2. Chapter 1 - September 1419
"Éowyn, are you sick?" Faramir whispered in her ear. She nodded and took a deep breath. Once the spell had passed she stood up, slower this time, and excused herself from her brother's table. Ignoring Faramir's worried look, she hurried to her room.
She lay down on her bed and covered her face with her hands. She couldn't ignore the signs anymore. She was with child. At first she had tried to blame her missed monthlies on the stress of the war and her injuries. There had been no other obvious signs those first few months. But now she was getting fainting spells, her breasts were definitely fuller and her belly was starting to round. She should have realized that it would take longer to show, but she hadn't wanted to believe she could be pregnant.
She lay for a while, lost in thought, wondering what she would do. What would she tell Faramir? What would she tell her brother? And Merry...
She was startled by a knock on her door. She sat up. "Enter."
The door opened and Faramir stepped inside. He carried a cup. "I brought you some tea," he said, holding up the cup.
"Thank you," she said, putting on a smile for him. "Can you set it on the table."
He looked nervously back out the door. "I really shouldn't be in your room."
She raised an eyebrow at him. "We are betrothed, Faramir."
He blushed slightly. "Yes, but it still isn't proper."
Éowyn let out a harsh laugh, considering his words in light of the situation she was now in. "I think I'm beyond proper," she muttered.
"Please. Just bring it to me." She sighed. Might as well get it over with. "And close the door. There is something we must speak of."
"Faramir!" she snapped. Why couldn't he just cooperate with her?
He closed the door and came to her. She took the cup from him and drank the tea, sighing as it warmed her. Why did she always go cold when she was afraid? She set the empty cup on the bedside table and looked at her betrothed, into his gentle grey eyes. She could tell he was worried. She loved him and hated what she was about to do to him.
"What do you need to speak of?" he asked.
Better to do it quickly and get it over with. "I'm with child."
His face went white. "How long have you known?" he asked quietly.
She couldn't meet his eyes, couldn't stand to see the hurt. The child was obviously not his--they had never been intimate. "I've had some signs for a while, but it's only been in the last week that I've been sure."
He sat heavily on her bed, staring at the floor. "You know I will accept the child as my own," he finally said, looking up at her. "No one need know. It is not so unusual for couples to have relations before their marriage."
She shook her head. "They will know, Faramir. Because of who the father is."
He scowled. He had never wanted to know what man had lain with her. "How?" he asked.
She stood up and smoothed her skirt over her slightly rounded belly. "I'm nearly six months along and I'm only just starting to show. The child is very small... like his father." He closed his eyes, his jaw tightening, as the realization hit. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know you didn't want to know, but it's going to be obvious."
"Does Merry know?"
She shook her head. "I didn't want to say anything until I was sure." Just over two weeks ago she had said farewell to her dear friend. She hadn't wanted to burden him with this, not when he was so looking forward to returning to the Shire with his companions. She didn't want to tell him until she was sure.
"I should have guessed, with how close you two are," he said flatly.
She felt cold again, afraid that she had lost him. "We are friends, Faramir. I love him as my dear friend, but it is you I love as my husband." She sat next to him and took his hand. Tears slid down her cheeks. "Do you still love me? Do you still wish to marry me?"
He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Éowyn." He put his arm around her and pulled her close, kissing her brow. "I'm sorry. I was worrying about myself--my wounded pride--and not thinking of what you are going through." He cupped her face in his hands and kissed her gently. "Of course I love you, and I would marry you no matter what."
He embraced her again and they sat silently for a while. She was relieved that he wasn't angry, that he still loved her. But Faramir was only the first step in dealing with this. She still had to tell Merry. She dreaded telling her brother. And though her kinsmen were forgiving of illegitimate children, she was nobility and was held to a higher standard. And it would be worse in Gondor.
"What do you want to do?" he finally asked.
She sighed and sat upright, pulling away from him. She wiped her hand across her eyes, wiping away the tears. "I need to write to Merry." She bowed her head. "I think it would be best if he took the child," she said quietly.
Faramir tilted her face up to look in her eyes. "I told you I would accept it."
Éowyn shook her head. "It's not that. I know you would accept the child. But we both know that an illegitimate child will not have an easy life in Gondor, especially being the bastard of the Steward's wife." She shook her head to cut off his protest. "And the child will be a hobbit. I know how Merry and Pippin were treated. Not on purpose, but people can be cruel without realizing it. They were always judged by their size or treated as children. I do not want my child to grow up with that." She sighed. "It will be hard for me to give it up, but it's for the best."
"What if Merry doesn't want it?"
