These characters all belong to the Estate of J R R Tolkien. No profit has been made from this story.
A New Beginning

The King had survived much to his joyous relief, despite his nightmarish visions to the contrary, Sauron was defeated and the One Ring destroyed and today Faramir’s brief tenure as the twenty seventh and last ruling Steward would draw to its close when he handed back the White Rod and resigned his office to the King as he entered the City.

He felt humbled and amazed that the long awaited task of handing back the White Rod to the King should fall on him, Faramir, as Gondor had waited almost a thousand years for this moment.

He had never desired to rule, nor indeed been born for it, as his brother Boromir had been the heir, though he would have seen it as an honour to serve the new King, but it was most unlikely that Aragorn or Elessar as he must remember to think of him as now, would want any member of his family to hold high office, after Boromir had succumbed to the Ring and Denethor had taken his own life after losing his reason. If the King required a Steward, he would surely choose one more suitable, maybe Prince Imrahil or one of his own kindred from the North.

He had grown up hearing tales from his Uncle about how much his father had hated the mysterious Captain Thorongil who had served under his grandfather and been the apple of his eye. It now turned out that he and the new King were one and the same.
Maybe that was why Denethor had always spoken of the lost heir to the throne in such contemptuous terms as ‘an upstart from a ragged house long bereft of honour and dignity’.

No, King Elessar would not want the son of Denethor anywhere near him, though he hoped he could still serve him in some way. Already he loved the King and had done so since he first beheld those warm and compassionate eyes looking into his.

He planned now to move to Ithilien on the far side of the river as not to trouble the new King with his presence and there build a home for himself and the Lady Eowyn as soon as they could be married.

His heart beat faster at the very thought of the beautiful Lady of Rohan. He still could hardly believe that he had been bold enough to ask her to be his wife and was amazed that she had accepted him, as she was the by far the most beautiful and desirable woman he had ever set eyes upon and it had been love at first sight for him during those dark days when he feared that their world was about to be destroyed.

It seemed that they had so much in common, both having lost loved ones and been brought back from the very brink of death by King Elessar’s hand. There was so much yet to learn about his bride to be as he had only known her six weeks but he was certain he had found the woman of his dreams.

If only her responsibilities in Rohan did not mean that they would have to wait so long to be married! He was longing to be a husband and a father too, as he greatly desired children, a large family of sons and daughters that he could bring up in a completely different way to the cold and rigid manner in which he had been raised.

He knew Eowyn had once loved the King, but it did not trouble him for how could anyone fail to do so?

He dressed carefully for the coming ceremony. It had been a problem knowing what to wear, as his father’s ceremonial robes had perished with him and in a time of shortages after the war, it seemed extravagant having new robes made just for one occasion, however momentous.

He finally settled on an outfit similar to the uniform of the Citadel Guard, black breeches and a black tunic embroidered with the White Tree and Seven Stars, over that, he would wear a new cloak, especially made for the occasion bearing the same design.

At last his dream of meeting the King, when he was dressed in his finest clothes was coming true after the shame of being clad only in his nightshirt for their earlier encounters!

He shunned the services of a valet, apart from someone to check he was dressed correctly before leaving for the ceremony, as he disliked anyone seeing his scarred body. He flinched at the ever-present pain in his back and shoulders as he donned his tunic and undershirt.

The healers had done all they could, but their probing and prodding was even more painful than the wounds to endure. He had told them he desired no further treatments and they had left him alone, amazed that he could move the injured shoulder at all after such a severe wound.

He flushed at the memory of the King entering his room while the Healers had been treating his wounds when he had been bare to the waist with all the scars from his wounds, and even worse, from the repeated floggings he had endured visible to the Royal eye! Then instead of turning away, Aragorn had insisted on treating Faramir himself, which had been the most skilled, effective and gentle treatment, he had ever received.

Worse was to follow as he had committed another appalling breach of etiquette by weeping in the King’s arms when too distraught to realise who it was that held him.

