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Under the Influence (R) Print

Written by sian22

12 April 2015 | 14784 words

Title: Under the Influence
Author: sian22
Rating: R
Pairing(s): Faramir & OFCs

Caught in the grip of a powerful drug, Gondor’s young Captain finds he reveals more of his heart and fantasies than he would ever have imagined. What will he and the object of his hidden attraction do ?

A birthday present for Wheelrider.

This story, set in T.A. 3018, is an AU to my chapter fic, Captains and Pawns, in which a woman, Amerith, Duchess of Lossarnach works both for and against Denethor on council, trying to counter his worst inclinations and support her young friend. For the purposes of this story all you really need to know is that she is a decade older than Faramir, they are best friends and at one time he thought himself in love with her. Though in the original fic they never get it on..here for WR’s birthday is one possible way it could have happened.

Linhir is borrowed from Thanwen’s wonderful fic Through Shadows


Young Linhir may have been the House of Healing’s newest annointee but already he had learned one of a healer’s most important skills: to come fully awake from the soundest sleep no matter the time of day or night. They all caught sleep when and where they could. After the last of the afternoon’s hurried rounds he had simply dropped upon the hallway bench, suddenly too tired to reach his room and uncertain when the next chance for rest would come. Lulled by the drumming of the rain on the metal roof, he had closed his eyes. It would only be a moment….

At the sound of loud thudding he jerked awake and cocked an ear. A muffled cry could be heard above the wind’s howl and the dull rap of sword on wood. The gate. Someone was pounding urgently on the House’s oak and iron door, closed this night to protect its denizens from the wild and bitter storm.

Gathering his robes, the young man hurried down the hall, grasped the heavy latch and slowly swung the door, careful to keep the wind from ripping it too wide.

The gust-driven rain slashed against his face as he peered out into the darkened court. Three horses, miserably hunched in the cold and wet stood in the weak light of the few torches that were lit.
A dripping-wet, cloaked and darkened form approached. “Master, we have wounded.”

Linhir threw the door full wide, slipped the brace quickly home. Two of the ghostly mounts were laden. One rider sat his horse sagged forward, as the rain sheeted off his cloak. Clearly he was too hurt and cold and wet to move. But upright still. Lips moving in silent prayer, he thanked the Este for that mercy. The second rider sat straight-backed with the head of another man lolled against his shoulder. One green guantleted hand was raised above soldier’s pale, wan face, futilely shielding his unconscious charge from the worst of the weather’s temper.

The young healer paused but a moment to call and rouse the House before striding quickly out, heedless of the puddles that soaked his lighter shoes. Quickly he felt the cold descend. In his haste he had forgotten a cloak and already his light grey robe was stripped by streaks of darker damp.

“Help me!” he shouted as he looked to the dismounted man for aid. The fierce wind nearly took his words but the soldier seemed to know what he had meant. The unconscious man looked bad. Even in the dark his face appeared bloodless and his lips near blue. Together, they raised their hands and gently lifted the wounded man down from his companion’s arms.

In but a moment the small courtyard had erupted into motion. Two stretchers had appeared with porters and Linhir glimpsed his master, Varan, helping the second mounted patient down. The older man’s long dark hair was already plastered to his face, but he did not flinch as a sheet of water fell from the rider’s sodden cloak.

Hustling into the warmth of the waiting hall Linhir spared a thought for the other soldier. Should they call for grooms to take the horses? Was he uninjured too? He had assumed so but now he doubted, glancing backward through the dim. The man still sat his horse, eyes closed, his warm breath gusting upward to in wispy clouds and hands flexing repeatedly. Cold. He must be stiff with cold and holding his companion for so long. He should be fine. Relieved, he turned his attention back to the Houses once again.

Hours later Linhir sank gratefully once more down on the hallway bench. The third bell of night watch had come and gone. It was late and his feet were cold and surely wrinkled from hours in shoes so soaked that the leather had yet to dry. They had laboured long, he and his master, to save the unconscious man. Brand. His name was Brand. He should remember that, it was the same as his sister’s boy.

Linhir scrubbed wearily at his neck and rolled his head upon his aching shoulders. With a sigh of relief he stretched out his long legs, trying to ease the cramp in his damaged foot. His limp mattered little here, but after hours standing he felt as if every other part of his body was sore and stiff.

The sound of soft footfalls reached his ear and he looked up. Varan lowered himself gratefully to the bench and at the younger man’s raised eyebrow nodded once. “You did well… He will live. Almost he was gut-pierced but thankfully the blade missed the most vital parts.”

The young man flushed. It was heady compliment from his usually quiet-spoken mentor. It had been a very near thing. To be taken through the stomach was yet nigh a sentence of sure and lingering death. It was rumoured that leeches in Far Harad tried to save such a one, cutting the body open wide to close the piercings in the gut. He shuddered at the thought. One day. Perhaps one day he would be tired enough of losing men to take the risk.

“Where was the skirmish?” Varan asked, unscrewing a metal cup from a leather flask and pouring out a steaming brew. His master was a man of detail. He always wanted to know more.

“Druadan, the sergeant said. Beyond the gate at Forannest.”

“Orcs in Druadan? They have become so bold?” The grey-flecked head shook slightly. “Ill tidings. Yet more for these troubled times.”

“Nay, “ Linhir gratefully took the cup that his master proffered. It held sweet strong tea. Not wine, but as he sipped he found it revived him just as well. “Wild men. Drûgs. They attacked with little warning. Though sergeant Anborn said once they heard the Captain’s call in the higher speech they pulled just as quickly back. Unusual for them to be so bold and riled he thought.”

Seemingly satisfied Varan reached for and took the empty cup and filled it once again. He offered it over but the younger man shook his head. The weary pair then sat in quiet peace for many moments until a sudden gust of wind made the rain patter on the roof. Varan looked up and made a face. The storm had not abated yet.

“Where are they now?” The older man looked up and down the hall. Both the sergeant and his Captain had waited anxiously for news, but had vanished once again. It would be a wet walk down if their mounts were already at the soldiers barracks.

“Anborn said he would go to his sister’s home. Said that if word got back they’d been in a fight and she’d not seen him for herself he’d never hear the end of it.”

The two men grinned. They both had sisters, though following long tradition neither took a wife. They understood.

“Captain Faramir did not say. To the Citadel I suppose, though I imagine there’d be not much fussing there. His Lord father is well used to his sons arriving bound.”

“Bound?” Varan sat straight up and frowned. “You didn’t say that he had been tended.”

“Nay, master. We didn’t tend him. They bound him on the field.”

“On the field?” Piercing blue eyes snapped to his face. “Where was he hurt?” Linhir now flushed with embarrassment to be the focus of the stern, dark gaze.

