The voice belongs to Lord Denethor himself!
Chapter 9: A Proposal
A/U –Aragorn is king of Gondor but he spends a part of his time in the north and Denethor rules the south in his lieu as Steward. The ring and all… let’s assume they’re already destroyed. That little bit was inspired by an AU roleplay on the Lordsoftheslashed RPG
“My lord!” Tirion stood up abruptly, causing Faramir to fall down and land painfully on his sore posterior.
Faramir stared at his father in grateful surprise. But then he realised who had stepped into the room behind his father and his face went beet red from the humiliation of being found in such a state. He began to hastily pull at the bindings on his hands with his teeth even as he tried to get to his knees to bow down as Tirion did. His breeches lay around his ankles and his shirt, he realised, mortified, was not long enough to cover him decently.
“My Lord King,” he stammered as Aragorn, King of Gondor and Arnor stepped forward and looked at Faramir’s state of undress interestedly.
“We did not expect you till tomorrow,” Tirion stammered out.
“The army has certainly not changed since the days I rode with it,” the king said calmly, “But I se Faramir has certainly grown this last year.”
Faramir continued to flush even as he gave up trying to untie his hands and resorted instead to covering himself with them. How could he have forgotten that his father was to bring the King to meet Boromir’s troops, the best troop in the land. It was part of the King’s schedule as he came on his annual visit to the South kingdom. The Ithilien rangers were of course non-existent ever since Faramir had taken over their command. But to be found in such a state in front of the one man he would do anything to impress and to be noticed by… well, he was certainly noticed today.
“Tirion, my lad,” Denethor said affectionately to his elder son’s friend, “Really! You mustn’t treat Faramir so. He has become quite valuable for us now.”
Tirion stared up in surprise, as did Faramir.
Valuable, to Denethor? Faramir had never thought to hear such words form his father, least of all in front of the king. He nearly fell over in surprise.
“Too much punishment in one night could damage his value,” Denethor continued, “Although I should very much like to spank him too. Boromir says he was rude to both of you.”
“Indeed, my lord,” Tirion murmured, “And especially to Boromir.”
“Well child, we came a day early for a reason. I shall need Boromir’s tent awhile. Will you untie Faramir, and then I won’t keep you from the ale.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Tirion bent down to untie Faramir and smirked at him, his shock at being caught spanking Faramir having quickly worn off. The Steward’s attitude towards his younger son was well-known in all of Gondor and it was no wonder the only respect he received was from his rangers. And now the King was here, the little idiot was bound to fawn all over him, as though such a fine and honourable man as he would pay any attention to the runt.
“It’s a pity we were interrupted but you know I doubt you’d have been much fun. I don’t understand, we all know you’d rather bed men than women but you still act so high-handed if anyone asks you, who do you keep yourself for? Who would have you anyway? You’re always such a whiner! And you know, I think he knows that too… that’s why he never gives you a second glance even when you flaunt yourself like this in front of him. He has Boromir after all.” He nodded towards where the king now stood in conversation with Denethor at the other end of the tent.
Faramir glared at Tirion, “Pig!” he retorted angrily. He could think of nothing else to say. Sure he wouldn’t jump intoi bed with any one who asked. He did keep himself hoping for that one night with – with his – king. He breathed heavily at the thought of this innermost of his desires. It was an impossible one he knew and yet why not hope for it?
And sure he openly wanted to impress the king, and be noticed by him even though everyone knew it was clear Boromir was already high in his favour. But the King was so fine and so noble… and had such an air of grace and dignity. He was nearly as old as Denethor but being more of the pure Numenorean stock he looked barely a few years older than Boromir. And acted it too of course.
“Quite the brat as you see,” Denethor said loudly after Tirion bowed and left, “I for one would be glad to have him out of my hair.”
Faramir tried to pull on his pants hurriedly but his fingers were still numbed and they slipped and fell. As he bent to pull them up again, he felt a hand on his sore buttocks.
Yelping in surprise he turned to face his king, holding his pants tight together at his waist.
“Not bad, soft but muscled,” Aragorn said rather dispassionately, as though discussing a horse, “How old is he? Nineteen? It’s no wonder – typical to their taste. He won’t grow much more but he has enough build.”
Faramir stared at his father and king in confusion wondering what they spoke of.
“Sit,” Denethor said, “We need to talk.”
“Yes, let us get this over with,” Aragorn said, “I should like to retire for the night.”
Faramir knew what that meant of course, that he would go hunt out Boromir.
He tied his pants hurriedly and sat gingerly down on the hard stool that was the only place left to sit. Aragorn sat on the bed and Denethor on the chair.
“You have received a – proposal may be the correct term I feel.”