Today he was determined to finally make a good impression as hopefully after all that had happened since Aragorn would have forgotten. He had offered to treat Faramir’s wounds again should he return but surely no King would take so much trouble over a servant? And even if he were so inclined, the shame and humiliation of removing his shirt and showing the shameful scars again to one he admired so much was too painful to even contemplate.

After being assured that he looked immaculate by his servants, Faramir took up the White Rod and made his way down to the barrier, which at present served as the Main Gate into the City, until a new one could be constructed.

Although Minas Tirith was still suffering from the aftermath of the Siege, repairs were already well underway and Faramir had done everything possible, working long hours despite his still frail health to prepare for the coming of the King.

The houses and streets were decorated with garlands of flowers and banners proclaiming a welcome to Elendil’s heir and excited throngs of citizens lined the streets awaiting his coming.

It was a beautiful May morning and the city was bathed in bright sunshine, making the white stonework gleam like silver against the blue sky. There was a pleasant breeze, which made the banners flutter gaily in the wind as if they danced to welcome the one who was coming.

Faramir had arrived early trying to calm the butterflies in his stomach, he looked around him, noting that the plain white banner of his House was fluttering in the breeze as it flew from the White Tower for the last time as after today, the King’s standard would fly there in its place. This was a New Age and Faramir rejoiced to be alive to see it.

The Steward felt a pang of sorrow for his father and brother whose shoes he now occupied, though he wondered if either would have handed over the rod so willingly. There might even have been civil war had Denethor still been in charge and Boromir had expressed a wish since childhood that he himself could be King.

Maybe it was the will of the Valar, that he should be the one standing here, though he wished at had not had to be at the cost of his beloved brother’s life that he was now Steward.

Eowyn came to stand by his side as the time for the ceremony drew nearer. Elfhelm, her brother’s Marshall came and stood on her other side, with many other Riders of the Mark, while Lord Hurin Warden of the Keys and other Captains of Gondor came to stand at his other side as the moment Gondor had waited so long for approached.

The bells rang out joyfully as the Royal procession slowly came into sight

He was coming! Faramir’s heart leapt to again see the one who had called him back from the shadows and recalled him from the very brink of death. It baffled him still, why the King should have fought to save his life and not for the first time he vowed to serve him in any way he could for the rest of his life in whatever humble capacity Elessar might desire his service. He had faithfully discharged the duties he had given him ere he left and cared for Gondor and the Lady Eowyn and the Hobbit Meriadoc as he had been charged.

The King was walking slowly on foot preceded by his kindred from the North dressed all in silver and grey. He was clad in black mail girt with silver and he wore a long mantle of pure white clasped at the throat with a great jewel of green, which shone from afar. Faramir recognised the jewel as the one he had worn it at their first meeting. He was bareheaded save for a jewel like a star upon his forehead bound by a slender fillet of silver.

Beside him walked Faramir’s uncle, Prince Imrahil and Eowyn’s brother, King Eomer of Rohan and four small figures, not children as many in the crowd thought, but Hobbits, Frodo, the Ring Bearer, still looking very fragile after his ordeal, Sam his loyal companion, and Merry and Pippin, both of who Faramir had become very fond of.

There were also three of the First Born in the procession, two so alike that they had to be twins and a third with long golden hair, even more beautiful than Lady Eowyn’s tresses. The glory of the past had indeed returned to Gondor now the Fair Folk were once again here, as Faramir had waited all his life to see one Elf, never mind three!

A hush fell over the crowd at the King’s approach and Faramir accompanied by Hurin of the Keys walked forth to greet the King. Behind them came four guards of the Citadel in high helms and armour, carrying a great casket.

Faramir’s heart was thumping so loudly he felt sure that everyone present would hear though he walked tall and proud as a Captain of Gondor.

When he reached the King he knelt and held out the White Rod saying, “The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office.”

