Disclaimer: Faramir the Fabulous and Imrahil the Incredible are none of mine, etc. There are about three quotes from the book which are obviously written by Tolkien.

[Brackets] are thoughts.

And a thank you to Kaka for betaing this.

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Dedicated to Emera, on the occasion of her 16th birthday. May your beans be ever plentiful, your oats always free of tears, and your love for Imrahil as lasting as the rock of Minas Tirith, nin mellon!! You're an awesome artist, both visually and verbally, and an awesome person too!! *gives you a nice shiny dagger for Imrahil plushie* *hugglehuggle*

And Kaka sends you an extra special birthday greeting too!!

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Imrahil's horse snorted impatiently, as he and his men waited in the courtyard for the order to ride. "I too am restless," he said, fondly patting the horse's neck. With a slight frown, he glanced over his shoulder back at the Tower, shifting uncomfortably in his saddle. [When will the call come? Faramir's men cannot last much longer. Already their numbers dwindle.] He turned away from the Citadel, which seemed to emanate light in the dark of the day, and tried to busy himself with his gloves, his thoughts everywhere but there.

When the wounded had returned to the city with Mithrandir, half of him had prayed for Faramir to be in their number, just so that he could know for certain he was safe. As Mithrandir told of Faramir's intention to remain until the last, Imrahil could see the concern in the Wizard's eyes, and it worried him deeply, for if even Mithrandir was frightened for him, then he knew that Faramir must be in danger. Not that he hadn't been gravely wounded before; with Faramir's self-sacrificing nature, he sometimes wondered how he hadn't been wounded more often.

Still, this time was different. Faramir and his men were against seemingly impossible odds. Not only were they facing Orcs, but also the Southrons with their archers and the Haradrim with their mûmakil. Imrahil had fought against these 'men' before, and their cruelty and lack of mercy could not be easily forgotten. No, Faramir could look for no compassion.

And they were still such a long distance from the City, from safety. It was clear that without aid none of them would ever reach the Gate. [And Denethor's pride will not let the knights of Dol Amroth save his own son!]

A messenger's voice broke through his thoughts. "My Lord Imrahil, Lord Denethor has asked you to be ready to ride in ten minutes."

[Ten minutes? There might be no more men to save in ten minutes! We have no time to waste!] His inner thoughts screamed in protest, but his cool outer voice betrayed no emotion. Imrahil nodded curtly. "Tell Lord Denethor that I will be ready in ten minutes, as I have been for the past thirty." [Let the stubborn man stew on that.] The messenger bowed and began to turn away. With a sigh, Imrahil called for the man to return. [I will never forgive myself if I do not try.] "Also tell the Steward that I would advise him to not wait that long," he said in a hushed voice, as though he feared the wind would carry his voice to a desperate Faramir and cause him to lose hope. The messenger bowed again, and quickly returned to the Citadel.

With a frustrated sigh he readjusted his gloves for the umpteenth time. Denethor was his beloved sister's husband, and therefore family, but after Finduilas's death he seemed to become a completely different person. He had been so warm and loving to his family, but as the years passed he became as cold and bitter as ice. Even beyond that, to Imrahil it seemed he had no warmth at all left in him for his youngest son. And so he had made a promise to himself, to make that extra effort to reach out to the solemn boy, who had looked so vulnerable that cold day of Finduilas's death, the day that stole the warmth of her husband. Yet Imrahil did not have to try very hard to love Faramir: he had so easily, and yet so unwittingly, wormed his way into his Uncle's affections that he considered him as one of his own children, despite the fact that he had seen him so rarely of late.

A full two years had passed, since he had last ridden East to Minas Tirith, and those two years had taken their toll on his nephew. Faramir's blue-grey eyes, once so expressive and lively, now seemed dull and lifeless. Heavy bags under them betrayed a lack of sleep and excess of care, and he had obviously lost weight. Imrahil had been shocked to see him looking so pale, even ill, as he left the meeting with his father, his long, almost silent stride unsteady. Faramir had obviously been upset then, and was fighting to keep his emotions under control. Imrahil had had no idea of what had been said in that room, but whatever it was, it must have done something to nearly break that resilient spirit of Faramir's. Even he had to admit that he could do nothing except offer his arm for support and his condolences for the loss of Boromir, knowing that it had been a crushing blow to him.

