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A Time to Reap
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We have left undone those things which we ought to have done

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.

Book Of Common Prayer, “General Confession,” (1662).

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 for all her help


“You can hardly walk,” Aragorn retorted matter of factly. He gripped Faramir’s hands and helped him move from the log onto the spread out blanket. The King then moved to sit beside his Steward. “Now where are you hurting?” he enquired.

“Um, several places, mostly here, and here” Faramir replied, pulling up his tunic and shirt a few inches and indicating a spot on his side and another on his back. ”And my arm and shoulder ache too.”

Aragorn tentatively prodded the spot, noting the amount of tension in his Steward’s muscles. He then checked Faramir’s pulse, which was far too rapid for his liking. “I think I should examine you properly,” he said after a brief pause.

Faramir sighed before nodding his reluctant agreement.

Whether Healer or patient were more unwilling to proceed, neither would have been able to say.

Faramir loosened his belt, and then unlaced his tunic and shirt only to find he was so stiff that he could hardly lift his arms over his head. Realising the problem, Aragorn helped him remove the garments, all the while wondering just how he should proceed. He decided that it would be best if he treated his Steward in the simplest way possible and did not try to use the Elvish techniques which took so much out of him. Aragorn was unsure if he could even make the attempt anymore. Even if he could still do it, the Elven healing skills brought back far too many memories of the time when Aragorn had been whole and his friendship with Faramir still unmarred. Despite the warmth of the day, Faramir shivered. “Do you want a blanket round you?” Aragorn enquired. Though he could not treat Faramir like old times, he could at least try to make him comfortable.

“Thank you, but there is no need. We should be comfortable with each other by now, you and I,” Faramir replied, feeling unable to voice the true reasons for his unease. He determinedly tried to relax. He stiffened when Aragorn began to prod his sore muscles in a very businesslike fashion. The King's every touch, however gentle, pained him.

“It is a simple strain, not a tear, a salve should ease it for you,” the King announced, expertly feeling along Faramir’s side, arm and shoulder. “You have a weakness from both your war wound and when Éomer attacked you, which never fully healed as your treatments were interrupted.”

Faramir's discomfort increased as he now realised that Aragorn was deliberately withholding the Elven techniques he had used in the past. The Steward had almost been sorry in the past when his various hurts had been pronounced cured, so pleasant and relaxing were the treatments that Aragorn had given him. However, that was before he had raised his hand against his liege lord.

Well aware of the younger man’s reaction, Aragorn still could not bring himself to touch Faramir other than in his most detached fashion. After all, this same arm had wielded the brand that scarred him for life! It had been easy enough to embrace him yesterday over layers of clothing. But he was not ready to use the healing technique reserved for trusted friends and kin on Faramir.

“You need to relax; I am not going to hurt you,” Aragorn said as much to reassure himself as Faramir.

Faramir nodded mutely. He could hardly say that this studied detachment hurt as much as a blow. As Healers went, Aragorn was both gentle and skilled, but this kindly detachment stung Faramir’s heart like a whip. He bowed his head, trying to hide his inner pain.

Aragorn turned his attention to Faramir’s back and to his dismay detected considerable weakness and damage, not only to the muscles but also to the discs along his spine. It was small wonder that Faramir had been so loth to climb the mountain, as he must have been in considerable discomfort. “Do your legs hurt you?” he asked, fearing some injury to the nerves.

“No, my lord,” Faramir said promptly.

Although relieved that his Steward’s injuries might not be as grave as he had feared, the formality of the reply unsettled the King. “Turn sideways! Does that movement pain you?” Aragorn instructed; determined to discover just how severe the damage was.

Faramir nodded reluctantly, grimacing with pain.

Aragorn rose to his feet and stepped back a few paces to better see the alignment of his Steward’s spine.

Remembering the humiliating inspection of two days ago, Faramir tensed even more.

“Easy now,” Aragorn said in a tone more appropriate for calming an edgy horse. He faced Faramir again and patted him on the shoulder in an awkward gesture of reassurance. The King suddenly found himself focussing on the red marks, which still disfigured his Steward’s skin. They were almost healed, apart from several patches, which he now realised with a start, were located at the exact sites where his own wounds had been inflicted. “Why did you rub so hard where I was wounded?” Aragorn asked in bewilderment. “At least your skin seems to be healing nicely now.”

