1. Fading Shadow
The young Captain of Gondor, now Steward of the White City, turned as the King approached him with a warm smile. Both their eyes locked upon a female dressed all in white, laughing joyously as she danced with her people.
“You have chosen well,” Aragorn nodded.
“Aye,” Faramir agreed with a broad grin on his handsome features. “I still wonder at my good fortune. It seems a dream to me.”
“Then it is a good dream.” The King smiled wistfully as the phrase reminded him of his own beloved. “Go now. Dance with your White Lady.”
Faramir bowed and departed towards Éowyn with a spring in his step. She spotted him through the crowd and reached out to grasp his hand. As he spun her around in his arms, he finally felt a happiness that he had long been lacking.
“My Lord, the horses are ready.”
Faramir started out of his reverie and nodded at his old friend and guard. He then proceeded to strap on his belt and don his cloak of dark blue velvet. A bang of the door caught his attention and he raised his head in time to see his betrothed fly into the room as if carried by the wind, hair and dress flowing about her.
“Your horse has been readied,” she stated while her eyes questioned.
“I am to leave for Osgiliath,” he answered coolly. “Trouble has begun to stir among the people there.”
“Can the King not aid them?” she asked, puzzled.
“He is more than three days ride from the city and this cannot wait,” Faramir explained as he shook his head. “I must go in his stead.”
“And you leave your bride so willingly?” she murmured, her gaze never faltering.
“I do not,” he answered with pain tingeing his voice. “Yet I fear that my presence will do nothing to ease your loneliness, my Lady.”
He met her eyes for one instant, gray against gray, searching desperately for something that he could not find in the end.
“Your eyes show clearly what your heart desires, Éowyn,” he said while looking away toward the window. “And it does not lie in Faramir, Captain of Gondor.”
With that, he disappeared from the room sweeping his cloak behind him. She rushed to the window to catch a last glimpse of her Lord as he galloped down the streets and out of her sight. She fell limply onto the bench, running a slender finger over its intricate carvings.
“You will find no answers there my Lady,” a rich female voice said. “Though it is rather beautiful, even by Elven standards.”
Éowyn looked up and saw the Queen above her with a soft smile on her lips. She began a hasty bow but a gentle hand halted her.
“Must there be formalities between old friends? Let us sit down together.”
They settled on the bench, raven hair against blonde, crimson cloth against pure white. Their physical contrasts were startling yet their eyes told a different story.
“I understand the young Captain has left for Osgiliath,” Arwen said, breaking the silence. “Is that why you weep?”
Éowyn looked startled and felt as if the other were peering into her very soul. Her gaze wavered and she took a shaky breath.
“Yes…” she whispered. “And no. I do not understand him! He expects something from me yet I know not what he seeks.”
“Do you know nothing of his love for you?” Arwen asked gently, her question serving to puzzle Éowyn further. “Can you not see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice? He would raze an entire city to the ground at your command. And he would steal the sun from the sky if he knew it would be able to warm your heart.”
At these quiet words, Éowyn could not help the tears from spilling.
“Then why has he gone? Why has he left me to wander these cold white halls alone?” she cried. Then she let out a weary sigh. “I have so many questions, I feel as if even eternity cannot provide all the answers.”
“There is time Éowyn,” Arwen replied, squeezing her hand in a gesture of comfort. “Perhaps you need first to understand yourself. What does your heart hold?”
Éowyn furrowed her brow and waited but her companion would say no more.
“I take my leave,” the Queen finally announced with a reassuring smile.
Then she was gone and Éowyn was again left to her own thoughts. After a few pained moments, she decided that fresh air might do her good and proceeded to stroll through the winding city streets. The people sensed Éowyn’s turmoil and took care not to disturb her, yet they could not help looking upon her with curiosity and concern; every man, woman, and child held a growing affection for their new Lady for in the first instant they saw her, they had sensed her kindness and compassion.
After what seemed like hours, Éowyn found herself returning to the tower, stepping towards a secluded garden she had heard belonged to the Queen. It appeared rumors were true as she discovered the Elf tending to the flowers there. It was as if every stem and branch stood taller and reached farther under her gentle touch. Éowyn would have been content to watch in the shadows if Arwen hadn’t sensed her presence immediately.
“We meet again,” the Queen said without turning around. “Have you more answers or more questions?”
She turned around with an amused expression yet Éowyn could detect no trace of mockery in her wise eyes.
“Neither,” she sighed, finding herself seated on yet another bench. “I seem to be going in circles, quite literally.”
Arwen said nothing to this, a smile remaining on her ethereal features as she returned to her task. Éowyn fell silent for a few moments, seemingly lost in thought. Suddenly she asked a question and from where it sprang she did not know.
“When did you first know of your love for King Aragorn?”
Arwen glanced up yet wore no expression of surprise. She walked to Éowyn and sat with her before she gave her answer.
“When I first laid eyes upon him,” she said and her words held not a hint of doubt.
