All seemed peaceful in Minas Tirith on this sunny morning in May. Under a sky the colour of harebells, the fields of the Pelennor had come up green with grass and new wheat. Only here and there did dark patches of scorched land bear witness to the battle of the previous year. Homesteads had been rebuilt and new seeds sown. The people of the city went about their business, many with minds still weary and bruised, but nevertheless looking with hope towards a summer unsullied by the terrors of war. But in one of the comfortable apartments of the citadel, someone was in for a nasty surprise.
Returning to this city had stirred conflicting feelings in Éowyn. So much had happened here, and as much to give her reason for sadness as for joy. Yet this time she had come expecting nothing but elation. She was going to be wed after all.
The previous day Faramir's relations from Dol Amroth had arrived and she had been introduced to his cousins, his uncle and his aunt. Lady Ivriniel was a tiny, withered-looking woman with a face much like a shrivelled apple, but she had made it quite clear, both by her bearing and her tone of voice, that she considered the wild shield-maiden from Rohan beneath the dignity of her nephew. Éowyn, however, was undisturbed by this display of disapproval. She didn't expect to have much to do with the woman once she and Faramir were settled in Ithilien.
Early this morning Faramir had set off with the Prince of Dol Amroth. He wanted to show Imrahil the house he was preparing and ask his advice on several matters regarding the ordering of Ithilien. They expected to be back within two days. Éowyn had bid them farewell cheerfully enough: two days seemed a negligible amount of time after the many months they had spent apart.
Free of the duties that had been hers at Meduseld, she was looking forward to a leisurely day with nothing much to do between breakfast and dinner other than a stroll around the upper circles of the city. She had just sent away her maid, when a knock at the door startled her and the Lady Ivriniel entered. She carried a large parcel wrapped in brown linen.
"Good morning, Lady Éowyn. I hope you are well."
Éowyn returned the greeting with more politeness than cordiality.
"You will be glad to know that I have brought the dress. I am sure you have been anxious to try it on, and we only have a few days for the alterations," said Lady Ivriniel.
"I beg your pardon, Lady Ivriniel. I do not understand. Of what dress is it you are talking?"
Lady Ivriniel tutted and made a little impatient movement with her head.
"The wedding dress, of course. I have brought it with me from Dol Amroth, where it has been kept ever since the last Steward's wedding."
She placed the parcel on the round table near the fireplace, opened the rustling layers of linen and pulled out a robe with a triumphant gesture.
Éowyn looked at it and blinked. She stretched out her hands and took it from the old woman. Her arms sank under the weight of the thing. A stuffy smell crept into her nostrils. She walked over to the window and held the gown up in the light. The fabric was one that she would only ever consider for curtains or bedspreads: brocade. It was woven in a pattern of dark brown and purple, shot with threads of gold and copper. Black lace trimmings obscured the shape of the garment, and the cuffs and the high collar were likewise edged with large, starched lace ruffs. Éowyn touched one of them gingerly. It felt scratchy. On closer inspection she found that the bodice was lined with fur. She glanced out of the window. Outside, the sun shone as pleasantly as it had done for the last week. Éowyn turned around and faced Faramir's aunt.
"Tell me, Lady Ivriniel, why would I want to wear this?"
Ivriniel gave her a look of innocent incomprehension and took the dress out of Éowyn's hands.
"It is the wedding dress of the Steward's family, Lady Éowyn." She held it up with a reverent gesture and cocked her head to one side. "I remember how lovely my sister Finduilas looked in it."
"I have brought a dress with me from Rohan that I wish to wear at the ceremony. Come through to the bed chamber and I'll show it to you." Éowyn opened the door that led from the day chamber into her bedroom.
"Oh, but Lady Éowyn!" The shocked expression in the old woman's face almost made Éowyn laugh. "It is traditional. You could not possibly wear anything else. The whole court would be appalled. Lord Faramir would not approve. And I fear the king and queen would be offended if you thus disregarded the customs of Gondor."
"The king and queen both come from the North and probably care little for –" She paused. To suggest that Aragorn and his lady were indifferent to the heritage of Gondor was in all likeliness not a sensible thing to do. "– the fashions here," she ended weakly. They were both standing in the doorway now, the dress wedged between them like a mountain range between two hostile countries.
"The king and queen would not endorse any breaking with tradition," said Ivriniel firmly. She walked across the bedroom and draped the gown over a clotheshorse that stood in the corner by the wash stand.
"I will speak to Faramir about this when he comes back," replied Éowyn. "I am sure he will agree with me."
"It is not up to Faramir to decide what counts as proper in Gondor. I shall leave you now to become familiar with the dress. My maids and I will return this afternoon so we can measure you up for alterations," said Ivriniel in a voice that brooked no opposition. "I wish you a pleasant morning."
Before Éowyn could word her protest and point out that, save for the King, she could not think of a more suitable person than Faramir to decide what counted as proper in Gondor, the old lady had marched back into the day chamber and out by the door. Éowyn sank down on the edge of her bed and shook her head.
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.