07 May 2006 | 5743 words
Iris had her birthday on the 2nd of May and her birthday fic for this year:) She asked for one based on this challenge in the Faramir Fiction archive.
Well, that’s pretty much the entire story:) I hope it’s worked.
Happy Birthday Dear Iris!
Faramir was saying something about ceremonies and guards, barely audible over the sounds of shire music from the hall, as he and Aragorn’s adjutant, a young Northern ranger, opened the doors of their bedchamber for them. Aragorn nodded distractedly. He heaved a sigh of relief when he finally led Arwen into their bedchamber. Everything had gone off perfectly, but dear Eru, the noise outside! After all the cheering and singing and dancing, he wanted nothing more than the peace and quiet of his chambers and Arwen’s sweet voice in his ears.
“Thank you,” he mouthed to Faramir and smiled at the younger man. He was rewarded with a loving smile in return, before the doors were closed on the wonderfully quiet chambers, shutting out the noise from outside.
Later in the night as he lay awake with Arwen in his arms, he looked around the room again, noting how beautiful it looked, so unlike the stark and sparse manner in which he kept it. The chambers were lit by the stark moonlight that shone through the open windows. The sheets on the bed had been changed to white silk and rich blue velvet, and sweet smelling flowers filled the bowls and vases placed all over the room.
The terrace outside the room overlooked a secluded garden, and he could hear the sounds of water filtering through the fountain outside and a nightbird cooing softly. Arwen loved it. As much as she had loved the care that had gone into the entire wedding.
He couldn’t thank Faramir enough, Aragorn thought, smiling gently. His young Steward had organised every last detail of the wedding with customary care and precision and thoughtfulness. He had ensured that the ceremonies for the wedding had included the elven binding ceremonies, as well as the usual Gondorian ceremonies, and he had even ensured that the food and the items of revelry were such as to appeal to elves, dwarves and hobbits. He’d certainly been working very hard, Aragorn realised, planning the wedding as well as taking care of more than his share of work too.
He’d been looking tired the last few days, he realised guiltily. Faramir was still prone to ill-health. And then Aragorn had to have this room redecorated. It had meant Aragorn had had to spend the last week in Faramir’s chambers, and when they were together, sleeping was not something that they often did. Faramir was an enthusiastic and most tactile lover, and over the last few weeks the anticipation of this day had left Aragorn bereft of the ability to relax and instead striving for activity.
Aragorn had however had a hard time assuring Faramir that Arwen would understand their relationship and already knew of it. It hadn’t been until Faramir had met Arwen that he had truly believed that. Well, the lad could rest tonight, Aragorn decided.
Standing guard in the antechamber outside the royal bedchamber, as per the old custom, Faramir tried desperately to stifle the tired yawn that escaped his mouth. He was glad the wedding had gone of smoothly. More than that, he was glad that his queen had ratified what Aragorn had already assured him so often – that she knew of and understood his relationship with Aragorn and that she did not mind it in the least. Elves could be strange, he decided, trying not to yawn again.
Gods, he was tired. The last few weeks had been strenuous. Aragorn’s wedding had involved much more work than he’d realised, and he’d slept little these days. With Aragorn in his chambers, he’d only wanted to spend time with him.
He sighed dreamily as he remembered how they’d lain together two nights prior, in the quiet of the balcony in his chambers. If he closed his eyes just briefly, he could almost feel those touches, those softly whispered words, the aromas of that night, the feeling of Aragorn’s touch on his bare skin… Aragorn inside him, filling him… He swayed slightly, as he leaned against his sword. He mustn’t fall asleep, he kept repeating to himself. He needed to stay awake and guard his king and queen this one night, as custom demanded. He did feel tired though…his arms, legs and back hurt from standing in this position so long. A sudden flurry of soft sounds outside the king’s chambers indicated the change of the king’s guard, and Faramir realised with a start that some time had passed since he had taken up his duty. Normally the ceremonial guard too was relieved every few hours, but Aragorn’s adjutant hadn’t appeared yet.
It was only now that Faramir realised belatedly that no one had informed the young northern ranger of the custom. He should have done that, he realised with a start. He certainly couldn’t do so now, though. The poor lad must be sleeping.
