When the council breaks for the afternoon, Faramir can think of only two things: getting to the grapes left over from dinner before they have all been eaten, as they were the day before, and then sneaking away with Aragorn while there is still time before the evening meal.
But as he steps through the doorway toward the outer chamber, he sees his uncle, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, turn away from his son Amrothos to nod in his direction.
"Will you walk with me?"
It is not a request that Faramir can refuse, and indeed, he has missed the company of his uncle, one of the few of his father's men who never seemed to share Denethor's low estimation of his younger son. But Faramir has seen Imrahil's eyes on him recently -- on him, and on the King -- and his back stiffens with unease, even as he falls into step with the older man.
"You seem happy here in Minas Tirith," observes Imrahil as they stride through the garden. "Do you not miss Ithilien?"
"Of course I do." Faramir tries to keep his voice flat, lest he should sound as if he speaks falsely. "But I spent my childhood in this city. It is familiar to me."
His uncle looks at him thoughtfully, then looks away and lowers his head as if preparing to speak frankly. "I had not thought that all your memories were happy ones."
"Some are not. But this was my brother's home as well, and it is here that I best remember him." Imrahil nods, not commenting on the fact that Faramir has not mentioned either of his parents. "And look around us. The city is different now. All Gondor is different."
"You are different as well." They have wandered to the far side of the garden, where they are unlikely to be overheard by any others. Imrahil raises a hand to one of the bright-blooming vines, brought from Rivendell, now growing along the walls of Minas Tirith's gardens. He looks at Faramir and takes a breath, his eyes grave. "They say that you love the King."
Faramir refuses to allow his shoulders to tense. His uncle has known him since he was a small child, and will read his moods easily. He dares not lie, for his face will give him away, but he might easily misunderstand Imrahil's words. "Indeed I do," he declares wholeheartedly, with an expression that he hopes will suggest incredulity that any might doubt it. "Surely you will not find me disloyal to the line of Stewards if I say that all of Gondor owes devotion to Elessar."
The Prince is not fooled by this diversion. "I think that you perceive my meaning, my lord." This formal courtesy in private speech is unusual, warning Faramir to respond with caution. He realizes that he must temper his affection for his mother's brother, for Imrahil never openly questioned Denethor's poor judgment of Faramir. However, Imrahil has never questioned Faramir's fitness to serve as Steward until now.
"Uncle," Faramir says firmly. "Gossip has haunted these halls since long before Aragorn's arrival. Have you heard that any hold the King in less than the highest esteem? Are there complaints about my role at his court?" When Imrahil neither nods nor dismisses these questions, Faramir presses, "Is there jealousy among the nobles that I have been given a princedom, or that my wife is the sister of a King? If you have cause to believe that any are speaking against myself or Aragorn, I ask you to tell me."
"I do not know," Imrahil replies in a voice that is quiet yet intense. "I have overheard no anger, but there is speculation. I wish only to warn you, Faramir. All eyes in Gondor are upon you. This kingdom will survive no more betrayals."
A childhood of unspoken suffering has taught Faramir not to speak when he fears that he may lose his temper. Instead he studies the flowers blooming on the ground, waiting until he is certain of what he wants to say. "You need fear no betrayal by myself," he tells his uncle. "I have always known where my duties lie, and I have never shunned them. As for the King, he has offered up his life in service of Gondor. I will not believe that any dare question his fitness to rule."
Faramir silences himself before he accuses Imrahil of doubting Aragorn, choosing to believe that he has made his point. But Imrahil steps close, forcing Faramir to meet his gaze. "I do not question his loyalty and strength, nor yours. But the good will of a leader cannot preserve the faith nor win the love of his people. We both watched your father's decline. If I speak plainly, it is because I know that you want peace for this kingdom as much as I do. I ask only that you be careful."
A nearby footstep startles them both. Glancing up, Faramir realizes that he should not be surprised, for Aragorn still has the stealth of a Ranger when he wishes, and he has crept unseen into their presence, smiling. Though Faramir forces the grin of delight from his own lips, he is certain that Imrahil can see his pleasure as he looks upon the King nonetheless. Aragorn's smile is subdued, but when he turns to Faramir, there is a familiar question in his eyes.
