To Err is Human
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.
To err is human, to forgive divine.
Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744)
With thanks to Laerien and Raksha who gave me the idea for this chapter.
Water!" Eomer gasped, " Help me, I'm on fire!"
"Whatever is the matter?" Faramir exclaimed as Aragorn rushed round the bed to his fellow monarch's side.
"That ointment!" Eomer groaned, " I thought I would save you the trouble of applying it but it feels like salt rubbed in a raw wound!"
Aragorn bent over him to see and struggled to repress a giggle for Eomer appeared to have smeared half the bright orange contents of the pot of ointment across his chest, which now he was clutching in agony.
Aragorn grabbed a towel and dipped it in a basin of water he had been using to wash his hands in then spread it across Eomer's chest and started to rub off most of the ointment.
"You should only use a tiny amount. " he explained, "No great harm is done though, you will just feel rather sore for a few hours." He then removed the wet towel and held his hands a few inches above Eomer's chest, using his healing powers to ease the pain.
"What are you doing?" Eomer asked curiously, a contented sigh escaping him as the pain ebbed away. "It feels wonderful!"
"Just a little Elven healing!" Aragorn grinned, "That is if you do not want me to stop immediately as you told me you objected to my unorthodox methods?"
Eomer s looked sheepish. " Please no, I was wrong, it is most effective! You are a brave man indeed to endure that agonizing ointment, Faramir!" he said at last.
Faramir smiled. "I have become accustomed to it," he said enigmatically, "Will you dine with Eowyn and myself tomorrow? We would like to introduce you to your niece."
"Gladly." Eomer replied," With a father like you and Eowyn as her mother I am certain, she will grow up to become the bravest of Shield maidens!"
The three men chuckled together contentedly.
Faramir was resting after the ordeal of his treatment, Eomer was dictating a letter to Lothiriel with the aid of a scribe and Aragorn had decided to spend a quiet evening with Arwen and his son.
They had just finished dining when a servant came to inform Aragorn that the Chief Warder from the City Prison wished to speak to him on a matter of some urgency.
"Let him come in!" Aragorn sighed; he had so been looking forward to enjoying some uninterrupted time with his family but duty always had to come first.
Since Faramir's arrest, all the warders at the prison had been sacked and replaced with former soldiers of good character who were running the prison with military efficiency and ensuring that Faramir's ordeal was most unlikely to ever befall anyone else. The cells now had clean straw and only contained one prisoner each and punishments had to be carried out publicly and only when properly authorised by the Court. The prison was also inspected at regular intervals by senior officers to assure that all was running smoothly.
As the Chief Warder entered, Aragorn wondered whatever could have gone wrong now, as the new regime had so far been running very smoothly.
"My Lord, forgive me for disturbing you, but I have news which I believe you would wish to hear!" the Warder began, bowing deeply as he spoke.
"Tell me!" Aragorn ordered.
"The drunkard, Agond, who attacked Lord Faramir and who is currently in my custody collapsed about an hour ago "he replied." I am no healer but I do not think that he has long to live as he is spitting up blood is a curious colour that I have seen on heavy drinkers turn shortly before they have died. I have not come on account of his imminent demise though, for who would mourn such as him? But since you have expressed a keen interest in the case and he has asked to see you, I felt you should be informed. I also await your orders on what I should do with him. Do you wish me to summon a healer?
"Have him taken to the Houses of Healing under Master Aedred's care and kept under close guard!"Aragorn pronounced, " I will come as soon as he has been moved if you send a message when that is done."
As soon as the Chief Warder had left Arwen rose from her chair and came and put her arms around her husband, " I know how difficult this is for you, Beloved, yet I know you will do what is right," she said.
"At least I do not have to go the prison!" Aragorn replied, "What happened to Faramir there haunts me as he is still enduring the pain!"
She kissed him tenderly and then summoned a servant to fetch his outdoor cloak to be ready to leave as soon as the summons came
Accompanied by his guards, Aragorn made his way down to the Sixth Level, where he was greeted by the Warden of the Houses of Healing and taken to a small room where a man lay on a bed covered by a sheet. His eyes were closed and he appeared to be either sleeping or unconscious.
A guard stood either side of him, one of which was arguing with Aedred over what treatment he should receive.
