Home » Fiction


This story is rated «R», and carries the warnings «violence; not safe for work illustrations».
Since you have switched on the adult content filter, this story is hidden. To read this story, you have to switch off the adult content filter. [what's this?]

Remember that whether you have the adult content filter switched on or off, this is always an adults only site.

Shadows (R) Print

Written by Minx

12 December 2012 | 29219 words

Title: Shadows
Pairing: A/B, Faramir – no pairing
Summary – he war is over, Some things have changed and others have not. Everyone is slowly settling into their routines – some old, some new – of life, work, duties, family, friends and love. For Faramir life before the war was not easy, and he still needs to recover from all that he endured. But neither he nor those around him have realised that yet.

Written for this challenge on ruby_story_swap
Setting: Post RotK
Theme: Hurt/Comfort
Elements: PTSD
Event: Nobody, not even Boromir, knows just how bad Faramir’s childhood was. He has hidden it pretty well, but now that everything is straightening out after the Ring war, his mind decides it’s safe enough to deal with, whether Faramir wants to or not.


The darkness was receding, replaced by a pale glow. And then faint colours and shapes materialised. The harsh unidentifiable sounds faded away, replaced by gentle, almost musical notes. A soft, kind voice called out to him.


And then a whimpering sound that he realised emanated from his throat. He took a deep breath.

“He’s coming to…,” Aragorn said. He sounded tired and grim but relieved. Boromir darted out of his chair. He rushed to Faramir’s bedside, slumping down to his knee. He wanted to pull his brother into his arms and hold him close but Faramir was injured and he didn’t want to hurt him further. He brushed the sweaty strands of hair off his damp, pale face. The younger man’s eyes were still closed, but his breathing seemed less laboured, and the fever had clearly waned. He had stopped shifting restlessly now. Aragorn continued rubbing a cloth soaked in athelas water over the bare chest, moving carefully over the bruised portions.

Faramir let out a soft, shuddering moan and shifted, and then moaned again.

“Aragorn,” Boromir said worriedly.

“The poor lad, he’s still in pain,” Gandalf said quietly.

“He’ll be all right soon,” Aragorn soothed and moved forward, gently stroking the gaunt face.

Faramir opened his eyes, and stared at the king.

“My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command,” he murmured, moving to rise.

“Hush, lie still. You are injured,” Aragorn said, and gently held him in place with a strong hand. The younger man looked confused.

“Th-the battle… the river yielded… where am I…?”

“In the houses of healing, youngling,” Boromir said, relieved to see the familiar grey eyes, still blinking but the gaze clear.

“B-Boromir! Boromir! Where -,” Faramir turned towards the familiar voice. He pushed away from the restraining hold, and reached for his brother ignoring the pain that flared up in various parts of his body.

“Aye, he lives!” Mithrandir spoke from the other side, “As I told you he would, had you but heeded my words.”

“Y-you live?’ Faramir asked, “W-we thought…”

“Yes, so I heard. But I was merely wound. I am quite well now,” Boromir said and gently pushed his younger brother back against the pillows, “Which is more than can be said for you! Do lie still, child. You were gravely wounded and you must not jostle that shoulder so.”

“We retreated,” Faramir said unheeding, flashes of the battle racing through his mind, the red southron banners, flashing silver swords, the dark winged shadows, the despair that had overwhelmed all his physical pains, when they were forced to retreat.

He gasped. “My men!”

“Lie still!” the king’s voice was gentle but insistent, “Boromir! Make him lie back and have this brew. He is still very unwell, and he will feel the pain later!”

“The river… we yielded…the city…” Faramir continued. He felt the wetness in his eyes, and the despair returned.

They had retreated, the river had fallen, orcs and Southrons had swarmed the Pelennor. And he had lost so many men. Father had spoken truly. He was the cause for Gondor’s fall, he thought miserably.

“Hush, the city stands,” Boromir said soothingly, gently chafing his wrist, “We reached with a host from Rohan. ‘tis all well now, worry not little one. Rest now.”

“The city stands,” he stared wonderingly at Boromir. And then realised it must be true, as he finally took in the familiar surroundings of the houses of healing.

“You and the king saved the city,” he said, gratefully.

Boromir had saved the city. Father had spoken truly. Faramir had failed. But Boromir had thankfully saved them.

Father would be so displeased with him.

“F-father,” he shuddered. Denethor would be so angry with him! He had effected such a colossal failure. He truly deserved whatever punishment would be meted out to him now, surely. Even if he could still feel the effects of the last one he’d received.

“Faramir, father…” Boromir’s voice broke slightly.

And then he remembered, the crackling flames, the smell of wood and oil and singed flesh…

His hand flew to his hip, stilling as he felt the padded cloth under the nightshirt. He stared at himself. A loose, thin nightshirt was all he wore. The ties were undone exposing a bandaged shoulder and a bruised and marked torso. He slid the bottom section up, unusually uncaring of modesty. There was bandaging above his hip, and on his thigh.

“The fire,” he said, “Father is – gone, is he not?”

“Yes,” Mithrandir told him.

Faramir felt tears prick his eyes. And then they coursed down his cheeks. He was unsure why he cried – his thoughts mingled all at once. So many of his men lost, his failure in defending the river, his father must have thought all was lost, his failure had sent his father into further despair, his father lost… and yet Boromir was back. And the king too had arrived. Boromir and the king had saved them.

And somewhere far away he thought, they would not punish him as Denethor would have, much as he deserved it.

He wept miserably, as pain and unhappiness filled him. He heard Boromir’s alarmed voice and then his brother’s arms wrapped around him, pulling him against the broad chest, where he stayed until sleep claimed him.

It was not until he woke again that he felt aware and cognizant and calm enough to understand the events that had transpired. He was still tired, and in much pain but he felt hopeful now, as he never had for so many months.

Chapter 1


Aragorn smiled as Boromir slid a hand around his waist and blew a soft breath on his neck.

“You look very happy,” he said leaning back. Boromir’s hand quested through his robe, and began working at the ties of his shirt.

“The meeting with Ethelred is over, we will get fine new Rohirric horses by next month and I’m free for the day now.”

Aragorn moaned softly as roughened fingers brushed over his nipples.

“I thought you said Húrin wanted you to read a report that was…wait, eighty pages long and full of inconsequential details!”

“It was about cultivating Hardric figs in Pelargir. I thought I’d fall asleep reading it. But then, Mardil, he’s one of father’s old scribes, reminded me that Faramir is supposed to be assisting me with my work. So I pulled him away from his mystery novel in the archives and asked him to read the report for me and let me know if it was anything very urgent,” Boromir said, his hands now stroking the flat planes of Aragorn’s bare stomach.

“I was in the archives as well,” Aragorn said trying not to squirm as the fingers moved to work at his pants.


“They have new books in the restricted section – from Khand. They are most educational.” The pants slipped lower.

“Hmm,” Boromir said.

Later they lay sated on Aragorn’s bed, their naked bodies entwined around each other, Aragorn tracing a vague pattern idly on his lover’s bare shoulder.

“That was – very nice. We should try that again,” Boromir murmured. He stretched out a long leg. A soft cushion flew off the bed.

“I would try it now, but I fear I have no energy left,” Aragorn said, “But I could spend the rest of the evening just being with you.”

“That would be an equally fine prospect.”

Bright sunlight streamed through the thin curtains, imparting a warm, golden hue to Boromir’s bare body. Aragorn thought he looked beautiful. A soft breeze wafted in, bringing the fragrance of the roses growing outside.

“I should thank Faramir,” Aragorn said lazily.

“Why?” Boromir asked yawning.

“For freeing this afternoon for you. Would he not have minded though?”

“Oh, you know Faramir. He’s quite the busy little worker.“’

“Oh yes he is, isn’t he? Remember at the picnic by the river last week, he sat and read that book on Hardaric dining customs.”

“Oh dear…yes! For the envoy’s visit! Now you see why he doesn’t even have a lover!”

Aragorn snorted.

“The two of you are so different.”

“Mmm…,” Boromir rolled over to curl against Aragorn.

“You share similar looks and colouring, but else you vary so much,” the king continued.

He ran his hand along Boromir’s side, lingering over the soft, smooth surface.

“Although, you do look so much more handsome. And your skin is so fine and inviting, I think perhaps I should feel it with my tongue.”

“I’m sure Faramir could be fine and inviting if you asked him to,” Boromir said laughing, “He’s very intelligent. He speaks other languages too!”

“I think you are far more desirable.”

Boromir laughed again. Aragorn moved to exploring Boromir’s front. He gently stroked a long, thin, fading scar on his stomach, and his eyes clouded briefly, as he took in the familiar mark. They had almost lost Boromir to his injuries in the quest.

“It’s completely healed now,” Boromir said softly, “It should be gone in some weeks.”

“Aye,” Aragorn said, a little gruffly, but continued to stroke the mark.

“Poor Faramir’s shoulder is still healing,” Boromir said.

“He’s got a lot more marks on him than you have,” Aragorn commented, recollecting the sight of the younger man, his spare frame littered with bruises and cuts all over. He’d taken an arrow to his shoulder, and perhaps been dragged someway by his horse as well, for his back to had been covered with wounds.

“Oh yes,” Boromir said thoughtfully, entwining his fingers around Aragorn’s, “He has quite a few nasty scars on him. He was injured more than a few times in skirmishes in Ithilien. I used to worry for him, but I realised later he could manage well enough on his own.”

“Poor lad. He should heal well soon enough though.”

Some weeks later…

Faramir rearranged the food on his plate disinterestedly, as the conversation around him moved to a reminiscence of some event that had happened while his brother and his friends had been in Lothlorien during the ring quest. Boromir had invited everyone for a small supper gathering in his rooms.

His brother had continued to use his old apartments, which were in the same wing as the king’s apartments. The rooms were large, decorated sparingly but very tastefully – consisting of a huge bedchamber, a study, two meeting rooms, a large sitting room, and a small, cosy supper room where they now sat. Wide windows opened out to the fine streets of the sixth level below, letting in the pale evening light, and the fragrance of the climbing roses growing outside.

They were having rabbit stew yet again and Faramir did not care much for the dish. He wondered why the kitchens served it so often nowadays, his thoughts beginning to wander.

He’d had a long day, much like most of his days now were.

There had been a fractious council meeting in the morning, and then myriad meetings with various troop commanders, guild leaders and city councillors throughout the day. He’d spent the last few hours at a meeting of the craftsmen’s guild leaders in Boromir’s stead – his brother had declared the subject of the meeting inconsequential, and the attendees a bunch of withering old nincompoops.

The proceedings had lived up to Boromir’ s estimation – the aging leader of the weaver’s guild had held up proceedings first by vehemently protesting the Steward’s absence, and then stubbornly opposing any points raised by Faramir, varying aided or rebutted by the other leaders depending on their mutual alliances, causing it to extend till late evening.

Boromir was now asking for a third helping of stew and Faramir recollected suddenly that he was uncommonly fond of the dish. No wonder the kitchens routinely served it up, he thought. Boromir was a favourite with the kitchen staff. Much as he was with everyone else, he thought, as Legolas promptly passed him his own bowl of stew.

The conversation had moved to a discussion of the follies of various Gondorian councillors now; he wasn’t sure how. Boromir was being quite vocal in his disapproval. If Boromir had been at the guild meeting they’d have finished in half the time. The older men would have listened to the Steward without argument, and certainly with more politeness than they’d accorded to Faramir. Even though Faramir himself had shown far more restraint and good naturedness than his brother would have.

Boromir however had had work with the king at that time. They worked very closely together. And also spent most much of their free time together. Boromir had informed Faramir many months ago that they were lovers.

Faramir sighed silently and moved the food around his plate morosely; the stew had cooled down to an ugly looking coagulated mass that looked even more unappetising than usual.

He wished Boromir would spend some more time with him too! He supposed he might be a little unfair about wanting more time with his brother; they were after all both grown men now with many more duties, but he really did miss the companionship. They had been close as children, as their father had grown more distant, and even in all the years that they had spent soldiering, they had made a little time for each other – short occasions where they did little but sit together over a quick meal or wine and talk. He had thought, now after the war, in a time of peace, they would have more such occasions.

But Boromir had responsibilities as the captain general and the king’s steward and chief advisor. And he had new friends in Legolas and Gimli, and a very fond lover in the king.

Faramir was off active duty for some time; his injuries in the war had been severe enough to keep him away from his ranger duties for many months to come. He now acted as an aide for Boromir, a job that involved going through countless councillors’ meetings and reports and taking decisions on myriad little details that were deemed too insignificant, and often condensing everything for the steward and king’s perusal.

It was a role he was largely unfamiliar with. Boromir as the heir to the stewardship had always worked closely with their but Denethor had made little effort to involve Faramir in duties related to statecraft. He had on the contrary stated that Faramir would be incapable of such tasks, and would probably be better off in the training grounds, improving his weaponry skills.

And so it happened that Faramir was now still learning his way around, trying to read and understand all the reports he received daily, and trying to decipher all the undercurrents that existed within the council, between guild masters, between the council and the army. It was all often terribly confusing for him, particularly dealing with all those people – they knew he was new to what he was doing, and they were used to treating him with disdain and at times, scorn.

He heard his name mentioned, scattering his thoughts, and looked up. Boromir had moved on from complaining about the councillors to reciting embarrassing stories about many of them much to the amusement of their dinner companions, including the king, Lord Legolas and Lord Gimli. And now to Faramir’s mortification, he had moved onto an embarrassing incident involving Faramir tripping over his feet while dancing with a councillor’s wife at a midwinter feast.

“She refused to dance with him after that of course, and then so did all the other women!” Boromir said laughing quite loudly.

Faramir felt his face burning in embarrassment, as the others chuckled, and ducked his head.

He preferred not to recollect that incident. The woman had refused to continue dancing because he had not responded to her flirtation and then she had deliberately tripped him! She had pulled him aside to a dimly lit portion of the dance floor, and tried first to tug his hand down from her shoulder to her extremely large, very well-endowed chest, barely covered by her low cut gown. She had then leaned forward, and in a breathy whisper invited him to her chambers that night, while her hands had slipped between his legs, and fondled his crotch through his pants. He had been barely sixteen, still unfamiliar with any touch other than his own and had reacted in shock and mortification as her long, bony fingers had worked his trousers. She had tripped him to cover up for her act.

“It didn’t help either that Faramir’s always been a shy sort around women,” Boromir continued, smiling fondly at him, “Hmm, men too.”

Faramir bit his lip, uncomfortably. It wasn’t as if he’d never tried. But with his father’s low opinion of him being no secret, he was no prize catch. He could hardly expect that the young women of their acquaintance would be encouraged to approach him. And few men saw any reason to appease his tastes, for he could hardly help them advance their military or administrative careers as Boromir could. He had been left to himself or to the discreet brothels in the third circle to sate his needs.

“Do you remember that feast, Faramir? You ran off to your rooms after that and didn’t even join us at the taverns later?” Boromir was continuing cheerfully.

Faramir poked at a lump of mashed cabbage, and let out a non-committal sound in response. He did remember that night very well. He hadn’t joined Boromir and his friends for their usual post feast festivity because he had been summoned by his father to answer for his behaviour with Lady Maredhil.

He’d had to spend a half hour listening to Denethor coldly list out all his faults and inadequacies – he’d called him boorish, uncouth, rude and incompetent. And then he’d berated him yet again for his continual failure to do even the little that was expected him. Faramir had listened quietly, and then accepted his punishment – a thrashing with a riding crop that left him in far too much pain to do anything but slump into his bed, crying himself to sleep.

Boromir had never realised he’d been beaten. Faramir had by then, developed plenty of practice in ensuring very few people learnt of his ineptitude.

Faramir shook away the memory. The talk around him moved onto other matters. He should not think of the past, he told himself strictly.

Reaching for a goblet of wine, he wondered if he should leave – he had so much work to finish for the day! But then, dinner finally came to a close. They dispersed after that; Boromir leaving with the king, one arm slung over his shoulder, the other clutching a jug of wine. Legolas and Gimli decided to visit an old tavern for a nightcap.

Faramir returned to his study.

Chapter 2

Not work safe due to semi-nekkid Fara pictures

Faramir woke late in the night to find he had fallen asleep at his table, his body curled up at an odd angle in the chair. The candle on his table had melted down. He sat up, cold and confused, and then bit back a cry as his body protested. He rose slowly, straightening his aching and stiff muscles. He leaned against the table for support for some time, and then stumbled out of his study toward his chambers.

The rooms were cold, for the fireplace hadn’t been lit. Denethor, ever a stern taskmaster, had preferred Faramir be at the practice grounds rather than his chambers. The household staff hence had been deliberately encouraged to be lax in tending to his chambers, and little had changed even now.

He undressed in the moonlit bedchamber with slow and awkward movements. His fingers skated over the scars on his side as he did so, and he stilled.

He stared down at his bare body. His injuries and related ill-health had caused him to lose much weight and he still remained quite thin. To his own eyes, in the weak moonlight, he looked gaunt and pale – an awkward, unattractive figure. There was enough light for him to see too, the ugly patterns formed by the marks all over, even on his groin and buttocks. There were battle injuries, some fading now, some still stark against his pale skin – like the shoulder wound from the Haradric dart that had gone so deep, it had needed the king to heal him from it. There were other marks too, not from battle injuries – thin, symmetric lines left by repeated strikes of leather.

These would fade he knew; Denethor was no longer there to inflict these on him.

His fingers stilled on a small, ugly patch of scarred, withered looking skin just above his left hip, where the flames that he still dreamt of sometimes had licked at him as Mithrandir had snatched him away from the pyre his father had built.

He sat heavily on his bed, sinking his head into his hands. It still hurt remembering those days when the war had besieged Gondor; the memories seemed engulfed with pain and despair.

