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The King and The Ranger (R) Print

Written by Minx

30 March 2004 | 60419 words

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Chapter 13

A grand meal rounded off the celebrations. Numerous dignitaries from various places were in attendance and a huge feast had been prepared. The married couple sat at the centre of it all, their faces flush with joy. Faramir watched them dully. Aragorn looked happy, he decided. Every time the queen spoke to him, he would smile and his eyes would light up with an expression that Faramir could only assume to be love.

He could feel a headache coming on. He stared at the elaborate plates and dishes filled with mouth-watering food, and then sought out Boromir to tell him he was leaving to escort the envoy from Harad back to the city.

Faramir saddled his horse in silence. He was to be accompanied by one of Boromir’s lieutenant’s a man he knew from before, and a small troop of cavalrymen. They were to meet up with the Haradrim envoy at the quays and escort him into the city where he would be met by the Steward at the gates. He found his hands working the straps automatically. He kept trying to focus on the task ahead, and not on anything else.

Walking his horse out of the stables, he glanced up once again at the citadel. It was easy to see that it was being guarded even more heavily than earlier. The streets were empty for people will still celebrating. Sweet, lilting music could be heard, and he knew people must have started dancing. They rode out of the city and headed for the quay.

Faramir remembered little of the ride later. His mind was somewhere else, and worked on instinct without even realising what he was doing. The envoy’s craft reached the quay, at the same time as they did. They exchanged polite greetings. Faramir tried his best to maintain his composure and act as a gracious host. At any other time he would have been very interested in talking to the envoy and asking him about Harad but now he found he had nothing to say.  His mind was in a complete daze.

By the time they returned, the celebrations had mostly died out for the hour was late, and Boromir was waiting for them with another cavalry troop behind him. Boromir took over after that, leaving Faramir with nothing to do but return to his room.

He met three snickering elves and a dwarf on his way there; and also the king and queen of Gondor. Aragorn and Arwen were walking towards Aragorn’ s room, with Elladan, Elrohir, Legolas and Gimli right behind them, singing a series of bawdy songs that were more likely to be heard in a tavern than in the palace.

“I am surprised!” Aragorn was saying, as he faced them, “Why is my Steward not a party to this?”

“He is receiving the envoy from Harad,” Faramir found himself saying softly.

Aragorn turned sharply and the younger man felt sharp grey eyes bore into him. He avoided the gaze, by inclining his head in a respectful greeting at his new queen instead.

She smiled back at him, before turning to Aragorn, “Will you not be needed there, Estel?” The grey eyes moved towards her now.

“Oh no, he will not. Boromir left very specific orders that the envoy would rest tonight. And so shall you,” Legolas declared airily.

He was greeted by a series of whoops and laughs.

“Rest!” screamed Elrohir, before dissolving in a flurry of giggles.

“I have often doubted whether my brothers have truly attained their majority or not,” Arwen said with great dignity, “Now, I fear I entertain such doubts about you too, Legolas!”

With that, she pulled Aragorn into the room, and shut the door behind her, leaving behind four giggling friends and one young man trying very hard to dismiss the scene with a casual smile.

Faramir returned to his room and threw himself wearily onto his bed, and spent the rest of the night trying not to think of Aragorn. But he could not help but think that his king had looked extremely happy during the wedding. And Aragorn looked very handsome when he smiled. The skin under his eyes would crinkle up, and his lips would curve up. Faramir groaned at the thought, and pounded his pillow in frustration trying to get rid of the mental picture of Aragorn’s smiling face hovering over him. The thought of that full pink mouth that smelt of pipewood coming in contact with his quivering skin sent a fire racing through his veins. Just the memory of the touch of those lips on his neck and his back, and the feel of skilful hands roving his body, of slick fingers entering him had him clutching at his sheets in desperation.

I have to forget, he kept repeating over and over again.

He rose and walked over to the open window hoping the cold draught of air would help him. Instead it reminded him of how much warmth he had found in Aragorn’ s embrace. He finally took a sleeping draught and let sleep claim him.

