I own nothing. Faramir's pretty though, isn't he?

Chapter 1

It was a clear, cool day in Ithilien. The birds knew that winter was teetering on the verge of spring and sang gaily while flitting about looking for nesting materials. Rabbits were beginning to appear, and if one was quiet enough when out in the woods, a heavily pregnant doe could be spied. The first crocuses were blooming and here and there the tight, lavender bud of a violet was visible.

Faramir, son of Denethor and Steward of Gondor, sat in his reading room in a warm patch of sunlight staring broodingly out the window. He'd been there all morning, watching sparrows land on a tree near the window, lost in thought. A blank piece of parchment was spread out on the table next to him, with a quill lying across it. The ink on it had long since dripped off, leaving a blotch that was still spreading.

"Faramir?" a soft voice asked from the doorway.

He turned to face his wife. The sun was falling on her, making her white dress and golden hair seem illuminated. There was a look on her face that he adored--one of peaceful happiness--and for a moment, he just contented himself to watch her, until Éowyn smiled a little and questioned, "Perhaps you don't wish to speak with me, my lord?"

"Don't be ridiculous. I was just admiring your loveliness, as always."

She entered the room and stood beside him. Laying a hand on his shoulder, she said, "You've been here all day looking mournful. Is there something wrong?"

He shook his head a little and looked back at the window. "I wouldn't want to trouble you with my unhappy thoughts."

"And I don't want you to be troubled by unhappy thoughts," Éowyn retorted, staring into his eyes. "What ails you?"

"It's nothing to concern yourself about."

"Faramir, I am your wife and I have every right to be concerned."

After a long pause, he sighed and said, "It's been a year since I found Boromir's horn washed up on the riverbank. My life became so strange after that moment. I never thought it would be possible to lose all my family in a heartbeat, yet that's what happened. After Boromir passed, I assumed I would at least have my father. He may not have been kind to me, but…" Faramir shrugged. "He was still my father. He was all I had at that time. And then I was relegated to a ceremonial position by…by a stranger from the north." He stopped for a moment, surprised by the bitterness of his words, and then added in an attempt to soften them, "As my father would say."

Éowyn's brow was furrowed with concern and sadness. "Faramir, why haven't you spoken of this before? I know you miss your family, but I didn't realize you felt that…that way about the Stewardship." She bit her lip. "I had no idea you were unhappy…"

Faramir looked up at her and, seeing the expression on her face, jumped to his feet and put his arms around her. "Oh, Éowyn, I'm not unhappy." He smoothed her hair and kissed her brow. "My life has just changed so much. On this day it seems more drastic a change, for some reason. I'm perfectly content to hold the position of Steward under a king--I never wanted the job and never expected it. Sometimes my father's words slip out despite my best efforts, that's all. In his last days he talked often and angrily of a Ranger from the north usurping his throne."

Éowyn did not seem to be comforted. "I'm glad that, at least, isn't disturbing you."

He tilted her chin up and she met his eyes. "And this year has brought the most important change of my life, Éowyn. One that has made me the happiest man alive, I think."

Éowyn leaned against him, apparently mollified. "Seeing sadness on your face returns me to times when my own thoughts were dark." Looking up at him, she added, "I don't like to think of you being so unhappy."

"I'm not," he assured her. "It's just…sometimes I don't think I'll ever truly come to grips with Boromir's…passing. There are days that I wake up and forget for a moment that I shall never share some ridiculous private joke with him or spend a day riding, as we used to." Faramir sighed. "And he will never see Gondor free of the shadow of Mordor."

Éowyn gently put her hand on his face. "I am sure that wherever Boromir is, he sees that Gondor is now what he always fought for it to be."

Faramir put his hand on hers. "You're only saying that because it's conventional."

"Perhaps," she replied with a small smile. "But it's comforting, is it not?"

"Indeed." He gazed at her for a moment, then embraced her tightly. "I am glad I found you, Éowyn."

She smiled into his tunic. "And I am glad you found me, too." Stepping back so she could look at his face, Éowyn said, "If you're mournful, how can I possibly hope to ever stop grieving?"

"I hope you're not still grieving that often!" Faramir exclaimed.

"No. But I, like you, have days when the losses of my uncle and cousin are especially painful."

"We are both very damaged," Faramir said, smiling slightly.

Éowyn's expression grew a little brighter. "There, I knew my cheerful Steward was there somewhere."

"He may put in an appearance today," Faramir replied.

"You shouldn't keep it to yourself when you're unhappy." Éowyn scrutinized him closely, and then surprised him by saying, "There's still something bothering you."

Giving her a bewildered look, Faramir asked, "Now, how can you tell that?"

She put a finger lightly on his forehead. "There's a little crease between your eyebrows that you get when something unpleasant is on your mind."

"You're too observant."

"My apologies. It comes from being a woman in a court full of men. Now what's wrong?"

He shook his head in mild, amused exasperation. "You'll drag it out of me eventually, I suppose. It is nothing so great, I just miss the library in Minas Tirith. It was my hideaway when I was younger, you know."

"You've spoken of it," Éowyn said with a thoughtful look on her face.

"I don't feel right without a book near at hand. But I cannot ask King Elessar to give me anything from the library. The books are his by right."

"Surely he would not miss some of them," Éowyn protested.

With a small smile, Faramir replied, "But, you see, I'm very selfish and could not settle for only some of them."

"You're not selfish, only learned," Éowyn said firmly. "And I must be honest; I often wish we had at least a few books. I've had such small opportunity for reading that I should like to better acquaint myself with it."

"It's only that you can't stand to be bested by me at anything," Faramir replied, a serious expression on his face.

A slight twitch of his mouth betrayed a smile, and Éowyn laughed, her hair flashing in the sunlight as she tossed her head back. "I assure you that that is not the case. I am happy to be bested by you, for then I can have pride in everything you do."

"You seem to find humor in that."

"Not at all."

"And if that is the case, then why are you nearly bursting with laughter?"

For a moment, Éowyn kept her face stern, but then she threw her arms around him, laughing, and said gaily, "Faramir, I love you."

"And I, you," he murmured. "Now, my dear, are you convinced that I am not unhappy?"

She put her hands on his face and stared into his eyes searchingly. After awhile, she told him, "I am convinced…for now." With that, she left the room, saying over her shoulder, "Will you join me for lunch in an hour?"

"Of course."

"And until then will you come outside and look at my garden?"

Faramir chuckled. "So that's what you've been doing all morning. Yes, of course I will." He followed her from the room, attempting to forget his gloomy thoughts for another time.

To be continued...