Burden of Guilt

Labour and Strife

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 purely for pleasure and not for profit.

Warning- This chapter contains violence

" No one could have done more than you have to try and help Faramir," Imrahil reassured the King, who's drawn and stricken features betrayed the depth of his grief.

"I must see how Eomer fares now."Aragorn swayed on his feet and almost fell.

Imrahil and Aedred rushed to his side, just in time to prevent him from falling.

"I will go to Eomer King, " Aedred said firmly " You should rest now, My Lord as you are too weary to help anyone else at present. Let us assist you to lie down."

Too exhausted to protest, Aragorn allowed Aedred and Imrahil to help him on to the far side of the bed. Aedred pulled off his boots, while Imrahil fetched a clean shirt for the King. Aragorn was too exhausted even to pull it over his head without assistance.

"I will leave you to rest now, My Lord, please call me at once if you require further assistance." Aedred said, as he tucked a blanket around the Aragorn, who was already half asleep.

"Thank you, Master Aedred." Aragorn, smiled wanly as the healer bowed and left.

"I will keep watch over Faramir." Imrahil promised, settling himself down on the couch, his eyes never leaving the still form of his nephew, who even heavily sedated, moaned softly in his sleep.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Back and forth, back and forth, Arwen paced like a caged animal, refusing to be soothed, despite the best efforts of her companions.

"Will this babe take forever to be born?" she groaned wearily.

"It could take many hours yet, Lady Elfstone." Ioreth informed her. "Babies come when they are ready.

"It is not meant to be like this for Elves!" Arwen retorted.

"Your baby is half human, it could take after its father!" Eowyn replied.

"I will kill him!" Arwen snapped through gritted teeth as another contraction struck her." How dare he get me in this condition!"

"If I had a coin for every woman who has told me that, I would be the wealthiest woman on Arda!" Ioreth informed her wryly, a smile ghosting her usually grim features.

"I want to go outside!" Arwen announced suddenly.

"My Lady, that is not seemly!" Ioreth protested in horror.

"I am an Elf, it is unnatural for us to be confined within walls of stone!" The Queen insisted." I need some fresh air and grass under my feet!"

"My Lady, you must not become agitated, it is bad for the child. "Ioreth chided.

"How can I not be agitated by these stone walls? This room is like a prison!" Arwen lamented, ignoring the scandalised expression on Ioreth's face. "If I were in my home at Imladis, I would have my bed under the trees and be soothed by the sounds of the river as I waited for my child to be born."

Eowyn felt a rush of sympathy for the Elven queen. She too hated the stone walls of Minas Tirith and longed for the day she could move to Ilithien, even though she was aware Faramir would have to live apart from her for a few days each week, while he performed his duties as Steward. Not that it would not have been much different had she married a Lord of Rohan, as the men were often away patrolling the borders, sometimes for weeks on end. As a result the Rohirric women valued their independence and enjoyed managing their households with little interference from their husbands. She would miss Arwen too in Ithilien, but this city was like the cage she had always feared.

" I see no reason, why we cannot go out in the garden for a while." she announced. "It is enclosed, so the Queen will have complete privacy. "I will send one of the ladies at the door with a message that none must look out of the windows."

"This is outrageous!" Ioreth complained, "The next thing will be that you will encourage the Lady Elfstone to give birth up a tree!"

"We like to do that." Arwen replied. "My mother was born high up in Lothlorien, for myself I would rather feel the grass under my feet!

"Elves! It just isn't right or proper to behave like that!" Ioreth snorted as Eowyn took the Queen's arm and helped down the steps into the enclosed garden.

Arwen was soon walking barefoot on the grass. As another contraction hit her, she sank down amongst the flowers."

"How quiet it is in the city today!" She remarked when the pain has passed.

Eowyn listened carefully, as a mortal her hearing although sharp was far less acute than the Elf's. All she could hear were the sounds of birds singing and insects buzzing around the flowers, which was very strange as usually Minas Tirith rang with the shouts of traders, the chatter of passers by and the cries of children, while her favourite sound, the hoof beats of the many horses could be heard echoing from the lower levels.

"How strange!" she exclaimed, "But obviously it shows how much the people love their Queen as they must be keeping quiet to honour you! Or maybe the King requested them to be silent today?"

Arwen shook her head. "Estel would not do that, it would be abusing his authority. I hope everything is well with him?" she said anxiously.

"I am sure it is, our husbands can take good care of themselves." Eowyn soothed.

