Title: The Prize Chapter 12/12
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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.
It had taken several weeks for Faramir to arrange a meeting with Boromir in a small village halfway between Lorien and Gondor. He could tell that his letters didn’t particularly convince Boromir he was truly happy, and though he had wished him well on his marriage, he suspected his brother thought that he was now tied to someone who only used him and didn't really love him. He hoped that meeting Haldir would prove to his brother that he truly was in love, that Haldir loved him, and that they were happy. In fact, they were extremely happy, and he thought it would do Boromir some good to see him this way.
Squeezing Haldir's hand as they walked up the stairs at the Inn toward where his brother was staying, Faramir smiled nervously. "Like I said before, he might not be terribly friendly toward you at first. I think he needs to be convinced that we do love one another...I can just tell from the tone of his letters that he was holding back...but please, don't let it get to you," he whispered to Haldir.
Haldir took a deep breath and smiled at his husband. The change in Faramir since he’d been brought to Lorien was undeniable, and he only hoped Boromir would see the difference. The long, slim frame had filled out beautifully, and there was a sparkle in Faramir’s eyes almost constantly since their wedding day. He smiled easily now and proudly met any gaze directed his way, and Haldir couldn’t have been happier about that little fact. Best of all, Faramir’s sense of humor had been coaxed from within him, and he and Haldir spent many long hours teasing and laughing with each other. Now, however, he could tell that his lover was a bit nervous. “I won’t,” he said softly. “I can understand how worried he must be about you, and I don’t blame him. I think I like him already just because he wants to make sure you’re in good hands.”
Faramir smiled at his husband and nodded in agreement. He knew that Boromir only had his best interests at heart, and so did Haldir, so he hoped that they got along. As they stopped before the door the innkeeper had directed them to, Faramir raised his free hand and knocked. Before he could even draw a deep breath the door swung open, and Boromir stood there before them looking a mixture of nervous, worried, and suspicious. Not even sparing the Elf next to his brother a glance, Boromir didn't say a word, simply grabbed his brother in a huge, breath-stealing hug.
Faramir laughed as his hand remained in Haldir's yet he was being bodily hauled forward into his brother's room, surrounded by strong arms. "I've missed you, too...but, Boro, I can't BREATHE," Faramir said, laughing softly.
Haldir was practically dragged into the room as Boromir’s arms wrapped around Faramir, and a small smile touched his lips. He took the opportunity to study his brother-in-law even as he heard Faramir laughing and trying to regain his breath. Boromir was handsome, though, to Haldir nowhere near as handsome as his younger brother. They both had a welcoming smile, though Boromir’s smile, thus far, hadn’t included him. He couldn’t blame him really – all Boromir knew was that his baby brother had been given to Haldir as a ‘prize’, to be his slave, and now, here they were, married. As Boromir finally released Faramir, Haldir bowed his head slightly. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Boromir. Faramir has told me much about you.”
Boromir released his brother and looked at him for a long moment as he still held his shoulders. He did *look* happy as he said he was in his letters though he still wasn't entirely convinced. As his brother's husband spoke his hands dropped away as did his smile and he nodded toward him. "Good to meet you, too," he said, not nearly as pleasantly as Haldir had. "My brother has written a great deal about you to me." He stepped back from the still open doorway and ushered them in. "Come in, please. I've missed you so much, little one.”
"I've missed you, too," Faramir said as he closed the door behind he and Haldir. They walked in together and took a seat next to one another on a small couch. Boromir sat down across from them in a chair and ran his hands through his hair. Faramir knew it to be a gesture his brother made when nervous or worried. "Boromir, I...I know my letters were a surprise, but...I do hope you are happy for me," he sad hoping to cut through the tension and get right to the point instead of dancing around it.
