Burden of Guilt

Not in Harmony Merely

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.

Even the utmost goodwill and harmony and practical kindness are not sufficient for Friendship, for Friends do not live in harmony merely, as some say, but in melody. We do not wish for Friends to feed and clothe our bodies,—neighbours are kind enough for that,—but to do the like office to our spirits. For this few are rich enough, however well disposed they may be. -Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

"Eomer, are you hurt?" Aragorn repeated, his eyes filled with concern. He hastily wiped his hands on the first thing he could find, which was unfortunately Faramir's discarded shirt.

Oblivious to his state of undress, he knelt beside Eomer and felt the bump on his head.

Eomer blinked and looked around him. He appeared dazed as he replied, " I am well, my friend, I was just stunned for a moment."

"Do you feel nauseous or is your vision blurred?" Aragorn asked, relieved that Eomer was at least consciousness and lucid.

"No, but I have a headache," Eomer replied. The fury, which had blazed in his eyes but a moment before, was now replaced by expression of bewilderment and remorse.

Aragorn gripped Eomer's left arm to help him to his feet. He accepted the help, while with his right arm he instinctively steadied himself.

Aragorn stood staring at Eomer in amazement.

"What is wrong?" Eomer asked.

"You just used your right arm then!" Aragorn told him, hardly able to believe his own eyes.

"What?" Dumfounded, Eomer flexed the limb and found although it was weak and stiff he could move it almost normally.

"It's a miracle!" he gasped.

"I suspect you were suffering from some sort of clot which the mud bath, followed by so much exertion, has dissolved. Or maybe hitting your head had something to do with it?" Aragorn told him, instinctively assuming his healer's manner of speaking.

To both Aragorn and Faramir's amazement, Eomer burst out laughing. "You look so funny making solemn pronouncements while standing there covered in nothing but mud! " he chortled, sitting down again on the heap of clothing as he was laughing so hard.

"So do you!" Aragorn retorted dryly. Suddenly remembering his state of undress and feeling very self-conscious, he reached for one of the now mud encrusted robes, only to catch his leg in the belt in his haste and end up sprawled on the floor.

He sat looking up at Eomer, who was still encrusted with mud, not only all over his body but also across his face where Aragorn had struck him and also in his hair, and found himself unable to resist the urge to laugh too.

Realising it would be a long time before he saw two mud encrusted Kings again, Faramir was powerless to stop himself joining in the laughter.

His mirth finally subsiding, Eomer gripped Aragorn's arms and clumsily embraced him. " I am so sorry!" he said contritely, " I do not know what came over me as you are the last person I desire to fight with for I love you as my brother!"

Before Aragorn could reply, Eomer scrambled to his feet and still totally unperturbed by his state of undress, went straight to the edge of the tub. Faramir involuntarily stiffened.

"It seems we can both be healed of our hurts, brother, so shall we begin to put the past behind us?" he asked, smiling at Faramir.

"Gladly I will offer you my hand in friendship again once we are more suitably attired!" Faramir replied trying to conceal his emotions over the latest turn of events.

Sighing with relief at the conciliatory gesture, Aragorn held out a robe to Eomer. "You had better put this on or your arm will get cold, as you need to wash off the mud with clean, warm water." Eomer did as he was bidden and Aragorn then embraced his friend.

"I cannot embrace you properly yet!" Eomer lamented. "I am so sorry, my friend, for ever doubting your honour, I spoke in madness as I know you would never dishonour my sister. You are the most honourable man I know."

"It is already forgotten." Aragorn said sincerely, greatly relieved at the outcome of what could have been a disastrous series of events. It seemed that the blow to the head had somehow restored Eomer to his rightful senses. "Have no fear as your arm will heal now and you will soon be riding Firefoot and wielding Guthwine again .I can treat your arm with salves and massage to strengthen it more quickly if you wish."

"Thank you. I will consider that" Eomer replied, "You have convinced me that your strange remedies might have some virtue after all! I will go now to my own apartments to wash off this mud."

