Chapter 9 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 this story and "The Hidden Days of Healing" amazed me and encouraged me to write more.

A very big thank you to everyone who has reviewed. Your comments have been greatly appreciated and I have been very touched by them.

I would love to hear from any one who has been reading but not left a comment, as this is the last chapter.

The wording of the oaths is deliberately slightly altered from Tolkien's original wording.

He entered the now familiar Houses of Healing and went first, to Merry and Pippin, who were walking in the garden. They gasped when they saw him.

"Strider, you look splendid!" Pippin exclaimed." You really look like the King now!"

Aragorn smiled, though fighting to control his emotions. He had fought and survived many battles, but never one in which the odds were as hopeless as they were now.

He hardly felt the pain in his arms and shoulders any longer, so great was the pain in his heart, a sorrow that must be concealed, as it was his duty to inspire his men and calm their fears in the face of almost certain death.

"It is time for you to join the company of the Men of the City which is ready to depart, Pippin." He said," We leave within the hour."

"I would take my oath to you now." Said Pippin impulsively. "Lord Denethor released me, yet I would swear again to you and to Gondor. "He knelt at Aragorn's feet.

Overcome by the Hobbit's loyalty and courage, Aragorn drew Anduril and offered him the hilt. Pippin placed his hand on it and said.

"Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor and to the King, in peace and war, in living and dying, from this day henceforth, until my King release me, or death take me, or the world end. Thus do I, Peregrin of the Shire solemnly swear."

Aragorn replied

"And thus do I hear, Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir to the thrones of Gondor and Arnor and will not fail to reward what is given, valour with honour, oath breaking with vengeance and fealty with love."

Pippin kissed his Liege Lord's hand and Aragorn raised him to his feet and embraced him, as fought to keep the tears from his eyes.

Merry watched, wiping away his own tears with the back of his hand.

Aragorn turned to him." Now our ways must part and I know not for how long it shall be! "He said sadly. " If we never meet again, I have been honoured to know you, Farewell!"

He held out his hand to Merry, who took it, and hesitated for a moment before they drew each other into a close embrace.

Aragorn reluctantly released the tearful Hobbit and left him to say his goodbyes to Pippin.

Faramir was sitting propped up in bed when Aragorn entered.

When he saw the King, he slid out of bed and knelt on the stone floor before Aragorn could prevent him.

"I would swear my oath to you, my King. "He said." I am sorry I do not have my sword with me."

"You are not well enough to be out of bed!" The healer in Aragorn was horrified while the man was deeply touched at the gesture.

"My Liege, I beg of you!"

Aragorn drew Anduril and held out the hilt to Faramir who grasped it and said solemnly.

"Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor and to my King, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace and war, in living and dying, from this day henceforth, until my King release me, or death take me, or the world end. Thus do I, Faramir son of Denethor of the House of Hurin solemnly swear."

Aragorn replied with equal gravity.

"And thus do I hear, Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir to the thrones of Gondor and Arnor and nor will I forget it, nor will not fail to reward what is given, valour with honour, oath breaking with vengeance and fealty with love."

Faramir noted how the King had changed the order of the words from his father's day. It was in keeping with the man.

He bent forward to kiss Aragorn's hand and almost swooned .The King was beside him in an instant, gently raising him to his feet and supporting him back to bed.

"Today the King has returned out of legend." Faramir whispered. "I am glad that I have lived to see this day and would serve my Liege Lord as you command."

Aragorn looked at him with a mixture of pride and sadness." I command you to rest and take food and regain your strength, to care for Gondor and her people and to especially care for the Hobbit, Meriadoc, and the Lady of Eowyn of Rohan, who too lie within these houses.

"I will, I give you my oath." said Faramir gravely.

"Then I bid you farewell. I do not know if we will meet again, but may you be blessed by the Valar!"

He bent and kissed Faramir on the brow and then he was gone, striding out resplendent in black and scarlet as he rode out to face the Dark Lord.

Faramir stared after him, seeing only the scarlet lining of his brother's cloak, crimson as freshly spilled blood, a noble sacrifice for the greater good of Middle Earth.

He vowed to follow the King's commands while breath remained in him and then he wept for the future he longed to see but feared could never come to pass.

The End

You can read my version of what happens next in "The Hidden Days of Healing" on or in Tolkien's "The Return of the King".

As so many readers have told me they would like another story, I am currently working on one set two years in the future and further developing some of the relationships touched upon in this story.