Burden of Guilt

Pain and Compassion


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.

Warning - Faramir suffers a great deal of pain in this chapter which may upset sensitive readers.

For Patty, a loyal reader who enjoys angst.

"I will begin with your arm," Aragorn told him, picking up a pot of brightly coloured orange salve, made mostly from rosehips. He gently applied a thin layer to where Eomer's sword had cut into the muscle.

Faramir tensed as the ointment stung and then relaxed again as Aragorn used his healing abilities to ease it.

He then applied a thin layer over the damaged ribs and sprained ankle to help repair any damage inside.

"If you need any applying lower down, I will leave you to do it and spare your blushes, such as with that scar on your hip!" Aragorn said grinning as he handed him the jar.

"Damrod pointed it out, I suppose, I will kill him!" Faramir retorted without rancour despite his threat.

Aragorn busied himself fetching a jar of rosehip oil from his cupboard of healing supplies while Faramir dealt with the old scar then wound his towel back in place.

"What troubles you, Mellon Nin?" he asked, sensing the King's apprehension as he returned to the bedside. "Is it this?" he asked, gesturing towards the very visible swelling just beneath his ribs, where the skin was mottled and disfigured.

Aragorn nodded, finding it hard to meet Faramir's trusting gaze.

"That scar tissue could in the future attach itself to some vital organ which could kill you, " he explained, thinking Faramir deserved to know the truth," I have tried to heal it but the method I use encourages wounds to close and this already has. I could eventually cut it out, but that would be a very dangerous procedure and might cause infection and more scarring. I could, though try to treat it with this rosehip oil, which combined with the mud bath has a good chance of curing you."

"That sounds a good idea." Faramir had initially blanched at the mention of being cut but now seemed very tranquil." But why do you look so worried?"

"Because the oil needs to be massaged vigorously into the scar tissue and I fear that is going to hurt you a great deal," Aragorn told him truthfully," I will of course try to ease the pain but it will still hurt, I fear. If I send you to sleep, you would not wake for a good many hours, which would not be wise so soon after a mud bath."

He tentatively felt the knot of scar tissue causing Faramir to give a squeak of pain, and then held his hands over it attempting to ease him.

"Will you permit me to try this?" the King asked, looking Faramir straight in the eye.

"Please do it. I want to be healed." Faramir said resolutely, trying to hide his fear, as he knew all too well what pain the lightest touch caused. He could not even wash the swollen area properly."I trust you."

"Tell me if the pain is too much and you want me to stop," Aragorn replied, first checking Faramir's heartbeat and then pouring some of the oil onto his belly and smearing his hands liberally with more. "I need you to lie flat and keep as still as you can."

"Do it quickly, please!" Faramir begged, tensing in grim anticipation of what was to come. He stretched out and took a deep breath.

Ideally for a procedure like this, the patient needed restraining but Aragorn could not bring himself to summon some burly assistant to hold Faramir down and witness his discomfort. It was just too much humiliation for a man who had endured so much already. He preferred to take the risk that Faramir might reflexively strike out at him.

He swallowed hard, took a deep breath and started to vigorously massage the rosehip oil into Faramir's belly, kneading it deep into the scar tissue.

Faramir dug his hands into the mattress, curbing the instinctive urge to lash out to protect himself from such pain. He bit his lips so as not to scream but still groaned and cried out in agony at the unrelenting pressure on the damaged nerve.

Aragorn forced himself to continue, working as quickly as he could, steeling himself not to respond to his Steward's obvious distress. He could only hope and pray that this was going to work.

After what must have been only a few minutes but felt like hours, Faramir had drawn up his knees and silent tears were running down his cheeks.

"It is nearly over now," Aragorn soothed, as he applied some of the salve and wound a bandage round to trap the oil against the skin.

He then held his hand over the place and Faramir felt the pain slowly subsiding.

Aragorn wiped the oil from his hands then mopped his brow. The whole procedure had been almost as much of an ordeal for him as for Faramir.

He placed his hand on his Steward's chest, and as he had feared his heart raced wildly while sweat poured from his body, which was shaking as result of the ordeal.

He had writhed so much that he had lost the towel he had been draped in but so great was his pain that he had not even noticed. Quickly Aragorn picked it up and replaced it before its loss added to his distress.

" I am sorry, little brother, I did not want to hurt you, he murmured, still bending over him. He expected Faramir to berate him soundly but the younger man's only response was to bury his head against Aragorn's shoulder.

The King held him for a few moments both comforting him and recovering from his own distress at having to hurt him thus. His fury against those who had inflicted the original injuries was intense.

" I have had word that the drunkard who did this to you has been captured," he told Faramir, aiming to distract him.