Aragorn smiled back at the only woman he had ever loved in all his life, as the door shut behind him. They had looked forward to this day for years now. He moved towards the bed where his bride awaited him, and for the briefest second, he could not help but remember the last person who had been there. His heart had almost wrenched when he had seen Faramir outside, but the younger man had refused to meet his gaze. Part of Aragorn was glad. Faramir meant a lot to him, but so did Arwen. And his duty as a king demanded that he provide an heir. Faramir would understand.

He knew that. He knew if anyone would understand it would be Faramir.

He moved towards Arwen and gathered her in his arms. Night fell over Minas Tirith as they consummated their marriage.

The negotiations started the next afternoon. Elrond and his family, as well as the other elves, had left in the morning. The mood around the council table was sombre and wary. The envoy had congratulated Aragorn on his wedding and expressed gratitude that he had spared himself for their meeting in so short a while.

Tarlong was still very much on the edge. And his attitude had passed onto Boromir too. Faramir found himself equally worried. If their theories had been correct, then this would be an opportune moment for the assassin or assassins to strike. However nothing untoward happened as the talks continued. The older councillors maintained their disapproving looks all through. Eredil specially, was more than polite to the envoy - a sign, Faramir knew, of his contempt for the Haradrim.

He was the one person in the room who continued to radiate open hostility towards the envoy and whenever the council met alone, continued to express disapproval over signing a peace treaty. The other councillors were slowly and steadily coming round to the fact that the times had changed but Eredil maintained with stubborn insistence that they were rushing things.

The meetings were long and full of verbal parleys that Faramir would have ordinarily enjoyed. But the sight of Aragorn so near him all through the day left him feeling distracted, a feeling that he had hardly ever known till date. Aragorn and he had done their utmost to act towards each other normally, and he wondered if it was his imagination that there seemed to be some degree of strain showing through the king’s voice when he addressed him. He had noticed Aragorn bestowing upon him more than one unreadable glance during the meetings.

Their eyes had met just once, very briefly. There had been warmth directed towards him, Faramir was sure. They had had little opportunity to speak but there was little that could be said. He had formally congratulated the couple the morning after the wedding as the rest of the court had done. He had knelt and offered fealty to his queen. And glancing up at her serene face, he found he was glad at least of the fact that she did truly love Aragorn, and would keep him happy.

Aragorn deserved that.

He had formally greeted Aragorn too, and received an unreadable look in return. There had seemed to be some measure of sadness in it. It hurt him immensely to see even such a faint trace of sadness, and for a moment his heart almost leapt at the thought that Aragorn too regretted the state of affairs, but he quelled the thought immediately.

Even if Aragorn regretted their predicament, there was nothing they could do. He regretted it too. But he knew now that what he desired was not possible. It never had been.

He slept without a sleeping draught after the first day’s negotiations had ended, mainly because the talks had gone very late into the night and he had been exhausted from reading some very long reports after that.

It was at the end of the second day that Gimli voiced a thought that had occurred to them more than once, “You should keep a closer watch on Eredil,” he said as he, Legolas and the two brothers ate a quiet meal in Boromir’s study.

Boromir looked up from the papers he was studying, “I have,” he said calmly.

“You think this is his doing, then?” Faramir asked, rubbing his tired eyes. The effort of trying to concentrate on the negotiations rather than on the gnawing ache in his heart for the last two days had left him feeling quite drained.

“He is the only one who is opposing the treaty now. Even Saracel is beginning to agree that we would be better off signing it,” Boromir said.

“He is the only one who is opposing it openly,” Faramir said softly, as he read through the reports Boromir’s spies had brought for them.

“What do you mean?” Gimli asked curiously.

“Is there any reason why Eredil would not want the peace treaty signed?” Faramir stared at one of the reports, reading it again. There was something he thought he had read. He needed to check it again.

“He doesn’t trust Harad,” came Boromir’s matter of fact answer.

“Why not?”

“Faramir! Do I need to remind you how long we have been warring against them? Longer than you or I have lived. Eredil is of the older generation!” Boromir said impatiently.

“And you think that is reason enough?” Faramir queried softly.

