1. Fast Friends
Eowyn took a deep breath and followed the errand boy dressed in silver and sable down the corridor. She had never been alone in a room with the Queen. They had been at the same feasts, the same revelries at Yule, but never alone together. For that, Eowyn had always been grateful. What could she say to the wife of the Man she had once loved? What words would a high Elf-lady have for her, the pale young daughter of a lesser people who had hoped to win King Elessar's heart?
All through her childhood, Eowyn had heard stories about them, the Elves, the Other People, the Fair Ones. Many a long winter's night was passed in elf-tales. They were ruled by their own laws, and woe be to the mortal who should offend them or breach those laws, wittingly or no. Death, disaster, madness followed those who dared to brook them, from Brego who ventured the Paths of the Dead to Athelred the Second Marshal of long ago whose folly led him to the Golden Wood. What would a jealous Elf-Queen do to a mortal woman who had vied with her in love?
Legolas was a mighty yet kind Elf, beloved in both the Mark and Gondor. The Fair Ones of the Golden Wood and Rivendell were held in honor and awe in the Kingdom Reunited. Lord Gimli professed a knight's love for the Queen of the Golden Wood, but what of Lady Undomiel, daughter's daughter of the White Lady herself? Eomer thought her more fair than her grand-dame, but men looked no further than that and feared not a woman even if she be of the Elves. Some few of Gondor's high-born women hated her with jealous envy for the prize she had won in King Elessar, while others resented her Northern, Elvish birth. Many were in awe of her or spoke of her gentle kindness. But in all of Minas Tirith, only King Elessar professed to love her. For more than a year, she and the Queen had cordially avoided each other, but Lady Undomiel's invitation to brunch ended that guarded truce. Eowyn's heart was heavy with the knowledge that this invitation had only come after her marriage to Prince Faramir, and any curse placed on her would harm him as well. Squaring her shoulders, Eowyn vowed she would not be craven as she faced her fate for crossing an Elf-Queen.
The errand-lad opened the door and stepped aside to let her pass. Eowyn took another deep breath and plunged into the room. Sunlight streamed through windows curtained in pale green, giving the impression of deep forest. The paneled walls and moss-green carpets furthered the sylvan feel. As was common in the City, the trickling of a fountain echoed in the courtyard, but this time it was accented with bird-song. Eowyn looked about, but the Queen was no-where to be seen.
Then low and gentle, a woman began to sing. Her voice flowed in from the courtyard in an unfamiliar tongue, lilting and sweet as the sun on summer meadows, then rushing like the wind or a swift horse. Sorrow touched the weaving music then, deepening from a dirge to panic and terror. And then a march. Eowyn found herself drawn to a window then. Entranced, she lifted her hand to brush aside the drapery and drew a sharp breath. It was black in the courtyard, black as the cursed night ere the Enemy was overthrown. Her hair stood on end as a hideous shape moved in the darkness, and she felt herself reaching for a long-gone sword. She balled her hands into fists, hoping to land a blow on Death. Her breath caught as suddenly a light leaped up before her, a pillar of white that reached to the stars, and in that pillar was a Woman with golden hair and silver sword. Her light revealed a fell beast and Fell Rider crowned with cruel iron. Before the silver sword, the beast was thrown down and the hideous crown was shivered, and the light of the White Lady poured from the pillar to wash clean the courtyard. As the glamor faded, there sat the Evenstar beside her fountain, and she smiled kindly. "Welcome, White Lady of Ithilien."
Eowyn felt no shame at the tears on her cheek, and silently went round to the courtyard door. Crossing the flagstones, she curtsied low. "Hail to you, Queen of Gondor."
The Queen took Eowyn's hands and raised her up. "Hail to you, victorious over my father's foe," and to Eowyn's startled delight, the Elf-woman embraced her. Stepping back, the Queen wiped away Eowyn's tears and gestured to a table under a beech tree. It was laden with fruits and honey-cakes and two goblets of golden wine. "Come, sit with me a while."
As they walked round the fountain to the table, the Queen said "Thank you for coming. You cheer me today, Lady of Ithilien. Today, my grandmother has gone into the West. She is the last of my woman-kin to depart. Man or Elf, there is no woman now whom I can call peer." She smiled to Eowyn. "Except perhaps for you."
"Me?" Eowyn was shocked. "I have no such power as you, no Elven blood, no station so high."
"You have done what my father did not, what Mithrandir did not, what Glorfindel Twice-Blessed did not! You have been fated a power of your own, White Lady, born of your mortal blood and woman's heart." The Queen paused then, and placed her hands on Eowyn's shoulders. "I would not have you fear me."
Eowyn's cheeks burned with shame.
The Evenstar's eyes were beseeching. "I would have you as my friend."
Eowyn nodded, a slow smile lighting her face. The Queen too smiled, and they turned to the board. Eowyn suddenly saw the wine with new eyes. She looked in surprise at her companion, who raised a goblet in salute. "To my friend Eowyn, dearer than sister!"
That is no idle oath! Eowyn raised the other goblet. "To my friend Arwen, dearer than sister!"
They both drank deeply, but did not drain their cups, lest their friendship should also run dry. Then as one, they dashed the glass goblets on the flagstones, and crushed the shards to dust beneath their shoes. Eowyn fell to laughing and she and Arwen again embraced.
Then arm in arm, they sat on a bench beside the table. "So tell me, Eowyn," Arwen said, popping a grape in her mouth. "Tell me all about your newly-wed prince and your plans for Ithilien."
"I shall, Arwen, but first you must tell me how it is you learned of the Mark's custom of friend-fasting."
"'Twas your brother who first told me of it, the day he renewed the Oath of Eorl..."
In RotK, everyone assumes Pippin's a great prince because of the familiar way he talks to Denethor, with the implication that the Westron has both a formal and a familiar means of address (just as most Romance languages do). While Gondorian society doesn't appear to be as stratified as feudal Europe, it would still be extremely presumptive for Eowyn to address Arwen by name unless she's given explicit permission to do so. Some cultures have a formal friendship ceremony, after which the two friends would be allowed to address each other using first names and the familiar grammatical forms. These friendship customs were the inspiration for this story.
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.