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Hostages to peace (G) Print

Written by Lille Mermeid

30 April 2010 | 7018 words

Title: Hostages to peace
Author: Lille Mermeid
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Faramir & OMCs
NB: Betaed by me

When negotiations with Harad are about to begin, an exchange of hostages is called and Faramir must leave Gondor for a while.
This story is dedicated to Anastasija to thank her for her support.


“Hostages? Nobody talked about hostages. What for? Do you think that a king’s word means so little to need to enforce it with hostages?” King Aragorn asked to the Haradrim ambassador during the preparation of the negotiations to be held between Gondor and Harad.

“It’s a custom between our tribes when starting negotiations to ensure a proper conduct by both parties to have some dear to the negotiator’s heart,” Baras replied. “A man’s word is important, but there have been times when other reasons had mattered more. An exchange of hostages may be a way to avoid such a temptation for both parties.”

“And who your king thinks to send as a hostage?”

“His youngest daughter, Princess Mariam. She’s really dear to his heart because she’s the only girl in a male household.”

“I don’t have children, yet and my queen is with child and I won’t send her in her condition, not even for the sake of your king’s peace of mind.”

“My King has expected your answer, my Lord, and he had suggested to send Lord Faramir. From what we had seen, he’s your friend, as well as your Steward and he will have no problem to travel to Harad.”

“I will think about this, Ambassador Baras and in the morning you will have my answer. Please send my attendant in when you leave.”

The Ambassador nodded and complied.

“Please, sit down, Faramir. I have an important matter to discuss with you that had been raised the Haradrim ambassador,” the King said at the arrival of his steward. “He said that in order to ensure the keeping of the promises, there have to be an exchange of hostages.”

“I’ve read of this custom, but since we never really had an occasion to negotiate before with the Haradrim it was never enforced,” Faramir replied. “Who did they or you have in mind?”

“You.”

“Me? I wonder if I should be flattered. It’s a clever move on their part. I am your chief counsellor and this would put them in a better position during the negotiations.”

“I had thought about this, but also that this may be a convoluted way to have their revenge on you for the losses suffered at the hands of your rangers.”

“You fought them at Cormallen, they should want revenge from you too.”

“I am the king, a bit more difficult to have as a hostage.”

“I am the steward and I think that they may assume that my death at their hands would be an insult to be washed with blood.”

“That’s what I thought, too. They are going to send the youngest daughter of the King, Princess Mariam.”

“She could stay with Éowyn. With me gone, there will be less problems of propriety. If you agree to this exchange, I will talk to her.”

“You don’t mind?” Aragorn asked, forgetting for a moment that there was something that he wanted to ask about Éowyn.

“I do mind, but this peace is important. If the price is a travel to Harad, so be it. Just keep them short, so I will not be away from home too much.”

“Tomorrow I will report my decision to the Ambassador. Tonight we will dine together with our wives and we will talk about this.”

“See you later then.”

Faramir went to his rooms in the Citadel and found Éowyn at her desk writing a report for her job in rebuilding the gardens and the stables in Minas Tirith. She smiled at him and Faramir thought that the room had become brighter.

“Good evening my love, I have an important thing to discuss with you,” the Steward said, knowing that even if he had given his liege his consent, he had to ask his wife’s, too, because the decision would affect both their lives.

“Please, do tell.”

“The Haradrim ambassador asked for an exchange of hostages to ensure the keeping of the word during the negotiations to be held and they asked for me to travel to Harad.”

“Why you?”

“Because the King cannot send Arwen who is with child and they know that I am a friend of his. Not to mention to have probably the upper hand when his chief counsellor is not present. If Aragorn agrees, they will send their king’s youngest daughter.”

“What does Aragorn think of this? What do you think of this?”

“Aragorn was not thrilled, but he asked my opinion. Peace is important and while I don’t like the idea of being away from you and especially in Harad, I think that I should go, but only if you agree.”

Éowyn was torn between anger and joy. Anger for the request made by the Haradrim and joy for the fact that Faramir, despite being in the position to decide by himself, had asked her opinion.

