A Time to Reap
These characters all belong to the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien. This story was written for pleasure and not for financial gain.
A/N I follow book universe but see the faces some of the film actors as I write, though "my" Faramir has Tolkien's dark hair, grey eyes and carven features. This story is sequel to my other stories but especially "Web of Treason " also on this site. I would recommend at least reading the final chapters of that story in order to fully understand this one.
This story is meant as a companion piece to its predecessor. It will contain plenty of angst but also; I hope, more humour and have a lighter feel to it. I have drawn loosely on ideas from the Grail legends for the plot.
I especially chose today to post, as this is a story for the height of summer.
The main characters are Aragorn and Faramir.
Arwen, Éowyn and the babies will also take part together with brief appearances by other Tolkien characters and some of my own.
With very grateful thanks to Raksha for all her help with this chapter, parts of which were written by her
"When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." Hosea 1.1
"Out of Egypt have I called my son." – Mathew 2.15b – The Bible
'Suddenly furious, he shook the limp body and cried; " Now you truly have betrayed me, Faramir! You, who should have lived a hundred years, not a mere forty! This hurts far worse than any branding ever could!"
August 2FA - Earlier that month
Arwen sat alone in her chamber, a letter clasped in her hand. Damrod had personally handed it to her that morning with the whispered request that she give it her most urgent attention. For at least the fifth time, since it had been delivered to her, she scanned the parchment and read, in Éowyn's skittering hand:
I trust all is well with you, Aragorn and Eldarion. We are preparing for the harvest here in Ithilien. Elestelle seems to grow fairer with each passing day, if that is possible. She now has four teeth, which I only discovered when she bit me while I was suckling her; they came through with so little fuss.
Elbeth is still proving rather high-spirited but she is a good child and I have grown fond of her. She has a kind hand with horses and is a fearless rider. She is also a diligent pupil in reading and writing, and has her uncle's head for languages. She often asks about her 'Strider'.
I am letting the stallions run with the mares this summer, now that our home is established here. With luck, we will have several fine foals by this time next year. I hope to send you one as a gift for your stables, especially as Éomer sent me a proven broodmare, Snowflower, sired by Snowmane, who should produce swift and beautiful offspring fit for a queen! (Snowflower is Hasufel's half-sister, and carried Erkenbrand to the Pelennor, after which he retired her; you noticed her on your first journey to Meduseld. She has already produced a worthy daughter who inherited her silver-white colour, which I know you would like)
I wanted to tell you what good tidings we had before I come to the main reason for writing to you now. I am very worried about Faramir. I can see all too well that he is pining for Aragorn. Given the strength of the bond between them, I fear he will fade if this rift between them is not healed. He is a most devoted husband and father; but without Aragorn, he is like a plant bereft of sunlight. Even the sturdiest of trees cannot survive too long in the shade.
My friend, I implore you to use your influence with the King to soften him towards my husband. Faramir bitterly regrets the hurt his seeming betrayal caused Aragorn, but never was he faithless in his heart. I know you believe in his innocence, from our conversation before we departed Minas Tirith.
Faramir does not, and must not know, that I have asked you to intercede on his behalf. If I question him, he says only that his lord has been magnanimous beyond all measure in letting him keep his lands and titles and he is filled with gratitude. I know, though how his heart aches. He prized Aragorn's affection and friendship far above all lands and titles.
I, too am heart sore to see my husband thus afflicted. I miss your companionship too, my friend. I hope circumstances will soon permit you to visit us.
Your most loyal subject and loving friend, Éowyn.
The Queen finally cast aside the letter and sighed deeply, reflecting on her own husband's plight.
Truth to tell, she had been about to pen a near identical missive to Éowyn.
Despite all her loving care and the healing ministrations of her brothers whom she had urgently summoned to Minas Tirith, Aragorn was still a shadow of his former self. Even the company of Legolas and Gimli, who had cut short a sojourn in Eryn Lasgalen to hasten to his side, had failed to raise her Estel's spirits.
The once vigorous man had become morose and withdrawn. It seemed as if his spirit had lost some vital spark. Arwen feared that Aragorn's soul had been even more deeply scarred than his body. He attended to the duties of kingship, but struggled to get though each day. He repeatedly crumbled athelas into a bowl of hot water, claiming the air needed freshening. Arwen knew better, it was an attempt to ease his heavy heart. Yet the herb's effects would last only an hour or too and Aragorn would relapse into sorrow and restlessly pace his chambers.
