A/N: Thanks to SueB for inspiring this. And thanks to Lothloriel for the title suggestion.
Two's a Crowd
Faramir lowered the hood of his cloak and pushed his sodden, ginger-colored locks away from his face as he entered the tavern. It had been a favorite place for him and his brother to frequent when they wanted to get away from the often-oppressive silence of the Citadel, or just wanted a relaxing evening with their fellow soldiers, and felt all the more welcome after the drenching walk through the summer rainstorm. He heard the familiar voices of some of the Rangers calling out a greeting to him, and waved back a greeting as he wove his way through the maze of tables towards the bar.
A man was sitting there, talking to some other men clad in the garb of the Rangers, but whom Faramir didn't recognize. Faramir was sure he hadn't seen the raven-haired stranger before, but there was something oddly familiar about him. "Pardon me," he said. "Is this seat taken?"
The man turned to face him, piercing grey eyes meeting his blue ones. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as he answered, "No, feel free to sit down." Faramir quickly obliged, and ordered a mug of ale.
The other men left, and Faramir and the stranger were alone at the bar. After the bartender brought his ale, Faramir turned to the other man and asked, "I don't mean to pry, but you seem somewhat familiar. Have we met before?"
The man regarded him solemnly, with a look Faramir recognized as a toned- down version of the searching look his father had often given him. "I don't believe we have," he finally said, "but I also feel that there is something familiar about you. What is your name?"
"Faramir, son of Denethor," Faramir answered.
The man's eyes widened a little in shock, and a suspicious look crossed his face. "Surely you jest."
"Of course not!" Faramir said, a little taken aback.
"But you must," the man insisted. "For my name is also Faramir, son of Denethor."
The two Faramirs looked at each other suspiciously for a moment, until the raven-haired man asked, "Denethor, the late Steward of Gondor?"
Ginger-haired Faramir nodded, then added, "And I suppose you have a late brother named Boromir."
Raven-haired Faramir affirmed this with a nod. "There must be a reasonable explanation for this," he mused. "Though I fail to see what, unless one of us is lying. And I know I'm not." He gave the other man a piercing look.
"I can assure you that I am also not lying." Ginger-haired Faramir's blue eyes narrowed slightly as he rested his hand on his sword hilt.
"Of course there is a reasonable explanation," a voice behind them said. "And since I know you to be a man...er, men of the highest quality, I see no reason why you can't settle this."
The two men turned to see a grey-cloaked old man, whom both of them recognized immediately. "Good evening, Mithrandir," they said simultaneously, then glared at each other again. Then Raven-haired Faramir added, "How is this possible?"
"It's quite simple, really," the wizard said. "Originally, our world as we know it was written down in a book. Then it was turned into what is called a movie. For most of us, that did not cause any permanent...difficulties. But for you, there were a great number of changes made, to the point where now there are two of you." The two Faramirs just stared at him blankly. Finally, Mithrandir sighed. "The short version is, both of you are Faramir. But to make it slightly less confusing, I think I'll just call you Bookamir," he said, turning to the dark-haired man, "and you Filmamir." This was addressed to the lighter-haired Faramir, of course.
"I'm not sure I like this," Bookamir said.
"Yes, but that is not for you to decide. So you two will just have to learn to get along," Mithrandir said sternly.
Filmamir looked at Bookamir skeptically. "I suppose we'd better compare notes then... how did you get Frodo and Sam out of Osgiliath?"
Bookamir just stared at him in horror. "You took the hobbits to Osgiliath?!" he exclaimed.
"Well, yes," Filmamir said. "How else was I supposed to get the Ring to Gondor? Osgiliath needed reinforcements immediately." Bookamir just shook his head. "What did you do then?" Filmamir asked, annoyed.
"I sent them on their way with fresh supplies," Bookamir said, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"What?" Filmamir asked in disbelief. "You didn't even think about taking the Ring for one second?"
"I never said that..." Bookamir replied, raising his hands a little defensively. "But I gave them my word that I wouldn't touch it."
"That's so... unrealistic!" Filmamir finally said. "To not even find out what you were dealing with before making that sort of promise? Do you really think that was a good idea?"
"And taking Frodo and Sam to an orc-and-Nazgul infested battle-front was a good idea?" Bookamir retorted.
"You would have done the same, if Father had told you that all you ever did was cast a poor reflection on him," Filmamir argued.
"He did!" Bookamir's grey eyes narrowed into a glare. "Constantly!" He rested his hand on the hilt of his sword, and added, "But I was still able to resist the Ring, no matter what anyone says. I won't stand for this slander against my honor! Where is the man responsible for this?"
Filmamir gave him a hard look, and it looked for a moment as if the two men would come to blows. Mithrandir once again put up his hand to silence them, then turned to the darker-haired man. "I thought you were unwilling to slay man or beast needlessly."
"I think in this case, it may be necessary," he replied.
"Perhaps," Mithrandir said. "The screams of those who had read the book were enough to drown out a Nazgul; my ears are ringing just thinking about it. But, in the end, he was able to release the Ring and all went on as it should. I think it would be best if we move to a later part of the tale now."
