The last two days and nights the rain poured down; last evening thunder and lightning stormed in as well. But they had been the final lash of fury and with their parting the sky had cleared at last. Now all that remained of the violent catharsis were silent pools scattered around the courtyard, reflecting the arc of stars sparkling opulently overhead.

This visit with Faramir had been a revelation. The Prince of Dol Amroth felt his chest swell with pride at his intelligence and wit. He recognized a quiet wisdom in the child that provided him comfort for the future, and his open affection and loyalty had lightened the old man's heart. He had never before realized that being a grandsire could be the source of such an abiding joy. He was only sorry that he and Boromir had not spent similar time together earlier and because he could abide regrets, time would have to be made to rectify the oversight. But that was for tomorrow…

Adrahil strode down the corridor, his pace quick and certain. Once an idea came, bidden or no, he was not inclined to second guess himself. He reached the door and opened it; quietly entering the room, he noticed that the curtains had not been closed against the storm that had roared and flashed when Faramir retired. A smile ghosted across his face. Noticing a figure curled on the couch, Adrahil paused on the way toward the bed; only a shock of silky black peeking out from under the blanket let him know it was Boromir.

His eyebrow rose as he contemplated the possible reasons for his grandson sleeping cramped on a small sofa here, rather than comfortably in his own room. The man was still wondering as he turned back toward Faramir. Solemn grey eyes met his. When his grandsire began to ask, the boy shook his head and placed a finger to his mouth as he sat up and reached for his robe. He rose from the bed, slipping on the sandals he loved wearing while in the South. Faramir took Adrahil's hand and led him back out of the room.

Once the door was closed, the boy looked up at his grandfather. There was genuine fear in the boy, it radiated out of his eyes, his stance… yet he did not falter as he raised his glance to the man's. "Please do not be angry. Boromir does not like for me to me sleep alone when there is thunder... Not since our mother died; it stormed then too. He only wishes to protect me."

Adrahil understood that loss much too clearly and was surprised to find a new shard of its pain in realization of the anger his daughter's son expected. He was uncertain who sheltered whom when it thundered, but he was determined to spare the brothers from the consequences of their relationship. He was already charting his conversation with their father as he knelt down to soothe the boy. "Son, brothers are meant to protect each other, it matters not from what if the fear is real. It brings honor to you both and it pleases me that the acceptance of that responsibility is obviously mutual." The Prince brought his hand up to grip his grandson's shoulder, squeezing it affectionately as he smiled into still too solemn eyes. Suddenly, Faramir was once again a young boy; a gap-toothed smile lit his face and he launched himself onto the man, wrapping his arms around his grandsire's neck. Adrahil was grateful for his training as a youth on lurching boats; he was able to regain his balance before they toppled to the floor even as his arms hugged the small body in return.

The child pulled back and made toward his door. His grandsire's words stopped him. "You realize that if we are to prepare you for your star chart lessons, there are still many constellations to learn. The sky is clear now and it has been a few days since we have been able to manage a practical lesson." Young Faramir's eyes sparkled like they were lit by the very stars they had spent so much time watching as his head swung back to meet Adrahil's laughing ones. "Would you mind delaying your return to bed for another lesson?" The boy's dark hair swung about his face with the fervent shaking of his head. "Good then, this morning's sky has a fair lot to offer us."

Once again Adrahil was striding down the corridor; in his callused hand rested a very excited boy's. Faramir was having trouble disciplining his legs, every so often he would find them skipping and he would have to force them back into a more sedate walk.

The warm air had dried the benches in the courtyard and while any would have been fine with Faramir, it became apparent as they roamed that his grandfather was searching for something particular. It took almost no time to find and Faramir realized for the first time that his grandfather truly loved the stars and the pictures they made. The smile that came to the man's lips was echoed in the crinkles around his eyes, it was the same smile that came when he looked at a member of the family. This was different from appreciation or simple enjoyment, his grandfather was greeting a friend.

