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Dec 30, 2008
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Title: A Clever Man
Author: Mira Took
Summary: Grima Wormtongue meets a young Captain Faramir at Edoras. Slash.
Disclaimer: The characters and settings are Professor Tolkien's. I have no permissions and make no profits.
Notes: I was inspired by the request to write a story about a younger Faramir paired with Grima, in an (arguably) one-sided relationship. I hope the result is something the requester will like.
I've not tried to put an exact date on this story, but please note that although Faramir is still young in whatever year this is, he is most certainly of age (otherwise he couldn't be a captain). Also, he has dark hair and grey eyes as in the books.
Written for the "2009 Midwinter Swap":http://www.faramirfiction.com/news/midwinter-swap-2009.
Request by "Bell Witch":http://www.faramirfiction.com/authors/bell-witch: _Prefer human pairings. I like darkfic, though a cute/sweet/fluff perhaps with an OC would be nice. Faramir and Evil!Aragorn, or Eomer. A younger Faramir with Grima (one-sided slash either way? Admiring the older adviser from Rohan or being taken with the charming young man works--dark or otherwise.) Inappropriate feelings for one of his men, though I'd prefer Faramir not give in to temptation on that._
h3. Chapter 1
Grima moved quickly down the Golden Hall, hugging the edict to his chest. It had taken far longer than usual to convince Theoden of its necessity; the old man was distracted by the endless haggling over horses with the party from Gondor. Grima had kept himself well clear of it. Lord Saruman did not desire to rouse the Steward's interest in Rohan before his plans came to fruition. And debates over geldings held little of interest for a clever man. Grima had other schemes to occupy his time.
It was a pity, though, that the Steward's second son was out of favor. True, he bore the style of Captain of the White Tower (but then every captain in the forces of Minas Tirith had a right to be called that) and the somewhat more descriptive title of Captain of the Ithilien Rangers (but they seemed to have stayed in Ithilien, whoever they were). Yet it was hardly a secret that the young captain had no real importance in his own land. One merely had to look at his companions' body language to see that. Grima had seen it at once. The way the negotiations were handled just confirmed it. Everyone would talk for a while, and the captain of Gondor would ask a quiet question or two – insightful ones, someone must be coaching him – and then, with appearances upheld, the two older men in the visiting party would begin to bargain with the horsemasters. He was a beautiful young man, however, and Grima would have welcomed instructions to put an idea or two in his head. A great pity that he had no influence and little chance of inheriting the stewardship.
Although... but no. Not only was the Steward a hale and canny man, but the older son was a great warrior and much-loved. Even his slighted younger brother loved him, judging by way he spoke of his elder's battle victories in the Hall at night. Grima had enough to handle with kings and marshals without thinking about stewards and their sons.
As he came out into the bright sunlight, Grima narrowly avoided running into the object of his thoughts. The young man had evidently been riding with a group of warriors, who still stood talking on the lower stairs. His face was flushed with the exercise and the wind had blown his dark hair back in furrows. Dark hair. All the horse-lovers had hair bleached as colorless as their drafty Hall. Grima himself had been sneered at for the black curls he inherited from his Dunlending grandfather. As though black hair were not a sure sign that he was descended from the ancient Houses of Men. One had only to look at the nobility and beauty of the captain of Gondor's face to remember that.
With a start, Grima realized he had indeed been looking at the young man's face, for far longer than he intended. He ducked his head again as he hurried down the steps. With luck, he could get by the strawheads and post his new edict before he was forced to spend much time in the eye-watering sun.
h5. Portion of a letter from the Captain of the Ithilien Rangers to the High Warden of the White Tower:
bq. ...every night. The music in the Hall is magnificent: very different from our own, but bold and stirring like the brisk north wind. I'd not realized how much the Rohirrim rely on their songs to remember their history – and even to tell their news. They seem to write far less than we do. Indeed, there was rather a nasty incident this morning about that. A group of warriors was taunting one of Theoden King's counselors or clerks, deriding him for 'needing scribbled lines to remember his own lineage – if he had any.' As far as I could see, the poor man had simply copied out an edict the king wanted posted. My sympathies were naturally with the clerk, but I was not about to disgrace our father by speaking out on a matter of local debate. Nor have I shown my own love for the written word. In truth, I've had no time for anything but horses during the day, so I've contented myself with reading from the two (only two, brother!) books I brought with me by candlelight, after the rest of our company is abed. So you see, I indulge my private pleasures with far greater discretion than some others I could name. Did you truly...
h3. Chapter 2
Faramir clapped loudly as the saga came to an exuberant end. The story – half-spoken, half-sung – had immediately followed supper and had been accompanied by several rounds of ale. Faramir had had his cup filled far more often than usual, due to the attentiveness of the man to his right. Grima, whom Faramir now knew to be chief counselor to Theoden King, had regularly motioned to the pot boy to serve his master's guest, though the counselor himself drank only mead poured from a small silver flask sitting by his elbow.
