By the River
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has, nor will be made from this story.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. - Psalm 137
With thanks to Raksha
The moon emerged from behind a sea of swirling clouds, which made it appear to sail across the sky. Faramir noted a golden ring around it. What bitter irony, that the likeness of the thing that destroyed his brother should appear tonight of all nights!
Showing he had lost none of the ability to move silently learned as a Ranger, Faramir evaded the Guards and made his way to the stables. He saddled his horse and made his way through the silent City streets. The Guard on the gate knew him and let him pass without questioning him.
Faramir rode down to the river. The water looked almost black in the moonlight. The stars seemed veiled tonight, as if the Star Kindler was loth to show her treasures to Men. Faramir wondered what had he hoped to accomplish by coming here on the anniversary of his brother's death? Was he hoping to again catch a glimpse of the vision that had come to him when Boromir died?
Faramir closed his eyes, trying to recall Boromir as he once had been. Hideous images assailed his thoughts of his brother heavily outnumbered and struck by a hail of arrows. His shoulder, still paining him at times from the strike of a single arrow, throbbed in the damp February air. The Steward wondered how greatly Boromir had suffered. Had he called for him or their father? If only he could have offered him the comfort of a loving brother's presence as he breathed his last!
Faramir could no longer contain his emotions. He sank to his knees and sobbed as if his heart would break.
So great was his grief that he did not hear the horse approaching, nor the rider dismount, and make his way towards him. He started only when a hand clasped his shoulder.
"Easy now," said a familiar voice.
"My lord!" Faramir tried vainly to rise, only to find his legs were too numb.
"Easy now," Aragorn repeated. Unexpectedly he crouched beside Faramir and enfolded him in a tight embrace.
Much to his shame, Faramir found the tears flowing all the faster. The strong arms that held him, reminded him of his brother. Aragorn said nothing. He simply crouched on the riverbank supporting Faramir, rubbing his back and the Steward's painful shoulder. Faramir wondered at his lord's uncanny ability to sense what he was feeling.
After a few minutes Aragorn said gently, "Come now, your brother is not here, trapped within the circles of the world. He would not want you to sit on a freezing river bank when you could be warm and safe within doors!"
Faramir finally managed to rise, albeit with a discreet helping hand from the King. "I keep wondering, did he suffer much?" he whispered, rubbing his sleeve across his eyes.
Aragorn shook his head. "No, I swear he did not. Let your heart be at rest. Boromir died quickly, and was not in great pain."
"I am glad you were with him," said Faramir. "How did you know I would be here tonight?"
"I recalled what date it is too, and kept a look out for you lest you needed a friend."
"Did the Guards not try to stop you, sire?"
"Do not forget that I, too was a Ranger!" Aragorn chuckled.
The two men stood on the bank staring at the river. The moon finally emerged fully from behind the clouds. The silver orb reflected in the rippling water had an eerie beauty. An owl gave a haunting cry. A great sense of peace descended over the grieving Steward.
"It is beautiful, is it not!" said Aragorn. "I have several times escaped the Guards to bring my lady here, though not in February!"
King and Steward turned away from the water and returned to their horses. They rode swiftly to the Citadel. Faramir wished the distance were further. He dreaded returning to his lonely room. He could, of course, summon a servant to stay with him, but a near stranger's company was worse than being alone. Much to the younger man's surprise, Aragorn followed him to his apartments.
"I will brew you some herbs, and then stay with you until you sleep," the King announced.
"But what of your lady, sire? Will she not fret?"
"Arwen understands. She is no stranger to sorrow," Aragorn said simply.
Faramir disappeared into his dressing room to change into his night attire. When he emerged, he was dismayed to discover the King building up the fire.
"My lord!" he protested. "You should not wait upon me!"
"Becoming King has not rendered me incapable of performing tasks I used to do every day!" Aragorn said with a smile. "I needed a good fire to make some tea!"
Thus saying, he took a pan from the hearth. "Drink this!" he told Faramir, pouring a cup of a hot, fragrant brew for the Steward, and another for himself.
Faramir leaned back against the pillows sipping his tea. The fire blazed cheerfully giving the room a comforting glow. On a chair by the hearth sat the King, also drinking tea. Faramir realised he still had much to learn about this new lord who treated him so kindly, almost like a father or brother. His eyes grew heavy. Tomorrow, it would all no doubt, seem like a dream. The day he had dreaded so much was past. Next year when the anniversary of this day came, he would have Éowyn beside him. Tonight hope had appeared again in an hour of darkness.
A/N This is an extended version of a ficlet written for the AA Group prompt "River". I am publishing it today to mark the anniversary of Boromir's death.