5. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
Éomer visits her every day, bringing news of the city and the ever-growing tension in the South. From the reports of the scouts it appears that the Haradrim will be ready soon, very soon, though thus far they seem to be waiting, biding their time.
For what do they wait? she wonders distantly.
'In the city some wonder when Aragorn will choose a new Steward -'
Éowyn stiffens. Choose a new Steward?
Éomer breaks off, swearing and looking chagrined. 'Éowyn -'
'Choose a new Steward?' She is shaking, furious. How dare they? How dare they forget so soon? Her hands clench at her sides. 'Have they no memory?' she demands, almost spitting. 'Do they so soon forget their dead?' Her voice cracks at the last word and she falls onto a stone bench, drawing the mantle close around her shoulders.
In a trice Éomer is at her side; she hates the worry she sees in his eyes. 'And what has Aragorn to say about this?' she asks, her voice rough.
'He has said nothing,' Éomer answers sharply. 'He will not appoint a new Steward so soon - Éowyn, you know this. He also loved Faramir - as did I, if for no other reason than that he made you smile.'
Éowyn says nothing, but her knuckles turn white as she grips the mantle. '…he made you smile…' She remembers standing atop the walls of Minas Tirith, remembers how he took her in his arms… She had smiled, then. As had he. The joy in his eyes…
'Have you considered my offer any further?' Éomer asks, breaking into her thoughts.
The walls of Minas Tirith, Faramir's smile, vanish and she is in the garden again with her brother. She lets out a breath and meets his eyes. 'I have considered,' she answers. 'And I…thank you, but I cannot leave this place.'
His eyes narrow. 'Cannot or will not?' he growls.
'I will not change my mind,' she snaps, looking away.
'Why not?' Challenging.
Her hand twitches impatiently; he will not understand. She jumps to her feet and walks a few paces before whirling to face him; he, too, is on his feet. 'Because it is my decision to make. Leave it be, Éomer, for once in your life!'
'How can I leave it be when I see you suffering?' he demands. 'You - '
'Leaving this place will not help me,' she answers harshly. 'Whether you like or not, brother, this is my home.' At least, it was my home while you lived. What am I to do now, Faramir? When she speaks again, her voice is hollow, emotionless. 'Leave it be, Éomer.'
He starts visibly and the worry in his eyes intensifies. 'Éowyn - '
The love in his voice is too much. Afraid of what might happen if she remains, she turns on her heel and leaves him.
He starts to follow, but stops, his shoulders bowed; in his heart he knows she'll not be moved, but it unnerves him to see her like this. For a moment he stares at the door through which she passed, then without another word he too leaves the garden and heads for the stables.~
'He also loved Faramir - as did I, if for no other reason than that he made you smile.'
She had once said that she would become a healer - this when Faramir had brought her to life, that day atop the walls - but now… Healer, heal thyself, she thinks bitterly. Faramir, did you ever fully know what you gave to me?
Now she cannot even see the words on the page for night has fallen and light is gone. Looking up from the book, she stares out the window at the darkened land; she sees torches gleaming in the woods of Ithilien, but hears nothing. These past days and nights she has not heard the Elves singing. She knows they are also grieving, but she finds that she misses it - she and Faramir would fall asleep every night listening to the murmur of Elven voices raised in song. Without it, the night feels empty.
She leans back against the wall, suddenly tired. Gradually her eyes close against the night and soon she is asleep. The book falls from her limp hands and crashes to the floor, but she does not wake.~*~
Her arm felt numb and cold, as though pierced by a thousand shards of ice. There was darkness all around her; darkness filled with voices. No matter what she did, how she turned, where she stepped, she could not escape them.
'Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey!'
'What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek?'
'No living man may hinder me!'
'Stay! For you have no errand to the South!'
'…thy flesh shall be devoured…'
The voice pierced the darkness, shattering it, and she awoke with a start, her cries still echoing throughout the room. There was a strange pressure on her chest and she felt she couldn't breathe.
Then the voice came again - 'Éowyn!' - and she felt a warm hand on her arm; the icy numbness began to subside. Gently the hand turned her over onto her back and she found herself staring up into a pair of worried grey eyes.
'The Witch King?' he asked quietly, stroking her hair.
She nodded once, mouth tight. 'It was two years ago today,' she whispered at last, voice hoarse.
'I know,' was all he said, still running his fingers through her hair.
'It is dark,' she went on, closing her eyes, 'and I can see nothing. My arm is cold, numb, and the voices…I cannot shut them out. His voice, the Worm's…' She stopped and opened her eyes. 'And I cannot shut them out.'
'They can hurt you no more.'
Éowyn scowled. 'I know - but it does not stop the dreams from coming. You of all people should know this.'
Faramir nodded, and when he spoke she could hear the gentle smile in his voice. 'I do - but then I remember that it has passed…and that I am alone no longer.'
…alone no longer… The scowl disappeared. Alone no longer. 'Thank you,' she murmured softly. How soon I forget!
'You are most welcome,' he answered, leaning forward to kiss her forehead, his hair brushing against her face. 'Sleep well, my Lady Éowyn.' With the comforting warmth of her husband's arms around her, it was not long before she did.~*~
She stirs and wakes, calling his name softly. 'Faramir…' Then she opens her eyes: she still sits at the window, and pale dawn is creeping over the horizon. The book lies at her feet, pages crushed against the stone floor.
Her mouth tightens and she bends down to retrieve the book. Carefully she tries to smooth the crumpled pages - Faramir had taught her to handle books with care - but they will not lie flat. Frowning, she presses more firmly, rubbing her thumb along the creases, but with no success. Angry tears spring to her eyes; she should have been more careful; she knows better. Faramir taught her to know better.
The pages remain bent and crooked, mocking her. Her hands tremble, now, as they hold the book, making the task difficult. She runs her thumb along one of the creases; the book slips; the pages rips: a loud, sharp noise.
She curses, and the book falls from her hands once more. Jumping up from the window seat she runs from the room. Behind her the book lies open on the floor, its mangled pages fluttering helplessly in the morning wind.
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.