They had been unsure yet whether Boromir lived – his horn had floated down the Anduin cloven in half days ago, and though Mithrandir had claimed he was alive, he had also said that his last glimpse of him had been at Edoras, where Boromir had lain dying, riddled with injuries. Elessar had healed him as well, but Denethor and Faramir had had no means of knowing that. They had each been alone in their grief, the distance Denethor maintained from his younger son had stretched far too wide to allow them to come together even in this situation.

Denethor had instead sent Faramir to a certain death, commanding him to hold the Pelennor. When Faramir had retreated from the Pelennor, alive but barely conscious from his various injuries, Denethor, still unaware of Boromir’s survival, had chosen to respond by attempting to burn himself and Faramir on a pyre. Mithrandir had managed to pull him out in time to suffer no more than these burns, but not Denethor. Faramir had woken days later, in pain, with more scars, and broken memories of the flames and the anger in his father’s eyes when he had last seen him. All that had kept him sane then had been the sight of Boromir, looking tired, but so alive. He had spent nights after that largely alone, in pain and worry, for everyone else had left for the last battle. He’d developed a fear of fire and an entirely new set of nightmares.

He was told his father had been trying to save him. But with each nightmare he only felt an increasing sense of almost anger at his father for being weak enough to believe the palantir’s visions as reality. For, Boromir had returned alive, and Gondor had vanquished the enemy and the king had finally returned.

His injuries had healed over the weeks and the pain had receded, but the scars remained, ugly to look at, and on occasions like this, pulling at his skin, to leave him stiff and aching. The worst were the scars left by the last beating before he had ridden out.

They had had a public argument merely hours earlier – over Faramir allowing Frodo passage through Ithilien. It had ended badly, as always, and Faramir had had to endure yet again, the humiliation of a grown man being hauled over a table, divested of his tunic and leggings and punished with a beating. Denethor’s hand had been unrestrained in grief and his anger over the inevitability of defeat as he saw it. The whip had struck him deep and repeatedly, all of Denethor’s pent up energy and frustration evident in each stroke. The words that accompanied each stroke had hit deeper – repeated denunciations of his mannerisms and behaviour, his capabilities, his worth, even his very existence in place of a more capable Boromir. He had had barely enough time the next morning to bind the stinging wounds, before setting out.

The marks from that beating were still visible on his back after all these months, overlaying older scars. And the memories of that night were still clear.

After the others had left, Denethor had summoned him to his study.

His father stood by the long windows, waiting for him. His valet, Inglor, was tidying up the room and preparing the adjoining bedchamber for him to retire for the evening. The curtains had been opened, to a view of the city and the plains beyond. The pale evening light on the Steward’s face made the sharp features stand out – the expression cold, angered and unforgiving.

His words had been predictable but painful still.

“You disobeyed a direct order …

He listened quietly letting the bitter words wash over him, schooling his face to betray no expression, trying his hardest to stand straight, although every muscle in his body screamed from exhaustion. He had a hand resting on the back of a chair. He thought if he were to move his hand, he would fall.

…wizard’s pupil…

… flogging and incarceration for the traitor you are… No time for that now…

Denethor spat out the words almost viciously.

And then silence hung between them for a few moments punctuated only by the harsh sound of Denethor’s boot tapping against the stone floor.

“I will present myself for the punishment when I return,” Faramir replied softly.

“You will present yourself now,” Denethor shouted, “And you may be thankful I spare you the ignominy of a public spectacle.”

Faramir swallowed hard and straightened his back further. He had but returned a mere few hours earlier; he could barely stand. And he would need to be at the city walls in the morning, surely. But one look at his father’s furious visage told him he had no recourse.

“Yes, my lord,” he said tonelessly.

He had removed his tunic and undervest and pants, his leaden fingers fumbling over the ties so much that Inglor had had to help him.

The room was damp and cold, the fireplace had been cleared, Denethor clearly not in the mood for comfort. Faramir stood in front of the large table, as he often had before, shivering in nothing but a pair of thin underpants, divested of his upper garments, his pants pooled at his ankles. The cold breeze through the window hit his exposed upper body, and he just about managed to prevent himself from folding his arms across his chest for warmth.

Inglor handed Denethor his favoured cane, only to have the Steward brush it aside and pick up a large whip that hung over the fireplace.

Faramir let out a small whimper. Denethor snorted in derision at the sound.

It was a long, thick, whip, one that Faramir had felt only on occasion earlier, but could still recollect with painful clarity.

He heard the door shut as Inglor left. Denethor gave him an impatient look.

“What are you waiting for?” he spat out.

Faramir quietly leaned over the desk in a practised gesture, and grasped the edge. The wood was hard and icy against his bare chest and stomach and the edge carved with an intricate pattern of intertwining flowers and leaves pressed painfully into his barely covered groin.

The first lash landed square in the middle of his back, sending pain flaring across, causing him to let out a soft sound. The second and third landed in the same area. He felt his sweat- slicked fingers slipping of the edge and his knees weakening. His body slid down, the sharp patterns on the table edge now poking into the soft skin of his naked belly.

Denethor waited. Faramir dragged himself up and regained his earlier position.

Denethor resumed the lashing, with an increased fervour, his tongue too unrestrained.

Disrespectful…unworthy of your station… hiding behind your brother’s achievements… fail at everything you attempt… coward….

…alas that I sent away my Boromir to die alone in some far corner…while you betray your people and your father…

He lost count of the strikes; they covered his back, shoulders, and some had even struck his buttocks, the backs of his thighs, even his calves. Some of them had cut skin, he thought, he could feel the wetness of blood trickling down his skin.

And then finally, the sound of the whip thrown aside, welcome but so late in coming. He lay there, hurting all over, breathing heavily, his fingers frozen around the table edge, his face a mess of tears, mucous and spittle. He pried his hands loose, and his knees slumped to the floor, his shoulders still on the table. He bit back a moan.

Denethor stood by the table, his breath coming out in laboured gasps, his arms shaking. He looked spent, the exhaustion clear in the eyes that now rested on Faramir’s slumped body. And then he lunged, pulling Faramir up, grabbing him by hair and shoulders.

Faramir cried out.

“Get away from my sight…out…out you go… out…!”

He felt himself shoved away, landing in an ungainly heap against the wall near the whip. His clothes were thrown at him.


He felt himself cowering as Denethor advanced over him.

The booted foot struck his hip and his uncovered stomach.

He cried out again.

“Coward… weeping like a girl…”

He scurried up, ignoring the pained protest from his limbs. He clutched at the clothes that were thrown at him and trembling, pulled on the robe, and stumbled out onto the passage. He remembered little of the rest of that night. He had somehow managed to make it back to his rooms through the citadel. The hallways were empty, the servants having retired. There had been some washing water in his rooms, cold, but aiding him in cleaning up a little. He had dredged up some little energy to do so, and then slumped on his cold bed, where he’d spent the night, trying unsuccessfully to sleep.

He’d finally risen at dawn, forcing his aching limbs to move for the pain of his sore back too much to bear,. A servant knocked at the door with summons to a council in a half hour and a fresh tub of bathwater. He had bathed hurriedly, unsure of what the call to council meant. He’d fumbled through his healing pouches and dumped whatever herbs he found into the water. The water was tepid, but it helped ease his aches somewhat. He’d applied whatever salves he had on whichever injuries he could reach, his face flushed in embarrassment at the nature of his punishment.

And then after the council, he had ridden out, ignoring the soreness, into the throes of a long, exhausting battle that still filled his nightmares to this day.

Chapter 3

Warnings for mild flashbacks to nastiness continue. Note – The angst is still on and there’s still some way to go before Faramir goes in for some recovery

Aragorn stepped into Boromir’s bathing chamber, with a warm robe and towels. Steam hung over the room, fragrant with the herbs that had been put into the water. A steady rain splattered against the wooden shutters, the dull drumming sound oddly relaxing in the warmth of the room.

The younger man lay reclining in the water, his eyes half-closed.

“I suppose I should get out of the water before I turn into a prune,“’ he said sleepily.

“Yes,” Aragorn said gently, and knelt by the bath to help him rise.

Boromir groaned painfully as he unfolded his aching limbs. The warm, herb-filled water had helped soothe his aches and pains, but he was still exhausted. He dried himself with a large towel and slipped on a thick, warm robe.

Aragorn helped him into bed and lay down beside him, sinking into the soft, warm bedclothes. The newly renewed trade treaties with Khand had brought in lovely, albeit expensive silks for bedclothes and quilts and soft, luxuriant woollen blankets, in a riot of colours and both the steward and the king’s chambers were furnished with these now. It was a far cry from their soldiering days for both. They had been amused when the household staff had insisted on using these, but at times like this, Aragorn was quite thankful.

Boromir moved into his embrace, and all thoughts of softness and silk vanished from the king’s head.

“You should have stayed over in Osgiliath,” he chided him, holding him close, “Going all the way there, inspecting the work, and returning today in weather as awful as this, is too tiring, even for you.”

“Stay away from you an entire day and night?” Boromir said, “I don’t think I can quite do that yet.” He shifted to touch his lips to Aragorn’s.

“You need to rest,” Aragorn said softly, as Boromir shrugged off his robe, and reached for Aragorn’s shirt.

“And I know just what would help me rest well,” Boromir said, smiling.

Faramir groaned painfully, as he restarted his calculations for the treasury allocation for the military for the fifth time. He’d never been involved in the budgetary allocations earlier, and when he’d asked Boromir’s chief scribe for some explanations the older man had had neither the time nor the patience. This was so confusing!

He was beginning to realise now that there was much in the day to day governance of Gondor that he had no knowledge of. He looked back at his sheets despairingly.

He had missed out one of the allowances and three outlying companies in this round of calculation. The numbers he had now didn’t come anywhere close to the approximation Boromir had noted. He rifled through various loose sheets of papers, of varying sizes, all of which had various notes scribbled across them. He checked the details of the allowance missed out and then groaned as he realised that the allowance amounts varied by the location and by wartime and peacetime efforts.

His head felt as if it would burst. He rested it against the table, the cool, smooth wood providing him some respite. He’d been in his rooms all day, working. Boromir had entrusted the task to him more than a week ago, and had been annoyed to learn the previous day that it had still not been completed. So Faramir had put everything else aside and worked on this. He had lunched in his chambers as he’d done most days – bread and cheese and a lukewarm glass of ale.

The rain drummed down on his windows, a loud, incessant clattering that made his head hurt even more. The rooms were cold; he’d need to speak to someone about having a fire lit here, at least when it rained.

When he finally realised he could not arrive at a number close to the approximation, he rose slowly, wincing as he stretched his back and arms. He would need to ask Boromir.

Boromir had returned from Osgiliath, he knew, and had decided to dine in his chambers. Faramir thought he could check with him quickly, and perhaps join him for supper. And then sleep. He felt so tired! He’d been working late into the night every day for much of the paperwork was too confidential to entrust to scribes yet.

He knocked at Boromir’s door. A muffled voice bade him enter and he did so, quietly pushing open the large oak door. The room was beautifully warm, with a small fire crackling merrily in the fireplace.

It was the king who had spoken, Faramir realised when he entered, and flushed at the sight of the two men together in Boromir’s large bed, the blankets bunched at their waist. Elessar was sitting up with some papers in his hands, while Boromir lay sleeping beside him. They were both bare-chested, their hair tousled, lips reddened and swollen.

“Faramir,” the king said in surprise, his expression anything but welcoming.

“I –,” Faramir began, flustered, unsure of himself in front of the king, and embarrassed by the openness of their lovemaking. He should have realised Elessar would be here, he berated himself mentally.

“I thought you were Inglor with more firewood,” Elessar said unnecessarily, drawing up the blankets, “What may I ask brings you here at this odd hour?”

“I – I wanted to ask Boromir, about – about the military allocation estimates – he gave me an approximation, but the calculations indicate a higher figure – I could not discern how – I thought –,” he wished he wouldn’t stammer so in front of the king, but Elessar’s visage was grim, and Faramir had never felt very comfortable around the older man.

“Boromir was very tired after the inspection ride this morning. I would not wish to wake him for this,” he said, a little curtly.

“I – I didn’t… is he unwell?” he asked, alarmed. Boromir did look tired, from the slump of his shoulders, and the lines on his face.

“Nay, he’s merely tired. It was cold out today and he did have a long way to travel and back. Nothing a few hours’ complete rest won’t take care of. Could you see to this yourself?” Elessar continued, “Boromir does have a lot of work already.”

“Aye,” Inglor’s quavering voice sounded behind him. The old man walked slowly into the room carrying a load of wood.

“Ever you run to Master Boromir with all your responsibilities,” he spat out at Faramir, glaring at him.

Faramir cringed. Inglor had been Denethor’s manservant all these years and had always abided by his views on all matters. He supervised the staff of the citadel as well, and hence it was that most of the servants followed his views. He served now as a personal attendant to Boromir, and the king, as well.

“He has enough to do as it is as captain general and steward without having to add your work to his tasks,” Inglor continued, his voice quivering in anger.

“I – I don’t,” he started helplessly, embarrassed to feel sudden tears pricking his eyes. Inglor’s words were a reflection of Denethor’s. The old man had oft been present when his father had upbraided him for his constant errors; and at times, had even taken on the task of punishing Faramir.

“Inglor!” the king, exclaimed. He seemed equally startled by the older man’s vehemence.

He glanced at Faramir. “I will let Boromir know you were here, when he awakens,” he said firmly, dismissal clear in the tone.

Faramir blinked trying to hold back the tears and nodding gratefully, slipped away from the room. Inglor’s shrill, quavering voice followed him down the hallway.

“He was always bothering Lord Boromir, even as a child. And he didn’t stop even after he was sent to the rangers. Our young lord oft times had to send supplies and reinforcement to Ithilien from his own troops. When Lord Denethor found out he put a stop to it – told Faramir if he could not manage with what he was given, he could surrender his captaincy,” Inglor’s voice, thin and clear and loud wafted through the open door, “Lord Denethor always said he was too incompetent to manage matters of state; and far too wilful and disobedient in other matters. You must not let him tire Lord Boromir with his constant nagging.”

Faramir halted, frowning unhappily. He wondered if he should go back and defend his requests to the king. In his early years with the rangers, they had been constantly harried by orcs and easterlings for months on end. And the supplies provided to them were inadequate so that he’d sought a higher allocation from Boromir.

“’tis of no matter,” Elessar replied, “Would you ask the kitchens to prepare supper? Rabbit stew perhaps.”

“Aye, my lord is most fond of that,” Inglor said.

Faramir supped alone in his chambers, refusing the stew and settling for some more bread and cold cheese instead, worriedly playing over the conversations he’d just had in his mind.

“Who were you talking to when I was sleeping? I thought I heard a familiar voice,” Boromir asked, as he threw on the warm robe around his naked frame. Inglor had brought hot, herb-infused water for him to wash up, so that he felt refreshed and energised now. He joined Aragorn by the fire. It was warm and crackling, the fragrance of the pine filling the room. Warm bowls of stew and hot buttered bread had been placed on a small table.

“Faramir. He came to see you about some treasury figures.”

“Oh those. Oh yes, I’d asked him to work on those, they’re quite a pain. I suppose I’ll need to take a look at those some time. Did you ever realise how boring all this could be?”

“Oh I find many ways to entertain myself,” Aragorn smirked, and pulled him close.

Boromir laughed.

Faramir washed up after dinner, shivering as he splashed cold water on his face and neck and chest. He changed into his nightshirt and settled into his bed, pulling on a larger, thicker blanket, for it was still raining and the night was getting colder.

He lay awake for a long time, huddling under the coarse woollen blankets, thinking of Inglor’s words and of Denethopr’s words from earlier.

When Denethor had found out he’d been requesting additional supplies, he’d summoned Faramir to stand in front of the inner council and almost beg for increased rations and more men. The council, comprising five of the most senior councillors had questioned him long, making him go through supply lists, and explain why he needed the additional rations. It had taken two days of relentless arguments, counter arguments and some desperate pleading from Faramir to finally receive some increase in the allocations. He’d been exhausted when done, almost collapsing into his chair.

In those two days, he’d had every aspect of his captaincy and his very worth questioned multiple times. He’d been told in front of all them by Denethor that he was a disgrace to his post.

“A waste of a captaincy. To think there are so many others so much more worthy of you. The shame of it – that you go running like a cornered rabbit to your Captain at the smallest instance of a problem.”

He’d received too a harsh slap in front of two of the councillors – Denethor’s closest friends, for not displaying the right etiquette while talking to the council.

And later, in private, he’d received a furious caning; he remembered suddenly – ten strokes across his bare back for insolent behaviour at the council, and then for the laziness implicit in his request, fifteen more strokes on his bared buttocks, so that he’d been uanble to sit the next day. He’d endured it tight-lipped and red-faced, crushing inside him the embarrassment that he felt to be punished so at his age.

Tears trickled down his cheeks at the memory. His pillow was still damp as he finally fell into a restless sleep.

The wet weather continued for a few days, but Faramir hardly realised as the days filled up with work. The weather finally cleared up in a few days, and the city was bathed in gentle, warm, sunshine.

Faramir hummed softly to himself, as he left the archives. He had come there for a brief interlude after he’d finally managed to finish going through and making notes on the quotes from the various guilds for the reconstruction estimates. A painful meeting with the councillor from Pelargir on the new trade duties still awaited him later in the evening, but he’d grabbed the precious moment of respite he’d had and come to the archives, for they’d had some new books from Khand, brought in by the ships that had docked early that week. He’d found in them a book of poems that seemed most interesting, and now the day seemed so much better!

And early that morning, on a stroll in the sixth circle, he’d found some excellent savoury pastries, which awaited him in his study now – warmed and ready to wash down with a mug of spiced mead. He was having a relatively quiet day after a very long time. The book, and such nice food, perhaps in the garden, would make for a good noon meal.

Boromir strode down the passageway as he opened the door to his study.

“Oh good there you are! I’ve been looking for you. Where were you? What are you doing?” Boromir huffed.

“I was in the archives. I found an excellent volume of Khandrim poems so I thought I’d sit in the gardens and read for a while,” Faramir told him cheerfully, still quite excited by his find.

