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Kindred Spirits (2/7) - fanfiction

Hi again my sweet gentle readers! First of all, thanks so much for your wonderful comments! I can't tell you how much each and every one means to me. You're all so amazing! I'm sorry I haven't been able to reply, but now that the holidays have ended RL has started it's mad pace again. So I'm barely keeping my head above water. I'm going to do my best to post a new chapter every week. I wish I could answer everyone, too, but I might not be able to maintain that dialogue with all of you that I used to so enjoy. Please know, however, that your comments fill my heart with happiness and make Le Muse squeal with delight beneath her blanket of woe. As ever, your donations of sweets and chocolate to Le Deprived Muse Fund are greatly appreciated. We both love you all, my precious loyal fledglings. You brighten our lives.

Faramir, Devon and Gwinthorian join forces for an adventure and court Certain Doom.

Thank you, Kat, for being my constant companion year after year, the one I turn to for calm, sage advice and the bestest beta in all the land. I'm so fortunate in you.

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended. This story is not meant to violate the rights held by New Line, Tolkien Enterprises, nor any other licensee, nor is any disrespect intended. I don’t own Tolkien’s original characters, however, my OC’s, Gwinthorian, Garrick, Devon and several other Rangers are exclusively my own.

Chapter one is here.

Kindred Spirits(2/7)
by Larrkin

My heart had been joyously thrumming in my chest ever since we slipped out of Osgiliath. Gwinthorian had been waiting for us at the rendezvous point, a rubble-strewn side street in the ruined city. He sat perched upon the branch of a broken tree like a small golden bird, swinging one leg and waiting with, as Dev had predicted, his customary impatience.

"He'll be there," he'd told me when we left Minas Tirith, "provoked and ready to scold us for keeping him waiting. Keep in mind that a five minute wait is excruciating for Gwinthorian."

I'd laughed, delighted by how well Devon knew him, and sure enough:

"Finally!" Gwin exclaimed at our approach. "I have been sitting here for an age."

Devon simply gave him a dismissive glance and said, "Nonsense, Gwin." And the elf jumped down, shot him a frown, then let the matter drop without another word.

I handed Gwinthorian his haversack and within moments he'd donned it and we were ready to go. Then Devon had his one bad moment. He paused, stood still and looked around. Anxious. It flowed from him. We had gone over my plan at length and I had answered all his concerns, but worry still nagged at him. He did so want to trust me, though, so I went to him and nudged him with my shoulder and said, "Come on, Dev. It'll be alright."

He turned to me, and I watched him for a long moment, taking in his sweet boyish features and his long, vagabond locks and his wide grey eyes full of too much knowing and a secret disquietude. He studied me silently, then he pressed his lips together in a tight line and nodded once.

So this was what it felt like, this camaraderie of equals. Devon wasn't obeying a command from a superior. He was following me out of choice. And that made all the difference. Gwinthorian drew close to us with some encouraging words of his own for Devon.

"Relax, Dev. Stop looking like a frightened fauntling. Else we shall send you running back to Garrick."

Devon gave Gwin a fond smile and called him a filthy elvish name and Gwin called Devon one that was equally filthy, making me laugh. All was well then and off into the wild we'd plunged.

I'd had no idea that I'd been missing out on what they shared. After all, I had Boromir, and we'd never been closer. But, save that unfortunate incident involving my brother, myself and a few trespassing orcs in Osgiliath's ancient sewers, Boromir wasn't a companion the way Gwin and Devon were companions. He was my big brother, and his was the lap I'd been turned over face down far too often since our reunion. I loved him in more ways than I could count, but Boromir was not someone I would seek out for an adventure such as this. I'd managed to corrupt the poor Steward once. I wouldn't do it again.

However, Gwinthorian and Devon, ahh, now here were two charming rogues after my own heart! I felt at ease with them. I'd been able to observe them more now that the war was won and Aragorn's Grey Company had, at his request, remained encamped on the Pelennor Plain until further notice.

