I recruited Lothíriel and Beregond to help me arrange my surprise for Faramir, asking them to find some ale and to make certain that all of our friends, family and close acquaintances who were in the camp would be assembled before the steward's tent this evening at sunset. As Lothíriel adored surprises, she was very excited by my idea and said that she was quite certain that Faramir would be touched by it. Beregond, who was ever looking for a reason to partake of ale, also thought that Faramir's spirits would be lifted by the surprise.
Shortly before dusk, I gently escorted my husband to the closest large fire outside amongst the tents and saw that he was seated comfortably there before I departed, reassuring him that I would return quite soon. He nodded and before I was out of earshot, he had begun a conversation with a nearby soldier who was eating his dinner alone. I smiled, grateful that my husband was going to be fine.
Back in Faramir's tent, Lothíriel helped me to don the best dress that I had brought with me, a white linen frock without much adornment, and then she removed the braid from my hair, leaving it to hang loosely about my face. I removed my betrothal rings and stepped outside once again.
Before me stood the king, Uncle Imrahil, Lothíriel, Beregond, Madach, Anborn, Odrastor, indeed, every member of the Rangers of Ithilien who had came south with the king, and many members of the army who had not traveled south with General Solasgil. Leading the way for them all, I returned to where my husband was awaiting me. As we approached him, Faramir looked up at us all from his seat near the fire, smiling somewhat warily, confused by the sudden presence of so many of us all at once.
"Éowyn." He fastened his eyes upon me, as if we were the only two beings left upon Arda, smiling his special smile for me. "What are you doing?" he chuckled.
He stood as I approached him, Aragorn following close behind me, and I held up our betrothal rings for his inspection. "What say you, my husband? Will you marry me again?"
His expression became immediately serious, though his eyes yet danced with pleasure. He took a deep breath before he answered. "Ah, I love you, my dear," he murmured, "I would marry you a thousand times were it possible." He smiled broadly. "Of course, I will marry you again, Éowyn."
I smiled then and turned, beckoning Lothíriel and Beregond forward, while the king moved close to us both so he might witness the entire ceremony easily. I gave Beregond my two rings to hold for my husband before taking Faramir's argent one from Lothíriel and slipping it onto the middle finger of his right hand. As I held his hand tightly in mine, I said, "I thought that I might make some new vows to say to you for this, our second wedding, but I found no fault with the originals, so I will say those upon this argent ring, the ring that I first gave to you in Edoras when we first made our engagement official.
"Faramir. You are my love and my heart. I gladly devote my life to you, taking care of you when you need it, and loving you always. I will not pursue the vain and empty promise of glory and death upon a battlefield, but instead, I will devote myself to life, tending you, tending your children, tending Ithilien, even tending your garden, my lord, hoping that the potatoes might do better this year." Pausing briefly, I smiled broadly as he laughed and stroked my cheek. I continued. "I want only to make you happy above all else, for you deserve no less, so say I, Éowyn of Rohan, and so my vows are renewed before our king."
He sighed in contentment, and then carefully took my argent ring from his guard, slipping it onto the middle finger of my right hand, but he paused to gather his thoughts while he searched my face, pushing a stray lock of hair behind my ear, as it moved gently in the breeze.
At last he spoke. "Éowyn. I love you above all others. Never will I forsake you, remaining faithful to you for as long as we both shall live, and if the need should arise . . . again, I will defend your life and the life of our son against all dangers, even unto death." His eyes swam with tears, as did mine, and when his fell, I brushed them away gently with my fingertips. And then his words echoed mine, "I want only to make you happy above all else, for you deserve no less, so say I, Faramir of Gondor, and so my vows are renewed before our king."
And then when I carefully slipped the gold ring onto the middle finger of his left hand, I explained to him, "I thought that with this ring, I might tell you of some of the hopes that I have for our future together."
He smiled and nodded eagerly as I began to speak. "Husband, I wish with all of my heart that we should fill our big house in Emyn Arnen with as many children as it will hold, a small army of children, who, if they wish it, shall all ride with the skill of their mother and converse with the skill and diplomacy of their father." And then I sobered somewhat. "Above all, I wish that your duty never takes you far from me again, but if it does, then I wish with all of my being that you shall remain safe and shall be able to return to me with all haste." I then lowered my voice to the merest of whispers. "And I wish to spend at least a month alone with you, hidden away in a place where I might 'take care' of you properly." I took joy in the emotions that played upon his face.
