27. Return Of The Prince
Eowyn and Faramir were very much in love. They spent every minute together. Faramir was wonderful with Caladwen. He often took her to the gardens and played with her. Eowyn sat silently and watched them interact. She smiled and her heart burst when she saw her daughter smile at him. They were becoming a family.
Haldir came to accept Faramir, though he would never admit it. When the Marchwarden realized what he meant to Eowyn, he decided it was better to befriend him then to trouble Eowyn's heart. She was very glad to have Haldir as a friend, even if he could be difficult at times. She knew he would always be there, especially for Caladwen. Faramir was very careful with the Elf and always submitted to him when a challenge arose. This was, after all, Haldir's home and Faramir was merely visiting.
Faramir and Eowyn agreed to marry but not until they returned to Emyn Arnen. He was anxious to return to his kingdom. He had been away for longer than expected. Aragorn sent a message reassuring him that things were fine. Repairs were once again underway. The people were in good spirits and awaiting the return of their lord.
There seemed to be nothing standing in their way now. Eowyn was once again in his heart. Faramir was healed and no longer under the influence of any evil doings. Caladwen was healthy and growing quickly. There was but one task left, Legolas' return. It was the last thing they would face before the happy couple returned home. Faramir no longer felt anger or jealousy for the prince, yet he was no fool. Eowyn's love for Legolas would never fade. She would grieve his loss. He would be there to comfort and support her on this fast approaching day. Would Eowyn still want to marry him after seeing the Elf again? Would she still want to leave Lorien and return to Emyn Arnen? Or would the sight of Legolas change her mind and Faramir's perfect world forever? It was a final test for all of them.
Faramir was strolling through the forest carrying Caladwen. It was their mid-day walk. Today he decided to take a different route. As they went, Faramir sang a silly song he learned as a child. It was one of Caladwen's favorites and it made her giggle every time he sang it. Her laugh was contagious and Faramir usually ended up laughing himself. Today was no different. The two were in a fit of hysterics when he suddenly heard a muffled noise. They became silent and he listened for the sound again. It seemed to be coming from behind a wall of close growing trees. Someone was crying. There was a gap in between the trees and Faramir peeked inside. There he found a small glade and sitting on the grass in the middle was Eowyn. Her head was buried in her hands and she seemed to be weeping. Not wanting Caladwen to see her mother in such a state, he walked away from the site.
"I have an idea." he said to Caladwen. "Let us find Haldir. Would you like to play with him for a little while?"
At the mention of Haldir's name, Caladwen smiled and clapped her tiny hands. She agreed with this idea.
Faramir went back to the housing area of the forest floor and spotted Haldir speaking to his brothers. "Haldir, I believe there is someone here who would very much like to visit with you for a bit."
Haldir smiled when Caladwen held out her tiny hands to him. He took the child and held her gently in his arms. His brothers, Rumil and Orophin immediately approached her, making silly faces just to hear her laugh. Haldir rolled his eyes before focusing his attention on Faramir.
"I hope you don't mind, Haldir." Faramir said. "I need to speak to Eowyn. I came across her in the woods and she seemed upset. I do not want Caladwen to see her mother like this. Could you watch Caladwen for a little while?"
"Of course I don't mind. You should know what ails her. He is coming back one last time. It is almost Caladwen's fifth begetting day. As the day approaches, she becomes more distraught." Haldir answered.
"I am well aware of this. It is a day we have both been dreading. That is why I need to talk to her. I won't be long." Faramir pleaded. He bowed to Haldir and went off to find Eowyn.
She was still in the same place when he found her. Faramir entered the glade quietly and stood still for a moment. "Eowyn, is everything alright?"
"I've lost it. I have lost his most treasured possession. I hadn't even thought about it until now." she said between sobs.
"What have you lost, my love?" Faramir sat next to her on the ground.
"The necklace that belonged to his mother. The last time I wore it was right before the Orcs attacked me. It must have come off in the struggle. Now it is gone forever, just like Legolas."