Now when Aragorn or Legolas or my brother or any mixture of the three had gone down to the camp they would ask me to join them - along with any of the little ones who pleadingly attached themselves to us - and I'd eagerly go, and there Gwin and Devon would be, often in each other's company, two beautiful golden youths, neither of them looking quite old enough to be encamped among these seasoned Rangers. It was a fascinating illusion given the fact that Gwinthorian was at least a thousand years older than these mortals and Devon was near Aragorn’s age. But since their behavior oft supported the more youthful illusion it was perhaps no illusion after all. And, to my delight, they were always excited to see me.

"Faramir!" they would cry, watching us ride up. I'd feel a joyous leap in my heart and a broad smile burst across my face. How I loved being around them. And the more we saw of each other the more attached I grew to Devon and Gwin. They understood something fundamental within me. I'd tried to explain it to Boromir once. He listened patiently, then cast me his fond grin and said, "Perhaps they respond so to you because you are good to everyone, little urchin, and everyone loves you in return."

"It's different with Gwin and Dev, though," I'd said. Then I found, to my shock, that I couldn't describe how or why it was different. I'd almost said, 'they understand me,' but I thought such a statement might hurt my brother's tender feelings, so I’d shrugged and said, "I can't really say why."

He'd chuckled. "You cannot say why? You cannot find the words? Well, there's a first."

But I saw in Devon and Gwin a willingness to be the eternal youths they appeared to be, embracing their natures without a measure of regret, sharing a willingness to invite the wrath of others by hurling themselves headlong into mischief, for they harbored a childlike trust that someone would be there to catch them when they fell, and to then disapprove. Unburdened by command, they were simply who they were, and within me was that same urge, that same desire to do exactly as I pleased, even knowing I'd face Damrod in the end . . . or, now, alas, one of my three big brothers.

At present I was striving for a little more sovereignty, squirming to crawl out from beneath the ever watchful eyes of my devoted guardians. I loved them all, but they didn't understand how fully capable I felt, nor did they listen when I assured them that I was. They left a fellow little room in which to have a bit of harmless fun. In truth, however, while I was more than able to accidentally find myself in trouble, I wasn't all that familiar with how to have some harmless fun with others, Boromir and the sewer orcs being a disastrous exception to that.

But Gwinthorian and Devon's many stories of shared harmless fun appealed to some deep longing within me. I really couldn't fathom it, and yet I thought perhaps it had something to do with my lack of a companion, or companions, close to my own age and disposition. I had run with my friends as a child, but for quite some time now I'd been Captain of my Ithilien Rangers. I outranked everyone I knew. Just who would I find to act as a companion? I was a leader, responsible, separate and alone, and that was how it needed to be.

I'd been content with who I was before I met Devon and Gwin, and now . . . now I was still content, but something had awoken within me, something these two had kindled that gladdened my heart when I was with them and left me feeling at a loss when it was time to part company. I longed to form a bond with them, and I wasn't sure how to go about doing that.

So, my "idea." I knew it to be sound. All I needed was the right moment to approach my hopefully willing new companions. Had I harbored any doubts about our safety I never would have considered the plan at all. But I knew Ithilien and I knew I could keep Gwin and Devon safe. As to the consequences, well . . . the aftermath would be most unpleasant, but I was willing to accept that. Unless I missed my guess about Gwin and Devon, they'd be willing to as well.

I'd been unprepared for Devon's resistance. I'd glanced at Gwin, wondering if he encountered this kind of stubborn refusal when he presented Dev with some mischievous idea. But Gwinthorian seemed flummoxed, watching Devon with enormous blue eyes and a hushed, stunned expression.

I tried everything I could think of to sway Dev. His resistance was bewildering. Perhaps I'd simply startled him, hitting him with my plan too suddenly. He had strong protective inclinations towards Gwinthorian, something that really set off Gwin's temper. Gwinthorian had remained strangely quiet during most of Devon's arguments, but when Dev had tried to tell Gwin that he wasn't going to let him go on this journey he ignited a show of elvish defiance.

Finally I saw that I was getting nowhere with this most obstinate of Rangers, so I abandoned the field and let him think on it. Provoking Devon's anger and causing a falling out between him and Gwin was the last thing I wanted to do. So I told myself to stand down and asked Gwinthorian to do so as well, furious and frustrated though he was. Then, to show Devon that I understood, even though I didn't, I sat beside him, fighting the urge to put my arm around him and draw him close. Because what I sensed in him was a state of utter confusion. He didn't liked opposing me. He hated it.