In the wake of the applause, the young Captain turned to his companion. "I have not heard such a tale before. In Gondor there are ballads for minstrels and songs for common folk, but not such a mixing of both. Here it seems that every man can add his voice to the warriors' chant whenever the story tells of it."
"I do not know that more voices improve the tune. That particular chant has always reminded me of a cold, driving rain: bold and unsettling. But come, let us drink to the continued exchange of ideas between your land and ours. And to the exchange of horses, hmm?" The counselor quirked his lips in a smile.
"To horses indeed!" Faramir laughed in response, though he had little felt like smiling at the negotiations this morning. The rest of the delegation had ignored his questions, as always, not even following up on the answers the horsemasters gave. Boromir would be livid if he knew Faramir was being treated so; he had petitioned their father strenuously to be sure that Faramir got this chance to be an emissary for Gondor. Faramir himself would have dealt swiftly with any of his own rangers who overlooked their commander's words, but with his father's men it was different. They did not see him as a captain of Gondor, but as a bookish boy still. Faramir thought perhaps he understood why Grima, a learned man, disliked the warrior's resounding chorus. Obviously the counselor's intelligence was as little respected by the Riders as Faramir's was by his fellows.
The saga was succeeded by a legend of the mearas, attributing their origin to the Huntsman, Bema, whom Faramir recognized as Orome of the Valar. According to the storyteller, the great horses had been brought from the West when the world was young, and the sun had not yet shone, and the lands looked so different that no man alive now would recognize a map of them.
"I doubt any man was alive then to map those lands," the young captain remarked idly to his companion.
"Perhaps not then, but map-making is an ancient art. I have seen a chart of Middle Earth showing its mountains and plains in the Elder Days. That map was made by men, and it is certain no one in this Hall could find Rohan or Gondor upon it."
"A map from before the ending of the First Age? Wherever did you find such a thing?" Faramir asked eagerly.
The king's counselor turned to face him fully, looking slightly surprised at his interest.
"Why, it was – it must have been in tower of Saruman, Rohan's wise ally to the north. He has many such things in his keeping."
"I would give much to see such a map! The libraries of Gondor hold countless treasures, but so many things are lost or decay over the centuries. A map from that time would show lands truly different from our own, with mountains where islands now stand," the young man said wistfully. "I wonder how it would compare to our own ranges and coastlines."
"Perhaps I may find it again, when next the king's business takes me that way," suggested the counselor. "I would be happy to ask the lord wizard if he would allow me to make a copy for you."
"You are kind, but I wouldn't like to trouble you." It was Faramir's turn to be somewhat surprised. He hadn't meant his words to hint at such a favor.
"Not at all. Such a lively interest deserves to be pursued," replied Grima with an approbation Faramir seldom heard for his intellectual pursuits. "I shall send a copy to you in Minas Tirith."
"That is most kind of you," Faramir said again. He doubted whether the counselor would even remember his offer, much less fulfill it, but Faramir appreciated it nonetheless. Enjoying the company of another scholarly man, he turned the talk to other things.
After a time, Faramir realized that most of the Rohirrim had left the Hall and those who remained were obviously planning to drink till the dawn. Here and there a few had even slipped quietly into sleep, lying on the wooden benches or with their heads resting against the tables.
"The hour is late, and I fear I must sleep before the meeting tomorrow. If you will excuse me, counselor." Faramir rose and then put out a hand to steady himself. Grima caught it.
"Allow me to see you to your room, captain."
When they got to there, it was Grima who pushed open the door to the large chamber where a servant had lit a welcoming fire. Faramir walked in behind him, trying to call to his mind an appropriate farewell through the low hum of the ale. But Grima had moved back around him and was closing the door and bolting it. From Faramir's side of the door.
"Faramir," the counselor said in a low tone like honey mead, which harmonized with the ale's hum and drowned any thought of speech. "Let me help you with your belt and mantle."
Grima came up behind Faramir and put his arms around his waist to reach the belt where it was knotted around its buckle. Faramir's breathing became labored as his belt slowly came undone. His own hands still hung uselessly at his sides, but Grima's hands were at his shoulders, pulling his mantle off in a movement that contrived to rub against the whole length of his back. Faramir could hear the other's breathing above his own as Grima moved his face close to breathe in the scent of Faramir's hair.
