Fear of Fire, Chapter Seventeen: Resolution
A/N: It is a crime to abandon a story this close to its ending, particularly one worked on as diligently and lovingly as this. I stand before you a criminal. I know the writing in this chapter is not up to snuff, but I had to finish it and move on. I could offer a truckload of RL related excuses as to why this story got delayed, but I imagine you're not interested in hearing them.
Faramir awoke without really knowing why he had. His body was very reluctant to release sleep, and for a moment he only lay there with his eyes closed, wondering why he was awake. Then he felt a movement on the bed next to him, and remembered the night's events.
He opened his eyes. Aragorn was lying next to him, turning fitfully in his sleep; his face spoke of nightmares. Faramir watched for a moment, wondering if he could managed to soothe Aragorn without actually waking him, not knowing if he was a light sleeper or not. But then his lover's face twisted into an expression too painful for Faramir to bear. He brushed Aragorn's hair back from his face, speaking his name softly.
Aragorn woke instantly, as Faramir had half-expected. You couldn't survive years in the wild without learning to wake at the slightest noise or touch. Like Faramir, it took Aragorn a few moments to realize where he was. "Ah. Faramir."
"You were dreaming," Faramir said apologetically.
Aragorn blinked twice. "Ah... so I was."
He made to lie back down, pulling Faramir with him, but Faramir stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "What were you dreaming about?"
He saw the decision to be evasive in Aragorn's eyes. "Many things, I can't remember the details."
"Aragorn," Faramir said sternly. "Do not do that to me."
"Do what?" Aragorn asked, looking genuinely confused.
"Help me so much and then refuse to let me help you in turn." Faramir meant to continue being stern, but he found it impossible to keep from moving closer and leaning his head on Aragorn's shoulder. To make up for it, he kept his voice firm. "I won't let you help me if you don't let me help you as well. You are not the only one who dreams of the war."
He knew he had been accurate in his guess when Aragorn flinched slightly. "You're right," he said softly, after a moment. "You're not the only one who needs help. I just..."
"Just what?" Faramir prompted.
Aragorn shook his head. "Just nothing. You're right."
Faramir glanced at the window; it was too early to stay up. "Then we'll talk about it tomorrow," he said, letting Aragorn off the hook for the moment. "Or when we have time," he ammended hastily, remembering that they were to convene council tomorrow even though it was Orbelain. Two councilors had been dragging a fight out for over a week and Aragorn was sick enough of it that he was fully prepared to hold them hostage tomorrow until it was somehow resolved; as everyone generally looked forward to the evening parties, the hope was that everyone would pressure them to resolve it so they could leave.
"Tomorrow," Aragorn said firmly.
Faramir smiled and settled against him to sleep again.
By that evening the dispute had indeed been resolved, and the gardens were host to a content Faramir, a stunned Aragorn, and two very smug women nobly refraining from saying, "I told you so." Rumors buzzed through the assembled courtiers about how the Steward had dazzled everyone in the council, virtually single-handedly bullying the two combatants into a truce with only negligible help from the King and the Lord Duinhir, whose opinions on the King's policies seemed to have recently reversed.
Many people gathered around Faramir to congratulate, but there came a time in the evening when he found himself alone and near the bonfire. Aragorn was at his elbow within a minute, and Faramir could tell from his expression that the King expected to have to shake him out of another reverie.
Faramir smiled and touched his arm gently. "I'm alright."
"Truly?" Aragorn looked doubtful.
"Truly." Faramir watched the fire for a moment, studying his emotions. "It certainly doesn't make me happy. It still scares me. But it's - less, somehow. Something I can cope with."
Aragorn would have quite liked to kiss Faramir, but he settled with a hand on his shoulder, a quiet promise of more later. Faramir smiled at him, interpreting the gesture as it was meant. Then the two men turned their backs to the fire and returned to their wives for the evening.