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Leaving home; Coming Home  by Mirkwoodmaiden

Ch. 15 - Reflections upon the past and present

After the ceremony was over then the wedding celebration became more of a private affair.  The wedding feast took place in the Great Hall of Feasts.   The doors of Merethrond were opened and after bowing and waving to the gathered multitudes Faramir and Éowyn stepped inside the haven of flowers that had been created inside the hall.  Family, friends and honored guests were to gather for a festive meal and to share joy with the joined couple.

As tradition held Faramir and Éowyn stood in the receiving line as the guests started to arrive from the crush outside.  Smiling, Faramir greeted each guest and took in each well-wish with amazement still sitting firmly in his heart.  He gazed at Éowyn between each pause in the greeting line.  And every time she would smile at him and his heart would do a funny flipping feeling before resuming its normal functions.  His hand would reach for hers instinctively and would be clasped lovingly in response.  His heart was soaring.  He found it so hard to believe that his life had changed so dramatically since the ending of the Ring War.  It was much to take in.  Before he found Éowyn in the Houses of Healing, his life was one of duty.  He knew nothing else.  He gave over his whole life in service to Gondor.  It was the only way to make peace with what his life had become. The posting to Ithilien allowed him the chance to make his own decisions, to grow into a person he had learned to respect. It had been a blessing. Because distance between he and his father had become a necessary thing.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Minas Tirith,  3003 TA

The investiture ceremony was as old as anyone could remember.  At seventeen, a soldier of Gondor was considered worthy of full service after his training was completed and his training master deemed that he had surpassed the goals set for advancement into Gondor’s armies.  It was then decided what portion of Gondor’s service the young soldier was best suited for.  As he sat in his brother’s suite of rooms in the Citadel, Faramir thought upon this as he looked at Boromir’s ceremonial sword, the traditional gift from father to son when the son was deemed worthy to serve Gondor and wondered if he would ever attain his own sword.  Boromir had been seventeen, Faramir thought ruefully; those Faramir had first trained with had also been seventeen.  Faramir, this past spring had turned twenty.  His father had told his trainers he did not deem him ready yet and had him passed over three times.  Faramir bore this stoically, he stopped himself, as stoically as a boy impatient to prove himself could bear it.  In response to being passed over each time, he had redoubled his efforts on the training field and in the instruction room.  Not that it had made any difference to his father, Faramir sighed as he replaced his brother’s sword on his wall.  He had been waiting to talk to his brother, but he needed to leave for sword training.  He closed the door when one of the training captains saw him and told him that Master Dorthion needed to see him, Faramir’s heart sank.  He knew what was coming.  He saw the regretful look in the captain’s eye and he smiled ruefully and tried to sound as positive and cheerful as he could saying, “Looks like we will get to continue our sparring sessions, Galdaer!” he bent a small bow and walked to Master Dorthion's office with a heavy heart.

Galdaer looked at the departing young man and gave a deep sigh.  He murmured, “What will be, shall be!”  but in truth it did not seem fair to him as he returned to the training field.  Faramir knocked on the door to the Master’s office.  At the call of “Enter!” his opened it and saw the Master sitting at his desk.  He could tell by the look in his training master’s eyes that he had guessed right.  Dorthion motioned for him to sit.  Faramir complied and Dorthion purses his lips before he began speaking.

“I think you know what I am about to say,” he began regretfully.

Faramir straighten his shoulders even more than they were, “Yes, sir.  I am afraid that I do,” he said in a restrained, respectful voice trying to maintain a neutral countenance.

“It is not my decision, nor do I agree with it in any way.”

“Thank you, sir. I do realise that is the case.”  Faramir remained still, trying to contain his emotions.  Disappointment, anger neither of which Dorthion could be blamed for.  When the old trainer came around from his desk and stood next Faramir and placed a commiserating hand on the young man’s shoulder, Faramir resisted the urge to shrug it off.  Dorthion meant well and he had been placed in an untenable situation by Faramir’s father and therefore was undeserving of churlish behaviour.  He took a deep breath, and said in that patient, carefully schooled calm voice, “Sir, I thank you.  Have I your leave to depart?” not looking at his honored trainer, for fear that he should betray his feelings, which would only lead to more lectures at the desk of his father.

“Yes, Faramir.  You have my leave.”  Dorthion said, his voice heavy with unspoken emotion.  He saw the young man gather up what remained of his dignity and walk out his office slowly in a controlled gait.  As he watched the young man leave, again Dorthion wondered how or why his father could not see what a fine, intelligent young son he had in Faramir.

Faramir stood outside in the training ground.  He needed air to breathe and the training ground was the closest open space where he could breathe.  He tried desperately hard to swallow his disappointment, to squelch his anger.  He would speak with his father.  He had to.  He knew there was little chance of success but he no longer cared.  For three years his father had slighted him with nothing more than a terse word saying he was not yet ready.  When he had marshalled his feelings, sufficiently enough he had thought he walked to the Steward’s office took a deep breath before knocking on the closed door.

“Come!” came a sharp voice from the other side of the door, “Deltrran, have you those reports?” Denethor, son of Ecthelion, spoke in a clipped voice still looking down at a parchment.

