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.
The tasks are done and the tears are shed. Yesterday's errors let yesterday cover; Yesterday's wounds, which smarted and bled, Are healed with the healing that night has shed.
Sarah Chauncey (Susan Coolidge) Woolsey (1845–1905)
Faramir stiffened as soon as his belly was touched with the damp cloth. He was trembling slightly, though had he been clothed, it would have been imperceptible.
He finally dared to glance down only to see that the skin round his waist was a vivid hue of orange. From his angle of vision, it was hard to see whether the swelling had gone down or not. He knew the Elven treatment worked miracles with scars, but that it could cure something that resisted even Aragorn's healing powers, seemed too much to hope for.
"Do you plan to cut the scar tissue out today if it is still there?" he asked, a feeling of panic welling up within him.
Aragorn shook his head. "No, it would not be for many months, when you have fully recovered your strength," he said gently, beginning to wash away the dried on ointment. Faramir was flinching at every touch, though it was impossible to tell, whether it genuinely caused him pain, or he had come to expect it to.
He placed his hand over his Steward's heart, which still beat strongly but far too swiftly, most likely because he was uncomfortable and apprehensive.
Faramir tensed in anticipation of being painfully poked and prodded. After so many months of the scar tissue being so painful, it was hard to imagine otherwise.He tentatively dabbed at his belly with the towel Eowyn handed to him.
"I should like to give you a thorough massage if you are agreeable?" Aragorn suddenly announced, leaving both Faramir and Eowyn looking dumfounded.
"I thought you would want to examine him today and see if his hurts were healed." Eowyn sounded bewildered.
"I do, but in Elven fashion!" the King replied. Lord Elrond had taught him many years ago how the Elven massage could be used as an accurate diagnostic technique as well as for the more usual healing and bonding. Time was perceived differently by the Eldar, who considered it perfectly reasonable to spend hours using soothing massage techniques to tend their injured.
He had a good deal of paperwork awaiting his attention and had not even breakfasted, nor yet spent any time with his wife and son this morning .Faramir deserved though to experience the full benefits of his Elven training.He could only know for certain if the scar tissue were healed if the Steward were relaxed enough not to be anticipating pain and resisting his touch as result..
"A massage sounds delightful!" Faramir sighed, the tension already visibly ebbing away from the thin body.
"Lie down on your side then, and I will start with your back," Aragorn instructed.
Faramir settled against the pillows for the promised massage, arranging the covers as to leave only his back uncovered.
Eowyn seated herself on the bedside chair, unable to resist the urge to watch.The magic Aragorn could work with his hands fascinated her, for no matter how hard she tried to learn, her efforts werevery clumsy by comparison.
Faramir was now totally limp, the last vestiges of his pain and stiffness melting away under the King's blissfully soothing fingertips.
It was almost as blissful for Aragorn to be confronted no longer by the evidence of Mahrod's cruelty and his own folly. The skin felt smooth and unspoiled, as did the flesh beneath, which now appeared healthy and undamaged so that it was hard to believe the vicious beating had ever taken place.
Faramir's arm was another matter, though, for although the scarring had disappeared, the muscle had visibly wasted.
"Does your arm pain you at all still?" Aragorn enquired, his sensitive fingertips kneading the muscle.
Faramir shook his head. "Not since you healed it," he replied, "I can use it normally now."
"I shall have to continue treating it for some time yet," the King warned him.
"I think I should be able to endure that," Faramir murmured. He was starting to feel very sleepy.
Eowyn chuckled. "You cannot fool me, Faramir as you enjoy Elven treatments !" she snorted, "You were actually sorry when your shoulder was completely cured!"
"You do not have to be injured, Elves enjoy this massage purely for relaxation," Aragorn told him, exchanging a smile with Eowyn. "Now I need you to turn over before you fall asleep!"
Long sensitive fingers kneaded the Steward's shoulders and chest. The damaged ribs were knitting with remarkable speed and Faramir only flinched slightly when they were massaged quite vigorously. His heart beat strongly and steadily, and Aragorn finally dared to hope that soon Faramir would have no further need of the hawthorn berry tonic.
He was heartened that he could no longer see any visible swelling on Faramir's belly and the mottled and discoloured skin was now a healthy colour. Only by touch,though, could he know if any scar tissue remained.
Faramir was lying with his eyes shut and appeared completely relaxed, his earlier apprehensions soothed away by Aragorn's healing touch. He hardly seemed aware that the King's hands were edging nearer to the place just beneath his ribs.