Elladan and Elrohir were baffled at Aragorn's failure to recover. Apart from the brand, which disfigured his shoulder, their foster-brother's body appeared sound enough. They were equally bewildered why the repeated mud baths, he was taking, seemed to have no effect whatsoever on the painful and ugly scar.
Aragorn became increasingly impatient at his Elven brethren's unsuccessful efforts to heal him. The twins departed to visit to the Elven colony Legolas had founded in Ithilien, to hear the sounds of Elvish while still staying within a day's summons from their sorrowing brother. Arwen had begged her husband to accompany Elladan and Elrohir, believing that the trip to Legolas' fair woodland could soothe him, but he had refused. Arwen sadly understood that it was not a lack of interest in the Elven haven that caused Aragorn's almost angry refusal. The King could not journey through Ithilien to visit his Elven friends without stopping to see Ithilien's Prince on the way, to do otherwise would be a grave breach of courtesy as well as protocol. The King could still not bear the sight of his Steward.
The twins had left the City two weeks ago, and yet tarried with the Tawarwaith; writing to Arwen frequently to ask how Aragorn fared. She still had no good answer for them.
Taking a deep breath, Arwen folded Éowyn's parchment and thrust it inside her gown. Aragorn tried hard to be gentle in his wife's company and she knew she would never have cause to fear his temper. However, she was not looking forward to confronting him over Faramir, for whenever she raised the question of the Steward's unofficial exile, Aragorn would hastily change the subject.
The Queen found her husband in his study, hunched over a pile of paperwork. He rose to his feet to embrace her when she entered, a flicker of joy in his weary eyes.
"How fares the Realm of Gondor this day?" she asked.
"It barely survives. If the rains do not come soon, I fear we shall be faced with the prospect of drought and famine," he replied morosely, returning to his desk. "I have no head for this paperwork; to estimate what water supplies we have in the City. Imrahil will have to assist me again."
"You need Faramir to help you." Arwen came straight to the point.
"His loyalty is still suspect. How could I ever trust him again after what he did to me? I cannot!" Aragorn said curtly, refusing to meet her eyes.
"How can he regain your trust while he stays in exile?" Arwen persisted gently.
"He is better off away from wagging tongues in Ithilien, " Aragorn countered. "I do allow him to return when he is needed."
"I think you should recall him or tongues will wag more than ever," said Arwen. " While it is the season for harvest, the City is quiet. It would be the perfect time to send for him. After all, he is still your Steward. Remember that he saved your life and throne!"
"I know," said Aragorn his voice almost a whisper, "For that, I owe him everything. Yet always this gets in the way!" His tone became bitter. Pressing his hand to his shoulder, he grimaced at the stab of pain, which suddenly pierced him.
"Please, my love, let him return for longer than a Council Meeting or official function, if not for yourself for the good of Gondor and to please me! The longer you leave it the harder it will be. I beg of you, Estel!"
Aragorn finally looked into the depths of her beautiful grey eyes and saw only love and concern reflected therein. He could deny her nothing.
"Very well," he sighed. "The Steward may return."
Arwen threw her arms around his neck. "Thank you, Estel, " she said kissing him tenderly. "I am sure you will feel better when you are reunited."
"We shall see, but I very much doubt it," Aragorn replied without enthusiasm.
"It is late, you should come to bed now, Faramir!" Éowyn pleaded. Clad in her nightgown and clutching a candle in her hand, she stood in the open doorway of her husband's study. He sat at his desk, surrounded by a mountain of papers.
"I will come soon. I must finish this draft of the treaty with the Easterlings, so I can work solely on my recommendations for the King's new appointments to Council."
"Surely you can finish the treaty tomorrow before you leave," Éowyn questioned.
"I dislike going to bed with the kingdom's work unfinished," Faramir protested. " Since it is the one duty my lord seems to still trust me to do, I must do it properly. Then, I need to have a bath."
"I thought you had one this morning?" Éowyn frowned. "Is your back paining you again? How I wish Aragorn were treating you! Shall I try to ease it for you when you come to bed?"
