Burden of Guilt

Crying in the Night

These Characters are the property of the Estate of J. R. R Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story has been written for pleasure and no profit has or will be made from it.

The story has now reached its third section and events are moving towards a potentially tragic climax within the next few chapters.

Four weeks later

It was now almost mid November and Aragorn was growing increasingly despondent.

Eomer's wounds had healed well and his broken ribs and skull had knitted but his sword arm hung limp and useless. He continued to blame Faramir for his misfortunes and became increasingly embittered as he struggled to learn to control his spirited mount, Firefoot one handed. Aragorn begged him to be cautious for a fall could have proved fatal while he was still recovering from his injuries, so he had still not been able to ride and he refused to return home by any other means than astride his warhorse.

Aragorn and Eowyn pleaded with him to try the Elven treatments but Eomer would have none of it and now was attended almost exclusively by Aedred to whom he had taken a liking.

Far worse though for the King was the continued estrangement between himself and his Steward. He sent messages almost every day asking to see him, but back always came the reply saying; " The Steward of Gondor thanks His Majesty for his concern but has no wish to trouble him", which Aragorn felt bound to accept given the wrong he had done him.

He had only seen Faramir a few times during the last weeks and those were always about official business and in the presence of others. Although Faramir was not well enough to attend the Council, he still insisted on having documents sent to him to work on.

He had noted that Faramir still looked far from well but if he preferred that Eowyn should tend his wounds, who could blame him?

Aragorn was broken hearted at the loss of his friend due to his own folly. Almost every time he closed his eyes he recalled the moment when he had ordered his Steward's arrest and the look in Faramir's eyes when he had been led away, blood dripping from his arm. That vision was always followed by the even more horrific memory of discovering Faramir being beaten almost to death.

Only the loving support of Arwen and delight in his infant son, combined with the extra workload of running Gondor without Faramir's help, kept him from crumbling under his burden of guilt.

What should have been the happiest time of his life, following the birth of the child he had longed for seventy years, was deeply overshadowed by the knowledge that he had all but destroyed his closest and most loyal friend's life and the bond between them as well.

Almost every night he was plagued by nightmares in which he was holding Anduril and with it decapitating Faramir who begged vainly for mercy from which he would awake in a cold sweat. He was grateful to his infant son, whose hungry cries often roused him from his troubled sleep.

Eowyn often visited the Queen, but almost always when she knew Aragorn would be in Council meetings. She saw no improvement in Faramir's condition and was tormented by anxiety yet was loath to question the King. Obviously he cared very much about Faramir and she was well aware there was no finer healer to be found on Arda. As she had sent the letter which had led to her husband's injuries, she felt she could hardly complain about Aragorn's efforts to put right what her own folly had caused!

Arwen too was worried about Aragorn, as she perceived his increasing weariness and distress.

The King had found the duties of State almost overwhelming as Faramir was too ill to deal his usual share of the paperwork and despite Imrahil's help, he found most of his time was spent reading official documents. He had never quite realised before just how much he relied on his Steward.

The Council had also been especially demanding as some members, especially those who had served in Denethor's time were still demanding action against Rohan to avenge the attack on their Steward, demands which Aragorn staunchly resisted, despite their angry murmurings that the Stewardship and thus the honour of Gondor had been insulted.

That night, Aragorn was so exhausted; he had fallen asleep almost as soon as his head touched the pillow.

Arwen sang to him softly, smoothing his furrowed brow with her slender fingers to keep the nightmares at bay. Once satisfied he was resting peacefully, she tiptoed out of bed to assure herself all was well with Eldarion and then settled down to sleep beside her husband.

A few hours later loud banging and shouting outside their bedroom door startled the royal couple to sudden wakefulness.

"You cannot disturb his Majesty. It is two in the morning!" the guard outside the door protested.

"He will see me!" Arwen's keen Elven hearing recognised Eowyn's voice.

"It is Eowyn, something is wrong!" she exclaimed, climbing out of bed closely followed by her husband.

Donning his robe over his nightshirt, Aragorn opened the door of the chamber and was horrified to see a distraught looking Eowyn, being restrained by his Guards.

"Let the Lady Eowyn enter!" he ordered, dismayed at her obvious distress.

Eowyn would have collapsed had Aragorn's strong arms not caught her. Her blonde hair hung in disarray round her shoulders and she had obviously come in haste, as she appeared to be wearing only a nightgown with a cloak flung over it.

