Genre: Angst

Characters: Eowyn, Faramir,

Rated: G

Summary: Eowyn and Faramir – a marriage made in heaven? Maybe not! I warn you this is dead depressing and I am sure not what really happened at all.

Author's Notes: A response to A'mael Taren's March Challenge: Faramir and Éowyn. Did Éowyn truly love Faramir? If she did, she never tells him in the book. Write a story in support of your opinion on this subject.

MISUNDERSTANDING

It would not be long, Eowyn knew. Already she could not feel the lower half of her body; death claimed her. Not much longer.

Still she lingered and while she remained, she spent the time pondering her life and the things that had brought her to this empty, lonely place longing for release, for death, her last companion.

She should not have married Faramir, of course. She saw that clearly now, but he had claimed her heart at a time when she was broken and vulnerable, at the end of a war, when all things seemed possible. She had little doubt that he had loved her as he proclaimed.

It was not as if she had not tried to love him, as well. He was not unpleasant to look upon, and he had a sensitive nature, but she could see so clearly now that their relationship was doomed to failure. She was used to speaking her mind, showing her emotion and being valued for it, while he had spent a lifetime learning to hide everything he felt, for fear it would be seen as a weakness. Although she knew she had been described as cold, in her heart there burnt a thunderous fire of passion, which Faramir's controlled tolerance seemed to stoke to an uncontrollable and destructive intensity.

How many nights had she screamed at him because of her frustration and unhappiness? He had simply closed in on himself, refused to discuss anything until she had calmed down. He would instead retire to his library and bury himself in one of his beloved books, preferring to keep his dignity than save his marriage.

In a way she did not blame him, for he had no real understanding of women. Until meeting her, his only experience of romance was what he had read in books, and while that gave him the ability to use the flowery language and vague notions with which he wooed her, it was no basis for a marriage. His famed understanding of the hearts of his men seemed not to extend to cover hers, and though he tried, at least at first, to understand her, he never truly did. She knew he thought of her as unhinged and too prone to emotion and maybe she was, but she was still proud that the blood that swirled through her veins was passionate and unbowed.

As she became more desperate, he ran from her emotion. He began to spend more time in Minas Tirith with his duties. She needed him more, but he left her alone and more lonely still, in the woods of Ithilien.

She should have returned home to Rohan, but she could not. What would she tell her brother, the King? If nothing else her marriage was a diplomatic arrangement between his Kingdom and Gondor.

Gondor! How she hated it and its people. It stole her away from the land of her birth, and it stifled her. How she had longed to ride the beautiful plains of Rohan, feel the wind in her hair and the strength of a horse below her. To her, Minas Tirith was nothing more than a prison where everyone watched and criticised, waiting for her to fail. Every woman she met made her perfectly aware that she had trapped, by foul means, the most eligible bachelor in Gondor, and she was not worthy of him. And every man seemed to want to charm her into bed and cuckold her husband.

How she understood the pain of Finduilas, Faramir's mother who had withered and died in the stifling confines of the City. But Eowyn had been a Shieldmaiden of the Mark, and initially she refused to be bowed. She fought against it, continued to shock the society she loathed and trod her own path. She had thought them all petty and stupid and revelled in her notoriety. She had thought Faramir was on her side in her battle. That was until her husband felt it necessary to explain to her what it was to be wife to the Prince of Ithilien and how she should behave. She had seen his actions as a complete betrayal and had realised then that she would never love him. How she had hated his patronising tone and supercilious attitude at that interview, made all the worse by the fact that he kept repeating he loved her for what she was. Then why did he have to change her?

And Ithilien was little better than Minas Tirith. She traded the claustrophobic cacophony of the city for the infinite loneliness and boredom of an unpopulated forest. Try as she might, she could not share her husband's vision of the paradise they built there. Instead she found the evenings long and solitary. She missed the mighty feasts at Edoras when the Golden Hall rang out with the roars of laughter and songs of her people.

