Several minutes passed, and, through her own tear-filled eyes, Éowyn watched her husband still clinging onto his friend. Not knowing what else to do, and aware that Beregond's body had to be taken care of sooner or later, she caressed her husband's back in a soothing manner and leaned against him.
"I will call the guards. They will carry his body inside," she whispered.
Faramir's hands only tightened their grip on Beregond's body at this.
"No! No one will carry him but me!" he exclaimed passionately. "Call the guards, if you must, but only so that they can say their last farewell to their captain!"
"You cannot manage it on your own," said Éowyn, trying to reason with him; but Faramir shook his head, not wishing to listen.
"I must," he murmured, his eyes locking onto Beregond's face once more. "Even if it means breaking my back and stay crippled for the rest of my life."
Before the fair woman could say anything else, the prince had already pushed a hand underneath Beregond's back, bringing the lifeless body in a sitting position and letting it rest against his own body frame, the captain's face meeting Faramir's cheek.
It was in that moment that the couple froze in utter amazement and disbelief. Éowyn's eyes quickly met her husband's.
"Éowyn...?" started Faramir.
"I heard it too," the woman assured him.
Without exchanging any other words, Faramir whispered to Beregond, calling him; and he saw the guard's head stirring slightly, another moan escaping his lips. His hand quickly grasped his friend's and looked at his face pleadingly.
"Mellon nín? Can you hear me? Can you squeeze my hand?"
Even though he had to wait for several moments, the prince was finally rewarded with a delicate squeeze of his fingers; and it wasn't long before, to Faramir's joy, his friend's eyelids fluttered open to reveal glazed hazel-green orbs underneath them.
"M-m-my chest hurts," slurred the captain slowly.
The prince quickly stopped him before he could say anything further.
"I know, try not to move if you can help it," he whispered calmly. "Éowyn, can you find Bergil? He needs to know his father is alive."
"I will go," said she, smiling. She placed her hand momentarily on Beregond's, glad to see him alive, and then she walked away.
As soon as they were left alone, Faramir faced his friend once more.
"I thought I had lost you," he said softly, unable to control his wonder, "I did not feel your heartbeat and I was certain that you had died! How came this to be?"
A weak, sad smile tugged on Beregond's lips despite the throbbing pain he felt, and his hand reached for his shirt. Faramir was agape to see underneath the fabric the shining metal of a chain mail. He looked carefully at the chest wound; and he saw that, even though the injury was still deep and there had been a lot of blood loss, the blade had cut too clumsily to make any real damage because of the hard surface it encountered; and the thickness of the corselet certainly explained how come Faramir never managed to pick up Beregond's pulse.
"I put it on when you knocked at my door, even though a part of me still insisted I could trust you," said Beregond in answer to Faramir's look, his voice coming out as a soft murmur. "That is what I meant to tell you before... I am sorry..."
"Do not be," said the prince kindly, his hand gently stroking some loose strands away from Beregond's face. "It seems that both our minds were poisoned by doubt; and yet in this case I would not have it otherwise. It saved your life."
"Barely," remarked the captain. "I do not want to think what would have happened... if you had actually used your sword against me..."
"Then don't," Faramir interrupted him softly, such a thought making him shiver.
"Aye, sir," replied Beregond, more then happy to obey. Even though he wished to stay awake and talk to Faramir, his body seemed to think otherwise, because his head felt like it was running in circles. His grip on his friend's arm tightened, trying to will himself to stay up; but it was of no use.
"Beregond?" said the prince, realising that his comrade was in the verge of losing his conscience again, "Stay with me, gwador nín."
The captain actually chuckled at this.
"I do not think I can comply this time," he breathed out, his eyes shutting. "Do not fret, I will not die..." he assured his friend, struggling to stay conscious to the last, "I remember my promise."
With that finally said, his body relaxed against Faramir's; and the noble man held him close, offering him his body warmth; his lips mouthed a word of gratitude to the Valar for answering his prayers.
Indeed, Beregond didn't die. It wasn't long after he had fainted that Damrod arrived with the healer and he was carried to his room where he would be tended. The next several days proved more difficult than expected, since Beregond had already lost too much blood before Faramir offered the first aid, and the healer feared more than once that the captain wouldn't manage to pull through.
But the medical man had underestimated the strength in the loyal guard's spirit; and so, slowly but surely, the First Captain started to heal, much to the joy of all. And, after suffering three weeks of remaining bed-ridden by the healer's instructions (something that Bergil had made sure of), Beregond was on his feet once more and back to his duties, his return to the barracks hailed with cheers from all the soldiers present. It was also him that handed the armour of honorary soldier to his son; for the courage that Bergil had displayed and the service he had done to Ithilien was something unprecedented among the young trainees and that reward was only the least that could be offered.
Meanwhile, not only was Faramir and Beregond's friendship fully healed, but also it seemed to have grown even stronger now after overcoming the threat of Ulfast's scheming. And one day, as the captain was returning from his usual patrol with his company, the prince rushed to greet him at the gates with happy news: Éowyn had just given birth to a boy. His heart gladdened at such news, the guard hurried with his sworn brother up to Éowyn's quarters to see the baby and share the joy of the couple.
Éowyn was lying in bed when the men walked into the room. Beregond could see that the fair lady was tired, nevertheless it seemed that her face shone with an inner glow. The woman welcomed them with a sweet smile, revealing in her arms the face of the baby, sleeping safely tucked in white clothing.
"He is wonderful," noted the guard, smiling broadly.
"And yet, so serious," completed Faramir, sitting on the bedside next to his wife, his fingers touching lightly a chubby little hand.
"Well, he has a lot in his mind," replied Éowyn, her eyes twinkling lightly.
"Like what, my lady?" asked Beregond in wonder.
"Like what his name will be."
"That is one of the reasons for bringing you here, my friend," said the prince.
The captain looked at the couple puzzled, waiting for either of them to continue.
"You see," said Éowyn, "you do not know this because you were unconscious, but, Faramir told me something that touched me greatly. That when you saved him from certain death, you made it possible for the two of us to love each other. And so, I wished to do something in return - like asking you to name the child."
Beregond's heart was deeply touched by such a suggestion, and he showed that by bowing slightly.
"I would be honoured, my lady," he said. "Thank you both kindly."
"It is the least we can do for such an old friend," said Faramir, smiling.
The guard smiled; but he raised an eyebrow when he registered the tone in the prince's voice when he said 'old'.
"Old?" he said in disbelief. "I am only three years older than you!"
"Like you said, older," replied Faramir, his eyes twinkling mischievously.
"Then this old fool should teach the infant before him some manners," answered Beregond in mock annoyance.
"It is my policy not to beat elderly persons, I might hurt them."
"Then you do not mind if I beat you?"
"Not at all. The question is, do you have the strength for it?"
Éowyn sighed dramatically as the two men continued with their friendly banter.
"You two are impossible," she finally said. "Do you realise the baby is sleeping?"
Both prince and captain grew silent at once, even though their teasing expressions never left their faces. Then all three regarded with a smile the new life as he yawned and then fell back to his peaceful slumber. Beregond looked at the happy couple, and then back to the child.
Elboron, he thought, the name striking him as though out of nowhere. It is a good name.
And with that settled in his mind, he smiled and renewed silently his promise: to watch over the family to the end of his days.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.