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The Price of Love and Duty | Faramir Fiction Archive

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The Price of Love and Duty (PG-13) Print

Written by Eora

13 September 2011 | 2432 words

Title: The Price of Love and Duty (or alternately, Ebony and Gold.)
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Mild slash, mild het, angst.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. All written in good fun with no offence intended!
Author’s Note: Again I explore my current love-affair with the theme of the unworthy/unwilling king…but this is a bit of an odd one that I can’t really explain. Upheaval in real life spilled over and this came out, I think! I hope you enjoy this :) (I’ll write something really sappy soon, promise.)

Looking up, he sees stars.

Vast, endless swathes of glittering gauze held invisibly skyward sweep over the stillness of the forest, and Faramir lies wakened, unenlightened as to what disturbed him particularly, though he nurses sleepy-minded suspicions.

The King lies next to him, fitful. Knees bent, huddled, somnolent features hidden beneath a protectively slung forearm, Elessar dreams, and Faramir turns his head from the light-freckled tableau above to read worry and discomfort throughout his companion’s composure. This had seemed a grand notion, sleeping beneath the stars, with the clean, wild air of Ithilien soothing them by the gentle spit of the campfire.

The soft grey scent of smoke hangs in the air yet, and Faramir rubs at eyes that water as the night breeze carries the memory of heat and flame over them both. It had almost been the King’s idea. Not quite worded, but Faramir could see it was ending him. If but a single night could be spared, and might Elessar lie beneath the fathomless skies and feel something, then mayhaps that which plagued him and him alone would be dissuaded, vanquished, laid to rest. The same reasoning, the same excuse, the same lies Faramir tells himself. This time, all will be well. He took his majesty’s hand and led him from the gates, and they crossed green fields and singing rivers together upon the white coursers Éowyn had gifted him. He had known they had come far enough when the King Elessar fell from his horse, and lay, unmoving, upon the cool grasses.

Faramir props himself up on one elbow, and pulls the blanket up over the King’s bunched shoulders. Elessar shifts, reaching with his lower hand, and Faramir takes it, bringing his lips down to the knuckles to press a cold kiss to the skin. This was a mistake, Faramir realises now, but it would be further folly to attempt a return at this hour. He thought it would help, but Elessar only grips his hand tighter and begins to surface.

Faramir thinks of Éowyn, and squeezes his eyes shut. She told him to go, to take the King where he needed to be. They all watched it with breaking hearts; the slow slide into despair, the growing absences of the man they all loved well. The distance in Elessar’s eyes, the hesitation before every response, as if drawing himself unwillingly back to reality with each question asked of him. Faramir is not sure of the last time he heard anyone call him Aragorn.

Elessar wakes, staring upward at the sky.

Loosening his hand from the long-fingered grip Faramir rearranges the blanket once again. “What did you see?” he asks in a low voice. When the nightmares, the foreboding shadow-images that sporadically assailed him in his bed ceased after a lifetime, Faramir had revelled internally until it became known to him, in unobtrusive and personal ways, that they had begun to assault the King in his place.

“Stars,” says Elessar. “Many bright stars, falling from the sky, breaking the city asunder and felling the towers. Ithilien burned, and the river could not quench the flames.”

He knows he could offer words of kindness and try and dismiss these visions as products of a weary mind, but he knows Elessar is no fool, and he knows from past attempts that his breath would be wasted. Instead, he digs an arm beneath Elessar’s shoulders and helps him to sit upright. Elessar slumps against him, but Faramir lowers his arm from around him quickly. “There are still many night hours left.”

Elessar looks at him, a shadowy form of flattened hair and tense exhaustion. There is a flicker of Strider in the tone of his voice, but no more. “Did I wake you, friend Faramir?”

The endearment comes easily to his lips, and Faramir for his part tries not to react to what he knows is the strained innocence of it. He knows his King would rather call him something different, something much closer. He has done so in the past, but Faramir has asked him to stop. “You did not, my King.”

The wind sifts through their hair with unseen fingers and Faramir waits for Elessar to say it. The King looks up at him, dark eyes glinting. “I am sorry.”


Quietly; “I love you.”

“Hush now.” And then, because the ache within Faramir’s chest is as pressing as the weight of Elessar against him; “I know.”

Elessar nods, accepting it. Faramir sighs through his nose and lifts his arm to encircle his King’s shoulders again. It has been so hard, to know, to discover slowly over so much time that the feelings of deep love and friendship he has harboured toward his King were returned in a manner he could never reciprocate. The night he told Éowyn, with a halting voice and hands that shook as his fingers reached for hers, of how the King had embraced him, as a brother would, and in drawing back had left a kiss upon his cheek with a question that turned Faramir‘s stomach to lead; that night, Éowyn had wept, and his heart had almost broken.

Still he stood by Elessar’s side. He would never abandon him, not in this despair, nor by shirking his duties would he leave such a man ever grasping for another who would understand. But Faramir cannot give himself to Elessar in the way the King would like. He loves his wife, and seeks not in men any completion.

