First Dance

--She was dancing in his arms, light as an elf running swiftly across newborn grass, lithe as an eagle soaring in the dawn of a new day.--

Faramir caught sight of Éowyn standing on the balcony, looking much like a flower bathing in the faint moon glow. A vision to behold, a white shadow lurking upon ethereal darkness, that she was. A frown creased his face as a memory pale and dim fleeted across his mind, brought about by this sight of her. And yet as the memory rose it quickly took flight, leaving him in the company of the woman immersed in her own thoughts. He walked towards her, but his footsteps she did not heed. It was unlike her to have let down her guard too easily. As her attention dwelled somewhere else, he quietly took his place beside her, and spoke. "A kiss for your thoughts, milady?"

Éowyn looked at him as he seized her hand to lay a kiss over each of her fingers. She smiled, the corners of her lips tugged upwards. "I'm afraid you caught me in an inopportune time, milord," said she, reaching upwards with her free hand to touch him on his cheek. "I was contemplating."

He looked upon her face. "And what thoughts occupy thy mind?"

She glanced at the east, towards the lands where Gondor laid resting. "Thoughts of our encounter in the Houses of Healing," she answered, voice soft and young. Éowyn regarded him quietly, a serious expression erasing her bliss. "I seem to recall a promise made by a Steward to a Lady that she would be taught by him in the art of the sword. Perhaps the Steward had forgotten?"

Faramir shook his head. He stood closer to her, closer until their sides brushed against each other. "Rest assured he had not forgotten his promise. It was only that he was distracted momentarily from the task, for he had willingly fallen under the lady's spell."

She was silent for a moment, her eyes thoughtful and undaunted. "Then it was the lady's fault that she was not taught?" An edge sharpened her voice as she spoke.

"I was not implying such a thing."

"Then, pray tell, what are thee implying? I desire a truthful answer, for this failure had already given me distress beyond doubt."  

--"… milord, you must be mistaken. To ask me to dance, it is unthinkable. Nay, it is most unjust to you!"--

"Nothing worth contemplating, Éowyn," he answered, brushing from her face golden strands of hair hanging loose and carefree. "Nothing worth the distress from my wife fair and beloved."

She shook her head, emitting a soft laugh he had grown to cherish. "You are treading on a treacherous path, Faramir," she said, lips full of mirth. "If you are not careful, then I must caution you that I will grow accustomed to hearing poetry from your lips, until the day comes that I require them from you."

"But indeed, that is my intention, to shower upon thy lady words beautiful yet unfit to be laid upon thy feet." Faramir gazed at her, his honesty compelling him to tell not lies and deceits. "Not even the most exquisite of flowers could be compared to the Princess of Ithilien, and this not I say because I am your husband. This I say because I am a man."

"You are doing it again!" And in Éowyn's cheeks a faint flush rose, making her more vibrant, alive. She was undoubtedly an image to behold.   

--"Have you seen anyone fairer, Faramir? It is unfortunate she is no more but a child. I seem fit to be her father, and you her husband."-- 

The memory that haunted him before drifted in his mind again, carried by the whispers, the voice of his father. At last what was once vague and obscure now laid bare, exposed, understood.

"It seems now that you, lord, are contemplating, buried in thoughts I cannot breach."         

He smiled at her. "Nay, lady; I was… simply recalling the image of our first dance."

Now she laughed aloud. "Speak no louder, for I wish not to remember an affair horrible enough to hunt my days and slaughter my dreams! I could not think of anything else that had caused me inescapable torment. Aye, it was most definitely torture for us both! But this, I say in my defense, that it is not my fault I was raised in a land where dances come as rare as a night without shadows."

Faramir chuckled, and reached for his wife. He pulled her to him, and she yielded, tender and warm. He recalled how the walls of their home resounded and echoed the laughter of Éowyn, as she attempted valiantly to follow the steps he had set upon her. It was then, at that moment she was cradled in his arms, laughing and without worry, that he thought of her the fairest. "Then think you I am gifted in dancing?"

"But of course! For eternity you are the unfortunate one; you have married a fool for a wife. I, on the other hand, am blessed, for I am bound to a man wise and knowledgeable in every respect."

He kissed her on her brow. "I am honored, milady, that you regard me highly. But my honesty imposes upon me that I admit the truth, and so I say that in dancing I am no more gifted than you are. I was simply emulating what I have read in books. It was fortunate that it was our wedding night, because in that we could be forgiven of anything, however grave and horrible, that we commit."

"We could be forgiven," she said, "but we were not spared from the laughter of others. Did you see my brother? Though I know I am a more skilled dancer than he is, he acted as though he'd never laid eyes upon anything as entertaining. And the King! I do not think I have seen him so merry as he was while looking at us dance!"

"Nor have I! But at least, from this day forth he would look upon us with favor, for we had given him something to be merry about."

