La primera vez is my Spanish translation of this story.
La première fois is my French translation of this story.
Faramir is my favourite character in Tolkien's book The Lord of The Rings. Since he is already thirty-seven when we meet him in The Two Towers, it seemed interesting to me to delve into the depths of his youth. And of course, what subject would be better than that of his first contact with women, in a society gripped by the shadow of Mordor and the rigour of the ancient kings, and under the rule of his very authoritarian father? Anyway, here's the story...
When Faramir was twenty-five, the Dark Lord's troops made several incursions into Ithilien. Since Boromir was fighting in the South at the time, his brother was sent to guard Osgiliath and destroy the Enemy's forces. There was long fight, for Mordor soldiers were many and well-armed, but in the end the younger son of Denethor managed to repel the attack and hunt the survivors in the glades of Ithilien. But his heart was heavy, because he had suffered great loss of his men, and when he returned to Minas Tirith he spoke long with his father of the growing menace in the East. It was late when he retired to his room in the Citadel.
That room was a beautiful chamber, with high windows that looked upon the West and the South, upon the flank of Mindolluin and the fair valleys of Gondor. Faramir had occupied it since he was a man, and he had made it into his one haven for peace and leisure. On one side there was a large bed with velvet curtains, and on the other a table carven in dark wood, whereupon lay some scrolls and the books that he loved most. A vase full of flowers was on the table, music instruments were set against the walls, and all the weapons and war gear were kept in chests and out of sight.
That night Faramir was glad to reach his room, for the day had been long and he was weary in body and mind. It was warm in the chamber; a fire had been lit, a hot drink set upon his table, and the scent of fresh flowers filled the air, though it was only the beginning of spring. Faramir was about to sigh when he heard a soft noise behind him. He turned round and saw a woman, half-lying in his bed and smiling at him.
She was still young, only a few years older than Faramir, and her face was fair and gentle. She bore herself as one of great birth, but she looked shy and smiled at him in a faltering way, as if uncertain about his reaction. Faramir saw tenderness and fear in her eyes, and for some reason he thought of his own mother; pity overcame his annoyance towards the intruder and softened his face and voice as he addressed the unknown woman.
'Who are you, lady? And what are you doing here?'
'I am Fíriel, daughter of Herion, my lord. The Lord Denethor sent me to your chamber.'
'And did the Lord Denethor instruct you to lie in my bed while waiting for me?' asked Faramir, not without amusement, though he felt grieved in his heart at this news.
'He did so. He told me to wait for you, and to do my best to please you. I told him I would do so, even without his order.' Her face was anxious, and Faramir thought that it was not for fear of his father's anger if she failed. He considered her, thoughtfully, pondering her words.
'The Lord Denethor would not have said only that.' he said at last, with an encouraging smile. 'What else did he tell you?'
She seemed to hesitate at this question. Then she dropped her gaze for a second, and a small flush coloured her cheeks.
'Would you hear the very words he said?' she asked, looking into his face again.
'He said: “My son is old enough to have a son, and he knows nothing of women. It is time he became interested in them. You were chosen for your experience and your beauty, to show him the pleasure and comfort only women can bring. He is tired and sorrowful after much toil; he has fought well, and has earned the right to amuse himself. He needs and deserves such company as I'm sending to him.” Forgive me, my lord, but those were his orders.'
Faramir listened to her intently, heeding her feelings more than her words, and smiled when she finished.
'You are a fair lady, that is doubtless; and you are truthful and kind beyond your beauty. But what is that experience you were chosen for?'
'I was married for ten years. Belegorn was my husband; he died two years ago in the service of the Lord.'
Faramir knew that. Belegorn had been a good counsellor and captain, though he himself had never met him, for he lived far away in Belfalas.
'You loved him, lady, did you not?'
'I did. He was a good husband.'
'And yet you are ready to give yourself to another man, whom you do not know. What will your people think of it, lady? What about your honour?'
'The Lord Denethor told me he would see to it, that only honour and no shame should come of it. And if... I were to have a child, it would be brought up at the court, being considered as a token that I pleased you and obeyed his orders. Do not worry about that, my lord.'
'I may not, but what about your feelings? Fíriel, I would not have any woman give herself to me unwillingly, for the sake of my education. And I would not have you give me pleasure against your heart's desire. I would rather disobey my father's orders and expose myself to his wrath.'
'My lord, your heart is kind and honourable, as befits a Steward's son. But Belegorn is dead and will not return to my arms, whether another man sleeps in them or not. And what would you tell your father? You serve the Lord of Gondor by fighting his enemies, though I have heard you have no love for war. If he wants me to serve him in another way, it is my duty to do so. What could you say against that? But I would be glad to obey him on this occasion. For I have always heard people speaking your praise, but I see now that none of their words does justice to you. I could love you, my lord, if I dared; and though I know I can't bring you joy, I would fain at least comfort you.'