"Indeed, these flowers grow well in the city, though they come from distant soil," Imrahil declares as if this has been their topic of discussion. "I must rejoin my sons. I thank you for your time, nephew." With that, the Prince bows his head to the King and departs, leaving Aragorn and Faramir standing together in the garden.
"Are matters well between you and your uncle?" inquires Aragorn.
Faramir sighs. "It would be prudent for us to stop passing private notes between ourselves in council," he murmurs flatly. The King cocks an eyebrow but says nothing, instead indicating with a gesture that he would like to walk back inside. With another sigh, Faramir follows.
"'I want to see you alone' could be a perfectly innocent query," Aragorn points out in a perfectly innocent voice.
"Not when accompanied by a sketch of two men in a bathtub," notes Faramir, drawing a guffaw from Aragorn.
"We could not even be recognized in that sketch. Other than the size of my..."
Turning, the King offers a naughty grin, making a gesture in the air that Faramir fears would look as suggestive to any passerby as it does to him. "It is not that big," he says straightfaced.
"Are you certain?"
"In the drawing from this morning? It was as long as your forearm!"
They have reached the doorway, and Aragorn laughs aloud as they step through, turning heads throughout the hallway. Men smile and nod in their direction, and Faramir thinks that his uncle must be wrong about the gossip; these people seem content to see their King and Steward so close, with such obvious commonality of purpose. As they walk away from the crowd, Aragorn reaches into a pocket in his robe and pulls out a folded square of parchment. Opening it and squinting at it, he says, "This is not an unreasonable portrait," and hands the page to Faramir, making him blush scarlet as he sees the sketch he drew carelessly on the back of a list of provisions for the armory.
Keeping his eyes focused directly in front of him, he retorts, "Only because you can't see the part that is in my mouth."
"Oh. Mmm. I see," Aragorn replies. Then he grabs Faramir by the elbow, hustling him down the hallway and into his private rooms before Faramir has stopped laughing.
"This is not a very good drawing," he chuckles as they step inside. "I seem to have given myself six fingers on one hand."
"What a pity." Reaching out, Aragorn lifts his wrist, pressing a kiss to his palm. Then he sucks Faramir's pointer finger into his mouth, letting his other hand drift over Faramir's cock beneath his breeches until it stiffens.
"I have been meaning to tell you..." Faramir hears his voice catch, and tries to keep it steady, the way he tries to keep his hips steady rather than thrusting into Aragorn's hand. "It is very distracting when you touch me like this under the table."
Releasing his finger, Aragorn steps back to regard him. "Of course it is. That is why I do it. You start blushing...and you look so lovely when you blush." The backs of his fingers stroke over Faramir's cheek.
"Everyone notices when I blush, and I do not believe that they think I look lovely." Still, he cannot resist turning his head to try to get Aragorn's fingers in his mouth.
"Well, when they are running the meetings, they can do as they please." Aragorn kisses his nose. "And anyone who does not think that you are lovely is very foolish."
"I am afraid that they think we are very foolish..." But Aragorn is smiling warmly, and somehow Imrahil's concerns suddenly seem very distant. Faramir opens his mouth and starts licking Aragorn's fingers with great enthusiasm, giving him a naughty look.
The King's other hand starts moving over Faramir's cock -- light, teasing strokes that he can feel through his clothes. "You worry too much about what people think," Aragorn says sternly.
"We need...unity..." Faramir gives up trying to be coherent and goes back to sucking Aragorn's fingers, groaning around them and wriggling his hips to get more friction with Aragorn's fingers.
"Indeed? And what else do we need, love?" Aragorn pulls his fingers from Faramir's mouth, trailing them over his chin and down his neck.
"Peace...prosperity...the hands of the King," Faramir decides, reaching for the fastenings on Aragorn's vest.
"Mmm...the hands of the King are rather busy," murmurs Aragorn, sucking briefly on Faramir's lip. Closing his eyes, Faramir kisses him deeply while he continues to remove Aragorn's clothing. However, when he reaches the laces of his breeches, he finds that he cannot untie them without looking, and pulls back, blushing. Aragorn smiles at him. "Do you need something?"
"I need you to stop tying knots in your laces," Faramir growls, kneeling to use his teeth to untie them.
Aragorn laughs, reaching down to touch Faramir's hair. "But the sight of you like that..." Faramir licks over the material, pressing down on the cock beneath. Groaning, he sticks his tongue out, wriggling it between the laces.