The entry of Aragorn and Arwen left that question unanswered and for a while the talk covered more general maters. Faramir inclined his head in a silent greeting at Aragorn and a shyer one at Arwen, before returning to the paper that was puzzling him. There was something troubling his memory. Something he felt he ought to remember.

Boromir and Legolas were meanwhile discussing their latest theory with a very reluctant Aragorn.

“I know Eredil of old,” Aragorn stated quietly, “He would hardly –“

“Eredil has the skill too,” Boromir added.

“There are many who have the skill to aim arrows. I do not have to remind you that each of my councillors is also a military man. And many of the younger ones still command regiments just as you and Faramir do.”

“Very well. But there is no harm in watching your back with extra care for the next few days,” Gimli was saying.

Faramir found himself thinking wryly that he would like to watch Aragorn’ s back a great deal, before biting his lip in annoyance.

Aragorn watched the tense shoulders hunched over a sheaf of papers, and felt his own fists clench unhappily. He had a feeling Faramir would ask for leave to return to Ithilien soon. And he knew Boromir would not persuade him to stay back this time. Perhaps it was for the better. Then they could pretend nothing had happened between them.

Except that a strange empty feeling that had been experiencing for some days now would never leave him. Even Arwen could not take it away from him. He continued to watch the slumped shoulders and head and felt some of the emptiness lift away, while the others around him conversed desultorily over wine.

When they all rose, intending to head for bed, Faramir glanced up a little confused as though unsure of his surroundings. Dark circles stood out under his eyes.

“A good night to you, Aragorn,” three sniggering friends said to him. He had been hearing these words each night. Invariably Faramir would be around, his face completely expressionless. Today, however, the younger man seemed to be somewhere far away, and as they neared the doorway, it was apparent that he was not returning to his chambers as yet.

“Faramir, are you not going to retire for the night?” Boromir called out exasperatedly.

His brother looked up at him distractedly, “I have some work in the library.”

“What?” Boromir stopped short.

“I know he is supposed to be a scholar of repute, but surely to visit the library at such a late hour-?” Gimli expostulated, “Boromir, your brother needs a wife. ”

“Indeed,” Legolas smirked, “Look at Aragorn, he is in such a hurry to leave to bed!”

Aragorn glared at his friend but also noticed with curiosity that Faramir had not really heard Legolas’ words. He was busy putting away the papers. Then he realised Arwen was glaring at Legolas and telling him to stop behaving like an immature elfling.

As they all left the room, she suddenly stopped and waited for Faramir to near her. The others had already left. Aragorn waited puzzled, as Faramir stopped and looked up at his wife, almost nervously.

“I heard you saved Estel from an assassin’s arrows,” she said softly and gently, “I cannot thank you enough for that.”

“It was my duty, my lady,” Faramir murmured, his cheeks reddening a little.

“He is lucky to have friends who go to such lengths for him,” she said quietly.

“Such lengths that they harm themselves,” Aragorn found himself saying, “I would not wish a friend to get hurt merely to protect me.”

“Gondor has her king after many years, Sire. You will find your friends will do much to ensure that it will have you as king for many years to come,” came the quiet reply.

Aragorn stared back at the clear grey eyes, as Faramir bowed a little before excusing himself. It was all he could do to not brush the wan cheek with his fingers and assure the weary figure in front of him that everything would be all right.

“He seems troubled,” Arwen commented as they watched Faramir walk away. Aragorn did not notice the sharp gaze that accompanied those words. He was too busy staring at the retreating figure.

Faramir ignored the tiredness that was weighing him down and diligently sifted through the old records that were archived in the libraries. There seemed to be mounds and mounds of them, and it had not taken him long to realise that this particular section completely lacked organization, probably because no one used it any more. The sky outside was lightening when he finally found the records he wanted. He stared through bleary eyes at the parchment in his hands, wondering if he could be correct in his surmise. He had a vague memory of an event and the words in front of him confirmed that. He had a possible motive now.

