30 March 2004 | 4106 words
Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Tolkien.
Summary: While Minas Tirith celebrates, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Legolas find a drunk Faramir sitting precariously on the tower.
Minas Tirith was into its fifth day of celebration. The King had returned, the War of Darkness had ended and the King had been crowned. Everywhere the celebrations continued.
The members of the Fellowship, Arwen, Elrond and his twin sons Elladan and Elrohir had enjoyed a sumptuous feast in one of the smaller gathering halls that was close to the King and Queen's chambers. Aragorn sat at the head of the table with Arwen to his right and Gandalf to his left. The rest of the group were seated in no particular order. There was much laughter with the hobbits, Legolas and even Gimli bursting into song every now and then. Even Elrond, who was still coming to terms with losing Arwen to a mortal life, had enjoyed the antics and stories of the fellowship.
The intimate party of friends would have been larger but the Lady Galadriel and the Lord Celeborn had returned to Lórien, Éomer the King of Rohan and his sister Éowyn had left the day after Aragorn's coronation to attend to the solemn task of burying their beloved uncle; King Théoden and Faramir had begged off citing duties that could not wait.
Aragorn was not fooled. He could see that Faramir was mourning the loss of his father and more grievously, the loss of his beloved brother Boromir. The thoughts of the members of the Fellowship often turned to the one who did not return from the quest. Boromir would always hold a place in their hearts and was sorely missed by all. And poor Faramir did not even have the company of Éowyn to divert his sombre musings thought Aragorn. With a start Aragorn realised that Faramir had no one with which to share his grief. Denethor's treatment of his youngest son ensured that Faramir would never show his grief to others. The years of public humiliation, being told that he was weak and emotional, that he would never live up to his brother's standard, had caused Faramir to become stoic as he accepted the verbal and physical abuse of his father. To voice his objection to his father's words or actions, however mildly, was to invite even greater abuse. So Faramir had learned to remain quiet and keep his _expression blank. But for those that knew him, his eyes could not hide his anguish for they were a window to his gentle and compassionate soul.
Aragorn fully intended to approach Faramir in the morning to find some way of getting the young Steward to confide in him, thus speaking his grief. Aragorn's musings were interrupted by Samwise Gangee who was saying his goodnights as he was heading for his bed. Frodo also said his goodnights and followed Samwise. It was not long after that the dinner was concluded and all the guests with the exception of Legolas and Gandalf made their way to their respective quarters. Arwen said goodnight to her husband with a promise that he would not stay up all night. Aragorn, Legolas and Gandalf remained seated at the table. Gandalf and Legolas had remained behind as both could see that something troubled Aragorn.
"What troubles you Mellon-nin," Legolas said with his usual forthrightness.
Aragorn frowned. "Faramir," he replied with a sigh. "Each day he seems to become more and more distant. He grieves for the loss of Boromir and for his father, despite the abuse he suffered at the hands of Denethor," Aragorn said shaking his head in bewilderment at the complexities of love.
Gandalf cast out his awareness to see if he could locate Faramir. As with Aragorn, Gandalf could always sense where Faramir was much to the chagrin of both at times. When he finally came back to himself he saw that Aragorn and Legolas were waiting patiently as they had seen the Wizard do this many times.
Gandalf rose quickly and made his way to the door. Aragorn and Legolas rose to follow.
"What is it Gandalf? What is wrong?" Aragorn called out as he followed the Wizard.
"Faramir is on top of the tower," was all that Gandalf said as he made his way to the tower.
Gandalf, Legolas and Aragorn made their way up the long winding tower stairs silently and quickly. The stairs ended at a trapdoor that led onto the roof of the tower. The trapdoor was open and they climbed the final few steps out onto the roof. The roof of the tower actually looked like a large round courtyard complete with stone benches dotted around and shrubs and vines growing in large pots.
An intake of breath from Legolas drew Gandalf and Aragorn's attention. Following the direction of Legolas' gaze they saw what the keen elf's eyes had seen in the dim moonlight, Faramir; sitting on the high outer wall that just with his back braced against a section of the wall that was raised in a step as the wall followed the contour of the mountain into which the tower was built. The outer wall was just wide enough to accommodate a man. Faramir was sitting with one leg bent so that his knee was near his chest and the other extended out in front of him.
