Chapter 9 : Minas Tirith
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"There's a surprise for you," Faramir told Cora once she opened her door.
Faramir nodded and motioned for her to follow him. Cora was curious, to say the least. It was eight o'clock in the evening and she had been planning on spending her night putting her writing skills to use after a bit of reading. Faramir was set to leave in three days time and she wasn't expecting to see him all that much.
Taking the book she was reading with her, she followed Faramir. He led her to one of the common rooms of the guest quarters. Well, that's what she called them in her mind at least. Although the furniture was obviously different, they reminded her of the Gryffindor common room with the large fireplace and cozy atmosphere.
"What is it, Faramir?" Cora asked as excitement built up in her.
"Go in there and look for yourself. I don't know what it is," he said as he opened the door.
Without a second thought, Cora walked into the room. The book she was carrying made a loud thud against the stone floor. In the center of the room was her school trunk. She stared at it, not moving closer to it.
"It showed up this afternoon, but I didn't have the time to take you to it until now," Faramir said quietly before picking her book up.
She nodded dumbly, still staring at her school trunk in disbelief.
"This was on top of it," Faramir said as he held out an envelope to her.
With a shaking hand, Cora took it. She traced her name in green ink on the envelope, the handwriting so familiar to her. It was from Minerva McGonagall. Opening the envelope, her suspicions were confirmed.
Some comforts from home.
Minerva McGonagall was somehow involved in her being here. She decided to tackle those thoughts for a later time. She wanted to see what was in her trunk.
"Are you alright?" Faramir asked concerned after she didn't move or speak in quite some time.
Cora blinked and looked at Faramir.
"Yes, thank you. Would you like to open my trunk with me?" she asked.
She knew the contents of her trunk would be interesting to him, but mostly she wanted to spend some time with him before he left.
"If it would please you, my Lady."
Cora blushed, "Yes it would."
"Very well then."
Cora walked over to her trunk and kneeled down before it. She ran a hand over the top, memories flooding her. Faramir sat down next to her and waited for her to open it.
"What does the L stand for?" Faramir asked when he looked at her engraved initials.
"Lily," she said quietly. Taking a deep breath, she opened her trunk.
She instantly noticed her record player and her large record collection. It was in this moment that she truly appreciated how wonderful it was to shrink items. She grabbed the record player and set it up. Faramir was completely fascinated as Frank Sinatra's voice filled the room.
Her Gryffindor scarf was folded neatly on top of some of her favorite books. Her old Firebolt was in there, and she smirked at the thought of using it here. She found several picture frames and photo albums and a wave of homesickness hit her.
"These are my parents on their wedding day," she said, handing Faramir a picture of them.
When Faramir got past the fact that they looked so real and were actually moving, he studied the couple.
"They are quite the handsome couple. You look just like your mother," Faramir said softly.
"I've been told that often," she said smiling before showing him a picture of her cousin and siblings.
"You can keep looking through those albums if you'd like," Cora said as she went to change the record. As she was going through her records, she noticed a rectangular velvet black box that she didn't recognize.
Soon The Beatles were playing in the background and Cora quickly picked up the box. She opened it and gasped. It was her locket she got for her tenth birthday.
They had just finished playing 'Heart and Soul' on the piano. Out of all the Black children, Cora was the one that enjoyed playing the piano the most and Remus Lupin was happy to teach her all that he knew.
"Excellent job, Cora," he said proudly.
Cora beamed, "Thank you, Uncle Remi! What are we gonna do next?"
"Close your eyes. I've got a present for you!"
"It's my birthday present isn't it? Oh what is it?" Cora asked in excitement, but when Remus remained silent, she reluctantly closed her eyes.
"Now no peeking!" Remus teased before bringing out a simply wrapped small box.
When Cora was given permission to open her eyes, she smiled brightly. She loved presents, especially from Uncle Remi. He always brought them chocolate, but it was rare when he got them presents.