And then the older man's mouth was against his neck as Faramir stumbled forward a few paces, propelled by the force of the hands on his shoulders. Faramir's forehead gently met the stone of the wall in front of him, so that he was leaning on it with Grima pressed close against him. The other man was shorter, but what did that matter so long as his hands could reach around to stroke Faramir's chest above his heart and – ah, just there – the jutting bone of his right hip. The younger man sucked in a sharp breath as the two hands moved together to a place dangerously low on his belly.
"Tell me something, lovely one," said that low, smooth voice. "Would you recommend traveling at speed across unknown terrain or taking time to study it, to map it, first?"
"I- to map – ah." Curved fingers had begun to rake Faramir's thighs.
"I thought you would."
Later, they lay on their backs across Faramir's bed, with the fur-lined cover dragged across their naked bodies. They had, ironically enough, undressed fully only after the fact, tossing two sets of soiled leggings onto the stone floor. Their tunics had long since been discarded; Grima had seemed to delight in using his hands and mouth all across Faramir's chest. Faramir had done his best to return the favor, paying particular attention to his lover's throat. Although, now that the effects of the ale and of his body's euphoria were wearing off, Faramir began to wonder how well he had truly pleased his partner. He had been so overcome with blissful sensation that his own hesitant caresses might have failed to inspire the same pleasure.
"Still awake I see." Grima had propped himself up on one elbow and was looking down at him with a conspiratorial half-smile that made Faramir feel that he may have done something right after all.
Grima moved now to partially cover him, with his chest bearing down on Faramir's. The older man's hand held the back of his neck in a grip that was almost too tight, but all the more exciting for that. The kiss they shared was not deep, but fierce, and caused ripples of heat to slither up Faramir's legs and spine.
"Shall we try something else?"
Faramir looked up eagerly, even as his body tensed. Certainly, his lover deserved to have whatever he wished. Perhaps Grima would want them to do something Faramir had read of in that book from Harad; perhaps he simply wanted to possess Faramir completely in the way soldiers snickered about – and engaged in – in the camps. The young man prepared to show his willingness, even as he worried that he would not live up to expectations. He had no experience of this sort of thing and if, after the amazing way in which the older man had coaxed him to bed, he failed to give satisfaction...
Grima's voice interrupted his anxieties. "I'll show you how I want you, then."
Faramir's heart began to beat very fast.
"Close your eyes."
And still faster.
With his eyes shut, Faramir felt Grima's weight shift on the bed as the older man knelt up beside him. Then hands descended upon his shoulders, pressing him down firmly. Such a simple touch and yet the young man felt something shifting inside him. The hands pushed harder, pinning Faramir to the linen beneath his back. Faramir began to pant slightly once more. As Grima brought his full weight to bear, Faramir drew a sharp breath and then let it out at once, all his muscles loosening.
"Good. Very good. Now lie still, my lovely one, and just breathe." The voice was soft, almost absent-minded, and Faramir did as it bade him.
The first touch was to his throat, in a place he had kissed the other man earlier: lips, then the tip of a tongue, then a light scrape of teeth. A warm puff of air and then the mouth moved away. The next touch was just a finger, tracing Faramir's lips until he parted them. Two fingers, bending his lower lip as if in a pout. That touch was followed by a quick, teasing tweak of his right nipple that left it throbbing and the other feeling oddly cold.
The touches continued – lips on the center of his forehead, fingers along the sides of his chest, a hand molding his inner thigh, a foot twining round his own – there was no pattern to them. Just when Faramir thought the touches were leading somewhere, they would wander away. He tensed a little in between each one, waiting to discover whether the next movement would bring a soothing warmth or a delicious wave of heat. Or even a flare of pain, as nails and teeth marked his nipples, his stomach, and the insides of his knees. The anticipation itself was setting him on fire. Faramir lay and trembled and knew only the contact between his flesh and Grima's mouth, Grima's hands, Grima's chest as it moved along his own.
And then a warm, wet mouth engulfed him and Faramir was no longer panting but crying out with an abandon he had rarely known. For a few precious moments, nothing mattered but what that mouth and the hand that had joined it were making him feel. He opened his eyes at last, as relaxation washed through him and threatened to ease them shut again.
"That – I..."
"Mmm." Grima was smiling at him and stretching out once more.
"Do you, I mean, don't you want me to..." Faramir tried to rouse his sated body to move toward his lover.
"Mmm," Grima murmured again and rolled them both to face the dying fire. "I took my pleasure in seeing yours, my lovely one."