Aragorn noted with dismay that the formidable lady of Rohan looked exhausted, vulnerable and at a loss. Despite her advanced pregnancy, she appeared to have lost weight and her beautiful features were lined with worry.

Aragorn guided her to sit beside his wife on the bed who immediately drew her close in a comforting embrace, while he lit the candles and poured a glass of Miruvor for their nocturnal visitor.

"Eowyn, whatever is wrong?" he asked anxiously. His eyes were full of concern as he held the glass to her lips.

"It's Faramir. I'm so worried!" Eowyn gasped, the words pouring from her in near incoherent haste, " He is saving such nightmares and I cannot wake him. He seems hardly able to breathe he is so distressed! I'm sorry to disturb you, but I thought you were the only one who could help him. He is in constant pain He won't let me see how his wounds are healing I am afraid for him; it is as if his heart is broken! I try to comfort him but he shies away from my touch even refusing me a good night kiss! It is worse even than when we were first married! He spends each and every day shut away in his study, refusing to come out. I had to plead with him to continue to share my bed but he sleeps as far away from me as he can. If you ever loved him or me, I beg you to come!"

Having finally poured out her troubles, Eowyn burst into tears. Arwen held her close, while Aragorn soothingly rubbed the back of her neck.

"I am glad you come for me." Aragorn said gently, moving away from Eowyn as she relaxed from his ministrations and going into his dressing room, leaving the door slightly ajar. "How often has he has been like this?" he enquired.

Eowyn sighed. " Almost every night that I've shared his chamber since he had the fight with my brother, "she replied. "I thought it would wear off but he grows worse rather than better and I am more and more afraid for him. I fear he may lose his mind as his father did! He hardly eats and his sleep is so troubled he can find no rest. He refuses to talk to me or to confide in anyone. Imrahil came to visit him more than once but Faramir claimed he was too tired for visitors each time. He has even lost interest in our child when before he was so happy at the prospect of becoming a father. He would lie in my arms, then in that shy way of his ask if I would place my hands on where it was moving." Sighing she settled back against Arwen. It was such a relief to finally tell her friends everything.

Aragorn emerged from the dressing room, fastening his breeches over his nightshirt. "Why did you not tell me this before?" he asked, his expression grave. "There is you and your child's welfare to consider too."

"I thought you knew much of it already. He told me he had business with you each day and I knew you were treating his injuries when you saw him. "Eowyn replied sounding totally bewildered.

"He has been sending his secretary, so I have not seen him for a while. I would have liked to but he made it very clear he had no desire to see me." Aragorn looked aghast as the realisation dawned.

At that moment Eldarion awoke and started crying.

"I am sorry but I will have to feed him." Arwen said, getting to her feet, giving Eowyn a final reassuring hug. "We have hardly seen Faramir these last weeks. I thought you were caring for him though. Aragorn has been so worried he has hardly slept."

"He is excused from the Council until he is well and has not sought me out." Aragorn said sadly. "It troubled me but I thought he might be angry with me over what had happened and who could blame him? I was giving him time to recover but I realise I was wrong not to insist on seeing him. I will come with you and see him now."

"Let us go quickly!" Eowyn begged, "He can hardly breathe and is so pale!"

"Stay with him as long as is needed." Arwen told her husband, as she settled herself back in bed, unlacing her nightgown in preparation to feed her child. "I am here if you need me, Eowyn."

Aragorn refused an escort as he accompanied Eowyn to the Steward's apartments. He blamed himself bitterly now for not following his instincts and insisting on tending his Steward personally but Faramir had been so adamant that his wife could care for him. The King had felt he needed time to recover from the injustice he had involuntarily done to him. Now it seemed that Faramir instead of gradually recovering might have become seriously ill due to his neglect!

TBC

A very big thank you for all your kind comments both for this story and "The White Tree" I am humbled and amazed by your interest.

All my stories are under the same pen name (Click on the link to see them)but I am aware of a story with a very similiar title to my " Shadow and Thought" by another writer.

Faramir does indeed have far sight as he has prophetic dreams and knew Aragorn was King. The shared visions are my invention.

One of my readers is almost on the right track for a potential means of curing Faramir and another of you realises he is rejecting in order to avoid being rejected, a common trait amongst the severely depressed.

I assure you that Mahrod will be punished, I cannot yet say about Eowyn's child or if Faramir 's fears about Mahrod are well founded or not but in time will be revealed.

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