Perhaps he could sit for a while…no… that would be unseemly. He blinked his eyes heavily, as he swayed again. He was so tired. His leaden eyelids drooped, and a curtain of black seemed to fall in front of his eyes. He stumbled and desperately reached for the wall. A few minutes’ rest that was all…. He slumped to the floor and let his head droop into his arms.
Aragorn awoke early the next morning, Arwen still resting against his chest. He gently lowered her against the soft pillows and pulled the covers around her before rising. The floor felt cool against his bare feet. He stood by the open window a few seconds, feeling the tentative rays of the rising sun on his bare skin. Then he washed himself and dressed in his robes, and walked into his study. His chambers were large, with two sets of doors on either end, one opening into his study, and another to a smaller ante-chamber, which doubled up as a personal luncheon room and which was also connected to the study.
As per his orders, the servants would not come for an hour at least. He liked to spend this time alone. Often Faramir would join him, and they would have something light to eat or drink and just sit together in the peace of the early morning. Today though, he had arranged to meet some of his councillors for his break of fast. They were to discuss out his council meeting later that day, on trade treaties. Faramir had suggested that he have the meeting some other day but Aragorn had refused, pointing out that he could not shirk his duties in such a manner. He had awoken later than usual this day though and it was not very long before the servants came to ready the study and behind them, followed Húrin and Lord Arahil. That still left Faramir and a pesky young lord called Ciron
“You are early!” Aragorn said smiling, “But then I suppose the entire citadel has been awake and running about in the early hours this last week!”
Arahil smiled back gently, “A few more days, Sire, and all shall be back to as it was. You must allow us these few days of excitement though!”
Aragorn sighed heavily, but not without humour, “Well, we may as well begin our breakfast, the others can join us as they please,” he said and led them into the ante-chamber.
He stooped abruptly at the sight of Faramir lying curled up on the cold floor, in his ranger uniform. He stared surprised at the younger man. Faramir’s mouth hung slightly open, as it always did while he slept, and Aragorn found himself watching the slight rise and fall of the slender body, fascinated.
“Whatever…?” he started, but stopped when he heard Hurin’s sharp intake of breath.
“Is he –“
“What’s wrong with Faramir?” Arahil asked sharply.
“It’s all right,” Aragorn said smiling softly, and moving forward swiftly, knelt by the younger man’s side and brushed the damp hair away from his face, “He’s just sleeping.”
“Oh dear,” Arahil murmured faintly.
The kitchen staff entered, carrying a few trays laden with food and wine, and they gazed curiously at the sight of their Steward sleeping, on the floor. Aragorn picked Faramir up in his arms and laid him gently on a large chair by the window. Faramir barely stirred through all this, and simply curled into himself on the chair.
“Why in Eru’s name was he sleeping here?” Aragorn asked bemused.
Ciron chose that moment to enter.
“The Steward was sleeping outside your bedchambers?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Aragorn said, feeling puzzled.
“But,” Ciron started, and then broke off abruptly, as Faramir stirred.
“We shall breakfast in the hall. We could speak later,” Húrin said firmly to Aragorn, “Perhaps when Faramir has awakened?”
“Yes, that would be better,” Aragorn agreed, gently brushing a wayward strand of hair off Faramir’s forehead.
Faramir groaned as he felt the bright light of the early sun stream over his face. His muscles ached and he felt tired…as though he hadn’t slept all night. A cool touch on his brow and cheek brought him gently back to awareness and he opened his eyes to find Aragorn leaning over him. He smiled dazedly at the older man, wondering whether he felt energetic enough to rise slightly and kiss those beautiful lips. He stretched his foot out a little and then yelped as his foot hit a hard surface.
“Be careful now,” Aragorn said and hurried to help him rise.
He was on a chair, he realised in Aragorn’s chambers and… he had been on guard…and he had…
“I fell asleep,” he said worriedly. He felt like kicking himself. How could he have fallen asleep?
“Yes, and I’d like to know why here?” Aragorn said quietly, “Whatever were you doing outside my chambers? And last night…”
“I fell asleep,” Faramir said again, sounding even more dazed now.