The next day had been even worse. He heard what Denethor said to Faramir then; it had made his blood boil to think of how little his nephew was respected, never mind loved, for the Steward had openly brought Faramir's valour into question before the High Council. He had tried to persuade him to give up the mission as they had walked ever closer to the assembly point. He had asked, he had even begged. Standing in the stables, he had asked Faramir why. The younger man had merely shaken his head sadly, and told him that he must fulfill his duty. It was then that Imrahil had realized that he could never convince Faramir. No one could. So he embraced him, and kissed him on the forehead, and reassured him of his love. But Faramir said nothing more, only hugged him all the harder in return, and gave a wistful smile. He had clung to Faramir's arms, praying that somehow he could keep him here, in the relative safety of the city walls. But Faramir broke the embrace and turned away, wiping a stray tear from his eye.

Then Imrahil had left him. He did not watch as the men prepared to leave - doing so would have reduced him to tears in front of his brave knights, who looked to him as a rock to cling to in the coming tide of war.

And now here he was, in the front courtyard, with the sounds of battle approaching, while he remained in the safety of the City, and Faramir fought not only for his City and Country, but for his very life.

Imrahil tried to turn his mind to happier days spent with his nephews, children, and wife on the shores of Dol Amroth. Mariel used to delight in watching Boromir spar with Elphir, while Elchirion and Faramir built castles and towers in the sand. He remembered the last of those carefree days on the beach, the last before Finduilas had died. It had been only a year since Faramir's birth, and at times she would surrender the little one into the arms of Mariel, while joining in a game of tag with Imrahil, Boromir, and Imrahil's children. Mariel dearly loved to hold the infant Faramir, for he rarely fussed or cried, merely looked at her with his sea-coloured eyes, and Imrahil knew that Mariel too was captivated by the young boy. And so when Finduilas lay dying, his wife had promised to care for Faramir when she could, just as Imrahil had taken his own oath to himself.

[And how I am honouring that promise,] he accused himself bitterly. [I sit here, while he could very well be dying.] With an audible sigh he lifted his eyes to the banner of Dol Amroth, the Swan also waiting to fly over the knights. She too was waiting, and Imrahil was waiting under her wings. The standard fluttered in the cruel East wind, as the smoke from the wreck of the Causeway Forts made its way to the City, a portent of its own fast-approaching fate. [Soon all will be burning,] he thought grimly to himself. [Yet, while I have strength left, I will not abandon him!]

His mind decided, he abruptly turned his mount around, and rode over to a guard. "Take a message to the Steward for me." At the man's protestations, Imrahil raised a hand. "It is urgent - your post can be neglected for this. Tell Lord Denethor that my knights and I intend to ride in one minute, and if the Gate remains closed we will open it ourselves." The man rode up to the Citadel as fast as he could, and Imrahil turned his attention to his men.

"Knights of Dol Amroth! We have a duty to fulfill!" he cried out to gain their attention. "Faramir, Captain of Gondor, is in need. We go to his aid. Prepare yourselves to ride!" Imrahil drew his sword. Giving swift directions to his Captains, he turned his horse to face the Citadel, waiting for the messenger to return with Denethor's judgment. After what seemed an eternity of waiting, the man returned, breathless from his swift ride.

"Prince Imrahil, Lord Denethor has given orders for the Gate to be opened."

Relief swept through him. "Do so," he commanded. He turned once more to face his knights. Raising his sword, he spoke clearly. "Let it never be said that Dol Amroth is disloyal to its allies and to its kin! Amroth for Gondor! Amroth to Faramir!" And with that cry, he turned his horse to face the Gate. It opened before him, and the full host of the Enemy could be seen. Yet nothing could shake his courage, for he rode to save a man who was like a son to him.

A trumpet rang out from above his head, signaling that the sortie was to be released. A faint answering call came up from the fields, and Imrahil's heart soared, for it was the horn of Faramir. Yet his heart dropped to his stomach, as the sound was cut short.

He spurred his horse to a gallop, and he could sense his own men doing the same, shouting his cry across the Pelennor as they killed and were killed. His eyes searched the field for Faramir, but they could not find him. His heart uneasy, he felt a great worry come over him, for it seemed as though Faramir's men had no leader to follow. At last his eyes found their target: Faramir, unhorsed, was fighting a great warrior of Harad. He could tell that his nephew was wearied, for his mud-splattered clothes and imprecise movements betrayed a long battle. Imrahil's gaze was disrupted as another onslaught of foes came. Just as he found a clear way to Faramir's side, his vision was blocked by a Haradrim soldier and Imrahil could see him no more.

At that moment, the warrior whom Faramir had been fighting approached, and tried to strike him, but Imrahil quickly blocked him. His mind raced while he fought the man, for Faramir must have fallen, if this man were still alive. At last, he dealt the man a blow from which he could not recover, and the warrior fell from his horse. Imrahil took a quick glance around, and saw that his men had formed a line of battle a little further, and that another group of horsemen were on their way from the City to save what wounded they could. Assured of his temporary safety, he urged his horse to where he had last seen Faramir.

