Faramir agrees to the proposal
Chapter 10: The Sacrifice
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The sun had set two hours ago and the stars twinkled in the clear dark night. The air was crisp, clean and off in the distance people were scurrying to their homes putting behind them another day in Minas Tirith.
Earlier, Faramir had disguised himself observing people living in the lower levels of the city. Citizens complained of high prices the merchants charged for their wares, and the merchants blamed lack of trade opportunities for the high prices.
Word had spread quickly of Prince Marek’s arrival, people whispered of a possible alliance between Gondor and Harad and how their lives might improve if such a treaty was solidified. None realized the high price the Harad prince demanded.
So much rested on his shoulders. Accepting Prince Marek’s proposal would solve many problems but none would value the sacrifice he made for his people. He would simply disappear and only a few would even notice his absence.
He looked up into the night sky, savoring the last minutes he had left had to enjoy Minas Tirith’s beauty before he had to announce his decision. Aragorn wanted him to accept the proposal, adding how greatly Gondor would benefit from the arrangement.
Faramir sighed. His final duty to Gondor would be pleasing his king.
He made his way back to his quarters, closed the door and started planning for his departure. A strong arm wrapped around his shoulders and a hand quickly covered his mouth before he had time to react. He was pulled into a large chest.
“You have the power to bring peace between Gondor and Harad, Faramir,” Prince Marek’s deep voice whispered in his ear. The hand was removed from Faramir’s mouth. “Will you throw it away and watch your people suffer so needlessly? Accept my proposal and unite our people.”
Faramir took a calm breath trying to quench his fear of this man. Marek’s reputation for sadism preceded him. Rumors had circulated for years over the Harad prince’s perverted appetite for much younger men and sexual torture. And yet, millions of lives would suffer if he refused to become Marek’s consort.
He turned, stared into the bearded face of the Harad prince. “I accept your proposal, Prince Marek.”
Lips descended upon his, sealing together in a no-nonsense claim of possession. Fingers entwined in his hair, pinning the younger man in place as Marek deepened the kiss. A large hand moved down his back searching until it squeezed his left buttock.
Faramir jerked, but Marek held him tight and continued the kiss. Just when Faramir thought he would pass out from lack of oxygen the kiss was broken.
“You belong to me now. Once you have been branded, none shall touch you without my consent.” the prince laughed at the horrid expression on his future consort’s face.
Branded? Sickening questions raced through Faramir’s confused mind. He would be forever marked as Marek’s property. He swallowed the large lump in his throat. Though he wanted to renege on his promise to marry Marek, he couldn’t. Doing so would destroy the shaky truce between the two kingdoms.
Marek moved to the large bed, and picked up a long silk blue shirt. He tossed it to Faramir. “Put it on. Though Harad law prevents consummating our relationship in a foreign land, nothing forbids me from using my property for my own gratification.”
Property. He was no animal. “We are in Gondor, not Harad,” Faramir threw the garment, hitting the prince in the face with it. “Until the treaty has been signed and the king satisfied, I am not yours.”
Marek slung the garment on the bed and glared at the younger man. “Nobody denies me. Nobody.”
“I just did,” Faramir replied, crossing the room to open the door. “Come, the king awaits my decision. Unless you have changed your terms – again. We best not keep him waiting.”
Marek moved to the door, smiling down at the steward’s youngest. He molded his hand to the contour of Faramir’s face. “Enjoy your last taste of freedom, Lord Faramir. It shall be the last time you defy me.”
“Then I shall do my best.” With those last words Faramir moved out of the room and into the long hallway. He stayed several steps ahead of Marek preventing the man from touching him. However, it didn’t stop the prince from boasting victory.
“Those trousers do you no justice, my boy. Soon you shall be dressed in the finest garments that will hide nothing from my eye. The Harad nobles will burn with jealousy when I introduce you as my consort.”
Faramir ignored the prince’s boasts, hurrying to the throne room before he lost his nerve and changed his mind.
