These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

A/N This story is a prequel to "The Hidden Days of Healing" also on this site. The story is based on a mixture of the book and the film mixed freely with my own imagination.

I did only intend to write one "Lord of the Rings" story but the response I received to "The Hidden Days of Healing" amazed me and encouraged me to write more.

This is dedicated to all my loyal readers.

Facing the Darkness

Aragorn knew he had to talk to Faramir in case he never had another chance as the Host was due to set out to Mordor at first light tomorrow.

Faramir deserved to know of his brother's last moments and how bravely he had fought to defend the Hobbits but Aragorn hated to have to tell him now, while he was still lying recovering, but still very weak in the Houses of Healing.

This was the last thing Aragorn would usually do, cause emotional distress to one as weak as Faramir still was. Yet if he were to fall before the Black Gate of Mordor, Faramir would never have the chance to hear of his beloved brother's death from the one who was with him at the time and thereby maybe he would gain some peace of mind from knowing the truth.

Aragorn was exhausted after the battle, tending those under the shadow of the black breath and debating with the other leaders about how best they could give Frodo a chance to destroy the Dark Lord's power, but he would not rest until he had fulfilled the duty he felt he owed both to Boromir and Faramir.

Clad simply with his grey cloak concealing the green gem he wore, he made his way to the young captain's room, hoping that he was stronger now.

The struggle to save Faramir's life had been the hardest Aragorn had ever experienced.

So deeply had Faramir fallen into shadow and despair, and never before had he needed to reach so deeply into the mind of another to lead them back into the world of the living.

Aragorn had sensed such darkness and despair, a gentle soul driven to the very limits and yet underneath the shadow, he sensed a kindred spirit, which had made him all the more determined to save Faramir's life, whatever the cost to his own strength.

And indeed the cost was high as his companions had all feared for his own well being before Bergil had brought some athelas, which served to revive both Faramir and himself.

When he entered Faramir's room, the healers were tending his wounds and he was propped up in bed with his nightshirt pulled down to his waist. For the first time it struck Aragorn how painfully thin the young man was and the many old or partially healed wounds on his body showed evidence of long hardship and neglect.

Faramir blushed scarlet as the King entered the room and tried to rise and pull up his nightshirt. His expression suggested the mixture of the love and respect, which Aragorn had noticed two nights before but now that was overshadowed by a look of overwhelming fear.

Faramir fell back against the pillows caught by the healers' restraining hands.

"My apologies, my Lord," Faramir gasped." I fear I am not properly clad to receive your Grace and I cannot rise."

Aragorn smiled attempting to reassure him." There is nothing to apologise for Faramir." he said gently." I only wished to speak to you." He wondered, not for the first time, how he could approach the subject of Boromir's death.

He then turned to the healers.

"I will tend his wound myself." The King said.

"As you wish, my Lord." The healers bowed and left, grateful to have one less to tend as many were waiting for their help in these dark days.

Aragorn felt Faramir's flushed brow and once reassured he was not feverish but merely ill at ease, took the bowl of warm water the healers had left and started to bathe the wound on Faramir's shoulder.

It was healing well and Aragorn felt relieved, although he feared the muscle was damaged, which could cause Faramir much future pain if neglected.

"It is not fitting that my King should be tending me." Faramir protested.

"I have been a healer far longer than I have been a King, if indeed I am ever crowned as such, should I return from Mordor. Tell me if this wound continues to pain you as I think I will need to give you more treatments." Aragorn replied, gently dabbing the injured shoulder dry with a towel and applying a salve the sons of Elrond had provided, not only to the arrow wound, but also to the other half healed hurts across the younger man's chest and shoulders.

Faramir flinched at each touch, despite the slow gentle movements of the King's fingertips and hissed as the ointment stung the raw flesh even though he was far gentler than the healers of Gondor, who had attended him.

Strange warmth emanated from the King's hands, which felt both soothing and frightening to Faramir, as he had never encountered anything quite like it before.

He stared mutely at his hands lying limply on the coverlet as if lost in thought.

The King wondered whether it was the wounds or something else that caused Faramir so much pain.

He placed a soft pad of cloth over the shoulder wound and started to wind a bandage across Faramir's chest and round his back to keep it in place.

He moved round the bed and gasped when he saw the old scars of many lash wounds, too many to count across the exposed back.

Even worse, these were overlaid with fresh welts that could not have been inflicted more than a few days ago.

What horrors had this man endured? He wondered. Granted that most young men felt the lash at some time during unruly youth but very seldom sufficiently to leave such scars, especially in the noble houses.

Fortunately, Faramir seemed too nervous at being in the presence of his King to even notice the look of horror on the other's face.