Summary: Faramir is lonely on the first Midwinter after the War of the Rings, and feeling out of place. Remembering past holidays, he begins to become depressed. But the holiday spirit conquers all!

A/N: Do the Gondorians celebrate Midwinter? I have no idea. They do have a Midsummer's Day of sorts, just like medieval times, but since it is the holiday season (depending on your religion, of course) I wanted to do a holiday story. But I didn't want to do any particular religious affiliation, so that no one would get offended. So now they celebrate Midwinter. Happy Midwinter!

Disclaimer: I don't make any money off Lord of the Rings, Faramir is not mine *cry*, and neither is anything else in the story. Now I feel poor.


Chapter One: The Steward's Rooms

Faramir stood by the open window in his study. Even though the weather was cold, he was fairly used to lower temperatures, and so the window remained open. The fresh air blew calmly into the room, ruffling his hair, along with some of the papers on his desk. He turned around to straighten them, and secured them with a small book. [Only two more weeks until Midwinter. The parties have already begun.] Things seemed so different this year: his beloved brother was gone, his father was gone, the Shadow was defeated, the King had returned. Eowyn was still in Rohan, so he would not see her, this first Midwinter even knowing her. [I think that I was in Ithilien last Midwinter. No,] he remembered, [that was three years ago. Time seems to fly by. I can hardly remember such things anymore.] The large clock tower in the 3rd circle began to chime. [What time is it?] He counted the rings, discovering that it was noontime. [That's not that late at all. I suppose I'll have a quiet lunch, and then.] A thought sprang back into his mind again. [I was expected to be at the King's table to lunch with him a half- hour ago!] Faramir muttered to himself about his own forgetfulness, grabbed his cloak, and dashed out of his quarters down the hallway, ignoring the strange looks given by the passing servants.

[I hope he isn't waiting for me. How on Earth could I have forgotten?] His own thoughts answered him. [Because I was standing by the window for an hour, and not paying attention. Valar, no wonder Father was always annoyed at my tardiness. I don't even have a good excuse!] He smoothed his hair before knocking on the door. A familiar servant answered and bid him enter. Faramir was led to the private dining rooms of the King, and admitted. He bowed low. "Forgive me, King Elessar, I completely lost track of the time."

Aragorn smiled. "We were wondering what happened to you. I was just about to send someone, but I thought you'd come eventually." Faramir glanced at the table, and noticed none of the counselors were there, only the King's dearest friends, Legolas and Gimli.

"I'm so sorry, I really am. Forgive me." Faramir looked uncertainly at the King. [I never quite know what to expect from him. There are times when he is extremely kind, almost to the point of fault; and then there are times that he can be seized with strong anger. But I never know which will greet me, if I do something wrong, for he seems to sway so quickly. I've never really done anything out of line yet, so I don't really know. I just hope he isn't staunch about punctuality.]

"Profuse apologies are not needed. It can happen to anyone. Sit down," Aragorn smiled again. "We have some small business, and then we can all be free. I long to begin celebrating as much as the rest of you do."

Gimli gave a puff of smoke from his pipe as Faramir sat down at the empty chair that had been placed for him at the foot of the table. He noticed, with a bit of hurt, that the dwarf had taken the chair in which he normally sat, and that Legolas now sat on Aragorn's left. But Faramir didn't say anything, or make any motion or gesture to indicate his feelings. [I had thought that Aragorn and I were beginning to become friends. But I should know better than to think that he would place me before Legolas and Gimli.]

"Now to business. Gimli, you have sent for your relatives of the mountains?"

"Aye, that I have. But, Aragorn, I should tell you that it will be a few more months before the workers can begin, since they need to gather tools, and find suitable supplies, and also housing for themselves here." Faramir was puzzled as to why he was present at such a meeting.

"I was expecting that, and I have planned accordingly. On the first day of the New Year, which is now March 25th, if I need to remind you, I was hoping to begin work. In this manner, we could open the New Year's celebrations with the placing of the 1st stone in the building of the new Gate. What think you of this?"

"Easily done, Aragorn. And a good idea too." Legolas and Faramir nodded their assents.

"Good. Legolas - have you spoken to Thranduil yet?"

"No, but I am sure he will allow our Elves to come and live here. And we will bring many gifts from the forests to help liven the City after Gimli and his fellow dwarves turn it to stone."

"Better sturdy stone than a mushy plant, Legolas." Legolas made a mock bow, sending the three into laughter. Faramir smiled softly, feeling out of place. [I should have been here even later. I'm intruding, aren't I? But I have to stay anyway.]