In a matter of seconds, the wrapping paper was torn off and she opened the velvet box to find an old but beautiful gold locket.
"It's so pretty!" she exclaimed in glee.
"It's a Lupin family heirloom. Wear it with pride," he said.
Cora looked at him confused.
"You can't give this to me, I'm not a Lupin. This should be given to one of your family members," she said even though she really liked the locket.
Remus shook his head.
"I'm afraid there aren't many Lupins left. I want you to have it. You are my family, and always will be," he said.
"Always?" Cora asked.
"Can you put it on for me?" Cora asked, satisfied with his response.
Remus chuckled, but did as she asked.
"Thank you, Uncle Remi. This is the best birthday present I've ever gotten!" she said hugging him.
"You're most certainly welcome, birthday girl," Remus said returning the hug.
"You're crying," Faramir said, bringing Cora back to the present.
"It's my locket. It's one of my most prized possessions and I thought I'd never see it again. Can you put it on for me?" she asked, hastily wiping her tears away.
"Of course. Who gave it to you?" he asked, gently brushing her hair to the side.
Cora closed her eyes as she felt his hands brush against her neck. She was thankful he was behind her.
"My Uncle Remus gave it to me for my tenth birthday. He wasn't my real uncle, but a close family friend. While my father was rotting away in prison, Remus helped my mother raise us. He was like a second father to me," she sniffed.
"There you go," Faramir said as he put her hair back in place. Her hair was so soft and all he wanted to do was run his hands through it.
Cora turned around and thanked him. Grabbing one of the photo albums, she scanned the pages until she found the one she was looking for.
"That's him," she said, pointing to a picture of Remus looking up from his book and smirking at the camera.
"How did he get those scars?" Faramir blurted out before thinking.
"He suffered from lycanthropy. Every full moon he turned into a werewolf. He was bitten at a very young age," she said quietly.
"Werewolf?" Faramir said in shock. He had only read about them in stories.
"He was the most gentle man I have ever met in my life. It was hard to picture him turning into a wild beast once a month when he enjoyed reading, music, and chocolate. He absolutely loved chocolate," Cora said fondly.
"You keep referring to him in the past tense. What happened to him?" Faramir asked.
"He died in the war. I saw it happen," she managed to choke out before she started crying again.
Faramir cursed himself for being too nosy. Without thinking, he pulled Cora into a hug. He didn't let her go until she stopped.
"Thank you, Faramir," she said as she moved back to her original spot on the floor.
Faramir leaned over and brushed the tears away with the pad of his thumb. His face was awfully close to hers. Dangerously close, in Cora's opinion. His hands lingered for longer than was necessary, but Cora didn't really mind.
"I think I'm going to take my trunk back into my room," she said, getting up. Taking her wand out, she magically placed everything back into her trunk.
"I'll carry it back to your room," Faramir said.
"I'm a witch, Faramir. Locomotor trunk," her trunk hovered inches off the ground and she started to walk out of the room, her trunk floating being her.
"Will you see me off when I leave? It will be in the early hours of the morning, so I understand if you don't want to," Faramir asked.
Cora smiled at him.
"I was going to be there whether you had asked me or not," she said before leaving the room.
The next day, Cora found herself in the kitchens. She had never seen them before and wanted to know how they operated without magic. It was large in size, but it was loud, busy and crowded. People, mostly women, were bustling around the kitchen with pots and pans.
"Get out of my way, child!" someone bellowed to a young girl. She couldn't have been more than six years old. The young girl quickly got out of the way, and Cora watched her make her way to the corner of the room where a basket was.
Cora made her way to the child, curious as to why she was there. As she approached her, she realized that there was a baby in the basket.
"Hello there, my name is Cora. What's your name?" she asked the girl.
"Leanne, and this is my baby brother Athos," the girl said quietly.
"Where's your mum?" Cora asked.
