The Sword in the Tree
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 Deandra
He jests at scars that never felt a wound. – Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
A groom ran to greet them and took hold of Roheryn's reins. Éomer supported Faramir while Aragorn dismounted. The big stallion stood perfectly still and only tossed his head and neighed when the man led him away, no doubt indignant that he was denied the usual apple that his master gave him.
Together, the two Kings carefully carried Faramir to the chamber he was sharing with Aragorn. Faramir was groaning and appeared to be regaining consciousness.
To Aragorn's relief, the servants had carried out his instructions. A cheerful fire was burning in the hearth and a stack of clean towels beside the bed. He called to one of the maids to cover the bed with a towels and for another to hurry and fetch hot water.
They gently placed Faramir on the bed. Éomer pulled off the wounded man's boots, while Aragorn laid out his healing supplies on a table nearby.
Faramir moaned softly and blinked. "Easy, ion nîn, you are safe now," the King said gently." I will try to ease your hurts." He placed a hand on Faramir's forehead and again checked his pulse. He frowned at the clammy skin and rapid heartbeat. Faramir was now shivering despite the warmth of the room. His breath came in ragged gasps. "Have you any of the tea the Hobbits favour, Éomer?" Aragorn enquired.
"Why yes, plenty. Merry sends us a regular supply from the Shire," Éomer replied. "Shall I have a servant bring some?"
"Please, and have them bring a jar of honey too." Aragorn divested Faramir of his cloak, then rather to Éomer's surprise, covered him with a blanket rather than making any attempt to undress him further. Faramir groaned as he made to move away from the bedside.
"I will return in a moment," Aragorn soothed. He nodded to Éomer to take his place at the bedside. The King of Rohan took Faramir's hand. Meanwhile, Aragorn removed his own cloak and outer tunic. He then sat on the edge of the bed and took Faramir in his arms. "He needs calming if possible, before I tend to his wounds," he said in response to Éomer 's questioning gaze." He is in deep shock. Come on, Faramir, wake up, your King calls you!"
Faramir briefly regarded him with pain- filled eyes. If anything, he looked even paler now than before. Aragorn shuddered inwardly. It would tear his soul asunder to lose this dearest and best of friends who had become like a beloved son to him. They had been through so much together and saved each other's lives on several occasions. "Do not leave me!" Aragorn pleaded.
"Ada!" Faramir moved his head slightly, settling it against Aragorn's broad shoulder.
"I am here beside you," Aragorn reassured him. He placed a hand on Faramir's brow, willing some of his own strength into the injured man.
Éomer went to the door and took the tea from the servant. Aragorn instructed him to stir a large spoonful of honey into Faramir's cup and hold it to his brother- in- law's lips. "Sip this!" he ordered.
Faramir opened his eyes a little wider.
"Drink, it will help you," Aragorn coaxed, his voice both kindly and commanding," Stay awake for me now!"
Faramir drank. He found he was dreadfully thirsty. The hot sweet drink warmed him and together with Aragorn's reassuring presence, he gradually started to feel slightly better. He found himself wondering whatever his father would think that two kings were tending to his scorned younger son. Despite his pain, he laughed. Aragorn looked at him questioningly.
"I was thinking about my father," he said.
Aragorn still looked puzzled but refrained from questioning him.
Once the drink was finished, Aragorn checked Faramir's pulse again. "I will tend your wounds now," he told the injured man, before starting to unwrap the makeshift bandages. It seemed they were serving to keep Faramir's clothes together as well as staunch his wound. The ruined garments were little better than rags. "I will need to cut these off," Aragorn warned his Steward.
Faramir sighed. The King exchanged a look with Éomer.
"I will see if there is any news of my lady and then tend Firefoot," the King of Rohan said tactfully. "I will ask a servant to wait outside who will fetch me should you have need of me further. I hope it goes well with you, brother. Shall I clean this for you?" He gestured towards Glamring.
"Thank you," Faramir whispered.
Éomer gently patted Faramir's shoulder then took up the sword before leaving.
Faramir visibly relaxed once his brother- in- law had left. Much as he liked the younger man, he had not wished him to witness his pain and weakness. "Thank you," he whispered.
"A good healer respects his patients' privacy," said Aragorn trying to hide his anxiety now that he was about to see just how badly Faramir was hurt. The Steward lay quietly as he cut the rags away, flinching when the cloth had stuck to the wounds but making no sound. Every garment was torn from the Warg's fearsome claws.
Once Faramir's wound was revealed, Aragorn bit back a cry of dismay. His friend's body was covered in blood! On closer examination, Aragorn ascertained that Faramir bore many small scrapes, but the damage had been caused when a Warg's claws had torn into his flesh from shoulder to hip. The wound was still bleeding sluggishly, but it had missed the major organs.
Aragorn swiftly draped a towel across Faramir's hips; to give him some semblance of dignity. He prepared to treat his friend's hurts. "You have many bruises and scratches and a deep wound, ion nîn," he said. "I am going to clean and stitch them for you. I fear it will hurt, though I shall be as gentle as I can."