"What else do you plan to rebuild, Aragorn?" Legolas's blue eyes turned curious. "I hope there is room enough for gardens in your City."

"Plenty of room, Legolas. But first I would wish to redecorate, at least, the Palace. Too many Shadows still lurk in the corners," Aragorn said. "I would have the Tower shine as of old."

"Another good idea, Aragorn," Gimli said. "We can help you with that, certainly." Legolas shot him a look. Gimli gave in with a sigh, giving forth another large puff of smoke. "And the Elves, will, of course, be of good help to you as well." Legolas sat back, satisfied.

"Which rooms will you renovate first? Your own?"

"Nay, Legolas, mine were renovated for me to live in them," Aragorn laughed. "They had not been used for nearly a thousand years!" Again the trio laughed merrily. [What am I doing here?] Faramir again found himself asking. [How the King wishes to renovate his City has nothing to do with me.] "Nay, I have already chosen the next project," said Aragorn, when Gimli suggested they start with the Council room. "The Steward's rooms need to be made ready."

"What?" Faramir sat up straight suddenly. "Made ready for what? They have already been prepared for the wedding." Eowyn and Faramir had already redecorated the rooms, but not very much, as the couple planned on spending most of their time on Emyn Arnen. [Eowyn has not complained, surely, for she was quite pleased with the results. What is he talking about?]

"Faramir, your rooms are too simple. You need to be given lodgings of more honour. You should move into the official Steward's rooms."

"I see nothing wrong with my rooms."

"It's not only that. It's for display as well - you are the Steward, you therefore must live in his rooms. It's only right." Aragorn was insistent.

Faramir was horrified. [I will never live in the Steward's rooms. Never, never, never.] "I do not wish to live in the Steward's rooms."

"It is your duty!"

"No. If I were choosing between either that or a chicken coop, I would choose the latter. Never. It is not my duty."

"But Faramir -"

Legolas interrupted quietly. "Aragorn, if he doesn't want to live there, he doesn't have to."

"Men are not as understanding as your Elves, Legolas. It is an insult to me, in their eyes, if the Steward does not live in those rooms," Aragorn said.

Gimli broke in, asking Faramir a question he dreaded to answer. "Why do you refuse then, Faramir? You, I am sure, know this as well as Aragorn."

Faramir didn't know what to answer. "I would not be comfortable," he answered weakly. [It's true enough, though,] he thought. [I wouldn't sleep for a moment in there. Walking past those doors still gives me a chill.]

Legolas looked at him reassuringly. "We all know that the memories of your father's death must still haunt you. But if this must be done, I am sure you will become more accustomed to being there."

Aragorn and Legolas were staring at his eyes, trying to see into him, just like Denethor used to. Faramir fell back onto a strategy that he had learned long ago, and even become an expert in. He had not done it for months, not for at least two months, but in his desperation he felt he had no choice. He closed off his eyes to them, letting them become blank, expressionless blue-grey circles that just 'happened' to be there. He could see the surprise in Aragorn and Legolas's faces. He knew he was acting just like a spoiled child, but he would not yield to them in this. [They have no right to see my memories of that place. I will share them with no one.] "I will never, ever become accustomed to those rooms. I cannot."

"Don't be so stubborn, Faramir. It's for the best. Put old ghosts to rest." Aragorn tried to sound kind, but his intentions were not reflected in the way the comment sounded to Faramir.

Faramir turned colder, but only slightly. "What old ghosts do you mean? I can think of none."

Legolas was trying hard not to upset him, and Faramir noticed it. The elf tried to cool the rising argument between the King and his Steward. "I'm sure that a compromise can be found. Aragorn, cannot you have the entire official rooms completely redone? Can you take down the walls and such, until it bears no more resemblance to the old rooms?"

Aragorn looked at Gimli, who answered with his professional opinion. "It would be hard, but I'm sure it's possible, especially for the most skilled of the Mountain."

Legolas turned to Faramir, who had withdrawn himself even further. [Why don't they understand? It's not only the rooms - it's the fact that I'd be moving into what is - was - Father's. So many memories.] "Is not that more agreeable?"

Faramir's head was bowed. He knew he should agree, knew that they were doing this for him, but he couldn't bring himself to say anything. The question remained unanswered. Eventually, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli fell to talking of their plans for the rest of the City, but Faramir just sat at the foot of the table, his head bowed.