1. In Bliss
Ten years ago, Aragorn, son of Arathorn, took up his rightful place as King of Gondor and Arnor. It has been ten years since Arwen Undómiel, daughter of Elrond Half-elven, became his Queen.
It has been ten years since the darkness was defeated and the enemies of the world were destroyed.
A celebration is in order.
Éowyn is not happy. She has just returned to Emyn Arnen after being for some time with her brother, Éomer, King of the Riddermark. She is tired and worn from her journey, and she would like to sleep for three days at least, straight through.
She would also like to see her husband, but she is told that he is busy elsewhere. She is given a message, written in Faramir’s tall script, and it tells her that they are to leave in the morning for Minas Tirith, for the King has requested their presence at his celebration.
But Éowyn is weary, for the road from golden Edoras to Ithilien is long, and she does not wish to take even the short journey to the White City. Neither does she feel like celebrating, for her thoughts have been melancholy of late.
Ten years ago, Éowyn of Rohan sought death on the fields of battle. Ten years ago, Théoden King, her uncle, fell to the darkness. Ten years ago, she lingered in the Houses of Healing. Ten years ago, she longed for the love of the man who is now King. Remembering these things puts her in no mind to celebrate.
She sits in her garden after twilight. The night becomes cold, and she shivers beneath her blue cloak, but she does not go in.
The moon and stars are hidden from her by thick clouds, and the world is quiet.
She feels very alone.
She wakes in the night when Faramir comes to bed. Her back is to him, and she pretends to sleep as he crawls under the blankets. She feels him leaning over her, his breath tickling her shoulder. He whispers her name, but she does not respond, and he turns away from her.
It has been like this lately. Faramir is a busy man. Éowyn knows it has always been so, but she cannot help feeling that he buries himself more in his work these days. They spend little time together, and their talk is rarely personal. At night they sleep in the same bed, but they are not together.
They were wed nine years ago. Éowyn supposes that the years change all marriages, but she does not want to deal with the change that has happened in hers.
She cannot even think how or when the change began.
But she remembers how she still missed him while in Rohan, regardless of how things had been between them before she left, and she wonders if she should not have feigned sleep on this night.
She turns to him now, but he sleeps, his breathing deep and even. She moves close to him, lays an arm over him and rests her cheek against his back. He sighs softly, but he does not wake. She falls asleep listening to the faint sound of his heartbeat.
When she wakes in the morning, he is gone.
Minas Tirith gleams in the sunlight.
Éowyn is tired and wishes only to be taken to their lodging, so she can rest. Instead she is sent to the Queen to wait while Faramir meets with the King.
It has been years since Éowyn saw Queen Arwen. They never had cause to be friends, and Éowyn now finds herself with little to say.
But Arwen is gracious and full of pleasantries, and she makes conversation even with little participation from Éowyn. Éowyn notices that Arwen looks no different than when she first saw her, ten years ago. Her face is young, unlined by care or age. Dark hair is thick upon her head, and her voice is smooth and musical. But her eyes speak of things her appearance does not.
When she speaks of her husband, her eyes fill with love and passion.
Éowyn dislikes her for this.
Before the celebratory feast tonight, she is examining her appearance in the mirror. She is not satisfied. Thirty-four years she has, and she seems them all reflected in front of her. Her golden hair seems dull and lusterless. Grey eyes stare back at her, still clear and bright, but with little feeling in them. Skin is too pale. And just around the eyes, small creases boldly show themselves. Leaning closer, she spies a strand of silver amongst the gold of her hair. She pulls it out and keeps it wrapped around her finger as she continues to dress.
Many have come to celebrate, and all of them are welcome. They sit in a great hall, and their plates are piled high with food.
As she eats, Éowyn watches Aragorn. He has aged since she saw him last. His dark hair holds more grey, and the lines on his face have deepened. He wears his kingship well though, and his age. She knows that he is gifted with more years than men of her kin and thinks that perhaps to him and his queen, ten years is not so much time, although they celebrate it magnificently.
To her, ten years has been an age.
Faramir sits beside her, talking to those around him. He laughs, and Éowyn is shocked to realize that she cannot recall the last time she heard him do so. She finds herself resenting the people he speaks to.
At the head of the table, the King whispers in the Queen’s ear, and Arwen laughs. Éowyn catches Aragorn’s eye from across the distance, and he smiles at her.
It has been a long time since she stopped desiring the love of Aragorn, but she finds herself wondering how things would have been had her desire been fulfilled. If it were Éowyn, not Arwen, who was the queen by his side. If she had a kingly husband whispering in her ear, and if it were she who laughed for all to hear and loved her husband and king for all to see.