Faramir nearly fell out if the chair at that. A proposal? But whoever could have… not from Rohan surely… Theodred had that pudgy little cousin but Denethor had plans for her and Boromir, or perhaps from Lossarnach… but a proposal? Tirion had spoken truly. He had little interest in women, but he’d known some day or the other he would have to marry, and it would be a match that would have political implications.
“From a very high place in Harad,” Aragorn spoke his voice strangely gentle, “In return they will agree to three trade treaties that will prove very profitable for all of the high kingdom, as well as agree to aid us in any conflict against Khand or Rhun.”
Faramir stared in surprise. Harad as an ally? After all these years of conflict against them? The Haradrim had been their enemies even after the fall of Mordor and the destruction of Sauron and his ring of power many decades ago now. To finally agree for peace…
“Naturally, I have for my part accepted the proposal,” Denethor said and then glanced at his son’s white face, a hint of challenge in his tone as well as his expression.
Faramir did not rise to the bait. He sat there shocked. It had been agreed? Even without consulting him? Not that he could have refused of course, not with so much at stake, but he was to be – wait, had not his father said a proposal ‘of sorts’?
“You said a proposal of sorts?” Faramir said after a few moments’ silence during which both Denethor and Aragorn had stared at him as though he were some sort of a display.
Aragorn gave Denethor a pointed look but the Steward simply shook his head, “Yes, well, that we can discuss in Minas Tirith tomorrow.”
The exchange made Faramir a little uncomfortable, as did the strange look Aragorn gave him before he rose.
“You can refuse if you desire,” Aragorn said suddenly.
“What?” Denethor almost shouted.
“But I will not lie if I say I hope you will not,” Aragorn continued gently, “We gain so much by this. They have already withdrawn some of their forward positions in South Ithilien as a mark of their seriousness.”
“Why would I refuse if Gondor is to gain so much by such a small action on my part?” Faramir stuttered.
“As poetic as ever,” Aragorn smiled.
“Poets don’t win wars!” Denethor said sharply.
“I certainly accept, father,” Faramir said in an appeasing tone. Anything to get his father off the track from his favourite sport of Faramir the non-soldier baiting.
“Perhaps you may change your mind after you meet your –suitor.”
“I am sure I will grow to like her,” Faramir said. For you my king, I would do anything.
His remark was met with silence.
“Perhaps you should tell him who it is?” Aragorn said to Denethor.
“Tomorrow,” Denethor said firmly.
“Very well,” Aragorn said and rose and left the tent.
“You can retire now,” Denethor told Faramir, and left too.
Faramir did not wonder until much later when they were on their way back to the city why it had not seemed to bother Denethor that the proposal had come for him, the younger son, and not for Boromir, the elder. Surely, Denethor would prefer that his first grandchild came from Boromir, so as to leave no questions about the inheritance of the Stewardship. No, his father would surely take care of all that, and ensure before he was wed that Boromir’s children would have first right over the Stewardship. He blushed slightly as he realised he was already thinking of a child, and he was yet to even see his bride to be… his bride, he felt like laughing at the thought. He had expected to be married one day, yes, and that there would be some benefit accruing to Gondor out of it he had never doubted, but he certainly hadn’t thought that day would come so soon. And before Boromir.
He wondered what Boromir would think. It was a pity he hadn’t seen his brother before leaving but the rest of the evening had been taken up by Aragorn’s meeting with the troops and Boromir had looked so happy and proud there, with both Aragorn and Denethor by his side, Faramir had felt his presence would somehow spoil the moment. He had instead had his rangers released and sent them back to Ithilien telling them he had an errand in Minas Tirith. When he had gone in search of Boromir after that to give him the news, the sounds from the king’s tent, had indicated that not only should his brother not be disturbed but he would be sleeping in late this morning.
He turned his thoughts back to the match. Would he get to elave in another house now that he was to marry? Away from his father? He hoped so. And he could visit Harad! And when he’d return he could spend long hours sitting with Aragorn in his rooms as the current envoy did, just the two of them with some of that excellent Haradric wine.
He had rushed to ready himself on his return. Denethor had taken one look at his ranger outfit, the same he had worn yesterday and had curled his lips in a sneer and ordered him to change into something decent, all in the king’s hearing. Faramir had wilted under the look and found himself unable to tell him Boromir had practically ‘kidnapped’ him and thereby left him bereft of any other clothes.
He had washed quickly and even managed to apply some soothing salve on his backside, which was even more sore after the ride back to Minas Tirith.
He entered the throne room through one of the side entrances now to find Aragorn and Denethor seated at the long council table, looking over some papers. They looked up as he entered. His father grunted but the king smiled. Faramir thought he looked even more beautiful when he smiled.
“He cleans up well,” Aragorn said to Denethor grinning but Denethor simply grunted again.
