"But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him."
Format: short story
Warnings: alcohol consumption
Summary: Faramir discovers an unexpected side to the new King
With thanks to Raksha
The new King was all that Faramir had hoped for and more. In his dreams, he had beheld him, tall, noble, and kingly. Today, he was even more, for when Mithrandir placed the crown upon Elessar’s noble brow, there was a light about him and a glory beyond imagining.
Faramir had glimpsed Aragorn thus when he called him forth from the dark vale. Indeed, he had mistaken his rescuer for one of the Valar! In the waking world, though, he had beheld a weary Ranger and loved the man for himself.
Now when he again beheld Aragorn’s kingly glory, he was filled with awe. His heart was overflowing as he cried, “Behold the King!”
In the months that followed, he found Aragorn to be a wise and kindly lord, and every inch what a King should be.
One evening, King and Steward had worked especially hard all day, compiling a complicated treaty with Harad. Queen Arwen was spending the day visiting the many Guilds of City craftsmen. She was not expected back until late evening, so the two men worked later than usual.
Only when the sun had set and a servant came to light the candles, did the two men set aside their work.
“Have you any plans for this evening?” Aragorn asked.
“No, my lord,” Faramir replied. “I thought to do more work on the treaty and draft out an invitation to an ambassador.”
“That can wait until tomorrow, Faramir. We shall escape from the Citadel together, this night!”
“Escape, my lord?” Faramir could hardly believe his ears.
Aragorn laughed. “You remind me of your father when you raise your eyebrows like that, my Lord Steward! No need to look so alarmed, I am not planning to escape back to the Northern lands from whence I came.”
“That is good, my lord.”
“We are both former Rangers, are we not? We need a little freedom every now and then if we are not to go quite mad cooped up within these walls!”
“But, my lord! It would cause an uproar if we were to simply disappear!”
“This time, we shall take guards who will be ordered to be as unobtrusive as possible. In future, though, when they are better used to my ways, I intend to disperse with them. Now, Faramir, will you join me for a drink?”
“Thank you, sire, I will be honoured,” said Faramir.
The King strode through the darkening city streets with long confident strides, giving Faramir the answer to a question that had puzzled him, why the Hobbits had often referred to the King as “Strider”. The guards struggled manfully, but some had trouble keeping up with their King. Faramir, who neared his liege lord’s height, managed to keep up without too much difficulty.
The King kept on walking until they reached the fifth circle where he stopped outside a very ordinary looking tavern. “We will stop here,” he told Faramir. “Gimli speaks highly of the place.”
Aragorn ordered the guards to wait outside, ignoring their horrified protests. He strode within, followed by a somewhat reluctant Faramir.
“Welcome to my inn, my lords. I am Turin” declared a tall, balding man as he briskly approached them. “How might I be of service to your lordships? Would you like some refreshment to warm you on this cold night? I have the finest wines from Dorwinion to Lossarnach.”
“A glass of Dorwinion, please” said Faramir.
“And a tankard of beer for me, please,” said Aragorn. "Do you have Dragon's Breath?
Faramir stared open mouthed. Farmers and other common folk favoured Dragon’s Breath.
“And would my lords like anything to eat?” asked the innkeeper.
“A crusty loaf with butter and a hunk of cheese,” Aragorn replied. He glanced at Faramir who could only nod dumbly. The King, who could dine off the finest foods in Gondor wanted to eat the fare favoured by the humblest of his subjects?
The innkeeper showed his guests to a table. It was still early and there was plenty of room. A hush fell over the common room and the other patrons rose and bowed. Aragorn smiled at them and bade them ignore his presence.
“This was a mistake, Faramir,” said Aragorn as the innkeeper scurried off to fulfil their order.
Faramir let out a sign of relief. The King had come to his senses.
“Next time we come out for a drink we must choose a tavern where we will not be recognised and wear our old Ranger clothes as a disguise,” said Aragorn.
“But why my lord?”
“We do not wish to ruin anyone else’s enjoyment of their drinks by making them constrained in our presence,” said Aragorn. “Also it is a foolish King who pays no heed to what his people are thinking. Over a drink, men talk of their joys and fears and whether or not they are happy with their lot and those who rule over them. “
Faramir nodded, suddenly understanding. The King was far wiser than he had imagined!
The innkeeper brought their drinks together with the food: brown crusty bread with creamy butter and sharp cheese from Lossarnach.
Faramir nibbled the bread. It was much tastier than that served at his table. He sipped his Dorwinion. It was a poor vintage. He grimaced.
“You should have had a tankard of Dragon’s Breath,” said Aragorn. He took a swallow and linked his lips appreciatively.
“My father always insisted I should drink wine,” Faramir replied. “He said ale was common. I would have preferred, though, to drink the same as my men.”
“Neither King nor Steward should ever lose the common touch,” said Aragorn. He called to the innkeeper to fetch another pint of Dragon’s Breath.
“Now drink up, lad,” he said once the man had brought the foaming tankard. “Let us make the most of our hour of freedom!”
Faramir drank, his expression thoughtful. This was a side to the King he had not expected to see, the Ranger desiring to escape the trappings of royalty and enjoy simple pleasures. Behind the King’s glory, was a humble Ranger and Faramir loved the man all the more for it.