In my first version, Aragorn's wounds all healed after the Elven mud bath,but I never actually wrote that part.
I indicate breaks by 0000.
I suppose this asort of EE of my story !
“You go first, Faramir,” Aragorn said as soon as they were alone.
“No, you must go first!” Faramir insisted.
“But the water will get cold while you are helping me!” Aragorn protested.
“And your wounds could become infected from my grime!” Faramir retorted, “As a healer you should know that! So come on, let me help you undress!”
“Very well,” Aragorn sighed, “ I am so sorry, mellon nin!”
“Sorry for what?” Faramir asked, puzzled as he helped Aragorn remove his tunic.
“That you should have to wait on me like this!” Aragorn said ruefully, “You are after all my Steward and a Prince of the Realm, not a servant!”
“I am only Steward and Prince because you gave me those titles!” Faramir replied, struggling with Aragorn’s bandages, which seemed to have stuck. “I never expected to be either!”
“Leave the bandages to soak off!” Aragorn told him,” I just want you to know how grateful I am you will do all this for me!”
“You did the same for me and more only a few months ago!” Faramir replied, removing the last of the King’s clothing and tactfully averting his eyes as he helped him into the bath. “I only wish I had some healing powers then I could ease your pain!”
“Oh but you do, m+ellon nin!” Aragorn replied, biting his lip as the water stung his raw wounds, knowing that if he cried out, Eowyn was most likely to come rushing in. He presumed Arwen was occupied with Eldarion as he could hear him crying.
Faramir picked up a washcloth and handed another to Aragorn.” If I wash your back and your hair, can you manage your front once we have removed these bandages?” he asked.
Aragorn nodded, grateful for his Steward’s tact in preserving some dignity for him. They waited a few moments in silence until Faramir dared unwind the bandages covering Aragorn’s upper body. Some of the older wounds were revealed as partially healed but the one on his waist started to bleed afresh, as did another on his chest.
“I told you, you should have bathed first!” Aragorn said ruefully.
“I have bathed in far worse!” Faramir replied, remembering his days in the army when they would draw lots for who would have the first use of a tub of water, which when it came to his turn seemed grimier than the average pig sty!
He quickly helped Aragorn bathe then lifted him out and wrapped him in a thick towel.
“I will get you dried and ready for Eowyn to tend your wounds then come back and have my own bath.” he said.
“Please do not leave me!” the King begged, again frightening Faramir with just how vulnerable he was.
“Have no fear, I will never do that so long as you have need of me!” Faramir replied, gripping one of the cold hands. The other, where the fingers had been broken lay limp and useless. At least the bleeding had stopped now. He helped the King dry himself and don the linen drawers, before wrapping him in dry towel and helping him to a chair nearer the stove.
He then swiftly undressed and bathed as quickly as he could. Aragorn tactfully averting his eyes away from the bath.
He was just putting on his clean clothes when Eowyn’s voice called, “How are you getting on?”
A bowl of clear water stood on the table surrounded by three lit candles, a vase containing some sprigs of athelas, a bowl with some soil in it and to his amazement, Anduril and the Star of Elendil.
Arwen, Faramir and Eowyn were waiting for him and Arwen gestured he should sit in the centre of the couch. The babies slept in their cradles blissfully unaware of the ceremonial surrounding them.
When he was seated, she removed the towel leaving him feeling very exposed. He shook slightly and could only hope that Damrod, his sister and Elbeth did not come to join in viewing the spectacle of a King clad only in a skimpy pair of linen drawers!
Faramir came and knelt before him. He had a small bottle in his hand and dabbed some of the contents of Aragorn’s head.
“Be thou anointed with kingly wisdom!” he said.
Arwen knelt beside him and taking the oil dabbed some over his heart “Be thou anointed with compassion and love!” she intoned.
Eowyn then took her turn and dabbed oil on his feet, “Be thou anointed with strength and endurance!” she said.
Arwen and Faramir then each took one of his hands applied the oil and said, “Be though anointed with prowess and justice!”
What had begun for the King as a mixture of the embarrassing and the absurd became strangely moving for Aragorn. He blinked back the tears as his wife and friends then knelt before him with the candles and the bowls of earth and water.
“May the Valar protect you through trials of fire and air!” said Arwen who held the candles.
“May the Valar protect you through trials of water!” Faramir said solemnly as he presented the water.
“May the Valar protect you through trials of earth!” Eowyn said, as she knelt with her offering of soil from the garden.
