Burden of Guilt

What's in a Name ?

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

What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Romeo and Juliet", Act 2 scene 2

For Julia, Viviana and all my readers who like Arwen.

Now she was no longer hungry, Eowyn's infant daughter had fallen asleep and Arwen tried to hand her back to her mother.

Eowyn shook her head, "No, you hold her. I am a hopeless mother," she lamented, "Will you ask Faramir to come in now, please?"

Arwen sighed. It seemed that Eowyn's guilt over giving birth too soon was causing her to reject her child and that could not be allowed to happen.

"You must hold her as she needs her mother!" she said gently but firmly, returning the baby as she spoke. "You told me yourself that every new mother needs to learn, as well as that it can take some time for the milk to come!"

Eowyn took her daughter but held her as if she were made of spun glass.

Faramir and the King had been anxiously waiting in the next room.

When the Queen called them in she took her husband into her dressing room and told him what Ioreth had said.

Faramir immediately hobbled over to Eowyn's bedside with the aid of a cane.

"Ioreth cannot help, I have failed our child, I feel so guilty!" Eowyn lamented.

"It is all my fault for running away, not yours, Beloved!" Faramir said sadly, as he squeezed Eowyn's hand.

"But had I not written that foolish letter to my brother none of this would have happened!" Eowyn choked.

"Stop it, Eowyn, this will help neither you nor our child!" Faramir's words were softened by the tender kiss he placed on her lips. Since sharing thoughts with the King, he could see the situation quite differently. "It is pointless for either of us to dwell on the past, we must concentrate on caring for our child now. What shall we call her?"

"I had thought to name her after either your mother or mine if we had a daughter but after the manner of her birth, I would prefer something different."

"We should name her to honour the King," Faramir said firmly," He saved her life and it is only thanks to him that we have a daughter to rejoice over at all!"

"I agree, but what? It would be different were she a boy but Aragorne or Elessarne are not really proper names for a girl!"

"Let me think." Faramir gazed thoughtfully at his little daughter. "The King gave us hope and his childhood name was Estel which means 'hope', so how about 'Elestelle, hope of the Elves'? That is a pretty name for a beautiful child !"

"That would be perfect!" Eowyn smiled for the first time since Aragorn had told her child lived.

"'Elestelle' she shall be as long as Aragorn approves. You should rest now, My Love, I will keep watch over our daughter." Faramir said, a yawn underlying his own exhaustion.

"I should so like a bath first." Eowyn insisted, eager to shed the aftermath of the birth and the feel of none too gentle hands prodding her. "Would you send for my maid to assist me, please?"

"There is no need for that!" Arwen had re entered with her usual Elven silence, "I will look after Eowyn. Faramir, you and Estel ought to go and get something to eat. I will ask Eldarion's nanny to look after both babies while I care for Eowyn. Have you a name for your daughter yet?"

"We thought Elestelle in honour of the King." Faramir said shyly, struggling to his feet as he held Arwen in great awe, for not only was she his Queen but also one of the Eldar.

"After all, she belongs to Aragorn as much as to us." Eowyn added, "We would never have conceived her had he not helped us relax and he was in the next room at the time. Then he helped to bring her into the world and saved her life."

Faramir flushed scarlet at Eowyn's revealing of such intimate details.

"An excellent choice!" Arwen smiled, tactfully ignoring both Eowyn's comments and Faramir's embarrassment. "Now go with Estel while I care for your lady!"

Faramir kissed Eowyn and then stroked the bay's tiny hand before hobbling slowly to the door while Arwen summoned Eldarion's nanny and the servants to fill the bath.

"We were given several cradles when the Prince was born, so can you find a suitable one for Little Elestelle and also some of Eldarion's outgrown clothes for her?" Arwen asked the nanny who appeared with Eldarion in her arms.

The Queen cuddled her son while Eowyn's bath was prepared and then placed both babies in the care of the nanny and helped Eowyn to the bathing chamber.

"This should ease your aches and make the water sting less," she told her friend, adding some special Elven salts to the steaming water.

Eowyn grimaced, "Nature's calls are bad enough at the moment, this can hardly be worse!" she sighed. "I have warned many other women but until you experience childbirth for yourself, you realise you know nothing!"

"It will soon pass, I promise." Arwen soothed, as she helped Eowyn undress and get into the bath.

While her friend was bathing, Arwen collected the jars of Elven salves that she had used after Eldarion's birth and placed them on the bedside table.

"Come!" she said, after she had helped Eowyn from the bath and swathed her in towels, "Lie down and I will give you a through massage as you did for me following Eldarion's birth."

"I deserve no pampering as unlike you I endangered my child!" Eowyn lamented, clutching her towels around her.

"The better you look after yourself the better you will look after Elestelle." Arwen told her." I promise I will be very gentle."

"I know you will and I am very tempted as I ache everywhere but I am not worthy of your care!" Eowyn protested miserably, "I will just put on my nightgown and lie down."

"And what of Elestelle?" Arwen said firmly, gripping her shoulders, " Does she not deserve a healthy and relaxed mother?"

"Of course she does!" Eowyn replied, " I fear I am unworthy of her!"

"Then it is time you tried to be worthy!" Arwen retorted, "Lie down, stop clutching that towel and let me use the arts of my people to aid you!"

Eowyn looked ready to burst into tears but she nodded and cast the towels aside and settled herself on the bed. As well as being sore from the birth, her back ached; her belly and breasts were extremely tender, and her head was throbbing.

Arwen could tell her friend was very tense and began by massaging her head, neck and shoulders with her sensitive fingertips, then gradually moved down her body applying Elven massage techniques for sore muscles, stretch marks and to stimulate milk production. She then began again this time using a variety of salves to heal and soothe.