To his amazement, Aragorn raised him to his feet and embraced him. Lifting his head he looked into the compelling and compassionate eyes he remembered so well and had feared never to see again. Smiling, the King handed back the rod and said in a loud voice
“That office is not ended and it shall be thine and thy heirs as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!”
A loud cheer arose from the crowd, as Faramir was well loved in the City.
Faramir was so astonished that he almost dropped the rod. Not only had he been reinstated as Steward but also Aragorn had addressed him using the familiar ‘thee’ as one would a friend. Then he had spoken of heirs, however could he know that Faramir was planning to marry and produce some?
He struggled to compose himself and Aragorn asked quietly, “Are you well my friend?”
Faramir bowed again. “Yes, Sire and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!” he murmured.

Faramir stood up and said in a clear voice,” Men and women of Gondor, hear now the Steward of this Realm! Behold, one has come to claim the kingship again at last, Elessar of the line of Elendil, wielder of the Sword Reforged, victorious in battle whose hands bring healing. Shall he be King and enter into the City and dwell there?”
Surprisingly he was not so nervous now as it was as if the King’s touch had given him confidence and he glowed with pride that it was he, Faramir, the most unlikely candidate on whom the honour of performing this task had fallen and he was determined to do it well.
He held his breath for an instant wondering how the people would react but to his joy all cried “Yea” with one voice, his own joining the affirmation.
Faramir then addressed the crowd again telling them that he had brought the crown from the Rath Dinen where it had lain since the death of the last King as unlike in the days of the Kings of Old, Elessar had not been able to receive from the hands of his father ere he died as was the custom of Gondor.

Faramir then opened the casket and took out the ancient crown of Gondor, its splendour undimmed by the passing of time. The crown had lain waiting a long time but here at last was a man truly worthy of it. It had been an ordeal for Faramir to go to the tombs, after so nearly losing his life there, and others had volunteered to spare him the task but it was only fitting that he should fetch the crown for the man who had brought him back from the very brink of death.

Its jewels sparkled in the sunlight as Faramir handed it to Aragorn, his eyes full of love, awe and respect for the one worthy to wear it.

Aragorn took the crown and held it up so all could see it and spoke the words of his ancestor Elendil. “Out of the Great Sea to Middle earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs unto the ending of the world.”

The crowd then gave a gasp of astonishment as instead of placing the crown on his head, Aragorn handed it back to Faramir and said “By the labour and valour of many I have come into my inheritance. In token of this, in token of this I would have the Ring Bearer bring the crown to me and let Mithrandir set it upon my head, if he will.”

Frodo then came forward and took the crown from him and carried it to Gandalf, then Aragorn knelt again to the amazement of all who watched for who could have expected such humility from a King? Then Gandalf placed the crown on Aragorn’s head and said.
“Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!”

Aragorn then rose from his knees and turned to face the people. A change seemed to have come over him as he seemed to have grown in statue and a light shone around him.

Faramir cried in awe, “Behold the King!”

Then the trumpets were blown as Aragorn entered the City and the King passed through the flower-laden streets to the sound music and singing until he came to the Citadel. And then the banner of the Stewards was lowered and given to Faramir for safekeeping and the King’s banner showing the White tree and the Seven stars was unfurled upon the topmost tower.

After the festivities were concluded, Faramir showed the King to what had been Denethor’s apartments which had been cleaned and prepared for his arrival as the King’s House had been damaged during the War, if indeed Aragorn chose to use it rather than these spacious rooms.

“I hope you will be comfortable here, my Lord King,” Faramir said, still totally overwhelmed by the majesty of the man.

” I am sure I will.” He replied, and then looked at Faramir anxiously, “I am not evicting you from your home am I?”

Faramir shook his head, “No, my Liege, I am content with my old rooms. I never thought of moving here.”