Aside from my occasional unmannerly trick of pulling a strong thought from someone's awareness, I can't actually read minds. But I sensed Devon's erratic feelings jumping about in no order. He wrestled with himself, because although he'd do almost anything in the name of adventure, he truly considered my plan to be dangerous. He wanted to think that I knew what I was doing, but his fears outweighed his daring, a rare situation for him, so I gathered.

And I began to realize, to my disbelief and sorrow, that I’d best let go this chance to share an adventure with them. There seemed to be little more I could say to convince Devon that all would be well, especially after I'd made the mistake of suggesting we would, perhaps, be forgiven for this when I knew full well we'd be facing utter destruction at the hands of our various loving warriors when we returned home. Certain doom indeed. Profound certain doom. Cataclysmic certain doom. When I let myself think on it --

The Wrath of Damrod would be unimaginable. As would be the wrath of Boromir, Aragorn and, Valar help me, Legolas. I envisioned them passing me from lap to lap, certain dooming me as a group. I thought of Dev and Gwin facing their own certain doom. Halbarad, so like Damrod – there was a fearsome thought. And Devon's giant corporal, ah, poor Dev! All three of us would be certain doomed well into the next age.

I sat beside a strangely quiet and tormented Devon, so different now from the smiling Dev I'd come upon earlier. This had gone badly. I'd expected him to react as Gwin had, jumping up and crying, "when do we start?" I couldn't fathom how I'd been so mistaken. A sense of loss and humiliation and failure blanketed over me.

I pulled further and further within myself, seeing what I had actually achieved in this: I'd distanced myself from them. I'd put a rift between us. Because of me they were now on opposing sides and bound to be at odds with each other until they'd settled this. And when they finally did settle the matter between them Gwinthorian and Devon would likely choose to avoid my company in future. I'd sown seeds of dissent between them. Why would they invite more of that? It horrified me suddenly, what I'd done. I'd hurt them. I'd come between them. And nothing could have been further from my intentions.

A wave of sorrow crashed over me and I sat there between them, letting that pain slash at me, sinking deeper and deeper inside myself, knowing I'd lost something I'd so longed to be a part of, mourning the loss of Devon and Gwin's warm-hearted acceptance and dreading the continuing solitude yawning before me. Then I heard Dev's murmured: "Let's hear the details of your plan, then."

I sucked a sharp breath, scarcely believing he'd said what he did. But he had said it! He did! And the dark sorrow within me vanished, just vanished. Instantly! I smiled at Dev, unable to stop even though he wasn't looking at me. I could've kissed him. But rather than shock poor Dev further I simply assured him that everything would be alright. We’d be perfectly safe.

Why Devon finally came around, I couldn't say. I'd been too lost inside myself to sense anything other than my own anguish. But at one point I realized that I was watching him. Dev was so pretty and easy to look upon. And then he turned to me, his thoughtful gaze full of understanding and attentiveness, and I suddenly felt he knew something about me I hadn't meant to show. Oddest feeling, that.

But then, perhaps not all that odd. Devon may not have the Sight, but he was as Dúnedain as I was, maybe even more so, and this wouldn't have been the first time he'd rifled through my senses. He did it very well, although I felt he wasn't always aware of his actions. But I didn't care. After all, I often did the same thing. I shrugged it off, far too thrilled with his consent to be distracted by such particulars.

Gwinthorian was beside himself at Devon's surrender. He released a joyful cry, scrambled around behind me and hugged Devon so fiercely that Dev fell over onto his back, Gwin crashing across him in a laughing heap.

"Gerroff!" Dev roared, and he began tickling Gwin who absolutely fell to pieces, his giggles making me laugh along with Devon. How I'd longed to join in! But I held back, uncertain of myself and the intimacy of rough tussling about with them in the loose dirt like puppies. I enjoyed watching them and feeling part of their lighthearted fun. Devon finally shoved a laughing, quivering heap of Gwin to one side, sat up, readjusted his clothes and dusted himself off. "Ridiculous elf," he grumbled with complete fondness.

This was what I'd longed for. Companions who thought as I did and felt what I felt. And I hadn't known such a longing until I'd met these two and spent time with them. I hadn't realized I was missing something so immense.