Eowyn soon relaxed to the gentle and expert touch of Arwen's fingertips though at times she flinched when the most tender areas were touched, whether due to the birth or Ioreth's none too gentle probing was hard to judge but by the time Arwen massaged her back she was as languid and sleepy as a contented cat.

Arwen aided her into one of her own nightgowns and noted the pain in the other woman's eyes when she realised it was one of those Arwen was wearing while she nursed Eldarion.

"You will feel better when you have rested," she said gently giving her a wafer of Lembas to restore her strength and a special tea containing fenugreek, raspberry and red clover to stimulate milk production.

"Thank you, you are like a mother to me! I am so sorry I ran away and caused you so much worry!" Eowyn sipped the drink gratefully and then allowed Arwen to ease her back on the pillows and tuck the covers round her.

"Well you are back now and that is all that matters. You must stay here with me for a while. Aragorn will care for Faramir." Arwen told her in a firm maternal tone as Eowyn drifted off into an exhausted slumber.

Arwen then summoned the servants to empty the bath and bring her some food before the babies awoke demanding to be fed.

A short time afterwards here came a light tap at the door and Aragorn entered, looking ever more exhausted than Eowyn and Faramir if that were possible.

"How is she?" he whispered, tiptoeing over to the bed. A candle burned on the table illuminating Eowyn's pale features.

"Exhausted, dejected and in pain. I have done all I can and will stay with her while her baby needs my milk. She needs to stay close to her or I fear she will reject it." Arwen sighed.

Aragorn stood looking at the Lady of Rohan, a look of great compassion on his face.

"I fear I am just too weary tonight to use my healing abilities further. I have nothing left to give her," Aragorn said sadly," I feel completely drained! I have just been to see Eomer and tell him he has a niece but he is not interested and refuses to see her!"

"He will surely soften eventually, " Arwen said, trying to reassure him, "From what Faramir and Eowyn told me, it seems you did something truly miraculous with their baby today ".

Aware she was curious and deserved to know more, Aragorn led her aside to her dressing room, so as not to awaken Eowyn.

"I hardly know what happened with the baby," he said haltingly, "It was stillborn and I tried to make it breathe but nothing seemed to work. I was about to give up and Faramir and Eowyn were distraught but then suddenly I decided to try calling her and the next moment I was kneeling beside her and she was alive much to my joy and theirs!"

Arwen smiled at him, her eyes glowing with love and admiration. "If only I had kept a closer eye on her, you would not have been called upon to give so much of yourself as I can see you poured your life energy into the child!" she said," I tried to watch her day and night but she slipped away while I had a meeting with that trade delegation you left in my charge."

"She did something similar when she disobeyed her Uncle and rode to Pellenor Fields so I do not think you could have stopped her," Aragorn said thoughtfully, "There is an untameable and unpredictable streak in Eowyn !"

"Maybe it was the will of the Valar?" Arwen mused thoughtfully, "If the baby had been stillborn here in Minas Tirith, you would not have been in the same room to save her. Even if we had defied all convention and sent for you it would have been too late!"

"Who knows?" Aragorn replied, "I am only glad that I could save the child."

"Then Faramir too, I hardly recognised the man, he looks so much better!" Arwen continued.

Despite his weariness, Aragorn smiled, "I thought I had come too late when I found him lying in the mud after falling from his horse," he told her," But with Damrod's help I soon found he was not seriously injured and managed to revive him though he was in dreadful despair. I did what you told me though and refused to let him go until he confided in me and pleaded with him to share thoughts to ease my pain. Then after the Thought Bond, such a change came over him as if scales had fallen from his eyes!"

"I thought it would work!" Arwen said sagely. "So he allowed you to heal him?"

"He begged me to and it proved a wonderful experience for us both. I have never before known a healing quite like it the way he was reaching out to me with his spirit, more like an Elf than a man!" Aragorn's eyes were glowing as he recalled the events of two days ago," I could actually feel his heart grow steady beneath my hand and see the worst of the bruises fade as he was responding so well. I am still concerned about some of his hurts but he is so much better. The change in him as he went from shunning me to wanting to stay close beside me which was just as well I was beside him as he had one of his visions about the baby being stillborn during the night before last which I, alas dismissed as a feverish dream! Then yesterday, although of course, I missed you, we spent a pleasant day just talking and relaxing while he regained his strength."

"And I hope you did too!" Arwen commented, "It does you good to get away from the Court at times. You should take him camping next summer and play at being rangers again! I want to keep Eowyn here with me while I coax her to bond with the baby, so Faramir can enjoy your company for a while longer."

"I will miss you tonight as you give me strength but I see your wisdom," Aragorn told her," Faramir and Eowyn have both been too deprived of love in the past so we must give them all the support we can. That reminds me, I must have a look at Faramir's injuries before we have supper." He yawned as he spoke.

" I thought you had already eaten!" Arwen said sternly, "On no account must you risk giving him any of your energy tonight though unless his life is in danger!"

Aragorn shook his head. "I am too weary, Vanimelda, I will come and bid you goodnight later," he said, kissing her lovingly before going to look for Faramir, whom he had left sitting in his room while he had told Eomer about his sister having given birth. He then was forced to listen to the King of Rohan's tirade about Eowyn's 'feckless, dishonourable scoundrel of a husband' as all pleas to be reasonable had fallen on deaf ears. It seemed that Eomer's head injury had completely changed his personality and just now Aragorn was too weary to even begin to think of what he might be able to do.

TBC

A big thank you to all my readers for your comments. Each and every one is greatly appreciated.

One of you was very close to guessing the name, well done!

Eowyn is indeed in danger of postnatal depression as Arwen realises.

Eomer will return to the story very soon.

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