“Yes,” Aragorn said, “But why here?”
“I should not have,” Faramir said, “I was on your ceremonial guard. I was not to have fallen asleep on duty. Oh no!” he whispered softly as the full implications of what he’d done hit him.
He had fallen asleep on duty.
“Ceremonial guard?” Aragorn asked puzzled.
Faramir explained the custom to him in a dulled voice. Aragorn stared at him incredulously.
“You stayed awake outside my chambers an entire night?”
“No,’ Faramir said unhappily, “I fell asleep.”
“Well, I’m not surprised,” Aragorn said a little heatedly.
Faramir on ceremonial guard throughout the night? It sounded ridiculous to him, as some of the other Gondorian customs did, “Well, look go ready yourself. I’ll meet you at the council. We need to discuss the trade treaty with Khand.”
“But Aragorn… I fell asleep…”
“Yes, love,” Aragorn said patiently, and then gently kissed him on the lips, “You were tired and you still look it. I want you to rest today.”
Faramir bit his lip worriedly as Aragorn left.
Aragorn spent the rest of the morning with Arwen and with the other elves from Rivendell before reaching his council chamber.
Faramir was waiting for him outside and he noted a little critically, that the younger man had not after all taken his advice to rest. He even looked a little tense.
They discussed nothing of the trade treaty at the council. Instead Aragorn and a rather unhappy Faramir entered the council chamber to find it filled with grim looking, unsmiling councillors.
It was Lord Iriel, among the eldest of his councillors.
“We shall have to discuss the treaty later my lord. There is first this matter of the steward’s insubordination.”
“What?” Aragorn stared at him surprised. Faramir and insubordination were hardly words that could be bandied together.
Faramir sat down in the chair beside him silently. His face was grim.
“Insubordination? Aragorn said, “What insubordination?”
“Falling asleep during the ceremonial guard duty,” Iriel said, and sneered slightly as he did so. He often disapproved openly of Faramir’s actions in particular, a throwback to the days when Denethor had been steward. Iriel and Denethor had been good friends.
“Is that what you wish to discuss above the trade treaty?” Aragorn demanded impatiently, wondering not for the first time whether Iriel ought to be retired before he started dragging all their meetings into the business of pointing out Faramir’s so-called flaws.
“We must my lord,” Arahil said quietly, “The ceremonial guard is an important duty and not one to be treated lightly.”
Faramir spoke up for the first time, his face flushing as he did so, and Aragorn felt a flicker of alarm when he saw that. “I would not treat it lightly,” Faramir said, “I did not. I – I –“
“It was your duty to guard the king’s chambers on his wedding night to ensure there were no disturbances or untoward incidents!” Iriel said coldly.
“And I did not, I agree,” Faramir said bowing his head unhappily, “I did not fulfil my duty but I – I did not take it lightly,” he said quietly.
“He could surely not have stayed awake outside my bedchamber all night,” Aragorn said incredulously, “That is ridiculous and unreasonable!”
“He was to have a relief if he needed, your adjutant.”
“Hiril was not informed,” Faramir spoke up, “I forgot to tell him, and he had retired by then. I did not wish to wake him and as Steward it is my duty entirely.”
“A noble thought, my lord,” Iriel retorted, “But a foolish one and you note you did not maintain your duty.”
“That is enough,” Aragorn cut in, “We have no need to discuss this further.” While he thought it was foolish indeed of Faramir to abide by this outdated custom, and more so by not calling for his relief, but surely that was no call for such a protracted discussion on so trivial a matter. After all, he had a guard posted outside his chambers!
“But we do, Sire,” Iriel put in, “It is good that nothing happened, but it must be noted that the lord steward has committed a most irresponsible error, and he must be punished for it.”
“Punished?” Aragorn felt his temper coming to the fore, “That is enough, Lord Iriel. My guards stood outside my chambers. I had no need of a ceremonial guard outside my bedchamber!”
“No, sire, he speaks truly,” Arahil interrupted, “Even if your guards did stand outside your chambers, the Steward’s duty is an old tradition and it is expected to be abided by. The lord steward will have to face the penalty for this. He is not above this custom or the laws.”
