Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, I simply derive pleasure from speaking with them. I promise that I will escort them safely home when I am done listening to their story and tuck them into bed.

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I remember those days well, at least the beginning of them.

I awakened early the day I was to depart and could not return to my slumber. I could not deny the sense of dread which had pervaded my dreams that night, nightmares that I had not experienced in the months since I had married Éowyn. Oft before that I would wake bathed in a cold sweat, the ghosts of flames and my dead father haunting me. But since she had become my lady wife, I had dreamed only of happier things, of our future together–until King Elessar had requested that I journey to the ranger outpost upon the Poros with my guard so I could see for myself the very edge of the lands of which I was now Prince and determine the likelihood that South Gondor could be resettled safely. There was not much to indicate that I should expect any trouble during this journey as I would only be traveling to the southernmost part of South Ithilien, not battling Uruks or Nazgúl. But my nightmares had returned, the one in which Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, had my unconscious form brought into the House of the Stewards and attempted to burn me and himself alive. The worst part of it was that it was not an invention of my mind, but truth that luckily had not come to full fruition, though Father had managed to end his own life. I was fortunate to have good friends in Beregond, Mithandir and Pippin, who had pulled me off the pyre at the last possible moment. But the horrifying memories remained and resurfaced when I was feeling particularly overwrought. Not wishing to disturb my wife in her contented oblivion, I slipped quietly from our bed and stepped out onto the balcony for some fresh air, hoping the cool night could coax me back to a restful slumber.

The clear night was peaceful in Emyn Arnen as I thought back upon all that had happened in the two short years since the end of the War of the Ring.

Upon awakening in the Houses of Healing after being grievously wounded during the retreat from Osgiliath, I was disheartened to learn that my father was also dead. I was alone in the world, save my Uncle Imrahil and his children in Dol Amroth. I fell into a depression that I feared would never abate.

That is, until I met Éowyn. She, too, had been injured and sent to the Houses. She, too, had lost most of her family, save her brother, Éomer, who was now King of Rohan. And she, too, was nearly lost in the depths of despair, her heart crushed beneath the weight of her losses.

Word of her bravery during the Battle of the Pelennor had filtered to me there as I recovered from my injuries. Yet when I first gazed upon her, I was amazed that someone so fair, so delicate could have almost singlehandedly defeated the Witch-King, the same foul creature that had nearly slain me only a few days before. Her beauty was ecstasy to gaze upon, though it was plain that she, too, was unhappy. She was pale and quiet, filled with a sadness that seemed would consume her. But I loved her immediately and offered her a token of my reverence of her, a midnight blue cloak embroidered with silver stars that had belonged to my mother. It had been in my possession and unused for much too long. I thought Éowyn deserved to have beautiful things around her.

She offered me something that I had never had, even from Boromir: complete and total acceptance. She never judged or questioned, only listened silently as I spoke and offered her support when I required it. I tried to do the same for her in turn, and soon there was a bloom upon her cheeks and a sparkle in her eye that had not been there when first I had greeted her. I rejoiced that she was so improving, eventually making my intentions toward her plain. But she rejected me, which was a near crushing blow. She still had feelings for Aragorn, I found, though he had never reciprocated them. I had to content myself to remain her friend and confidant until I could convince her my feelings toward her were genuine and she was willing to return them. But then after the forces of Mordor were finally overthrown, it was necessary for her to return to Rohan with the body of King Théoden, her uncle, so she could be with her own people in their time of mourning.

Unable to do anything else, I threw myself wholeheartedly into my new role as Steward of Gondor and hoped she would return someday, for I knew there would be no other woman for me so long as I should live, even if I would die a lonely bachelor because of it. In time I was presented with an opportunity to visit Edoras in an official capacity, when Éowyn's brother Éomer was to be officially crowned the new King of Rohan. I looked forward with trepidation to the journey, hoping beyond hope that a chance to speak privately with the sister of the new king would arise, for I had much to say, though I was extremely anxious that she would reject me once more.

