Disclaimer - These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
With grateful thanks to Raksha and Virtuella and thanks to Shirebound for her help with the plot.
Faramir placed a comforting arm around the distraught King's shoulders.
Aragorn struggled to collect himself."How came this Faramir to be my Steward?" he demanded, looking at Faramir somewhat accusingly. "Little Boromir was Denethor's heir, what happened to the lad?"
"Faramir is Denethor's younger son, born in 2983 after you left Gondor. Boromir died in the struggle against the Dark Lord," Arwen said gently.
"My mother,Halbarad,even Denethor's little lad, all gone!" Aragorn said bleakly."Is there no one I love left in this world?" This time he could not hold back the tears that flowed freely.
Arwen joined Faramir and they both held Aragorn in their arms, comforting him as one might a frightened child. "I love you,my dear husband,"said Arwen. "I know that you love me too and our child."
"You love me too, as dearly as a father loves his son," said Faramir. "And that love I freely return."
This time, Aragorn did not recoil from their embrace. He recognised the genuine affection and concern behind the gesture. The three remained thus, the silence broken only by Aragorn's anguished sobbing. Gradually, although he felt unable to fully lower the mental barriers that divided him from his companions,he began to sense that he was surrounded by love. It seemed that Arwen and Faramir were bathing him in tender caring thoughts. It strengthened him.
At last,his tears spent, he rubbed his arm across his face. "What must you think of me,a King you weeps like an infant?"he said.
"You are recovering from a head injury," Arwen said calmly. "Few would show as much control as you have over this last day."
"You have always taught me that emotion is not weakness,"said Faramir. "Your people love you as you will laugh with them, and weep with them too."
"My head aches so!" said Aragorn wearily."Everywhere aches!"
"You should lie down again and rest,"said Arwen. "We will both stay here with you."
"How can I rest when I do not remember?" Aragorn sighed. "I want to see the paintings of which you spoke."
Arwen sighed. "Some of the pictures you wish to see are in my sitting room," she said. "Come!"
Faramir handed Aragorn his robe and helped him don it. He cautiously stood up. He felt somewhat unsteady and was forced to accept Arwen's supporting arm as she led him into an adjacent chamber. It was sumptuously furnished with many paintings and tapestries upon the walls.
"There is our wedding," said Arwen and showed him a large painting, which depicted her beside him. Aragorn eyed the painting doubtfully. This was what he dreamt of, but could it have truly happened?
Aragorn next studied an even larger portrait, which showed his old friend Gandalf placing the crown of Gondor upon his head. Faramir stood beside the Istar, the Steward's White Rod in his hand. Aragorn's eye was drawn towards the presence of four Hobbits in the painting. "Hobbits live in the Shire!" he protested. "There are none in Gondor!"
"It was two Hobbits who destroyed the Enemy's Ring, one of them was Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's cousin and heir; and the other was his gardener and friend, Samwise Gamgee."Arwen's voice softened, with a tone of reverence he had only heard in her voice when she spoke of Lúthien, Beren and other great heroes of the First Age."The other two, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, performed great deeds as well. No Man could have imagined the path by which you came to the throne."
For the first time that night, Aragorn truly believed what she was saying. However devious a plot Denethor could have devised, the man knew little of Hobbits. And not even Denethor could have imagined so far-fetched a story as that of the One Ring destroyed by two Hobbits, even if one of them was kin to the Burglar of Erebor. Thorongil stared hard at the picture, and tried to remember more. He looked again at the wedding portrait. Elrond was not only giving his daughter to Aragorn, but also the sceptre of Annuminas This was the sceptre that Elrond said he would never surrender until he was proved worthy.
"Do I truly have the sceptre?" Aragorn asked Arwen.
"You do," she assured him, "the crown too. Faramir will fetch them for you if you wish."
Aragorn stared at her hard, then back at the painting. He closed his eyes, struggling to remember. "It is starting to come back to me," he said. "Your father brought you to me the day before we were wed. You rode a grey palfrey and wore a blue and silver gown."