Now they were walking behind me, following me, trusting me to lead them into Ithlien. It seemed my feet were barely touching the ground.

We traveled without incident through the bush country, moving swiftly and entering the woodlands by mid-morn. By then Devon had asked me twice if I was alright. Was I tired? Should we rest? I was touched. And each time he asked I thanked him for his concern, and told him that I was, indeed, alright.

And I was. The last time I'd been in Ithilien I'd been leading Frodo and Sam to Minas Tirith and my father. Being back now with my two companions was helping heal that bad memory. I felt exhilarated. My heart quickened. Small tingles shot along my limbs, especially when we reached the forest and I caught the sharp scent of the pines and the rich, loamy soil and I saw the speckled green patterns of the sun spilling down through the canopy of leaves. I had the familiar sense of coming home.

We didn't speak much at first. We were all on heightened alert, especially the elf walking soundlessly between Devon and me, listening to every noise in the forest, listening for danger.

"Hear anything, Gwin?" Devon would whisper.

"If I do I'll let you know. Be still, Dev."

All was well, though. We trudged along in silence, but I was relaxed. I sensed nothing out there that shouldn't be out there. My woodlands felt tranquil and safe. I wasn't concerned in the least, and after several hours I felt my friends' agitation ease. Then they started their 'game.'

Devon began first. "Can we take a break?" he asked. "I could use one."

I turned and looked over my shoulder at him. He seemed neither winded nor flushed, and when we halted he didn't head for a private bush. He and Gwin just flopped on the ground and invited me to join them. "Just needed a breather," Devon said with his dimpled grin.

A 'breather?' Most odd. I stood and pondered this, staring into the woods. Then I quickly glanced down and caught them exchanging a secret triumphant glance, and I knew. Ahh. A game. A Force Faramir to Rest game. It was right there on their faces and in their hearts. Had Boromir tried this I would've remained standing for the sake of sheer obstinacy. Although, knowing my brother he would've likely dragged me down beside him and held me there until I'd rested. But these two, well, once more I was touched.

"Come, Faramir," Gwin said, all innocence and lighthearted grins. "Sit with us."

I turned away, smiled for a moment, then summoned a calm expression and plunked down next to Gwinthorian. "Right," I said. "A breather it is."

They calmly observed me, their eyes glittering with private delight, and I felt a private delight of my own in knowing that they cared enough about me to pull this stunt.

A while later they played the game again, but this time Gwin tried to tell me he needed a 'breather.' I bit back a laugh. How absurd. Gwinthorian could have easily joined Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli on their three day and night forced run after the orcs who had kidnapped Merry and Pippin. But strolling through the Ithilien woods for a few hours and this elf needed a ‘breather?’ Of all the --! I smiled to myself again, and again we stopped.

But after twice honoring their concern by obediently resting I knew this had to end. If we were to reach the tree I wanted us to sleep in tonight we couldn't keep halting all the time. I'd need to confront them about their game, and I really didn't want to do that. But when Devon called for a third rest I looked over my shoulder and told them about reaching our destination before nightfall.

"How can you two have so little stamina?" I asked them, earning for myself some interesting foul elvish from Gwin. I chuckled and said, "No more stops unless you're desperate."


"Aye, Gwin."

"I am desperate."

"No, you're not."

"How do you know?"

"I just know."


"Aye, Gwin."

"Stop that."

Before long we had all relaxed enough to stroll abreast of each other, Gwin on one side of me, Devon on the other.

"Anything, Gwin?" Devon ventured yet again, trudging along.

"Anything . . . what?"

"Do you hear anything troubling?"

"Aye, Dev. I hear you asking me for the hundredth time if I hear anything, and that is troubling."

On we hiked, talking and chuckling and joking and taunting each other with fond familiarity, and I felt a continuous sense of excitement and happiness. Hang the consequences! This was worth whatever dreaded certain doom surely awaited us. So we journeyed along and all was well, until . . . .

It started in mid-afternoon. Gwin stopped dead in his tracks and stared off, eyes wide. Dev and I threw off our packs. He drew his sword and I whipped my bow down from my shoulder, nocked an arrow and waited, both of us casting wild glances in all directions and at the little elf who still stood absolutely rigid, staring into the distance, listening with his keen elvish hearing. Then Gwinthorian dropped his pack, drew his sword with a fierce and sudden urgency and swung to the left. Devon and I turned in the same direction and readied ourselves, weapons lifted.

