Burden of Guilt

Fathers and Mothers

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.

For everyone who wanted to see Faramir with his daughter and Elenhin who is the master of depicting poor Aragorn's and Faramir's mountain of paperwork.

Faramir awoke feeling safe, warm and comfortable, still a novel feeling after two months of fear and agony when every day the first sensations he had been aware of were his pounding heart, pain everywhere and a struggle to breathe.

Even worse had been the feeling that he was tainted and had betrayed all those he loved and to be relieved of such a burden gave him a wonderful sense of freedom.

For a moment he felt disorientated, believing he was still in the hovel as Aragorn was beside him. Then he realised he was back in Minas Tirith and in Aragorn's room.

The winter sun streamed though a chink in the curtains illuminating the King's face. He still looked somewhat drawn and weary and with his eyes closed, bore a closer resemblance than usual to Faramir's own father.

Then the events of the previous day all came rushing back. He was a father now himself!

He must have spoken the wondrous thought aloud as Aragorn yawned, stretched and slowly sat up.

"Is it not amazing to be a father?" Faramir exclaimed.

"Indeed it is!" Aragorn grinned, "I grow to love my son more each day, which reminds me, you have not met him yet !"

Faramir flushed, " I am so sorry, I regret now that I did not accept the Queen's offer to bring him to show me."

"Well I hope you can meet him today," Aragorn said good humouredly, climbing off the bed rather stiffly and realising he was still fully clothed. He had been so tired the night before that he remembered nothing after giving Faramir his herbs and helping him on to the bed

"When can I see my daughter and Eowyn?" Faramir asked.

"When you have bathed, allowed me to treat your hurts and changed into clean clothes and had some breakfast. Then Arwen and Ioreth need time to tend to them both," Aragorn told him.

Faramir looked somewhat crestfallen.

"At least you do not have to parade your daughter in front of a heartless throng of nobles who treat a baby like prize horseflesh! " the King said dryly, "Not that I will permit that to happen to any future child of mine!"

Faramir suddenly looked worried, " Will the lack of proper protocols mean Elestelle is not regarded as my heir?" he asked anxiously.

Aragorn shook his head. "While you were unwell, I had the law amended so that the presence of a Royal representative at the birth of your heirs confers legitimacy and the presence of a representative from the House of Stewards confers legitimacy on my future heirs. Of course, I intended Arwen as your witness, but I should serve well enough! Now can you ask a servant to bring you some clean clothes and breakfast for us both?"

He disappeared into the bathing chamber as he spoke.

Eowyn awoke to the sound of a crying baby. For a moment, she thought it was Eldarion and then realised it was her own child.

Arwen was sitting on the rocking chair beside the bed cuddling her son, whom she had apparently just finished nursing.

She rose to her feet and smiled at Eowyn, replaced Eldarion in his cradle and picked up Elestelle and brought her to her mother.

"She is hungry," the Queen said, "You must try to feed her."

"You know I cannot!" Eowyn was reluctant to take her child. She looked so fragile and her features were red and contorted with crying.

"You must try! " Arwen said in a tone that brokered no argument, "I will not let her go hungry but you must try first."

As Eowyn made no move to unlace her nightgown, Arwen did it for her and placed Elestelle in the correct position to nurse. The baby bawled all the louder and seemed quite unable to latch on. Eowyn stiffened and tears pricked behind her eyes.

"Take her away!" she demanded," She does not even like me!"

" She senses your unease and is hungry. That is all." Arwen calmly took Elestelle over to the rocking chair and soothed her before offering her own breast. At once the baby started to suckle contentedly.

Eowyn felt oddly detached. This child hardly seemed to be hers at all. She and Faramir might have conceived her and she had carried her for eight months but it was Aragorn who had given her life while Arwen was nourishing her. Surely it would have been better had she been born to them ?

Ioreth's arrival a little later did little to raise her spirits for although the midwife pronounced her to be in excellent health, Eowyn could see the disappointment in her eyes that she had failed to carry her child to full term even though today she was much kinder and refrained from scolding.

Aragorn and Faramir arrived soon after Ioreth's departure, by which time Eowyn was dressed in one of Arwen's loose robes and on the Queen's instructions watching while the Nanny bathed her daughter.

Aragorn intended to spend a precious hour with his wife and child before applying himself to the growing mountain of paperwork that awaited him, though Faramir was now eager to help,the task would be far less onerous.

While Elestelle was being bathed, Aragorn took Faramir to show him his son.

Eldarion gurgled happily to see his father and smiled when he lifted him out of his cradle.

"My Prince! It gladdens my heart to meet you!" Faramir said formally kissing the tiny hand and bowing," I am your most loyal subject!"

Eldarion frowned, obviously puzzled by this stranger who looked rather like his Ada but behaved so oddly.

Aragorn laughed, though not unkindly," I think he would prefer a less formal greeting!" he grinned, "He is after all only two months old!"