She knew that duty was all-important to her husband, and she had fulfilled what had been expected of her. She produced a first-born male heir and then many more healthy and strong children to ensure that the precious line of the Stewards was not lost. Although she loved them dearly, her children had grown away from her as well. She hadn't even been able to give them Rohiric names. Though she had fought bitterly against it, they were whisked off, almost as soon as they left her womb, to school in the White City. They were turned into children of Gondor, their language, their values and their passions so different from her own. For a long time, she felt no pride in their achievements. She hardly saw them now, as they preferred other company to that of their unsophisticated and outlandish mother.

And so finally she was caught in the cage she had feared all her life. But it was no physical cage; its bars were a loveless marriage to a man who could not understand her, and her jailers were the critical and aloof people of Gondor. Slowly her plight had sapped her energy and taken her love of life until all that was left was for her to withdraw from society into her cage and slowly fade as Finduilas had before her.

Faramir visited her infrequently, and when he did they could find nothing to talk about. He looked at her with sad eyes and shook his head. Every time he came, she died a little more, for he had come to embody the hope that she had once held and was now lost forever. She looked at him, and she saw their failure.

The last time he visited, the feeling of frustration and loss overwhelmed her. Sensing her torment, he initially tried to placate her, to take her in his arms and hold her as he had in the past, but she was beyond that. She wanted to scratch and kick and punch him until he was forced to withdraw. But she did not. Instead she resorted to the one thing that she knew would hurt him more than physical violence.

"You have become your father," she said, each word sheathed in a casing of ice.

He stiffened and lost all colour. It was as if she had thrust a dagger deep in his heart. He turned on his heel and left, the door banging violently behind him.

She had cried for a very long time.

He had come no more.

The chill that was killing her would not have touched her in her youth, but her soul was weary and her heart broken. She simply wanted a release and so she grasped it to her bosom, holding on until the fevers took her strength and death finally perceived her wanting.

Now it was nearly time and she regretted her whole life.

How she wished she had fallen before the Witch King on the Pelennor all those years ago. Then she had sought death, now as she prepared to embrace it once more, a sudden fear took her heart. She had wanted to die in the heat of battle with comrades. She had wanted to die achieving something, not in an empty sad room served by a maid she hardly knew. Why had it been denied her?

She coughed a weak, pathetic sound that made her whole body shudder with a dull ache. It would not be long.

The door opened, and he stood there, silhouetted by the light beyond.

"Eowyn," his familiar voice said. "I only just found out. Can I come in?"

She nodded vaguely, as if disinterested.

How she hated his Numenorean blood that kept him young and fit while she had withered. As he moved towards her there was only a hint of grey at his temples that distinguished him from how he had looked when they first met.

He sat on the bed beside her. She let him take up her hand and tried not to snort when he squeezed it lovingly.

"Eowyn," he said. "I am so sorry. I never meant it to come to this."

She was slipping away now, she knew. The room was losing colour and form, as the numbness crept up her body.

"It's too late," she managed to murmur. "You are no more to blame than me, Faramir. Now, at the moment of my death, do not do me the disservice of offering me your sympathy."

"But, my Lady," he said. "It is not my sympathy I offer, it is my love. You have always had my heart and always will."

She sighed. "Love was not enough for either of us. There was too much difference between us. How could we have ever hoped to survive it?"

He gulped. "But to die here, alone; I would not wish it on my enemy. I..."

A terrifying shudder crashed through her body then, and she groaned in sweet pain.

"There is no time for your pretty words, Faramir. What has been has been. We may wish to change it, but we cannot," she gasped. "Only hold me. That will be enough."

"Oh Eowyn," he breathed as he gathered her almost weightless form up in to his arms.

She died not long after.

He held her close for a very long time. His head pressed deep into her neck and his shoulders sagged under the weight of his pain.

He cried for the Shieldmaiden she had been. He cried for the mother, and the wife. He cried because her loss had left a gaping hole in his heart that no other would fill. He cried because somewhere along the way, they had both given up fighting for their love. It had taken her irrevocable loss to show him that was unforgivable.

But most of all, he cried because it was too late.