"What ails him?" Aragorn asked Aedred, reluctant to look at the prisoner.
"Drinking disease, Sire, "the Healer replied, "He will not last the night! I wish to give him poppy juice but the guards say that is a luxury forbidden to prisoners."
"You are certain he is dying?" the King said.
Aedred pulled back the sheet to reveal his naked patient. "The guards said not to give him any clothing and just one sheet in case he tries to escape," he explained," Not that this poor man will be going anywhere!"
The prisoner finally opened his eyes and vainly tried to cover himself with his arms. It was obvious that Aedred's diagnoses was correct, as he was painfully thin, his skin was a vivid yellow hue and his belly grotesquely swollen.
He groaned and Aragorn knew that he had it in his power to ease his pain but for the first time ever in his life, he could not bring himself to touch the man. Faramir's anguish from what he had been forced to do to him earlier that day, was still too fresh in his mind. Then the was the memory of the dreadful sight that had greeted him when Imrahil had helped him remove Faramir's clothing and they had revealed the Steward's body so badly bruised that hardly an inch of undamaged flesh remained.
He had over the years helped wounded foes after a battle, but that was different for they had fought bravely and with honour, however misguided their allegiances.
He nodded curtly for Aedred to re-cover the man and backed further away from the bed as to his shame he could not trust himself in this evildoer's vicinity.
"Sire?"Agond muttered," Is that the King?"
"It is," Aragorn replied coldly, "You wished to see me?"
"Wanted to ask you something afore I die. They say Lord Faramir wasn't no traitor after all? Is that true?" The words emerged as a harsh whisper forcing Aragorn to reluctantly move nearer to the bed.
Agond coughed and there was blood on his lips. Aedred moved to the bedside, wiped his mouth, and offered him a sip of water.
"Lord Faramir was never a traitor. You did him a most grievous wrong!" Aragorn replied sternly.
"Tell 'im then I'm sorry. I don't 'old with no traitors I don't and the warder 'e said that 'e was one and it made me angry, me being a soldier once in your Majesty's army and fighting against traitors! I knows I'm dying and that I deserve to but I wanted to say I was sorry I did!"
Aragorn felt a sudden surge of anger mixed with compassion as he realised that this wretch was in his own way another of Mahrod's victims.
"I will tell the Lord Steward what you have said, you have my word." Aragorn said quietly.
"You're a good man, you is, your Majesty, I'm sorry I'm not dressed proper nor able to bow to you and all."
He coughed again and closed his eyes, exhausted with the effort.
Aragorn swallowed hard to overcome his revulsion and placed a fleeting hand on the man's head. "Be at peace!" he intoned then turned to leave.
Agond smiled and lapsed again into unconsciousness.
"Give him some warm blankets and if he wakes again poppy juice and a nightshirt to wear," he instructed Aedred, "Now could you take me somewhere where I can wash my hands, please?"
When he returned to the Citadel he went first to Faramir's rooms, feeling he deserved to know what had transpired.
The Steward was lying on the couch resting while Eowyn fed Elestelle in the nursery.
He sat beside Faramir and clasped his hands he told him of Angond's words.
"I forgive him," Faramir said simply lifting his downcast eyes and looking straight at his King.
"You have a noble heart indeed, my friend!" Aragorn replied amazed at Faramir's generosity of spirit. He had suffered so much at the hands of so many and yet could still forgive.
"How are your wounds?" Aragorn asked him, having already noted his pulse was strong and steady.
"Much better, the pain has eased greatly thanks to all you have done for me!" Faramir told him, "Today cannot have been easy for you but I shall sleep well tonight knowing that Eomer is reconciled with us both and you have tended my hurts!"
"Be thou blessed!" Aragorn placed his hands on Faramir's head and sensed a new tranquillity within him as well as being able to read his thoughts, which tonight were brimming with love, faith and gratitude.
He could only hope that such faith was justified and the painful treatment would have indeed cured his Steward and friend.
He kissed him on the brow and bade him goodnight then went to seek solace in Arwen's comforting embrace as today had been almost as painful for him as for Faramir.
My sincere apologies to anyone who tried to read this chapter and found the previous one instead !
A big thank you for all your kind reviews which are much appreciated.
I did not want Faramir to strike Aragorn in this story.