He closed his glittering, grey eyes and smiled softly, obviously enjoying the images in his mind that those words inspired. But when he again opened them, his face grew serious once more, and he said, as he slipped my gold ring onto the middle finger of my left hand, "Wife, I wish to never be parted from you again. I swear that I will never send you from me again, if it lies within my power, for we are both the rulers of Ithilien, and as such, we should both share the duty as well as the rewards.
"And I have realized something of late because of something that you said to me earlier, Éowyn." He took a deep breath. "I am a good man. I do my duty to the best of my ability. I love my country, my king and very much love my wife. He placed his hand upon my abdomen. "And I love our son." I covered his hand with my own. "And there is no reason for me to jeopardize any of that again. I know beyond any doubt that I have been a sufficient ranger in the past, and an adequate captain, for I fought against evil for over twenty years, and still I am here." He smiled then. "I know now that there was a reason for all of the evil that I have endured, and it is this: I needed the hardships to make me realize how wonderful that my life is now. It is time to leave the past behind and finally enjoy the reward that I have earned."
He stroked my cheek softly, and I rejoiced at his words. "My dear, if I chose to stay with you ever and anon in Emyn Arnen, taking you with me when I must travel to Minas Tirith to do my duty as the Steward of Gondor, and taking you with me when we must travel to do our duty as Prince and Princess of Ithilien, would you have it?"
Tears coursed down my cheeks as I answered, "If it pleases you, then I would have it no other way, my lord, for I wish to never be parted from you again either."
Tearing his eyes away from me only for a moment, he sought Aragorn's face, and quietly said, "My Lord King Elessar, my lady has expressed a wish to secret herself away with me for a month or more." And he turned his face toward me once more, to enjoy the blush spreading across my cheeks as he continued to speak. "Can you manage the added duties for that length of time, my king?"
"I think I shall have to, Lord Steward, for I would not wish to make your wife wroth with me for all of the mithril upon Arda," Aragorn chuckled.
Our surprise wedding was a welcome distraction for everyone from the rigors of this terrible week, most especially for me, and all of us who were not actively guarding the camp drank much ale and made merry despite the fact that it seemed that Gondor was on the brink of yet another war. Éowyn was radiant in her white gown, and when someone brought out a lute for music, she danced with everyone who asked her as I looked on in rapture from my seat near the fire. Though I was enthralled by my wife's beauty, I did manage to notice that Madach had appeared by my side at some point, sitting upon the ground near my feet.
"Good evening, Master Madach! Are you enjoying yourself?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Do we leave tomorrow?" he asked.
If it had not been for his dark hair, I would have thought him to be Rohirric, so forthright was he. He reminded me greatly of Éomer. "My wife and I do, however, I think that you should return home to your mother."
He scowled at me. "There is no reason for me to return there."
"But there is. She is alone with two young daughters and no man to protect her."
His scowl deepened. "She needs no protection, and she has oft told me this. She says she has no use for men, so I am coming with you."
"For what purpose?" I asked, amused by his expression, yet curious about his plan.
"Just what I have been doing," he said, sounding somewhat wounded. "I shall stay with you, for you seem to need help an awful lot."
I cleared my throat, somewhat embarrassed by his words. "Yes, well, I shall have to discuss it with Lady Éowyn first."
"There is naught to discuss," he said, watching the dancing now.
What cheek, I thought, but I said, ruffling his hair, "Fetch me some water, boy. I have had my fill of ale for tonight."
Éowyn returned to my side, glowing and out of breath from her exertions, and I made room for her next to me. She sat and kissed me soundly, bringing a blush to my face for a change.
"Are you well, Faramir?" she asked, her lovely eyes searching mine.
"I am well enough, my love. It does me good to see you so happy. And I am relieved that we are departing on the morrow, heading to a safer place for all of us."
"You have no regrets?" she asked.
I ducked my head. "Only one."
"What is that?" she asked, her face filled with concern.
"I regret that I did not think to formally retire from the rangers as soon as we were first married," I murmured.