“Flank. He said it wasn’t deep.” An ill feeling prickled at his nape. Varan had risen to his feet, a look of anger on his narrow, wrinkled face. Valar, he was in trouble and well he knew it. All wounded were to be tended to and at least inspected to be sure that they were well. Particularly the Rangers. They had a tendency to be indifferent to all manner of hurts out in the wild.

Linhir rose and offered a swift apology. “I am sorry sir. I know you’ve ordered we check everyone who enters with a wound. But the Ranger’s leather armor is usually proof from arrows. The Captain insisted he was fine and that the bleeding had already stopped.”

Swiftly, the older man’s look of anger was replaced with one of urgent worry. “Arrow?! It was an arrow wound? Morgoth’s teeth!”

Linhir stood shocked and speechless as Varan turned on his heel and all but ran down the hall to the herbal room. So swiftly did he move that his robes flew behind like great grey wings.

Linhir behind broke into as fast a lope as his twisted foot would allow. He found his master hurriedly searching the pots of salve and herb upon the shelves, muttering under his breath.

Grabbing and discarding different leaves and hastily pounding them in a mortar. Varan spared a moment to eye the younger man. “You should have said. Do not ever let a wounded man go again.” He pounded harder, sniffing at the pulp and grunting distractedly. Finally satisfied, he scooped the mess into a pot and screwing the lid tightly on.

“Come.” he barked and now the young healer struggled to keep up with his master’s longer stride.

A roll of bandages was grabbed and a heavy cloak from the pegs beside the door. “I must find him. I will try the Citadel first. You have the watch here. Watch for fever in young Brand and see that the others rest as best as they are able.”

At Linhir’s stricken look Varan relented. “I also blame myself. I should have asked. You could not know.”

“Know what?” The young man held the pot and roll while the cloak was pinned in place. Varan opened the oaken door and turned his dark face back from a bitter gust of wind.

“Drûg arrows are always poisoned.”

To be continued

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.

In the end the cup of willowbark tea Amerith brewed herself l ay abandoned on the bedside table.

There was only one emotion in these latter days that could make the redoubtable duchess cry and that was sheer, utter, helpless, frustration. She had not often been acquainted with it, far more used to knowing what she at least should do even in those times she could not do it. But this evening, as her shaking fingers spread salve across his chest (again) the tears mixed one by one with the smooth green paste. The comfrey and mint in the healing salve should ease his shallow breathing, and should the steam from the bowl of minted water placed by his side. What else could she do?? Nothing for the moment seemed to help.

She stroked gently, endlessly along his chest and back, determined to hold Faramir upright (surely that should help too?) until the healers came. Elbereth, please let it be soon, her lips murmured to his wet raven hair, until that became a litany. Elbereth, give their feet wings. Faramir’s face was now a sickly grey, lips tinged with the barest blue. Was this some fever of the wound? The red streaks across his flank, almost like a spider’s web, suggested so, but what fever made the body cool not heat? She did not understand…and now the salve ran with yet more salty drops.

What cruel irony was at work that she should be holding Faramir so very close yet he did not even know that she was there? The very thing her secret heart of hearts had desired, never spoken of, never even whispered to the dark of her own room, and now she should hold him when he might be snatched away? Away… oh Gods_…Her heart clenched again to remember the sight of him, sprawled on his stomach on the bathing room floor, chair tipped over, a golden slick of sandalwood oil running across the tile to pool under his bruised and blue tinged hip. Her first thought had been quite ludicrously: how could he suffocate in a _bath? But kneeling beside, skirts damp, her stomach in her mouth, she had felt his back rise all too shallowly and knew. Her panicked cry had brought every denizen of the house flying on the double.

As the seconds and the minutes stretched by, some traitorous, wildly careening part of her mind wondered what Faramir would make of this. His modest and reserved public self likely would be quite embarrassed at the thought of being lifted naked off the bathroom floor by her guard and youngest footman. But his private self, that she hoped would be comforted and strengthened to be held by her. What else was there now for her to do?

With Varda’s name on her lips and in her aching heart, she held him tighter, pressed the salve more firmly into his skin and willed every ounce of her hard-earned resilience to pour into him.

Elbereth, I pray thee, help him, if not for me but for the others that he loves.

——————-

Varan, normally the mildest mannered of men, uttered a heartfelt curse as he ran down the Citadel’s endless white stone steps. He had wasted precious time. The Captain had not been there and no one he had met had seemed to know exactly where he was. The guards were clearly more than loathe to disturb the Steward at whatever his important ‘work’ was this late time of night. They seemed frankly terrified. Only when he had pleaded, throwing privacy to the desperate winds, and admitted that his son’s life was in real danger had he gotten anywhere. Nera, the housekeeper, white-faced and clearly stricken at the thought, had pushed forward through the throng of anxious guards and found the courage to speak aloud, explaining which townhouse he should try.

Now as the older man raced along the empty thoroughfare toward the 6th circle he prayed he would be in time. How long had it been since Captain Faramir had been wounded? Seven hours, or likely even eight? Surely the poison had taken hold by now? Fear clutched at his heart. He remembered well his gran’s high but sure and steady voice, telling her curious grandson about the Woodwoses and their habits. A time or two they had treated their animals for them and even once one of the little men himself. She always said their famous poison was crude yet cruelly efficient on its foes. But blessed Este easy to treat if the antidote were administered soon enough. But therein lay the problem, its victims did not always realize they had been prey. The stuff had no great odor and only made a strong man feel a little ill and chilled at first. It was slow and all too insidious. Over time the body’s systems slowed, temperature first, then breathing, and finally the heart.

Clutching the antidote harder in his hand, Varan picked up his pace, ran as fast as the cobbled slope would let him go. The drizzle dragged at his sodden cape but he did not notice, intent only on the numbered doors, searching for the specific one amidst the row of elegant but identical white stone fronts. He had just reached the middle 6th when another figure appeared out of the wet and swirling mist.

“Master!” A guard in the blue and grey livery of Lebennin pulled up, panting from his run. Obviously, he recognized the healer’s grey robes. “Please come. Quickly. The Captain, he is sore ill.”

“Lead the way…”

They ran.

————————-

If the head of Duchess’s household felt any ire at the usurpation of his authority, he was of course too well trained to show it. Willen leapt at Master Varam’s detailed instructions indeed as quickly as the rest, and in minutes of his arrival the healer had no less than five of the servants running to and fro. Two guards had been dispatched back to the Houses for a litter and reinforcements, the under butler sent to the cook for boiling water, and the seneschal himself was tearing linen into fresh bandages that would be soaked. Amerith alone was left where she was, holding the Captain’s pale, shivering figure up, cradling his head against her shoulder while Varan pulled back the coverlet to examine the wound.

“My lady have you seen these streaks change any?” Gentle fingers probed carefully at the naked skin. The gash was small, no more than an inch or two, but quite inflamed and red. To Amerith it looked really such a small and unsinister thing to cause great hurt.

