1. Sacrificial Maiden
The vows had been spoken, the wedding circle broken, and Éowyn was of Rohan no more but of Gondor, a married woman.
After the thirteenth—or was it the fourteenth?—toast to the couple’s health and fertility, Éowyn settled back into her chair next to Faramir at the head table and rested her feet. Her fine white slippers were beautiful but uncomfortable. They had been a mithril-flecked gift from Gimli, whose Dwarven craftsmen-turned-cobblers knew much about jewelry and armor, but almost nothing about human ladies’ feet.
A servant brought her another cup of strawberry wine, and Éowyn sipped it gratefully. It was not actually wine, but some sort of prized, well-aged Gondorian liqueur that concealed a mighty kick behind the taste of fruited ambrosia. Éowyn’s head was already light from the several glasses of it she’d downed during the toasts. She knew she should drink it more slowly, but it tasted so cool and refreshing, and she trusted her ale-drenched upbringing to protect her. Besides, it was only polite to appreciate the drink so assiduously. The keg had been a generous gift, from a distant Dol Amroth kinsman of Faramir’s.
Her husband. Éowyn found it hard to believe she had a husband. The past few months had seemed to fly by so quickly, and while they would stay here at Meduseld tonight, tomorrow they would leave for Gondor and Emyn Arnen to occupy the few rooms that had been completed in their new home. Tomorrow she would leave the side of her brother and family forever, and the thought saddened her. But she knew she was ready to begin a fine new life, with a fine man whom she loved.
Next to her, Faramir laughed at something said to him by the king. Éowyn sneaked a peek at his profile. She watched as a tendril of dark hair escaped its lashings at his nape to brush his cheek; she watched his smiling, open mouth. His teeth were very white, and his lips wet from the fermented strawberries.
Seeing them made her think about kisses. She felt herself fortunate to have married such an affectionate man from the ranks of a grim and reserved Gondorian citizenry. He had kissed her on the ramparts of the city, and since then he had always stolen chances here and there to remind her of his feelings, to speak silent poetry against her lips. There had not been as many chances as Éowyn might have liked. But tonight, she thought, she could have all the kisses she desired. And more.
A nervous thrill coursed through her at the thought, and she wondered at it. Éowyn had been raised in horse-country and was no sheltered maiden. She knew the basics of what awaited her on the marriage bed, almost as well as she knew the basic strategies of battle. She had to remind herself that it was natural to feel apprehension before one’s first time setting out to do either.
Faramir turned to her then and smiled. His grey eyes were penetrating and warm, as if he knew her very thoughts. His smile was devastating. Éowyn felt heat seep into her cheeks and raised the cup to drink and hide her maidenly blush, embarrassed by her weakness. "I wish--" she began, then stopped, unused to this feeling of lust mixed with fear, and unable to think of anything to say.
Faramir grinned even more widely and leaned toward her. "What do you wish? I could not hear!"
"I—wish for more wine."
"Then you shall have some!" he said. He signaled a passing servant, who rushed to bring her a fresh cup.
Éowyn drank and was silent, deciding that if she couldn’t think of something clever to say to her clever new husband, then she would say nothing. Soon they were caught up again with the well-wishers, and then the dancing and the singing, and Éowyn forgot her nervousness in a glowing pink haze of strawberries and laughter. Her last evening here would be short and she planned to enjoy it.
Faramir leaned against a wall and watched his wife dancing with his uncle; watched as her hair flew about like a golden veil that twirled around her to conceal, then reveal, as she spun, and he decided that this had been the longest day of his life. All of the last several months, from their betrothal at Edoras to his return trips to Minas Tirith and the preparations in Ithilien, had seemed to creep by as if each hour were spent unwillingly by time’s miserly guardian.
It was not that he had not been busy. As a new Steward he had been half-amazed to find that times of peace required even more organization and paperwork than times of war. But work he was used to; it was the prospect of his first true happiness after a lifetime of battle that had set time all awry for him. He knew he was hopelessly smitten, but he did not much care.
He just wondered at the nervousness that tinged his own anticipation. It would not be the first time he’d taken a woman to bed, but it would be the first time with a maiden, and the first time with her, whom he desired above all others. It would almost be easier, he thought, were he not so desperately in love with her.