Aragorn glanced up and as soon as he noticed the two men entering he snapped his fingers and ordered the royal guard out of the room. What was about to transpire only four men needed to know. Already Denethor had agreed, Aragorn expected no less from a man who wanted his youngest out from under foot. But both feared Boromir’s reaction if he learned his lover and father had arranged a marriage between Marek and Faramir.
Once the doors were closed, Denethor wasted no time in ranting at his son. “You have kept us waiting long enough, you indolent boy,” the steward rose from his chair to stand beside the king. Aragorn’s arms were locked behind his back, anxiously waiting for Faramir’s decision. Denethor fumed. He already knew Faramir’s answer and as usual Faramir had disappointed him. “You have embarrassed me in front of our king – yet again. I should not be surprised.”
Aragorn sighed. “My steward, I gave your son a choice. He has made it. Though I am disappointed, Gondor will survive with his decision.” The king returned to the table and picked up several papers. “Prince Marek, I regret a treaty cannot be signed between our two nations at this time. However other arrangements can be made to benefit us both.”
“There is no need for regrets, my lords. If you have the papers ready, I shall sign them.” Prince Marek’s green eyes sparkled with pride as he wrapped his arm around Faramir’s waist. “Faramir has accepted my proposal. As soon as the papers are signed, we shall leave. The Lords of Umbar grow reckless unless I am there to intervene.”
Aragorn’s mouth dropped open in shock. “I…” his eyes darted to Faramir skeptical of Marek’s claim. He had planned for Faramir’s refusal, already instructing his Harad ambassador to schedule new talks for future trade negotiations but never had he expected Faramir to accept Marek’s offer of marriage. Somehow someone had gotten to Faramir and convinced him to change his mind. Who? Suspicion fell immediately on two suspects and both stood before him now. Aragorn studied Faramir’s face hoping to find the answer to that question for himself, but Faramir was expressionless. “Tell me, Faramir, was your decision coerced?”
“I resent your implication, King Aragorn.” Marek moved in front of Faramir blocking the king from speaking directly to the younger man. “Unless you have proof, I demand an apology.”
“Did I accuse you, Prince Marek?” Aragorn challenged. He cast his gaze to the man standing next to him. “Lord Denethor, I wish…”
“My lord, I accepted Prince Marek’s offer without persuasion or blackmail.” He glanced at Denethor, believing his father would finally acknowledge his worth. Instead, Denethor refused to look at him. Faramir’s heart sank. Nothing he could do would ever please this man. Nothing. He cleared his throat, swallowing the hurt and bitterness. “Your majesty, I request one favor. A chance to say goodbye to my brother.”
“Denied.” Denethor’s cold eyes pierced Faramir with such intensity he retreated a few steps. The steward waved the white rod in the air before using it to lift his son’s chin. “Have you not the consideration to leave without causing your brother further grief? Have you not blackened Boromir’s life long enough? Be gone. What little worth you have, use it to please your husband. Perhaps he can find value in you that I could not.”
“Enough,” Aragorn stepped between father and son. How one man could detest his own flesh and blood he would never know. As horrible as Denethor’s words were they were no less true. “Faramir, I cannot grant your request. If Boromir were to learn the truth, or if word reached the population of what transpired here my reign would be threatened. I do not have to explain the dangers of that do I?”
“No my lord,” Faramir whispered. To be banished from his beloved Gondor was heartbreaking but to never see his brother again was devastating. “How shall my brother be told of my absence.”
“There was an accident. You drowned in the River Anduin and your body was never recovered.” Denethor quickly answered supplying answers before more questions could be asked. “It happened late this evening. Once you have boarded a ship for your new home, word will spread throughout Gondor of your demise. You never reached Ithilien. A horse with your belongings was found near the shores.”
Faramir closed his eyes. His father must have planned this for years. Before he could muster the courage to speak he heard the main doors opening.
“I said I wanted no disruption,” Aragorn’s angry voice caused Faramir to re-open his eyes.
Guards stood dumbfounded, glancing behind themselves before looking at one another. They were unsure what to do.
What happens next?
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