And Known Too Late (Maudlin' King Remix)

Note: Remix... Redux III story for Too Early Seen Unknown by Kielle.
Beta: Many thanks, !

After the last remaining son of the House of the Stewards opened his eyes in the Houses of Healing, looking at Aragorn as if recognizing him, Aragorn was always aware of Faramir's presence. He seemed to be always there, at the edge of his awareness, watching him with calm, grey eyes that seemed to know more than they should. It had been slightly unsettling at first, before Aragorn had realized that Faramir's gaze held no anger or resentfulness towards the stranger that had come unbidden, bringing with him the end of the life Faramir had known.

A brother dead, slain in a faraway country; a father's madness, followed by death that was almost merciful, leaving Faramir alone in a world where his family ruled no longer over Gondor – Aragorn would not have blamed him being angry. But Faramir was not a man to mourn the loss of power, and while Aragorn could see the grief over the loss of brother and father in his eyes, they held no anger towards him, only knowledge and wisdom far beyond Faramir's young years.

Aragorn had already come to value the calm presence on his left side, the support wordlessly offered, silencing the few voices that were grumbling about the return of an unwanted King. Sometimes he wondered whether Boromir, had he lived, would have accepted this role so readily. But he knew the answer to that, and his smile tasted bittersweet. Having Boromir seated in the Steward's chair would have been very different; a clash of wills more often than not, loud-voiced protest instead of Faramir's quiet words of advice whenever he felt that Aragorn might need them.

Yet Aragorn would have given much to hear Boromir's voice again, even if it was raised in anger. He would have given even more for one of Boromir's rare smiles, for his fierce laughter as they fought side by side. He tried not to think of what he would be willing to do for just one more kiss, one more touch of those strong hands, that body marked by countless warrior scars, encounters all the more treasured for their rough passion. Their love, if one could call it that, had been a fire burning too hot to last, ridden with conflict, mistrust and ultimately doomed by death, yet Aragorn found his mind wandering to those few precious days, wishing for just one more touch of those bright flames, so different from Arwen's gentle warmth.

Arwen. The woman he had loved since he was little more than a boy. She would never reproach him, not for the loss of her immortality, and not for Boromir. She knew, he was sure of it – she knew and understood that what Aragorn had shared with Boromir had nothing to do with his love for her. She was his Queen now, sitting on his right, serene in her happiness. He was happy, too, although happiness would probably always taste a bit of ashes and fire now, after the darkness they had been through.

Yet as he sat there, feeling Faramir's gaze on him, he was reminded of another pair of eyes that had looked at him intently, measuring him, judging him and his abilities. But while Boromir had looked straight at him, every emotion offered openly in his gaze, creating a connection that not even the lure of the Ring could break completely, Faramir's eyes spoke of secrets kept and guarded. Aragorn had heard of Faramir's prophetic vision, of his knowledge of Boromir's death, and he could not help but wonder how far his knowledge extended. Whether he knew that his brother had known some moments of happiness before the darkness had extinguished his light.

It was weak comfort, but the best Aragorn could do.

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