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Wishful Thinking under the Summer Stars (NC-17) Print

Written by December

11 November 2018 | 3786 words | Work in Progress

Author’s note:
Thanks for reading!
Now that one of my WIP stories is finally nearing completion, allowing myself the luxury of starting you guys on a brand new adventure. Let the madness begin!


Part 1.

The last remnants of evening light are melting away, settling into the dark shapes of the slender trees and fragrant shrubs, the tiny blooms scattered on them like first stars.

They tread softly side by side, the grass beneath their feet unpaved by stone, unmarked by a path of any sort at all. This element of the gardens’ design, this decision to impose no structure upon the visitor, Aragorn finds lovely and refreshing. He reads generosity and humility into this unassuming touch, and catches himself, once again, wishing to linger.

As ever, the man by his side knows his thoughts.

“I am glad you were able to stay another day, my lord,” Faramir says.

“So long as I am not over-stretching your kind hospitality,” Aragorn replies with a smile.

“My king, we are not in court,” the Steward reminds him in teasing reproach, “I might just take your pleasantries a little too seriously, and be wounded to think that you might indeed consider my hospitality to you a finite entity.”

“To me as High King?” Aragorn teases in return.

“To you as anything.”

Aragorn sighs inwardly, knowing he wishes to read into these simply spoken words more than he ought to.

“Were it not for your royal duties in Minas Tirith,” Faramir goes on, “I long ago would have had you moved in permanently.”

“Would have you now?” the older man laughs. “Would I not get a say?”

“Very well, would have you said nay?”

“Oh, probably not!”

“There we go then,” Faramir reaches to touch a low-hanging branch. “If you knew only, how lonely it gets in my halls at times – especially when the groves and the meadows are this fair.”

“But are they not this fair at all times?”

Faramir glances at him with a quick grin, and takes a hidden turn between two redolent lilacs. “Precisely, my king.”

“Where would you even put me?” Aragorn follows through the narrow space, breathing in a full chest of the blooms’ nectar mixed with the faint leather-and-spice fragrance Faramir leaves in his trail.

“Hm, where indeed?” the Steward looks him up and down appraisingly. “Let us see, I might just have a vacant bunk at the guards’ – or would your majesty rather a spot with the Wood Elves?”

“And be kept up all night by their rowdy singing?”

“Surely my king is not too old to stay up the night? It can be rather a lot of good fun in the right company.”

Aragorn looks at the dark silk of the grass beneath his feet to steady his step. The mere temptation to translate this inconsequential banter between old friends as flirtation is already like onto sweet mead. He should steer it into safer waters.

“You are quite like an Elf yourself, Faramir – this robe you’ve got, it is not of Gondorian make.”

“No indeed, the robe is a gift,” the younger man spreads his arms, demonstrating the old-fashioned cut of sleeve and collar. “Very convenient, too, I highly recommend it. Keeps one warm in the cold, keeps one cool in the heat, stays in place by virtue of a sash – I never before have been able to dress or undress this swiftly.”

Aragorn proscribes himself from imagining what that process would look like in practice. Alas, in all of his realm his own mind would seem the worst at obeying his orders. He takes a deep breath. If even casual conversation has become so much of a trial, like finding a dry route through the marshes on a foggy midnight – the time indeed has come, it can be put off no longer.

He has no excuses left. Has he not dallied and stalled enough, has he not told himself that it was for this exact purpose that he had come to Emyn Arnen this time, that he had to stay this extra day?

But the day is almost done now, and the solace of buying a few more safe minutes beckons all the stronger, and he finds yet another way to dance around the subject. “Speaking of the Elves, what is keeping them? Did they not use to frequent your gardens for nocturnal strolls?”

“So they do, and I oft join, for as you know I have grown rather fond of their ways,” Faramir says. “But I have asked that we not be disturbed tonight.”

“You have? Why so?”

Faramir looks at him thoughtfully. “I would’ve hoped that you would tell me that, my king, if that be your will.”

This is too close for comfort, too much of a coincidence, and Aragorn frowns as his pulse breaks into a startled gallop.

“Have I troubled you in some way, Faramir?”