“I will face my penalty,” Faramir said quietly.
“Since no harm ultimately occurred, fifteen strokes of the lash to be given by your superior officer,” Iriel stated, “As you must be well aware, Lord Faramir. A trifle in my opinion, given the nature of your insubordination.”
“Stop!” Aragorn commanded, dismayed by Iriel’s words, “What manner of talk is this? I will not have my Steward spoken to so.”
Iriel raised an eyebrow insolently at Faramir.
The younger man turned towards Aragorn and when he spoke, his voice was calm and toneless, “He speaks truly my lord. That is the penalty, and since I have committed a grave error, I must accept it.”
“I forbid it,” Aragorn said, his face white with anger, “I will not let anyone raise an arm against you.”
“You cannot forbid it, my lord,” Arahil said a little tiredly, “It is the law. If it is to be forbidden, the laws must be revised. And you will not have to let anyone do it, for you alone are the steward’s superior in this day.”
“What?” Aragorn nearly shouted, his face losing all colour as the words sank in. It was bad enough to hear of Faramir being lashed, but by his hand? He loved the younger man, and to think of hurting him ever made him shudder. “This is idiocy,” he said, his anger increasing, as he looked around at the councillors seated all round him. But he could not see any of them willing to relent.
“That may be so,” Arahil repeated, “But it must be done.”
“This is my bedchamber we speak of. So what if he did sleep then? I forgive him.”
“It is not to you to forgive him. It is no news now that Faramir was found asleep. Ciron has a loose tongue as do the kitchen staff,” Arahil said, “This is a very old custom and a very old law. Any other man is his position would have had to face the penalty and so Faramir must too.”“I care naught about other men,” Aragorn said heatedly.
“Take a care not to say that in the presence of others, my lord,” Iriel stated flatly.
“Please understand,” Faramir said his voice sounding desperate, “It cannot be seen that there is one set of laws for those you hold dear, and another for others.”
“I will not let you be hurt,” Aragorn said, trying to keep his voice level but failing.
“You will not be hurting me,” Faramir stated quietly, and then seeing that Aragorn would continue to protest, said, “Would you make the arrangements, Lord Arahil. We should get it over with tomorrow, before the celebrations in the evening.”
Aragorn stared at him. Faramir looked back at him, a look of reassurance on his face, before continuing, “And now that is settled, should we return to the treaties my lords?”
But his reassurance failed to get through to Aragorn.
“No more now. We meet after the luncheon meal,” the king growled.
“What madness is this?” he turned upon Faramir thunderously, once the room had emptied.
“Do not speak so to me, Faramir!” Aragorn raged, “You asked Arahil to make arrangements? For what? For me to whip you? How could you?”
“You would ask me to raise my hand upon you, when I have loved you so dearly?”
“You are angry,” Faramir said helplessly.
“Would you not be angry if you were in my place?”
“I have erred! It could have been harmful! Please, Aragorn try to understand. This was the night of your wedding, for you and your lady wife to spend safe and secure in peace and quiet. I was irresponsible, and it was noted, and so I must face a penalty.”
“Of this sort? To be lashed? By me? And when I had guards outside already?”
And then the words truly hit him. Faramir to be lashed? Kind, gentle, loving Faramir – to be hurt? By his hand. He couldn’t possibly…
“You are my superior,” Faramir pointed out, “My father did the same when he was steward.”
“You have been struck so before?” Aragorn almost choked out.
Faramir nodded quietly, “I did not always agree with decisions that my father or my commanders in Ithilien felt were correct. Even if I had been correct, I had still to face the penalty for disobeying orders. But this time – this time it was not so, Aragorn. This is something I meant to do, and which I was indeed meant to do and did not.”
“I cannot hurt you,” Aragorn repeated desperately. Why did no one seem to understand… He walked over to the window and looked out at the dull afternoon sunlight over the gardens.
He had known Faramir some months now, even more as they had become lovers, rapidly finding common interests and mutual concern. In all this time, he had come to realise quite easily that Faramir had known more than his share of hurt and injury and not all of that from the enemy’s weapons. It had been one of his silent promises to himself that Faramir would have no opportunity to be hurt so again.
