A Father's Love

By Imbecamiel

Rating: G?

Characters: Faramir, Pippin, Denethor

Summary: Written for SNWCG #2, "Fear". Post-ROTK. Faramir grieves for his father and brother, as he looks back on his life, and particularly recent events. Pippin offers him hope that his father's feelings may not have always been what they seemed.

Disclaimer: Does this really sound like Tolkien's writing to you? Do you really think anyone would actually pay me for this? No? Well, what does that tell you?

A/N: I wrote this vignette using mainly movie-verse, however I did draw heavily on the books for some parts, particularly Pippin's description of events. LOL, this didn't wind up having as much to do with "fear" as I'd originally had in mind, but oh well... I guess sometimes there's just not much you can do about where a story wants to go. ;-) I hope you enjoy it!


1

Mourning

It was still so hard to believe, even now... His father was really gone. After so many years of disagreement, conflict, grief, unrealized hopes and wishes, some might have thought the realization would have brought relief. But it didn't.

When he had first been told of it, the news had brought a surge of terrible grief and loss, so great it had surprised even him. Always, whatever words or deeds had come between them, he had truly loved his father, even if that love had never been returned.

Faramir sighed, as he leaned against the windowsill, staring out with little interest at the Pelennor Fields, where so recently so many lives had been lost, and fates decided. Now that the initial shock of sorrow had had time to fade somewhat, and life had settled down enough for him to have time to consider thoughts other than the weighty matters of the fates of countries, and the destinies of entire peoples, he found that he was left with only a numb, aching sadness, and the empty feeling of loss.

Absently, he pulled off the ring he had been wearing on his left hand, distractedly turning it over and over in his hands as he thought.

Why? Why had he never been able to win his father's love? It was certainly not through want of desire, or lack of trying. He had tried, oh he certainly had tried. And yet, it seemed it had not been enough.

He winced, as he recalled the last words he could remember his father saying to him.

/A quiet, hopeless fatalism filled him, as he spoke with Denethor. It appeared his father blamed him for the loss of Osgiliath. So many men had died so bravely, fighting what he had known from the start was a losing battle. The enemy were simply too many. Though he had searched his own mind and heart many times since the battle, he knew that there was no way that the outcome could have been any different. Apparently, however, his father believed no such thing.

" Is there a captain here who still has the courage to do his lord's will?" Denethor questioned, the accusation clear in his tone.

Faramir swallowed hard, the intensity of his emotions threatening to choke his words.

"You wish now that our places had been exchanged," he whispered. "That I had died, and Boromir had lived."

"Yes, I wish that." Denethor's agreement was flat, emotionless.

He had felt his heart shatter, then, at his father's admission. For all his despair, he now realized that even still, after all these years, his heart had held some hope that things were not quite as bad as they seemed. Perhaps, secretly, he had even believed that now, with his favorite son gone, his father might not despise him quite so much.

But no. Denethor's words made his feelings on the matter quite clear. It truly was hopeless, then.

It was a struggle to conceal the depth of his pain. Tears stung at his eyes, but he would not allow them to fall. If he could not gain his father's love, at least he would not humiliate himself utterly in front of him. He lifted his chin slightly, refusing to allow his voice to waver as he spoke.

"Since you are robbed of Boromir, I will do what I can in his stead. If I should return-" He hesitated for an instant. "Think better of me, Father."

He turned then, not truly wanting to hear his father's response. The only thing he wanted now was to get away, before he risked destroying whatever little respect his father might have for him. But whether he wanted to hear them or no, his father's words followed him to the doors of the throne room.

"That will depend upon the manner of your return."/

It would depend upon the manner of his return? Faramir snorted softly. He had returned. Against all odds, he had returned after all. When he had left the city, he had known that this was a hopeless mission, one that he most likely would not return from. One which, if the truth be told, he did not even wish to return from. Boromir, not just his brother, but his best and closest friend, was gone, and his father hated and despised him as much as ever. What did he have to return for?

And yet he had returned - returned not by any skill or valor, but by the blind luck of his foot having become firmly tangled in his stirrup when he had been wounded, and his horse's instinct to return to its stables when it found itself without direction. Oh yes, he had returned.

What must his father have thought of him then? If the manner of his return was to have any bearing on his father's feelings towards him, seeing his son ignominiously dragged home by his horse, after failing in his fight and leading his men to ruin, must have made him very proud indeed.

A sound that was half bitter, self-deprecatory laugh, half restrained sob, escaped him. Glancing downward, his eyes caught on the object his fingers had been toying with, all the while his thoughts had wandered elsewhere. With an added pang, he realized the ring had been a gift from his father, long ago. Very long. Back when he had still believed that there was something he could do about his father's displeasure, some way he could prove himself worthy of his love.

When he was young, it had seemed to be simply a matter of working harder, excelling in his studies. Studying long and hard the lessons his tutors gave him, and working even longer and harder at the martial exercises, which had never come to him as easily or with as much enjoyment as they had to his older brother.

He was glad now, more than ever before, that he and his brother had never allowed their father's favoritism toward Boromir to stand between them. In truth, thinking of it from a purely logical viewpoint, he could understand somewhat his father's preference for his oldest son. It was not only that he was his heir, by far the more "important" of the two sons. Boromir had always been the most like their father. He had inherited much of Denethor's temperament and, along with it, his love of the warrior's life. As he had told the hobbit, Pippin, Denethor and Boromir had always been alike, always been the strong ones.

