North and South

B2MeM Challenge; Rangers of the North- Annuminas; Facets of Faramir- Diplomat; Landscape-glacier, Beasts – toad; weather- hot; Snippets of verse – I am the swift uplifting rush
Format: short story

Genre: general

Rating: G

Warnings: none
Characters: Faramir

Pairings: none

Summary: Faramir receives a frosty welcome in Annúminas

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Faramir shivered and burrowed more deeply into the blankets. He was beginning to feel it had been a mistake to come here to Annúminas to address the Council of the North. The welcome he had received felt as cold as the biting north wind that blew across Lake Nenuial. Everyone treated him with respect and spoke politely, but their eyes remained unsmiling when they beheld the emblems of Gondor upon his clothing and heard his southern speech.

His mind drifted back to a hot summer day in Ithilien when he had told Aragorn that together with Éowyn and the children, he planned to visit Rohan that autumn. Aragorn had suggested that he should extend his travels to Annúminas while he was in the North and convey to the Council the King's greetings, as well as seeing the restored city. On a summer's day, surrounded by blossom and the humming of bees, it had seemed a good idea.

Annúminas was indeed as beautiful as Aragorn had described it. The rebuilding had been supervised by Aragorn's foster brothers and the City had an almost Elven feel to its graceful towers. The view from Faramir's window was as fair as anything Minas Tirith could offer with the clear waters of Lake Nenuial surrounded by graceful towers.

Faramir had left Éowyn with her brother in Edoras so that they could spend more time together and, apart from his guards, had travelled here alone.

Apart from the few friends he had in the City, it was obvious that the Men of the North had little love for the Men of the South. When he requested a hot brick to warm his bed with, the innkeeper's look suggested he had requested a pink Mûmak rather than a humble brick!

Faramir felt it was hardly surprising since Arvedui's claim to the throne of Gondor had been rejected, which had been the start of centuries of decline in the North. It had not helped either that Faramir's father had openly referred to the line of Isildur as a ragged house as if the Dúnedain of the North were some sort of barbarians! Such words would have got back to the proud Men of Arnor.

Faramir ran over in his mind the words of the speech that he planned to give on the morrow. It would take all his diplomatic skills if he were to make a favorable impression and strengthen the ties between Aragorn's twin kingdoms. Finally, he fell into a restless sleep.

His slumber was filled with vivid dreams. He was giving his speech in the council chamber of Annúminas with Mithrandir while the counselors jeered at him. Mithrandir pointed his staff at them and they were transformed into toads that hopped away and disappeared into the lake.

The lake was then transformed into a glacier and Faramir was sliding along it unable to stop. Aragorn suddenly appeared and caught him just as he was about to fall.

Faramir awoke to find that the bed covers had fallen off and he was perched precariously on the edge of the bed. He wondered why he should dream of a glacier, as he had never seen one, only read about them in his books of history and of lore in the stories of the Ice-Men of Forochel and Grinding Ice that Fingolfin's people crossed over. He did sometimes dream of Mithrandir but usually, in the dreams, the Wizard was answering Faramir's questions as he had done during their long friendship.

Faramir pulled the covers around himself again, put the now cold brick in the hearth and put some more wood on the dwindling fire. He climbed back into bed and finally fell deeply asleep.

When he next awoke, it was morning and sunlight was streaming into the room. Rather to his surprise, his apprehension from the night before concerning his speech had disappeared. Maybe his dream of them being turned into toads had helped as he could not but smile when he thought of the image. Faramir partook of a hearty breakfast and dressed himself in robes embroidered with the emblem of the White Tree.

The Council Chamber was packed when Faramir rose to speak. Most of the faces were suspicious or openly hostile. Only a handful of men, whom Faramir had been introduced by Aragorn to in the past, looked friendly. His Hobbit friends were occupied with the late harvest and his other Northern friends were not on the Council.

"Men and women of Arnor," Faramir began. "It is a great honor and privilege to be here amongst you today. Too long our realms have been sundered allowing mistrust and suspicion to grow amongst our people. Alas, that the Men of Gondor often forgot the courage of their Kinsfolk in the North. Much sorrow might have been avoided, had but my ancestor Pelendur chosen more wisely when King Arvedui would have reunited the two kingdoms long ago.

Today though, we live in happier times and our two realms are reunited under the gracious rule of King Aragorn Elessar. He has sent me to you today with his greetings. No greater man than he now lives and the day I yielded Gondor to him was the happiest of my life.

King Aragorn Elessar is a son of the North, strong and true, who first came to Gondor as a humble Captain, where he won great renown. Now he sits on his the rightful throne of his ancestors, but though he is not here with you today, his heart is ever in the North and this fair city he has rebuilt.

I am proud to serve King Aragorn Elessar, my rightful liege lord, who won back the throne of his ancestors, not by conquest of arms, but through the love of his people. To him, I owe not only my love and allegiance but also my life.

Today, I bring greetings from Gondor to her sister realm, in every way her equal."

There was a brief silence in the hall then a swift uplifting rush swept through the crowd as they cheered and applauded Faramir.

The Steward smiled. He had actually enjoyed giving the speech once he started. He had cast his notes aside and spoken from his heart and the Men of the North had recognised and appreciated that.

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