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This story is rated «NC-17», and carries the warnings «Sex, polyamory, angst, politics, economics. Lots of economics! It's long - over 30,000 words.».
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The Prince of Ithilien (NC-17) Print

Written by Raihon

08 June 2007 | 33215 words

[ all pages ]

The Hearts of Men

That night, as often happened when he slept in Aragorn’s arms, Faramir had a memorable dream. He was walking through a forest when he came upon a starlit glade where Arwen stood, dressed in a gown of deep green. She began to sing, and Faramir’s heart was filled with wonder. “Undómiel, gwathel nín, man laer linnoch?” he called, “my sister, what song do you sing?” He moved toward her, but he stood moveless when he saw that it was not Arwen before him, but Melian the Maia, mother of Lúthien. Faramir bowed his head and Melian held out her left hand, palm upward. “Child of Ilúvatar, what gift do you bring me?” Faramir raised his head and opened a small velvet bag from which he poured into her hand a pile of pebbles. She brought her hands together and slid a portion of the pebbles into her empty hand, saying:

From elder to younger, from darkness to light
Legacies pass to the hand on the right.
To brother and sister, to love as to earth,
To all must be given a token of worth

When Faramir awoke, he was alone. He quickly washed and dressed, eager to share his dream with Arwen and find out what she made of it. When he entered the dining room, Aragorn and Arwen were already sitting at the table. “I dreamed of you and your foremother,” he said to Arwen.

Arwen looked up at him and gasped, looking in alarm from him to Aragorn. “What has happened?” she asked.

Faramir felt his stomach drop. He stood frozen in the doorway and forgot all about his dream.

Aragorn turned to her and caressed her cheek. She reached out a trembling hand and laid it on his. Faramir watched them gaze intently at each other until he felt compelled by embarrassment to look away. When he again looked to Arwen, she was calmer. She looked back at him, no longer shocked or angry, but puzzled, and perhaps irritated.

“I do not understand the hearts of Men,” she said, standing abruptly and moving away from the table. “It is so complicated with you, not like the bonding of my people.” She pushed past Faramir and left the room.

Faramir slumped into a chair and glumly looked at Aragorn. “But we didn’t…” he said.

Aragorn shook his head. “It is not that.”

“Then what?”

Aragorn also gave him a puzzled look. “I am not certain. I will speak to her as soon as I am able.”

They ate their meal in silence and Faramir left as soon as he was finished. He called Doronil and they had a leisurely walk down the levels of the city. They arrived to the top of the wall at mid-morning, and Faramir anxiously looked across the fields for Éowyn’s arrival. He would have put his foot down and had the midwife forbid her from coming, but that he knew Windfola would bear her here as if on a cloud. It was too dangerous to ride down the hill, though, Faramir fretted, so she had agreed to walk. It was nearly two miles – what if she tired herself? What if she lost her footing on the road?

Fortunately for Faramir’s peace of mind, he soon saw two figures on horseback arriving from the Harlond, going so slowly he knew it must be them. He walked through the Great Gate and went to meet them down the road.

Legolas rode ahead to meet him. “Faramir, all is well,” he reassured him.

“I am glad to hear it,” Faramir said.

Then the Elf looked at him more closely and Faramir saw an expression on his face he had never seen there before. Legolas looked over his shoulder to Éowyn and then back at Faramir, still looking shocked. “Faramir,” he said, and stopped.

Faramir again felt cold in the pit of his stomach. “What is it, Legolas?” he asked quietly.

Legolas did not answer. His eyes scanned Faramir, and again, he glanced toward Éowyn. “You…” he began, then looked embarrassed. “I do not know. You seem different today,” was all he said, and he urged his horse on.

“Legolas, wait,” Faramir called. Legolas turned his horse.

Faramir looked up at him, squinting a little in the mid-day sun. “I hope to speak with you later today about North Ithilien. I would like to gather a few people together to take counsel. I hope that we will be able to achieve a consensus to present to the King.”

Legolas regarded Faramir for another long moment and said, “of course. Let us meet in the afternoon.” He turned his horse again and went on ahead.

Faramir walked a short way and fell into step beside Windfola. “How are you?” he asked Éowyn, whose face looked pale and whose mouth was pressed into a tight line.