“You must,” Faramir said firmly, “Arahil spoke truly. Others shall have heard of it, and if I am not punished it shall look unseemly.”
Aragorn turned away from the window and looked at Faramir again, “I can’t,” he said, his voice hoarse and nearly cracking.
Faramir wrapped his arms around the shaking figure, “You must,’ he said firmly, “I did wrong. I have to take this punishment. And it is naught Aragorn. I have faced worse.”
Aragorn did not want to hear that. He knew this kind, loving young man had gone through much hurt and indignity but it hurt him to hear of it. And more so in this manner, at a time when he himself was being asked to inflict more hurt on him.
“Please,” Faramir said, and pressed his lips against Aragorn’s neck, “Don’t worry. I shall be all right.”
“How?” Aragorn asked fiercely.
“Please,” Faramir repeated, and kissed Aragorn on his jaw, “The other lords will not like it if the old laws are discarded so easily. Fifteen strokes are naught… and I have heard from others that punishments can – well, aid in passion…” Faramir continued, blushing.
“The twins have been talking to you,” Aragorn said quietly.
Before he could continue further, Faramir moved his lips up to Aragorn’s and nearly gasped as the king pulled him closer and kissed him fiercely in return. Hands slipped into his tunic, undoing the bindings.
“Are you trying to seduce me into being convinced that this is right?” Aragorn murmured, not without some bitterness, when their lips parted, his hands roving Faramir’s chest under the clothes, “What the twins spoke of is aught else… what the lords seek to make me do is another! This is ridiculous. Another one of those outdated Gondorian customs…”
“Do not the rangers of the north have ways of disciplining their men?” Faramir asked quietly.
Aragorn looked away unhappily, before pulling away from Faramir “Yes, they do. But – this is you, Faramir.”
“And were we there too, you would have to do the same,” Faramir said gently, and pulled Aragorn closer, letting the king rest against him.
The punishment, as they all termed it, should have happened in Aragorn’s study, but he had put his foot down at that. Instead he had insisted it happen in the tower room, away from prying eyes and ears. For that at least Aragorn was thankful. And as a commander disciplining one under him, the matter would be resolved in privacy with only Arahil and Húrin present.
Faramir already stood in front of a large desk, standing very still and quiet when Aragorn entered with the other two men.
Faramir looked up at him, smiling reassuringly but Aragorn wouldn’t meet his eyes. He bit his lip uncertainly, but at Hurin’s nod, removed his outer tunic and the shirt he wore under it.
“Lean over the table, and grasp it hard,” Arahil said quietly.
Aragorn watched and noticed with a sinking heart that Faramir did as he was told with the practise ease of someone who had done so earlier. And sure enough, if one looked carefully, there were old marks on his back, fading white lines. Aragorn had noticed them earlier, but had never mentioned them. Denethor, he had been told, was a strict father, more so with Faramir. There were few mistakes that went unpunished, no matter how small, even after Faramir had grown up.
He found Arahil holding something out towards him, and stared at the whip distastefully.
“I have never used one before,” he said calmly, but took it anyway, trying to disguise the trembling fingers.
Aragorn stood with the lash held limply in his hand for a few moments, staring at it. His face was expressionless and his lips formed a thin white line.
“Sire,” Arahil said quietly.
Aragorn raised his arm heavily, and brought the lash down, and shuddered as he felt it contact the soft flesh on Faramir’s back.
“One,” Húrin intoned blandly.
Faramir gasped inwardly at the pain generated by the lash hitting his back. In his distress, Aragorn was gripping the lash incorrectly and bringing it down too awkwardly so that it landed at the wrong angle, causing him to jerk a little. Aragorn didn’t miss the motion. His hand froze.
There was a pause of a few seconds after that, and in that time, Faramir felt the pain spread over his back.
“The next one my lord,” Arahil said, noting the way Aragorn had frozen and the fleeting grimace of pain that had flashed across his face.
Aragorn repeated his actions dully, watching the lash arc through the air. A bright red welt formed on Faramir’s pale back.
