Set a few hundred years after the coronation of King Elessar.

The Grandsire

"Tell us another story, Grandsire!"

"Yes, please do!"

An old, old man, with innumerable wrinkles and sparkling eyes that were as yet undiminished by age, smiled tenderly at the three children clustered around him, eyes wide with wonder at the tales he was telling.

"The story of Boromir's death has quite worn me out," he said. "And what stories still exist that I have not yet told you hungry little children about?"

"Tell us more of battles and sword fights!" yelled Duilin, brandishing a wooden sword. He was quite like the Boromir of old, in miniature.

"No, tell us about the Nazgûl," interjected Duinhir, Duilin's twin, who loved to feel the pleasant tingle crawl up his spine as Grandsire told them of Gondor's terrifying enemies.

"Boring!" and Duilin stuck his tongue out at Duinhir.

"Tell us a love story!" pleaded Tinnu, who looked upon Arwen Undomiel as her role model.

"Double boring!" echoed Duinhir, rolling his eyes. Girls were such a mystery to him. Why would she want to hear a love story? They were all so mushy and gross and uninteresting. "Besides," he added hopefully, glancing at his brother, "I think we've already heard all the love stories Grandsire has to tell."

"Is that so?" questioned Grandsire, misty grey eyes twinkling.

"Sure it is," was Duilin's prompt reply, after nodding almost imperceptibly at Duinhir. "We've heard about King Elessar and Queen Evenstar, and Luthien Tinuviel and Beren, and Tuor and Idril Celebrindal, and Elrond and Celebrian, and Elwing and Earendil, and Celeborn and Galadriel, and even Samwise son of Hamfast and Rosie and their daughter Elanor the Fair." The twins most definitely did not want to end storytelling night with a romance.

"Bless the Valar, is that everything?" and the children could have sworn Grandsire was grinning.

"Yes, Grandsire," replied Duinhir, heart sinking. Had they forgotten someone?

"Then I have exhausted my supply of love stories—" the twins exchanged triumphant smirks "—save one." The smirks were instantly wiped off their faces and Tinnu brightened up.

"Who is the story about, Grandsire?" she asked, bouncing up and down in excitement.

"Do you remember Faramir, the good Steward of Gondor and Prince of Ithilien, who rejected the Ring and was nearly burned alive by his father?"

Three little heads nodded.

"And do you remember Eowyn, White Lady of Rohan and Ithilien, who disguised herself as a man and killed the Witch King of Angmar?"

More nods.

"You are well aware of the fact that they married?"

"Yes," interrupted Duinhir, who was starting to get interested, despite himself, "but our tutor told us that they only married because their Kings wanted them to and so that there would be a new alliance formed between Gondor and Rohan and—" but Tinnu shushed him, eager for the story.

"That is the story that has survived, Duinhir," agreed Grandsire, "but that does not necessarily mean that it is true. Only the heirs of Faramir know the true story.

"Listen well, for none beyond our family know the story that I am about to repeat. It is a page from history that was not written, and generations will pass before it is, I am sure." Grandsire's voice became graver, deeper, more mysterious. The children called it his story-telling voice. They crowded closer, drinking everything in, eager for more, and anticipating the best kind of story they had come to expect from Grandsire.

But to their surprise, he didn't start off with the timeless Once upon a time, but started chanting in a sad, wistful tone.

"O maiden fair, forgive him
For he cannot return your love
He is sworn to one whom he loves above all
And their love stretches past death, past the Sea,
ast Time itself
But you love him not
You love that which beckons by loving him
Freedom from duty, from honor,
From binding chains powerful
And silent oaths kept

"But she listened not to her heart
And rode to war
To a different kind of freedom,
To Death
The wind brushed her and called her name
But she heeded it not
And to the Pelennor she rode on the wings of despair
The Black Breath took her, but she silenced its touch
She fell in the defence of her King
And her name faded to nothing but the anguished cry of a brother.

"O noble young man with eyes of the Sea
Judge yourself not so harshly
Your father is grieved; can you not see the sorrowful light in his eyes
That leads you into his soul?
His pent-up anger is released on you
Not caused by you
Ride not to battle caused by madness and supported by grief
He loves you
Do not go
Do not go

"But his heart he heeded not
And he set forth for a battle from which he knew
He would not return whole
The Black Breath stole over him all the while
And yet, so close to home, near enough to hear
The trampling of Dol Amroth's fleet horses
The blow came and the Black Breath seeped through his mind and soul
He succumbed and fell to the Darkness
And the people of Gondor wept
Over his still, fair face.

"But near death still he was cheated of his peace
And outside his silver city
Orcs were busy at work
And the manly tears of soldiers fell
Like rain upon severed heads
His father gave way to madness and Fire
Greedy licking flames of unbearable heat would have been his Fate
Were it not for timely rescue and swift white horse
He was finally given his rest—
But at the expense of a father."

"Did they both die?" asked Tinnu, horrified.

"'Course they didn't, they got married in the end, remember?" retorted the ever logical Duinhir. Duilin shot them both a dirty look that silenced them immediately. But Grandsire had not lost the thread of the story. He was captivated, trapped within the beauty and peril of the sad tale…

"So maiden fair and noble man with brave Halfling
Lay in the peaceful houses of healing
Ashen-faced, on the threshold of death
And those by their bedsides kept vigil fearfully
But as Darkness threatened
A sole, faint beam of light
and grew
Engulfed the victims, cleansed them
And athelas fulfilled the age-old prophecy
As sweet-smelling memories—
of rolling hills, of summer days, of moonlit nights—
Breezed through the window

"He awoke and first hailed his savior
Rightful king
She awoke and found her brother
Weeping shamelessly over her
Halfling awoke
To find friends big and small laughing with joy and relief
And the three lived."