The man looked down to his grandson and saw the recognition there. He was again amazed at the astute nature of this child. "They are comrades, these stars. They are my link to both the past and the future. They have saved my life more than once and provided solace more times than I can count. They are steady and true and I have come to depend on them. They are among my earliest memories and have been constant companions through all of my adventures and times of contemplation. It may seem foolish to believe them to be such, but I think that you might come to understand... I see that you already accept it and I am grateful son. Some would mock me for being a dreamer; it pleases me that I can share this with you."

Faramir stored the words away. He was uncertain about the meaning of all his grandsire had said. But these lessons were now more than an exercise, more than sharing time with this man he loved, they had become introductions.

Faramir slipped his hand back into his grandfather’s as he too scanned the velvet tapestry above. They stood together sharing a moment of companionable silence. As he rested his head against the man’s hip, he asked, “Who shall we meet this morning?”

Adrahil chuckled as he moved them to a nearby bench. Sitting, he pointed to the bright triangle low in the northwestern sky. “Ah, not who but what. Did you know that not all stars are the same age? Some are very new, while others are as nearly as old as the forming of Arda itself. Faramir nodded, still looking at the triangle that included one of the stars from Alquatelpë and one from Soronúmë. The deep voice was slightly huskier as the man continued. “And some stars die.” The boy’s gaze snapped back to earth, seeking his grandfather’s. “’Tis true, son. But let us start with nine new stars. The last bright star in the triangle… see it now resting between the other two, lower, just above the horizon?”

Without waiting for his grandson’s affirmation, he continued. “There is a star just to its right; those two make the bow. The two stars straight up from each of the first two, are the stern. There are two more stars, almost half way up the hull that go out in a line to the right; those are the mast. Just below the star that tops the mast, is the one that begins to form the mainyard, now follow it up and back toward the hull, running diagonally across the mast, to the star that sits at the other end of the mainyard. The last star in the group is one of the oarlocks, it is set a third of the way up from the bow, in the center of the hull.”

The boy’s eyes were lit with excitement, “Oh, I see it! Its sail is full and it is racing right towards land. Whose ship is it Grandfather? What is its name?”

“Most frequently, it is simply called Cirya; its true name, Obrothmabâr, is nearly forgotten. The ship represents the sailing of the last of the Faithful from Númenor… The bright star at the waterline of the bow is Elendil’s. Faramir, do you know what happened to Númenor? Why it happened?”

Adrahil felt the shiver race through his grandson, noticed the unconscious movement of the boy drawing closer to his side. The boy took a deep breath before he answered, “It was destroyed by a wave. The Valar asked for it to be, when the King disobeyed them and sailed to Aman. The King and all those in his armada were killed too.”

“I cannot find it in my heart that Manwë anticipated the extent of the ferocity of Illuvatar’s aid, else he may never have asked for The One’s intervention. But intervention was requested, and provided. The sundering of the West from Arda was cataclysmic. If not for the skill of the mariners in those ships sailing east and the blessing of the Valar upon them, they too would have perished.” Adrahil lightened his tone, in an effort to ease them both back to the present. “Each of the stars that form the ship are for one of the nine that sailed, the storm and waves caused by the Change of the World separated the fleet and for a time no one was certain who had survived. Have you learned that history yet?”

Faramir shook his head, “Not all of it. I know that Elendil was separated from his sons and that Isildur founded Minas Ithil in Ithilien, and his brother built my city, Minas Tirith, but it had a different name then.”

“Well done! Now, look behind Obrothmabâr, just to the left, there a star, it is very faint. Do you see it?”

Faramir nods, “Just. It is more like the ghost of a star, I can almost see through it.”

