The crisp autumn leaves crackled under Faramir’s booted feet. He smiled at the memories the sound evoked: the glad days of childhood, when he and Boromir ran and played together. ’Twas a pity that he was now too old for childish games! He was only snatching this brief respite in the crisp air because the preparations for the King’s return were making his head ache after a very busy morning.
Aragorn had been spending some time at Legolas’ Elven domain together with his Queen and his foster brothers. He had sent a message that he would call on Faramir and Éowyn on his way back to Minas Tirith. It would be good to see his lord and friend again, Faramir thought contentedly. The King had only been gone for two weeks, but Faramir had missed his companionship and their regular debates over lore and history, a subject dear to the hearts of both men.
Faramir stood looking over his lands. The fields had yielded a rich harvest and now lay fallow until the spring planting. The trees, so green in summer, now bore varied brilliant hues of orange, gold and bronze. Even all these years after the defeat of the Dark Lord, Faramir never failed to appreciate the beauty of the land at peace and give thanks for it.
The sound of leaves crackling behind him made Faramir start. Whoever could be there? He had told his guards that he wished to take a solitary walk. Faramir spun round, his hand upon his sword. There, much to his surprise stood Aragorn. And the King was not alone either. Aragorn bore a wriggling hound pup he in his arms.
“Well met, my friend!” Aragorn exclaimed. “ I would embrace you, but as you see, my arms are rather full!”
“It is good to see you!” Faramir replied. “Forgive me, but I did not expect you until later. Éowyn is preparing a feast in your honour.” He moved forward to clasp his lord’s shoulder in greeting, and then held out his hand for the puppy to inspect. Faramir, accustomed to both the slender greyhounds of Dol Amroth and the larger, shaggier wolf-killers of the Mark, looked appreciatively on the animal. The pup was very young but would be quite big in maturity, with a good bone structure, a short and smooth grey coat, and soft eyes that fixed on his. The pup sniffed Faramir’s fingertips and began to enthusiastically lick his fingers, then his palm. “Quite a fine puppy!” he exclaimed with a laugh. “What is its name?”
“That is for you to decide, my friend,” said Aragorn. “Elladan and Elrohir have been breeding hounds from a pair that Master Elrond left behind for them. Some say they are descended from Huan himself, though their true ancestry is long lost in the mists of time. I have seen many a fine hound, but the Rivendell breed are the most loyal, intelligent dogs that ever I have known. Not only do they track all manner of dangerous creatures, but they are both the guards and playmates of children. ”
“This is a wondrous gift indeed!” said Faramir. His face was alight with joy.
“No Man deserves him more,” said Aragorn. “I could not wish for a better Steward, or a more loyal and loving friend.” He handed the pup to Faramir as he spoke. The little creature nosed and licked the Steward’s face before settling contentedly in his arms.
Later that night Faramir and Éowyn sat together on the sofa in front of a roaring fire. The children were all tucked up in bed asleep while the King and Queen and their family had departed for the City. The Lord and Lady of Ithilien sat quietly, enjoying each other’s company in the hour before bed. The puppy lay stretched across both their laps, his head pillowed in the crook of Faramir’s arm, while a gently wagging tail rewarded Éowyn’s caresses of the little creature’s flank.
“He is almost as good a gift as a horse,” Éowyn mused. “The other hounds seem to have quickly taken to him. You are a lucky man, Faramir!”
“I believe I am the most fortunate man alive,” Faramir replied planting a tender kiss on her lips. “I am blessed with you and our children; I have the best of lords, our land prospers, and now I even have an Elven hound! Could any other man be as glad as I am?”
Faramir was about to say more, but was silenced by the puppy licking his face. Its eagerly wagging tail brushed across Éowyn’s cheek. It seemed the latest addition to the family would be as contented as its lord and lady.