Burden of Guilt

The Flight of Faramir

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.

"My beloved wife, I am a burden to you, the King and to Gondor, so I shall take my leave of you." Aragorn read, turning almost as pale as Eowyn. He sat down heavily beside her on the couch.

After taking a deep breath, he continued, noting the scrawled writing, unmistakably Faramir's but so unlike his usual neat script, " You will be far happier without me during what little time I have left as I know that without the King's treatments I will die soon and would not have him trouble himself over one such as I.

I am a failure as a husband and Steward and would make a far worse father to our child than ever Denethor was to me.

Once I am gone, you and your brother will again be accord, as will Rohan and Gondor. I alone must bear the guilt for all that has happened and my actions can never be forgiven.

Forget me and find a good man worthy of your love and enjoy the happy life you deserve and can only enjoy if I am not part of it.

Please show this to my King and ask him to appoint a new Steward, a man worthy to serve Gondor and her people. I am so sorry that I let him down after all the kindness he showed me. Tell him I loved him dearly. He was not only my Lord, but also the father I never had, the brother I lost and the best and kindest of friends. Had I but been worthy, I would have gladly served him until my life's end.

Farewell, dearest and best of wives! Please tell our child I loved it

Your unworthy husband, Faramir. "

Overcome by emotion, Aragorn buried his face in his hands.

"The poor,confused, honourable fool!" he gasped, quickly collecting himself " I must find him and quickly! How can he hope to survive in the wild in his fragile state of health? Did he take anything?"

"Nothing seems to be missing, though I assume he must have taken Iavas." Eowyn replied, "However did he even find the strength to mount his horse?"

"The herbs I gave him would have stimulated his heart though the effect will only last for a few hours," Aragorn said grimly," I should have had a watch kept on him! He is as strong willed as his father was!"

"Stop blaming yourself!" Eowyn said sternly," If anything it was my responsibility to watch him but neither of us could have known he would do this! But whatever are we going to do?"

"You must go after him!" Arwen addressed her husband. "I will look after Eowyn."

"Why should he do this?" Eowyn started weeping again." He is out there alone and ill with no means of depending himself!"

Aragorn took her hand. "As he says in his letter, he felt he had let everyone down after the quarrel with Eomer." he explained, "It was irrational but none of us could make him believe otherwise as he was so conditioned by his father to think himself worthless. He has resisted all my efforts to heal him as he feels he has failed me, though it was I who failed him in truth! I will bring him back to you, Eowyn, I swear it!" He slowly released her hand and rose to his feet.

"But where is he?" Eowyn sobbed.

"I would imagine he might make for Ithilien as he is familiar with the countryside and would know how to live off the land there." Aragorn replied. "He is in no fit state to hunt but he may believe he could live for a time by setting traps and fishing as well as roots and berries. I should soon be able to find him, I was a ranger far longer than he was!"

"I will come with you." Eowyn said staunchly, getting to her feet.

Aragorn shook his head. "No you cannot, think of your child. You are in no condition to ride." He spoke kindly but his tone brokered no argument.

Eowyn looked as if she would protest then changed her mind, realising it was useless.

"How then can I help my husband? " she asked brokenly.

"Have the servants put together warm clothes and blankets for me to take with me." Aragorn told her. "Given his current condition, he could take a chill. I will gather my healing supplies and see if I can find one of the men from his ranger days to accompany me and act as a guide. I will take six men of my personal Guard with me that should suffice to bring him home. I will send a message for Imrahil to come and take charge here in my stead. Until he arrives, Arwen, I leave Gondor in your capable hands! My seal is on my desk if you should need it!"

"I will do what I can, Estel, though I have little experience in matters of government, " Arwen replied, "What about the trade delegation from Rhun and what do I tell everyone?"

"You are more than capable of handing them as you are far wiser and more diplomatic than I!" Aragorn reassured her, "Tell those who ask that I have gone hunting. Most of the nobles here think of me as highly eccentric so let them think I cannot resist the call of the wild! I know I have responsibilities but how can I abandon a friend I love so much? I must find Faramir myself not have him dragged home by my Guards like some criminal. That would break him completely!"

"Should I tell Eomer what has happened?" Eowyn asked.

Aragorn shook his head; "I think it best not to at the time being as he would only accuse Faramir of abandoning his sister in his current state of mind! I do not think Faramir can have gone far in his weakened condition, so I hope to return with news of him very soon. Then we can decide what to tell your brother and everyone else. Until then, just make excuses."

Eowyn nodded all too aware that the King was too tactful to say 'if he is still alive and we can find him.'

He bent and kissed her cold cheek, murmuring, " I promise I will do everything within my power to bring your husband home to you,"

"Look after her My Love and our son!" he told Arwen, drawing her close and bidding her a loving farewell.

Aragorn hastened first to the stables and questioned the head groom who told him that Lord Faramir had come early that morning and asked for Iavas to be saddled as he wished to exercise her. The grooms had been surprised as he had not ridden for the past two months and looked most unwell but had not considered it their place to question the Steward and after one had helped him mount, he had ridden away but no one had noticed in which direction.

Aragorn was sorely tempted to rebuke the man for not sending for either himself of Eowyn before letting an obviously sick man leave on horseback but words would only serve to waste precious time.

He nodded curtly and then went in search of a suitable guide.