Elessar loves him, and he must bear it.

“The stars watch over us, loftily, with no flame or chaos.” Faramir points upwards, and Elessar follows his gaze to the shimmer of the heavens. “There is no danger here, only us. Do you no longer find peace in the wild?”

“No,” is the answer, and Faramir sighs again and looks out across the rolling meadows until he becomes aware of Elessar’s hand upon his thigh.

“My King.” The hand does not move, and Faramir finds himself thinking suddenly of Éowyn on their wedding night with her pale palm placed lightly upon his naked leg. Her eyes had held a question, and he had not hesitated to answer it. “My King…”

Elessar lifts his hand and looks down at it, hair blowing gently in the moving air. His words when they come rush across Faramir like the heralding of the last day. “I know I cannot ask it of you.” His form is hunched forward, a shaking hand reaching up to cover eyes creased shut. “But still I would dare ask.”

It does not disgust him, but still Faramir feels ice settle in his belly as their old debate comes back to the fore. He loves his King, as his King, and as a friend and ally and someone he could not envisage his life without. But his touch does nothing. His kisses excite him not, and in the darkest days, when it seemed that he would lose Elessar completely to the sorrow slowly eating the Dùnedan from within did he pull images of his wife into his mind and kiss him back, pretending that stubble-dashed skin was the flawless porcelain of his Éowyn’s cheek. It would work for a moment. A heartbeat or two, and then he must turn his head, and hope it had been enough to stave off Elessar’s misery for another day.

“You know my answer, my King.”

When Éowyn discovered the reason for Arwen’s departure she had come first to Faramir, skirts whirling and eyes wide and frightened. They had talked long into the night, and he had reassured her, open and honest in all that had passed between the King and himself, the proposition, the rejection, what he had seen in Arwen’s eyes as she passed him in the corridor. Not hate, nor anger, but sadness, and calm comfort in the way she had smiled at him; it was not Faramir she blamed for any of this, and perhaps the Lady Undomiel held in her heart strange hope that Elessar might find what he sought in Faramir now that he was free from the bonds of their ill-fated marriage. Éowyn had taken his hand, and kissed the palm, and he had pulled her to him and kissed her deeply, holding her close until he knew not where she ended and he began. “I pity him,” she had said afterwards in his arms, flesh cooling, hair strewn across the scattered pillows. He had kissed the hollow of her collarbones and run a hand lightly across her ribs and made love to her, and she had screamed his name, and he hers, and that was how it would be. “He must envy me.” And Faramir had lain silent, though Éowyn had shown Elessar only kindness, and the King to her only grace, after that.

“If it is only kisses…” she had said, on another night, before drifting into sleep with her cheek upon his shoulder. Faramir had not slept, and the tears that stained the pillows and fell amid their tangled hair were silent markers of his unwilling betrayal. How to serve both wife and King. How to put one before the other, though he loved both eternally it would never be the same love. Before sleep found him Faramir realised that in the end, his heart would be pierced just as fatally by an arrow made of ebony as of gold.

Not knowing what else to do, Faramir settles himself on the ground again, stretching out and pulling his own blanket up over his chest. Elessar looks down at him and Faramir feels now the ill pang of pity Éowyn long-since ignited within him. Elessar is dear to him, in many ways, but this cannot go on.

“Sleep, my King. We will return to the city on the morn.”

Elessar looks to the trees waving gently in the night air and does not answer. Faramir swallows down the ill-feeling that rises within him, and when the King eventually lies back down beside him, though he knows it should not, his hand finds its way to the Dùnadan’s cheek, drawing gently from grey eyes strands of lank hair and smoothing unshaven skin with his thumb. Elessar says nothing.

A moment passes, and Faramir steels himself as his hand retraces its comforting caress. “We will return in the morn, my King. All will be well.” In his mind he sees Elessar as he once was, on a day the King turned to him upon the rampart with the sun in his hair and the shadows falling in elegance across his fair features. He stood tall, and assured, and smiled the smile of old friends as Faramir approached to embrace him. They had not seen one another in weeks, and Elessar had laughed with him, and asked how his honey-month had gone. There had been no hidden ache, no duplicity in Elessar’s fond gaze. Faramir wishes time would run backwards, wishes to see this King again, the King who yet had mastery over what threatened within. The King who did not love him in symptom or in hopeless desperation, in vain attempt to assuage the misery that ate at him a little more each day. Elessar found happiness not with Arwen, and Faramir doubts he will find it within his Steward either.

He thinks of Éowyn, his Éowyn, Éowyn who stands by him and loves him more than he deserves. Éowyn who forgives his slips, occasional and unintended though they are, when he falters and the need to give aid to the man he has his whole life waited for becomes all-encompassing, and for brief, terrible seconds he knows time and again what the underside of the King’s tongue feels like against his own. It feels like any tongue, like Éowyn’s, like his own must feel. Would he forgive his wife if it was she who offered such comforts? Faramir closes his eyes against the answer to that question, stilling his fingers amongst the rough silk strands of Elessar’s hair.

