Burden of Guilt

The Fateful Letter

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.

Imrahil jumped to his feet and grabbed Eowyn's arm as she appeared poised to strike again. "Lady, it is treason to strike the King!" he cried, outraged at her actions, "He risked his own life to save your husband!"

"Let her go, I deserve her wrath!" Aragorn said wearily, still reeling from the blow and trying to wipe away the blood running down his face. "None could ever blame me as much as I blame myself! Leave her be!"

Released from Imrahil's grip, Eowyn bent over her husband and pressed a kiss to the bluish tinged lips and clasped the limp hand. "Faramir, my Love!" she cried, but he had lapsed back into unconsciousness and could not hear her.

Caranthir hastened to Aragorn's side and fussed round the King, pressing cold compresses to his bleeding nose and lip. Too weary to protest, he submitted to the ministrations patiently.

"Your nose, is fortunately not broken, My Lord, but I fear you will have a swollen lip for a few days." Caranthir pronounced, glaring at Eowyn.

Eowyn knelt by Faramir's bedside sobbing quietly and continuing to call his name.

After a few moments, she felt more composed and steeled herself to more closely examine his injuries. Uncovering him again, she prodded an especially nasty looking bruise on his belly, trying to ascertain for herself how severe his injuries were.

Although virtually insensible, Faramir moaned in agony and jerked away from her touch.

Aragorn hurried to his side and held his hand over the spot until the Steward quieted and then tucked the covers round him again.

"Will you leave us, please? " he asked Imrahil and Caranthir." And Master Caranthir, you and Master Aedred should rest now as you have been here many hours. Please request two other skilled healers from the Houses of Healing to come and replace you while you get some sleep."

"Your should rest too, My Lord." Caranthir suggested.

"I will as soon as I am able." Aragorn told him," Now I wish to speak to the Lady Eowyn alone."

They both looked doubtful at leaving the King alone with the Steward's enraged wife, but did as they were bidden.

Aragorn led the now subdued Eowyn to a chair.

"How badly is he hurt?" she asked. "Tell me the truth as I can for myself that he is very ill!"

"It is impossible to tell for certain." Aragorn told her sadly. " With sword cuts, fever, a flogging and a beating all of which could have caused more damage inside. His lungs and limbs are sound, the only broken bones are several ribs and he should be able to father more children, but I fear his heart is damaged and most likely his kidneys too. Also he has lost a great deal of blood and is in deep shock as well as running a high fever."

"Will he live?" she demanded in her usual direct fashion, though her eyes were full of fear

Aragorn looked her directly in the eye. " I do not know. His fate is in the hands of the Valar. I will do everything within my power to save him though."

"So you ought to, as this is all your fault!" Eowyn snapped, looking as if she was considering striking him again. "Men! I turn my back for a few hours to help your wife bring new life into the world and then learn that my husband and brother have tried to kill each other! Then for some reason you send my poor husband to prison as if he and Eomer hadn't damaged each other enough already! However could all this have happened? I demand to know everything!"

Aragorn had not intended to show her the letter and risk distressing her further at present. It seemed though,unless she knew the whole story she would continue to rage at him. He was too weary to argue with her any more as well as not wanting Faramir to be disturbed by raised voices.

Sighing, he retrieved the crumbled and bloodstained letter and handed it to her to read, while he bathed Faramir's face and neck again.

The colour drained from Eowyn's face and Aragorn rushed to her side to prevent her from falling.

"Easy now!" he soothed, leading her to the couch and gently rubbing circles on the back of her neck, an Elven remedy to prevent fainting.

" I wrote this six months ago." she murmured brokenly, "I was angry when Faramir told me we were to go to the Hunting Lodge and even thought you were planning to make me your mistress with his contrivance. You know how bad things were between us then and I falsely believed ill of you both. I placed it amongst Faramir's papers meaning to send it to Eomer later. When we returned I was going to destroy it but I couldn't find it and assumed it had been thrown away."

