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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 ]

Chains of Silver

Faramir rode for Minas Tirith on a day that matched his mood: cool and cloudy. He and Éowyn had spent the previous day grimly, for it marked four years since the deaths of his father and her uncle. The rites of remembrance were easier for Faramir this year than they had been the previous three, when only his sense of duty had compelled him to perform them. The love he felt for his father was not erased by the bitter manner in which they parted, but it seemed as if he could not return to the happier memories of the past without first passing through what had happened at the end, and that was a journey he still could not force himself to take.

Yesterday, he had taken an initial step, though. In the past, he had uttered the words of the remembrance rite without thinking about their meaning or feeling what a son was supposed to feel when speaking such words of reverence. But yesterday, when he had said “I honor the memory of my beloved father,” he was able to touch at least a little of the truth behind those words. Every year, he had forced himself to light the candle, though this part of the rite was especially difficult for him. Yesterday was the first time he had been able to overcome his loathing of the flame and fulfill the ritual, watching the candle burn until it went out, and trying to recall only good memories of his father.

It had been a struggle that had taken an emotional toll on him, and Faramir was still feeling a little raw, so that a melancholic nostalgia had begun to weigh him down as he neared the gate. The stables reminded him of other times when his joy at returning to the City was dampened by anxiety over an immanent confrontation with the ruler of the White Tower. He tried to put the thought out of his mind, as he always did when Aragorn recalled to him his father.

As he walked up the circle, his mood became more melancholy as the city reminded him of others he had lost. Here, on this stretch of street, he fell and scraped his knees as a very small boy. One of the few specific memories he had of his mother was of her scolding him for running ahead of her, before sweeping him up in her arms and hugging him while he cried. There, around that corner was the tavern where he and Boromir would go when they wanted to feel as if they were just ordinary soldiers. They would drink more than they should and flirt shamelessly with the barmaids. Faramir paused for a moment, considering stopping at the tavern, but decided that a drink would only make him more morose.

He walked more quickly as he approached the Citadel. He nodded to the door warden of the King’s house and stopped to exchange a polite greeting with the guard posted outside the door to the hallway linking the private chambers. He then went to his room to drop off his saddle bag, to rinse the Pelennor’s dust off his hands and face, and to change into the more courtly clothes he kept at Minas Tirith. He pulled his hair back and secured it with a strip of green cloth embroidered with silver stars that Arwen had made for him and that Aragorn had given him on the first day of the new age. He heard the bell chime and realized it was later than he had thought.

Just then there was a knock at his door. It was Doronil, the servant who attended Faramir when he was in residence at the King’s house. Faramir tried not to be impatient with the boy.

“My Lord Steward, I came as soon as I heard you were here,” the young man said breathlessly.

“Thank you, Doronil, but I am in haste. If you would, please lay out the things in my bag on the table in the adjoining room. Then take my riding clothes to be washed. I will return in a few hours.”

The boy went about his tasks and Faramir shut the chamber door behind him. He had turned to head down the hallway when he heard Aragorn’s voice call his name. He stood still, feeling strangely reluctant to face Aragorn, but soon spun on his heel and watched as the King, radiating energy and grace, approached him.

Aragorn’s openly adoring smile made Faramir weak with desire. “Did you just arrive?” Aragorn asked. He embraced Faramir and said quietly, “I did not know you were coming so early. I am glad.”

Faramir clung to Aragorn for a moment longer than was advisable in a location where someone might see them. His heart was heavy with melancholy and confusion, and Aragorn’s embrace warmed and comforted him.

Faramir pulled back, lightly brushing Aragorn’s cheek with his lips as he moved away. “I have to go see to some things, but I need to speak to you later. Tomorrow or the day after preferably, but definitely before the Council meeting, yes?”

Aragorn tilted his head and looked like he was about to say something, but just nodded. He released Faramir’s arms from his grasp and took a step backward to put an appropriate distance between them. “The next few days will be very busy, but we will find time,” he said, and his eyes twinkled.

Faramir felt the warmth spread downward and he smiled slyly. “I hope so. But I need to talk to you, as well.”

“Of course.” Aragorn bowed his head and Faramir made his way down the hallway, relieved that his odd mood seemed to have escaped detection.

Faramir’s first stop was at the archive, where he requested that one of the clerks gather for him the deeds for lands in North Ithilien and the old charter of the Woodcraft Guild. He also requested any law books or historical documents that might deal with the issue of lands held in common trust.

“Lord Faramir, it is nearing supper time,” the clerk warned him. “I only have a few hours to find all these documents. It would be best if you return tomorrow to begin your work.”

Faramir frowned. “I need to see these documents rather urgently. Would you please have them delivered to the Citadel tonight?”

The clerk, a stern young woman, glared at him. “My Lord, these materials are for use in the archive.”

Faramir chuckled at the woman’s self confidence. “Good lady, I have been a loyal patron of this archive since before you were born. I well know that the Steward may request a delivery,” he chided. “But if you are too busy to see to this yourself, I could send my attendant to fetch the documents for me.”

The clerk pursed her lips and cast her eyes down. “I will do it myself before I return home this evening. Where would you have the documents sent?”