Boromir nodded distractedly and strode into Faramir’s study, ahead of the younger man.

“Come on in now. Stop dawdling about! I don’t have all day.”

Faramir groaned silently to himself. Boromir seemed rather snappish today; a result of those long meetings in the morning.

“Gods, it’s so stuffy in here! Why don’t you open the windows, and let the air in a little. It’s such a lovely day outside; I can’t imagine how you could prefer to stay cooped up in here all day!”

Faramir frowned, feeling a little indignant. It wasn’t as if he didn’t want to be outside on a fine day. But he had a lot to do! And opening the study windows wouldn’t help. They overlooked the markets in the sixth circle and the strong smells of stale fish and over ripened fruit in the afternoons could get quite overwhelming.

“I don’t -,” he started only to be interrupted by a very distracted Boromir who had now moved towards the bare fireplace to kick at a loose piece of metal in the grating.

“Here,” he said, tossing a sheaf of papers onto the table, “Can you see to those? I don’t have the time today – Éomer’s horsemasters are here to see the new Khandrim horses. And the scribes are already full with work.”

“What is it?” he asked. There were so many papers, all crammed with tiny writing and many numbers!

“The harvest reports from Lebennin. Could you go through those and see if they match with the tax collection reports and the agricultural trade reports?”

He stared uncomprehendingly at the large pile of papers, unsure of what he’d heard. The words seemed to be running all over the sheets. He blinked his eyes, tried to ignore the headache that was starting up, and sighed. He wasn’t even sure how those three reports could be compared.

Boromir seated himself at Faramir’s table and bit into a piece of pastry. “It’s needed for the meeting with the agricultural council early tomorrow morning.”

Faramir stared at him in surprise.

“But the day is half over!”

“How long could it possibly take?” Boromir shrugged. He’d finished the pastry and was helping himself to an apple from the fruit bowl.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen any of these before,” Faramir said slowly, trying to work out in his mind what needed to be done. He’d have to look at the numbers here, pull out the reports, look at those, perhaps month by month.

“Well, if you started with it instead of dithering over it, perhaps you’d know,” Boromir said, “I’d be surprised if it required much of your time.”

Denethor wouldn’t be surprised at all, Faramir thought suddenly, sourly.

“Were it any other, I would ask them to work swiftly and complete that by luncheon. But you -, I expect you will tarry your way through it and with errors undoubtedly, and not give this to me before dusk tomorrow,” Denethor would have snapped, much as he often had when he’d been forced by urgency to take Faramir’s aid in his paperwork.

Boromir rose, “Would you leave it at my table when you’ve completed it? I need to leave.”

He strode out of the room, before Faramir could pull himself out of his unhappy thoughts. He hastily looked through the papers, and bit his teeth.

“Boromir!” he ran out behind his brother, “I couldn’t go through all of this by tonight,” he repeated worriedly, as he hurried to keep pace with his brother. They had neared his brother’s chambers. Inglor stood by the door, holding Boromir’s cloak.

“Why ever not? It’s really very easy. If you could decipher those Khandrim poems, you should have no trouble with these!,” Boromir retorted impatiently, sounding at the moment much as their father would have, only less cold in tone.

“You fill your head with poems and songs but you cannot manage your footwork for swordplay…”

He snapped back, as he would never have dared to earlier, “Perhaps you could work on it instead then.” And immediately regretted his words.

Boromir’s expression changed immediately, annoyance marring the handsome features, reminding Faramir of Denethor again – he had rarely given him anything but an angered glance. “Very well,” Boromir bit out, and grabbed the papers, “I will ask one of my scribes to do it. They are very busy, but they will surely manage. You must clearly be too busy reading poetry.”

Faramir winced at the sharp tone.

“Boromir! You know it’s not that,” he cried out, but his brother had already stormed off towards his rooms.

He sighed and ran after him.

“Forgive me,” he panted, as he caught up with his brother, “It’s just … I’ll do it. But I’m don’t know –”

“Is anything the matter?” The king stepped out of Boromir’s study.

“It’s the harvest reports,” Boromir told him, still sounding quite cross, “They need to be tallied against the tax and trade reports.”

“That should be fairly simple,” the king said, shrugging, “Faramir could take care of it without you, surely?”

“Ever you rely on Boromir to aid you, you run to him even in matters commonplace!” Denethor would have spat out.

“And I need your help on a somewhat complex matter, before you leave to meet the horsemasters,” the king continued.

“Of course,” Boromir thrust the papers into Faramir’s hands, “Here. You can give it to me at breakfast tomorrow.”

The door swung shut as Faramir clutched at the papers. He heard Boromir laugh softly and ask if the complication lay in the king’s breeches. He flushed and walked away.

He ended up rather distracted at the evening meeting, enough so for the old councillor to take him to task, and suggest sarcastically that the discussion be deferred until Boromir was available to chair it. His scorn was all that was needed to incite the already frayed tempers of the other participants, and it was all Faramir could do to get them to at least listen to him, before finally assuring them he would pass the matter on for Boromir’s attention. His brother would not be pleased about this, he knew.

He did manage to finish the work on the agricultural estimates, staying up a large part of the night. He asked for dinner in his chambers, and nibbled at the cold soup that was sent up, as he worked out the numbers.

The work had been simple, as Boromir had claimed, for all he’d had to do was work out some calculations and then compare the numbers from each report. But it had taken him nearly all afternoon to understand which numbers to look at and what each meant, and the calculations he needed to refer to before he could actually start work.

Boromir took a final bite off his apple and aimed the core at a tub of lilies on the window. He missed and it rolled onto the floor instead to be gobbled up by Aragorn’s hunting dog instead. They were in one of the smaller rooms for breakfast.

“Now I see why he’s getting so fat. You throw like a girl,” Aragorn said, grinning, as he signed a batch of documents.

His secretary, Tarlong smiled in tolerant amusement as the two men bantered along cheerfully. They had had an enjoyable early morning ride together, which had left them energised and refreshed. Boromir was still in his riding clothes.

Inglor bustled in with breakfast.

“That’s about all, sire,” Tarlong said, “The agricultural council will convene in an hour.”

“Oh yes, Faramir’s brining in the reports for that,” Boromir said, as he uncovered the breakfast dishes.

“Ah… buttered mushrooms!” he said happily.

“You sound like a hobbit,” Aragorn said. Tarlong smiled and left.

“Should I ask someone to fetch Faramir?” Inglor asked.

“Oh, he’ll be along soon, I suppose,” Aragorn said.

“You asked him to be ready with the work by breakfast,” Inglor said, “You should not let him be so tardy, sire!”

“Oh, he rarely is, you know that Inglor,” Boromir protested, as he broke off a chunk of bread and covered it with mushrooms.

“Aye, because your father ensured he was always punctual and respectful. He was most rude to you yesterday when you asked him to help. He would never have spoken to your father just so.”

“Well,” Boromir said good naturedly, “I’m merely his brother.”

Inglor pressed his lips together tightly, and set about clearing up the riding things strewn all over.

“He was rude to you?” Aragorn questioned, frowning.

“No,” Boromir said, “He’s a bit of a worrier, and I suppose I did give him very short notice.”

“That is no excuse for rudeness,“’ Aragorn said.

“Indeed,” Inglor said, “You should control him, my lord.” He picked up the riding crop Boromir had left by the fireplace and placed it on the table.

“He’s not a horse, Inglor!” Boromir said in amusement, “Speaking of which, I think I need a new crop.”

“Lord Denethor would have never let him answer so rudely,” Inglor repeated.

A knock sounded on the door, and Faramir entered, a little hesitantly.

Boromir smiled up at him, “Oh good! There you are! Have you eaten? Come on in.”

Faramir did feel very hungry. He nodded shyly at the king, and greeted Inglor politely, and stepped in.

“I’ve brought the papers,” he said softly.

“See, I told you it was simple,” Boromir said, cheerfully, “You needn’t have worried so much about it.”

“Or been so unpleasant to Lord Boromir,” Inglor said darkly. Elessar gave him an appraising look, but said nothing.

Faramir reached for a plate quietly.

“Leave him be, Inglor,” Boromir chided gently. He picked up the riding crop, and balanced it on his hand.

Faramir stared at him, and then at the crop. He swallowed. Inglor glared at him, and walked away.

“See,” Boromir told Aragorn, and flicked it lightly in the air.

Faramir bit back a gasp.

“The grip is faulty,” Boromir continued.

“Aye, I think you need a new one.”

“I think father had a new one made,” Boromir said thoughtfully, “I could use that. He hardly rode much, so it is likely still serviceable.”

Faramir bit his lip. It certainly was serviceable. He’d felt it some months ago when Denethor had used it on him. He shifted uneasily in his seat. He stared at the breakfast spread. Bile rushed to his throat, and he rose hurriedly.

“I should leave now,” he murmured.

“Are you not eating with us?” the king asked.

“I’ve had breakfast. I – I must leave now,” Faramir moved towards the door.

“Oh very well,” Boromir said, and flicked the crop again, “I am certain something is wrong with the balance.”

Faramir left the room, trying to walk as calmly as possible. He walked down the hallway, trying to ignore all thought, focussing instead on the floor, measuring his stride on each flagstone. He turned into a smaller corridor leading to one of the gardens. He leaned against the wall. The sounds of the citadel drummed around him – people walking by, their boots striking stone or wood, talking, laughing voices, doors and windows opening and closing. They were fading away now to a dull hum. The high walls melted away into a mass of grey. The soft sound of the crop flicking through the air echoed in his ears. The harsher sound of the crop striking bare skin came hurtling back to him, accompanied by a memory of the stinging sensation flaring through him.

He rested his head against the cold stone, and slumped against the wall.

Chapter 4

“A just and able ruler…”

“Such a wise man, we are deprived of his acumen and intelligence…”

Faramir sat quietly through the memorial service for Denethor. As people spoke – councillors, liege lords, guildmasters, he felt his thoughts drifting away. The wine was quite delicious he decided, as he took a third glass, it was very fine fruit wine from Mirkwood. The large hall looked beautiful. Ship’s lanterns placed in cleverly hidden niches, let out a beautiful golden light, and the warm room was filled with the fragrance of flowers and good food.

He felt thankful he wouldn’t be required to speak. Boromir had asked him if he’d like to but he’d managed by carefully avoiding him and any discussion of the service, to be excluded from the list of speakers. It had annoyed Boromir when he’d realised though, that his brother was not listed among the speakers. He’d even told Faramir he needed to lose some of his shyness and reticence. Faramir was just glad. Just the thought of thinking of words about Denethor had left him feeling shaky. Anything to do with Denethor was not something he ever felt like thinking about. His thoughts only led him back to the desolation of those days at the end of the war and the pain before that.

Ever, even as child, and later as a captain, the thought of the constant warring they faced left him heartsick and weary and he knew somehow that Denethor knew that, and held that in scorn.

He’d always known that he was not as much a warrior as Boromir. And Denethor had considered that a grave failing – Faramir, in his eyes, had been less of a support to a brother embattled with leading their forces, and more of a burden. And Denethor had done his best to ensure that for every little failing, Faramir had been given his due.

In his younger days, he’d despaired that his achievements were few and unworthy of notice, and had fought harder, throwing himself into each attack, with little care for his own being. There had been little praise, not even when he’d successfully led his small band of rangers against a horde of wandering orcs, or held back the constant stream of raiding parties sent by Harad. For Boromir would have done so with fewer men, or had fewer casualties or required less time, and would certainly not have been injured as Faramir often was, and need to waste time at the healing houses.

Then Boromir spoke, repeating much of those and talking too of a kind, doting and loving father.

Faramir felt himself start at that, and spilled a little wine down his shirtfront. The others at the table glanced at him, and even Boromir halted for the barest second, before continuing. But Faramir ignored them, caught up in his thoughts instead.

He supposed Denethor had been just and intelligent – but he wasn’t sure about the other things. He couldn’t remember a loving word from him for many years. He tried not to think of the constant stream of chastisement he’d always heard instead – weak, craven, coward, inept, failure, lazy, fool, worthless. Or of the harsh nature of the discipline that was imposed on him, even in his adulthood.

All he could recollect now were a cold expression, angered words, harsh, sharp tones, and a heavy hand. For any summons from Denethor while he was in Minas Tirith were meant merely to rebuke him, for some misdemeanour or the other.

He knew Boromir had never been upbraided thus, since his childhood. But Boromir, he knew, had not the faults that he did. It was a thought that always left him ashamed and unhappy, and he’d silently endured the sharp words and painful punishments.

He reached out for another glass of wine. He was beginning to feel a little light-headed now, and realised he wasn’t sure how many he had had. More than his usual, he thought.

“He left an impression that we will never forget,” one of the councillors was saying.

Faramir thought of the marks on his back, and the way the scars sometimes left him stretched and stiff after a cold night.

He let out a small giggle. He couldn’t help it. He really just wanted to cry, he thought bleakly. He noticed the others at his table staring at him, and realised most people in the room had heard him. Boromir looked even more annoyed.

To his relief, that was the last speaker. Supper was a brief, quiet meal, given the solemnity of the occasion. Faramir ate silently, avoiding conversation with anyone. He stood near Boromir at the end of the meal, as people approached them, with words of solace, but he found he could respond with little more than monosyllables.

“You must miss him a lot,” someone was saying.

Faramir stared at the lady blankly. To him, all these days without Denethor were like any other day, but without as much of the worry of where he was falling short.

She was waiting for a response, he thought wildly.

“Y-yes,” he finally stuttered helplessly, feeling Boromir’s gaze boring into him.

The lady gave him an odd look before moving forward.

It didn’t surprise him too much when Boromir asked to see him later that night. He was coming down with a raging headache, and realised that he could barely remember how much wine he’d had. He did remember though that he’d probably been expected to behave in a more civilised fashion at the service. He readied himself, washing his face multiple times, and brushing down his hair. He knew as he looked at himself in the mirror that he looked well like someone who had spent a night of excess at the taverns.

Boromir was sharing a cup of spiced wine with the king, when he reached.

Elessar gave Faramir an appraising look, before rising. Boromir still looked annoyed. Denethor would have looked merely cold and expressionless.

“I’ll await you in the chambers,” Aragorn told Boromir.

It didn’t take Boromir too long to say what he needed to.

“What ever were you doing?” he nearly exploded, “First you refused to speak, and then you were fidgety while others spoke. You spilled wine on yourself, like a child! And then you giggled! And when people were leaving you displayed such a deplorable lack of etiquette!”

Faramir sighed, “Forgive me. I was tired, and the wine, well… forgive me.”

“Wine! Faramir! The wine… is that all you can say? I can’t believe you could behave so disgracefully. I don’t even know what to say to you.”

Denethor would have said he’d get ten strokes for misbehaviour, and ten more for rudeness.

Faramir said nothing, just standing there unhappily.

“What do you have to say for yourself,” Boromir asked.

“You said he was loving and kind… and I thought…” Faramir gulped and felt the bile rise up in his throat. His voice caught in his throat, and he let out something between a croak and a belch.

Boromir grabbed him by the shoulders and gave him a small shake. Faramir bit back the fear that rose, as the grip tightened around his limbs.

“You’re drunk,” Boromir said disgustedly.

“He was not always loving or kind,” Faramir said dully, “I remembered… and…”

“Well of course he wasn’t. I agree he was often hard and very harsh, but surely you understand that those were very difficult times!”

Faramir said nothing. His head felt heavy and hurt miserably.

“We were fighting a war. There was no time for niceties.” Boromir continued.

“Have we not spoken enough of him today?” Faramir retorted, stung by his brother’s continued defence of their father. Yes, he may have deserved much of the harshness for his failings but perhaps he had deserved too, all those kind and loving words that Boromir spoke of.

Boromir stared at him in disbelief, and Faramir realised this was one of those rare occasions when they were having a fight! And Boromir, he knew, would be unused to seeing him behave in an unseemly manner or even disagreeing with him. He felt so tired!

“Forgive me. My behaviour was inexcusable. You may penalise me as you see fit.” he said wearily.

“Is that all you will say?” Boromir fumed.

“What would you have me say?” Faramir bit back, and then with his customary restraint, “‘tis late now, Boromir. Can we not talk of this later?”

“No,” Boromir said shortly.

“I’m tired, Boromir. I can think of nothing to say.”

“Well, I will wait for you to think of something to say,” his brother said stubbornly, “All night, if need be. I’m not tired.”

“Aye, but does not Elessar wait for you in his chambers?” Faramir snapped back.

“Inglor spoke truly. You are uncontrollably rude!”

Faramir said nothing, simply looked back at Boromir stormily.

“I will speak to you when you return to your senses,” Boromir retorted, “Be off now.”

When Faramir woke the next morning, his mouth was dry, head heavy, and empty stomach roiling. He’d had a wretched time last night, leaning over a bowl, retching, his body unused to such excesses. His sheets were damp with sweat and the room smelt despite the open windows. He groaned, wishing he hadn’t imbibed the extra cup of wine, or perhaps two or three extra, he thought bleakly. For nothing else could explain how awful he felt, or the way he’d lost his composure.

He groaned again as the events at the service came back to mind, and the conversation with Boromir later. He hadn’t drunk that much that he could not recollect the words they’d exchanged he realised. Boromir had been so annoyed. He needed to apologise!

Boromir was most certainly annoyed. He was out riding that morning, and later claimed to be too busy to meet Faramir. When they did finally meet at a council meeting, he wouldn’t speak to Faramir. It continued so for some days. Boromir sent any communication to Faramir through curt notes, instructing him on his tasks. Faramir responded by following the instructions, and waiting for some verbal acknowledgement. By his turn, he too now remained silent, when they met, at mealtimes or in council. It was not difficult, for him, but it hurt him nevertheless.

Boromir and he had disagreed in the past, and at times in their childhood, not spoken to each other, but that had lasted merely a day. Usually a good night’s sleep would be enough to restore their good humour with each other.