Of a sudden the heat and press of bodies and noise became a bit oppressive, and he slipped along the wall to an open doorway. Chill night air, windless for once, hung over a smallish terrace and garden outside, lightly scented by the earliest flowers that presaged the spring to come.
He was not alone. Several small groups of people wandered here and there among the precociously leafy boughs, laughing, their breaths hanging before them like puffs of smoke. Faramir leaned his arms onto the cold stone balcony and watched them for a few moments until a familiar female voice hailed him from behind.
"Faramir—wait!" It was Éowyn. Her cheeks were flushed and very red. She picked up her skirts and wove her way unsteadily to him.
"I just came out for some air," he told her, reaching out to clasp her hands to hold her steady. He caught sight of her inane grin and added, "It seems you need it as well. You are drunk. My cousin’s ‘wine’ is potent."
"Nay, I am not!" she protested, then as if tripping on an invisible stone, swayed on her feet and blundered against the balcony with a small self-conscious laugh.
Faramir released one of her hands to catch her waist so she wouldn’t tumble over. Despite her protestations, he knew she was drunk. Yet he couldn’t say he misliked it. Her air of icy impenetrability had slipped just a little; she smiled just a bit wider, and her laugh was just a bit more merry. And her red cheeks against the white of her dress and paleness of her hair looked amazing. He admired her foolish grin for a moment. He imagined he must look quite as besotted, watching her. "’Tis cold, though you may not feel it. Shall we go inside?"
"Mmmm. So ‘tis. Yet you are warm."
She keeled full forward onto him, then snuggled in as if she’d meant to do it all along. When her nose bumped into his cheek, she merely shifted her head and raised herself on her toes to reach his mouth with hers.
Not one to let an opportunity pass, Faramir parted his lips, but she had already anticipated him, slipping a tongue that tasted of strawberries into his mouth. He just held her lightly and kissed her, enjoying her inebriated burst of passion, but it was a dangerous enjoyment. She was unbearably erotic in her clumsiness as she swayed against him, clinging and digging her fingers into his neck. Pent-up desire cascaded through his veins.
Breathing heavily, he caught her hands and held her away for a moment. He wanted her nearly more than he could stand, but not on the balcony. At her look of surprise he leaned close to whisper, "Perhaps we should retire--?"
Her look of shock changed into a smile, and she nodded. But when she pulled her hands from his and started to lead the way back inside, she tottered so alarmingly that he had to grab her about the waist again.
"Mayhapsh I am a bit sotted," she laughed.
Faramir did not mind. Deciding on the most expedient way to get her upstairs, he picked her up to carry her. Their position prompted a torrent of laughter and ribald jokes as he carried her through the throng of celebrators, though he tried to keep against the walls and out of sight. Soon enough they were alone in the halls, and his task became more and more difficult as he fought to carry her up the stairs while she renewed her efforts to kiss him.
Despite the inconvenience he decided that no, he didn’t object to her being drunk at all. When her cool fingers untied the collar of his shirt and she pressed soft-lipped kisses on the bare skin of his throat, he discovered that in fact he liked it very much.
"Pot-valiant," she murmured against his neck, her warm puffs of breath sending inexplicable chills down his spine.
"Kinsmen used to say."
Faramir gave up trying to interpret her mumblings, nice as they felt. They’d reached the doorway to their room, and, rather than dropping her for an instant, he turned and rammed his backside against the wood to shove it open. They were welcomed not by a warm bed and fire but the sound of female shrieks.
"My lord! You should not be here!" cried one of the four maids arrayed before chairs scattered around the room, from which his entrance had so obviously roused them. "My lady needs to prepare!"
Éowyn had stopped nuzzling him when the women screamed, and she raised her eyes to Faramir’s with a laugh. "Indeed! I have a new gown and everything…"
"This is a new gown and you shall not need it…"
That exasperated bit of sauciness only provoked more shrieking laughter from the maids. They moved forward to pull Éowyn from his arms, protesting that no, no, this must be done properly. He released her unwillingly, and even more unwillingly allowed the women to push him out the door to cool his heels in the hallway.
Arms crossed, he leaned against the stone and whistled something off-key, praying that no one would stagger down this particular hallway and see him so banished on his wedding-night.