Faramir looked at her in surprise. Her cheeks were hot and her eyes shining; she had almost cried the last words. Faramir found himself wanting to take her in his arms.
'Fíriel, why do you think I am unhappy? And why would it be out of your power to bring me joy?'
She looked steadily at him, wondering how much she should tell of what she guessed.
'As for your being unhappy, that is plain. I think one of the reasons is that you do not want to displease your father, and yet in your own heart you cannot sometimes agree with him. Every time his will and yours are opposed, whether you give in or not, you are bound to suffer. But even without that, even were your mother living and the Shadow that ever grows upon us lifted from over Gondor, you are not the sort of man that could be happy without a companion. Your heart yearns to love and to be loved.'
She waited for some reaction, but Faramir just looked at her, thoughtfully, and said nothing. She was right; and, though she had not said it, both of them knew that she was not the woman for him. But Faramir wondered how she could perceive his mind more clearly than himself. He had always wished for a companion, one to whom he could confide his deepest secrets, his dreams and his sorrows, one whom he could love and cherish and share his thoughts with. Despite his brother's affection and the love of his own men, he had felt lonely in all the years of his manhood. Boromir was so different from him, and there was no other whom he could have trusted as an equal. That was why he had never thought seriously about marriage: women in Gondor had their own sphere, and they could not enter men's. But Faramir dreamed of a woman who would accompany him to battle, who would share the burden of ruling, the fear of defeat, the toil and the danger; yet also one who could help him forget the war and the Shadow and bring to his life peace, joy and the beauty of the things he loved.
'You have a clear sight, Fíriel.' he said at last. She smiled. Most people in Gondor knew that the Lord of the City was not too kind to his younger son. She had heard much about Faramir even before she reached Minas Tirith; the rest she had learned easily when she looked on him. The son of Denethor could not know that in a man of his age and rank, the very lack of pride and joy such as his brother showed was a sign of unhappiness. Yet she marvelled at the way in which he bore himself, calm and courteous, seemingly unmoved except by the sorrows of others. And only a loving man would have cared about the feelings of a woman sent for his pleasure.
'My lord, may I venture that your father was right? You need and you deserve my company. Will you not accept it?'
'Should I, Fíriel? You would give me so much that matters to you. Would it be fair to accept it without returning something of like worth? Yet what could I give you? My heart is not mine to command.'
'Your heart, my lord, would be too great a gift. Yet if you wish to reward me, that is easy. There is something very precious which only you could give me.'
'What is it?'
'Your trust.' said Fíriel, gravely. 'I may have a clear sight, but nonetheless there are parts of your mind you do not dare to disclose to me, nor to anyone else. I am a noblewoman of Gondor, son of Denethor. Upon my honour, if ever you wish to share your thoughts with me, I will prove myself to be worthy.'
This time it was Faramir's turn to blush. He had been keeping from her every emotion her words had caused. Yet there was no mistaking her accent; he did not doubt that she would be true to her word. To share his mind with her would be a fitting way of showing his gratitude. As soon as he decided this, he felt an intense desire to lie down and rest; he was exhausted by the emotions of the day.
She looked at him and saw agreement in his eyes; then she relaxed, smiling tenderly.
'Please sit down, my lord.' she said, gesturing towards the bed. 'I will speak to you no more tonight. Shall I undress you?'
A few days later, Faramir was standing on the walls of the city, looking to the East. Next to him stood Boromir; he had just come back after a great victory in the South.
'I heard that father sent you a woman to initiate you in the craft of love. How was it?' asked Boromir.
'She was lovely. I asked father if I could keep her close to me. She is in my household now.' Faramir paused, then looked at his brother. 'Boromir, did you have such an initiation when you were younger?'
'I did. I was younger than you are now when father sent me a woman'.
'How was the experience?'
'I spent one night with her. It was not unpleasant, but I prefer to keep my strength for fighting. Much more exciting to me, and there is more glory to find in it.'
Faramir smiled, but he shook his head.
'We are not of one mind in this, I gather' said Boromir, smiling too.
'No, we are not.' said Faramir. 'You know I would not fight, nor yearn for fighting, if no foe endangered our lands. Yet I could love a woman, I think, more than I have ever loved anything: music, books, and even the City of the Men of Númenor.'
'She had better be loyal to the City then, or you would become a danger to us all.' laughed Boromir. 'But I have never felt for any woman what father felt for mother.'
'Nor have I,' said Faramir 'but I hope to do so one day.'