Burden of Guilt

The Gulf Widens

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.

"Come, I will take you to him, I warn you that being injured has not improved his temper!" Aragorn supported Faramir by his good arm and led him down the corridor to Eomer's room, hoping fervently that seeing Faramir's obvious frailty would soften the King of Rohan.

"I can walk unaided,please let me be !" Faramir said.

Reluctantly, Aragorn released his arm,trying to hide the hurt he felt at Faramir's very obvious rejection

The Steward's steps were slow and unsteady and he leaned heavily on a cane for support, continuing to refuse Aragorn's proffered arm.

How badly did I hurt Eomer?" Faramir asked anxiously.

"Your sword caught him across the chest," Aragorn replied, quickly elaborating when he saw the horror in Faramir's eyes, " Not that the wound was very serious as it touched no vital organ. It is healing well with no trace of infection. His worse injuries were sustained when he fell down the steps, which was not your fault."

"I am so sorry," Faramir sighed, breathing heavily with the effort of walking.

Eomer was sitting in a chair. He hated lying abed and had insisted on being up and dressed a few days ago, though he was still too weak to walk very far, much to his chagrin.

His injuries, though still bandaged, were mending fast, mainly thanks to Aragorn using his healing abilities when they were first inflicted and the gift of a robust constitution.

What troubled him most though was the loss of sensation in his sword arm, which hung limply by his side. Neither Aragorn nor the other healers knew what was causing the problem or if he would ever be able to wield a sword or even ride a spirited horse again.

He continued to refuse Aragorn's offers of Elven remedies, for having been brought up to associate powerful Elves with sorcery, he considered such matter as too dangerous for men to meddle with.

His sister had assured him they were quite safe and he concurred they probably were for women as they did not have to worry about their virility as men did. Had he not seen with his own eyes the Lady of the Golden wood and how her husband appeared in thrall to her? The fair Sorceress had almost caused him and Gimli to come to blows!

Many of Eomer's men had now returned home, carrying messages to his Queen and his Marshals Elfhelm and Erkenbrand that they would have to govern in his place until he was fit to return, which could be not for some considerable time as the King of Rohan refused to even consider travelling until he could sit on a horse. The prospect of a Horse Lord returning to his lands in a wagon was too great a humiliation to contemplate.

Eowyn was sitting on the chair opposite her brother, vainly trying to improve his mood by haltingly reading an account of the Greatest Battles of Gondor to him and wondering if maybe she should have tried to find one about horse breeding instead.

Together with Aragorn and the senior Healers, she was one of the few prepared to tolerate Eomer's volatile moods, which had plagued him since his head injury. Both healers and servants alike had been reduced almost to tears by his behaviour.

Eowyn could see only the brother who had defended her fiercely when they had first come to Edoras as two friendless orphans under the care of a kindly yet often distracted royal Uncle and had continued as her protector ever since. The guilt gnawed at her relentlessly that her folly in writing that letter had brought both her husband and her brother so low.

Eomer had always been so strong and vigorous, his skills both on horseback and with the sword and spear, easily surpassing those of all his peers. It almost broke her heart to see him struggling to lift his useless arm, which had once been so strong.

Aragorn knocked and entered the room, closely followed by Faramir.

Eomer flushed with rage at the sight of his bother in law.

"Why have you brought my attacker here, Aragorn? " he asked with biting anger." Does he think to finish me off now? As if he hasn't done enough damage already by leaving me paralysed!"

" How dare you speak of my husband like that?" Eowyn snapped as she dropped the book and went to help support Faramir, who was now forced to accept help, for his legs grew unsteadier by the minute while his heart pounded as if trying to burst from his damaged chest.

"Peace, Eomer!" Aragorn said in a warning tone.

"I wish to apologise to you for the hurts I have caused you." Faramir said sincerely, trying unsuccessfully to kneel. "I swear I meant only to defend myself and never intended you to suffer such injuries, although I take full blame for them and freely accept judgement at your hands! I will apologise again in public."

" No one is going to punish my Steward! He sought only to defend himself!" Aragorn interrupted in a tone so grim, that lesser men would have quailed.

"That is not all!" Eomer glowered unperturbed, "You dishonoured my sister as you made her lie with another! You did not attempt to deny it before we fought!"

Faramir flushed scarlet. "There was no impropriety. The King was near death and very cold, for us both to hold him close seemed to be the only way to save him."

Eomer turned to Aragorn. " It was you? You said nothing of this neither did Eowyn!"

It was Aragorn's turn to blush. "I did not know, I was only dimly aware that someone held me that night but thought it to be Faramir alone."

