Burden of Guilt

These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema with the exception of Caranthir who appears by kind permission of Evendim and some minor characters of my own invention. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.

A/N I generally follow book universe but see the faces of the film actors as I write, although I picture Faramir and Boromir as having dark hair and grey eyes like Tolkien described.

This story is sequel to my other stories but especially "Shadow and Thought " also on this site. It is not essential to have read the previous stories, but they should be more enjoyable if read as a series.

The events in this story take place a few months after the events in "Shadow and Thought". Aragorn and Faramir have become close friends, Faramir and Eowyn are now happily married and Aragorn and Arwen are expecting a child.

The story concentrates mainly on Aragorn and Faramir but also features Arwen, Eowyn and Eomer and to a lesser degree Legolas, Gimli, Ioreth, Imrahil, Damrod and Caranthir.

Warning –Like "Shadow and Thought", this story will be very dark with angst,torture, violence, childbirth and injuries, so please only read if you enjoy this genre and are not disturbed by it .The first 10 chapters though are light hearted and full of humour and the "T" rating applies only from Chapter 11 onwards. There will be a great deal of both physical and emotional pain involved for some of the characters.

Extra warnings will be given before certain chapters.

Part One - Before the Storm - Chapters 1- 10

Part Two - Birth, Death and Resurrection - Chapters 11- 29

Part Three - The Gulf Widens Chapter s - 30 - 39

Part Four - Healing and Reconciliation- Chapters 40 -

"My beloved wife, I am a burden to you, the King and to Gondor, so I shall take my leave of you." Aragorn read, turning almost as pale as Eowyn. He sat down heavily beside her on the couch.

After taking a deep breath, he continued, noting the scrawled writing, unmistakably Faramir's but so unlike his usual neat script, " You will be far happier without me during what little time I have left as I know that without the King's treatments I will die soon and would not have him trouble himself over one such as I.

I am a failure as a husband and Steward and would make a far worse father to our child than ever Denethor was to me.

Once I am gone, you and your brother will again be accord, as will Rohan and Gondor. I alone must bear the guilt for all that has happened and my actions can never be forgiven.

Forget me and find a good man worthy of your love and enjoy the happy life you deserve and can only enjoy if I am not part of it.

Please show this to my King and ask him to appoint a new Steward, a man worthy to serve Gondor and her people. I am so sorry that I let him down after all the kindness he showed me. Tell him I loved him dearly. He was not only my Lord, but also the father I never had, the brother I lost and the best and kindest of friends. Had I but been worthy, I would have gladly served him until my life's end.

Farewell, dearest and best of wives! Please tell our child I loved it

Your unworthy husband, Faramir. "

Overcome by emotion, Aragorn buried his face in his hands.

"The poor,confused, honourable fool!" he gasped, quickly collecting himself " I must find him and quickly! How can he hope to survive in the wild in his fragile state of health? Did he take anything?"

"Nothing seems to be missing, though I assume he must have taken Iavas." Eowyn replied, "However did he even find the strength to mount his horse?"

Chapter 37

Twomonths earlier

August Year 1 of the Fourth Age

The Council Chamber in Minas Tirith.

The Council Chamber had recently become known for heated debates as King Aragorn Elessar, though firm in his decisions, always encouraged his Council to have their say before pronouncing his final judgement upon a matter.

It had taken the Lords of Gondor some time to become accustomed to the new regime as Lord Denethor; the Last Ruling Steward had strongly discouraged debate, especially in the latter years of his rule.

Today the debate had become surprisingly heated when Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth had raised the matter of the celebrations to follow the impending birth of a child and heir to the King and Queen

"How do we even know that a human and an elf are able to produce offspring? " argued the young Lord of Lossarnach.

Aragorn's eyes flashed dangerously although he remained outwardly calm." My own existence is proof as my ancestress was Luthien the Fair. "He replied.

"But that is so long ago, the story could be but a myth!" Lord Lossarnach refused to be silenced.

"I trust you are not making accusations against my Queen's virtue." Aragorn's voice was icy.

"None of us would, my Lord King but how can we know that the child is your true heir and has not been smuggled into the Queen's bedchamber?" Lord Lamedon jumped to his feet and joined in the argument.

"That is absurd! " Prince Imrahil rose to speak. "Not only are you questioning the honour of our Sovereign but also forgetting that under the ancient laws of Gondor, during the Queen's confinement, no one may enter her apartments on pain of death!"

"We know that." This time, the Lord of Lebennin was on his feet. "Yet a babe could still be smuggled in prior to the confinement!"

The other Lords all started to argue loudly about this possibility.

Aragorn, usually good-natured, was by now white with barely suppressed fury, his hand reaching for his sword hilt.

Faramir, Prince of Ilithien and Steward of Gondor, leapt to his feet." Silence, My Lords!" he thundered.

