Burden of Guilt

Losing Hope

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.

Events are mentioned in this chapter which occurred in "First Meeting" Chapter Two," The White Tree" chapter three and "Shadow and Thought" chapter 6

"But you haven't told me what it is!" Eowyn protested.

"It is when two minds are linked telepathically and all thoughts and feelings shared. Usually it is only wholly possible when those of the right bloodlines reach full maturity and are in full accord with each other, though sometimes even young babies can sense emotions if they have the ability .You usually place your foreheads together to do it, though to those with a strong bond, just about any touch to the head suffices"

"But how could that help Faramir?" Eowyn was feeing thoroughly confused by now.

"Many of those with Numenorean bloodlines such as Faramir and myself have enhanced mental abilities. For example, we both have visions and premonitions." Aragorn explained." Such gifts are both a blessing and a burden, as we also tend to feel especially deeply. Sharing another's mind promotes mental stability as it clears away misconceptions and is also a great source of reassurance. Faramir would know how much he was loved and that I bore no anger towards him if he could read my thoughts!"

"It sounds like some sort of magic like the way you and Faramir often seem to read each others thoughts!" Eowyn exclaimed.

"It is just a natural gift of our people, for as you have noticed it has happened to some degree between Faramir and myself many times already, though I do not think it is something he has ever done consciously." Aragorn replied." The first time it happened was when he took me to task for removing the old tree and I showed him the sapling. He had a vision and I could see it too. That was a wonderful moment for me! I knew then we were destined to become close as brothers as only those with a special affinity glimpse each other's minds!"

Arwen smiled at her husband and son, remembering how Aragorn had told her on their wedding night of Faramir's vision of their line blossoming like the White Tree.

"Maybe if Faramir and his father had been sufficiently close to bond their minds, Denethor would not have lost his wits!" Aragorn said thoughtfully." But would it trouble you, Eowyn if we linked minds? I might see every thought, feeling and memory of your husband's, though naturally I would not seek to pry into any personal aspects of your marriage."

"There is nothing about that, that would shock you! If it will help him, you can do it this moment!" Eowyn replied in her usual forthright manner. "If anything will give me back my husband try it, even if it involves being painted green and running naked through the city streets!"

Aragorn paled at the thought.

Arwen laughed commenting, " There is nothing about us that would shock him either!" making her husband blush scarlet.

"I am certain it would cure Faramir," Aragorn said. " I would learn exactly what is troubling him so much and he would know how sorry I am, which no words can express. The problem is, getting him in a suitable state of mind to agree to it! He might feel that his mind is the only thing he has managed to spare from my probing after all that has happened. He processes great mental abilities. For example, he knew who I was when I healed him of the Black Breath though he had never met me before. Then there are those prophetic dreams and visions he is prone to."

"I think he might be intrigued by the idea," Eowyn said thoughtfully, "We will just have to do our best to see that he tries it!"

"Over the next few days, I will give him herbs to relax him before suggesting it, if you agree?" Aragorn said, "Meanwhile I will continue to treat him with salves and potions to try to strengthen his heart."

" Do whatever you think is best!" Eowyn said wearily, "This should have been such a happy time for us both!"

"You will feel better once you hold your baby in your arms!" Arwen soothed, gazing fondly at Eldarion.

"I ought to get dressed and go and see how he is." Eowyn said. Sighing she rose from the bed and gathered up her clothing from where the maid had placed it on a chair.

"Are you in pain?" Aragorn asked her anxiously.

"No, it is just difficult for me to move around now I am so huge! Then the baby kicks so much it is hard to rest," she replied, "Arwen can tell you what it feels like! And I still have several weeks to wait before it is born."

She guided Arwen's hand against her belly where the Queen could feel the movements through the thin silk of her robe.

"You have a lively baby there!" Arwen smiled, "It kicks as much as Eldarion did! That is a good sign that it is healthy."

"It gladdens me that at least you and your child are well." Aragorn smiled, though his eyes remained sad. "I will visit Faramir again tomorrow. But do call me at once if you are worried about him."

"And you must come to me again." Arwen added, " I will massage your back again if you wish."

"Thank you, you are both so good to me!" After kissing them both warmly, Eowyn managed a watery smile and retired to the dressing room to change before returning to see how Faramir was faring.

As soon as she had gone, Aragorn collapsed on the bed and buried his head in his hands; unable to maintain his façade of iron control any longer. His body shook convulsively as he fought to hold back the tears.

Arwen was immediately at his side, wrapping her arms around him and holding him close as she tried to contain her rising alarm.

She could not remember ever having seen her husband so distressed before. He had been upset when he had bid her farewell on the eve of his departure with the Ring bearer but not in such despair.

The Queen was starting to fear greatly for his future well-being for if Faramir were to die, she wondered if he would ever recover from the loss of his companionship and the part he had unwittingly played in his Steward's decline.