"Where are they, Gwin?" Devon breathed. "What is it? What do you hear?"

"Something’s moving out there. I hear . . . footsteps."

I tried to detect what had undone Gwin so. Hostiles put forth a definite feel and I often know when they're close. But I didn't sense anything dangerous. All was quiet, save for the birds, who usually fled when orcs approached. Gwin might be hearing wildmen, but I didn't think so, for all I felt was a sense of benevolence, as though my woodlands were murmuring to me: "All is well, all is well, all is well."

Either Gwin's hearing was faulty or my senses were. I trusted those senses of mine without question. They'd saved me in the past. I didn't want to doubt Gwin, but I'd have known if there was reason for concern. I lowered my bow and turned to Devon.

"Dev, what do you sense?" I asked him.

He withdrew from his alarm long enough to glance at me, then he went still and quiet. Finally he looked at me again and gave his head a small shake. Relaxing his tense stance, he turned to Gwin, saying, "Are you sure?"

Gwinthorian took immediate issue with Devon's quite reasonable inquiry.

"Of course I am sure, you silly ass!' he yelled in a hushed voice. "Do you think I am playing tricks on you? I heard footfalls! Somebody, more than one somebody, is walking around out there!"

"Shhh, Gwin. Calm yourself," Devon murmured in a soft tone as though trying to quiet a distraught child.

Gwin looked on the verge of an eruption. "Do not tell me to calm myself!" he snarled at Dev. "I swear to you I heard --"

"Heard?" I said. "You heard footfalls? You don't hear them now?"

Gwin paused, eyes glazing over, peering into the distance, then he blinked and looked at me. "No. No, I don't hear them now. The sounds are gone."

Devon and Gwin sheathed their swords, and I shouldered my bow, and when we were pulling on our knapsacks I caught Dev's eye, sending him a, 'what-can-we-make-of-this?' look. He returned a silent, slightly annoyed, I-can't-fathom-what's-wrong-with-this-daft-elf response glance.

"I saw that," Gwin muttered. He stood before Dev and me, casting us mutinous looks. "I did hear something."

"I'm sure you did, Gwin," I said, although I didn't see how he could have. "So let's return to silence and single file. High alert gentlemen." Captain Faramir calming the troops.

Devon returned to rear guard and off we went, moving like wraiths through the forest. Another hour before we reached the tree where I planned to spend the night. I had hoped we could've continued as we were, strolling along, talking and laughing quietly together and sharing that camaraderie I so loved. But now we were watchful; now we were listening.

I couldn't fault Gwinthorian. I didn't think he was playing some perverse trick. He couldn't have feigned that look of dread. And even if he had managed to fool me, Devon knew him well, and he would've caught on to what Gwin was doing. No, Gwinthorian had been quite sincerely shaken. It was a mystery I wasn't prepared to contemplate. I'd led these two into my domain with promises of safety. I did know Ithilien well enough to vanish into it should we suddenly encounter danger. Even if we had to run for it, I knew where to run to. And I could keep them safe.

By the time we reached the massive oak in which I'd planned for us to spend the night Gwinthorian was flinching at the fall of a leaf. For the rest of the journey he'd kept muttering about hearing footfalls. I hadn't once sensed anything harmful. But Devon and I, out of affection, took Gwin at his word. He looked as though he'd hack our heads off if we didn't. The situation grew tense, Gwinthorian feeling more and more frustrated with us.

"Humans!" he would growl under his breath, or sometimes, "Mortals!" as though the words left a bad taste in his mouth.

Dev and I tried to appease him, but quickly gave up. We had no way to placate his vexed self, since we were indeed skeptical and Gwin knew it. He felt as though we were patting him on the head and telling him 'there, there,' making him even more vexed. Quite classically vexed, in fact. Amazing sight that, Gwinthorian quite classically vexed.

I couldn't blame him. I'd have felt the same way if I'd been the only one hearing mysterious noises and my two companions were making pathetic attempts to put me at ease. I understood Gwin's resentment and I knew Devon did as well. And yet, when facing Gwin's look of pouty indignation I found myself fighting a mad urge to take him in my arms and hug him. I restrained myself. I didn't fancy arriving at Henneth Annûn with a split lip.

