(Well, this is my little take on the things that were left out of ROTK, even the extended edition. I have read the books, but this fic will be STRICTLY MovieVerse. I figure, hey, if PJ can mess with the books, play with and eliminate characters, leave plot holes big enough for a Mumak to dance through, why should I restrain myself?
So, on with Chibi-Kaz's version of What's Missing From the ROTK EE Film….)
Aragorn sighed as her eyes immediately sought her brother's face. He quickly made room for Eomer, leaving Eowyn's side. He did not belong there, at any rate.
Aragorn made his way through the Halls of Healing bearing his bowl of athelas-infused water, lending a helping hand where he could. Most of the patients were well tended by the healers of Gondor, but here and there, Aragorn spotted the deep unconsciousness of despair. Then he would pause, and gently wipe the face of the afflicted, willing them back to life. None were in so dangerous straits as Eowyn of Rohan, and all responded quickly to the warm water containing the powerful athelas.
Worn and tired, he began to seek a route to the House's kitchens, hoping to find a bite to eat. As he passed one branching hall, he stopped in surprise. In the side corridor, a nobleman seemed to be deep in argument with a healer, while to Aragorn's shock, Gandalf stood over them, frowning.
Joining them, Aragorn heard the healer exclaim "We have done all we can! The wounds are treated, the burns anointed. Either he will wake and live, or die malingering."
The blond nobleman snarled, "That is not good enough!" Aragorn realized he recognized the broad-shouldered man as Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, a Gondorian city on the sea. Imrahil Aragorn had known in his youth, during time years ago spent in Minas Tirith under the name Thorongil. The man was the younger brother of Finduilas, wife of Denethor and mother of Boromir.
Gandalf glanced up at Aragorn. "Here is one who might help," he said. Imrahil turned to Aragorn swiftly.
"My lord, if you have any way to help my nephew, I will….. Thorongil?"
Aragorn bowed. "My lord Imrahil. I am pleased to see you again."
The knight stared for a moment, then gasped, "You are he, the one they said led the ghost army of the mountain! You are Isildur's Heir!"
"I am that," Aragorn acknowledged. "But for now, I am but a healer. Is there one in need of my help?"
Gandalf indicated the door beside them. "In there." Aragorn did not wait, but pushed open the door. On a low bed lay a man unconscious. A strange odor of oil and flame seemed to waft about the room. The man was young and fair, but careworn, his face bearing lines of strain too heavy. The room had no window, but the flames of the fireplace turned the man's hair ruddy in the glow. Almost immediately, Aragorn recognized the patient's resemblance to others of Aragorn's acquaintance.
"Another Hurin!" he exclaimed.
"Indeed. This is Faramir, son of Denethor, brother to Boromir." Gandalf said from behind him.
"Boromir did not tell me of a brother. He spoke of his father, his city, his people."
"Not to you. But I wager Pippin could even tell you Faramir's favorite food. Boromir confided more in the younger hobbits than in you." The vaguely disapproving tone in Gandalf's voice drew Aragorn's attention. He glanced up at the Istar.
"We made our peace, Boromir and I," Aragorn insisted. He turned his attention back to the man on the bed. In Faramir, he could see not only Boromir and Denethor, but the fair Finduilas, his late mother, as well. "Where is Denethor? Why does he not keep vigil over his son?"
Imrahil sighed from the door. "The Lord Denethor is no more. You see before you the twenty-seventh Steward of Gondor."
Aragorn shook his head. "This is a tale I must learn soon." He dipped his cloth into the cooling bowl of athelas water, and began to bathe Faramir's face. To his consternation, the Steward did not respond.
Again, Aragorn wet the cloth and laid it on Faramir's forehead. "Faramir," he called. The man did not wake.
"Will he be alright?" A lilting voice asked from the door. Aragorn turned to see Pippin peeking around Imrahil's cloak. The Prince made room for the hobbit, and Aragorn almost smiled to see the hobbit's Gondorian uniform. "Strider! Well, this is good. Surely you can help poor Faramir!"
"You know him, Pippin?" Aragorn asked.
The hobbit nodded. "He is my friend," he asserted.
Waving him closer, Aragorn said, "Call to him, Pippin. You too, Imrahil. He does not know me, he does not heed my voice."