Faramir lay on his side with his lover warm behind him and a possessive arm heavy against his waist. The young captain drifted into sleep confident he was in the embrace of one who understood him and put Faramir's needs above his own.
h5. Contents of a scroll delivered, without a messenger, to Grima’s locked chambers:
bq. You have exceeded your orders, little worm, dallying with Denethor's whelp. Cut him loose.
h3. Chapter 3
Grima had spent the better part of the morning bent over the trestle table that served him as a desk, composing and discarding letters to his master. How to get Saruman to see that consorting with the young man of Gondor would further the wizard's plans? How to tell him Grima was clever enough to seduce the steward's son without letting Faramir discover Grima's ends? Saruman was ever quick to issue commands, but Grima was more than capable of taking action on his own, without the meddling of that old... Grima had buried that thought out of engrained caution toward the wizard, even in the privacy of his own thoughts.
At this moment, however, Grima was not thinking of wizards, but of captains. He had hovered in the corridors until the party from Gondor passed by on their way to the noonday meal. He caught Faramir's eye and turned, leading the young man down a staircase and from there out a back door toward the stables. The smaller tack shed was usually deserted this time of day; it was a good place for private meetings with informants, and it possessed also a loft filled with soft hay. Grima intended to make the most of the short time the delegation would remain at Edoras.
"After you, Captain Faramir," he said, holding the door to the shed open with one hand and gesturing with the other. "A poor alternative to your chambers, but a place far less likely to be entered by a serving maid or an envoy in search of his leader."
Faramir smiled ruefully as Grima joined him in the shed. "If you had heard them this morning, you would not name me captain. The bargaining for the horses is well on its way to being settled, without the dubious benefit of my leadership. I fear I, like you, have trouble convincing some of my fellows to heed my advice."
"Yet you are a captain, and – if you will forgive my saying it – you have advanced to that rank very young. Surely a Captain of Gondor and of the White Tower deserves to have his title spoken."
"As to that, they are almost the same thing. At least, they are for any captain who serves under the Captain-General, my brother. We come from the City and so we are of the White Tower, to distinguish us from officers of Dol Amroth or other parts of Gondor. When my father gave me the captainship of Ithilien, the other styles came with it."
"And to be a captain of rangers is not an honor?"
"It is! And a great trust in these troubled times. The rangers face much peril in our labors to the south. I think my father gave me that task to season me for days to come. He told me not all of Middle Earth's wisdom can be found in old archives – and he is right, of course."
Grima nodded his understanding, thinking to himself that the steward had done a great deal of his work for him. It was apparent from Faramir's tone that the young man wanted his father's trust and that his father was late in giving it to him. Soft-spoken and untried the young man may be, but a clever man did not underestimate his mark. There was a burden of responsibility on this young man's shoulders, one he had taken willingly on himself, and the grace to carry it. Here was not a man who would be swayed by any selfish purpose Grima tried to put in his head. He would not try. All he need do was show Faramir that in him, Grima son of Galmod, the young captain had found a friend who could see his worth.
"Take honor, then, in the work that you are doing. You are a Captain of the Ithilien Rangers, leading your men, a Captain of the White Tower, defending your City, and a Captain of Gondor, showing forth the strength of your land. From what I have heard of the negotiations, you show forth her wisdom as well. Do not be worried that some men ignore good counsel when they hear it. Perhaps when you have gained a few of my wrinkles you will find they are men who respect only years, not knowledge."
"Do you have wrinkles?" asked Faramir with a grin. "I hadn't noticed any, but perhaps I was not looking closely enough last night."
Faramir stepped closer and raised his hands to draw Grima's head toward him for a kiss. It was deeper and more leisurely than the ones they had exchanged the night before, with Faramir controlling the pace. Grima was enjoying the younger man's burst of confidence when a noise close by caused them to draw apart. Standing in the doorway of the shed was young Eomer, whom Grima had thought still with his sister in Aldburg. They had been away since Eomer's coming-of-age in the spring, but judging from the look on his face the boy's feelings toward Grima hadn't changed. There was a pause as the three men stared at each other.
"You filthy, rutting sons of trolls!" Eomer shouted. He strode forward, shoved Grima to one side, and punched Faramir squarely in the jaw. "How dare you dishonor my uncle's hospitality this way? Did you think no one would notice if you snuck around with this little leach? Is this the way Gondor conducts her alliances, hiding in the stables? And you, Grima, what have you been planning? Do not think to tell me you are here for the company. I know well you have some other design. Do you look to him for power? Did you think you could get through him the kind of riches you have been trying to wrest from Rohan?"
