Faramir had been hurt, but chided himself for being oversensitive. All were gathered in the Golden Hall at the funeral feast to farewell Théoden King, to drink to his memory and to mark the beginning of the rule of Éomer, the new king of the Mark.
The new king had begged leave of the company to announce tidings of joy, a joy that Théoden himself would have shared. He called Faramir and his sister Éowyn up before the company and joined their hands together, announcing that they were to be married. Éomer had led the toast to their happiness and to this new bond between Gondor and the Mark. He had then presented the bride-to-be with a rich wedding gift, a beautiful bracelet of interlaced gold bands clasped at the front by two stylized horses’ heads with glinting emerald eyes.
It was the custom in Gondor that one gave a gift to both the prospective bride and the groom. Perhaps the Rohirrim did things differently. Or perhaps, thought Faramir, it meant that Éomer did not fully approve of his sister’s choice of husband. The tall son of Éomund had seemed happy enough when he first gave them his congratulations, hugging Éowyn and lifting her off her feet to twirl her around the room. He had gripped Faramir’s hand forcefully, pounded him on the back and made several comments that left Éowyn laughing and blushing.
And he seemed happy enough now. He asked Faramir to have another drink with him when the feast was over. Many of the guests were leaving on the morrow, and they trickled out in small groups, Aragorn deep in conversation with Gimli and Legolas, Éowyn talking to Merry and Pippin.
Now the two men sat alone at the long table. The big Rohir sat slumped in his chair. The drink turned into two. Then three. Or four. He looked up at Faramir and sighed. “Look you,” he said, “I have a wedding gift for you as well, my lord, but I’m not sure.... It seemed right to me this morning, but now....”
Faramir looked at him, puzzled. What could the problem be?
Éomer shrugged, then banged his empty glass down on the table and stood up.
“Come,” he said, holding out his hand to Faramir.
“Just come with me.”
Faramir had matched him drink for drink and was ready for his bed. “'Tis late, and I am drunk,” he said, shaking his head. “...tomorrow....”
“No,” Éomer insisted, swaying a bit. He grabbed the back of the chair. “My courage might fail me. Let’s do it now.”
Faramir’s curiosity got the better of him. “Oh, very well.” He dragged himself up from the table and draped an arm over the tall man’s shoulder. Articulating very carefully, he said, “We’ll do it now. Whatever it is.”
Éomer led him from the brightly lit Hall and down the long steps. In spite of the considerable amount of wine he had drunk, he guided Faramir surely down dark pathways to a large building he had not seen before. Éomer dragged open the heavy wooden doors, and Faramir was enveloped by the smell of hay and horses. The stables.
The king grabbed his arm and guided him inside, down a long row of stalls. As they passed, curious heads poked out, white, grey, dun. They didn’t stop until they had reached the last stall on the right. There stood one of the most beautiful creatures Faramir had ever seen: a tall, slate-grey horse with a black mane and dark, liquid eyes. Unlike the other stable-dwellers, he did not come to the front of his stall to see who the visitors were. He stood very still, with his head up, looking somewhere past them.
“This is Balaróf. Your wedding gift.”
Faramir moved forward to stand against wooden bars of the enclosure. “He is beautiful, Éomer. I see why you hesitated. I would not want to give him up.”
When the horse heard Faramir's voice, it seemed to look at them for the first time.
“It’s not that. It was.... Balaróf was the horse my cousin Théodred gave to your brother when he passed through Rohan on his journey west. He was one of Théodred’s favorites. He found his way back after.... Well, we didn’t know what had happened at the time. But he hasn’t had a master since, and he needs one. I thought if you took him, you could share part of your brother’s journey, and he could... finish his....” Éomer trailed off in confusion and ran his hands through his hair, obviously feeling out of his depth. “But then I thought, if you’d rather not be reminded....”
Faramir reached out a hand and said, very softly, “Balaróf.” The horse came forward, lowered his head, and gently nudged his chest. Faramir laughed, then raised a hand and scratched behind one of the grey ears. A soft “huh-huh” rewarded this attempt at friendship. Balaróf lowered his head a bit more for easier access, and Éomer sighed with relief.
“It is well?” he asked.
Faramir nodded and said, to the horse more than to Éomer, “It is well.”
For ErinRua's birthday. You asked for Éomer and Faramir. The horse and the schmoop are gratuitous. ;) If I got any of the horsiness wrong, let me know.
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.