1. Still Some Way to Go
Still Some Way to Go...
Faramir pondered the contrast between the soft sound of the rain and the hard rigidity of her back, turned towards him on the bed underneath the folds of her dress. He clung to that observation - in an effort to suppress his hurt and desperation.
It didn't work. Instead the sound of the rain started rattling around in his head and became a torrent that pushed her further away from him with every breath he took.
He thought he had seen her different facets over the past months: her despair, her anger, her tactile comfort during his dark days - brushing her lips against his temple, singing to him. She had trod carefully, knew that he was still like a newly awakened sleeper peering at the sunlight. He had returned that comfort, that careful healing tactility and she had trusted him to it.
And now, faced with the full implications of just the two of them in this dimly lit bedroom, she had curled up like an autumn leaf.
He had been so sure the time had come, after their long patient journey.
"How many holes does it take to make a man?" he had asked the mirror, half expecting an answer. He didn't really recognise the one he was talking to
He had a few clear memories of Aragorn dragging him back. The insistent pull of Aragorn's will, the gentle but firm push into the darkness - like pails of moonlight emptied in his deepest recesses. For a brief moment he had felt at peace.
Waking up had been different. He had looked into a grey void from a body that seemed barely there under skin as thin as paper.
Aragorn had seen to him often during the first few days - obviously not liking what he saw. In the end he had sat down by his bedside and told him how he had seen his brother die and could do nothing to prevent it. The telling had been quiet and contained, but the pain running deep and raw beneath the words penetrated some of the numbness encapsulating his senses.
That night he made a reluctant decision to try...to live.
It turned out to be the hardest thing he had ever done. He felt like an assembly of holes sown together with frayed thread – which he somehow had to take out into the world.
What drove him in the beginning was mostly a sense of duty to the man - his king, who had fought so hard to save him, and to Boromir who would have wanted him to live.
It wouldn't have been enough. Just before he met her he had begun to lose hope that he would ever make his way out of his grey room.
Faramir stood still on the floor - uncertain, hands clenched. Then he swore inside at his helplessness and indecision, climbed on to the bed and pulled Éowyn to him.
She stiffened at first, pulled her thin shoulders into her hair and buried her hands in the folds of her dress between her legs. He didn't let go, just held her gently, firmly. Finally there was a thaw, a trickling away of tension and a flow of tears. He brushed the tears away with his fingers, and put his fingers to his tongue to taste the salt.
When he let his hand cup the sharp bone of her hip and felt it reverberate against his palm, he conceded that they still had some way to go. He needed to give this time. She too had her holes, underneath that fierce warrior. He knew her so intimately and yet knew her so little. They had spoken such a lot together, but not much about their former lives.
In time...maybe they would.
Instead he folded her into the long curve of his body and put her face to her hair. It had a bitter-sweet grassy smell. Sage, he decided and closed his eyes.
The colours and smells of the world had slowly seeped back into the bleached canvas of his existence, and with them his strong imagination and his ability to inhabit in his mind the landscapes he conjured. And now he went; in amongst the sage bushes, letting their firm, velvety leaves brush against his hands, down the length of the garden and in under the trees, moving in and out of leaf-shadows and sunlight; a flickering translucent patchwork of greens and browns and golds. He wished there was a way he could have brought her with him.
The sound of Éowyn's breathing had taken on the deep regular rhythm of sleep. He lifted his head and took in the sharp, flowing line of her profile against the bedcovers in the half-light. She wasn't as thin as she had been, but looked pale and transient, like a moth - skin as thin as paper.
"Stay...whole," he whispered, "don't break."
Towards morning Faramir drifted into a dream of a moonlit beach. He saw Boromir standing some distance away wrapped in a tattered cloak. His brother's face looked older, and he was staring at the ocean with an expression of pensive peace.
He began to fade - dissolved slowly into sea-spray and wave-foam and flakes of moonlight on the water.
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.