Her heart does not warm to these thoughts, so she disregards them as folly, although her eye remains on Aragorn.
She no longer hears her husband’s voice. She glances in his direction and sees him turn his head away from her.
The meal is finished, and entertainment follows. The King and Queen mingle with their guests.
Éowyn, for the moment, is content to stand in a corner, watching the company. Across the hall, Faramir is talking to the Queen.
Arwen is really uncommonly beautiful.
“Éowyn.” It is Aragorn, smiling warmly with outstretched hands. She did not hear him approach, but she conceals her surprise.
“Elessar,” she says, adopting the name his people have given him, although she has always thought of him as Aragorn. “It has been too long, my lord.”
He asks after her brother, and she tells him that Éomer sends his greetings and well wishes, although he was unable to come to Minas Tirith. Aragorn speaks in pleasantries. He talks of the past, but she finds it difficult to associate the King in front of her with the man in her memories.
She finds it hard to remember herself as the young woman in her memories.
From across the room, she hears Arwen laugh. Aragorn turns and looks at the Queen, a smile flitting across his lips. For a moment he is younger, and none of the sadness or weight of the years is on him.
Éowyn realizes that he is very much in love with his wife.
Faramir is still talking with the Queen, and again Arwen laughs.
She suddenly finds the hall an unbearable place to be.
“Forgive me,” says Éowyn. “I find myself feeling unwell. I thank you for your hospitality this night, but I beg your leave to return to my rooms.”
He gives it and, concerned, wonders what help he can offer her.
She smiles faintly. “Once you gave me my life, my lord. You have given enough help for a lifetime. Now I simply require some rest.”
She is leaving, and she asks him to tell her husband that she has returned to their rooms. She walks away and realizes that she should not, perhaps, have just ordered the King to act as her messenger.
But he has already begun to make his way towards Faramir, and she thinks he will not hold it against her.
Arwen, she thinks, is very lucky.
She is in the Houses of Healing.
She had intended to return to her room, but she instead found herself walking in another direction.
So she sits with the Warden, the same who had served when she resided there. Nothing in the Houses has changed, and she is glad for the familiarity.
“How is your husband?” the Warden asks.
“I suppose,” says Éowyn, “that he is well.” It bothers her that she cannot say this with assurance.
The garden that she walked in so often with Faramir also remains the same. She sits in it, in the shadows, remembering fear and pain, looks of adoration, words of love.
She thinks, suddenly, that she has not always been the best wife.
Faramir is a busy man, but when he makes time for her, she does not always accept it, although she is unsure why she has held back. He is the one she chose. Aragorn may have healed her, may have held her heart for a while, but it was Faramir who really saved her life, Faramir who even now holds her heart.
She has treated him unfairly, although she does not place the blame entirely on herself.
A cloak settles gently over her shoulders. “I thought you might be cold,” says Faramir, sitting down beside her, although not touching. And now, “You left without me.”
“Yes,” she says. “I did.” He seems to be expecting more of an explanation, so she continues. “You looked to be enjoying yourself. I did not want to bother you.”
He looks at her, his mouth set in a stern line, but his eyes smile. “And did you think I could enjoy myself if you were not there?”
She thinks now that she does not deserve this. She has been cold and distant to him. She has been selfish; she has neglected to let him know she loves him. She deserves the same treatment from him. But she knows that to act as such is not in his nature. He gives, even while receiving nothing.
“How did you find me?” she asks. “Weren’t you told I went to our rooms?”
“Yes,” he says. “But I thought you might come here. Do you remember –?”
“Of course,” she says, cutting him off. “Every moment.” She turns to look at him and notices that there is more grey in his raven hair than there was before she left for Edoras. She moves to brush it away from his face, and he catches her hand, wraps his fingers tightly around hers. Looking in his eyes, she realizes that he is just as tired as she is. He too has been troubled by the rift between them. She squeezes his hand and smiles.
At this moment, she is content. She knows that they should talk, really talk, about what happened to them, but the time for that is not now. For now she is happy to sit with him, bathed in moonlight, in the gardens where she first loved him.
Arwen is lucky, but Éowyn would not trade places with her for all the riches of the world. She does not want to be a queen, and she desires no king. Sometimes it takes a little reminding to remember this, but right now it is not hard. Not when she can lay her head on her husband’s shoulder and hear his heartbeat, almost in time with her own.
She loves him very much, and she tells him so.
“I know,” he says, and he kisses her lightly. “I have missed you.” His voice is low and warm.
He whispers in her ear, and Éowyn laughs.
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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.