Faramir kissed the dark head and offered a finger to be grasped. . He was rewarded by a beaming smile from the young prince.

"He is adorable!" Faramir gasped, "Though I think my baby prettier!"

"You are her father so you should!" Aragorn retorted as he retired with his son to Arwen's sitting room.

Arwen and Eowyn emerged a few moments later,the latterlooking pale and distressed after watching her child being bathed and dressed. Minus her clothing, Elestelle looked more tiny and frail than ever and she could not help but compare her to Eldarion when he was born ,who had been so plump and robust looking.

"How are you today, Beloved?" Faramir greeted her.

"I am well," Eowyn said flatly.

"Do sit down, Faramir! Would you like to see your daughter?" Arwen asked.

"Yes please, My Lady!"Faramir hobbled over to the couch and sat down with his wife beside him.

Arwen brought the now clothed and very sleepy Elestelle and placed her in Faramir's arms, the opposite side from his damaged ribs then went to join her husband and son.

He felt overwhelmed with love towards this tiny daughter of his and it seemed that she sensed it as she gurgled contentedly, nestling against his chest.

Tenderly he caressed her soft downy head and tiny hands.

"She is just perfect and so beautiful!" he breathed, swearing inwardly to love her unconditionally as long as he lived.

"She is too small." was Eowyn's only reply.

Three days passed and Faramir's health continued to improve though Aragorn was still worried by the scar tissue on his belly. The Steward obediently accepted the Elven healing and massage as well as taking the herbs to aid his recovery. He continued to limp as the King had not considered a sprained ankle serious enough to concentrate his energies on and it did serve to keep him from exerting himself too much while his heart strengthened.

He was still sharing Aragorn's room and helping the King with State papers, but proving a most attentive father and husband to his wife and child.

Eowyn was becoming more distressed by the day as she was still unable to feed her daughter and hardly seemed to be able to endure the sight of her, despite Arwen's insistence that she keep trying to nurse her and helped to bathe and dress her.

Late one night when both Eowyn and Faramir were sleeping, she summoned her husband to come and see if he could help Eowyn.

How is she?" he asked, moving to stand by her bedside, " Faramir is worried about her and was glad when I told him I was coming."

"Totally dejected and very tense though I have tried every art I know," Arwen sighed, " I am certain she does have milk for her child but is too overwrought to feed her, I only wish I had your healing abilities! She is in pain and rejecting her child! I think the events of the past months have finally caught up with her. Could you do something?"

"Does she desire to be healed?" Aragorn asked.

" I believe so though she is consumed with guilt at her failure to bring the child to full term and to feed her.I believe her brother's lack of interest in the child distresses her too as they are very close and she wishes she had never written the letter to him."

Aragorn looked at his friend's wife sadly, " I am no expert in women's ills but I will do what I can," he promised. He gently stroked Eowyn's eyelids, sending her into a deep healing sleep, thankful now that his strength and healing abilities were fully restored after a few days of relative calm.

"I should be able to ease her while she sleeps." Aragorn said. "I think it should work through clothing, but it would be best if you take the heavy blankets off her."

Arwen pulled back the heavy coverlet and blankets, leaving Eowyn covered by just her nightgown and a thin linen sheet and watched as Aragorn sat on the edge of the bed, closed his eyes and held his hands a few inches above Eowyn's body.

It never failed to amaze her that her husband, a mortal had such powerful healing abilities as usually only the Eldar possessed such gifts. Her father had taught Estel to use his innate abilities, which now he was King seemed to have grown even stronger. It was maybe his uniqueness that had first attracted her towards him as here was a rare treasure amongst men.

Eowyn sighed and smiled in her sleep but did not stir as the King then massaged her neck and the upper part of her shoulders. He gestured to his wife to replace the blankets and then placed both hands on Eowyn's fair head in blessing and then did the same to Elestelle.

"May the Valar protect them both! I have done all that I can," he told Arwen, " I sense that she feels guilt over Faramir's misfortunes too."

"How is he now?" Arwen asked.

"Growing stronger by the day though he has some scar tissue inside which I fear may have to be cut out," Aragorn told her, " I am the only one with the skill to do it but the thought of cutting him appals me!"

"You are thinking too much like a man!" Arwen chided, "Although the Elven treatments for such hurts are painful we are too civilised for such butchery!"

"I only hope you are right!" Aragorn sighed.

"You need to rest. Healing always drains you," she said as they exchanged a loving and lingering goodnight kiss, " Be sure to at least take off your boots before you go to sleep!"

She then settled down beside Eowyn and felt convinced her friend looked better already. She could only wait for morning to see if Aragorn had managed to work another healing miracle or not.

TBC

A/N A big thank you to all my readers for your kind and much appreciated reviews.

I have written this as an extra chapter in response to your interest in the baby. The main story resumes in the next chapter.

I love Shakespeare's works as I imagine you must have guessed by now!

Lothiriel is governing Rohan with the help of Eomer's Marshals and anxiously awaiting his return.

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