Livery of a Dragon Slayer by AndromedaMarine

Author's Note: Title taken from a scene in the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Much of the story is dialogue taken from the movie (no copyright infringement intended), but some is AU or alternate alternate scenes, or could be interpreted as deleted scenes and more depth into the characters through literature. In some parts it may seem like a nutshell version of the scenes. Story is my take on the friendship between Peregrin Took of the Shire and Faramir of Gondor, as well as the relationship between Faramir and Eowyn of Rohan (in the epilogue/ending). Section in italics is Faramir's POV.

For a small moment Peregrin Took saw happiness in the eyes of Faramir, Captain of Gondor. But it passed within a moment and became but a memory, as the livery Pippin now wore once was.

"It once belonged to a boy in the city," Faramir said, remembering the livery's origin, "who spent more time slaying dragons than attending his studies." He smiled in sadness, the creases in the corners of his eyes making him look older than the twenty-nine years he was.

Pippin's eyes lit up. "These were yours?" he asked, grinning at Faramir's description of himself.

"Aye, they were," the Captain replied, his eyes lingering on the white tree fronting Pippin. "My father had them specially made for me."

"I'm taller than you were then, though I'm not likely to grow much more, except perhaps sideways," the young hobbit added with a smile.

Faramir chuckled, and again Pippin saw the happiness that had been long absent from the soldier's eyes. "They never fit me either. I was never much of a soldier... That was Boromir." As quickly as it had gone the sorrow returned, and somehow the young hobbit knew exactly what was on the Captain's ever-weary mind.

"Your father knows you are trying your hardest," Pippin said softly, looking intently at Faramir's boots. "Aye, you showed your quality, my lord." With a knowing smile from each and a nod of the head they departed, and returned to the Great Hall, where Pippin swore fealty to Gondor.

--

"I see now you wish it were reversed," Faramir said quietly, "that I had died and Boromir had lived." Pippin could see sadness overcome the man, and his eyes were full of too many years of trying to earn his father's approval.

"Yes," Denethor whispered. "I do wish for that." He didn't even look at his youngest (and now only) son.

Pippin released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He couldn't believe a father could say such a thing to a son...

"Because you have been...robbed...of Boromir, I will do what I can in his stead." He turned to leave but stopped, another thought in the forefront of his mind that was worth being said. "If I return, Father...think better of me." Ignoring the shocked and concerned expression on Pippin's face Faramir stiffly bowed and walked away from the throne to prepare for battle.

As the Captain reached the door Denethor called out, his voice laced with hatred and accusation, "That would depend on the manner of your return."

--

Pippin found Faramir in the armoury. "Why do you give up your life for a cause you know will not succeed?" the hobbit asked, sitting across from where Faramir was putting on his armour. "Why would you go into the hands of the enemy rather than defend your kingdom here?"

The corners of Faramir's lips twitched upward. "I could have asked the same of your friends, Frodo and Sam, and of you. However, I go because I must. This is the city of the sons of Númenor; I shall gladly give my life defending her beauty."

Pippin was silent but continued to keep his gaze on the Captain.

"I go because if I do not my father will never think better of me." Faramir's shoulders sagged and he faced the hobbit, tears building in his eyes. "I go because I wish to honour my brother, who would have either done as he was commanded without question or talked reason into the irrational mind of the Steward...of our father. I go because I have nothing to lose." He gave a twisted smile, which did not suit him.

Pippin frowned. "You have everything to lose, Faramir, Captain of Gondor! A full life, friends, and..."

"Family?" he interrupted. "A father who does not love me as he would my brother; my brother who died defending the One Ring after succumbing to its call, its power? No, master hobbit, I have not family amoung the white halls of Gondor."

"What of those who ask you to stay because they care?" Pippin asked, suddenly wanting very much to see Merry. "What of Gandalf, or me?"

Faramir faltered as he lifted the helm of Gondor. "Mithrandir has been our star of hope in these dark days...he cares for all as one would care for a child. Mithrandir is friend to all; why should I be of more importance than every soldier for which Mithrandir is friend?" Faramir pulled the helmet over his fox-coloured locks and sighed, his shoulders again sagging.

"What of my friendship, Captain of Gondor?" Pippin asked again. "Would you willingly die knowing what you left behind?"