Faramir’s heart leapt at the compliment, tiny as it was and he returned a small, shy smile of his own.
Before Aragorn could say anything further, however, footsteps neared the open main doors of the throne room.
“I hope you intend to respond in the positive, my lords. My forward troops have been extremely happy to be given a fortnight’s furlough.”
Faramir looked up sharply at the speaker who in turn stared at him gloatingly.
“Good morning, Lord Faramir,” the man replied in a silken tone, his green eyes staring boldly at Faramir. Faramir flushed under the scrutiny, as he had done each time he had been subjected to it.
Lord Marek – Prince Marek rather, the Crown Prince of Harad present these days in Gondor as their trade envoy. A handsome, very striking man, but one who gave no quarter and had for many months been driving the council out of their wits by refusing to compromise on any treaty. Due to his hard policies, many merchants in the land had lost nearly half their fortunes.
He also never failed to leave Faramir feeling ill at ease by just looking at him. Those green eyes would bore as they did now, filled with lust, seeming to undress him just by glancing piercingly at him. Once he had even extended an invitation to Faramir. Which the ranger had very politely turned down. Marek had not been happy though. He had grabbed Faramir’s arm and furiously told him he wasn’t used to being refused. Faramir had not known how to react to such vehemence but they had been interrupted by someone and he had quickly left.
“My Lord Marek,” he said hoarsely now. Why was he here? Did he have a sister… yes he did, but no, they could not mean a princess for him… perhaps he was just here in his capacity as –
“Prince Marek has asked for you to be his consort,” Aragorn said quietly.
His – Faramir stared at the other three men almost stupidly. Had they said his consort?
“Indeed,” Marek replied smoothly, “I hope you will accept Lord Faramir. I have long desired to cement a relationship with you.”
“But you’re already married,” was the first thing Faramir could think of saying.
Marek nodded, “I am married to a most beautiful and adoring lady and we have a son too, but it was once an ancient practise in my land for men of high birth to take a male consort – to indulge themselves in. Another female consort would have resulted in succession issues.”
He smiled at Faramir here, a sharp sardonic smile that scared him a little. He felt his mouth go dry. This was why his father had not baulked at the thought of a proposal for him, he thought dully. This was why they had wanted him to see his - suitor first. The others were speaking now – Aragorn seemed to be suggesting that he be asked for his choice in that matter but he ignored their voices until one sentence reached him clearly.
“Should you agree I should like to leave for Harad at the earliest. You have a beautiful city here my lords, but I miss my own land.”
He would have to go with him, Faramir thought with a pang. He would have to – leave Gondor. No wonder his father was so elated. He felt something constricting his chest and found himself closing his eyes and trying hard to just breathe.
“I think we should let Lord Faramir answer for himself,” Aragorn was saying quietly, “You must understand he will need time to –“
“Of course,” Marek said smoothly, “I shall be here in the evening – for your answer, Faramir. And perhaps if you could keep the treaties ready just in case? I hope my forward troops will not be disappointed. They quite like the peacefulness of being pulled back.”
His eyes raked over Faramir again and moving forward he reached out a hand and brushed Faramir’s cheek lightly with his hand, causing the younger man to step back.
When he had left, Faramir turned to face the other two men. Denethor was staring moodily at his quill while Aragorn was looking at him.
“This is what you meant by a proposal of sorts?” Faramir found his voice sounded oddly calm, reflecting none of the bitterness and hurt that he actually felt and he realised how well he had come to disguise all that now, after all these years of dealing with his father.
“You will accept,” Denethor said.
“And if I refuse?” he asked his voice still calm and detached.
“Surely,” Denethor sneered, “After that poetically eloquent speech you gave us yesterday you would not refuse? Did you not hear what he said of his troops? Or of the treaties?”
Faramir stared back at him in silence, remembering his own words. But – Marek was so… the bruises Marek had left on his arm that day had taken weeks to go. Faramir looked tiredly up at Denethor and then at Aragorn. He could slowly see all his dreams crumbling around him.
“You are of little use here.” Denethor was raging now, and Aragorn was beginning to look a little alarmed, “And you don't desie women anyway! Go to Harad, go warm his bed and be of some use! Remember, if you refuse you let down the kingdom. You would be no less than a traitor in my eyes then!”
With that, Denethor swept out of the room in anger, leaving his younger son standing there in tears.
Aragorn stared at the silently sobbing young man and felt a little frustrated. He could comfort him, but what should he comfort him with. And really, Denethor could be a little extremet at times. The boy had had a bit of shock, after all.
He walked forward and put a hand on the shaking shoulder. Faramir stared up at him out of tear-filled grey eyes. Aragorn turned away.
“I will leave you to decide whether or not to accept Marek’s proposal,” he said quietly.
What happens next?
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