I was relieved for my tense troop when we finally arrived at my tree. I shot up into the branches to find us a spot and make sure nothing vile had taken up residence there, then I signaled to Devon and Gwin and they scrambled up after me.

"It'll hold all of us?" Devon said, looking down suspiciously at the wide, green flooring of leaves.

I grinned at him. "You can jump up and down on it and it won't budge. There are thick heavy branches supporting the foliage."

Devon looked wary, but Gwin, clearly knowing his trees, strolled right onto the green bedding, removed his sword, dropped his pack and peered through the thick curtain of greenery surrounding us like a protective wall. Devon followed, his brows shooting up at the firm foundation under his feet.

"So," he said with wry seriousness, "where shall we set up a campfire?"

I chuckled making Dev grin, but Gwinthorian merely gave us a blank look, turned and headed for the tree trunk, saying, "I want to look around. I am going higher."

"Higher?" I asked, sobering. "How high? Gwin, this tree is over one-hundred feet tall."

“Fair enough,” I thought I heard him mutter, and he shot up the trunk. Perhaps Gwin was too skilled to fall, even at the rapid speed he was climbing, but I suddenly felt the same fierce protectiveness of him that Devon felt. Despite his age, Gwinthorian seemed childishly young. So I stood there, trying to find him in the thick greenery even after he'd vanished from sight, and I talked to him, knowing he could hear me. Finally I asked if he was alright. Stupid of me really. Even if he'd deigned to answer I couldn't have heard him. But a small and deliberate shower of acorns rained down on my head. I winced, ducked and gave up. Dev, having witnessed the whole thing, chuckled when I sat down beside him.

"He's angry," I said.

"That he is. And there’s naught to be done about it, Faramir. Gwin's temper flares hot, but it blows itself out quickly."

"Even when his elven sensibilities are offended?"

"Even then."

"He feels we doubt him."

"Well, we do, don't we? Neither of us sensed anything dangerous out there."

"But how's that possible? How can we have sensed nothing when Gwin is so sure he heard something?"

Devon flashed me his wry smile, but a shadow then entered his gaze.

"It worries you, too," I murmured.

He nodded slowly. "He's in complete earnest. That's what troubles me, how insistent he is."

"What can we make of it?"

"I cannot say. Gwin wouldn't try to bedevil us like this. He knows I'd know what he was doing, and --" He paused, then shot me a small grin of shared understanding. "-- and I vow you would know what he was doing, too."

I blinked and looked away. "Perhaps."

"Faramir," Dev said. I glanced at him and found him quietly smiling. "'Tis alright. It may seem like an intrusion, and, well, it is. But we are who we are, and we cannot help sensing what we sense."

"Bad habit of mine," I muttered.

"Nay, not at all. Many Numenoreans sense things at times and none feel the need to apologize for it. Can you imagine Aragorn or Halbarad or Garrick or even your Damrod saying they have a 'bad habit?'"

"Damrod?” I blinked at him, startled. “You can tell about him?"

"Of course. Your lieutenant has as much Dúnedain in him as any Numenorean Ranger. But I vow you already know that." I nodded. Devon paused, then said in a soft reasonable voice, "You have a gift, Faramir. You can't help using it."

And I suddenly realized that Devon had employed a tact I often used when I wanted to slip free from a conversation. We had been puzzling over Gwin and his strange ghostly sounds, both of us troubled, both uncertain, and then, with a clever sleight of hand, Devon shifted the topic to Dúnedain insight, steering us away from a worry that would have taken us nowhere. I was impressed. Boromir wasn't impressed when I attempted to do the same to him, though. As for Damrod, I had tried it only once. Never again.

Dev flashed me a wicked grin. "I sometimes plague Gwinthorian by saying what he's about to say just before he says it."

I laughed. "You don't!'

"Only when he's being a nuisance."

I pictured Dev teasing Gwin in this way, then we looked at each other, both of us thinking about the elf high above us, scanning the forest for evidence of what he'd heard, not simply to prove us wrong, although Gwin would have enjoyed that, but because he was concerned for us, and feeling as protective of us as we were of him.

