Burden of Guilt


These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema with the exception of Caranthir who appears by kind permission of Evendim. This story was written purely for pleasure and not for profit.

Aragorn made his way silently to Arwen's chamber and crept into his dressing room. He swiftly changed into his nightshirt, having no need of a light after his long years in the wild had left him able to find his way in the dark, almost as easily as a cat.

He padded barefoot across the floor and climbed into bed beside his wife.

Arwen stirred as he settled beside her.

"Did I wake you, Beloved?" Aragorn asked contritely, "Maybe I should have slept in my own rooms?"

"No please stay, I like you to be here with me, especially at the moment!" Arwen replied. "I was just lying here wondering which of us our child would look like when it arrives. Did you have a pleasant evening, Estel?"

"Much more pleasant than this afternoon!" Aragorn chuckled. After a good supper, he was able to see the funny side of it. "You were right about Eowyn; all those months ago, she does have a good heart. And Faramir has grown so very dear to me."

He nestled his head against Arwen's huge belly, marvelling yet again at the miracle of new life moving within her. Her child, his child, the precious fruit of their love, was growing larger by the day, grown almost enough to be born if Eowyn's instincts were correct.

"I know our child will be the most beautiful, adorable babe ever to be born!" Aragorn said fervently placing a kiss over where he assumed the baby's heart was, before moving up the bed to kiss Arwen on the lips. "It cannot be as fair as its mother though!"

"Wait until you have met it!" Arwen giggled, returning the kiss and running her fingers through her husband's hair. "I hope it has your hair!" The waviness never ceased to fascinate her and the fact the dark locks were now flecked with grey, something which she had never seen amongst her own kind.

Aragorn did not reply, as he was already soundly sleeping. Arwen smiled indulgently, thinking she would be weary too, if she had had such an adventurous day. Before many minutes had passed, she too was asleep, her head cradled against Aragorn's broad shoulder.

The next morning, Legolas appeared completely recovered as Aragorn had predicted and no sign of the rash could be seen on his face or hands, and as he sat comfortably upon his horse, it had presumably disappeared from everywhere else as well.

His health and spirits restored, he cheerfully bade Aragorn and Faramir farewell as he set off for Eryn Lasgalen with Gimli where they planned to remain for several months.

After they had gone, Aragorn told Faramir of the Elf's misadventures of the previous night.

Faramir was surprisingly sympathetic." Poor Legolas!" he exclaimed, "I can think of nothing worse than having any injury in such an embarrassing region! The shame of it !"

"He is recovered now though I gave him a jar of salve just in case." Aragorn replied, "It takes a great deal to make an Elf blush unlike we humans, though it was the fact his skin was blemished, rather than where the rash was that so distressed him!"

"It cannot have been easy growing up amongst them." Faramir said, finally bringing up a subject, which intrigued him.

"I enjoyed it as a child and was as uninhibited as Legolas then." Aragorn confided, but when I reached adolescence, first I had spots and worse was to come when I grew hairs on my chest and a beard! I have been self conscious ever since! Some of the Elves would tease me about how different and imperfect I was. I doubt they meant to be cruel but for a self-conscious youth it was very painful. Some even tried to tweak my beard and pull off my clothing to gratify their curiosity! My mother did her best to reassure me and even scolded the Elves that teased me but those experiences were distressing for me. I often wish I could have grown up with at least some other humans. It was because of my own experiences that I was so anxious to treat your scars when I realised how much they distressed you."

" I always felt self conscious being compared with my brother." Faramir said with a hint of melancholy in his voice. "He developed early and was very tall, muscular and strong whereas I was just tall and skinny and already heavily scarred as I could never please my father. Boromir never made fun of me but the other boys and my father did. No one could compare with my brother!"

"You are a fine man in your own right and you are loved and valued now!" Aragorn placed a comforting hand on his Steward's shoulder. "You have my word no one will ever beat you again and what does it matter we both are rather shy and modest?"

Faramir smiled." A sensible trait for both a King and his Steward, I would think. It is bliss to know I will never be beaten again and be free of my scars. I shall always endeavour to be worthy of all the kindness you have shown me, my friend. I will never let you down."

" I know you would not and you richly deserve what little have given you. I count myself blessed to have you at my side." Aragorn reassured him, patting his shoulder. "I hope you did not find yesterday's events too distressing."

"I enjoyed our swim until the goats came!" Faramir assured him, "And even afterwards I was sure you would think of something to spare our blushes!"

"We will leave a Guard with our clothes next time!" Aragorn grinned, touched by Faramir's faith in him "I will see you later at the Council Meeting as I promised Arwen I would breakfast with her. I had better hurry if I want any as she is eating for two at present!"

"Eowyn said she would stay with the Queen later while we are in Council. I shall look forward to our next swim together, without the goats that is!" Faramir replied grinning broadly.

"We are fortunate indeed to have you both." Aragorn said as they briefly went their separate ways.

Early September

Steel clashed against steel on the practise yard as the King and his Steward honed their skills.

Aragorn was by far the better swordsman while Faramir had the advantage of youth and the bout seemed destined to last all morning until a the sound of a maidservant's crying child distracted the Steward.

Aragorn took advantage of the lowered guard and had his sword tip at Faramir's throat. A bead of blood appeared where the sword pricked the skin.

"You are hurt!" Aragorn's voice was full of concern, "Come let me see!"

" It is nothing, I did not even feel it. "You win!" Faramir said calmly, not batting an eyelid.

"You dropped your guard!" Aragorn chided as he examined Faramir's throat, wiping away the spot of blood. The Steward was right it was a mere pinprick

Faramir shrugged. "I would not in a real battlefield but I trust you! Rematch?"

Aragorn nodded.

This time Faramir fought with renewed vigour and threw himself wholly into the bout.

The swords rang as two experts each tried to surpass the other. This time Faramir won by virtue both of making the older man tire to match his swift strokes and Aragorn being somewhat distracted. He held the point of his sword to Aragorn's heart,

"I yield!" Aragorn threw up his hands in surrender and laughed. "I made the mistake of underestimating you! With anyone else I would be more wary!"

"It's a draw so shall we return to the ladies and call it a day?" Faramir suggested.

"They are waiting for us." Aragorn's keen eyes had spotted his wife and Eowyn watching from an upstairs window.

He waved and Faramir did likewise as they sheathed their swords. Aragorn heaved a inward sigh of relief for after his vision, part of him had feared to spar with his Steward but as they had both emerged without injury It seemed the 'vision' had just been the jumbled workings of an overtired mind.

A/N A very big thank you for all your much appreciated reviews.

Faramir should not be too harshly judged for his reactions to graphic descriptions of labour as he is typical of the men of his culture with regard to childbirth as it was only in recent times that fathers have been expected or even allowed to be present at the birth of their children.

During the Victorian era, if a woman in a hospital died after a male doctor delivered her child(Which carried a huge risk of infection as he might have come straight from the dissecting room !),it was widely believed to be a punishment for a male being involved in such matters.

Aragorn and Faramir do indeed need each other as this story will I hope show in some depth.

I do have more ideas for stories floating round in my head if my readers continue to enjoy reading.

If anyone reading this enjoyed or is interested in reading "First Meeting" , I have added a couple of paragraphs to chapter two as I felt on rereading that Faramir came round too quickly.

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