“No Master, not in the past half-candlemark. Thank the Valar you are here. We found him collapsed on the bathing room floor. ” Her arms shook now as much as Faramir’s though not from chill. Fear had seeped into her bones. The worry on Varan’s face was unmistakable. It did not seem possible that from such a simple wound all their efforts could come to naught. Had Faramir really endured uncomplaining years of battle and bitter words for a simple arrow graze to take him down?

Varan paused in his probing to check his patient’s pulse. It was slow but not yet unsteady for a mercy. Next the healer listened to his chest, holding him gently up and tapping several times. It was clear, the slow breathing was not infection that he could see. The last thing to gauge was the extent of temperature control. “What were his symptoms when he arrived, my lady? Was he noticeably chilled?”

Amerith shifted slightly on the bed and nodded, watched anxiously the older man’s grim but thoughtful face. “When he arrived he was already shivering, I thought it from the ride. And he had little appetite. But the shivering now is less, though he does not wake and his breathing seems more difficult. Is it a fever? But his skin is not hot to the touch? Surely that is good if at least he is less chilled?”

Varan sighed unhappily, all the telltale signs of the plant poison were present as he had feared. “Nay, lady, less is not good in this instance. This is no fever, though it might have seemed so to anyone. The shivering is less because his body is too weak but still too chilled. The wound has been poisoned.”

“Poisoned!”

At her stricken exclamation, the older man hastened to explain. “I am afraid so, but I have brought an antidote. Do not fear, milady I believe I am just in time. Bide awhile and you shall see.” With that, Varan unscrewed the cap on the jar and scooped out a small handful of dark green paste. He spread some first across the wound itself and then, with a murmured word of thanks to the footman, cast the rest into the steaming bowl of water laid near to hand.

A bitter, intense, sharp smell quickly filled the room. Working hurriedly but carefully Varan soaked the strips of linen in the brew and wrapped them around Faramir’s wound and up across his chest. Next he soaked the tip of a smaller cloth and pushed it past the young man’s unresponsive lips, wringing a few drops onto his tongue.

Faramir groaned quietly and his eyelids fluttered. He was not completely unconscious yet, but neither did he swallow. If the tea tasted anything like the smell, surely it was unpleasant and would not easily go down.

“More. My lord, you must try.” Varan, long used to coaxing patients, persevered. He coated the young man’s tongue once more. Faramir jerked his head away and frowned, his hand weakly trying to bat the cloth away.

“Lord Faramir. Wake up. You must drink this down.” The healer tried harder to rouse his patient, shaking his shoulder and finally slapping him lightly on both cheeks. This time the eyelids fluttered twice and even opened for a moment. Swiftly, Varan dipped a cup and held it to his lips. Almost before he knew what he had done, Faramir had sipped and made a face. But Varan was ready, he quickly pulled the cup out of reach and laid it down before the weak protest could upend it. With the barest of gentle touches, he then stroked the young man’s throat to make sure the liquid went farther down.

Through sheer dint of repetition most of the cup got into the man. All the while, Amerith supported his lolling head against her shoulder. With her own none too steady hand she softly brushed his still wet hair from off his cheek, trying to keep it out of the mess. Each time Faramir reluctantly took a sip some of the mixture dribbled out the corner of his mouth. It soaked her bodice and trailed farther down, down his pale throat and across the finely muscled chest.

At long last, as Varan laid the cup down and rubbed vigorously across Faramir’s back, he gave the tiniest cough. Encouraged, the healer massaged his chest and back the more, willing the circulation to increase.

“How quickly will it work?” Amerith barely dared to breathe, watching each shallow rise and fall of the dark curly hairs above the bandage on his chest.

“Not long” was the reply. “It was not too late and I made the dose very strong.” Varan added a little more hot water to the basin and swirled the mixture round. The cooled strips of linen were soaked and wound again.

Never had a single half candle-mark seemed to burn so slowly.

Amerith busied herself with piling the blankets around his hips and replacing the cooled warming pan with hot bricks that Willen offered up. Slowly, after what seemed an age, the warmth and herb stilled the chills that wracked Faramir’s body and a little colour came back to his naked skin.

Amerith settled down and laced her fingers through his now warmer hand. Hope slowly seeped back in as she held him tight and whispered words of comfort.

“_Este_…”

Varan allowed himself a little smile at her exclamation. Faramir had taken several deeper breaths. Now his pulse seemed stronger and his breathing a little easier. “We must watch carefully for a while, but I am hopeful the worst is past. Then we will move him to the Houses.”

“I will come..”

“Of course.” The healer was a naturally observant man. The duchess’s hand had not unclasped Faramir’s nearly the entire time. “I had not thought that you would do otherwise”

————————

Faramir moaned as he shifted restlessly in his half awakened state. He finally felt warm again and the world no longer spun, though the unfamiliar sharp taste in his mouth was thoroughly unpleasant. He wanted to rise and spit out the bitter leaf but found he could hardly raise his hand to wipe his mouth. His limbs were stiff and oddly wooden yet his head felt strangely light. What was wrong?

Wearily he slumped back down, gathered his strength to try again. Hesitantly he opened his eyes. A single candle burned on the beside table and a fire was lit in the grate. Amerith was fast asleep, askew in an armchair beside the hearth. There were dark shadows under her eyes and her hair was piled untidily.

As his eyes accustomed to the light he realized why the place felt wrong. This was not his room. The walls were bare and the bed was narrower. Where was he?

Faramir gathered himself to rise again and cried out softly as pain seized at his side. He slumped, defeated, back into the bed, against soft pillows and cool sheets. They were not the lavender-scented linen that he remembered and there was another, stronger, smell he could not place: intensely green and sharp. Reaching up he touched a sticky slick of something green across his chest. That must be the source. He was naked he realized, just cool damp bandages were wound about his side. The bath. He had been getting out of the bath. Morgoth’s balls, he must have got a chill after all, and now they were dosing him in the Houses. Did he have a fever? Cautiously he turned his head. He didn’t have that heavy, pounding headache that came when a fever rose.

The quiet creak of a door sounded and a voice softly called to Amerith. The brighter light from the outer hall hurt his half-closed eyes. He groaned softly and turned his face away, too tired to speak, content to simply lay and listen drowsily to the visitor speak again.

“My lady, you should lie down and take some rest. He may sleep for some hours yet, and when he wakes he will not be himself.” The voice was soft but deep, a man’s voice, calm and reassuring. It was familiar but he could not quite place it and his eyelids were too heavy to look and see. “But you said there were side effects. I would not leave him if he still feels ill.”

“He will not exactly feel ill as he has been. Just unlike himself. I will send an apprentice to watch over, you need not fear he will be alone.” From the tone it was clear the healer hesitated to explain. Faramir felt light fingers raise his wrist. They pressed gently for a moment and all was still before his hand was laid down once again.

“How so?” Amerith sounded worried even to his drowsy ears. “You said the treatment was very strong, that it was long past time the wound should have been treated. Will the side effects be worse?”

