Sparring of Swords
Chapter 1 – The Dawn
by Siberia

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters here (although I wish Faramir was mine!), nor am I making any money out of this.

Note: If you have read my other Faramir/Éowyn fan fics, I just want to warn you that this one is different (i.e. no angst this time! *gasp*). This story is a lot lighter and playful in tone, plus there is little introspection. These two characters get to have a little fun for once. I simply wanted to experiment with a slightly different style of writing, and hopefully it's still pleasurable to read.

I remembered my beloved when the passion
of battle was as fierce
as the passion of my body as we parted

I thought I saw, among the lances, the tall
perfection of her body
and when they bent toward me, I embraced them.

Éowyn arose from her slumber to greet the dawn of morning. The White Lady usually did not awake this early, but she was eager to begin the day. Her blood rushed impatiently throughout her veins as she thought of her plans with the Lord Faramir. They were going to practice their sword fighting together, an event she awaited with great anticipation. Though she had given up her life as a Shield-maiden, she did not wish to release herself completely from use of the blade. Éowyn desired to keep her sword skills finely honed, for she could still use them to protect herself if need be. Not to mention that she loved the art of combat too much to wholly abandon it.

Throughout the spring, Faramir had been occupied with preparations for the return of king, and Éowyn seldom had a chance to be in her betrothed's company. But today would be different, for the young Steward had finally earned himself some free time and he chose to share every moment of it with his future wife. After a hurried breakfast and a quick bath, Éowyn clad herself in her sparring garments and tightly braided her long, golden hair. Without wasting another moment, she shut the door to her guest chamber and strolled with great haste to her beloved.

When she had reached Faramir's room, the maiden was so excited that she did not consider knocking before she burst through his entrance.

"Faramir!" she exclaimed. "Are you –"

Éowyn could not complete her sentence, for she had become utterly speechless. Her jaw seemed to fall from its hinges as she stood frozen with shock, her right hand instinctively covering her gaping mouth. It took an instant for the Lady of Rohan to realize that her future husband was in the middle of disrobing himself. She saw much of Faramir that she was not supposed to see.

"Éowyn!" the Captain cried in horror. Faramir clumsily attempted to shield his body with whatever stray clothing he had in his arms, though he was certain it was a futile act, for how could he regain any dignity after Éowyn had witnessed so much of his bare self? The young man scolded at himself for his carelessness at leaving the door unlocked. Faramir did his best to sound unfazed by the current state of affairs.

"I did not expect the pleasure of your company so early in the morning, my love," he uttered with an affectionate grin.

The White Lady swiftly turned herself around, her cheeks blushing with embarrassment. Éowyn had to use every ounce of her self-discipline not to burst into giggles at their situation.

"I am so sorry, my Lord!" she exclaimed. "'Tis all my fault! I should have knocked beforehand. How rude of me to come barging in to your chamber like this, especially when you have… um… not much on in terms of garments." Éowyn struggled to face the wall as she tried to avoid catching another glimpse at her betrothed's exquisite form. A slender smile formed on her lips as she recalled his strapping figure.

As Faramir continued to dress himself, he replied tenderly, "As always, my Lady, you are forgiven. You know I can never be cross with you, even with a transgression as serious as this is committed!"

The maiden's spirit warmed at his soft words. Faramir was by nature a gentle soul, and his irresistible sweetness was one of the many things that she loved about him. How this man could make her swoon with delight without the slightest effort!

"You are too kind, my Lord."

Wishing to shift their conversation away from his near-nakedness, the Steward asked Éowyn, "So, what shall we practice today? Shall we use a shield and a single-handed sword? Or perhaps only a two-handed one?"

Éowyn's heart leapt with exhilaration. Was Faramir letting her decide whichever style she preferred? "You are letting me choose?" she asked, her tone filled with mild surprise.

Faramir suddenly recalled that his betrothed rarely had the opportunity to do whatever she desired, for the demands imposed by her gender had always stood in her path. Remembering how his mother had withered to death in her unhappy marriage, the young man promised himself that he would never allow Éowyn to feel imprisoned in his company. He said to her reassuringly, "Of course. I would not have it any other way. I vowed to make it my personal duty to serve the Lady of Rohan in any fashion she desired. Do you not recall?"