“While I don’t want you to go either, I think that you should go. But please, for my sake, don’t you ever think to risk your life when you are away. I think I would not stand it.”

“I know and I will not. There’s another thing that I would like to ask. Would you mind having the Haradrim princess with you, here? Staying here with you, without me around, would be a solution to keep an eye upon her and not needing someone else to protect her virtue.”

“I would mind if someone is to happen to you because of her people. I cannot guarantee that I will not kill her.”

“I ask you not to do so, because she will not be the one to blame but her sire. If you think to have your revenge on someone, please let it be on him.”

“He would be harder to reach.”

“I don’t think that the woman who killed the Witch-King would have problems in killing a mere mortal king. But let us not speak about these negative things. Everything is going to be all right and I will be back to you sooner than you think.”

“Be sure of doing so, or I will travel to Harad to search for you.”

“And I will expect no less. The King and the Queen will expect us tonight for dinner to discuss about the whole matter.”

“So it’s better that I go and change. I’ve been in these clothes all day.”

“I think the royal couple will appreciate,” Faramir jested while giving his wife a kiss on her hair.

The dinner in the royal rooms was a family affair, as it always was when no guest was present. Both couples had become friends and in those occasions they shed protocol to just being themselves. After the repast ended, they all seated on the wide armchair close to the fireplace and faced the subject that they had avoided during the meal.

“What do you think Éowyn about the request made by the Haradrim?” Aragorn asked.

“If I was to answer with my heart, I would answer not in my lifetime, but they have a point and choosing Faramir is a wise move, for them and for us. He’s strong and will not suffer the journey and while he will be there he could understand more about the Haradrims. This may be useful anyway. If the negotiations are successful this will help to improve mutual relationships, if they fail, we can use the knowledge against them. And, the Valar forbid, should they decide to resort to treason, his cunning is enough to ensure that he will be able to try and escape, while you arrange a rescue party for him.”

“I hadn’t thought so thoroughly at the situation but you are right,” Aragorn replied. “I am not happy about the arrangement because I’d prefer to have Faramir close, but his observing skills might be useful in Harad, too. That reminds me that I need someone to be on my side during negotiations. Éowyn, would you mind assisting me in this?”

Éowyn was both bemused and proud at the king’s request.

“It will be my pleasure, Aragorn if you deem that I could be of help.”

“I wouldn’t have asked, my friend, if I didn’t mean it. Your diplomatic skills are well-known and if the King of Rohan had used them, I will follow him and use them, too.”

“This is a very good idea. She’s not from Gondor, so she will have less bad memories about the Haradrims and they will have less towards her. There have been a tradition of treason between Gondor and Harad and a stranger may be of help,” Arwen added.

“I think this will work.” Faramir continued reflecting on the queen’s words “And being the sister of the King of Rohan, will remind the Haradrims that Gondor has mighty allies.”

“You make me feel superfluous,” Faramir added with a grin, to take the stings out of his words.

“That’s not true, of course. We’re just making the best of a negative situation,” Aragorn replied.

“What about the princess? Where will she will be hosted’” Arwen asked.

“We thought that she could stay with Éowyn, but since she’s going to come with you, she could stay with Arwen. With you at the negotiation table, her virtue should appear safer to her family,” Faramir added.

“Sometimes I think that I should avoid the councillors I have to deal with everyday and just rely on us four to have the wisest ideas. They all seem to rant endlessly and without purpose. We had dealt with an important problem in less time that would have been necessary for them to decide what to drink at dinner,” Aragorn observed with a grin.

“We should not let them think that they are useless, even if this is the truth. They might decide to go somewhere else and bring havoc to Gondor. The council is a safer environment to keep them in the same place and spare Gondor from further destruction,” Faramir said unkindly.

“You are right, my friend, as always. I would send them to Harad, but that would mean war and I couldn’t fault the Haradrims for that.”

The two couples laughed until they had tears in their eyes.

