As usual, I own absolutely nothing! I'm just having some fun. :)
Cora found herself pacing, unbelievably nervous for dinner. Gandalf's warning kept replaying in her mind and she hoped she could keep herself in check.
"Make sure you stay on Denethor's good side, Cora. Women's opinions are not as highly thought of as in your time. It would not bode well to have you kicked out of the Citadel," Gandalf had said to her before he left.
Being a freelance journalist, she had to work hard to get her writing acknowledged, but that was how things were. It was a cut-throat business, regardless of whether you were a man or a woman.
She wondered why Gandalf had warned her in the first place. Cora hadn't even been in this new world for an entire day, but as soon as she had seen those guards in armor, she knew things were different.
She knew when to keep her mouth shut, but she wasn't afraid to put someone in their place when the situation called for it.
Now, if he had been talking to Arlena, it would have made much more sense. Arlena had a fiery temper and when pushed, she would snap back. How bad could Denethor be that Gandalf needed to warn her?
As a new wave of nervousness overwhelmed her, she found herself fiddling with the long sleeves of the silver gown she was now wearing. After the seamstress had taken her measurements, a maid named Laurel came in with a dress.
Laurel had told her that she was to be her maid for her duration at the Citadel and that Lord Faramir had requested that some of his mother's dresses be brought to her until she had clothes of her own.
Laurel insisted that she had to change for dinner and promised to do her hair to make her presentable for dinner. The dress had fit her almost perfectly albeit it was slightly loose. A quick spell fixed that problem easily and now she found herself waiting for Lord Faramir to escort her to dinner.
A knock thankfully interrupted her thoughts. Walking over to the door, she opened it and found herself staring at a man that certainly was not Faramir.
How could she have forgotten that Faramir had said either him or his brother, Boromir, would escort her down to dinner.
"Hello, you must be Lord Faramir's brother, Lord Boromir," Cora said, hiding her disappointment very well.
Boromir was a bear of a man, but had the same shade of brown hair and blue eyes that his younger brother had.
"Aye, Lady Cora, I am Boromir. My brother was not lying when he said that you were a sight to behold," he said bowing to her.
Cora blushed, "You flatter me, Lord Boromir. Do you flatter every woman you meet with such compliments?"
"Nay, only to those that are deserving of such flattery," he said, smiling impishly.
She laughed and shook her head at him. He was much more daring than Faramir.
"Shall we go to dinner?" Boromir asked, offering his arm to her. She nodded and accepted his arm.
"It is nice to see my mother's dresses be put into use again. Long have they been put away in storage," Boromir said, taking her outfit in.
"Make no mistake, it is a lovely dress, but I'm not used to wearing dresses," Cora said honestly. She owned a few sun dresses and cocktail dresses, but they were all short and showed a lot more skin than this dress.
Mostly she owned skirts, and she usually wore those when she went into work to turn her articles in. She liked wearing pants and t-shirts, but she had a sinking feeling she wouldn't be wearing any of those any time soon.
"Oh, is that so?" Boromir said, arching an eyebrow.
"Yes, if I'm going to be honest, I'd prefer to wear what you're wearing," she said, gesturing to the tunic and trousers Boromir was wearing.
She noticed the thinly disguised look of annoyance on his face. So he must think women belong at home, wearing dresses and taking care of children. Well, she would change that.
"I have to warn you that my father addresses people briskly and not always politely," Boromir said, fumbling for the right words.
Cora squeezed his arm in reassurance, "I have been told to be on my best behavior by Gandalf. Do not worry so."
Apparently the mention of Gandalf did not bring Boromir any reassurance whatsoever.
They soon approached the dining hall, and found Faramir seated next to a foreboding man that could only be his father. Faramir quickly stood up at their entrance, but his father didn't.
After she concluded her first assessment, she wasn't impressed with the Steward of Gondor. A feeling of dread formed in the pit of her stomach once she approached the two other men.
"Father, this is Lady Cora," Boromir said, retracting his arm from hers. "And Madam, this is Lord Denethor, the Steward of Gondor."
Although he had stood up, Lord Denethor still didn't say anything. Not knowing what to do in such a situation, she improvised.
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, my Lord," Cora said, sweeping into a curtsy.
"Who gave you permission to wear that dress?" Denethor said rudely, his eyes narrowing at the dress she was wearing.
Cora's face paled and she was at a loss for words. He was angry and she had only said one thing to him!
"I did, Father," Boromir said, rescuing her. "She had no appropriate clothing for dinner, so until new clothes are made, I granted permission for some of Mother's gowns to be aired out."
She stared at Boromir, wondering why he took the credit for giving her the dresses when it was Faramir. She figured she would find out soon enough.
Denethor stared at Boromir, and his anger subsided.
"Very well then," Denethor said, making his way back to his seat.
Cora was led to her seat by Boromir. After he pushed her seat in, she quietly thanked him and watched him walk to the other side of the table and sat down next to his brother.
"I wanted to say thank you for your kindness and hospitality, Steward," she said, thinking that was the most logical thing to say.
