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A/n: A little swearing here. Go easy if you're averse.
The sunlight fell on his grey tunic and greying head as Faramir gazed out over the land from his favourite spot in his garden, his eyes seeing other worlds passing by him. In moments of introspection, he realised that he had carried the unfailing ability to slip away into his imagination at a moment’s notice all through his life. He also realised that he liked this about himself. It made him even more of an observer, a man for all ages; one who could partake in the pageant of the years, but just enough that he was granted the gift of the position to watch other stories unfold before him, across time and space.
Once in delirium, often in sleep, his visions had come to him, giving no warning before they came, leaving no indication of why they did. One vision, however, always came to him in his waking hours. He saw it now, as he sat in the sunlit peace of Ithilien. Great walls of water crashing across the length of the sea, under unrelenting rain. Slowly they seemed to move, almost not at all, and then all of a sudden they crashed mightily. Two, three, four more came like this. The spray fell over his vision like a fog, and then – and then he saw it. A small black shape rising silently from beneath a mighty wave, moving toward the shore. Moving toward Faramir. He held his breath as it came out, through the now-receding water and fog, with a white light like a gem shining forth from it.
On deck stood a man, tall as any elven-king, his dark hair flowing down his back like a river of shadow. His eyes were bright with wisdom, and his face was as beautiful as one of the Eldar, and as he came forth, clad in black and silver, Faramir smiled, for the light seemed to come from within the man himself. He was one with it.
Slowly the light faded, as the seas calmed. The clouds relented. The fog cleared. The man came closer – he was standing – he stood before him.
“Faramir,” he called.
Faramir smiled even as he shook off the last images of his reverie, and stood to greet him. “Silent as ever,” he said.
“Nonsense,” Eldarion laughed. “You just haven’t been paying attention, as usual.”
They embraced warmly, and the old prince of Ithilien stepped back to admire his protégé, as high and noble now as the very legends of his ancestry.
“I had to see you,” Eldarion said to him. “I have barely any time, and you have not been in the city at all.”
“You are taking ship?”
He was a mighty mariner now, in the league of the seafaring rulers of old. More, he had grown to love the sea with a consuming passion that, like most things about him, threatened to overwhelm him at times.
“I am,” he said, and even as he spoke, he turned his face south-west unconsciously, a familiar desire on his face. “The sea was kind last year, and the crew feels adventuresome.”
“As do you.”
“As do I.” He was smiling now, his face untanned and unlined by the relentless expeditions of past years. “We chalked out a new route last season, and the rumours between the Haradrim jewel-divers seem more and more hopeful about a couple of new pockets along it. I don’t want to miss the good winds. Besides,” he flung an amused eyebrow up, “how can Gondor resist the revenues from my little forays?”
”The Eastern campaign is barely over, Eldarion,” Faramir said. “You will be missed.”
“Well, they can sing the victory songs without me,” the younger man shrugged. “I, for one, will be most pleased to get away from it while I can. I doubt this truce among the Khand tribes will last long, Faramir. You know that. We will be forced to go and keep the peace with swords and spears once again. This is the second time I have had to cut short a trip to come back to Father’s banner.”
Faramir looked on him with sympathy. The impatience barely concealed the deeper, thornier feeling of disgust at bloodshed that he had never been wholly able to shake off. “But would you have left him alone, Eldarion?”
“Never,” he sighed wearily. “And I will not think of what might have happened on this battlefield, had I not been by his side. My father, cut off, surrounded by murderers – " he shuddered involuntarily.
“Thank the Valar you were at his back.”
“How do you know?”
“It is being sung of all over the kingdom, my boy. ‘One hundred/single-handed’, if the minstrels are to be believed.”
“Eru,” Eldarion swore, “the bastards keep trying to make me out to be a hero.”
“Now, then,” Faramir said, mildly. “Mind those sailor’s manners, my lord. You must wear the mantle, since it fits you.”
“It does not,” he frowned. “It does not. To shed blood is not heroic.”
“To save the King’s life is.”
There was a silence again, as a grimmer shadow passed over the younger prince’s fair face. “Never honourable,” he said slowly, “but sometimes necessary.”
Faramir smiled wistfully. “And yet,” he said, “I would save you from it if I could.”
“You taught me to live with it,” Eldarion told him earnestly, “and I will never forget it, sir, nor anything else you taught me.”
“No,” Faramir smiled, “I doubt you will, Eldarion. If pupil you have been at all, then you have been the best a teacher could ever have, for you have learned your lessons well, everything that Númenor – and I – have had to teach you.”
“It has been a long while since that day in the library, hasn’t it,” Eldarion said, reflectively. “And thankful I am that you came looking for me, my lord -- my teacher. You gave me courage when I thought I had none.”
And you give me hope each time I look upon you, young mariner, Faramir thought. Hope for Gondor, and hope for those to come after I am gone, and for this race of ours that came out of the sea – even as you will return to it from journey after journey. White light, and the failing of the storm. We are safe in your hands.
“Come back,” he heard a laughing voice. “Come back, izindu-bêth! What do you see now?”
“I hope I merit that title, my fellow dreamer of dreams,” Faramir mused, “for I saw naught but good.”
This is Acacea and Lindorien's belated birthday fic. U galz ro-hock. :)
With thanks to Erin's Daughter, for letting me borrow her elegant concept of a Sindarin sword-dance, and to Acacea for all her criticisms and comments.
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