Midwinter in Rohan

Summary: Eowyn thinks back on the past year (3019) and opens Faramir's Midwinter presents. Goes along with "Midwinter." Not necessary to the understanding of this, but I'd love it if you read it. *bats eyelashes* Faramir is in this only indirectly, but I threw him in as the secondary character anyways.

Disclaimer: Eowyn, Eomer, Rohan, and of course, FARAMIR, are not mine. I'm merely using them. That's not so bad now, is it? *evil grin*

As for symbols, etc.: a word with *these* around it is stressed. The letter is blocked off by ~~~~~ those, because I can't figure out how to make italics appear. If anyone wants to tell me, I'd heartily appreciate it.

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Midwinter's Eve was always more important than Midwinter's Day in Rohan. No one ever knew why, especially when every other kingdom of Men seemed to celebrate Midwinter, and hardly ever notice the day before. Nevertheless, the large feasts were held, and all gifts were always unwrapped on Midwinter's Eve.

It was late that night when Eowyn sat alone at a table in the great dining hall, quietly sipping from a goblet. She was so lost in her own thoughts that she did not even notice her brother's arrival, despite the loud sound his boots always made on the stone floor.

"You seemed quiet tonight, Eowyn," he said. Eowyn jumped. "Sorry for frightening you." He sat down next to her. "Is everything all right?"

Eowyn hated when people asked her that. But, it was Midwinter's Eve, and the last thing she wanted was to get into an argument over something so silly. "I'm quite fine, thank you."

"I thought you always liked Midwinter." Eomer looked at her.

"I did - I mean, I do. But -" Eowyn tried to find a way to say what she was thinking without depressing herself. "Things are so different this year," she finally said.

"I know. The Halls seem emptier than they used to be."

"That's because they *are* emptier," she said bitterly. Eomer placed his arm around her, and she leaned her head down on his shoulder, just as she used to when she was younger. "Things are so different," she repeated. "I can't help but think - where would we be now if last year had never happened?"

Eomer thought on this for a moment. "Theoden would probably be sleeping. Theodred would probably have had a drinking contest with Erkenbrand, and would have been in bed ages ago." Eowyn laughed. "The men would probably have already returned to their homes. You and I would be sitting here, wondering what would have happened if last year's last year had never happened."

"You're probably right." But Eowyn sighed.

"I miss them all too, Eowyn," Eomer said. "But Theoden and Theodred - they would not want us to sit here and make ourselves unhappy by remembering them that way. I'm sure they would want us to look back fondly, but still continue in the future."

"Yes," Eowyn said. "But that does not satisfy me."

"I'm not surprised at that. Precious little ever does." Eomer smiled, but seeing Eowyn's sadness, the smile faded. "Well, let me ask you this - do you wish that last year had never happened?"

Eowyn answered without thinking. "Of course!" But then she paused. "Well, yes and no, I suppose."

"If you had the choice, would you erase last year completely? If there was no 'some parts I'll keep', but just erase it or not, would you do it?"

"I don't know," she said slowly. "If last year had not happened, Theoden, Theodred, and all the others would still be here. But then so many things would not have happened. Sauron and Saruman would be threatening us, instead of being cast down. There would be no peace, like there is now." She gave a small smile. "And I would not have met Faramir."

Eomer smiled to match her. "No, you would not." He turned serious. "Well, now that you have weighed each side, what do you choose?"

"Last year will exist no matter what I choose."

"For my sake, then." He paused. "And for your own peace of mind."

Eowyn thought for a moment. "I would choose to have things as they are - to have last year have happened." She began whispering. "But I still miss them."

"Eowyn, it's all right to miss them. But don't forget how fortunate we are now. And you said so yourself - this last year was important. And it has happened."

"Yes, you're right." Eowyn smiled and stood up. "I've had enough of unhappiness. Tomorrow is Midwinter, and I intend to celebrate it fully."

Eomer applauded. "Good. I don't want to have to spend the day with you sulking."

"Thank you," she laughed, as she tousled his hair with her hand.

"Well, now that I've cheered you up, I have something to give to you," Eomer said, purposefully making his voice mysterious.

"But we've already exchanged gifts. Don't tell me you gave me more things," she protested. "You've already been generous enough. Far too generous, if you ask me."

"Nonsense! What wouldn't I do for my sister? I think one or two tapestries to decorate your forthcoming home in Ithilien is nothing."

"One or two? You gave me five!" Eowyn couldn't help but laugh.

"Well-earned, I assure you. And you weren't altogether stingy yourself."

"A King needs his own shield and helm. It's practical. How else are the soldiers to recognize you if you don't stand out?"

Eomer grinned. "And of course, the golden shield boss was necessary."

Eowyn sniffed. "Merely precautionary."

"Anyway, Faramir sent his Midwinter gifts to you when that last messenger arrived. He had asked me to keep them safe and then give them to you today."

"He didn't!" Eowyn looked upset.

Eomer noticed. "What is it?"

"I thought we would exchange gifts when he comes here in a few weeks. So I never sent his out." She looked down at her hands. "I hope he doesn't think that I didn't get him anything."

"I don't think the thought would ever cross his mind. He's probably too busy celebrating right now to be worried. But you really should open his gifts, since he seemed so eager in his letter for me to give them to you."

Eowyn sighed. "All right. But I still feel terrible."

