Format: short story
Genre: h/c, friendship, angst
Characters:Aragorn, Faramir, OMC
Creator's Notes: This story refers briefly to events in my story “Silken Peril” but can be read on its own.Wild garlic grows in woods near where I live and when my Mother was young, she was told to go there to cure a cold. With thanks to elenbarathi" and just_jenni
Summary: Aragorn acts when he realises Faramir has been working too hard.
Aragorn sighed as he was forced to discard yet another seating plan for the Ambassador's Dinner, a formal gathering held each year in the Great Hall to help promote peace between the Reunited Kingdom and the surrounding nations. “If only I could leave this to the Master of Ceremonies!” he exclaimed.
“You know full well if you did they would forget who dislikes whom and they would kill each other. Then we would have another war to fight,” Faramir said dryly.
“Indeed. The Ambassadors from Rohan and Dale detest each other,” Aragorn signed. “Apparently the Ambassador from Dale insulted the Ambassador Leofric's horse! They have not spoken since.”
“Tahir quite likes the Ambassador from Khand,” said Faramir. “They could sit near each other. “But where to we seat Ganzorig from Rhûn? He is not a sociable fellow.”
“He is a far better man than Khulan his predecessor,” said Aragorn grimly. “If any man could smile and murder while he smiled, it was Khulan. He just sat there smiling serenely while you were fighting the poison he intended for me.” He shuddered at the memory of Faramir donning a poisoned garment intended for him.
“I am glad I tried on the shirt,” said Faramir. “You saved my life. I lack the knowledge to save yours.”
“ No one should have suffered such an attack,,” said Aragorn. “Not only did Khulan almost kill my closest friend, but he tried to cause a war between our lands.”
“Éowyn could not stand the man,” said Faramir. “She said he reminded her of Grima Wormtongue though Grima did not smile so much.” He studied the seating plan intently.”I suggest we seat Ganzorig next to the Ambassador from Rohan. They are both quiet men and Ganzorig likes horses.”
The discussion continued until the Queen came to remind her husband that he had promised Eldarion a bedtime story.
Faramir started on the seating plan for the Ambassadors' wives as some of the cultures forbade men and women to dine together. He worked on it until his eyelids grew heavy and he made his way to bed.
His dreams were troubled. First he had a nightmare in which Khulan smilingly offered him a silken shirt and said, “Caught in the afterlife, I've gone too far, too far when I tried to kill you.” His smile turned to a ferocious snarl as he yelled.”It is your fault I am here, all your fault I had to sit next to him at dinner!”
Faramir woke with a start. His heart was pounding and his mouth dry. He took a few sips of water from the glass on his bedside table and went back to sleep. It seemed no sooner had his eyes closed than he saw Boromir. His brother was high in the air above him with arms outstretched. “I would embrace you, brother,” he cried. “I am too far away in the afterlife,though.”
Faramir woke again with an aching heart. Boromir had been gone for years now but he still missed his brother. He tried to think of how peaceful his brother had looked when he last saw him and how Aragorn had become both father and brother to him. Eventually, he drifted off the sleep again. When he next awoke it was morning and the sun was streaming through the window.
Faramir was slow to leave his bed, though. His throat felt scratchy and his head felt heavy. He could not linger in bed, though. There was work to be done. He needed to help the King work on some new taxation proposals to put before the Council as well as the seating plan. He only picked at his breakfast, contenting himself with some fruit and apple juice. If he were at home in Ithilien, Éowyn would have scolded him for eating so little.
“Good morning,” said Aragorn when he entered the King's study.
“Good Morning,” said Faramir, his voice coming out as a croak. He then sneezed.
“It seems it is not a good morning for you,my friend,” said Aragorn. He squeezed Faramir's shoulder. “You appear to have caught a head cold. I will mix you some rose hip tea for it.”
“Thank you,” croaked Faramir.