The Steward tilts his head to the side in partial assent. “It could be said so, I suppose, even though it saddens me that such be your first thought. What troubles me is that I know that you have come with a heavy heart – also that it has long been so.”

“That is true,” Aragorn agrees carefully.

“You would agree also, it is rare, unheard of even, that you would nurse a concern alone and not speak your mind with me, whether for counsel or solace only. You are restless, and having assumed you were but waiting for a quiet time and place, I had expected you to mention it yesterday, after the hunt.”

“That is true also,” Aragorn confirms again. “I had meant to.”

He had. As the two men roasted the game far in the woods where the stag had led them, as they rested by the fire afterwards, as the sky blazed and the rosy glow of the setting sun hung amid the tall trees, as the day died and so did the embers, as Faramir unstrung his bow for the night and they settled to sleep, he had waited for the right moment. It never came. As it never does.

“I see,” Faramir says softly.

“It was… it seemed… it would have been inconsiderate to you, Faramir. If afterwards you wished to be alone, we were too far away and it was too late to head back. I had thought… today would be better.”

“And yet,” with a sweep of his hand Faramir takes in the dark closing in on them, “today has all but departed.”

“Well, what if… you do not like what I have to say?” Aragorn cringes at the vast inadequacy of the euphemism.

“If it causes you distress, I may indeed not like it. That matters little though, and I would ask that you not let it stay you – if that is all that stays you. Both as my king, and as everything else you have become to me, it is my greatest wish to see you joyful and merry, or at least at peace and free of worry. If there is any part I can play towards that, if even to listen only, I would that you tell me.”

Aragorn touches him on the shoulder in thanks, and nods.

Once it is done, he will not be able to do even this much, an otherwise innocent touch.

He wants to hold on, for a heartbeat more, to everything that will be lost once he has said what he must. To everything he had never truly had to begin with – but that was, nevertheless, his alone. It will be no more after tonight.

Aragorn knows that the loss will be raw and bitter, for it will be more real than all his phantom riches. So, he rakes through his warped, bitter-sweet treasure in one final frantic bid to preserve, to salvage at least something.

His steward, fleet-footed and strong voiced, can with much finesse out-sing, out-dance, and on occasion out-drink, many a seasoned Dwarf and Wood Elf. And what a joy that is to behold. Or the exquisite intellectual pleasure of observing Faramir’s brilliance at court, to sit back and let him sort out those self-important pedigreed buffoons twice his age. Faramir’s close personal understanding of what moves the hearts of each of the men at the table is like a compass, and he navigates the web of oft conflicting interests with an easy grace. Although his hand is well capable of firmness, he tends to choose patience even where Aragorn himself would have long ago barked at the lot of them in well-deserved exasperation. But he does not need evidence of Faramir’s merit to delight in his company, and likes him best one-on-one. Obligingly, their friendship is of the sort that most naturally lends itself to just that, to private conversation that never quite follows a straight road, to long stretches of silent companionship. To sequestered, private worlds.

He recalls the hot summer day in the groves of Ithilien, when the two of them had found a secluded bend of the Anduin for a private swim. Remembers his heart high and loud in his chest, the drunken anticipation of this stolen moment.

Remembers his own exclamation of surprise when the young warrior beside him pulled off his riding tunic to reveal an intricate charcoal-black tattoo of Gondorian motifs. Starting with a neat cuff at Faramir’s left wrist and lacing up a full sleeve up his arm, it spilled over his breast to the front and shoulder blade to the back, and thence trailed down his flank in one unbroken pattern. Only to slip out of sight under the waist-band of his breeches.

Aragorn was awash then with irrational, unreasonable jealousy, resentment almost, for the lucky bastard of an artist who got to lay this ornament in place, to have Faramir’s body for a canvas for an unholy length of time. With total permission to look, and touch, and leave his mark, and to know where this tattoo ends while Aragorn never will.

Then as Faramir, at first dismissive in his usual modesty, but soon warming under his king’s interest, took Aragorn through the designs, the jealousy was ousted by an even harder sentiment to stomach.

Faramir had had this done after the War, as a remembrance, he said, as a way to reconcile his sorrow. To pay tribute to the beauty and wonder he considered himself fortunate to have encountered amid the trials and losses of those times.