Pippin shot Aragorn a confused look, but willingly went to the side of the unconscious man, and taking up Faramir's hand, called out, "Wake up, Faramir!"
Imrahil took Faramir's other hand as Aragorn moved aside. "Nephew. Faramir, my boy, you are needed."
To Aragorn's relief, Faramir's eyelids moved. With apparently supreme effort, he managed to open them, and his gaze met Imrahil's smile.
"Uncle?" Faramir wheezed, his voice hoarse and weak. He turned his head slowly, and when he caught sight of Pippin, his lips curved in a slight smile.
Aragorn backed out of the room. So many lost, and yet some few managed to survive to be reunited with their friends and families. Aragorn tried to not let himself feel the loneliness of Arwen's absence, choosing to cling to hope instead. He turned, pulling the door closed, only to find himself confronted by a stern Gandalf.
"That boy lying in there is worth his weight in gold, you know." Gandalf said.
"I would not underestimate one of the Line of Hurin for all the gold in Minas Tirith," Aragorn responded.
Aragorn strode down the corridor, part of his mind churning over the discussion lately finished in the Hall of the King, the other contemplating the patients he felt it necessary to check on. The Lady Eowyn would have been moved, he knew, to a private room. He was told that Merry was awake and well, no more worse the wear. However, Aragorn had yet to hear any report on the progress of Lord Faramir, and that one he was eager to see, to speak with. When he reached the Halls of Healing, he spotted Merry and Pippin at a table, enthusiastically conquering a mountain of food. He waved quickly to their greetings but did not stop.
"Strider!" Pippin called, but the king did not pause. "Oh, dear…." Pippin muttered.
Fortunately for Aragorn, he hesitated before knocking, hearing raised voices.
"None?!?" cried a voice he did not recognize, broken and tragic in its disbelief. There was the sound of movement, then a voice responded.
"Drink it, or I shall pour it down your throat as if you were a little boy again!" Aragorn recognized Imrahil's voice. There was a pause, during which presumably Imrahil's orders were obeyed. More gently, the Prince continued. "None, save yourself, and then only because your mount had the great good sense to seek his own stable."
The reply was quiet. "I should have defied him. I should have…"
Aragorn stepped away from the door. Clearly, Imrahil took upon himself to bring the Steward up to date. He'd come back later.
However, later that day Aragorn found himself seated next to Imrahil in the late Denethor's office, trying to justify the plan for the attack on the Black Gate and reviewing readiness reports. The Prince had been less than enthusiastic about this 'distraction' idea.
Needing a break, Aragorn asked, "How is your nephew?"
Imrahil frowned. "The Lord Steward," he replied, with emphasis on the title, "is recovering, thank you." Turning away from Gondor's erstwhile king, he rang a bell to summon a page. When the boy arrived, Imrahil ordered, "Send word to all company commanders to report to me here." The lad fled, and Imrahil turned to Aragorn. "You should make yourself known to the Steward."
"You do not agree with my claim to the throne?" Aragorn asked quietly.
"I do not agree with having my nephew, whom I love as if he were one of my own sons, overstepped and marginalized ever, whether that be by his own father, or Earendil himself! Rather I should ask if YOU do not recognize HIS claim to the White Rod, so easily do you ignore his station!"
Aragorn raised his hands to fend off Imrahil's anger. "I do not question his rights, nor his station. I only meant to ask as a healer. I have not yet had the chance to check on him myself. Sooner would I have him well and leading the White City as Steward."
These words seemed to assuage some of Imrahil's ire, and in good time, for a tap on the door indicated the first of the commanders had arrived.
The Guard Captian, being stationed nearest, responded first. He brought word that the Guard of the Tree was at full compliment, and had specific numbers for a few of the regular Guard companies. One by one, commanders of units filed in, giving numbers of men, armaments, casualties. Several trebuchet commanders reported devastating losses, due to the concentrated attacks of the Nazgul. Every commander inquired after Lord Denethor and Captain Faramir. Imrahil quietly spoke of the loss of Denethor, and reassured them that Lord Faramir lived. Aragorn's expression grew ever more thoughtful as commander after commander expressed great relief upon hearing that Faramir lived.
When one commander left, he turned to Imrahil. "Lord Faramir is well beloved, is he not?"
