Title: Time waits for no Man
Author Name: Linda Hoyland
Prompt: Prompt: "In that time the air of Middle-earth became heavy with the breath of growth and mortality, and the changing and ageing of all things was hastened exceedingly; life teemed upon the soil and in the waters in the Second Spring of Arda, and the Eldar increased, and beneath the new Sun Beleriand grew green and fair." (The Silmarillion, "Of Men")
Mortality, change, growth are key elements to define the different race in Middle-earth. Write a story or create art where these topics play a central role.
Summary: Arwen visits an aged Faramir.
Warnings: Mention of death
Author's Notes: Set a few weeks before Faramir's death at the age of 120.
Carrying a basket, Arwen walked slowly towards the Steward’s apartments, a troubled expression upon her ageless features.
After a servant had opened the door. Elboron hastened to greet her. “Lady Arwen, it is so long since we have seen you here. It is good to see you today.”
Arwen looked somewhat ill at ease as she returned his greeting. “How is your father today? If he is not well enough for visitors, I will leave the basket I have brought for him and return some other time.”
“My father will be delighted to see you, my lady. He is having a good day today and has just woken up from his nap. Come, I will take you to him.”
He led the way towards a spacious solar. Arwen knew the room well. It was where Éowyn used to sit with her children and their many cats and dogs. She would sit with her friend while their little ones played together. How many years ago was that now? It must be sixty, maybe seventy? How swiftly time passed for the younger children of Eru. Every time this realisation struck her, it felt as sharp as thorns within her heart.
Faramir was reclining on a couch, a blanket spread across his knees. He seemed to have shrunk since she had last seen him, a mere few weeks ago. His eyes, though, were as keen and bright as ever. He smiled when she entered and struggled to rise from the couch. Arwen gestured to him to remain seated. Elboron inclined his head respectfully and left the room.
“Lady Arwen. It gladdens my heart to see you again. It has been so long.”
“Estel had to attend a meeting today, which might go on until late and sent me to visit you in his stead,” said Arwen. “I have brought you some of my father’s books, which I thought you might enjoy. Some of the rarer lays, though I am certain a scholar, such as yourself, already knows them well. Estel has sent a fresh supply of medicinal herbs for you too.”
Faramir smiled as he took the books from her. “Could any man be blessed with better friends than I? Aragorn thinks of me every single day. One can never read the old lore too often. It is many years since I last read these on my first visit to Rivendell and I have almost forgotten them. Do sit and talk with me awhile, my lady. I would remember those days.”
“I cannot stay long, I fear,” said Arwen. “I have an Embroidery Guild Meeting to prepare for on the morrow. How do you fare today, Faramir?”
“Well enough for one as old as I am,” said Faramir. “I fear I tire easily nowadays, which annoys me. My mind is as it always was, but my body lets me down. You are fortunate, my lady not to suffer the infirmities of old age.”
“I confess I find old age hard to comprehend,” said Arwen. She looked carefully at Faramir, observing the snowy hair and wrinkled skin of the man who had once so closely resembled her Estel. She shuddered wondering how long it would be before old age caught up with him too.
Faramir, perceptive as ever, sensed what she was thinking. “Aragorn is of far purer Númenorean lineage than I,” he said. “It should be many years before the years catch up with him. Men bear it because they must. Those of us who are old are grateful to have been granted so long a life. Sometimes though, long life is a mixed blessing, as we outlive so many we have known and loved.”
“It seems to me that Men live for but the blink of an eye,” said Arwen. “For my kind it seems but yesterday that I met you for the first time.”
“Time passes swiftly for Men too,” said Faramir. “The older one grows, the more swiftly it flies. It does not seem all that long since I was but a lad. Now, I am an old man and my time here is almost ended.”
“How can you speak of your death so calmly?” asked Arwen.
“Men understand from childhood that one day they will die,” said Faramir. “It is the natural order of things that we receive Eru’s gift. We are like the flowers that spring up, grow and blossom then return to the earth from which they came. I have lived longer than any of my kin have for generations. I count myself fortunate that thanks to Aragorn, I have lived to see Gondor at peace and the White Tree bloom anew.”
Arwen shook her head uncomprehendingly. “I chose a mortal life to be with Estel, “ she said after a pause. “I do not regret my choice, but I find the Gift of Eru very hard to understand. How does one prepare to receive it?”
“This ageing body now feels like a prison from which I soon rejoice to be free, “ said Faramir. “Sometimes, I fancy that I can hear Éowyn and Boromir urging me to make haste as they have waited long for me. This world seems to grow fainter by the day as I feel less and less a part of it as my heart is sore weary. I will gladly receive Eru's Gift when it is offered to me and seek my final home beyond the Circles of the World. My only regret is for those whom I leave behind, my family and my King and friend. I am glad that you came today, Arwen so that I can ask you to comfort the King when I am no longer here. Elboron will make a good Steward, but Aragorn always treated me as close kin rather than simply a Counsellor. I fear my passing will cause him pain.”
Arwen nodded.“You have my word, Faramir. I would not have delayed visiting you, old friend, had I known you wished to speak to me.”
Faramir regarded her thoughtfully, his grey eyes filled with compassion. “I know it pains you to see me thus, Arwen. You heart fears for Aragorn when you see my life so diminished. I trust it will be many years yet before he feels he must receive Eru's Gift. .When the time comes though, he will know it in his heart. Men long for what lies beyond just as the Elves long for the sea that calls them home. It is a call that cannot go unanswered. As you chose a mortal life, you too will feel that yearning to fly free from the Circles of the World like a bird released from its cage.”
Arwen blinked back the tears. Faramir remained silent for a while gazing out of the window and watching the leaves swirl around the courtyard in the autumn breeze.
At last, Faramir spoke. “Do you remember that visit to Rivendell when we chased the autumn leaves?”
“Those were good days, I remember them well.”
“Did you chase the leaves in your childhood?”
“Ah yes, my brothers and I loved the autumn. I remember once-”
The ageless Queen began her story and the old Steward could see it all in his mind's eye and hear the sound of elven laughter. The sun sank slowly casting lengthening shadows around the room.
A/n a revised version of a story written for BTMEM in 2014.