"I will send a special salve to your room once you are bathed," Aragorn said, knowing Faramir would be embarrassed if Eomer remained, once the modesty the mud afforded was rinsed away, and feeling also that his Steward deserved some privacy for his treatments after all the humiliation of the past weeks, "Your scars can only be removed if you use it on them."

"I meant what I said that I wear my scars with pride." Eomer said a trifle huffily then without another word, gathered up his clothing and left.

Aragorn went to the door and called for a servant to escort himfor not only had Eomer received a blow on the head but also the mud bath tended to make the user feel light headed afterwards. He also sent a message asking that Aedred go to attend the King of Rohan immediately.

As soon as he had gone, Aragorn heaved a deep sigh of relief and turned his attention to Faramir, " The Valar be praised that he is starting to come to his senses!" he exclaimed, "Come Mellon Nin! Time for you to get out of there!"

Faramir slithered over to the foot of the steps while the King worked out the best way to get him out of the sunken tub. Realising his robe would only get in the way, he discarded it in favour of a towel and knelt on the steps telling Faramir to put his arms around his neck, while he placed his own hands around his back, not an easy manoeuvre as they were both so slippery.

Faramir's eyes were brimming with tears of relief he had not wanted to shed in front of Eomer as Aragorn lifted him out of the bath and draped a towel round him as the robe he should have donned was being worn by his brother in law.

He waited patiently, perched on the side of the bath while Aragorn fetched more robes for them both.

"Give him time," Aragorn said gently as he helped Faramir into the next room. "Eomer is a proud man and stubborn though his heart is in the right place."

"I am content." Faramir said, "It was too much to hope that he should apologise to me and more important that he did so to you as I still feared the quarrel could eventually lead to war. I will ask Eowyn to invite him to come and see our baby as that should melt him further."

Aragorn laughed as they settled down waiting for the servants to clean and refill the bath. "I am certain he is very eager to return to Rohan and father his own child with your fair cousin!"

Faramir was glad that only Aragorn was present to witness the amount of pain he felt as the mud dried. It was far worse than last time but then his injuries had been slight compared with Aragorn's.

Also his head was spinning and he felt rather queasy and needed to lie flat to stop the room from spinning around

Although Faramir did his best to hide his discomfort and make light of it, Aragorn could sense it and was filled with compassion, especially as he knew that far, far worse was to come. His own light-headedness passed quickly as he was not suffering from any illness or injury.

He sat beside Faramir holding a cup of ginger tea to his lips and encouraging him to sip it until the nausea and dizziness passed.

The tub of clean water seemed especially inviting as with the interruptions the mud had dried hard and was starting to feel very uncomfortable.

They both lay back and relaxed, both relieved that they could now be so at ease in each other's company even in a situation like this, at least until it was time to leave the water.

Aragorn got out first while Faramir studied the tiles as if they were something of great interest while the King dried his arms and draped a towel around his waist prior to lifting the Steward out of the sunken tub.

He handed Faramir a towel and toweled and dressed himself while the Steward dried himself thoroughly. Hethen helped him into the next room and settled him on the bed with a towel wound round his hips for modesty.

As Aragorn prepared to administer the next stage of the treatment, he was both surprised and touched that Faramir did not initially tense at his touch nor was his heartbeat racing even though he was well aware the salve would sting.

The King felt unreasonably guilty as what he planned to do was entirely for Faramir's good and could even save his life, if it worked to remove the knot of scar tissue on his belly before it could cause any problems . It was going to be excruciatingly painful ,though as he had dared not give Faramir poppy juice before the bath in case he became drowsy and it was too late to give it him now as the potion took a while to take effect. The treatment had to be completed swiftly while the skin was still very permeable as result of the mud.

Faramir just lay there, limp and relaxed with his eyes closed in an attitude of complete trust and acceptance.

TBC

A very grateful thank you to everyone for your kind comments. Each and every one is greatly appreciated.

I think Aragorn's temper is hinted at in the books and like to show it sometimes as not to make him too perfect. He was especially furious when he saw Faramir being beaten.

I imagine the 'real' Eomer to be as I portray him in "The Hidden Days of Healing".

I see Lothiriel as a very prim and proper lady of Gondor rather like her father!

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