“Can you do nothing else?” demanded Faramir, discouraged.
“No,” said Aragorn. “This is no illness; this is the circumstance of a thin rapier sharpened too many times. The metal becomes brittle and if used again may break. Keep her in bed – feed her the tonic and the broth, and try to keep her amused. I will return when it’s her time, to deliver the child myself. I don’t trust any of the midwives to do it now.”
When Aragorn had left, Faramir had sent for Legolas, thinking perhaps among the Elves would be the medicine and magic to reweave her broken body. But the messenger returned alone, saying the Lord of Doro Lanthiron had left to visit Eryn Lasgalen with a great company of his people; there were no healers or midwives among those left behind, and all were needed to see to the olive harvest. So for two months Faramir bullied the healers, sang or read to his wife, forced her to swallow the vile medicines, and sat up at nights, hands clasped before him, gazing apprehensively at her thin face.
Her labor started many weeks too soon, and Faramir sent messengers to the king in a desperate hurry, begging him to come; but within a few hours it was too late. The baby, tiny and malformed, lay limply in her father’s arms, and Éowyn’s grey face was covered with a white sheet. The White Lady of Rohan was dead.
She was laid out in state upon a great marble bier, a cloth of gold covering her and huge golden candlesticks at her head and feet. Faramir, unable to look upon the sight any longer, left the hall and closed the door behind him, seeking the solitude of his quarters.
He caught a wisp of movement from the corner of his eye, and he stopped, amazed; still garbed in traveling clothes, much stained and mud-spattered, stood the Lord of Doro Lanthiron, dripping rainwater upon the stone parquet. His lips were white, and his eyes looked dim. He threw back his hood from his damp hair and rushed up to Faramir, arms wide. The steward fell into his friend’s embrace, weeping.
“Faramir, Faramir!” said Legolas, his voice choked with sorrow. “Forgive me, my dear friend, for I wasn’t here when you needed me.”
“You’re here now, though,” sobbed Faramir, pulling back and embracing Legolas again. “Oh, Legolas, what will I do without her? What will I do?”
Legolas held him for a while, stroking his hair and murmuring comforting words in Sindarin. Then he broke away and wiped Faramir’s face, his own eyes glazed over with tears. “I am so sorry,” he said, and turned a little at a noise behind them; Faramir looked and saw Galás standing uncomfortably in the hallway; he too was marked with much travel and looked a little disheveled. “Galás has come with me to help you with the state funeral,” he explained; “he is much better at such things than I, and you in your sorrow need not concern yourself with such mundane tasks.”
“The mundane tasks mask my unhappiness, at least,” said Faramir, his voice unsteady. “She is in the hall,” he said to the dark-haired Elf; “my servants will see to it you have every facility at your disposal.”
“Thank you, Lord Faramir,” said Galás in a subdued voice, removing his cloak and laying it over his arm. “My lord, do you need me right now? I ought to begin.”
“No, Galás, go ahead,” said Legolas, putting an arm around Faramir’s shoulders. “I’ll stay with Lord Faramir for a while.”
“Very well,” said Galás, and went into the hall. Legolas led Faramir back to his chambers; between them was the comfortable silence of two good friends. After Legolas had shut the door behind him and removed his wet cloak, he turned to see Faramir standing in the middle of the chamber, looking with pain at Éowyn’s red chair.
“She used to sit there,” he said in a broken voice, laying a trembling hand upon the embroidered headpiece. “She nursed all of our children there. And she would read to Fastred with him sitting on her lap, or tell him tales of her own people.” He caught his breath in a sob, and looked over at Legolas, who took him in his arms again.
“I can’t bear to see you so unhappy,” said Legolas. “I wish there were something I could do to ease your grief. To lose a child is terrible; to lose your wife is worse.”
“Oh, the girl is not yet dead,” sighed Faramir into his friend’s damp, fragrant hair. “The nurses do all they can for her, and even Aragorn has seen her, but they all tell me she will not live. She is too weak and too small, and came too soon from her mother’s womb.”
Legolas drew back and looked at Faramir in consternation. “I had been told she died as well,” he said sharply. “Where is the child?”
“In the nursery,” said Faramir, gesturing to another door. “We moved the other three children to Éomer and Lothíriel’s rooms; their two boys love them and watch over them well.” When Legolas moved toward the nursery door, Faramir said, “She will not live, Legolas; Aragorn and the healers have all told me she’s far too weak.”