Suppressing a smirk, Imrahil replied, "He is. He and Boromir led these men from love, not only duty." Imrahil sighed, saddened. "In Boromir, the glory of Gondor lived, the raw determination of a people who defied the Darkness. In Faramir, the nobility of Numenor was reborn, the gentle caring and wisdom. No less capable of a warrior than Boromir is Faramir, but in the younger, war is a necessary burden, to protect that which is loved. Boromir had more of a Rohirrim attitude," Imrahil finished wryly.
Aragorn nodded. Even he would prefer a quiet evening with a good pipe over the clash and clamor of war. The more he learned about the fair young man who slept in the Houses of Healing, the more Aragorn hoped he'd have the chance to work with him.
Imrahil shuffled papers on the desk. "We have heard from most of the units. I fear – the Rangers of Ithilien have not reported."
Aragorn glanced up. "They did not all ride?" He'd heard tell of the doomed sortie against overrun Osgiliath, related by Pippin in tragic tones.
"I think not. Lord Faramir asked for volunteers only. Though many did ride, some did not. I had hoped that one of his lieutenants, Anborn or Mablung, would report. If the Steward does approve this venture, I would have some Rangers ride with you, as scouts and guides."
"If!" Aragorn cried, startled. "We shall ride! It is necessary!"
"You do not yet wear the Crown of Eanur, that you can order the White City as you please!" Imrahil snapped back.
"Don't you see that –" Aragorn's rebuttal was cut short by a sudden rap on the door. Framed there stood one of the largest Men Aragorn had ever seen. The man entered silently, so silently the wooden floorboards did not squeak. He was dressed in the muted wools and leathers of a Ranger. Aragorn wondered that so large a man was a Ranger, yet admired the ease and grace with which he moved.
Imrahil blinked, then asked, "You are of Ithilien?"
The man nodded. "Damrod son of Damlin, Corporal, Ithilien Rangers." His voice was remarkably soft and light, not the bass rumble Aragorn expected. "Lieutenant Mablung fell in Osgiliath, and Lieutenant Anborn rode with the Captain."
"Ah!" Imrahil smiled. "My nephew wrote of you to me. He said Damrod kept his back, and 'twas like to leaning against a wall."
Damrod's face creased into a painful smile. His eyes watered, to Aragorn's amazement that such a man might cry before his superiors. "The Valar keep the poor Captain," the Ranger choked. "He were a great man."
"Damrod, Lord Faramir lives." Imrahil told him.
The change was remarkable. A light filled the Corporal's face unlike anything Aragorn had ever seen. He had never recognized the utter lack of hope in a man's face until he saw that hope return in Damrod's. "By the Tree!" the man whispered. "He lives!"
"We need to know the complement of the Rangers," Aragorn said.
Damrod eyed him warily, drawn out of his joy by the question. He did not answer, clearly unwilling to speak before an unknown person.
"The Lord Denethor was lost in the battle," Imrahil said. "Lord Faramir takes up the Stewardship, but for now lies resting in the Houses of Healing. This is Lord Aragorn, who leads the Northern Rangers. 'Twas he who lead the Host of the Dead to the battle."
Appeased, but still addressing Imrahil only, Damrod replied, "We have sixty-two men ready to hunt. More there were that fled Osgiliath, but many chose to ride with the Captain."
Imrahil nodded in acknowledgement of that sacrifice. "Very well. We will let Lord Faramir know." Damrod sketched a bow to Imrahil and as silently as he arrived, he left.
Aragorn pondered everything he'd learned today. "I think," he said quietly, "that I must speak with Lord Faramir."
Dawn had hardly made any sort of an appearance from behind the black clouds of Mordor, yet the day was underway when Aragorn made his way to the Houses of Healing. Two days had passed since the Battle of Pellenor Fields. Provided all went according to plan, in two days more the Hosts of the West would ride to the Black Gate. Assuming that the blessing of Gondor's Steward could be gotten.
Last night, after leaving Imrahil, Aragorn found himself accosted separately by different members of the Council of Gondor. Some were wary, others hostile, still others ready to curry favor. But all made clear that a certain respect was due the 'traditions of Gondor' and that respect could be demonstrated best concerning the position of Lord Faramir.
Aragorn had politely and noncommittally put aside all questions regarding the structure of rule in Gondor. Personally, he did not expect to survive the Black Gate, and so had little interest in the subject. But, he would like to ensure the land of his people would be well cared for, should Gondor somehow continue.