I bit my lower lip and glanced up the trunk again, wondering if I should try talking Gwin down. I didn't like the three of us being separated. I missed him. It was as if Devon and I were excluding him, even though I knew that Gwinthorian could have heard every word we'd been saying had he chosen to listen. Nevertheless, I didn't want him to feel alone and resentful. I wanted him here, talking with us and sharing his infectious laugh. I wanted to hear the witty things that suddenly burst from him and I wanted to share in his quiet contemplative moments.

Had Devon and I been alone on this journey I'd have been delighted with only his cheerful companionship, for Dev was a joyous, compassionate soul. When I spoke he studied me closely, listening to my every word as though I was the most fascinating person he'd ever encountered. He was also fiercely loyal and as full of mischief as Gwinthorian was.

But we were three kindred spirits, and without Gwinthorian things seemed off-balance. I'd felt like this when Gwin told Devon that he and I would make this journey without him. I couldn't do it. It felt wrong to leave without Devon. I'd meant it when I told Gwin, "I need him." And now I felt the same way about Gwin. He'd chosen to sequester himself up this tree, feeling disconnected from Devon and me, finding a refuge in anger, and I felt responsible for --

"No, Faramir," Devon softly said, startling me. I looked at him. He slowly shook his head. "No. You're no more responsible for Gwin's sulky state than I am. Don't assume blame that isn't yours to shoulder, my friend." He smiled suddenly. "Oh, I understand. Gwinthorian inspires a certain protectiveness in others. They can't seem to help themselves."

I smirked. "'They' can't?"

He sniffed another smile. "He craves that from Halbarad, but from me? Noooo. He cannot abide me acting protective of him. Sends him into absolute fits."

"So I've seen," I said and began to quote: " '. . . stop telling me what I can and cannot do! You are not my guardian! I survived for over a thousand years without you watching over me!'"

We chuckled, Devon saying, "You echo him well."

"I cannot endure feeling coddled either," I mumbled, then I shot him a glance, hoping he didn't think I was referring to the 'force Faramir to rest' game.

"You can scarce avoid it," he said. "Three big brothers and a Damrod. No wonder you longed to break free. If I were you I'd do just what you're doing."

"You're not me and you're doing it."

"True," he said. "But I'm too witless to say 'no' and stick to it. I was always too witless when Aragorn tempted me into mischief, too."

"Nay, Dev, not witless. You did think on't a while, though," I said. "I wasn't at all sure you would relent. You seemed determine to end this journey before it started."

Devon looked down, tucked a long, thick lock behind his ear and murmured, "Aye."

I watched him for a moment, then asked, "Why did you change your mind?"

He darted a glance at me, then looked away and said with a slight shrug, "I cannot say. Gwinthorian was eager to go and I hate disappointing him. If I had been the reason he missed this opportunity I shudder to think what evil retribution he might’ve visited upon me." He cocked me his boyish smirk. "This seemed the safer option."

I sniffed a smile, and though I doubted Devon's desire to please Gwin was the sole reason he had relented, I let it go. No matter. He was here. They were both here, and I didn't intend to further question my good fortune. I glanced once more into the tree.

"He'll be fine, Faramir," Dev said. "Aragorn used to send him and Legolas up tall trees for a look around. Mirkwood elves are well suited for reconnaissance work."

"And what did Halbarad have to say about that?"

Devon cast me his ready grin. "Have a care, Gwinthorian."

Onward to Chapter Three.



Yay many thanks!

Congratulations, Larrkin! I am pleased to announce that you have won the award for the most beautiful use of functional shift known to humanity with your creation, 'certain dooming.' (And yes the award for the most beautiful use of functional shift known to humanity does exist. I just created it, because this word showed us all that there was clearly a need for one. The prize is many, many chocolatey goodies for you and LM ;-) )

This story continues to be wonderful, predictably, and to push the boundaries of what you have written before. I love that you gave us Faramir's perspective on the events of the last chapter, and your portrayal of this situation so full of things unsaid manages to be understated and profound at the same time (like how are you doing that I don't even know????) Your exploration of mischief-makers' camaraderie is delightful, and meaningful too. Those mysterious footsteps seem to be the heralds of certain doom, one way or the other. I'm absolutely hooked!


March 2019

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