Burden of Guilt

A Time to Heal

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.

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; Ecclesiastes 3.3

Faramir sighed resignedly as he felt himself growing weaker. He doubted that even Aragorn's skills could help him now. At least if he were to die, he would now do so comforted by his King in the knowledge that he was still loved.

"I fear it is too late?" he asked Aragorn again .The King seemed lost in thought.

"While you live, it is never too late!" Aragorn replied adamantly, smiling at him "I was just thinking, how best I could help you! I would first need to see just where you are hurting now that you are awake, bathe you with water to which athelas has been added, which should ease both your bruises and lighten your soul, then use a mixture of healing, salves and massage. Would you agree to that? You might find the first part unpleasant but the rest should not be."

Faramir nodded sighing with relief, while chiding himself inwardly for doubting Aragorn's abilities;" I trust you, so please do everything you need to." he replied. He then blanched, as a twinge in his bruised hip reminded him that he would have to remove his clothing.

"It should not be so uncomfortable for you this time, " Aragorn soothed, sensing his qualms "The Thought Bond should make it much easier for you to relax. I want to make this as comfortable for you as possible, but you must tell me at once if I am hurting you and you want me to stop. It is time to help you now in the way you want."

The King called to the Guard outside to fetch a basin of water, which he placed on the fire to heat. He then lifted Faramir on the bedroll.

Determined to get this over with, Faramir immediately and without prompting tried to undress but was too weak to do so unaided.

Wordlessly Aragorn assisted him, tactfully protecting his modesty with a towel He forced himself to stifle the involuntary cry of dismay that rose to his lips on seeing the now darkening bruises spreading across his Steward's side and chest and leg.

Faramir was all too aware of his emaciated and scarred frame and also knew all too well that he could have been healed weeks ago in the comfort of his own rooms rather than causing the King to come after him and seek shelter in this cold and miserable hovel while Eowyn sat and worried about him in Minas Tirith.

The candlelight harshly illuminated his stick thin body, with every rib clearly visible through the wasted flesh. It cast harsh shadows round the small room, making Aragorn appear to tower over him like a giant.

Faramir struggled to relax and stop shivering as he fought against the urge to defensively cross his arms, telling himself he was foolish to feel so ill at ease.

"Put this blanket over you! "Aragorn said sympathetically, tucking it round him "I can work under it."

He did consider it probable though, that the mental bonding would soon remove all shyness apart from natural modesty between them, for once the soul is laid bare, the body seems as little by comparison.

Thank you .I should be warm once you start, " Faramir replied, clutching it to him gratefully.

Aragorn nodded as he settled on the floor beside him, his long sensitive fingers gently prodding the new bruises disfiguring his Steward's chest and side, only properly able to judge their severity or otherwise now Faramir was awake. His ribs were painful and made an alarming grinding noise when touched, but Faramir barely flinched, so gentle was the probing. His hip and the length of one leg were black and blue and his ankle twisted. That was just the recent injuries.

Of the older ones, only the bruising on the lower part of his belly and the groin area seemed to have completely disappeared, the other injuries still being all too obvious, especially the still livid scars and the amount of swelling just beneath his ribs.

Faramir flinched and bit back a cry when the area was touched, albeit very gently.

"Is that where it pains you most?" Aragorn asked.

Faramir nodded "I still remember the agony as the drunkard ground his boot into me there until I fainted from the pain. My arm is painful where Eomer's sword sliced into it. Then my heart thumps and races all the time too."

He flinched at the memory, as this was the first time he had spoken in any detail about what had happened.

The King gently felt the hurts ascertaining how deep they lay from the amount of pressure needed before Faramir showed any sign of discomfort.

"I think you still have bruising deep inside, maybe even some scarring as the area still feels swollen." he sighed, secretly worried about just how severe the damage was, "I will do all I can to ease it."

"How do you manage to be so gentle?" Faramir asked curiously. "It felt different a few days ago!"

" I am using some Elven massage techniques as well as feeling for the hurts, now that I know you want my help." Aragorn explained with a smile."

"Thank you, it is much less painful this way," Faramir replied gratefully

"You have been fortunate this time!" Aragorn sighed with relief," One broken and two cracked ribs, a sprained ankle and some nasty bruises but no great damage has been done today."

"I will not be so foolish again, I could easily have broken my neck!" Faramir finished the thought.

"Obviously the Valar smiled on you today as when I found you, I feared every bone in your body could be broken!" Aragorn replied.