"I would gladly do the same for my injured brother but never would I be so base as to involve my wife and dishonour her thus!" Eomer snarled, "Whose idea was it to do such a thing? Did Eowyn choose freely?"

" I begged her to." Faramir replied.

Aragorn and Eowyn looked at him in bewilderment. It seemed almost as if he wanted Eomer to think badly of him and made no sense.

"I freely consented and there was no dishonour as I have kept trying to tell you these past days." Eowyn snapped. "I would not mention the King's name before as I had no desire to embarrass him. Whatever do you think of me, brother?"

"That I made a mistake in letting you marry this man! He must have mistreated you or you would not have written to me in such distress! Obviously you are too afraid of him to tell me the truth!"

"Faramir is a good husband who loves me and has never ill treated me!" Eowyn said indignantly. "We had some misunderstandings to begin with, but he always treated me with respect. As for my honour, none questioned it before you, brother, now half of Gondor must think I have none!"

Holding on to the chair with his good arm, Eomer slowly rose to his feet. " Lord Faramir, not only did you dishonour my sister, but you almost killed me and left Rohan without a King." he said. "For that I can never forgive you, attempting to kill a King is an offence punishable by death!"

It was Eowyn's turn to look uncomfortable but Aragorn gave her his most compassionate smile.

"Because my misguided sister seems to love you and Aragorn is my friend, I will not demand your life." Eomer continued, "But do not think that I can ever forgive you! I forbid you ever to enter the borders of Rohan for I do not wish to see you ever again so long as I live! If my sister wishes to visit me, she must leave you behind! . I refuse to return to Gondor once I am well enough to leave while it houses this miscreant! My curse be upon you !"

Faramir would have collapsed had not Aragorn and Eowyn supported him.

"Why was I ever born to be the cause such misery? This is all my fault!" he whispered, "King Eomer, I accept your judgement on me."

"Eomer, remember it was you who started this fight and almost killed my Steward!" Aragorn remonstrated. "Faramir has said he is willing to make you a public apology and I expect the same of you!"

"Never! He almost killed me!" Eomer retorted. "Now leave me all you, am I not King? Must I call for my Guards?"

"Faramir has suffered a great deal too!" Eowyn remonstrated, " If he showed you his wounds, then maybe …"

"Please, no!" Faramir begged, looking very distressed.

"Get that good for nothing out of my sight before I have him thrown out!" Eomer raged," I cannot use my sword arm because of him!"

Aragorn bit his tongue, as this was not the right moment to remind Eomer that he was the High King with the ultimate authority. Getting Faramir away from his angry brother in law had to be his first priority, as well as avoiding further distressing the heavily pregnant Eowyn and preventing Eomer from aggravating his wounds.

Together they made it through the door.

"Do you want to go and lie down again in my room?" Aragorn asked Faramir, who was pale and shaking visibly.

"No, I would go home if Eowyn still wants me there."

"Of course, I do, my Love!" Eowyn replied. "Do not worry about my brother, his anger will fade. He often speaks before he thinks and he is greatly distressed by his disability, for one such as he, it is a fate worse than death. "

"I am sorry if I was the cause of any shame to you, Eowyn, I cannot remember the events of that night which so distress your brother." Aragorn said uncomfortably.

"There is nothing to remember. You were cold and in shock so Faramir and I kept you warm, that is all." Eowyn replied, "As for my brother, I have no desire to discuss the matter again with him! He seems to think I am no better than a whore!"

"I gravely wounded him. And I fear I did wrong you, Eowyn." Faramir said miserably.

"I was forgiven for far worse conduct." Eowyn replied, looking at Aragorn. "If only I had never written that letter!"

"Peace my friends!" Aragorn said, trying to soothe them. "All that matters now is that Faramir gets well! Eomer's judgement may well be clouded by the blow he took to this head. We can only wait and hope that he will soften in time."

He summoned the servants to carry Faramir home on a litter, where Eowyn directed them to the martial bedchamber where King then helped Eowyn put her husband to bed.

Faramir hardly said a word through the proceedings. He appeared to be in a state of shock and Aragorn mixed up a potion of hops and valerian to calm him and help him sleep.

"I am well." Faramir insisted as they fussed round him. Eventually Aragorn left, albeit reluctantly, leaving a supply of all the herbs Faramir needed with Eowyn and hoping once alone with his wife, Faramir might start to recover. After all, she had not given the order to arrest him, which had let to his serious injuries.

"I am sorry!" Faramir told Eowyn, "I understand if you wish to leave me and return to Rohan with your brother!"

"How could you say such a thing?" Eowyn replied, as she kissed him, noting sadly how he flinched away from her "I will hear no more of such foolish thoughts! Much as I love my brother I have no wish for him to come between us."

