Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings or anything related. This story is written for entertainment, not profit, and no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This is my first Lord of the Rings fanfiction. All you need to know is stated in the summary. This first chapter is mostly a prologue. Thanks for reading!
Let Them Know Nothing
Chapter One: The Kings of Men
It was cold the night that the king's son was born. A strange fog had covered the white city, shielding it in a grey mist. This fog twisted its way around the columns and up the stairs of Minas Tirith, creeping through even the halls of the palace. Along those white halls, the cries of the elf queen Arwen echoed, as the king anxiously waited to announce the birth of his heir. Little did he know, the long anticipated birth was not to occur as has been predicted. The labor was long and difficult, and produced more than one child. This was not how it was supposed to happen.
Only three people: the king, the queen, and her half Elvin nurse heard the two cries that struck the night just before the Queen's strength receded and she slipped into a deep sleep. One quieted. It was never to sound again.
When the news reached him that his son had not survived, the great king of men, Aragorn son of Arathorn, went to his knees. Try as he might, he could not see the reason in what had happened, because in his wife's vision she had seen they had a single child, a son. Two children had been born, one a son and the other a daughter. Only the girl had survived. This could not be a good omen, the king knew. What's more, he feared dreadfully for his wife who grew weaker by the moment. His new kingdom was young. He needed an heir.
A thought, like the seed of tree, blew into his mind and took root there. Soon it grew, its roots gripping tightly to him, and he made his decision. Swearing the elf woman to secrecy, the king disguised himself and, fled Gondor in secret, taking with him his only surviving child.
The King traveled to Rohan, riding hard and fast. He arrived disguised as an old cripple whose wife had been killed in a scrimmage on the Mark. On the stairs of the King's Hall, he begged for milk for his starving child. His brother in arms, Faramir, kind as ever, invited the unfortunate stranger in to feast with him as he eagerly awaited news of his first child's birth. The queen had gone into labor two days ago. they shold know any minute now of his heir. Once the two were dinning alone, Aragorn revealed his true self to his old friend by lowering his hood.
Faramir was taken aback and, instantly taking a knee, he said: "Why my lord, have you come in disguise? You are more than welcome in my home and forever safe in Rohan."
"I know my honored friend." He assured him in a whisper, pulling him to his feet. "I come in secret because the task I am about to ask of you, no man can know."
Apprehensively, Faramir rose to hear his king's proposition.
"Brother, you owe me no debt. You have served as stewad bravely and honorably. You may refuse the favor I am about to ask of you and I would think no worse of you. I only ask you think no worse of me for asking."
A puzzled Faramir nodded, willing him to continue.
"Arwen, as well as her father Elrod, long ago had a vision of our future together. We were to have a son. On this night past, such a son we did have, but a daughter also. Now, my son is dead. The girl lives. My wife and I would love any child, but, as you know, an elf woman only gives birth once. It is remarkably rare for her to have twins. Gondor needs an heir. What's more, I feel my wife's vision mistaken is a bad omen. Her health is poor. I fear for her spirit. I fear for the life of Gondor and her people. I ask you, Faramir, to make an unspeakable sacrifice to save the kingdom of men."
For a long while Faramir did not answer his king. Both pairs of eyes welled with their sadness.
"You would have my son?" Faramir asked, half choked.
"Yes." Aragorn replied, breathlessly, hopelessly. "If it should be one." Then, "Forgive me, brother."
Faramir turned his pained face and said nothing.
In silence, the two waited until a bustling mid-wife of Rohan entered to announce merrily the birth of a son. There was no sign of the expected celebration, no shouts of joy and congratulations. Clearly confused, she eagerly took her leave. Aragorn was the first to speak.
"He would be named the rightful king of Gondor. Your line would rule men for ages. Our wives of course would know nothing of the switch. He would of course keep the name you give him."
Farmir glanced questioningly at his lord. The king responded: "Boromir. Is that not what you would call him?"
Again, Faramir turned, but this time he finally offered his answer: "My brother gave his life for Gondor. I suppose I can give my son, his namesake, to the thrown."
"Faramir, forever will I be in your debt for this generosity." The king sighed, falling back to his seat.
"What shall I tell Eowyn?" He asked, at a loss. "That is was our son that died?"
Faramir turned to face him, perplexed again.
"You will tell her it was a daughter." With his sadness all too evident in the lines of face, Aragorn produced a small human-elf child. "You can yet have an heir, but, let my child be yours."
"But my Lord-"
"Please. It is only fair. Only one child need be lost this day."
Aragorn did not look directly at the swaddled new born. He did not note the color of her eyes, not the softness of her hair, or her strong resemblance to him.
