Author Name: Linda Hoyland
Prompt: Love of Books
Summary: Gandalf and Faramir discuss books.
Beta: With grateful thanks to Raksha.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
A revised version of a story I wrote this March for BTME.
"What brings you to Gondor, Mithrandir?" asked Denethor.
"I travel where the road takes me," said Gandalf. "As I was passing through this realm, I came to offer my counsel."
"You are welcome food and lodging while you are here," said Denethor. "I keep my own counsel, though and have no need of yours."
"I will take my leave then, Lord Steward," said Gandalf.
"I would ask Mithrandir a question," said the young man who sat at Denethor's right hand.
"Speak then, Boromir."
"They say you are wise, Mithrandir," Boromir began. He glanced up at the empty throne behind him. "This throne has stood empty for well- nigh upon a thousand years. Might I be the one destined to sit upon it?"
"Boromir!" chided his father.
"I cannot tell you the future, Lord Boromir, only remind you that you are the Steward's heir, not the King Returned," said Gandalf. Leaning on his staff, he began to make his way past the statues of long dead kings.
"There is one thing you might be able to tell me, Mithrandir," Denethor called after him.
"And what might that be?" Gandalf turned around, but did not walk back towards the Steward's chair.
"There was a captain called Thorongil in my father's service who deserted his post. I wondered if you had any tidings of what had become of him."
"And what should an old man know of your father's former captains?"
"He always spoke with you when you visited." Denethor's keen gaze met the wizard's eyes. Gandalf did not flinch.
"Thorongil knew my travels sometimes took me to the North where his old mother dwelt," Gandalf replied. "What is more natural than that a son should desire tidings of how his mother fared? Now, if you will excuse me, I am weary from my journey."
"Feel free to partake of our hospitality, Mithrandir." Denethor waved his hand in dismissal.
"Fools! A family of fools!" Gandalf sat puffing furiously on his pipe on a bench in the courtyard. He knew that was not strictly true, but only a fool or an over-prideful man rejects the very notion of counsel, and Denethor was no fool. How he wished Ecthelion were still alive. The old man had had far more sense than his son.
After blowing a variety of smoke rings, Gandalf decided to soothe his nerves with a visit to Denethor's vast library. He made his way back inside and laboriously climbed the many stairs leading to where the precious parchments were stored. It was always agreeable too to be amongst books and the comforting aroma of leather and parchment.
He was surprised to find he was not alone amongst the dusty scrolls. A young man sat there reading, engrossed in a weighty tome of history.
"Mithrandir!" the young man started and looked up. "It is good to see you again. It has been too long."
"Faramir!" Gandalf greeted him warmly. "How you have grown, boy! I hardly recognised you."
"I am a man grown and a soldier now," said Faramir. "I still like to come here when I have leave, though. Books are a great consolation."
"Indeed, dear boy," said Gandalf. "What is it that you are reading?"
"The Life of Isildur by Beldoran," said Faramir. "Isildur intrigues me. He was a great hero who saved a scion of the White Tree and a mighty warrior, yet no man knows where his grave lies. There is much about Isildur that puzzles me."
"There are many things I too should like to know," Gandalf replied. "The answers to many riddles lie in old tomes and scrolls. You do well to study Isildur, my boy."
The Wizard fell silent and Faramir's gaze returned to his book.
"Those must have been wondrous days indeed when the City was fair as a Queen and the White tree blossomed in memory of Númenor and in hope for the future of the kingdoms of Men."
"Beldoran's works are justly renowned here in Gondor and elsewhere, especially his writings on the days of the Kings." Gandalf said thoughtfully.
"The Kings whose return I long for," said Faramir. "It is foolish, I know, but sometimes I dream of the return of the Silver Crown and the White Tree blossoming in a land free of the Shadow."
"Do not fear to dream," said Gandalf. "If we have no dreams we have no hope, then all is lost. Were the King to return, though, your father would no longer hold Rod and rule. Does that not trouble you?"
Faramir shook his head. "We are the king's servants who rule only until he returns. What greater honour could there be than to surrender the rod to Elendil's heir, were he like the Kings of Old, well worthy of the Silver Crown, a man of wisdom and strength and greatness of heart?"
"Indeed, my boy. This old man's heart would be gladdened too to see the White Tree bloom again under the rule of such a man." Gandalf regarded the young man thoughtfully. It seemed there was one wise man still in the House of Húrin. A pity indeed that it was the younger son and not the heir. But all things had their purpose and their time.
"Tell me, Mithrandir, was the Tree truly as fair as men say?"
"It was more so. The blossoms shone like stars beneath Ithil's light."
Faramir's face lit up for an instant before his brow clouded and he said. "It is but a dream, though. I doubt any of Elendil's line yet draws breath."
"There are many things that we cannot know, Faramir, but we must never abandon hope."
"I shall try."
Gandalf was silent for a few moments before he spoke again, "You remind me of your grandsire, Ecthelion."
"You honour me, Mithrandir. I have heard he was a man of wisdom. It saddens me that he died when I was too young to remember him."
"Maybe you might be remembered as a man of wisdom too, Faramir," Gandalf said thoughtfully. "Your grandsire loved books much as you do."