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A Time to Reap
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Words of Kindness

These Characters are the property of the Estate of J. R. R Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story has been written for pleasure and no profit has or will be made from it.
With grateful thanks to Raksha for all her much appreciated help.
The words of kindness are more healing to a drooping heart than balm or honey. - Sarah Fielding (1710–1768), The Adventures of David Simple.
A re-
living of ebbing dreams as morning ocean
returns to us ...


Faramir sighed in his sleep and nestled his head more comfortably against his friend‘s shoulder.

Aragorn's thoughts turned towards the angry farmers. He was relieved to have reached an agreement with them, though he knew not what would happen when he returned to work in the fields. He had held many duties in his long life, but apart from enjoying watching the Elves bring in the harvest at Rivendell when he was a child, he had little experience of farm work. Surely it could not be too difficult, though? He had attempted and mastered many tasks in his long life, and this would be surely be easy compared with most of them. Then how long would it take for Faramir to recover? Would he be lucid or distressed when he awoke? Unable to answer any of these troubling questions, Aragorn finally dozed.

Despite his exhaustion, the King's slumber was fitful. Faramir shifted and shivered in his arms, occasionally moaning in his sleep. Aragorn was cold and uncomfortable. Only when Faramir stopped shivering, and the King could feel a strong and steady heartbeat vibrating against his own, did he finally dare to fall into a deep exhausted sleep.

When Aragorn awoke again, the sun was already high in the sky. Faramir was still sleeping peacefully. He carefully untied the thong that had he had bound from Faramir's wrist to his own, and arose. Anxiously, he felt Faramir’s forehead for signs of fever. He was relieved to find the fever had abated, though the younger man looked pale and drawn following his ordeal.

Aragorn had learned a bitter lesson in the terrible moments when he believed Faramir dead. He knew now that whatever happened, to lose Faramir would be akin to losing part of his own soul. Never again would he seek to send him from his side. He was fortunate indeed to have been granted another chance to treat Faramir as a beloved son. Aragorn shuddered to recall the months when he had he had treated Faramir so ignominiously, like a servant cast out of favour. Small wonder that he had failed to recover from his imprisonment! Exiling Faramir had hurt them both in equal measure.

Loth as he was to leave his friend, the King had to see to his own needs. He rummaged in his pack and took out a towel, clean shirt, socks, and drawers.
Careful to remain within earshot, though it was unlikely Faramir would awaken until he called him; Aragorn went into the shelter of the trees then hastened down to the river to bathe. He undressed down his drawers and had a very quick swim, washing away the dried sweat and traces of detritus from Faramir’s wound. He noted ruefully that a colourful array of bruises adorned his body from where Faramir had deliriously lashed out at him. Still dripping, he wrapped himself in his towel, gathered up his clothes and returned to Faramir’s side, where he dried himself and swiftly dressed.

Though it seemed a pity to disturb the younger man, Aragorn deemed it was time now to awaken him. The sooner that Faramir took refreshment and had his injuries were tended, the better. He hesitated, wondering whether he should use his abilities to try to erase the memories of Faramir's delirium of the previous night from his friend’s mind. No, Faramir was not a distressed Hobbit, but a warrior, a courageous and intelligent man who had braved the Nazgűl's attack; he would not shrink from such knowledge. Besides, it would probably cause Faramir more anguish to only guess at what had occurred. The gaps in Aragorn's own memories when he had been drugged or feverish were not a burden he would wish on another. Aragorn knelt beside Faramir and placed a hand on his brow. ”Wake up, ion nîn!” he commanded, gently but firmly.

The Steward stirred, blinked and opened his eyes, only to quickly shut them again against the light.

“How do you fare?” Aragorn asked quietly.

Faramir struggled to sit up then fell back again as waves of dizziness and nausea engulfed him.

“Easy now, tell me exactly how you feel and I will aid you.”

“Thank you,” Faramir said weakly, unable even to nod his head. ”I fear I fare ill.” He forced himself to focus his gaze upon the King. “My head aches,” he croaked. “My ribs feel as if a műmak had stomped upon them, and my back smarts. What happened? I had such dark dreams!”

“You were bitten by a spider, one akin to Shelob, I think,” Aragorn explained.

Faramir groaned. “Is that why my head spins so much?” he enquired, sinking back on the bedroll. “I feel sick!”

“It will pass,” Aragorn soothed, trying to settle him more comfortably. “Just lie still for a few moments, and take my hands. I only wish I had some ginger for you.”