“I would like to see you dwelling in a residence of your choice befitting your status, as soon as possible.” Aragorn said, “I should like to speak to you privately in an hour or so, once I have set aside this armour and regalia, it that is convenient for you?”

“Yes, my Lord King,” Faramir replied, wondering apprehensively whatever the King wished to discuss with him. He thought the ceremonies had gone smoothly but maybe he had done something wrong for which his Lord would reproach him?

An hour later saw Faramir waiting outside the door of the study which had once been his father’s and wishing he were elsewhere as he was never summoned to this room in the past unless he had displeased his lord in some fashion.

He still had frequent nightmares from which he would awaken in a cold sweat that Denethor had returned from the dead and was raging at him for daring to support Aragorn and threatening him with severe punishment. Then a wave of relief would wash over him when he was fully awake and remembered that indeed the King had returned.

He badly wanted to create a better impression with the King than he had ever done with his father, for here was a man whom he could truly admire as well as being one he was certain it would be even more dangerous to anger

He knocked timidly and Elessar’s voice bade him enter. He was sitting behind the desk that Denethor had used and Faramir fought an irrational urge to flee.

The King even looked rather like his father, as they were as alike as close kin, save that Elessar was taller, had a nobler air about him and his compelling eyes were warm rather than icy.

He was now dressed simply in a plain tunic and breeches unlike the robes, which Denethor always wore. He looked weary now, though not weary as Faramir remembered him from the Houses of Healing.

Yet the resemblance to Denethor was close enough that Faramir shivered slightly as Elessar rose from behind the desk. Faramir knelt before him trying not to tremble.

“My lord Elessar, I am your most humble servant,” he murmured, “What does the King command?”

“Please rise, Faramir, and think of me as ‘Aragorn’, I wanted to see you to apologise for not warning you in advance that I wished you to remain as my Steward. It was just I never thought you would expect otherwise, but I could see from your reaction you were surprised. Do you wish to be my Steward as I would not force you?”

For his part, Aragorn could have been looking at Denethor as he had been when he was Faramir’s age but again the eyes were very different, as Denethor had always had a somewhat haughty air about him very unlike Faramir’s unassuming shyness.

It was very hard to imagine himself being crowned as King had Denethor lived for it was unlikely he would have handed over the rod so easily. He had Faramir to thank for his smooth accession to the throne.

It was ironic that he had fled Gondor when he was certain Denethor had guessed his true identity and was about to endanger his life by announcing it publicly, while his son had been the first to acknowledge him as King on his return despite never having seen him before. The wonder of that moment still sent a shiver down Aragorn’s spine to recall.

“It is my greatest wish to serve you, My Lord and you honour me greatly by retaining me as your Steward.”

Aragorn looked relieved but sighed softly, “I am glad to hear that, Faramir, as I need you at my side as I know little of the government of Gondor as when I was here last, I spent my time in the army and know almost nothing of affairs of state. I just hope I have not interrupted any other plans you might have had.”

” I was planning on marrying the Lady Eowyn if King Eomer permitted the match and making our home in Ithilien as I thought that you would not wish me to remain in the City, my Lord.”

Aragorn looked both pleased and somewhat bewildered as he pondered on Lady Eowyn’s welcome but alarmingly rapid switch of affections from himself to his Steward and wondered why ever Faramir should think he needed to leave Minas Tirith.

“Congratulations on your engagement, Faramir, I am delighted that you and the Lady Eowyn have found happiness together!” The King’s pleasure was genuine, despite his reservations about the suddenness of the match and whether or not the quiet Faramir and fiery Eowyn were well suited. “Naturally you will need somewhere for your country estate, but why should I wish you to leave your home? Would you be happy to divide your time between here and Ithilien if I give you that land and appoint you its Prince? I should like you to dwell within sight of the City. I was going to tell you officially tomorrow but am loathe to spring more surprises upon you!”