She shook her head. "I don't know. I suppose if he is unable to take the child, I will find a hobbit family who will."
The sobs came then, as what she was saying truly hit her. She was going to give her baby away. Faramir held her until the tears ran dry.
Éowyn wed Faramir later that month in Minas Tirith, officiated by Aragorn and her brother. She hadn't told Éomer of her condition. She and Faramir had argued over it, but in the end she had prevailed. She decided it would be easier not to tell Éomer. She knew her brother too well. He had inherited their father's temper. He would be angry with her, but furious with Merry and she feared he would take off to the Shire to 'defend her honor'. She knew she would have to tell him someday, but not now.
They went from the White Tower to the King's House, where a wedding feast awaited them. She forced herself to smile and laugh during the toasts wishing them many children. She would be losing her first child. Faramir squeezed her hand, always seeming to know when her dark thoughts threatened to overwhelm her. He had been a steady support for her. She'd given him the opportunity to back out, but he had refused. She wondered at how she had been so lucky to find him.
Seated at the table for the feast, Éowyn felt a small push in her belly, harder than she'd felt before, and smiled. She'd only just started feeling the fluttering of life inside of her, but now she could share it. She grabbed Faramir's hand under the table and pressed it to her belly. The baby pushed again under his hand and he grinned at her.
They left the hall at sunset, blushing at the cheers and innuendo of the guests. Once in the privacy of their chamber, they looked awkwardly at each other. Then Faramir sighed and kissed her gently. "You should sleep," he said, smoothing a loose strand of hair back from her face. "It's been a long day."
Éowyn frowned. "Don't you want to..." She looked at the bed.
"No, I..." Faramir blushed.
She took his hand, twining their fingers. "It's all right, léofe. You will not hurt the baby."
"No, it's not that." He looked a way for a moment and sighed. "It doesn't feel right for me to have you while you carry Merry's child."
Éowyn looked in his eyes. There wasn't anything like jealousy or anger there, only concern and maybe a little hurt. He was the most honorable man she knew. Did she really deserve him? "All right," she said. He lifted their hands and kissed her fingers, then he helped her undress. She lay back on the bed and he lay next to her. He kissed her gently and let his hands explore her body, but nothing more. She would have to be content to fall asleep in his loving embrace.
"I would like leave to take Éowyn to Rivendell, my lord. For a honeymoon."
Éowyn studied her hands in her lap as Faramir made his request to the King.
Éowyn risked a peek up. Aragorn gazed at them thougtfully. She didn't dare look at Arwen. Arwen's eyes had been on her since they entered the King's private apartments. The Queen was watching her like she knew something was wrong.
"How long would you be away?" Aragorn asked.
Faramir hesitated for a moment. "Until January."
"That long?" Éowyn heard a creak as Aragorn leaned back in his chair. "I'm not sure I can spare my Steward for such a long time. Perhaps a honeymoon in Dol Amroth instead?"
"I realize that, my lord. It's just..."
Éowyn heard Faramir's soft sigh. It wasn't right for her to put him on the spot like this.
"I'm pregnant," she said, looking up to meet Aragorn's surprised eyes.
"Congratulations!" Aragorn said, smiling broadly at them. "But should you be taking such a long trip now? In your condition?"
Éowyn bowed her head again, collecting herself. "I cannot have the child in Gondor or Rohan. I will not be keeping it."
"But why?" Aragorn leaned forward in his chair.
"To protect my husband's reputation...and to protect the child." She looked into the King's gray eyes. "It is not Faramir's child."
Aragorn let out a breath and sat back in his chair.
"But how can the child be born before January?" Arwen asked. "You are barely showing."
Éowyn opened her mouth to speak, then stopped. Barely showing? She wondered how long Arwen had been aware of her condition. "I am just over six months along now." She felt heat on her cheeks. She would have to tell them the truth. "The baby is small." She looked Aragorn in the eye. "Merry is the baby's father."
"Merry?" Aragorn stared at her, shocked.
Éowyn nodded. "We travelled together, from Rohan. The night before Pelennor..." She took a deep breath. "We took comfort from each other."
"What will you do with the child?" Arwen asked.
"The child is a hobbit and I want him to be raised among hobbits. Not here. Not where he will be treated..." She bit off her angry tirade. "I will write to Merry and ask him if he can take the baby."
She shivered and hugged herself, crossing her arms over the gentle swell of her belly. Over her baby. She bowed her head, squeezing her eyes shut. She didn't want to cry anymore. She had to do this.
A gentle hand touched her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Éowyn," Arwen said.
Éowyn took a shuddering breath and nodded. "It's for the best." At least, that's what she kept telling herself.
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.