Faramir hadn’t thought of that. He had a small desk in the study off his chamber, but it wasn’t suitable for the kind of work he had to do. Perhaps he could presume? “Please deliver them to my attendant and have him deposit them in the King’s study.”

She frowned stubbornly. “I would prefer to see them safely delivered myself.”

“That won’t be necessary. Ask for Doronil. Thank you,” he said crisply and left.

Next, Faramir descended to the Guild house and asked the matron, an old woman wearing a black mourning veil, if the Master of Woodcraft was in the City.

“Yes, Master Tawahir is aged and stays mostly in the city,” the clerk replied. “He used to travel much, but now mostly the other members of his guild come to him. It’s such a shame,” she clucked.

Faramir raised his eyebrows. “What is?”

“Arthritis,” the woman whispered, looking around her. “He can’t do any carving himself anymore, just a little lathe work.”

“Is he here now?” Faramir asked. “I would like to speak with him.”

“No, he did not return after lunch. I expect he had business somewhere.”

“I do not mean to impose on him, but if a trip up the hill would not tire him too much, I would summon him to breakfast with me tomorrow morning. If he has assistants or apprentices, they are welcome, too.”

“My Lord Steward, I am certain it would not trouble him to join you.” She adjusted her black scarf, tucking a strand of gray hair back under it. “He will be pleased to hear that you came to call on him in person,” she beamed.

Faramir noticed that in the courtyard of the Guild house were a series of displays. “May I look?” he asked.

“Of course!” the matron opened the door for him, and beckoned him to follow, smiling at him affectionately, as if she knew him.

“Are these wares for sale, or are they masterworks?” Faramir asked.

The clerk shook her head. “These are mostly for show, but they are not particularly valuable. If you see something that strikes you, let me know and I will ask its price.”

Faramir was drawn to a table laden with silver jewelry. He picked up an intricate hand piece that resembled the ones worn by Haradric women he had seen near Poros. It was a thick bracelet inlaid with irregular turquoise stones and was connected to three engraved rings by very fine silver chains. “Is the Master of Silverwork Haradric?” he asked.

“Aye, well, half. You know.” The clerk shrugged. “His work isn’t to everyone’s taste here in the City, but he does well enough and he knows how to manage his guild.”

Faramir smiled, picturing this exotic piece on Éowyn’s delicate hand. She would either laugh at him and put it deep in a drawer somewhere, or play along, letting him admire her encircled hand and fingers, and tease him about choosing the White Lady when he really desired a dusky-eyed slave. In two more months.

Faramir cleared his throat. “I like it. I will pay what he asks.”

The clerk winked at him. “A lovely gift,” she said, still smiling. “Master Kahar will be honored by your patronage.

Dusk had already arrived by the time Faramir made it back to the Citadel and a servant of the King’s house informed him that he was invited to dine with the royal family in the private dining room. Faramir smiled to himself at the anticipation of a cozy family dinner and nearly forgot to check if the documents had been delivered yet. Doronil said they had not, and Faramir instructed him to expect two deliveries. He handed Doronil a few silver coins.

“For the jewelry, pay the asking price,” he instructed his attendant. “And when you deposit the documents, please light a fire in the hearth, and then you may retire.”

To his slight disappointment, Arwen and Eldarion were alone when he arrived to the dining room. While he kissed Arwen in greeting, Eldarion leapt up from his chair and tried to throw himself at Faramir.

“Be careful, little King!” Faramir laughed, catching the two-year-old and slinging him over one shoulder. The boy laughed with delight.

“Faramir, please, the boy has just eaten!” Arwen protested.

“Very well,” Faramir said, and set Eldarion back in his chair. “Finish up, young man. Eat your vegetables. Mind your mother.”

“That’s better,” Arwen said and motioned for Faramir to take a seat.

“Where is he?” Faramir asked, buttering a piece of bread.

“I guess he has been delayed,” Arwen smiled resignedly.

“Too bad. I wanted to ask for his permission to do something I have already done.” A servant brought Faramir a plate of food and he began to eat. “I have taken the liberty of having some documents delivered from the archive to his study, since the table in our room is somewhat diminutive for the task.”

“And what task is that?”

“The ordering of Ithilien,” Faramir said, the bread sticking a little in his throat.

Arwen raised her eyebrows and contemplated him.

Faramir considered what counsel he should seek from her.

“Fa-mir,” Eldarion shouted, pointing to his plate, “look, I ate vegebles.”

“Lord Faramir,” Arwen absent-mindedly corrected him.

Eldarion got down from his chair and started to run in circles around the table. He stopped at Faramir’s side and asked, “El-bon here?”

“No, dear,” Faramir said, tousling the boy’s thin, dark hair. “Elboron is at our house in Emyn Arnen.”

“And probably quietly finishing his supper and calmly toddling off to bed,” Arwen said grimly.

Faramir nodded, scooping up the child and bouncing him on his lap. “Now that the weather is nice, maybe you can come visit us and play with Elboron in the creek. Do you remember the creek by our house?” Elboron looked at him blankly and Faramir chuckled and said, “probably not.”

