Dawn stole quietly through the curtains and the soft morning light on my face urged me to rise to meet the day. This was my time, a favourite hour of the day when I could relish peace and serenity. I looked down at my husband's sleeping face, so beautiful to me that even after nearly twelve years of marriage, it still had the power to send a thrill through my heart. His hair, now peppered with silver lay tousled across the pillow. I resisted the urge to drop a kiss on his brow, not wanting to disturb his rest.

I slipped out of bed and, wrapping my cloak around my shoulders, padded on bare feet across the chamber and into the hall. I stopped at the door to our son's room and peered in silently; he lay sprawled across the bed with the carefree abandonment of his eleven years, covers kicked off onto the floor, a discarded book at his side. I pulled the door closed and continued on my way to the garden.

My toes curled at the touch of the dew- sparkled grass and I picked my way gingerly towards my goal, a garden seat beneath a tall and stately silver birch tree. I pulled my feet up and sat cross-legged on the bench; not very elegant, but it allowed me to tuck my feet under my cloak and enabled me to rock backwards and forwards to ease the discomfort in my back. Resting my head back against the smooth bark of the tree, I closed my eyes and allowed the stillness and peace of the garden to steal through me. On this mid- summer morning, I let my memory roam and contemplated the blessings of our life.

We had made our home into a refuge from the cares and worries of the outside world, a sanctuary where we could retreat in the company of our friends and relax. We had found a perfect spot on a hillside overlooking a tributary of the Anduin, a spinney of tall trees behind and an open grassy meadow in front leading down to the water. Our home was built not of the bright white stone of Minas Tirith but of soft mellow sandstone, shipped up river from the quarries of Belfalas. It was designed around a large sheltered quadrangle that housed the formal garden in which I sat. Originally we had intended to have a fountain as the centre-piece of the garden but Legolas gave us a silver birch sapling to plant in honour of the memory of Boromir and so we gave it pride of place at the centre of our home.

One of our greatest blessings has been the love and companionship of our friends. Over the years we have grown closer and now we have a large and loving extended family. We have opened our home to them and within our Halls there is no rank and no privilege; when the door is closed, formality is left behind. The King and Queen are frequent visitors, and they seem to relish the freedom and informality of being simply Aragorn and Arwen. Every year we alternate with long visits to Edoras and Dol Amroth and our families visit us. In the early years, these friends helped and guided us when times were difficult. Faramir now has a host of honorary brothers, and they treat him gently and with fond indulgence, though he is often the recipient of their gentle ribbing.

We have had our griefs and our sadness. The birth of our son was a great joy, but it followed a long and difficult labour and to our sadness and disappointment for ten years there was no sign of a brother or sister to complete our family. It was a difficult burden for me to bear, knowing how much Faramir longed for a large family; his own lonely childhood had affected him deeply. He proved to be a proud and indulgent father, quick to praise and slow to anger, with endless patience and a burning desire to pass onto his son his own love of lore and history and the importance of trust and honesty. It often fell to me to provide the discipline; not that he was a difficult child, just a normal boy full of energy and occasional mischief.

It was our dear Elf friends who provided the greatest support when we faced a crisis in the early year of our marriage. Faramir had made use of the King's newly instigated courier system to correspond with Frodo. Their letters had been infrequent but I know that Faramir valued the contact. Frodo's letters detailed life in the Shire and the comings and goings of his friends, but there was an underlying hint of melancholy to his words, a sense of alienation and dislocation. Faramir offered what support and reassurance he could and even suggested that Frodo come back to Gondor; but that letter went unanswered.

Our next letter from the Shire came from Merry with news of Frodo's unexpected departure with the Elves, and of the shock and grief of the companions, especially Sam. This news rocked Faramir and sent him spiralling into grief and depression. He grieved that Frodo had been unable to find the comfort he so richly deserved in his own homeland, and grieved that he had been unable to offer his friend the support he needed. His grief was deepened by the knowledge that two of his mentors had also taken the Ship into the West; Gandalf was a mentor of his youth and Lord Elrond a treasured friend. Arwen and Legolas rallied to our side and offered what support they could, reassuring Faramir with their confidence that Frodo would find the healing and companionship that he sought in the West, giving him the benefit of their knowledge of their Elven heritage.

But in the end Faramir provided his own healing; he had a series of dream/visions so clear and detailed that he awoke with tears on his cheeks; he saw a vivid and beautiful landscape, bathed in sunlight, the colours clear and vibrant, blue crystal clear waters lapping against white soft sand. For three nights these visions came to him and on the fourth night the vision changed and he saw Frodo; not the Frodo that we had known, sad and hollowed by sadness, but a Frodo who was happy and healed and content; and he was comforted.

Lord Elrond's prediction of Faramir's recovery was well founded; by the time of our marriage his strength and health had improved. He was diligent about his exercises and over the months and years his arm has continued to improve, though it is still not strong enough for him to wield his sword. The dexterity in his fingers has improved to the point that he could use it for all but the most delicate movements; he can write for short periods with his right hand but has also taught himself to write well enough with his left hand for everyday correspondence.

Beregond is still captain of the White Guard of Ithilien and Tamir is his lieutenant. Each year Faramir appoints a cadet to his service, though the position is now administrative rather than personal; it is considered a position of great honour amongst the cadets and one that they all covet. Once or twice a year, Faramir goes out on exercise with the troops for a week or two, to oversee the training and assess their strengths and weaknesses, and when duties allow Aragorn tries to accompany him; Arwen and I believe it is an excuse to escape the constraints of the Court and relive earlier, simpler days! They come back dirty and smelly and invigorated, and I would not begrudge them a minute of it.


My early morning reverie was interrupted by the arrival of Legolas.

"You look disgustingly health for one who spent much of the night trying to sup our cellar dry!" I teased as he sat down beside me on the bench.

"I was only keeping your husband and guests company. I wouldn't wish to appear unsociable, now, would I?" I squeezed his hand fondly and kept hold of his fingers.

"I wonder if you and Aragorn could perform a service for me today." I asked.

"Of course, what would you have us do?"

"Could you take my two men out for a long ride and keep them occupied for the day? Take a picnic; go hunting." I took a deep breath then and rocked forward.

"Eowyn, are you all right!" As the spasm passed, I smiled and placed his hand gently on my swollen abdomen and watched his face as he felt the tightening build once more. He smiled then and a look of wonder crossed his fair features.

"Today?" he asked. "But isn't it too early?"

"A week or two maybe, but the midwife is not concerned. And I have Arwen here to be with me. You remember what he was like last time. I'd rather he not know what's happening until it is all over; he will worry less and I can concentrate on the job in hand."

"You haven't told him yet?" he asked. I shook my head. "Well, we had better go and rouse those sluggards before events overtake us," he said, helping me to my feet and guiding me back inside.


Diary entry of Faramir, Prince of Ithilien FA 13 Mid-summer's Day

Today my beautiful wife, Eowyn, gave birth to a son and a daughter. The birth of twins was an unexpected and unlooked-for joy. Both babes are well and of a good weight and Eowyn is almost bursting with the pride of her accomplishment. I suspect that she and our Elven friends knew of our unexpected blessing but they kept the secret well. When Arwen introduced his siblings to their older brother, the look of awe on his face brought tears to my eyes.

Our joy is now complete and I give thanks for the blessings that we have received.

We could ask for nothing more.


Shireling February 2004

Thank you to everyone for your lovely and generous support. This story has taken over my life for several months and it has been a pleasure to share it .