I need not have worried. We had difficulty finding time in which we could converse at length, so busy was the short week that I would be in Edoras. But when I finally had her alone, I found her as warm and lovely as ever she had been toward me despite our somewhat lengthy separation. She seemed genuinely pleased to see me, so I plunged forward and offered her again my troth, this time with a token of my love, a necklace fashioned of delicate argent, which had also belonged to my mother. Éowyn blushed and smiled and allowed me to fasten the dainty chain about her graceful neck, my fingers brushing her delicate flesh, stealing my breath away from me. And then she turned and accepted my offer with a dazzling smile, dizzying in its intensity, while apologizing profoundly for declining my first offer of marriage. It seemed she had regretted it almost immediately after rejecting me, but she knew not how to broach the subject before leaving for home. She, like me, had worried that we would have no time to spend together during the eventful week for which I would visit. How hard it was to leave her after that short week! But my mind was much at ease knowing that finally she had accepted me and that she loved me as much as I did her.

It seemed forever until our wedding day, a year is a long time to be apart, but finally it arrived, and I only saw her again when the nuptials began. I nearly fainted at her beauty and her nearness as she pledged to me that she would devote her life to me, forsaking her pursuit of glory among the Rohirrim, preferring to content herself with my love while turning her life into a pursuit of helping things to grow and thrive.

My voice was surprisingly strong, if not somewhat hoarse, as I vowed that I would remain ever faithful to her for I treasured above all else and added that should the need ever arise that I would most willingly die for her and our children if they should ever require defense.

As I reminisced, I realized that I was no longer alone. I turned and glanced back into our bedchamber and beheld the face of my beloved in the glow from the fireplace, awake now, her grey eyes watching me and waiting patiently. With a bewitching smile, she opened her arms to me, and I went to her.

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My husband is a remarkable man. He fought against the dark foes from Mordor for more than twenty years and elevated himself through his deeds to one of the Gondorian army's most capable leaders, fiercely defending Gondor without benefit of praise from the man whom he most sought love and acceptance, finding only disdain and reproach. A lesser man might have been crushed beneath the weight of his father's lack of confidence in him, let alone the physical abuse he had received at the previous Steward's hand, but Faramir was made of better stuff. And it helped that his brother doted on him, encouraging him in everything he chose to accomplish, whether Boromir had understood Faramir's motives or not.

Faramir's prowess as a Ranger of Ithilien was unquestioned, but he had never loved the song of battle the way that Boromir had. It was just something he was forced to do, a task set before him by Denethor. He fights well, for he does everything well. That is his nature. But he takes no joy in it. Now that Denethor is gone, the title of Steward of Gondor has passed to Faramir, leaving him adrift in a sea of duty that he never thought to have thrust upon him so soon. But as I said, Faramir does everything well, unwilling to fail others, though he constantly feels he is failing himself.

Not long before the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, he fell, downed by an arrow as he, and what remained of his company, fled Osgiliath before the Witch-King and his army, all at the behest of Denethor, who was blinded by the grief of Boromir's untimely death. Never had Faramir desired anything more than simple love from his father, and he nearly died trying to attain it. But then, upon word that his youngest son had also fallen, Denethor slipped completely into madness and set about burning himself and Faramir upon a funeral pyre in the House of the Stewards in the Silent Street.

But Faramir was not yet dead. If not for the intervention of Peregrin Took, cousin of my dear friend Merry, Denethor would have ended my husband's life before I would ever have had the good fortune of meeting him. Would that I could have even five minutes alone with that evil man!

The very quality that makes Faramir so remarkable after enduring a lifetime of cruelty and contempt, is that he is the most gentle and kind soul that I have ever encountered. He never fails to put all at ease in his company with a kind word or thoughtful gesture, even when he himself seems unsettled. That was my first impression of him in the gardens which surround the Houses of Healing, where I first met him while we were both recovering from our battle injuries. When he turned to address me, I saw his eyes - fathomless grey pools of despair and pain and loss. They mirrored my own, I am certain. I was nearly speechless just from looking upon him. And yet, as I clumsily made my plea to be allowed to depart the Houses so I might follow my brother and Aragorn into battle, he bade me to walk with him. And his manner and words beguiled me. I felt as if I had known him my whole life. I entrusted secrets to his ears that I had never shared with another.