“How did you know?” Éowyn asked, attempting to hide her childish curiosity.
Arwen smiled and turned her gaze toward a sight only she could see. When she spoke, her voice sounded distant.
“My life has spanned the Ages yet even I do not fully understand the ways of the heart,” she said quietly. “When I saw him, I saw not a man, but a King who would give his whole heart when he loved. I sensed his mortality, yes, but also the wisdom and beauty of the Eldar. It was then that I knew my heart belonged to him.”
She turned slowly towards Éowyn as if awaking from a dream. The latter had tears in her eyes and felt that she had just been told a sacred truth, one that would shake the heavens if all were to hear it.
“Have you ever regretted leaving your people?” she inquired after a lengthy pause.
“Never,” Arwen whispered and Éowyn had no more questions.
“My Lady,” a guard gasped, stumbling into the room. “Lord Faramir has fallen ill. You must come quickly.”
Éowyn turned from the window as the news sank in.
“Impossible!” she gasped, yet followed the guard down the halls. “How can it be? He was perfectly well when he left but three days ago.”
Her scattered mind only barely registered that she had been taken to the Houses of Healing. She burst through the doors and saw a lone figure lying on white sheets.
“My Lord,” she whispered while falling to her knees at his side.
His skin was so burning and Éowyn almost dropped his hand when she touched it.
“I don’t know if it is my place to say,” the guard started, and then faltered.
“Speak!” she commanded, her eyes never leaving Faramir.
“He has not slept and has hardly eaten for weeks,” he relayed quietly.
Éowyn glanced at him sharply. “For weeks? Whatever do you mean?”
“Have you not noticed, my Lady?” he asked cautiously. “I have seen him take but a few bites of food at the table during meals and at night, he walks the halls so caught in his thoughts that he does not even detect my presence.”
Éowyn did not answer yet the guard saw her lips tighten into a thin line. He was not certain as to why his Captain’s demeanor had changed so over the past weeks but he could afford a silent speculation. He was well beyond his years and no stranger on the matters of love. He had noticed the grief in the young Captain’s eyes every time they fell upon Lady Éowyn, who never seemed to notice anything for her eyes were always fixed onto something unseen by the others around her. He could sense her love for her Lord yet it was hindered by something that always shadowed her bright eyes. But he did not dare to speculate further.
“His spirit is dwindling, Lady Éowyn,” another voice spoke.
She looked up in surprise and saw the Queen standing mere inches from her.
“I sense a growing darkness in his heart.” Arwen said this not looking at Faramir, but at Éowyn. “It is possible that he never really healed from the injuries he sustained during the War. True, these past months have staved off this darkness until it became a mere shadow but his lack of rest and nourishment has spurred it to spread.”
She closed her eyes. “It is tainting him slowly but surely.”
“Can you not call upon the King to help him? He has succeeded once before!” Éowyn cried, unable to temper her frustration.
“Aye, I could. But I fear that Captain Faramir’s wounds run too deep even for the King to mend. He needs someone… closer to his heart.”
“You mean for me to heal him?” Éowyn asked with uncertainty as Arwen nodded. “But I know nothing of healing!”
“The sick of heart do not need the practicality of healers,” the Queen advised. “Call him back Éowyn. If your love is true, he will answer.”
Éowyn turned back to Faramir, locked in a silent struggle. Moments passed before she spoke again.
“What if he does not?” she whispered.
There was no answer except for the echoes of her own doubt. The Queen and guard had already left.
That night, Éowyn remained kneeled at her Lord’s side, stroking his hair while murmuring his name incessantly until it became a chanting plea. But he would not wake while the shadow behind her eyes still lingered.
Faramir had almost become a fool in his love for her. The day they married, he had convinced himself that it was he who owned her whole heart. Yet as days faded into weeks, the sweet delusion slowly dissipated. Éowyn was still clinging, albeit unconsciously, to an old dream – a dream in which a dark Ranger swept her from her feet and made her a Queen. As he came to realize this, he felt as if he were locking her in the cage she so dreaded. But he could not let her go.
“It is but a shadow and a thought that you love.”
Éowyn looked up at the Ranger with teary eyes and as he uttered these words, his face began to blur. She blinked to rid the tears and gasped when in place of Aragorn, she saw Faramir.
“Why can you not love me?” he pleaded. “Am I so unworthy of your affections?”
She looked into his eyes and saw darkness overtaking them, as if black storm clouds were threatening a calm sea. All the while, she felt utter despair radiating from his body in waves powerful enough to constrict her lungs.
“If you do not love me, I will burn into shadow and ash,” he continued as flames suddenly engulfed his form. “Please…”
And with this last entreaty, he crumbled though she tried to grasp his wrists. Sobbing, she felt hot ashes sift through her fingers. She began to scream.