"Over there, she's the one kneading the dough," Leanne said.
With a plan formulating in her mind, she approached Leanne's mother.
She was in the garden courtyard braiding flowers into little Leanne's hair while baby Athos set it upon himself to destroy the flowers surrounding him.
"Mama used to do this for me all the time before she had to work all the time," Leanne, aged six said sadly.
Cora smiled sadly at the small girl. Her mother, Ingrid, had to work now since her husband Norin died six months before.
"When I was young, my mum used to work all the time, too," she said, finishing the braid.
"Really?" Leanne asked, turning to face Cora. The purple flowers stood out amongst her golden hair.
"Yes, I know it's hard, Leanne, but it gets easier," Cora explained while she stopped Athos from eating a flower.
"I wish we could spend everyday with you. It's so boring in the Kitchens," Leanne said, sighing.
"Well, I'll save you from the Kitchens as many times as I can," Cora said, smiling. She found both of them to be absolutely charming, and besides she was lonely. She would need new companions when Boromir and Faramir were gone.
"Really? You would do that?" Leanne asked, sitting up straighter.
Cora nodded, "As many times as I can."
Leanne jumped up. "Oh, thank you Cora!"
Cora laughed as she watched Leanne dance around her. Faramir looked on from afar in amusement, but when Boromir found him minutes later, he had a serene look on his face.
"Just bed the witch already," Boromir said once he noticed what Faramir was staring at.
Faramir turned to stare at his older brother and punched him in the shoulder.
"Ouch, what was that for?" Boromir said, rubbing his shoulder.
"You know what," Faramir said, looking back at Cora. She was now singing as the young girl chased after some butterflies.
"Those are Norin's children," Boromir said sadly as the young girl squealed in delight.
"How do you know?" Faramir asked, looking at the blonde girl closely.
"I was the one that personally told his wife that he had died fighting for his country," Boromir said.
"Oh," the younger brother said. The two stood in silence, watching the happy scene before them.
"I've seen the way you look at her, Faramir. Just kiss her already," Boromir said, breaking the silence.
Faramir shook his head, "She's different, Boromir."
"Are you trying to tell me that you want to court her? Marry her? Have children with her?" Boromir asked incredulously.
"I'm in love, brother. I would do anything for her," Faramir said.
"Just make sure you do something before you leave," Boromir said before they left to go to the training grounds.
Cora entered her room after dinner with Ingrid and her two children. Ingrid was absolutely delightful and a bit lonely. Cora was certain that they would become fast friends.
Going over to her trunk that she had placed at the foot of her bed, she found a single lavender rose on top of it. She picked it up, noticing there was a note attached to it.
"Amin naa tualle," she said aloud. Where had she heard that before? She froze when she remembered where.
Faramir had said it to her last week. But what did it mean? Grabbing her wand off her desk, she muttered a translating charm. She watched as the words changed to I am your servant.
She stared at the rose. Why a lavender rose? She knew there was a hidden meaning to the color of the rose, but she didn't know what it was. Laurel would be coming soon to ask if Cora needed anything before she went to bed. Cora heard a knock on her door and quickly granted permission to enter.
"Anything you need, Miss Cora?" Laurel asked as usual.
"Do you know what a lavender rose represents?" Cora asked.
"I think it means love at first sight and enchantment," Laurel said as she took note of the rose in Cora's hand.
"Thank you. It appears that I have an admirer, Laurel," Cora said smiling.
"Glad to be of some help, Miss. Do you know who it is?" Laurel asked.
"Yes, I think I do," Cora said vaguely. She wanted to keep this a secret. "What does an orange rose represent?"
"Enthusiasm and desire, I believe," Laurel said blushing.
"Thank you. Good night, Laurel," Cora said.
"Good night, Cora," Laurel said before she left.
Love at first sight. Enchantment. I am your servant.
