1. Daisy Chains
There had been times when Faramir had doubted that he would ever find love and know the joy of marriage. The times were very dark; indeed the whole future of Middle-earth lay in the balance, yet today his heart was happy and filled with hope.
Boromir had often teased his younger brother for his innocence; Faramir had resisted all his brother's attempts to introduce him to pretty tavern wenches who were eager to introduce him to delights of the flesh in exchange for coin. Not for him were his brother's many fleeting fancies. Faramir was certain he would know at once when he met the lady he desired to wed. Until then he intended to keep himself for her alone.
Now he had found her and she was walking beside him in the gardens. Her eyes were sad as she looked constantly towards the East. He knew he was not her first love, or as yet, even her second. She still thought constantly of another man, one who was not free to love her as he was; the one who had delivered them both from the Black Shadow. Faramir was content to wait patiently and woo her with kindness, hoping that the ice encasing her wounded heart would melt for him.
"Shall we sit a while?" he asked, gesturing towards a bench.
Éowyn nodded. They sat down in uncomfortable silence. Éowyn stared glumly at her feet.
Faramir yearned to make her smile. She was the fairest lady he had ever beheld; a smile or a laugh would magnify that beauty threefold and it would gladden his heart to ease hers.
This year's spring had brought little life or growth with the foul poisons of Mordor in the air, and the garden was unnaturally bleak and bare for the time of year. The snowdrops and crocus had briefly bloomed then withered, while the daffodils remained in tight bud as if unwilling to emerge.
Suddenly Faramir espied a single perfect daisy growing amidst the sparse grass. The pure white petals were edged in delicate pink, while the centre was a bright and cheerful yellow. The little flower's very existence defied the pervading gloom.
"Look!" he said, gesturing towards the tiny flower.
Éowyn looked, but said nothing.
"I used to gather daisies for my mother," said Faramir. "I always thought them valiant little flowers. No matter how often you pluck or trample them they still thrive and blossom."
"I recall making daisy chains as a girl," said Éowyn. "Did you as a child?"
"Just once," said Faramir. "I garlanded my father's hound with one. Neither the hound nor my father was well pleased. The hound shook himself and my father's black cloak was covered with wilting daisies!"
Éowyn laughed. The sound was like sweet music to Faramir's ears. "I used to make crowns of daisies for my favourite horses," she said her eyes alight at the memory. "We had a garden in Edoras that I loved."
Faramir dared take her hand and was heartened that she did not withdraw it. He could offer her no crown, but if they should survive this war, maybe they could make a garden and grow not only daisies, but also every fair flower under the Ithilien stars.