“It is no different, I don’t think. Some lay their heart into song, some plant gardens, yet others seek to assert their survival with a flock of heirs. Storytelling happens to be the path that appealed to me best, and I had always heard praise for the calming effects of needle-work,” the young man had said with an open smile. As though it were only trivial, the depth of sorrow that had driven him to seek out even further pain to process, inch by inch, everything that had befallen him, all of them, in so short a time.

Boromir, he explained, had used to have a banded sleeve inked onto his sword arm, a new band added for every score of Orcs he slew. Although Faramir’s angle on the patriotic sentiments he and his brother shared was different, and he chose to give no direct depiction to their defeated foes or the act of war itself, Boromir’s little tradition had been his inspiration.

This was where guilt hit Aragorn like a troll club on the head.

To be made privy, with such unguarded trust, to something so personal – but his mind’s eye in its wickedness persisted to leer through the graceful black lattice, to strip it off Faramir’s body with blatant lack of ceremony. To ignore the silvery sheen of mallorn leaves, so faithfully depicted. To gaze upon Boromir’s linked Elven belt engirdling Faramir’s arm, river waves flowing forth from beneath it, bearing the one dark leaf of the funereal boat to rest – and see instead the taut curve of a warrior’s bicep beneath, the blue vein pushed to the surface by the power of the muscle.

Show some respect – but he found something inexplicably, excruciatingly erotic in the way the design was so cleanly cut off at the wrist, the black sleeve like a real shirt, like decorative armour. Meaning, of course, that this man could never, under any circumstance, be completely, truly naked. Not that this would ever become a real problem Aragorn would face. Not that this was a problem Aragorn should even be contemplating facing.

He had to admit though, Faramir had chosen his ink-master well. Someone with both honed skill and true talent, with a gift to relate with striking precision the inner essence of things through the austerity of simple line and curve. And he is thrilled, proud even, completely beyond reason, to know that his own part is woven into this tale.

Upon Faramir’s breast, directly over the heart, sits the unmistakable shape of the winged High Crown, filled in with seven white stars, as though a slice cut from the night heavens. Nothing more, of course, than a symbol of fealty – but still. And upon the place between his shoulder and collar bone, the welted scar from the Southron dart is left uncovered almost as a badge of honour, the only blank space in the whole piece. So stark is its emptiness, Aragorn had wondered how he had missed it at first, a pristine area about the size of a man’s palm.

When he looked closer, he saw that this was, indeed, as though a man’s hand had been placed here in protection, and the ink had had to go around, as if this spot had been rendered forever invincible to anything.

“Is that…?” Aragorn had asked.

“Where you laid your hand upon me, when I lay for dead amid the wounded,” Faramir had confirmed, looking him straight in the face with those bright steel-grey eyes. Those eyes that looked as though they had shards of diamonds in them.

Aragorn had felt his fingers tingle with touch, and saw that unknown to himself he had raised his hand, as though it were the missing piece of a Dwarven jigsaw puzzle that he was compelled to return to its rightful place.

Faramir had looked upon the man’s open palm, inches away from his bare shoulder, then up to meet Aragorn’s gaze again. And a heat came over Aragorn, and breathed into his face like the fire of an open furnace, and he blinked and shook his head, and with a mumbled apology dropped his hand.

A strange look had come into Faramir’s eyes then, and he turned away, saying, “Come, let us bathe ere we are baked by the sun.”

Thankfully he had dived in as he was, clad in his breeches, thus excusing Aragorn to do the same and keep private the indecent strain in his loins.

This was years ago now, before the trees in Faramir’s garden were taller than the men who trod the unpaved paths among them. But the guilt is still hot and pulsing, like freshly slain game not yet gutted and bled. No guilt, however, can assuage the unleashed cascade of remembered indulgencies that flash through his mind whether he would have them or not. The way the high sun shone on Faramir’s bare skin, throwing dappled shadows on his beautiful archer’s back. How Faramir had come up for breath next to him, the untanned nape of his neck showing where his wet hair had parted under its own weight. The way he had slept on the green bank afterwards, lulled by the mid-day heat and the hazy humming of sapphire dragonflies above the dark water. Aragorn had sat beside him, and smoked his pipe, and watched him sleep – and those were easily his happiest minutes of that entire year.