Satisfied now he finally knew the true extent of Faramir's hurts, Aragorn took some athelas leaves from his pack and breathed on them, before crumbling them in the now warmed water. "Can you sit up now?" he asked Faramir.

"I think so."

"Come nearer the fire then, you must not get chilled!"Aragorn said, moving the bedroll as he spoke.

Already he felt a little stronger, as if Aragorn's mere touch contained some power to heal and calm.

Forcing himself to discard the blanket, Faramir expected to feel very uncomfortable and exposed with just a towel for covering. Yet he found the whole experience no more daunting than when they had shared the Elven mud bath, so complete again was his trust in his King and healer.

Aragorn began the healing by bathing Faramir with the athelas water; beginning with his face and working down his shoulders and back then across the badly bruised chest and still tender belly, then finishing with his limbs, paying especial attention to the bruised hip and damaged ankle. He found himself flinching in sympathy at just how much pain his unfortunate Steward had endured.

The wholesome scent of the herb combined with its slightly astringent quality gave the whole process an almost ritualistic feel and Faramir felt his soul was being cleansed as much as his body as all the shame, misery and pain of the last weeks felt as if it were being washed away.

The green gem on Aragorn's breast glowed in the firelight and Faramir bowed his head in acceptance of the ritual purification he could sense taking place. Not only did he feel cleansed of the past but also the throbbing in his injured ribs and side grew less. The King then fetched a towel and gently dried him.

"I did this for you the day you were attacked to wash away all traces of the prison and ease your pain." Aragorn told him while he helped him to don his drawers and breeches again after applying some comfrey and marigold salve to his bruised leg.

"I feel better to know that," Faramir replied.

"Would you prefer just firelight for the healing and massage?" Aragorn enquired.

Faramir nodded and the King blew out most of the candles. Almost immediately he found himself recalling the night at the Hunting Lodge when Aragorn had used similar treatments. How beautiful Eowyn had looked that night! He smiled at he memory.

Faramir sighed contentedly and finally relaxed completely.

The King sat holding his hands a few inches above his injuries and pouring his healing energies into the now highly receptive Faramir.

The mental link between them was still strong, that there was no need for words as Aragorn could sense that Faramir now greatly desired what care he could bestow while in his turn Aragorn yearned to reach out to his Steward.

The healing was less draining than usual for Aragorn as Faramir was unusually receptive to his powers in his current state and a wave of pure energy flowed between them, as the King freely poured out the gift of Elendil's heirs upon his Steward.

Faramir no longer shivered, and was glad he had discarded the blanket, as he now sought to feel the healing warmth emanating from the King's hands.

Aragorn first placed his hands over Faramir's heart and felt the beat grow stronger and more regular even as he did so.

It amazed him just how quickly the damaged organ seemed to be healing and he guided Faramir's hand to feel it too. They smiled joyfully at each other as Faramir's strength grew and some colour slowly returned to his pallid features.

The King then applied a salve of comfrey, hypericin and rosehips to the many hurts Instead of flinching away Faramir leaned towards him acceptingly, burying his head against Aragorn's shoulder as he tenderly rubbed the salve into the cruel stripes on his back

Aragorn's warm, gentle fingers moved down and very thoroughly yet gently massaged the scarred back and shoulders and then turned Faramir around to concentrate on his chest and belly,

Faramir remained resting his head against his King's shoulder in a gesture of complete love and trust as he finally allowed the damaged muscle in his arm to be tended, followed by his shoulders, neck and head.

The long sensitive fingers tenderly eased his many hurts and seemed to be wipe away the pain of the past weeks as they kneaded the damaged muscle and scar tissue before making relaxing circular movements with his fingertips, which felt as if they were erasing the hurts in his very soul rather than just his aching muscles.

The gentle soothing strokes continued until Faramir was almost asleep, relaxed now as a contented cat. For the first time in weeks he felt very little pain either in mind or in body.

TBC

A/N

A very big thank you for all your kind and much appreciated reviews. I have now passed the 800 mark for the first time ever and am thrilled at your continued interest.

I am pleased you enjoyed the Thought Bond and hope you like the healing too.

I based the Thought Bond on a mixture of the 'Mind Meld' from' Star Trek' (Though that could be between a Vulcan and any other species and forced) and the spontaneous telepathy that often occurs between close friends and kin.

I think every fan has to have their own ideas who will be Aragorn's best friends when he becomes King. By the time of this story, Gandalf and Frodo have left Middle Earth, and Legolas seems closer to Gimli than Aragorn. If Tolkien gives any hints they seem to point towards Eomer.

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