"Not willingly, no, master Peregrin Took, esteemed hobbit of the Shire. I go trusting that I shall have your friendship once more, perhaps in another place. I grieve because I have many friends...family...that have passed into the shadow the enemy's dark hand casts forth. But I will tell you this, you who are clad in the livery of a dragon slayer: I go, not afraid of what is to come, but rather of what has already come to pass. The history of Middle Earth is what scares me, Pippin, not of which I am unsure. If I return, master hobbit, my friend, I trust to see a smile on your face as you help fight for the freedom of Middle Earth." Faramir rested his hands on Pippin's small shoulders and looked down at him. "May Gondor's blessing and that of Mithrandir be upon us, and upon this great city."

With that, Faramir, Captain of Gondor, turned and marched away with a tiny hint of hope in his heart, toward battle and certain death.

--

We ride to Osgiliath. We ride to take back the last defense of Minas Tirith. We ride to ruin. To failure, pain, and regret.

We ride to defeat; to certain death. Perhaps I should have heeded Pippin. Why go when I know victory is not possible? I leave behind friends, and yet a father who would not love me as my brother. As Boromir.

I ride into my peril; my last fight before I die. A fight that will just leave the city with fewer men. But I ride with reason. I defend the walls of Gondor's capital because I am a soldier. I am a Captain of Gondor; son of the Steward. I ride to my end, and perhaps to Osgiliath's and Minas Tirith's ends as well. I do not fear what is to come, rather only what has already come to pass. I ride with my men, soldiers of and loyal to Gondor.

I ride because It is a right I have as a citizen of Gondor to defend my home.

I ride to Osgiliath, to take back the last defense of Minas Tirith. I ride to ruin, failure, pain, regret, and death. I ride to defeat.

But above all, I ride for Gondor.

I ride to battle.

--

Faramir was deathly pale as the soldiers carried him up to the peak of the last great city of men. He certainly looked dead, however from the Captain's point of view he was very much alive. His breathing was so shallow it was unnoticeable beneath the armour of Gondor, but he vaguely heard his father's voice through the haze of pain and the black abyss that dared welcome him.

"My son!" Denethor said with a desperate air. "My line is ended!" he wailed, touching Faramir's forehead and then backing away as though the death over Faramir was a poison that would take him as well. "My line is ended!"

Pippin hurried forward as soon as he saw the fallen soldier and a lump grew in his throat as he remembered the Steward's and Captain's earlier words. The hobbit knelt beside Faramir's stretcher and searched the Captain's features. "He's alive," he whispered. "My lord, Faramir is alive! He needs medicine!"

Denethor did not seem to hear the young hobbit's profession of hope, as the Steward walked still toward the edge of the cliff. "My line is ended!" He peered over the edge and saw the multitude of Sauron's forces already breaching the lower circle. His face suddenly lost the despair of Faramir's "death" and contorted into fear and pure rage over Mithrandir's or, rather, Gandalf's command of the soldiers of Gondor. "Abandon your posts!" he screamed. "Fear the death that is upon you!"

Gandalf struck Denethor into unconsciousness with his white staff. "Prepare for battle!" he barked at the men who had heeded Denethor's half-witted command. Quickly the wizard looked over his shoulder to where Faramir lay, Pippin at his side. His expression quickly became doleful but he could not waste the precious time to see to the hobbit. But he did not know the Captain clung to life by a mere thread.

--

"No!" Pippin cried, doing what little he could to stop the procession of Faramir's early funeral. "No! Stop! He's alive! He needs healing! My lord, your son lives!" He did the last thing he could think of. "Faramir is all that remains of Boromir."

Denethor turned with indifference and seized the collar of Pippin's cloak, and dragged him backwards, toward the door. "My line is ended. My sons are dead. Peregrin Took, I release you from my service." He flung the hobbit from the crypt and pulled the doors shut, sealing the Halfling from entrance.

With tears in his eyes, knowing he had only minutes before Faramir's life fell into the abyss ruled by the flame, Pippin sprung to his feet and ran with might seeking Gandalf.

--

Gandalf heard the familiar cry of Pippin's voice even through the sounds of death. "Gandalf!" he cried, panting as he found the wizard astride Shadowfax. "Gandalf...Denethor...he's gone mad...Gandalf, he's going to burn Faramir alive!"