Rather tentatively, Aragorn placed his hands on his Steward's belly and started to massage the area where Agond's boot had caused such damage. He could feel nothing but supple healthy flesh beneath his fingertips. Even so, he feared Faramir would suddenly yelp with pain,as he continued gently but thoroughly massaging his belly.
The look of concern on Eowyn's face mirrored his own feelings and when Faramir opened his mouth to speak, they both froze in anticipation.
"However do you manage to have such warm hands in the middle of winter?" Faramir enquired calmly.
"It is the sign of a natural healer." Aragorn informed, his grim features relaxing into a smile as he finally dared to breathe again.
"Which is obviously something I am not as my hands are always cold!" Eowyn added, her rueful tone disguising the relief she felt.
"Well, it seems the Elven bath has healed your hurts!" Aragorn told his Steward, the massage finally completed.
"It was you who healed me!" Faramir replied, pulling his nightshirt back over his upper body. "It is appropriate that it should be today!"
"It was I, though, who was to blame though for putting you where you could be harmed in the first place. Can you ever truly forgive me?" Aragorn found Faramir's gratitude harder to bear than any resentment.
"How many times do I have to tell you that there is nothing to forgive? You never wronged me in any way." Faramir's grey eyes were full of love and loyalty as he met his King 's gaze, "Now I am healed I should like to attend the Council meeting later today. I have been absent too long."
" I shall apologise to you before the Council for breaking the vow I made to protect you." Aragorn said with tears in his eyes.
"No, Aragorn, you must not!" Faramir said firmly, " I forbid you, as you above all must show no weakness in public and it would be a falsehood to say you failed to protect me! No one could have done more to aid me once you knew I had been arrested! Peace my friend!"
He reached up and placed his hand on Aragorn's head letting the King read his thoughts and affirming his conviction that Aragorn was not to blame.
Aragorn pressed his head against Faramir's, awed by the simple goodness of his friend. He could be certain now Faramir did not blame him, as the Steward was now not in any way feverish, overwrought or distressed.
Eowyn shook her head slightly observing the gesture. She found the Numenorean mental abilities somewhat uncanny to witness and was glad she did had not inherited them from her grandmother.
She stole a furtive glance at her daughter, wondering if the infant would grow up to inherit this somewhat alarming ability and rather hoping that she did not. She could accept her husband linking minds with the King, for it obviously was highly beneficial to them both .The thought of her own daughter being able to do something so strange, unnerved her though, as it would give her a unique closeness to Faramir that she could never know.
Perceptive as always, Aragorn smiled at her. "We Numenoreans find the Rohirric ability to communicated with horses beyond our comprehension!" he told her.
Reassured, Eowyn smiled back remembering that he was married to an Elf whose mental abilities far surpassed those of any mortal and might have passed some of them on to his son.
"I will bathe and breakfast then see you later at the meeting," Faramir said as the King took his leave, "Thank you for everything, my friend."
A low murmur rang round the Council Chamber at Faramir's appearance. Aragorn formally welcomed him back and invited him to take his usual seat at his right hand..In reply; he knelt and kissed Aragorn's hands in fealty. Both men fought to hide the flicker of amusement in their eyes for Aragorn truly detested such formal gestures and Faramir well knew it.
"Your Steward is very loyal, my Lord," said the Lord of Lebennin in a tone only just short of impudent." I heard that you had him thrown in prison in order to please the King of Rohan!"
"I never thought I would see the day when Gondor sacrificed its Steward to the Horse Lords!" Lord Lamedon exclaimed. "We have all heard how our esteemed Steward was beaten while in prison!"
Aragorn glared at them and was about to speak when Faramir caught his eye. He nodded his consent for the Steward to have his say.
"My Lords," Faramir said in a clear and commanding tone," I know there has been much debate and rumour concerning what happened to me. I should like to make it clear that King Eomer and I are fully reconciled after our unfortunate misunderstanding .It was not the fault of King Elessar that I was briefly imprisoned. His Majesty has always treated me with great honour and has had the miscreant who beat me executed this very day!"
He sat down again to cheers from some and murmurs of disapproval from others.
Aragorn then rose to speak. "You have heard what the Steward has said and I will hear no more talk of reparation against Rohan. To mark the friendship between our lands, I am holding a State Banquet a week from today. It will also be a celebration of the birth of my heir and of Prince Faramir's daughter. It is my hope and expectation that you will all attend."
The Lords could only voice their agreement. Aragorn then continued with the rest of business of state that needed attending to. He felt like smiling with joy that once again his Steward was at his side. Gondor was surely in safe hands now they were working together again.
A big thank you to everyone who has been kind enough to review. Your comments are greatly appreciated.
The sequel to this tale is almost complete, so I hope not to leave my readers for long without a story!