Burden of Guilt

Truth is the Beginning

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.

Truth is the beginning of every good to the gods, and of every good to man.

Plato (c. 427–347 B.C.)

Aragorn found himself remembering the other times he had shared thoughts with loved ones. From a very early age he had the gift of being able to sense the emotions ofthose especially close to him, a gift, he suspected Eldarion shared, but the first time he had actually shared thoughts, was with his mother when he reached maturity.

The wonder of actually knowing he was loved rather than merely believing it was an experience he would cherish for always.

Then there was Halbarad, the memory of whose cruel death still haunted him. When they had first met, they had initially disliked and distrusted each other ,for Halbarad as acting leader of the Rangers, had somewhat resented a mere twenty year old supplanting him.

Aragorn for his part had been afraid that the men would choose to follow the older and more experienced man rather than himself should any conflict arise.

Yet after Halbarad had saved his life when they were ambushed by Orcs, they had become close friends and cemented their friendship with a Thought Bond which finally laid to rest any misunderstandings between them.

He had shared thoughts with Arwen on the night before he left Lothlorien forever, and been consoled by actually knowing the depth of her love and her willingness to abide the Doom of Men and to wait for him until they could be united in wedlock. Now they were together, their Thought Bond enriched their marriage greatly since each instinctively knew what the other was thinking.

Faramir swayed again, his frail body finding it a great effort to keep upright despite Aragorn supporting him.

The King hoped desperately that this would work, and that Faramir still felt sufficient love for him for their thoughts to meet .It was all too obvious that no amount of words would ever convince him that he was still loved and had not brought disgrace upon his King, Country and family.

"How do I do this?" Faramir asked, sounding lost and bewildered.

"Remember all the happy times we have shared together and the occasions our minds have touched before," Aragorn advised, gradually lowering the mental defences he had constructed during long years spent in hiding.

Experienced at the technique, he was the first to make the contact, despite his hope that Faramir would sense his thoughts first, thought the very fact he was able to showed the link was working.

The methods used for calling a sick person back to the land of the living were quite different, as healing could be given to anyone whether or not they were of similar bloodlines or beloved of the Healer.

Apart from the overwhelming impression of despair and a sense of the familiar from the times their minds had touched before, Faramir's thoughts were still largely uncharted territory to Aragorn.

He reached out into his Steward's mind trying to share some of his own strength with him as well as to read his thoughts.

Images began to flash through his mind of a child little more than a toddler, being thrashed on his father's orders for running after his nurse unclothed, then a young boy bereft of a mother's care, desperately seeking love from his father always to be rejected and belittled whether it was for his love of learning or sensitivity towards his fellow beings.

He felt Faramir's deep love for Boromir and the emptiness his death left, then to his surprise and awe realised he held an equal if not greater share of love in Faramir's heart. He could sense too, Faramir's love for Eowyn.

Here was the mind of a man of great honour and courage, who had fought bravely against the odds during the long struggle against Sauron, but also a mind now dominated by feelings of pain and inferiority.

A terrible fear of madness and of blighting the life of his unborn child as Denethor had blighted his, was one of the many strands of fearful thoughts racing through Faramir's brain, combined with guilt over what had happened to Eomer and the conviction he had lost all the love he had gained from his wife and the King.

Aragorn felt humbled by Faramir's love and loyalty towards himself and amazed that Faramir felt no trace of anger or resentment towards him. With a shock he realised that though Faramir freely gave unconditional love, receiving it was a concept quite alien to him.

He could see now that Faramir had set almost impossibly high standards for himself and his perceived failure to live up to them, had destroyed what little self esteem he had when events had spun out of his control and sent his world crashing at his feet.

So many things that had puzzled Aragorn were now all too clear to him. He focussed his energies on projecting his own interpretation of the fight with Eomer into Faramir's troubled mind.

At last Faramir also started to experience Aragorn's thoughts.

Initially he wanted to break away from the power of such a mind, but now the link was created, it was too strong to break.

