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The King and The Ranger (R) Print

Written by Minx

30 March 2004 | 60419 words

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Chapter 2

The study had not been redecorated at all by its new owner. It remained much the same, Faramir realised as he entered it after everyone else. Legolas, Gimli and Boromir had dropped into comfortable armchairs arranged around a warm fire kindling in the grate. Boromir was already poking at the wood lazily with one booted foot, careful not to let it get too close to the fire. Faramir realised that there had been a few additions - the armchairs. Denethor had usually invited his guests either onto the straight-backed chairs at the table or a small couch in one corner. And he had rarely lit a fire until the winter had truly descended upon the city.

He himself had always sat on the uncomfortable high backed chairs when invited to sit, which was rarely. His visits to the study had always been too short for him to require sitting - a few words from his father, and then he would leave. When there were more than a few words to be said, sitting had never been an option to counter Denethor’s anger. He had lost count of the number of times he had stood in this very room and experienced the strength in his father’s hand when he had been young. As he grew older, Denethor stopped striking him, and simply avoided him instead, resulting in his visits here becoming few and far between.

He stood now, near the door, uncomfortably wondering what to do, and where to sit. Aragorn looked up from behind the table where he was pouring wine into goblets and smiled as he waved him in, vaguely gesturing him to sit somewhere. All that was left to sit on were the tall chairs, so he lowered himself into one, and unconsciously tucked his feet into the rung running through its legs. Placing his hands on his knees, he cupped his chin in his palms and leaned forward listening cursorily to his brother and the elf arguing about something to do with the stables.

“Do you need help with the wine, Aragorn or do you think you can spill it on your own?” Gimli asked, causing Boromir and Legolas to stop arguing and snicker instead. Faramir could never get over the casualness between the four friends. To them, the king was always Aragorn. Aragorn had once asked him too to drop his formality in their interaction, something Faramir had promptly shied away from. He could almost see the disapproving looks on the faces of the councillors and other important people of the land if a mere captain of the Gondorian army were to refer to their king by his name. Thankfully, Aragorn had not pursued the issue.

Through the window he could see that the sun now lay hidden behind clouds. Aragorn came forward with the filled goblets, and handed them around. Watching his movements, Faramir suddenly remembered he had not eaten anything since the day before.

The conversation stopped momentarily as they sipped the wine. Faramir took a very tiny sip. It was the wine that had come over from Dol Amroth, one that his father had particularly liked, a particularly strong variety, good in small doses, but not advisable in large doses. Unfortunately Denethor had a tendency to imbibe it in large doses, especially when dealing with his younger son. Faramir gripped the goblet a little tighter as he took another tiny sip. Why did everything bring back such unpleasant memories?

“Where is that blue vase that used to rest on the mantelpiece?” Boromir’s question caused him to raise his eyes with a start. His brother was looking towards the mantelpiece of the fireplace in consternation, “It was mother’s,” Boromir continued in a soft voice.

“There was no vase there,” Aragorn said frowning.

“I wonder where it went. Perhaps father moved it away somewhere else. I would like to hunt for it.”

“It broke,” Faramir heard a voice blurt out, realizing belatedly that it was his own voice, and promptly regretted having spoken.

Why did I say that? Now he will surely want to know how it broke. The familiar pounding set off in his head, and he found himself gripping the goblet even tighter, as he gazed up to meet the eyes of his brother and king. Legolas and Gimli were half listening to the conversation.

“How?” Boromir asked, aghast, “father had kept that vase for years. It was all he kept of mother. How did it break?”

Faramir felt everyone’s eyes rest on him. Boromir’s near-impassioned outburst had increased the others’ interest in the matter.

He bit his lip, wondering what to say. He was quite incapable of lying, and if he even so much as tried, Boromir would easily catch him out. Besides, men of Gondor were known for their sense of honour.

“I – I – it… it broke, it fell – off the mantelpiece. Slipped – it slipped off, and broke. While you were on the quest,” he stammered rapidly, his heart sinking as he noticed Boromir’s eyes narrowing. Aragorn was watching him with a puzzled expression on his face, while Legolas and Gimli looked on curiously.

“It slipped?” Boromir stated calmly, questioningly.

