Format: short story
Genre: General, angst, friendship
Warnings: mention of character death
Summary: Aragorn seeks to ease Faramir's grief.
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
“Will you come hunting with me?” Aragorn asked his Steward. “I will feel the need to escape from these walls of stone after the celebrations are over. Would that my lady and I could mark the anniversary of our wedding in a more simple and private manner!”
“You and your lady are more than welcome to visit Éowyn and I. Summer in Ithilien is always beautiful.”
“We will as soon as our duties allow. But you have not answered my question. Will you come hunting with me a week from today?”
Faramir calculated what the date would be a week hence and inwardly shuddered. Éowyn would have returned to Emyn Arnen by then. He would prefer to be alone with his memories. “I thought you had a meeting with the Ambassador from Dale that day?” he said.
“It has been postponed,” said Aragorn. “And Arwen is addressing the guild of Embroiderers and hosting a dinner for them. They have no need of my company.”
“Would you not prefer to go hunting with Legolas?” Faramir suggested.
“I have not spent enough time in your company of late, my friend,” said Aragorn. “Surely you can put your duties aside for one day? And did you not know that Legolas is visiting the Glittering Caves with Gimli?”
“I recall him telling me now,” said Faramir. “He keeps trying to persuade me to visit the caves too, but I had my fill of them when I was at Henneth Annûn.
“You should visit the Glittering Caves someday,” said Aragorn. “They are a marvel to behold. You have still not answered my question, though. Will you come hunting with me next week?”
“Very well,” said Faramir. Aragorn would not know the date’s significance and he could deny his friend and King nothing.
“I shall look forward to it,” said Aragorn, clapping Faramir affectionately on the shoulder. “We will set off at dawn.”
On the appointed day, Faramir awoke after a night of uneasy dreams. When he awoke, his thoughts were filled with memories of another dawn. The years had passed, but still he remembered. Most of the time he was content, his days filled with more happiness than he had ever dared dream of. He loved and was loved. He was married to the fairest and best of ladies, his children thrived, and he served the noblest of lords. But there were times, such as today, when old wounds were reopened and the past seemed like yesterday.
He dressed in his old Ranger clothes with a heavy heart and after a hurried breakfast for which he had little appetite, he slipped out to meet Aragorn in the stables. They had done this many times before when duties permitted, evaded their guards to snatch a few hours or days of precious freedom, without which, two men accustomed to the wilds would surely go mad. They would tell only their wives of their intentions, and where they planned to go. Today, though, Faramir had little idea of where Aragorn might be taking him and truth to tell, little did he care.
“We will ride towards the river and then make for the woods,” said Aragorn as they mounted their horses.
They rode in silence towards the Anduin. Just before they reached its banks, Aragorn paused beside a laurel tree and cut off two branches with his sword. Faramir wondered at this, but said nothing.
When they reached the water’s edge, Aragorn reined in his horse and dismounted, the branches still in his hand. “Walk with me a little while,” he said.
King and Steward walked along the path beside the river in silence for a short time. Then Aragorn said, “It is ten years today since Boromir left on his final errand, is it not?”
Faramir nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
“I thought we could take time today to remember your brother,” said Aragorn.
“There was great love between us,” said Faramir. “He was ever my helper and protector. He was a great man.”
“He would be so proud of you,” said Aragorn. “I am certain he smiles on you from beyond the circles of the world.”
“Sometimes I consider all I have and think it should be Boromir’s,” Faramir said sadly. He gazed at the water, watching a family of ducks that swam near the bank.
“We know not the ways of the Valar or of the One, but I believe you were meant to be my Steward,” said Aragorn.
“I am happy and well content with my life,” said Faramir. “You have become father, brother, and lord to me. Daily, your loving friendship gladdens my heart. Yet still, I grieve for my brother, especially on days such as this. I can still see him riding away when I close my eyes.”
“I grieve still for Halbarad and for my mother,” said Aragorn. “It does not mean I love those whose company I am now blessed with any the less. I know how much you miss your brother, which was why I was so insistent we go hunting today. I did not want you to be alone today of all days.”
“Sometimes I forget that you can sense my thoughts,” said Faramir. “I should know that a friend such as you would not forget.”
“I thought we could cast these laurel branches into the river in honour of Boromir,” said Aragorn, handing one to Faramir. “His memory will be evergreen. Time, which takes in trust our youth, heals us as the years pass.” He threw the branch into the water.
Faramir did likewise. Then he could contain his feelings no longer and he wept. Aragorn’s arms immediately enfolded him. The King spoke no word, but simply held Faramir until his tears were spent.
“Now let us go hunting,” said Aragorn once Faramir had recovered his composure.
The two men rode into the woods. It was fresh and green and cool there beneath the trees and Faramir’s spirits rose. He would always love and miss his brother, but how could he not be happy riding through the woods with his best friend at his side? He rejoiced too how green and fertile the land was now the Dark Lord was overthrown.
A movement ahead caught his eye. It was a deer. He drew his bow and the two men set off in pursuit of their quarry.
They reached a clearing where the exhausted deer halted and looked at them. Faramir nocked and arrow and aimed. He then put down his bow and shook his head. “I will not kill today,” he said. “Let the deer live. For Boromir.”
“For Boromir,” Aragorn said softly.
The deer looked at the two men again, almost as if it knew it had nothing to fear, and then disappeared amongst the trees.
The hunters returned home empty handed, but their hearts were full.