Title: The Prize Chapter 8/?
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Warnings: Mention of past abuse.
Summary: Faramir is given to Haldir of Lorien in payment for an insult to the Elf by Denethor. Alone and afraid, he realizes that things aren't always what they seem.
Faramir's hand slipped easily into Haldir's as they walked from Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel's large talan toward the one Rumil and Orophin shared. Faramir had been slightly nervous when meeting the Lord of the Golden Wood, but the noble Elf had put him at ease and welcomed him to Lorien. He had said that Faramir was welcome in Lorien as long as he would like. He had been ushered into a large library for a few minutes while he and Haldir spoke alone, and when Haldir came back to find him walking around the large room, his fingers running over the rows and rows of books, Haldir's smile had nearly melted his heart. As they walked he could feel the eyes of many other Elves upon them, and he wished he knew what they were thinking. His hand gripped Haldir's that much tighter, and when they finally made their way up to Rumil and Orophin's door, Faramir brushed his hand nervously over the dark blue velvet tunic. "Are you certain that they don't mind us being a little late?"
Haldir let his thumb run lightly over the back of Faramir’s hand as he turned and smiled at him. He was still angry at Elarin for his behavior earlier that day, but grateful to Lord Celeborn for agreeing with Haldir’s punishment and banning the Elf from Lorien’s borders from this day forward. As he looked at the young man beside him, Haldir could see that Faramir had, for the most part, put the incident behind him…either that or he was now simply focused on the matter at hand – their dinner with Rumil and Orophin. “I’m sure, pen velui,” he said softly as he caught Faramir’s free hand in his own and gave it a gentle squeeze. “And please…stop fussing. You look incredibly handsome, as always, and my brothers will fall under your spell as surely as I have.”
Faramir's eyes widened for a moment as Haldir caught his other hand and then he smiled. "I...I wasn't...fussing...exactly," he murmured, feeling his face color even as he spoke. His nerves seemed to lessen as he looked into Haldir's eyes, and he smiled. "I am looking forward to this evening...I guess I'm just a little nervous. I just...want your brothers to like me," he said softly before the door opened.
"So are you two going to spend all night standing at our door or were you planning to knock?" Orophin teased as he looked at the couple so intent on one another that they hadn’t even taken a moment to turn to look at him.
Haldir pointedly ignored Orophin and smiled at Faramir, trying to get him to relax. “Now, Orophin you’ll have to watch out for. He’s decidedly nosy. He can’t shoot a bow half as well as he thinks he can, and sometimes, at the end of a long day, his feet stink.” Pretending to only now notice his brother standing at the doorway and scowling, Haldir finally released Faramir’s hand and winked at Orophin. “Oh, hello, brother. Didn’t see you standing there…”
Faramir laughed and shook his head. He turned and smiled at Orophin. "Thank you again for inviting me," he said politely.
Orophin smiled in return and stepped back from the door to let them in, "Thank you for accepting our invitation...Haldir so rarely goes out of his own talan, so I think you are a good influence on him," he teased. His eyes had noted the slight bruise and split lip that Faramir had, and he tried to recall if he'd seen him with those the day before. He was almost certain he hadn't, but he could never imagine those marks coming from his brother. He tried to push any thoughts of that away and led them into the talan. "Dinner is almost ready, just have a seat in here while I help Rumil finish up," he said, gesturing toward a small couch.
Haldir sat on the couch next to Faramir, who was still holding on to his hand tightly. “They’re always happy to see me outside of my talan,” he smiled. “They go on and on about me not being sociable enough, so don’t think Orophin was just saying that to make you feel better. He meant it.” Looking around the small talan, Haldir couldn’t help comparing it to the one he now shared with Faramir as he heard his two brothers bustling around in the kitchen. “Maybe we should put more shelves in the front room, like they’ve done. What do you think?”
Faramir felt somewhat childish clinging to Haldir the way he was, but he couldn't seem to release his hand even as they sat down on the couch. He was slightly surprised that Haldir didn't spend much time outside his talan, but then he recalled even when he lived at home, well before everything changed that he himself had spent much of his time inside his room or the library reading. When Haldir asked him about the shelves his eyes widened for a moment. //He's including me in plans for the talan?// "I...I think it is very nice, I am sure you could use it for more books," he said carefully, trying not to include himself just in case Haldir hadn't intended it to sound as it had.
Turning to look at the man beside him, Haldir shook his head. “I was thinking that *we* could use it for more books, when you finish all the ones that came last week. And whatever items you might pick up over the years. I know you still think I’m going to one day ask you to leave, but I won’t…I promise. So, please…consider the talan we’ll be returning to tonight as ‘our’ talan, and the bed we snuggle up together in as ‘our’ bed.” Looking around the room quickly, he arched one eyebrow and chuckled, noting that neither of his brothers was in the room, though they could most likely easily hear them. “Not that *I* snuggle, of course. But if I did, it would be in ‘our’ bed.”
