Burden of Guilt

When the Bough Breaks

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.

For Julia, who likes Arwen, Aragorn and Eldarion.

Arwen passionately returned his kiss and the familiar tingle of excitement at her nearness surged through his weary body. How he loved this beautiful Elf! He could still hardly believe that she was his after so many long years of waiting.

"I must soothe Eldarion," she said, regretfully pulling away from his embrace and turning her attention back to her child who continued to wail despite her best efforts. "You try calming him, Estel!" she ordered, "Take off your shirt!"

"What?" He looked rather taken aback, as he was accustomed to disrobing in his dressing room. "I am sorry, I did not mean to wake Eldarion and burden you with my cares."

" I know." Arwen said gently, her brief outburst spent. I just think it is time you bonded more with son. Stay there on the bed!"

He pulled off his tunic and shirt,complying with her request, albeit rather sheepishly. He never felt he fared very well alongside Elven perfection, despite Arwen's reassurances to the contrary.

Murmuring soothing words in Elvish, Arwen undressed Eldarion down to his napkin and gently laid him across Aragorn's bared chest next to his heart. "Hold him!" she instructed.

To Aragorn's great surprise, the baby soon stopped crying and nestled against him. His frustration and despair melted away as he gazed lovingly at his tiny son

He kissed the soft fuzz of hair and lovingly stroked the tiny limbs. A perfect tiny hand grasped one of his fingers.

"He is so perfect!" Aragorn choked, "To think that we made one so beautiful, I love you, I love both of you!" He nuzzled his head against Eldarion's mass of curls, hoping even at this tender age ,the infant would sense how much he was loved.

"He looks like his father." Arwen smiled, lying down on the bed beside her husband and son and nestling close to them. He kissed her gratefully, thanking the Valar inwardly for granting him such a loving wife.

Arwen placed her hands on his head, tenderly running her fingers through his hair and as their minds touched, he knew then that her faith in him was unshaken and that she was confident he could restore Faramir and Eomer to health.

Aragorn smiled at her, his confidence restored by her faith .He gazed lovingly at his son, gently stroking and massaging the tiny body. Eldarion gurgled contentedly before settling to sleep, the dark curls pressed against his father's heart.

Exhausted after the day's events, Aragorn soon followed his son's example.

Arwen sat gazing at them, filled with overwhelming love for them both, her beautiful son and noble husband.

After a while, not wanting Eldarion to become chilled, she lifted him off his father 's chest then dressed him and placed him in his cradle. To her great relief, he was too sleepy to protest.

Settling down beside her husband again, she traced slender fingers down Aragorn's strong arms and across his broad chest and taut muscular belly. He carried not an inch of surplus flesh, a legacy from his days as a ranger in the wild.

He was so different from an Elf, the grey-flecked unruly mane, the hair on his chest, his manly beard, even the way he was now snoring softly as he relaxed beneath her healing touch. Yet she loved him all more for his mortal frailty.

Kissing him again, she tucked a blanket round him and then sat keeping vigil over her husband and son.

The next morning Aragorn went again to see Faramir. The Steward's demeanour was very different from that of the day before for instead of near hysteria, he now had an air of weary, yet tranquil resignation about him.

For some reason it reminded Aragorn of his last meeting with his mother when she had told him that she kept no hope for herself and it chilled Aragorn's heart to see a young man in his prime thus.

Faramir was behind his desk and after rising to greet his King, had sat down again, using it as an effective barrier between them.

Aragorn tried pleading, cajoling and even ordering his Steward to allow his hurts to be treated and Faramir politely listened, staring at him with large sad eyes but refused to as much as remove his shirt. It was almost as if he wanted the full weight of Aragorn's wrath to descend upon him.

It seemed he only tolerated Aragorn out of an innate respect for his office rather than due to the bond of friendship which had previously been so strong and most certainly not from any desire to be healed.

All the King could do was order him to drink the herbal potion he had mixed for he felt it would be grossly abusing his authority to order Faramir to undress, not to mention the danger to his weakened heart that agitating him might cause.