Unbidden, Pippin's response to that statement came back to him. "I think you have strength of a different kind. And one day your father will see it."

Faramir smiled sadly. The hobbit had a kind heart. Here he had come, hoping to offer some cheer to the young one, so alone and far from home. In the end, it had been the hobbit who had offered him words of hope. And, in truth, the words had given him some comfort at the time. But now... Now he saw that it was only an empty hope. A dream.

His father would never see anything again. By his own choice, he was gone now, beyond recall. There would never be another chance to win even his trust or respect, much less his love. His father was gone.

"Father..." Faramir grasped the ring tightly, his clenched fist resting on the windowsill. He rested his forehead against the cool stone wall next to him, pressing his eyes shut tightly.

"He did love you, you know."

To see Faramir's reaction to the words, one might have thought they had been shouted, instead of spoken in a quiet, timid voice, as though the speaker was half afraid of what the man's reaction to his presence might be.

Faramir gave a start, spinning around quickly, his right hand automatically reaching for his sword hilt. He had been at war far too long to respond calmly to any unexpected presence.

He calmed just as quickly, however, his tensed muscles relaxing, as he allowed his hand to fall back to his side - both because he belatedly realized that he no longer wore a sword at all times within the city, and because, only seconds later, he recognized the speaker.

Pippin stepped forward hesitantly, his face uncharacteristically grave as he eyed Faramir seriously. Seeing he had the man's attention, and that Faramir showed no sign of wishing to send him away, he continued.

"Your father, I mean. He loved you, Faramir. Very much."

Faramir summoned up a sad smile for the hobbit. "Thank you, Pippin. I know you mean well, and your words of comfort are appreciated." He sighed. "But I fear you know very little of my father's feelings for me."

Coming closer, Pippin sat down on a bench, which was set against the wall Faramir leaned on.

"No," he said quietly. "No, I don't know much about the way your father acted toward you. Though, from what I have seen, I'd guess your relationship has not been a happy one." Looking up, he met Faramir's eyes. "I can't say anything about the past, but I spent quite a lot of time with him, before all the battles, and I can speak for that time."

"You regard sending his son on a suicide mission as an expression of love, then?" As soon as he had spoken them, Faramir regretted allowing the bitter words to slip out. He dropped his gaze, softening his tone. "I am sorry, Pippin. You don't deserve-"

"It's alright, Faramir." Pippin interrupted him. "You don't have to apologize, really. I know you grieve for him. I'm sorry you had to lose him."

Faramir nodded slightly. "Aye, I do grieve for him. But I fear it was not that day on the pyre that I lost him. He was lost to me long ago, and I am not even sure when, or how, nor what I could have done to prevent it."

There was silence between them for a few minutes, before Faramir looked up at Pippin once more. He hesitated a moment longer, before speaking.

"You truly think he loved me?"

Pippin spoke slowly, choosing his words carefully, all the while meeting Faramir's gaze earnestly.

"I saw him when they brought you in, so badly wounded. I was with him, and I watched as he sat by your side all that day, weeping. He wouldn't eat or drink at all. He told me himself how much he lamented having sent you out, without blessing or thanks, and he blamed himself terribly for having sent you into needless danger. People called for him, but he wouldn't go to them. If they wanted to speak with him, they had to come up to your room, because he refused to leave your side for any reason. He was afraid that you might wake, or speak before the end, and he would not miss that opportunity for anything, even though Minas Tirith were falling to ruin around him. If those were not the actions of a father who loved his son, what are?"

Faramir's attention had quickly become riveted on Pippin as he spoke, and now he looked at the hobbit with almost a pleading expression, as he asked, "My father did that, truly? You would not make such things up, simply to ease my grief?" Despite the near-desperation of his heart, Faramir's words firmly commanded Pippin to tell the truth.

Pippin did not waver under the man's scrutiny.

"Yes, he did." He replied, with the same simple sincerity he had shown throughout. "I wouldn't lie to you about this."

After a pause, Pippin stood to leave. He had said and done all he could, what would be made of it was up to Faramir now.

"Pippin."

Faramir's voice halted him, on his way out. Turning, he looked at the man questioningly.

"Thank you." Faramir's expression made plain his gratitude, even more than his words, as he smiled at the hobbit. And, despite the fact that tears rolled down his cheeks, it was a true smile, without bitterness.

Pippin returned his smile, nodding, before continuing on his way.

As he claimed the seat on the bench that Pippin had so recently vacated, Faramir heaved a long sigh, this time one of release and acceptance, rather than hopelessness. At last, he could grieve truly, without tormenting himself with endless 'what if's. He had regrets still, yes, but no longer hopeless despair.

/Your father loves you, Faramir. He will remember it before the end./

Faramir smiled to himself, recalling Gandalf's words to him, just before he rode out on that last, hopeless mission. As usual, despite all evidence to the contrary, the wizard had been proven right in the end.

He was loved, he knew that now beyond a doubt. Not only by his father, but by his friends, both new and old. Lives would go on, Arda would be rebuilt and, maybe not today, but one day, all would be well again.


TBC... sort of. I'll be posting the second part, a semi-related vignette, which is Aragorn-centric, next week. I hope you'll come back to read it!

Thank you very much for reading. And, as always, comments and constructive critisism are very much appreciated. Please let me know what you think!

- Imbecamiel