They were silent. Faramir, once the most quiet and self effacing of the Council had grown increasingly in confidence over the last few months and now was a force to be reckoned with, second only to the King himself.

"Cease this bickering over what should be a joyous event! " Faramir said sternly." The birth of the heir to the throne should be witnessed then no man might question the babe's legitimacy."

The Council murmured their assent.

"Well, spoken, Lord Faramir .I would ask no further questions were that so." Lord Lossarnach said. "I am certain the other Lords would be of the same mind."

"How dare you make such a suggestion, Lord Faramir, I would not have my Queen subjected to such humiliation! No man save myself shall ever enter her bedchamber at any time and the birth of our child shall be attended solely by her ladies and midwives! The dignity of my wife is sacrosanct." Aragorn advanced towards Faramir, his eyes blazing, his voice like thunder.

A lesser man than Faramir would have quailed but the Steward calmly held his ground.

" I agree my Liege. " he said, meeting Aragorn's eyes without flinching." I therefore propose that my wife, the Lady Eowyn, Princess of Ilithien be present at the birth."

Aragorn's tense features relaxed into a smile.

"That would be acceptable to both the Queen and myself. "he said." Does the Council agree?"

"That is a good choice." said the Lord of Lossarnach. "We all know that should his Majesty die without an heir that the rule of Gondor would revert to Lord Faramir and his heirs, so who better to bear witness than the Steward's wife?"

No voice was raised in dissent and as no one raised any other matters to be dealt with, the Council was dismissed.

Faramir and Aragorn left the Council Chamber and together walked back to the Citadel for luncheon.

Faramir had never been as contented as during these last few months as for the first time in his life he felt confident, loved and secure in both his public and private life. In public, he bore his responsibilities well and had the respect of his peers while in private he basked in the love and approval of his wife and his King. Now to make his happiness complete so it seemed, Eowyn was with child, and he hoped to become a father sometime in mid winter.

The King had over the past months healed all his old hurts, and although he still grieved for Boromir, Aragorn had become as a brother to him and also a father figure, who gave him the love and approval that Denethor had always denied him.

Aragorn was happy too, Gondor was finally at peace, he was happily married to the woman of his dreams and looking forward to the birth of his heir and he was enjoying seeing Faramir blossom from the almost broken man he had first met into a confident Steward of Gondor and much loved friend whose company he greatly enjoyed.

The ordeal they had both suffered a few months before had served to forge a very deep and loving bond of true friendship between them when before, although Faramir had always loved his King he had been too nervous to enjoy his company.

Faramir was laughing." I surprised you then, Aragorn, I think, the look on your face!"

Aragorn jostled him playfully. "Were you not afraid I would cut off your head, my wily Steward?"

"I had to be convincing. You should know that by now! " Faramir said in mock indignation. "We had no idea the Council would have such strange notions about the baby's parentage but as they had no idea that Arwen had requested Eowyn to be present, that seemed a good way to appear to satisfy them!"

"You were born to be a politician, Faramir!" Aragorn said, delighted at the confidence his Steward now displayed. "Whatever would I do without you?"

"I have no plans to go anywhere." Faramir replied, " I promised at the Hunting Lodge not to leave you and I meant it!"

"I am glad to hear that!" Aragorn replied, cuffing him playfully, "You and I we need each other if the Council is not to drive us mad!"

They made a good team and would often appear to oppose each other in order to get what they needed from the sometimes stubborn lords who sat on the Council. As few knew the depth of their friendship, the tactic usually worked to their mutual advantage.

They had now reached the Royal Apartments and Faramir was about to leave him to go to his own rooms" Would you like to go swimming this afternoon with Legolas, Gimli and myself while the weather is so fine?" Aragorn enquired.

Faramir hesitated; he enjoyed swimming but had only ever done so alone with Boromir.

Although he felt more confident, now his scars had faded, he was embarrassed at the idea of disrobing completely in front of others.

Aragorn, guessing the reason for his hesitation, added. "I know of a pleasant secluded spot and there is no need to disrobe completely. Given the positions we hold we have to be careful how we are seen."

Faramir smiled that the other could read him so well." I think I will then, thank you. It will be pleasant to relax for a while away from the paperwork. My new secretary insists on tidying everything away which means it takes twice as long to find whatever I am working on!"

Aragorn smiled ruefully. "Why are good secretaries or rather secretaries that suit us so hard to find? I am glad you will come with us later, the water should be most refreshing at this time of year." The King clapped Faramir on the shoulder then added " Then afterwards maybe you would dine with Arwen and myself if Eowyn agrees? "

"I am sure she would be delighted, especially if you told her about this morning's events!" Faramir replied, as he took leave of the King. He hummed contentedly to himself as he went in search of his wife.