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Dreamflower's Mathoms III  by Dreamflower

Author: Dreamflower
Title: Conversation in the Sun
Rating: G
Theme:  Bunny Hutch
Elements:  Third Age: Frodo and Faramir meeting again after the quest and sitting in the sun to share tales as they promised each other? (harrowcatliz)
Author's Notes:  The first paragraph is taken from my AU story “Clear Conscience”, but has nothing whatsoever to do with that story.
Part of this story was inspired by Chapter 8 of Kaylee Arafinwiel's story “The Old Took's Faunts”.
This story ended up being much more about young Faramir than I had planned.
Summary: Faramir tells Frodo a story of a day in his childhood that he spent with Gandalf.
Word Count: 2,751

Conversation in the Sun

Frodo sat upon a low stone wall, overlooking the Courtyard of the White Tree. It was rare for him to have a moment alone since the coronation--usually Sam was by his side, or one of his cousins. But Sam’s presence had been requested in the gardens of the Houses of Healing, and both Merry and Pippin had duty that afternoon for their respective kings. In the meanwhile, he simply enjoyed basking in the spring sunshine. He closed his eyes, and swung his feet, and felt the breeze playing through his hair. Nights--nights were still difficult. But in the bright sunlight of day, he could be glad he was alive.

He felt the presence of another approach him, and turned. "Good morning, Faramir."

Faramir chuckled. "And should I repeat Gandalf's response to that greeting?"

"That is not necessary." The hobbit smiled. "Come and join me, and we shall sit by a wall in the sun, laughing at old grief."

The Steward smiled at hearing his own words spoken back at him. He lowered himself to the stone flags, and leaned back against the wall. He and Frodo were nearly level with one another. For a few minutes they were silent, enjoying the breeze and the warmth of the Sun on their faces.

After a while, Faramir spoke. "You know, in spite of the tales Mithrandir told me, in spite of my dream, I never really believed your people existed until I espied you and Samwise  coming forth from the shrubbery in Ithilien."

Frodo laughed. "Then Men are not so far apart from hobbits in their habits of mind. Many hobbits have never believed in Elves, and a good many of them probably don't believe in Men or Dwarves if they have not seen them for themselves, with the exception of Tooks, of course. Yet I am surprised, for did you not have Gandalf's own words on the subject?"

His friend ducked his head sheepishly. "I was on the cusp of that age when nursery tales begin to be seen as the fancy they often are. I am afraid that I took them as being like the tales my nursemaid told me at bedtime, that were often scorned by my older brother; no real harm in such stories, but little, if any, truth to them. I thought the old wizard simply sought to entertain me, though it seemed he went a little further than my nursemaid did."

"I daresay the fact that your brother did not believe them was a deciding factor."

Faramir shook his head in amusement. "You seem to know me better than our brief acquaintance would account for."

"No, I just know how that sort of thing works. Even though he is nearly of age, and after all his experiences, if Merry or I believe in something, Pippin will, and if we deny it he will as well...unless, of course, Merry and I disagree. Then he will usually believe me." There was a certain amount of smugness in the hobbit's voice. "Merry did not believe in oliphaunts--what you here in the South call műmakil. I think he has had to eat a small amount of crow on that subject."

Faramir burst out laughing. "I can imagine that galled him."

"It did." Frodo glanced over at him. "So, just what sorts of stories did Gandalf tell you about hobbits that made you disbelieve in them?"

"Oh, I had no difficulty in believing there could be small people half the size of Men, nor that they grew curly hair upon their toes. I could even believe the part about blowing smoke, since Mithrandir demonstrated it to me himself. I was dubious, however, when he described 'luxurious holes in the ground'. But," here he turned an embarrassed grin to Frodo, "what really made me doubt the whole story was when he told me hobbits gave away gifts on their own birthdays. This was truly incomprehensible to my young mind and not something I was prepared to understand!"

Frodo's chuckle grew into an hysterical laugh. "That was what you could not believe? How did that subject even come up?" he asked, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, as his laughter subsided into snickers.

Faramir glanced over, glad that he had been able to provide the Ringbearer with a moment of unbridled mirth. It was worth any amount of embarrassment to see the joy sparkling in Frodo's eyes. "I was about ten years of age when Gandalf returned once more to Minas Tirith, and I had never forgotten my fascination with him..."

