The usual disclaimer applies.... I own nothing. And I'll do my best to return the characters unharmed.
Promises to Keep
I set my pen down, rubbing idly at my temples in an attempt to get rid of the headache that was threatening to form. If Éowyn had been in the room, she would say I should not push myself so hard, or that I worked too much. I smiled at the thought, then realized that I had seen no trace of my wife since the noon meal. She was usually very considerate about allowing me to finish my work uninterrupted, but when night began to fall, she would nearly always find an excuse to come into the study and check on me, such as ensuring that I would not forget to eat supper. But one look out of the window revealed that twilight had already taken a firm hold on Ithilien, and there was no sign of her.
I pushed the chair back and stood up. "Éowyn?" I called out. There was no answer. Nor could I find her in any of her usual places in the house, so I grabbed my cloak, thinking that perhaps she had gone out to the stables and simply lost track of time. When I opened the door, sure enough, I could see the footprints she had left in the recent snow, leading towards the stables. From there, I could see hoofprints leading into the woods.
It should not have surprised me; since we had moved to Emyn Arnen the previous summer, one of her favorite ways to pass the time had become riding her beloved Windfola through the woods surrounding our house. But it still surprised me how much a child of the open Rohirric plains had taken to the thick woods of Ithilien, or at least seemed to.
I have to admit I worry about her sometimes; though she never speaks of it, I know she often misses her homeland. And though I had sworn to myself before marrying her that I would never allow her to pine away for Rohan like my mother had done for her home by the sea, Éowyn can be quite adept at hiding her true feelings, even from me when she truly wishes to. She had been rather subdued the day before, during the snowstorm that had buffeted the new settlement, and so I could not help wondering if her homesickness was becoming too much for her.
I thought about taking my horse to search for her, but then decided I would be able to track her more easily on foot. Her path was easy to follow; the moon was nearly full, and its reflection off of the freshly-fallen snow was more than sufficient to light my way. And even if she had made an effort to hide her tracks, she had not had the years of experience in tracking that became second nature to any Ranger of Ithilien. Still, I was surprised at how far into the forest she had ventured, knowing that night was falling. I found her horse first; the grey stallion was tethered to a tree branch by the edge of a clearing. As he caught my scent, Windfola lifted his head and snorted in recognition. I patted his flank, then stepped around him.
It seemed to me that the weather must have warmed during the day; the bare, dark branches of the trees surrounding the clearing were nearly coated in a thick layer of ice that shimmered in the pale light. Éowyn was standing in the center of the clearing, facing away from me, the moonlight turning her flaxen hair to silver waves as it tumbled down her back. I could see the edge of her split riding skirt billowing around her legs in the slight breeze. Her hand rested near the edge of her dark cloak, almost luminescent in the twilight. I could not help but be reminded of those first few times I had seen her in the gardens of the Houses of Healing. I had called her the White Lady of Rohan then, for that was how she had seemed to me; she reminded me of the distant, cold beauty of winter. She had warmed considerably since then, and it grieved me to think that she might have withdrawn again. I could hold my tongue no longer. "Éowyn?" I called out softly.
She turned towards me then, a startled look on her face. She quickly relaxed, her lips curving into a smile as she stepped towards me and said, "Faramir."
I could not help smiling; something about the way she said my name, with that hint of a Rohirric accent that nearly a year of living in Gondor had not taken from her, always made my heart lighter. "What are you doing out here, love?" I asked, closing the distance between us and taking her hands. "Your hands are freezing!" I exclaimed.
"I suppose I lost track of time," Éowyn admitted with a short laugh. "It was so beautiful here that I had to stop."
"I was worried about you," I replied, unable to keep a slight note of admonishment out of my voice as I pulled her into my arms in an attempt to warm her.
"You worry about me too much," she retorted, pulling back slightly. "You hardly even take care of yourself. If I did not remind you to eat and sleep on occasion…"
"I know," I interrupted. "I know not what I would do without you here, Éowyn." Her protest died on her lips, a sudden light of understanding in her grey eyes as she relaxed into my embrace. We stood there like that for a long moment, content to stay silent, until I could hold back my question no longer. "Éowyn, do you miss your home?" I asked, pulling back slightly and searching her face for an answer.
She smiled warmly as her eyes met mine. "If you mean to ask if I miss Rohan, then yes, sometimes I do. But this is my home," she said, pressing a light kiss against my mouth. Then she pulled back, a mischievous gleam in her eye. "You did forget to eat supper, did you not?"
"I was waiting for you?" was my feeble excuse. She grinned and playfully swatted my arm. "And we had best hurry back. You know the cook gets cross when I let supper go cold…" I added, lifting her off her feet and into my arms, and carrying her towards Windfola. Her protesting laughter echoed through the silent forest long after we had mounted her horse and begun the journey back home.
A/N: The title comes from Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Special thanks to Carrie R for giving me the idea.