When he opens them again, Elessar’s breathing has slowed, asleep, perhaps. Faramir removes his hand and rolls onto his back, gazing upward. The stars offer him no recourse, winking down at him silently and unhelpful, forever out of reach. Tomorrow they will return to the City, and all will be well. Éowyn will wait for him by the doors to their rooms in the tower, and she will know. She must smell it on him, the richness of soil and soft sweetness of crushed grass. The perfume of the wind, the musty musk of leather and horses, the tang of pipe-weed and the smoky scent of blackened firewood. She always knows, and she says nothing. Their first night together after each of Faramir’s absences from the City is spent back to back in silence. Thereafter, and until the inevitable day when Elessar needs be removed again from his white-stone prison she removes the sword from between them, and they are as man and wife again, loving, grasping, forgiving.

She is like no other woman on the earth, and Faramir’s heart is arrow-marked and beats only shamefully.

Ithilien’s son waits a moment, waits until he has counted each untouchable pinprick of light, waits until the wind dies and the ash from the fire-pit settles in dusty tribute. He waits until silence cloaks the clearing and the trees, until each branch and leaf and twig lie still and unmoving. He waits until his own breathing matches tempo with that of the King, the ranger, the Dùnadan beside him.

Faramir waits until the world stops turning, and reaches out fanned fingertips to frame weary features, looks into the reflection of starlight in grey waters and feels himself fall apart as he is devoured with hunger-no, with tenderness only, with love, with heat and fire and with gentle questing hands that slide over his ribs as his own arm drops to pull open the buckle of Elessar’s belt.

Éowyn knows, and Faramir can do nought but look to the stars.

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10 Comment(s)

How sad – and how wonderful and unusual for a slash-story! I so like it when stories go their own unique ways and yours surely did!
And how wonderful the writing – now I long to go out and camp under the stars, wandering the countryside. sigh
Thank you very much for the story! :)

elektra121    Wednesday 14 September 2011, 15:32    #

I must admit I cried through the whole story and yet I´m struck by its beauty. There is such a sadness in it, no in a superficial way, but a profound sadness you can only write if you´ve experienced it by yourself (at least I guess so and please excuse me if I crossed a line here). To witness the characters trying to deal with the situation in a grown-up and quite untypical way (due to what society tells us about how to react in a case like that) is just heartbreaking. They´re empathic enough to feel and understand the other one´s misery and responsible enough to consider the risk. So they keep putting their own ego aside and sacrifice their wishes for the other´s welfare – I think Tolkien might have approved this notion of leadership.

Another thing I really loved was how you pointed out that Faramir´s reluctancy is not of physical nature. He feels not squicked by the act itself, it just doesn´t do anything for him. Leaving aside the emotional aspect it might even work – in an imperfect and twisted way but enough to keep the balance.

And yet you didn´t make Éowyn the “disturbing factor” which in my opinion is an amazing performance. I think it´s really difficult to write such a constellation without making one of the characters the “villain”. Having three people who share the same mental maturity makes the story even more believable – and their predicament even more afflicting.

Seems I got bit carried away – I hope I didn´t bore you with my tapeworm comment. Again: You are a wonderful writer and I enjoy each of your fics. Thank you very much! :)

raven22372    Monday 19 September 2011, 22:05    #

You know, I feel the same way as raven here, that this was written from the bottom of heart, like a thing lived through. Alhtough of course, my dear, I hope ‘tis only your talent and not experience that bred this story, for who would wish such experience upon another? And that alone, I think, is indicative of how badly Aragorn is faring. For he is not a fool and not an unkind man, and surely he knows Faramir burns for him not, and surely he knows his love is making Farmair miserable. And yet he does not have it in himself, even if only for Faramir’s sake, to end it. It is miserable, hopeless to be given tokens of love out of pity, and it is very exhausting to give them, to touch when you feel nothing, to touch not because you want to express love but because you want to not cause hurt – and yet Aragorn prefers it. That Faramir should prefer it, well, that’s Faramir… I don’t think he could deny anyone, especially Aragorn, kindness, even if in the end it does Aragorn only ill, forget about his own self. But Aragorn, poor Aragorn…

I must admit I felt a pang of gladness at the ending, that Faramir has finally climbed off the fence and Aragorn will have a short solace. But the problem is, afterwards it will be only worse. Because Eowyn will know and will suffer. And Faramir will feel terrible. And worst of all, there will be no going back, because Aragorn will want it to happen again and again, but Faramir will not be able to go on with it indefinitely, because it is bad enough once, forget about making it a routine. Besides, Aragorn will be wanting more and more from him each time, I mean not in the technical sense, but he will expect Faramir to warm into it, to develop real desire for it, to derive real joy from it. And if that doesn’t happen, and quite obviously it won’t, then Aragorn will remain lacking and aching, even if technically speaking he will be getting what he wants.