Faramir gripped Aragorn’s outstretched hands like a drowning mariner would clutch a scrap of driftwood, then shut his eyes again. Aragorn held Faramir's hands for a moment, suffusing him with a wave of warmth and energy. The King then pressed his thumbs hard on Faramir’s wrists, using a technique that Lord Elrond had taught him to ease nausea when no medicines were available. He pulled back the blankets and held his hands a few inches above Faramir’s ribs and stomach where he sensed Faramir was hurting the most. The Steward lay quietly content to let those wonderful healing hands work their magic. The worse of the pain and discomfort abated.

After a few minutes had passed, Faramir dared to open his eyes again, and met the concerned gaze of his King. “I will tend you further later,” Aragorn said. “Try to swallow a little water.” He uncorked his freshly filled water bottle.

Faramir attempted once more to sit up, and this time succeeded with Aragorn's aid. He managed to swallow a few sips of the proffered drink. His expression became increasingly bewildered. “Why am I only half dressed and my shirt unlaced?” he asked in bewilderment. “Oh no, I remember now! I thought it was but an evil dream!”

“What do you remember?” Aragorn asked gently.

“I was running through the field naked and a group of angry men and women were after me!” Faramir replied, flushing scarlet. "The shame of it! How shall I ever be able to live with the disgrace? I, the Steward of Gondor, to have been seen in so disgraceful a state! I am destroyed! How could I do such a thing? They must have thought I was a drunkard or a lunatic!” He buried his face in his hands, shaking with distress.

“Peace ion nîn!” Aragorn placed a comforting arm around him. “The corn was high enough to shield your body from their eyes until I reached you. I covered you with a blanket before the farmers arrived. You were feverish and had wandered off while I slept.”

“You are certain I was not naked before them?” Faramir persisted anxiously, burying his head against the King’s shoulder and seeking solace in the comfortingly familiar scent of athelas and fresh herbs, which seemed especially strong today.

“I was the only one to see you completely unclothed, “ Aragorn reassured him. “Do trouble yourself over the matter. I dressed you as quickly as I could, though you resisted my efforts quite fiercely, hence your partial state of undress .I gave up as soon as you were decent enough to behold.”

“I did not wish to dress?” Faramir sounded incredulous. “But I hate being unclothed!”

“I know that well,” Aragorn said wryly. “After all, you do look far better with your clothes on than without them. The farmers would have agreed, though I am not sure about their wives. I think the women were disappointed that I had you decently covered before they could get a good look at you! The men were concerned more with the damage to their crops than your curious lack of attire.”

“We will never hear the last of it!” Faramir groaned. “The Steward of the Realm found rampaging through a field of crops wearing only a blanket! All of Gondor will take me for an immodest drunkard with no respect for property either, or worse, a madman like my father.” Aragorn felt the younger man shiver.

“Peace, Faramir, they know not who we are,” said Aragorn quickly. “I told them we were a father and son from the City on leave from the army, and enjoying a hunting trip together. They will never guess the truth.” He deemed it best to wait until Faramir was less distressed before telling him of the bargain he had made with the farmers. “You are not mad, it was merely the effects of the spider venom combined with your fever.”
“But Frodo did not act thus. I seem to have less resilience to the poison than a Hobbit!” Faramir fretted. “Samwise told me that Frodo was back on his feet within a few hours of being bitten by Shelob and he did not lose his wits as I did!”

“ Your heart was beating very fast when you were attacked, so more of the venom would have circulated in your body,” Aragorn explained. “I did not pour Orc brew down your throat, so the poison’s effects are slower to wear off. It is better to let your body expel it naturally. It was appalling what they did to Frodo. They could have choked him. Then by interrupting the body’ natural healing processes, the potion permanently damaged Frodo’s heath. Hobbits usually recover far more swiftly than Men from injuries. Have no fear, mellon nîn, you will feel better in a few hours, and in a day or two be fully recovered. Now that Sauron is no more, his creatures’ power wanes quickly. Once the wound closes it will be as if it never happened.” Aragorn again grasped Faramir’s hands and looked him straight in the eye.

“If you say so...” Faramir managed a weak smile, but his eyes were troubled. He rubbed his aching head, trying to comprehend everything that had happened.

“Let me ease your head!” Aragorn held his hand above Faramir’s aching brow.

The Steward closed his eyes and sighed as the pain subsided. When he opened his eyes again, he felt much better. It was then he noticed the bruise on Aragorn’s face.
“What happened to you?” he enquired, hoping the horrible suspicion he felt would prove false.