“I am fine,” she said, and resumed her grim expression.

“You don’t look well. Are you in pain?” Faramir asked, trying not to sound alarmed.

“I am well into my eighth month and have been upright for five hours. Of course I am in pain. Do not trouble me with foolish questions.”

Faramir sighed and thought better of reminding her whose idea this was. “We will go first to the Houses of Healing, then.”

“Are you deaf? I said I am fine! I just need something cool to drink and to lie down for a bit,” Éowyn snapped.

“You will first go to the Houses of Healing. They will give you a cool drink, a hot bath, and a long massage.” Faramir looked up at Éowyn, who did not protest. “After that, we will eat lunch. Then I would appreciate your counsel on some matters regarding North Ithilien.”

Éowyn nodded. “That is a good plan. I had not thought of the massage.”

Faramir looked up at her again and tried not to laugh. She would not meet his eyes, but her mouth was not so grim as it was before.

Doronil met them at the gate and Faramir bade him to leave a summons at the officers’ barracks for Mablung to present himself as soon as he arrived, and then to alert someone at the Houses of Healing that Éowyn would be arriving for a treatment. “And please ask your mother to fetch Lady Éowyn from the Houses of Healing after she is done, and bring her to lunch with me in the private dining room,” Faramir added, for Doronil’s mother was Éowyn’s attendant while at Minas Tirith.

Éowyn moved as if to dismount her horse, but Faramir put a hand on her leg. “We will put Windfola with the messenger horses on the sixth level. I do not want you to walk any more today.”

Legolas had gone on ahead, leaving Faramir to walk Éowyn and Windfola up the levels of the city. Faramir asked Éowyn for stories of all Elboron had done or said during the last few days. Then Faramir told Éowyn the news from Dol Amroth and filled her in on the gossip of the court.

After they had shared all the news, Éowyn looked at Faramir and asked, “and what of the Prince of Ithilien?”

Faramir smiled. “He is growing into his helm.”

“Good for him,” Éowyn said. “What happened?”

Faramir shook his head. “Not here. If you are a good patient at the houses of healing and eat a hearty lunch,” Faramir began to whisper, “I will tell you of the terrible fight I had with the King.”

Éowyn nodded, not as surprised as Faramir thought she might have been at this news. Then she grinned. “Ah, but I hope you have made up with him,” she said, and when Faramir blushed, she said, “wonderful. You will tell me the whole tale later, then.”

“You torment me,” he complained, vividly imagining the frustration he would soon face.

“It is the price you agreed to pay,” she taunted him.

After leaving Éowyn with the bath attendant, Faramir found Doronil and asked him to make their small study comfortable for four people, and he went to retrieve his documents from Aragorn’s study. Aragorn was not there, but he had been recently; Faramir could detect his slightly spicy scent in the air and it sent a wave of warmth through him. Rather than taking the work back to his chambers, he sat down at the desk and skimmed through one of the books, finding more examples to confirm his interpretation of the law on land trusts. He heard the sixth bell toll and he took the books and the map to his study, then went to see if Éowyn had arrived for lunch yet.

When he entered the dining room, Arwen was there, alone, and she did not greet him as usual, with a warm smile. Instead, she looked at him penetratingly, and a little coldly. Faramir felt anxious, but he sat down next to her and put a hand, palm up, on the table in front of her. She held his gaze for a moment, then looked at his hand. She put one of her hands by his, and he closed his fingers around it. Her hand was large and strong, but the skin was impossibly pale and soft, and it was cool to the touch. He did not feel a warm energy flowing from her touch as he had once or twice before.

“Arwen, what is it?”

“I do not accuse you of playing false with me, but how can you not know it?” she asked, regarding him intently.

“Aragorn and I…” Faramir felt words leave him. “Something changed last night, something happened, but…but nothing happened. I know not what you see.”

Arwen sighed, closed her eyes, and touched two fingers to the center of her forehead. She took a few breaths and removed her fingers from her forehead, then looked at him again. “To an Elf’s eyes, your fëa has now bonded with another’s. Do you understand?”

Faramir frowned, then looked at her, astonished. “But how can that be? Men do not…it is different for us, or so I have heard.” Faramir felt an unpleasant prickly sensation all over his skin.