Haldir squeezed Faramir’s hand briefly as he wondered if he should excuse himself and let the brothers talk. Faramir, however, kept a firm grip on his fingers, as if he sensed his husband’s indecision, and Haldir bit back a chuckle, always amazed at how easily his lover could read him. Deciding to let their conversation continue without interruption, he tried to relax, but still found himself sitting nervously on the edge of the couch. There was nothing Boromir could *do* to keep them apart, he knew that, but the very idea that the brother Faramir loved so much might not like him weighed heavily on his heart. //He has to see how happy he is now…and please, Gods, he can’t want Faramir to return to the life he had before…not if he really loves him.//
Boromir watched the way Faramir's hand remained in Haldir's, and he noticed the Elf actually seemed nervous. "I know you say you are happy, and I must admit you *look* happy...but...forgive me for worrying. I know you explained much in your letters, but...are you certain...are you both certain marrying so...so soon...was the right choice?" he said, trying his best to be as diplomatic as possible. It wasn't his strongest suit - talking like this- it was more Faramir's territory than his, but he did need to know why on Arda they had married within two weeks of Faramir's arrival in Lorien.
"It was the right choice. I know you think it was fast, but it was the right choice for us. We...we fell in love quickly, and I didn't see a point in waiting. I love him more each and every day," Faramir said, turning to look at Haldir and smiling. He could tell Haldir, too, was nervous and almost found the situation laughable. Here he had always been the timid, shy one, and now Boromir and his brave husband, Haldir, both looked nervous enough to jump out of their skins.
Here he was, Haldir thought, a leader of hundreds of Elves, the Marchwarden that almost everyone in Lorien feared, and he was reduced to a nervous wreck around this Man before him. When Faramir spoke, however, he relaxed and looked lovingly at his husband. “As I love you, meleth,” he whispered softly. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to look away after a moment and met Boromir’s gaze. “I would do anything for him, Boromir…I adore your brother, and I swear he is safe now.”
Boromir watched in silence as the couple gazed at one another, and he realized that if the situation were as he had thought it might be, and then it was likely they wouldn't even be here. Haldir wouldn't *care* if Faramir wanted to see his brother. He wouldn't *care* if he approved or not, though the Elf seemed nervous as if he did seek Boromir's approval or at least acceptance. Leaning back in his chair he nodded as Haldir spoke to him. "Safe is something I could never offer him," he whispered sadly. "You truly *are* happy, aren't you?" he asked, directing his eyes to Faramir, who was still looking adoringly at the Elf beside him.
"I am...oh, Boromir, I've never been this happy, I do miss you, but I don't miss Gondor. I hope you understand that," Faramir said softly.
Boromir shook his head. "I never expected you to miss Gondor, you told me that no matter what happened you'd never return as long as father lives. I've accepted that."
Haldir’s face flushed at the mention of their father, and he automatically squeezed Faramir’s hand, assuring himself that he was safe. “I mean no offence to you, Boromir, but I could happily kill your father for using Faramir as he did for all those years. I know there was little you could do, but…Gods, I hate the Man already, and I have never laid eyes on him. If I do, however…”
Boromir laughed humorlessly and shook his head. "No offence taken, Haldir. I never approved and often argued with him but...he would not see reason. I don't know why he forced...why he, Gods...I just don't know how or why he did it. I was away when it first happened, when I returned months later and found out I was furious, but...I couldn't seem to convince him to stop, and...while you might have no qualms about killing him...he *is* our father...or...at least he was," Boromir said, looking down at his hands. "At any rate, you say Faramir is safe now...and you do look healthier, brother...so as much as I wish I understood how you could have married so quickly...I'm glad that you are safe."
"I am safe, and I'm happy. You know I never blamed you for not being able to make father stop...I have a feeling if you'd have pushed him too hard things would have only gotten worse." Faramir looked down for a moment at his hand joined with Haldir's. "You may not understand why we married so quickly, but it was not just the fact we loved one another, it was also to protect me, if that helps you come to grips with the idea any better."