“I um, knocked myself,” Aragorn replied evasively.

“Or was it not I who hit you?” Faramir asked dejectedly, his eyes on his King.

“You thought your raiment full of crawling creatures and objected to my insistence that you clothe yourself,” Aragorn informed him. “Do not trouble yourself about it. It is not painful. It was my own fault for not sending you sleep sooner.”

“So I laid violent hands upon you once more," Faramir said in a low, sad voice. “I struck my liege lord.”

“We are far from the court and at present I would be as a father and a Healer to you,” Aragorn replied. “All Healers occasionally receive a few blows from confused patients. You probably mistook me for a spider or an Orc, given the dark dreams such foul venom conjures up. Think no more of it. I am far more concerned about having a cup of tea! Do you feel you could drink some now?”

Faramir nodded mutely, then wished he had not as his head started to spin once more.
“Lie down again,” Aragorn advised, “It will pass as the day wears on.”

“But I need to get up!” Faramir protested.

“Come on then!” Aragorn knelt beside him. “Put your hands on my shoulders!” he instructed.
Thus supported, Faramir found he could stand up, albeit rather shakily. Aragorn led him to the cover of the trees. Faramir tried to hide his misery at the humiliation of needing assistance.

“There is no need to feel uncomfortable,” Aragorn assured him. “You had to do everything for me but a few months since. Sadly, I expressed no gratitude for my great good fortune at having a friend who treated me always with dignity and kindness. Do not see shame where there is none, as I foolishly did.”

“It is not easy to feel helpless as a babe when one is accustomed to independence,” said Faramir, sinking again on the bedroll when they returned to their campsite.

”I know that all too well,” Aragorn replied ruefully. He threw more logs on the fire as he spoke. “I need to leave you to fetch water. And please do not let any more spiders bite you while my back is turned! I do not wish for such a fright again, nor to have to dress one so reluctant twice. You struggled worse than Eldarion does when he does not wish to be put into clean clothing!”

The Steward managed a weak grin at what he knew was good-natured teasing.

While the King was gone, Faramir desperately tried to recollect his jumbled thoughts and remember exactly what had happened. He had been sitting by the riverbank and had felt a sharp pain between his shoulder blades. Then darkness had taken him, a thick and heavy darkness punctuated by terrifying flashes of clarity. Faramir had been aware of his surroundings, but unable to move or speak.

Aragorn had been there. The King had stayed constantly at his side, murmuring words of comfort and reassurance, chafing his hands and bathing his face as if aware of Faramir's confusion and fear. Horrified, Faramir then realised that Aragorn did know how Faramir had felt. Aragorn must have had the same awareness when he had been paralysed with the venom himself. Fore Aragorn, though, there had been none to offer comfort, and reassure him that he would not be buried alive!

Faramir remembered the certainty, as sensation had returned, that his skin was covered in crawling insects. He had torn off his clothes, heedless of decorum for the first time in his adult life, intent only on ridding himself of the vile creatures. He remembered angry raised voices shouting at him and a sea of strange faces. All he could remember after that was feeling increasingly unwell and someone at his side caring for him. Aragorn was a true friend indeed. But just how much damage had he caused when he had blundered naked into the field?

“You remembered it all.” Faramir stated when Aragorn return returned with the water.

“Remembered what, mellon nîn?” Aragorn asked puzzled.

“That I drugged you with spider venom,” Faramir confessed miserably.

“I realised that it was the spider venom that enabled you to convince the rebels that I was dead. Before last night, I could not understand how you extricated me from that den of torment. Why did you not tell me before?” Aragorn did not sound angry. He busied himself putting the water on to boil.

“I could not; I did not think you would understand. I saw to it that you were paralysed, taken for dead!”

“I should have been more understanding long ago,” Aragorn said apologetically. “Perhaps you would have felt able to confide in me if I had been? I suspect that a need to bare your soul, as well as a fear of crawling creatures, was behind what happened last night. You were very distressed before you were bitten. Maybe it would help if you told me about using the venom.”

“It pains me too much,” Faramir replied, refusing to meet Aragorn's eyes.

“I know,” Aragorn said gently. He knew it seemed cruel to press Faramir in his weakened condition, yet felt certain his recovery would be swifter were his heart unburdened.

Faramir hesitated. If he told any more, the newfound bond between them could shatter once more.

“You need to tell me all,” Aragorn’s voice was kindly, but its note of command was unmistakable.


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