After a long moment, Bookamir finally nodded. "Very well. What happened when you left Osgiliath?"
Filmamir answered, "My men and I were riding back to Minas Tirith, and Mithrandir aided us by causing the Nazgul to flee."
"The same happened to me," Bookamir conceded, giving the wizard a grateful look. "And then Father sent me back anyway."
"He told me that he wished that I had died instead of Boromir," Filmamir said sadly, his lower lip trembling for a moment.
"At least I had the nerve to point out it was his idea," Bookamir muttered.
Filmamir glared at him and asked, "How many men did you lose?"
"A third of the company," Bookamir said. "Once we were forced to retreat, I stayed with the rearguard until I fell. And you?"
Filmamir looked a little embarrassed and sad. "I was the only one to return." Bookamir was about to take the opportunity to point out once again that this proved that the filmmaker had destroyed his honor, but a stern look from Mithrandir silenced him.
"I would not be so quick to condemn him, son of Denethor," Mithrandir said. "Strangely enough, the fans have more sympathy for him because of it."
"Fans?" Bookamir looked at him blankly. "You speak in riddles, Mithrandir. How do you know such things?"
"A wizard knows many things, Bookamir. Filmamir, you may continue."
Filmamir nodded. "After I was brought back to Minas Tirith, Father decided that I was as good as dead, and that he would burn us both on a pyre." He shuddered.
Bookamir shook his head sadly. "If only that palantir hadn't driven him to madness..."
"Palantir?" Filmamir looked confused and glanced at Mithrandir.
"That got cut from the movie," Mithrandir confirmed.
Bookamir sighed, then continued. "I'm told that Beregond, Pippin and Mithrandir were the ones to get me out."
"Beregond who?" Filmamir asked. A dark-haired man sitting at a nearby table looked up and cried out in protest. Bookamir looked at him and shrugged helplessly, mouthing a silent apology, then looked at Mithrandir.
He nodded and confirmed, "That also got cut from the movie."
Filmamir then asked, "You don't remember any of that?"
"Thankfully, I was unconscious at the time," Bookamir said with a shudder.
A horrified look crossed Filmamir's face. "You didn't have to see your father burning alive?" Bookamir shook his head, and gave Filmamir a sympathetic glance this time. Filmamir looked quite upset. "You had an easier time of it in everything!"
"But again, the fans have more sympathy for you," Mithrandir pointed out. "Think of it, Filmamir, thousands of women who want nothing more than to comfort you. They're drawn to the angst as moths to a flame."
Bookamir looked confused now. "What is it that he's got that I don't? My actions were more consistently noble throughout this entire story!"
"For one thing, you are nothing more than a shadow and a thought in the reader's mind, where they can clearly see Filmamir," Mithrandir answered.
Bookamir sighed. "At least Éowyn loves me."
"Éowyn... ah, yes, that woman who was standing next to me at Aragorn's coronation. She's quite lovely," Filmamir said, smiling fondly. "Though I have the feeling there was something else... something important..."
Bookamir groaned. "What happened in the Houses of Healing?"
"Houses of Healing?" Filmamir asked blankly.
"Yes, the Houses of Healing. Where Aragorn heals you from the Black Breath, you meet and fall in love with her, and after telling her that you would still love her even if she were the blissful queen of Gondor, she finally realizes that she was in love with you." Bookamir couldn't keep the smile off his face at the thought of her, but Filmamir frowned.
"I don't remember any of that," he said slowly.
"I'm afraid that was also cut from the movie, though it's supposed to be returned to the film in a longer version. Until then, there will be some gaps in your memory, Filmamir."
"What? You mean something good actually happened to me, and I missed it?" he asked, a stricken look on his face. Bookamir became very interested in the contents of his ale mug, and the wizard just gave him a sympathetic look. "Tell me more, I beg you!"
"We're to be bethrothed officially next time I go to Rohan. And no, I'm not sharing her with you," Bookamir said.
"I meant about the coronation," Filmamir said, exasperated.
"There's not much to tell. I spent most of the time carrying out my duties as Steward—giving Aragorn his crown, that sort of thing. What were you doing?"
Filmamir absently ran his fingers through his ginger-colored waves. "Standing next to Éowyn. Gimli gave him the crown, and Mithrandir put it on his head."
"You mean you had nothing to do? You didn't have to perform any ceremony to transfer power from your house to his?" Filmamir shook his head. "What do you do now then? Are you still the Steward?" Bookamir asked incredulously.
"I'm not sure...I seem to have missed that part too..." Filmamir's voice trailed off. "When will this longer version come out?" he added.
"December, I'm told," Mithrandir said.
"But that's not for months!" Filmamir protested. "Who's responsible for this?"
"The same person who's responsible for slandering my character, I'd wager," Bookamir practically growled.
Filmamir scowled. "Where can I find him?"
"If you're going to bring this man to justice, you're not going without me," Bookamir said.
"Fine; we hunt him down, and then all should be well again. Do we have an agreement?"
"We do," the raven-haired man said. The two Faramirs clasped hands, paid for their ale, and left the tavern, discussing various ambush tactics on their way out. Mithrandir just shook his head. "Faramirs," he snorted.