“This has gone on long enough,” Aragorn finally told Boromir, as he watched the Steward sitting at a window seat staring down at the gardens. Faramir was standing below, watching some birds perched on a fountain. The younger man was standing hunched into his cloak. A stiff breeze carried yellowing leaves across the courtyard, and one got caught in the young man’s hair. Faramir did not seem to notice.

Boromir scowled. The weather had worsened these last few days. Grey, leaden skies interspersed with rain had them spending all their time indoors, and Boromir’s mood had only worsened.

“I know you’re not really angry with him,” Aragorn retorted, “The weather has turned you sour and crabby and you’re taking that out on your poor brother.”

“I’m still very upset with him,” Boromir huffed, “He was very silly that night, and stubborn too. I just want him to realise he cannot expect to be so wilful and silly, at this age. He needs to be responsible and mature.”

“I’m sure he does,” Aragorn soothed, returning to his paperwork, satisfied that Boromir seemed to be in a better mood already.

And to Faramir’s relief, Boromir began talking to him again. He responded with more than equal enthusiasm. They did not discuss the events around the service again, and he felt grateful for that.

The weather remained unpredictable, raining heavily some days, and warm on others, but the warmer days began to grow fewer. The council sessions were coming to a close and the work reached a faster pace, for many matters had to be finalised before the councillor and liege lords returned to their lands for the winter.

For more than a week, they were all hard at work, from morning till late in the night, finalising all matters that needed council approvals. They had returned now to the pattern they followed earlier.

And then the load began to ease, slowly. The council related matters were starting to get wrapped up, some councillors were even starting to leave. The days were getting cooler, and shorter. Faramir found he slept even more badly in such weather, but the thought that Boromir was no longer as upset with him, made him feel a lot better.

It was on one of those days, when the sky looked clearer and less grey and the winds felt softer that a chance detour by the kitchen for Faramir revealed the fragrance of honeycakes. His brother loved those, he recollected. That would be good. They had been working hard for long hours all this week, but much of their work for now was over, and Boromir could look forward to a fine meal.

In fact, Faramir mused, perhaps they could have a small picnic. That was an excellent idea, he thought happily. They could go by the river, which both of them would like. They could carry along a fishing rod for Boromir, he’d take that new book he found in the archives. They could return a little after sundown just in time for supper. It would be just like the outings they used to have in their younger days.

He went looking for Boromir, pleased with the plan. He found his brother walking down the long hallway outside his chambers, a bundle of papers in his hands. Boromir glanced up from the papers in his hands as he approached. He looked a little put out. Faramir thought it must come from being confined to the indoors the last few days.

Well, he did know how to cheer him up.

“The kitchens have made honey cakes today,” he declared smiling, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go out on a picnic by the river? I’ll get us some bread and cheese and fruits as well. And that nice cordial from Dol Amroth that you really liked.”

“I don’t really want honey cakes,” Boromir murmured, returning his gaze to the papers in his hands, “Really, it seems some of these papers just reproduce if they’re left on the table too long!”

“Oh but they’re your favourites, aren’t they? We could leave after the noon meal,” Faramir continued, “We’d be by the river in time for tea.”

He stopped talking suddenly realising that Boromir did not look too pleased. He felt his own cheerfulness fade. The memory of their recent argument was still fresh in his mind, and he found he did not wish to endure again, days of Boromir not talking to him. The very recollection of those few days of loneliness and unhappiness sent a wave of misery washing over him.

“I said I didn’t want honey cakes,” his brother replied loudly, “And must you keep chattering so inanely, like a hobbit. And a picnic? In this weather? Have you naught else to do? Did not Aragorn ask you for some reports?”

“I just thought you might like to spend a little time with me, like we used to,” he stammered out, scared by the annoyance in Boromir’s expression.

Surely, they were not going to fight again! He had merely sought to be with his brother. Perhaps, everyone spoke truly, he truly did burden Boromir too much!

He was embarrassed to feel tears pooling around his eyes, suddenly. He felt weary and heartsick now, and inexplicably sad. He turned away from Boromir and began walking away hurriedly. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the king walking towards them, and realised now why his brother had refused. Boromir would have planned luncheon with the king, and he was merely being in the way.

He truly was inept and a disturbance.


Boromir looked up at his brother’s retreating form, and took in the slouched posture. He shouldn’t have been so short-tempered with him. He grabbed at him, clutching the shoulder worriedly. Faramir was all skin and bone, he realised suddenly.

“Look, I didn’t mean to sound like that. Is it a picnic you want? Perhaps we can have one when the weather is finer…”

“No… I… leave me be, Boromir… I must return… those reports, you were right.” Faramir could feel the tears run down his face.

“Faramir! Are you crying? What is it?”

“N-nothing,” he pushed the hand away. It was heavy and it hurt. He’d have bruises on his shoulder tomorrow.

Boromir hadn’t expected his hand to be pushed away, certainly not by Faramir. The sudden movement made him step back. His foot caught in the rug at the top of the staircase, and he found himself falling. He threw out a hand to catch at something but failed to land a grip anywhere, and landed with a loud crash.

“Boromir!” he heard Aragorn and Faramir’s terrified voices, before he sank into darkness.

Chapter 5

Not work safe due to nekkid Fara pictures

Faramir stared in shock at his brother lying prone at the bottom of the steps, and then gasped as he noticed the dark stain spreading out from under his head.

“Boromir!” Elessar pushed past him and ran down the stairs taking them two at time. Behind him Legolas and Gimli came running out of the supper room nearby.

“Gimli, go and get a healer,” Legolas said frantically, “Estel, take care on those steps!”

Faramir came down the steps in a daze staring at the crumpled figure on the floor. The king and Legolas crouched around Boromir’s still figure, calling out to him, and chaffing his wrists.

“He’ll be fine, Estel don’t worry,” he heard Legolas speaking as though at a great distance, “It’s just a bad knock. And here… he’s cut his skin on the sharp wooden edge, that’s all. Be careful now… we’ll carry him to the houses of healing.”

And then Gimli came running down the hallway again with two healers behind him. They hurried down the stairs nudging Faramir aside.

“Move away now!” the master healer, Eldreth said calmly, “You too Sire!”

Faramir stayed away from everyone, watching as they examined the Steward. Boromir was so still, his face so white. The king looked stricken, and equally ashen, as he moved away.

He stepped back and his gaze fell upon Faramir.

“What have you done to him?”

The king looked furious, his grey eyes afire as he advanced towards Faramir. He looked angrier than Denethor ever had.

Faramir shrank back against the wall, terrified.

“You hurt him!”

Aragorn’s hand descended on his cheek, sharp and heavy. Pain blossomed across his face and the impact of the blow sent him sprawling off balance.

He realised with a daze that he had fallen to his knees… he was breathing rapidly in short painful gasps, as he shivered, waiting for Aragorn’s booted toe to strike his ribs, much as his father has often done. Instead he felt himself being pulled up, the king’s fist bunched around the collar of his shirt.

“How dare you strike him?”

“I – I didn’t mean to -,” he pushed back against the wall, as Elessar continued shouting.

He was struck across the face again, in the same spot, equally painfully. His head snapped back against the wall and he cried out from the impact. A loud buzzing sound filled his ears … the grip on his shirt tightened.

“Stop it!”

He looked up fearfully to see Legolas pulling the king away. Elessar was still shouting, his face red, tears shining in his eyes.

“Inglor said you were jealous and resented him!”

“Stop it!” Legolas shouted again, “He’s fine. It’s just a bad knock.”

The king let go of his shirt and Faramir fell again, unable to hold himself up.

“He’ll wake up soon,” Eldreth said calmly from where he sat crouched over Boromir, “Nothing to worry about. We’ll just carry him over to the houses of healing and see about stitching up that cut.”

Faramir curled into himself, terrified.

Aragorn turned a cold gaze on him, grey eyes shining with worried tears, “I will deal with you later,” he said, his voice hard and angry.

“F-forgive me,” he whispered.

“I should have you clapped away somewhere! You did after all just assault the Steward!” he spat out the words before hurrying off behind the others.

“Stay away a while lad,” Gimli said gruffly. The genial dwarf’s voice sounded hard and cold, and Faramir shrank further away.

It was just like the last time he had caused Boromir to get hurt, he thought as he stayed crouching miserably by the wall.

They had been at sword practice, and at Denethor’s insistence, they had been at combat with each other.

He’d been losing badly, for he was still a novice, the sword was heavy and his footwork was almost clumsy compared to Boromir’s light moves. His brother had been going easy on him. And then Faramir, tired and worn out, had slipped. Boromir, confident of victory, had not anticipated the unexpected movement, and the sword had gone through his thigh. Since it was merely a practice sword, the injury had not been as bad as it could have, but it had left his brother laid up in bed for some days.

He tried to push away the memory, and rose, stumbling somehow to his feet, using the wall for support. The others had left, but the blood stains still remained on the floor. He felt the bile rise to his throat as he stared at the splashes of bright red against the white floor.

He had to get to the houses of healing, he told himself. He needed to see Boromir! But not Elessar, he thought, shuddering. Unbidden the memory of the older man’s furious face looming so close to his rushed up and he clenched his fists, trying to control the fear he felt.

It seemed to take him an age to reach the houses of healing. The news of Boromir’s fall was spreading across the citadel, and he noticed uncomfortably that the people he passed by were giving him odd looks, some thoughtful, and some cold and hard.

He made his way towards the room he knew Boromir would be in, keeping an eye out to see where the others might be. Voices floated over to him from the hallway – the king, Legolas and Gimli. He slipped out of the hallway into the garden and crouched on a small bench behind some bushes. A soft, exasperated voice cut through the others, sending relief coursing through Faramir.

Boromir was awake!

He sounded exhausted though, he thought miserably, and slumped into the bushes unhappily. His father had spoken truly. He was little more than a nuisance. He should have been a support to Boromir in these tough times, helping him with his work. Instead he’d been spending his time sulking and not helping Boromir.

He stayed there, thinking worriedly of his brother. The sounds died away after a while but he stayed there.

Eldreth came across him some time later.

“On you’re here too? Well, come along in. Boromir is still awake, but he needs to go to sleep soon. I’ve just sent the others away so he can rest awhile.”

Faramir let himself be pulled into the room.

Boromir was sitting up in bed, awake; his bright grey eyes clear and lucid. An ugly large bruise marked the side of his face, and a white bandage covered the cut on his temple. He looked a little annoyed. He’d always hated being cooped inside the houses of healing.

“Faramir,” he said, sounding a little surprised, “I wondered where you’d wandered off to.”

“Boromir,” he gulped out, unable to stop the tears, “F-forgive me… I didn’t mean to…”

“It’s all right,” his brother said quietly, “I’m fine.”

“It – it was just like the time in the practice ground,” Faramir said worriedly, “You were hurt so badly then. It’s my fault again.”

“Don’t be silly. It was an accident. I should have watched where I was stepping. I just didn’t expect you to move so suddenly.”

“I would never hurt you,” Faramir mumbled.

“I know.”

“I didn’t mean to move. I just thought…you work so hard. I know I’m not of much help, but I thought…,” he knew he was rambling, but he was worried and he really needed to let Boromir know, “Forgive me, I did not mean to…”

“Oh for Eru’s sake, Faramir, stop it! It was an accident, I know that,” Boromir snapped, “I’m really tired now, can we not speak later?”

“I – I,” he floundered. Tears flowed down his cheeks.

“And stop blubbering!”

“I – I didn’t…”

“That’s enough now. Boromir, stop getting excited,” Eldreth bustled in, “You’d better leave now, Faramir. Your brother needs rest.”

“I’d rest better without all this fuss,” Boromir snapped out mutinously.

“Oh-of course,” Faramir mumbled, and rose to his feet.

He left his supper uneaten, and returned to the houses instead, lingering in the gardens. He went towards Boromir’s rooms after a while, wishing to check on his brother. He could hear soft voices from inside. Boromir was laughing. He sounded happy, and not at all annoyed. The king’s soft voice floated through the open window.

Boromir was clearly not too tired to withstand Aragorn’s company, he thought blankly. He returned to his chambers.

The room was cold and unlit. He lit the lantern, and undressed slowly, dragging his clothes off.

He could feel the bruises now, from the fall after Elessar had hit him. He’d hurt tomorrow he knew. Some had already started purpling. He stared down at his unattractive nude frame; his frame, spare and bony, tiny tufts of grizzly black hair on his chest and groin. Tiredly, he washed himself with a washcloth dipped in cold water. And then sat heavily on his bed. He felt exhausted.

He’d have to meet the king later for the rest of his punishment. He hoped Elessar would not be too harsh…. Boromir did seem better now. He hadn’t recovered this quickly the last time. He stirred uneasily as the old memories overwhelmed him. He pushed his bedclothes away tiredly and lay down on his bed.

He could still remember the incident. He’d been fifteen. Denethor had till then chosen to largely ignore him. After the incident at the practise ground, however, Denethor had decided to take an active interest in all he did, particularly his errors. He had earlier been miserable over the neglect, but in later days, he’d craved for that earlier time when Denethor had barely seemed to care what Faramir did. After that, his each action and word was scrutinised and incessantly criticised, verbally as well physically.

He shivered as he lay in bed, curling up miserably, breathing heavily.

On that occasion, Denethor had used a belt, he remembered – thirty strokes – one for each day that the healers said Boromir would be laid up, for he had developed a fever as well.

Boromir had been stone-faced and angry when Faramir had visited him in the houses of healing, before meeting his father. “Please go away, Faramir,” he had said, his face pale, voice small and defeated, “I don’t think I can speak to you now.”

He’d left with a heavy heart, slowly making his way to his father’s study.

“You did that deliberately!” Denethor had spat out when he’d reached his chambers, frightened and worried.

“No, I-”

Denethor had struck him on his face, so hard that his ears rang, and he’d almost fallen over.

“Silence! Insolent boy! Do you think I do not know how you envy your brother!”

He’d tried to protest. He had never envied Boromir’s prowess, accepting it instead with equanimity and admiring him for it. He did envy him for all who loved him though. Denethor had brushed his protests aside, with another slap, equally hard.

“Thirty days!” Denethor raged, “He will be unable to walk for thirty days all for your stupidity.”

He’d stood there shrinking inside, trembling from worry and fear, as Denethor raged.

“Indisciplined…. worthless… incapable… coward….craven fool… you let your jealousy rule your actions… I will not stand for this any longer… you will mend your ways … I will personally see to your discipline now.”

“I – I’m not,” he’d started and Denethor had lashed out then.

“Quiet!” he’d roared, “I will not tolerate any more transgressions.”

He removed his belt. Faramir had barely enough time to react as he was shoved over the table.

“I am personally going to punish you for each and every error in future. Starting from today. That is thirty days your brother is out. You will get thirty strokes for what you have done.”

“No – no,” Faramir said. He felt ashamed and humiliated… surely he was too old to be thrashed like this….

He’d struggled, terrified by the cold and harsh tone his father was using and the sight of the thick belt with its metal buckle glinting in the firelight. But Denethor was taller and stronger and had simply held him down, pulling up his shirt to bare his back. The leather striking his skin had made him scream, and his reaction had only angered his father further.

“Craven, blubbering fool … Boromir would never cry as you do…” He’d held back his cries, whimpering softly, tears trickling down his cheeks as the belt landed all over his back.

After the first few strokes, Denethor changed his grip so that the metal end struck Faramir now. He hadn’t been able to hold back his cries after that, as the sharp edges bit into his skin.

After the fifteenth stroke, he had nearly fainted and slid off the table, but Denethor had continued viciously striking him even as he lay on the floor. To his intense humiliation, the bindings on his sleeping pants had come undone from the force of the strikes and the garment had slid down to his upper thighs, baring his buttocks and hips and groin to Denethor’s derisive gaze.

The belt had landed indiscriminately then over his back, buttocks, thighs, abdomen, hips, as he’d lain curled on the cold floor, whimpering.

When it was over, he had still lain there, unable to move, hurting terribly, and still in shock over what he’d had to go through.

“I suggest you comport yourself as you should now for the next few weeks,” Denethor said coldly, looming over his crumpled form, prodding his bare and already sore midsection with his booted foot, so that he was forced to look up, “I will not hesitate to punish you again.”

He had had to be helped back to his chambers by Inglor. He’d lain there on his bed, for the next two days, fevered and in a haze of pain and fear and worry.

Boromir had recovered in fifteen days.

Faramir had spent those fifteen days trying to make himself invisible. And many days after that as well, for Denethor’s fury had only increased.

It wasn’t until some days later when Faramir was to leave for his training stint in Ithilien that he and Boromir had spoken. He had been sitting on his bed, putting his few belongings into an old satchel when Boromir had entered and hugged him quietly before wishing him a safe journey.

“I thought you’d want to spend time with me before leaving.”

He’d been conflicted then – glad to see his brother, yet still hurting from their last meeting. He’d wanted to remind him that he’d asked him to leave.

He’d wept instead. He remembered soaking Boromir’s shirt with his tears.

“I didn’t mean to… forgive me… I would never hurt you…”

“Hush, I know… ‘tis alright… I am well now. It was nothing.”

Faramir woke up, his heart racing, cheeks wet with tears.

He couldn’t return to sleep after that. Disjointed memories flooded through his mind, his father’s constant anger, the repeated comparisons to Boromir, his constant nagging worry of how his father would react to anything he did.

For each misconduct he was to expect a punishment, either a caning or belting. On matters that Denethor deemed more serious, it would be a riding crop or worse, one of the many whips he used. Faramir had felt each and every whip his father owned on his body; the scars littered his back, his backside, and the back of his thighs.

It was not going to change, he thought now desperately; nothing would change. He was still struggling to match up to Boromir’s skills as a steward, the king was furious with him, and given his earlier injuries, he would be of no use in the battlefield as well.