“Father, I would speak with you, if I can claim a moment of time away from your duties.”

Denethor froze. And then a sparsely worded phrase, “I do not have times for frivolities, Faramir.” He did not look up from his parchment.

Faramir took another deep breath, “Sir, I beg just a moment of your time.” He stated in as dispassionate a voice he could manage.

Denethor looked up at that, “Sir, I have said ‘No’.”  He leveled a look that bore straight through his second son. Not “Faramir”, not “son”, but “Sir” Faramir noted grimly.

Faramir stood his ground and again took another deep breath and continued as dispassionately as he could manage for his father hated displays of emotions, especially from his “fey” second son. “Why have I been passed over once again?”

Denethor’s head snapped up, “This is not a matter for discussion.” The expected stonewall answer.

Faramir would not relent, though he knew it unwise, he continued to press, come what may, “I need to know.  It is my right to know.”

Denethor looked at his son standing there so resolutely, so politely defying him.  Judging him with those eyes that reminded him so much of h---“Your right?  Your Right?!”  He stood up so quickly that he almost tipped over his chair.  His voice carried with derisive and defensive force.  “I will say what your rights are and when you are ready!  You will be ready when you have proved yourself ready and worthy of my trust!  Which you have not!”

Faramir stood against his father’s tirade but when Denethor made that last accusation, his temper flared against his better judgement. “Trust?  Trust?  When have I betrayed you, when have I broken trust?”

Denethor looked at his second son, and levelled one word, “Mithrandir.”

Faramir looked at his father, eyes wide with the pain of being always being misunderstood, he drew himself up and said softly, “You are wrong.”  With that he performed a perfunctory bow and turned on his heel and departed with as much gathered grace and dignity as he could muster.

He did not hear, nor did he see Denethor’s face crumble from rage to desolation, as he mumbled, “Finduilas, my love, I have failed you again.  He is so like you.  I am so sorry.”

Faramir walked and found himself once again at his brother’s door.  Boromir was home from a recent tour and Faramir thanked the Valar it was so. It was the one place he knew he would find solace and understanding.  He was about to knock when he heard a voice at his side. “What has he done this time?”

“Boromir!  I cannot stay here!”  Faramir looked at his older brother, wild desperation written across his face.

Boromir had not seen his younger brother this upset in a very long time.  Faramir and his father had an uneasy, yet unspoken truce of the unsaid accusation of late.  He opened his door and motioned for his brother to sit and walked over to a table where he had a decanter of wine and goblets that he kept in his chambers for just this purpose.  He handed Faramir his goblet and sat in the other chair and just waited for Faramir to begin.  He did not have to wait long.

Faramir took a sip and swirled the wine in the goblet. “I went to ask him why I was being passed over again this year.”

Boromir drew a deep sigh and then took a drink from his goblet, “And I take it that he tried his usual tack of stonewalling?”

Faramir nodded his head quickly, “Yes and then I said I had a right to know and then he started yelling and,” he paused took another drink and continued, “then he said that he would tell me what my rights were and that I wasn’t ready and that I had not earned his trust,” at that Faramir put his goblet down and rub his hands across both temples, rubbed his faced and rested his chin on both thumbs.  He was quiet for a few moments. 

Boromir set his goblet down on the small carved oak table at the corner of the two chairs and gently prodded his brother, “What did you say?”

Faramir threw himself back in his chair, “I lost my temper, asked him when had I ever broke faith with him?”  He paused, brooding, “he said one word….Mithrandir!” 

Boromir mouthed a simple, “Oh.” Denethor was clearly referring to the close relationship between his younger brother and the grey wizard who occasioned to visit Minas Tirith when Faramir and he were growing up.  Faramir was always more scholarly than Boromir ever was.  He was always interested in learning and Mithrandir always had kind words and affection for the inquisitive child and naturally Faramir gravitated toward the affection shown to him by the old wizard.  But Denethor never favoured the Mithrandir and to Boromir’s mind was always somewhat jealous of the relationship to between the two.  Using it as a pretext however to pass Faramir over was unfair.  “What did you do after that?”

Faramir closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths trying to calm the frustration he felt at being both misunderstood and doubted once again by his father.  He rested his head of the fingertips of one hand, “What could I do?  I told him he was wrong and left.  I could not stay after that.  He doesn’t trust me, brother.”  Faramir’s grew watery with unshed tears, “He never has,” He angrily swiped at a stray tear, “And he never will.” Faramir got up quickly, downed the rest of his wine.  “I cannot stay, brother.” He whispered, “I cannot.”

Boromir looked at his younger brother, “Sit, please.  We can figure this out.”

Faramir looked at his brother through wounded and wary eyes.  He felt heartsick.  But he did return to his chair.  Boromir’s heart ached for the pain and wounded honor he felt emanating from his brother.   “What do you suppose?” Faramir said in a voice full of doubt and resignation, but there was resolve as well, “I won’t apologise for I have done nothing wrong.”

