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.
Faramir whispered through parched lips, "My Lord, you called me. I come. What does the King command?"
Aragorn felt breathless with awe and was so amazed that he almost dropped the bowl he was holding. Hastily, he placed it on the bedside table. However did Faramir know who he was as he had never seen him before?
"Walk no more in the darkness, but awake!" Aragorn told him, holding a glass to his lips so he could drink." You are weary. Rest awhile and take food and be ready when I return."
His mind was full of questions but now was not the right time to ask them. He needed a long talk with Faramir once he was stronger as he owed it to him to tell him about the last moments of his brother. Also he would like to get to know this younger son of Denethor's.
"I will, Lord," said Faramir shyly. "For who would lie idle when the King has returned?"
There it was again, the acknowledgement of his claim to kingship. If he were to survive the coming battle he would owe this man a dept of gratitude which could never be repaid as by his acknowledgement the way was now opened for him to become King of the reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor and win the hand of his beloved Arwen.
He grasped Faramir's hand in unspoken thanks and instantly Faramir tried to lift it to his lips to kiss in fealty.
"Farewell then for a while!" said Aragorn. "I must go to others who need me."
With tears in his eyes he bent and kissed Faramir on the brow and turned and left the room but not before telling the Healers to bring a nourishing broth for Faramir and see that he was bathed and that his sweat soaked nightshirt and bed linen were changed to make him more comfortable.
The garrulous Ioreth naturally had to have the last word "King! Did you hear that? What did I say? The hands of a healer I said!"
Aragorn smiled ruefully, so much for his attempt to come into the city unnoticed, as now he was certain all of Minas Tirith would be aware of his coming.
But most importantly, he had saved Faramir and he hoped if the Valar saw him through the coming war that he could rule with this man as his Steward by his side.
Faramir lay gazing after him, his mind filled with conflicting emotions, joy that the long awaited King had returned combined with horror at his own numerous albeit unavoidable lapses of etiquette.
He shivered as the nightshirt he woe felt cold and damp now that the fever had broken.
Whatever would the King think that he had been unable to stand and bow to him, or would he be insulted that he was wearing only this sweat soaked nightshirt and not his velvet court robes, which he was certain were the correct attire for greeting a King in? He had been taught to wear them when Theoden of Rohan visited his father and this man was a greater King by far.
Then had he addressed him correctly, should he have said Your Majesty?
His musings were interrupted when two young apprentice healers came to bathe him and change his bedding and nightshirt. The Times must be grave indeed if no others could be spared to attend to him, as it was usual for only the most senior healers to tend the ruling family even if only for the most basic nursing needs.
Although he knew he needed their help, being too weak still to do anything for himself, he flushed scarlet when they undressed him, kind and discreet as they were, as he hated being unclothed in front of others. He supposed he should be thankful they had not sent Ioreth or any of the other women who tended the sick here!
"Are you well my Lord Steward?" one of them asked, feeling his forehead for any signs of returning fever.
"Yes, I am well, thank you, but why do you address me thus? Is my father dead?" It seemed that his vision was correct. His father must have fallen in the great battle he knew was coming.
Neither of the young men would look him in the eye as one mumbled. "Yes he is dead, my Lord Steward, I offer my sincere condolences."
"How did he die?" Faramir asked as a clean bandage was wound round his shoulder. The wound throbbed painfully as did his back. His hair felt oddly greasy and uncomfortable but as neither offered to wash it, he said nothing as it was obvious they were hard pressed with so many sick and wounded to care for.
"We do not know. "The chorused in unison almost as if reciting a pre rehearsed script. "We were working here and have not left these Houses for many days. All we know is that you are the Ruling Steward now."
Faramir was puzzled by their reticence as so many must have fallen these past days, they must by now be accustomed to the grim task of telling relatives that their loved ones had fallen.