Faramir pulled Eowyn into his chest and stroked her head. "This day has come too soon and yet not soon enough. Do not trouble yourself with misplaced trinkets. There are more important things to think of. This is your last time with the Elf. Do not let it become one of misery. Let it be joyful for he will see his daughter for the first time. Do not cry for Legolas. He is about to embark on a journey which most of us will never know. The anticipation of his arrival in Valinor is great. He will meet those who have gone from this world, the Lady Galadriel and Lord Elrond. Be happy for him. His journey is at its end and soon he will no longer feel the suffering of his sacrifices. It will be our turn to carry the burden of his departure from this world. Yet, nothing is in vein. Much good has come from Legolas' choices, the best being your daughter. She will leave her mark on the world as the daughter of the Prince of Mirkwood. Somehow, Legolas will always be a part of this world."
Eowyn wiped the tears from her face and turned to Faramir. "I know you are right but it still hurts."
He kissed her forehead. "Save your grieving until after he is gone. I will leave you alone to spend this time with Legolas and Caladwen. Then, when it is time, come and find me, my love. I will be there with open arms. Together we will both see him off for he is my friend too."
Eowyn kissed him and he tasted the saltiness of her tears on her lips. "I love you, Faramir."
Tomorrow was Caladwen's birthday. Eowyn knew Legolas was already traveling back to Lorien. He would be arriving in the morning, which meant he was less than a day away. Her heart jumped to think of this. She also felt guilt for her excitement. She had made her decision to be with Faramir but somehow, Legolas still had a hold of her. Eowyn told herself it was only for the one day that she would let her heart be his again. Legolas deserved at least that much of her. Faramir would give them the space they needed. He trusted that she would return to him after all was said and done. Yet she was afraid a part of her would not be able to let Legolas go and that scared her. If she asked Legolas not to go, would he stay, for her and Caladwen?
The Lorien Elves were busy getting ready for the celebration. Tomorrow, Eowyn and Faramir's close friends would visit them. Aragorn and Arwen were among the guests. Eomer and Lothiriel traveled from Rohan. A small company of Ithilien Elves were also on their way. There would be a great feast in honor of Caladwen. Eowyn thought it was too much being she was only five. Haldir would have none of it. He explained how important it was to commemorate this day in Lorien. Caladwen was the last birth his kingdom would ever see. The day of her birth would always be celebrated as long as the Elves dwelled there. Eowyn had yet to understand the importance of her daughter.
The day was very long and the anxiety of Legolas' return tired her. Eowyn retreated to her talan early that evening. She carried Caladwen to her bed and tucked her in. She smiled at her and kissed her forehead.
"And what is tomorrow, pen dithen?" (little one) Eowyn asked.
"My birthday, mama." Caladwen said smiling.
"Yes it is. And someone very special is coming just to see you. Do you remember who we spoke of earlier?" Eowyn and Faramir made sure always to include Legolas in their stories. Though he would not be around, his stories and accounts of his life would very much be a part of her life.
"Legolas." Caladwen said.
"And who is Legolas?" Eowyn went on.
"An Elf, like Haldir."
"Yes but he is your ada, your father, Caladwen."
Caladwen frowned. "Faramir is daddy too." She made sure Eowyn did not leave him out.
"Faramir loves you very much but Legolas is your real father. He loves you too, but he cannot be with us. He must go away. Tomorrow is the only time you will see him. We will spend the whole day together, just the three of us."
Caladwen worried about Faramir. "Where will daddy Faramir be?"
"I don't know." Eowyn answered truthfully. "I'm sure he will find something to do."
Caladwen smiled. "He should go with Haldir. Haldir is fun. He tells stories and plays games and sometimes talks about plants."
"Oh does he now?" Eowyn said. Herb Mastery, she thought to herself. I'll kill him, but not before I tell everyone how fun he is. "Go to sleep now. Tomorrow is a big day. Sweet dreams henen." (my child)
"Goodnight, mama." Caladwen said with sleepy eyes.
Eowyn went to her room. Faramir was standing on the terrace looking out into the distance. She joined him. "What do you see, my love?" she whispered in his ear while wrapping her arms around his waist.
"Peace. The world is finally at peace. Already, Caladwen grows up in a place so different than the one we know."