Again there was a pause and Aragorn’s hand shook slightly.
It was after the third stroke that Faramir hissed, albeit almost inaudibly. Aragorn had taken longer this time, and the pain spread like fire across Faramir’s back s he waited for the next stroke. With time now between strokes to think, to feel, his back seemed afire.
“The next one,” Húrin urged.
“It hurts more, the longer he waits,” Arahil said, a little urgently, but Aragorn in his self-contained grief did not appear to hear the words.
Aragorn’s hand rose again, even more unsteadily than before, and fell, the whip falling across the small of Faramir back.
Faramir bit at his lip to keep from crying out. It was not the first time he had been taken to task in such a manner over his actions, but he had never felt so torn ever before. He could not cry out, he knew. It would only hurt Aragorn to hear him. He mustn’t cry out, he decided, much as he wanted to, for the strokes truly hurt, and the cries could be his only outlet.
Think about something else, he told himself desperately, and tried to turn his mind to something else… anything else. He heard the swishing sound of the lash again, and felt the sharpness yet again. He tried to push away the thought of the strokes and slowly as he concentrated, his thoughts wandered.
“Fifteen,” Arahil said quietly, “That will be all, Sire.”
Aragorn straightened his back, threw the whip away angrily, his expression displaying his distaste clearly, and stalked out of the room.
Arahil gently helped Faramir pry his fingers off the table, and gently forced the younger man to sit down. The floor was cold, but Faramir didn’t notice that.
“The king?” he asked, worriedly, but they had no reply for him.
They helped him don his shirt again.
“Does it hurt a great deal?” Arahil asked.
“No more than earlier,” Faramir said, quietly. The hits may have been awkward and Arahil may have noted that, but the king would not learn of it. And beside though the pain was perhaps worse, Faramir did not think he would feel it worse than he had the previous times. This time, he thought, it would be easier to withstand.
Returning to his chambers, he undressed, and sitting on his bed began to try and apply a salve to soothe his back. He should probably have gone to the healers but as in his younger days, he hated the thought of another seeing those marks. He had always preferred to tend to the welts himself. He would apply some salve to aid in the healing, and then try and sleep the night away, ignoring the pain and the crushing loneliness that he would feel. And then if he could not sleep, he would resort to sleeping herbs. He was trying unsuccessfully to reach for one of the larger welts, when the door to his chambers scraped open.
Aragorn entered, clearly distressed. His eyes looked suspiciously bright, and Faramir felt the worry claw at him.
“Aragorn,” he spoke hesitantly, reaching for his robe.
Aragorn moved forward swiftly and pulled Faramir intro his arms, hugging him close, letting the younger man’s head rest against his chest, so that he could stroke the soft, dark hair.
“Forgive me,” he said. His voice sounded raw and worn.
“There is nothing to forgive,’ Faramir said, his voice muffled against Aragorn’s chest. Aragorn’s arms were wrapped around his back, and the welts were beginning to sting, but he said nothing, for the feel of the arms around him seemed to be taking away the pain.
“I’m hurting you again,” Aragorn said suddenly, and unwrapped his arms hastily.
“Nay,” Faramir said softly, continuing to stand in front of his king.
“I hurt you,” Aragorn said morosely and moved away to stand by the window.
“You have not hurt me,” Faramir repeated, “You were merely doing what a commander ought to – ensuring that duties are minded. You did nothing wrong. I knew the penalty. It was my fault. I should have ensured that the watches were drawn up correctly.”
“No,” Aragorn said unhappily, “You were tired and I have overworked you, and –“
“No, Aragorn, you did nothing wrong. I act without thinking oftimes, and this was another such time. I told you I was often disciplined by my other commanders… they said I was headstrong … I must have peeled more potatoes than any other ranger in Henneth Annûn.”
Faramir sighed as Aragorn continued to brood darkly at the window. He felt tired, and his back hurt miserably. He reached for the salve distractedly, wondering what to say. The salve was cool on his fingers. He took a generous measure of it, and twisting a little, tried to apply it to the huge welt that crossed his lower back. He didn’t realise Aragorn stood by him, until the older man plucked the jar from his hand.