He felt numb and too weary to press them further. Maybe the tears would come when he was alone, as he had been trained from early childhood to repress his emotions. Even when only five years old he had been told if he wept at his mother's funeral, he would be beaten afterwards. All his life he had striven for his father's approval and now he would never gain it, yet all he could feel was a vague sense of relief.
"Was that really the King just then?" asked the younger looking of the two healers, as if trying to distract him.
"Yes that was indeed our Sovereign Lord, so I shall be the last of my House to bear the office." He replied in a muffed tone, as a clean nightshirt was drawn over his head. "Gladly do I surrender the White Rod to him."
One of the healers brought him some broth, tucked a cloth under his chin to protect the clean nightshirt and then fed it to him spoonful by spoonful. He felt as if he were a small child again, but then it would have been his nurse or elder brother feeding him. He hated being so helpless but the broth tasted good and at least was clothed now!
Faramir was then left to rest but sleep was slow to come to him as he kept thinking about Boromir, about his father and most of all about the King, who had returned to claim his throne after so long.
The King had said he would return to him in a while. Whatever was he going to say to him? He had not even thanked him for saving his life, another unforgivable breach of etiquette!
He had felt strongly drawn to the man who had looked at him with such kind eyes but he was the mightiest man in Middle Earth and would no doubt be even harder to please than his father!
He then thought of his loyal men who had ridden out beside him to Osgiliath and wondered how many had survived. He could see their faces and hear their screams as the enemy's arrows rained down upon them, whenever he tried to close his eyes.
Finally he fell into an uneasy sleep.
Aragorn was about to leave the Houses and seek out any others that stricken by the Black breath that needed his help. He had sent for the sons of Elrond to come and help him face the magnitude of the task at hand.
Lady Eowyn and Merry had been far easier to awaken than Faramir as he had the athelas to help him rouse them but now he was weary beyond measure for as he had told Merry, he had not slept in a bed since Dunharrow nor eaten since before dawn.
Something made him look into Faramir's room to see how his Steward was faring as the young man had been so very close to death.
He found him alone in his room, tossing in an uneasy sleep. After feeling Faramir's forehead and satisfying himself that the fever had truly left him, Aragorn lightly brushed his fingertips over the restless man's eyelids while making small circles with his thumb on his forehead.
Faramir settled into a deep untroubled sleep almost at once.
Aragorn smiled in satisfaction, he would heal now and regain his strength. He felt protective towards this young man, for had he been allowed to marry when he wished, he could easily have a son of his age by now and any child of his and Arwen's would have raven hair and grey eyes like Faramir and as Faramir had made it clear he accepted him as King, maybe soon he would be blessed with a son of his own.
Quietly he left the room. As soon as Faramir was strong enough, he would visit him and talk to him about his brother and most importantly get to know his future Steward whom he hoped would also be his friend.
A/N You can read about Aragorn telling Faramir of Boromir's death in "Facing the Darkness2 an immediate sequel to this story, also on this Site, which also deals with Merry's recovery.
I have not included Merry and Eowyn in this story as I feel Tolkien deals with both in sufficient depth and Faramir's healing is the most important as he acknowledges Aragorn as King thus ensuring a smooth transfer of power and averting a possible civil war. I do touch on Eowyn's experiences in chapter 30 of "Shadow and Thought".
Tolkien does not tell us whether Eomer remained while Faramir was healed or if he went to wait at Eowyn's bedside.
I promise my readers I have no intention of ever writing slash.
I felt this story had to be written to provide some background to my stories, which explore the friendship which eventually blossoms between Aragorn and Faramir
I am currently working on a direct sequel to "Shadow and Thought" Called "Burden of Guilt" in which Aragorn risks losing everyone he loves in one day and Faramir's friendship with the King and his very life are threatened.
The new story with feature Aragorn, Faramir, Arwen, Eowyn and Imrahil with brief appearances by other characters too.
A big thank you to all my readers for their support and very kind reviews.
As I finished Shadow and Thought on Aragorn's birthday, I thought I'd finish this story on the day the Ring was destroyed as another significant date in Tolkien's universe.