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Fresh Fuel for Charred Coal (R) Print

Written by Hurinhouse

15 January 2010 | 4894 words

[ all pages ]

Title: Fresh Fuel for Charred Coal
Author: hurinhouse
Pairing: Boromir/Faramir , Boromir/Aragorn, Denethor
Rating: G-R over all
Warning: AU
Summary: Boromir evolves
A sequel to Without Air, Fire Does Not Burn, the prequel to which is here

A/N notes: Bálin is pronounced Bay-lin… unless my elfish research is crap, which is entirely probable.

Part 1

The ropes dug into his prisoner’s wrists. Good. His skin was still soggy, but it didn’t help his attempts at escape. Not that Faramir would be much use in stopping him this eve.

“How many men did you lose?”

“They’re not my men. They come and go as they please, unlike yours.”

Faramir toed the barrel the man sat on so that he had to scramble not to fall over backward.
“How many?”

“I know not. Per’aps six, which leaves us ‘alf as strong.”

Fara could barely imagine having only a dozen men to manage, except while in fair Ithilien, though it was rare he had time to inspect there.

“Your country appreciates your assistance, whatever the motive.”

Bálin held up his bound hands, tangled in the blanket he was wrapped in. “Aye, yer ‘ospitality is top rate.”

Faramir dropped onto a barrel and rubbed his still damp hair. His arms ached from the swim. The rest of him ached from the fall. They’d trekked as far as they’d been able from Osgiliath before he ordered tents erected.

He watched Bálin squirm within the ropes, still beautiful after one and twenty years. It hadn’t taken the bastard long to become something of a legend in the wild after he’d left. Rumors grew each year of the band of renegades led by the man with the scarred cheek and eyes of spring grass. Faramir had known in his heart it was Bálin, now finally had confirmation.

He didn’t bother to hide the bitterness in his voice, “There is still the matter that you were trespassing, not to mention that you are known outlaws.”

Bálin jumped up, rage in his eyes, “Without these outlaws you and your man would still be at the bottom of the river.”

Faramir shivered and he saw Bálin echo him. It had been a day of terror that took fifty seven men from Faramir’s own company. All brave, experienced men, frozen in fright. It would take weeks to recover all the bodies, if they could find a place to cross the river again before orcs spoiled them.

“A score, Bálin. An entire score of years since you left.” He kept his voice low, knowing Bálin’s guard stood outside.

“Aye. Thought ye’d be ‘appy I ain’t selling me body.”

“Your thieving and lying haven’t changed.”

“We don’t steal from the starving.”

“No, just from your country’s armed forces. Is that how you happened upon us this day? Searching for something to pilfer?”

Bálin looked toward the ground as he used the blanket to rub his damp hair. Faramir stood, loomed closer to him. He supposed his intention was as a threat, but he just wanted to grab Bálin, to remind him…

“Why did you leave, Bálin?”

Bálin shrugged indifferently. It seemed to Faramir that he was reining in discomfort at Faramir’s closing proximity. “Became tiresome, trudging about, nanny to a royal.”

He grabbed Bálin by the arms, pulled him close. He could feel a sudden filling below, “Why are you lying?”

“Not so. Ye were slowing me business down.”

Faramir leaned his hips against the other man’s, rotated. “So you left your business, too?”

Bálin panicked, struggled to get away, little leverage with bound hands. “Why, Bálin?”

Bálin shoved forward with his forearms, “We cannot!”


Bálin butt his forehead into Faramir, who let go of him and the bound man stumbled backward. In that moment Bálin cleanly slipped his mask back into place, tilted his palms up as if weighing two pieces of a puzzle, a mocking grin on his lips, “Royalty. Whore. Not a smooth brew.”

Faramir stared at Bálin, anger rushing up from within to warm his neck. He squeezed his hands to fists to prevent them flying.

“Tiron!” He yanked the canvas aside.


“Take the prisoner.”

The hawk woke him, shrill voice bawling at the pre-dawn come too soon, the darkest hour before they’d see a glimmer of light. He’d never been so grateful to be awoken early. The shaking in his hands subsided slowly and he was chilled from the sweat dampening his clothes. A fever surely, so soon after near-drowning. That would explain why he hadn’t kept awake long enough to escape last evening. He looked at the ground beside him. Aromas was in a sound sleep.

It must have been the fiends in the sky that sent forth such a dooming dream. Isildur. Bálin thought he’d heard that name before, couldn’t place it. He shuddered and prayed he’d not have a repeat of the nightmare. He wasn’t devout, mind, in fact, he figured the Gods were something old professors created to get pupils to behave; after a thousand years the stories would seem as fact to most. But the dream hadn’t been natural, so better to play the part in case the Valar were authentic; and watching.

The foul creatures last eve had chased them down as if they were rabbits, and the winged beasts they rode upon brought back memories of terrors he’d thought were buried. He’d asked his comrades to stay and fight with him, with the soldiers they’d planned to rob, but only Aromas remained, the fear of the others worse than even his own. When they’d fell the bridge, relief washed over him. Briefly.

“Mablung!” His brother’s voice called out through the neighboring tent. His brother. He’d been close enough to smell him last evening, his scent the same as it’d been twenty years past, breaking through the stench of river mire and blood and whiskey. Gods how he wanted to throw him down and ravage him, grind into him, any misdeed that would be deemed immoral and wicked, qualities he’d never minded before.


“Have a small party prepare for Minas Tirith within the hour. Include my mount.”

“Shall the prisoners walk, Sir? They’ll slow us down, but I’d hardly trust them with our stock.” Bálin’s teeth ground tight at the thought of getting near a horse.

“Set them loose.”

“The prisoners? Didn’t you wish to interrogate them once more?”

“I have no further use of them.”

The silence hung in the air, cutting into Bálin’s chest, before the sergeant replied with a curt, “Sir” and Bálin heard him trudge across the stones.

Faramir’s voice had been heavy with guilt and regret. Odd how that gripped Bálin in the gut. He’d buried all those fickle burdens long ago.

The weak sun peaked over Mindolluin, just enough for Faramir to pack his saddlebags. They’d used fire sparingly. The lofted beings were not stopped by the loss of the bridge, and the men could not fend off a second attack.

His mind drifted back to the dream, last evening the third recurrence. He’d sent messengers ahead to report the loss of the bridge before collapsing to his cot, had planned to follow midday with a full account in person. But this time the vision carried an urgency he could not place. I must speak to Father.

As he’d drifted off with three hours till dawn, he’d had visions of tying Bálin to the pole of his tent, forcing him to speak his mind. But in the light of day he knew there was no corralling fire, and Faramir had not the strength to try, nor the time.

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4 Comment(s)

oh, great!!!
I am in utterly impatience about next sequel… I am simply crushed and have no words.
Thank you!

— Anastasiya    Friday 15 January 2010, 17:53    #

thank you so much for your kind feedback. i am working on the next set now – not sure when it’ll be done. i’m glad you’re enjoying it. thanks!

— hurinhouse    Saturday 16 January 2010, 14:16    #

Ooh, I am very interested in what happens next. An interesting weave of characters.

— Bell Witch    Monday 18 January 2010, 6:50    #

thank you so much. i hope faramir fans aren’t too bored – we will see more of him in the next set.

— hurinhouse    Tuesday 19 January 2010, 3:49    #

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