Ah, the old story where you want love, but if the other one cannot give it, you are eager to settle for anything, even if only sex. But the problem is, settling doesn’t work!

OMG, you know, you’ve totally transferred me into this story… I just realised I’m raving like I’m actually trying to talk sense into Aragorn. Because obviously there’s no use talking sense into Faramir, he won’t listen, he’s willing to destroy his own marriage if only for the sake of ephemeral compassion. I’m praying for a sudden orc attack that would distract them and prevent the irreversible from happening >:E

And, and, and I feel so angry for Eowyn.Because she gets nothing out of it, and she hurts the most. Because Faramir at least has the feeling that he is doing his best to help a man he holds dear – but what does she have? She is the forgiving understanding wife, even though we see it is not an esy feat for her to understand and forgive. She is informed as to what is happening, but she gets no say – then why the hell did he tell her at all? To be honest with her? And who is the better off for it? He? She? Aragorn? Poor girl, honestly, if only he knew what she was getitng herself into… It’s Faramir’s and Aragorn’s own decisions to play this poisonous game where each tortures the other and himself – but no one asked her whether she wanted to be part of it. Arwen, in comparison, looks so much the wiser in her decision – just get out of it, let the men do their tragedy if thy want it. But I don’t think Eowyn is selfish enough for something like that. Ironic, sin’t it, that she ended up in a cage just as she had once thought…

December    Wednesday 28 September 2011, 8:38    #

Prepare yourselves for replies almost as long as the fic! :P

Elektra: Thank you so much! I am happy to hear you think this story is unusual, because I was trying hard to write something sad but in a way I hadn’t seen before (though I don’t profess to have read every fic out there naturally!) I wanted it to be bleak, with only the faintest hope, but really there isn’t anything that could be done to keep the flame of happiness lit for more than the shortest while. And thank you as well for the kind words on the writing; I’ve been practising a lot lately and really trying to improve my writing style itself so to hear of other’s enjoyment is a really wonderful compliment and I can only give you my humblest thanks for taking the time to both read and leave me your thoughts! :)

Raven: Thank you! :) Although I didn’t mean to make you cry! There has been recent turmoil in real life, (though none so complicated as this thankfully!) -just various stresses both emotional and work-related and so forth, but I must say writing this story has been extremely enjoyable (despite the sadness in it) and helpful, and I’m so glad other have found enjoyment in it despite its rather morose tone! I’ve been thinking a lot about this story and its various themes and it seems that it goes deeper than even I originally conceived when I wrote it (and as always, I should clarify that the majority of the stories come as flashes of inspiration, where I suddenly have the urge to write a paragraph that becomes a longer piece and the plot just flows from there (not to say that the plots have any merit!) But I rarely if ever sit down and plan out a possible story idea. I’ll have a vague feeling, like, for this one I knew I wanted to write something sad and difficult, but as for the actual nitty gritty of the plot I just let it come to me as I wrote. I think that’s the wonderful thing about writing about characters you love very dearly, they do come to life and go their own way sometimes!)

Eowyn’s part in this story is possibly the most interesting and the most difficult, I think, though all three face rather dreadfully painful choices. I think if I were to write this from the start again I would show more of her personality and spirit, I touch on it briefly but I don’t want her to appear as a doormat, just letting Faramir go off and allow the King to have his way with him for the sake of his sanity, which is why I mentioned the sword between them in the bed (which you can take literally or metaphorically as you choose!) I think the story demanded to be a short one, though, and maybe the starkness of the relationships between these three people would have not been as jarring had I went on for pages and pages. I wanted it to be difficult, I wanted none of the characters to be truly happy. Aragorn briefly, would have his solace, but then in the aftermath of whatever he and Faramir do together I think the creeping misery that eats at him will only return stronger, demanding more from Faramir in return next time. Faramir himself, bound by his love for his King and the friendship he feels for him goes against all his heart tells him and betrays his wife, little by little, even though she has not quite given her blessing. And Eowyn, stuck there between her husband and the man he cannot love in the way that is asked of him, and I think also while I speak of Eowyn Aragorn’s woe will only be burdened further as he knows full well what he asks of Faramir, what he is doing to Eowyn in turn. Egads, it is a heady jumble of inextricable emotion and duty. I do wonder what the solution really could be? No-one is happy here, and not everyone can be satisfied with any outcome; Faramir leaves Eowyn for Aragorn and he is stuck in a loveless relationship, feeling only pity and growing resentment perhaps, and Aragorn himself cannot surely believe that if this should happen he could be happy knowing the man he loves is with him only out of pity. Or, Faramir stays with Eowyn, and cuts off all untoward activities with Aragorn; he and Eowyn can mend their marriage and live happily ever after, though with a pang of regret at the King’s sorrow, and perhaps the never-fading nagging concern of one friend for another. And Aragorn in that situation would be left utterly alone. Oh dear, what have I wrought?
Thank you so much for commenting, and for the chance to really get the wheels of my mind working!