But he needed proof, not a motive. Anyone could have a motive; he tried to reason with himself. On the other hand there were other factors that he could not entirely overlook. He tried to decide on his next step. Instead he ended up resting his aching head on the books and closing his eyes. He awoke a few hours later as the sun rose, still as tired as before, and his muscles aching from the discomfort they had been subjected to. However, his head seemed to feel a little clearer. He went back to his room purposefully, and washed up and changed into fresh clothes. There was still time before the council today. He could try and confirm his suspicion somewhat. Perhaps he need not confront his quarry, he could merely try and talk to him.

The house he wanted to visit was not far from the citadel. He walked up to the door calmly. Around him the city had come awake. He could smell the fresh bread from a nearby baker’s shop. Ignoring the hunger pangs that the aroma induced, he glanced around, taking in the sight of the broken down house next door. The building had been a casualty of the war, and the only option left was for it to be torn down and a new house rebuilt in its place. Gimli’s people had been helping with that across the city. He could see that the structure was almost torn down, as he knocked on the door in front of him.

He was shown in by a servant and informed that the morning meal was underway. He offered calmly to wait and was shown into a spacious study lined with bookshelves. The walls were adorned with paintings and weaponry, and he remembered that the family had a long tradition in the military as well as in scholastic pursuits. He studied the weapons carefully but gleaned nothing of import and instead moved closer to the fireplace to examine the portraits that hung over it.

Is that the motive? he wondered silently, as he moved towards the bookcases.

The wood was carved in an intricate pattern that immediately caught his eye, and he found himself automatically reaching out a hand to finger it. He traced a perfectly shaped floral pattern, and almost gasped as wood creaked, and the section of the bookcase above him shifted ponderously to reveal a tiny alcove. He almost felt like kicking himself for getting startled. Everyone had such hidden stores, after all. There was one in Aragorn’ s study, although it was better concealed than this one. His eyes fell on the objects lying inside. He did not have to pull them out to recognise them as arrows. Locally made arrows, easily available across the city.

And yet, secreted away like this. He did not need very sharp eyesight to figure out why it was so. The arrows were the local produce but they had modifications in them. Modifications that he knew of from close experience. He could see the tips sharpened to a fine point that was not the practice unless the arrows were made for the army’s archers. But these were not army provisions. Those were a different colour and made by specialized craftsmen.

He stared at them closer and noticed the tiny groove at the tip, just deep enough so that when dipped into a liquid, it would retain traces of it; a liquid such as poison. He could almost feel the searing pain in his shoulder again. He knew his surmise had been correct. The arrows that had hit him were from here.

He heard footsteps near the door but it was too late.

“I thought, my Lord Faramir, that you would be above sneaking around through another’s rooms like this,” said the entrant from behind him. Faramir gritted his teeth and berated himself for getting over-engrossed in his findings. He turned around quietly.

“I hoped I was wrong,” he said, and realised that he was still hoping that was so. That the king might be attacked by one of his own objects was suddenly very hard to stomach. It had been easy to speak of it, but now that it seemed to have actually occurred it was difficult to take.

But his hopes were dashed. Cold, hard eyes bore down upon him, “I am sorry to belie your hopes. Have you brought your men with you? Are they the same fools who have been following me around all these days?”

Faramir shook his head, weariness and sorrow clouding his thoughts. He suddenly felt really tired. So much had happened these last few days, “I wanted to be sure before I told anyone,” he whispered before he even realised what he was saying.

“Then perhaps my cause is not lost,” came the silky reply.

With a sinking heart Faramir cursed his own stupidity. He had just let on that he was here alone and without having informed anyone. It was a gross error on his part. He of all people should have realised how valuable an alert state of mind would be in such a situation, and he had slipped up there. He had let lack of sleep and weariness overtake him.

He reached for his sword as the other advanced towards him. But the man in front of him did not reach for a weapon. Instead he kept his hands folded behind his back as he had all through and stopped a few steps in front of him and then casually said, “I wonder now . . . could our king perhaps be persuaded not to sign the treaty in return for your life? After all you are the king’s whore, are you not?”

It was the last line that completely broke Faramir’s concentration. He gaped back in consternation at the words and never noticed the fist coming up. Something hard hit him on the side of his face and he gasped in pain as he sank to his knees. He scrambled up dazedly but could not avoid the bunched fist coming at him again. This time he could make out the fact that a heavy iron chain was wrapped around the fingers.

