The Rose in Bloom
6. Gifts Given
Faramir, richly dressed in white and silver, strode to stand before Éomer.
"Éowyn, Eomund's daughter, stand forth!"
Éowyn, also in the Steward's white and silver, came to stand before her brother. Her heart thundered in her ears as she took Faramir's right hand in hers. "By this hand, I thee wed."
Faramir, too, said "By this hand, I thee wed," and his gentle smile smote her to the heart.
"What do you bring in earnest of this pledge?" Éomer asked.
From a low table, Faramir offered to Éowyn his father's sword, a sheaf of grain, and his Steward's staff. "My blood for your honor, my sweat for your bread, and my dominion for your joy."
Éowyn gravely accepted the gifts and placed them at her feet. Then she too gave her gifts – her father's sword, a small woven blanket, and a wooden chest. She opened it for all to see, and at Faramir's puzzled expression, she whispered "fifty picket pins." Then aloud, she declared "My blood for your honor, my body for your children, and my horses for your joy."
Then began great revels with dancing and feasting and many speeches and those in the hall drank their hale until the westering Sun sank behind Thrihyrne. A horn sounded, and the people in the Hall stood and made a path for the bride and her man. The men beat spear against shield and the women broke small cakes of grain and cast them at Éowyn as they walked in procession through the Hall and down the hill. The revelers followed them across the greensward to the small cottage that would be Faramir's and Éowyn's home through the Mead Moon. As they crossed the threshold, the rattling of spears ceased and a few lads, dressed in black robes and fell faces, shook the shutters, and made for the door, but Faramir barred it against them. Éowyn and Faramir listened as the voices of the revelers wandered back up to the Golden Hall. He leaned against the door and smiled at her. "Beautiful, beloved Éowyn!"
But when he leaned in to kiss her, she placed a finger on his lips. "Faramir. I... I would speak with you."
He laughed, asking "You would have more words?" but he sat down on the bench near the table and looked at her expectantly.
"My lord... I... I have no maidenhead."
His expression was suddenly grave, etched in stone, and Éowyn's courage failed her. She hung her head, and Faramir quickly stood, taking her hands in his. "How did this happen?"
The words spilled swiftly from her mouth. "When I was fourteen, my mare Beorhta nearly stepped on a sunning snake. She took fright. I fought to stay astride her, but she was wild with fear..." A tear slid down Éowyn's cheek as she saw doubt in his eyes. "I was thrown from the saddle."
"And thus your maidenhead was broken?"
She nodded her head, eyes downcast. "It happens so often that we of the Riddermark have no bed-blood custom."
He lifted her chin and searched her eyes. "My lady, if youthful desires overcame your will, or if any man defiled you, I would still hold you as pure as driven snow and honorable above reproach. Only speak your full heart to me, for I would not have fear or hidden hurts mar our joy this night."
His concern filled her with love that overcame all fear. "I am yet a maiden, untouched by any man."
He smiled gently. "Then why so grim? I feared a tale of horror and woe, of some evil committed by Gríma Wormtounge unbeknownst to your brother."
"Nay, my brother's vigilance was not in vain. It was your kin who gave me cause to fear. Galenriel told me that a woman without a stained marriage linen would be held in disgrace by the whole city. I feared..."
"You feared I would believe you a woman of vice?" At that he laughed. "My lady, my lady, fair and mighty! Your word of honor requires no proof to me, and I give my gauntlet to any man who would say otherwise. But if you wish to not be misunderstood, it is an insignificant thing, easily remedied. Most such hangings display kine's blood, and sometimes for less honorable reasons than yours." He kissed her gently, impulsively, and yet her heart sang like a bowstring.
"But since you insisted on declaring your honor, I ought to do the same. For I have never yet lain with a woman."
Éowyn was taken aback. "With all your years of warring..."
"Éowyn," he chastised, his eyes dancing with mirth. "I warred against orcs!"
She stifled a giggle, then sobered. "I meant there surely were... 'women of vice' who followed the camps."
"There were a few, patronized by the lesser men of Gondor. But as for me, I hold the honor of myself and my fathers in higher esteem. Could I in honor abandon a child I sired?" Then he kissed her softly, but with such quiet intensity a moan escaped her lips and left her breathless. "Could I give that to a woman I did not love and claim to be an honest man, or sit in judgment of others as my position demands?"
"Was there never some lass, some lady you desired?"
"I did not say I never desired a woman, only that I had never loved one." He kissed her longingly. "Until you." He caressed her cheek and smiled. "Your fall from the saddle, unhappy at fourteen, will be a boon tonight."
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.