December: My, my, my, such an insightful and thought-provoking comment! Thank you, first of all, for lending me your opinion and giving me much fruit for thought on aspects of the story I myself hadn’t even considered fully (I think it’s lovely how that works out, when more questions present themselves in my head to be answered or explored in the next story!) I want to point out again, that, fortunately, I am not writing from specific experience, not entirely, so do not fret! Writing this story was very cathartic actually, as real life recently has been one big rollercoaster and no mistake!

I’ve tried lately to leave a certain mystery around events in my stories; I want there to be a slight ambiguous nature to events so that the reader themselves has the chance to think about what’s going on and come to their own preferred or inferred conclusions without me spelling it out for them and forcing them to think a certain way. (This is why I like when in a novel the descriptions of the characters’ appearances for example are only loosely alluded to, blonde hair, tall, etc, and no more, because I find the images I come up with in my own mind fit me far better than someone else’s, equally valid, perception being forced into my imagination ever will.) So, the point I’m eventually getting to is that I didn’t want to state exactly how far Faramir has let Aragorn go in the past, or how far he is willing to take this most unusual relationship on this night. I don’t want to delve too deeply into my own little Au-backstory for this one lest I colour someone’s perception of the story and direct their opinion of it in a direction they didn’t think of, but the way I see the relationship, as dreadfully flawed as it is, was this: Aragorn is, quite clearly, desperately in love with Faramir, and whether this in itself is the cause of his marriage to Arwen falling apart or whether it is a combination of that and the other issues I‘m not sure; for I feel in this universe it is not only the yearning for unattainable love that has him in misery upon the throne- reaching for Faramir, I feel, is perhaps his only release, and Faramir himself has of course only exacerbated the situation out of his own love and loyalty to the King.
Faramir loves Aragorn deeply, but strictly platonically, but because of the strength of his dedication and his sense of friendship and duty he has, as you say, begun to unwillingly sacrifice the happiness of his own marriage in order to help in some way because the alternative is something he cannot bear. I think in this story there are no winners at all, not least Eowyn who has the biggest burden to bear. I like to think it is a story of love; unrequited love (Aragorn toward Faramir) dutiful love (Faramir toward Aragorn) distant respect, and perhaps an echo of Faramir’s love for the King (Eowyn toward Aragorn, which plays a part I think in her tolerance, as well as the pity she feels toward him) and then a love that I think is both unbreakable and quite remarkable between Faramir and his wife, but at the same time there are small cracks, allowances, certainly something not quite perfect there.
A cage, perhaps, but I think Eowyn sees also that the love Faramir has for her is so great, and the trust she has in him is enough to allow this giving of solace. She knows Faramir does not have romantic feelings for the King. But still, I would think she is quite justified in her anger when Faramir returns to her, or her coldness. It is not a good situation, all in all. And yes, the more Faramir relents and the more he gives of himself in the attempt to halt Aragorn’s spiral into unknown depths, the more Aragorn will want from him, not out of malice, or selfish love, but out of sadness, of, again, desperation, knowing what he can’t have and yet reaching out a hand for it when it is unwillingly offered. Perhaps there is a lingering ghost of the love Eowyn once thought she held for Aragorn that haunts her heart and so enables her to allow the transgressions, so long as it ‘only kisses’?

Wow, you’ve really made me delve right into the heart of this story and I’m getting so inspired! Thank you so much not only for your wonderful comment and thoughts but for making me think about it all over again; it’s been wonderful! :)

Eora    Wednesday 28 September 2011, 20:31    #

Oh, my dear, no, no, you don’t get to say thanks to me here :D It is I and I alone who should be thanking you for this little (in size but not merit) gem of a story. And I’m thanking you the seocnd time over :)

It is now morning here, and I’d read the story late last night. Well, I’d been thinking of it ever since, including in my sleep, if you can put it that way. And it’s interesting, even though the piece itself is done in soft and gentle tones, there’s mostly various shades of sadness and wistfulness in it – but the emotional effect it has on me is actually very arousing. I become exasperated with the characters, you see. No, no, of course everyone means well and cares for the others to the best of their ability – but still. I’ll echo here, I think, a certain ill-famous relative of Faramir’s and say that Faramir is being extrememly irresponsible in his kindness. If we speak of duty here, his duty to the King (and I won’t even go into his duty to his spouse) is to care after the King’s well-being – which in turn means sometimes not doing what the King wants. Because, forgive me for being trivial, not everything we may want is good for us. I think the whole original LOTR story was quite big on this point, ahem.

