These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien .This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain. Some lines are taken directly from the book.
A young boy ran into the room pushing towards Aragorn, carrying a cloth, tightly grasped in his hand. “It is kingsfoil, sir,” he said, but not fresh I fear. It must have been culled two weeks ago at the least. I hope it will serve, sir?”
He then caught sight of Faramir and burst into tears.
Pippin hastened to his side and placed a comforting arm around him, “Don’t worry, Bergil!” he said, “Strider is very good at almost everything, if anyone can cure Faramir, he can!”
As if revived by the very presence of the athelas, Aragorn turned to the boy and smiled at him, “It will serve,” he said.“The worst is now over. Stay and be comforted!”
He then took two of the dried leaves and breathed on them and then crushed them in his hands. He then cast the leaves into a bowl of steaming water, which stood on the table by Faramir’s bedside and straightaway a living freshness filled the room, filling it with joy.
Aragorn now stood ;tall and strong as one invigorated and his eyes smiled as he held the bowl in front of Faramir’s face and called him again.
Faramir suddenly felt himself being pulled back through the tunnel again and the bright light faded. He tried to reach out towards his mother and brother but they seemed to be moving further and further away from him, as he was forced back into the world of the living. Another, unknown hand
reached out towards him and he grasped it. An unfamiliar yet compelling voice called his name and the air was filled with a wonderful fragrance.
The voice called his name again and this time he knew who it was that called him, as he had seen him many times in his dreams. It was the heir of Elendil, the long lost King of Gondor and Arnor!
Faramir could no longer resist the summons. Breathing deeply of the wonderful invigorating scent, he felt compelled to answer the King, the man who called him repeatedly. Yet he feared to meet the man and offer his heart as his foresight sensed great trials lay ahead of him. Trials from which he would most likely not return.
Would his heart not be broken again by the loss of yet another he loved ? He knew should the King return, an event he had dreamed of and foreseen he would offer him unquestioning love and fealty. This man, mightier by far than Denethor, would be the long desired saviour of Gondor. How could he not answer the call of his King?”
Aragorn waited, dimly aware of Ioreth chattering in the background. He had kept Faramir alive long enough for some athelas to be found.
Faramir was no longer struggling to breathe and the flush of fever was leaving his cheeks. He should awaken any moment now. Aragorn decided it was best not to tell him yet who he was.
Better to wait until he was stronger, when he would decide either to recognise him as King or dismiss him as a Pretender as his ancestor Arvedui had been rejected in the past. From what he knew of Faramir’s father and brother, the latter seemed the most likely outcome as the Council would follow his lead when he made his claim to the crown.
Faramir then stirred, slowly opened his eyes and looked at Aragorn who was still bending over him, smiling at him encouragingly.
Faramir at first looked dazed, then as his eyes focussed he looked directly at Aragorn with such knowledge and love in his eyes that Aragorn was astonished .He felt even more drawn to this man as a kindred soul, whatever he decided in the future.
Faramir whispered through parched lips, “My lord, you called me. I come. What does the King command?”
Aragorn felt breathless with awe. He was so amazed that he almost dropped the bowl he was holding. Hastily, he placed it on the bedside table. However did Faramir know who he was, when he had never seen him before?
“Walk no more in the darkness, but awake!” Aragorn told him, holding a glass of water to his lips so he could drink.”You are weary. Rest awhile and take food and be ready when I return.”
His mind was full of questions but now was not the right time to ask them. He needed a long talk with Faramir once he was stronger to tell him of his brother's valiant death trying to save the Hobbits from the Uruk Hai. Also, he would like to get to know this younger son of Denethor’s.
“I will,lord,” said Faramir shyly.“For who would lie idle when the King has returned?”
There it was again, the acknowledgment of his claim to kingship. If he were to survive the coming battle, he would owe this man a debt of gratitude, which could never be repaid. By his acknowledgment, the way was now opened for him to become King of the reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor and win the hand of his beloved Arwen.
He grasped Faramir’s hand in unspoken thanks. Instantly Faramir tried to lift it to his lips to kiss in fealty.
“Farewell then for a while!” said Aragorn.“I must go to others who need me.”
With tears in his eyes he bent and kissed Faramir on the brow. He then turned and left the room, but not before telling the Healers to bring a nourishing broth for Faramir and see that he was bathed and that his sweat soaked nightshirt and bed linen were changed to make him more comfortable.
The garrulous Ioreth naturally had to have the last word “King! Did you hear that? What did I say? The hands of a healer I said!”
Aragorn smiled ruefully, so much for his attempt to come into the city unnoticed, as now he was certain all of Minas Tirith would be aware of his coming.
But most importantly, he had saved Faramir and he hoped if the Valar saw him through the coming war that he could rule with this man as his Steward by his side.
Faramir lay gazing after him, his mind filled with conflicting emotions, joy that the long awaited King had returned, combined with horror at his own numerous albeit unavoidable lapses of etiquette.