"Yes, love. Let us hope her life's path is easier than our own." Eowyn kissed him, tucked a lock of hair behind his ear and stared deep into his eyes. "I love so much." she said and left to get ready for bed.
Eowyn climbed under the sheets and looked to where Faramir still stood. He was so handsome, this man of Gondor. She could not wait to spend the rest of her life with him. At least she hoped she would. Tomorrow would be her last test.
That night, Eowyn had a vision. She was walking down a path and came to a split in the road. One way was clear; the other was blocked by some kind of thorny bush. As she stood there, the most beautiful Elf she had ever seen approached her. She wore a flowing white dress. Her hair was almost silver and she glowed like the brightest star in the night sky. The Elf came up and stood next to Eowyn, looking at the two different directions the road went.
Finally, the Elf spoke. "It seems very obvious, does it not?"
"Of course." Eowyn answered. "There is no getting around those thorns. Only one path is passable. That is the direction in which to go."
"One can never be too sure. Take a closer look at the bush." the elleth said.
At a closer inspection, Eowyn noticed the thorns were not thorns at all, but leaves curled to look menacing enough to chase one away. "Oh, they are not dangerous. They are just leaves." Eowyn looked at the Elf next to her. "But the path is still blocked. The choice is still obvious."
"With the right tool and a little more effort, the blocked path can be cleared. Which would you choose Eowyn, the easiest one or the one that needs a little work?" the Elf questioned.
"How do you know my name?" Eowyn asked, distracted from the question.
"We have been watching you Eowyn of Rohan, daughter of Men. Great deeds have you done in your lifetime. You slew the one, the Witch King. That did not go unnoticed by us. You are very brave and valiant. There is strength in you not seen before among females of your race. Your people look upon you with respect and honor. You give much hope to others. Your daughter possesses the same traits."
"Are you from Valinor?" Eowyn said eyes wide in awe of this elleth.
"I am one of the Valar themselves and I come to you in your time of need. A decision lies before you. Both Man and Elf have experienced your love but you can only commit yourself to one. You must choose."
Eowyn looked confused. "But I have already made my choice. I want to be with Faramir."
"You have chosen Faramir like you chose the obvious path. Why not Legolas?" the elleth asked.
"Legolas fades because of me. He is leaving. He decided that a long time ago."
The Elf moved so that she was standing in front of Eowyn. "Legolas is like the overgrown path. You do not go that way because it seems impassable."
"But he said it was his destiny to move on. He cannot stay in Middle Earth." Eowyn argued.
"He leaves because he has not been asked to stay." said the Elf.
Eowyn thought for a moment. "I did not ask this of him. I could not, knowing I would be keeping him from that which he wants most."
"You already are." the Elf said with a smile. She noticed the confusion on Eowyn's face. "It is like I said; the right tool and a little work can clear the path."
"Are you saying my future lies with Legolas?" Eowyn asked.
"I cannot tell you which one to choose nor can I sway you in either direction. I am merely pointing out the fact that you have not considered both paths equally. But this much I can tell you. You can no longer love them both equally. One holds your heart while the other holds your soul. If you want to move on and live your life to its fullest, you must give both heart and soul to just one." The elleth turned and walked towards a tree that grew by the side of the dirt road, leaving Eowyn alone on the path.
"I do not understand. Legolas bound his soul to mine when he chose to love me. I thought once an Elf bonded it was forever." As Eowyn spoke, she looked towards the bush.
"This is true of the Elves. However, you are not elf-kind. Legolas is bound to you, to your soul but you are not, at least not in the way of the Elves."
Eowyn looked back at the Elf. "It doesn't mean I love him any less."
The Elf smiled warmly. "I know. You love them both, a most extraordinary gift amongst humans." She turned to walk away, leaving Eowyn to ponder her thoughts. "Remember this, daughter of Rohan; sometimes you must set one free to prove how much you love them."
Eowyn watched as the ethereal elleth walked away. She had a sense that she would never see her again.
The feel of warm kisses on his face awaked Faramir. He slowly opened his eyes to find Eowyn snuggled in tight by his side and covering him with her affections.
"Good morning my love." she said.