Éowyn stood still and allowed the maids to remove her fine wedding-gown. Her task was made more difficult than usual by the fact that the room spun so maddeningly about her, willing her body to dance or fall over.
The maids, laughing but quick, dressed her in something cool and white and billowy. They pressed a goblet of wine, real wine, into her hands with some sort of instruction which Éowyn could not understand. She did understand that her husband waited for her outside the door. She drank the wine.
Soon the maids stoked the fire and filed out the door, accompanied by their own nonstop giggling. Éowyn just waited, trying to remain upright, listening to the drum-beat of her own heart as it echoed in her ears.
Faramir re-entered with a last glare at the backs of the retreating maids, then turned to face her and stood stock-still. His eyes widened and his mouth hung open. Éowyn felt a warmth creep through her at this evidence of her beauty in his eyes-- until he covered his mouth and snorted.
"What?" she mumbled, suddenly cold again, conscious that her tone and countenance reflected her hurt. That was not the reaction she’d been hoping for.
Faramir wiped his hand down over his chin as if to clear his expression, then moved forward quickly to put his arm about her waist. The smile in his eyes was merry. "Forgive me! I just had not expected a sacrificial maiden…" With that cryptic statement he placed one long finger on her chest, between her breasts.
Éowyn looked down to see a spreading red stain on the cloth beneath his fingertip. "Oh!" she said, infinitely relieved, warmed and disconcerted at the intimacy of his touch. She proffered the empty goblet for his inspection. "I must have spilled some wine."
He bent his head and licked the wine from her chin and then kissed her, his hand on her back pulling her closer, his mouth hard but his tongue gentle as it brushed the inside of her lips and tops of her teeth. Just as she felt herself melting into him again, he slid his mouth to her ear, speaking warm breaths that fluttered straight from her eardrums to her stomach.
"Not my cousin’s evil brew," he whispered, pushing her back until she dimly felt her thighs meet the edge of the bed. "I believe, love, that it was meant for both of us, after…"
Éowyn had no reply to that. He was so close, and even when he removed his hand from her back to pull off his overtunic, she stayed silent and still, mesmerized by the feel of the velvet rippling over her face, and then the sight of him in his fine white shirtsleeves, hovering over her.
Through her drunken haze, she was aware of his masculinity as never before: the strength of his tanned, long fingers as they pushed her down to the mattress, the small hairs that showed through the gaped neck of his shirt.
Somehow he scooted her back along the silken sheets until she lay fully across the bed and he lay half-atop her, breathing hard as he kissed her. She liked the novelty of his warmth and weight pressing down on her, and his lips taught her to breathe again. Her fingers clenched at his neck and she curled her limbs against his, wanting him to be even closer, feeling a need to be touched. She was coming to recognize the feeling as desire.
Dimly she felt his palm slide up her side to cover her breast, and she arched into it, aching for the exquisite tingling that it produced in her bones. He had touched her there before once, lightly, but never with such intent. He pressed harder, fingers abrading her nipple through her gown, and she thought she moaned into his mouth.
Or perhaps it had been him. He propped himself up beside her on one elbow, and the hand that had so lately caressed her fumbled at the neckline and sleeves of her gown. His eyebrows furrowed in consternation. Éowyn just lay back and focused on his face with interest. She reached out one finger to smooth his brow when he released a heavy sigh and grabbed the hem of her gown, pulling it up, up, over her thighs and stomach, yanking until she was forced to stretch out her arms. Another tug and she lay naked beneath his gaze for the first time, watching him as he stared at her, feeling a blush that came from her toes.
Just when she thought she could stand his profound scrutiny no longer, he bent his head and fastened his soft, wonderful lips on the same nipple he had so teased with his fingers earlier. She cried out an "oh!" of surprise and pleasure. Her hand clenched reflexively at his head at the sensuality of the experience.
She had known there could be pleasure in bed with a man, but she had never really thought about all the possibilities. The ceiling spun above her head, so she closed her eyes and concentrated on the heated trail of his lips across her breastbone, the warmth of his hand as it slid along her bare hip, and the sound of the nebulous endearments he whispered against her bosom. Still the world spun.
