Burden of Guilt

Time to Stand and Stare

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.

'What is life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.' W.H.Davies

Aragorn completed his ministrations, satisfied that he had done all he could for the time being to help his Steward.

Faramir opened his eyes, aware of the cessation of the lovely soothing touch he had sobeen enjoying.

"I have done all I can for now, "Aragorn told him, "I shall need to continue treating you for some time yet to heal you completely, though, and the ligaments in your ankle are torn, which need time to mend, though I have eased the pain as best I can. You need to keep taking the herbs for a while too."

Faramir slowly stretched and found already he could move much more easily and the pain, which had tormented him for two long months, was almost gone.

"Let me help you dress now. I will leave your ribs unbound until you need to travel, as I think you will be more comfortable that way." Aragorn said, helping Faramir into his shirt and tunic as he spoke.

He felt delighted at the change he couldnow see in his Steward. Already he looked more like his old self as his features relaxed and the colour returned to his pallid cheeks.

"Thank you! How can I ever repay you for your kindness to me!" Faramir exclaimed with heartfelt gratitude while he looked at his King with something near veneration in his eyes. He reached out his arms and drew his friend close.

Delighted to have the old Faramir back, Aragorn returned the gesture, and then placed his hands on his head in blessing. " Be thou blessed and healed! It gladdens my heart to be able to help you!" he said smiling. "Now are you hungry?"

"I believe I am!" Faramir replied, somewhat surprised .He had almost forgotten the sensation of having a healthy appetite.

Aragorn relit the candles and then called to the guards outside to bring in the provisions he had brought, though when he had ordered them packed, he had hardly dared to hope that Faramir would so soon be willing to share them with him

As the Guards brought in a large wicker basket, Faramir recognised a familiar face.

"Damrod! It is good to see you, old friend!" he exclaimed, smiling with pleasure.

"And you, sir!" Damrod found it hard not to stare in blank amazement at the change that had come over his former Captain in the past few hours. "It is good to see you looking better, sir!" he exclaimed.

"You have Damrod to thank that we found you so quickly, I think he deserves both a promotion and a pay rise, do you not think?" Aragorn said, clapping Damrod on the shoulder warmly.

"I do indeed!" Faramir agreed while Damrod and his companion served them with a simple but hearty meal of bread, cheese and fruit, washed down with a fine wine.

It was growing late and they went outside to answer nature's call, then afterwards pausing to speak to the Guards, sitting around their campfire.

Faramir found he could hobble along quite well, either by grasping Aragorn's arm or using a stout branch cut from a nearby tree as a walking cane.

He hobbled over to pat Iavas and assure himself that she was being well cared for and then together with the King bade the Guard on Sentry Duty outside a peaceful night.

They found that in their absence the Guards had laid out bedding in the hovel and built up the fire for the night.

"May I stay beside you tonight?" Faramir asked shyly, wanting to be near to the one who had served as his anchor, yet not wanting to be thought childish. Now he no longer felt tainted, he craved human contact after so many weeks of shunning his loved ones and repressing his need for affection. After the trauma of the day's events, he sought the comfort of Aragorn's presence nearby.

"A sensible idea as the air is chill." Aragorn replied, sensing his need for reassurance, and arranging their make shift bedding side by side.

Even fully clothed, they needed to lay their now dried cloaks on top of the blankets for extra warmth. They settled down for the night watching the fire as it bathed the hut in a comforting red glow.

"I am glad you found me." Faramir said, nuzzling his head against Aragorn's broad shoulder, knowing he had been lost in more ways than one. He knew now the King would not push him away like his father had done so often.

"So am I." Aragorn replied, huddling protectively close to the younger man he had come to love as his own child, and placing a paternal kiss on his brow. "You are far too precious to lose, to me, to Eowyn and Gondor!"

Faramir was transported back to a time when as a young child he used to creep into bed with Boromir for comfort during a storm.

It was a chilly and damp November night, yet Faramir felt warm for the first time in weeks as well as being almost free of pain despite his new injuries. He fell into a deep sleep almost immediately.

