3. Tears and Comfort
Bidding them farewell for now, he left their room .He was about to return to his tent outside the city and rest as he was so exhausted his head throbbed, but something made him return to see how Faramir was faring.
He knocked on Faramir's door but on getting no reply entered, hoping the young man was sleeping.
Instead, he found him curled almost in a ball sobbing convulsively yet almost silently.
Only an occasional choked yet heartrending sob was audible. Faramir seemed unaware that anyone had entered the room, so consumed was he by his terrible grief.
Putting aside his own weariness, Aragorn shed his cloak and impulsively sat on the edge of the bed and reaching out towards the distressed Steward, drew Faramir into his arms as one would a child, holding him cradled close against his shoulder, all the while taking care not to aggravate his wounds. He gently stroked the dark head.
Soothed by the touch, Faramir's tears started to flow freely. Between sobs, Aragorn could make out the occasional word.
"I tried to please you, father, truly! My loyal men, all fallen! Boromir, my beloved brother, no!"
The words tore at the King's tender heart, thinking just how much Faramir had endured.
He made no attempt to quieten him, apart from gently massaging his head and neck, hoping the tears would bring him healing that he could not. He was somewhat puzzled that the Steward's son would now accept his comfort after his earlier apprehension in his presence; yet glad he could be there with him, while he released his pent up anguish
He sat there silently, knowing that words were powerless to assuage such grief and that all he could do was simply be there, holding the grief stricken young man, as a loving father would hold his child. Faramir's tears soaked through tunic and the damp fabric clung uncomfortably to his flesh.
Eventually the sobs subsided and Faramir slowly drew away from Aragorn's aching arms.
"Uncle, I'm sorry!" he gasped and then turned and found himself looking into the compassionate eyes of his King, who himself was wiping away a tear as he remembered how Boromir had died in his arms, his noble body pierced with the arrows of many Orcs.
"My Liege, I crave pardon!" he gasped." I thought you were my uncle!" Faramir flushed scarlet.
Aragorn smiled at him and gently took his Steward's trembling hand.
"There is no shame in weeping." he said gently." Your brother was a great man. I too wept for him. I remember your father too from when he was about your age. If I unwittingly deceived you into thinking I was your uncle, I am sorry but I could see you were in need of someone to offer comfort."
Faramir bowed his head unable to look the King in the eye. He would have forfeited his Sovereign's respect forever now!
"I will not show such weakness again." Faramir said, raising his head." What does my Lord command?"
"I would command you not to fear me." Aragorn said gently yet firmly." It is no weakness to mourn a beloved brother in the privacy of your chamber."
He raised Faramir's head forcing him to look at him at the same time, using a light healing touch to soothe the troubled young man. He wished he were not so tired as every bone in his body seemed to ache with weariness.
"I will try my Lord." Faramir managed a weak smile and he forced himself to look at Aragorn. The King much resembled his father in appearance, the same dark hair, though with much less grey in it, high cheekbones, and grey eyes.
Aragorn released him and went to draw up a chair beside the bed. He plumped up Faramir's pillows and drew the covers up to his chin.
"I will stay with you a while," he said." Weep as you feel the need as it will heal your heart's grief then rest will come more easily to restore your body."
He smoothed Faramir's hair back from his brow, gently stroking his head with his fingertips.
Faramir continued to cry quietly for a little while longer and Aragorn continued to soothe him until his healing touch sent the younger man into a deep and dreamless sleep.
Aragorn continued to sit by the bedside, still worried that he might be needed, though weariness soon overcame him and he fell into a light doze.
A sudden footstep behind him jolted him back to wakefulness. He realised that Prince Imrahil had entered the room.
Aragorn beckoned him outside as not to awaken Faramir.
"I am sorry, I could not come before, My Lord." Imrahil apologised." I was needed to supervise the setting in place of a defence strategy for while we are gone and it took the messenger some time to find me. How is my nephew?"
"He insisted upon learning of his father's death and I felt I should tell him about his brother before we left." Aragorn said sadly. "Naturally he is distraught, but I hope he will sleep now. I comforted him as best I could; yet I fear there is little comfort for sorrows such as his. Only time can bring true healing."
"These times are hard for us all, but he has had more to bear than most. He never measured up to his brother in his father's estimation and recently, Lord Denethor drove him so hard, that a lesser man would have been broken long ago. " Imrahil replied. "I will stay with him now as you look exhausted, My Lord. Thank you for caring for him."
"I will go to my tent and rest now." Aragorn said wearily and turned to go.
"One more thing." Imrahil halted him." I hope you will forgive me for saying this, but although you have the undoubted bearing of a King, you do not exactly look like one and we, that is the leaders of the West, feel you should lead the Host out tomorrow looking like the King that you are!"
Aragorn shrugged." Your point is valid, your Highness, "he said", But all I have with me are some clean shirts and linens. Any finery I own is in Rivendell."
"I am sure we could find suitable garments to fit you." Imrahil replied "And you could borrow the Steward's apartments to bathe."
"That is kindly offered but I have no wish to cause dissent by openly entering the city." Aragorn said.
Imrahil hastened to override his objections." If you come at first light, dressed as you are now, no one will notice. I have ordered the servants to let you in and prepare a bath for you. Then Eomer of Rohan, Prince Legolas and myself will help dress you like a King .It will inspire the men and give them hope."
Aragorn was too weary to argue. He bade Imrahil goodnight, took up his cloak and made his way to his tent to snatch what little sleep he could before dawn.
Faramir awoke from a troubled dream and opened his eyes.
Imrahil was at his side in an instant.
"Faramir, are you in pain?"
He shook his head. "No it was just an evil dream."
"These dark times lend themselves to troubled dreams, I fear." Imrahil said sympathetically, trying to stifle a yawn.
"You need to rest, Uncle, I will be well enough." Faramir reassured him before making a request of the Prince.
Nevertheless, Imrahil sat watching his nephew until he fell into what appeared to be a dreamless sleep.
He was troubled about Faramir as his lot was perhaps the hardest of all, to wait while the fate of Middle Earth was decided and maybe defend the city in a last hopeless stand against the Dark Lord while already loaded with a heavy burden of grief.
Imrahil looked back sadly on his nephew's sleeping features as he left the room, thinking it could well be the last time he saw him in this life.
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