Haldir’s anger drained slowly away, as Faramir, always the voice of reason, and the only one who could ever calm him, spoke. “Faramir’s life is very different from the one he had in Gondor, Boromir,” he explained, seeing that Faramir’s brother was trying his best accept their union. “I was entranced by him the moment I first laid eyes on him, and it took me only hours to fall in love with him. He was never once treated as a …a slave, or whatever Feanor told you he would be. And he never will be. He is my husband, and all of Lorien has grown to love him on own merit, despite the circumstances in which he was brought there.”
Boromir nodded, recalling the letters Faramir had written about how it had turned out so much differently than he thought it might. He looked at Haldir for a long moment and realized there was nothing false about the Elf, and he could tell from the way Faramir looked at him that there was no way he was not treated well and loved. "All I've ever wanted for him was to be safe, happy, and loved. So I guess...I should stop worrying?" he asked, and then shook his head. "But I understand you have younger brothers, Haldir...we will never stop worrying will we?"
Faramir smiled broadly when Boromir addressed Haldir and used their being older brothers as a connection. He knew Boromir would eventually come around and was thrilled about that.
Haldir laughed and nodded, reaching out to shake Boromir’s hand in the manner Faramir had told him Men used to show friendship, or, in this case, acceptance. “No, we certainly won’t ever do that,” he agreed. Smiling at his husband, he finally allowed himself to relax and leaned over to kiss Faramir on the cheek. “I love you, meleth,” he said simply before turning back to Boromir. “And I hope you, Boromir, can visit us sometime soon. You will always be welcome in Lorien.”
Boromir leaned forward and took Haldir's offered hand, shaking it firmly. He could tell Haldir was a warrior just from his bearing and the calluses on his hands, and he knew that if Haldir loved Faramir as much as he said he did, then Faramir would always be protected. He looked down though when Haldir drew away and whispered to Faramir. "I'd enjoy that...I'd need to make a good excuse where I would be to get away from father and his spies...like this time I had to arrange to buy some horses here in the village. But I would very much enjoy visiting you and seeing where Faramir is living now."
Faramir couldn't stop smiling when Haldir and Boromir shook hands. Then when Haldir said he loved him, his smile grew wider. "I love you, too," he whispered in return before Boromir and Haldir were speaking again. As nervous as he had been about Boromir's reaction, it had gone far better than he could have ever dreamed.
“It isn’t the biggest talan in Lorien,” Haldir smiled, “but it’s filled with more love than any of the others, I can guarantee you that. Well…filled with love and books. Many, many, *many* books. Your brother is quite the reader, my friend. I was going to surprise him later, but since you’re here, I might as well tell you that when we leave here, we have an appointment at the bookstore down in the village. The bookseller has promised to have as many books as we want delivered…and,” Haldir smiled and squeezed Faramir’s hand again, “knowing your brother, we will soon end up building a second talan just for them.”
Boromir laughed and nodded as Haldir spoke of Faramir's love for books. "Ah, you certainly know him well," he laughed. "I imagine that bookseller is going to be a very happy man at the end of the day." He grinned.
Faramir's mouth dropped open as Haldir spoke of the bookstore, and he looked at his husband for a moment. "You...you didn't tell me there was a bookstore here," he said softly, and Boromir snorted. "What?"
"I hate to say it, but Haldir knows you quite well, you'd probably have forgotten all about me if a room full of books was mentioned," he teased.
"I would not have!" Faramir said, pouting, and then as Boromir smirked and raised his eyebrow, he laughed. "I wouldn't!"
Haldir laughed and released Faramir’s hand to slid one arm around his waist. “Oh, meleth, you’d have forgotten *me* in a roomful of books!” he teased.
Faramir's pout grew more pronounced, and he shook his head. "I wouldn't have forgotten...besides, who would I snuggle against when I read them?" he asked, not thinking about Haldir's rule of not letting anyone know that he snuggled.
