1. Second Prince
“Good morning, my love,” she said, touching his cheek with her ivory white hand. Faramir bent to kiss her. Éowyn sat up in bed, somewhat awkwardly due to the child she was carrying.
“Did you sleep well?” Faramir asked, placing his own pillow behind her.
“Quite well. Our little one was rather peaceful.” Faramir rose out of bed and started to get dressed. “You do remember what day it is.”
Faramir looked up. “Elboron’s tenth birthday, I remember. How well do I remember the day he entered this world.” He and Éowyn both laughed, as they recalled the havoc of that day. Elboron was their first child, and his birth had been difficult for both parents. For Faramir because he could not help and had to watch his wife suffer, and for Éowyn because this was not a battle she could win with swords or skill. Up until Elboron’s birth, their married life had been blissfully peaceful. Faramir would never forget the execrations he heard leave his wife’s mouth that day, even though some he did not understand because they were Rohirric.
“I can still see the look on your face when I told you that you had a son,” Éowyn said sweetly, her face radiant in the morning light. Faramir felt he could spend the rest of his life looking upon her face, her smile, and hearing her soft laughter. “Elboron told me that you promised to take him riding today. Is that your plan?”
“I thought I would show him some of Ithilien. He will one day be Prince of these lands, it is high time he begins to know them. I also hope to tell him more of Gondor’s history and the history of Middle Earth. It will keep him from questioning us about our history for a day at least.” Elboron was a curious boy. Not a day went by that he did not beg to be told of the War and what part his parents had played in it. Faramir had been reluctant to tell the boy much about the past--- not only because it was still a painful subject to him, but also because he felt his son was not yet old enough to appreciate the full meaning of the stories Faramir could tell him. But now it seemed, the time had finally come to explain to him the way things were and had been.
“Do not omit the part where his mother defeated the Lord of the Nazgûl,” Éowyn said with feigned indignity.
“I would not for the world. I would be afraid what you’d do to me,” Faramir said, laughing. But inside, he was uneasy about the task before him. Up till now, he had been very vague about the War, and the part he, his brother and his father played in it. Now he would have to tell the truth, no matter how painful it would be. He only hoped that he could somehow make Elboron understand what had happened, and why. “I must see to some Stewardship duties this morning, but tell Elboron we will go riding at mid-day. I will find you in the gardens at that time?”
“Yes, I suppose we will be in the gardens on such a day as this.”
“Then I will see you then.” Faramir planted a kiss on his wife’s forehead before leaving the room and heading for his study.
The sunshine was brilliant at this time of day, and the spring air filled Faramir with cheer. As he entered the gardens, he instantly saw a bright golden light near the center of the garden. There sat Éowyn, her hair loose and shining in the bright sun. On her lap sat their youngest daughter, Elfsheen, who was playfully pointing to Rohirric words and trying to pronounce them. Elfsheen had her mother’s golden hair and blue eyes. Their eldest daughter, Finduilas, who looked more like Faramir, sat on the bench opposite them, thoroughly engaged in a Sindarin book Faramir had given her for her eighth birthday. As Faramir approached them, he felt a smile spread across his face. Éowyn looked up and returned his smile.
“Papa!” Elfsheen cried, scrambling off of Éowyn’s lap and attaching herself to her father’s legs. Scooping her up, Faramir looked around for a sign of his son.
“He’s been following Legolas around all day, learning about the various herbs we use to heal wounds. Really, he will not stop asking questions until he knows everything about Middle Earth! He didn’t get that from me,” Éowyn said closing her book. Faramir put out his arm to help her stand up. “I think Legolas said he’d bring him back here at mid-day, so he should be here soon.” As she said that, he saw the boy and elf coming through the arched door into the garden.
“Legolas are you coming to the celebration tonight?” Éowyn asked. Elboron presented a bouquet of lilies to his mother.
“Of course, my lady. I would not miss it for the world,” Legolas responded. “Now I must take my leave, there is still much to be done in these gardens before the day is ended. I cannot wait until you are again able to assist me in the garden, Éowyn! Enjoy your ride, Elboron,” Legolas said, bowing and walking away through the garden.
“Are you ready, my son?” Faramir asked, handing Elfsheen to Éowyn. The boy nodded eagerly and ran off in the direction of the stables. Éowyn and Faramir both laughed as Faramir ran to catch up with him.
They rode in silence as the sun beat down on their heads. Faramir’s mind was troubled with the task ahead. How would he ever make Elboron know the power that the ring held over people? As the minutes went by, Faramir knew he would have to say something. Elboron seemed to be uneasy with the serious silence.
“Do you know why I took you riding today, my son?” Faramir said finally, looking at his son. He had often noticed how much Elboron looked like Boromir, but had never before felt so saddened by the resemblance.
“I think so,” Elboron said. Although only a boy of ten, Elboron was amazingly perceptive. Faramir had no doubt he knew something was bothering his father. Sighing, Faramir looked ahead over the hills of Emyn Arnen.
“This will all be yours one day, Elboron. You shall be the Second Prince of Ithilien. There are things…things you must understand.” Faramir paused. He was surprised at the stern tone in his voice. Certainly he had never spoken so somberly to his son before. Perhaps he was falling back on how his father had handled hard situations. Even now Faramir could hear the stern voice of Denethor, telling him that his mother had died. Denethor had always been hard on Faramir. He would not do the same to his son, not even to shield the pain of the past.