Problem is, of course, that like I’ve already said, it would be simply against Faramir’s nature to deny kindness where he’s in the position to give it. And Faramir doesn’t go against his nature. Well, obviously he does in the sense that he brings himself to do intimate things that contradict his romantic state – but for a man like him that is a lesser betrayal of self than denying the compassion itself. Truly, he is being forced to choose between two evils.

You know, I won’t be disapproving of Aragorn here. Because, he is, quite obviously, not himself. I doubt there’s anyone out there who doesn’t know, either from personal experience or from witnessing a close someone, just what the love of such sort does to a person. He’s apparently too far gone to be answerable for his actions – which is quite frightening in a man like him, who’s been a paragon of accountability in the original story…

Eowyn, well… Eowyn’s not Faramir’s mom. She may have her own opinion – which she quite apparently does – but I think she’s got too much class as a person to in any way try to get Faramir to do as she would like. After all, I think she respects him too much to deny him the right to decide as he sees fit, even if she herself is part of the decision. What just struck me now is the realisation that she is completely alone in this. Aragorn gets his time with Faramir, and Faramir while being inside the situation at the same time gives Aragorn a friend’s understanding. Faramir, too, gets Aragorn’s understanding, for of course the King knows they are playing a bad game. And, Faramir also is getting his wife, however reluctant, support in that she doesn’t demand he stop and take shim back every time. But Eowyn? She doesn’t get to discuss it with anyone, not even her husband, for how could she if he himself is the source of her pain? I wish Arwen had stayed around, maybe the two of them could be united into a friendship by all this…

You’ve mentioned the word ‘solution’. Well, like I said, I think it’s up to Faramir to seek that, seeing as Aragorn can’t and Eowyn’s not in the position to. And on this I’ll quote my mother who’s always been a very sensible lady and none the worse off for it: Pack your gear, kid, and run! Seriously, now, the only thing that helps in such situations is to physically get yourself out of them – incindentally, funnily enough, that is the hardest thing to do in such situations. Because, to use a bit of clinical lingo, what we have here, between the men (add Eowyn on the side) is a disfunctional, abusive relationship. Like you said, and I fully agree, none of that is out of malice – and not necessarily fully conscious at that. True enough – but abuse doesn’t have to be malicious or self-aware. Too often it isn’t.

Aragorn here is not far from a man addicted. The hope for Faramir’s love is his drug. And Faramir keeps, however hesitantly for he is not a fool after all, administering that – and in increasing doses, too.

Of course, Faramir would feel gutitngly guilty if he quits, cutting off any access to himself for Aragorn. Of course, Aragorn would have to go through a whole rainbow of withdrawals. We don’t know if he would make it – but I think that otherwise he won’t make it at all…

December    Thursday 29 September 2011, 1:27    #

PS. I humbly beseech your permission to translate this into my mother-tongue. I would’ve offered others, too, if I knew any. The world deserves to read this story!

December    Thursday 29 September 2011, 9:23    #

I’m going to come back later and write you a proper reply to your lovely comment but as it’s half-midnight here and I’ve been up since 5am I need to dash off to bed BUT I wanted to say I’d be absolutely honoured if you translated this story!! :O What a compliment! I know you’ll do a completely wonderful job, thank you so much!! :D

Eora    Saturday 1 October 2011, 0:34    #

Oh, cool :) Great, I’m really really glad you approve. Thank you!

I first have to fulfill a prior outstanding commitment on another translation – but there’s only about a page of that left, so hopefully it’ll be done soon. I’ll also need ot get in touch with you to discuss some language-specific moments, so do expect a mail from me on that ;)

Also, of course, I’ve been thinking about the story some more. I still stand firm that Faramir’s choice of action is far from advisable, but it now seems to me there is more than one possible outcome.

For one thing, I’ve thought on raven’s point about how he’s not disgusted by but rather just completely numb to the touch of the person he does not want/love-in-that-way, i.e. that he can bring himself to carry out a kiss and even more, but it stirs him not. And I thought, well, we don’t really know that, do we now? Because so far there’s been ‘only kisses’, and that, well, unless the person is quite repelling, which I presume Aragorn to Faramir is not despite Faramir’s general absence of interest in men – well, that would not likely feel all too revolting. Just like Faramir thinks, it’s just a tongue, like anybody’s. It’s sad for him that he feels that way, that kissing Aragorn like that does not make Aragorn ‘special’ to him – and yet at the same time it lets Faramir distance himself from his actions, like medical personnel who perform some ‘icky’ procedure. But I’m thinking, kissing a person on the mouth – and other things, that’s very very different. And there’s no certainty Faramir won’t actually become sickened if he continues on his course, the one we see a hint at in the ending. We can’t know what exactly it is he’s going to do, but obviously it will involve some particular body parts, and… Here his numbness can escalate to reactions of a very different valence. I hope what I’m trying to communicate here is clear enough, it’s not a very pleasant topic and I don’t want to go into too much detail… What I mean, his lack of emotional and physical arousal in response to Aragorn’s advances is a distinct sign his body is sending to him to not continue – but the further he goes against it, the stronger the signals may become. The stronger the action, the stronger the counter-reaction, that’s possible, right? What I’m getting at, Faramir’s decision to take this whole I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-it to the next level may actually ruin the whole arrangement for them, because he just might discover midway through that he simply cannot do it, or else that it is so unpleasant to him that he will do all to avoid the possibility of finding himself in a situation where he will be expected to do it again (because naturally, once it is done, Aragorn would be likely to think that now they are going to make it part of their routine).