Eldarion reached out for Faramir’s wine glass and knocked it over, spilling a little on the table.

Arwen rolled her eyes. “Enough of that. If you are done eating, you must go to bed.”

Eldarion stuck out his lower lip. “No! More apple.”

“More apple, please,” Faramir corrected him and called for someone to bring a cloth to clean up the wine.

Arwen took an apple from the bowl in the center of the table and sliced it for Eldarion. Faramir fed him pieces of apple and he stayed quiet while Faramir and Arwen chatted about the charming things their sons had done or said in the last few weeks. After the servants had cleaned the spilled wine, collected their plates and refilled the water pitcher, Faramir decided to turn back to the topic of Ithilien.

“Legolas wants the forests of North Ithilien to be left untouched so that he and his kin may tend them,” Faramir began. “He understands Aragorn as having invited, and perhaps having promised, that this would happen.” Arwen nodded, indicating she was familiar with this discussion. “But the legal status of these lands is not clear. Aragorn seems to think that he may make such a declaration at any time, but there are several nobles of North Ithilien who have their deeds to these lands in proper order.”

“But they have not lived on those lands for several generations. Have these property rights not lapsed in that time?”

Faramir sighed. “That is not clear. Up to this point neither the King nor I have thought to dispute these claims, and there are a few lords now residing on these lands and building permanent structures, which, in effect, restores their rights. As sovereign, Aragorn could, or I could, for that matter, revoke their rights, but that would not be wise. I will study the question tonight, but I am fairly sure their claims are legitimate and should be honored.”

Arwen gave him a bemused smile. “I am certain that Anbriel or one of the other archivists would help you with this.”

Faramir shook his head and broke away from Arwen’s gaze. “Until I speak to Aragorn, I think it best that no one outside our small circle know what picture can be put together with those documents.”

Eldarion began to squirm on Faramir lap so he tried to put the boy down, but he tugged on Faramir’s hand. “Play!” he demanded.

Faramir shook his head. “I have to go do some work, my sweet.”

Eldarion got a very stubborn look on his face and tugged harder at Faramir’s hand. “Go play!”

In an instant, Arwen grabbed both Eldarion’s hands in her own and said, “time for bed, darling. Kiss Uncle Faramir goodnight.” She smiled as Faramir blushed at being named kin. “When he returns, I will tell Estel to go find you. Don’t tire yourself,” Arwen said.

“I’m afraid it can’t be avoided, but thank you,” Faramir said, rising and bowing slightly before he left.

The study door was now closed, so Faramir knocked before entering, but found the room empty. The documents had been delivered, so Faramir lit a few lamps, poured himself some wine, and settled down to work.

A few hours had passed and Faramir’s head was growing heavy with fatigue when Aragorn entered. Faramir stopped what he was doing and watched Aragorn approach, entranced, as before, by the masculine grace of his movements.

“I heard that you had staged an occupation of the King’s study. Very impudent,” Aragorn said, moving behind Faramir and rubbing his shoulders.

“Yes, very presumptuous of me. Ah, there – you found the spot,” Faramir said, directing Aragorn’s fingers, which dug deep into his muscles. He leaned his head back against Aragorn’s stomach and received a soft kiss on the forehead and another on the lips. “Mmm, please forgive your humble servant,” he said, smiling at the comfort this physical contact gave him.

“You are forgiven,” Aragorn said, running a hand across Faramir’s chest.

Faramir drew a deep breath, then stilled Aragorn’s hand with his own. He couldn’t afford this distraction. What was more, he needed to reassure himself that he was still able to put duty before pleasure. More than once in recent months he had felt ashamed when his preoccupation with Aragorn had taken his attention away from something more important.

“What are you working on?” Aragorn asked, bending so that his chin rested on Faramir’s shoulder.

The gesture, simply pressing together cheek against cheek, was so affectionate and familiar that Faramir closed his eyes and struggled not to forget himself. “I am studying the law,” he said after a moment. “It is most unpleasant, but I must come up with a proposal before breakfast, I fear.”

Faramir could feel the breath from Aragorn’s sigh of disappointment whisper across his neck.

“So until tomorrow, then?” Aragorn said, standing upright.

Faramir turned his head to look up at Aragorn’s face, and he felt longing, swiftly followed by fatigue. “After breakfast, I will find you so I can tell you what this is all about.”

Aragorn nodded and bent to kiss him again. Faramir’s response was instant and agonizing. There was nothing he wanted more than to let himself give in to this, to ease the weeks of longing that had built up in him such exquisite tension. He indulged himself in a verse or two of Aragorn’s poetry and then moved his mouth away. “Please, you know I can’t refuse…”

Aragorn stepped back as he had done earlier, putting a polite distance between them. “You just did,” he said, his eyes flashing a challenge. But then he smiled. “Don’t work too much longer, love.”

Faramir smiled weakly. “I won’t. I can’t stay awake much longer.”

Aragorn left and Faramir willed his blood to cool. He began sketching a map from memory and made notes on it. The third time his head fell forward onto his chest, he allowed himself to go to bed.

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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