"The new secretary!" Aragorn said grimly, "Faramir told me that he was always tidying papers away. He must have found this and sent it to your brother."

"I am sorry. It is my fault Faramir is hurt you are not to blame. I should not have struck you." Eowyn looked up at the King, her eyes brimming with tears.

"The letter only led to the fight with Eomer, not to Faramir's serious injuries." Aragorn replied, now understanding far more about what had happened.

Knowing Eowyn's share of the blame in no way lessened his own feelings of guilt though. As King it was his responsibility to have stopped the fight and have made his instructions clearer that Faramir was merely to be arrested for his own protection.

He placed a comforting arm around the distraught Eowyn.

"What have I done? I have killed my husband and almost killed my brother!" Eowyn wept, looking sadly at the still figure on the bed.

" They still live and may yet recover!" Aragorn tried to sound more hopeful than he felt. "I know you never meant any harm to come to either Faramir or your brother."

" I was so unhappy a few months ago but I only wanted Eomer to take me home." Eowyn said more to herself than to the King. "Then everything changed and I realised how much I loved my husband after all and that you were always a good friend to us both. I was overwhelmed at your goodness when you forgave me and told me you wished me to attend the Queen when she gave birth. Arwen! All this almost made me forget! I must return to her!"

"I am sure there must be a way around the rules and you can be permitted to leave Arwen to be with Faramir." Aragorn replied, "The law was never intended to keep a midwife from her sick husband!"

Leaning heavily on Aragorn's arm Eowyn made her way back to the bedside and stood despondently looking down at Faramir.

"You are far more use to him than I am at the moment, as you have healing powers beyond anything I understand." Eowyn replied, "You saw how he groaned when I touched him, I know I am not gentle enough to care for him at present! It is best that I stay with Arwen, as I promised her to. I think Faramir would want that, but I beg you fetch me at once if there is any change or he asks for me." She bent and kissed Faramir tenderly, murmuring, " I am so sorry, my Love!"

Aragorn nodded his agreement. Having experienced her none too gentle ministrations himself, he knew she was right and until Faramir was conscious, there was little she could do. "I will have you fetched at once if you are needed," he promised. "Please do not tell Arwen yet how badly Faramir is hurt though, as today should be a joyful occasion for her"

"As it should be for you and Faramir too! How can he ever forgive me for what I have done? How can anyone forgive me for my foolishness in writing that letter?" Eowyn reproached herself, as she slowly moved away from the bed.

"I already have." Aragorn said quietly, as she made her way towards the door, "I beg of you to think now of your unborn child and try not to fret over the letter .You could not have known what would happen. Now go and take care of my wife and son, they will have need of you before Ioreth drives Arwen to distraction with her tongue!"

Eowyn turned for a final look at Faramir and then managed a wan smile before returning to the Queen.

Alone with Faramir, Aragorn buried his face in his hands and wept. This should have been the happiest day of his life, as he had become a father after so many years of waiting. Arwen was well and the future of the monarchy was assured but how could he rejoice when it seemed that Eomer might be permanently paralysed and Faramir hovered between life and death due to his folly.

Faramir started to move restlessly and moan at the pain it caused him. Wiping away the tears, Aragorn mixed up more herbs to try and ease his friend.


A/N Thank you so much for your very kind reviews. Each and every one is greatly appreciated and I am updating quickly to show my appreciation of your interest and support.

Aragorn does believe he is to blame for the tragedy.

For those of you who have not read "Shadow and Thought" the backgroud to Eowyn writing the letter can be found in chapters 6 and 37

I am familiar with and enjoyed both Babylon 5 and Louisa Alcott's novels.

"The Valley of the Shadow of Death" is a quote from Psalm 23 in the Bible. I think that chapter is my personal favourite, though it had fewer comments than some of the others. I am pleased my readers enjoyed the contrast between the light hearted beginning and current situation.

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