The next day, at the ambassador returned, he was informed that the exchange of hostages had been accepted but with a condition: “Please tell to your king that should something occur to my steward it’s not his daughter to suffer for this, but him,” Aragorn said with a seriousness that made the ambassador nod in agreement.

The negotiations and the exchange of hostages were scheduled to take place in two weeks and the day before the departure, Faramir was preparing his luggage helped by Éowyn.

“When I was a ranger I used to bring a small bag and that was enough. Now I need a pack horse,” the Steward observed with chagrin.

“That is because you cannot travel to Harad with only the clothes on your back, a comb and a razor. You must represent Gondor and that takes formal clothes and the like. Not to mention a few books, or you will wither away from sheer boredom,” Éowyn replied.

“You are right, but ranger’s clothes are so much more comfortable. Since it’s warmer than here, I think I should choose something light. Otherwise I will have to ask our friends to borrow some of their fancy tunics.”

“Be careful not to end up in a dungeon, where you will need warmer clothes.”

“I will be on my best behaviour, for the sake of Gondor and for my desire to return to you.”

“And if you aren’t, you can always pick-up the lock.”

Arriving at the place where the negotiations were going to have place, Aragorn marvelled at the beauty of the pavilion built by the Haradrims. It looked like a small palace of silk.

“Do you think that they will let us bring that wonderful fabric in Minas Tirith after the negotiations?” Faramir observed after a while “It could fetch a nice price and we could use the money to rebuild half a level of the Citadel.”

“I will ask,” the King replied, smiling at his friend’s good humour, something that seldom surfaced, but that was really sharp.

It has been agreed upon that the exchange would have been the first thing to happen and the Gondorian party went toward the assembled Haradrim.

The Southern King, Nadras was there, his heir Ured, and the young princess Mariam. She was a girl of average height, with long curly hair and dressed in flowing orange robes. She looked wary, but her eyes were really similar to her father’s, dark and intelligent. Éowyn looked at her and thought about the feeling of the girl about her role as hostage. Was she angry, afraid or curious?

Greetings were exchanged and the hostages were taken into custody by an adversary guard. When one of the Haradrim soldier approached Faramir with shackles Aragorn objected: “What is the meaning of the shackles? Do you want to bring my Steward to Harad in chains?”

“He’s known to be a cunning and dangerous soldier,” the Haradrim prince replied.

“Would you like to have your sister enter Minas Tirith in chains in front of the whole town?”

“But she’s a woman.”

“Forgive me but this doesn’t mean a thing. My Steward’s wife, Lady Éowyn of Rohan who will help me in the negotiations is a shield-maiden of Rohan and she killed the Witch-King. Prince Faramir shall not be chained, unless you wish to see your sister in the same condition. If you don’t agree, these negotiations are going to end here and now.”

Aragorn’s words sounded serious and Nadras agreed with a nod. The shackles were put away and Faramir followed the Haradrim guard on his horse and the pack-horse. He smiled at Éowyn, bowed his head to Aragorn and rode away. A small Haradrim horse was brought for the princess and she mounted with grace, while a pony was brought with her belongings during her stay in Gondor.

When both hostages were on their separate ways, the negotiations entered the silk pavilion.

Faramir could feel the distrust from his escort wafting as a scent. He couldn’t really fault them for this, because what bad blood existed between the two realms, in the last years had been due also to him and his rangers. He felt naked without his weapons, but while Aragorn had saved him from going to Harad in chains, would not mean that they were eager to have him around armed. Especially not with a bow that was well-known for its accuracy. Since nobody seemed prone to talk to him, he observed the Haradrim. Their horses were smaller than those from Rohan, but it was said that they were fast. His own, a gift from Éomer, seemed a giant among them, but Faramir suspected that could be outrun by a few of the smaller horses. The silent travel was not uncomfortable, because gave the steward the occasion to do something he liked to do, observing his surroundings and riding without a pressing matter to attend for a while.

“If I have to be a hostage, let’s at least enjoy the journey,” he thought smiling to himself, while approaching to his destination.

