The Veil

She chose to come to him in the morning and was not disappointed when she looked for him in the northern gardens.  He often went there to read and take solace in the freshness of the new day.  When he caught sight of her, Faramir kissed Éowyn's offered hand adoringly, and to her surprise and pleasure, he moved to kiss her forehead as well.  They walked long together and spoke of the morning and of mornings to come.  It was some time before Éowyn breeched the matter for which she had come to speak to him of.  Though she found much joy in his presence, she sought his company for other reasons.  Her stomach twisted in anxiousness, for the subject was difficult, but at length, she found courage in the kindness of his countenance.

            "If I may ask something of you, most beloved friend?"

            Faramir raised a suspicious eyebrow at his companion.  "Friend, my lady?  Now that we are to be wed, have we not come farther than mere friendship, beloved though it may be?"

            Éowyn laughed pleasantly at his light teasing.  "You will always be my friend, for that is how I first perceived you and came to know you.  Now you are my intended, and soon you shall be my husband as well.  But first and always, you are my friend."

"And what would you ask of your most beloved friend, intended, and imminent husband?"

"First, for him to cease his endless teasing of those whom he claims to hold an affection for."

"A thousand pardon," he said, but the sparkle in his eyes abated not in the least.

            "In all earnestness, my lord, I would speak to you of something."

            "Let me hear of your concerns, then, for you have seemed anxious all morning."

            Éowyn was again encouraged by his kindness.  "It is concerning a few matters surrounding our marriage."

            "Has something displeased you?  Speak of it, and I shall do what is in my power to resolve it."

            She looked into his face earnestly, but not without the hint of a modest blush staining her cheeks.  "My lord Faramir, I will happily wed you in the ways and traditions of your fathers—of Gondor—but I wish to consummate our marriage in the ways of my own land."

            Faramir instantly realized the source of her discomfort and soon found a measure of it upon himself.  "Forgive me, my lady, but I am but a little familiar with these traditions you speak of."

            Éowyn's gaze did not meet that of her intended's as she spoke.  "It is a veiled union."

            The Steward paled at her words.  "Veiled?  Am I not to lift that veil as we wed?  Why must you shroud yourself from me further?"

            "It is a tradition my mother kept and her mother before that.  Its meaning has been instilled in my heart since I knew of such things.  It would mean much to me to do as they have done."

            His gaze softened upon her face.  "This tradition seems dear to your heart indeed, and since you are dear to mine, I would have you happy."

            "My lord?"

            "It will be as you request, though I hope this veil will not always hide you from me."

            Éowyn flushed with pleasure.  "Not always, kind sir.  Do you not know the meaning behind the veil?"

            "There are many.  To my people, a bride's veil represents innocence."

            "In Rohan, the veil symbolizes mourning."

            "How very pleasant," he responded dryly, but with a sparkle in his gray eyes.

            The corners of Éowyn's lips turned upwards.  "It represents the mourning of my parents for the loss of their daughter.  Covering myself with the veil is a symbolic death."

            At this, Faramir fell silent and thoughtful, knowing the death of Éowyn's parents and an uncle, who she loved as a father, made this gesture to them all the more painful to the orphaned daughter.  Most likely, it also made the tradition important to her—a tribute of respect and honor to their memory.

            When Éowyn spoke again, her voice was proud and cheerful.  "The veil is lifted after husband and wife are made one in consummation and then burned.  I will be born anew and wholly yours."

            Faramir saw tears in her eyes through his own.  "And I shall cherish you, beloved friend, and keep safe what has been gifted to me."

            He kissed her then, and Éowyn felt the chill of many lonely winters leave her bones.  She drew closer still to him and took pleasure in his warmth.

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Shall I continue the story?  Please tell me if you would like more. :) faramirandeowyn@hotmail.com