"Told you so," said Duinhir, smiling smugly at his sister.

"Whatever, you would have asked the same thing if you hadn't known the end of the story."

"But you do know the end of the story!"

"Will you two just shut up for a minute?"

"There were tears and smiles, embraces and laughter
The day was perfect
But it could not last and all but the three
Rode to the Black Gates and did not expect to return
For the hour was drawing near
When all would be decided.
So, restless and weary, broken and captive,
The invalids felt the chains of illness
And nearly despaired.
But, as Fate would have it, maiden of the plains wished to fly
And demanded, commanded audience with the lord of Gondor
And she first beheld the Sea-grey eyes
Speech all but failed her
As she gazed into dark depths and tender wisdom
But still knew not.

"The young lord of Gondor regarded the pale face
And the haunted eyes
He too looked deep and found there no tenderness but dejection
His heart was moved by pity
And something deeper
But he befriended her
And conquered the shield maiden in a battle none yet had won.

"He bequeathed the mantle of stars to her
And stood on the walls
A silhouette framed by the setting sun
As he took her hand
Time was all but stilled
And the beating of their hearts merged
A kiss on her pale brow, the sighing of the wind,
And it was over.

"But winning is not sweet for the sad-eyed maiden
As she loses
Him whom she loves
But who does she love?
She pales, she sighs, she ponders, she weeps
Until her eyes are hollow and haunted once more
And she cares not for celebration
She is only subject to sorrow
And the healers sigh for her

"The Steward of Gondor toils and contemplates
And hears of fair lady's distress
He mounts the wall and takes her hand
And speaks the Truth.
The White Lady experiences a revelation
That love is good and kind and true
That love conquers all
That love is not worldly
That love is more beautiful than the Golden Hall of Meduseld
That love is joy more than swords and free plains
That true love had alighted silently, bringing this young man of Gondor.

"Beneath the sunlit sky
They shared a kiss exquisite,
Caring not that all but the furthest away glimpsed them
A symbol of love and affection
And triumph over Darkness."

"She realized she loved him! Yes!" cried Duilin, punching the air.

Tinnu and Duinhir stared at him.

"Forget I said anything," Duilin grumbled.

"They were joined together, 'til Death part them,
And at night, the Prince gazed at his Princess
Lying in bed, a white arm stretched across the white coverlet
He bent down and kissed her softly
So as not to wake her.
And Faramir whispered,
"Never was mortal happier than I with my fair Eowyn.""

All three children wiped tears from their eyes, and Grandsire seemed to come out of his trance. He smiled at the twins and said, teasingly,

"I thought strong boys like you two don't cry! And weren't you both against a love story?"

They glared defiantly at him. "It's your fault," pronounced Duinhir, rather annoyed that Grandsire had managed to shake tears out of him. "If you hadn't told it so well we wouldn't be crying."

Grandsire sighed, as if remembering something, and he gazed into the distance as he so often did nowadays.

"What are you thinking of, Grandsire?" inquired Tinnu quietly.

A little boy, perched on his grandsire's knee, sat, captivated by an old man's story. "Why did you make me cry, Grandsire?" he asked reproachfully. His grandsire simply laughed.

"Grandsire, I've been thinking," said Duinhir meditatively, chewing on his lip. "Why do you know the story, if only the descendants of Prince Faramir know it?"

"Well…" said Grandsire, wavering. The grey, innocent eyes pleaded at him, and he was won. "I suppose you deserve to know the truth. We are the descendants of Faramir. But it is not a well-known fact."

Tinnu's eyes were as round as saucers. "Really?" she asked, astounded. "Then why didn't we know about it? And why aren't you the Steward?"

"I am not the firstborn, and I and my brother… went our separate ways. We haven't spoken to each other in fifteen years." Grandsire hung his head sadly. "Also, being the near kin of the Steward of Gondor is very dangerous. You could be killed or kidnapped, so be careful and do not spread this knowledge around." He was starting to regret that he had said anything.

"We won't Grandsire, we won't," said the three children earnestly.

"Off to bed with you three rascals, then," he said, kissing them goodnight affectionately. How he loved them so! "Your mother will be after my head if she finds out you've stayed awake this long!" The children scampered off and Grandsire sighed again.

"Take care of this story, will you not, Barahir? For it is very precious to me."

"I will, Grandsire, I will."

Faramir smiled gently in response.

"I did, Grandsire, I did," murmured Barahir, before picking his staff up and limping to his room. "I have put it in the hands of three sweet children. They will treasure it too.

"I took good care of it."

A/N: Barahir isn't exactly my creation, he's mentioned in the book, in the notes about the Shire. He's reportedly the one who wrote the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, which is why I thought it would be he who was most likely to remember the story, being scholarly. Oh, and forgive me, I only realized now that Pheriannath means Halfings, not Halfling. I've edited that-- it should be perian, but I decided to just use Halfling, for consistency. Anyway, see you around, and thank you for reading this fic!

EDIT: I've changed Tintallë's name to Tinnu, which means Dawn. Using Tintallë as a name would have been considered irreverent, I believe, to Varda.