Aragorn groans as well. "Faramir," he says, "you don't know what you are doing to me."
"Get...these...off," Faramir suggests between licks, taking Aragorn's buttocks in his hands. Cursing softly, Aragorn fumbles with the laces. They slip from his fingers a few times before he finally manages to work them loose.
With one tug, Faramir yanks Aragorn's breeches down to his knees, letting his cock spring free. He pushes Aragorn backward to sit on the bed, taking him into his mouth immediately, sucking and humming in pleasure. Aragorn lets out a muttered string of obscenities; his fingers grip the bedcovers. Faramir continues to suck as if Aragorn is honeycomb, groaning and slurping in enjoyment. His hands run up Aragorn's body.
"Faramir...oh, love, if you keep doing that..." Aragorn says in warning before his breath catches in his throat. He shudders and lifts his hands to grasp at Faramir's.
Reluctantly Faramir raises his head. "If I stop, will you take me on all fours and let me ruin your pillows?"
The King tugs his Steward up and kisses him, long and slow and searching. "Yes," he gasps, "yes, I'll take you." Holding on tightly with one arm, Faramir fumbles at his own clothing with the other. Aragorn tugs as well, as much as he dares without ripping the delicate fabrics. He finally manages to pull away the tunic, but his fingers keep bumping into Faramir's when he tries to unlace his breeches. Faramir laughs, pushing Aragorn's hand up to his chest while he finishes untying the laces and pushing the rest of his clothing to the floor.
"My lovely Faramir," Aragorn murmurs, rolling him onto his back. "Sweet..." He kisses him between words, then begins to work his way down Faramir's body, licking and sucking on all the flesh his mouth encounters. Faramir buries his fingers in the King's hair, rolling his hips and sighing in pleasure. Aragorn presses kisses down Faramir's belly, then pauses, his mouth hovering just above his cock. "Do you realize," he says softly, "that it has been nearly a week since I last did this?"
"Do you realize," groans Faramir in response, "that you had better not do it for more than a minute?"
"If I do..." Aragorn's tongue moves teasingly around Faramir's cock, "will you promise to fill my mouth?"
"But you promised to fill my...aah!" Faramir cries out as Aragorn's tongue strikes the spot just beneath the tip.
Aragorn licks Faramir's cock again. "We have time," he murmurs, his lips moving against Faramir's sensitive flesh.
"Oh, unfair," Faramir groans. "You wouldn't let me..." The very tip of Aragorn's tongue teases along a vein. Raising himself up on an elbow, Faramir glares down, though his harsh breathing only becomes faster when he sees Aragorn licking his cock. "You wouldn't let me finish!"
"Oh, I promise I will let you finish. You may finish all over my face, if you like."
"That is not...what I meant..." With a groan Faramir lets his head fall back. "We cannot miss the evening meal, and I want you to fuck me!"
Aragorn slides back up Faramir's body, pushing him onto his back. "You want me to fuck you?" His eyes are dark and serious, and this is the point at which Faramir always loses whatever shreds of control to which he clings. Fortunately, he knows as well how to make Aragorn respond.
"I want you to fuck me. Now. Please. Fuck me, my King." Faramir's hips press upward urgently.
Stretching his arm out, Aragorn gropes on the shelf above the bed for the little jar of ointment. "Do you want a pillow beneath your hips?" he asks as his fingers dip into the jar.
"I want two pillows," replies Faramir with a grin, gathering them in his arms from above his head.
"Greedy," Aragorn teases, and waits for Faramir to push them under him. He leans over and licks his nipple. "Very greedy." His finger finds the opening to Faramir's body, teasing the muscle there with feather-light touches.
"I am only impatient," Faramir retorts, trying to push himself down onto Aragorn's finger.
"You are always impatient, love," Aragorn says, his voice a purr. "But it is part of what makes you so very endearing." He chuckles softly and licks Faramir's nipple again, the finger slipping inside him.
Faramir groans, holds Aragorn's head down and tightens around him. "We never...have enough time..." he whimpers.
"No," Aragorn agrees, pushing a second finger inside. He holds his hand still as his tongue moves over and around Faramir's nipple. "Never enough...there could never be enough."
After another moment, he begins to move his fingers within Faramir's body, slowly, far too slowly. Faramir rocks downward to encourage Aragorn, moaning shamelessly. "Please," he begs, "Fuck me, give me your cock, now."