It appeared that Faramir was serious about his feelings for her. If she was going to be honest, she wanted his mind, body, and soul. She had never felt this way about someone before, and she had her fair share of boyfriends during her school days. Even in her most serious relationship, her love for him paled in comparison to her feelings for Faramir.
Well, she was going to show Faramir that she was serious about her feelings for him too. Noticing it was a bit chilly when she walked back to her room, she grabbed her cloak. Her destination was the gardens in search of an orange rose.
Cora decided to charm one of her dresses lavender. She was preparing to go down to the courtyard to see Faramir and his men off. She was nervous. The night before she had sent an orange rose and hopefully he knew what it meant.
Fixing the skirts of her dress, she put her cloak on and began walking down to the courtyard.
"I was so worried you wouldn't show up," Faramir said as he approached Cora.
"You had no need to worry, Captain. I wouldn't have missed this," she said softy, taking in his Ranger's outfit. She had to admit, he looked quite dashing in it.
He smiled at her and she smiled back.
"Can we go somewhere private? I'd like to talk to you," Cora asked.
"Of course," Faramir said before leading them to a private little alcove where they were out of sight from Faramir's men.
"You look lovely in lavender," Faramir said as he took in her dress.
Cora blushed, "Thank you. I was inspired by the rose you sent me last night."
Faramir stared at her, "How did you know it was me?"
"Amin naa tualle. You said that to me last week," she said quietly.
The Captain of Gondor looked embarrassed, "I thought you were asleep."
"I'm glad I wasn't. Faramir I-" she stopped and stared down at her hands. She didn't know what to say.
She felt Faramir's hand underneath her chin and he made her look up at him. She smiled at him and he never saw anything more beautiful than her.
"Can you look after this for me? It'll be something for you to remember me by," Cora said as she took off her locket and placed it in his free hand.
Faramir stared at the locket and then back at her.
"I could never forget you, Cora," he said honestly.
"I still want you to have it nonetheless. It has some minor protection spells that will protect whoever is wearing it. If something happened to you, Faramir, I don't know what I would do."
"It will be an honor to wear it, my Lady," he said as he put it around his neck.
Cora came closer to help him to hide it underneath his cloak. She smoothed his cloak down, but she didn't want to move away from him just yet.
"You'll be leaving with two of my most prized possessions, Faramir. Look after them," she said softly.
"The locket I know of, but what is the other?" he asked curiously.
"My heart," she said staring straight into his eyes.
Faramir stood there speechless. She returned his feelings. Then he remembered the orange rose he found on his bed. She must have sent it. Who else would have sent a rose representing desire and enthusiasm? He placed his hand on her cheek, and Cora leaned into his palm. Throwing caution to the wind, he kissed her. Wrapping his arms around her, he felt his world becoming complete.
He pulled back, but Cora quickly leaned in for a second kiss. Kissing him was bliss and she couldn't get enough of it.
"I will return, I promise," Faramir said before placing another kiss on her lips. He slid the ring off his finger and placed it in Cora's hand.
"This ring belonged to my mother's father, so it is very important to me. Please look after it. I know it is too big-"
Faramir stopped talking when he saw Cora shrink it and placed it on her right ring finger.
"You forget I'm a witch, Faramir," she said smugly.
"You're amazing," Faramir said before kissing her again.
"Go, my Captain. Make Gondor proud," she said.
He kissed her a final time and then left the small alcove, giving her his arm to hold onto. She walked with him to his horse and said her goodbyes. Seeing Boromir approach, she quickly moved away to give them some space.
Boromir soon joined her in watching Faramir and his men leave. The two of them stood watch until they were out of sight. Once they were gone, Boromir turned to her.
"Come Cora, let us go to the kitchens. I'm sure they can make us some breakfast."
Cora nodded and accepted his offered arm. She missed Faramir already.
A.N: So what do you think? I just had to name the baby Athos.. I had just watched The Three Musketeers before writing this chapter. Anyways, a review would be lovely! :)
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