When they stopped at noon to let the horses rest and have dinner, Faramir rummaged in his bags and retrieved a hat. The sun was shining brightly and he knew from experience that he had to protect his face from its glare. It could do nothing to prevent freckles, but a sunburn was not something he was looking forward to. The guards gave him part of their rations and he ate something he had never tasted before. The taste was uncommon, but not bad and the steward counted himself lucky.

One of the men was looking at him and his black eyes shone with hatred. When he spoke, the insult was heavy. The man was stunned when Faramir replied in the language: “I know that you hate me for the part I had in the war, but your warriors killed many of my people. These negotiations are important and if we cannot at least try and forget the past, the blood will continue to flow. Is that that you really want?”

The Haradrim did not reply, but he stopped glaring at Faramir.

They travelled the rest of the day and they made camp in the evening close to a stream. Faramir took care of his horse, while the Haradrims did the same. They ate around the campfire and it was the first time that the warriors of his escort began to talk among themselves. The Steward knew their language, but not extensively, so he was able to understand just the concept, if not all the words that were exchanged. They talked about their homes and families and Faramir was reminded once again of the similarities of the lives of men of Middle Earth. Their faces were different, so were their hair and languages but at the bottom of their hearts, the feelings were the same all over. That thought gave him hopes for the outcome of the negotiations.

The Haradrim princess was stunned to see Arwen. Mariam had read about the elves, but she had thought them a legend. Now watching the Queen of Gondor in person, left her speechless. She looked so young, and yet so timeless, as the ocean. And her voice was like a song. The travel to this strange country, she thought, was proving to be really interesting.

The first day of negotiations had gone quiet well. While nothing important has been achieved, Aragorn had the impression that a bridge had been built between the two realms on their way to peace. Sauron had made use of the Haradrims before and during the war, but he had the sensation that once the influence of the darkness has gone, the Southrons had discovered that war was not such an interesting goal any more. As well as every other race, they had lost lives and harvests and trading in times of peace could be more productive that raiding during the war. Éowyn had proved a skilled diplomat and like her husband she was really good at making the right questions at the right moment. She had also rebuked the young prince when he had tried to dismiss her words because of her gender. Ured had been visibly aggrieved by her answer, but his father had calmed him without words.

Faramir’s travel ended two days later in a small town surrounded by a wood fence. The streets were narrow, but colourful because every house was painted in a different colour, so unlike Minas Tirith and Her white stone. His guards stopped in front of a bigger house with a small tower and he was ushered inside. A man in his sixties, with a grey beard and black eyes greeted the Steward of Gondor.

“Good evening to you, Faramir of Gondor. My name is Ibrah and I welcome you to Sairas, out nice little town. I am the major, as well as the commander of the garrison. You will be my guest for the duration.”

“Good evening to you, Master Ibrah. I thank you for your welcome and for you hospitality.”

“I think I can assume that you are tired from your journey. Your rooms are ready and you will find a bath waiting for you and when you are ready, we can dine, if you want.”

“Thank you very much. This will be much appreciated.”

The rooms prepared by the Haradrims were comfortable, even if their style was so unlike to everything Faramir was accustomed to. The furniture was made of black wood. A wide and tall bed stood proudly in the middle of the room at the top of the tower with draperies and covers in rich white, blue and gold. There was also a bookshelf with a lot of books. Someone had done his homework, the Steward thought, while putting his own books in a free section of the piece of furniture.

Ibrah proved to be a gracious host for Faramir. The man had been a warrior, but an injury had put an end to his fighting days and now he was the commander of the garrison in his home-town. His air of kind joviality hid a sharp mind and Faramir knew that this was a man not to underestimate. Ibrah spoke Westron, but Faramir asked him to speak Haradrim in order to improve his knowledge of the language and the man smiled at the request. A few Haradrim’s books were added at the small collection in the Steward’s room and he began to collect more information about the people he had known only in times of war. The commander had a wife, Sara, a woman built with the same soft lines of her husband. She treated him and all the other young men of the garrison like an indulgent mother. She was a good cook and since she thought that Faramir was too thin, she always tried to tempt him with her dishes. When the Steward talked about the hobbits and their appetite, Sara looked sad at the thought that they would not taste her cooking.