There was a longer pause. “I suspect so. That in this instance they will intensify. They are unusual, my lady, you may not wish to be present then.”

“Not present!? The duchess’s voice rose sharply but quickly lowered to an anxious whisper. “Master Varan what effects could there be that I would not want to witness? Will he be in pain?”

Now Faramir understood who was there. Varan, the chief healer of the Houses, second only to the Warden. His competence and skill were widely known. They had known each other for many years.

“No.” There was a heavy sigh. The covers were adjusted to cover more of his naked shoulder, but he did not really mind. He felt blessedly warm and quite relaxed. Nightshirt or no, it was simply good to have chased the chills away.

“The antidote acts on the brain. It lessens a person’s inhibitions. Emboldens them if you will. They will say and act in ways that they may not otherwise.”

“Truly?” Now he heard Amerith’s distinctive giggle. “Well, stars, I thought you meant something serious from your tone.”

A smile crept into Varan’s voice. “It could be quite marked, my Lady. So long as you understand. He will not be violent, you need not fear that. Normally the effect lasts a few hours, but I expect with the dose so concentrated, it will last longer still.”

From the edge of a hazy, almost dream, Faramir heard the sound of rustling skirts. A soft, perfumed hand was pressed against his cheek. He turned toward it. He wanted to part his lips and plant a kiss but his tired muscles would not obey. When you awake, said some part of his fuzzy brain and so he sighed and drifted off again, missing Amerith’s final chuckle.

“I am sure I can manage that.”

———————————————————

Normally Amerith was quite capable of keeping herself awake. Endless, fractious council meetings were an excellent training ground for that needed skill. But after nearly a day of constant vigilance, punctuated by the briefest of needed catnaps she had at last slept in earnest, safe in the knowledge that Varan’s young assistant would wake her the moment the Captain was awake.

The hand on her shoulder was gentle but insistent. “My Lady, wake up. I must let Master Varan know.”

Pushing upright from the cot on which she lay, the Duchess glanced anxiously toward the nearby bed. What a welcome sight! A pair of clear grey eyes gazed back at her in puzzled surprise.

“Darling!” she could not help the happy exclamation. Faramir’s handsome face was pale but it no longer held the tight pained look of yestereve.

The young apprentice bowed to them both and took his leave, murmuring that he would bring the Master back in a little while.
Amerith sat up and righted her twisted dress, momentarily embarrassed to realize her bodice was a little more revealing than she would have liked. She had clearly tossed and turned quite forcefully in her sleep.

“Faramir how do you feel?” She rose a little stiffly, not bothering to twine her long hair back into its bun. There would be time for her ablutions later. For now, she was simply too relieved to be anywhere but here with her young friend.

Faramir smiled a little, pushing upward on the bed gingerly. “Better! Warm! My side does not hurt so much and the room no longer spins. ” The tiny remaining rind of fear about her heart melted at his voice, weak and raspy though it clearly was. She had truly worried she might never hear its gentle tones again.

Having found he could move without too much protest from his tired body, the young man tried to straighten fully up. “What happened? Why am I here?” As he shifted restlessly again the sheet fell down about his waist, and Amerith moved quickly to place a restraining hand against his chest.

“No, no do not move. Just lie back and take it easy.” She pulled the sheet a little higher. Faramir did not seem chilled but after seeing him nearly blue she was not taking any chances. “The wound you took was poisoned. You were in a very bad way my dear before Varan brought the antidote.”

The clear grey eyes grew wide. The news was clearly something of a shock.

She tucked a stray, sticky black lock behind his ear and took his hand, let a teasing grin cover the remembered fear. “All will be well now. You gave us quite a fright. I will thank you to not to do that again. Most inconsiderate. There is sandalwood oil all across my marble floor.”

“I promise to be as neat as possible in the future.” A wry and welcome smile met her skeptical snort. They both knew he was habitually untidy. No promise would ever change that fact, no matter how heartfelt when it was given.

Relieved he felt well enough to banter, she searched carefully in his face for any sign of discomfort or unsettledness. His eyes were brighter and his face looked calm if a little weary. That was understandable. For the moment at least there was no sign of any ill effect.

“Do you remember anything?”

The smile grew only wider and with it came a low and teasing chuckle of his own. “No. You could have taken advantage of me and I would not know it!”

“Faramir!” Good heavens. What ever made him think of that? “Are you thirsty? Can I get you anything?”

He tried a little cough to clear his throat. “Some water, please.”

She filled a cup from the jug on the beside table and passed it over. Watching his blessedly steady fingers as he sipped carefully at the welcome liquid, she wondered if Varan had overstated the effects. Faramir seemed coherent enough and perfectly normal. What a huge relief.

The cup when she took it back was sticky about rim. Looking down, she realized his hands must have brushed his chest, it was still covered in the dried green salve she had smeared across in hope of easing his laboured breathing. Peering closer, she sniffed and realized his hair and neck were covered in shredded bits of bitter healing herb.

He noticed her attention and his eyes sparkled with a momentary mischief. “I tried the sandalwood bath oil. They say its spicy, creamy smell is the scent of a tryst in a forbidden grove and will drive a lady wild.” He looked up at her through a curtain of messy hair, lower lip jutting forlornly in an extravagant pout. “Instead I smell like some awful tonic of Aunt Ivriniel’s.”

She laughed. “We can’t have that. The horror! Let me find something to clean you up.”

Amerith searched the bureau and found a metal pan, placed it full of water on the brasier to warm. “A cup of Varan’s herbal antidote went down your front last night. I suspected it smells only half as bad as it tastes from how hard it was to get inside you.”

Faramir laid his head back upon the pillow, eyes dreamy in the torch light but watching as she worked. Amerith dipped a sponge and began to wipe the gunk away. Was he tiring again? Well at least when he was clean and seen by Varan he could sleep peacefully once more. She wondered if in him the side effect was lack of appetite and more fatigue. He had hardly eaten in two days and showed no sign of wanting anything at that point.

Gently she dipped the sticky sponge again into the warm water and wrung it out, rubbing softly in gentle circles until the herb began to loosen. The mess had dried onto the light dusting of black hair across his well-muscled chest, it took some work to finally get it off. She rubbed a little harder and one finger brushed a sticky nipple. It peaked and tiny sigh escaped his lips.

“I wonder how soft your fingers are?”

Shocked, the lady looked up from her ministrations and caught a soft, thoughtful smile on the pair of bow-shaped lips. Her insides twisted. His voice was low, with a hint of yearning in his tone, his eyes focused and intent. Was this Faramir with a seductive look?

Uninhibited. That had been the word Varan had used. She pulled back a little and tried to wipe a little more carefully, to be more stiff and clinical in her bathing. It was not easy for one naturally expressive in her actions.

Faramir was not to be put off. He leaned forward until their cheeks were almost touching.

