3. The Silent Street
She remains at the window, gazing out at the empty courtyard and the cold dawn; it all seems so far away…was it only yesterday that the - news - had come? Today, with all due ceremony, they will carry his body down the Silent Street and place it in the House of Stewards.
Abruptly she turns her back on the window and the rising sun; the day has begun and it will be a long one, for she will have much to do.
Stepping into the shadows she shivers. What joy is there in dawn without him?~
She stands silent and tall, her hair braided and woven tightly around her head. She is dressed in the dark, heavy mourning dress that she has worn so many times before; she feels stifled by its weight.
The hall is long and high, and the scattered whispering of the mourners echoes strangely. Torches hanging from chains on the wall are the only source of light. She longs for the sun and the open sky; she feels the hall closing in around her, and she cannot stop it.
As she watches, the bearers lay the litter on the stone bier and step away, heads bowed in sorrow and reverence. Now the King, Aragorn, steps forward. He speaks, but she does not hear, for her eyes are fixed on the lifeless body of the man who had been her husband.
He lies quietly, robed in the raiment of Steward, his face relaxed and free of pain and sorrow, his raven hair falling around his shoulders. Seeing him thus she would think him merely asleep…but for the fact that he does not breathe.
How can this be? she wonders. You laughed with me, the night before you left.
There is a pressure inside her chest, as though something is trying to smother her.
You have gone and now I remain behind…alone.
The pressure is rising, moving up her throat, and her eyes are burning painfully. Still, she stands erect, hands clasped tightly over the folds of the dark veil that covers her golden head.
The King finishes speaking, though she does not know what he has said, and steps back, taking the Queen's hand in his own. The silence is final.
Éowyn stares at their entwined fingers, her own hands suddenly aching. How can this be? A quiet shuffling begins to fill the chamber as the mourners prepare to leave.
No, she thinks, almost choking now. This is not the end…it cannot be… She wants to stop them, but she does not know how or why. Her fingers grip the veil so tightly that her knuckles burn white. Almost involuntarily she begins to sing.
The sound of her voice - clear, cold, despairing - halts the people in their tracks. It is a song in the tongue of her people, and speaks of death and sorrow; it is the song she sang at her cousin's funeral, and her uncle's.
Her voice echoes loudly throughout the hall, reverberating off the stone walls, and her vision blurs as scalding tears slip from her eyes. At last she finishes, and her voice cracks though it does not break. She stands as tall as ever, her face wet, eyes hollow, her breathing ragged.
The spell is broken and the people find that they are able to move once more. Many are the furtive glances cast her way, and many are the whispers about the strange grief of the Lady Éowyn, the wild Shieldmaiden of the North. No one stops to condole for now they are all even more eager to leave this place - but her song will haunt their dreams, though they do not understand the words.
Éomer waits until the crowd thins, then approaches her, a frown creasing his forehead. He puts a hand on her shoulder but she does not react. 'Éowyn,' he says, his voice uncharacteristically gentle.
Acknowledgment: she turns to look at him and his sense of unease grows at the distance he sees in her eyes. 'Éowyn -'
'Leave me alone,' she says. 'Please, Éomer.'
His frown deepens and he opens his mouth to speak again but she has turned away, shut him out.
His frown turns to a scowl; he wants to stay but the Queen calls him softly, beckoning. Reluctantly he turns and follows Aragorn and Arwen from the hall. At the door he pauses to glance over his shoulder: his sister has not moved. She stands alone at the side of the bier, her head bowed, unmoving. Slowly he leaves the burial hall, his heart heavy.
He remembers how changed she was when he saw her after the Battle of the Black Gate; she was still a shieldmaiden, but he had seen joy and peace in her eyes. He had seen love.
He cannot see it now.~
The doors close softly and she knows she is alone. For a long time she remains still, her mind strangely blank. At length she stirs and takes a step closer to the bier, then another and another, until she stands right up against it. Reaching out, she runs her fingers softly through his hair, just as she has done many times in his life. She remembers…~*~
It was a warm summer evening and the breeze came not off the River Anduin, but from the South and as such was warm and faintly sultry, laced with the scent of spices. Night birds were calling softly, and the clouds drifted lazily across the sky, glowing pink in the light of the low-hanging sun.
They sat in the meadow, in the shade of a grove of trees, facing the sunset. Faramir lay with his eyes closed, his hands folded over his chest, his head in Éowyn's lap. She stroked his hair gently, watching the tired lines fade gradually from his face; it had been a long and trying day, full of tedious meeting and stubborn ambassadors who refused to be agreeable to either King or Steward. Though Gondor's king had returned nearly two years previously, there was much still to be done - and however busy Faramir became, it must be many times worse for Aragorn.
With a wry smile, Éowyn shook her head and leaned forward to brush her lips across Faramir's forehead.
He opened his eyes and smiled up at her. 'Good evening,' he said sleepily.
She grinned. 'Good evening.'
His grey eyes studied her face for a moment. Then, quietly: 'I am glad I am not a king.'
Her grin widened. 'That is well - for I am not a queen!'
Faramir's only response was to laugh and pull her down into his arms.~*~
The memory fades and she shudders, clutching tightly at the veil. The moment passes and she raises a hand. Gently, she smoothes the hair from his brow and bends down to brush her lips across his own. Then she steps back, turns, and walks away, never glancing behind.
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.