He could see his Sovereign's childhood at Rivendell, happy but with a sense of isolation, as a human amongst Elves and then becoming even more isolated as Elrond discovered his foster son's love for Arwen.

Faramir then glimpsed with some surprise the many years of great hardship that Aragorn had endured in his struggle to protect Middle Earth.

This was a mind full of great heroism and nobility, but most of all brimming full of love, includinghis devotion to Arwen and Eldarion,a special affection for the Hobbits and also a great love for his Steward, who to Faramir's amazement was dearer to him even than Eomer or his other companions from the Ring War.

He could now perceive clearly the terrible guilt over all that had happened to him as result of a simple command misinterpreted and also that he blamed Eomer for starting the fight rather than him. He was aware too now of Aragorn's desperate fight to save him, freely risking his own life for his.

He clearly saw too the loneliness of kingship and a yearning for the simple, brotherly companionship they had previously shared.

Humbled and amazed, Faramir had to draw away, like one blinded by the light of the sun. For one so cruelly deprived of love and paternal bonding, as he had been most of his life, the experience of was overwhelming in its intensity, beauty and wonder.

"Be free now of your burdens, my friend!" Aragorn said gently." Is there anything you would ask me?" Although he could still sense Faramir's thoughts, some matters were best spoken aloud.

"I have not forfeited your love and your trust then?"

"You could no more do so than my own son. I value your friendship far too highly to ever cast it aside. I love you for yourself not for what you do or do not achieve." Aragorn reassured him, saddened that the younger man's upbringing, made him feel so insecure that he felt love had to be earned rather than freely given.

"I love you too!" Faramir whispered, "You are the father I wanted and never had !"

Covering his face with his hands, the Steward wept, the first true healing tears since the day Eomer attacked him.

All his life he had been taught that weeping and desiring to be held and comforted were shameful weaknesses, but the Thought Bond now reassured him, he was permitted to accept the fatherly comfort that only Aragorn could provide. He mutely reached out towards him in a silent plea to be held in the fatherly embrace he had denied himself over these last months and desperately needed.

The King, his own eyes brimming, drew him close and simply held him with the same love and tenderness he usually reserved for his infant son until his tears were spent.

"Thank you, Aragorn. You have given me such a wonderful gift," Faramir said at last, looking Aragorn straight in the eye for the first time since that fateful day." I understand now. I did not know, I thought…I have been so foolish! You almost gave your life for me and I never knew it!"

" That was the one thing I did not want to burden you with, yet there must be no more concealment. What I did, I did gladly as I could not bear to lose you. From now on we will very easily be able to bond like this again. It is your birthright to experience it." Aragorn said quietly, still overwhelmed by Faramir's generosity of spirit towards him. "Now forgive yourself as I know you have forgiven Eowyn and myself, little though I merit it!"

" There is nothing to forgive, Aragorn." Faramir said quietly," I have never blamed you, you only did what you had to prevent Eomer's men attacking yours and maybe all out war." He pressed a kiss on his Sovereign's brow to underline his words

"Is it too late to be healed?" Faramir asked longingly. He desperately wanted to live now, to continue to serve his King and be a loving husband to Eowyn and father to his child.. But he could feel himself growing weaker by the moment as the emotion of the Thought Bond drained away his last meagre reserves of strength.

T B C

A/N

A very big thank you to all my readers for your much appreciated comments. I have endeavoured to update quickly to show my appreciation.

I assure my readers, I would never write slash, it being quite contrary to Tolkien's ethos. Faramir's prison experiences were based on real life horrors publicised in the literature of organisations like Amnesty and the Medical Foundation.

I do indeedintend to cover Mahrod's trial and hope my readers are interested.

My apologies for the shortness of this chapter but it seemed a convenient place to break. The Thought Bond did stretch my powers of imagination to the limits, I can only hope my readers enjoyed it.

I give more detail of Faramir's childhood in "Shadow and Thought" Chapters 20 and 22.

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