Gandalf said nary a word but his face grew tight and he pulled the hobbit to sit before him, and Shadowfax leapt into a gallop that took them to the crypt where Faramir was minutes from death.

--

There was an almighty crash as Gandalf blasted the doors of the crypt open and Denethor spun around to face them. He stood amoung bundles of firewood and over Faramir's stirring form. His head and cloak were drenched in the oil meant to fuel the fires of torment, pain and death.

"Stand down, Denethor, fool of a Steward! Your son is not yet in the darkness that robbed you of Boromir! Stand down and take Faramir to the Houses of Healing!"

"You will not take my son from me!" the mad Steward cried.

"Fool! You will kill him in your blindness!"

Denethor gathered enough wits to seize a flaming torch from one of the pallbearers who carried Faramir. "My line is ended," he said coolly, and threw the torch down.

"No! Faramir!" Pippin screamed, and he leapt off Shadowfax and into the fire, where the Captain had managed to peon his eyes. Pippin pushed the man with all his strength and rolled him from the fiery abyss, and began putting out the fires on both their bodies.

Denethor's eyes bugged in fury, but the great horse reared and kicked the Steward, who was flung into the raging inferno. Through the flames he saw his son turn his head and look at him. "Faramir?" he asked in but a whisper, and the flames took hold, and Denethor ran from the crypt, a living fireball, and plunged over the cliff to his inevitable death.

--

"I believe the need to wear the livery of a dragon slayer ceased when my father released you form your oath," Faramir said quietly as he woke, seeing Pippin beside his bed still dressed for loyalty to Gondor. "Or is the battle still being waged?"

Pippin jumped when he heard Faramir's voice. "The battle is over...but many were lost. Rohan and the Rohirrim came, Merry amoung them. Théoden's life, king of Rohan, was taken by the Witch King.," Pippin said, grieved. "And Eowyn may not survive the Black Breath unless Aragorn can heal her." The hobbit's soft voice was distant, mirroring Faramir's demeanour. Pippin bowed his head and he could not stop the tears from coming. "I am very glad that you were not amoung those lost, my friend."

"As am I," Faramir returned, speaking of the hobbit. "What of Frodo, and the Ring?" he asked suddenly, but it was Gandalf who answered, as he had just appeared by the bed.

"The Ring has been destroyed, Faramir, Steward of Gondor. You have no need to worry...for it is the return of the king..."

--

"So much death," Faramir whispered as he stood at a window in the Houses of Healing. "So much has been lost to Mordor, and Isengard. All this sorrow that not even Mithrandir can alleviate." His side twinged painfully and he audibly winced, eliciting concerned glances from many nearby healers.

"Shadows that will not recess darken my heart, and I am almost lost in the storms of grief," a sad but strong voice said from behind him. "I fear I have nothing but duty left in this world." The voice belonged to a woman with blonde locks that shone when the sun cast his rays on it. "Such powers of healing do not reside with Gandalf."

"No," Faramir agreed, shaking his head sorrowfully. "Only time can achieve that...but I fear too much time will pass before those of my wounds even begin to heal."

Light will come for the people of Rohan. The king to take my uncle's stead shall be Eomer." She met Faramir's gaze. "My brother."

"You are Eowyn," Faramir deduced and confirmed, giving her a small smile before he turned back to the window, and the view before him. He winced again, and Eowyn placed a hand on is arm in concern. "You are very kind," he said softly.

"We are not as different as many would believe. I have lost my uncle and my king. You...you have lost your family."

"Yes," Faramir said, grasping her hand. "But I have not lost my friends or my life."

"Those who escaped the abyss as you and I have."

Faramir was quiet. "I have Pippin and Mithrandir to thank," he quietly revealed. "And the Esselar kept your life from leaving this dark world. The heir of Isildur; King of Gondor."

"This world will become free because..." Eowyn began, but her sentence disappeared when Faramir sensed her emotional pain and drew her into his arms to comfort her.

"Because we fought against Mordor and Isengard; against Sauron and the evils of this world. Because we stood together and had things the enemy did not," he finished.

"What things?" Eowyn breathed as she rested her head against his good shoulder.

"Friendship, trust, love. Hope. Those are things no evil can destroy, Eowyn. Things which last beyond any war or tragedy."

And in time Faramir, Steward to the King of Gondor, and Eowyn, second to the throne of Rohan became close in friendship, until they realized their love for each other.