“I do not claim to have much experience of Men, but I have seen it in the eyes and voice of one other of your kind,” Arwen said, releasing his hand, which Faramir now realized was sweating.

“Aragorn?” Faramir asked. “He has bonded with you in this way?”

Arwen bowed her head and Faramir felt his chest constrict. “Yes. I do not know what it means that you have now…” her voice faded away.

“But Arwen, he and I have, we have loved each other for years…”

“This, too is different. With us, this joining is the result of the physical act of love. Why has this happened now, after you have been together so many times?”

“Perhaps, then, this is not like your bonding, after all. Arwen, nothing is different,” Faramir said, grabbing her hand again and pressing it between both of his. “It is not even a change that I myself perceive!”

She looked at him sharply, her eyes moist. “Is it not?” she asked, and Faramir’s heart skipped a beat. “Son of Númenor, can you look into your heart and honestly say that it has not changed? That you are not transformed?”

Faramir held her gaze, searching his heart, his face wearing a pained expression.

The door swung open and Éowyn entered. Arwen looked at her and Faramir saw the look in Arwen’s eyes shift from anguish to pity.

“What is wrong?” Éowyn asked, looking from Faramir to Arwen, whose hand was still clasped in her husband’s hands.

Arwen stood up and helped Éowyn sit down at the table. She did not answer Éowyn’s question, so Éowyn looked to Faramir, who just looked back at her, not sure of what to say.

“Is something wrong?” Éowyn repeated.

“I will ask them to bring us lunch now,” Arwen said and left the room.

“Are you feeling better?” Faramir asked.

Éowyn gave him a stern look. “Actually, I am. Now what was that about?”

Faramir sighed. “I do not entirely understand. Arwen says that my spirit bonded with Aragorn’s last night.”

Éowyn shook her head. “What does she mean, bonded?”

Faramir shrugged. “It is something that Elves see in other Elves, it is for them akin to marriage.”

Éowyn laughed. “Did you and Aragorn get married last night?”

Faramir smiled and was grateful that he could say, “no, we did not. We fought for several days, then said tender things to one another, and all the rest you will have to wait until later to hear.”

Éowyn looked over her shoulder. “But Arwen is upset about it. This bonding.”

Faramir nodded. “She says she has never seen this in another of our kind besides Aragorn. I think that for Elves, love is much simpler. With one other, they join their spirits in the physical act of love, and then they are married for the rest of their long lives.”

Éowyn regarded him thoughtfully for a few moments. “I see nothing different in you. What do you think?”

Arwen returned and sat down next to Éowyn. She looked from Éowyn to Faramir and seemed about to say something, then folded her hands in front of her and stared down at them. “Lunch is coming,” she said.

“Arwen,” Faramir said softly, and she looked at him. “The only change I see when I look into my heart is that I am at ease with my love, whereas yesterday I was quite agitated. Today, all the sharp edges have been worn away and all the pieces of my life seem to fit together much more smoothly. Except that now I am concerned for you.”

Arwen looked into his eyes for a moment, then slowly nodded. “I believe you. Now I must ask Estel to search his heart and tell me what he finds there.”

Éowyn lay a hand on her friend’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

The servants brought in their lunch and Arwen turned the talk to matters of bearing children and raising sons. Faramir watched as Arwen tried to veil her pity, and he wondered if Éowyn saw it nonetheless.

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

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3 Comment(s)

This was an excellent piece. Once I started reading, I could not stop. This story made me think and I could feel Faramir’s confusion about his roles. Interesting take and probably spot on. Also, loved the idea of the bracelet and especially how it tied in at the end. Gave me warm fuzzies.

— Escribej    Monday 11 June 2007, 12:05    #

Very sweet, and having the politicians of Gondor involved with actual politics—what is Arda coming to? Interesting and well done. I now need to go back and read the beginning to this, as it has been too long.

— Bell Witch    Tuesday 12 June 2007, 5:33    #

A wonderful read and very well written: just the story I had been waiting for for so long… I look forward to seeing more from you.

Thank you so much for sharing!

— HU    Thursday 21 June 2007, 17:51    #

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