1. How Many Years?
No matter how hard he tried, the hobbit could not forget what had happened. The War of the Ring was one of those events that determined a course in your life, leaving behind memories--whether good or ill--that would remain with you forever. Forever. Forever is how long it has been since I was home . . .
"What ails you, Frodo?" A male voice asked from behind him. Jumping, Frodo was relieved to find that the new arrival was not an enemy of the now-fallen Eye.
"Hello, Faramir," the hobbit said with all the cheerfulness he could muster. "What brings you to this lonely place?"
The man sighed, joining the hobbit by the white wall. "I have just been thinking." The wind whipped the hair away from his face, revealing mournful eyes. The man's gaze fell to the rumble below, littered with bodies awaiting buriel.
I understand how it feels to have ill memories, Frodo thought, sighing. Raising his eyes to the sky, Frodo caught sight of a small, blue bird flying toward the ground. "My mother loved those birds," the hobbit said, remembering times of old. "I had no idea they lived this far North."
"Your mother was fond of birds?" Faramir asked, gazing at the small bird with interest.
"I suppose she was," Frodo answered, thinking. "I am also told she loved trees, but I am not certain. Her and my father passed on when I was only a few years old. I scarcely remember them. Bilbo raised me." Following the flight of the bird with his eyes, Frodo thought, I miss them very greatly.
"I see we are alike, then," Faramir said softly, studying the white marble beneath his feet. "My mother died when I was ten years old, and--" he fell silent, remembering. "--And Boromir was thirteen." He laughed bitterly, turning away. "We missed her so greatly. Before my father was lost to sadness, he used to tell me that she would return soon, that we would see her again." He kicked a pebble with his foot, watching it drop hundreds of feet to the second level. "I knew it was not true, but he said it with such ferverence, with such conviction, that I wanted it to be true."
"Children often believe such things," Frodo said, laughing slightly. "Bilbo used to tell me that on nights when the stars were very bright, my mother was watching me. I always asked him why I could not see her if she could see me, but he never answered. Eventually, I gave up asking."
The hobbit's attention left the far-gone bird, and turned toward the home of the king, several feet away. "So," Frodo began, hoping to change the subject, "you are the new steward?"
Faramir frowned, taking a heavy breath. "It does seem that way, does it not?" He leaned against the wall, thinking. "Things were never meant to be this way." Pointing toward the large platform that stood before them, he said, "My father died right there. He lit his body on fire, throwing himself down."
"I am sorry." Frodo looked up at the downcast man before him, wondering, How many people has he seen die in his lifetime?
"As if losing my mother was not enough, Boromir passed on as well." The man clenched his fists slightly for a moment, before returning to a calm posture. Faramir's eyes suddenly grew wide, as though realizing something for the first time. "I am the last of my family--it has finally dawned on me."
As am I, Frodo thought, running his fingers along the smooth wall. "Before the breaking of the Fellowship, Boromir always referred to us as the "little ones," even though I was at least twenty years his senior." He smiled, continueing. "He did have a point, though--we are very small compared to you."
"Boromir was a good man--and brother. I wish he could have seen this day, although I do not know if it would have pleased him as much as it does me." The man jumped up onto the wall, sitting toward the edge.
"Why would he dislike it?" Frodo asked, confusion written on his face.
"I have studied the tales of the kings of both Numenor and Gondor for years," Faramir answered, pausing. "They stretch on and on, until finally, they come to the point where the last king of Gondor vanished, leaving the Stewards to rule--my family." Frodo nodded, hoping for his companion to continue. "Boromir, as a child, wondered why my father was not the king of Gondor."
"What?" Frodo asked, surprised. "If he knew the history, then why would he wonder?"
"Because . . . the kings have been absent for centuries, leaving the Stewards to care for the kingdom as a king would." Faramir pushed himself off the wall, thinking deeply. "He often asked how long it took for the steward to become a king--if the king never returned. According to my father, no amount of years is enough."
Frodo crouched on the ground, trailing a figure over a dead leaf. How many years does it take for a steward to become a king? Aragorn was not here during the long years when Minis Tirith was attacked, when the citizens were starving, when there were uproars, and battles, and plague. The hobbit sat there in silence, watching the man near him.
"I am happy that the king has returned," Faramir explained, getting up to leave. "I just cannot forget my brother's question. Long have the stewards toiled to protect this city, and yet . . ." his voice trailed off into silence. "I enjoyed speaking with you, Frodo." He bowed slightly in farewell, and took off toward the opposite direction.
The hobbit stood up, eyes turning toward the platform that had been the place of Denethor's death. Long have the stewards toiled to protect this city, and yet . . .their troubles have never--and will never--be rewarded. Maybe the king did deserve the throne, but the stewards deserved honor.
Frodo walked away from the eerie platform, Faramir's words echoing in his mind. How many years does it take for a steward to become a king? Stopping, Frodo thought, They never will.
Some of the quotes from this story are Tolkien's, and I have only used them for the purpose of this story. They belong completely to him, as do the characters of this story, and the places.
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.