It is Celeborn. He will examine him but others will watch (perhaps Galadriel.. or Gandalf...)

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Chapter 7: The Value of Innocence[edit]

--Bell Witch

While unsure exactly of what the examination would entail, Faramir had a fairly good idea of what might be expected and he was certain that it wasn't anything he wanted anyone to watch. Yet when he entered thetalan he was shocked to discover that not only was he followed by Lord Celeborn, but by his Lady as well. His mouth went dry and he found it difficult to speak.

"I... that is, I did not realise that anyone would need to be here while you did whatever it is that you need to do."

"Relax, young one," Celeborn said calmly. "It is required that the examination of an innocent be overseen. It ensures that proprieties are maintained. If you entered my talan pure, then you will leave it in the same condition."

Faramir took a deep breath. "I appreciate that, my Lord, but must the watcher be a female? It is most disconcerting and I am uncomfortable about this already."

Galadriel smiled and walked forward. "I understand your concern, Captain of Gondor, but think of this--who could be better to observe in such a situation but the wife of the examiner? I will be here to see that he does only what he needs to do, as is required."

Her serenity filled Faramir's heart, quelling his fear and making him feel comfortable and drowsy. He returned her smile and watched her retreat to the far side of the talan as Celeborn led him to a low couch.

"Please sit," Celeborn indicated. He watched closely, requesting Faramir to meet his gaze. Faramir complied in a warm haze, obeying without shame when the Elf requested that he remove his clothing. He stood still, barely noticing the light touches to his body even as they ghosted over the marks the spears had made on his back. He sat again, and leaned back to allow Celeborn to examine him more intimately.

Through all of this, Faramir's breath was slow and even. He saw the Elven lady out of the corner of his eye as she sat calmly. There was no more beautiful being in the world than the Lady of the Golden Wood, he was certain. How good it was of her to be here through this ordeal--and for one so lowly as the second son of the Steward of Gondor. She had seen so much, and yet she gave her time to him.

"You are not unworthy, Faramir," she said as though she saw his thoughts. He wondered briefly when he had got dressed again, and how could he not have noticed?

"But, Lady," he said, looking away, "I am no-one of consequence. I do not know why I was chosen for Thorongil, called here by the name Estel, save that my father would not have allowed Boromir to be sent away. How could I be what you need?"

Galadriel smiled again, and the fog in Faramir's mind cleared. He met her eyes without fear, and her musical voice began again to speak.

"Do you not know how precious you are? The innocence you have is not of the body only. That is something all are born with and most lose with time, for it is the natural way of things. It is your purity of spirit that makes you so unusual. You have grown up in a city of Men on the knife's edge, you have seen violence and death, yet you still see a goodness in this world. That is something which you must keep in order to do the tasks which lie ahead."

Faramir shook his head. "I am sorry, but I do not know what you mean."

Galadriel smiled again, a smile full of warmth and understanding. "All will be revealed to you in time. Do not worry, for you have passed the first test. Now, a decision waits before you."

"What must I do?"

"You have been proven pure and worthy to be handfasted. But you must choose whether or not it is what you wish to do."

Faramir stood abruptly. "I did not realise that I had a choice! I thought it had been decided."

"It was and it wasn't. You were chosen, but if you do not go to this union willingly, then all will be lost. Your innocence will be taken and your spirit crushed."

"So I can refuse?"

The Elven lady nodded. "Yes. In so doing, you will put this Middle Earth into even greater peril than it already faces. What the future brings requires a joining of the race of Men. Gondor's Steward has no daughters, nor can your brother fulfill this destiny--only you can."

"How can I say no if it will bring disaster? That is no choice!"

"If you handfast with Estel not of your own free will, then that is no better than your refusing."

"But what will happen?" Faramir's eyes were wide as he paced back and forth across the talan. He did not notice the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood glance meaningfully at each other.

"The decision is yours, Faramir of Gondor, and no-one else can make it for you."

Faramir watched in disbelief as Celeborn exited. Galadriel followed, beckoning gracefully for him to follow.

What happens next?[edit]


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