The barracks were fairly quiet at this time of day as most of the men were about their duties and the Guard was not due to change until noon. As always in such establishments, small groups of off duty men clustered talking and drinking, while others sharpened their weapons and polished their kit.

They all stood smartly to attention when they saw the King enter.

"At ease!" he ordered, and then asked, "Are there any here who served with Lord Faramir during his days as a Ranger in Ilithien?"

A tall young man with olive skin and black hair came forward from where he had been sharpening arrows until the King had entered.

"I did, my Lord," he said.

"And you are?"

"Damrod, Sire. I served with Lord Faramir while he was Captain in Ilithien.

"You know the area well then?"

"My family lived there for generations, my Lord."

"Good. I need you to leave with me within the hour .How soon can you be ready?"

"At once, my Liege."

Aragorn clapped the man on the shoulder; delighted to have found one of Faramir's fellow Rangers so easily. He knew many had perished during the War, while others had left active service due to their wounds.

He returned to the stables and requested that Roheryn be saddled and went to collect his supply of healing herbs and salves together with the warm clothes he had asked Eowyn to have packed

They set out shortly afterwards. Aragorn and Damrod went on foot, leading their horses and studying the ground for any signs that Faramir had passed that way.

Behind rode a small company of Aragorn's personal Guard and two packhorses laden with tents, blankets, clothing, food and medicines as Aragorn wanted to be certain he had the means to care for his Steward, were Faramir in no fit condition to ride home with him immediately, which he very much feared would be the case.

The men were all sworn to secrecy, as the King had no desire for Faramir's fragile condition to be made public, especially not after what had happened to Denethor.

Faramir remembered the fateful day when he had last ridden this way, believing then he was going to his death. He was now certain he was.

The day was as gloomy and overcast as his thoughts. The mist hung heavily over the mountains and the damp chill seemed to permeate his very bones.

His first instinct had been to go to Rohan and surrender himself for judgement as Eomer had forbidden him ever to cross the border on pain of death. However on closer reflection, he realised that such a course of action would only lead to further tensions between the two nations and cause problems for Aragorn and maybe for Eowyn too. And that was the reason for his leaving to spare them the pain that his tainted presence was causing.

He decided to head towards Osgiliath and die where so many of his friends had fallen and where he would have received a mortal wound had Aragorn not intervened

His heart thumped wildly and he felt so weak and tired that it was a struggle to remain on Iavas's back

It was pouring with rain now and the icy drops soaked his hair and ran down the back of his neck.

Once such hardships had been an everyday occurrence but for more than two years now he had lived in luxury as Steward of Gondor, basking in the favour of the King.

The thought of Aragorn tore at his heart, he had never desired to leave the friend whom he loved, who had become as a caring father, any more than he had wanted to leave Eowyn and their unborn child but he knew he must as he had become a liability to them all and to Gondor.

Despite everything, he could not bring himself to wish the last two and a half years undone, as he had known more love and acceptance than at any other time in his life.

He knew it was unmerited but he had basked in it and known the wonder of loving rather than fearing the one he answered to, the joys of marriage and impending fatherhood .How too he had enjoyed being able to spent his days amongst books rather than swords and bows!

Without him, relations between Rohan and Gondor would quickly be restored to normal, and Aragorn and Eowyn would not be torn between himself and Eomer, nor be forced to endure the company of one whose criminal folly had led to the brink of war.

Aragorn had tried to persuade him that he did not carry the burden of guilt for all that had happened but he knew he was just trying to be kind. If he had tried harder to make Eowyn happy, she would never have complained to her brother and if he had tried harder to make Eomer listen, his blow would never have crippled the King of Rohan. Denethor had been right, his younger son was a failure who failed to make an effort.

He was certain Aragorn and the Queen would care for Eowyn and their child would be born free from the disgrace of its father.

He wanted to weep now, but no tears would come when he though of his beautiful wife and the child he wanted so much.

But how could he stay with her after almost killing her brother and then what dishonour might have befallen him while he was unconscious in prison?

The thought had haunted him for weeks but how could he mention anything so shameful to either Eowyn or Aragorn? He knew that after such dishonour he could never again enjoy the intimacies of marriage, the brotherly embrace of his King or even hold his child in his arms.

Lost in his thoughts, he did not see the tree root which lay across his path. Iavas stumbled and although she quickly regained her footing, Faramir slid from her back, unable to hang on in his weakened condition.

Landing heavily on his side, he tried to get up, but his ankle gave way and refused to support him. A sharp pain throbbed in his chest and side, followed by a duller pain in his leg. His heart thumped so rapidly it felt as if it would burst.

He resigned himself for death, as he could not survive out here in the open, crippled and without food and water. How he wished he could have seen his child, grown old with Eowyn and enjoyed the King's friendship through the years ahead, but it was not to be, his fate was sealed the day he struck Eomer down.

Soon he would be reunited with his beloved brother and mother but at the cost of leaving behind two whom he loved as dearly.

It was so very cold and he was soaked to the skin. He was weary, so very tired now. When darkness overcame him, he embraced it gladly.

TBC

A very big thank you to everyone who has reviewed. I always greatly enjoy and appreciate your comments and often incorporate some of your ideas in the story.

This story has passed the 700 reviews mark, my first story ever to do so! Thank you all so much! I am updating quickly to show my appreciation

I am pleased my Arwen fans enjoyed the last chapter. The scene with Eldarion was enjoyable to write.

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