Burden of Guilt

A Time to Speak

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 been or will be made from it.

Warning – This chapter contains content, which although non explicit in nature, some readers may find disturbing.This chapter was not easy to write.

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; Ecclesiastes 3.7

Faramir then fell silent and flushed scarlet.

Aragorn moved his hand to feel the pulse at his Steward's throat, which was racing wildly. He knew all too well that it was dangerous to agitate him, yet he believed not to discover what was troubling him posed a far greater danger to his health. Without the Elven treatments, which he alone could provide, his friend would be unlikely to survive for more than a few weeks at the most.

Faramir could only be healed if he desired it and the King felt this was probably the last chance he would have to help him.

"I cannot speak of it!" Faramir whispered, "Please let me go!"

Aragorn ignored the request and continued to grip one of the trembling hands while with the other; he massaged the back of his neck in an Elven relaxation technique.

Faramir continued to struggle feebly but gradually calmed a little.

"Now tell me what burdens your heart," he said firmly, "Then you can rage at me all you wish but I want to know the truth!"

"When I was in prison," Faramir said, swallowing hard, "I think that when I was unconscious that Mahrod…" He stopped unable either to continue or to look Aragorn in the eye.

"Do you believe that Mahrod violated you?" Aragorn asked bluntly, though his eyes were full of compassion. Maybe it was brutal to force Faramir to put his fears into words but if it were not done, the fear would forever fester like an open sore.

Faramir nodded, still unable to meet the King's eyes. "How could I lie with Eowyn again or embrace you as a brother were I so dishonoured?" he mumbled. " It was the way Mahrod leered at me. He was groping at me and pulling at my clothing. I lost consciousness then so I have no idea what he did to me! Then afterwards there was so much pain everywhere. I have nightmares about it every time I close my eyes!"

He sagged forward and Aragorn caught him in his arms noticing with alarm how his breath came in ragged gasps from his shaking body.

"Now do you understand?" Faramir whispered trying again to break free," You must never touch me again! I am an outcast bereft of all honour!"

Aragorn could have wept but forced himself to remain calm "I would never shun you, whatever happened, Mellon Nin," he said gently " But I can give you my word that nothing happened apart from the beating, though that was bad enough. You were not violated, I am certain of that. There were no injuries to suggest it and your clothing was untouched apart from where it had been torn across your back. Of course, there is no way to tell if Mahrod touched you indecently but I tend to think not and I know for certain you were not violated." Aragorn said firmly, finally relaxing his grip on his Steward.

"How can you know?" Faramir raised his head to ask the question, flushing as he did so.

" One of the other jailors told me that he interrupted Mahrod groping at your clothing, so in the presence of your uncle, I deemed it best to examine you for signs of any such assault," Aragorn replied, looking rather uncomfortable, "We did not mention it before, as we had no wish to distress you further. I had no idea you were so troubled about what happened while you were unconscious until I learned Mahrod's full history. I am only sorry that it was necessary to look for signs of such horrors. It pained me to do so as it made me feel that it was I, who was in some way violating you. Can you forgive me?"

"As someone needed to do it, I am glad it was you and my uncle as I trust you and you are both pure of heart." Faramir replied unhesitatingly.

"No one would have shunned you, whatever we had found. I love you for yourself, as I know Eowyn does too and nothing that could happen to you could ever change that." Aragorn told him firmly.

Faramir still looked doubtful. "The memory of him groping will always haunt me!" he said miserably.

Aragorn decided a blunt approach was best now. "You took no pleasure in it though?"

"What? The very thought sickens me!" Faramir was outraged despite his weakness and lethargy.

"Nor did you enjoy being kicked and beaten?" Aragorn persisted.

"Of course not! Why do you ask such a question?" Faramir sounded bewildered.

"Then from now on think of it all as part of the injuries that you suffered," Aragorn said firmly, "From what the other jailor, Lamrung told me, he came in just as Mahrod started to grope at your clothing, so it seems nothing happened apart from what you remember. Mahrod acted not out of lust but a desire was to hurt and humiliate you."

Faramir nodded but his eyes were still dull and the healing tears that Aragorn had hoped for did not start to flow.

"Remember, Faramir, that you can always tell me what troubles you" Aragorn said gently, " You have become the brother I always wished for and the grown son I could have had if only Arwen and I had been permitted to wed when we wished to!"

"You do me great honour, My Lord." Faramir said in an emotionless tone. Aragorn felt torn between weeping for him and shaking him, though his healer's training told him all too well that he was dealing with a deeply wounded soul.

" Now your secret fears have been laid to rest, I would be honoured if you would share thoughts with me," he said quietly. "It should be easy for us as we have similar bloodlines and a strong bond of love between us exists already, which is necessary if thought sharing is to be possible."