A groan rises up in Aragorn's throat, and he pulls his fingers free. "I love it when you talk like that," he gasps, fumbling with the ointment to slick his cock. "Words like that...spilling from your lips!" He moves his body between Faramir's legs, guiding his cock into him, one arm next to Faramir supporting all his weight. He is shaking, suddenly, and very breathless. "You don't know what you do to me."
Faramir has the heel of one foot planted on the mattress to push him against Aragorn, the other in the air pressing against Aragorn's body; he cries out when Aragorn enters him, half in discomfort and half in surprise at how little his cock cares about his stretched lower muscles. "Aragorn," he croaks. "More, please...let me have you..." Aragorn pushes all the way inside, burying himself in Faramir, filling him. "Is this what you want, love?" he whispers, his mouth now against Faramir's chin. "Tell me this is what you want. Tell me to fuck you. Please."
Faramir is trembling at being so open, having Aragorn so deep inside, aching and urgent. "Yes, fuck me," he begs. "I love you. Have me." And Aragorn does. The hand that was guiding his cock into Faramir now grips Faramir's hip, and he begins to move. He is slow and gentle at first, but cannot keep that rhythm; soon, he takes him harder, harder, driving deep before pulling nearly all the way out and thrusting home again.
Faramir shouts each time Aragorn sheaths himself fully, digging his toes into the mattress. He grabs at Aragorn's hand, trying to push it to his own leaking cock before giving up and grabbing himself, thrashing his head back. "Yes," Aragorn gasps, his voice strained. "Touch -- touch yourself." He shudders above Faramir, his hips moving faster now. "Make yourself -- oh, Faramir!"
With a wordless cry Faramir jerks his hips upward, shoving himself into his own fist. His seed shoots over his hand to splatter onto Aragorn's belly and his own. Feeling the hot splash on his skin is enough to send Aragorn tumbling as well. His hips jolt helplessly as he shoves himself in deep, deeper, coming inside Faramir with a shout.
"...oh...yes...Aragorn," Faramir groans when he can find his voice, feeling himself impaled as Aragorn surrenders his pleasure deep within. "Give it to me..." He will ache all evening, and the ache will make him smile.
Aragorn collapses on Faramir's chest, gasping for breath. "Sorry...I'm sorry, love. I couldn't...couldn't stop."
Faramir's arms go around him despite the sticky dampness of his fingers, holding on tightly. "What could you possibly be sorry for? I did not want you to stop!"
"I wanted to make it last. At least a little longer." Aragorn pulls out carefully, biting his lip. He falls to his side, still breathing heavily. "I cannot drink my fill of you, it seems."
Turning, Faramir pushes the pillows from beneath him and tangles his legs with Aragorn's. "I could not have lasted another moment," he admits. Shifting closer, he feels wetness slide down his thigh and grins ruefully. "Nor am I certain that I would be able to sit, later, if we had."
Aragorn wraps his arms around Faramir, tugging him as close as he can. "If you could not sit, my dear Steward," he says softly, "I would feel terribly guilty."
"Well, I would feel wonderful," answers Faramir defiantly. "Even when my wife laughed at me. But this way I will feel wonderful enough to do it again tomorrow."
Aragorn laughs then; a soft, throaty chuckle. "But perhaps tomorrow, I will want you to fuck me."
"Perhaps I will," Faramir nods agreeably. "If you will let me clean you now, and taste you before we go to dine."
"Oh, yes," says Aragorn, "you may do whatever you please."
"Whatever I please?" Faramir kisses his lips, then his throat, moving his mouth slowly down to Aragorn's collarbone where he sucks the unprotected skin hard, leaving a mark. "May I tell the Council that I love you? Shall I shout it from the parapets? Then I will no longer need to fear that all can see it in my face."
Aragorn moans softly, stroking Faramir's hair. "I do not know that I would try to stop you," he admits.
Faramir lifts his head to meet the King's eyes. "It does not bother you that I need you this way? I do not know if you wish me to seek you less often. If, as your Steward, I make you feel trapped."
"Of course it does not bother me," Aragorn replies, touching his cheek. "For I love you desperately, Faramir."
Closing his eyes, Faramir slides his face into the space between Aragorn's chin and shoulder. "Then I am glad," he murmurs happily.
