The morning had been a long time in coming. The hours had crept by like shadows and Éowyn could not remember a time when time had gone so slowly. When the sun finally made its appearance Éowyn was already dressed and sitting at the window that looked out onto the city below. All of this will one day be his, she thought as she looked over Minas Tirith and watched the first signs of the daily activities in the busy square. Her thoughts seemed blank and emotionless and she sighed deeply, realizing that even on this day she felt nothing. Folding her hands into her lap, Éowyn waited patiently for her handmaids to wake up and attend her. Finally they entered the room, ready to prepare Éowyn for the ceremonies and celebrations ahead. Their hands worked deftly and swiftly, and before Éowyn realized they were finished and a crown was being placed upon her head. It was a gift from Aragorn, a gift to represent their happiness at this time of joy. But to Éowyn it seemed cold and heavy, a burden that she had never wanted to bear.
The great hall was unusually crowded and filled with the jovial chatter of Gondor's most valued citizens. As Éowyn sat in the antechamber just beyond the great hall, she could hear snippets of the conversation in the next room. Everyone seemed to have nothing but praise for the King, but she barely heard mention of her name, or happiness for her on this happy day. It vexed her that even in her moment of triumph and achievement, all she heard was about Elessar.
As if conjured up by her thoughts, Aragorn entered the room. Dressed in the rich robes of state, his smile radiated through the entire room.
"Elessar," Éowyn said, rising. She did not know why she had started to call Aragorn by this name, but it now seemed natural to her. He was the image of Kings and the honor of the ages. 'Aragorn' just did not fit.
"Éowyn you look beautiful," he said bringing his hand to her pale cheek. His kiss was soft and brief. It seemed to Éowyn a long time since she had felt his touch and she was sad that it was over so soon. Staring up into the Númenorean eyes of her husband, Éowyn felt the cold chill of loneliness and regret stirring up once again inside her. But she pushed the feelings down as she had done so many times before, pulling away from Aragorn and sitting back down.
"Is everything alright? Are you unwell? Perhaps we should have waited a little longer before subjecting you to all of this," Aragorn said, the concern showing on his face.
Éowyn shook her head. "I am fine. And it is the custom of your people. I would not delay." In her heart, Éowyn wished that she could delay. Perhaps in a few days she would not feel so empty, perhaps in a few days the chill would melt from her heart. But she knew that it would not be so.
The low voices in the room were silenced as servants rushed to make way for an older woman who was carrying a small bundle. Aragorn looked at Éowyn and smiled, and she returned his glance with a feeble smile.
"Prince Barahir, your majesties," the woman said, handing Éowyn the baby wrapped in richly embroidered blankets. Éowyn took the child somewhat clumsily and set him on her lap. Looking up she saw Aragorn's shining eyes looking down at their son, and felt strangely out of place. All eyes were on the child, the small bundle in her arms. All seemed to love the child already, seemed to feel the connection to him immediately. But for the child in her arms, Éowyn felt nothing. And this made her feel wretched and unnatural.
"My liege we are ready," the Steward Faramir said, coming into the room. Even his eyes seemed to rest upon the baby with love, and Éowyn felt a pang of guilt as she realized she was the only one in the room who did not have a smile upon her face.
"My Queen? May I?" Faramir asked, coming towards the royal couple. Éowyn handed him the child, as it would be his duty to hold Barahir during the ceremony. Rising and falling into place next to Aragorn, Éowyn took a deep breath and prepared herself for the ordeal she faced. Her features set in an impassive stare, she entered the room full of people who had gathered to see their prince for his first public appearance.
"May I present to you Barahir, Prince of Gondor…" the Steward's voice came to Éowyn's ears, but she could not listen. She had a son, who would be King. With his birth she had fulfilled her purpose, her duty to the people of Gondor. She had made Aragorn happy, which at one point would have made her the happiest woman alive. But now it filled her heart with doubt. What would her place be now?
Certainly not a nurturing mother to Barahir. She had already handed her baby over to nurses and the more than capable caretakers whom Aragorn had appointed. And now that Aragorn had an heir, she feared he would care less about her role as his wife and love. Now, it seemed clear, she would have to be the Queen, the wife of the King, the mother of the Prince, the cold alabaster statue behind the throne. She would be remembered not as the Lady of the Shield Arm, but as Queen Éowyn, the sainted Queen of Gondor, the mother of the heirs of Elessar.
Perhaps, she thought, this is the glory I once sought. She knew in her heart that this was not true, but she would not admit it. She had to do this. She had to become someone else to survive. She smiled, and resigned herself to what she knew her place would be.
"I am sure Queen Éowyn would like to say a few words…" Aragorn's voice came to her ears and her eyes refocused on the crowd before her.
Queen Éowyn, she thought. Yes, I am.
The story continues in Uncaged…
First of all, thanks for the response to this story! Your comments are really encouraging and helpful!
I have fixed a few grammar/clarity problems and changed Aragorn and Éowyn's son's name to Barahir--- thanks to lurker for pointing out that Eldarion means "born for the elves."
I also added a little part about Arwen that I hope you will enjoy. It is in the middle of the first chapter.
Please go on to read the sequel to this story, Uncaged.