--"Go on, child. The night is fair, the celebration gay; this is a night born for you to enjoy. I would not allow you to be bound to my side, and I deem it would be but a shame to deny yourself a dance with this fine man."--

It was then that Faramir had fallen silent, holding his wife as they looked upon the silent grounds that lie beyond the borders of their home. He felt her shift against him, moving her head on his chest until she rested over his heart. "In my memory," he spoke softly, "lies the more youthful days, Éowyn. Days when we seem to know more than we do now, and at the same time less."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"It was but about seven years ago," Faramir began. "There was a small but festive gathering at Dol Amroth for the birth of the eldest son of Prince Imragor, brother to Prince Imrahil. Everyone was invited, with the majestic families of Gondor and Rohan as eminent guests. You were bound to be there, as were your uncle and brother."

He felt her move again. "I… don't seem to recall."

"You are not at fault, for I myself took quite a long while to remember. And in our family it is I that is known for a memory keen and sharp!"

Éowyn moved away from him, and raised a hand and brushed it against his brow. "A memory keen and sharp," she said, and then brought her hand down, over his chest, "and a heart true and noble." She watched as he covered her hand with his, entwined their fingers, until skin melded with skin. She met his eyes. "I believe you have an unbidden memory to tell."

"As Steward of Gondor my father thought it was too important an event to let pass, and of course it could not be helped that we were in great debt to the Prince Imrahil at that time. So we came, my father, my brother, and I." Faramir smiled at the memory. "Boromir was elated – he came for the good wine and good women, he said. My father had the same intention, but fortunately not for the women. And I…"   

"And you, lord?" she prompted. "I saw that in Dol Amroth fair women abound, and it would be just to say that in days before it still held true. Had not one of them caught thy eye?"

"Nay," he answered truthfully. "Not that they weren't lovely women to look at. I would be a fool not to admit this. I simply did not admire them as the others did, for a woman outside of Dol Amroth had already caught my eye, as well as my father's." Faramir regarded her. "Do you remember now?"

Éowyn closed her eyes, breathed, and opened them again. "The memory still eludes me," she said.

"Then I will go on, and perhaps in later time you will remember." He gazed at the moon above them, luminous and full. "Being a celebration, there was a lot of dancing. The Princes were in a very festive mood. Prince Imrahil required everyone to dance, and so my father and my brother obliged him. Grabbing women from anywhere, they danced until weariness and sore feet claimed them both. Now I was hidden in the shadows, for in my heart I knew I could not dance and I did not desire humiliation because of it. But the prince – he caught me, and wouldn't heed my condition and instead threatened me – 'you will dance, Faramir, and I deem it better for you to choose a companion that would reclaim your dignity for you or share your humiliation with you,' he said. With dread, and the threats from him deeply embedded in my mind, I forced myself to find someone who would dance with me. And Éowyn, could you guess who it was that I found?"

Her eyes widened. "You found me," she answered, sharing in the realization and memory at last.

"Indeed," he said, "it was you. You walked in Dol Amroth in the arms of Théoden King, and in the company also of your brother Éomer. I had noticed you, and you were young, then. Young and in the midst of blossoming into the woman you are now. When I came and asked you, I thought you never heard. You looked at me as though you had not laid eyes on any man before."

"And in truth," she said, "I never did, for my walls were closed to any man outside of Rohan… I was shaken, Faramir. Distressed and dazed that you had mistaken me for someone else, or that you asked me for you had thought of me as young, therefore, a fool."

"You tried to refuse, did you not? I remember your words clearly. And when I insisted, your brother seemed about ready to lunge at me, and swipe my head off my neck had he been given the opportunity. Only Théoden King interceded, when he gave me your hand."

"He was able to sense good in many men," she said, tears holding her eyes captive for a moment. "He must have known that in the future…" Éowyn chuckled. "I was about set to murder when he gave me to you so willingly."

"And we danced, didn't we, Éowyn?" he asked. "We danced slow and careful, and until the last moment I held you, I thought of you as a delight, someone light and lithe.  But fool that I was, I never asked you for your name, or did I speak to you except when I bid you goodbye. I knew of your king, and of your brother, but you… the knowledge of your existence eluded me until the moment I saw you, and danced with you."   

"You did not ask for my name, nor did I give you mine." She gazed at him, wonder and awe in her eyes. "Our first dance, Faramir. Isn't this a marvel to behold? Our fates had crossed before, and yet only now did we realize it. I could not believe I did not recognize you the moment I saw you in the Houses of Healing, for I hold that dance a pivotal moment in my life! I remembered well the way you held me, but alas, not your face. Now, I know. Now, I hold you in my heart, never to be forgotten or forsaken again."

Faramir stepped away from her, and held out his hand. "Then would you allow us to recreate that pivotal moment, our first dance? Maybe in this attempt we would be fortunate."

Éowyn looked at his hand, and without a moment's hesitation, took it. "I would."

--"Thank you, milady, for this dance, and in the future I do hope our paths would cross again."--

 Author's Notes: Thank you very much for the positive feedbacks my first fic received from you guys… it made me smile like a madwoman for a very long time. Thank you! Oh, and in this fic there are certain parts that refer to my first fic. My analysis that Gondor is at Ithilien's east is based from a map. And Imragor doesn't really exist ;)

Augh. Stupid settings won't allow some sentences to be italicized… anyways, the -- -- refers to the memory itself (or the dialogues from that memory). Just to avoid confusion, because no matter how many times I tried, the "Go on…" part just can't be corrected. I apologize profusely for this.