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Voices Past and Present (G) Print

Written by Tal

18 September 2010 | 697 words

Title: Voices Past and Present
Author: Tal
Rating: G
Pairing(s): Faramir & No Pairing

A Faramir vignette, written for the Aragorn Angst Group weekly prompt: Listen.


The council chambers looked oddly serene in the aftermath of the heated discussion. Faramir had expected overturned chairs, scratches on the ancient table where gauntlets might have banged on wood, wine-stains on the walls where goblets might have crashed.

Might have.

He hadn’t been there for the debate over the budding commerce with Harad, a fact which even now twisted his guts in knots and rode like a heavy ember in his chest, sending heat in lapping waves over his cheeks. He stood by the open doors as the nobles filed out, his head bowed. Even so, he could feel their stares, hear their thoughts.

“Ah, the lesser son of the Steward, arrived at last.”

“Could not even bother himself to attend a meeting, that one.”

“My Lord Steward?”

“Better so; I hardly mourn his lack of contribution.”

“Faramir!”

Faramir snapped his head up, found King Elessar standing before him with a frown upon his tired face. Startled, he began to bow; remembered that the king disliked such obeisance from him, and turned it into a deep nod of his head, feeling his cheeks flame anew.

“Your Highness,” he said, keeping his voice under steely control.

“The East take you, can’t you remember simple court etiquette?”

“Pardon?”

“I said,” the king repeated in a patient voice, “you may call me Elessar or Aragorn when we’re in private.”

“Oh.” Faramir shook his head, though he scarcely succeeded in clearing it. “My humble thanks, Sire.”

A faint sigh, either amused or exasperated. “Can you do nothing right, boy?”

Faramir struggled to muster his concentration, but before he could speak again, the king turned from him. Faramir watched as the tall man, all elegant confidence, walked away with his hands laced at the small of his back.

He screwed his eyes shut. How quickly he disappointed King Elessar. For all his burning desire to serve this man to the best of his ability, to devote his life to him, he wished the king would finally acknowledge how lacking his ability was and save them both from this farce of a stewardship.

He made to go to his rooms, but realized his path would be trailing the king’s for a while. Unseemly, that. (“Leave, and do not return until you’ve proven yourself worthy of my company—”)

“Are you coming?” The king’s voice nudged him out of his misery. King Elessar had paused halfway down the corridor, half-turned to regard Faramir with a raised eyebrow.

Coming? Faramir rummaged in his mind, found a whisper of a memory in the king’s voice, “Walk with me.” Oh. Oh! He hurried to the king’s side.

“My apologies, Your Highness. I don’t— I’m not—”

“For all your hours of reading, can you not speak a single sentence without stammering so?”

Faramir drew a sharp breath, gripped his left hand in his right. “My deepest apologies for missing the council meeting, Sire. I know you relied upon my report. I’m sorry for—”

“None of your excuses, boy—”

“Peace, My Lord Steward.”

The two replies overlapped in Faramir’s ears, so disorienting he nearly tripped. They walked in charged silence, which King Elessar broke again ever so gently. “Are you well, Faramir?”

“Now, take your brother, for example; he never missed a day’s training because he was not feeling well.”

“I overslept,” Faramir confessed quickly and firmly. Better have it done and over with; it was the truth, after all, and any attempts to explain it would sound like excuses even in his own ears. It meant nothing, that he’d tossed and turned until the small hours of the night, then fell into the clutches of a nightmare so horrible it had kept him prisoner until now.

“Babies cry over nightmares, not soldiers. You’re far from the latter, but I had rather hoped you’ve outgrown the former by now.”

Eight, had he been then?

But not now, and it stung, how true the words still rang.

“— my friend, and I’m worried about you. Faramir, are you listening?”

“I am, Sire!”

He did, he truly did. But he could not escape the sound of his father’s voice, echoing over and over and over in the crypts of his mind.

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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6 Comment(s)

Very interesting. It took a moment to figure out what was real and what wasn’t.

— Bell Witch    Sunday 19 September 2010, 5:42    #

Ha, you can’t imagine how conflicted I was about that. I wanted to put all of Denethor’s lines in parentheses, but then I figured, if Faramir can’t tell them apart at first, neither should we. I’m glad it works anyway.

Tal    Monday 20 September 2010, 3:08    #

Ooo… I’m going to have to go back and re-read to make sure I got everything right but I really liked it! Personally, I think it makes perfect sense not using italics or parentheses, because – from what I’ve understood – you don’t just want Faramir to remember the past, you want the past to be the present as much as the latter is, um, the present… :D Right. Anyhow, this intrigued me – thank you!

Geale    Monday 20 September 2010, 19:02    #

That’s it exactly, Geale. Poor Faramir. Thanks for reading!

Tal    Wednesday 22 September 2010, 15:33    #

Very intriguing story! I definitely think Denethor’s lines are perfect as they are. They’re also rather disturbing, especially the one about “your brother”. That’s so exactly what he would say — and so devastating for poor Faramir. I’m glad Aragorn has at least noticed something’s wrong…

— Mira Took    Tuesday 28 September 2010, 8:10    #

Thanks, Mira! I tried to walk a very fine line with Denethor here—he certainly sounds cruel, but his are the words of a harsh educator, not of a deliberate abuser (at least in old-world views).

But on the receiving side, yes, the result is the same. And yes, poor Faramir. (I do feel bad for abusing him so!)

Tal    Tuesday 28 September 2010, 14:04    #

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About the Author


Tal

Visit my publishing website Guiltless Pleasure.