Boromir stifled a snort and looked down at his hands. All of his worries and doubts had slipped away during the short exchange about Faramir’s love of books. It was easy to see that Haldir loved his brother with all his heart, and he couldn’t think of a better place for Faramir to be now than with someone who so clearly loved him.
“Me,” Haldir laughed and pulled Faramir against him, kissing his temple. “You can’t snuggle properly with anyone but me…we fit together too perfectly for you to snuggle with anyone else.” Hearing Boromir laughing, he let his fingers trail gently over his husband’s ribs hoping to erase the pout, adorable as it was, in favor of the laughter he loved so very much. “Not that I snuggle… You were speaking hypothetically, right, love?”
Faramir giggled as knowing fingers found every ticklish spot on his torso, and he squirmed away from his husband. "That isn't fair...tickling isn't fair...and yes...hypothetically, of course. Everyone knows the mighty Marchwarden does NOT snuggle. I don't know what I was thinking," he said, laughing and winking at Boromir, who had to cover his mouth to cover his laughter.
No. If Boromir had any lingering doubts at all about their relationship, they had just been erased.
Haldir dissolved into laughter as well and gently pulled Faramir back into his arms. “I don’t snuggle, and you aren’t ticklish…and we’re sticking to that. Though not a word of it is true.” Turning back toward Boromir, he sighed. “See what your brother has done to me, Boromir? Turned me into a snuggler, a tickler, and, worst of all, he makes me laugh and smile all the time! The nerve of some people! What am I going to do with him?”
Boromir laughed and shook his head. "The only thing I could ever do with him was love him. Just love him, Haldir," he added seriously. "Anyway, I don't want to keep him from his books, why don't the two of you go on down, and I'll go and buy those horses to keep any spies father might have here from getting suspicious. We can meet back here later for dinner, if you like?"
"You really think he's spying?" Faramir asked worriedly.
"I know it. He doesn't trust me; you know that, he doesn't trust anyone anymore. I wish I knew why he's changed so much the last several years...anyway...you don't have to worry about that anymore. He can never touch you again," Boromir said, standing up.
Haldir got to his feet as well, and offered his hand to his husband. “No, he will NEVER touch you again,” he said softly. “No one will touch you against your will, I swear to you, love.” Shuddering as he thought once again of all Faramir had been through, he forced a smile to his face and nodded at Boromir. “If we don’t show up by dinnertime, send someone to the bookstore. I’m sure I’ll be following my handsome husband around with an armload of books as he walks up and down the aisles.”
Boromir laughed and nodded. "I will do that," he teased. "Despite my earlier misgivings...I am happy for you both," he said, offering his hand again to Haldir. "Thank you." He hoped that Haldir would know all that those two simple words meant.
Faramir sighed heavily from his husband and brother's teasing, but smiled when Boromir offered his hand to Haldir again.
Catching Boromir’s gaze, Haldir smiled and nodded. “You’re welcome,” he said softly, understanding just what his brother-in-law meant. “It is truly my pleasure…and thank you for your blessing. It means more to me than I could tell you, my friend.”
Boromir smiled and nodded in return and then pulled his little brother into his arms for another hug, kissing his forehead. "I'm so glad to see you happy," he whispered softly. "Forgive me for not walking down with you, I don't wish to draw attention to us."
"We understand," Faramir said softly before he and Haldir headed for the door. He was already looking forward to their trip to the bookstore and then dinner later with Boromir. He was so happy that Boromir had accepted Haldir that he found he couldn't quite seem to stop smiling.
Haldir slid an arm around Faramir’s waist as they walked out the door and waved goodbye to Boromir. “Well, love, that went well, I think. I guess you’re officially stuck with me since he sees how perfect we are together. Too bad for you, really, but I can’t say that I’m unhappy about it at all…”
Faramir laughed as Haldir teased him, and his own arm wrapped around Haldir's waist. "I think it went well, too, love. Better than I expected actually."