"My sons insisted upon it," Denethor said, looking in the direction of Boromir and Faramir. Cora didn't fail to notice how he looked only at Boromir, not Faramir.
"You can thank them, not me. I had no say in the matter," he grumbled, glaring at her.
Faramir noticed her jaw muscles tightening up and the insulted look in her eyes. This was not going to end well, he thought.
Denethor suddenly clapped his hands and a mass of servants entered the room, carrying trays of food.
Cora spent her time staring at her plate, making sure she ate it as lady-like as possible.
"Are you of noble blood?" Denethor suddenly asked halfway through dinner.
She quickly looked up from her plate and made eye contact with Faramir.
"No I'm not, my Lord," she said, staring at Denethor.
"Then why have my sons been giving you the title of 'Lady' this entire time? More importantly, why have I been dining in the presence of someone so beneath me?" Denethor said in a deadly quiet voice.
Cora knew that tone of voice- the calm before the storm. She had to act quickly or hell was going to break loose.
"I am a witch, Steward. Ever since meeting your sons, they have given me such titles of nobility. I am not familiar with titles and the like, so forgive me for not correcting them otherwise. I may not have noble blood, but I come from an ancient line of wizards," Cora said, trying to be as diplomatic as possible.
She despised this man with every fiber of her being. Cora took note of the impressed look on Faramir's face, while Boromir was stonily silent. He seemed to have inherited that trait from his father.
"A witch? Like that fool of a wizard, Gandalf?" Denethor said.
Cora tightened her grip on her fork until her knuckles became white. She had to remain in control. She noticed Faramir was staring at his plate while Boromir was watching her curiously.
"Not entirely. I will admit that I do not know Gandalf well. He very well may be a fool, but he's a powerful one," Cora said coldly. She had to stay in control of her emotions or else the consequences could be disastrous.
She then looked down at the fork in her hand and to her dismay it was bent in half. She covered it with her napkin, hoping that Denethor didn't see. Thankfully he hadn't, but Boromir had.
The table remained silent after her outburst, and she wondered if she had overstepped her boundaries.
"You have had a long day. Come, let me take you back to your rooms," Faramir said, interrupting the silence.
Cora got up from her seat as quickly as she could without being rude and with a fast curtsy, allowed Faramir to escort her out of the dining hall.
Dinner, more or less, was a disaster.
"What an absolutely foul man! I know he's your father, Faramir, but I have never met a more difficult man than him! The way he treats you is barbaric! How do you handle it?" Cora ranted once they finally reached her rooms.
"As you noticed, my father prefers Boromir. But Boromir and I are very close. We look out for each other, and sometimes he will take the blame for things that I have done because he knows Father will react differently. It may be barbaric, but that is the way things are," Faramir said quietly, leaning against the wall as he watched her pace back and forth along the balcony.
"It's not right, it isn't fair!" She needed to punch something or at least scream. Then an idea popped into head.
"Please excuse my unladylike behavior, Faramir," she said before walking back into her room.
Confused, he stood there wondering what she meant. Then he heard muffled screams. He ran into the room to find Cora screaming into her pillows.
"You are certainly interesting, that's for sure," Faramir mumbled to himself.
Cora sat up and brushed her hair out of her face. She noticed Faramir had an amused expression on his face.
"Feeling better?" he asked.
"Only a little. I still need to destroy something. Then maybe I shall be good," She said, climbing off the bed as graceful as she could.
"Well, I can't help you with that, but I can show you the training grounds," Faramir said making his way towards the door. He held out his hand for her to take.
"Why the training grounds?" she asked curiously. She took his hand without a thought.
"So then you have a place where you can practice your magic. I'm assuming you would like somewhere to practice, yes?" he said conversationally, leading her in the right direction.
"Yes, that would be perfect. Practicing also prevents me from losing control of my magic," she said.
"Like when you bent that fork as if it were nothing?" Faramir said.
Cora's face paled. "You saw that too? I only thought your brother had."
"Yes, I saw it out of the corner of my eye. Do you always need your wand to perform magic?" he asked.
"Did I use a wand to bend that fork?" she asked.
"No, you did not," he said.
"Then no, I don't always need my wand," she continued.
Once Faramir escorted her back to her room, she felt so much better.
"Thank you, Faramir. I feel so much better now," she told him honestly.
"I'm happy to hear that, Cora. I'll show you the library tomorrow, if that'd please you," he said.
She smiled liking the sound of that, "That would be lovely."
"Excellent. Good night, Cora," he said before placing a kiss on her hand.
Cora felt her stomach flip when she felt his lips brush against her skin.
"Good night, Faramir," she said before she entered her room.
She leaned against the door and she allowed herself to giggle. She admitted to herself that she was attracted to him, but it was way too soon to tell if it was anything more. She pegged it down to the fact that she wasn't used to such gentlemanly behavior.
Besides, there was nothing wrong with admiring the scenery. Right?
A.N: Feedback, as always, is appreciated! Next chapter: Edoras!