Faramir took a larger sip of the wine hoping it would help fortify him a little, and then nodded miserably.

“How did it slip?” Boromir asked, an ominously patient undertone lacing his voice.

I fell against it. Faramir said in his mind.

“I am not sure, I did not see it fall,” he said quietly. That was true at any rate. He had been pushed back against the mantelpiece. His eyes had been on his father’s face, not on the vase that had fallen off as his shoulder blade had hit it. He had not even realised what had happened until Denethor had cried out in rage and sorrow when it had crashed into the ground breaking into smithereens. Then he had been shoved away nearly to the ground while Denethor had knelt and lovingly picked up the pieces of a favoured memory of his wife. In a voice so cold that it had frightened Faramir, he bade his younger son to leave and not show himself to him unless requested.

He looked back at Boromir straight into his eyes, noting with distress that his elder brother seemed very upset by the news. A tense silence descended upon the room, broken only by a knock on the door.

“Sire,” the servant bowed to the king, “My lords. Sire, Lieutenant Mablung is here from Ithilien and wishes to see Lord Faramir.”

Mablung! Faramir felt like slapping himself. He had completely forgotten that Mablung was to come down to Minas Tirith today while they went over the supplies to be allocated to their company. He glanced at Aragorn seeking his permission to leave, and receiving it, nodded to the servant.

“I will be there,” he said and sliding off the chair, quaffed the rest of the wine down grimacing as he did so. Placing the empty goblet on the table, he bowed to the others and left. The overwhelming feeling in his heart was one of relief, at not having to explain to his distraught brother the loss of a prized possession.

Aragorn stared at the retreating back of the young captain in puzzlement. He could have sworn that Faramir had looked relieved to be able to leave. When he had entered the room, he had looked shy and unsure, and Aragorn had found himself strangely drawn to this strange young man with a permanently worried face. He wished Faramir would open up a little more to all of them. He spoke mostly to Boromir, and even that was just a little. Boromir had once mentioned that his brother was reserved by nature, and spoke rarely, preferring to listen instead. Even the attempt to reduce the formality between them had backfired as Faramir had given him a totally horrified look when asked to refer to him by name.

Even when he drank, it was moderately, Aragorn realised, as he watched the wine being sipped in small amounts. The grey eyes had clouded over momentarily as though lost in some unpleasant memory, and then Boromir had asked about the vase. And as that conversation proceeded, Faramir’s eyes had a near frantic look as Boromir became more and more distressed. Faramir had stuttered through an explanation lamely and it occurred to Aragorn that no one in the room had missed the desperation mirrored on his visage reflected in his voice. He seemed to calm down a little after sipping some more wine, and a pall of silence descended heavily upon the room. Aragorn wondered if he should say something, but what could he say? His eyes fell upon Boromir and it seemed to him that his friend almost felt like crying. He remembered seeing Finduilas, Denethor’s lady, when he had served in his younger days in Gondor’s army incognito. She had died young, and to her two sons much of her memory probably lay only in inanimate mementoes like the vase. The tension broke with the knock on the door, and he readily gave Faramir grace to leave, inciting the look of sheer relief on that drawn face.

Whatever was bothering Faramir so much? He was sure if the vase had broken by Faramir’s hands the younger man would readily have admitted to it. In the little time he had seen him, he had been extremely impressed by the other’s straightforwardness and integrity.

He sighed and turned his attention back to his friends. The uncomfortable silence still lay over them, for Boromir was now staring at the carpet fixedly, and Legolas and Gimli were wondering what to do, staring glumly at each other, and then at their friend.

He said the only thing he could think of saying, “Some more wine, Boromir? Legolas? Gimli?” It worked. Boromir glanced up nodding, and the conversation on stables resumed, not as animated as earlier, but good enough given the circumstances.

Faramir walked up to his room tiredly. He had spent all day with Mablung, charting out the requirements for the forces in Ithilien. It was a smaller force now, since it was peacetime, but supplies were still needed, and every month, they would draw up the lists and at the same time go through the rolls, seeing how everyone was doing, moving men among companies if required, increasing strength where required, drawing from companies that were over manned as the situation demanded. He knew each and every man under his command, and loved being with all of them, and living as one of them. A ranger. Just a ranger defending his land who chaffed at not getting time enough to spend in the open country on the other side of the river Anduin, for all the captains were required in the city and would be there for the next few months to debate on the various peace treaties and negotiations on hand.