"As am I," Aragorn says, stroking his back. "You are not in pain?"
"Not very much."
"Shall I see if I can kiss it away?"
Faramir lifts his head to stare, thinking that Aragorn is certainly making a joke. But his eyes are dark and serious again, and Faramir dares not laugh.
"You...want to...you mean that you would..."
Aragorn pulls away, and Faramir thinks for a terrible moment that he is offended. But he is still holding Faramir's hand, and tugs him over onto his belly, folding his arm beside his face. "Move your legs apart," he says quietly and crawls behind him, out of view. Faramir does not obey at first, still fearful that Aragorn does not really wish to do this, until he feels hands trailing up the backs of his legs. "You have the most delectable backside I have ever seen," Aragorn says in a lighter voice, and he presses kisses to the twin dimples in the small of Faramir's back.
Faramir shudders. He is still sore, and his balls feel tight, yet his cock is trying to stiffen again, making the tip tingle uncomfortably. He thinks it is entirely possible that he will scream if Aragorn puts his tongue any lower, and he also thinks he does not care.
Aragorn murmurs endearments, some in Elvish, as his lips travel downward from the base of Faramir's spine. Lower, and his fingers part Faramir's buttocks. "Ohh," Faramir whispers when he can feel the King's hot breath gusting against the raw, damp space where it seems that every nerve in his body is now focused. Aragorn whispers his Steward's name, reverently, before his tongue touches him there, seeking traces of his own seed. "Ahh!" Faramir bites down onto the pillow beneath his face to stifle a wail.
"Faramir? Love, tell me you like this. Tell me you want this."
Faramir can feel Aragorn tremble as his tongue pushes inside him, and he groans raggedly. "I...aiee!" It is the most coherent sound Faramir can make, and he makes it again, more loudly, as Aragorn penetrates him more deeply, sending an ache so pleasurable that it feels almost like a cramp through his groin. His cock is throbbing against the mattress. And Aragorn's tongue seems to be impossibly thick as it moves within him, tasting, exploring, making Faramir quiver. He shudders all over, almost bucking Aragorn's mouth off him. Gasping in a harsh breath, he lets it out in a silent scream that turns into a real one.
Aragorn pulls back at the sound. His hand comes up to rest on the small of Faramir's back. "Are you all right?" he asks softly.
"I'm...sorry...it's too much," Faramir gasps. Sweat is pouring down his face, and he is shaking all over.
Aragorn moves to lie at his side, a hand still comforting his back. "It's all right, love," he whispers, "don't apologize." Faramir turns into his arms, burying his face and soaked hair against Aragorn's body. He opens his mouth to taste Aragorn's skin, not kissing, just letting his tongue rest against the flesh so that the salt and sweet take over his senses. His lover's arms are warm and tight around him, and his soft, soothing voice covers him like a blanket. "Faramir," he murmurs, "you are so good. So perfect. I love you so much."
"Love you," Faramir breathes. He does not think he can speak, and moves his mouth more deliberately on Aragorn so that he has an excuse not to try.
"Mmm," says Aragorn, "...nice." He moves restlessly against Faramir, tugging him closer. "Are you certain we cannot miss the evening meal?"
"We will be missed," Faramir groans. "By everyone. Imrahil..."
Then Aragorn sighs, gently pushing away from Faramir. "We will be late if we stay here much longer." Faramir shakes, fighting the urge to pull Aragorn back to him until he can breathe again. He nods, rolling onto his back, trying to gather his wits as Aragorn sits up and goes to get a small washbasin and cloths. The King begins to bathe Faramir, dripping water onto the already soiled covers.
Reluctantly Faramir stops him with a hand on his face. "You should go," he says quietly. "I will not be missed as quickly, and it would be better if we did not appear together. I will join you soon."
Aragorn nods, and leans forward to kiss Faramir. "I will watch for you, then," he says, rising to his feet to wash himself. He begins to dress in regal finery, watching Faramir the entire time. "We are fortunate," he murmurs, "that I have as much self-control as I do."
To this, Faramir cannot help but snort, "I will remind myself of that, the next time I feel your hands on me under the table."
Aragorn grins boyishly. "That is, indeed, self-control, for if I had none, I would take you on the table."
"Perhaps we should sit on opposite sides," Faramir laughs, sitting up slowly. His head throbs for a moment, and he pauses to take a breath.