“Lie down,” Aragorn said quietly, “I will apply it for you. It must hurt.”
Faramir obeyed with the slightest of hesitation, “I am keeping you from…”
“My lady wife?” Aragorn completed, “Nay, I told her the nature of my errand. She seeks to rest before the celebration tonight.”Aragorn’s fingers were soft and gentle as always, seemingly flitting over his injuries even as the salve spread over his back, causing the raw wounds to sting. Faramir felt tears in his eyes.
“It will sting at first,” Aragorn said quietly, “But it will feel much better in a while. Lie still now. You need rest.”
“Th-thank you,” Faramir gasped as the sensations flooding across his lower back intensified.
“This must have hurt,” Aragorn breathed out heavily, as his fingers wandered over the largest and brightest of the welts.
“I did not notice,” Faramir said, a little grimly, as his fingers curled around the sheets. He felt his lower body buck a little as the salve spread over the tender line of skin. He felt so tired… but the screaming pain in his back would not let him rest.
Aragorn’s fingers lightly spread the salve over the welt, letting it cool and Faramir suddenly found he was breathing a little more easily, “That feels nice, thank you,” he mumbled, “I am glad you’re helping me…when I tried to apply it, it just stung. I knew if you would help it would stop hurting soon.”
“How could you not notice the pain?” Aragorn said tonelessly, his mind still harking back to Faramir’s earlier words.
“My thoughts were elsewhere,” he murmured, feeling a little sleepy.
“Where?’ Aragorn asked dully.
“On the table… I was thinking how it would be if you took me over that table,” he blurted out.
“What?” Aragorn nearly dropped the jar in his surprise.
“And after that, I stopped thinking of the table as a source of discomfort,” Faramir continued, and then blushed as he realised what he’d said, “Do you suppose they were right?”“Who?” Aragorn said, puzzled.
“The twins, when they said there could be passion in a punishment,” he blushed a little as he spoke, and then raising himself hurriedly, kissed Aragorn. His actions took the king quite by surprise, sending him falling back against the pillows as he sought instinctively to cradle Faramir in a manner that kept any impact off his back.
“You mustn’t worry,” Faramir murmured between kisses, “It did not hurt as it had done earlier whenever I knew I had taken a correct decision. I erred this time, falling sleep like that.”
“You were tired,” Aragorn murmured.
“Letting myself get tired like that,” Faramir said softly, anxious to get rid of the distress in Aragorn’s eyes.
When they pulled apart, Aragorn sighed tiredly, “I do not know about what the twins may say but I feared much that you may not wish me to be with you.”
“I would never wish that,” Faramir said quietly.
“I wanted to hit something, hurt my hand…” Aragorn admitted, “But Arwen stopped me, and said if I needed to do so, then I should after seeing to your back.”
“If you had hurt your hand,” Faramir said almost fiercely, “I should have considered it my fault!”
“It would not have been,” Aragorn said firmly.
“And neither is all this yours,” Faramir repeated softly.
Once the salve had been applied liberally to Faramir’s back, in between a few more kisses, Aragorn helped him don a thin robe, and then made him settle into a huge armchair by the door opening into a large balcony. He sat in the same chair and then pulled Faramir gently into his arms, carefully ensuring that no pressure was applied on Faramir’s hurting back. Faramir could protest all he liked, but as far as Aragorn could see, the younger man was tired, sleepy and in pain.
Faramir had plans of his own. There was enough time later to test the theories forwarded by the twins. For now they would do with his own theories. He moved forward and made Aragorn shift until he was lying back against the chair and began kissing him on his neck, his throat, loosening the bindings of his tunic and onto his chest.
“You should be resting, you know,” Aragorn gasped, and then nearly yelped as Faramir swiped his ear with his tongue.
“I am,” Faramir murmured.
“I could order it,” Aragorn muttered, “But I won’t for I know this will be one of those times where you will think I am incorrect and do as you please anyway.”
Faramir nodded in agreement.“And then I would have to make you peel potatoes for that,” Aragorn concluded unkindly, and wrapped his arms gently around his steward to return his kisses. And then perhaps he could convince him to sleep.
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