"I wish they were more careful about getting us with child! They ought to be the ones who give birth !" Arwen snarled as another contraction came. She lay back on the grass panting looking up at the branches of a mighty oak tree and watching a flock of geese fly overhead.

"Please, my Lady, come inside now!" Ioreth pleaded. "You cannot have your baby under a tree!"

"Why not have another bath and I will massage you?" Eowyn suggested.

Groaning, Arwen allowed herself to be led back to her chambers.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Despite his desire to remain alert, Aragorn fell almost immediately into a deep sleep, but his troubled mind would give him no rest.

He dreamed that Arwen had given birth and Eowyn brought the child to him to take to show to the populace.

He climbed the Tower of Ecthelion with the baby in his arms and looked down over the City.

All the people had turned into wolves, that were baying for blood, and at their behest he cast the child into their midst.

As the baby fell, it turned into Faramir who screamed in agony as the hungry beasts devoured his flesh.

One of the wolves then turned into Eomer and barked 'My sister is avenged!' as he bit off Faramir's head!"

He woke with a start to find Imrahil trying to soothe Faramir who was crying out in pain. Instantly alert, Aragorn bent over his stricken Steward, his heart still pounding after his nightmare.

" I will try to ease you," he murmured, feeling now he was rested a little, he could use his healing abilities

Faramir could only moan in distress as Aragorn pulled back the covers.

Aragorn's hands hovered again a few inches over Faramir's ribs and belly and then moved round to his back, trying to numb his Steward's pain with his healing powers.

Eventually, the cries subsided to whimpers, though Faramir's eyes continued to gaze at him with a look of haunted terror in their grey depths.

Aragorn gently rubbed more salve onto the bruises and flayed back, replaced the covers and then coaxed Faramir to sip some water to help counteract the blood loss and shock he had suffered.

His ministrations were interrupted by cries outside the door.

"Let us have justice for our King!" The voice had a strong Rohirric accent.

"We've heard he is lying here in luxury while our King lies dying!" shouted another.

"The King of Gondor promised justice but what justice is it to take the miscreant to his own room to pamper!" Aragorn recognised this voice as Eothain's.

"You cannot pass!" The Guard standing by the door sounded panicked.

"And you cannot stop us!"

The sickening sound of a blow being struck was succeeded by that of swords being drawn.

"Halt in the name of the King!" Obviously the second Guard was trying to stop the intruders. There was a loud scream and then fists pounded against the door.

"We're coming for you, coward, we demand vengeance!" screamed the Roherrim.

Aragorn and Imrahil drew their swords as the lock on the door splintered and some twenty or more heavily armed men of Eomer's Eored burst into the room.

"What is the meaning of this?" Aragorn demanded, brandishing Anduril.

"Your Steward killed our King, this means war!" Aragorn recognised the speaker as Aelfred, the Captain of Eomer's Personal Guard.

"Your King has a good chance of recovery." Aragorn said coolly." Have you not heard? I would remind you, that you have stormed our borders, not the other way round!"

"We heard that you confounded your Steward's infamy by cutting our King's head open!" Aefred retorted.

"A perfectly sound surgical procedure to save his life!" Aragorn said firmly, "Leave this room and return to your lodgings!" Too much blood has been shed today already."

"We will not leave until you surrender your Steward!" Aelfred replied.

TBC

A/N Thank you so much for all your kind reviews which are greatly appreciated. I have updated quickly to show my appreciation.

I hope Arwen fans will like this chapter,I have missed one of you recently.I promise she does play quite a large part later.

Aragorn and Faramir (if they survive the current crisis) have a long and difficult journey ahead to rebuild their friendship. I believe Faramir is even more distressed at letting Aragorn down than the consequences for him.

Faramir cannot comprehend that Aragorn loves him with the depth of unconditional love that a good parent has for a child whereas Aragorn cannot comprehend the depth of Faramir's insecurity caused by years of vainly trying to please Denethor.

Aragorn certainly does have a great deal to tell Arwen!

Apart from the relevance of her curse, Hanna plays no part in this story, though if my readers continue to enjoy my work, I may write a sequel which features her.

The Elfstone "Elessar" was given to Aragorn by Galadriel in the book and he has it with him in the Houses of Healing, where he appears to be in trance like state.

I am delighted some of my readers have found my writing helpful to them!

The flamer called themselves "crimson" but one pest might use many names!

It is possible Caranthir told Aedred that Faramir was beaten in prison.

The warnings will continue so my readers can make an informed choice over certain chapters. Chapter 20 was a recent chapter devoid of them.

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