Over the years the frequency of the punishments had not reduced and their intensity had only increased. Five strokes for speaking out of turn became ten, then fifteen. For dawdling or laziness, the punishment changed from ten strokes to fifteen on his bare arse, six on each buttock alternately, and three across, so that he would be unable to sit for at least two days. He would shamefully lower his pants, and crouch over the study table, his crotch pressing into its edge painfully, his entire body flushed with embarrassment at his state of semi-nudity. To the young man’s mortification, Denethor would often have Inglor present as well, sometimes even handing over the task of completing a punishment to the old servant, and at times, in the earlier days, when Faramir would protest, unable to tolerate the derisive words and humiliating beating, needing him to subdue Faramir – holding him down, or forcibly removing his tunic. Inglor would comply efficiently and just as harshly. Faramir had finally in some years, stopped protesting.

Faramir had over the years, felt increasingly shameful, knowing well that there would be no other grown man, of his age, receiving such penalties. He made sure he hid the knowledge from Boromir. If his brother were to find out, he’d thought initially, he too would be as disgusted with him as Denethor was. And later, as he grew older, and crossed the age of thirty as well, it was too embarrassing and humiliating for him to admit to anyone, especially one he admired as much as Boromir, that he was incapable even of living up to the most basic of their father’s requirements.

By the next morning, Boromir’s room in the houses of healing was full of small tokens and flowers, carrying wishes from all and sundry.

“I’m fine, you know,” Boromir smiled at Aragorn and grasped his hand gently, “Stop worrying.”

“I was really worried, when I saw you on the stairs,” Aragorn shuddered painfully.

“Poor Faramir. He was hovering around rather miserably too. I sent him off then – he was giving me a headache. But he’s quite a worrier.”

Aragorn bit his lip, as he remembered his encounter with the Steward’s brother. He’d shouted at the poor lad quite awfully, he knew, letting his anger and fear get the better of him. Seeing Boromir lying on those steps, bleeding, had made him realise yet again how much he loved the younger man.

He’d hit Faramir too, he realised suddenly and winced.

“What is the matter,” Boromir asked sharply.

“I need to speak to him” Aragorn sighed, “I was – a little – harsh…”

“Oh,” Boromir said doubtfully. He’d never known Aragorn to be the harsh sort. He’d always been so patient and kind to everyone.

“I was worried. And I thought he’d hurt you. I – well, I hit him. I shouldn’t have…”

“You hit him?” Boromir said.

“I was angry. And he hurt you.”

Boromir sighed.

“It wasn’t his fault,” he said, “You needn’t have hit him.”

“I know now,” Aragorn said unhappily.

“He might be a little upset. I should see him, I suppose. He’s a little shy, you know. Father once slapped him after a rather fractious council meeting over the Ithilien supply line. He was very upset then.”

“I’ll meet him. I need to apologise.’

Faramir received the summons from the king whilst he was readying himself in the morning. He’d had a miserable night and what little sleep he’d had was plagued with nightmares. The note delivered to his chambers, had him sitting back heavily on his bed, half-dressed.

Nothing had changed, he thought blandly.

Chapter 6

Faramir straightened his tunic miserably as he walked down the hallways towards the king’s study. A shiver ran down his back, as he wondered how harsh his punishment would be. He reached the king’s apartments and stared irresolutely at the study door. He felt lightheaded and recollected that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast the previous day. He heard the king’s voice summoning him from inside the study. He felt scared, and he hated himself for it.

The king’s study was large and airy, and the table looked imposing. It was the same one he’d been hauled over so often, the carved edges pressing into the soft skin of his lower belly, leaving faint bruises each time.

And the king, sitting there looked as imposing and terrifying as his father had. He took a deep breath and walked forward. A whip hung over the wall, above the desk, a large one. And a cane rested against the wall by the king’s chair, and his riding crop had been thrown onto a chair by the fire. Elessar rose.

Faramir stopped; his legs felt leaden, unable to carry him forward. The king strode forward, and with each step, Faramir could hear his heart thudding heavily against his chest. The blood seemed to rush to his head, leaving him almost faint.

“Faramir,” the king’s voice seemed toneless.

He came closer, and Faramir backed away.

“Forgive me,” he spoke rapidly, “I – “

He kept moving backwards, as terror welled inside him. His back hit the stone wall painfully, and he gasped.

The king was moving closer. He sank to the floor, breathing heavily in short quick gasps. Elessar’s face loomed closer to his, a large hand came up. And then the blessed blackness overtook his exhausted mind.

Aragorn darted forward as he saw Faramir slump forward. He grabbed the smaller man around the waist, letting him collapse against his chest.

“Faramir,” he called out, worriedly. The lad lay still in his arms. He hoisted him up and carried him over to a cushioned bench near the fireplace. He was far too light, he realised.

He laid him on the bench, and gently stroked his face. He winced as he noticed a purpling bruise on his cheek, from where he’d hit him. Faint lines of worry marred the pale face, and dark circles ringed the closed eyes. He must have been worried a great deal over Boromir, Aragorn realised! He wondered suddenly if he’d eaten.

Faramir stirred, moaning slightly.

When Faramir came to, the king was leaning over him, holding his hand talking to him gently.

“Wh-what?” he said foggily, wondering why Elessar sat by his bed. And then he realised he was not in his bed.

He made to sit up, and felt a wave of giddiness pass through him, and then a firm hand on his chest held him down.

“Hush, lie back,” the king said, “You fainted. When did you last eat?”

“F-fainted?” Faramir said. He’d fainted, he thought, in the king’s study. As though he were some weak maiden. He flushed at the thought. He was truly becoming more and more inept.

“I-,” He stared about him in confusion. He wondered why he laid like that, his confused mind grasping for stray memories. He was in the king’s study, he’d been called, and Boromir….

“Boromir!” he shouted and sat up with a gasp.

“Lie back,” the king said gently.

He stared up at him, and felt fear welling up.

Aragorn stared bemusedly at the younger man who had quietly collapsed mere minutes ago. He suspected it was from exhaustion and lack of food. The youngling had certainly worked himself into a state over Boromir’s injury!

“He’s all right,” he said reassuringly, reaching a hand out to brush the hair away from the sweat slicked face.

Faramir flinched, cowering away.

And Aragorn realised that he had backed away just so into the wall earlier. He noticed too, as he had not earlier, the emotions flitting across the now pale features – fear mostly.

He lowered his hand quietly, and Faramir seemed to breathe easier, barely though. He still looked terrified, as though someone were going to hit him. And immediately Aragorn recollected bitterly that he had done just that.

“I called you in to request you to forgive me for my behaviour yesterday,” he said quietly, watching Faramir’s face closely. The younger man stared at him uncomprehendingly.

“I should not have reacted so. I was worried, but I should not have taken my worry out on you.”

“N-no,” he gasped out, “M-my fault,” he said.

“Of course not,” Argaorn said gently, and came closer.

“Boromir slipped. It was not your fault. I – I should curb your temper. But,” he paused, as he felt his face flush from this display of emotion, “I love your brother greatly, and it terrified me to think he was hurt.”

He sat by Faramir’s side, pretending not to notice the way the younger man inched his thin body away.

“I should not have hit you,” he said quietly, “Again, I beg you forgive me for that.”

Faramir stared at him, “F-forgive you?”

He was hearing things, Faramir decided.

“I – I am ready for my punishment,” he said quietly, instead.

“Punishment?” Aragorn stared at the younger man in surprise. The poor lad really looked done in. His hair was badly tousled, and faint shivers racked his body. He must still be badly disoriented, he decided.

“F-for hurting Boromir,” Faramir murmured softly, his eyes now bright with unshed tears, “M-must penalise. He’s the Steward. And c-captain.” He was trembling now, and had curled into himself.

“It was an accident,” Aragorn said, soothingly, “Lie back, you need some rest. And then something to eat.”

“B-but I hurt Boromir,” Faramir said frantically.

“He slipped.”

“I hurt Boromir,” Faramir repeated, sounding almost bewildered.

Aragorn sighed and rose.

Faramir stared at the king walking away, his vision hazy through the film of tears. The riding crop lay on the chair near him. Elessar must be getting the cane or a whip. He should get up, and lean over the table, but his limbs felt so heavy. And he needed to remove his tunic. Denethor had always insisted on that, saying he would not let him ruin his clothes.

He lay back miserably. His head was pounding now, and fear seemed to block even his throat. The king was returning he realised, even as a fresh wave of blackness suddenly surged through him. He felt something wet and cool at his lips, and realised the king was giving him something to drink. He sipped obediently.

And then he remembered nothing else.

Aragorn sighed as Faramir’s breathing evened out. The herbal tea he had given him to calm him had worked a little too well. But it would help Faramir rest. He’d have some food to sent to him in a while, and then take him to see Boromir. He draped his cloak over the prone figure, and brushed the stray strands of hair off his face.He looked so small and young!

It would take Faramir a while to awaken, he thought. He could visit Boromir in the meantime.

He told his secretary to let Faramir sleep in the study undisturbed.

He received an odd look when he summoned one of the kitchen staff and asked them to leave a plate of bread and cheese by Faramir, in case he woke up and felt hungry.

Boromir was awake and chafing to leave. Aragorn smiled for the young man presented a fairly incongruous sight, his dark uncombed hair flying wild, a bright white bandage on his forehead, and his expression stormy.

“I feel perfect,” he told Aragorn, in annoyance, “Why do I need to be here two more days?”

“Because you hit your head and one cannot be too careful on that. And then you need complete rest for a week,” the master healer announced, “You may return to your chambers but you must rest – as little reading as possible, no riding, nothing strenuous.”

Boromir snorted in annoyance and turned to Aragorn after he had left.

“He hates me because I once bit him when he was stitching a cut on my hand,” he told the king.

Aragorn laughed and sat by Boromir’s bed, “Well, as favour to me then, obey his instructions. The sooner you recover, the sooner we can indulge in some – ah… pleasurable strenuous activities?”

Boromir laughed in response.

Aragorn smiled. He was glad to see Boromir looking so well.

“Did you speak to Faramir?” Boromir asked suddenly, “I thought he’d be here by now, hovering over me.”

Aragorn told him about Faramir’s collapse as briefly as he could.

“He’s all right, merely worried about you,” he told him, “I’ll bring him over once he wakes up. If he spends some time with you, he might feel better too! And if he hovers, let him. Don’t shunt him off like you did yesterday!”

When Faramir came to again, he was alone in the king’s study. The afternoon sun was shining through thin curtains, but Faramir had still been covered with a cloak. He pushed it away and sat up. He remembered fainting, twice now, in the king’s study and felt extremely mortified.

“Oh you’re awake!” Elessar said, cheerfully, “Boromir’s asking for you. I told him you were resting. You need to eat something. Will you join him for luncheon? There’s stew I think.”

Faramir nodded, still feeling a little groggy. He followed the king to the houses of healing, and entered Boromir’s room.

His brother was awake and smiled at him as he entered. Faramir rushed to his side.

“Boromir…,” he said almost pathetically, his fingers hovering over the bruises on his brother’s face. He felt tears spring to his eyes.

“There you are, little brother!” Boromir said jovially, “I wondered where you were.”

And then when Faramir didn’t respond but continued staring at him, he sighed, “Oh come, youngling. It’s merely a cut and some bruises. The bandage will come off in a week. And the bruises give me a rather dashing look, don’t you think? Like a corsair or some such.”

Faramir sniffed miserably.

Boromir gave Aragorn a despairing look.

‘Be patient,’ Aragorn mouthed, smiling.

A sharp sound from the doorway had all three of them looking up. Inglor stood there, holding some books and clothes, and he looked furious.

“You,” Inglor glared at Faramir, “Why are you here? You horrible, nasty, jealous boy! See what you did… poor Lord Boromir, he tolerates you and helps you and this is what you do to him. I knew you would show your true colours soon. You should send him off my lord, back to the borders… it’s the apt place for disobedient, uncivilised creatures.”

“Inglor!” Boromir shouted, shocked at the tirade, “That’s enough. You can’t talk to Faramir like that!”

“He hurt you!” Inglor spat out, his ageing features distorted in fury.

“It was an accident,” Aragorn said quietly, “Calm down, Inglor. There is no call to shout at Faramir like this. Boromir slipped. And I suggest if the citadel staff do not know yet, you inform them.”

Inglor looked at them darkly, “Lord Denethor would have taken care of this properly,” he said, his lips pursed in disapproval, and then he walked off.

Boromir shook his head in consternation, “I am very fond of that old man, but I think he needs to be pensioned off now. He’s getting senile! Oh Faramir! You’re not crying because of what he said, surely?”

Aragorn laid a hand on the trembling man’s shoulders. Faramir wiped the tears off his face and shook his head unhappily.

“And no, don’t apologise again!” Boromir snapped trying to curb his annoyance. All he wanted was a quiet meal.

Boromir pulled him close to sit by his side, gently patting his back and head awkwardly. He was very grateful when lunch came in. They ate together – he and Aragorn trying to maintain a cheerful conversation, Faramir staying in a subdued silence.

Perhaps, Faramir thought, he was indeed not going to be punished this time.

Some days later…

Boromir lay back against Aragorn sighing pleasantly. It was raining furiously outside, with flashes of lightning appearing at intervals, and the muffled crack of thunder sounding in the distance.

They were sitting in front of a merrily crackling pine wood fire. The lights in the room had been dimmed so that only a soft golden glow spread around them. They had just finished a fine dinner – hot creamy, stew, warm buttered bread, a selection of roast meats, and warm pudding.

“The weather is so horrible today,” he muttered, “Inglor said Faramir had returned, thankfully. I hope he didn’t get too wet.”

“Legolas and Gimli are still at the taverns. Faramir will welcome a warm fire and this wonderful supper.”

Boromir nodded, “Supper was indeed very nice today. I must thank the kitchens. They seem to want me to eat like a hobbit.”

“The master healer said lots of rest and to eat well,” Aragorn said smiling, and ran his fingers through his hair and over his face, glad to see the bruises had faded.

“And no exertion,” Boromir smirked.

Aragorn snorted.

Faramir stumbled into his room. He was completely drenched. It had been a fine day, almost sunny, when he’d ridden out to the Pelennor to inspect some repairwork on the riverside fortifications south of the city. But then the weather had worsened over the afternoon, and the threatening clouds had finally burst as he’d still been a few miles short of the city. He’d ridden on, braving the flashes of lightning and heavy rain, and urged his horse forward. He’d reached the city some time earlier. But he’d had to stable his horse first, and rub her down and feed her. She was one of the smaller animals, unused to such exertions and it had taken him a while to get her settled. He had then run over to the citadel through the pouring rain, with little more than his cloak for cover.

His room was dark and cold. He peeled off the sodden clothes with difficulty, and washed himself quickly with bathwater that had been left there in the evening. It was lukewarm by now, as usual, but it was adequate. He pulled on a dry, thick tunic and pants, and then still feeling cold, pulled on another heavier tunic. He wished he could have a fire in his rooms but Denethor had instructed that the fires would be lit in his room only from the month of Ringare. That was still weeks away, but winter seemed early this year, the days getting cooler and sudden thunderstorms often breaking out as had happened today. There were reports of early snow in the villages on the White Mountains.

He had missed out on supper in the great hall as well, so he decided to go to the kitchens and get some food. He could then see if Boromir was awake and how he fared. His brother had been allowed to leave the houses of healing some days ago but was still recommended complete rest. It was hence that Faramir had ridden out to the repairworks instead, after finishing all his paperwork. Between Boromir’s secretary and himself, they had managed to redistribute the Steward’s work so that he would have as little to do as possible for another fortnight at least. Aragorn had said he would ensure Boromir would stay quiet.

He knocked lightly on Boromir’s door and pushed it open gently. The lights were dimmed, with only a few lamps lit, their golden glow lending the room a soft, warm atmosphere. A fragrant, warm fire crackled merrily in one corner, and as he stepped in, he realised that Boromir and Aragorn lay in front of it wrapped in furs, their empty dinner plates and bowls lay to the side. They were sleeping, Boromir curled into Aragorn arms. Faramir left quietly, unwilling to disturb them.

The next day remained dark and overcast, and Faramir took care of all the work he could do sitting within the citadel. He’d never realised how much paperwork his brother had, he thought guiltily. He’d worked on his own tasks faster than usual, before looking through Boromir’s. It was lucky for them the work had lessened considerably after the council meetings had ended. Thankfully he seemed to feel non ill-effects from his drenching barring a faint tickle in this throat.

The day after dawned sunny again, so he planned to ride out to the Pelennor in the afternoon again. The captain overseeing the work there needed a lot of guidance.

To his consternation, the weather turned foul again. However, he’d worn his thicker cloak this time, and the rain was not as heavy. So he hoped he would not get as wet. He was still dripping water along the floor when he entered the citadel, though, despite his best efforts. And the tickle in his throat was starting to hurt.

He trudged slowly towards his rooms, lost in a cloud of exhaustion, cold and misery.

“Faramir, you look like a drowning cat!” Boromir had walked p to him, and Faramir lost in his thoughts hadn’t noticed him.

“Boromir,” he said, smiling wearily at his brother, “I thought you might be sleeping.”

“I was waiting for you. The Haradric envoy sent me some books, which I thought you might like better. But I think the only thing you’d like now is a warm, dry bed and supper! Come, let’s get you into something dry.”

“I’m fine,” Faramir protested, slurring, and then stumbled, stopped by falling only by Boromir’s hand on his elbow.

“Yes, you certainly are. Come along now.”

“It’s nothing,” he tried again, “It’s just like two days earlier, it was raining, and I got wet. I was fine later.”

“Oh, is it?” Boromir asked ominously, but said nothing more.

Boromir walked along with his brother into his chambers, cursing himself silently for not checking what duties Faramir had taken on. The rebuilding work on the Pelennor could have waited a few weeks till the rains stopped.

He’d forgotten how far Faramir’s chambers were from his room!

Faramir’s room was unlit and cold, when they reached. Boromir frowned, as he led Faramir into the bathing chambers, helped him shrug off his cloak, and left him there to change. He walked out onto the hallway, found one the pages, and sent him off to ask for a fire in Faramir’s chambers. He then lit the lanterns placed around the room, and then pulled out some dry clothes from Faramir’s chest for him.