"I think it would be better if I slept in my dressing room as I might disturb you here." Faramir suggested.

" Indeed not, I need to be near you, so I can keep an eye on you!" Eowyn replied, "If you sleep in your dressing room, so do I!"

Faramir sighed and said no more, hoping that as it was a large bed, he would be far enough away from his wife so not to taint her with his shame.

Eowyn settled herself by her husband's bedside and cried quietly once he fell asleep. She loved him dearly, yet she also loved her brother and did not wish to be estranged from him. To think that her own folly should have left her so torn between those she loved the most!

"You look dreadful!" Arwen exclaimed, when Aragorn returned to their apartments.

"Faramir seems to hardly be able to bear the sight of me, Eomer refuses to forgive him and Eowyn is torn between them!" Aragorn sighed, "I just do not know what to do!"

"Go to bed!" Arwen ordered, noting with alarm how pale and haggard he had become. "You are exhausted and will be ill yourself if you do not take care!"

"I cannot, there is so much to do!" Aragorn protested, " Faramir and Eomer might need me and I have documents to deal with and the Council…"

Arwen threw his nightshirt at him. " We have other Healers in this city and Imrahil can deal with everything else once he returns tomorrow. Get into bed now!" she ordered, "Or do you want Ioreth and I to undress you as she is coming to see me today!"

Alarmed by her threat and too weary to protest, Aragorn obediently retired to his dressing room to change while Arwen sent to the kitchens for some broth, which she sat spooning into her husband's mouth once he was in bed.

He then fell asleep almost immediately .So great was his exhaustion that he slept for several days, only waking to eat and drink and answer nature's calls.

Arwen spent most of those days lying or sitting beside him while she nursed Eldarion and fretted over her husband's condition.

Prolonged healing sessions drained even her father, and Aragorn was a frail mortal, not an Elf. The King was also plagued by fearsome nightmares, which Arwen's touch alone could soothe.

When he finally had slept his fill, he was, much to her relief, fully restored in body, but she could tell his soul was still deeply troubled.

As soon as Aragorn was up and dressed, he immediately sent a message asking if Faramir would like to see him only for the servant to bring the reply that the Steward had no wish to trouble his Majesty.

Aragorn wept as his wife vainly tried to comfort him. "However am I to protect you and Eldarion as I could not even protect my Steward?" he wept, "I miss him so much! How he must hate me for having him arrested!"

"Give him time!" she counselled, "The hurts will fade and he will seek you out again. I am certain he will for he loves you too."

Aragorn tried to busy himself with matters of State and console himself with Arwen and Eldarion, but much as he adored them his mind kept wandering back to the friend he missed so much and remembering all they had shared in the past since Faramir was the first to hail him as King.

Eowyn came to visit intending to tell Aragorn how worried she was about Faramir who continued to shy away from her touch and hardly spoke to her. He was dragging himself out of bed each morning, only to shut himself in his study all day.

She had wanted to ask the King if he could tell her if Faramir's wounds were healing as he refused to let her see them and she assumed Aragorn was treating him when he saw his Steward on official business.

Eowyn was horrified to see just how exhausted and haggard Aragorn looked. He seemed almost to have aged overnight which made her feel she could hardly burden him with her problems, as well as the dilemma of betraying the confidence between healer and patient, so she confined the conversation to women's' matters such as how Arwen was recovering from the birth and her own pregnancy.

She avoided Aragorn after that as his obvious sorrow only emphasised her own guilt.

A/N

This story will be taking a short break before the next section as I have a special story planned for Midsummer, called "The White Tree". As time is passing in "Burden of Guilt", I thought the break would reflect that in real life. The events in "The White Tree" are maybe in Aragorn's mind as he ponders on the friendship with Faramir he is missing so much.

A big thank you for all your much appreciated comments.

"Divers Conversations " was not a misspelling of "diverse" .It is an old fashioned word, meaning "several" and is in the dictionary.

I feel like shaking my own characters too at times, but then they are all either, ill, depressed or crippled with guilt.

My reader who mentioned that Faramir is depressed is correct.

Aragorn has no idea that Faramir is worried about what Mahrod did or did not do. Faramir feels too ashamed to mention his fears.

I think Aragorn is already suffering enough with his guilt but who knows what I might do to him in future?

I promise to take care when any buses are passing.

Of course my stories are far from perfect and I do appreciate constructive criticism and suggestions, and have rewritten on occasion as result, but I do object to criticism over a sentence I never even wrote and am puzzled why people who so dislike the way I write read 27 chapters and don't seem to like anything in any of them, instead of looking for better stories to read of which there are plenty.

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