He shivered as the nightshirt he woe felt cold and damp now that the fever had broken.
Whatever would the King think that he had been unable to stand and bow to him?Would he be insulted that he was wearing only this sweat soaked nightshirt and not his velvet court robes, which he was certain were the correct attire for greeting a King in? He had been taught to wear them when Theoden of Rohan visited his father and this man was a greater King by far. Then had he addressed him correctly, should he have said 'your majesty'?
His musings were interrupted, when two young apprentice healers came to bathe him and change his bedding and nightshirt. The times must be grave indeed, if no others could be spared to attend to him. It was usual for only the most senior healers to tend the ruling family, even if only for the most basic nursing needs.
Although he knew he needed their help, being too weak still to do anything for himself, he flushed scarlet when they undressed him, kind and discreet as they were. He hated being unclothed in front of others. He supposed he should be thankful they had not sent Ioreth or any of the other women who tended the sick here!
“How do you feel, my Lord Steward?” one of them asked, feeling his forehead for any signs of returning fever.
“ I am well, thank you, but why do you address me thus? Is my father dead?” It seemed that his vision was correct. His father must have fallen in the great battle he knew was coming.
Neither of the young men would look him in the eye as one mumbled. “Yes he is dead, my Lord Steward, I offer my sincere condolences.”
“How did he die?” Faramir asked as a clean bandage was wound round his shoulder. The wound throbbed painfully as did his back. His hair felt oddly greasy and uncomfortable, but as neither offered to wash it, he said nothing. It was obvious they were hard pressed with so many sick and wounded to care for.
“We do not know,“they chorused in unison almost as if reciting something they had been told to. “We were working here and have not left these Houses for many days. All we know is that you are the Ruling Steward now.”
Faramir was puzzled by their reticence as they must by now be accustomed to the grim task of telling relatives that their loved ones had fallen.
He felt numb and too weary to press them further. Maybe the tears would come when he was alone, since he had been trained from early childhood to repress his emotions. Even when only five years old, he had been told if he wept at his mother’s funeral, he would be beaten afterwards. All his life he had striven for his father’s approval. Now he would never gain it. Yet, all he could feel was a vague sense of relief that never again would he face his wrath.
“Was that really the King just then?” asked the younger looking of the two healers, as if trying to distract him.
“Yes that was indeed Elendil's heir, so I shall be the last of my House to bear the office,” he replied in a muffed tone, as a clean nightshirt was drawn over his head. “Gladly do I surrender the White Rod to him.”
One of the healers brought him some broth, tucked a cloth under his chin to protect the clean nightshirt and then fed it to him spoonful by spoonful. He felt as if he were a small child again, but then it would have been his nurse or elder brother feeding him. He hated being so helpless but the broth tasted good and at least he was clothed,fed and comfortable now!
They bowed respectfully and left him to rest. However,sleep was slow to come to him as he kept thinking about Boromir, about his father and most of all about the King, who had returned to claim his throne after so long.
The King had said he would return to him in a while. Whatever was he going to say to him? He had not even thanked him for saving his life, another unforgivable breach of etiquette!
He had felt strongly drawn to the man who had looked at him with such kind eyes. He must not forget though, but he was the mightiest man alive. No doubt he would be even harder to please than his father!
He then thought of his loyal men who had ridden out beside him to Osgiliath and wondered how many had survived. He could see their faces and hear their screams as the enemy’s arrows rained down upon them, whenever he tried to close his eyes.
Finally he fell into an uneasy sleep.
Aragorn was now about to leave the Houses of Healing and seek out any others stricken by the Black Breath that needed his help. He had sent for the sons of Elrond to come and help him face the magnitude of the task at hand.
Lady Eowyn and Merry had been far easier to awaken than Faramir, as he had the athelas to help him rouse them immediately. He was now weary beyond measure; for as he had told Merry, he had not slept in a bed since Dunharrow nor eaten since before dawn.
Something made him look into Faramir’s room before he left,though. The young man had been so troubled of spirit and close to death that he felt he must see how he fared.
He found him alone in his room, tossing in an uneasy sleep. After feeling the young Steward's forehead, and satisfying himself that the fever had truly left him, Aragorn lightly brushed his fingertips over the restless man’s eyelids while making small circles with his thumb on his forehead.
Faramir settled into a deep untroubled sleep almost at once.
Aragorn smiled in satisfaction, he would heal now and regain his strength. He felt protective towards this young man. If he had he been allowed to marry when he wished, he could easily have a son of his age by now and any child of his and Arwen’s would have raven hair and grey eyes like Faramir. As the young Steward had made it clear he accepted him as King, maybe soon he would be blessed with a son of his own.
Quietly he left the room. As soon as Faramir was strong enough, he would visit him and talk to him about his brother and most importantly get to one whom he hoped would not only be his Steward but also be his friend.