Negotiations reminded Aragorn of a complicated dance, where everyone must move carefully in order not to tread on someone else’s toes. Narad was an intelligent man who knew this particular dance and worked hard to get the best for his people. His son was smart, too, but lacked patience and he and Éowyn argued frequently. The White Lady of Rowan proved a valuable asset with her sharp mind and knowledge of the problems of a kingdom, not to mention a lot of experience in dealing with strong willed young men. It was a good thing that she was on his side, Aragorn thought with an inner grin.

When Faramir saw an increase in the activity in the town from his window, he wondered what was happening. When Ibrah answered that it was the annual fair, the Gondorian’s expression of longing must have given him away, because the Haradrim asked him if he was interested to go.

“Will I be allowed to go?”

“If you give me your word that you will not escape, you may go, with my family and me.”

“I will be happy to go, but I don’t want to cause you problems. I give you my word that I will not try and escape.”

“That’s all right for me. We will go in the afternoon. The fair is an important moment for this town.”

“In Minas Tirith, too, even if it’s been a while since the last one.”

“War kills many things, joy is one of them.”

A look of understanding passed between the two of them as they agreed upon the last details for the trip to the fair.

The wares sold were different, but the spirit of the market was the same. Faramir loved the mingling of several voices, the loud praise of the goods by the sellers, the comments from the buyers. He had been able to change his Gondor coins with the help of Ibrah who had prevented a money-changer to rip him off and now he was deciding what to buy. He choose a few different gifts for those he loved, ending up with his hands full of packages and a smile on his face. Ibrah and Sara had the same problem, having bought lots of presents for their grandchildren. They all decided to hire a couple of boys and have them bring their purchases back to the garrison. When Faramir arrived at the stall of a bow-maker, he couldn’t resist and looked through the wide range of weapons offered. Harad bows were different from those used by the Elves or the rangers and the Steward looked at them with a professional eye. The ones on show were a bit bigger than those used in the forests of Ithilien, where he used to roam, more suited for fighting from a horse, where the additional weight and size wouldn’t be a problem. Ibrah had followed him and was admiring the weapons, too.

“May I try one Ibrah? Just the string, without an arrow? I don’t want to put you in an awkward position.”

“You are an honourable man, Faramir of Gondor and I am glad for your consideration. You may try one and buy it, if you think it good enough for an archer such as you.”

Faramir smiled and asked to the seller if he could try one of the bows. The man nodded his assent and advised him about the most suitable for the Gondorian size and skills. The weapon was big and heavy, but very well balanced and Faramir felt that it suited him just fine. He purchased one and a few arrows to go with it that gave to Ibrah, while he carried the bow.

“Sometimes you are too cautious, my young friend, but I appreciate the thought. There are people around who bear no love for me or you, who would be very happy to see both of us in a lot of trouble,” the older man replied with a knowing smile, soon mirrored by Faramir’s.

Éowyn loved the challenge presented by the negotiations with the Haradrim. The king was a wise man, but his son was smart, too. He reminded her of Éomer, with a big heart that sometimes overruled his mind. The young man had not been happy to deal with a woman, at first, but he had soon changed his mind. They still argued a lot, but they agreed more than expected. If it weren’t for the fact that she missed Faramir, she would continue with the negotiations forever.

“I will miss Faramir when the negotiations will be over,” Ibrah said to his wife while they were getting ready for the night.

“Me, too. He’s so gentle that it’s difficult to believe his fame as a warrior,” Sara replied.

“He’s been a warrior because his duty was to defend his land, but he has the heart of a scholar. His exploits during the war spoke of cunning and strategy, more than blood-lust. The king was right in wanting him as hostage. His liege is surely missing him.”

“I just hope that we can start a new life without war. Both Harad and Gondor had paid too high a price until now. We need peace.”

“Now that the power of the darkness has been removed, we can hope and with men like Faramir, the odds are improving.”