Faramirthen repeatedly told him to go away until he had almost lost his temper and was sorely tempted to retaliate by sternly asking him what did he mean by speaking to his King in such a fashion. Aragorn had left before he said or did something he might regret later.

The King felt both frustrated and distressed at the situation. He was certain that linking minds with his Steward was the solution, but in his current state Faramir would dismiss any such suggestion and he hardly knew how to even approach the subject. He could only hope that once the herbs he had given himhad time to work he would relax sufficiently to permit it.

"Nothing seems to restore Faramir's confidence or mend his broken spirit." Aragorn later confided to Arwen . "And how shall I ever persuade him to link minds with me? It only works when both are in mental harmony and wish to form a deeper bond. It cannot be commanded, not that I would, even were it possible, I have harmed him enough already !"

"This is destroying both of you, you need each other's trust and friendship!" Arwen replied, "Have you told him how much it is distressing you to see him like this and have your offers to help him refused?"

"How can I? " Aragorn replied sadly, "It was I who caused his misfortunes. How can I burden him further?"

"Listen to me, Estel!" Arwen said sternly, gripping his shoulders and looking him straight in the eye, "You are so consumed with your own grief and guilt that it is preventing you from helping either Faramir or yourself! Tell him how you feel and appeal to his kind and gentle heart, then hold him, use some Elven relaxation techniques and refuse to let go until he tells you what troubles him and accepts your help! Lay down this burden of guilt before it breaks both of you!"

Aragorn bowed his head for a moment and then returned his wife's gaze. "I will do what you advise My Love, I give you my word!" he said at last, "This afternoon I will send for Lamrung, and see if he can shed more light on Faramir's time in prison and tomorrow I will return to Faramir and do what you suggest and then ask him to share my thoughts though I do not think it will be easy."

"I know what might work," Arwen said, her eyes brightening, "Tell Faramir that it is to help you rather than him that you require him to bond with you. Stop trying to be so stoical, let him see your anguish and he will take pity on you if he still bears you the love that I think he does! When there is love, there is always a way."

Aragorn smiled at her. "Beloved, you are so wise!" he exclaimed, "Whatever would I do without you?"

"I do not know!" Arwen replied with a wry smile.

Aragorn spent a considerable part of the afternoon with Lamrung, who was now a member of his personal Guard, a position he had given him as a reward for his help, and from him learned that Mahrod bore a personal grudge against Faramir and had seemed determined to hurt and humiliate him as much as possible.

The jailor was now languishing in his own jail awaiting trial. No trace had yet been found of the drunkard but Aragorn was determined that the search would continue until he was found and punished.

The next morning Aragorn awoke in a slightly brighter mood and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with his wife.

He planned to spend the morning working on official documents and then visit Faramir in the afternoon. Eowyn had told Arwen that Ioreth was visiting her in the morning and she wanted to be available for more Elven treatments from the Queen's skilled hands.

In happier days, he and Faramir would have worked side by side either in his study or the Steward's and by working together and sharing the load, the business of State had seemed far less arduous.

Today, not wanting to be alone, he asked for the documents to be brought to the living room rather than to his study and was reading them while Arwen sewed a tapestry and Eldarion slept in his cradle.

Their peace was shattered when without waiting for a servant to announce her, a white faced Eowyn burst or rather waddled into the room.

"Faramir has gone!" she informed them, her eyes full of anguish as the words poured from her lips. "I overslept as the babe's kicking kept me awake well into the night. Faramir got up before me and went to his study, or so I thought. I breakfasted alone as I had to hurry as I was expecting Ioreth .She stayed talking long after she was satisfied the baby and I were well. You know how she can talk! When I finally went in Faramir's study to see how he was, I found this!"

With a trembling hand, she thrust a paper into Aragorn's hands, and then collapsed into Arwen's waiting arms. The Queen led her to the sofa and tried to soothe her while Aragorn read the letter aloud.

TBC

A/ N A big thank you to all those who have been kind enough to leave reviews.

I felt it was important to show Aragorn's feelings as well as Faramir's as they are both suffering.

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