She sat there beside him for some time, letting him weep, all the while cradling his head against her breast and tenderly stroking his tear stained cheeks.

"My Love, what is it?" she asked when the worst of his tears were spent, "Faramir will be well again soon, I am sure of it!"

"Will he? I see him dying before my eyes!" Aragorn raised a tear stained face to look at her. "How can he be when I have almost killed him? If you had seen his injuries, his back almost flayed to ribbons and more bruises than I could count over his body! It was my command that brought him to such a state, one whom I love as the little brother I never had! I thought I could give him all that was lacking in his life before and I rejoiced to see him well and happy. Yet one careless word from me took all that away. And much as I try to reassure Eowyn that thought sharing could cure him, how I can I get him to agree to it with one who wronged him so much? He claims he does not blame me, but how could he not? I should have somehow stopped the fight between him and Eomer and protected them both! "

"And what good would it have done if you had been injured during the fight? Eomer and Faramir both had need of your skills that day." Arwen told him, lovingly running her fingers through his mop of unruly hair before starting to massage the tense muscles in her husband's neck.

"I remember the first time I met Faramir." Aragorn said softly, "He was burning with fever and very close to death. All I could think of was that this was Boromir's little brother. On the journey from Rivendell, Boromir spoke of him with such love in his eyes and told me how much he hated being parted from him. One night, while we were in Lothlorien his heart was filled with foreboding and he asked me to care for his brother should he fall. I gave him my oath.

"And you have kept your vow and cared for Faramir as a brother would." Arwen soothed.

"Have I? When Faramir awoke from the fever caused by the Black Breath he looked at me with such love and respect .I hoped even then we could be friends, brothers of the soul, but he was so afraid of me.

"I remember, that is why I suggested you go away from the Court with him and Eowyn."

"And there he saved my life and cared for me as a brother would. He lost his fear and became the man he should be once he threw off his father's shadow. Yet he has fared far worse with me that with Denethor! I swore to him that none should ever harm him again. I have broken my oath!"

"Do not be so foolish! You never meant for him to be beaten nor ordered it." Arwen chided. "Did you ever try to burn him alive? I think not! What happened was just a mistake, cruel though it was. Time and care will restore Faramir to us, you will see! You both feel especially deeply because of the Elven ancestry you both have. Anyone with your capacity for bonding breaks their heart if they feel they have let a loved one down."

Arwen understood how her husband felt to some extent, partially as one of the Eldar and also partially because as the youngest in the family, she had always been protected when she wanted to be the protector and Estel had been in a similar position, though to a much greater extent being younger by two thousand years and more and a frail mortal amongst Elves.

He was a natural protector and in Faramir had found both someone in need of his care and a man so like himself they could have indeed been brothers or even father and son as they had so much in common. Her own affection for Faramir stemmed mainly from the fact he was so like her beloved husband as well as a desire to protect.

"How can I manage without him if is not restored to health?" Aragorn sounded in a state of near panic. "I am a simple ranger not a bureaucrat, Faramir has been running this country not I! All will come to ruin without him despite the best efforts of Imrahil and myself! It is all my fault!"

"Yet it was I who suggested you go away with Faramir and Eowyn, Eowyn who wrote to Eomer because she was angry, Faramir's secretary who sent the letter, Eomer who demanded that Faramir fight with him, and two miscreants who beat Faramir in prison. How can it all be your fault? "Arwen demanded.

Eldarion awoke and began to cry fretfully, no doubt sensing his parents' distress. Arwen went over to his cradle and picked him up, assuring herself he was neither hungry nor needed changing.

"Then there is Eomer." Aragorn lamented. "I cannot heal him and being unable to ride properly is a living death to one of his race! What sort of protector am I to you and Eldarion? I bring misfortune to all I know as you will be separated from your family for all eternity because of me!"

"That was my choice to make," Arwen replied and I do not regret it unless maybe you start turning into the dour ranger I once knew again!"

She carried Eldarion back to the bed and sat beside her husband again.

"Shame on you, Estel!" Arwen snapped in exasperation. "You have upset your son while blaming yourself for what is not your fault! Were it not for you, Faramir and Eomer would both be dead. They will be well I know it! I thought what I liked about humans and especially you, was your unquenchable hope despite your short life spans and frail bodies but maybe I was wrong!"

"I am sorry, Arwen," he replied humbly, kissing her tenderly on the lips" I know I am truly blessed to have you and no man could desire a more loving or wiser wife!"

TBC

A/N

A big thank you to all my readers for your kind reviews.

Events take a dramatic turn in the next chapter.

This story is roughly two thirds complete as I still have a few plot twists left, Faramir's illness is not the only plot thread to unravel.

The only sexual attraction ever felt by my heroes in any of my stories is towards their lawfully wedded wives as in Tolkien's original.

Arwen discussed her decision to breastfeed Eldarion in Chapter 7.

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