Aragorn called for a servant to bring hot water and took some rosehips from the healing supplies he always kept in his study. He mixed the tea and waited for it to cool. He regarded Faramir thoughtfully. “You look exhausted,” he said.”Small wonder you have caught a cold. Overwork damages the body's natural defences.”
“I did not sleep well,” Faramir replied. “My dreams were troubled. I dreamed of that snake, Khulan and then of Boromir.”
The King glanced out of the window.”It is a beautiful day. I suggest once you have drunk your tea we go for a ride to clear your head. Then I suggest you rest for the remainder of the day and drink more rosehip tea every few hours. You want to be well for when you join Éowyn and your children in a few days and the banquet next week.”
“What about the tax proposals?” Faramir protested. “And we still haven't decided on the final seating plan for the banquet. I have to get them right.”
“Those can wait, ion nîn,” said Aragorn.”Your health is more important.”
The King was right, Faramir's head did feel much better in the fresh air and although he kept sneezing, his horse did not seem to be troubled by it. “Where are we heading?” he asked Aragorn.
“To the woods across the Pelennore,”Aragorn replied. “Wild garlic grow there. Breathing the vapours will ease your cold.”
At the edge of the woods stood a small stone dwelling with smoke coming from its chimney. Aragorn reined in his horse. “I wonder who dwells there?” he mused.
“A hermit,” said Faramir. “He has lived there as long as I can remember. When I was young I used to envy him being apart from the world as I had such a fear of failing in my duties. Now when I think of being alone, I think of that wretch, Gollum, alone with his “Precious” for hundreds of years, so Frodo told me. A happy life is being with those I love, whether I succeed or fail.”
Aragorn smiled fondly at the younger man he regarded as a son. “You still need to learn you do not have to push yourself to the limits night and day,” he said. “We all fear failure.”
Before Faramir could reply a wizened old man emerged from the hut waving a walking stick. “Why be thee disturbing an old man's peace?” he demanded. “Be off with thee!”
“I own this land,” Aragorn said mildly.”We did not mean to disturb you,though.”
“Well thee be disturbing me,” said the old man.
“You could live in far more comfort in the City,” said Aragorn. “The King provides for the needy.”
“Don't trust no king nor anyone else,” said the old man. “Not since my woman ran off with a soldier. Thee 'ave the look of soldiers too. Don't like 'em, never 'ave done!”
Just then Faramir sneezed loudly.
“And thee be bringing contagion too!” the old man roared. “Get thee gone!”
Realising there was nothing they could do to help the hermit, Aragorn and Faramir rode away.
“I fear I failed dismally there,” said Aragorn.
“You tried and that is all any of us can do,” said Faramir. “It says much for your rule that folk are free to live as they choose within your lands.”
“The wild garlic is this way,” said Aragorn, guiding Roheryn further into the woods. They lingered there so Faramir could breathe the pungent odour of the plants until it started to grow chill.
They turned their horses around and rode back towards the City. “You should spend the rest of the day taking your ease,” said Aragorn. “I suggest you either sit in your room or in the Court of the Fountain. I shall bring you frequent draughts of rosehip tea and see you are obeying my commands and not working.”
“Yes, my Lord King,” said Faramir grinning. “I shall obey my Lord's command.”
Faramir passed the rest of the day engrossed in a favourite collection of tales of the great heroes of long ago. That night he slept soundly and when he awoke his cold was much improved. He had had an idea for a perfect seating plan for the banquet and was eager to start work the next day.
He greeted Aragorn with a smile. “Your remedy worked wonders.”
“It gladdens my heart to see you restored to good health, ion nîn. I have news for you. King Éomer is replacing Ambassador Leofric with a retired Marshall, so our guest list has changed.”
Somehow, the seating plan now seemed far less daunting today and the two had finished it within the hour. The discussions for tax reforms passed with equal speed.
“We should go riding more often,” said Aragorn. “It seems we get twice as much work done when we take some time away from it.”