She did hear "I love you" and mumbled something incoherent in reply, hoping he understood. He laughed, the sound muffled by her own skin. How odd, she thought, not to feel humiliation at being naked in front of a man. But the wine and desire had taken care of that long ago, and only exhilaration remained. And an ache, beginning in the pit of her stomach and pulsing with his every touch and kiss to pool between her thighs.
His wonderful tongue licked a slow path up to the hollow of her throat, and he pressed her into the covers again. She felt his chest heaving against hers, felt his teeth nuzzling her earlobe, and felt a hard length pressing against her thigh through his breeches. Then she heard what sounded like boots hitting the floor.
Suddenly, his warmth and kisses were removed. She opened her eyes to see him kneeling above her, watching her with an enigmatic grey gaze, and fumbling with the waist of his trousers. He unfastened them and then fell to support himself with one hand beside her, while with the other he pulled them off. Still he watched her, and she wanted to read the desire in his eyes, but her own were drawn inexorably downwards.
His erection stretched out, catching the hem of his white shirt. Rather than being frightened, she found it amazing. Never had she seen a man’s shaft in quite this way. It looked as warm as the rest of his skin in the firelight. Giddy with wine, passion and interest, she reached out a tentative hand to press it against his stomach and found that it was warm, and dry, and hard yet soft. She ran her fingers over it lightly, enjoying the way his breath caught as she did so.
He said something like "guh," then grabbed her hand away to press it into the covers and poise himself above her. She was not so drunk with wine or passion that she did not know what that meant. She went cold for an instant. Some small portion of her that was still a maiden locked her thighs together and would not part them even when his knee tried to slide up between her legs.
Faramir watched her for a moment, eyes inscrutable, then said only, softly, "Indeed." He stretched to remove his shirt so that he was as naked as she, which she thought was only fair, then he fell atop her to kiss her with renewed passion. She gasped at the feel of him like this, skin to skin, his lips against hers. A strong hand kneaded her breast, the calloused palm brushing her nipple, bringing the vigorous heat back to her belly.
His hand disappeared from her breast, but a moment later she felt it between her thighs, one finger sliding against her gently, creeping into the mound over her womb and touching the apex at its forefront. The jolt of pain and pleasure was excruciating and her hips jerked in surprise, only bringing his touch closer. Her hands blundered to his shoulders, giving her something to hold onto, some anchor at the relentless contact.
Her heart swelled with love and trust for him and what he was doing, though as he stroked her gently, she thought she might die if he did not stop, or perhaps if he did. She did not know and did not care.
Sinking into the covers—that’s what her body was doing. It was profoundly heavy, and she was in silken quicksand, taking him and his lips and fingers down with her. Suddenly the ache in her abdomen swelled, and her toes went numb, and then her belly spasmed, and she dug her nails into her husband’s shoulders and bit his lip. Then her every nerve collapsed, and she lay there, limp and unable to think straight.
Faramir pulled his mouth from hers and grinned down at her with galling smugness, though he did run a finger over his lips as if to see if there was any blood or permanent damage.
"Oh, Faramir," she sighed.
Faramir’s lip was throbbing where she’d bitten it, but he thought it well worth the pain to see his wife so happy with his efforts at lovemaking.
Except his own pain was terrible and had been since he’d carried her upstairs. He’d thought he was going to break in half when she had touched him so boldly. That had driven all the promises of gentleness he’d made to himself from his mind, along with all other thoughts except that he had to have her. But she had not been ready.
He’d had to take a breath and send silent thanks to the women in his past who’d taught him to make a woman so, and had done his best. And now she lay there, in a glow of trust and satisfaction.
She was beautiful, and passionate, and he loved her unbearably, and he hated to betray that trust with what he was going to do next, but it had come to the point of either do it or die here and now. He slid his hand down again, over her flat, soft belly to the cleft of her thighs, and this time she parted them, willingly. Questing down further, he found the warm, moist heat of her opening, and then was inside. Muscles tightened around his finger, and she was drenched, and so ready, even though he felt the barrier of her maidenhood.
There was nothing for it. He pressed his belly against hers and guided himself in fast and fully, feeling the barrier break in his rush. He heard her gasp, but she was his, finally, and she felt so wonderful, so tight around him he thought he might die of happiness, after all.
Éowyn’s whole body had tensed taut as a drawn bow as he engulfed himself in her, but he cradled her face between his cheek and hand as he stilled, giving her precious moments to learn the feel of him.