Aragorn's heart went into his mouth as he realised the precariousness of the young steward's position. To make matters even worse he could see that Faramir was drinking from what appeared to be a bottle of wine. Aragorn's attention was drawn away from his Steward to Gandalf when what sounded like a growl erupted from the Wizard as he strode towards Faramir. He saw the look of astonishment in Legolas' countenance as both followed behind the Wizard.
"Faramir!", Gandalf all but bellowed as he stood below where the young Steward was sitting on the wall. "What in Eru's name do you think you are doing!?" he continued as he glared up at Faramir.
Given his Steward's rather precarious position on the top of the wall, Aragorn thought Gandalf's thunderous approach was perhaps unwise. This was born out in the same instant as startled; Faramir dropped the bottle of wine into the abyss that was on the other side of the wall.
"Well" Faramir said in his usual quiet measured tone as he leaned over to look at the path of descent that his bottle of wine had taken, "I was attempting to get drunk but alas.." Faramir left the rest of the statement unstated as he continued to look into the abyss.
Gandalf's _expression became even more thunderous as he bellowed at Faramir yet again.
"Get down off that wall before you fall to your death you young fool of a human!"
"Oh Mithrandir", Faramir replied in a whisper that Aragorn was sure Faramir meant none of them to hear but in the stillness of the night was heard clearly by all, "would that be such a loss," he said with such sadness and despair that Aragorn felt his heart constrict.
To Aragorn's astonishment another growl erupted from the Wizard and another bellow. "Faramir, son of Findulas, get down from there now!"
Startled by both the invocation of this mother and the unaccustomed tone from his life-long friend and mentor, Faramir swung both legs around in a move to jump down from the wall onto the parapet that ran around the length of the outer wall. Unfortunately due to the amount of wine the young steward had consumed, he overbalanced and would have fallen backwards off the wall if it had not been for the speed and agility of Legolas who jumped lightly onto the wall - grabbed Faramir by the front of his tunic and all but threw him from the wall and then jumped down lightly onto the parapet. Faramir found himself in an undignified heap at the feet of Gandalf having missed the parapet completely.
"Faramir!!" Gandalf bellowed as he looked down on his young friend and pupil, frightened and angered by what had just almost happened. Faramir having managed to raise himself to a seated position, winced at the Wizard's bellow.
"Please Mithrandir" Faramir all but whined as he held his hands to his ears. "I do confess my mind may be a little fogged at the moment but I do assure you most sincerely that my ears are suffering no such ill condition"
Aragorn standing to one side of Gandalf could not help the smile that wanted to break out on his face and noticed that Legolas was having a similar problem. Legolas looked down at the young Steward shook his head in exasperated amusement and looked back at Aragorn with an _expression that said "humans!".
Shaking his head at the condition of his Steward, Aragorn moved to Faramir and held his hand out to the dishevelled young man. Faramir looked at the hand, gulped nervously as he realised to whom the hand belonged, looked up to the owner of the hand, winced and paled even more as he looked into the face of his King. Faramir then saw that Legolas was there as well as Aragorn. He then looked up at Gandalf and winced again as he saw the thunderous _expression on his mentor's face.
"Oh just throw me to the wargs and be done with it" Faramir muttered as he grabbed the King's proffered hand and was hauled to his feet. Aragorn put a supporting hand on Faramir's shoulder as the young man regained is balance and tuned to look at Gandalf.
Aragorn had never seen Gandalf quite so angry and was about to say something to reduce the tension but thought better of it when Gandalf pierced him with a glare and an unspoken warning not to interfere.
Still angered by the fright of seeing Faramir almost fall to his death, Gandalf looked back to Faramir who had suddenly found the ground very interesting. An _expression of sadness passed across Gandalf's face as he realised that he had not helped Faramir deal with all the loses and hardship that young Steward had faced over the past few months. The Wizard's face hardened again as he comprehended that if they did not deal with it soon; Faramir would find a way to get himself killed.