Boromir rubbed his face with both hands and poured more wine into both goblets in an effort to stall for time in as much as anything else while he thought.  He placed Faramir’s goblet on the table and drank from his.  “I could talk to him, get him to change his mind.”  Faramir chaffed under the idea of not being to achieve this on his own, on having to rely on his older brother to further his achievements.  And if any other man had offered, he would have said no.  But he knew that Boromir would only ever be motivated by the desire to help his little brother.  Faramir gave a curt nod of assent.

It was decided that one month later he would be at the investiture ceremony and his father, though with tight lips and a cold look in his eyes was gifting him his own ceremonial sword.  He never knew what Boromir said or did to get his father to agree and he truthfully did not want know.  But he was going to Ithilien to become a Ranger.  Any specialised training he lacked he would get there.  He learned and eventually he would learn to lead them.

~*~*~*~*~*~

“You look miles away, son.” Faramir snapped out of his reverie, “Dorthion!” He turned to Éowyn. “My love, this is Dorthion, my old training master!  Dorthion, this is Éowyn, my beautiful bride!”  Dorthion delighted in seeing the happiness that clearly now resided in Faramir’s eyes. He bowed his head to the red-haired beauty that had clearly captured Faramir’s heart.  He said to Éowyn, “He was one of my best students ever.  Smart. Quick. Eager.”

Faramir coloured a little at the praise, “Perhaps one of your hardest working ones, I will grant you.” Dorthion laughed and then he looked into Éowyn’s eyes and what he saw there clearly met with his approval.  He smiled and turned to Faramir “It does my heart good to see you so happy, my lad. Truly.”

“Thank you, Master Dorthion!  But in truth I do not deserve her.”

Dorthion looked Faramir in the eye and said in all seriousness, “Yes, you do, My lad.  Yes, you do. You always did.” He smiled, “Soon, children!  Really enlivens a house!” he clapped Faramir on the back and moved along into the hall proper.  Faramir whispered to Éowyn, “He should know he had seven of them!” Éowyn laughed. She then saw Master Taethion and Telion with what must be his wife and Telion’s mother.  All looked a little overwhelmed.  She sang out, “Master Taethion! Telion!  You are here!  I am so glad.”  She turned to Faramir, “My love, I wish to present Taethion, Master Jeweler and his apprentice, Telion.  They are the artisans who created our rings.”

Faramir looked duly impressed, “Master Taethion!  Please allow me to compliment you on the craftsmanship of the highest order!” 

Master Taethion blushed a bright red but managed to bow his head and say, “The honor was mine, my lord. To create for you and your lovely and kind lady.” Faramir smiled.

Éowyn said, “And you have brought your wife?” smiling at Istrien.  Taethion immediately recovered himself, “My Lady, My Lord allow me to present my wife, Istrien and Telion’s mother, Maeves.” Both ladies bowed.

Faramir’s ears perked when he heard Maeves named.  He first bowed to Istrien, “It is a great pleasure to meet you Mistress Istrien.” He then turned to Maeves, “Pray pardon Mistress Maeves,” he looked more closely at Telion and he looked pleased and saddened in equal measure. “But were you not Devrion’s wife?”

Maeves looked at Faramir and unbidden tears came to her eyes. “Yes, My lord.”

Faramir looked at Devrion’s wife and said quietly, “He was a good man.  His loss was felt heavily by all of Ithilien’s Rangers.”  Éowyn looked on as Faramir spoke with the grieving woman. Faramir held both Maeves’ hands, “He spoke of you and Telion here,” he looked the slight young man, “always.” Maeves, to her shock and embarrassment burst into tears.  Faramir held her and gently said, “He loved you both so much.  We all felt as if we knew you as well. He talked of you so often.”  He pulled away, “Shh-shh! Dry your eyes.” He pulled a handkerchief from inside his sleeve and gave it to Maeves, and smiling he said, “A wise old man once said to me, ‘I will not say do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.’  They simply mean we have loved,” Faramir added.  He looked at Telion and reached out his hand.  Telion wiped his palm on his tunic, for it had become sweaty and took his lord’s hand.  Faramir smiled and said, “He was so proud of you!  He never stopped talking about how talented you were and how smart.”  Telion beamed at his father’s praise passed on by his father’s captain. Faramir now tried to put the mother and son at their ease, “Éowyn says you help design these rings?”

Telion rallied with the exuberance of youth, “Yes, my lord.  I had the idea for the etchings of the stone faces and did the initial carving.  Master Taethion did the finishing work.”

Faramir looked at his ring and at Éowyn’s again, “Exquisitely done, Telion.  Master Taethion. You are both to be commended.”

“Thank you, my lord.” They both said.  Faramir bowed to them both and lastly looked at Maeves, “So glad I am to have met you at last, Mistress Maeves.” Maeves smiled.  “You have a very talented son.”

“Thank you, my lord.  For all your kind words.” They moved on into the Hall proper.

Faramir turned to explain the circumstances of Devrion’s death to Éowyn when he caught in her eye a most amazing look, “What?” he asked innocently. 

“I love you.” Then she kissed him in a most unseemly fashion for a receiving line. And then they both laughed.

~*~*~*~*~*~





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