Faramir hurried down to the Archives, hoping that he would find Mithrandir there. The wizard had been back in Minas Tirith nearly a week, and Faramir had found little time to speak with him. A few years earlier he had been young enough to spend a good deal of time unnoticed, trailing around after him, begging for tales and marvelling at his tricks with the smoke from his pipe. But now he had to spend his mornings with his tutors, or with the weaponsmasters, learning sword and bow. The afternoons were spent learning his duties as a page, running errands and messages, fetching and carrying, and sometimes attending on his Lord Father when there was a feast. It left little time for him to visit with the old wizard, who was not staying in the Citadel, but was guesting in the house he had used in Faramir's grandfather's time. Only once had Mithrandir been invited to dine with the Steward since he had arrived this time, and Faramir had spent the time at his father's elbow pouring wine and bringing food. No time nor chance for conversation. He did not even get to speak to his brother that evening. Boromir had been granted leave for that evening, for now he was a cadet at the Citadel, and was only a season or two away from becoming a captain himself, although he would not be granted any great responsibilities until he was at least twenty! But Faramir had been kept by his father's side by his tasks.

Today, however, he had no duties in the afternoon: he had been on duty six days in a row, so today was his day of freedom. And then Master Herion had dismissed him early from his lessons: his tutor sometimes suffered from a sensitive digestion, and had not felt well enough to continue. Now Faramir had the rest of the day to himself, and no one he had to account to. His father would be closeted in council meetings with various guilds nearly the whole day, and would likely dine alone this eve. And Boromir was busy with his training.

Such leisure was rare and to be treasured. And Faramir had been longing to talk to Mithrandir again!  If he was not in the Archives, perhaps he could pay a call to the guesthouse.

Faramir entered the Archives silently and took a deep breath. This was one of his favourite places, and had the wizard not been in the City, it was likely he would have spent this unexpected free time here anyway, lost amid the scrolls and tomes of the past. The Archivist was not seated at his desk by the door; doubtless he was in the back, overseeing the work that had to be constantly done to keep the precious works from decay and loss. He noticed a few scholars seated quietly at the reading tables scattered about, but he was searching for one person in particular. There! There was a tall pointed blue hat on a table at the far end of the room, on which he also espied several scrolls and an empty chair sat before them, as if someone had just gone to find something and would be back any minute...
He made his way there, and before he was quite there, a tall figure in worn grey robes came from behind one of the immense shelves that filled the room. Mithrandir smiled widely to see him. "Greetings, young Faramir," he spoke in a low tone, as befitted their surroundings. "I am most pleased to see you."

Faramir gave a slight bow of his head. Doubtless his father would not have approved, but Faramir thought a wizard was certainly  deserved some respect. "I am glad to see you, as well, Mithrandir. I was hoping that we could spend some time together, since I have no duties this afternoon?" Faramir hoped he did not sound like he was begging.

"Why, I think that sounds a marvelous idea, Faramir, if you are certain that you will not be missed! I would not want you to get into any trouble."

"Nay, truly, I have no more lessons today, and I have no duty set this afternoon!"

"Then I am most pleased to have your company, young man. In honour of the occasion, perhaps we may take luncheon together. I usually forget to eat, or have a little something at the guesthouse, when I am alone. But perhaps we may take this chance to try an eating house in the Fourth Circle that I have heard recommended."

Faramir nodded eagerly. He knew very well that when he was told not to go down into the City below the Sixth Circle "unaccompanied", it meant "by a guard" and not merely any adult. But he had no wish to have this come to his father's ears as it surely would if he asked for a guard. He might have no duties today, but he suspected that his father would most certainly not approve of his going about with the Grey Wizard all day.
Mithrandir carefully stacked the materials he had been reading, leaving them on the table as the Archivist preferred, then he rolled up the parchment on which he had been taking notes and stashed it in his robes. "Faramir, would you please return the ink and quill to the front?" There was a shelf near the door with bottles of ink and quills for those who came to the Archives to use.

Faramir nodded, and corking the bottle, took it and the quill as Mithrandir took up his hat and followed.

They exited into a bright spring day and made their way companionably through the gate to the next level and down the streets. Faramir pointed out the sights, and the two of them stopped briefly at a street corner to watch a juggler; Faramir dropped a coin into the man's hat, and then the two of them went on. He was enjoying this walk--no one seemed to notice that he was the Steward's son, or that his companion was a wizard. He indulged himself in the pleasant fancy that he was just an ordinary boy on an outing with his grandsire...

He was startled from his reverie when Mithrandir stopped suddenly. "Ah! Here it is! The Golden Cockerel!" They found a table in the courtyard, and soon were attended by a serving maid.