Arwen then placed both hands on her husband’s chest while Faramir stood behind him with both hands on his back and together they recited several Elvish prayers of protection over the man they both loved, albeit in very different ways.
Between them, they then slowly dressed him, blessing each garment in turn and evoking the protection of the Valar.
When they came to the cloak, Aragorn and Faramir both gasped as Arwen had embroidered it with the same design as the brooch that Aragorn had given Faramir a few months before with the combined arms of the King and the Steward, a clear symbol of the loyalty and friendship between the two houses for all who saw the King ride by.
Arwen then fixed the Star of Elendil upon her husband’s brow, Eowyn pinned the Elessar on his breast and then finally Faramir knelt and girded Anduril at his waist.
They stood back and surveyed their handiwork. Aragorn looked every inch the King again that he rightfully was.
“Thank you!” Overwhelmed, Aragorn embraced and kissed his wife and friends.
Arwen then gave him a wafer of Lembas and a goblet of wine.
Arwen smiled bravely as she fought back the anguish of the coming parting. She had seen Aragorn ride of to war many times before, but this felt far worse and although she concealed it, the cruel marks he bore on his body distressed her greatly. The open wounds had closed but left livid and angry looking scars in their wake and while the broken finger and thumb were mending, his left hand still looked sore and swollen.
“It is time we were leaving!” Aragorn said, not wanting to prolong the misery of the farewells. He went to where his son was sleeping and kissed the soft cheek before blessing both him and Elestelle.
“I am ready,” Faramir said,” I just need my cloak.”
“What kind of a shirt are you wearing?” Aragorn asked suddenly.
“This one, it is clean!” Faramir gestured to the blue linen shirt he wore under his tunic.
“You need a silk one!” Aragorn replied, ”Arwen has some more of mine here.”
“I always wear linen next to my skin!” Faramir protested.
Arwen had already been to the bedroom and returned clutching a silk shirt, which she handed to Faramir.
“Put that on!” Aragorn commanded.
Faramir sighed, pulled off his tunic and started to put the silk shirt on ,on top of the linen.
“No, next to your skin!” Aragorn insisted, “ Go and change into it or I will dress you myself! Be sure to pull it down well so it covers your thighs!”
Grumbling, Faramir went to change leaving Aragorn and Arwen to make their farewells.
“We all appreciate your loyalty to the King but for how long can Gondor be left without a ruler?” Devorin asked, coming forward, “We should tell these good people gathered here that we shall rule over them until the King return or maybe an heir to the Stewardship if he does not?”
“We are pleased to tell you, my good people that Lord Boromir was secretly married and sired a son and heir!” Lord Lebennin announced.
At that moment Hanna, furiously strode from her place beside Lord Lossarnach’s wife protesting loudly, “My daughter is Lord Boromir’s rightful heir!”
“Hush woman! You will ruin everything!” Devorin hissed, “ Your daughter is nowhere to be found whereas we have the boy!”
“You promised my daughter would be queen! You scoundrel, I hate you! I will not be quiet!” She laughed wildly and lashed out at him with her fists, the light of madness in her eyes as she refused to be silenced.
Devorin pulled out his dagger and pierced her through the heart. With a strangled cry, she fell lifeless to the ground.
The crowd cried out in dismay.
“My lord, this is an outrage! ”Imrahil complained, “We are honouring the dead!”
“The woman was mad, she was about to attack me .I acted in self defence!” Devorin said smoothly, his hand still clutching the bloodied dagger.
“Traitors!” Aragorn finally came forward brandishing Anduril. The Star of Elendil gleamed on his brow and his eyes were like flame, “Guards, arrest them!”
Some men who had been in the crowd surrounding Aragorn moved forward and took hold of Devorin and Fosco.
“What is the meaning of this?” Imrahil demanded and then caught sight of his nephew and the King.
He stood there dumbfounded and hardly able to believe his own eyes. He blinked hard, wondering if this were some apparition and then paled as the implication sank in.
“Uncle, it is I and our lord King who was not slain as we all believed!” Faramir called urgently, “Arrest the traitors before they escape!”
Eomer jumped to his feet, high eyes lighting up and drew his sword. ”Aragorn, my friend, you live!” he cried, “This is indeed a joyous day!”
With the Rohirrim accompanying him, they advanced upon the rebel lords and their supporters.
Imrahil quickly collected himself and his Swan Knights secured anyone who appeared to have supported the traitors.