"I'll just go and get them. It may take a minute or two - one of them is rather large." In a few moments Eomer returned, with a large, flat box tucked under his left arm, and a smaller, more cubic one balanced in his right. "A little assistance would be appreciated," he said with a laugh. Eowyn walked over and relieved him of the smaller package, while Eomer leaned the large box against the bench where they had been sitting. He pulled another bench over, so that Eowyn could have a seat anyway, and she sat down.

"I can't believe this," she murmured. "He is too generous."

"And this," he said, producing a letter from his pocket. "Do you want to be alone?"

"Hmm?" she asked absentmindedly, as she took the letter from her brother. As Eomer turned to leave, she stopped him. "No, stay. I'm sorry. My thoughts were elsewhere."

"All right then. Now, there's a particular order to this - first the letter, then the smaller box, and finally that massive thing over there," he laughed.

"Right then," she said, unfolding the paper. She began reading the letter to herself.

~~~~~~~

My dearest Eowyn,

I know that we were going to exchange gifts when I come in a few weeks, but I thought that you might be feeling a bit depressed today. And that's the last thing that I want. So I sent mine along, in the hopes that it might cheer you up. However, if you really don't want to open them yet, you don't have to. It's your choice.

Aragorn has given me official permission to come to Rohan, so at least that's settled. Considering it will probably take a week in traveling distance, I should be there in about three weeks. I had been hoping to get away sooner, but something has come up, which I will tell you about later. There's still enough time to send a messenger back here if you wish. I'm assuming that I am going to Edoras, but if you are planning to be somewhere else I can meet you there as well. I will travel to Edoras, in other words, unless you tell me otherwise.

I would write more, but I'm not altogether certain that your brother isn't reading this. The curiosity may have proven to be too much for him. If you are, Eomer, I will find you. If not, Eowyn, you may tell him that I apologize.

So I therefore send all my love. I miss you terribly, and am counting the days until I will see you again.

I love you.

Love always, Faramir

~~~~~~

As she read, she found herself laughing at Faramir's thoughts on Eomer.

"What is it?" Eomer asked.

"He didn't write much, giving the excuse that he thought you might be reading!"

"What? Why would he think that?" Eomer mumbled.

"He said he thought the curiosity may prove to be too much to you," Eowyn replied. "But that's ridiculous, of course." Eowyn looked up at Eomer.

"Of course," he said, too indignantly.

"Wait a moment," Eowyn said slowly. "There is no seal on this."

"He probably forgot to put it on." Eomer looked away for a moment.

"He never forgets anything like that though." She paused, her brow wrinkled in thought. She then looked at Eomer, who was not facing her. "You *did* read it! I can't believe you! You sneak!"

"I wanted to make sure it wouldn't upset you! I'm sorry!" he said quickly. "Don't get mad at me."

Eowyn gave a sigh. "Good thing he didn't write more," she remarked. "No, I'm not mad. But I'm asking you to trust both him and me in the future."

"Are you serious? A few months ago you would have tanned my hide!"

Eowyn looked at him. "I suppose I'm getting mellow," she said. "But promise me that you won't read our letters without asking first."

"Right. It won't happen again," he promised. "So - are you going to open the gifts or not?"

"Yes, I will. He said they might cheer me up." Eowyn put the letter down on the table. Lifting the smaller gift, she placed it on her lap. She unwrapped the paper, and lifted the lid of the box. "Valar," she said. "It's so beautiful." Gently, she lifted the headpiece from its pillow.

"That is exquisite, Eowyn," Eomer agreed.

"I can't believe - it's so wonderful. The pattern is so ornate - there's so many lines, so many times that the metal turns."

Eomer looked more closely at the headpiece. "Doesn't this pattern look familiar somehow?"

"You're right!" she exclaimed. "It's the same pattern as that white dress's hem - the one I wore on the day we met." She smiled fondly at the memory. "I can't believe he remembered."

"You're very lucky, Eowyn."

"I know," she said softly, sitting for a minute.

"Well - aren't you going to open the other gift?" Eomer asked. "You've got me curious."

"Faramir was right then."

Eomer looked confused. "What?"

"About you being curious," she said slyly.

"Well - I suppose it comes with the job description of older brother."

"Right then. Here goes." Eowyn kneeled down on the floor, and ripped through the wrapping. "I -" She stopped, finding herself unable to speak. Tears started streaming down her cheeks, and Eowyn fought vainly to stop them. After a few moments, she gave up trying, and gave a small sob.

"Oh Eowyn," Eomer said, as he wrapped his arms around her, letting her cry on his shoulder. But he too was fighting back tears. He rested his chin on her head.

"It's just so - perfect," she breathed, when the spell was over. "It looks just like him." She looked at the picture of Theoden astride his horse, riding into battle. Snowmane seemed to be floating across the canvas. "It's almost exactly how he looked that day." Theoden's brandished sword glinted in the ray of sunlight that lay only on him, through a small chink in the dark grey sky.

"It does indeed," Eomer said. Each gazed on the painting for some time, lost in their own memories, until Eomer finally broke in. "I thought Faramir said the gifts would cheer you up," he said, heaving a large sigh.

"I had told him once that I wished for nothing more than to see Theoden riding into battle again, so strong and mighty. He has given that to me," Eowyn responded. "I actually feel the better for it. And now anytime I think that I may forget that day, I can look at Theoden, and see it engraved in my memory again."

Eomer listened to his sister's words, and discovered they rang true for him too. "You're right," he said. "It upset me at first, but now - I feel more at peace."

"Yes. At peace." And in her heart, Eowyn gave her thanks to Faramir, and prayed that he could hear her.