And yet I was blind to his true feelings even after I realized that hope now also burned within those eyes. How foolish I was! I nearly allowed this man to fall away from me in utter, blind stupidity. Eru's tears! He had given me a cape that had belonged to his dead mother, and he had known me but a few days!

But as thickheaded as I was then, I finally came to my senses after we spent some time apart, and I realized that Faramir was more dear to me than anyone else I know, for he was a part of me I had not known existed but now could not do without, and I have no desire to try.

We now had been married for about a year, and I found my life with him in Emyn Arnen to be very much to my liking. When first we were married, we lived full-time in the Steward's residence in Minas Tirith, and though I found living there stifling compared to living in Edoras, I did not despair because I was now his wife. I had vowed to devote my life to him and to life and living things, and he in turn had promised to remain faithful to our love and to die defending our family if needs be. He spoke the words with such grave sincerity that I had no doubt that he meant them with all of his heart. I had just never expected him to be forced to try to prove his latter vow to me.

Faramir had revealed to me his impending journey to the ranger outpost near the River Poros nearly two weeks before he was to depart. It was only a short trip so he could see South Gondor, as the King had expressed interest in repopulating the area now that the War of the Ring was done and the Haradrim's forces were weak at best. I was nervous as this would be the first time that we had been separated since we had moved to Emyn Arnen, but he reassured me that the trip would be most uneventful and that he would return as quickly as he could.
He realized that I would be lonely without him, and so he included me while making his plans, explaining where he was going and where he would be staying while he was there. I expressed a desire to accompany him, but he assured me that I would be most bored if I went and went on to add that there was little accommodation for married couples upon the River Poros. So I began packing for him, trying to make certain he would have some of the comforts of home at his disposal while in South Ithilien.

I was surprised when, that night, Faramir had a terrible nightmare such as he had not experienced to my knowledge since his stay in the Houses of Healing. And then he had another the next night and the next. Soon it was all I could do to even coax him into bed. Inevitably the visions would come, and then he would not sleep for the remainder of the night, sometimes just lying quietly beside me, sometimes getting up to read or work or just going out to take a breath of air.

I worried for him. He was fading from exhaustion and the effort it took to stay awake all the time. When I finally tried to convince him that perhaps it would be best for him to postpone his visit to South Gondor until he was feeling better, he became angry, growing very pale and quiet before finally explaining in plain language that he would not allow himself to become crippled by his nightmares, and he wished not to speak on it further. I agreed that we should not since it obviously pained him so and went to bed without him once again.

Finally, on the night before he would depart, he came to bed with me and succumbed to sleep nearly instantly for which I was glad. I slept extremely well for having my husband lying next to me again, his mere presence a comfort to me. Some time soon before dawn, though, I awakened with a chill and found him missing again from the bed. After stretching and shifting more toward the direction of the balcony, I spied him outside, seemingly watching the sky as he is often wont to do, his poet's heart sometimes overcome by the beauty of the stars alone. As he seemed content, I said nothing, but only watched his silhouette in the beginnings of the dawn. Eventually he must have felt my eyes upon his back, for he turned and looked at me. His expression was one of such tenderness that I could not help but smile and offer my embrace to him. He came to me without a word, for no words were necessary.

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My wife was impatiently shaking me awake. "Faramir!" she groaned. "Wake up! You are late, my husband."

I moaned with equal vehemence and forced myself to rise, though a little shakily, as I was still tired, having not slept well of late. I pulled on my trousers and boots as Éowyn rushed about gathering together the things I would require for my journey. As I finished lacing my gambeson, I pulled on my greatcoat, followed by my leather cuirass before topping it all with my cloak, Éowyn pressed a piece of day-old bread and an apple into my hands before she secured my cloak about my neck, using the antique cloak pin that she had given me as a betrothal gift.

