Fear no more (after a Plot Bunny by shirebound)
I've always been dreaming, my entire life. I've dreamt of the great wave, rising to drown Númenor, again and again over the years. I dreamt of my brother the day he fell from his horse and broke his left arm, and I saw him passing by on the river Anduin, lying slain in an elven boat. I dreamt of my mother the night before I lost her; she stood on a wide beach, her feet buried in soft white sand, like on the shore in Dol Amroth, her home she so bitterly was missing. I watched her from a distance, from a dune overgrown with marram grass, and I saw her walking down to the water, until the sea rose to her knees and washed around her waist. And then she vanished under the surface and I heard myself screaming her name with my high boy's voice… until someone jolted me out of my restless sleep. It was my nurse, and her eyes were red and swollen, and when I asked for my mother, she burst into tears again and gathered me in her arms, and I lay without crying and without any surprise, for I knew with painful certainty that my mother was gone.
I dreamt that fatal dream of the Halfling and Isildur's Bane, and though I know that I couldn't have changed anything, there are still days when I wish I had been silent; or that I had not been burdened with this strange gift… to see things that others don't.
Last night I dreamt again.
I was waiting in the gardens of the Queen; the last roses filled the air with their sweet, nearly desperate fragrance, and the elegantly laid out beds were flaunting with an abundance of autumn asters. While I sat on a marble bench, I saw them approaching… two tall figures, hand in hand, looking as if they'd stepped out of the frame of an ancient painting. But they were quite alive; I saw him leaning down to whisper something in her ear, and I heard the sound of her laughter, bright like music, warming the cool day.
I rose from the bench and bowed.
"My King Elessar…"
"My Lord Faramir…"
I saw the twinkling in his eye as he bowed his head in response, and again I was reminded of the fact that this great ruler had spent uncounted years wandering in the wilderness, sleeping beside a small campfire, hunting to still his hunger and often enough having not enough food at all. And sometimes I had the nagging suspicion that he would have liked to enjoy at least a glimpse of those old times again, and that the pompous court ceremonial unnerved him.
Arwen smiled, and as usual I was stunned somehow by the fact that she was real… that such a being walked this earth, that such loveliness had taken the form of a woman, and more than that… that everything my eyes could see was nothing but a reflection of her inner beauty. That my beloved Éowyn felt at home in Gondor, that her free spirit endured the walls of Minas Anor more than a few weeks… all this was not only my doing but also the merit of Aragorn's Queen. She had coaxed the wild Shieldmaiden of Rohan into their friendship with gentle hands and an open heart, and I would be thankful for that for the rest of my life.
"Are you worried, Faramir?"
The voice of Aragorn was quiet and slightly concerned, and all of a sudden I remembered the reason why I'd asked to see both, the King and his Queen.
"I don't know if I'm worried," I said, "but I had a dream I don't fully understand, and I'm seeking help."
"Your dreams have often been a sign for the change of fate and times," Arwen said with her melodious voice. "I would be more than glad if you shared it with us."
We walked down the garden path, reaching a small pavilion. Benches covered with pillows bordered the walls, and an anticipatory servant had placed a tray on the small table in the middle: there were fruits, crystal glasses and a carafe with deep red wine.
The King sat down, Arwen by his side; he poured some wine in one of the glasses and handed it over to me.
"Tell me of your dream." he said.
"I stood on a shore…" I closed my eyes to remember every detail. "There was a wide bay, surrounded by beautiful ancient buildings, made of white stone. But no one was there… the streets were empty. It must have been evening, close to sunset… the sky was golden, red and purple, and the ocean seemed to burn where the bay turned to a firth. I walked down to a long quay, and finally I saw someone. It was a woman…"
It was a woman, and she was moving as if in a slow and gracious dance. Her arms were lifted up to the blazing glory of the sky, and she was surrounded by birds… hundreds and hundreds of birds, raising from her hands and sailing above her head, carried by a soft breeze.
I stood still in awe. I didn't dare to speak to her.
But she saw me.
"Don't be afraid, child. Come closer."
I obeyed, and now I could see her face clearly. It was of great beauty; long hair fell over her shoulders, shining like a pale stream of silver. Her eyes were dark and deep… the eyes of someone who witnessed worlds rise and fall, eyes that pierced my soul, revealing every failure and triumph in my entire life, eyes filled with eternal youth and the wisdom of age.
"Look, child. I want you to see this."
I saw her hands, cradling a bird that seemed to be asleep. It was small and somehow weak, and it didn't move.
"Is it ill?" I asked hesitatingly.
She gazed down at the bird with love and compassion.
"It was, and it is exhausted, too." she said. "It has been haunted by wild falcons and hawks, and wounded by their sharp beaks and claws. It has endured the pain and continued the flight until its strength was spent and its wings were broken. But now the time has come for rest, and for healing."
With those words she lifted the bird to her face, and gently blew her breath over the fragile being. Then she kissed the feathery head and reached out both arms.
"Fly!" she said, and her voice was the melody of a song unknown and yet familiar, humming in the air, moving with the waves and circulating in my veins. "Fly and be strong and whole again!"
And the bird rose from her hands, and its wings and body were of a flawless white, and it gave the cry of its kind, sharp and clear. It moved in circles, once, twice… then turned away and sailed on the wind, fast and weightless and triumphant. I saw it diving into the golden fire of the sunset, and then it was gone.
"Remember this, child," the woman said, gently touching my head as if in a gesture of blessing. "He is healed, and he has found peace at last. Fear no more."
And this was the moment…
"… when I woke up."
I opened my eyes. The king and the queen were sitting on the other side of the pavilion, and suddenly Arwen's hand rose, as if trying to touch something that wasn't there. I saw her lips moving without a word, then she spoke louder and I finally understood what she was saying.
Aragorn's body was suddenly tense, and he frowned; I could see his hands, closing so hard around the edge of the bench that his knuckles went white. But when he spoke, his voice was soft and calm.
"Are you sure, love?"
Arwen smiled, and I saw sorrow in her eyes… old eyes with the knowledge and experience of ages… eyes that suddenly reminded me of the wondrous woman in my dream.
"I gave him the jewel of my mother," she said. " It was my gift for the Ringbearer, should he not be able to endure his old pains and bitter memories. I know my father has left Middle Earth; I received a last letter a few days ago. Bilbo was to travel with him, and father expected Frodo to come, too… he wasn't certain, but now I understand that the Ringbearers have crossed the sea."
She rose from her seat and gave me a smile, so sad and so heavy with tears that my heart hurt.
"I will retire." she said softly.
I bowed to her.
"It troubles me that I caused you such pain." I said, full of concern.
"You didn't," she quietly replied, "this was something I've long expected. And I'm glad that among all our friends you were the messenger to give me the last certitude, Faramir."
It was nearly dark when I left the gardens of the Queen. On the horizon I saw the remnants of a colorful autumn sunset, and at the same time I saw another one in front of my inner eye: I saw the woman, the blazing sky and the bird with the white wings.
Frodo was gone, and he would never return, and there would be tears in the house of the King this evening and perhaps many evenings yet to follow. I could feel those tears rising in my own eyes.
But while I thought of how I would be the messenger of Frodo's passing for my own wife, I also sensed something else... filling my heart with a cry, sharp and clear, with the glory of flight and the promise of joy.
He is healed, and he has found peace at last.
Fear no more.