“Sometimes I had wished that you deserved to be the commander of a better place, a greater garrison or more important, but the fact that this place has been deemed remote enough to host the Steward of Gondor has made this place special.”

“Yes, indeed it has,” Ibrah finally replied.

Faramir was in his bed, thinking. He had been lucky to be sent where he was. Ibrah was a good man and his kindness had helped to ease his captivity. While he was sure that he wouldn’t have been hurt, he knew that his condition could have been a lot worse. In his life as a ranger, he had developed a taste for freedom that was difficult to give up. Aragorn had once told him of a conversation he had had with Éowyn. She told him of her fear of a cage and this was someone to which Faramir could relate. Even if there were people who preferred less freedom and less responsibility, he was of a different opinion and so was his wife. A cage were still a cage, even if the bars were made of the purest gold.

The end of the negotiation came nearly as a surprise. They had lasted for nearly a month and when everything has been decided, Aragorn and Éowyn looked at each other in surprise. They had become a team, they had thought, negotiated, argued side by side, for the sake of peace and Gondor and now it was over.

It had been a hard task, but satisfying. Yet, both of them missed their mates.

Even if news from Arwen had arrived frequently, it was not the same than hearing them from her voice. Even if he had been far from her for longer periods when he was a ranger, he had discovered that every separation was now harder. It was as if now that they lived together, their bond was vital to his well-being and not only because she was with child.

Faramir was going to come home and Éowyn couldn’t wait to see him again. This had been the first time they had been apart for so long after their marriage and she felt as she had missed a piece of her heart, held in his hands for safekeeping. Now she only needed to have him back, safe and unhurt. Woe betide everyone who had harmed him.

They would not escape the wrath of the wild Shieldmaiden of Rohan who had killed the Witch-King and his winged beast.

News of the end of the negotiations had reached the little town where Faramir had been kept. Ibrah had informed that he was to return to Gondor soon and had invited to dine with his family one more time. During the meal, the older man told Faramir that he was going to accompany him for part of the journey. Faramir was glad for the opportunity not to say his farewell too soon to a man he had started to regard as a friend. The Steward began to pack his belongings, old and new. He had acquired new books to complement his library and he had gifted a couple of those he had brought from Gondor to Ibrah. Sara had cried when had said her farewell and gave him a small package for Éowyn. She kissed him on the cheek like a mother would and Faramir felt the sweet sting of tears welling in his eyes. When the party left town, the Steward gave a last look at the small town that had been his home for a short while and spurred his horse toward Gondor and Éowyn.

Mariam had been informed that the negotiations were over and she was torn about the feeling of relief for her return to her family, and the sorrow to leave Minas Tirith and the queen. Arwen had been like the sister she had never had and the Haradrim princess had learnt a lot about the realm of Gondor and its people. She had discovered that men and women were very much alike in both countries. Under the surface, desires and hopes were similar. The longing for peace was the same, as well as the pain suffered because of war and violence. At the beginning she had been afraid of this journey to a strange land, among strangers who had been enemies for so long, but now she was glad she was chosen to be the hostage. Her so-called captivity had proved to be an unexpected gift.

Travelling back to Gondor was a merrier affair for Faramir than the previous voyage. The people chosen by Ibrah to accompany them were soldiers the Steward had known personally and the respect paid to him by their commander helped to put the bad feelings aside. Since they were returning to Gondor, Faramir was allowed to keep his new bow handy, in order to test it. He trained with the Haradrim soldiers and they taught him how to make use of its different size. In return, he taught them a few tricks of his own and after a while there was a friendly banter about who was the better archer. Ibrah watched them from afar and was glad of the turn of event. He liked Faramir a lot and was glad that his men liked him, too, but this wasn’t the only reason. From a political point of view, this journey of one of the second most powerful

man in Gondor to Harad had been very important and the fact that the Steward was such an intelligent man didn’t hurt, either. He had been presented the reality of Harad that he had never been able to witness before. The knowledge gained in the war was important, but now men needed to discover each other in peace. Ibrah knew that his king was a wise man and his decision about the hostages had proved a good one. A new hope was blossoming in Middle-Earth and the old soldier was glad to be present to witness this new age about to begin.

