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07 December 2011 | 20269 words | Work in Progress
It had been one of those crowded counsels which Aragorn had come to secretly detest soon after receiving the crown – and most of all he loathed those with foreign ambassadors. His previous life-style had made him accustomed to doing things, not chatting about doing things over a goblet of expensive wine, and after what seemed like hours of pointless unproductive banter, of which there was one part negotiations and seven parts, again, banter, he had felt he would strangle, and gladly, the first who dared address him.
Faramir’s proposal may not have been the brightest to have ever been voiced in the tall marble halls, yet it had certainly not deserved the harsh unchecked word Aragorn had rewarded it with.
Never had he addressed his Steward in such tone, and highly creditable to Faramir, the young man had in no way betrayed to their venerable guests that aught was not as should be. He did not gasp, or blush, or stammer out an apology as many a certain member of the court would have done, nor did he argue or stare back in affected surprise as perhaps his brother would have done – and yet, in the fraction of a breath before he could entirely rule himself, a strange look had passed across his attentive noble face. A look of shock, embarrassment and deep, raw hurt – and also that of having something he had known all along finally confirmed; of having a hope, timid and private, brutally dashed. Once the meeting was over, he was very swift to leave, and Aragorn had not had the heart to chase him.
All afternoon the King had spent haunted by guilt and shame, unable to wipe off the sticky feeling of having done a thing petty and dishonourable, not too different from giving a loyal devoted hound a kick in the ribs. And although he knew he should have been more careful with Faramir, for nothing ever passed unnoticed or disregarded with Faramir, he could not help being irritated: was not the young man taking it, well, a little too close to heart?
When all the day’s tasks were done and the City was settling for the night, the King finally headed for the Steward’s chambers, intent on setting everything straight. He was not certain whether he should apologise, fearing that by doing so he might only offend Faramir further, for strictly speaking the matter did not warrant an apology, and acknowledging the degree of pain his retort had inflicted would effectively put Faramir’s emotional maturity in question. Eventually he settled on avoiding directly referring to the earlier occurrence, and instead at last saying aloud all he had thought was obvious beyond need to be voiced but which evidently was not: that he always had and for all he knew always would hold his Steward’s merits in the highest regard, and that as a man Faramir was dear to him like few had been dear, and that he would rather stab himself in the eye than see a crack appear in their friendship.
He was invited him into the dim reception room with a courteous bow, the other man perfectly unperturbed, as though having the King come visit him like this, at the dim hour when all the servants had been dismissed, was a most natural thing; and Aragorn, strangely flustered all of a sudden, had launched into his speech at once. He paced the floor as he spoke, and grew ever more flustered by the minute, and there was no response to his reasonable, carefully selected words – but when he turned to look Faramir in the face, he was met by such a gaze… To this day the memory sent a thrill into his stomach.
In a rushing instant, as though a lightning bolt pierced the sky and illuminated it for him, he had understood everything, why his careless reply had had the impact that it did, and why he himself had been so distressed by that, and why… His thoughts melted and became one hazy, liquid blur, and he forgot all his lines and started saying something altogether different, and then he was not saying anything at all, for his mouth was… well, busy with other things.
Never, before or after, had he known a night of such frenzied, desperate lovemaking, of fighting to cram a lifetime-worth of emotion into the few hours left before dawn, for both were confident in their dread that, come sunrise, this newfound bliss would dissolve into thin air like morning mist.
He could not remember how it was he had actually drifted away at long last, sated, and spent, and utterly delirious. He had not wanted to sleep, to give up but a single minute to dreams, however sweet those might be – but there must have been too much warmth, too much peace in how they lay wrapped around each other with every possible part of body, so close, so kin.
When he opened his eyes again, a new morning had come. He lay amid white linens, and next to him sat Faramir, staring ahead of himself with a stony gaze, elbows resting on knees, back curved – and still altogether without clothes, as though in the light of the recent disaster such a trivial matter as covering himself up was no longer of any import.
“Faramir,” Aragorn had called gently, and the man had turned to look at him. The sinews in his jaws went taut, and he swallowed with such difficulty as though he had been holding a needle in his mouth.
“Not to be inhospitable, but you should go, your majesty,” he said as a thing understood. “You shall be missed… at court – and elsewhere.”
“That does not sound as a return invitation,” Aragorn had observed with a smile, for the memory of their earlier joy was still high within him.
Faramir returned his gaze to the invisible point in the distance.
“I can make no such invitation,” he replied grimly, as though cutting the words in granite.
“And if you could?”
“What does it matter?!” Faramir clenched his fists, then pressed his hands to his face. “Oh, Valar…” he whispered, broken.
“No…” Aragorn whispered back. “No, don’t be like this. Here. Come to me.”
Through Faramir’s spread fingers he could see the man’s features contort. “Please,” Faramir said sternly, “leave.” He took a deep breath. “I am not being respectful, and I am well aware, but my plea for forgiveness, or whatever payment you should wish for, my lord, I shall make later. Now – please leave.”
“Or else what?” Aragorn inquired softly, lying back on the pillow.
“Or else I do not know…” Faramir was looking at him, with eyes wide, and clear, and utterly lost. “I…” he shook his head.
Aragorn sat up, surveyed him silently, then put his arm around the man’s naked shoulders and pulled him to himself.
“You have no pity on me,” Faramir said quietly, seriously, unresisting.
“Nay. But I know how to make it so that you would forget about wanting my pity,” Aragorn replied, taking Faramir on the face with one hand and stroking the man’s cheek with his thumb. “This need not come to woe, my boy.”
“I see not how it could come to aught else,” Faramir said quietly, closing his eyes as the King’s other hand began to caress, in wide sweeping motions, his shoulder and arm. “Forgetting – is it all that remains to one such as myself, a traitor to his own oaths?”
“I shall have no more of this morbid talk,” Aragorn had murmured against his throat, “this be no treason, reserve such harsh words for where they are deserved,” he reproached gently, with his lips searching for the first signs of stubble on the underside of Faramir’s chin.
Faramir’s strong fingers dug into his shoulders, pulling him away to put enough distance between them for a proper eye contact.
“Do you see it?” Faramir whispered, his gaze bright and burning. “Your blood is pure enough, my lord – can you see? Where shall this come? I… I cannot think of myself only when taking such steps – much as I have already taken them, so it seems…”
“Nor am I thinking of myself only,” Aragorn argued calmly. “I would not do this to either of us if there were no chance.”
And so it had not ended, although it was not always blissful, for Faramir turned out to possess a flair for effortlessly driving Aragorn insane with frustration. The younger man never seemed to be doing so on purpose – it arose from the plain fact that when he had a position on something, his belief never wavered, even though he of course always bowed down to his lord’s will or sweeter ways of persuasion. But it was actually convincing Faramir, not getting his obedience or compliance, that was always the King’s desire – and here Aragorn could wear himself raw listing arguments, appealing, pushing and even shouting. Faramir would remain unmoved, most often simply retreating into a hard-faced stubborn silence.
Just as on that first morning, all disagreements would be eventually resolved in bed – that is, of course, if the two of them actually managed to make it all the way to the bed. Whenever heat began to rise, Aragorn already knew what would follow within an hour at most – one of them felling the other onto the nearest at least remotely horizontal surface, upon which a session of brutal, ferocious, merciless sex would jubilantly ensue, leaving their bodies sore for days to come…
And that was all very well, but introducing such a practice to a third party would be a perilous and imprudent endeavour, whereby a more tactful – and tactical – approach was clearly called for.
To Be Continued
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