For a moment Amerith wondered if he would kiss her but then suddenly a hand reached out for hers. She dropped the sponge. He was strong. Very strong. In a heartbeat he had her hand halfway to his hip and she had no doubt where he wished a soft touch to roam.

“Faramir, be a good boy and let me go.” The lady tried her best to sound firm and sincere. It was a little difficult to maintain when his lower lip still pouted so enticingly.

“I am not good and I am not a boy!’

The belligerent protest met with a show of healthy skepticism. An auburn eyebrow raised and she reminded herself not to laugh, not to hurt his feelings.

Reluctantly, the calloused fingers let hers go. He flopped back against the pillows. “At least not always. Bugger, I am so tired of everybody thinking so… I just hide it better than most.’

Now it was her turn to smile. An embarrassed flush crept up his chest to stain his cheeks. He looked so lovely touched by the colour, rosy pink against black, glossy locks that were still to dry after she had wiped them too. She glanced down at the now decidedly larger mound below the sheets.

He most definitely was not a boy.

She set the sponge aside and with all the dignity and grace she could muster with her traitorous heart thudding wildly in her chest, plumped the pillows behind his back and tried her customary tactic. Making light of an awkward subject worked always in a diplomatic mess.

“Really? Well then you have hidden your bad behaviour so deep it is nigh in the bowels of Moria. Being naughty and boyish is your brother’s job I should have thought.”

“Boromir!” The derisive snort was loud. She hastened to shush him, the walls here were not as thick in other parts of the sixth, nearer to the Citadel. “My dear rakehell for a brother. It never fails to amaze me how girls flock to him. They do, but only once. He’s hung like a Kine but really has no idea what to do with his tongue.”

“Faramir!” Amerith gasped. Stars, he was truly saying and thinking things she would never in an entire Age have guessed.

The young man gave a startled laugh. He had just noticed his own joke. “Well yes, yes he does but not what to say with it. Girls like to be courted, not just ploughed. Now Father….”

The sound of Linhir’s halting steps were just audible in the hall. Was he coming to check on the patient or someone else? Oh gods, she thought, Faramir would die if someone heard him speaking about the family.

In a panic at what indiscretion might come out next she stopped his mouth the only way she knew.

He had not shaved in days of course. She was startled by the rasp of beard against her cheek. It felt exciting and decidedly unlike their usual chaste kiss.

Faramir gave a low moan and then quiet chuckle tingled against her lips. “Mmmmm.”

She felt the shiver that ran through him, though this time praise Este it was not of cold. She could taste a stronger desire behind the first press of cool and steady lips, felt him part his lips and raise his hand, seeking to claim what his body hungered for. Their tongues entwined and slid together in a slow and questing dance. Nimble fingers tangled in her hair, pressed them closer still. He had strength. She had always known it was there but to feel it on her nape and in his urgent touch was heady and intoxicating.

Valar what had she done? The sound of Linhir’s slow, distinctive gait was loud now in the hall.

Faramir grinned, sleepy tongue lazily playing across her lower lip. He sighed and broke the kiss. The clear grey eyes brimmed in the torchlight, dark and wide with mounting need.

“Lock the door.”

She pulled back quickly, her lips reddened and tingling from his touch. Oh how sweet was the realization of what she had held secret in the chambers of her battered heart so long. It had been necessary torture, of course, to watch (her show of deflation not entirely an act) as the rumour of their split so long ago had run like flame through a tinder pile. As it had been to stand by and be encouraging of his tentative advances to a young widow in the months that followed. To listen while he sang the praises of the witty (hardly) and amusing (derivative) things the young lady in question said. It had mercifully (for her) not lasted very long. Neither had any had of his recent trysts, she knew he had not been a monk. There had only been a few highly discrete liasons, all doomed to fail. Sooner or later the young lady in question wanted to see more of him than a Ranger’s schedule would allow and they moved on.

Looking on his flushed skin and glowing skin she decided that to rise and shut the door was the sensible thing to do, but not for the reasons he would assume. She needed to fend him off, truly this should go no further but neither did she want the healers to hear what he might say. He was heavily in the drug’s strong grip and might regret it all when he was better. How long before sleep caught up with him again? There was a dose of willow bark tea upon the bureau. How quickly would its sedative affect take hold?

She locked the door. She could feel his lustful gaze upon her back. Was it her imagination or was it rising to her nape from the lower hooks upon her bodice. Steeling herself, Amerith picked up the pewter cup and turned, avoiding his gaze, avoiding looking anywhere about his person. She must not notice that his cock had swelled so much it was striving to raise the sheet. That his nipples were still peaked, lying reddened against the soft the dark hair. Nervously, she licked lips gone dry and proffered the tisane.

“Here, Varan said you were to have this, my dear.”

She was quite practised at lying when the need arose. He suspected nothing in his eagerness to have her near, sipped obediently and closed his eyes with pleasure as he reached out and deliberately brushed their fingertips together. She froze but did not jerk away. He must not suspect there was anything untoward.

Once done he laid his head back upon the pillow and breathed deeply, eyes shining on her with a glow of barely bridled passion. They focused on the rim of the slightly shaking cup, on her still soapy fingers.

“Do you know how many times I have been alone in a damp bedroll and imagined the touch of those gorgeous fingers?” he asked, voice low and rough with need. “Wondered what they would feel like on the skin of my cock? What they would taste of if I sucked each one into my mouth before they reached to stroke my hardened length?”

Oh gods. The movement of his lips as they formed the shocking words was mesmerizing. She nodded. She too had fantasized alone in her great carved bed. Dreamed of pale, musky skin. Tiny raven curls low about his hardened length. The soft and velvet space cradled by his hip. She felt like a small animal in a hunting trap, his words were the snare and only a surrender to his need could set her free.

She stood frozen as his callused hand darted out and caught her own. This time his grip was gentle. He brought her trembling fingers to his lips and kissed each pad in turn. His lips were soft and eager.

Emboldened by the rising need that shone in her emerald gaze, he ran his sweet and agile tongue slowly to each knuckle. He moaned with pleasure, a low and almost feral growl. Between the sound and his sensual touch a heavy, tingling heat gathered in her core.

“Gods I have wanted this for so very long. Do you know what I have imagined sitting across from you in the boring council sessions?”

She gasped and swallowed hard. Had he read her mind? Somehow she must stop this or where would it lead? But no, she was helpless to resist, she had to hear, to know that their secret dreams were truly one.

His eyes were now nearly black, the pupils so ripe and avid only the barest sliver of grey still showed. She could see the pulse beating wildly at his throat, as the naughty words spilled out.

“Barring the door to be sure we are alone. Pulling you across the table until our lips met and set a fire raging in my blood? Your skirts hiked and splayed, your skin alabaster against the gleaming wood? Your fingers practically tearing my breeches off and holding my buttocks hard as you pull me roughly into your warm and liquid depth. Valar, I think of it so often even the scent of lemon oil alone can make me hard.”

