2. Out, damned spot! out, I say!
Out, damned spot! out, I say! – Macbeth – Shakespeare Act 1
"I am concerned only with your good, Estel," Arwen said somewhat sharply.
"I know, vanimelda, but there is no cause to trouble Master Aedred," the King said more gently. He slumped dejectedly on the bed and fumbled to unlace his boots. Tactfully, Faramir assisted him to remove them before helping him to unlace his shirt and tunic.
Unprompted, Arwen brought some warm water and bathed her husband's sweat- soaked face and neck
Faramir then helped his lord finish disrobing and change into his nightshirt, knowing that for a proud and fiercely independent man such as the King, asking a servant to help him perform such tasks would be deeply humiliating.
Arwen mixed the willow bark tea and held the cup to her husband's lips.
"This tastes dreadful!" Aragorn exclaimed, pulling a face. "I am not drinking it!"
"I made the potion to Ada's exact recipe," Arwen informed him. "You said yourself you needed this to make you well, so drink!"
"It always tastes nasty when you give it to me too," Faramir commented. "You told me that willow bark is a naturally bitter substance."
Aragorn said nothing for a moment then asked, "Could you put some honey it for me please, Arwen."
"You are acting like a child, Estel!" scolded the Queen.
"He does usually add honey to my medicines," said Faramir diplomatically.
"But you are not the greatest healer in Gondor who understands full well that the most bitter herbs are often the most potent!" Arwen said somewhat sarcastically, giving her husband a commanding look.
Grimacing in disgust, Aragorn drained the medicine, then glared at his wife and his Steward.
"Very good, my love," said Arwen sweetly. You should rest now."
The King groaned, settled back on his pillows and soon fell into an uneasy sleep.
"I will take my leave, my lady," said Faramir. "After luncheon I will return to see how Aragorn fares. Should we not send for a healer as a precaution?"
Arwen shook her head. "Estel is correct that he knows more than any healer in Gondor," she replied. "They could not aid him with any remedy better than those he knows himself. My father, the greatest Healer that lives, trained him. I have enough of his knowledge to know that my husband is not seriously ill. It is just so unlike him to take a chill!"
"Maybe it is because he has had many troubles and worked so hard in the past year, my lady," Faramir replied. "He told me when the body is subjected to severe stresses, it is easy to catch minor ailments that a strong man usually avoids."
"That is what my Adar always said of Men," Arwen agreed. "They are so frail compared to Elves. We never suffer from such ills as this."
As Faramir returned to his own apartments he wondered what it must be like never to suffer the miseries of coughs and colds, sore throats and fevers, many of which had plagued his childhood and still at times laid him low. Sometimes Elves seemed to be very unfairly favoured over humans by the Creator. Yet the thought of living thousands upon thousands of years filled him with horror rather than envy. Life was all the more precious for being finite.
The Steward ordered a meal to be brought to his rooms, but had little appetite, worrying how his friend fared. He had never seen Aragorn brought low by anything like this before. As was his custom when staying in the city, Faramir penned his daily missive to Éowyn telling her how much he loved and missed her and their daughter, and what events had transpired during the day. He concluded the letter with a warning that he would be unlikely to be able to return home the next day as he had hoped.
Faramir spent most of the afternoon dealing with matters of state, a far greater workload than usual since he had to deal with the King's duties as well as his own.
Consequently, it was early evening before he was able to return to Aragorn's rooms. The King was still sleeping. Faramir gladly agreed to sit with him, while Arwen spent some time with her son, gave Eldarion his bedtime meal and helped the little boy's nanny put him to bed, as was her custom.
Aragorn tossed feverishly in his bed muttering to himself. He awoke with a start when Faramir drew his chair nearer the bed. "Faramir, thank the Valar it is you!" he exclaimed. "I dreamed your father was chasing me from the city with a broom and everyone was laughing!"
"I have strange dreams too when I feel unwell," Faramir soothed. He took the damp cloth Arwen had left by the bed and bathed Aragorn's face and neck with cool water. "How do you feel?" the Steward asked.
"Hot, miserable, and my head aches," Aragorn admitted. "Spring chills are most unpleasant."
"They are indeed," Faramir replied. "Would you like anything to eat?"
"No, thank you, just a drink," Aragorn drained the cup of water Faramir poured for him, followed by a second one. "Will you help me into the next room, so that the servants can change the bedding?" the King then asked his friend."
"Gladly," said Faramir, as he helped Aragorn get out of bed. "Come, let me help you don your robe, mellon nîn, you must not become chilled."
"Stop fussing like a mother hen!" Aragorn said grumpily, but had the sense to do as he was bidden.
An hour or so later, Aragorn was bathed, clad in a clean nightshirt and settled in fresh sheets thanks to the efforts of his wife and his Steward.
"I will take my leave now; it grows late," said Faramir, bowing and kissing Arwen's hand, then pressing a loving filial kiss on the King's brow.
"No! Do not leave me," pleaded Aragorn. "What if I need to get up? I may need a strong arm to lean upon! What if I fall? Arwen could not lift me."
"We do have servants," Arwen reminded him. "There are plenty of sturdy men who could aid you. Faramir looks exhausted."
"The servants cannot see me like this or escort me to the privy!" Aragorn exclaimed. "I would be shamed!"
"Of course I will stay if you wish," said the Steward. "But what of your wife? She will wish to go to bed, and it would be most improper if I remained in the room!"
"You can have the bed in Estel's dressing room," Arwen suggested. "And fear not, no one could accuse you of unbecoming conduct! It would be impossible to sleep beside Estel while he is like this. I intend to sleep on the chair tonight, fully clothed."
"Surely you should take the bed, my lady," Faramir protested.
"No, Faramir, those of my kind require less rest than you do."
"But you are the Queen and a lady!" Faramir protested.
"Why not take it in turns?" Aragorn said dryly. "You are making my headache worse!"
King, Queen, and Steward passed an uncomfortable night made easier only by the fact that Aragorn's fever appeared to be abating slightly. It seemed that Aragorn was right and he had only caught a chill.
The next morning Aragorn still did not feel like eating, but pronounced himself well enough to bathe himself. "I itch," he pronounced. "A good wash will ease me."
"I will send for some breakfast for us both," said Arwen once her husband had disappeared unsteadily inside the bathing chamber, accepting Faramir's arm only as far as the door. "What would you like to eat? I think I will have bread, honey and some fruit. Maybe I can coax Estel to eat a little."
"I will eat the same as you, my lady," said Faramir.
Arwen had just asked one of the maids to fetch their morning meal when the bathing chamber door opened and a rare sight emerged, Aragorn tottered out, clad only in a towel. His near naked body was covered in enormous red swellings. "Send for Master Aedred!" he demanded." Just look at me! I am covered in itching lumps!"
"I am sure you have the chickenpox," said Arwen. "You said it was nothing to worry about when Eldarion was marked in a similar manner!"
"I cannot have a children's ailment!" Aragorn retorted, suddenly aware of his wife's scrutiny and hastily donning his nightshirt. At the best of times he felt he was sadly lacking in perfection compared to the Evenstar. "There must be some strange malady spreading through the City. Surely Master Aedred will know. Have him summoned here at once! And tell the Warden not to send anyone else, I would not have Dame Ioreth see me thus!"
"It looks like the chickenpox to me," said Faramir.
"I did not know you were trained in healing arts!" Aragorn retorted, as Faramir helped him climb back into bed. Arwen tried to calm her husband while Faramir despatched a servant to fetch Master Aedred from the Houses of Healing
Aragorn's itching grew steadily worse. By the time Aedred arrived, he was writhing around as if the bed were full of fleas.
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.