"That would not help," says Aragorn, straightening his clothing, "for I would spend hours gazing at you."
"And we could not possibly hand one another notes," replies Faramir. "Though it might be safer if we stopped, even now. One day, one of them is certain to be intercepted."
"You know," Aragorn muses, "I think I would enjoy seeing the reactions to your artwork."
Faramir glares, stretching and putting his feet on the floor. "It would be amusing for perhaps two minutes. And we would pay for the rest of our lives. As would our wives, our families. Too many suspect already."
Aragorn nods. "I know."
"And do you plan to worry about it?"
"I think," says the King gently, "that you worry enough for the both of us."
"Someone must." Faramir stands and pulls Aragorn against him. "Because I could not bear to lose this, and we would have to, if we were discovered."
"I know." Aragorn wraps his arms around Faramir, and kisses him tenderly. "I could not bear to lose this, either. You mean far too much to me."
Faramir is very tempted not to release Aragorn, but to keep him there. He dares not try to explain what the King means to him, not if he expects to be able to face him while dining a few minutes hence. "Then go," he says. "Quickly."
Aragorn kisses Faramir again before pulling away. "I will see you soon," he says, and quickly leaves the room.
Painstakingly Faramir pulls on his clothes, shaking out his shoulders and stretching his arms to try to make himself relax. Eowyn will know at once what he has been up to, and the thought makes him smile; but his uncle will not smile, nor his cousins, and lately he thinks that Legolas does not smile at him so readily either. Perhaps he believes he should be defending Arwen's honor.
For his part, Aragorn seems content to deny the reactions of all but their wives. Certainly he knows the way others regard them, or at least he acknowledges that he does, yet the King is far too reckless.
Faramir takes his time walking to the great hall where the council is dining, detouring to his rooms, where one of the servants has hung the portrait of his father that once adorned his private chamber, probably thinking it would be a kindness to Faramir to show him that Denethor was not forgotten. He shifts his eyes away and reminds himself to have it moved in the morning to a darker corner. As he dresses in clothing that is less wrinkled than what he wore to the council, he hopes that Eowyn will perhaps come looking for him, but when she does not appear, he walks to the great hall.
A seat is empty to Aragorn's left, with Eowyn seated on its other side. "My lady," he murmurs, bowing low and kissing his wife's hand. She turns to him with her eyebrow cocked, and he knows that she must already have been tormenting Aragorn about the cause of their lateness. Further down the table, Imrahil glances in their direction, and Faramir turns all his attention to bestowing flirtatious kisses up Eowyn's arm.
"My lord Steward," Aragorn says, his voice light, "I do not believe that the Lady Eowyn has spilled her soup on her arm. Yours, on the other hand, is growing cold."
Not daring to look at the King, though failure to acknowledge him is a breach of propriety, Faramir sinks into his seat between them. He turns past Aragorn to nod to Arwen, who smiles reassuringly. His cousin Elphir is seated across the table, and Faramir nods to him as well.
"I was saying to Elphir," Aragorn says, stirring his spoon about his soup, "that it would appear we will have a bountiful harvest this year. A good sign, I think. Don't you, Faramir?"
"Indeed," Faramir nods agreeably, taking a spoonful of cold soup. "We should make certain that none goes to waste. Our neighbors in Rohan still have many fields that have not been restored from the battles."
"A brilliant suggestion," replies Aragorn. "We will be certain to make plans for that at our next meeting."
"Hardly brilliant, my lord," Faramir says, wishing that he were not blushing. He looks at Eowyn, not Aragorn, as he adds, "It is hard not to remember the misfortune of those near to us."
"Very true," Aragorn says as Eowyn smiles at Faramir.
Imrahil appears to be listening, but he has turned toward his younger son, and Faramir relaxes a bit, just as Eowyn whispers, "Are you sore?"
Now Faramir no longer minds that he is blushing. "Perhaps a little," he admits, sipping at his soup.
"I will rub you later, if you will rub me later," she murmurs in his ear, and they giggle together, turning heads down the table.
His uncle nods to him, inclining his head and smiling faintly. Faramir nods back, taking a covert glance about the room. Several pairs of eyes are on him, but they are twinkling in appreciation of his closeness with his wife and the King. Faramir meets the gazes of a few and smiles, raising his goblet in acknowledgment, and suddenly he feels safe and happy once more.