Format: Short story
Genre: Friendship, politics
Characters: Éowyn , Faramir, Aragorn
Creator’s Notes (optional):
Summary: Rest eludes both the King and the Steward.
“Faramir!” Éowyn chided. “Can you not keep still? I am trying to get some sleep before the baby wakes me again!”
“I am sorry, my love,” her husband replied. “I keep thinking about what is the right thing to do about those settlers from Harad we found in Ithilien.”
“Leave them be,” Éowyn said sleepily. “How they managed to remain undetected is a mystery, but they don’t seem to be causing any harm.”
“The Kha Khan is threatening to annex some of my lands,” Faramir replied.
Éowyn pulled the pillow over her head. “I doubt he will do that in the middle of the night. Sleep, things will be clearer in the morning!”
Faramir sat up. “I cannot sleep. I will go to my study for a while and look through my notes again then I won’t be disturbing you.”
Éowyn was already softly snoring.
Faramir pulled on his robe over his nightshirt and made his way to his study. The Citadel, a hive of activity during the day, was silent as a tomb once night fell. The shadowy passages were lit by flaming torches in the sconces on the walls. The Guards on Night Watch saluted him as he passed.
In Ithilien, there was always some night bird or the sounds of nocturnal creatures on the prowl. His thoughts briefly turned to his father and the long nights he had spent wrestling with the palantír within these walls after sundown. Maybe depriving his father of sleep had been part of the Enemy’s plan. Faramir shuddered. Aragorn had taught him how to use the stone, but he did not feel drawn to it.
He had to pass Aragorn’s study, the room which had once been his father’s, on the way to his own. The door was shut, but he could detect a light shining through the cracks where the door fitted. He tapped on the door.
“Come in!” called a familiar voice.
Faramir opened the door and found Aragorn sitting at his desk studying a scroll by the light of several candles.
“You are abroad late, my friend,” said the King.
“I could not sleep,” said Faramir. “It seems neither can you.”
“I spent too many nights tracking Orcs, I believe,” said Aragorn. “Then sometimes I am restless and I dream. We have seen too much in our time to always rest easy.”
“Do the nightmares plague you,” asked Faramir.
“Not for some time now, but when I cannot sleep it is unfair to disturb Arwen so I might as well do some work such as reading through this trade agreement. Such documents always make me sleepy even in the middle of the day!”
Faramir chuckled. ”Well do I know it!”
“So what troubles you, my friend?” Aragorn gestured for Faramir to sit down on the couch opposite his desk.”
“I told you about the Haradrim we came across dwelling in Ithilien did I not?”
“You mentioned it in passing. I would know more.” He poured out two glasses of wine from a decanter on his desk. After handing one to Faramir, he sat down beside the Steward.
“A few weeks ago, Beregond decided to train some recruits in a remote forest area and came across a small community of Haradrim, men women and children. “ Faramir sipped his drink appreciatively. ”Unknown to us, or to their leaders, they have been there since shortly after Ithilien was abandoned. Word of this reached Harad and the then Kha Khan saw an opportunity to seize some fertile land. He sent a group of settlers who managed to fight off the Orcs and flourish. Somehow, Harad forgot all about these people while Gondor had no idea they were there. Now I have to decide what to do about them. It goes against natural justice to send them back to Harad, but if I let them stay, that might be seen by the Kha Khan as ceding part of Ithilien to Harad.” He took another sip of wine.
“That is not acceptable,” said Aragorn, taking a sip from his own glass. “I am happy for Haradrim to make their home here, but I will not cede the land to them. There is so little fertile land in Harad that they would be tempted to want more, which would lead to war.”
“I agree,” said Faramir. “Then even if we did give Harad the land, it would hardly be fair to the families who have been farming it a hundred years or more. The families - why, maybe that is the answer!”
“I think I follow your train of thought,” said Aragorn.
“If we signed an agreement directly with the families granting them the right to dwell in the land where they have been living , but only either to pass it on to their direct descendants or sell it under Gondorian law, that would be fair to the settlers and the Kha Khan could hardly complain we have treated them harshly,” said Faramir.
“An excellent idea,” said Aragorn. “It is a remote area too, so their presence should not trouble anyone. Far better the existence of these people is out in the open so they can seek spouses from outside the few families who settled there.”
“I will go to my study and write out the agreement,” said Faramir. He stifled a yawn.
“I suggest you wait until the morning,” said Aragorn. “You will only fall asleep at your desk. The trade agreement will wait till morning too.”
“What is it?” asked Faramir, stifling another yawn.
“Éomer desires to trade horses with us in exchange for grain. The harvest in Rohan was poor last season. A fair enough exchange. I just have to haggle for show to appease the Council.”
Faramir laughed. “You have become a master of that.” He yawned again, this time unable to supress it.
Aragorn folded up the scroll and locked it inside the drawer of his desk. “To bed with us both now!” he said, blowing out the candles. “I will walk with you to your room.”
“Did you add something to the wine?” asked Faramir as they walked along the quiet corridors. “I can hardly keep my eyes open.
“It is a special recipe Master Elrond taught me to aid sleep,” said Aragorn. “I find it most useful. Wakefulness is not always a bad thing, though, I think we have accomplished a good deal tonight.”
“Goodnight,” said Aragorn, clapping affectionately Faramir on the shoulder when they reached the Steward’s apartments. “May your dreams be pleasant ones!” Faramir slid into bed beside Éowyn. He recalled no more until the morning sunlight streamed through a crack in the curtains heralding the break of day.