As he mouthed the words, Éowyn believed she would melt in her beloved's gentleness. No man had ever paid so much attention to her happiness. Unceasingly caring and gallant, Faramir would do anything to please her. The maiden felt as though she was the center of his world. Without hesitation, she answered firmly, "How could I forget? You know I cherish our time at the Houses of Healing above all others in my life."

"It delights my heart to hear you say that," the young Captain uttered, his voice clearly revealing his joy. "So, what is your choice, my Lady?"

Éowyn took several seconds to make up her mind. "I think we should only use one-handed swords. 'Tis much more fun that way. Shields are a bit cumbersome. Two-handed blades are much more powerful, of course, but their excessive weight can severely limit one's movement in combat."

"Alright, then." Faramir proceeded to button the rest of his shirt before he told her, "You may turn around now. "

The White Lady once again faced her betrothed, and she ran swiftly into his arms. She squeezed him tightly in her embrace, while Faramir greeted her with a moist kiss on her delicate lips. When he pulled his head away to gaze upon her lovely grey eyes, he noticed something strange about Éowyn's garments.

"Where did you get these clothes?" the Steward inquired. "They look like they were meant for men."

The maiden glanced down at herself and replied, "Oh, these? They were part of my Dernhelm uniform that I brought along from Dunharrow."

"Dernhelm?" Faramir asked, his tone riddled with confusion.

"Oh, right, I forgot to tell you about that," Éowyn answered. "Dernhelm was the name I used when I disguised myself as a Rider of the Mark. 'Twas the only way for me to sneak into my uncle's army without his knowledge."

Faramir stared at her with great compassion in his eyes. "I see."

The Lady of Rohan seemed lost in thought as she recalled a memory from her past. "My cousin Théodred was actually the one who gave me these garments when they became too small for him. I liked wearing them more than my gowns, and my whole family made a mockery of me for it."

"Well, if it makes you feel any better," the young Captain responded, "I think you look radiantly dashing in those clothes." He proceeded to press his lips on his beloved's forehead.

Éowyn chuckled at his compliment. "Oh, I missed you so much!" she cried. She pulled him closer to her as she fondled the soft strands of his raven hair. "It is torture for me when you are not by my side for days at a time."

Faramir tenderly moved his fingertips over the contour of her face. "I know, my love. It pains me as well. But there is just so much to do before the Lord Aragorn reclaims the throne." He sighed. "I do not want to waste another moment thinking about work. Today will be our day, just you and me. Let us go to the courtyard then, shall we?"

Éowyn looked up at him with mild bewilderment. "But should we not go the armoury first? I wish to check the weapons. As you already know, I have lost my only sword, and I will need to find a suitable replacement."

"Oh, yes, I almost forgot about that." the Steward answered. "Of course we may go there. How else are we going to joust if you have nothing to defend yourself with!"

The maiden's tone was defiant. "I will have you know that I am pretty good with my fists!" Éowyn then playfully punched her beloved's shoulder. Faramir laughed lightly as placed a kiss on her cheek.

He then gestured his hand towards the door. "After you, my Lady."

"You Gondorians!" she shouted. "Always obsessed with manners! 'Tis pathetic, really. The people of Rohan do not bother themselves with such trivial things."

"Well, you are going to have to get used to it, if you wish to be my wife." Faramir put on a teasing grin before he added, "And besides, it will teach you what 'tis like to live among civilized folk."

Éowyn shoved her future husband forcefully against the wall. "I will make you pay for that slander in the courtyard!"

Trying to recover from the searing ache in his back, Faramir inquired, "Are Rohirrim women usually this violent towards their men?"

"Only when they are irritating!"

The Captain abruptly grabbed his betrothed into his arms, and threw the upper half of her body over his shoulder.

"What are you doing?" the White Lady screamed. She attempted to break free from his grip by kicking and hitting him, but Faramir's hold remained firm. "Put me down!" Éowyn commanded.

"You asked for it!" Faramir exclaimed. "I am going to have to carry you to the armoury now if I do not wish to be hurt again."

And so he did, with his future wife wailing and struggling all the way there.

In case you were curious, the poem at the beginning is called In Battle, and it was originally written in the 12th century in Arabic by Abu-L-Hasan Ibn Al-Qabturnuh. You'll see eventually why I included it here. (Or, at least, I hope so! Maybe I'll find out later on that I have no idea why I put it up there!)