With a strength that surprised Faramir, Gandalf grabbed the young Steward's left wrist and dragged him away from the outer wall over to a stone bench that was near the trapdoor leading down into the tower. Aragorn and Legolas followed but kept a discrete distance. Gandalf murmured something that Faramir could not quite hear and the staff that was in Gandalf's other hand began to glow. Gandalf motioned for Legolas to come and handed him the staff to hold.
Gandalf still had hold of Faramir's wrist. Drawing himself up, Gandalf braced himself for what he was about to do. The Wizard looked at Faramir who was still fascinated by the ground. He cupped the young Steward's chin and raised it so that Faramir was looked at him.
"What happened the last time I found you sitting on that very wall" Gandalf said in a stern tone. Legolas and Aragorn shared a glance both dismayed to find out that Faramir had done this before. Faramir paled even further, if that was possible, as he looked at Gandalf with something akin to panic.
"B..but Mithrandir" the young Steward stammered in fear and embarrassment. "You…you cannot. I was but a child…I-I am a grown man…"
Gandalf stopped further utterances from Faramir by drawing him down to sit on the bench. "I am sorry Faramir but in some ways you are that child still," he said with gentleness and understanding. "As that child you were under the stern rule of you father; hiding your pain deep where none could see it, or so you thought, you are that child still. As that child you were you still bury your pain deep in the hopes that none will see. But as Boromir saw and I see, your eyes tell all Faramir - for those who know you well. I see it in your eyes now. You are drowning in grief my young friend."
Faramir attempted to swallow the lump that had lodged itself in his throat as he read the concern and love in his mentor's _expression.
"As we both know Faramir you become reckless when you are grieved. But hear this young one. It. Stops. Now. From this moment, every time you put yourself needlessly in a position where you can get hurt, I, Aragorn or Legolas will be there to remind you why you should not".
As Gandalf made the last statement he looked at both Aragorn and Legolas in turn. They nodded their silent agreement and the pact was made. Both realised that Gandalf was entrusting something the Wizard found precious to their care.
"And from what Boromir told me young one it was not that long ago that he had reason to discipline you for the same offence," Gandalf said as he looked into the shocked _expression of Faramir. "More than once," he added sternly.
Aragorn almost laughed aloud at the look of astonishment, annoyance, indignation and chagrin that vied for dominance in his Steward's features.
"Now young Steward," Gandalf said as he finally realised his grip on Faramir's wrist. "I think it is time to see this punishment done" he continued as he dared Faramir to attempt to make his escape.
"You know what to do young one. We have done this before" Gandalf said as he patted his knees.
Faramir, head still bowed and with his red-gold hair fallen over his face, looked up towards Aragorn and Legolas but did not meet their eyes.
"Do not worry young one," Gandalf said sensing the source of Faramir's reluctance to move. "Both Aragorn and Legolas have been in the same position. And in the case of young Thranduilion there – quite recently," Gandalf added looking directly at Legolas who blushed to the tip of his elven ears, easily seen in the light of the staff that he still held for Gandalf.
Surprised, Aragorn caught Legolas' gaze and raised an eyebrow in question. Legolas blushed further, shook his head and his gaze fell to the ground. Aragorn smiled at his friend's discomposure. Knowing the elf he could guess that the fiery temper his friend had inherited from his father, Thranduil, had once again got him into trouble with the Wizard.
Faramir still feeling the effects of the wine he had consumed felt as if he was dreaming; a very unpleasant dream.
"Now Faramir!" Gandalf barked knowing that he had to get the young Steward moving.
Both men and elf started at the Wizard's bark. Faramir was beginning to empathise with rabbits as he rose to his feet quickly. Too quickly as it turned out as he swayed when a wave of vertigo hit him. Aragorn made a movement to assist but thought better of it as he did not want to add to the already considerable embarrassment of his Steward.