Arwen had been intrigued by the young Haradrim princess. The girl was young, even for men standard, and yet she had a deepness of feeling and a keen intelligence that belied her age. With her dark eyes and tanned skin she was dark, as Arwen was fair and yet they had developed an unexpected friendship. The ageless elleth and the young maiden had discovered to have a lot in common and they had decided to keep in touch, even after the end of the negotiations. Now that peace was around the corner, contacts between the two realms were going to be more frequent and they had promised to keep in touch with letters. The elven queen smiled at the new hope blossoming in Middle-Earth and was glad that the child who was growing in her belly was going to witness it.

A sound in the otherwise silent night woke Faramir. He tried to concentrate on what he had heard and he was able to distinguish the sound of paws, muted by the soft earth. The Gondorian got up stealthily and went toward his horse, tied to a tree nearby. He took his Haradrim bow and nocked an arrow. The weapon was ready when the warg emerged from the darkness of the night. The beast was huge and very close to the sleeping men who had started to stir. The monster was about to jump on the closest victim when Faramir shoot. His arrow caught the warg in the right eye and the fell beast fell down with a loud thump, dead. All the camps erupted in voices and calls when the men woke up at once. Ibrah was one of the first to assess the situation. He saw the body of the warg, with the Haradrim arrow protruding from the eye and following its direction, he spotted Faramir with the bow still in his hands.

“I think that we have now discovered who is the best archer of this party. My thanks to you, Faramir of Gondor. You have saved our hides,” Ibrah said with a smile and a bow of admiration for the younger man. The Steward replied with a smile of his own and put the bow away. While some of the men took the warg away from the camp, other checked the surroundings for other threats but it was soon clear that the beast had been alone. They also discovered that the young soldier who had been on guard, was unconscious at the foot of a tree, having stumbled on a root during his check of the perimeter. He woke up with a headache and a lump on his head, but apart from this, he was fine enough to suffer the teasing for having managed to knock himself out. After a while, the men returned to sleep, another guard was appointed and everyone else returned to sleep, right after having thanked the Gondorian warrior for his feat.

Faramir and his escort arrived at the place of the negotiations at dusk. The Steward of Gondor tried unsuccessfully to stay calm and collected while watching the camp that looked ready to be taken down. His gaze went to the tend hosting the Gondorian party and gasped when he saw a blond head peaking out from the entrance. Ibrah watched the expression on Faramir’s face and grinned. The younger man seemed torn between property and etiquette, and the undeniable desire to greet his wife.

“Ibrah, would you mind…” he started asking and the Haradrim replied: “Go to your wife, my friend. She matters more than protocol. I don’t think our kings will start a war about this.”

He hadn’t finished to speak, that Faramir dismounted from the horse in a flash and ran toward the silken pavillion. When Éowyn registered the movement, her face lighted up and she started running, too. The couple met and Faramir gave his wife in a might hug and swept her in his arms. They kissed until everybody around them started to cheer and whistle.

“How much I had missed you love,” Éowyn said breathlessly roaming her eyes above the face she had missed more than she could have thought. “But you have freckles,” she exclaimed and kissed Faramir lightly of the tip of the nose.

“It can be helped. Boromir used to tease me a lot about this. Do you like my anyway?”

“Of course my lord husband. I like anyway I can get you.”

“How did negotiations go?”

“Wonderfully. I think we made a great step toward peace. And you, how do you fare?”

“Good, very good. I was really well taken care of. There’s some I would like you to meet.”

Faramir took Éowyn by the hand and went to Ibrah. The Haradrim has dismounted and greeted the White Lady of Rohan with a smile and a bow. Éowyn bow her head in respect, while Faramir made the presentation.