"Good!" Faramir finally pulled away and turned over on his side, prior to having the ointment applied to his back." I am sorry to react like this. I am a coward!"

Aragorn shook his head," No, pressure on a nerve is one of the worse kinds of pain," he reassured him," A coward would have begged me to stop .You steadfastly endured it despite still not having recovered from your injuries."

The King checked his heart once more and frowned, for it was still beating too rapidly. It worried him, as Faramir was still so frail and he feared a relapse.

Impulsively he tucked the bed covers around his Steward, no longer caring if the orange ointment stained them. Despite the fire blazing in the hearth, he would most likely be cold once he stopped sweating.

"We still have some time left to apply the salve before the effect of mud bath wears off, so I am going to massage your neck and shoulders for a few minutes," he told Faramir, " It should ease you."

"Thank you!" Faramir buried his face in the pillow and relaxed almost at once as Aragorn's skilled fingers worked their magic.

A few minutes later he was calmed, limp and sleepy and when Aragorn next checked his heartbeat, it was normal.

"I will apply the rosehip salve to your back now if you are ready, " the King said.

Faramir nodded," I feel much better now," he announced.

Aragorn now arranged the covers around his Steward so as to leave his back bare. It would take some time to undo all the damage that Mahrod had caused during the vicious beating. Despite his long years of experience, he still could not look at Faramir's back without a shudder, especially as his actions had indirectly led to the damage being inflicted.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, Aragorn began applying the salve. This was not such a great ordeal as the actual wounds were healed and the ointment only stung slightly and Faramir was now relaxed and comfortable again.

A sudden tap on the door jolted him back into wakefulness.

"Who is it?" Aragorn called. He had ordered the servants not to disturb them and was certain that Arwen and Eowyn would be too preoccupied with the babies to appear. As for Eomer, he had made it clear he was determined to keep his scars.

"It is Eomer. May I come in?"

Aragorn looked at Faramir who reluctantly nodded and then called for the King of Rohan to enter.

" I changed my mind." Eomer said, a trifle sheepishly, " I have been talking to Aedred and he says you are the only one who knows how use Elvish treatments. I was foolish to jump to conclusions about my sister without giving you both a chance to speak and I regret forcing you to fight so I …" His voice trailed away as he moved round the bed and saw Faramir's back clearly for the first time. He gasped in horror. "Whatever has happened to you Faramir? I don't understand! I only dealt a blow with my sword! I would never strike at a man from the back!"

Faramir sat up quickly; self consciously hugging the covers closely around himself.

"He has suffered a great deal." Aragorn said sadly," More at my hands than he ever did at yours!"

Eomer's eyes flashed. "How could you beat him like this? You think you have a superior culture to us Rohirrim, but we do not practise such cruelty!"

"Peace!" Faramir pleaded, "This was not Aragorn's fault. He had me taken into custody for my own safety and I was beaten in the prison by an old enemy."

"Why was I never told?" Eomer demanded.

"First you were too unwell and then too angry to listen." Aragorn said quietly.

"Brother, I would see your wounds." Eomer towered over Faramir who stillsat clutching the blankets.

Faramir sat up and slowly and reluctantly pulled the covers down to his waist. Eomer circled the bed an unreadable expression in his eyes.

"I am so sorry, I had no idea," he said at last and had Faramir not known him better, he could have sworn a tear was glittering in his eye. "I will kill the curs who did this to you!"

"The Elven treatment will remove the scars on my body which will in turn help heal those in my soul." Faramir said, reassuring his contrite brother in law. "The miscreants will be punished according to the law."

Eomer turned his attention back to Aragorn asking almost shyly "I came to see if you could treat the scar Faramir inflicted on me. That is one scar I am not proud of, as I should never have forced him to fight me! What must I do?"

Aragorn gestured to the pot of salve, which lay open on the bedside table. "It just requires the scar to be rubbed with that salve. I will apply some for you as soon as I have finished treating Faramir. You will need to either remove your shirt and tunic or pull them up."

Eomer sat on the side of the bed fingering the jar of ointment; he casually pulled off his shirt and tunic and flexed his finely muscled body, delighting in being able to move his arm again His back was turned to Aragorn and Faramir, apparently to give Faramir some privacy as the King finished applying the salve.

Faramir discarded the towel and pulled on clean drawers under the covers and then Aragorn helped him don a shirt and long, loose robe.

Suddenly the King of Rohan gave an ear splitting shriek and leapt to his feet.



Many thanks to all my readers for all your kind comments.

I was initially going to have Eomer soften once ho could move his arm but you all seemed to want him to be hit on the head again and it made better sense!

I'm pleased you enjoy the quotes.

I agree Lothiriel must have a sense of adventure to marry Eomer!

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