"I trust you, ada," Faramir whispered.
Aragorn gently squeezed Faramir's hand. Going over to the table, he selected meadowsweet and athelas and cast both into one of the bowls of hot water the servants had brought. The scent of the athelas revived his spirits, steeling him for the task ahead. Treating a loved one was difficult for any healer. Aragorn was no exception. He knew, though, that he was by far the best qualified for the task and most importantly, Faramir trusted him. An unfortunate series of events had made such situations all too familiar to them both, to the degree that both now felt entirely at ease with each other.
The athelas brought some more colour back to Faramir's pallid features and his breathing grew deeper.
Aragorn washed his own hands then began to clean his Steward's wounds gently but thoroughly. His grim expression lightened when it became obvious that the cut was not as deep as he had feared and neither bones nor major blood vessels were damaged. Warg wounds were no light matter, especially as the creatures often carried infections on their filthy paws, but given the damage the creatures could cause, Faramir had escaped lightly. His collapse must have been caused by a mixture of pain, blood loss and the exertion of trying to ride a horse while injured. A few days of treatments, combined with rest and nourishing food, should suffice to restore Faramir's health, Aragorn hoped. If only Faramir had disclosed his wound sooner! But questions, and a good talking-to about misplaced stubbornness and stoicism could wait.
Knowing there was no purpose in trying to put on a brave face before his closest friend, Faramir allowed his usual self- control to slip and moaned softly. The pain was excruciating, especially in his shoulder.
Aragorn grimaced in sympathy and held his hand a few inches above the wound, thereby easing Faramir's pain with his healing abilities.
"Would you like some poppy juice, before I stitch up your hurts?" Aragorn enquired.
"Please," Faramir whispered. "Alas, you must think me a coward!"
"Never would I think such a thing of you!" Aragorn protested, mixing the portion as he spoke "A coward would be screaming and only a fool would pretend they felt no pain. I fear it would be unwise to wait until the juice took effect, though, the wound needs closing swiftly."
"Your hands take the pain," Faramir replied, "But do not overtax yourself, I beg of you!"
Aragorn made no reply; instead he held the cup to Faramir's lips and supported his head while he drank. He then took up needle and thread and closed the long ugly gash.
Before bandaging the wounds, Aragorn bathed Faramir, washing away the blood and cleansing the variety of smaller cuts and scratches Faramir had sustained in his battle with the ferocious beast.
The poppy juice was by now taking effect and Faramir was very sleepy." You need honey applied to these wounds to help prevent infection," the King warned. "It will sting."
"Um," Faramir murmured sleepily, followed by "Ow!" as the sugary liquid touched the raw flesh.
"Easy, I am almost finished now," Aragorn reassured him.
"Feel cold!" Faramir said, as Aragorn finished tying the bandage around his leg.
"You are not in balmy Ithilien now!" Aragorn reminded him. "Far too chill a place to be devoid of clothes and blankets for long." He rinsed the honey from his hands then rummaged amongst the clothing Faramir had brought with him, emerging triumphantly with some drawers and a nightshirt for his friend to wear.
He helped the sleepy Steward don the garments then pulled the blankets over him. Faramir was soon tucked in and sleeping soundly.
Aragorn selected some healing supplies to place on the bedside table and replaced the rest in his pack. He opened the door and called for a servant to take away the bowls and dirty towels.
Just then, Éomer reappeared looking worried. "How is Faramir?" he enquired. "I have cleaned and polished his new sword for him." He placed the weapon against the wall as he spoke.
"The wounds were not as bad as I feared, but he suffers pain and great risk of infection still from those filthy Warg claws," Aragorn replied. "I hope he will soon recover, though, as he has the strong constitution of our people. I have given him poppy juice, so he should sleep for hours."
"That is good," Éomer replied rather absently. "There is no sign of our child yet. Lothiriel is still in labour so her ladies tell me."
"Babies take their time," Aragorn reassured him. "Eldarion took almost twenty four hours to come into the world."
"Yet Éowyn's child came very quickly?"
"Elestelle was premature and your sister's actions speeded up the labour. Trust me, my friend, and let nature take her course."
"You are the Healer so I suppose you must know," was all Éomer could think of to say. "You look weary, my friend," he exclaimed suddenly noticing Aragorn's drawn features. "You should rest awhile."
"I need to keep watch over Faramir," Aragorn protested.
"I will stay here and alert you if he wakes," Éomer said firmly. "Now lie down and I will sit here in the chair."
Too weary to protest and grateful for his young friend's insistence, Aragorn vacated the chair and after carefully removing his boots, settled down on the bed, pulling a corner of the quilt over himself. He was soon snoring soundly.
Éomer smiled indulgently and settled himself comfortably in the roomy chair. Faramir tossed restlessly for a while, but eventually settled, his head against Aragorn's broad shoulder. Lack of sleep followed by an eventful day eventually took its toll on Éomer and he felt his eyes grow heavy.