He had forgotten another important lesson. He should have paid attention to the fact that the other man’s hands were hidden behind his back, he realised, as he fell again.

A sift sigh sounded through the room, “What kind of a man are you, Faramir? You fight like a wench and you let a man bed you and not for soldier’s comfort either!”

Faramir stared back at him in dismay. How had he known?

The other man seemed to have guessed what he was thinking, “I have been keeping an eye on the king’s movements. It is not difficult. And it was not difficult to see that he spent a night in your chambers and you spent one in his.”

Faramir rose unsteadily and tried to reach for his sword again, but it was of no use. The other man was taller and heavier, and although Faramir was younger, he was not at his best. His head was already pounding, when he felt his arm being grabbed and wrenched behind him in a swift movement.

“Isn’t that where my arrow struck you?” came the grating words.

Faramir could only cry out from the sudden pain as his much abused shoulder was subjected to the agony.

It invited another smirk from his attacker, “You cannot even defend yourself properly and you cry like a girl, Captain.”

Faramir gritted his teeth at the inflexion on the last word. He reached out his free hand and tried to garb at the man behind him. He even tried kicking out in an ungainly fashion, but he was completely overpowered. The man behind him was not just a councillor but also an experienced warrior with soldiers under his command.

He was shoved roughly forward. To his utter and complete remorse, he tripped over the edge of a rug, and found himself flying forward into a square table. The sharp edged corner hit his unprotected stomach as he slammed into it and he groaned loudly this time. He clutched his abdomen in pain as he tried to get up using the table for support.

The other man continued to taunt him, “I would have preferred to give you a fair chance so that we might fight as soldiers must, but you have proven yourself unworthy of such a title.”

This time the rolled up chain hit the side of his half-turned head, and he fell heavily into the table once again, the sharp edge hitting his stomach a second time. He moaned in pain and sank to the ground.

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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11 Comment(s)

This story was AMAZING! I loved how
1) There WAS a plot!
2) There was actual chracter development between Faramir and Aragorn…my FAV couple!

Great Job! Keep it up!

— FA4ever!    Monday 15 December 2008, 5:16    #

Hi FA4ever! Thank you for your kind comments. I’m really, really delighted that you liked this story so much!:)

— minx    Thursday 18 December 2008, 21:06    #

Hi! I loved your story! =) It’s really great, Faramir and Aragorn are perfect, so are the other characters. Especially Legolas who is wonderful! ^^ (Arwen is scary! XD)
I read other fanfics you wrote, and I loved them as well. Your writing is very good!

(hum… Sorry, English is not my first language! :S )
Bye, Lily

— Lily Of the West    Wednesday 11 February 2009, 20:16    #

Thanks Lily! I’m very glad you liked the fics.

Thanks for reading and taking the time out to comment!

— minx    Thursday 12 February 2009, 19:10    #

I so love your fics!!! I am very addicted to Fara/Ara stories. Perhaps is there a sequel awaiting. Please, say yes!!!!!!

— camille    Tuesday 24 February 2009, 18:16    #

Thank you Camille:) I’m not sure of a sequel to this one but yes, there are lots of A/F stories on their way:) thank you for reading this!

— Minx    Sunday 1 March 2009, 17:42    #

Oh! It was gorgeous! It was simply unique! Especially the ending! You are a great writer!
Oh, poor Faramir… No, poor Aragorn… How long he waited that!!!
Thank you very much, Minx!

— Anastasiya    Thursday 10 September 2009, 15:08    #

Thank you Anastasiya:) I’m really glad you liked it.

— minx    Saturday 12 September 2009, 20:22    #

Wonderful story! Thank you for posting it!!

(Even though I know it’s been awhile…)

— Radical    Friday 28 May 2010, 2:46    #

Thank you Radical! I’m very glad you liked it:)

— Minx    Friday 4 June 2010, 19:19    #

Hello, just wanted to stop by and say how much I adore this fic. I must have read it a dozen times over the years. I hope Aragorn has been making it up to our sweet Fara all this time ;-)

— Laurelote    Sunday 19 August 2012, 18:32    #

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