It was early still when Faramir made his way through the paved courtyard of the citadel. A fountain stood in the middle, the early morning light adding a dash of gold to the droplets of spray that he ignored from custom, as he did the dead tree standing by it, a strange sight amidst the vibrancy that seemed to run through the very stones of Minas Tirith. Once outside, he followed a little used grassy path till he reached a secluded section of the walls. There he halted, and took in the sights and sounds of the city awakening, sniffing deeply as the aroma of freshly baked bread floated up with a whiff of wind. Somewhere far below he thought he heard the sounds of children laughing.
He had duties to see to as Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien. There were councils to attend with the King each morning, but Aragorn was yet to return from his ride, so he stayed awhile at the walls to take in the familiar vista. The view was a fine one of the White City, the fields around it and the river flowing by them. High above him rose the Tower that gave the city her name; while below, her concentric levels fell neatly in place.
He had often come here in the early hours of the day, purely for this view. Even when he left the confines of these walls to fight for his land, and returned for but a few days at a time, he would come and stand here with his brother and together they would watch the city that had nurtured them come to life each morning. It seemed that she looked her best, when the awakening sun gradually touched each stone with its warmth. On the bleakest of days when the insides of the citadel seemed cold and silent, at dawn, the ancient city had seemed as she was meant to be - fair and bright as the sun itself, rising above all in her beauty and splendour. At this time, when the sounds of the city were muted and soft, it had served as a glimpse of what had once been, and what Faramir could perhaps dream of seeing it as.
In the quiet of the morning, as they discussed matters related to rule and policy, the brothers had at times spoken of their own dreams for the land. Faramir thought wistfully at such times of seeing Minas Tirith as she had once been, her ageless splendour restored. As the Steward’s son, he had learnt all about the city’s defences and her policies. He had also learnt of her history and lineage, and had countless times badgered his tutors for the tales they knew of her years.
The Men of Numenor had built her long years ago, a strong fortress and a seat of learning and skill. They had come all those years ago from across the seas, or so a long forgotten rhyme went, bringing with them their prized possessions, some intangible, some tangible. They brought great skills and wisdom that they poured into the cities they built with love and pride, seven stones that were gifts of the Eldar, and a tree that symbolised light and hope.
The cities were now gone, reduced to shells of their former selves, or destroyed beyond recognition, save Minas Tirith, which stood, still guarded. The stones were to be lost or twisted in their use. Of the White Tree there remained but a withered, stunted reminder of days long gone - of the times when Gondor had been at the height of its splendour and majesty, when the Winged Crown had rested on a proud king’s head and the tree that symbolised so much had been in flower.
This city had remained and nurtured many generations of men. Faramir, too, had been raised there, all his learning derived from her libraries and vaults, and later, all his skills as a warrior put forth to defend her. Just as his father and brother did, he, too, without having to be taught to do so, took pride in the very fact of her endurance. He, too, fought to protect her, as they did, forsaking the ancient scrolls that enriched his mind for the polished weapons that would defend their people. Over time, she had faced decay and despair, and the values that her people held began to reflect the troubled times. He had accepted those changes, knowing that the times were such, yet he had hoped still for the day when things would be different.
Through the years, the city stood, withstanding everything thrown at her, a sign to all who beheld her, a beacon of hope to those who still dreamt. Now, perhaps, all those dreams had finally been realised.
He laid a hand on the stonework. It felt smooth, as newly carved stone often did. Until a few weeks ago large sections of the many walls and buildings that dotted the seven levels had been a mass of broken down rubble, ravaged by war. They were being rebuilt steadily as willing hands offered to erase the scars of strife. The tools they used rang loud all day, but none minded the music of labour.
It was almost as he had imagined when he had stood by these walls, shyly sharing his dreams with his brother – of seeing their city restored to one as beautiful as a queen. Minas Tirith exuded peace and contentment. What noises echoed through her stones were those that rang in the sounds of growth and prosperity. The plains that stretched out beyond the huge gates were fast filling up with lush grasses that covered the scars of battle. Ithilien, across the river, abandoned in strife, was set to become a fair dwelling once again. The court of Kings was once more the seat of a king who had brought to the land the end of war; a man such as those of old, one of valour, wisdom, strength and compassion. The winged crown rested on its rightful owner.
Faramir waited until the sun’s rays hit the tower, making it seem as a tall column of shining silver, and then decided that it was time to return to his duties. Much as he loved the fine sight, he had lingered long enough. The King would return soon, and they had work to do. A movement in the plains below caught the corner of his eye. Leaning forward he watched as two horsemen, riding abreast, cantered up to the city gates, one holding something wrapped in cloth. He recognised Aragorn and Mithrandir easily, even from the distance, and made to return to the citadel.
The summons to the courtyard reached him as he neared the entrance. He walked across the paving to the withered tree where the King now stood, holding a large bundle wrapped in his cloak, Mithrandir at his side. Others were joining them from inside the buildings. The sky above was blue, and sun shone brightly down.
Faramir glanced at Aragorn as he greeted him. It seemed to him that his King looked more serene than he had ever seen him to be before. Aragorn nodded in return and beckoned him forward before slowly unwrapping the bundle. Faramir watched as the contents were held forth, almost reverentially, to the waiting audience- a cluster of small white flowers crowning the dark and silver leaves of a slender sapling.
There was silence for a moment, and then Aragorn spoke.
“The White Tree,” he said.
Faramir gazed up from the tree to the eyes of his King, and then gazed back at the tree.
“The White Tree,” he acknowledged softly.
In June of that year, the White Tree flowered again in the court of Kings.
And Minas Tirith was as Faramir had ever hoped for it to be.
Thanks to Lindorien, Mesbasky and Ëarmírë for their suggestions.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.