He collects these memories like precious river pearls on a string, no two the same in shape or hue, a cherished toy to keep him company on the black nights alone in his regal bed. He would lie flat on his back counting through his rosary of transgressions, right hand upon his heart, the left under the fur-trimmed covers, hiding this even from himself, eyes tightly shut.

In between the pearls of remembered things, sit the translucent glass beads of things imagined. Things that can only be imagined because they are not the sort of things that can come to pass. But as his wrist stealthily polishes his shame into rigid hardness, so the boundaries in his mind soften and blur, and the difference between images reconstructed and altogether concocted becomes negligible enough to sacrifice to the greater purpose of grasping temporary release by the tail.

He is not quite sure which style of fantasy he is disturbed by the most, which would be fundamentally more insulting to Faramir. In either case, he has little control over the flavour that will be served to him on a given night.

At times he gets exquisite, gentle love-making. With all the unbearably life-like detail.

There is that morning they had taken Aragorn’s new boat for a sail on the River. It was built for open waters, with the structure and gear to work the sea winds and currents. But he had wanted to bring the curious Faramir with him, for them to awaken the mariner in the Steward’s Númenorean blood, so the river had seemed perfect.

The air had been bright but rough, and the blue water rippled heavily, shimmering with blazing silver. Faramir squinted against the sun, chuckling at the futility of his novice efforts and Aragorn’s assurances that he had it in him. Aragorn had stood close behind, a little too close perhaps but nothing new about that, guiding him how to work the ropes to tame the wind.

A sudden gust had torn the sail away and swung it back at them, and to avoid a hearty blow from the polished boom, Faramir had leapt back. Aragorn had not stepped away in time, and the young man crashed into him and knocked his feet out from under him, and they fell onto the deck, gasping for breath with laughter in a heap of limb and cape.

Aragorn had thought of this moment long after, the sudden physicality and inexplicable, boyish rapture of it. In his inner vision, when he lay sprawled on the boards with Faramir atop him, he took the young man by the shoulders and turned him over. He tucked Faramir’s raven hair behind his ear, cupped him on the curve of his jaw, and kissed him full on the mouth. As the unmanned vessel spun, and listed, and nestled them snugly against the starboard, Faramir responded in kind, tongue and all.

It may be so sickeningly disrespectful to envision his steward, himself a high lord and accomplished man-at-arms, giving in so tenderly, so sweetly to the weather-beaten ranger that he is, stubble, and scars, hairy chest, bony knees and the rest of it – but wait for the alternative. An alternative not remotely anchored to anything that had actually happened, and he was winded, left aghast by the vision of the two of them taking turns having each other from behind, next to the fireplace atop a lustrous bearskin, the flames casting an orange sheen on their sweat-glistened skin. The exertion of the coupling so vigorous it would almost seem violent were it not for the shared ecstatic abandon.

Sometimes he gets a longer script, a perfunctory measure of context worked in to make it a little more believable. There is usually some fantastical premise, but he only need suspend his disbelief the once, and agree that indeed, they could become stranded on the slopes of a winter mountain on some unlikely secret mission, and fall into an icy stream, and for sheer survival be forced to keep each other warm overnight naked under the one dry cloak in their possession – it could happen! Faramir clad in naught but the simple mithril circlet upon his brow, Aragorn’s woollen cape with a miniver of silver fur loose about the young man’s bare shoulders, his bewitching lips kissed blue by the frost.

It is but a glimpse, torturously brief, but he feels it so tangibly with all of his body that it rams through every rational gate he tries to erect in its path. Once the requisite sacrificial lamb of common sense is laid at the altar of lust, from there it goes easier and easier and faster and faster like downhill in a sleigh. Yet unlike in a sleigh, his fall will transcend the mechanics of the world and turn, miraculously, into flight, and he will soar up to the heavens above, and dissolve into bliss for one glorious instant.

The joy, such joy. Explosive, overflowing, blindingly sweet.