Faramir flinched. "Maybe I was not violated but I have still betrayed you! I am not worthy of such an honour. Once we were close, but how can we be now ,after all that has happened? Why can you not just let me be?"

" I will give you my word to let you resign your office and do as you will once you are strong enough if you will but grant me this request." Aragorn said, taking a calculated gamble. He genuinely desired to share the bond with his Steward but had hoped for somewhat happier circumstances in which to do it.

"I am tainted with madness and broken." Faramir protested. "Why do you want this of me?" Despite his protests and deep state of dejection, a part of him did desire the Thought Bond, as it was something he had yearned to experience and as his mind was set on death, this would be his only chance. Yet he could not allow the King to offer such a gift of love to one such as him.

"Because it should ease the pain for both of us." Aragorn told him. "This is my birthright and yours too, I plead with you after all we have been through together! No matter what words I use, I cannot make you understand how much I regret all that has happened!"

"If you cared anything for me, you would draw Anduril and make everything right with one stroke!" Faramir said bitterly "Then Gondor could be reconciled with Rohan, Eowyn and her brother would be in accord again, our child would be born free of my guilt and Eowyn could find a worthy husband and you a worthy Steward! Run me through and have done with it!" He tore open his tunic and shirt, baring his heart.

His eyes full of compassion, Aragorn placed his hand on Faramir's chest. The Steward's heart churned beneath his fingers.

"And what would that solve, my friend, save to break my heart too?" he asked, taking a leaf of athelas from inside his tunic and crumbling it, so that a living freshness filled the hut. "You would destroy your King, leave a broken hearted wife, a fatherless child, and Gondor without a Steward! As for Eomer, he could not live with the guilt nor could I! Agree to this to ease my pain if not your own, I beg of you!"

Faramir hesitated .He desired no healing for himself but if the King needed his help, how could he refuse?

"Please grant me this one favour. This is my birthright and yours too!" Aragorn was openly weeping now, remembering Arwen's advice not to hide from Faramir what he truly felt.

Too drained of emotion to protest further, and as Aragorn had hoped moved by his plea to help him, Faramir reluctantly nodded his agreement.

"Very well, he whispered, " I will try though I do not know if I have the gift!"

"Oh, but you do!" Aragorn choked, "Remember the day you came to me after I found the sapling of the White Tree and you had a vision? I saw it as clearly as if it were mine own! I knew then we would become close."

Wiping away his tears, Aragorn went to his pack and took out some herbs, which he crushed and mixed with a cup of wine.

Kneeling beside Faramir again, he drank half of the mixture and then offered the cup to his Steward.

"Drink this, it relaxes the mind and facilitates the sharing of thoughts," he said.

Faramir obediently complied and then sank back on the pelts, grimacing at the pain every movement caused him.

It took all the King's willpower to resist insisting on treating his hurts without further ado.

As the herbs started to work, Faramir felt himself start to relax while at the same time, his perceptions sharpened.

"We have touched thoughts many times, let us do it properly today!" Aragorn said quietly, his voice full of a strange compelling power." Now breathe slowly and concentrate. Will you do this for me? I would not ask if it did not mean a great deal, I have only done this with my mother, Halbarad and Arwen, as there has to be a strong bond to make it possible. I hope one day to share my thoughts with my son too and will you with your child. Your grandfather desired it of me, but I had to reluctantly refuse or he would have known who I truly was for nothing is hidden during a Thought Bond!"

Intrigued by this narration, Faramir settled a little. Aragorn traced soothing circles across his forehead with his fingertips, a proven method of calming, used by the Elves for Millennia.

Once satisfied the racing heartbeat had slowed somewhat, Aragorn placed both hands on Faramir's shoulders to support him.

"Just to relax, and place your head against mine and eventually you will sense my thoughts." Aragorn told his Steward," You have the ability and it is not difficult."

Time seemed to stand still as they knelt there with foreheads touching; seeking each other's minds.

The fire suddenly blazed up and enveloped them both in its crimson glow. Aragorn offered a silent prayer to the Valar that it was a sign that he could finally help his Steward.

TBC

A/N .A big thank you for all your kind reviews and comments. Every one is greatly appreciated and I am updating quickly to show my gratitude.

In many ancient cultures, a rape victim would often be seen as bringing shame on their family. Unfortunately this belief still prevails in some parts of the world. As Tolkien's universe is rooted in the past and Tolkien said if an Elf were raped they would die, I have given this attitude to Faramir and Damrod.

I am indeed laying the groundwork for a possible sequel.

Mahrod is awaiting trial for his misdeeds.

I doubt Faramir could have survived another attack in his current condition.

Like one of my readers, I too remember my Mother testing the bath water with her elbow !

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