Burden of Guilt

Soul of Adoration

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.

'Upon the King! Let us our lives, our souls, Our debts, our careful wives, Our children, and our sins lay on the King! And what have kings that privates have not too, Save ceremony, save general ceremony? O ceremony, show me but thy worth! What is thy soul of adoration? Art thou aught else but place, degree, and form, Creating awe and fear in other men?'

Shakespeare King Henry V (IV, i) (abridged)

Aragorn wearily made his way to his own apartments where he had left Faramir. As soon as he entered, the Steward struggled to his feet and bowed.

"Please sit down, Faramir" the King sighed, settling himself beside his Steward as he spoke, "Does this room trouble you? We can go somewhere else if you wish."

Since he had tended Faramir through those terrible days and nights when his life hung in the balance, he had replaced the bedspread and wall hangings, but it was still the same room where he had suffered much, hovering between life and death.

"No, Sire, not at all. I remember only how kind you were to me!" Faramir replied.

Aragorn frowned, unhappy at the sudden formability. "I need to look at your ribs to see that you sustained no damage during the journey," he said, "Then we will eat and get some rest as Arwen wants to stay with your wife for a while."

He was going to miss his wife but agreed her plan was sensible as custom forbade Faramir sharing his wife's bedchamber so soon after her giving birth and Faramir was still too frail to be left unattended. Truth to tell he would be glad of his company for while he was content to sleep alone under a hedge, he still found it hard to settle surrounded by stone walls as they seemed to close in on him.

"Is it fitting, My Lord that you who have power beyond all mortal imaginings should busy yourself with such menial tasks?" Faramir asked, his eyes still filled with the veneration the King had noticed earlier. "Should not one of the City Healers tend me?" The revulsion he felt at the prospect of being poked, pummelled and prodded by their none to gentle hands was all too clear in his eyes as he spoke.

Aragorn sat beside him on the window seat and gently gripped his shoulders. "What happened today has not changed me, Mellon Nin," he chided gently, "I am just a man as any other though I am gladdened that the Valar chose to use me as their instrument to spare your child! I desire your friendship, not your veneration for any subject might offer me that, whereas friendship for one in my position is much harder to find! Then as it seems we are to stay together for a while longer, if you continue to place me on a pedestal, my head will grow too large to fit my crown and then what shall I do!"

Faramir was forced to smile at the image Aragorn's words evoked and relaxed somewhat.

"You can read my thoughts again if you wish," Aragorn offered knowing his Steward could be very stubborn at times and he could not expect otherwise.

"I believe you!" Faramir was already unlacing his tunic and shirt, "It was just so incredible what you did today!"

"I fear it has left me too weary to offer you any healing tonight," Aragorn said regretfully as Faramir pulled the garments over his head.

"I am not in much pain," Faramir replied as the King unwrapped the tight bandaging and Faramir sighed with relief as it was loosened. "How is Eowyn?"

"She is asleep now and should not wake until morning. Both Arwen and Ioreth are satisfied that she is recovering well from the birth. She is just very distressed at not being unable to suckle the baby as yet."

"She should not be so upset," Faramir commented as Aragorn felt his injured ribs. He was aware that although his touch was extremely gentle but his hands were not as warm as they usually were. "The high born ladies of Gondor always employ wet nurses from what I know of such matters! We have a beautiful child which is all that matters surely?"

"But that is not the custom of either the Eldar or the Rohirrim," Aragorn informed him, "The women of Rohan are extremely self sufficient and see any failing on their part as a grave weakness. I lived amongst Eowyn's people for many years and became familiar with their culture."

"I am proud of my wife for giving me such a beautiful daughter and so long as she is properly nourished do not mind who nurses her though I am extremely grateful to the Queen!" Faramir said ardently, " I especially wanted a girl, though I think Eowyn desired a boy. I am determined to give her all the love that my father never gave me! When can I hold her?"

"Tomorrow, I hope when she is sleeping, as your ribs are healing well and your heartbeat is steady," Aragorn pronounced before proceeding to gently feel the still swollen patch on the upper part of his Steward's belly.

Faramir immediately yelped with pain and Aragorn frowned at the reaction.

"What exactly is that?" he asked anxiously, his face white with pain.

"A knot of scar tissue, I believe and it is pressing on a nerve. Unfortunately it does not respond well to healing," Aragorn told him honestly, "There are plenty of other treatments I can try now, so try not to worry about it.