That morning, at breakfast, he'd complained halfheartedly to Gandalf, "One wonders why they need a King, with this paragon Faramir to lead them!"
Gandalf had scowled at him, setting Aragorn back. "Faramir would be the first to deny his own virtues. No, Denethor would be first, but Faramir would agree with him." From Gandalf's bitter tone, Aragorn read some of the truth of the House of Hurin. Gandalf continued, "As sons of the Steward, Boromir and Faramir were first among the people of Gondor, but neither rested on pride of place. Both worked hard to protect Gondor, and so earned the love of her people." Gandalf gave Aragorn a sideways look. "Faramir has been Captain of the Ranger in Ithilien for more than ten years. That should tell you something."
Now Aragorn strode through the City, intent that he should meet with Faramir and form his own impressions of the new Steward, and perhaps to form an understanding between them.
When he reached Faramir's room, he again paused to listen. Immediately he heard Pippin's piping voice.
"Please! He said you weren't to get up for a week, which means you have days yet!"
"Master Pippin, he who?" The voice was deeper than Aragorn expected, laced with both exasperation and humor.
Knowing a cue when he heard one, Aragorn knocked.
"Come!" Called the deeper voice.
Aragorn opened the door to find a comedy in progress. Faramir sat on the edge of the bed, sheets clutched about his waist with his good hand. The other arm was still bound to prevent movement of his injured shoulder. Pippin stood as far away as the room would allow, clutching clothing to his chest, presumably Faramir's clothing held hostage.
"Strider!" Pippin cried. "Please tell my lord that he musn't get up yet. You sent word for a week of rest, and that means he must stay in bed!"
"Pippin, please stop 'my lord'ing me." Faramir said. He looked up at Aragorn for the first time, and his expression changed from amused to cautious. "You are not a healer?"
Aragorn made a small bow after the fashion of elves. "I am a Ranger, from the North. But I have had the good fortune to learn healing from Lord Elrond of Rivendell."
"Rivendell!" Faramir sat up straight, his interest captured.
Pippin jumped in. "This is Aragorn. He traveled with Merry and Frodo and Sam and I. And with Boromir too."
"Here, Pippin. Give me Lord Faramir's clothes. Why don't you fetch us some tea?" Aragorn deflected the young Hobbit deftly, well aware of Faramir's expression. The young Lord of Gondor watched Aragorn with a guarded expression. Once Pippin had left, Aragorn offered Faramir a pair of trousers, and quietly assisted the Steward.
Faramir accepted the help silently, but as soon as his wardrobe was settled, he grasped Aragorn's wrist, staring at the ring on his hand.
"The Ring of Barahir," Aragorn said quietly.
"The ring passes from heir to heir, along the line of the Kings of Arnor." Faramir acknowledged, his eyes searching Aragorn's face. He seemed to see something that satisfied him, for he continued, "You called the wraith army of the Dimholt Vale. You claimed their obedience, and saved Minas Tirith." It was not a question.
Aragorn nodded solemnly. "I did."
"So, in the very hour of our greatest need, Isildur's Heir arrives." Faramir's voice was so even, lacking any sarcasm or pleasure with the idea, that Aragorn could not determine if this lord would support him or defy him. Where Faramir led, the people of Gondor would follow, this Aragorn could tell. He prayed as Faramir stared into his eyes that the Steward would recognize Aragorn's right to be King.
After what felt like an age, the faintest smile crossed Faramir's face. To Aragorn, it seemed like a reward, a prize for a test passed. "The conceits of the past must be set aside," Faramir said, his tone solemn. "What matters the line of Gondor over Arnor, Anarion over Isildur? You are of direct descent from Elendil, and I recognize your claim to the throne of Gondor." Carefully, Faramir knelt before Aragorn. "My King!"
Immediately, Aragorn went to raise Faramir up. "No, do not kneel to me yet! There is much yet to be done before I may sit on the White Throne. And I shall have need of my Steward, oh how I shall have need of you!"
But Faramir shook his head. "No, my lord. I beg leave to surrender this office." His expression turned bleak, his voice dismayed. "The Line of Hurin is brought low. No honor rests in the House of the Stewards."