"Good morning beautiful lady. It is not often you are awake before the sunrise." Faramir said sleepily.
"This may be the only moment I have with you today and I wanted to take advantage of it." she said playfully.
It was a nice way to wake up on a day that would end in sorrow. It gave him hope that he would wake up again tomorrow by the same attention.
Eowyn held his face in her hands. "I wanted you to know how thankful I am to you for giving Caladwen and I the day alone with Legolas. I want her to know him well before he leaves."
"We will see each other at the celebration tonight. You should not worry yourself. I will be there for you." Faramir said and kissed her deeply as if he would never have this moment again. "I love you, Eowyn and your happiness means everything to me." He sat up and let his fingers travel down her arm. "Now, it is time to get ready. The day is about to begin."
Eowyn sat up and kissed him once more before she strode across the room to retrieve her clothes. Faramir did the same and the couple went into Caladwen's room. A pair of bright blue eyes met them in the dimly lit room.
"Good morning, pen dithen." Eowyn sang. "It is your special day."
Caladwen stretched her arms out to her mother. "It's my birthday, mama."
"That it is. Come, let us put you in your special dress. You will be the most beautiful princess in all the land." Eowyn chimed.
Caladwen giggled and reached out to Faramir, giving him a hug. Faramir kissed her on the forehead. "Happy birthday, Caladwen." he said.
After they were all up and dressed, they headed off to breakfast. Everyone they passed wished Caladwen a happy birthday. She loved the attention she was receiving. After all, this was her day. They sat down and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of fruit and sweet rolls.
Suddenly a gruff voice greeted them from behind them. "I was told there was a beautiful princess who lives in these woods. I have come to meet her and wish her much happiness on this day of days."
They all turned around to find Gimli standing there. Caladwen's eyes widened to the size of saucers. "Mama, a dwarf." she whispered as if she did not want him to hear.
Eowyn laughed and looked at Gimli, playing along with his game. "If it is a princess you seek, you are in luck, Master Dwarf. Princess Caladwen is glad to meet your acquaintance." She looked at her daughter. "Caladwen, this is Gimli."
"Like the Gimli in the stories?" she asked, unable to remove her gaze.
Gimli bowed low to Caladwen. "The one and only. I have traveled far to meet you. I hear it is your birthday."
"I'm five." she said going back to eating her breakfast. "You know Legolas." It was a statement rather than a question. She knew her stories of the fellowship quite well.
"I do. I have known him for a long time now. He is excited to meet you." Gimli said turning to Eowyn and Faramir. "He will be here soon. He just wanted to meet with Celeborn and Haldir first. He won't be long, my lady." Gimli took Caladwen's small hand. "I am so very happy to finally meet you. I must be going now but I will see you later at the feast."
Caladwen did not even look up from her plate. "Bye Bye Gimli."
Eowyn looked at Faramir, sadness in her eyes and laid her hand to the side of his face.
Legolas stood in the shadows of the doorway to the dining hall. He watched as Eowyn tenderly touched Faramir's face and kissed him. He read her lips as she professed her love for him. Then his eyes were drawn to the child, his child. His heart beat rapidly.
For so long he had wanted to look upon his daughter. She was beautiful and he could not look away. His attention was drawn to Faramir who stood up, still holding Eowyn's hand. They held their gaze a moment longer before he turned and left the room. That was when Legolas emerged from the doorway.
Eowyn felt that familiar warmth engulf her soul. She turned and found him there. She had not seen him for more that five years. He had not changed at all. He was still the tall, beautiful Elf she last remembered.
"Legolas." Eowyn whispered. "You are here." She jumped up and ran to him, embracing his lithe body in her arms.
Legolas kissed the top of her head and breathed in her scent. "I have missed you." he whispered.
Suddenly a small voice spoke from across the room. "Mama?" Caladwen said questioningly.
Eowyn turned and smiled at her daughter. She took Legolas' hand and led him to her. "Here is your daughter, Legolas."
He knelt down on his knees so he was at her level and looked at her eyes. "Hello Caladwen."
Caladwen stared at him. "Mama said you were coming to my party. I am five today."