"No, my love, I am well," Faramir inwardly cursed himself for revealing his weakness. "I have only had the occasional twinge these past months. It is the heat, it makes me feel sticky."
"Well, why do you insist on always wearing that thick heavy nightshirt to bed then?" Éowyn demanded.
"You know it was always my custom my love," Faramir replied. "But you are right. I will have the tailors send for some lighter cloth."
"You should wear silk instead of linen then," Éowyn urged.
"You look fair in silk, my lady but I do not!" Faramir said, smiling at the vision his beautiful wife presented in her almost transparent white silk nightgown, her golden hair tumbling around her shoulders, shining in the candle's glow. "I will join you just as soon as I have read through the provisions on trade once more."
"You are merely trying to delay coming to bed until you are too exhausted to dream," Éowyn retorted, " I can see through you easily, husband! What troubles you so?" She went over to his desk and added her candle to those already burning on the table. She then came to stand behind her lord, resting her hands on his tense shoulders.
"Almost every time I close my eyes, I see the King crying out in pain while I stand there with my hand raised against him. I see Gondor aflame and falling to ruin through my weakness!" Faramir answered, finally turning to face her. "Despite my good intentions, I still betrayed my King and the oath I swore to him. I have forfeited my honour forever in his eyes."
"Aragorn will forgive you one day." Éowyn said soothingly. "All will be as it was before, if only you allow it! I am certain that he still loves you as his son."
"I see the hurt and bewilderment in his eyes still. My uncle believes me devoid of honour and has cut me off from all his house, save the revenues from my mother's dower lands." Faramir replied, "I was not vigilant enough to secure the realm that I steward. I must see it never happens again. And if I am still dear to the King, why will he not let me come to him?"
"I believe Aragorn thought it would be better for you to stay in your own domain until the rebellion faded from the people's memory," Éowyn soothed.
"The people will always remember me as the treacherous Steward who was lucky not to hang!" Faramir exclaimed bitterly. He rubbed his eyes as he spoke.
"You should not fret so," Éowyn chided. "You saved the King at great risk to yourself. What would have happened if you had not gone to that cursed lodge and pretended to join in those fiends' treachery? They would have tortured Aragorn to death! Eldarion would have been left fatherless, and all of Gondor would have suffered."
"How can you ever understand the full horror of my deeds?" Faramir asked sadly.
"I do understand that you are so weary that you will no doubt draft a law transferring power to your hounds if you work any longer tonight!" Éowyn said firmly. "Come to bed now. I promise I will wake you if you have another nightmare. I am sure you will find Aragorn in a better mood when you see him again."
"I wish I could stay here with you rather than return to the City tomorrow," Faramir said gloomily.
Éowyn raised her eyebrows; "You honour me, but I thought your heart lay in the City of your birth. Then what of Aragorn? He has need of you."
"I see in my people's eyes that they consider me a traitor!" Faramir said sadly. "I have lost what I held most dear, my reputation and the love of a man who is the greatest of our age!"
Éowyn grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him, not noticing how he flinched. "You should not heed idle gossip!" she chided, "They will soon find better occupation for their loose, spiteful tongues! I do not think Aragorn bears a grudge against you; he is too great a man. If he seems remote at times; he is still recovering from his ordeal. Come to bed, my love, you ride out early tomorrow at noon and must rise early."
"Very well but I must bathe first!" " He rose to his feet sighing and blew out the candles, then allowed his wife to lead him unresisting to their chambers. "How can Aragorn ever trust me again?"
"You are weary and overwrought. Put such dark thoughts aside and rejoice that soon you will see the King again," said Éowyn. "Tomorrow you will see him and the City you love once more."
A very grateful thank you for all your kind comments on the final chapter of "Web of Treason". A revised version is currently being posted at SOA
I am also posting this sequel on my LJ for any readers uncomfortable with this site. A link is on my profile page
Éowyn's future broodmare Snowflower is inspired by LC ALWAL YASMEEN, a lovely Arabian mare belonging to Huffman's Arabians, see her at "A Meara for Me "under the name "Ninquelote".
Tawarwaith is a Sindarin term for the Silvan Elves, the people of Mirkwood ruled by the Sindar house of Oropher