Aragorn shook his head. "Not so, dear Faramir, not so. For I held your brother in my arms, as he called me brother and King, and wrested from me, even with his dying breath, my oath to protect our people. His honor was intact! Your father fell overmatched, in constant battle against Sauron himself, through a palantir." Faramir's eyes widened at this revelation. "The strength of the Evil One is too great. Lord Denethor was driven to madness by dark powers, not his own failing. Do not fall into shadow, my friend, but live with hope! The House of Hurin has ever been closest to the King, and shall ever be!"
Faramir nodded, determination writ on his face.
"Now," continued Aragorn, "We have a plan. Sauron's attack was but a portion of his army's strength. Tens of thousands more are encamped in Mordor."
Faramir paled. "Frodo and Samwise took the pass of Cirith Ungol."
Aragorn sighed. "So Gandalf tells us. My thought is to lead a force to the Black Gate. To challenge Sauron and so draw his eye and his forces unto us. Hopefully, this will give Frodo and Sam a chance to reach Mount Doom unseen."
Faramir frowned in thought, sitting on the bed. "A valid plan, but dangerous. If the enemy's strength is as great as you say, any attack on the Black Gate would be as suicide. And too, I have seen the Gate. We could not breach it had we the strength of every Man in the West! Sauron could simply laugh at us."
Aragorn smiled. "Leave that to me. I shall draw him out."
Faramir's expression was questioning, but he did not push the matter. "I do not know the disposition of our troops."
"Here." Aragorn drew from his pocket a parchment. "Prince Imrahil and I took reports of our strength." Faramir eagerly reviewed the numbers, though his face grew grim.
"I cannot condone the sending of all our forces, lest the city come under attack again," he began, but then Pippin returned, laden with tea tray. The hobbit created a homey flurry, setting the two lords into seats with tea in hand and fresh baked pastries. Faramir had to forcibly grab Pippin's attention.
"I must put you to work, friend," the Steward said, smiling at his diminutive esquire. "Please fetch me quill and ink, and parchment. Lord Aragorn and I have to plan our victory."
"Well, now that's the right spirit, it is!" Pippin replied, delighted with his lord's attitude, and hurried off to find the required items.
Soon Aragorn was deep in planning with Faramir, debating troops and tactics. He did find the Steward to be not only a fine tactician, but a wise and cunning Captain, with valuable knowledge of Ithilien and the situation of the Black Gate. Faramir wrote out many orders for the armies of Gondor, naming Aragorn King and Supreme Captain, though he insisted that men be willing to march, rather than simply ordered. Aragorn agreed to this condition, aware that the problem would come from finding men to stay behind; such was the valor of the men of Gondor that all would volunteer. Even the Steward seemed dismayed by the limitations of his station.
"Would that I could ride with you!" Faramir sighed.
"Someone must remain, to guide and protect Gondor. Is it not custom for the Steward to remain in the city?" Aragorn asked.
Faramir shrugged. "I never aspired to the Stewardship, and doubt my worth to hold the office." He raised a hand to forestall Aragorn's protest. "We have not had a King for so long, and I have been a Captain for many years. It galls to remain behind while others ride. I do not wish to ask others to risk that which I would not risk myself."
Aragorn smiled. "I understand. Nor would I send armies where I cannot lead. I am the prize for Sauron. I need to lead this attempt."
Faramir nodded. "I only wish that Gondor does not lose her King so soon after finding him."
Aragorn contemplated the young man before him a moment, then said, "I admit, I do not look to win nor even survive this battle, but only that we hold out long enough for Frodo to complete his quest. I do not know if I shall return, but hope that we are successful, and our people, Gondor, may continue. In that, I see clearly, I may trust in you to lead well and wisely, should I fall. But let us hold fast to hope, my friend, that we shall see the Darkness defeated, the skies lighten, and all peoples free of this oppression."
With a smile that could break a heart, Faramir bowed before his king, and promised to hold fast to hope.
(Whew. That turned way more Aragorn-centric than I expected. Well, I wanted to stick to movie-verse, and the movie was all Viggo --unfortunately for us Wenham nuts! The main idea here was to explore how Aragorn might have interacted with Faramir, how they may have come to some agreement as to Aragorn's right to be King and Faramir's acknowledgement of that. I am, in other lives, a herald and a precedence-nut, and as such the legal and political implications of a King suddenly popping up were interesting, and since PJ didn't take care of it the way Tolkien did, someone had to clear things up! Cheers!)