Faramir was sitting in the bathing chamber, shivering as he tried to tug off his boots.

“The fire’s not lit,” Boromir said, as he dipped a towel into the bathwater, “And this water’s not even hot.”

“They keep it here in the evening. I was late,” Faramir said, as he struggled to remove his tunic. Boromir helped him, and then aided him in removing his pants, until Faramir sat shivering in only his underclothes. Boromir gathered his wet clothes and placed them aside.

“Your cloak is inadequate for this rain,” he grumbled, “You need a thicker one. This one is so old!”

A sound outside indicated the arrival of a servant so Boromir left him to wash and change into his dry clothes.

Boromir found Haleth, one of the younger cleaning staff, standing outside uncertainly.

“Haleth, the fire needs to be lit,” he said, “I’m surprised it hasn’t already been done!”

“But it is too early. We only light the fires after Ringare starts,” Haleth said.

“Whoever told you that?” Boromir asked incredulously. He knew he hadn’t imagined the fire in his own chambers or in Aragorn’s.

“They are Lord Denethor’s instructions,” Haleth said, “In Master Faramir’s bedchambers, the fire is to be lit only in the winter months, after Ringare starts.”

“Why would he say that?” Boromir demanded.

“Well,” Haleth scratched his chin, “Elgin in the kitchens said it is because Master Faramir is a little lazy so Lord Denethor wanted him to stay out of his chambers as much as possible.”

Boromir stared at him, incredulously, and then sighed in irritation.

“Very well, I’m telling you now to light it, so do so! And ask your friend in the kitchens to send some firewood here.”

It took Haleth a while to get the fire going however, for the fireplace itself was damp and dusty and he needed to wipe it clean first. He managed with some difficulty to get one going.

In the meantime, Faramir emerged, cleaned up and wearing dry clothes. He was still shivering though, so Boromir had him get into bed and pulled the blankets up around him. He rested a hand on his forehead and cheeks and was unsurprised to feel the warmth.

“You’re running a fever,” he said quietly.

“I need to rise. I have to complete the report on the reconstruction,” Faramir mumbled.

“I’ll do that,” Boromir told him reassuringly.

“No, the healer said you have to rest –”

“For now, why don’t you get some rest?” Boromir suggested, “I’m calling Aragorn here to see you. So rest till then.”

Faramir let out a painful cough in response.

Aragorn was waiting for him in his chambers.

“Honeycakes for you,” he said smiling, “Warm and buttered too. Boromir – what is it? You look troubled.”

“Faramir was caught in the rain tonight, and I think two nights prior as well. He’s running a fever. Could you come take a look at him?”

“Oh dear. Yes, of course I will,” Aragorn said. He picked up the pouch of healing herbs he had kept for Boromir’s use and followed the other man out.

“Faramir’s chambers are rather far from yours,” he commented as they walked quietly through the long winding hallways.

“Yes – yes they are. I hadn’t realised earlier,” Boromir said.

The room itself was small, the furnishings bare and old, but neatly maintained. The bed and a small desk took up most of the area. A shelf over the table was piled high with books. Aragorn stared curiously out of the window. The only view he could see was of other citadel buildings, grey and dull. The fire was a small one and the wood seemed damp for it hissed and spat at regular intervals. It was a far cry for the bright cheerful chambers they’d just left.

A dank odour wafted in through the open windows. He shut them firmly.

“It’s not very warm,” he commented, as he sat by Faramir’s bed. The younger man was lying with his eyes closed, but he shifted restlessly often.

“The fire was unlit,” Boromir said.

Aragorn sighed as he placed hand on Faramir’s face. The lad’s face was pale and clammy, and his breathing raspy.

“You’re right. He’s running a fever, and he’s developing a bad cough as well. I think we should move him from here, to your chambers or mine. They are far more comfortable!”

“He weights next to nothing,” Boromir exclaimed as he helped Aragorn gather the younger man into his arms, blankets and all.

Aragorn nodded unhappily.

“We need a nightshirt for him, a thick one. I have some old ones, we’ll use those. We need to rub him down with some herbs and then he can eat something and then rest. Will you ask the kitchens for supper for him – soup perhaps?”

Boromir agreed and went in search of Inglor – he could arrange for supper and extra blankets.

He found Inglor in the dining hall, supervising the clearing away of supper.

“Lord Boromir! You should not be up and about at this time. You are to rest,” he chided.

“Yes,” Boromir said, “But Faramir is unwell. Aragorn is taking him to my chambers as we speak. He will need some dinner, soup and bread perhaps.”

“Very well,” Inglor said, “But that is not excuse to wander so.”

“And Inglor, what is this Haleth tells me of being instructed to not light a fire here till the winter sets in?”

“That was Lord Denethor’s order. He said it was very important that Faramir be taught discipline, and that his laziness be taken care of. He said if he had a fire in his chambers, he’d be here all day lost in a cloud of books and fantasies.”

“Faramir is not lazy,” Boromir retorted. Inglor responded with a shrug and returned to supervising the cleaning staff.

Aragorn had laid Faramir on his bed when he returned. He was mixing together some herbs.

“What happened?” Aragorn asked him, for Boromir was looking quite distressed.

Boromir told him quietly, shaking his head as he did so, “I didn’t know. Father never disciplined me so.”

“It is odd,” Aragorn agreed, “You must ask Faramir about it.”

“Is he all right?” Boromir asked anxiously, looking at his younger brother, as shifted restlessly in the large bed. His breathing seemed a little too rapid.

“We need to remove his shirt and rub this paste on his chest and back. It’ll help him breathe easier,” Aragorn instructed.

Boromir untied the bindings of his brother’s shirt, and pulling Faramir up into his arms, gently peeled off the upper garment. It was loose enough to come off with little effort. Clearly Faramir had lost a lot of weight. Faramir grunted as he was moved, but his eyes remained closed. Boromir laid him back down, and then loosened his pants to bare his lower abdomen. Warmth radiated off the soft skin of his belly.

Aragorn soaked a few pieces of cloth in the herb mixture, and handed him one. They applied the herb mix on the pale skin, working it into either side of his chest. Aragorn paused briefly as he encountered fine scars on the stomach. He frowned down at the marks but said nothing. It pained him to think of the way both brothers had tirelessly soldiered on to protect his kingdom.

They turned the younger man onto his back, and began working on that. Aragorn glanced curiously at the scars there. He had not realised how many marks the younger man had had earlier. He’d been bandaged the last time he’d seen him in the houses of healing. Aragorn paused. Boromir continued to gently rub the cloth over the naked back. The skin gleamed in the lamplight from the herb mix.

“These marks,” Aragorn said worriedly. There were so many! And he could see them snaking down below the waistband of the trousers, loosened just enough to expose the curve of Faramir’s buttocks.

“There are a lot of them,” he said, “Was – was Faramir captured ever? And – mistreated….?” he shuddered to think of what the gentle and shy younger man could have endured.

“No,” Boromir said, “Why do you ask?”

“Where are these marks from then? They are too many and too consistent in pattern to be battle injuries. He’s been beaten, more than once.”


“These are from cane or a whip. Or a belt,” he looked closer and felt a sickening feeling in the depths of his heart, as he spoke on, “At different times. Some are very old. Some are quite new, some months ago perhaps. Was he disciplined ever?”

“Nay. Only father would ever have raised a hand at him.”

“Boromir, someone had raised more than a hand on him. Look.”

He could see as Boromir paled that the man was beginning to realise the extent of Faramir’s injuries.

Boromir ran a finger softly along one long almost faded scar that ran across the thin, shivering back, and stared miserably up at Aragorn.

Chapter 7

Boromir lowered the loosened trousers, removing them gently. The marks covered Faramir’s bottom and upper thighs. The thin pale lines criss-crossed the rounded buttocks. Aragorn stared, sickened by the sight. It would have hurt so badly. Boromir placed a hand over one buttock, feeling the skin roughened by the scars, and made a small, whimpering sound.

“S-so many,”’ he whispered, “I – didn’t know…,” he continued, tears filling his grey eyes.

“Let’s get him settled in first,” Aragorn said worriedly.

They turned Faramir onto his back gently. The younger man stayed sleeping. His bare body was visibly thinned, the bones protruding under the pale, fevered, skin.

His bony chest and flat stomach glistened from the paste rubbed over him. Aragorn looked closely at the scars over his belly and lower abdomen.

“He’s marked here too,” Boromir said flatly, echoing his thoughts.

The marks went all the way down to the dark clump of hair between Faramir’s legs – thin, long lines left by repeated and deliberate beatings. The burn scar stood out starkly, just above his protruding hip, the skin still reddened and ugly.

Aragorn placed a hand on the soft, flat belly. Warmth radiated off it.

Boromir stared down at the younger man’s naked frame, and then gently laid a hand on the bony shoulder, just above the scar left by the Haradrim arrow.

“H-he’s been hurt so much,” he said softly, his voice full of anguish.

Aragorn made to answer but was interrupted by a sound at the door. Legolas and Gimli stood there, curious and concerned.

They’d come looking for their friends and had heard from an annoyed Inglor that Boromir was still awake and worrying unnecessarily over Faramir’s bit of cold.

“Though he looks really unwell to me,” Legolas said, as he removed his cloak, and stared curiously down at the younger man.

“He looks very tired too,” Gimli said, “Poor lad. Is he very ill?”

A cold draught blew in through the open door, causing Faramir in his naked state to shiver. He let out a soft moan, and shifted.

Aragorn hurriedly pulled up the blankets.

“Boromir, get him a thick nightshirt, and Legolas, he needs something to eat. Something warm and nourishing. Ask the kitchens to make his favourite foods will you? He really needs to eat a lot. He’s so thin!”

He and Boromir got Faramir into the nightshirt, and covered him with two thick blankets, while Gimli stoked the fire. Aragorn then kept Boromir busy preparing an herbal tea for his brother, while he and Gimli set about bringing more rugs and pillows into the room. He could see the steward was getting distressed at the thought of what they’d seen. He wanted to soothe him, but first he needed to help Faramir.

Legolas returned with a steaming hot bowl of broth. He had an odd expression on his face.

“They don’t know what he likes,” he said, “The cook said they usually send some bread and cheese if he sups this late. But they had some leftover vegetable broth, so I had them warm it and add a few other things.”

“He likes mushroom soup,” Boromir said quietly.

They woke Faramir, gently rousing him from his fitful sleep. He let out a moan of protest but sat up nevertheless, leaning into Boromir’s chest.

“B-Boromir,” he murmured, and then as he came awake and realised he was in an unfamiliar room, he sat unblinking, “Wh -?” He stared at the others in confusion as they greeted him quietly. His head hurt and his throat felt rough. But Boromir’s arms around him made him feel a lot better.

“You’ve caught a cold,” Boromir told him, “Aragorn thought it was better for you to spend the night here. Now, you need to have this broth, and some of this tea. You’ll feel much better.”

He coaxed a part of the broth and most of the tea into a protesting but tired Faramir, with help from Legolas. Then they tucked the exhausted younger man back under the blankets and watched as he fell back into sleep.

Inglor came bustling in then, with more firewood, and trays of food and hot spiced wine for everyone.

“Whatever are all of you doing, staying up so late,” he scolded them.

“Faramir is unwell,” Boromir said.

Inglor snorted scornfully and left.

The four friends ate quietly, sitting by the fire, keeping an eye on the bed.

Faramir’s sleep was still fitful though, and he moved restlessly, murmuring and crying softly as the fever set in. It pained the others just listening to his garbled words.

“Boromir,” he mumbled miserably.

“I’m here, little one,” Boromir moved to sit by Faramir, gently running his hands over the clammy face.

“Let me go in Boromir’s stead… he must not be hurt…” he whimpered.

“I’m here… Ssh…. “

“Forgive me… please…. Boromir…please send me in his stead….”


“Noo… I’m useless here… unworthy… lost Osgiliath…”

Boromir turned to Aragorn, an anguished look on his face. Aragorn squeezed his shoulder gently. He looked so torn and confused and upset.

Faramir slept quietly later as the herbs took effect. But they stayed there that night, on the rugs by the fire, Boromir curled into Aragorn’s embrace.

Faramir looked a little better the next morning, although the fever had set in. He would need a few days rest at least, Aragorn decided as he examined the still sleeping man, and perhaps be moved into the houses of healing.

“I’m not very hungry,” Boromir said, unhappily. They were at breakfast, and Inglor had just brought in more bread and fried tomatoes and fish.

“Nor am I. But you must eat,” Aragorn said.

Inglor pursed his lips, “Well, it’s no wonder, sleeping so late. You’re tired, that’s what it is. You should sleep properly, my lords. The winter is early too this year. You need to be careful.”

“You know Faramir was unwell,” Boromir said mildly. He was beginning to get a little annoyed with Inglor’s attitude towards his brother. He was very fond of the old man, but this was upsetting.

“Aye, ever he was weak. And always such a bother to you. As if you don’t have enough to do with your own injury, which he caused, now he’s troubling you again. You indulge him too much. Master Denethor would have taken care of it… “

Boromir glanced up annoyed and made to speak but Aragorn cut in.

“How?” He asked suddenly, his tone cold.

“A good hiding. Although Eru knows, Faramir never improved. For lazing so in bed under pretense of illness, he would have given him fifteen on his bare buttocks, so he wouldn’t be able to sit on his behind for a day or two at the least.”

Boromir paled at that, but Aragorn continued.

“Did Denethor discipline Faramir often?” he asked quietly, trying to control his tone. It was difficult though as he remembered the marks on Faramir’s body.

“Oh yes, for each transgression,” Inglor said sagely, “Lord Denethor would personally discipline him. In the study. Over the large table.”

“How often?” Boromir asked suddenly.

Inglor shrugged, “You know how terribly rude and disobedient your brother was. Master Denethor even asked me to keep a record, so Faramir would know how disgracefully he behaved. I suppose, when he was here, every few weeks at the least. And it was worse this last year; he would not listen, and your father was so worried over you. Faramir was of no help to him.”

“And Faramir said nothing?” Aragorn asked curiously, wondering how Faramir had tolerated this.

“I should think not! He couldn’t very well disobey his steward and father could he? And he deserved all of those punishments! He did the first few times though… kept arguing… wouldn’t remove his shirt and pants for the beating or get into position. I had to help Lord Denethor hold him down, and get his clothes off him. Lord Denethor did not want his fine clothes ruined.”

Boromir rose and left, his breakfast uneaten. Aragorn sighed, even as Inglor stared after his young master, and shook his head.

“I didn’t know,” Boromir said flatly, when Aragorn came looking for him in his chambers. He was sitting by Faramir, and staring at the sleeping man. He reached out for the bindings on the thin nightshirt and then pulled away his hand.

“Father used to scold him so often. And Faramir would just listen. And I would tell him to try not to provoke father further. I should have realised. But Faramir’s so quiet… “

Faramir had been moved to the houses of healing later that day. He woke briefly while being shifted and had something to eat, and more tea, and then returned to sleep after that. The master healer, looking rather surprised to be called for a mere illness, thought it would take him close to a week to recover.

“Faramir’s always taken a long time to recover from any injury or illness,” he told Aragorn and Boromir, “Unlike you, Lord Boromir. But he has always been far weaker than you.”

Later that afternoon, Aragorn and Boromir sat with the treasury council over some new taxes. Boromir sat through it, largely distracted and worried. Once they were done, Aragorn decided to call the meeting to an end. There were still some matters to discuss, but those could wait.

“We still have to discuss the Ithilien reconstruction estimates,” Lord Merdil said.

“I would have Faramir present for that. He is unwell, and so has not joined us today,” Aragorn said.

One of the older councillors, Lord Elring snorted, “His presence should hardly make any difference.”

Lord Dervorin, another councillor nodded, “He is not present in so many other council meetings.”

“He has the most experience of Ithilien,” Boromir said, “His inputs are needed for this.”

“Yes, but as your lord father said, he was not the most reliable source. He always preferred to ask you.”

“And I always asked Faramir for his opinion.”

Lord Elring sniffed, but agreed for to reschedule the discussion.

As he was leaving the council room, he told Merdil, “Lord Denethor said Faramir’s opinions were not worth much. It is no wonder he is hardly needed in council.”

Aragorn placed a hand on Boromir’s shoulders to calm him. The steward glared at the men as they left the chambers.

But it was true, he told Aragorn later. There were times, and so many in the recent months, when council meetings had diverted into a councillor pouring scorn on Faramir for a view, and the younger man standing firm to his views.

There were even times Boromir had turned his irritation on Faramir for letting the discussions digress so.

“Stop provoking them” he’d shouted once, “You know they’re old-fashioned. I expected more tact and diplomacy from you.”

He huddled miserably into Aragorn’s comforting arms.

Later, that evening, as Boromir sat in his study, unsuccessfully trying to read an agriculture report, Inglor entered with a large ledger in hand. He placed it expectantly in front of Boromir, who stared at it with distaste. Surely, not more reports, he groaned to himself.

“What is this?” he asked with a sinking heart. He wanted to finish his work quickly and sit by Faramir. Aragorn had said he might wake in the evening.

“This has a record of all of Faramir’s insubordination and misbehaviour, and the details of the punishment he was ordered. If only you would take him in hand like Lord Denethor did, he would not be behaving so,” Inglor said placidly, “You could use this now. You’ll know what Faramir is expecting.”

“Punishments?” Boromir gasped wildly.

“Aye,” Inglor said, and left.

When Aragorn entered the study a little later, Boromir was sitting hunched over something at the table. He looked up as the king entered. His face was extremely pale, and his grey eyes were bright with unshed tears.

“Dearest!” Aragorn darted over top his lover worriedly, “What happened?”

He got a choking sound in response. He stared worriedly at the object Boromir leaned over.

It was a ledger similar to the ones used to keep record of purchases. A long list of entries was filled in it.

