Title: The Shadow of the Past
Writer: Linda Hoyland
Beta: Raksha
Category: Gen
Rating: PG13
Age: Third Age
Pairings/Characters: Faramir, Denethor, Aragorn, Gandalf
Warnings:
None

The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. This story is written for pleasure and not profit.

Summary: The dead have no power over the living, or do they?

Darkness engulfed Faramir. He stumbled blindly along a track choked with sharp thorns, which tore cruelly at his flesh. The heat was stifling and he was gripped by a raging thirst. There was no water to be found anywhere.

"Faramir come to me!"

An unknown voice called to him: a warm, kind voice.

Suddenly a tunnel filled with light opened up before Faramir and his father appeared before him." Come, my son, we all await you," said Denethor.

"Father?" Faramir took a hesitant step towards his sire.

"Come with me!" the strange voice called more urgently. Faramir looked behind him. He beheld a man with noble features. A glowing green gem was fastened to his breast.

Faramir felt a thrill of recognition. He knew this man! Often had he beheld him in dreams beside a blossoming white tree, its branches no longer dead and barren. He was the long lost King, whose coming had been awaited for nigh on a thousand years! The stranger held out his hand to Faramir.

"No!" cried Denethor. "No, Thorongil, you stole my father's love from me! You shall not capture the allegiance of my son!" The Steward lunged towards Faramir, but the stranger was swifter. He grasped Faramir's hand. A sweet scent pervaded the air.

Faramir awoke in the Houses of Healing.

***

Sleep was slow to come to the Ruling Steward of Gondor. What would the morrow bring? What would the new King require of him? He knew that Aragorn Elessar was a good man, but Faramir was the son of a man who had been his most bitter rival. What would he, Faramir, son of Denethor and Captain of Gondor have to offer the Lady Éowyn after he had surrendered the White Rod? Would his new lord seize his ancestral lands? He did not think so, but he was troubled by what his future might hold. He would almost certainly be told to leave Minas Tirith forever, lest his presence provoke a conflict of loyalties.

After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, Faramir fell into an uneasy sleep.

"Faramir, my son, listen to me!"

Faramir awoke with a start to see Denethor standing by his bedside. The old Steward was dressed in the black fur trimmed robes he had worn in life. The moonlight streaming through the windows bathed him in an eerie glow.

"You still have time, my son. Do not yield the rod to that Northern upstart!"

Faramir sat bolt upright in bed wondering what manner of strange dream this might be. "It is my duty," he said.

"You are of the line of Mardil and the Húrinionath, my son. The people love you. Proclaim yourself their ruler on the morrow. You have men loyal to you who will see the usurper off!"

"No!" Faramir said firmly. "King Elessar is my rightful liege lord, and more than that, he saved my life! He could easily have left me to die to strengthen his claim!"

Denethor laughed bitterly. "Thorongil was ever the clever one. He saved you only that the people might love him! Have you asked him what happened to your brother? No other was with Boromir when he died! He knows how to court popularity, does that schemer!"

"I shall do my duty on the morrow and yield my authority to the rightful King of Gondor!" said Faramir. "In Elbereth's name, be gone!"

The spectre faded, leaving only the moonbeams in its wake. Faramir found he was bathed in cold sweat. Had he simply had an evil dream, or was it some sort of vision? Could what his father have told him be true? Faramir shook his head. He could read the hearts of Men. His heart told him that Aragorn was good man who would make a just and worthy king.

***

'The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office." Faramir knelt before his new lord and held out the White Rod.

Aragorn reached out to take it, but Faramir suddenly felt a force gripping his hands and holding them closed. He wanted to release it but he could not. An icy shadow enveloped him. "My lord," he whispered that none might hear. "I would yield it, but I cannot! Seize it from my hands!"

Aragorn grasped Faramir by the shoulders. His eyes met Gandalf's, who stood nearby. "I sense some dark presence here," said Aragorn in a voice so low that only Faramir could hear. "Fear not!"

Gandalf moved forward and laid his hand on Faramir's brow. "Be gone, son of Ecthelion!" he said in a low yet commanding tone. "Your time is ended by your own choosing! This day could have been yours, now it falls to your son!"

"You would have killed your son, by so doing, you forfeited your rights over him. I claim him now! " Aragorn placed his hands over Faramir's. A shadow seemed to briefly fall between them, or was it but a trick of the light? The shadow faded and the three were bathed in the bright rays of the morning sun. The gem upon Aragorn's brow gleamed like a star. Faramir' found he could move his hands again. The dark presence had fled. The rod slid from Faramir's hands into Aragorn's.

"Rest now in peace, Denethor, son of Ecthelion!" said Gandalf gently.

"That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and thy heirs' as long as my line shall last," said Aragorn, returning the rod to Faramir and smiling.

Faramir rose to his feet, grasping the symbol of office his hand. For the first time in many weeks, his heart was truly light. He saw Éowyn nearby; her eyes alight with love and joy. The shadow of the past had fled.

A/N Some lines are taken directly from Tolkien. This story is AU and not linked to my other stories, unless of course it is all a dream Faramir had after eating too much rich food the night before the coronation. You, my reader, must decide what happened!

Wishing all my readers who notice the day, a Happy Halloween.

This story was written for last October's ALEC "Death and Dead Things" Contest