Faramir gaped open mouthed in astonishment at his King for a moment before drawing himself to task for yet another lapse of etiquette as he gasped, “You plan to make me Prince of Ithilien?” He pinched himself surreptitiously to ensure he was not dreaming.

“Yes and why ever not, your family have faithfully served this Realm and held it for me for a very long time. It is but a small consolation for no longer ruling Gondor! Do you accept?”

” Most gratefully, Sire, your kindness and generosity are most gracious and do me great honour. I will be happy to work here in Minas Tirith and spend my leisure time with Lady Eowyn in Ithilien.” Faramir finally remembered the correct etiquette and went down on one knee again.

Aragorn was starting to get quite light headed from watching all this bobbing around.

” Good, I am glad you approve. How is your shoulder and the wounds on your back now?” he asked, changing the subject “Today must have been very tiring for you as it certainly was for me.” He did not add ‘as we are both recovering from wounds’, as the fewer that that knew about his wounds the better.

“I am recovering, Sire, thank you for asking.” Faramir’s reply was deliberately vague, yet he would not lie outright.

“I should like to see for myself how your wounds are healing, if you would take off your tunic and shirt?”

To his shame, blind panic seized Faramir. He had been asked or rather ordered so many times in this very room by his father to remove his shirt in preparation for a beating, that although he was aware Aragorn meant him no harm, the association was overwhelming.
He was no coward but the memory of being made to stand in front of that desk while his father raged at him prior to a beating, though that would have usually, though not always, taken place somewhere more private. Even looking at the desk made him shudder.
The memory of the lash cutting into his flesh over and over again was more than he could endure at present.

It was far worse than fighting enemies on the battlefield as at least then he could fight back, not he had ever taken pleasure in killing but in time of war it was unavoidable.

To have struck his father and Liege Lord even in self-defence would have been treason, which carried the penalty of death.

Aragorn, always astute, realised he had badly miscalculated how to approach Faramir as having seen the scars, it took no great leap of the imagination to read what was going through his mind.

He resolved to be more cautious in future when dealing with his Steward and be careful how he worded any request to see his wounds. He also felt it would be better to be seated on the couch by the window, rather than at the desk next time he had to see his Faramir in this room, as it was going to take time to gain his trust and convince him he was safe in his presence.

For now, he would do what he could, though using his healing powers through several layers of thick cloth was unlikely to be very effective.

He realised that Faramir’s experiences, culminating with almost being burned alive by his father after vainly seeking to please him for as long as he could remember, or so Imrahil had told him, were likely to have long lasting effects as the man had been pushed to the very limits and obviously been left with a terror of authority figures, which Aragorn would have to work hard to help him overcome.

Imrahil had told him that Denethor had greatly favoured Boromir over his brother and nothing that Faramir had ever done was good enough to please his father. Things were going to change for Denethor’s younger and unappreciated son from now on as Aragorn felt strongly protective towards the likeable young man.

He got up and moved from behind the desk to stand beside by his Steward, gesturing him to rise, and placing a comforting hand on his uninjured shoulder and meeting Faramir’s terrified gaze, his eyes filled with compassion.

Very gently he then placed his other hand over Faramir’s wounded shoulder. The Steward tensed slightly as he fought an urge to take a step backward and then relaxed at the sudden sensation of warmth flooding through the injured joint.

Faramir looked puzzled, obviously far more accustomed to a reprimand than to any show of affection or comfort from his Liege Lord.

“Yes, indeed I am weary, you are most considerate of me.” he said quietly, taking Faramir’s hands in his own and noting the wildly racing pulse. These were the hands of an archer, though only time would tell if he would ever be strong enough again to wield a bow, though the long sensitive fingers, suggested a man who might be happier in more peaceful pursuits.

” You have no need to fear me, my Steward,” he gently, ” You have my word you will never be beaten again as I do not intend to rule through brute force .I will look at your wounds another time, but do come to me at once and ask for my aid if you are in pain. Go now and rest, you have had a long day. And thank you for organising such a perfect coronation for me!” He was amazed at what Faramir had achieved, especially as he was still recovering from both his wounds and the effects of the Black Breath.

