Burden of Guilt

Messing About On The River

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema with the exception of Caranthir who appears by kind permission of Evendim. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

Legolas and Gimli were paying a brief visit to Minas Tirith on their way to visit the Elf's home toEryn Lasgalen .As they was due to depart on the morrow; Aragorn had invited them to join the swimming party, so they could spend the last day of their visit together.

Legolas was eager to go but the dwarf declined the invitation saying, "Swimming was all very well for fishes but not for dwarfs."

They rode down the levels of the city and across the Pelennor to the River Anduin at a leisurely pace, enjoying the summer sunshine. The people going about their business in the streets cheered their King, his Steward and the handsome Elven prince as they passed by.

Aragorn smiled and waved as the people cried "Hail to the King and his Steward!" Faramir smiled shyly in response to their adoration. Even after almost two and a half years, it still felt strange to him to hold his father's title.

He often wondered what Denethor would think if he could see him now. He knew Boromir would be proud of his success but his father had always been impossible to please and he was certain he would just be waiting for him to make some dreadful mistake.

Faramir inwardly vowed that was not going to happen, as he was conscientious in performing his duties and he was determined never to disappoint his King who had given him so much.

They reached a pleasant secluded spot by the river and desiring privacy for their swim,Aragorn dismissed the guards, telling them to enjoy a free afternoon. He loved Minas Tirith but after so many years in the wild, sometimes it felt like a cage to him and he needed to get out into the open countryside.

Often he would go riding, usually alonewith Faramir at his side now Arwen was pregnant though the Steward having spent most of his life in the City would tease his King about his ambivalent attitude towards it, which Aragorn took in good part.

They tethered the horses and as soon as the guards had gone, sought the cover of some bushes and started to undress, shedding their tunics, shirts and breeches and placing them in a heap by the side of the river with their towels on top.

Legolas, with the supreme confidence of the Eldar, swiftly removed all his garments and stretched his lithe body under a tree as he waited for the others. The dappled sunlight only served to emphasise the lean contours of his body and perfect skin.

He laughed as Aragorn and Faramir, both naturally modest and rather shy, made their way to the water's edge, still clad in their drawers. They cautiously dipped their toes in the water, testing the temperature.

He ran past them and dived in, graceful as a seabird, and seemingly oblivious to the chill of the water.

"The water is pleasant today. Hurry up undressing and come on in!"

"We are undressed!" Aragorn replied as he slid into the water, closely followed by Faramir, who was relieved not to be the sole brunt of Legolas' teasing.

"You mortals are so shy!" The Elf teased." Maybe it is because you lack our perfection?"

Aragorn's only reply was to duck him under the surface. Having grown up with elves, he was accustomed to their flawless skin and perfectly proportioned bodies and felt no envy, though his own shyness had developed from being compared with such perfection and found wanting.

He should still remember being teased over a spot on his nose when he was about fourteen, as no elf ever suffered from such an unsightly affliction. Much as he loved elves, it had not been easy being so different from those around him as he grew to maturity. The day he had started to grow a beard, had been the most traumatic of his young life, as it had marked him out as irrevocably different from his foster family.

Faramir kicked out from the shallows. He was fine swimmer and had used to enjoy swimming here near the same spot with his brother. He still missed Boromir and always would, yet he had found happiness again now in the brotherly companionship of his King and his marriage to Eowyn. He wondered if Boromir were watching from the afterlife and smiling at how well his little brother had done.

Legolas emerged spluttering and met Aragorn's laughing eyes.

"We mortals can hardly bear to see your brilliance!" he teased." I meanwhile must maintain my dignity as King for what if a subject were to bow to me unclad? They would not know where to look!"

Legolas tossed his now sodden golden locks and dived under again, pulling the King down with him. Faramir swam towards them and joined in the fun.

Wearying faster than the immortal elf, Aragorn and Faramir clambered on the bank for a short rest, while Legolas circled round, as at home in the water as a fish.

Faramir was unable to resist watching him as all his life he had been curious about the Eldar and had never in his wildest dreams have ever expected to be in such close proximity to them.

He realised that their perfection was no myth, though to a human eye the smooth hairlessness of their skin appeared somewhat strange. Not for the first time, Faramir wondered how Aragorn must have felt growing up amongst such as these and decided to ask him when he had the chance.

Tiring of watching Legolas' acrobatics, Faramir leaned back against a tree stretching out his arms and playfully chasing the dragonflies with his fingers as they whirled overhead. It was a perfect summer's afternoon .It was hard to believe they were only a short distance from the city as the only sign of civilisation was a herd of goats grazing nearby .Of the goatherd, there was no sign. The King wondered if he were playing truant by swimming too, further downstream from them.

Aragorn sighed with contentment. It gladdened his heart to see Faramir healed, confident, and contented.

Faramir got up and stood at the water's edge, his back to the King, the skin almost as flawless as Legolas' thanks to the Elven treatment, that Aragorn had persuaded him to use a few months ago.

It seemed that once Aragorn had healed the physical scars of Faramir's old life, the mental scars had faded too and the Steward had finally come into his own, much to his King's joy. At long last, Faramir was relaxed, healthy and enjoying the happiness he had long deserved.

Faramir dived in again, calling "Come on in again unless you are too worn out!"

"Youth have no respect for their elders nowadays!" Aragorn teased as he dived in beside him. Although he was now ninety years old, a passer by would have taken the two men to be much of an age.

"I will race you to the far bank!" Legolas challenged, setting off at a fast pace. The others followed, though they had no chance of catching the swift elf.

They clambered out on the other bank and saw the sun was starting to sink.

"I think it is time we returned to the city," said Aragorn. The others agreed, but loathe to leave the refreshing water, all three swam back slowly.

The goats had come down almost to the water's edge.

"They must be thirsty. " Legolas commented.

"Or hungry. " Faramir added. "They seem to be grazing."

Aragorn was the first to leave the water. He reached for his towel. It had vanished, as had his clothes.

A/N A big thank you to everyone who has reviewed, your comments are much appreciated.

Until recently the Home Secretary was required to witness a royal birth in Britain after rumours that the son (James Edward Stuart father of Bonnie Prince Charlie) of James II and Mary of Moderna was smuggled into the Queen's bedroom in a warming pan, so I based the attitude of Aragorn's Council on this actual chapter of history.

I fear I am not good at writing Legolas unlike many writers on this site but hope Legolas fans will enjoy the next few chapters.

This part of the story is the "Calm" before a major storm !

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