A Night at Edoras
Chapter 1 – The Sorrow of Faramir
by Siberia

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters here, nor am I making any money out of this. I just love Lord of the Rings, and this is my first attempt at fan fiction.

I would like to dedicate this story to my best friend Sailor Moffatt, who encouraged me and gave me the confidence to write this. If it wasn't for her support, you wouldn't be reading this labour of love.

Update: (February 5th, 2003) I've made some changes to the second chapter. I didn't like it, so I fiddled with it slightly. It's 350 words longer now.

When the grand feast of the Golden Hall was over, Faramir felt a great need to escape the company of the other guests. The merry ambience at Meduseld had made him feel ill, and he had sought to relieve his discomfort by finding some fresh air. The Steward walked some distance away from the city gates of Edoras, and when he believed that he had isolated himself enough from civilization, he allowed his grey eyes to drift heavenward towards the night sky.

His pounding headache had begun to melt away. A cool breeze gently lifted the strands of his raven hair, playfully moving them across his handsome features. The sudden winds had made his body shiver slightly. Although it was in the middle of August, the summers at Edoras were never particularly warm. Faramir stood alone in the open plains of Rohan, allowing the vast beauty of the heavens to consume his thoughts. Not one cloud obstructed his view. It was a perfect evening for stargazing.

Faramir had sought solace in the night sky ever since he was five years old, when his mother, Finduilas of Dol Amroth, passed away from the Circles of the World. When she died, only his protective brother remained to console him, but even the fearless Boromir could not shield his younger sibling from the fury of Denethor. Within the stars' twinkling presence, Faramir felt sheltered from all of the pain and anger that his stern father would unleash on him day after day.

Denethor had been dead for five months now. The thought of his father unwittingly made the young Steward move the silver ring around his finger, the symbol of his office. Faramir recalled the numerous instances when he felt the slice of this ring across his face. The memories of its sharp sting and the sheer coldness of its metal still troubled him. But there was now a new hurt aching inside Faramir's soul, and in some ways, it disturbed him more than the many years of his father's abuse and neglect.

Earlier in the evening, as the feast drew to a close, King Éomer had proudly announced to all of the guests the betrothal of his sister Éowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, to Faramir, the Steward of Gondor and the Prince of Ithilien. The couple stood from their chairs, hand in hand, and Faramir was full of joy to be next to the woman he loved, as everyone lifted their glasses and drank to their future happiness.

However, the Steward's mood quickly plummeted when Lord Aragorn said, "No niggard are you Éomer, to give thus to Gondor the fairest thing in your realm!"

Éowyn turned her head to look upon the King, and exclaimed with delight, "Wish me joy, my liege-lord and healer!"

The King Elessar smiled. "I have wished thee joy ever since first I saw thee. It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss."

It did not escape Faramir's inquisitive grey eyes the particular gaze the Lord Aragorn and the Lady Éowyn shared during this brief exchange. It seemed to him that they both felt a certain regret, as if something might have happened between them if circumstances were different. At that moment, the Prince of Ithilien was almost certain that Éowyn still held the King Elessar dearest in her heart, and that he was but a consolation prize.

Jealousy hung heavily over Faramir's mind, and he was unable to look at his future wife or his King for the rest of the celebration. A headache had begun to plague him, and watching the other visitors clearly enjoying the festivities had only made him feel worse. Finally, when Éowyn had mingled in with the other guests, the Steward carefully slipped away from Meduseld, ensuring that no one would notice his leave.

As Faramir stared in wonder at the stars, he could not help but think that the Valar must have destined him to be second best in everybody's mind. No matter what he had advised during councils, or what deeds he had accomplished, the second son of Denethor had always been a source of disappointment to the old Steward. Faramir felt no shame being second to Boromir, of course, for his brother was the most courageous and loyal person that he knew. Sometimes, Faramir would even convince himself that he deserved to be treated in this fashion, for he had felt that he was but a pale shadow in the presence of his older sibling, unworthy of his father's love. However, this did not prevent him from hoping that one day, someone would place him first.

At the Houses of Healing, the young Steward believed that Éowyn would finally be that person. Coupled with his mother's Elvish instincts (for the royal house of Dol Amroth are descendants of Mithrellas) and his father's Númenorian insight, Faramir thought he had accurately read the White Lady's heart. For he had discerned her love for him, shining through her grey eyes, and blushing through her pale cheeks as he kissed her in front of all of the healers and injured patients. When the Lady Éowyn had pledged her hand in marriage, Faramir was certain, for the first time in his life, that he would finally be complete and content. Her love was more than ample recompense for the loss of his entire family; his mother, Boromir, and loath he was to admit it, his father as well.

But now, doubt seared throughout the Prince of Ithilien's mind. Seeing his future wife and the Lord Aragorn speak in that fashion had unleashed all of his fears. "Why should she love me first?" he asked himself silently. "How can a lowly person like me compare to the great and noble Elessar? All of my life I had been overshadowed by someone else. I was always an afterthought, an echo in the void. Why would it be any different now?" Faramir sighed. "One would think I would be used to this by now…"

Tears rolled down his cheek. Faramir swiftly wiped them away. Although six months have passed, he had not yet fully recovered from the death of his brother. The sorrow he still felt for Boromir was now compounded by the sheer horror that his beloved Éowyn may only have settled for him. His emotions began to flow freely when he heard someone behind him speak his name.

Mithrellas was a Silvan Elf from Lórien who become the mother of Galador, the first Prince of Dol Amroth.