Aragorn lay awake for a while listening to his companion's quiet breathing. He found himself blinking back tears of relief. Today he had come so close to losing his Steward and had dreaded nothing more than returning to tell Eowyn she was a widow. Soon he could restore her husband to her, sound of mind and healing fast in body too for Faramir was recovering faster than he had dared hope. After the treatment for scarring, he hoped he would be whole again. The King rejoiced.

He slept fitfully, constantly feeling Faramir's brow for signs of fever, which seemed all too likely after the day's events .To his relief, there was none as yet and the Steward slept peacefully, his head still resting on the King's shoulder.

Several hours passed and Aragorn eventually fell into a deep sleep, exhausted after the day's events.

A choking cry from Faramir roused him, jolting him fully awake. Alarmed, he realised his Steward was struggling to breathe.

He swiftly lit a candle from the fire and eased Faramir into a sitting position.

"What is wrong?" he asked, feeling Faramir's forehead. He was now slightly feverish to the touch.

" The baby! Hurts to breath!" Faramir gasped.

"Let me see." Faramir nodded his consent as Aragorn anxiously lifted his tunic and shirt to uncover the damaged ribs and pressed his ear against the bruised area on Faramir's chest, fearful that one of the cracked ribs had pierced his lung, but everything appeared normal, if anything the bruising looked less angry than it had done earlier. Even his heartbeat, although rapid from his agitation, remained strong and regular.

"Take shallow breaths!" he advised the Steward as he gently felt the cracked ribs with one hand while with the other he covered Faramir's mouth to stop him from over breathing. "All will be well, trust me! Your lungs are sound; there is nought to fear. I will not leave you."

Calmed by his voice, Faramir began to relax.

Satisfied, nothing serious was wrong, Aragorn removed his hand then fetched the salve and applied it, before pulling Faramir's shirt down again .He sat beside him, rubbing his back and murmuring soft words of comfort, while waiting for the Steward's breathing and heartbeat to return to normal.

Were you dreaming?" Aragorn asked, once Faramir seemed calmer.

"Yes," he replied, shuddering as he recalled his nightmare, " I was with Eowyn and our child was being born and the midwife told her to take deep breaths. The child was born but it did not breathe and I was weeping! Then the pain woke me. It was all so vivid!"

"What you have experienced is commonplace for those with damaged ribs. It hurts to breathe too deeply and you fear you cannot breathe at all I sedated you when you were beaten to prevent that happening." Aragorn explained, trying to reassure him, yet filled with alarm.

His thoughts were still closely attuned to Faramir's and he sensed his Steward was having one of the premonitions he was prone to. He knew from experience they tended to occur when they were in close proximity to each other and heightened emotions generated these fey visions, both factors that applied tonight

"I feel such a fool but the dream was so vivid!"

"How could it be true?" Aragorn asked, questioning himself as much as Faramir, "Whoever heard of a father being present when a baby is born? You have a slight fever, which must have helped prompt your dream. I will mix you some herbs to ease you. Then you need to rest. You are much better but you need time to recover completely"

Aragorn soothed his Steward while he placed water on the fire to boil. He then fetched two mugs and made two cups of tea, using some Pippin had sent from the Shire. To Faramir's cup he added rosehips, catnip and valerian.

Handing Faramir a cup, he settled beside him, coaxing him to drink the tea and telling him the latest news the Hobbits had sent from the Shire until Faramir became sleepy when the valerian took effect.

Aragorn settled his Steward under the blankets, propping him up with extra pillows to make it easier for him to breathe.

"Thank you, Mellon Nin," Faramir said gratefully, "Do you really think that Eowyn is well?"

"Why should she not be?" Aragorn replied, "I left her Arwen's care. She would call Ioreth at once if she were worried, though I see no reason she should be as she senses your child is strong. It is not due yet for several weeks in any case."

"I should not have left her!" Faramir sighed.

" You were not yourself and you will soon be together again." Seeing that Faramir was still trembling slightly as he fretted over his wife and unborn child, the King placed a comforting arm around him.

"Peace, Mellon Nin, come sleep, you are safe now!" he murmured, as Faramir settled his head again against the broad shoulder and drifted into a dreamless sleep.