Her vision swam. How did he know? She flexed her trembling hands, imagined as she had so often the feel of leather and oilskin below her fingertips. Their delicious contrast to the warm soft skin she would find when she ran them underneath the heavy tunic? Took the laces in her teeth, striving to release him before she simply burst.

“My Lady.” A sharp knock sounded upon the door and interrupeted her scattered thoughts.

Oh shit, Varan had arrived.

—————————————

Faramir was supremely and quite utterly bored. All it took was a moment’s inattention and he found himself fancying he heard the drone of bees about the mounds of dark pink meriloth of Ithilien’s green and lovely glades. The slopes would be ablaze with colour, the hot summer sun would dry the soil and mingle their sweet and heady scent with the dusky undertone of pine as he crept through the underbrush. Sigh. He shook himself and the lights of the council room came into focus once again. No, the drone was still the high pitched and nasal tone Lord Lamedon used when registering his annoyance. Would the man’s soliliquay never end?

He reached for the pewter cup before him and took another sip of water. A single drop fell on the polished wood to shimmer golden in the glow of the gleaming candle scones. Idly he traced a pattern in the wet, fingers playing over the inlaid design upon the table: the stars and branches of Gondor’s trees picked out in precious hírilorn. This evening’s meeting was unusual, the latest reports and his own encounter clearly showed Orcs moving in greater numbers through Anorien. Denethor shrewdly planned to move two companies from farther south but the southern lords protested. It was quite tedious, nary a one had been seen in Langstrand or Erech in decades, but round the table the drone continued. They would have their say and his father seemed prepared to wait them out.

For the umpteemth time that week Faramir wished he were back on duty, back with his men, doing something useful instead of listening to others and cooped up inside. He understood Varan’s hesitation but after two full weeks with no chills, no ill effects from the poison’s antidote and only a little lingering fatigue he was anxious to be gone.

Looking across the gleaming table, he watched the Duchess of Lossarnach strive to keep her face composed, to keep a smile of polite attention fixed. He knew Lord Lamedon bored her silly at the best of times and tonight was surely well past that. She caught his glance and inclined her head in query. Quickly he looked away. Ever since his illness they had been a little wary with each other. Was she embarrassed by what had happened? Upset? Annoyed? She had not said and Varan had repeatedly told him not to fret. That no one expected him to account for what he had. Despite the assurances, he worried that he had somehow hurt their long, enduring friendship.

A break was called and gratefully Faramir stood to stretch his legs. He had trained hard that morning and was now a little stiff. He had worked hard, hoping to be ready when the healers declared him fit for active duty once again. When he took his seat again a folded square of paper lay beside his quill. Curious, he unfolded it and felt a twinge of worry and happiness entwined. It was Amerith’s elegant script, clear and concise.

Stay after session for a moment. I wish to speak with you.

Speak with him? What else could it be but about that day? Mortified now to think of what he had said and done, Faramir caught her eye and nodded briefly, trying not to let his embarrassment show. Perhaps this was for the best. They should clear the air before he had to leave.

A single finger was raised in return, acknowledging his nod. Oh Valar, now he truly could not concentrate. He would have never propositioned her like that but for the drug. Put her on the spot. It was churlish and unfair. He knew what she had thought, that there could be nothing between the two of them, that their friendship was too important to sully with the frailer human foibles. She had her favourites and he had his work, and that should be enough. Would have to be enough, no matter that the antidote had made him say aloud the truth, that in the dark of night more often it was her image that came into his mind than any other. He told himself it was impossible, but time and again in the following days and weeks his traitorous heart reminded him she hadn’t exactly pulled away…

Once the council broke for the night, he waited patiently. The Duchess was engrossed in some point of discussion with his father, and he tried to be more patient. Amerith seemed to not be in too great a rush. He hung back, tidied his notes and wondered if he could find some supper later. He was more than a little hungry for a change. Another sign that he was recovering.

Faramir nervously ran his fingers across the smooth polished surface, waiting for the room to clear. The scent of lemon oil rose up, taunting him with its scent. As if he needed another reminder of what he had so injudiciously admitted. Finally all the councillors had bid their good nights and Amerith broke off conversation with the Steward. His father, nodding curtly his goodbye, strode purposely from the room. Heading to the tower in all likelihood, he thought. It would be hours yet before the Steward found his rest.

“Thank you for waiting darling.” He jumped. Amerith’s voice was suddenly right beside his elbow.

“It is no trouble, my Lady. I was hoping we would have a chance to meet.” That much was true. He scanned her face, looking for some clue as to her feelings. When last they spoke, the day after he was released into his father’s care, she had been warm and polite, her usual public face. Perhaps he was truly worrying for nothing.

“You look well.” It was a statement not a question. Her green eyes scanned carefully his face, looking he assumed for signs of fatigue or pain.

“ I am. Much better and more than ready to take back to all my duties.”

“I expect Varan will know when is best. You must listen to his council as assiduously you would your father’s.” Her smile was teasing. Of course he would listen to his father..obey was of course another matter.

“Listen to or accept?”

“Both!” He grinned back at her knowing smile. Nienna’s mercy it felt good to be bantering once again. It was a happy sign. Perhaps she truly wasn’t too upset about that day, wanted to clear the air and put it behind them as much as he. Weak with relief, he waited for her to speak. She had asked him to wait. She should be the one to raise it first.

“Faramir, I have for some days meant to return to you your shirt. Willen had the blood sponged off and the tear mended.”

She pulled a neatly tied package from off a chair. His shirt? She wanted to return his shirt? He blinked and did not take it right away. With a puzzled frown, she set it down again.

“Oh.” Faramir flushed, embarrassed. That was all. He had no right to but felt faintly disappointed. “Right. Of course..he is a marvel.“ Valar why did he have to sound so stilted? He wanted to kick himself. She shouldn’t be surprised that he wanted to speak about the incident should she? It would be best to not let it fester if he was to be on patrol for months. Maybe he should speak?

“Amerith..I…” He stopped midsentence. He was now speaking to her back.

The lady had turned and glided smoothly away, skirts swishing along the marbled tiles as she headed toward the carven doors.

Wonderful. She wouldn’t even stay to hear him out. She was leaving before he had a chance to start. Without thinking, he rounded the end of the council table and made to follow. His long legs ate the distance, hoping to catch her before she made it to the hall.

One hand reached out to take her arm when suddenly he had to halt. To his surprise, she had hesitated at the very threshold. Her rings glinted in the light as both hands took hold of the great iron latches. Slowly the left hand door was shut and then its fellow. Then, to his utter amazement, she carefully and deliberately brought the heavy bar down across the great oak doors.

Amerith turned, raised her chin. Her smile was teasing but her eyes brimmed with something else. His heart gave a sudden lurch. “So convenient that this evening the men of Pelargir company have the watch. They are Taras’ men. I have told them we are not to be disturbed.”

