Characters:Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir, Denethor
Creator’s Notes (optional):Some ideas about Denethor were inspired by Raksha.
Summary:Aragorn tries to lay Denethor's ghost to rest
“Blackheart, show me what you hold in hand !“ screamed Denethor, waving the White Rod threateningly. “I know who you are! Crawl back to the hovel you came from, spawn of Isildur! I hold rod and rule here. Never shall you be king!”
“Aargh!” Aragorn awoke with a start. He was in his bedchamber in the Citadel. Beside him, Arwen stirred and opened her eyes.
“Beloved, what ails you?” Arwen's voice was full of concern. She lit the candle on the bedside table, filling the room with a comforting glow.
“Just a dream, Vanimelda, it is nothing.”
“If it is nothing, why are you shaking and your brow dripping with sweat? Tell me what troubles your sleep again?”
Aragorn sighed and let his wife draw him close.
“It is always the same dream. Denethor is driving me me away and saying I shall never be king. Why does the man still haunt my dreams? It will soon be a year since his death.”
“You should not give the miserable wretch another thought,” said Arwen. “We are well rid of the scoundrel.”
“It is more complicated than that.” Aragorn sighed again. “He was once a great man and there are times I fear I played some part in his miserable fate. Maybe his unquiet spirit is haunting me?”
“How could that be? You never harmed him.”
“I never intended to, but I took his father's love from him. That must have hurt him deeply the way Ecthelion made his preference for me so obvious. Then Gandalf was ever my friend, which may have influenced him to shun Gandalf's wise counsel.”
“If it hurt him so much, why did he do the same thing to Faramir by so obviously preferring his brother? You have told me about how our Steward was treated.”
“I know not.” Aragorn paused for a moment lost in thought. “Denethor was gifted with a brilliant mind, well versed in lore loved and was an able ruler for many years. He was cold, though and loved only his wife and Boromir and he could never understand that the more you love, the more love you have to give. Jealously gnawed at him like a venomous serpent. He resented his father's love for me and Faramir's love for Gandalf. Boromir, he spoiled, allowing him to grow proud and over confident. Finduilas, he smothered with his love, keeping her close at all times. Had he allowed her to visit her family more often, the sea longing may not have consumed her.”
“Did the poor lady die of the sea longing?”
“I was not there so never knew the full truth, but as a healer, my guess is that she had some weakness of the lungs, made worse by the foul fumes from Mordor. Combined with the melancholy of sea longing and fears for her children, she wasted away. Denethor was never the same after she died.”
“The tales that the Dol Amroth family have Elvish blood are true then,” said Arwen. “Only Elves feel the sea longing. I can see the Elvish lineage in Faramir too. Sad though, Denethor's life was, it hardly excuses him from deserting his post at the end and trying to kill Faramir on a bonfire in such a cruel manner.”
“I believe a tragic misunderstanding dealt him the final blow,” said Aragorn. “He saw my fleet of black ships in the Palantir and took them for Corsairs attacking the City. He must have lost his mind as the Denethor I knew would have fought to the last to defend the City. Maybe, if surrounded by the Enemy, he would have fallen on his own sword and dealt Faramir a warrior's mercy stroke, but not chosen the death he did. The odds did indeed seem hopeless and it was only through the grace of the One that Frodo and Sam succeeded, but in his right mind, Denethor would have fought until the end.”
Arwen regarded him her husband thoughtfully. “Although it was no wise your fault, it troubles you that Denethor's mistake about the ships broke his mind.”
Aragorn laughed bitterly “Maybe it would have made no difference if he knew I was aboard those ships, he had so little love of me! I intended to make my rightful claim and would have treated him with all honour due to him, but he would have had none of it.” He sighed again. “Enough of Denethor, we should try to sleep. A busy day lies ahead.”
Arwen made no move to blow out the candle. “Was any funeral rite ever held for Denethor?” she asked.
Aragorn shook his head. “I doubt it. “The House of Stewards still lies in ruins. I believe what remained of his bones and those of his ancestors were hastily buried beneath the floor there. Faramir was in no fit state to deal with his father's remains and we had a battle to fight. My Steward brought me the Palantir, Denethor held as he died, when I was crowned but said nothing of any funeral. I think he like everyone else felt overwhelmed with shock and shame at Denethor's end.”
“Maybe if some rite were held for Denethor, the dreams would cease to trouble you so,” said Arwen.
Aragorn kissed her. “An excellent idea, Vanimelda. I shall speak to Faramir on the morrow.”
A few weeks later
“Friends, citizens of Minas Tirith, kinsfolk from Dol Amroth lend me your ears!” cried Faramir in a loud voice. “I come to commemorate my father not to praise him. Remember, though, he was a great man of lore who ruled Gondor well for many years before the Dark Lord's wiles crept into his mind like a serpent, poisoning him and crushing him in its coils. Let him not be remembered for his final dark hours but for the many years of service he gave to our beloved land.
I have decided that the ruins of the House of Stewards be demolished and a fair garden planted there, where the bones of my ancestors can rest in peace since their tombs were destroyed. For myself, I would rather lie beneath the sky in fair Ithilien when my time comes. Let us remember the thousand years of the Stewards amidst flowers rather than stone.
This day, raise a glass and drink in memory of Denethor son of Ecthelion, Ruling Steward of Gondor and in memory of Boromir, son of Denethor, Captain General of Gondor. May they rest in peace beyond the circles of the world and their memories be evergreen!”
“May their memories be evergreen!” cried the crowd, raising their glasses.
The ceremony concluded,Faramir stepped down from the dais in the Great Hall, where he had stood beside Aragorn, Arwen and Prince Imrahil. Only the King's keen eye could see how he trembled slightly and sweat beaded his brow. Faramir had readily agreed to hold this ceremony and would maybe find some healing from it too, but it had taken all of his great strength of will to make the speech. He had been surprised at Aragorn's desire to honour Denethor, but at the same time grateful a ceremony would be held.
The servants milled amongst the guests, refilling glasses. Aragorn could see no sign of his Steward.
“Where might Faramir be?” he asked Imrahil.
“I would imagine within his chamber or beside the White Tree. He always found solace in the Court of the Fountain.”
Aragorn slipped away and tapped on the door of Faramir's room. After a few moments, a voice called, “Come in!”
Aragorn found Faramir sitting on his bed, his head bowed.
The Steward leapt to his feet. Aragorn motioned him to sit down again and sat beside him.
“You spoke well today,” he said.
“Thank you, sire and for honouring my father.”
“He was a harsh man but he ruled well.”
Faramir turned to face him and Aragorn could see his eyes were red rimmed.
“He haunts my dreams still, “ Faramir confided. “I dream he has returned and berates me for my every action.”
Aragorn laid a hand on Faramir's shoulder. “He haunts my dreams too.”
“Indeed, your father cast a long shadow in both our lives. One day, I will tell you stories of his youth, but now let us walk in the Court of the Fountain. The White Tree is budding.”
“I should like that”
Side by side, the two men walked out into the spring sunlight.