Watching Haldir's eyes, all Faramir could see in them was honesty, and he smiled. "Our talan...I...if you are certain," he whispered, and then found himself grinning as Haldir continued about snuggling. "Yes, of course. You never snuggle...ever," he said firmly and nodding his head as he heard someone in the other room snort. Leaning forward he whispered softly against Haldir's ear. "I don't think they believe me."
Haldir lifted one hand to rest on Faramir’s neck as his thumb trailed over warm skin. “I don’t either,” he said softly, unable to resist closing his eyes and smelling of the soft hair that was brushing gently over his cheek. Raising his voice just enough so that his brothers would hear him, he continued. “Though, I think that my brothers know I would have them out on patrol for the next year if they dared tell anyone, so I think our secret is still safe.” Before pulling away, he pressed his lips to Faramir’s cheek just as Rumil walked through the doorway. “Isn’t that right, Rumil?” he asked, biting back his smile, but knowing Faramir and his brothers would know he was only joking anyway.
“Yes, brother, whatever you say,” Rumil said, bowing mockingly in Haldir’s direction as he sat down a tray filled with food. Orophin had told him about the marks on Faramir’s neck, and almost against his will, Rumil’s eyes were drawn toward the dark bruises. “But, for tonight, you are merely my brother, and not my captain, and I think it seems rather obvious that you’re not putting on your stern and unsmiling face in front of Faramir, so, please…just hush and come help me with the drinks.”
Feeling butterflies dance in his stomach from the soft kiss that Haldir brushed against his cheek, Faramir felt his face color slightly when he saw Rumil enter the room just then and smile at them. He laughed when Rumil teased Haldir and found himself starting to relax and enjoy the way that the brothers teased one another. Wistfully thinking of the way he and Boromir teased one another, he sat back and finally released Haldir's hand so he could help his brother. He reached out to take one of the small berries off the tray and noticed Rumil's eyes widen slightly as he saw the bruise on Faramir's wrist where his tunic gaped at the sleeve. Drawing his hand back quickly, he leaned back against the couch and watched as Haldir followed his brother into the other room.
Haldir gave one last smile over his shoulder in Faramir’s direction, already regretting the loss of contact and the simple feeling of warmth he felt as they’d held hands. He’d hesitated at Rumil’s request for a moment, unwilling to leave Faramir alone, but the thought crossed his mind that maybe Orophin wanted to give him news about Feanor or Elarin, and maybe it was for the best that they spoke where Faramir couldn’t overhear them.
Rumil watched his brother leave the room and smiled in Faramir’s direction. “I think you are good for him,” he mused. “He’s never been one to smile much, but he seems…different since he met you.”
Faramir looked up and smiled as Haldir left the room and then looked over to Rumil and his smile remained in place. "I would think someone with such a beautiful smile would have shown it often," Faramir said softly, slightly surprised by Rumil's words, but then remembering the tales he heard about Haldir on his way to Lorien and knowing that Haldir himself said he wasn't very friendly toward his wardens.
Adjusting napkins on the table only to have something to do, Rumil smiled and nodded. “Yes, I would have to agree,” he said after a moment. “I think now, though, he *will* show it more often.” Hesitating for only a moment, Rumil took a deep breath and moved toward the couch to sit next to Faramir, though not nearly as close as Haldir had. He’d known at once that his brother wouldn’t keep a ‘slave’ and was honestly surprised to see that Faramir was still here in Lorien. Haldir had surely told him he could leave if he liked…hadn’t he? “I see the way he looks at you, Faramir. I guess, I just…I hope you won’t decide to leave before you see how he ‘can’ be. I’m not sure how much of his…gentler side you’ve seen, but I’m thinking that he’s letting you in, whether he realizes it. I worry about him sometimes, and already, he seems to care for you greatly, whether he’s told you that or not.”
Faramir turned to face Rumil on the couch and nodded slowly. "He does...say that he cares about me, which when I first arrived here I have to admit I wouldn't have believed it if you'd told me. I was so afraid of him at first...but he quickly made me feel at ease. He...makes me feel as if I'm special, though I know I am not," he said softly.
Rumil’s brow furrowed, and he tilted his head to one side as he studied Faramir. Surely one so lovely couldn’t truly believe that of himself? “Believe me, if Haldir finds you special, then you *are* special. Why would you say you’re not?”
"Because I...well...you know what I was brought here as. I am afraid that the impression everyone has of me isn't far from the actual truth," Faramir said softly, not able to meet Rumil's eyes and see the look of either pity or disgust.
Sighing, Rumil wondered what kind of life Faramir had led before being brought to Lorien. “You were brought here by Feanor’s misguided attempt to impress Haldir. I think having everyone see you with my brother will soon dispel any ideas they might or might not have about you more quickly than you can think, Faramir. You…you still see *yourself* that way, though, don’t you?”
"I suppose I do," Faramir said softly. "I...I care a great deal for your brother, but I know he deserves so much better than a...a whore like me," he continued looking down at his hands and toying with the cuff of his tunic.