Not to be disturbed? The implication sent rivulets of fire to straight his groin. Faramir found he had to wet his lips, not once but twice. Could this be real? Was that really desire he saw glittering in her beautiful green eyes…?

“You are not angry with me? I thought…I thought I might have upset you…”

She looked radiant. Her auburn hair was piled in softly springing curls, some sort of powder on her decolletage sparkled in the candle light. Lilac was her colour. Against the alabaster skin of her breasts, her dress (made of the finest Haradi silk) was like the petal of flower, enclosing the soft pale heart of promise. Was it his imagination or were her cheeks a little flushed? Not the blush of a young girl’s bashful face but a woman’s flush of anticipation, knowing, confident, sure of herself and reveling in her needs.

Faramir watched, mesmerized, as her gaze dropped briefly below his waist. His cock gave a sudden twitch. She could not have seen it, but still very softly she bit her lip, green eyes almost glowing, watching him with fascination as the knowledge of what she said dawned on all his willing body. He felt helpless as a mouse cornered by a cat.

“Why should I be angry when you let me have a glimpse of honest feelings?” Her voice was low, seductive and pitched just for the two of them to hear.

It was ironic that the first memory of his deliverance from the chilling edge of death should be of her voice, speaking in the Houses and in the same quiet tone. He remembered the feeling of her soft and silken hand upon his cheek. How much he had wanted to touch the soft expanse of skin upon her breast. Now it was no drug that drove the need.

Oh gods, he realized, she wanted him. She did and what should he do?

Almost in a daze he watched her move. Her footfalls were very quiet, almost stealthy as the slippers whispered across the floor. She walked toward him, stopping just handsbreath or more away. Stopped so close the light and shining silk of her dress was no barrier to the heat and scent of her smooth and supple skin. For a moment the thought of what lay beneath made the torchlight swim.

“Amerith, I…” The words stuck in his throat. Valar this was hard, but dammit it he had rehearsed the words and they needed to be said. “I would not hold you bound by what you said and did that day. You were coerced unfairly by my condition. We can ignore it all if you would prefer.”

“Prefer? “ One auburn eyebrow raised quizzically. “Why should I prefer to ignore what I cannot forget myself? You did say the council table was an intoxicating sight did you not? “ One beringed and elegant finger ran questioningly up his sleeve and across his shoulder to the hollow of his throat. It ran underneath his collar and twirled slow, lanquid circles in his dark chest hair.

His pulse beat wildly. Surely she could feel it? Could tell how her actions had set fire to his skin. Faramir was panting, lips parted, striving to not simply grab her hand and rain hot kisses down her creamy neck. Valar, he wanted this. Wanted to give in and take her right there, right now, hot and fast and hard. But how could he be sure that what they did was right? That his illness wasn’t a coercion, hadn’t put an idea in her mind she would have never acted on otherwise?

Gods…the pad of her finger now stroked lazily at the nipple under his shirt. He could not remember when last he had found it so very hard to keep still in the face of certain danger. Surely she knew what she wanted and it seemed she wanted him?!

“I…I did..” He swallowed hard and licked at lips gone suddenly far too dry. Would it be so terrible to give in?

“And that lemon oil is an intoxicating scent?” Her own lips were parted, glistening red and plump and just waiting to be kissed. He could see the tip of her pink tongue as she stepped yet closer to him again.

He nodded dumbly, not trusting himself to speak. She was tall but he was taller, her hip pressed against his hardening length. She had to know what she was doing to him now.

”I thought we should celebrate that you are at last recovered enough to attend the council meetings.” The thin elegant fingers trailed up along his throat. Where were they going? He closed his eyes and dared not watch, dizzy with the memory of their feel within his mouth. They had been soft and warm and he had wanted them wet and urgent upon his length. A helpless groan escaped his lips as one finger brushed against his lower lip.

He forced himself to open his eyes again, to take a breath. “I take it this is to be a private party?” There. He had admitted it. He wanted this. More than anything.

A tinkling laugh rose up, it gusted warm against his neck as the candlelight gleamed with the mischief in her eyes. “Oh yes…We have no wine or cakes..but I am not sure that they are needed. Surely I can find some other way to convince you to relax? Skillful fingers stroked the straining bulge behind the leather of his breeches.

He tilted his head back in rapture, let his hands finally raise to brush her waist. “Yes, please!.” From beneath his fine dark lashes he watched her face. There was nothing tentative in her gaze or her strokes.

Valar..this was no dream. Calloused hands reached to hold her cheeks, to pull her lips closer, to devour her sweet mouth in one swift press. Gentle thumbs caressed her cheeks, the soft hollows below her cheekbones, the soft space behind her ears. He wanted to touch every part of her, to feel the heat and silk of her skin, feel the flutter of her pulse as desire rose in her blood.

Amerith’s arms had wound their way around his back, clutched at his shoulders and pulled them closer still. Now their kiss was wilder, fueled by need and haste and an abandon found as they both threw caution to the night’s dark velvet wind. Fanned by soft lips that yielded to a harder press, by tongues that touched and twined and stroked, now pressing forward to claim one mouth, now the other, the flames of their long reined desire grew.

How long had they both dreamed of this and never spoken? How long had soft sighs of need been heard only by the moon? It seemed that in that moment the world fell away and it had been only a heartbeat between them, not years of toil and care, not leagues of duty and decorum.

His hand moved up to cradle her soft hair, to pull her closer until soft breasts were pressed against the hard planes of his chest. A sudden jolt of greater need coursed through him. Two peaked nipples brushed against his shirt through the light silk of her dress. She groaned and pulled just slightly back, eyes dark, chest heaving. He followed. Urgent lips found urgent lips again and two thumbs teased harder across her bodice.

Faramir was so engrossed he did not realize at first that her hands had moved and were hastily pulling his breeches down….they were halfway to his knees before he thought to wonder when they had been unlaced? He didn’t know and suddenly didn’t care, hissing as Amerith’s soft and supple fingers stroked his straining cock. He was already hard and oh so very full, the leaking tip peeked over the waistband of his smallclothes, exposed and gleaming dark with need. Oh Gods, touch it. Touch me please. His hips ground madly against her waist, seeking blessed friction…there was no room for hands. She smiled and pulled her hands upward to run them under his loosened shirt, to brush her fingers over his own taut and tingling nipples.

Green eyes glittered playfully. “Are you ready for me yet or do you need more time? I wouldn’t want to rush a man who is still recovering?”

Valar, the minx! As if the question needed to be asked.

“I’ll show you ready.” She was fire and sweetness and the thought of her hot, wet cleft raced through his veins. He needed this now, a growl of purest need escaped his lips. Her squeal of surprise as strong hands pulled her bodice roughly down only inflamed him all the more. The rosy skin of two perfect breasts gleamed in the torchlight, ready for him to taste. Gods..oh gods. Faramir dipped his mouth and suckled hard.

