Disclaimer: We are not Tolkien. We are not related in any way to Tolkien. This makes us sad :(

Author's Note: This fic came about because neither of us (Alexis Steele and the Girl in the Red Jacket) particularly liked the fact that Faramir -- or any representative of Gondor's current government -- was not present during the war council that decided to ride out to the Black Gate in ROTK. It is now expanding to include all the scenes that Faramir should've been a part of in the movie: the Houses of Healing, the Council scene, the leave taking of the troops heading to the Black Gates, and following the coronation. Feedback is appreciated. Enjoy the fic!

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The Hands of the Steward

It stilled smelled of smoke, Aragorn noted as he slipped into the quiet room. It was not wise to be here in this city without the knowledge of the Steward. The city was rife with rumours, half said that the Steward had gone mad and killed his son, half said that Gandalf had done away with such opposition himself, and all whispered about the Ranger who led the army of the dead.

They called him a King already.

There were rumours still that Captain Faramir had survived spoken with hope on weary faces. No one would confirm such rumours though for the healers could not wake the man and he burned so hot with fever they thought him dying. So lost was he within the twisted dreamscape they would not say he still lived for hope unkindled could not be snuffed out.

Aragorn had been unable to help the elder son of the Hurin family, a thought that gnawed at him in the early watches of the night when dead voices came on the wind, and he knew not if he could help the younger but he had to try. He could not bear the guilt of leaving Faramir to burn slowly with fever as his father had burned quick with fire.

He would have come earlier, for seeing the man laying still and stricken on the low cot he feared he had come too late, but none had told him that Faramir still lived. He knew not what to believe of the whispers he heard as he went about the rooms of the wounded and the dying, kneeling and offering healing where he could.

It was Gandalf who found him and bade him to come. Boromir had spoken of his brother as the Fellowship traveled together, warm tales for his little ones as Merry and Pippin huddled close to the blonde warrior for warmth on cold nights when they could have no fire. Aragorn would have gone to the man for Boromir's sake; that Gandalf asked made him pause in his thoughts, if not in his movements, toward the small room in the back of the Houses.

Aragorn trusted Gandalf's judgement, though he knew full well that the wizard often had ulterior motives. He rarely worried of it as those motives were trying to save Middle Earth from Sauron's reign. There was little Gandalf would not do to stop him from succeeding.

Gandalf had not sat by Faramir's bedside for hours after the battle, nor called Aragorn to his side in the early hours of morning, because it would benefit his cause. Faramir, for good or ill, had already played his part in that and even if he could be healed, would not be able to do more until the fate of Middle Earth was already decided.

Gandalf simply wanted this man healed for the love of him. Gandalf would never have a son, and knew he could not lay claim to this one who was much the product of his father despite what Denethor had believed, but if he did he would wish his son to be very much like Faramir.

Now, though reluctantly, Gandalf waited outside, for Aragorn needed no distractions. He knelt alone by the cot and gazed at the man caught in fever dreams upon it even as he reached for new athelas to tend to him. It would be needed.

Faramir was so alike to Boromir that Aragorn paused briefly to glance at him, his hand gently caressing the sweaty face. Faramir did not so much as twitch at the contact, made no sign of near waking. As Aragorn's gaze lowered to the young man's wounds, a slight gasp escaped his lips.

Faramir was stripped to the waist, wet cool cloths pressed to pressure points in an attempt to ease his temperature, but the white bandages could not hide the position of the wounds. Blood had seeped through since they had last been changed. Aragorn closed his eyes against the pain of his heart; they mirrored the wounds of his brother all save one, and Aragorn touched gentle fingers to the spot near Faramir's erratically beating heart, where Faramir narrowly escaped the same fate as his departed brother.

He could still join him if Aragorn did not hurry. Faramir had suffered much for too long, it had not broken him but the wounds cut deep and jagged. He cast his few remaining leaves of athelas into the steaming bowl of water he had, breathing in deeply the strength it could give him. This would, he knew, exhaust him, likely to the point where he could help no others before taking rest, but this man he would heal. This man he could not bear to lose.

"You will be well, son of Gondor," Aragorn whispered. With one hand he pressed the soaked cloth to Faramir's brow; the other raised Faramir's limp, dry hand to his lips and kissed it. "You shall see these dark times made light again, and bring courage and joy to your people. Linger not on dark paths, Faramir of Gondor, your place is in the sun!"

Faramir stirred and gave a moan that betrayed the dryness of his throat and mouth. He struggled; Aragorn clasped his hand tighter. "Walk no more in shadows but awake! You are made for a better end than this. Cast off the shadows, Faramir, cast them off!"

"Your people call you, Faramir, your city calls you." Faramir flinched and muttered but Aragorn held fast to him. He would not lose this battle. His hand was gentle on Faramir's face and his voice dropped low. "Faramir, your king calls you, awake!"

Faramir moaned, his head slipping to the side and his breathing changing. For a terrible moment Aragorn thought he had failed. The flush on his cheeks was dying and his breathing slowed, calmed… and copper eyelashes fluttered over a pale cheek.

Faramir breathed in deeply, as if he had been starved for air, and blue eyes opened a slit then more as he struggled to focus. His parched lips parted, moved as if trying to speak but all that came out was a wheezed exhale.

A jug of cool water had been left nearby and a glass. Aragorn brought it, wet Faramir's dry lips and let him sip slowly at the liquid. He glanced up into clear blue eyes and his breath caught at the light of love and knowledge kindled there. He took the glass away when Faramir closed his lips against it.

Blue eyes stayed intent upon him as he lowered the weakened man's hand gently back to the cot. Aragorn could not think of what to say to this man, who had suffered and lost so much, who looked upon him with such love and trust writ large in his far seeing eyes.

"All was dark," Faramir whispered hoarsely. "And I thought never to see the sun again. I saw my brother, hovering as if to protect me. Then a light broke and I followed it here, home."

Aragorn felt a sharp stab of grief at his words but Faramir was smiling at him. "My Lord, you called me and I have come. What does the king command?"