“Secure the lord of Lamedon too!” Aragorn cried as he advanced, “ And the …”
Before he could say anything else, one of Fosco’s men charged at him with a drawn sword. He parried with Anduril but was caught off balance by another blow from behind, which in his weakened state, he was too slow to evade.
Fosco was approaching the King and flung himself in front of Aragorn taking the thrust meant for his heart.
Any animosity he might have felt towards one of his former captors quickly forgotten, Aragorn knelt beside him. His experienced healer’s eye told him at a glance that the wound was mortal.
“I am sorry, I wronged you,” he whispered pink blood frothing at his mouth. The King cradled the dying man in his arms,” It was all a lie, Hanna never married, I forged my father’s hand!”
“Be still, do not try to talk!” Aragorn soothed, his voice full of compassion. “I owe you my life that was a brave deed!
“It is better this way,” Fosco whispered.
He went limp, his last words having taken his final remnants of strength and breathed his last.
“Be at peace!” Aragorn whispered, kissing his brow in blessing.
Slowly he got to his feet and surveyed the scène. Fighting was still going on and he felled several of Fosco’s armed retainers with Anduril but Imrahil’s Swan Knights and the Citadel Guard seemed to have the situation well under control.
“He was behind it all, your precious Steward!” Devorin snarled at Aragorn as a burly Guard prepared to lead him away,” No one denounced you more loudly than he did! Fight men, fight for your lives!”
Devorin’s retainers joined in the fray with renewed vigour.
“Seize all the traitors including the Lord of Lamedon! Justice must be done!” Aragorn shouted as he despatched another miscreant. Beside him, Faramir was engaged in fighting off two burly men in the livery of Lebennin. Eomer had joined in the fray and was fighting the rebels furiously.
Reinforcements started to pour in from all sides and suddenly the battle was over.
“Hail to King Elessar! Our King has returned and Gondor is again under his rule!” Imrahil shouted.
Faramir smiled. Aragorn’s gamble had paid off and his throne was restored. He was about to kneel to rightful lord when something made him look up towards the Tower of Ecthelion. Something silver glinted in the bright sunlight and with horror he realised that the arrow that Lord Lossarnach had stopped was not the only one intended for his King.
“Look out!” he shouted but it was too late as the arrow was already taking its deadly path towards his King.
Unhesitatingly he threw himself in front of Aragorn shielding him with his own body.
The arrow pierced his flesh and he sank to the ground.
“Faramir! No!” Aragorn cried heedless of all around them, as he his friend lay crumbled and seemingly lifeless at his feet, an arrow protruding from his chest.
He heard shouts in the background as Eomer and his men raced in hot pursuit of the assassin but was barely aware of him, as his friend was dead.
He tried to steel himself to feel for a pulse but not bring himself to confirm that the noblest heart in Gondor beat no longer.
How could the Valar be so cruel to take one he loved so dearly in his moment of triumph? The sweet taste of victory turned to ashes in his mouth as he felt his heart would most surely break. If only he had heeded Arwen’s sage council and decided to go into exile, where they could at least have all lived out their days together but instead he had led his most loyal and trusted friend to an untimely death.
How could he go on without the one he cherished as brother, son, friend and advisor at his side? How could he tell Eowyn that she was a widow and what of poor Elestelle, doomed to grow up never having known her father?
Sinking to his knees, he clasped Faramir in his arms
For once heedless of the people watching, he could not hide his grief and a tear fell unbidden, falling on to Faramir’s ashen features.
The Steward blinked and slowly opened his eyes.
“Aragorn, you are safe, praise the Valar!” Faramir said, struggling to sit up but restrained by the King’s grip on him.
“Lie still, you are badly injured!” Aragorn told him.
“I do not think so though it is painful,” Faramir replied.
“I must take you inside and tend your wound!” Aragorn said firmly, hardly daring to believe that Faramir had been spared and fearing that he might yet die.
He looked up and found he was surrounded by familiar and anxious faces, Imrahil, his personal guards and Aedred from the Houses of Healing had pushed his way through the crowd when he saw the Steward fall.
“Take him to my room and see that a fire is lit there!” the King commanded, and then feeling he owed the still bewildered looking Imrahil an explanation, added, “ I was imprisoned and some poor wretch dressed in my clothes and flung into the Anduin. See that those arrested are taken to the City prison to await judgement! And thank you, my friend, for holding the City for me! I must go now to Faramir!”
Imrahil helped his lord to his feet and Aragorn promptly enfolded him in a tight embrace then kissed him on the brow.