Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Faramir or Éowyn, nor Merry, nor Denethor, nor the Warden, nor Éomer, Aragorn, Théoden, Théodred, the Eagles, Pippin, Frodo or Sam. Which means I'm a) not making any money of this and b) can't set you up with any of them.

Note on the Dialogue: Most of it, as you will probably recognize, is Tolkien's, though I did change one or two things and did add scenes purely from my own imagination. Hence, the dialogue may not be as even as it might, but hopefully it's not particularly jarring.

Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, the Unburnt -

***

Chapter One

A Long Night

He awoke, just barely biting back a scream. Shutting his eyes, he took a deep breath, but he could not keep the shudder out of it. He put his hands to his face, only to find that they were trembling.

Just a dream. he tried to tell himself.

Yes, it had been a dream. Almost.

Moments before he had been surrounded by fire, a mad laugh echoing around the blazing room, and a pricking pain at his arms that he had no doubt had been flames. This night, it had been a dream. But he had been there, in that flaming room, half-dead, thrashing in fever.

He stopped himself. That wasn't the way to get back to sleep. He took another calming breath, and was relieved to find that he had mostly stopped shaking. Mostly, but not quite.

He rubbed his temples and lay back down, but staring at the ceiling, knowing without a doubt that, peaceful or troubled, no more sleep would come to him that night. Resigned, he stood up, pulled on a shirt, and walked out into the gardens.

Maybe he could find peace there.

***

It was still almost three hours before dawn, and the lawns were dark and empty. Faramir walked alone, still trying to shake off the last, lingering effects of the dream. He felt he should have been used to them by now. Every night for the last three nights since he had returned from the shadow- place he'd had the same dream at least once. It seemed no matter how hard he tried, he could do nothing, and every night he woke, trembling, his sheets soaked with sweat.

Perhaps he should not have returned. Perhaps he should have died in that room. Whatever followed death, it was certainly not nightmares. Perhaps.

He fought back the onslaught of perhaps. It was no good-he was alive, and he was going to stay that way, until the Orc forces of Mordor swarmed over the wall of Minas Tirith.

Of course, that fate was probably not too far in the future.

Faramir could still hear the roar of the flames, distant, but still present. It looked as though he dream would haunt him forever. At least, he reflected bitterly, it took the place of the last one, the one he'd had periodically after meeting Frodo and Sam. It was not clear which was worse: his father's insane cackle or the sight of his brother, pierced by ugly black arrows, dying.

Faramir shook his head, trying to clear it. Maybe he was just prone to nightmares. Or maybe his family just had unfortunate luck.

Desperate to find out the reason behind the fire dream, he had spent all of the day before interrogating the healers, as subtly as possible-which, in his case, was quite subtle-trying to piece together what had happened to his father, and to himself. It had not taken much, despite their reluctance to talk about it with him.

Perhaps that was the reason he still found himself surrounded by fire in the darkest hours of the night. Perhaps the knowledge of his father's death would not let him rest.

Faramir stopped and took a long breath. It was his own fault; he was the one who had wanted to know the truth. They had been told not to let him find out, and perhaps it was for good reason. He sighed heavily.

It was going to be a long and painful rest of the night.

He half-laughed to himself. Rest of the night? This night was going to last forever.

It was a shame he wasn't dead yet. Both his father and his brother had died before the last onslaught, final and decided deaths, however dishonorable his father's might have been, or however futile his brother's. Whatever the case, they were no longer there to defend the city, or to be tormented at night with horrible memories.

They would not be there, as Faramir would, when Sauron himself thundered through the gates of Minas Tirith and the West fell.

They had left him alone, alone in a world soon to be destroyed. It was a bitter thought, one that he felt guilty for having, but often times had to cling to so as not to break down completely at his loss.

Faramir had heard that men had been made hopeful by the news that he was not dead. He was gracious and warmly pleased by their praise, but deep inside he knew that they were fools.

There was no hope left.

***

Day came, finally, or as much of a day as one in Minas Tirith could tell. The blackness turned to gray, and the movement on the walls, an hour before inhabited only by the night sentries, came alive, preparing for defense. Faramir watched from below, half relieved and half-regretful that he could not be up there with them.

He walked for a while, sunk in his own thoughts. There was a noise in the garden behind him, and he turned, not startled, just curious to as who would be walking in the gardens in the middle of a siege, besides the grieving and mentally wounded Steward of Gondor.

"My Lord Faramir?"

It was the Warden, but he was no one Faramir hadn't seen many times before. No, what caught his eye and caused him to look in astonishment was the woman standing next to the Warden.

She was beautiful, that was certain, streaming blonde hair and flowing white dress wrapped around a lean body. But it was not what he noticed. What captured his attention was the shadow behind her eyes, of a grief as nearly as deep as his own.

"My lord," stammered the Warden. Faramir could tell he was nervous-after all, who wouldn't be, talking to the son of the man who had just burned himself alive? The son who walked the gardens every night, for no reason anyone could comprehend?

The Warden composed himself. "My lord, here is the Lady Éowyn of Rohan. She rode with the king and was sorely hurt, and now dwells in my keeping. But she is not content, and wishes to speak with the Steward of the City."

She looked up, and met his eyes. And in that one instant, Faramir knew that if their sorrows were rivers, they could combine to fill the Anduin.