“F- Faramir…. father kept… records … Inglor…,” Boromir’s voice was leaden with misery, as his voice broke into a harsh sob.

Aragorn stared at him in surprise; Boromir rarely got so worked up over anything. He looked curiously at the neat, large handwriting – there was a long list of dates. He stared at the first entry.

Insubordination and disrespect towards superior officer – fifteen lashes with small whip on back.

He stared blankly for a few seconds before realising these were the records Inglor had spoken of earlier. He turned the pages, rapidly… there were so many of them!

They began as long as twenty years ago! He read the first one – Faramir had received thirty strokes with a belt for causing Boromir an injury. Thirty, he thought to himself in shock. Faramir would have been about fifteen…

Boromir sniffed unhappily, and turning a few pages pointed at one dated about ten years prior.

Consorting with tavern wenches – five strokes on groin with riding crop. And immediately below that, Laziness – reached council late – ten strokes on buttocks with cane.

“Th-that was Faramir’s twenty-fifth birthday. I remember – it was my idea. I’d dragged him out to a… rather special tavern with our friends. He was tired but he came along nevertheless. And we sent him off for a while to … be with one of the tavern girls. That’s why he was late for council the next day! I – I didn’t know he was punished for this! He behaved as usual the next few days, a little quieter…but he was always quiet in front of father.”

He turned a few more pages, his lips pursed tight.

“And this one – the last one… the count is unknown, perhaps forty…for treachery…. It is the night before he rode out and was struck at the Pelennor…”

“He rode out after a beating?” Aragorn queried, shocked. He’d once been belted as a child, for slipping away from a camp and into an orc infested forest. And he hadn’t been able to move for an entire day, “I – I didn’t look at his other injuries…they seemed tended to….”

“He used a whip…. a kine hide one. I-I’ve seen it… it’s so huge. It would have hurt him so badly. I don’t know how he managed, but it’s not the first time he would have done that. He’s been punished al-almost every time he came home from Ithilien. For the smallest of slights,” Boromir continued. He rose and walked over to the windows, staring out at the view below.

“Father treated him…so differently… so horribly even…and I never even knew. I didn’t guess. I knew he was angered with him often. He has slapped Faramir in front of me. I tried to stop him once but Faramir told me not to. He said it would anger father more if I were to defend him… I thought that was all. But it wasn’t was it? He’s been punished so often. And his rooms were so cold. Faramir was never able to tolerate the cold very well. He used to feel cold just from the autumn winds. I don’t know how he managed without a fire.”

“And – and everyone seems to behave as Father did. Inglor barely cares if Faramir is ill. All the other servants are just as callous, the healers call him weak, do you notice even the councillors disregard his views…”

Boromir stopped. He looked completely distraught. Aragorn rose and walked up to him. Boromir swayed slightly.

“I never realised,” he wept, and collapsed into Aragorn outstretched arms, “Not even now… so late…”

Aragorn sighed as Boromir’s breathing evened out. His younger lover had wept long and miserably, until he’d finally exhausted himself into a restless slumber.

He had been equally callous towards Faramir, he thought bleakly. In all these months, he had pretty much disregarded the younger man, noticing him or talking to him only when he needed him for some work. Why, he’d even dismissed him on a few occasions when the lad had intruded into his time with Boromir. He could barely even remember the last occasion when Faramir had eaten with them. Why he hadn’t even know where his chambers were! And, he remembered painfully, he too had hurt Faramir.

He thought back to that awful moment when he’d lost control and lashed out at Faramir. No wonder the lad had been so done in, and so scared of him.

He stared furiously at the ledger. Inglor’s records had been meticulous and detailed, listing the transgression – insubordination and disrespect towards either Denethor or in many cases, Boromir and laziness. The implied transgressions against Boromir bewildered him. Faramir adored his brother too much for that surely. There were mentions of requests for additional rations, disagreements on tactics, all events that any commander would have considered normal from a senior officer. And the punishments themselves were in equally horrific detail – the number of strikes and the implements, even so far as to where Faramir was struck – largely his back, in some cases his buttocks or stomach, and a few cases his chest or groin. The implements ranged from a cane to riding crops to multiple types of whips.

He thought of how shy Faramir was, and how it might have felt for him to be hauled over the table clad in merely his underpants.

It was unsurprising that the younger man’s body was so scarred, and that he yet seemed unhealed from all he had endured.

He stared worriedly down at Boromir’s face, the strained countenance still troubled even in sleep, the fingers wound tightly around his nightshirt. It seemed to him Boromir would need to be seen to too.

Chapter 8

Late the next morning, Aragorn found himself alone in his study. Boromir was nowhere to be seen, which he found puzzling. This was Boromir’s usual time to come over and be a little playful before they both settled down to work. He hoped Boromir was not still upset. He had seemed fine at breakfast, although he’d been quiet.

As he sat down to work, a page came from the houses of healing. Faramir was awake, and could be visited. Concluding that Boromir would be there, he decided to visit in a while.

When he reached later in the afternoon, Faramir was indeed awake, and sitting up, staring out of the windows dully. He still looked quite ill; his face was pale and drawn. The younger man stared at him, a little surprised and worried, and made to rise. He had the same fearful look now as he had in Aragorn’s study, but the king could understand a little more what might have caused it now. Again, he wished he hadn’t lost his temper so.

“No, stay,” Aragorn gently nudged him back into bed, a move that seemed to make Faramir look uncomfortable, “I merely came to see how you fare now.”

“I am well,” Faramir said softly, his voice a little hoarse.

He looked anything but well, Aragorn thought grimly. He was still warm to touch, and he looked thin and tired and unhappy. He was determined though to make sure that fine young man would recover.

“Where is Boromir?” he asked pleasantly instead.

“I-I don’t know,” Faramir said softly. He looked very uncomfortable too, his eyes were wary, and his entire body had tensed up. He looked ready to spring out of the bed at the first opportunity, but Aragorn doubted he had the strength to even move.

“When did he leave?” he queried

“He hasn’t come here,” Faramir said unhappily.

A healer came in just then, with a steaming mug. Aragorn recognised the aroma as that of an herbal brew.

“I’m not having that,” Faramir said immediately, “It tastes vile.”

“Well you’re not likely to leave here soon then, are you?” the healer said unconcernedly, “That’s all right then. I hear the master healer has some new medicines from Khand, and he’s been wanting to try them.”

Faramir took the mug miserably, and drank obediently. Aragorn shook his head, amused.

“He needs to rest now, Sire,” the healer told Aragorn quietly.

“Very well, then, Faramir. Rest well,” he told the younger man, who looked a little overwhelmed.

Aragorn found Boromir in the library. He was sitting by a window looking out at the gardens below.

“Here you are! I was looking for you. Faramir was awake,” Aragorn told him.

“I know,” Boromir said quietly.

“You did not visit him?” Aragorn said quietly, feeling a little concerned.

“I can’t,” Boromir said. His face was pale, exhausted and worried.

“He’s looking forward to your visit. He’s not well at all, Boromir. He is still running a fever….”

“I can’t see him…. I’ve failed him. I can’t see him,” Boromir babbled.

“Oh Boromir!” Aragorn said gently enveloping him in his arms.

“I’m riding off to Osgiliath tomorrow,” Boromir whispered miserably.

The next day, Aragorn went to Faramir’s room again. Faramir looked up anxiously as he entered, his thin, pale face full of anticipation, only to be replaced by resignation when he realised Aragorn had come alone. He sank back against the pillows.

“How are you faring today,” Aragorn asked him, trying to sound as cheerful as he could.

“I am well, my lord,” Faramir said. He still sounded wary.

Aragorn sat by him, and adjusted his sheets and blankets around him, but the touches seemed to cause Faramir a lot of discomfort so he stilled his movements.

Aragorn placed a hand at his throat, smiling a little as he noticed how Faramir flushed at the slight touch. The younger man was extremely shy.

“I won’t hurt you again,” he said gently. Faramir looked even more uncomfortable now, but Aragorn continued. He needed Faramir to know!

“I should never have earlier. Forgive me. Hitting out at you was inexcusable.”

“N-no,” Faramir was confused, even a little shocked. He didn’t know what else to say. The king looked – almost contrite, and Faramir was unused to people asking him for forgiveness. Usually he was the one committing errors.

“I – I,” he said helplessly, unsure of what to say. He felt so tired! And his head felt heavy.

“B-Boromir?” he said instead. He wondered where his brother was. He thought he would have come at least for a while. After all, Elessar had. And then he wondered sickeningly if his brother was well at all. Perhaps that was why the king had actually come to the healing houses.

“H-he’s unwell?” he asked worriedly, rising. He needed to find Boromir!

“No… no… he’s not. He’s ridden out to Osgiliath,” Aragorn said. He’d tried to dissuade Boromir, and convince him to see Faramir, but Boromir had refused.

“Ohh… oh yes… he must be very busy,” Faramir said. He looked chagrined. “I – I’m such a fool. I’m of no help to him, and then I whine because he has so much to do because of my stupidity.”

“You’re not a fool or stupid or any such thing,” Aragorn said sharply, “‘You’re unwell. And you need a lot of rest. You’re still weak from…”

“Yes, I know. I was ever the weak one,” Faramir said, his eyes bright with unshed tears.

“That is not what I meant.”

The healer came in then with a washcloth and medicinal herbs, and Aragorn was forced to end the visit. He left, feeling a little frustrated that Faramir neither looked any better nor any happier.

The next day Boromir rode out to the Pelennor, and Aragorn visited Faramir alone again. The younger man was unsurprised, but just as unhappy at seeing him alone.

“I-is he angry with me”’ he asked in a soft, unhappy tone.

“No! No, he’s not. You know Boromir would never be angered with you,” Aragorn said coaxingly.

Faramir looked unconvinced.

Over the next few days, the pattern continued. Faramir was recovering, slowly as predicted by the master healer. Aragorn visited him at least once a day, well aware that those few moments were doing nothing to alleviate Faramir’s loneliness. Legolas and Gimli were unfortunately away in Ithilien so it left no one else to be with the younger man. He had no friends, it was evident. And neither the councillors nor staff seemed to care he was ailing. He had no one other than Boromir, Aragorn thought bleakly.

One evening, Aragorn broached the subject he’d been avoiding. He’d told Boromir he was going to talk to Faramir. The Steward had simply shaken his head and said nothing.

“Faramir,” he said softly, “The other day, when Boromir and I were tending to your fever,
we couldn’t help but notice the scars on your back,” Aragorn began uncomfortably, “And – and elsewhere…”

Faramir stared at him mutely at first, and then averted his gaze. His face flushed, and he clasped his hands together in his lap. Boromir knew! And the king too! They knew now how incompetent he had been all this while.

“W-war injuries,” he mumbled, “Everyone has…”

“These are not war injuries,” Aragorn said quietly, “And well, Inglor has a ledger.”

He knew of the ledger. Denethor had shown it to him various times, as he’d shouted at him over his continual incompetence. They would know now exactly what a failure he was.

“You get worse with each passing year…” Denethor had raged, so often.

“Denethor beat you often,” Aragorn stated flatly.

“He – he wanted to discipline me.” Faramir responded quietly, his heart sinking as he realised his ugly scars had been seen by others! “I was stubborn and willful, and disobedient, as a child.”

Had Boromir realised that, he wondered.

Aragorn heard the words with a heavy heart. “As a child perhaps, yes, for children often are. Although they are not disciplined so harshly. But what of later? I would not imagine, knowing you as I do, that you could be stubborn or rude.”

Faramir flushed even more at that. They had realised that he had been beaten even as a grown man. Perhaps that was why he was staying away – he must be so ashamed of Faramir.

“L-later,” he swallowed miserably, “I – I was not good at anything… incompetent… not good enough as a soldier or a captain. I – I made mistakes. And sometimes I said the wrong things… I didn’t conduct myself as I should have, and I let Father and Boromir down and ashamed them in public. I – I deserved it…”

“No! No, you most certainly didn’t… no matter what you did… And I know you would have done no wrong. You’re a good person, a better man than many of us. Frodo and Sam told us how you helped them. And I know how much you care for your brother,” Aragorn moved closer.

Faramir backed away uncomfortably, still unconvinced.

“Faramir,” Aragorn started.

Faramir shook his head helplessly.

“I – I’m tired,” he said in a small voice, “Please…”

Aragorn left him after that, feeling more than a little frustrated. He needed to get Boromir to do something!

Faramir was released from the houses of healing the next day. He returned to his chambers, feeling still tired and drained. The fire in his chambers was lit, he realised, and he slid thankfully into bed, where he stayed most of that day.

The next few days, he worked alongside Aragorn’s secretary Tarlong. There was little to do, though, for the councils were all over. They would reconvene only after midwinter now.

To his sorrow, Boromir was still being elusive. Boromir had briefly met him in the king’s office, asked if the fever had subsided, checked his forehead and then left abruptly. Faramir had swallowed his disappointment and continued to work.

At mealtimes too, Boromir would eat quickly and by the time Faramir would reach, he would be ready to leave, either riding out somewhere or busy with some report. Aragorn had told Faramir to join them at mealtimes.

A week later, Faramir had just sat down at the large table when Boromir limped in.

Boromir felt exhausted. He’d spent the last few days trying not to think at all. He had instead worked hard, riding out every day, and then reading countless reports, attending meetings, and finally trying to lose some of his worries in Aragorn’s arms.

They had both given into their frustrations in bed the previous night. They’d been hurried and rough and demanding with each other, and Boromir was still sore today, as he realised, Aragorn must be too.

Aragorn had thankfully stopped badgering him over Faramir. And since Boromir had had the younger man assigned to his secretary he had managed to largely avoid meeting him.

Faramir stared at Boromir limping, and rose. He knew Boromir was upset with him, but he didn’t care if he was ignored or even snapped at. “Y-you’re limping. Let me help you. You’re overexerting yourself!”

“Of course not!” Boromir snapped out and slid into a dining chair. He looked just a little uncomfortable, “I – I just overdid things a little last night. I’m sure Aragorn is in pain too.”

Faramir stared at him blankly, and then at Aragorn who was shaking his head in exasperation.

“Did – did you have a lot of work?” he asked worriedly, “You should have told me. I would have helped. You know the healers told you to rest, and…”

Boromir responded with an explosive snort of laughter, “Oh dear, you couldn’t have helped, you little goose! I do have an insatiable lover, but he’s quite satisfied with me!”

Faramir blushed, horrified, as Boromir laughed again. Aragorn laughed too. It was so good to see Boromir laughing. Perhaps now, things would be better between the two brothers.

After supper, Boromir slipped an arm across Faramir’s shoulders, and gently pulled him close. Faramir stood stiff and scared and confused.

“Sleep well,” Boromir said softly, and ruffled his younger brother’s soft, dark hair.

Boromir was still wincing a little as he settled down on the rugs by the fire. He’d pulled his back a little the previous night, and that was adding to his discomfort. Inglor, who had entered with spiced wine and some sweet cakes frowned.

“You were limping earlier, Master Boromir. And even now you’re in pain,” he said worriedly.

“‘tis nothing Inglor,” Boromir said, yawning a little, “I just overdid things a little.”

“Should I send for a healer?”

Boromir shook his head, “Nay! Aragorn will see to it, I’m sure. It’s nothing!”

Aragorn made a choking sound and snorted.

“Ever you were a brave lad,” Inglor said quietly.

“Mmm…,” Boromir said, as he lay down with his eyes closed.

““This is most unlike you,” Inglor persisted, “Sire? Is he all right?”

“Aye Inglor. He’s just tired. Overwork, and that on top of injury. Stay in bed tomorrow, Boromir,” he added the suggestion with a grin.

Boromir snorted in response.

Inglor pursed his lips and left

Boromir watched him go, and then smiled as Aragorn readied poured out the wine in goblets. He felt tired but so much better than the last few days. He’d felt better ever since he’d embraced Faramir. He’d talk to his brother tomorrow, he decided. Aragorn was right. The lad needed him.

Faramir walked through the long hallways that ran along one of the gardens. He hadn’t been able to sleep that night. But he should return soon, he decided. It was chilly and he wore only his nightshirt, having planned to walk no further than the small citadel library, from where he’d borrowed a book.

He would cut across the courtyard, he decided and set off in that direction. As he neared the courtyard, Inglor stepped out onto the hallways.

“There you are,” he said sharply, “I was looking for you!”

“Inglor,” Faramir said in surprise, for the older man usually slept early, “Is is Boromir all right?” he asked worriedly; nothing else would have sent the old man out at this time.

“Not with you around,” Inglor spat out, “He’s still so tired thanks to you!”

He stepped forward, coming close to Faramir and slapped him, a sudden, unexpected move that sent the younger man rocking back. He felt himself losing his balance and sat back heavily on the floor. Inglor was very strong, despite his age.

“W-what are you doing!” he gasped.

Inglor leaned down and grabbed Faramir by his nightshirt, pulling him up easily.

“It’s all because of you. I promised to look after him, and he runs himself ragged over your petty ailments. You horrid, horrid boy. You deserve to be beaten and if no one else will take care of that I will.”

Faramir felt something prod painfully into his hip and stared down, horrified to see Inglor holding a whip.

Chapter 9

“This Haradric wine is lovely,” Boromir murmured, as he shifted into a more comfortable place on the rugs by the fire. He let out a noisy sigh of contentment, “And how did the kitchens know I felt like having warmed sweetcakes.”

“Did you give those books from Harad to Faramir?” Aragorn asked.

“I forgot,” Boromir said sitting up a little, “With his illness and everything else.” He looked thoughtfully at the tray in front of him, “Faramir loves these cakes too. Perhaps I’ll take him some and the books now?”

“I’ll come along,” Aragorn offered.

They strolled leisurely down to the younger man’s rooms, having decided to spend the rest of the evening there. It would be a tight fit in the small chambers but they would manage.

“I don’t suppose he would have fallen asleep yet,” Boromir said, as he balanced the tray with the cakes, a jug of wine and three goblets.

