Under the apple-boughs, down by the mill! James Thomas Fields – In a Strange Land
The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit is made from this story. With thanks to Raksha and Deandra,
Aragorn desperately sought for some means by which he might ease his friend's distress. He knew Faramir to be a man of staunch will, and possessed of great strength of both mind and body. Few Men, though, or even Elves, had infinite powers of endurance. Faramir had suffered so much; at his father's hands; from the Black Breath; from Mahrod's attack, and from Aragorn's own cruel neglect when he had shunned him. Many lesser Men would have been broken long ago. Aragorn knew that, from his mother, Faramir had inherited a tendency towards melancholy and that his father had lost his wits. Aragorn was deeply worried about how his friend would weather this latest outrage against him. He believed Faramir's body would heal, but what of his mind?
Aragorn suddenly recalled a conversation he had had long ago with Master Elrond , which he had not thought about in years. As a young man, Aragorn had been lamenting that he lacked the Elven abilities to recall everything. Elrond had shaken his head sadly and said it could be a curse rather than a blessing and told him that was why he could not heal Celebrian, as nothing he could do could blunt the memories of the torments the Orcs had inflicted upon her. Elrond then said that mortals were fortunate that time could dull their pain and also that one skilled in Elven healing could cause forgetfulness or blunt dark memories by filling the patient's mind with loving and healing thoughts. The first time he had shared thoughts with Faramir it had healed him from a melancholy, which threatened to destroy him. Maybe their Thought Bond could help him again?
The human mind was a complex and delicate thing, which a wise healer treated with great care. Aragorn was loth to try to remove any of Faramir's memories lest he fill the gaps with even worse imaginings, but maybe he could blunt the pain somewhat? He took a deep breath and paused a long moment before he spoke. "There is a way I could maybe ease your pain," he told Faramir."I would need to reach deep into your mind, though."
"I trust you, Ada," Faramir said simply. "If you think it will help heal me, please do it."
Aragorn took the kettle which was simmering on the fire and filled a basin with hot water. He then rummaged in his pouch and took two leaves of athelas, which he breathed deeply upon before crumbling them and casting them into the water.
He brought the bowl over to Faramir and held it in front of his face. "Breathe as deeply as you can," he said.
Faramir did as he was bidden.
Aragorn then took a cloth and dipped it in the mixture and laved Faramir's brow with it.
The King took deep breaths of the athelas mixture and tried to empty his mind of all thoughts save the depth of his fatherly love for Faramir and his gratitude to the man who had several times saved his life, to whom he owed his kingdom, and the wise Counsellor who had helped him rule wisely and well. He pressed his brow against Faramir's bruised forehead. The weight of Faramir's pain that he sensed caused him for an instant to recoil, but Aragorn persevered and thought only of love, gratitude and reassurance. The King could sense some of the anguish in his friend's mind calming as he shared his thoughts. He filled his mind with memories of happy times they had spent together, shared adventures with joyful outcomes as well as other times they had suffered together, but had overcome their ordeals. He reminded Faramir of the times he had cared for his King and the occasions he had saved Aragorn's life. He focussed his thoughts too on happy times he had shared with Faramir and Éowyn and their children as well as Elbeth, the daughter of Faramir's much loved brother. "The darkness will not prevail," said Aragorn. "It cannot, must not. I will not permit it."
Faramir's complete trust in his lord aided him as he made no attempt to shield his thoughts, and freely allowed his mind to be probed then filled with the thoughts that Aragorn willed. The images of his ordeal swam before his eyes while darkness and light battled against each other. Faramir cried out and wept anew.
"Sire?" Beregond's head appeared round the door. The Captain sounded anxious.
"All is well, Beregond. I am trying to use Elven healing to help Lord Faramir."
"Very well, sire." Beregond withdrew.
Aragorn used the interruption to his advantage and concentrated on how much Faramir's men loved him too. Then he imagined long rides together across the fields and shared camp fires and songs and stories."Este!" he cried. "I beg of you, heal this son of my heart!"
Faramir's torment was like an arrow within his soul, which Aragorn slowly and carefully withdrew. It was painful and the scar would remain but the instrument of torture was melting away, yielding to the power of his will. It were as if chinks of light like a candle in a dark room were reaching into the recesses of Faramir's wounded spirit.
Aragorn slowly moved his head away, but placed his hand on Faramir's brow. " Has that eased you at all?" he asked.
'The memories of my ordeal are still there, but they feel blunted as if all happened long ago!" Faramir sounded amazed.
"As I cannot send you to the Undying Lands to mend, ion nîn, my healing powers will have to suffice for you. And suffice they must, or your lady will most surely kill me!"
Faramir managed a wan smile through his tears.
"I will make you some tea," Aragorn said briskly. "You cannot afford to be losing so much fluid."
The King placed the kettle on the fire and made tea as soon as the water was boiled. He held the cup to Faramir's lips. This time the Steward made no protest at needing to be helped. Aragorn then set aside the cup and dipped a cloth in the athelas mixture and wiped Faramir's tear -stained face. He then held the cup again until Faramir had drained it.