“Yes, my Lord,” Faramir replied obediently, marvelling that the King seemed able to read his thoughts, while inwardly determined that Aragorn should not see his shameful scars again. He sighed with relief at the compassion and generosity shown towards him and his heart brimmed with overwhelming love for his new Lord even though he was so afraid of him.

He bent to kiss Aragorn’s ring before leaving as a gesture of respect that he was accustomed to his father demanding and promptly banged his nose against the King’s who had bent towards him at the same instant.

He flushed scarlet at yet another unforgivable lapse. To his surprise Aragorn laughed.

“We both have the hazard of Numenorean noses!” He grinned, “But pray tell me what you were trying to do?”

“I wished to kiss your ring prior to leaving, Sire, as you had dismissed me.”

Aragorn laughed again but not unkindly, “By all means, kiss me if you so wish, but on the brow, rather than the ring if you please! Also there is no need to bow on other than formal occasions!”

“But you are the King, Sire!”

” I know as everyone has told me so today! That does not mean my touch has the power to turn you into a frog or something!” Aragorn gently teased.

To underline the point he lightly kissed his Steward on the forehead, as was the customary gesture of greeting or parting between friends or kin in Gondor.

Faramir looked dumbfounded and although taken aback was rather touched that the King should say farewell in this fashion but was far too reticent to return the gesture.

Instead he bowed again and said, ” I wish you a restful night, Sire, if I may take my leave?”

Aragorn gave him permission and stood staring at the door after he had gone with a mixture of affection, exasperation and wry amusement.

The King settled again behind the desk. Much as he would have liked to rest, there was already a mountain of paperwork, which required his signature. He noted with gratitude that Faramir had organised it to make it as easy for him as possible.

Today he had taken on a heavy burden of responsibility and although he had desired it most of his adult life, that made it none the easier. He needed a friend and ally by his side to share the load. At least Faramir had agreed to remain as Steward for if he had not, Aragorn had no idea what he would have done as ruling Gondor was very different than being Chieftain of the Rangers in the North.

He was determined to befriend his nervous Steward however long it took, as he liked Faramir and was certain that underneath his shyness, Faramir liked him too. He was dreading the departure of his friends in the Fellowship and King Eomer, as he feared life in Minas Tirith might be very lonely.

Like Faramir, he was grieving for loved ones he had lost during the conflict, most especially Halbarad, his kinsman. Losing him was like losing a part of himself as they had been thought-bonded for many years and loved each other as brothers.

He hoped fervently that Elrond would bring Arwen to him as he had fulfilled all the conditions set in place before he could marry her, but he could not yet be certain that what he had dreamed of since he was twenty years old would finally become reality.

The White Tree stood in the courtyard dead and barren, as would be the fate of his line if Arwen did not come.

Even if he were married, he would still need a friend in this vast stone city, as life here would take a great deal of getting used to, after so many years living as a ranger in the wilds. Faramir had been a ranger too, so he would surely understand.

He felt if he could only get to know the man, that they would have a lot in common He could sense the air of Numenor around Faramir as it was around himself as they were both of similar lineage, although Aragorn’s was much purer.

Once he could persuade the younger man to be at ease with him, he was certain they would make the perfect combination to give Gondor the kind of rule she deserved, once King and Steward were not only comrades but friends too.

The following days he sat in judgement and made treaties, settled disputes with former foes, showed clemency to Beregond by promoting him to Faramir’s service and then formally announced Faramir was to be Prince of Ithilien and build his Estate in Emyn Arnen, when the look of rapture on his face and that of Lady Eowyn’s was worth far more than the value of the gift.

Being King was not going to be easy but with Faramir at his side to give him counsel and hopefully in time friendship too, he was sure he would succeed.

The End

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