Faramir managed to stay on his feet as the vertigo passed. He really wanted to bolt but knew he would not get far. He then fumbled with the ties of his leggings and having loosened them sufficiently, pushed his leggings to his knees. Taking a deep breath, Faramir then lowered himself over Gandalf's knees. Gandalf settled the young Steward on his lap and pulled Faramir's tunic up to his waist to better see the intended target.
"What is this punishment for?" Gandalf asked as he began the ritual that he always followed with Faramir.
Faramir had a love of words and lore. Gandalf understood that Faramir was forced to hide his natural instincts when dealing with Denethor. Faramir, never able to defend himself with either words or actions, remained mute and impotent during his father's `punishments'. Gandalf knew for Faramir to distinguish disciplining from beating, as both were painful, the young man had to be able to speak.
Faramir always hated this part of any punishment he received from Mithrandir. It made him feel vulnerable and exposed. When his father chastised him or thrashed him he would take the punishment in silence; neither vocalising his pain nor crying. Over the years he had weathered harsh punishments from Denethor in absolute silence. Gandalf on the other hand could have him yelling and blubbering with naught but a spanking. Faramir felt his temper rise.
"For being a useless, weak, emotional fool not fit to be Steward," Faramir spat out.
Aragorn and Legolas stood shocked at what Faramir had just said. He was none of those things. Aragorn had not realised that Faramir had taken his father's words so deeply into his heart. Gandalf, on the other hand, did not look surprised.
"Those are Denethor's words and most definitely the wrong answer," Gandalf growled as he landed the first blow on Faramir's buttocks. "You are neither useless nor weak," Gandalf added as the blows to Faramir's bottom continued. "And your compassion is something of which to be proud young one."
Aragorn could see that Faramir was not accepting Gandalf's words. Faramir shook his head as Gandalf continued to land blistering blows to Faramir's bottom. He was beginning to understand just how stubborn his Steward could be.
"We will continue this all night if we have to young one until you give me the right answer," Gandalf said as he increased the intensity of each blow.
Legolas winced in sympathy, as he knew from personal experience how much stamina the Wizard had and how hard his hand was.
Faramir was squirming in the Wizard's lap but continued to remain silent after his initial outburst. Gandalf again increased the intensity of the blows that landed on Faramir's buttocks.
"I am still waiting for an answer Faramir," Gandalf growled.
Aragorn was starting to feel uneasy about the intensity of Gandalf's blows to Faramir's buttocks. He could see them turning very red.
"For putting myself at risk," Faramir finally yelped out.
Aragorn sighed in relief.
"Better young one but much to broad a subject" Gandalf said as he reduced the intensity of the blows slightly and concentrated on Faramir's thighs.
Gandalf could see that the young Steward was at a loss so he gave him a hint.
"King…Dinner,' Gandalf supplied.
Legolas choked back a shocked laugh at the virulent Sindarin curse his keen elven hearing had detected coming from the flustered young human. He would have to find out how fluent Faramir was in Sindarin later, Legolas thought.
"For lying to the King about dinner," Faramir ground out as he squirmed on Gandalf's lap.
"For sitting on the outer wall," Faramir managed to say between gasps for breath.
"Sitting and drinking," Gandalf added sternly as he increased the intensity of the blows to Faramir's posterior.
Aragorn winced. The Wizard was still very angry.
"Sitting and drinking on the outer wall. Owww!" Faramir yelped.
"We both know that you do not have a head for wine"
"Mithrandir!" Faramir yelped indignantly. He would like to keep some secrets.
Mithrandir continued to land blows on Faramir's buttocks and thighs. When he felt that Faramir was near his limit he said the one thing he knew would break down the defences that Faramir had placed, by necessity given his place in Denethor's `family', around his heart. "What would Boromir think, young one?" he said with gentleness as he stopped the blows and rubbed his hand gently over Faramir's back.
Faramir's defences finally broke and he started to sob. But no sound came from Faramir with the exception of gasped breathing. Realising that the spanking had ended, Faramir slid from Gandalf's lap and onto his knees. He pulled up his leggings as he placed his head on Gandalf's thigh.
Gandalf continued to rub Faramir's back as the young Steward sobbed silently.
