He wasn't unhappy, not at all; he looked forward to his wedding the next day. The contingent from Rohan had arrived, and shortly after dark, what was sure to be a boisterous party would begin. He just needed a bit of quiet, a moment alone before surrendering himself to the many friends and well-wishers he would see that evening.
Yet it was hard to be here alone, hard not to think of Boromir, his father, and all of those who would not be at his wedding. It was difficult not to remember all the friends he had lost in the War, of all that had been suffered.
He tried to shrug away the creeping melancholy. A new age was upon them; the King had returned, the White Tree was in flower once again, and Gondor would be strong and fair as it had once been. His mother's kin from the south would be there to stand beside him as he married Éowyn, and soon, if fortune was kind, they would have a family of their own.
He smiled, thinking of Éowyn once again as the setting sun shimmered against the river.
"I thought I might find you here," a familiar voice said.
Turning, Faramir smiled at his uncle Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth. "Uncle," Faramir said, clasping him into an embrace. "How did you know to find me here?"
Imrahil smiled in return. "I cannot give away all my secrets. But I am pleased to see you, Faramir. Your cousins have arrived with me, and await you in the Citadel."
"I am glad you are here, all of you, and thank you for returning to the City once again," Faramir said, meeting his uncle's gaze. "I am looking forward to seeing my cousins as well." He took a step as if to lead them away from the wall and toward the street.
His uncle stayed him with a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder. "Not just yet. I am glad to find you alone, for I have something to give you. I can only hope it brings you joy and not pain."
Faramir felt his uncle's anxiety. "What is it, uncle?"
Imrahil took from his sleeve a carefully folded and sealed parchment, slightly yellowed with age. "It is a letter. From your mother."
Faramir blinked at him, feeling vaguely stunned. "From my mother? I do not understand."
"Your mother knew she was ill, very ill, and might not live long. When I last saw her, she entrusted two letters to me. One for you and one for Boromir, to be delivered on the eve of your weddings."
Imrahil handed the parchment to him, and he took it, his hands shaking slightly. He remembered so little of his mother, almost nothing; sometimes a scent would evoke her memory, or his cousin Lothíriel's blue eyes would spark a vague recollection of a kind, quiet woman. Boromir had spoken of her only rarely, and his father, almost never. Imrahil would talk of their childhood together, if Faramir asked, yet would say little of her life in Minas Tirith. He suspected his uncle had never approved of the match between his parents.
He looked up at Imrahil, feeling frightened for some unexplainable reason. His uncle pressed his hand. "I will leave you with this, for awhile. Your cousins look forward to visiting with you, before dinner, if there is time." He took Faramir's chin in his hand, tilting it to meet his eyes. "I hope this brings you no pain or sadness, my dear Faramir, for you deserve only happiness in these new days. Yet I wished to honor my sister in this matter."
He nodded. "I understand, Uncle. I...will join you presently."
With a nod, Imrahil left him alone. He willed his fingers to calm as he broke the seal on the parchment and opened the letter.
After sunset, dressed for the pre-wedding supper and party, he knocked on the door of Éowyn's chambers. It was opened by a maid, and he saw his bride sitting across the room in front of her mirror.
"Faramir," she said with a smile. She thanked and dismissed the maid, who left them alone. She turned toward him as he approached. "It is good to see you, my love. Where have you been this afternoon?"
He knelt beside her, taking her hand in his and kissing it. "I just left my uncle and cousins."
Her face lit with a smile. "I met them earlier! They are all so lovely and kind. And Lothíriel is quite astonishingly beautiful... the Queen mentioned earlier that she was seating her next to my brother this evening,"
"Really?" he answered, lifting an eyebrow. Taking Éowyn's hands, he stood, gently pulling her to her feet. Wrapping his arms around her tightly, he inhaled her hair, dropping light kisses on her forehead and cheeks before moving to her lips. He kissed her deeply, feeling her shuddering response beneath his hands and mouth. Finally breaking the kiss, he whispered, "I am the luckiest man in all Gondor, that you would marry me."
She looked into his eyes. "I am equally lucky, my love, if not more." She studied him, lifting a lock of hair from his eyes. "Did something happen? You seem...thoughtful. Even for you," she teased.
He smiled. It was fortunate that he was a man with few secrets, for he doubted his ability to withhold anything from his future wife. Keeping her hands in his, he moved them to a chaise and sat. "My uncle brought me something today. A letter."
She cocked her head to the side. "A letter? From whom?"
"From my mother," he said, unable to keep a slight tremor from his voice. "She gave it to my uncle before she died, and asked him to give it to me on the eve of my wedding."
Éowyn said nothing, but kept her eyes upon his and squeezed his hand gently, allowing him to tell her as much or as little about the letter as she wished.
"She said I would marry for love," he said, touching Éowyn's cheek. "I do not know how she knew this; I was only a small child when she died."
The corner of Éowyn's lip lifted, as if she might say something, but she did not. He continued, "She said that in marrying for love I was the most fortunate of men, and I must remember this always, and cherish my wife." He returned her smile for a moment, but then his eyes dropped. "And her love would be with me always."
There was a bit more, but that was the heart of it -- her love for him and her thoughts for his future, and a gentle admonishment to always cherish the woman at his side. Yet more than the words themselves, the letter had given him a sense of his mother, at least as she was toward the end of her life. While the letter had been full of her love for him, it could not hide her sorrow. Whether her sadness came from her illness, her relationship with his father, or something else entirely, he did not know, and probably never would.
Éowyn pressed her forehead against his, and wiped a tear from his face. Meeting her eyes again, he smoothed away the tears on her face with gentle kisses. "I am sorry, my dear. I did not mean to upset you, to remind you?" Perhaps he should not have told her, perhaps the absence of her own mother at her wedding was too much to bear. He sighed, scolding himself for not considering her reaction before sharing the letter.
"No, no, Faramir, my love," she said. "I am not distressed. I am only happy for you, that you can feel your mother's presence again, her love. Do not worry," she said, kissing him gently. "I am glad you shared this with me."
His heart lifted then, and as his arms slid around her, he vowed to honor his mother's wish, and cherish his wife always. He set the sadness he felt for his mother aside; she would not wish it upon him, not today of all days.
Releasing his embrace, Éowyn spoke. "I think, perhaps, we had better go to this party. It is in our honor, after all."
He stood, and bowed to her with a courtly flourish and smile. "My lady, would you do me the honor of accompanying me to the King's House?"
She answered with a clever smile and graceful curtsey. "It would be my great honor, my lord," she said, placing her hand in his.
Hand in hand, they stepped out the door, and into their future.
Author's Note: This story was originally written for a timed challenge on LiveJournal. Feedback of any kind is very welcome. Thanks for reading.