Or, conversely, Faramir may actually find his heart changed by embarking on this new journey. It does happen, after all, that physical intimacy, especially when it is regular, makes people fall in love. In tha line, I truly wish you’d get some luck with getting your hands on ‘The Frozen Flower’ – that story does a very interesting exploration into how what begins as dreader sex out of duty can develop into very different and scary things, even when there’s someone else already in the picture. Because we can’t forecast what will or will not have a sway on our heart – and truly, Faramir is wading into very dangerous waters here… Like setting sail into the open sea…

Ah, I’m probably keeping you from working on other stories, what with all the comments on this one to answer to, but please forgive me :) I think one of the things that just keeps me enthralled and makes me speculate as to the possible developments is the overall sensation of fatality and inevitability that is spread through the story like a scent through the air. Trying to pin it down, I’d say maybe it’s because of the whole star theme, both as the dominant element in their settings and in Aragorn’s ominous visions. It also may be due to how the events are organised: real-time wise, we observe a single episode in the course of a single night, but within that a whole long narrative unfurls, with the possible past and the possible future. Thirdly, the reason may be that the scene itself comes through as a free-floating vision, not fully anchored in the past since we can learn only so much about how things have come to where they are – nor with any definite future. Only a moment in time, a single step in some predetermined course, suspended in some cosmic infinity… I think this is one of the things that so intensifies the drama (or should I say tragedy…?) in the story of the three people – that they are as though isolated from the rest of the world in their interwoven plight, alone in the starry darkness, like a locked system where no one from the outside can lend any help.

Before I write off at last, I must say I’m quite fascinaed by how many distinct scenes all have their place in a story of such compact size. Some of my favourites, I think, are these. Of course the opening one, with Faramir lying under the infinity of the glittering sky, and how little comfort this normally fascinating sight brings him. It’s like a metaphor for his whole situation – Aragorn’s love is a beautiful gift in itself, and yet due to his personal reasons Faramir remains unable to revel in it. Secondly, Faramir’s reminiscence of how he had seen Aragorn on the city-wall, in the good days. An extremely cinematographic moment you have there, a perfect flash-back scene – I can literally see it in my mind’s eye! And it has such a good feel about it, of pure friendship, dignity and unwary joy… And then there’s the ‘night after’, when Faramir first returns to the marital bed after his ‘missions’. I don’t truly want to decide on whether the sword is material or metaphorical- I like to see the notion as a bit of both. What I especially like about it is the complex logic of how giving solace in the wrong place (okay, this is arguable, but for me personally it is the wrong place) – Faramir makes it impossible to get it in the right place, i.e. from his very soulmate. These moments are like the epitome of their misery: Eowyn is because even though Faramir is currently with her she cannot erase from her mind the thought of where he was previously; Aragorn – because although Faramir was with him previously, cannot not think of where Farmair is currently, i.e. not with him; and Faramir himself because although he tries to give love in two places, in that particular moment has it in neither of them.

Oh well, I must off to let you get a breath now :) Once again, thank you for the wonderful little piece of literary enjoyment and profound rumination!

December    Sunday 2 October 2011, 0:07    #

Ah! I’m back! Sorry for the delay in replying, my internet wasn’t working and then when I got online and wrote out a reply it got eaten by my computer; argh! Anyway, I can’t wait to see the finished translation, though I know I can’t read Cyrillic I’m sure it’ll be perfect! Drop me a line if you want to discuss anything at all, you know that’s no problem! :)

Now, back to the endless layers that I have unwittingly created in this story! I’ll start with the oints you raise in your second-last comment there: that Faramir is being ‘irresponsible in his kindness’ is something I fully agree with. I think here, his inherent kind nature, so precious in itself when you take into account the ill-favour he has been shown by his father, is his undoing, and the undoing of the King, in its own way (or rather, because of his kindness, he seems to only hasten the troubled thoughts that come to Aragorn; not only does he have to deal with all that plagues him, and his heart’s yearning (which would still be cause for unhappiness were it totally unreciprocated,) but because of Faramir’s kindness and reciprocation, if only out of duty, and I think, in part, pity, he also must deal with the guilt that now weighs down his shoulders and the shame of being so weak as to accept Faramir’s offering of fleeting solace as a temporary way out. Now that was a long sentence!) But I think, in this most unusually pressing and testing of situations, Faramir cannot act in any other way; he is kind, he sees the best in others, and offers the best of himself, in many parts, to those he loves so that they do not suffer, even at his own expense, and, as we’re seeing, the expense of his marriage, though the cracks there are still small- but if he cannot change his selfless nature then they will only grow as more stress is put upon the foundations of his relationship with Eowyn.

