2. The Circles of the World
Morning is early yet - pale blue and grey - and the chill of night still clings to the air; the dew lies sparkling on the grass.
She stirs and slowly her eyelids flutter open; she feels strangely rested, despite the earliness of the hour. Perhaps it is because she did not dream.
A cool wind touches her face and she raises herself up on her elbow to see from whence it comes: one of the windows is open, allowing wind and silver light to flow into the room; she must not have latched the shutters properly the night before.
She looks down at the floor for a moment, not seeing the braided rug at the bedside, then slowly pushes away the heavy blankets and goes to stand at the window. She runs her hand along the smooth stone of the sill, the wind ruffling her hair and nightgown, then gazes out at the courtyard.
He is outside, his profile to the window, gazing at the crystal waters of the fountain. He is in his nightshirt, his midnight blue robe hanging open, soft leather slippers on his feet; his raven hair is tousled and falling across his forehead.
As if sensing her presence at the window, he turns his head and smiles sleepily, warmly.
For a moment she only stares. She starts to speak his name but he is gone, suddenly.
'Faramir…' The name falls from her lips and is snatched away by the wind. Closing her eyes, she slams the palm of her hand against the windowsill. When she opens her eyes again, she sees the teardrops staining the stone.~*~
It had been perhaps a month since Faramir had departed with the King, leaving the realms of Gondor in Imrahil's hands. The fighting remained distant from the borders of Ithilien and life continued with as great a semblance of normalcy as possible. Little word was heard from the front but every day that passed was a day nearer to their return.
A week after the army's departure, Arwen had invited Éowyn to stay at the Citadel for a time; the two had become friends over time, much to the delight of their husbands.
Three weeks had passed since Éowyn's arrival and she felt impatient to be home once more. She missed the wide-open space and freedom of Emyn Arnen, where life was not weighed down with the ancient sobriety and tradition that formed the very stones of the city. When alone, she often found herself atop the walls with the wind on her face, or in the gardens of the Houses of Healing, walking barefoot through the grass.
Now she stood on the wall, hands resting on the parapet, shivering a little in the wind; she had forgotten the mantle in her room, but felt no desire to re-enter the stone passageways in order to retrieve it. For now she was content to be where she could see rolling plains and hills, and the sun sparkling off the waters of the Anduin.
One had trailing along on the stone wall, she started to walk slowly, savouring the feel of the wind whistling around her. She had gone but a few steps when a dark shape on the horizon caught her attention. Shading her eyes, she stopped and stared at it: the shape was growing steadily nearer and soon she was able to see that it was a band of men - soldiers - on horseback, the flags of Gondor and Rohan flying in their midst. A moment later the city guard took up the cry.
As Éowyn continued watching from her place on the wall a curious frown creased her forehead; that they were not being pursued was obvious, and perhaps their tidings were not urgent, for she could see that they were not riding as swiftly as they might.
The riders were becoming distinct, taking shape. Faramir, are you with them? Rousing herself she turned and ran back the way she had come, seeking the stairs. She descended rapidly, her feet scarcely seeming to touch the stone, and was soon running through the streets, spiralling down through every level of the city. She reached the bottom just as the riders spilled in through the main gates.
Aragorn and Éomer were among the first to appear, and she craned her neck, scanning the faces of the men - all were tired, dirty, and shadowed - but none of them was Faramir. Her fists clenched, nails digging into the palms of her hands. Where are you?
Someone placed a hand on her shoulder and she turned to see Éomer, his face grim and sorrowful; Aragorn stood a little behind him, his face inscrutable.
She waited, but her brother remained silent - and that frightened her more than anything he could have said. 'Éomer,' she said, her voice strangely unsteady, 'where is Faramir?'
Éomer flinched and the hand on her shoulder tightened. 'Éowyn…he fell.'
For a moment she thought she had not heard him properly - he could not have said what she thought he had. She must have been dreaming. 'No,' she said, the colour draining from her face. 'No.'
Éomer muttered a curse. 'A stray arrow found his neck - Éowyn -'
Éowyn did not hear. He fell… A stray arrow… He fell…
She stepped away from him, her hands going to limp at her sides. Slowly she turned and looked at the soldiers, some in the arms of loved ones; some talking wearily amongst themselves; she scanned their faces, certain that Faramir was among them. He must be there, somewhere. He must.
'Éowyn.' The voice came from somewhere distant, familiar and caring, but she barely heard. Faramir was here. She knew it.
'Éowyn.' Another voice, no less distant but far more powerful, and against her will she found herself being drawn back. Reluctantly she turned and found the solemn grey eyes of Gondor's king fastened on her face.
He said nothing, but she understood. Without a word she walked past him, past her brother, away from the teeming mass of soldiers and civilians she neither saw nor heard, and into the now-quiet streets of Minas Tirith. Éomer started after her but Aragorn put a hand on his shoulder. 'Not yet,' he said quietly. 'Give her some time.'
Éomer chewed on his lip, frowning worriedly, as he gazed after his sister's retreating figure; when she disappeared from view he looked back at Aragorn and they rejoined the soldiers.
Hours later, when everything had been dealt with, Éomer began searching for his sister. As the sun was waning, he finally found her in the gardens of the Houses of Healing: she was sitting beneath a tree, face pale and haunted, huddled in the folds of a deep blue mantle edged in stars.
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.