Legolas' heart swelled at the sound of her tiny voice. "Happy Birthday." he said with a smile.
"Mama said you are my daddy." she said innocently.
"Yes. I am your ada. I have waited a long time to finally see you. I have missed you." he said.
Caladwen gave him a smile. "Do you want to play a game? My friend Haldir taught me."
Legolas smiled and looked at Eowyn as he spoke. "I would like that very much." he said. Then he silently mouthed, "Haldir?" and Eowyn nodded, laughing to herself.
"I know a Haldir but it cannot be the same one. The Haldir I know is very stern." Legolas said playfully.
"No. It is the same one. He's only mean to grown-ups. I like Haldir. He's fun." Caladwen explained.
Legolas couldn't help but laugh. "You must tell me more about Haldir."
Eowyn sat quietly by and watched father and daughter become acquainted with each other. It was a beautiful site. They fit together like two peas in a pod. It was as if he had been with her since she was born. You would never have known this was their first meeting.
After a while, they left the dining hall to stroll through the gardens. Caladwen showed Legolas all her favorite flowers and trees. They were inseparable. Eowyn loved watching Legolas. He was a perfect father. As he played with her, he would steal glances at Eowyn, love still apparent in his eyes. Eowyn tried to keep Faramir in the forefront of her mind but it was difficult. She was still possessed by this Elf, this prince. Her soul was drawn to him. She remembered the dream she had. It was Legolas who held her soul. How she would miss him. Could she really let him go so easily? Would she dare ask him to stay? Could she break Faramir's heart? She shook these thoughts from her head. It was too much to think about right now.
After a while, Haldir came by to check on them. When Caladwen saw him, she reached out with frantic fingers wiggling in the air. "Haldir. Haldir." she chanted.
Legolas took notice of his daughter's excitement to see the Marchwarden. She was all smiles. Haldir forgot about anyone who might be watching and smiled back. Legolas could not believe what he was witnessing.
Haldir held Caladwen in his arms. She grabbed his cheeks and pulled down on them. Haldir went along. "What are you doing?" he laughed.
"I want to see your mean face." she said.
This confused Haldir. He looked to Legolas who just shrugged his shoulders. "What makes you say that, Caladwen?"
"Legolas said you are mean. I wanted to see your mean face. I haven't seen it yet." Caladwen said with a serious tone.
Haldir looked to Legolas again, one eyebrow raised. "Did he?"
"It is just what I have heard." Legolas said trying to save his hide.
Eowyn interrupted. "I for one am glad she has not seen his mean face." she laughed. "Haldir could you take Caladwen for a little bit? I'd like to speak to Legolas."
"Of course my lady. Come along, pen vuin (dear one). Let's go have some fun, shall we?" Haldir carried Caladwen away, leaving Eowyn and Legolas alone for the first time since he arrived.
Legolas looked Eowyn up and down. "You look beautiful. And Caladwen is wonderful. She is so smart and funny. Her learning seems to be advanced for her age."
"Haldir has taken it upon himself to be her teacher. She admires him so." Eowyn stated.
"I noticed. They seem to share a special connection." Legolas took a step towards her, closing the distance between them. "How are things between you and Faramir?" This was the one thing that plagued his mind.
"He is wonderful. Caladwen has connected with him beautifully. They are…"
"That is not what I meant." Legolas interrupted. "What has developed between the two of you?"
Eowyn looked to the ground. Why was it so difficult to tell him? Finally, she found her voice. "We plan to return to Emyn Arnen… and remarry."
Legolas smiled but his eyes spoke differently. "I am happy for you. You have finally found what you are looking for. I knew you were always meant to be with him."
"I'm sorry Legolas. I just…"
He put his fingers to her lips. "Do not apologize. You have chosen the correct path. It brings me great joy to know you will be happy once again."
Legolas' words brought back the vision Eowyn had. Legolas was the blocked path. The right tool and a little effort and…
"Would you like to go for a walk?" she asked. "I think we have some catching up to do."
"I would like that very much." Legolas answered and offered her his arm. Eowyn snaked her arm around his and pulled him close as they set off down the walkway, reveling in the warmth of each other's company.
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.