Legolas turned back to him, stripping off his muddy tunic and kicking off his boots. “What is her name?” he asked briskly, and finding a basin full of water he began to wash his hands.
“I haven’t named her yet,” said Faramir. “I couldn’t bear to. I simply call her Little One; to name her would hurt too much.”
Legolas dried his hands on a towel. “She needs a name,” he said, and opened the door of the nursery.
The baby was tiny, and her skin was an unhealthy grey; she was wrinkled and thin, and very lethargic. But she opened her dark, clouded eyes when Legolas picked her up, crooning gently, and lay flaccid and unmoving in his long white hands. The Elf took her over to Éowyn’s chair in the other room and sat down, still singing softly, and drew the swaddling back from her small frame.
Faramir sat on the couch, watching intently as Legolas sang to his daughter, laying the palm of one hand over the baby’s torso. A tingly feeling crept up Faramir’s spine to his neck, and the hairs on the back of his head seemed to stand out straight. The air in the room quivered and brightened, despite the streaming grey rain through the windows, and then Faramir could smell the faint scent of pine and loam and sweet tarragon.
Something warm brushed by his face, though he couldn’t see it; then Legolas paused, and the baby started to wail, a thin, irritated sound meaning she was hungry. Smiling, the Elf put his little finger into her mouth, and she suckled on it eagerly, tiny hands waving before her. Legolas looked up at Faramir, his eyes shining.
“I am naming her Hísimë,” said Legolas. “You may call her whatever you like, but when she comes to stay with me in Doro Lanthiron, all my people will address her as the Lady Hísimë.”
Faramir rose to his feet and approached Legolas. Legolas stood up and gestured to Faramir to sit in the red chair. When he had seated himself, the Elf gave him the baby, who started to squall again. “You’ll need to get a nanny goat or a ewe,” said Legolas. “She’s very hungry.”
“Hísimë,” murmured Faramir, blinking back his tears. “My little Hísimë.” He looked up at Legolas, laughing and weeping. “My friend,” he said, “I am greatly repaid for your absence! You’ve given back to me part of what I lost. I can never thank you enough for what you have done for Éowyn; I am sure she’d be very happy.”
“I didn’t do it for Éowyn,” said Legolas, his smile fading. “I did it for you.”
After the funeral, which was as grand and impressive as any state function could be despite the sorrowful circumstances, Legolas and Galás prepared to take their leave of Faramir. A great company of Elves had come for the ceremony and had returned to Doro Lanthiron, singing mournful hymns of remembrance, and Legolas had to return to take up his rule again, and try to salvage as much of the vineyards as he could. Faramir begged him to stay at least until Éowyn could be interred, but Legolas apologized and said he really had to leave, but with Faramir’s permission he would look upon Éowyn one last time to say farewell. Faramir himself had no desire to look upon his beloved wife like that again; he wanted to remember her as she had been, tall and golden and lovely. So he embraced Legolas, thanking him again, and promising that when Hísimë was old enough he would bring her and the other three children to visit. Legolas took him by the shoulders and squeezed him warmly, then reached up with his slender hand to wipe the fresh tears from his friend’s face.
“Lord Faramir of Emyn Arnen,” he said formally, touching his forehead to Faramir’s, “My heart is heavy, and I grieve for you.” Then he gave Faramir a ceremonial kiss on the cheek and released him to his duties.
Legolas and Galás went into the hall. It was empty save for Éowyn’s bier, still covered with its cloth and flanked by burning candles. Legolas went up to it and drew the cloth down, studying her face. The cheeks were prominent and grey, the eyes sunken and black, the lips slack and colorless. The hair was streaked with white, and the neck reaching down into the overlarge dress was corded with tendons and wrinkled. He stood still for a while, lost in thought; at last Galás said,
“My lord, when you gave the ritual condolence to Lord Faramir, I don’t think you translated it into Westron properly.”
Legolas looked curiously up at him. “How so?” he asked.
“The proper phrase ought to have been, ‘I grieve with you.’ You used the wrong preposition.”
“No,” said Legolas, “I don’t think I did.” And Galás, looking in amazement at his lord, was taken aback to see a look of smug complacency on his face.
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.