Aragorn, who was holding the books, didn’t think he would have. From what he had seen, Faramir didn’t sleep very easily.

Faramir tried not to remember the number of times Inglor had on his father’s orders held him down, stripped off his shirt and caned him. He felt a wave of dizziness course through his head. He was already panting heavily from just his fall.

Inglor tightened the grip on his nightshirt and hauled him out. Inglor was strong, despite his age, and Faramir was still weak from his illness. To his utter humiliation, he realised he had not enough strength in him to resist Inglor. Faramir cried out as he was dragged along the hard, cold floor.

They came out into the courtyard. The moon was out, and its pale light reflected off the ice that coated the paving stones. It looked beautiful and desolate. A cold wind blew through the drab, grey space, sending up a few browning leaves.

Inglor dragged him over to a bench at one side of the courtyard.

“L-l-leave me,” Faramir stuttered, shivering as he spoke, “S-stop…wh-what…” he could barely mange the words, as the cold night air hit his barely covered body.

Inglor tugged at his nightshirt viciously, with practised ease, for he had often had to forcibly pull Faramir’s shirt off when the younger man had resisted. The thin fabric ripped easily. Inglor pulled the torn garment off to expose Faramir’s naked body to the cold breeze.

“N-no,” Faramir moaned, the cold and the memories both assaulting him.

“You hurt Lord Boromir,” Inglor raged. He shoved the handle of the whip into the tender skin below Faramir’s chin. Faramir stared at it fearfully.

It was an oliphaunt hide whip, that Denethor had been gifted recently. He’d used it once on Faramir – a very painful experience the younger man hated to recall. The cuts had been deep and the bruises had lasted weeks. He let out a strangled sob.

“Cry you will, craven child!” Inglor snorted in contempt, and lifting him threw him roughly onto the bench. The stone surface was also coated with a thin layer of ice, and Faramir whimpered at the sensation, as it came in contact with the bare skin on his chest and stomach.

Faramir lay shaking on the bench, tired and aching and humiliated by his nudity and his reactions. He felt his breath come out in quick panting gasps. He needed to move, but he was so exhausted. He heard the swish of the whip cutting through air, but it could hardly prepare him for what followed.

A searing pain flared up, across his buttocks. He screamed, a strangled half sob, as he felt the whip cutting into his skin, and being dragged through the cut. A warm trickle of blood slid down the curve of the left buttock, and the back of his thigh. He sobbed harshly. The whip cut through air again. A second strike landed over almost the same area.

The next strike was across his lower back. He cried out again, and tried to rise, stumbling off the bench, even as the whip caught him across the back of his shoulders this time. He rose, tottering as a drunken man would, twisting round to face his attacker. Inglor’s face was full of fury, and he spat at him in anger, continuing to rage at him. The words Denethor often used tripped easily off his tongue.

He barely gave Faramir a chance to say or do anything. He grabbed him by his hair and shoved him down again, throwing him bodily across the stone bench, with far more force than previously. Faramir’s lower abdomen hit the edge painfully. He yelped and turned over, making to rise again. But the whip was already moving and landed now, forcefully across his unprotected stomach.

Faramir howled in pain as it cut the tender flesh. And again. And then his chest. Pain flared up all over his upper body, superseding the cold. He stumbled off the bench onto the icy cold ground, gasping as his bare skin came into contact with the wet and cold earth. The whip landed on his side, and then a thigh. Across his buttocks again. And again. His back again. He wept, unable to do any more than that. Each cut left a burning sensation followed by such pain! His cries were softer now, barely heard over the whisper of the wind.

Aragorn frowned around the empty room. Faramir’s room was warm but empty. Clothes lay neatly folded on a chair. Surely the lad wasn’t wandering out in naught but a nightshirt!

“Where is he, do you suppose?” he asked Boromir as he placed he books on the bed, “And in his nightclothes?”

“He’s probably gone to the library, then, to get something to read at night,” Boromir said with fond exasperation, “He used to do that often. Though knowing him, he may well have sat there to leaf through something, and will end up sleeping there.”

“It’s cold, and his cloak is here. Let’s go find him” Aragorn suggested. Young Faramir needed a little talking to on what all he could do while still recovering from illness.

They set off down the citadel again.

“We can cut across the courtyard,” Boromir said, “Maybe I could race you across it,” he added cheerfully.

More strikes landed on him, as he curled into himself shivering, trembling, unable to do any more than that to defend himself. An unexpected kick aimed at his midriff sent him onto his back, the torn flesh coming into contact with the hard ground. He thought he screamed, unsure of what happened the next few minutes as a second well-aimed kick landed between his legs, straight on his groin, sending an indescribable pain all though his lower body. As he lay gasping for breath, tears streaming from his eyes, the whip continued landing on his unprotected stomach and chest.

Boromir and Aragorn had neared the hallway to the corridor when they heard the soft pain-filled cries.

“Faramir!” Boromir gasped, and broke into a swift, running stride. Aragorn followed him. He skidded to a stop at the edge of the courtyard, staring horrified at the scene in front of them. A naked Faramir lay on the ground, his bare skin as pale as the ice on the floor. Inglor was standing over him, a huge whip held in one hand, even as he lifted his leg and kicked Faramir viciously.

Faramir moaned, as Inglor loomed over him, breathing heavily, his face contorted in rage. He lifted his hand again and brought the whip down.

Boromir screamed as he saw the whip flicking through the air and landing on Faramir’s unprotected stomach. A bright line of red appeared, even as Faramir cried out, his voice full of pain.

He ran out onto the courtyard, followed by Aragorn.

“Inglor, stop!” he shouted.

“Horrid, nasty boy,” Inglor shouted at the barely conscious Faramir, “Needs punishing!”

They pulled Inglor away, not before he’d managed to lash Faramir again across his chest and groin, leaving purpling welts on the bare skin.

Faramir had curled into himself, and lay shaking.

Inglor pulled away furiously and kicked Faramir hard in his groin again, twice, before he was pulled away again. Faramir let out a pained whimper but stayed where he was.

Boromir fell to his knees, by his brother’s side, horrified at what he was seeing.

Aragorn hauled Inglor angrily across the courtyard into a hallway. The older man was shaking now but still angered. When they reached the hallway, he collapsed against a wall, and sat there, still furious but clearly tired.

Aragorn returned swiftly to Faramir.

Boromir stood over Faramir trembling, sobbing harshly. Aragorn stared at Faramir and gasped. The man lay sprawled on the courtyard, completely naked, his skin almost as greyish white as the icy floor, and littered with thin lines of red. Blood trickled from his cuts onto the ice, specks of bright red against the gleaming ice. His breathing was shallow and laboured, his eyes were wide and unseeing.

Boromir pulled him into his arms, tears still streaming down his cheek. Faramir’s head lolled against his shoulder.

“Boromir,” he whispered.

Some of the commotion must have been heard upstairs, for they could see lights flaring up in the windows around. The other servants would be here soon.

Aragorn removed his cloak and used it cover Faramir, giving the younger man at least some measure of modesty. Aragorn then picked him up, holding the trembling, smaller man gently so as to avoid touching any of the cuts.

“Ssshhh,” he said soothingly, as Faramir let out a soft pain-filled cry, “Just a few steps, and we’ll have you comfortable, little one.”

“N-not h-healers, p-please,” Faramir whispered, two spots of bright red colour his cheeks.

“My chambers,” Boromir rasped out. His eyes were brimming with silent tears as he followed Aragorn inside.

The whip had cut into the tender skin, sharp edged and deep. Aragorn cleaned the cuts, washing them with water and then an herbal potion. It must have stung, for Faramir whimpered in the pain as it was rubbed over the open cuts on his buttocks and chest and stomach. He and Boromir then applied a paste over the welts to heal the bruising.

They moved on then to the large purpling bruises on Faramir’s lower belly, from where Inglor had kicked him. “We need to check this bruising,” Boromir said gently.

Faramir nodded miserably. The salve on the cuts was stinging, and he felt incredibly tired and unhappy. Aragorn felt the tender areas as gently as he could. Faramir bit his lip, and his face turned paler. He huddled into Boromir’s embrace, as fingers prodded his lower abdomen, and groin.

To his intense mortification, the king even examined his crotch where Inglor had kicked him. He turned his face away, as the hands prodded his limp shaft, and testicles. Boromir continued to hold him close.

“You’ll have to lie on your side for a few days,” Aragorn said wearily. Faramir had endured enough already, without adding further pain. “I’ll get you something for the pain and to help you sleep.” He looked up at Boromir, “I’ve asked the guards to escort Inglor to his chambers and confine him there. We can decide how to deal with him later.”

Boromir nodded.

“N-not his fault,” Faramir said hoarsely.


“H-he thought he-he was obeying orders – father – sometimes -,” he sighed helplessly, as a wave of tiredness swept through him.

“Ssh…,” Aragorn said gently. He held a small cup out, “Here this will help you with the pain, and to sleep.”

Faramir took a few sips, too exhausted to protest, and then closed his aching eyes. Boromir held him cautiously, feeling increasingly distressed as Faramir tried not to whimper each time he moved.

Aragorn left for a while to see if his orders had been followed and returned.

Faramir was curled into Boromir’s arms. Boromir had his hands wrapped protectively around the smaller frame, and was gently whispering into his ear.

“He’s sleeping,” Boromir told him quietly.

They lay the smaller man back against the bed, and covered him. Pain marred the wan face even in sleep. Boromir gently brushed a strand of hair off the clammy forehead, and dropped a soft kiss there.

They watched over the younger man as he slept fitfully through the night. His sleep was marred by nightmares, and Boromir had to hold him close and soothe him more than few times.

“How could Inglor do this to him?” he murmured in an anguished tone.

Faramir spent the next few days in a haze of pain and sleep. Boromir and Aragorn cared for him gently and patiently all through. The cuts took some days to heal, and Aragorn had to clean them every day. Faramir bore the pain and discomfort stoically. He said nothing about his ordeal, but his nightmares continued in his sleep – dreams where he was being hurt, or where Boromir was leaving. His intense despair and loneliness came out strongly and it hurt Boromir to just hear those terrified thoughts being vocalised.

Inglor was pensioned off. Faramir had been distressed at the thought of any sort of punishment to him.

“He’s so old!” he’d said softly, “and he didn’t know. He thought father’s ways were the only right ones.” Aragorn had hugged him gently then, more than a little moved by the younger man’s unselfish nature.

Inglor had a cottage in Anorien, and a daughter who would care for him. He had caught a chill that night, and the illness had left him weak and disoriented. At Faramir’s request Boromir had tamped down his anger and met the older man, and convinced him to take a rest now, after all these years of service. Inglor, ill and unsure of his young master’s reactions now, agreed.

He also had Tarlong have a word with the rest of the servants to ensure that Faramir would be treated with more care and concern from now on.

Legolas and Gimli had returned too, and all four of them carefully planned it out so that Faramir would always have someone by him. Slowly and gently, they tried to draw the shy young man out of his cocoon of pain and despair and loneliness, spending time with him, talking, reading or just sitting quietly.

And they managed even to speak to him about all he’d been through. Boromir had sat by Faramir, trying not to cry as he talked of how awful he felt at not having realised.

Faramir had shaken his head.

“It wasn’t your fault. I felt so – I didn’t want anyone to know… I –”

Boromir hugged him.

“I-it hurt,” he whispered miserably, “A-and it felt so cold in the study… Y-you must be so ashamed of me – I’m a craven fool. Being held over the table for a beating like a child.”

“No,” Boromir soothed him.

“I – I didn’t what to, at first. I tr-tried to stop him. But he made Inglor hold me down… and – and remove my clothes. And then he’d hit me. Sometimes he would instruct Inglor to punish me, if he were busy.”

Aragorn leaned forward then.

“No one will punish you again,” he said softly but fiercely, “I don’t know why Denethor adopted such methods with you, but they were wrong.”

Faramir slumped into Boromir’s chest, crying unhappily. Aragorn gently stroked his back.

A few days later, Boromir walked in with the others into the room where Faramir was sleeping. His younger brother seemed to be resting so peacefully, he didn’t want to wake him. But it was late into the morning already. He stroked Faramir’s thin cheek with the back of his hand. Faramir stirred, opening his eyes. He looked a little confused and dazed, but smiled as his gaze fell upon Boromir.

“B’omir,” he slurred and made to rise. He realised Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli were there too.

“Sit back… you still need rest,” Aragorn told him gently, and nudged him back, “We have a little surprise for you.”

“F-for me?” Faramir asked, sounding surprised.

“Yes,” Boromir said, “Two really.”

“One is that Merry and Pippin will be visiting next week.”

“Oh how wonderful,” Faramir said delightedly.

“And for the other, you must come with me,” Boromir said. He scooped Faramir out of the bed.


“You’ll know soon,” they told him as he was carried out of the room.

They walked a short way down the hallway to a set of closed doors. Aragorn held them open and Boromir entered carrying his precious load.

“Wh-where have you brought me?” Faramir asked doubtfully, “Oh…. look at all those books!”

The room was large but still had a comfortable, cosy look. A huge bed and a large fireplace took up one side, while a half-filled bookshelf lined an entire wall. There was a beautifully carved wooden table and chair in another corner. A pretty bowl held a mass of white and pale pink winter roses, their fragrance filling the entire room. A large balcony opened out to a view of the plains and the river. Rows of potted plants lined its edges, and in one corner a small fountain spurted water. The rugs, curtains, sheets and blankets were all in beautiful shades of green and blue.

“Do you like it?” Boromir asked anxiously.

“Y-yes…,” Faramir said, a little confused.

“Good!” Aragorn said with satisfaction.

“This is your new room. I had your chambers moved here,”’ Boromir said, “Closer to mine.”

“It’s lovely,” Faramir said, a little embarrassed to feel tears pooling into his eyes, “B-but you needn’t have… it – it…”

“You deserve all of this and much more,” Boromir retorted. He placed him on the bed, and Faramir sank gratefully down into it. It was so soft! He let out a low, pleasurable sigh.

To the others’ amusement and relief, he fell asleep right there shortly after a fine breakfast.

The hobbits arrived as promised the next week, and their arrival helped Faramir’s heart lighten some more. He was still supposed to be resting, but they brought a whirlwind of energy right into his bedchamber and he looked forward to the time they spent with him. It wasn’t too long before Aragorn declared he could be allowed to work for a few hours and to set out on short rides. To celebrate the hobbits organised a little picnic in an island on the river. They planned to spend an evening there, camp overnight, and return leisurely the next day.

They set out on a fine, warm, afternoon, riding over to a small stretch of grassland by the river. They spent a fine, lazy afternoon rowing around the small stretch of river, fishing, playing small games, reading and eating and preparing more food. Pippin had had the kitchens prepare everything Faramir liked having managed to get the information out of Faramir a lot more easily than anyone else could.

Faramir helped and participated as much as he could, although he still tired easily. But the fact that no one criticised him when he couldn’t catch a fish or over his inability to light the woodfire, made him feel different already.

They had been there for a few hours, and the sun was beginning to dip. Their tents had been set up for the night, and a fire lit. Soup had been placed to warm on it. The Halflings began a noisy game by the river. Legolas and Gimli joined them. Aragorn, Boromir and Faramir stayed by the fire, the younger man leaning against his brother.

“That looks like fun,” Boromir said.

“Oh yes,” Faramir said and then tried to hold back a yawn. All the exercise had left him tired but in a very nice way.

“But tiring,” Boromir said, “I’ll stay back here.”

“Looks infantile,” Aragorn murmured.

Faramir yawned.

“Rest now,” Aragorn suggested gently, “There’s enough time to play tomorrow.”

“Yes,” Boromir said softly, holding him closer.

Faramir sighed and burrowed into his brother’s arms. Aragorn pulled a blanket over him.

“You’re safe here,” Boromir murmured, “Everything will be fine now.”

The sounds around them became softer – someone was singing a sweet lilting melody, the chirping of the birds muted. The setting sun was sinking lower, spreading a golden glow over the river.

Faramir relaxed into the hold and closed his eyes. Everything did feel better now. All would be fine.


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/shadows. Positive feedback is what keeps authors writing more stories!

7 Comment(s)

Heart wrenching, stomach twisting and wonderful! Absolutely loved it!

— JD    Friday 14 December 2012, 6:36    #

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

Minx    Monday 17 December 2012, 16:32    #

After reading this in bits and pieces as you wrote it, I finally had the time to reread it front to back in one sitting last weekend. That’s some first class angst! Well done!
Although… according to h/c standards and conventions, I think this poor chap is due some more hugs and cuddles. Might have to imagine those myself. But then stories that get my imagination going are my favourite;) So many thanks for this one!

Iris    Wednesday 30 January 2013, 16:48    #

Awww…. thank you! :) I think he needed more hugs and lots of cuddles too…. :o

Minx    Thursday 31 January 2013, 18:00    #

I enjoyed this very much, Minx, as sad as it always is to read of Faramir going through such things! I’m glad that his brother and Aragorn were able to help him, even if it took some time for them to figure it out!

— Susana    Tuesday 18 June 2013, 4:47    #

Thank you Susana! I’m delighted you enjoyed it.:)

Minx    Sunday 23 June 2013, 19:04    #

That was fantastice.
Good job honey, well done.
Ohhhh…my poor little Faramir.
It such a relife that he finally has someones who care about him.
Thank u for creating this

— Elahe    Friday 5 November 2021, 11:16    #

Subscribe to comments | Get comments by email | View all recent comments


  Textile help

All fields except 'Web' are required. The 'submit' button will become active after you've clicked 'preview'.
Your email address will NOT be displayed publicly. It will only be sent to the author so she (he) can reply to your comment in private. If you want to keep track of comments on this article, you can subscribe to its comments feed.

About the Author


This author also draws.


Hide | Show adult content

Adult content is shown. [what's this?]

Adult content is hidden.
NB: This site is still for adults only, even with the adult content filter on! [what's this?]


  • DE
  • ES
  • JP
  • FR
  • PT
  • KO
  • IT
  • RU
  • CN