The wizard asked what the fare was, and agreed that a chicken pie would be just what they would like.

"And I would like a mug of beer," he added.

"What would your grandson like to drink?"

Faramir looked up in astonishment, and Mithrandir winked at him. "I think perhaps a tumbler of well-watered wine?" He looked down at Faramir who nodded. Watered wine was what he was usually served at feasts in the Citadel.

She went away to fetch their order, and Faramir grinned up at his companion. "She thought I was your grandson!"

Mithrandir smiled, a twinkle in his eye. "Would that please you, Faramir?"

He blushed and nodded. "I always wished I had a grandsire I could spend time with," he said wistfully. "I hardly ever see Grandfather Adrahil; he is so far away, and it has been a long time since we visited Dol Amroth. And I do not remember Grandfather Ecthelion." It would be surprising if he did. He was only a year old when the Lord Steward Ecthelion II died.

"Well, I would feel most honoured to be your grandfather, Faramir, if I should be so fortunate." Just then their food and drink arrived, and both were distracted by the delicious smell of the chicken pie.

They dug into the food with relish, and as they ate, Gandalf regaled Faramir with tales of his travels in the North. Some of the tales Faramir did not really believe--there could scarcely be a person who turned himself into a bear, who kept animals as his servants!  And while he knew of Dwarves, he had never even heard of "hobbits". But it did not matter if the stories were true, they were exciting to listen to, and funny as well.

When they finished the meal, Mithrandir took his purse from his belt, and spilled out the contents onto the table. As he picked out a few coins with which to pay for the meal, Faramir looked at the contents: a small pouch, which he knew from previous observation contained what the wizard called "pipeweed", a pipe, some coins--a few of them of a type he had never seen before, a small penknife in a sheath, a wooden comb, and an acorn. As Mithrandir began to replace everything except the coins he had chosen for payment, Faramir asked him: "Why are you carrying around an acorn?"

Gandalf looked at in surprise, as he started to put it back in the purse. "Bless my beard! I really should plant that. I did say I would, but it keeps slipping my mind. I've only been carrying it about for nigh on a hundred and sixty years, give or take a year or two." He held it up and inspected it carefully. "Perhaps today would be a good day for it. Would you like to come along with me, and maybe you could show me a good spot for it?" He left the payment for their meal upon the table and started off, and Faramir trotted behind him.
"But why are you carrying it around?" Faramir wondered what was so special about this acorn. Was it magic?

"A young friend gave it to me for his birthday. He was only three, and it seemed a very splendid thing to give, and so it was." He glanced down as Faramir reached his side and smiled. "I told him I would plant it in Gondor."


"Yes, Faramir?"

"Did you say it was for his birthday?" That was incredible! Who gave gifts on his own birthday?

"Certainly. He was a hobbit, and that is one of the customs of that people, to give gifts to others on their birthdays."

Well, if he had not been sure before that these "hobbit-people" were mythical, he knew it now! The stories were fun, and he did not mind. But Mithrandir had a mighty imagination to think up people who gave gifts to others on their birthdays!

As Faramir led him back up through the City, he knew of just the right place to plant that acorn. He listened as they walked, as the wizard continued his story.

"Little Hildibrand was the eighth child of twelve, the son of my good friend the Old Took. He had most remarkable children. Hildibrand's younger sister was the mother of the hobbit I told you of, who went about with the Dwarves..."

Frodo was listening with a smile. "It's hard to recall that all those names on the Took Family Tree were Bilbo's aunts and uncles. I never knew any of them, but Bilbo was full of tales about them."

"And I realise now that all of them must have been quite true," said Faramir ruefully. "I led him to that nice little courtyard garden by the East wall, behind the King's quarters. It was kept up by the gardeners from time to time, of course, but was never visited by anyone except a certain young boy who sometimes sought a peaceful and deserted spot to read or daydream."

"Oh, I've seen it! Such a nice shady tree, with a stone bench beneath it!"

"Indeed. It grew and flourished, a bit of your Shire right here in Minas Tirith."

"I shall have to tell Sam," Frodo grinned. "He will appreciate that."

"And what will Sam appreciate, Frodo?" came a new voice.

Frodo turned with pleasure. "Gandalf! We were just talking about you and Hildibrand's acorn! Faramir was just telling me all about it!"

"I am glad to know that his little gift still flourishes," replied the wizard, "and that it serves to bring pleasure to two of my dearest friends."

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