"I miss him so much," Faramir whispered as tears streamed down his face and the eerie silent sobs continued.
Aragorn was moved to tears himself as he suddenly had a vision of a child-Faramir sobbing silently after a session with the father that he loved but did not seem to love him, with no one the wiser to his pain with the exception of Boromir - when he was around. It was no wonder that the two brothers had been so close.
With a strength that belied his age, Gandalf gathered Faramir in his arms and placed him on the stone bench. Faramir did not flinch when his buttocks came in contact with the hard stone bench - such was the pain in his heart. Gandalf's arms surrounded the young Steward and he began to rock Faramir, much as he had done when Faramir was a child.
"You lost father, mother and brother when you lost Boromir, young one. Boromir loved you deeply. No one will think the lesser of you for voicing that grief. Let it go Faramir…let it go" Gandalf crooned in a soft, gentle voice.
Gandalf's words brought home to Aragorn and Legolas the extent of Faramir's loss.
Faramir's heart-wrenching sobs became louder as he finally gave voice to his pain and despair. The young Steward cried for a long time in the arms of his friend and mentor. The sobs lessened to hitching breaths as Faramir cried himself out. Gandalf continued to rock his young pupil until Faramir gained composure enough to speak.
"Mithrandir?" Faramir said in an almost child-like voice.
"Yes young one?" Gandalf answered in a quiet tone.
"I do not feel too well."
Looking down at his young charge, Gandalf saw the decidedly green tinge to Faramir's face. He put one hand over the young Steward's eyes and commanded him to "sleep".
"I can assure you, my young friend, you are going to feel much worse in the morning," Gandalf chuckled as Faramir slumped in his arms, fast asleep.
"I think we need to get this one to his bed" Gandalf said as he made a move to stand.
"I will carry him," offered Legolas as he passed Gandalf's staff to Aragorn.
Legolas lifted the young human from the bench. He frowned.
"What is wrong Legolas?" Aragorn asked as he moved over to look at his Steward.
"Aragorn, he weighs little more than a hobbit!" Legolas replied.
"Alas," said Gandalf sadly shaking his head. "Loss of appetite is another symptom Faramir displays when he is grieved."
Legolas carried Faramir to the young man's apartments and laid him on the bed. They had thankfully not passed anyone on the way to Faramir's apartments as it would have been difficult to explain why Faramir was unconscious. The young Steward was stripped and dressed in night attire by Legolas and Aragorn. Both were appalled at how thin the young man was. With Faramir safely ensconced in his bed Aragorn turned to the Wizard who was seated in a chair by the fireplace.
"I fear his healing has only just begun…" Aragorn contemplated as he looked back to his young Steward.
"And the journey's not yet over," Gandalf finished. "He will need a strong hand to see him back to full health."
"I did not realise that my Steward was quite so…stubborn," Aragorn said ruefully, amazed at what he had witnessed this night
"Stubborn!" Gandalf laughed. "In that gentle, quite, intelligent package called Faramir lies the stubbornness of Findulas and Denethor combined. And you know how stubborn Findulas was. I am afraid, my friend, you have your work cut out for you keeping that one in line and out of trouble."
Aragorn sat down on the end of his Steward's bed.
"I have been remiss, Gandalf… I did not see the depth of his despair or the damage that Denethor had caused his esteem" Aragorn said condemningly as he looked at his sleeping Steward.
"Do not blame yourself, Aragorn," said Gandalf soothingly as he too looked at his sleeping friend. "Faramir under Denethor's `tutelage' has become very adept at hiding his emotions," Gandalf continued with unaccustomed bitterness entering his voice.
"Well" said Aragorn decidedly. "The journey has begun and we will finish it together. Things are about the change for our young charge. No longer will he be able to hide." Aragorn said almost relishing the battles of wills he could forsee in their future
Faramir oblivious to this change in his life slept peacefully for the first time since Boromir's death. In the morning when he awoke both Aragorn and Legolas were still there. The journey had indeed begun.
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The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: angelstar3999 , Jodwiga , Annette , Aquq , Adria