“I could feel your hurts, but I could not help you,” Faramir replied miserably. “After I first slandered you before the Council, I hoped it would make my deeds easier to bear if I tried to wash the guilt away,” Faramir explained. “Not that it ever did!”

Aragorn sank to the ground, utterly shocked by this revelation. ”You felt my pain then?” he asked, unable to conceal his shock.

“I thought the Queen had told you,” Faramir replied. He backed away and crossed his arms defensively, trying to cover the red patches and the terrible memories they evoked.

“She said you had endured bad dreams and felt pain, but I had no idea that you felt the pain in the very same places where they inflicted it on my body.”

“I suppose that the Queen would not have known everything. I had only felt those pains twice when I spoke to her; and we never mentioned it again,” Faramir explained. “It does not matter, though. It was nothing compared to your suffering.”

“I never meant that to happen!” Aragorn exclaimed contritely, momentarily burying his face in his hands. He was overwhelmed by the image of his Steward forced to live a lie, alone in the Citadel, vainly trying to wash himself clean and tormented by the pain of the torture inflicted on his lord.

“I could hear you calling to me when I felt the pain. I wanted so badly to answer you, to at least let you know that I heard you, that you were not alone, but I did not know how,” Faramir said sadly.

“You have had little experience of using a Thought Bond.” Even as he said the words aloud, Aragorn realised that the answer to a question that had plagued him for months was simple. Bitterly he now rued his coldness and suspicion.

He looked at Faramir then, really looked at him, and saw not only the skin scrubbed raw, the scar left by the arrow he had taken for his lord; but also the painful hunched posture and the noticeably thin body, with each rib plainly visible through the skin, suggesting that long months of worry and heartache had been eating him away. Lifting his lord when he was too weak and helpless to walk had caused Faramir’s constant pain. His Steward had even carried him outside to look at the sky, making no complaint. Faramir had suffered all these months for the sake of one who had cared nothing for his well being in return. Aragorn found himself blinking back the tears, overwhelmed at the realisation of all Faramir’s suffering on his behalf, and his own shameful lack of gratitude ever since he had awakened in the cave.

“Do you have some salve? If not, may I put my shirt on again?” Faramir asked, feeling dejected and uncomfortable.

“I have not even started to do what I should have done months ago. I am sorry, mellon nîn, so very sorry! I have neglected you shamefully for too long.” Aragorn took a deep breath. Then he held his hands over Faramir’s damaged muscles and poured his healing energies into the younger man. It was so long since Aragorn had used his healing powers that he was surprised at just how strong they were today, and how strong he felt today! It was as if his ordeal had never happened. He had feared his full strength would never return and had felt less of a King, or even a man as result.

Faramir gave an audible sigh as the ease and warmth flowed into his aching body. Suddenly he laughed with pure joy.

“What amuses you so?” Aragorn enquired.

“It is wondrous to feel your strength has returned!” Faramir exclaimed. “I am so happy. You had some warmth in your hands the day you tended my wound when you regained your crown. That gladdened my heart indeed, but your power is far stronger now.”

Aragorn’s feelings of guilt intensified. How could he have misjudged his Steward so badly? Impulsively, he shed his outer tunic and reached out and drew Faramir to lean against him. “Come here that I may ease you further,” his said, his tone both gentle and commanding.

A traditional Elven massage technique used for both healing and bonding was to draw the patient to lean against the Healer. In that wise, the Healer was constantly aware of the patient’s heartbeat and how much they were relaxing as the treatment progressed.

Faramir’s heartbeat was still far too rapid. Aragorn felt a stab of fear. Had his Steward not properly recovered from the appalling beating he had suffered not even a full year ago? Or was Faramir so ill at ease with his lord and friend that his heart sped faster than it should? He could think of only one remedy.

Tentatively, Aragorn reached out and began to massage the back of Faramir’s neck. At first, he still found himself remaining aloof. The King’s memories came flooding back of the first time he had used the Elven massage on his friend. How uneasy he had been that first time! It had taken all his coaxing combined with Éowyn’s to persuade Faramir to accept his help. This was the same man he was tending. He had repeatedly had proved his loyalty. The King had initially wondered if a child of his might look like Faramir. Eventually, he had come to love him, as the grown son most men would have by this stage of their lives, but he had been denied until now. It was time to forgive with more than words. He had told Faramir so often to put the past behind him. Yet, when he most needed it, he had failed to follow his own advice! He had denied the younger man the help he so badly needed. His Steward had been almost fading before his eyes and he had chosen not to see! He was deeply ashamed now of allowing hurt pride and suspicion to almost destroy this honourable man.

