Burden of Guilt

A Rudely Interrupted Bath

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.

Apologies for the wrong chapter appearing,here is the correct one !

The next morning Eowyn awoke feeling much better though she had no idea why that should be. The night before she had decided if was unfair that she was keeping the King and Queen apart and had planned to ask Arwen today if she would keep Elestelle while she returned to her own rooms and was worried how her friend would react as she was so insistent that Eowyn show some interest in her child

Arwen was drawing back the curtains to allow the weak November sunshine to enter the chamber.

The Queen was singing a soft melody in Elvish and looking even more beautiful and serene than usual in a loose scarlet robe, embroidered in silver.

The more time that Eowyn spent with her, the more convinced she was that her previous dreams of marrying Aragorn had been sheer folly .No other couple that she had ever known complemented each other more perfectly than Aragorn and Arwen. They were the highest and noblest beings she had ever met and also the most caring and humble.

A baby's crying could be heard from the cradle at the foot of the bed. Arwen always brought Eldarion into her room while she slept.

The Queen went to the cradle and lifted out not Eldarion but Elestelle. She was about to unfasten her gown but changed her mind and brought her over to Eowyn.

"You try." she said gently.

"You know I cannot." Eowyn said sadly, "I think it best that you should keep her for a while as she is thriving on your milk."

"Just try, I can feed her if you are still not able too." Arwen coaxed, " She needs her mother far more than she needs me!"

More to please the Queen than from any hope that she would succeed; Eowyn unlaced her nightgown and put Elestelle to her breast.

Today the baby looked much stronger and Eowyn felt an unexpected surge of love towards her. This was her child, hers and Faramir's and despite being born too early, was she not the most beautiful babe?

Elestelle gurgled contentedly. To Eowyn's amazement, she was suckling and her tiny lips were coated in milk!

Tears of joy ran down Eowyn's cheeks. She was actually nourishing her babe!"

"I knew you would be able to you just needed to relax!" Arwen exclaimed in delight. She had no idea whether it was the herbs, all the massages she had given Eowyn, something that would just have happened naturally or Aragorn's healing that had worked, though she strongly suspected the latter.

She kissed her friend affectionately on the cheek and then went to ask her maid to bring them some breakfast.

When Faramir came to visit Eowyn an hour later he was delighted to find her lovingly cuddling their daughter while she sang a Rohirric lullaby.

Aragorn continued to treat Faramir's hurts twice a day with healing, massage and salves and was delighted at how quickly his damaged ribs were knitting together and the bruises were fading quickly too.

His heart would still need time to regain its former strength and the wasted muscle on his arm would probably require months of healing massage but Faramir made no complaint and the King suspected that his Steward rather enjoyed the treatments, which for his part were a joy to administer to such a willing and grateful recipient.

Only the knot of painful scar tissue continued to worry the King and he spent hours pouring over Lord Elrond's healing texts while he decided what to do.

He concluded that cutting it out was the very last resort as such a procedure carried a dreadful risk of infection, as well as being a mutually harrowing experience and could not in any case be attempted for months to be certain Faramir's heart was strong enough to survive the trauma of his flesh being cut.

It sickened him to think that Faramir's attacker could have ground his boot into him with sufficient force as to inflict such damage and was determined he would be most severely punished for his cruel crime.

After much deliberation, he concluded that although it was probably going to be agonizing, Faramir needed the Elven scar treatment as quickly as possible now to try and repair the damage both inside and out.

Eomer was almost recovered apart from his useless arm and had announced his plans to return home very soon. He still refused to see Faramir or Elestelle despite Aragorn's repeated requests and Eowyn had not seen him since her child was born though she was planning to do as soon as she was fully recovered from the birth.

A week later Faramir, leaning on his cane and accompanied by his wife, made his way to the bathing chamber .The Steward was as eager as the King to get the Elven treatment for his scars over with quickly, although he was nowhere near as apprehensive as he had been the first time.

The King had told him that the mud bath would also help any scarring he might have inside but warned him the experience might be very painful. As a former soldier, Faramir was accustomed to bearing pain bravely, but was weary of it, as he had endured so much in these past months. He felt much stronger now, thanks to Aragorn's abilities but he would be frail for a while yet the King had warned him.

Eowyn had accompanied him to the bathing chamber, as she was curious to see the mud bath for herself. When they arrived, the large sunken bath was filled and Aragorn, dressed in his oldest clothes was tipping in the powder and waiting for it to fully dissolve.