Faramir slept; comforted his friend was close beside him. The King however, remained wakeful, hoping fervently that Faramir's dream was but a figment of a fevered mind, as it was far to soon for Eowyn's child to born yet. He wished fervently that Arwen were here to offer him some comfort and her shrewd insights as to whether Faramir were suffering a mere feverish nightmare.

Mentally, he shook himself, convinced his wife would chide him for indulging in such overwrought imaginings without foundation.

They slept until late the next morning. Much to Aragorn's relief, Faramir's fever had subsided and he was recovering well but still frail from weeks of ill health followed from the trauma of the previous day's events and a restless night.

"I am sorry for waking you last night!" Faramir exclaimed sheepishly," I should not have reacted to a mere nightmare as if I were a small child!"

"Do not worry about it!"Aragorn replied with a rueful grin, " I can react just as badly at times, especially if I have to sleep alone in those enclosed stone walls of the Citadel!"

He went outside and discovered it to be one of those rare November days when the sun shines from a blue sky and the mist hovers over the trees with an almost ethereal quality. Brooding over nightmares seemed absurd on a day like this!

Even before examining him, Aragorn decided it was best that they stay here for at least another day. They had sufficient provisions and he felt Faramir needed more time to recover away from the public gaze.

Also, if he were honest with himself, he was in need of rest almost as badly as the past weeks had taken a heavy toll on him too. It would be good if they could ride home together as if returning from a hunting excursion and reassure he people that their Steward was on the road to recovery.

It was good too to be able to enjoy Faramir's company again as they were kindred souls with much in common. Aragorn had missed him dreadfully during his illness, for much as he adored Arwen; he needed Faramir's companionship too. His wife's analogy to love being like a rainbow had never seemed more apt, as he knew now more than ever that he needed all the different hues to feel complete.

He counted himself truly blessed to have a wife, a son, a friend akin to a brother and Legolas, Gimli, the Hobbits, Eowyn and Eomer to surround him with their love.

The thought of Eomer made him sigh though, when he thought of his friend's crippled condition and stubbornness. He could only hope that he would eventually come to his senses once the effects of the head injury had abated.

Today though, he was determined to enjoy a respite from the cares of state in Faramir's company.

Later that morning, when his wounds were tended, Faramir was relaxed and seemed untroubled at baring his injuries in broad daylight.

The King was delighted at how well Faramir was healing for as well as the bruises healing fast the Steward was much less sore when touched, though he was still worried by the painful and swollen patch under his ribs. He bathed his hurts once more in water in which athelas had been steeped, then applied salves to the injuries.

Aragorn used his healing powers again as well as Elven massage, which seemed to be working very well as Faramir was now so responsive.

They spent a quiet but pleasant day, sitting outside in the winter sunshine all afternoon and chatting to Damrod who showed a keen interest in the part Elven healing had played in his former Captain's recovery.

Faramir had also developed a hearty appetite much to Aragorn's relief and when that night, he settled to sleep beside his friend, he was untroubled by dreams and slept soundly, only once waking to complain that the King was snoring.

By noon the next day, Aragorn felt that Faramir was well enough to travel and the Steward was ready now to return to Minas Tirith, as he felt much stronger and was eager to be reunited with Eowyn.

The King had just given the order to break camp to the Guards when they heard the sound a horse approaching at speed.

Aragorn and Faramir, thinking it was just a passing traveller, ignored the rider's approach, as Aragorn was intent on strapping Faramir's ribs prior to riding home.

Faramir was just donning his shirt again when Damrod rushed into the hovel crying, "Pardon, my Lords for disturbing you but you are needed at once!"

TBC

A very big thank you for all your much appreciated kind reviews. Here is a speedy update to show my appreciation. I am pleased you liked the healing chapter. I reworked it several times.

I am in the process of writing a sequel in which Faramir is strong and hope my Muse will cooperate to complete it! He has been strong under torture in all my stories but I would like to explore different aspects of his and Aragorn's characters.

This story will return to Eomer, Eowyn and Arwen and I hope my readers will continue to follow it to its conclusion, as only one of the plot threads has been resolved and I still have a few twists up my sleeve!

My dream is 1,000 reviews but that of course depends entirely on my readers continued enjoyment !

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