaked and crusted and dried again. With the way the cut stung right now it would be Morgoth’s own hell pulling them off. Better to rebind the wound after the old bandages were soaked off.

Relieved of his wet socks, he grabbed a silken robe from off the bed and walked into the bathing room. The air there was blessedly warmer as Amerith possessed that almost unheard of luxury: a fireplace in each bathing room.

Faramir swore softly as he struggled with the laces of his leather breeches. Valar, how had he got his breech ties in such knots. After several minutes more fumbling with the wet and stiffened leather he finally loosened the waist and in one smooth movement slid the leggings and his smallclothes down over his narrow hips.

Naked at last, he bent over the rim of the wooden tub and ran a hand through the steaming water. Hot, but not unpleasantly so. On a chair beside he found a sponge, and oils and soap. Perfect. A long hot soak would chase the chills away.

Faramir stepped into the tub and slowly eased himself down into the wet and warmth. It felt wonderful, so much so that he found he didn’t mind the sting of heat against his wound. Sighing, he lay back and rested his head against the rim, not minding that his long black locks trailed upon the surface. He should, he thought wash his hair after all.

Grabbing a vial at random from off the chair, he took a sniff. It smelled slightly spicy, of sandalwood and lemon. He poured a generous portion in, swirling his hand in lazy circles and smiled as the mixture bubbled up. Whistling happily, he piled the bubbles in little towers against his knees, only to break them down and build them up again. He grinned. Two little boys had long ago shared a single bath and made sea creatures out of foam while their mother sang of salt-kissed air and mermaids on the shore. That was surely one of his earliest memories, playing with Boromir in the bath. Laughing and shrieking and drenching all until Finduilas, laughing merrily, caught him in a towel.

Between the warmth of the water and the happy memories, Faramir felt more relaxed than he had in ages and more than a little drowsy.

He thought he would just lay back his head before washing in earnest, luxuriating for a moment more in the scent and heat and peace. He let his arm sink below the foam and closed his eyes….

After what seemed the barest minute he jolted upward with a start. He must have drifted off and fallen straight to sleep. The bubbles had dispersed and were now only a slightly oily slick upon the surface.

Grabbing the wash cloth from off the rim he quickly soaped and swiped, but made a face. The water had cooled considerably. How long he dozed? He shivered and tried to hurry up. Valar, this wouldn’t do, the last thing he needed was to be up to his neck in cooling water. His teeth were chattering and he was getting truly chilled.

Cursing his own foolishness, he placed strong arms on either side of the tub and heaved straight up. He yelped. That hurt. His side stung even more.

Swinging his legs one by one over the rim, he rested, waiting for a moment while the pain lessened a little bit.

He reached for a large soft towel on the chair beside, but the room swam dizzily once more.

How odd. There seemed to be two towels on the chair. Or was that two chairs? He could not decide. A quick shake of his head did not improve the view and in the end his reaching hand missed both of them.

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Thank the author

The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Maricela , Franchesca

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3 Comment(s)


NB: Comments span all chapters and may contain spoilers!

Oh I’m so excited to see you’re posting this. It is way, way too good to remain hidden in a set of e-mails.

Anyone new to this who has reservations about an OC/Faramir pairing: give it a go – this is one of the hottest pieces of het you’ll get the chance to read. And if you need help to picture it, just imagine that lush, incredibly erotic opening scene of Strauss’ s Rosenkavalier, only with Faramir in place of Oktavian.

— Annafan    28 March 2015, 08:36    #

Woohoo… The hurt, comfort and more comfort bit. And Varan letting Amerith know his inibitions will be lowered: “is that all?” But my goodness – uninhibited Faramir! What a treat. I have melted into a post-coital puddle and we haven’t even got to the coitus yet.

— Annafan    12 April 2015, 20:16    #

What wonderful, wonderful smut. Can I just say that the whole “consensual bodice ripping” (well, strictly skirt-ripping bit) is my new absolute favourite trope in romantic fiction. Everything about this is great – the table, the towering thrusts, the whole lot. And I hope they are going to make good use of the replacement sandalwood oil when they get back to her townhouse.

— Annafan    12 April 2015, 20:18    #

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