"You didn't exaggerate then!" she exclaimed, "I am sure I could find something more pleasant if I scraped the river bed! It looks like what Eomer and I would make mud pies with when we were children. Still, if works like last time, it is well worth it! Arwen is looking after Elestelle and expecting me, so I will leave you men to play in the mud, good luck!"

She gave her husband a fond kiss and left him to his ordeal.

Faramir looked at the mud bath rather doubtfully, as the thick mixture reminded him of a devouring quicksand in appearance.

"If I remember rightly, I must be completely submerged?" he asked, wondering if he were in any danger of drowning.

"Yes, apart from your head. You need to resist the temptation to emerge when it touches your wounds." Aragorn said. ". I will go and wait in the bedchamber to apply the salve when you are ready. I have left you a robe and a towel here by the tub."

"I would rather you stayed." Faramir said impulsively, "Please, if you do not mind?" He was amazed at himself even as he spoke for until this moment he had considered it would be so much easier to undergo the treatment alone Last time it had been so embarrassing initially to have to remove all his clothing. Aragorn was mercifully unblemished in body by recent events so there was no need for them to be treated together.

"Of course." Aragorn smiled understandingly, "Would you like me to come in with you too? The mixture has health giving properties even when one is not scarred and maybe you would feel more comfortable than if I just sat here watching?"

"Thank you." Faramir started to undress before he had second thoughts "That is so kind of you."

"I will just fetch another robe then. It will be better this way, as I would get covered in mud in any case, hence my oldest clothes! Do you want me to get in first?"

"Please." Faramir flushed at his own lack of courage. He knew Aragorn was almost as shy as he was himself and appreciated him volunteering for what must be somewhat of an ordeal for him.

While Aragorn was gone, he quickly finished removing his clothing, draped a towel round his waist and hobbled to sit on the edge of the bath.

When the King returned with another robe and more towels, he was likewise attired. Faramir discreetly studied the floor as his Sovereign climbed into the bath and sat down, though he kept his arms out of the mud.

"It is nice and warm, come on!" Aragorn coaxed, holding out a steadying hand as Faramir tried to hobble down into the bath.

Much to his annoyance the steps defeated him.

Put your arms on my shoulders. I have you, let go of the towel now I am not looking! Peace Mellon Nin, you are quite safe, I will not let you fall!" Aragorn repressed a chuckle.

Aragorn bodily lifted him into the tub much to Faramir's shame. He marvelled at the King's patience with him.

The Steward was prepared for the harsh drawing sensation as the mineral salts seeped into the scars on his arm and back but was unprepared for the wave of agony as the mixture started to permeate his chest and even worse, his belly.

A cry involuntarily escaped his lips as he instinctively tried to press his hands over the worse hurts but strong arms grasped him and held his hands away from his body.

"I know it hurts but if you can bear it, you should be in much less pain in the future. Try not to clutch your injuries, you need the salts to penetrate them rather than your hands." Aragorn soothed. "By the time I count to a hundred, the worst will be over."

The King was right and the agony subsided to a dull and barely noticeable throb. Aragorn released him and he leaned back at the far side of the tub and flexed his limbs, which was easier that the thick mixture suggested.

"Watch out, you kicked my ankle!" Aragorn laughed as he stretched his own long limbs. The mud bath was quite pleasantly relaxing once one became accustomed to it and they were both far more at ease with each other since the Thought Bond.

Faramir leaned back and closed his eyes as he adjusted to the strange environment. He could almost learn to enjoy it.

Aragorn tensed as his keen hearing detected a sound from the outer room. He groaned inwardly, thinking Eowyn's curiosity had enticed her to return. Fond though he was of Faramir's wife, he did not relish her seeing him here, for though the mud covered him decently enough, he looked less than dignified. If she saw him and Faramir like this, her teasing would be well nigh unbearable!

He nudged Faramir. "I think Eowyn has been unable to resist seeing how we look covered in mud!"

Faramir groaned and flushed scarlet as the door opened but it was not his wife who entered but Eomer his handsome features contorted with fury.

TBC

A/N

A very big thank you for all your kind comments and reviews. I greatly appreciate each and every one! A warm welcome to new readers and my grateful thanks to those of you who have loyally supported me for a long time. Maybe I will reach my magic 1,000 in this chapter?

I did intend this story to have about 45 chapters, then 50 but your ideas and suggestions have made it keep growing and there should be 5 or 6 more chapters left!

I hope to explore Aragorn's relationship with his Council in a sequel. They believe he has been away hunting.

I set out in this story to explore how guilt and depression affects different people in different ways but never expected so many of you to be interested in it!

I am hopeless at romance writing so fear that writing about Eomer and Lothiriel is beyond me!

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