Faramir had straightened himself as Eomer was speaking and half-turned so that he was looking at both Grima and the angry Rider. Grima lifted his chin, preparing to answer the accusations leveled against him. And then Faramir met Grima's gaze with his clear grey eyes that had the ability to read much of the hearts of men. Grima could find nothing to say in the light of that keen regard.
Faramir turned then to Eomer and said, in a tone of cool authority his rangers would have recognized: "Hold a moment. Let us speak soberly about this matter. What do you say I have done?"
Eomer glared at him, but lowered his fists. "I suppose you didn't know that this fork-tongued old man has been courting my sister? That would have suited your plans, would it not, if your fellow plotter became kinsmen to Theoden King?"
Thinking that the boy looked ready to explode again, Grima took his chance to leave. A clever man, he had always told himself, need not be a fighter, if he was intelligent enough to avoid fighting. He moved quickly, though he knew Eomer's attention would still be on the man of Gondor. The young hothead would want to expend his rage on someone who at least looked as though he could stand up to it. Grima had never been a target for anything but Eomer's contempt. Still, Grima hurried, fleeing the angry words to come as though he might be hurt by them.
h5. Fragments from a burnt parchment that was never sent to Gondor:
bq. ...seeing only that someone was listening and perhaps understood. I deserved the blow the Lord Eomer dealt me – I deserve far worse for being so simple, so orcs-take-it eager, as though I were just asking to be fooled. Did he even fool me? Or did I fool myself, flattering my vanity that an older man, a counselor to a king, would be interested in me. In truth, I should be proud to know that someone so power-hungry saw enough potential in me that he would even want to seduce me. For he does lust for power, I could see that in his eyes as we gazed at each other. I suppose he lusted for power more than...
bq. ...and yet, brother, I could have sworn there was something honest about him, about his own eagerness. Or am I just trying to believe I am less to blame? Certainly it is to my discredit if my actions caused the nephew of Rohan's king to think me treacherous; shall I be glad that I convinced him I was merely deceived in a lover?...
bq. ...Gondor at least will have no trouble over my folly. I persuaded Eomer that what he saw was nothing more than the fancy of a moment. I would not have the counselor accused of conspiracy with foreigners when all he was guilty of was taking advantage of my inexperience. Whatever his hopes for the Lady Eowyn may be, he should not have to answer to his king for deluding one who wanted to be believe that...
bq. ...Will I learn someday to disregard it when others disregard me? Discovering that another cared not a whit for the joy I thought we shared, how do I bear that? I do not ask where to find one who does care, for I begin to see that I shall not...
h3. Chapter 4
When Grima found him in his chambers, he was already armed and cloaked in green. Captain Faramir did not refer to what he must have seen in Grima's eyes at the moment of Eomer's accusation, nor to whatever had been said afterwards in that shed. He said only, "If I have done anything to make your position in Rohan difficult, then I apologize for the fault."
"You did nothing that could be faulted!" It was perhaps the most truthful thing Grima Wormtongue had uttered in a long time, but he did not care for truth, one way or the other. All that mattered to him at that moment was the look on Faramir's face, which slowly softened from chilly formality to a strange regretfulness.
Faramir held out his hand. Grima took it, clasped it, and held it for a while, looking at their hands instead of at the other man's face. He didn't know how to say that it had been different with the captain than with the king's sister-daughter. Had it been different? And what did such a difference avail him? A clever man wouldn't have come to this room again, when it could hardly profit him. But then Grima had always known, in his most secret heart, that he was not as clever as he wanted to be. Not clever enough to lead men openly, without lies. Not clever enough to break free of a master he feared and worshipped and loathed. Not clever enough to keep a man of Faramir's quality. If Eomer hadn't revealed what Grima truly was, Faramir would have figured it out before long. He was far more wise and more masterful a man than he himself or that Uruk of a father gave him credit for.
"I'll send a copy of that map to you in Gondor." Ridiculous thing to say, but Grima could not simply let go of the young man's hand in silence. Of his voice, at least, he could be certain: smooth and low and implying more than was said.
Faramir's grip tightened, causing Grima to realize he had in fact not let go, and then their hands came gently apart.
"Thank you." Faramir's tone also conveyed more than his words. There was understanding there and some other emotion that matched the one which Grima himself had tried to put behind his promise.
Grima left the chamber first, moving quickly away so that Faramir could not have caught up with him in the corridor.
h5. Written on a map case in the libraries of Minas Tirith:
bq. To Faramir, Captain of Gondor, of the White Tower, and of the Ithilien Rangers