Burden of Guilt

Elven Blushes

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema with the exception of Caranthir who appears by kind permission of Evendim. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain

This chapter is dedicated to Susan W who was hoping that Legolas and Gimli might appear!

"But he is no ruffian and should know better!" Ioreth continued. "That is the King himself, Lord Elfstone, and the Steward, Lord Faramir and one of those elves that the Lord Elfstone seems to favour!"

A look of horror spread over the Guard's face as he dropped to his knees.

"My Lord King, forgive me, I did not know!" he gasped.

" Rise! You were only doing your duty." Aragorn said without rancour." Now will you be so kind as to lend me your cloak? I will see that it is returned to you."

The man rose to his feet, and with trembling fingers, unfastened his cloak and handed it to the King.

Aragorn immediately passed it to Faramir. "You had better take this, as you have been known far longer than I in this city!" he said, knowing that Faramir was probably the most upset by the day's events.

"There is no need, he can have my cloak!" Ioreth volunteered surprisingly, handing the garment to the Steward.

"Why, thank you!" Faramir was touched by the usually fierce old woman's kindness.

"It is a warm day, I will get home all the faster without!" She said briskly." Now don't you dare ride around the streets like this again, whatever that Lord Elfstone says! You will catch cold, and then who will have to tend you?"

"I promise I will dress properly in future." Faramir said meekly, as he wrapped the grey woollen cloak closely round him.

"Has no one a cloak for the Elf?" Ioreth demanded loudly." Decent folks like us, don't want to see it riding through the streets like that!"

A man, who looked like a rich merchant came forward and offered Legolas his fur trimmed garment much to the Elf's grateful relief.

"All the cloaks will be returned." Aragorn promised in a voice all could hear as the Guard opened the city gates and let them through.

They urged the horses to a trot and rode without stopping through the city streets. To their great relief, the citizens failed to recognise them.

Aragorn and his companions managed to enter the royal apartments unnoticed, using a secret way that Faramir knew from his childhood. They were anxious to avoid their wives until they looked presentable, knowing the ladies would tease them mercilessly if they were spotted sporting sackcloth. They parted and went their several ways, promising to meet for dinner once bathed and changed.

After a hot bath and now dressed in fine woollen breeches and a velvet tunic, Aragorn was about to enquire whether Arwen and his guests were ready for dinner when Gimli hurried up to him, an expression of great anxiety on his face.

"Please come quickly as Legolas feels most unwell and is unable to even dress for dinner! I have never seen him like this before! What if the poor wee Elf is dying?"

Aragorn raced to Legolas' room, closely followed by the panting dwarf. He knocked on the door and on getting no reply, entered and approached the bed where he discovered the Elf lying on top of the covers, dressed only in a loose nightshirt.

A painful and unsightly looking red blotch across his cheek disfigured his fair features. Legolas struggled to sit up as his friend approached but fell back against the pillows with a groan.

"What ails you, Mellon Nin?" Aragorn asked, although he already thought he knew the answer." I was told you were unable to dress to come to dinner."

"Those leaves, I fear you were right!" Legolas replied." I feel as if my skin is on fire, it is too painful to endure anything rubbing against it!"

"Why didn't you tell me about the leaves, Master Elf?" Gimli exclaimed, "I thought you were dying from some dreadful poison!"

Aragorn placed his hand on the Elf's forehead." You do not have a fever." He pronounced." The rash produces a painful burning sensation, though it affects humans slightly differently. Their symptoms take a few hours longer to develop. Luckily, I have a salve, which should help. Where is the rash?"

Legolas flushed slightly and held out his hands without much conviction." Here, where I touched it. " He replied. " And on my face."

Aragorn carefully applied the salve to the Elf's reddened palms and fingers, trying to suppress a wry smile. He then waited patiently for Legolas to elaborate further. A long uncomfortable silence followed, during which, Legolas shifted uneasily on the bed and winched

"And where else?" the King asked finally to end the Elf's torment.

"It is rather embarrassing." Legolas sputtered.

"Unless you will show me, I cannot tend you, so if you would prefer I take my leave?" Aragorn gathered up the jar of salve and pretended to make for the door.

"If you don't tell him, I will!" Gimli exclaimed, placing himself in front of the door. "I have noticed where you have been scratching, Master Elf!"

"Maybe if you were to take a little walk?" Aragorn suggested to Gimli, "The gardens are pleasant at this time of year."

"And of what interest are flowers to dwarfs?" Gimli huffed indignantly, "We don't go around smelling them like yon prissy Elf and a fine mess it's left him in!"

"I meant that I need to …." Aragorn bent to whisper in Gimli's ear. The dwarf laughed out loud.

"I hardly think so, the laddie is fond of taking off all his clothes and jumping in the river to bathe in front of me when we are journeying together. He even suggests I should join him, just think of the damage it would do to my beard, not to mention anything else! A dwarf and his garments are not easily parted and that makes more sense than going diving in freezing cold rivers and getting a nasty rash as result!"

"The river was not the cause of it. It was some poisonous leaves." Aragorn explained patiently.

"Well it would never have happened it he had kept his clothes on. A dwarf would never …"

The chatter was making Legolas aching head feel worse "Stay, please!" he interjected halting Gimli's endless chatter.

With surprising tact, Gimli smiled at his friend and went across the room to look out of the window, where he remained standing as Aragorn approached the bed.

Blushing scarlet, Legolas reluctantly pulled his nightshirt up to above his waist, revealing large areas of red and blistered skin between waist and thigh marring the otherwise perfect elven skin.

With the calm detachment of an experienced healer, Aragorn applied the salve in liberal amounts, plastering it thickly over the affected areas.

Legolas sighed as the cooling ointment took effect.

"Turn over!" Aragorn instructed him.

This is so mortifying! " Legolas wailed as his friend continued to tend him.

Glad that Legolas couldn't see the expression of barely suppressed mirth on his face Aragorn asked with mock gravity." I thought Elves were so perfect they had no need to be shy and delighted in revealing their perfection? You implied only this afternoon modesty was a trait only mortals shared!"

Unable to think of a good answer, Legolas changed the subject." Why do mortals grow such plants?" He asked

" They do not as it grows wild in the lands of the Harad." Aragorn told him." Most likely, their soldiers brought the seeds here during the war.

He finished applying the salve, smoothed down the Elf's nightshirt, and went over to where a basin and ewer stood on a table near the bed and poured some water into the basin to wash his hands.

"Is the poison deadly? My skin feels as if it is about to fall off! Am I going to die?" Legolas groaned.

TBC

A/N .A big thank you to everyone who has reviewed. I greatly appreciated your comments

The coronation was about two and a half years ago, but most people would only have caught a glimpse of Aragorn from a distance clad in his finery.Faramir too, would have either been dressed in finery or armour when in public.I also know from experience that it can be difficult to recognise people if you see them where you don't expect to!

Aragorn was annoying Ioreth by placing his hand over her mouth so that he could have a chance to speak.

I am hoping that these lighter chapters will make the impending tragic events all the more poignant and will be interested if my readers agree !

No one has yet guessed what might be about to befall our heroes !

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