Disclaimer: Tolkien owns everything. I own nothing. Or, if you prefer, ME: zero. TOLKIEN: lots.


But I've had nothing to put up except utter tripe that wasn't good enough and didn't keep with the spirit of the story. I'm finding it really hard to come up with anything halfway decent for the plot, and that's the truth. I really do want to continue this, and I don't like to leave you readers dangling, but I don't want to stick up any soppy old mush that pops into my head, either.

(the sound of a tiny violin...)

Thanks so much for all the reviews. I really do appreciate it, even the criticism. : ) In response to some of your queries, the reason that I had the admittedly weird 'thing' of Faramir putting his cheek to Eowyn's stomach in the last chapter, instead of touching her face or something, is that I have been envisioning the scene that way pretty much since I started writing the story. I know it's bizarre. I guess I was trying to emulate that scene in 'The Piano', where Harvey Keitel puts his finger to the hole in Holly Hunter's tights as she plays. It's like he found the gap in her defences and made that unexpected connection with her. I love that sort of thing. I'm not saying it works well in this story. I just wanted to try it. I love strange, twisted, original approaches to human relationships. I'm weird like that.

So, here's an odd chapter as we jump back into the story – not a lot happens, and entirely from Faramir's point of view. I'd love some feedback on this precisely because it has been so long, and I'd also love thoughts on the direction of the chapter, Faramir, etc...

Thanks, if you still have the patience to be reading this… H.I.

The Patient

Chapter 8: To Amon Hen

Faramir awoke the next day feeling oddly… rested.

He washed and dressed early, and with the permission of the healers, who were pleased with his progress, he went straight into the gardens after eating as much as his weakened stomach would allow.

He was pleased to find the space uncommonly deserted at this hour. The sky was cloudy this morning, but bright, and he headed to the only place he ever wanted to be out here.

The space just beside the wall, facing North West, where he would stand and look out across the plains for hours. He had stood here almost every day since he had been at the mercy of the healers.

Most who were confined here found a place where they could look out toward the East, to Mordor, and to the great conflict which might even now be raging on. It was understandable. The fate of them all, and all the land rested on the outcome of events in that direction. But Faramir didn't care to look that way very often. It seemed to him like the fate of Middle Earth had already been decided. Too many were lost, the enemy was too great, and so much rested on a noble few. Noble, but inevitably doomed.

Faramir had sent Sam and Frodo on their way because he believed it to be the right thing to do, not because he thought they would succeed. They were both courageous and stout-hearted, and he saw Mithrandir's wisdom in sending the Halflings, who would not be swayed from their task, nor easily corrupted by the power they held. Still, it was a hopeless errand, one too great for anyone to succeed in.

If Boromir had been destroyed by the ring, then it could destroy anything – would destroy everything.

Faramir knew his brothers flawed nature, and he knew the pressure their father had placed on Boromir to bring back a weapon that could save their lands. But he also knew that nothing but the very greatest evil could have plunged Boromir into such turmoil. To have attacked Frodo, attacked a halfling

Faramir had often tried to picture the events that must have lead to his brother's eventual demise at the hands of foes so unworthy of him… But surely, ultimately, at the hands of the ring itself?

And there it was.

Boromir's death. No wave of destruction from the East, certain as it seemed, could ever hold in it half the devastation that the death of his elder brother had caused Faramir. Sometimes he felt that he had nothing left to fear, and so he was calm and sedate, visiting this same spot every day to look North West. It was as though he could now see through the mountains and follow the River Anduin up, up, past Rauros Falls and to Amon Hen, to the spot where Boromir had finally fallen.

What was left of Minas Tirith was nothing to him now. He felt none of the deep pride and fierce protectiveness which he had always felt before for his home city. After Boromir had left, everything had started to fade out around him, the world outside his own thoughts becoming dim and quiet. When he did feel anything at all, it was the pain of his father's demise, his madness, his final betrayal. But even those scars seemed to fade away into the nothingness that surrounded him, here in the bland white comfort of the Houses of Healing.

But then… Then there was her

She had been unexpected.

Her intrusion into his room, his garden, his world, should have been but a mild irritation.

And yet… Somehow she had begun to seep into his consciousness, a blight on his mind, but more than that, she made his stomach ache and his skin tingle with warmth. The feelings were unwelcome, now that he had become so accustomed to his numbness.

He knew what it was he was beginning to feel, of course, but it was so strange that it should come to him now, on the eve of destruction, long after he had given up hoping for such a thing to befall him.

Boromir would have laughed at him. His melancholy younger brother…

Even when he comes upon something new and exciting, he approaches it with such caution – suspicion, even.

Faramir smiled. Boromir had always been able to mock him out of his deep, introverted musings, encouraging him to open up and speak his mind in a way that no one else ever could. Boromir was the only one who had ever really known him, who understood him and accepted him, in spite of their great differences of character.

How he missed the comfort of his brothers smile, the strong hand that grasped his shoulder when their father had been particularly cutting.

The scraps of memory were as tangible as a physical thing he could have reached out and touched.

Faramir still felt lost in this new world, without him.

She was lost too, that was what first touched him about her. The despair and uncertainty in her eyes was familiar to him, though he thought that he was better at hiding it.

The question of why she came to him still burned, but it seemed less important now, after last night.

How afraid she had seemed as she had stood there before him in her nightshirt – she would not thank him for noticing, but he had. She had been trembling as he pressed his face to her skin – why? She had come to him - more than once - and yet she was all confusion and alarm when he responded to her presence.

Had it been wrong, to… respond to her like that? Of course it had. He had hardly known what he was doing; he had acted on some bizarre impulse from within, wanting to make contact with her. He had not been aggressive, but she had run from his room again, as though burned.

Had he offended her, insulted her, repulsed her?

But she came to me…

After she'd gone he had sunk down onto his bed, quivering slightly, thinking he would go mad at the fleeting sensation of her. But soon after he had closed his eyes and slept a deep, dreamless sleep that had done him good.

Boromir would have known how to explain these feelings to him; he had had experience with women (though she was like no other woman Faramir had met). At the very least he would have laughed at Faramir until the enigma troubled him less.

As it was, Faramir would have to puzzle through all of this alone.