Éowyn shifted uncomfortably as she was dragged from her slumber; she could feel her unborn child stirring again. She laid a hand on her swollen abdomen, and the movement slowed as if the child was comforted by the touch. Éowyn smiled sleepily. She would be glad when her son or daughter was born; summers in Gondor were much hotter than what she had been used to growing up, and this summer had been particularly uncomfortable for her. But the air was much cooler tonight, and the soothing sound of rain drumming on the roof would help her to fall asleep easier. She could definitely use the rest.
She changed her mind when she realized the air against her back felt cooler than it should have. Éowyn rolled over and found an empty space behind her where her husband should have been. A flash of lightning briefly illumined the room, outlining Faramir's tall figure as he stood by the window, staring out into the storm. The low rumble of thunder covered the sound of her bare feet hitting the cool stone floor as Éowyn arose and walked over to stand slightly behind him.
Faramir visibly jumped as she laid a hand on his shoulder, then relaxed as he turned towards her. "You should be resting," he said gently, putting an arm around her shoulders tenderly.
"So should you. But our child seems to be as much of an insomniac as you are," she replied, smiling up at him. Faramir did not respond except to move behind her and wrap his arms around her more tightly. She leaned back into his embrace, feeling the warmth of his bare chest soak through the thin cotton shift she wore. For a moment neither spoke, until she asked, "Is something wrong, Faramir?"
"Why do you ask?" he said.
"I know that you have slept little these past several nights," she said. When he gave her a quizzical look, she added, "Your child wakes me up often enough that I can tell."
"Oh, it is my child now?" he teased.
"You are evading the question," she answered with mock sternness, then her voice softened. "Please, love. You know you can tell me if something is troubling you."
"I know." Faramir sighed and turned his gaze back to the window. His cheek rested lightly against her hair as another bolt of forked lightning streaked across the sky. Éowyn silently counted the moments until the thunder followed. Once the rumbling had ceased, Faramir spoke again. "The dreams have returned again."
"The ones about your father?" she asked gently. Faramir nodded silently. From time to time, particularly when he was worried about something, the former Steward haunted her husband's dreams. Since they had married, the nightmares had become rare, so Éowyn knew that Faramir must be particularly troubled for them to return. She definitely had an idea of the reason why he was so disturbed, too. She glanced down at her stomach, an all-too-present reminder of how close her time was; it would only be perhaps a week or two before the child was due. She looked up at him. "You are not like him, Faramir. You have been a wonderful father; Elboron absolutely adores you."
A smile as brief as the lightning flashed across Faramir's face at the thought of their firstborn, who was now nearly four. The boy had inherited his father's dark hair and smile, and was already showing signs that he also shared the outgoing nature of the uncle he had been named for, though tamed somewhat by Faramir's more even temper. And Faramir was a very good father; he was always quick to cease whatever he was doing and spend time with his son. Éowyn was certain that it would be no different with their second child. Faramir, however, obviously did not share her confidence. His smile faded as he rested a hand on her stomach. "I know," he said softly. "I just…" he paused as he searched for what to say next. "He was not always like that; I do remember him spending more time with us when I was very young."
"There is no need for you to defend him," Éowyn said, unable to keep an angry edge from her voice. She always found it difficult to sympathize with Denethor. Though five years had passed since his father's death and Faramir was still reluctant to speak of it, she could tell that he was still pained by Denethor's harsh behavior towards him. It still infuriated her to think that anyone would dare treat her husband that way; even more so when Faramir justified it. Faramir glanced down at her, his face pale in the flickering light. The lightning flashes were coming more frequently now, the thunder closer. "I am not angry with you," she quickly added, and he relaxed a little. They fell silent again, listening to the rain pounding harder against the glass of the window.
"I am afraid," he finally said. "I love Bron so much; how could I possibly love another child the same? I do not wish to be like my father, but sometimes I fear that I cannot avoid it."
Éowyn covered his hand with hers, and stretched up to kiss his jaw; dark stubble tickled her lips. "Must you love them the same?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" he replied.
"I love Éomer as much as you, but it is not in the same way at all," she said. "And I love Bron; I love this child just as much, but that does not mean that I will love them in the same way either. Have you not said that the problem between you and your father was that you were not Boromir?" she asked.
Faramir still looked a little confused. "I do not understand; what does that have to do with this?" he said.
"He will be different from his brother, even if the differences are small. You need to be able to love him for who he is, without comparing him to Bron. We both do."
Faramir gave her an amused look. "We could very well be having a daughter, my dear."
She rolled her eyes with a laugh. "It still applies." Éowyn felt the baby begin to kick again; Faramir's grey eyes widened in wonder as he moved his other hand to her abdomen. The kicking intensified at the touch, and she smiled. "See? The baby likes you already," she teased. Faramir smiled back. "And if the look on your face right now is any indication, I cannot believe that loving him—or her—will be a problem for you."
He kissed her ear lightly, sending a shiver of delight down her spine. "How did I ever manage to find a woman who was so wise?" he asked.
"If I am wise, I'm sure that it is only because of your good influence," she retorted with a smile as she turned towards him.
He kissed her forehead, then bent his head down until his lips captured hers in a passionate kiss. Then they abruptly pulled apart, startled as a particularly loud crack of thunder sounded almost overhead. Faramir laughed and pulled her a little closer once more, kissing the tip of her nose playfully before resting his forehead against hers. "Thank you," he said softly.
"For what?" she asked.
"For being wonderful," he said.
Éowyn rested her hand against his cheek, swallowing a yawn. "Only because you bring out the best in me," she said before kissing him again.
Faramir wrapped his arm around her waist. "You give yourself too little credit," he said, leading her back towards their bed. She did not protest as he motioned for her to get back in, then climbed in after her.
"As do you," she retorted sleepily, brushing a stray strand of hair away from his face as he propped himself up on one elbow to look down at her. Sleep was catching up with her quickly now; she would never admit it aloud, but carrying this child was exhausting. "I love you," she murmured as her eyes closed and her breathing evened.
Faramir gazed down at his wife for a long moment, smiling as he smoothed golden hair away from her forehead. He hoped that their child would look like her this time. "I love you too," he whispered as he carefully lay down so as to not disturb her, then draped his arm lightly over her swollen abdomen. "Both of you." The thunder died down to a nearly inaudible rumble, and the rhythm of the rain against the roof slowed until, coupled with Éowyn's soft breathing, it quickly lulled him to sleep.