“My dear Éowyn, this is Ibrah, major and commander of the garrison of Sairas. He made my stay in Harad very comfortable and interesting. I couldn’t have had a better host. Ibrah, this is my wife, Éowyn of Rohan, Princess of Ithilien and most of all of my heart.”

“I thank you very much Master Ibrah for having taken care of my husband. I can see that he’s in good health and cheerful and for that I am glad. Welcome to Gondor.”

“I am the one the thank you, my Lady. I had the luck to be bestowed with the honour to host him and he was a welcome addition to my household. He proved his worth with his knowledge of lore and reading, not to mention his prowess with a bow. When we were returning, he saved us all killing a warg with a single arrow. Hadn’t he woken, we would probably never arrive.”

Éowyn blanched at the men’s words, then looked at Faramir.

“The appointed sentinel had an accident and couldn’t warn us. Luckily I woke up and used my new Haradrim bow to kill the fell beast. We will have a new fur carpet, courtesy of a stray warg,” Faramir replied at her silent inquire and was glad to see that Éowyn’s expression has relaxed. Once the presentations and explanations were over, Éowyn, Ibrah and Faramir returned to the tent to meet their kings. They stopped at the threshold and asked to the guards to be allowed in. When the request was accepted they got in and bowed respectfully to the King of Gondor and the King of Harad.

The two rulers was seated, side to side, onto two equal throne-like chairs. Aragorn smiled widely at his Steward. Faramir looked surprisingly good, with a light tan and freckles all over his smiling face, with Eorwyn holding his hand. Close to him there was a older Haradrim he didn’t know, but with an air of honesty and straightforwardness that the Gondorian king admired.

“Welcome back my Lord Steward. How was your sojourn in Harad?” Aragorn asked.

“Very good and interesting, especially thanks to Master Ibrah, the major and commander of the garrison of the town I was host.”

“I am glad that you found your stay in my country enjoyable,” Nadrah interjected, “I, too, wants to thank you Master Ibrah for your job in favour of the relationship between Harad and Gondor.”

“It was no hardship, my King. Lord Faramir was a most gracious guest and I am glad that my small town was chosen to host him.”

“Well. I am glad that this exchange of hostages proved to be so positive for all those involved. Tonight we will celebrate together the upcoming peace and tomorrow everything will start anew,” Aragorn concluded with a smile.

The party escorting the Princess Mariam arrived in time for the celebration. Arwen rode with them in a cart and her pregnancy had not taken away her grace and enhanced her beauty. Mariam helped her to go down from the cart and the Haradrim king was proud of his younger child. She had grown up in this month of separation, there was more dignity in her steps and she had a wide smile on her face, a smile mirrored on the beautiful face of the Elven queen. These negotiations had proved more than they were supposed to be and he thanked the Valar to have helped them to foresee the importance of peace. And his pride as a father as increased since both of his children involved in it had proved their worth and their intelligence. Urad had began to learn how to reign in his youthful exuberance, thanks also to the verbal sparring with the White Lady. She was fair, as she was strong, and the Kingdom of Gondor had acquired a real prise from their Allies of Rohan. Many of his counsellors hadn’t been too thrilled about this negotiations, and he couldn’t hide the fact that years and years of mistrust couldn’t be erased in a month. But the seed had been planted and the when there was hope, there was something to look forward, too. He had heard the the name the Elves had given the king the name Estel, Hope in Elvish.

They had known and he was glad for their job with this new king of men, because his kingdom was going to reap the fruits of their tutelage.

The Fourth Age had began and now that the darkness of Mordor had been defeated, there was place for peace, for life and for hope.

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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2 Comment(s)

What a wonderful story!
You know, as you asked my opinion about the theme of your new story I thought that it promisses to be as something tense, full of misunderstanding and struggle. But you did it again – you made me smile again and so many times!
Yes, I took great joy in reading this story, it’s simply very very fine!!!
Thank you!

— Anastassiya    Friday 30 April 2010, 17:00    #

Thank you for your praise.
When I write about Faramir, I discovered that I cannot see him suffer and I want him to be happy.

— Lille Mermeid    Friday 30 April 2010, 17:10    #

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