Entering his room, he threw himself onto his bed wearily.  He had missed the luncheon meal, and had had to settle for some fruit instead. Having forced himself to concentrate on his work all this while, he now found his mind slipping back into familiar territory.

What a fool he had made of himself earlier in the day, he thought wretchedly. And that too in front of his king. Not only had he been caught daydreaming in the middle of a meeting where his inputs had been required, but also when he had been invited to join him in a cup of wine, instead of apologizing for his behaviour he had simply floundered some more.

The subject he had dreaded so much earlier in the day hit him with a full force. How was he to tell Boromir that their mother’s favourite vase had broken because of him?

Because Denethor in a fury over his elder son’s supposed death had taken all his anger and sorrow out on the younger one. When Faramir had mentioned Boromir’s death, Denethor’s thin veneer of calm had snapped. Grabbing the younger man by the shoulders he had shaken him roughly and angrily, and struck him across his face with a force that belied his age. Faramir had fallen backwards against the fireplace, and knocked the vase over. Denethor had become incensed. Fear had coursed through his veins as he had watched Denethor kneel down and pick one of the broken pieces in his hand. For he had been truly afraid that night, not so much by the physicality of the attack, as by the emotional intensity behind it. He had found himself cowering like a child before the open hostility radiating from Denethor’s eyes. On dismissal, he had literally fled to his room, where he had spent half the night berating himself for his cowardice, and the other half crying openly for his brother.

He still had a tiny scar near his left ear, where the steward’s ring had sliced the skin open, but it had been nothing compared to the unseen scars he had felt in his heart.

The very memory served to bring tears to his eyes now, and he buried his head into his pillow in an effort to prevent them falling. Exhaustion overcame the overburdened mind, and he fell off into an uneasy sleep, not rising even when Boromir pushed his head in later in the evening to see why he had not come down to supper. He heard the scrape of the door, but felt too tired to react. Boromir called out to him softly, but his befuddled brain would not let him reply or even open his eyes, even when Boromir quietly entered the room, covered him with a blanket, and whispering him a good night, left the room.

That night his sleep was plagued by vague dreams of a terrifying nature. He woke up many times that night, sweating profusely despite the cold, unable to recall what exactly he had dreamt that he had awoken so violently, and feeling extremely unsettled, his heart beating rapidly, chest heaving up and down, gasping for breath. When daybreak came he looked worse than he ever had. But he was also feeling hungry, after having eaten next to nothing for more than a day, so he hurriedly washed himself and dressed in fresh clothes, went down for breakfast.

Boromir, Legolas and Gimli were already there, planning their day out. Boromir was planning to check on his troops posted on the outlying areas of the city. These were his own men, handpicked by him, having fought at his side often in the past. Gimli and Legolas were planning a foray into Ithilien, and the three friends were attempting to see how far they could ride out together. When he reached the table, Boromir glanced up and smiled warmly at him, which caused Faramir to heave a silent sigh of relief.

“You slept off early yesterday. I was worried,” the elder man chided, “and the servants said you had not eaten all day.”

Faramir reached for some bread, and shrugged, “I had some food with Mablung,” he said vaguely. He knew Boromir was worried about him, but he wished he’d display that worry away from other people. Aragorn entered when they had almost finished, and looking up in greeting, Faramir felt like a knife was being twisted through him. He suddenly remembered he had had a recurrent dream last night, which he was unable to recall. What he did recall now was that Aragorn was involved in it somehow, and that it had caused him great worry.

“I shall take your leave now, Aragorn,” Boromir said rising, “I must leave early for the day ahead is long.”

“And we shall leave too,” Gimli announced as he and Legolas rose, “It is a fair ride to Ithilien at least for me, on that stubborn horse!”

Aragorn sighed dramatically, “And I shall sit indoors all day poring over dusty treaties and peace agreements!”