She lay still, unspeaking for those moments, then turned a look of annoyance at him. "Ow."
Horrible was he, to cause her pain! But they both had a duty to complete their marriage in this way and at this time; how else were they to provide heirs, after all? Furthermore, at the moment, Faramir thought selfishly perhaps that his pain outmatched hers. He could hardly breathe. "‘Tis only once you should feel that pain, love," he whispered against her cheek, silently begging her to understand.
She seemed to take a deep breath and then relaxed her thighs around him. Each tiny movement killed him over and over, but she ran her hands over his back as if to forgive and savor this new experience, and he could have wept with joy. Her face turned to his, and this time she sounded relieved. "Is that all? ‘Tis not so bad."
Oh, he was a monster! "Nay, I am afraid," he laughed, painfully. "Forgive me, love, but you feel wonderful. This will be quick." And he knew this was the truth. There would be other, later chances for stamina, but this was not one of them. He couldn't bear to hurt her more than he had to.
Still, he removed his hand from her cheek and clenched it ruthlessly against her thigh, digging harsh fingers into her soft flesh to draw it up and allow himself more freedom of movement. Pulling out imperceptibly, heart clenching in his throat, he shoved forward, harder, stretching her as much as her maiden’s body would allow.
Her thigh his anchor, he drew himself out then thrust in again, faster this time, then again, knowing from her gasps that he might be causing her pain but realizing that this once it could not be helped. The marriage had to be consummated, after all, and he hoped her drunkenness would shield her from the brunt of it.
And it was more than just the politics and legalities. Éowyn was his wife now, and the thought thrilled him almost as much as the feel of her slick grip around him gave him a painful ecstasy.
He moved inside her for longer than he’d thought himself able, as if his desire to have her, in its culmination at last, refused to give way. Breathing hard and heavy against the softness of her hair, he found a secret rhythm and reveled in it, in the sweat between his palm and her thigh, and the feel of her hands, light upon his shoulders.
Soon, though, each acute friction became too much to bear, and his lust surged through him, pouring out in a rush. He cried a ragged "ah!" of release against her ear, and collapsed atop her, boneless in every way.
"Forgive me," he whispered to her when he could breathe again. He half-expected her to shove him away, but the soft body beneath him was relaxed and still.
"No need," Éowyn whispered back to him, stroking his neck with gentle fingers.
Faramir pulled himself out of her, slowly, and curled his fingers once more in her hair. He hated to ask the question, but it was unavoidable after his near-loss of control. "Is there still much pain?"
Her shoulders shrugged beneath his. "I am more worried about how my head will feel in the morning."
Gladness surged through him, and he shifted to kiss her again. She was beautiful and passionate, and full of humor. He was truly a lucky man. "I know a remedy for that," he laughed against her lips.
"Do you?" She looked at him with interest.
"An herbal remedy. Soldiers are known to overindulge."
He tucked her head beneath his chin and just held her for a few minutes, wondering if he should check to see whether she was bleeding or not, at last deciding he could not bear to do so. She seemed fine, her breathing deep and even against his chest. "Do you need to get up?" he whispered, finally.
Her reply sounded like "bleh," and after that unintelligible remark, she lay still and silent. Faramir thought she was right—her head would hurt in the morning. And they would have to travel. He wondered briefly how he would face her brother in the morning, when they said their good-byes and Éomer would see Éowyn’s pale face and dark-circled eyes.
He sighed and shifted her up to the pillow and beneath the covers, where she breathed in the peaceful sleep of the drunkenly numb. Rolling out of bed, he pulled on his pants. He knew he’d better sneak down to the kitchens now, and prepare that herbal remedy so as to have it ready first thing in the morning.
Author's notes: This was my obligatory Faramir/Éowyn wedding-night story. A friend requested it, though I protested that it had been written many times before. Some of us cannot be stopped.
The phrase “pot-valiant,” along with a drunken female being carried, were inspired by a situation in a regency romance novel by Elizabeth Mansfield (The Accidental Romance).
Big Thank Yous to Marta and Melinda for their kind betas. Thanks to the research article on weddings written by Tanaqui, wherein she reported that the wedding actually took place at Edoras.
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.