Amerith gave a keening cry and arched her back, pressing him back against the table edge. The table! All at once he grabbed her buttocks, pulled them both backward onto its shining surface.

Two mouths crashed together once again. Amerith above was all hot sweetness and whispering silk, the wood below was solid and cool against his bare buttocks and his thighs. The contrast was exciting. They were still but partly clothed, his breeches were still below his knees, his dress boots were surely leaving messy scuffs in table’s mirrored polish. Faramir laughed a little wildly at the thought. The use they were making of the council’s precious space! It made the blood gallop in his veins anew, even as the table lay hard beneath his shoulder blades. He welcomed its solidity, its steadiness as the axis of their world tilted crazily.

He reached to hike Amerith’s billowing, mounded skirts. They slid like eels on the slippery surface, she could not get a purchase to shift up or down and he could not find their end. It was maddening. He needed to touch skin and her core was encased in silk so smooth it was nigh as reflective as the table top.

“Amerith how much do you love this dress?” he asked, eyes glittering with need. Below her waist his hands were grabbing at the fabric, trying to ruch it up to reach the soft folds he simply bursting to explore.

Her lips paused on his as laughter bubbled up. “Not at all, it is last season’s. Faramir when did you ever care about such things?”

“I don’t. I just wanted to be sure.” His hot hard mouth found hers again, tongue teasing, thrusting repeatedly, as urgently as his frustrated cock.

Amerith had to break away and raise her head, she could no longer breathe. “Of what?” His warm breath gusted across her nipples. Sweet Yavanna this was torture. His hands were on her waist, two warm brands just inches from her cleft. She was wet and dripping, desperate to feel him there.

“Your reaction!”

Suddenly his strong hands gripped her skirt below her navel and she heard the sound of fabric rip. The delicate silk surrendered easily to his force. He tore it right round the back and threw the offending piece off to his left. Now the questing fingers could delve in earnest. They grabbed at her silken drawers and quickly they were shredded too.

“Oh Valar.” She was slick and warm and already his cock was wet, just brushed by her swollen folds.

“Are you ready, my beautiful one?” His panting question made her nearly dizzy with desire.

“Oh yes!”

Bodily she was lifted, up above his hips. Startled, she glanced down and there along his torso was the straining tip, dark and leaking drops of pearly essence.

“Come to me!” The words were nearly lost in a growl of lust so feral it echoed in her chest. She gasped. A white hot pleasure shot through her, pure and liquid, as he pulled her down to sink upon his cock. She sank, let his blessed hot and pulsing girth fill her, until her buttocks rested on his thighs.

“Oh, you are so tight…” he breathed, and the straining lust in his voice was intoxicating too.

She smiled a secret smile. No, there had been no favourites for long and long. She had tired of their inconsequence, of their neediness and need for more attention. But this, this was something altogether different. Born of fire and longing and deepest care. She could not remember being so consumed, so filled, so connected in far too long.

Faramir’s eyes glittered brightly as his smile. “Are you all right?” His hands ran longingly up her arms, leaving shivers in their wake.

“Mmmm.” She was concentrating, eyes closed, moving forward and back a little to see where they fit together best. At last she slumped a little farther forward. There. His eyes widened as he too felt the pleasure of the shift. Slim hips could no longer wait, they began to thrust and she rocked down, enveloped by soft cries.

Amerith opened her eyes and gazed down at her young lover. He was so beautiful, head thrown back, chest heaving with maddened need. Slowly she bent down to kiss the hollow of his throat, to draw her tongue down lower, to taste his salt and muskiness, to swirl her tongue through the dark hair clustered round a pink and rosy nipple.

“Amerith” His word was a breathy plea.

Her hands now rested on either side his head, they touched the inlaid wood, her fingers splayed as if entwined in Nimroth’s fair white branches. Faramir’s raven locks were tumbled across the crown. It was such an arresting sight she sat back, nestled deeper on his cock again, admiring the view.

He must have missed her touch for suddenly he raised up, the muscles of his stomach rippling as he placed strong hands upon her hip once more. He claimed her mouth, hungry lips devoured all her breath as his surging cock devoured the aching void.

Underneath it all came new sighs and moans, the ancient wood sang merrily, tested as it had never been. She dropped her head back to his chest and laughed a little giddily. She shook her head and auburn tangles fell about them both.

“What?” Faramir gasped, anxiously shifting the curtain of her hair so he could see her face.

“The tree. The tree approves.” Suddenly he was laughing too, holding her as they rocked and swayed, blessed by sweet fire and the place.

Now their rhythm rose in earnest, its tempo began to change with the tenor of their rising cries, at first urgent and insistent, now wild and inchoate, driven by a latent power building.

This was delirium. His hands were hard and heavy at her waist, pulling her downward to meet each towering thrust, pressing down her core with sweet fire rhythmically against his lower belly.

Maddened by the widening, raging heat, she ground downward against his smooth slim hips ever harder, gasping and crying each time the void was filled, each time her swollen nub was brushed by his soft but unyielding skin. His own cries matched hers, a frantic mix of exhultation and purest lust that sent a shiver up her spine.

Oh gods, he thought, they should be quiet, but both were so far gone, so ravaged by the fire in their blood, he did not think it possible. He had closed his eyes, had sought to feel what motion excited her the most, but now opened them again, searching her face intently and finding only raw and yawning need. The edge of the abyss was near.

Her keening cry rose higher and he answered it, began to thrust faster and yet harder, her core just barely leaving him before it was pummelled by the fire yet again. It seemed to him the glow around them was not purely the torch lit pools of gold about the room.

He could not hold on, a final gush of wet and heat, a ripple deep inside her set every muscle cording. With a strangled roar and cascade of stars behind his sight he came, emptied his seed up into her. Oh this was pure bliss. And then after bliss was another gift.

He held her, thrusting with his slowly softening cock, as she trembled yet again, teeth clenched and lost, the waves of another release rolling on and on.

———————————————————————

For many minutes afterward he did not know if she lay on him or him on her, both floated endlessly on the drunken tide of release. A drop of sweat rolled off her nose to splash upon his chest. It too reflected the shining light about the room, the peace in her eyes and white gleam of the tree below them.

“Amerith?” He shifted a little, sought to cover he cooling skin with his warmer arms and her thick cascade of hair.

“Hmmmm.” Drowsily she answered. The small part of her mind still capable of turning wondered briefly when the guards would change. Midnight. They could laze awhile before the need to move.

“I never did get a real chance to try the sandalwood soap, you know.”

She opened one eye at that. Ran her fingers up over his neck and chin to feel the smile upon his lips.

“I have some more. Willen replaced the bottle just yesterday. The brazier below the tub will still be hot. He always readies it if council meets late in the evening.”

The smile widened into a grain

“Never will I complain about being shot again.”

NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]

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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 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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