"I am sorry there is not more to break your fast, my lord husband," she said, as she helped me on with my baldric, straightening my clothing after she attached the quiver to my back, while I greatly enjoyed her closeness. Many times had I dressed myself over the years in the garb of the Rangers of Ithilien, but never had I had such an interesting time doing it.

"I do not mind, Éowyn," I murmured, consumed by her intoxicating perfume, lilacs and roses. She oft did this to me when I was late, and indeed, oft I was late because she did this to me. I was near to bursting with desire for her as she dressed me in my sword belt. "My lady," I began, my voice slightly quavering with the emotion I felt.
"Lord Faramir, you are late!" she repeated, more insistently. She offered me my pack and my bow, and I, with my hands still filled with food, fumbled a bit as I threw the apple inside the bag before I finally slung it over my left shoulder and stood before her, as ready to leave as I ever would be. "Go, husband!" she scolded, shoving me out of the bed chamber and down to the entrance hall of our house. "I will meet you in the stables before you depart."

"Éowyn, I love you." I adore love poetry and have memorized and recited it my entire life, much to the consternation of my father, but those words were all I could manage as I pulled her into my embrace and kissed her passionately upon the lips, never happier than when she was so close to me. Reluctantly, I released her and fled the house, hoping my rangers would not guess what my wife and I had been about all morning.

When I arrived at the paddock, I was greeted by my men, quietly nodding with knowing smiles, but none said anything specific, and so I only blushed a little.

"Lord Steward!" shouted Beregond, my oldest and dearest friend, a tall, muscular, balding man, who was a member of my personal guard. "You are late!" he roared, laughing. The other three men joined in with gusto.

"Yes, Beregond, I am well aware of that fact," I replied with a wry grin.

"Captain, we saddled your horse for you," said Anborn, a shorter blond man, who had been with me when I had first met Frodo and Sam on their blessedly successful journey into Mordor.

"Thank you," I murmured, going to Simbelmynë and beginning to load my paltry belongings onto his back. I munched absentmindedly on the bread I held as my company looked on, chatting amiably amongst themselves, yet obviously anxious to quit this small area of civilization and get back to the wilds outside of its walls. But I knew my Éowyn would require more than a few moments to ready herself yet, and so I dawdled, knowing that she would not disappoint.

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I have always enjoyed watching Faramir when he is unaware that he is being watched. It is reassuring to see him work with his hands, not self- conscious, simply working as he would if he were truly alone. And I have always thought that he was the most handsome man I have ever beheld, most especially when he is aware that he is being watched by me, which was the case that morning. His dark, unruly, shoulder-length hair was catching the morning sun as it blew gently in the breeze, while he was double-checking that he had secured all to his mount securely and properly. As I approached him, his men quieted, and then he looked up at me, a spark lighting his grey eyes, a soft smile spreading across his face, the smile he gives only to me.

"Éowyn," he nodded, using the same tone of voice he had been using with me much earlier that morning. I shivered from the sheer desire he conveyed with that single word, my name turned into a verbal caress that nearly always makes my heart skip a beat.

"My husband," I smiled. "Have you nearly finished with your preparations?" As I reached him, he extended his arm toward me, slipping a gloved hand behind my head and kissing me soundly on the lips.

"Yes, my love. All is ready now. All is done but the goodbyes," he replied.

I hugged my husband tightly before pulling back a bit and looking again upon his handsome face. His eyes were filled with love, but he seemed anxious as well. I hoped he would remain well and fit and be able to sleep dreamlessly while he was gone. "Would that I could go with you," I told him again wistfully, "but I promise I will study hard to learn how to cook while you are away." Then, mindful of the other men's eyes upon us, I leaned close to his ear before whispering, "And as I am well-versed in the healing arts, perhaps I will practice my bedside demeanor for you when you return." I did not need to see his face to know that his eyes had closed, and the blood had drained away as I heard a shocked gasp escape his lips, and I chuckled wickedly.