Her expression melted into a smile, as she took my hand in her own. "How well you shall be tended in the coming days, my lord! When next the king sees you, the glow of health upon your cheeks shall nearly blind him."
"No doubt," I grinned. "But I must tell you something, Éowyn. If you and Lothíriel think that you are going to cart me all the way home in a wain, you are very much mistaken. . . .
Much too early the next morning, the Prince of Dol Amroth and his daughter, and the Prince of Ithilien and his wife departed the camp at the River Poros for Minas Tirith. I managed to get out of bed long enough to see them off, entrusting them with a letter to my darling wife, stating that I would be staying here until the immediate strife was concluded. I hoped eventually that Gondor might begin peace talks with the Haradrim, though it seemed that it would be long in coming.
I bid Imrahil a safe trip and gave his lovely daughter a hug. Then I hugged Éowyn and kissed her upon both cheeks before helping up onto the seat of the wain that she would be driving back to the city, before I turned to her husband. I gave the steward a warrior's hand shake, before he pulled me into a brotherly embrace.
"Thank you for everything, Aragorn," he told me as he had drawn back.
"Your thanks are not necessary, Faramir. Your being here, alive and on the mend, is reward in and of itself." He allowed me to aid him onto the seat of the wain as well, to my complete surprise.
He explained. "It has been brought to my attention," he began, glancing at his wife for a moment, "that if I am to remain in my wife's presence ever and anon that I might need to defer my will to her once in awhile. It seems that this is one of those times, though I am yet learning."
His smile was dazzling, and my heart soared to see the Steward of Gondor at last at peace.
As I waved them, Madach and Beregond off, my thoughts rested briefly upon the work that I would need to complete here before I could be reunited with Arwen in the White City. I sighed heavily and returned to my pavilion, hoping to get a few more hours of sleep before my advisors started their bickering.
I have fantastic news! You are to be an uncle in a few months!
Yes, I am with child, and Faramir and I are so excited about it. The
babe shall be a boy according to some long lost uncles of ours.
Faramir and I have only just returned from the Crossings of
Poros where there has been a great deal of recent strife between
Gondor and Harad. Please do not ask why I was there, Brother. Only
know that my presence was necessary because Faramir was in dire need.
It is a long story that I promise to tell when I see you again, though
I will say that Faramir is well now, and we are both safe within the
walls of Minas Tirith.
King Elessar remains in the south of Ithilien with a sizeable
army, and his manner points toward revenge against the Southrons for
all that has happened in these past few weeks. If the king has not
already formally requested your aid, and you have any free time from
the business of being King of the Mark, I would very much appreciate a
visit here. I have need of one of your bear hugs, Brother.
Prince Imrahil and his daughter Lothíriel are staying for a time
with us here, but there is plenty of room for you as always. I hope
that Lothíriel's presence will not keep you from visiting, though I
know that you think she speaks too much. Perhaps if you could turn
her conversation toward something that interests you both, you would
not find her so bothersome.
I will close this overly-long letter now. Please consider visiting.
As I sealed my letter, I glanced over at Faramir, who was sitting in the window seat, deeply engrossed in a book. We had spent the past week doing naught but relaxing, and already my husband was showing signs of boredom. I did not blame him, for there was not much to occupy us in Minas Tirith besides Imrahil and Lothíriel, and each other, of course.
I approached him, sitting on the edge of the seat and calling his name softly before he noticed me. He set his book aside with a smile, inviting me to come closer to him.
"How are you, my dear?" he asked, kissing me upon my brow as he wrapped his good arm around my shoulders.
"I am well, Faramir, though a little tired."
He nodded. "I have been reading about pregnancy, and that is a normal symptom." Patting my shoulder, he added, "Perhaps you would you care to take a nap with me, Éowyn? I was just thinking of going upstairs for a bit."
As I studied his face, noting that he was gaining weight again and looking quite well, I realized that I would be hard-pressed to deny him much from now on. He grinned at me as if reading my thoughts then, and arm in arm we went to our bedchamber to rest together.
A/N: I would like to thank everyone who took time to review The River Poros. I have appreciated all of the great feedback that I've received. My intent is to continue this story through other viewpoints in a sequel that is as of now unnamed. It is my hope that you will all read that one too when it arrives!! Thanks!!