Boromir went in search of his brother and came upon him in the local inn where officers frequented. As usual, the presence of the heir caused a stir, and Boromir shrugged, indifferent, as he ordered ale. After a look at Faramir, he decided on a double. He joined him then at his usual corner table. Boromir was on his second ale before Faramir brought up the conversation with their father.

"What meant he, that he was not surprised of the match?"

"Often father has a far seeing eye," Boromir replied. "You know that."

Faramir nodded, "For reasons long rumored, which is why . . ."

"We should not talk of that," Boromir interrupted. " I am mindful of what awaits me when I become Steward. I would not concern myself with it until the time arrives."

Faramir took another sip of ale, before saying, "As you wish." After a moment, he continued, "Father sends me to Ithillien again."

"I know."

"Back to our responsibilities, then," Faramir sighed. "Only after months, I suppose, will I have news of the White Lady of Rohan."

Boromir looked confused, "Which Lady?"

"Lady Eowyn," Faramir colored slightly. "A way I've come to think of her."

"I see," Boromir took a drink of ale, not even attempting to hide a grin. "Yes, we will know." Silence. "You do have Elven poetry for her, don't you?"

A hearty laugh erupted from Faramir in defiance of his previous melancholy, "That's for you to guess, brother. My lips are silent on the matter."

Boromir slapped a hand on his brother's shoulder roaring with laughter, and ordered more ale.

*

Eowyn sat alone. Once again, she employed her guard to stay by her, now that Wormtongue had returned, and her brother and cousin left her.

Again.

And the men of Gondor were gone, all hope taken with them but the thread of hope that they would indeed still be interested in a match. That desperate feeling faded when there came no proposal, no visit, and not even a word of encouragement.

But for that she chastised herself. She had known that one day a man would ride in and save her, and when the time came she had trusted her destiny to the good will of men. No more. She would never again allow her hope to leave without a struggle. Then she would fight for him, with him, and be safe.

Eowyn did not realize how cold her face had become for she ceased to look in a mirror. Lethargically, she rang the bell, wishing for the maid to fix her hair.

She was needed to wait on the ailing king.

*

"Boromir!" Faramir ran to embrace his brother by the Forbidden Pool. "What news send you here?"

Boromir warmly returned his brother's embrace. "Father asked me to assess how the eastern boundaries were holding."

Faramir's lips pressed together, "Because he did not trust assurances from my lips."

"I am sorry, brother. One day Father will trust you."

Faramir nodded. "Yes, after I have proven my worth. But then, he himself said that there was one way I could help him, and I admit about that I have been anxious for some time. What reply from Rohan?"

Boromir's eyes cast down and Faramir knew the answer.

"Better to tell me straight, than to prolong any anxiety," Faramir told his brother.

"Rohan has no desire for the match," Boromir reluctantly relayed the news. "The king himself wrote to Father explaining that."

"I see." Faramir walked away a few steps then declared, "Well, nothing more for it, then."

Boromir clapped a hand on Faramir's shoulder. "I know how disappointed you must be."

Faramir replied with a sad smile, "Yes, I am. But disappointment is our lot in these troubled times." He was quiet a moment, "It could be that the lady did not desire it."

Boromir shook his head. "That, I doubt!"

"Nay," Faramir contradicted, "for she was warmer to you. Around me she was always weeping."

"Then she was more true to you. Any woman can smile around a man, but show her soul?"

"Perhaps," Faramir conceded. "But no matter now, for the match is not to be. No use dwelling on the past. Let us look to the future." He smiled and called for ale. A ranger served the brothers promptly and they drank. Presently, the men were reliving stories of childhood and ale-induced exploits.

So it was that in spite of the disappointment and bitterness of the present struggle, Faramir smiled. He had his brother.

For that he could proclaim with sincerity that life was good.

Very good indeed.

The End

Continued in the Sequel 'Redemption'