10. Silver Threads
B2MeM Challenge Canon couples - Valacar/ Vidumani The Steward and his sons - Captain of the Ithilien Rangers, colours - sea green
Silver threads among the gold,
Shine upon my brow today,
Life is fading fast away.
But, my darling, you will be,
Always young and fair to me,
Yes, my darling, you will be
Always young and fair to me. - Eben E. Rexford,
Faramir was becoming increasingly worried about Éowyn. He knew his beloved wife was prone to melancholy, but it had been years since he had seen such a pinched, tight look upon her lovely face as she had now. His gentle enquires as to what troubled her, had been met with a weary shake of her head and a swift change of subject. Unable to concentrate on his work, he sat thinking back over the events of the past few days, trying to ascertain what might be troubling her.
This time last week, she had been happy when she had awoken that morning, and joyful when she had returned from tending her horses, delighted a new foal had been unexpectedly born in the night. She had been her usual self when they had eaten the noonday meal together. Then her seamstress had arrived to fit her for a dress of sea green silk that she planned to wear for the King and Queen's wedding anniversary celebrations the next month. It was a beautiful colour and imported especially from Harad for the occasion. Faramir was certain the hue would set off her golden locks to perfection. It seemed that was when her melancholy had begun. She had looked sorely troubled since she had emerged from her chamber after the seamstress had departed.
Surely, Éowyn was not still pining with unrequited love for Aragorn. That had been years ago and long since resolved.
Faramir tried to turn his attention back to his work, but he found it impossible to keep his mind upon it. He pushed aside the trade agreement he was working on. He could not bear to see his beloved unhappy. Either he would solve whatever problem was disturbing her, or if it were melancholy with no cause, he would ask Aragorn if he had some herbs that would help to raise her spirits. Or maybe a change of scene might help her? A visit to her brother in the Riddermark, or some time by the sea with his Uncle Imrahil's castle? Aragorn would surely allow him a break from his duties to assure Éowyn's well- being.
The Steward went in search of his wife. She was not to be found; either in the stables, or her herb garden, her usual haunts when she was not in the nursery with their children.
Much to his surprise, Faramir found Éowyn in their bedchamber, staring at the looking glass she held in her hand. That was most unlike her, for she was not a vain woman and rarely fretted over her appearance.
"Éowyn, what ails you, my beloved?" he asked, sitting down beside her on the bed. "Tell me that I might help you."
"No one can help me, not even the Valar!" Éowyn replied sadly.
"At least, tell me what troubles you so, my love." Faramir's tone was gentle but insistent.
"This!" she whispered, indicating a few grey hairs amongst her strands of gold. "I noticed when I tried on my new gown."
"Grey hairs? That is all?" Faramir could have laughed with relief. "They do not mar your beauty in any way, my love. You could cut them off if they trouble you."
"But do you not see, Faramir? I am getting old while you remain young! I know well the story of Valacar and Vidumavi. Their union caused great disquiet, as she was not of Númenorean lineage. Great kinstrife resulted when it was time for their son to become king! What if the men of Gondor should reject Elboron as their next Steward? Moreover, I will one day leave you through old age. You will be all alone!" She burst into tears.
Faramir swiftly enfolded her in his arms. "My love, fret not over such matters. Valacar wed Vidumavi because he loved her, just as I love you. Their son was a great king and lived as long as any of the pure blood of Númenor. Aragorn is descended from them and I know those are among the longfathers he is the most proud of.
Times were different then and I dare to hope that Men have grown a little wiser. You are of the great House of Eorl and your grandmother came from Gondor, so you have a measure of the blood of Númenor in your veins. Aragorn told me once that should any of our children desire to wed any of his when they are grown, it would greatly gladden his heart, so have no fears on account of our little ones.
I hope with all my heart you will be long lived, but should it prove otherwise, I shall not be alone. I have the beautiful children you have given me, and the companionship of the King, who is of a far purer lineage than mine and will no doubt outlive even our children!"
Éowyn's sobs quieted somewhat, but she was not completely reassured. "Do you never wish, though, that you had married a woman of Gondor?"
Faramir shook his head. "Never. No lady of Gondor ever captured my heart, though many tried to. I recall telling Frodo and Sam when I was captain of the Ithilien Rangers how much I loved and admired your folk, golden-haired, bright-eyed, and strong; you remind us of the youth of Men, as they were in the Elder Days. Our people have diminished themselves by intermarrying too much, so our marriage has strengthened my line, not weakened it, though such matters were far from my mind, when I asked you to marry me. Now though, I look at our fair children who combine the best of both Rohan and Gondor. I am certain that Valacar never regretted marrying his lady and I certainly do not regret marrying mine!"
He pulled Éowyn close and kissed her tenderly. To his joy, she responded with equal ardour. "When you wear your new sea green gown and I dance with you at the anniversary celebrations," he said. "I shall be envied by every man in Gondor! Now there is still an hour before sunset, shall we go riding together?"
"Well you know how to please me, Faramir of Gondor!" Éowyn was smiling now. Hand in hand, they went to the stables.
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