Quickly dismounting, Imrahil picked his way through those lying dead on the field. There were few yet living, for many had been either trampled by the horses or killed by the Southrons, who often ensured the death of their enemies by beheading them. Imrahil called out Faramir's name desperately, as a great dread fell on him. [Surely it cannot end this way!] He gave a silent prayer to the Valar for him to still be alive.

His prayer was answered, for no sooner had Imrahil's mind finished its plea than his eyes caught sight of his nephew, lying motionless on the ground, with an arrow in his shoulder. Heedless of all the slaughter, Imrahil ran to him, and knelt beside the still form. His first act was to check for a pulse. His own heart paused, until his fingers detected a faint pulse in his nephew's neck. [Alive. He's alive.] Joy and relief swept through him, along with fear, and he paused for a moment to calm himself.

But reality reined him in, for he knew that Faramir needed a healer's care. He knelt in closer and spoke into his ear, not knowing if the unconscious man could hear him. "Faramir, it is your Uncle Imrahil." No reply. "Faramir, I must remove the arrow. Be strong for me, for just a little longer." He rested his hand on his nephew's forehead a moment as a blessing, but frowned deeply as he felt the raging fever.

Knowing that haste was necessary now, he gripped the arrow tightly and began to draw it out, shutting out Faramir's faint moans from his mind. It came out slowly, nearly breaking Imrahil's heart to know that his nephew was in pain. With a last surge of speed, the arrow was gone, and Imrahil threw it carelessly to the side. Hearing the sounds of battle approach closer, he looked up, to see that the sortie had been drawn back towards the Gate, and that he had to leave now or risk not being able to return to the City.

He searched quickly around him for some cloth to stop the blood issuing forth from Faramir's wound, but could find none. At last, he was forced to shred one of the Steward's banners for lack of a better binding. With one last look at his nephew, he stood up and ran back towards his men a few steps, calling out his horse's name and praying that it could hear him over the din of fighting men. The steed came running, sensing his master's urgency, and obediently came over to where Imrahil had once again knelt at Faramir's side.

"Two you must bear," he said, seizing the reins. After he had moved the horse into a suitable position, he lifted Faramir into his arms, concerned over the lightness of his burden, and gently placed the wounded man on the horse. He quickly jumped up behind him, and, securing his hold on his nephew, urged the horse back to the Gate. It was a constant race, as the horse stumbled over the dead men on the field while bearing a weight twice that which it was accustomed to, while still rushing to reach the Gate in time. The guards kept it open just long enough for Imrahil to enter, the last of those that would.

"Faramir, you are safe," he spoke into his nephew's ear, as he gently eased the horse up the City's levels. His mind battled with itself over what to do: to either bring him to the Houses of Healing or to the Citadel. His own personal anger at Denethor almost overran his mind, and he had to fight back the urge to bypass the White Tower completely, and take him to the Houses. But he turned his mind from this. [Denethor said he would think better of his son depending on the manner of his return. May he be satisfied, and see what he has done. Faramir has need of him.]

He halted the horse after reaching the entrance to the White Tower. The soldiers about him stared but said nothing as he gently removed Faramir from the horse's back and cradled him in his own arms. And in this manner he carried him until he stood before the Steward. Taking a deep breath, he spoke quietly, still holding the man in his arms. "Your son has returned, lord, after great deeds." He proceeded to tell Denethor of all that he had seen, but the man did not respond, only gazed at Faramir's face with a mixture of remorse and fear on his face.

At last Denethor stood. He ordered that his son be laid upon a bed and called for the most skilled of the Healers. Imrahil reluctantly lowered Faramir onto the soft mattress, and allowed the Healers to do what they could for him. Both Denethor and Imrahil stood silent as he was tended. After this had been finished, the Steward ordered that he be left alone with his son.

Imrahil's mind protested again, not willing to relinquish Faramir to Denethor's contempt. Yet there was an unfamiliar emotion in the Steward's eyes, one that almost looked like - concern. And Imrahil felt pity for the man stir in his heart, for he too had lost much, perhaps even more so than Imrahil. A thought came to him. [He is Faramir's father, and despite the tension between them, he cares for his son. Let him alone.]

He approached the bed on which Faramir lay. Denethor began to repeat his order for the room to be emptied, but Imrahil cut him off. "I only wish to bid him farewell - for a time." Turning back to his nephew, he again spoke in his ear, while resting a hand on his brow. "Faramir, you are strong-willed. You can win this battle as well. There is still hope for you both." And with that he kissed him on his brow, and left the father and son together.

[Finduilas, I have kept my vow. And I will continue to keep him safe when I can.]

THE END