Aragorn’s sensitive fingertips then sought out the damaged muscles and gradually and almost without realising, he found he was again using the same Elven technique he had used in the past. It was easy now for Aragorn to treat his Steward’s hurts, Faramir was reaching out with his spirit to accept the healing and soaking it up like a sponge, which made it easy for the King to offer.

Faramir could feel that something was different now and that again he was experiencing the touch he had feared was denied him forever. Silent tears trickled down his cheeks.

Aragorn realised he was happy. He had never wanted to heal again. Only now did he realise just how much he had missed using the gift of his forefathers. It gave him a satisfaction like no other; to see a pain-racked body become limp, relaxed and contented as the hurts vanished beneath his healing touch. Faramir was now as limp and comfortable as a contented cat on the verge of falling asleep. “Perhaps we should return to the City?” fretted Aragorn. ”You should be in bed to rest your back. It amazes me you can even walk!”

“Please no, “ Faramir protested. “I am enjoying this trip, and the pain is now easier that it has been in months.”

Aragorn hesitated; again torn between his head and his heart. Common sense and his Healer’s training dictated that Faramir should not be riding around in his frail state of health. Yet, would he be any better hunched over paperwork in Minas Tirith? He could at least here give him his full attention. Truth to tell, although he missed Arwen, he was loth to return just yet to the confinement of the stone walls. He was only now beginning to feel at peace with himself again. Faramir did indeed seem to be responding well to his healing, and his heartbeat was now slow and steady. “Very well,” the King conceded.” But you must tell me at once if you are in pain and let me keep treating your hurts.”

Faramir smiled and contentedly nodded his agreement.

“I think then we should stay here another day,” Aragorn announced. “Give your body time to heal together with your soul, Lossarnach will still be there tomorrow.”

“I feel much better already, I can ride, “ Faramir protested. “If anyone should be resting, it is you! I know how healing drains you!”

“Sometimes healing can heal the Healer,” Aragorn replied enigmatically, “There, I think I have done all I can for today. You can put your shirt back on.” He reached for the garment and handed it to his Steward.

Faramir slid his shirt over his head then impulsively kissed his friend on the brow. “Thank you, Aragorn; I feel better than I have done in months!” he exclaimed.

“So do I!” Aragorn replied, delighted again to hear Faramir use his given name so easily. He returned the gesture and sensed a new peace in the one he had come to love as his son.

Faramir yawned. He was finding he could hardly keep his eyes open.

“Let us find a comfortable place to sit awhile until we need to catch something for our midday meal,” said Aragorn.

They stretched out on the grass beside the stream in companionable silence, drowsing in the sun, both lulled by the sound of the water tricking over the stones. Eventually Aragorn reluctantly stirred. “I will see if I can catch a rabbit for our lunch,” he said.

“I will do it,” Faramir replied preparing to get up as he spoke.

“Rest. My treatment has made you drowsy today, “ Aragorn informed him, tucking the blanket round him. “You have done more than your fair share of catching our food.”

The Steward almost immediately fell asleep and Aragorn sat watching him for a few minutes. He slept soundly, his carven features relaxed in repose. The past could not be undone, but there was a new tranquillity about him now.


About an hour later, Faramir awoke feeling thoroughly refreshed. There was no sign either of the King or of the dinner. He was just about to go in search of his friend when Aragorn appeared with his kill.

Faramir could not repress a chuckle that it had taken the King so long to find them something to eat. It seemed that he was somewhat out of practise, but the Steward had to admit that it was an especially plump rabbit and tasted delicious when cooked.

That afternoon they fished in the stream and again Faramir’s catch exceeded the King’s. This time Aragorn made no complaint and complimented him on his fishing skills.

The baked trout they had for their supper that night was the best they had ever tasted.

“Tell me of your days as a Ranger!” Faramir begged impulsively, once the dishes were cleaned and stowed away. “I know so little of that time in your life!”



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