And how painful, how shameful the immediate aftermath. To fall asleep knowing he will wake up to the white light of day still smelling of his perverse pleasures, that as he lifts the covers the sour warmth will waft in his face. He has long given up on trying to wash it off, for just as Faramir’s tattoos, it stays etched into the skin – or else, directly into his conscience, what’s left of it.

Faramir’s indomitable spirit, the might written into his very frame, the bright, keen light in his eyes, the proud uprightness of his posture and acute sharpness of his mind all suggest to Aragorn a deep fire burning within. A capacity for this wild passion, a capacity to revel in these pleasures with remarkable intensity… And yet at once this pure, unsoiled quality to him, something lucid and clear, that thoughtfulness in his gaze, that care in his speech, that touch of sadness in his smile. It makes it akin to crime to think of him in this fashion, it makes it somehow a thousand-fold dirtier to think of him so than of anyone else.

He is brought back by a sudden grasp of Faramir’s hand on his arm, respectful but firm. He has nearly walked square into a tree in his distraction. It is dark, but not so dark as to constitute a legitimate excuse for someone with his length of experience in the woods.

Faramir says nothing, but his expectation hangs tangibly in the air. There is a taste of concern to it, even a tinge of reproach.

Aragorn sighs.

He will not find the perfect words. Perfection will not fix anything anyway. Might as well get it over with.

“Faramir…”

Thank you for reading! To be continued…

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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4 Comment(s)


NB: Comments may contain spoilers!

Thank you your work! I’m waiting the next chapters. Faramir has tattoos! Amazing idea! He inspirated my first one.:)

— Liza    11 November 2018, 18:03    #

Thank you so much, Liza! Wow, you actually have a Faramir-inspired tattoo? That’s amazing.

I’m afraid I can’t take credit for the idea, as a few years ago I remember reading a story where Faramir and/or Boromir had tattoos. I really likes the concept, like, can they get any more sexy??!

— December    13 November 2018, 10:00    #

Beautifully done. Such an exquisite piece of writing, such a smart metaphors, the thing with pearls and glass beads almost made me jealous I wasn’t one to create it. I must admit, I’m tempted to use it in my Text Interpretation classes, if only I were fearless enough)) Really, I feel as if I’m there, in the picture, I can understand all the anxiety of Aragorn, so more so that object of his feelings is such a lovable one. Hope to find more soon, please, December.

— LCD    17 November 2018, 19:13    #

Oh, thank you so much, LCD!
I just love the community on this website, such thoughtful commentary!

Thank you for the reassurance, I always feel a bit conflicted when writing the feels for the boys. On the one hand, they are tough, reserved men living in quite a strict conservative culture, and I want to do justice by their toughness. On the other though, they both are strongly affected by romantic feelings, and Aragorn in particular tends to go a bit OTT, both of which I would expect to be even more so when the feelings are “inappropriate” in terms of their object. I’m really glad you found Aragorn’s anxiety to be relatable and not out of character.

Thank you for the kind words about my writing, I hope I am improving with time, haha. I’m still afraid to reread some of my earlier stuff, eek! I worry sometimes that I go too heavy-handed with the metaphoring, so thanks for that. Please feel free to borrow and use wherever, I’d be only proud!

Thanks for reading!

— December    18 November 2018, 09:11    #

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About the Author


December

Greetings, fellow fan, and welcome!

What to expect to find here: All the stories are based on Book-verse for looks and personalities, although you will often find the canon bent (hehe) in terms of events. Please prepare for an unhurried, often bitter-sweet read with lots of sexual tension.

A bit about me for those interested: feisty redhead headquartered in New Zealand. Living in a wooden house in the old forest not far from the sea – probably goes some way to explain why I write what I do. Other than reading and writing, my passions are music, visual arts, travel, gardening, dance, horses, acrobatics, medieval martial arts, jewellery making, banter, and above all chocolate.

Was introduced to Tolkien at the tender age of six, was never the same since.

Always keen to collaborate with all ye good folke in the fandom. Feel free to get in touch if you’re looking for a beta reader, too. Please, also, if you’re one of the dudes in the fandom, I would really really appreciate if you could please take a moment to share a bit of your perspective on how authentically my stories portray relationships between men.

Also, if you’re looking to visit New Zealand, happy to offer a bed and breakfast (second breakfast negotiable).

Cheers.