Adrahil glanced down at the boy, draping an arm around his shoulders. “Not a ghost yet, son... But it is only visible for a few weeks each summer in the morning sky. That star is Anadûnê. It was once among the brightest in the heavens. Anadûnê has been grieving since the downfall of its namesake; since the downfall it has been losing its light. No… not a ghost yet… but soon. For it is dying, each summer I hold my breath until I see it again. I pray that I shall have taken my last breath before its light is completely quenched, for in its light I am reminded that I am of the Faithful. I hope that when the Deceiver’s power is no longer answered and he is at last defeated, Anadûnê will burn brighter in its joy… and redemption.

The boy could not stop the ripple of fear that ran through him. “Who is the Deceiver?”

“Sauron.” The Prince could not hide the fear in his eyes as they met his grandson’s; his fear that this boy would one day stand on the line, as so many before him had. He wished there was some strength he could bestow on the bright light sitting at his side.

“Mordor…” The child’s whispered reply sent icy fingers around the old man’s heart.

“Son, I am not certain I am capable of conveying all that I want to say, but please listen. There may come a day when my meaning, if not my words will make sense to you… Those that keep faith understand that a man’s power resides within. It is in his ability to know himself and finding joy in that knowledge; to accept who and what he is, finding strength even in his weaknesses. It is in his ability to seek the truth yet accept that truth is not necessarily the same for others as it is for himself. It is manifest in his choice to do what is right, not out of simple obedience, but to follow his heart, even when it is not the most expedient or safest path. And it is in the peace that will be his at the end of his days, in the certainty that he will be reunited with those who went before. Power is within, it is honed with honor and duty and love.”

Grey eyes met green. “I will remember.”

A smile appeared on the man’s face, it was reflected on the boy’s. “It is too fine a night to go in. Would you mind sitting for a while?”

A wave of love washed over Faramir. “I would be honored. I enjoy your company, Grandfather.” A small arm reached around the man’s waist as the small body rested against his grandsire’s side.

Adrahil’s smile broadened and his eyes swam for but a moment, as he placed his arm around his grandson’s shoulder. “And I yours, son.”

They continued to gaze at the stars above them. As the hull disappeared below the horizon, Faramir’s head descended into his grandfather’s lap.

Adrahil continued to sit until Anadûnê was no longer visible in the lightening sky. He then gathered the sleeping child in his arms and carried him back to his room. He lay him on the bed and pulled the linens over him. The man stood for a moment watching the boy curl into himself, then bent and brushed a kiss across grandson’s forehead as he stroked raven hair away from the boy’s face.

As he rose, solemn grey eyes me his. Adrahil walked over to the couch and again bent down to lightly stroke raven hair away from his grandson’s face and bushed a kiss across Boromir’s forehead.

-- Chris Smith

This was written for the Stargazers challenge at Henneth Annun, where Faramir is learning the constellations from his grandfather.

Scientifically, stars are really quite pretty. Lyra looks pretty much like this if one were admiring it at 4:00AM in Athens at an altitude of 20 meters in the middle of July (this year). While, now the fifth brightest, 13,000 years ago Vega was the brightest star seen in the northern sky. It shall be again in another 14-15,000 years. Therefore, my imaginary Anadûnê could appear less bright as the third age passes.

The stars that make the summer triangle are Vega, in Lyra; Denab in Cygnus; and Altair in Aquila.

Cirya is Quenya for ship.

Anadûnê is Adûnaic for Númenor.

Obrothmabâr is an artificial Adûnaic word made from Obroth, meaning the cutting of the water by the bow of a ship (the making of a bow wave); ma, which is with; and abâr, meaning fidelity, strength or endurance.
Alquatelpë is an artificial Quenya word for Silver Swan and is the name of a Constellation created by Altariel in her story, “The Swan and the Eagle” intended to coincide with Cygna. Soronúmë is the Quenya name for the Eagle Constellation discussed by Tolkien and is thought to coincide with Aquila.

I use Ardalambion as my primary source for information on Tolkien languages, all mistakes and misunderstandings are mine.

Here is a link to a larger version of the beautiful rendering done by Shunt (Jim), because I am the 'second wife' and made pork chops… a very useful bribe.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for private enjoyment, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.
May 2003
henneth annun

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