Rumil could almost see the sadness emanating from Faramir as he spoke. “Faramir,” he said softly, waiting for the young man to look up at him. “Do you think Haldir sees you that way? As a...whore?”
"I...I don't know. He doesn't act like it at all, not like the others...he's always so, careful with me and...and sweet, and that's how I know he deserves better," Faramir answered, truly believing his own words.
“I see,” Rumil nodded. “And if I were to ask you into my bedroom, to make love to me…would you? Would you want me that way?”
Faramir startled and looked up at Rumil for a moment. "You...you are handsome, but...no, I'm afraid not," he said, feeling awkward as his face colored from Rumil's question.
“Then you are *not* a whore,” Rumil said firmly. “And I hope that you will realize that one day. Please, Faramir, try to leave your past behind you. Don’t let it cloud what you could have with my brother, should you decide you want that. I think he’s falling for you already, and it would hurt him to hear you speak that way about yourself.”
Faramir stared at Rumil as the Elf said he was not a whore and swallowed hard. "You...you really think he...really?" he asked as his heart skipped in his chest and a slow smile spread across his face. "I...honestly I would love nothing more to stay here with him and...share my life with him. But...I'm not so sure he's falling for me...he...he's never even kissed me, well...not properly anyway," he said, blushing. "I think he just sees himself as my guardian, which...I do appreciate because I seem to need one, if recent events are any evidence."
“Trust me,” Rumil laughed softly. “He feels as if he’s more than your guardian. My guess would be that he senses how you feel about yourself and is trying his best to let you know that’s not how he sees you.” As Faramir’s last words sank in, Rumil looked away for a moment before letting his eyes meet the blue ones before him. “I…I am sure I already know the answer to his, but…Haldir…he wasn’t the one to put these bruises on you, was he? I can’t see him ever doing such a thing, but…”
Faramir quickly shook his head, "Gods, no...no, Haldir has never raised a hand to me. These...I suppose you'll learn of it soon enough from others but...Elarin...did this. He...he attacked me earlier today when Haldir left to speak with Lord Celeborn. If...if Haldir hadn't returned when he did," Faramir's voice broke, and he looked down at his hands that were trembling from the memory. "Haldir saved me."
Rumil’s eyes flashed with anger at Elarin, and at that moment, he looked very much like his eldest brother. Knowing what Orophin was saying in the other room to Haldir, Rumil pasted a smile to his lips and sighed, forcing himself to trust that Haldir had handled the situation. “I think as time passes, you will feel safer. Most likely like one of the family, if Haldir will finally let himself tell you how he feels. I would offer my protection as well, but I think my brother will take care of you, Faramir. Please…try not to worry. Everything will work out, for both of you. I just…please…don’t hurt him. That is all I ask of you. If you think you can truly love him, I wish you all the best. If not, I hope you will tell him that his feelings aren’t returned, so he can stop himself from falling further.”
"But...his feelings *are* returned if he truly is falling in love with me," Faramir said softly. "I just...I just am not sure he sees me as more than just...his ward or his friend. I wish for more, but...he's so careful with me, and when I want to try and show him how I feel, I end up fearing he'll think I'm only doing it out of gratitude or think I truly *am* a whore." Faramir sighed heavily and looked up at Rumil. "Fine mess, isn't it?" He smiled sadly as he looked at Haldir's brother. "I promise you, though, I will never hurt him. I couldn't."
“I do believe you’re sincere,” Rumil smiled gently. “And take it from his brother, who has had the…shall I say…‘pleasure’ of knowing him for countless centuries. He will always be careful with you, to a degree, but once he knows that you want *him*, and not from some misguided attempt at thanking him, he will be less guarded with you. I can honestly say I’ve never seen him be so solicitous of anyone in all our years, and if he saw you as only a friend, his eyes wouldn’t follow you every moment as I’ve seen them do. He wants you, and I think it would thrill him if he felt you wanted him back.”
"I do want him back...very much so," Faramir said, feeling his face practically glowing. "I just...am not sure how to show him without him mistaking it for something else. He's...he's always so sweet and does so much for me. Like...the clothing I'm wearing even, and the books, thank you by the way. He told me that you and Orophin helped with those things. I'd thought Haldir had snuck out of bed, and I hadn't noticed, but he admitted that he'd recruited you and Orophin to help. If I had done anything then he'd have thought it was for that, though...I need to catch him when he's not being so generous, I suppose, so there isn't any question," he said with a smile.
Rumil laughed and rested one hand on Faramir’s shoulder in a gesture of friendship. “Then catch him around his wardens,” he advised. “You’ll find him not so generous, and that will be your chance.” Looking toward the kitchen, he heard his two brothers talking softly and stood. “I should see to dinner. I just wanted a word with you, Faramir. I’m glad we spoke.”
Laughing, Faramir nodded when Rumil advised him to catch Haldir with his wardens. "I'm glad we spoke, too...thank you," he said softly as Rumil left to join his brothers in the kitchen. He leaned back against the couch and closed his eyes for a moment. //Could Rumil really be right that Haldir is falling in love with me? Oh Gods, I hope so.//