Éowyn awoke, her throat hoarse and face wet. Realizing she had fallen asleep, sprawled across the edge of the bed in the same kneeling position, she stood up on shaky limbs. She then stumbled towards the window and pushed it open with trembling hands. The cold morning air helped her to regain her senses but it did nothing to soothe her regret and sorrow. She now knew what lay behind Faramir’s riddles and his coldness. He had long sensed what shadow and thought still grasped her heart when even she did not.
But what did she want? While pondering this slightly disturbing question, she returned to Faramir and looked down upon his face. Suddenly all the swirling thoughts in her mind molded into one answer, as strong and sure as her blade. She wanted nothing more than to be loved. Faramir had already given Éowyn her heart’s desire yet she had remained too blind, too foolish to see. All the glory and valor of the world could not amount to the wondrous feeling that came to her now as she reflected upon his devotion. He loved her in ways Aragorn could not… would not. Yet she did not see Faramir as a second choice. She saw him as a new beginning. If only he would wake, they could start their life anew.
“My Lord,” she whispered softly yet surely. “Faramir, my love.”
And as his eyes fluttered open, she began sobbing in relief and exhaustion.
“My Lady,” he said hoarsely. “Why do you cry?”
“Because you have returned to me,” she answered with a bright smile through the tears.
Without warning, he became distant, his eyes turned to frost.
“I would fare better if I had not,” he said dully, turning his head away.
“But my Lord,” Éowyn began, startled by the change.
“Leave me.” His voice was devoid of feeling. “I wish to be alone.”
She opened her mouth to protest but then thought against it. Though she wished to melt the ice in his veins, she would not do so by angering him. Perhaps he will better receive me after he has fully recovered, she thought while wiping her tears. Even so, she was ready to fling herself upon him if his stubbornness remained unyielding. She stood up and hurried out of the House, her mouth set in a determined line. As she closed the door from the outside, she dwelled on a single thought. A shieldmaiden of Rohan does not give up so easily.
“He has woken?” a voice more stated than asked.
Éowyn felt the familiar presence of the Queen. She knew the answer needed not be spoken aloud so she continued to stare off into the distance across Pelennor. The breeze on the balcony was chilly yet it cooled her frustration, for which she was thankful; she always felt her temper childish before the calm, collected Elf.
“I understand now,” Éowyn spoke at last. “I only wish that I am not too late in my revelation.”
Then, she could be calm no more, spinning around with fire in her eyes.
“He would not even listen to me!” she cried. “And I cannot bear it.”
“He will be unyielding at first, yes,” Arwen said. “The sons of Denethor have been known for their stubbornness. But it is not too late.” Her voice was warm and reassuring. “His love for you has only grown stronger despite his despair. You must rekindle his hope that you return this love.”
“I will,” Éowyn promised, more to herself than to the Queen. “I must.”
Éowyn returned to the House of Healing in two days time, unable to wait any longer. It was up to her to dispel both their torment. She burst through the door and located Faramir at the window, his back to her.
“My Lord,” she said softly, reaching his side and touching his shoulder.
He flinched yet did not turn or speak. In desperation, she grasped both his shoulders and forced him to confront her.
“What do you wish of me Éowyn?” he asked wearily.
Without another word, she swiftly brought their lips together and the sensation was almost too sweet. Actions indeed spoke louder than words as Faramir brought his hand to the small of her back and deepened the kiss. At that moment, her previous plan flew out the window; she could not bring herself to think coherently let alone remember anything. Then her world shattered when he pulled back sharply and backed up against the wall.
“Why must you play with my heart Éowyn?” he asked with silent despair. “Are you satisfied now that you know you wield it solely as your own?”
His bitterness brought fresh tears to her eyes.
“No!” she said fiercely. “No, I will never be satisfied for it intoxicates me too much. But what must I say and do to make you believe that you have mine?”
Hope flickered in his dark eyes yet it was still too weak to overcome his doubt.
“Did you not feel it in our kiss?” she asked desperately. “My heart lies in your hands alone!”
When he still would not speak, she rested one hand on his cheek and the other on his heart. His eyelids fluttered and closed at the touch. She looked with wonder at his face as if she was seeing him for the first time with open eyes. Perhaps she was. She was finally rid of the shadow that had veiled him from her. With long slender fingers, she began a light exploration of his face starting at his brow, which was as noble as any king’s. She traced his dark arching eyebrows, then one high cheekbone. Her eyes fell upon impossibly long lashes, which she knew would raise to reveal eyes as gray and turbulent as the sea before a storm. Finally her fingers found his lips, reveling in their softness. As if her caresses wiped away the stains of doubt and despair, his eyes opened, filled with tenderness and love.
“Have you found anything to your liking, my Lady?” he asked with a trace of mirth in his voice.
She began to laugh and weep as she leapt into his arms, proceeding to suffocate him with a strangle hold around his neck.
“Everything,” she whispered.
And as he spun her around in his arms, all of Minas Tirith was bathed in the light of their happiness.
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.