"I did indeed!" Arwen exclaimed joyfully
Aragorn stumbled as his head started to swim. "I feel faint," he said.
Faramir hastened to assist Arwen in supporting him. With one on either side of him they led Aragorn back to the bedroom and sat him on the bed.
Faramir had a sudden idea and sent a servant to fetch some hot water. When it was brought, he rummaged in Aragorn's healing supplies for the athelas and bade the King crumble some in the bowl.
This time, Aragorn did not try to feign ignorance of the herb. He inhaled the refreshing vapours deeply.
"Let us bathe your bruises,"said Arwen.
Too exhausted to struggle any longer, Aragorn nodded and lay back against the pillows. But although he allowed Faramir to remove his robe and Arwen to slide the nightshirt from his shoulders, he remained tense, as if poised for flight, clutching the covers around his waist.
"Just close your eyes and let us ease you," Arwen said gently.
"You have done this before?"
"Yes, you are my husband,"said Arwen.
"And you are my best friend,"said Faramir."We have often needed to care for each other."
While Faramir held his hands, Arwen gently laved the still livid bruises with a cloth. She started to sing softly.
Aragorn took more deep breaths. He felt the pain and tension slowly leaving him. He started to feel sleepy.
"Rest now,my love,"said Arwen, easing his nightshirt back over his shoulders and pulling the covers up to his chin. Aragorn opened his eyes and saw Faramir standing by the bed holding the bowl from which the scent of athelas still wafted. Something stirred in his memory. Suddenly he looked at Faramir with a light of love and knowledge kindled in his eyes. "I remember!" he exclaimed. "When I first met you, you were near death and I revived you with this. You opened your eyes and hailed me as your king!"
Faramir smiled, though tears glinted in eyes. "That was indeed so, and it gladdens my heart indeed that you remember!" he said. "Rest now, my friend, all will seem clearer in the morning," he said.
Sunlight streamed through the window when Aragorn opened his eyes again. Arwen was pulling back the curtains, while Faramir dozed on a chair. The little boy was sitting playing on the rug with a brightly coloured toy dragon. It was no dream then!
"How are you,my love?" Arwen asked, her eyes full of concern.
"The pain has eased,but my mind is still hazy," said Aragorn. "I want to see the tokens of my kingship."
"Can it not wait until you have had some breakfast?" Arwen protested.
"If I am King, my people will need me to be whole," said Aragorn.
"I will fetch them," said Faramir,instantly awake. "I have the keys." He hastened from the chamber,still yawning.
Aragorn cautiously sat up. Today his head did not spin. He slowly got out of bed and stood up.
"Do you need help?" Arwen asked.
"I think I can reach the bathing chamber unaided if you tell me where it is," he replied.
"Just through the connecting door," said Arwen.
Aragorn found himself faced with three doors, but somehow he knew the one on the right as the correct one. Today everything seemed both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. If only he could remember clearly!
He re-emerged ,wiping his face with a towel,just as Faramir returned. The Steward was staggering under the weight of the two heavy boxes he bore.
"Show him the sceptre first," said Arwen.
Faramir unlocked a long box and took out the sceptre of Annuminas and handed it to Aragorn, who studied it intently. The weight felt familiar in his hands. Images began to form in his mind, mallorns in Lothlórien, four Hobbits, a dying man and athelas ,his wedding day, a newborn child..Confused images, but they were memories!
"I am starting to remember!" he exclaimed.
"The old lore says that the sceptre conveys wisdom,said Arwen. "It seems it might restore memory too!"
"My King!" Faramir cried.
Laughing and crying together,Arwen and Faramir both embraced him.
Tears trickled down Aragorn's cheeks as returning memories flooded his brain. He knew it would take time to fully recover but he knew who he was!" I am Aragorn Elessar Telcontar, King of both Gondor and Arnor," he whispered.
Despite his the gaps in his memory Aragorn felt content for the first time since he had awakened after the accident. He knew enough Healers' lore to be hopeful that the rest of his memories would. Meanwhile, he had his name, his purpose, his wife and child, and the best friend that any King, or Man, ever had. It was enough.