Eowyn is alone, as you rightly point out, and this is why the idea of writing either the whole story again from her point of view (what her thoughts are and what she is doing on this night alone in the City- for they live in the City in this AU) or writing the aftermath, Faramir’s homecoming and the events unfolding through her eyes and thoughts is really intriguing me, and while I’m playing about with a couple of other pieces at the moment it’s something I really will consider writing; though even now I sense much pain in this potential tale, yes, angst is my new addiction, it seems (though I promise I will not give up on the fluff! It’s necessary sometimes!) Perhaps Eowyn wishes for a companion to confide in, or perhaps she had one in Arwen before she left. (I’ve just this second had the thought of a ‘diary’ type story, but I’m not sure, ha.) Though, I didn’t specify that Arwen sailed or not, perhaps she just went elsewhere for the time being, but I’m not sure. I think overcomplicating the story, or even adding to it would maybe take away from it, if you know what I mean.

Onto your last comment and the point you raise about Faramir’s acceptance of the acts themselves despite his lack of physical reaction to them is a really interesting one and one I’d not given too much thought to, as it happens! I certainly didn’t have any notion of Faramir suddenly falling for Aragorn but I think he must, in a way, find some safe harbour in his arms, if he can let himself fall into them for his King’s sake for even a moment. There is trust there, however twisted it’s becoming, and love, though we know already it is not the same love shared by both. Your point about his blithe and perfunctory acceptance of kissing Aragorn wipes away all notion that Aragorn might have of this being ‘special’- Faramir performs it out of duty, and the King knows this, though of course Faramir cannot find Aragorn utterly unattractive in the first place or I think he would not do it. But this is not to say he is attracted to him physically, perhaps emotionally he sees in the King the same pain he has felt in the past, the sense of loss, the struggle, the goodness still showing through, and sympathises with his friend, so yes, I think Faramir is probably attracted to him on the emotional level (that of caring deeply for a close friend‘s welfare), but it is mixed with pity and sympathy and duty and kindness. He loves Eowyn, is passionate with her, has married her and they have a closeness together that he and Aragorn will never have. I think there is a shade of envy that the king feels toward them; that they can find happiness in such a trouble-free scenario. But of course, it’s not trouble-free at all, and there’s that guilt issue again because Aragorn knows what is bad for him and still goes looking for it.

I think that if they made love on this night, (‘if’ being the operative word, if Faramir can bring himself to do it, or perhaps they do not lie together, but he allows Aragorn to do other things with himself in a passive role…) their dynamic would change, maybe not completely, but it wouldn’t be so ‘innocent’ any more. Aragorn might well expect it each time as you say, or beg or ask, or find himself even more love-sick wanting what he has now had a taste of, now that he knows he can eventually wear down Faramir until he is willing to go further. I’m now not so sure if they will make love on this night or not; I feel too sorry for Eowyn to completely destroy her marriage, aah. I don’t think Faramir could be so cruel in his kindness, even he is self-aware enough to know when it has gone too far. But I left the ending ambiguous for a reason, because the answers themselves as we’ve discovered are as any faceted as the themes and emotions within the characters themselves. But then I keep going back and rethinking (and this discussion is so wonderful because it’s giving me so many ideas!)…what if they did make love and Faramir found his heart changing, found himself with feelings he did not have before? A whole ‘nother kettle of fish, I will say, and perhaps another story entirely, but something to think about. Eowyn’s story needs to be told here, I think for certain.

When you say the flashback scene with Aragorn on the balcony was ‘cinematic’ to you I grinned like an idiot; I saw it in my head as well so suddenly- it came to me and I just had to write it mid-paragraph…I saw him turning in the sunlight, the wind in his hair and that rakish smile, cloak billowing, in his robes of state, very much a vision :P A time when things were perfect, before the troubles started. I want to come up with a way for things to go back to this, but I’m not sure they ever could, not completely with the memory of things past ever lurking in the shadows. Poor Aragorn, I think suddenly :P Poor everyone, but it’s all down to him in the end, his ‘fault’ in the first place, as it were, though no-one hates him, or casts the blame upon him, yet.

Thank you so so much again for your wonderful thoughts and analysis; this is really so much fun and so inspiring (and I think I’ve said about ten times but it’s true!) to discuss! :) I hope all is going well in New Zealand for you! :)

Eora    Monday 3 October 2011, 22:31    #

Wow, this is a great story! Lovely explanation of the marriage between Faramir and Eowyn, and poor Aragorn who loves Faramir, and the way both he and his wife handles it

— Laivindur    Wednesday 21 March 2012, 17:39    #

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