Faramir spent a substantial part of the morning ensuring that all the supplies required for his troops had been organized, and stood ready for dispatch. And all the while he kept racking his brain and trying to remember what exactly he had dreamt, that made him feel so uneasy, and why it made him worry for Aragorn. By noon, he was completely on edge, even the tiniest noise almost made him jump, and his nerves were screaming with an indescribable tension.

He finished off his work and walked back towards the palace, still feeling edgy and unreasonably nervous. Something was wrong. He had no idea what but something was certainly most terribly wrong. And somehow it involved the king. He entered the palace through the wide doors, and the uneasiness intensified. Stopping mid-stride on his way to his chambers, he quickly made up his mind, and stopping a servant inquired about the king’s whereabouts, to be told he was in his study. He did not think he would be at peace until he had seen for himself that Aragorn was all right. And he did need to apologise for his terrible behaviour the day before. It was about time he did.

Aragorn however was not inside his study. He was standing instead on the long, large balcony that opened out from a number of rooms and offered a view of the Pelennor stretching out below the remaining levels of the city. Faramir stepped into one of the halls that opened into the balcony and strode towards it. Aragorn stood looking out at the view, his guard nowhere to be seen. Faramir knew from experience that Aragorn insisted he would not have his guard cloistered around him when he was the house. He stood at the entranceway and looked at the older man, marvelling once again at the excellent physique, and the handsome face, that could be both grave and relaxed. Aragorn truly looked like the kings of old, noble of face and bearing, capable of strength and sympathy both, his Númenórean blood ensuring that he looked much younger than he actually was.

Looking at his king, Faramir felt himself tensing up. Something was wrong, he knew that for sure. But what could it be?

“Sire,” he said hesitantly, stepping out into the open and Aragorn turned around sharply.  The swishing sound cutting through the air was all the warning that Faramir’s overwrought mind needed. He lunged at Aragorn immediately and pushed him to the ground covering his liege’s body with his own. In the ensuing confusion all that remained clear was the intense pain overwhelming his senses.

Aragorn stood in the balcony enjoying the opportunity to be out in the open after a day spent entirely inside the walls of his study. The sun had made a token appearance through the clouds for a short while and he intended to take full advantage of it. He was going to have a lot of work to do the next few days, reconciling some of the more stubborn old members of the council to the fact that they could attempt for peace with their old enemies. After spending all this while poring over paperwork, he really wanted to go out, perhaps riding, but there was still a little work left with Lord Mardinel from his council. He was wondering whether he should invite Faramir on a ride, after he finished with that. He found himself getting more and more intrigued by the younger man. Whatever could be troubling him so much? He had wondered if he should broach the subject with Boromir, but decided that that would be going out of line. Instead he decided he would have a go at it himself. With a sharp agile mind along with adept skills as a soldier, the young ranger had him decidedly impressed.

The soft voice cut through his reverie, and he swung around in surprise, as the subject of his thoughts suddenly entered the balcony. Something whizzed by his shoulder, and in a shock he realised it was an arrow, and if he hadn’t turned it would have gone straight through his heart. Without warning, he felt himself being pushed down, and instinctively readied himself to fall on his back on the hard stone floor, ensuring he kept his head away from the surface, his cry of surprise muffled by the weight of the body covering him. Somewhere he heard the sound of more arrows, and he knew they had impacted with something but he felt no pain save that from his back hitting the floor.

In the distance, cries and shouts rang out, as he lay winded and half-dazed trying to recover his breath, his eyes closed as his mind tried to process what had occurred. He was lying on the floor and someone was atop him. Someone who lay unmoving. Soft hair pressed against his jaw and neck, and a scent akin to heather wafted up to his nose. Warm breaths of air hit his chest and shoulder at alarmingly rapid intervals. He put his hands on the weight to push it away, and felt the warm liquid on his fingers. Alarmed, his eyes flew open to the sight of the arrow protruding from the shoulder of the slender figure lying protectively over him. He felt the blood from a second wound on Faramir’s side trickle through the soft cloth of the tunic onto his fingers.

NB: Please do not distribute (by any means, including email) or repost this story (including translations) without the author's prior permission. [ more ]

Enjoyed this story? Then be sure to let the author know by posting a comment at https://www.faramirfiction.com/fiction/the-king-and-the-ranger. Positive feedback is what keeps authors writing more stories!

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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