The two then sat together in silence for a few moments lost in thought.
"We have been though so much together, you and I," Aragorn said. "I recall the times you made tea for me in the night and held the cup for me."
"I often dreamed of the coming of the King,"said Faramir, "but little did I think I would meet you on my sickbed."
"When I called you back into a world that has held a great deal of pain for you," said Aragorn sadly.
"But so much joy too!" Faramir's eye shone in the lamplight. "I have had the joy of seeing you crowned and the Enemy overthrown. I met and am wedded to the fairest and best of ladies, and I enjoy the blessing of children in a peaceful and prosperous land. What more could any man desire? This pain will pass while the good will endure."
"I will make certain of that," said Aragorn. "Are you in pain now?"
"My shoulders hurt a little as does my wound," Faramir admitted.
Aragorn held his hands over the hurts, filling the Steward's wounded body with warmth and healing. He then mixed Faramir a small quantity of poppy juice. "You should rest now," he said.
"As should you."
"I will be here beside you," said Aragorn."I shall not leave you."
"Thank you, I am glad you are here."
Aragorn stretched out his long frame on top of the covers and placed a lightly protective arm around his wounded friend. Faramir settled beside him, quickly falling into a dreamless sleep. Reassured that the son of his heart was on the way to recovery, Aragorn slept too.
When Faramir awoke the next morning he was much improved. No trace of fever remained and his wounds, though still painful and ugly looking, were starting to close. He accepted Aragorn's ministrations almost cheerfully, aware of the loving spirit in which they were offered, as a parent might tend a treasured child. He ate and drank all that was given to him, determined to build up his strength again as quickly as possible. He sat upright, propped against the pillows all morning. The insect bites now itched, but were soon eased by Aragorn's calendula salve.
By late afternoon Faramir was determined to get out of bed.
"Are you certain you are strong enough?" Aragorn fretted.
"I believe so," Faramir said staunchly. "If you would assist me first to don a robe."
That proved the hardest part as Faramir's arms and shoulders were still stiff and painful ,but once he was clothed decently enough to satisfy him, he managed a few wobbly steps supported by Aragorn's strong arms. "I intend to be strong enough to return home before the week is out, "he told the King.
"For a lesser man that would be hard to achieve," said Aragorn. You,though,Faramir, have the blood of Númenor in your veins ,which makes you amongst the hardiest of living Men."
Faramir was as good as his word. Each day he grew stronger and able to walk farther and, aided by Aragorn's healing arts, his wounds began to close. Only the damaged muscles in his hands, arms and shoulders still pained him and were slow to mend. Aragorn anointed them with comfrey salve and massaged them with the Elven healing touch, but however gentle he tried to be, Faramir found the procedure painful. Some use returned to his hands and he was at least able to hold a spoon and fasten his clothing, albeit with considerable effort.
Each day, messengers were sent to Éowyn and returned with everything he could possibly need and more besides. Messages also came from Legolas that Faramir's attackers had not yet been found.
"I am ready to go home today," Faramir announced one bright morning, a week after Aragorn had brought him to the cottage.
"Are you certain you are strong enough?" Aragorn asked. "The ride could aggravate your wounds."
"I miss my lady and my little ones," Faramir replied. "And much as I enjoy your company, I cannot keep you here any longer. Too many others have need of you. It irks me too that I am within a few leagues of home yet unable to reach it."
"I shall stay as long as you need my healing arts," said Aragorn. "I, too, miss my lady and Eldarion, but the City will thrive in Arwen's capable hands."
After further debate, Aragorn agreed that Faramir might travel. He sent a messenger to Éowyn to tell her to make ready for her husband's return and then padded Faramir's wounds against the journey and insisted that he ride upon a gentle mare for the journey ."
The ride home was painfully slow with frequent stops at Aragorn's insistence. Two men, seasoned veterans of the White Company, rode on ahead to alert them of any dangers, but they saw nothing save a few startled deer.
Aragorn rode at Faramir's side in the middle of the group of armed men. At the hour before sunset Emyn Arnen came into sight.
Never before had Faramir's home appeared so fair to him. During the darkest hours of his ordeal he had feared he would never again behold it. He blinked away a tear. Despite his pain and exhaustion he sat up straighter in the saddle.
Éowyn came running out of the door closely followed by Elbeth and Elestelle. "Faramir, my love!" she cried. She kissed him tenderly as if she feared he might break and held back little Elestelle from embracing him.
"Éowyn, beloved!" Faramir's eyes lit up for a moment and then clouded with sorrow. "Iavas," he said. "I am so sorry."
"Legolas will bring her home," Éowyn said firmly,"but if they have but harmed a single hair of that beautiful creature. I shall kill them myself!"
Aragorn helped Faramir dismount. The Steward swayed unsteadily on his feet and was forced to cling to the King's supporting arm. "It is good to be home." Faramir smiled at his wife and the two girls,and allowed Aragorn and Éowyn to lead him indoors.
A/n Wishing my readers a happy Easter, Passover and spring season.