“I know how curious you are about the Great Years: the War of the Ring, the Fellowship, and your heritage. Your history. Both your mother and I wanted to wait to tell you until you were old enough to understand the world a little more. That time seems to have come today, my son. You are on the brink of manhood.”
Faramir looked at Elboron, smiling. Elboron looked very proud to be let into his father’s confidence. Faramir continued.
“In those dark times when the ring of power, Isildur’s Bane, was found again, your grandfather was Steward of Gondor, as I am today. But Gondor had no King.”
“Where was King Elessar, father?”
“He had been brought up in the house of Elrond, father to Queen Arwen. He had not yet reclaimed the throne of Gondor. A great fellowship was brought together in Rivendell to destroy the ring before it could be used by Sauron to cover the earth in darkness. Your uncle…my brother Boromir was a member of the Fellowship, as were King Elessar and Frodo of the nine fingers, of whom you have heard. Boromir was a great man, the most valiant warrior I have ever known…but…”
Faramir knew what he had to tell Elboron, but the words seemed to stop in his throat. “Boromir thought he could save us all, save Gondor, if he could use the ring. This was Sauron’s power over men. He had given the ring the power to corrupt even the truest hearts. Your uncle died fighting against its power. He died so that the hobbits Merry and Pippin might live.”
By now they had reached the deep forest that surrounded the hills. Faramir dismounted and led Elboron over to the edge of a stream to sit.
“My father, Denethor, had also been corrupted by Sauron’s sorcery. He was a very noble man, but even he was brought down by the power of Sauron. He also died…defending Gondor.” Faramir’s voice faltered. He was not telling the complete truth. His heart was sickened at the memory of what had happened to his father, what the palantír had done to the man who had once been so strong of mind and spirit. He did not want to dishonor his memory. But how would Elboron ever understand the power of the ring if he did not hear the full tale of its treachery?
Elboron looked up at his father and Faramir could see in his face that he knew there was more to the story than Faramir was telling. “That is not the full truth my son. He was driven to desperation and madness when the siege of Gondor began and he thought that I was close to death. He threw himself on a pyre, and even tried to take me with him to his fiery grave.”
The words cut through Faramir’s heart like knives. He could feel tears beginning to form in his eyes. Pushing back his sadness, Faramir added, “This is why the strength of men cannot fail my son. Not even against the greatest of odds, the greatest of enemies. For our part, your mother and I both fought against the evil of the ring and its master. Your mother killed the Lord of the Nazgûl, the Witch King of Angmar, which you know. She may be an example to you: there is strength in men, strength in your blood.
“When the time comes when you must face your own peril and fight enemies both weak and powerful, you must remember how easily great men have fallen and decide for yourself to defeat evil. You must never give up, even when the world is closing in around you, even when the Lord of the Nazgûl himself is before you, because you have the strength of Kings within you.”
Faramir felt a single tear run down his face. Elboron seemed to be in deep thought, and Faramir began to wonder how much of this speech he had really understood.
“And for your part? Were you ever tempted by the one ring?” Elboron asked, looking up at his father. Faramir was not surprised that his son had asked this question, but he feared he had no answer for it. Had he desired the ring? Perhaps in the basest impulses of his heart he had desired to have it, to save Gondor, to finally have the love of his father. At the same time, he had despised the ring. He had refused it at the very first moment he heard of it.
“I did not desire the ring, because I saw what evil it did. You must always be thinking about the possible evils, Elboron. Just because something is powerful does not mean it is not evil.”
“I think I understand father.” Faramir hugged his son.
“All that I ask is that you remember the people who died so that you might live in peace and happiness. Remember the people who died to fill Ithilien with beauty and joy again. And now we must be getting back or we shall miss the celebration.” Faramir helped Elboron onto his horse and they both rode out of the forest into the hilly terrain. The sun was getting lower in the sky. Faramir’s heart had been lifted of a heavy burden and he smiled freely.
“Is it true that mother loved King Elessar?” Elboron said seriously. Faramir could not help but laugh heartily. And the laughter of father and son filled the hills as they made their journey back home.
As they entered the courtyard Elboron and Faramir were greeted by Éowyn, Finduilas and Elfsheen, who were standing just outside the entrance waiting for them. Elboron dismounted and raced to his mother, who enveloped him in her arms and planted a kiss upon his head. Faramir laughed as Elboron turned back and winked at him.
Looking upon his son and daughters, Faramir realized what he and Éowyn had been fighting for in the war against the Dark Lord. They had been fighting for this. For the chance to tell their son and daughters in the comfort and beauty of Ithilien, about the Dark Times long ago.
“I love you so much,” he whispered in Éowyn’s ear as they went inside to greet their guests. “You have given me everything I’ve ever wanted.”
Éowyn smiled and squeezed his hand. They were both watching Elboron, who was walking ahead of them. He had Elfsheen’s hand in his and he was saying, “Once upon a time there was a hobbit named Frodo who traveled into the very heart of Mordor to save Middle Earth…”
“So I guess you told him?” Éowyn asked, planting a kiss on Faramir’s lips.
Faramir put his arm around his wife and sighed. “He will be a great man someday.”
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.