"My lady!" he scolded, also whispering.

But when I pulled back to look upon him again, he was smiling broadly. "Just an added incentive for your prompt return, Faramir."

"Though I do greatly appreciate the offer, my lady, and intend to accept it, I do not require more incentive than just to see your lovely face again."

"I shall miss you," I said rather abruptly, and he sobered somewhat.

"I shall miss you as well, my love," he murmured. "But I will return as soon as I might, and though the time will not pass quickly, it will pass."

I nodded, knowing it was truth, yet sad all the same. But then he pulled me closer and kissed me again, leaving me breathless, my knees weak, before setting me back gently and, calling to his men, they all mounted their horses as one. He looked down at me with his special smile, his horse dancing beneath him, and said playfully, "Just you wait until I return, my love!"

I blushed, my imagination filled with vivid images before he called again to his men and they rode away in a cloud of dust. Ah, how I love Faramir! I watched their retreating backs until I could see them no more and then sighed sadly, returning to our house to prepare myself for the long days ahead.

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My men grew hush, and I looked up to find that a vision in pale blue approached, her golden hair yet loose about her face. She has never failed to leave me breathless when I gaze upon her. I smiled then, and she approached me, and when she neared I was enveloped in the scent of lilacs and roses. But, though her grey eyes were filled with love, there was something else I spied there. Worry. I realized, as usual, that her eyes mirrored my own.

I was so anxious about going to the outpost. This would be the first time that I had acted in the capacity of aught but the Steward of Gondor or the Prince of Ithilien since the retreat across the Pelennor. Perhaps if I had listened to Mithandir that day, my father might yet be alive, as well as the men that I had lost, but I was deafened by my father's harsh words to me as he sent me from his sight, and saddened by his utter lack of affection toward me. Above all else, I was terrified, knowing we were riding to our certain doom, but my father did not feel any concern for my well-being. After all, he had conveyed, rather eloquently, I thought, that he wished me dead instead of Boromir. Though nothing I could do would bring back his rightful heir, I did not want to disappoint him on the other point.

It was important to me to prove to myself that I did have some worth after all. I needed to face my fear and return to the field, if only to demonstrate to myself that I remained capable as a Ranger of Ithilien and strong as a man. The recurrence of my nightmares only served to evidence how important this journey was to me.

However, I had been most worried about Éowyn. I had been behaving abominably in the weeks before this day, mostly due to lack of proper rest, though that is the reason but no excuse for my actions. I was most distraught as I thought back to the evening when she had suggested that I remain in Emyn Arnen until the nightmares passed, and I reacted with anger instead of calmly considering her proposal. But, luckily, there did not seem to be any permanent damage between us, as I realized that she spoke only with love, and she knew that I was only speaking out of exhaustion.

This morning Éowyn teased me mercilessly, causing me all sorts of discomfort, which she thoroughly enjoyed watching. I welcomed the distraction, but then she grew more wistful, telling me she would miss me while I was gone. As I returned the sentiment, a new, indefinable, but not unwelcome sensation came to me as I realized that someone would worry about me in my absence, someone whom I held more dear than anyone else in the world. She nodded sadly as I explained that the time would eventually pass, and we would be happily reunited soon.

I wished to drink from her lips again, as her kisses are like the sweetest wine to me, so I pulled her close, enveloping her within my cape and kissed her, all distractions put from my mind as I held her close, the rest of the world fading away from us. I sighed when I released her, before calling to my men and mounting my horse. I could not help but smile mischievously down upon her and threaten playfully, "Just you wait until I return my love!" She blushes the most becoming shade of crimson sometimes.

"To the River Poros!" I shouted, before leading my men from the stable area and onto the narrow road that leads to the main road to South Gondor, my mind now fully upon the task at hand.