He fervently hoped he would not have to cut it out, as a drastic last resort for he knew only too well that left too long, it could adhere to some vital organ and threaten Faramir's life but there were several other treatments he could try first.

"I trust you to do what is best," Faramir said simply.

"I have told Eomer he has a niece but I fear he does not seem interested," the King said, eager to change the subject.

Faramir sighed. " I feared as much though I hoped for Eowyn's sake he would be pleased. Maybe it troubles him that a child of my blood is direct line to succeed him until my cousin gives him children?"

"He will surely soften soon," Aragorn said thoughtfully as he applied salve to Faramir's many bruises. The pitiable scarred and bruised body was still a shocking sight even to an experienced healer such as himself. "If he saw just what had happened to you?" he mused.

Faramir vehemently shook his head. "I want no man's pity and have no desire to be paraded like some freak for his inspection!" he said firmly.

"I am sorry, I should not have said that nor should I have shown your wounds to his followers!" Aragorn said contritely.

"With that you had no choice but the thought of him inspecting me like a broken down horse repels me!" Faramir replied, yawning as he pulled his shirt back over his head.

"I would feel just the same!" Aragorn assured him. He stood up and washed his hands in a bowl of water left on the washstand for that purpose." I am going to order some supper for us and go and say goodnight to Arwen while they are bringing it," he said, "You can borrow one of my nightshirts and prepare for bed while I am gone if you desire some privacy. And please no bowing when I return!"

Faramir merely grinned at him. "Say goodnight to my wife and little one for me please if you see her?" he asked.

Aragorn summoned a servant and told her that he required a light supper for two sent up to his room and then made his way to his wife's apartments.

Arwen almost immediately opened the door when he tapped lightly. Eowyn lay sleeping peacefully in the vast bed. Arwen led her husband into the adjoining room.

They tiptoed to where the babies were lying in their cradles. Aragorn stroked a tender finger across his son's cheek and was rewarded by a smile.

"Look!" he gasped. "He smiled at me for the first time!"

Arwen smiled too. "He must sense that you will now be able to smile back at him!"

Overcome with emotion, Aragorn tenderly kissed his son and then laid a hand in blessing on Elestelle's head before giving her a goodnight kiss on behalf of her father.

"Faramir told me her name." he smiled, "I am honoured! I suppose I had better return to him now, I left him waiting for his supper."

"You look weary, I hope Faramir will not keep you awake though it is best you stay with him while I look after Eowyn. They both will need our care for a while yet." Arwen drew her husband close and he laid his weary head on her shoulder after they exchanged a tender kiss.

An hour later, Arwen looked into her husband's room and found both him and Faramir side by side on top of the vast bed. Both were fast asleep and Aragorn was snoring loudly.

Faramir, with his head nestled against his King's shoulder, looked the slightly more comfortable of the two of them as he was at least properly on the bed and minus his boots.

Despite the size of the bed Aragorn had one leg dangling over the edge and looked likely to fall off any moment .He was still wearing his boots, obviously having fallen asleep as soon as he had settled Faramir before he could take them off.

Two nightshirts lay folded on the foot of the bed, their owners obviously too weary to change into them.

At least the tray of empty dishes on the bedside table suggested that they had eaten their supper before falling asleep.

Arwen smiled, suppressing an urge to giggle at the spectacle and eased her husband's leg on to the bed before carefully removing his boots, leaving them by the bedside before throwing a warm blanket over them both. Although both were fully clothed, it was a cold November night and she did not want them to wake up chilled.

Aragorn continued snoring peacefully, oblivious of her presence.

"Sleep well, Beloved!" she whispered, kissing him gently before tiptoeing from the room.

Faramir, somewhat less exhausted than the King, woke at the sound of the door closing. Thinking it was Aragorn's snoring that had roused him; he dug his elbow in his ribs to wake him.

"What?" Aragorn murmured sleepily.

"You were snoring!" Faramir grumbled.

"I told you I was only human!" Aragorn laughed and promptly fell asleep again.

TBC

A/N

A very big thank you for all your kind reviews and comments, which have led to this story being a few chapters longer than, was my original intention as well as a considerable amount of revision to my first draft!

I have slightly changed the baby's name due to advice I received.

I enjoyed the film of "Romeo and Juliet "very much.

Faramir is much better but not yet fully recovered which would be unrealistic.

I do indeed have a plan up my sleeve for Eomer, with a twist naturally!

Faramir and Eowyn had a daughter to fit in with Aragorn's vision in "Shadow and Thought" chapter 28.

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