Warmth and Comfort – By Linda Hoyland.
A revised and expanded version of a ficlet written for the AA Group prompt "Warmth" several years ago. I also refer to my story "A Gift for Faramir."
Dedicated to Shirebound.
Disclaimer; The characters are the property of the Tolkien estate. No money has been made from this story
"What happened? Everywhere hurts- my head!" Faramir opened his eyes.
"Easy now, ion nîn," Aragorn murmured.
Faramir saw Aragorn kneeling beside him. The King was checking his pulse. Reassured, he closed his eyes again.
"It is good to see you are finally awake! You have been unconscious for hours." Aragorn exclaimed, relief obvious in his voice.
"You were wounded in the skirmish."
Faramir opened his eyes again and tried to sit up. The world began to spin. He retched violently. A bowl was held for him, while a gentle hand rubbed his back soothingly. He realised that someone had removed his shirt and tunic and the upper part of his body was swathed in bandages.
"Careful now, you have been injured," said Aragorn.
Faramir abandoned the attempt to rise and sank back exhausted. Aragorn allowed him a few moments rest, before holding up three fingers of his hand. "How many fingers do you see?"
"Do you know me?"
Faramir grabbed frantically at Aragorn's sleeve. "Of course I do, Aragorn! Who won the day?"
"We did, mellon nîn, thanks to your courage. Easy now. You were wounded by an arrow and then hit your head falling from your horse. You are safe now. We took shelter in a barn. Beregond has gone to bring help."
Faramir lay back with his eyes closed, his meagre strength exhausted. He appeared to be lying on a makeshift bed of straw, covered by several cloaks. The pain grew worse and a groan escaped his lips.
He felt Aragorn pull aside the coverings and comforting, healing warmth from the King's hands permeating his wounds."
"Is that easier now?" Aragorn's tone was full of concern.
"The pain is much less. Thank you. So cold, ada!" Faramir could not stop his teeth from chattering as he spoke. "I am so thirsty."
"You have a fever," Aragorn said. "Come, drink this." Supporting Faramir's head, he held a cup to his lips.
Faramir's fuddled brain recognised the bitter taste of willow bark, a proven remedy for fever. He forced himself to swallow the bitter brew.
"Very good," Aragorn offered another draught, this time plain water.
"Is it safe here for you?" Faramir fretted after draining the cup. "What if the enemy returns?"
"We routed them, and just in case any are fool enough to want to taste our swords again, there are guards outside the door. Beregond was most insistent. Now go back to sleep until he returns with more men and horses."
"Too cold," Faramir murmured fretfully.
Aragorn did not say anything. Instead, he lay down beside Faramir on the Steward's uninjured side and enfolded him in warm and loving arms. Removing his outer tunic, he spread it over them both. His warm hands chafed Faramir's cold ones.
"There, does that feel any better?"
Faramir settled beside the lord who was as a father to him and rested his aching head against Aragorn's shoulder. After a few moments thus, he sighed contentedly. "Much, but will you not be cold now?"
"Not half as cold as I would be if I allowed any harm to come to you!" Aragorn replied. "Remember, I promised both our ladies that we would return to them together in one piece. They would have me sleep in the stables for the rest of my days, if I do not keep my word!"
"Éowyn might banish you there when you came to visit us, but surely not your lady?" Faramir murmured sleepily.
"Arwen would take it very ill if any harm came to the man who saved her husband's life! Do you not recall that arrow you took, was meant for me? How could I lose such a friend as you? Again, you have risked your life and taken a blow intended for me! Aragorn's voice was slightly unsteady as he held Faramir more tightly. The King shuddered at the memory of the one of the fleeing Haradrim rebels aiming the arrow directly at him. Faramir had selflessly hurled himself in the arrow's path and taken the blow meant for his lord. At Aragorn's insistence, his troops had seen off the rest of the enemy while he tended to Faramir's wounds himself.
A sudden sound made Aragorn start. There was something in the straw! He was reaching for his sword when a tiny ginger kitten emerged from behind a bale of hay mewing softly. It pattered on tiny paws to where the men were lying and after sniffing them carefully, clambered up and lay across their legs. It started to purr. The soothing sound gradually lulled Faramir to sleep.
A little while, later the straw rustled again and the mother cat emerged from her hiding place. She stared hard at the men, but could sense no danger to her kitten from these strangers. Reassured, she turned her attention to the serious business of ensuring that no mice had dared to enter her domain.
Aragorn smiled at her antics, and then felt his friend's forehead. It was cooler; the fever was abating. Faramir would recover. He offered a silent prayer of thanks to the Valar for sparing his faithful friend and Steward. He would find a way to thank him for his selfless gesture. But how? Faramir desired neither riches nor accolades. A sudden idea came to him. The twins owned a fine pair of hounds, believed to be descended from Huan himself. He would beg a puppy from her next litter as a gift for Faramir. His friend loved all animals and would especially treasure a hound whose lineage was the stuff of lore.
The kitten stirred and purred more loudly then began to wash his whiskers. The ghost of a smile lightened Faramir's sleeping features.
Aragorn relaxed and reached out a hand to caress the kitten. All would be well.
A/n Sending my good wishes to everyone effected by the storm. I hope all my readers and the people you care about are safe and well.