"Please," his tight voice cracked. "Take her." It was clear he wanted no reminder of the loss of her brother, nor his own deed. Faramir could not resist the temptation to have his own child. In disbelief, he extended his arms and took bundle of warmth. The child was incredibly small and so light. She whimpered in his arms and he rocked her gently until she quieted.
"What is her name?"
"Whatever you wish it to be." Aragorn turned and lifted his things, covering his face in his hood again.
Without a word, the woman reentered with the baby boy and attempted to hand him to Faramir who, she was shocked to find, was already holding a child. He gestured towards the stranger and a perplexed woman frowned at him, but handed over the babe. Faramir did not touch his son. He could not bare it.
"Say nothing." He instructed the elder woman warningly. She nodded, wide-eyed. Aragorn wrapped up the boy and turned to go. The woman came forth in concern and protest.
"Leave it." Faramir's harsh voice commanded. "Take my daughter to my wife."
She shook her head mutely, upset and confused.
"Take my daughter to my wife." He reitterated strongly. She took Aragorn's daughter and examined her carefully, gazing once gain questioningly at Faramir. She turned, scowling, and slowly returned to the room where Eowyn was resting. "Let them know nothing." the two men said, each craddling a child with one arm they shook hands with the other. Then, the mysterious stranger left abruptly with his child.
The following day, the steward of Gondor announced the birth of his daughter to the rejoicing multitudes of Rohan, placing the child lovingly in her unwitting mother's arms before the feast visitors. The roar of cheer and applause did not frighten the infant.
Leagues away, Arwen was calling for her living child and weeping for the one she lost when her husband finally brought their tiny son to her. As she held him in her arms, she said in elvish, "He is just as I saw him. " The king breathed his first sigh of relief since the birth of his children and smiled down at the future king of Gondor.
The true heir of Gondor, known to the people only as 'the Prince's brother', was laid to rest in the great catacombs of Gondor's line and grieved by an entire city. The great white city was draped in black for morning. Arwen, who had never tasted the bitterness of death, was heartbroken by the death of her son, but clung to her remaining child and was comforted by her vision in which she had seen a single son years before. "It must be fate." She conceded. This comforted her husband as well, in ways she could not know.
Meanwhile, in Rohan, a sullen quiet was also present amongst the people. There, the smaller baby, weakened by a long journey, struggled to live. Faramir, in spite of his loyalty, felt great anger towards his king who had taken his son and left him with a weak and dying child. What's more, his greatly troubled wife Eowyn felt great sadness that her feeble child would not suckle from her. The infant needed elf milk and the king of Gondor had certainly known this would happen. Without it she would starve. The king of Rohan's hopelessness was palpable and thus the people grieved already for the unnamed child.
In desperation, Faramir wrote to Gondor in secret and was contacted by the old half Elf nurse maid. The woman told him that his wife's milk mixed with that of a horse and the nectar of a strange flower should be good for half blooded elf child. Horses were both mystical and strong, a woman's warmth was needed of course, and the nectar was irresistible to elves and sweet to men. Faramir did as he was instructed with the aide of the nurse maid who alone knew his secret. Miraculously, it worked. The child drank hungrily and grew strong.
As a few years passed and she grew older, it was noted by some that although she was healthy, the girl was always unusually fair skinned and astonishingly light and swift. Those that did notice remarked only on such beauty, and the beauty of her bright eyes which were not far from their king's color. Her natural love of horses and her uncanny way with them even as a child assured all she had Rohan in her blood. Still, her hair was darker than both her parents, her mother and her own as different as night and day. Luckily, the queen of Rohan, overlooked these things in her joy to have a child. As likewise did Arwen, for the heir to thrown of men was not as light as a young elf might be. He was, however, only half an elf, she reminded herself, and she was grateful for his strength.
For four years the father's lived with no sign and very little word of their true children. For four years, they raised their friend's children as their own. At last, King Aragorn sent word to the steward of the thrown in Rohan, a very good friend, to come and visit their family in the castle at Minas Tirith. There were matters the two needed to discuss regarding the uprisings in the north and the recent mysterious return of some of the elves.
Faramir sent word to expect them in late summer. He had other intentions than to simply aid the people of Gondor and investigate elves. He also planned to come to propose the marriage of their two children, a peaceful union of Rohan and Gondor. Men of the West would be united by such a bond, but the proud people of Rohan may not be enthusiastic to join he knew. However, it was all too obvious that his queen would not produce a male heir and the people were suffering. This would bring them strength and consistency when they he and Eowyn no longer could. He prayed Aragorn would see fit to join their children in holy matirmony as well.
It was the first time they had exchanged words since that fateful night three years ago; that night when they made, in secret, a very great sacrifice which neither of them were yet ready to face.
A/N: Please review and let me know what you thought of it! Thanks for reading.