This takes place 81 years later. Yes, you read that right. 81 years later.
"Ada!" Faramir smiled as his Little Bird tightly embraced him. Lady Aewiel, a mother four times over, had come with her husband and children to celebrate the anniversary of the end of the War of the Ring.
"It is good to see you, Little Bird. We are glad you all could make it." Faramir smiled and embraced his son-by-law, a tall man with dark hair and silver eyes. "I hope your father has not been working you too hard, Eldarion."
The Prince-heir of Gondor returned the smile. "Well, he allowed me to leave at least."
"I am glad. Now where are my grandchildren who I never get to see?"
Aewiel and Eldarion's four children, ages 33, 32, 29, and 27, all greeted their grandfather warmly. The oldest, a boy, rolled his eyes. "What do you mean you never see us? We are in Emyn Arnen at least once every month if not more."
Faramir playfully punched him in the arm. "Where is the respect you are supposed to show to your elders? Go now, all of you. Your cousins are all inside waiting for you in the sitting room."
As the two boys and two girls headed through the house Faramir, Aewiel, and Eldarion walked slowly behind them. Aewiel held tightly to her father's arm, saddened by the slight tremble she felt in his once strong body. This was one of the reasons Aewiel had returned; it was obvious to everyone that the former Steward was nearing his end. The healers claimed it was his old battle-wounds acting up, but Aewiel and her siblings guessed that it had more to do with Lady Éowyn nearing her own death. Éowyn had been blessed with a long life for one of her people, and with Faramir fading so quickly for one of his blood many believed that one just would not live without the other.
The three entered the sitting room to find Aewiel's four children already chattering with their seven cousins. Aewiel helped Faramir sit on the couch next to Éowyn who in her old age no longer had the strength to walk. The elderly couple quickly laced their hands together and kissed, bringing a smile to their four children. Faramir settled back, watching each member of his family.
Aewiel, his golden-haired Little Bird, had happily married her best friend Eldarion at a fairly young age. Both Faramir and Estel had been delighted to have their oldest children marry. Four children had soon followed to the joy of the new grandparents.
Faramir's eyes settled on his oldest son, who had been the Steward of Gondor for some time. Elboron took after his mother in looks and his father in temper. He also took after both parents with his stubbornness. Elboron had shocked everyone when he declared that he was going to marry Inzilrûn, a Haradric princess of Númenórean descent. When everyone from Éowyn and Aragorn to the princess's entire clan objected, Elboron and Inzilrûn eloped. Only Faramir's temperance stopped a war from breaking out. Despite the rocky start, the entire family grew to love the gentle Inzilrûn and were delighted when three children blessed the marriage.
A shriek followed by laughter interrupted Faramir's thoughts. He looked up to see Elboron's only girl, a 27 year old beauty, jumping around trying to get a frog out of her dark hair. Faramir didn't even have to look to know who was responsible, though the fact that the girl was glaring at her uncles would have given it away anyway. The twins, Elhísen and Eláston, were too much like Elladan and Elrohir for their own good. Both dark-haired and silver-eyed, the twins looked like their father with the spirit of mother mixing nicely with all the pranks Elladan and Elrohir had taught them.
Actually Faramir felt sometimes that his twins were more alike than even Elladan and Elrohir. Both were healers and very smart, learning much from the books left to them by Elrond, the grandfather they never knew. They had even married identical twins! The golden-haired daughters of Naicalle and Norien of Lossarnach, friends of Faramir and Éowyn, were the only ones able to handle their husbands at times. Elhísen and his wife, Halla, were blessed (or cursed as Eláston like to tease) with twins of their own, though one was a girl and the other a boy. Eláston and Harith had a girl and boy also, though of different ages.
Seeing everyone together accentuated the absence of those who were missing. Hearing Éowyn sigh sadly, Faramir knew she was thinking the same. A glance to the corner of the room pained the empty spot in his heart, seeing the harp that their youngest daughter used to play continuously. Dark-haired Lanthiril had mirrored her father's love of history and lore, and throughout her whole life she had found happiness in everything Eru blessed her with. At age eight, Lanthiril had contracted the crimson fever which left her blind and weak. Despite this she was always happy, quietly listening to the world around her. Faramir had found it a joy to read books to her and tell stories of far-off adventures that his precious daughter could never go on. At night the entire family would listen to her play the harp, her fingers seeing what her eyes did not. Times were pleasant then.
Those times had ended 23 years before when a virulent influenza swept through Emyn Arnen, killing Lanthiril and Elhísen's three-year old daughter. The family had grieved, especially Elhísen who lost both his little sister and his only child at the same time. Time had healed the loss some, particularly with the birth of Elhísen's twins, but there was still a sharp pang whenever the two were mentioned.
Faramir squeezed Éowyn's hand who squeezed his right back. The former Steward drank in every detail of his beloved wife's face. Though her skin was wrinkled and her hair was white, Faramir didn't think she could be any more beautiful. Life had been good to them. Seldom had Faramir been called to war and he was allowed to spend his time as he wished: with his beloved wife and wonderful children. 'Yes, it has been a good life.'
Three days later King Elessar and Queen Arwen arrived for the celebration, as did Elladan, Elrohir, Glorfindel, and Eluial. Faramir was extremely glad to see his brothers and friends; the old Steward knew it was almost time for him to lay down his life in the tradition of his forefathers.
It pained the elves to see Faramir limping from old wounds, his hair streaked with white. All four could remember the frightened little boy taken into Lord Elrond's care so many years before. That boy had grown into a man blessed with five children and twelve grandchildren.
Estel, Elladan, and Elrohir particularly spent a lot of time with their brother. All knew the end was coming and wished to be with Faramir as much as possible. Though the deaths of Éomer and Lothiriel a few years before had prepared them for grief, they knew that no amount of preparation would be able to sooth their heartache.
The evening after the celebration, everyone gathered in the sitting room. Laughter and chitchat filled the air as the family reminisced about the day and the War that it signified. As the sun set everyone turned to the youngest grandchild, Eláston's son. For eleven years it had been tradition for each grandchild from oldest to youngest to ask for a specific story to be told. This year it was young Peregrin's turn.
Peregrin, 21 years old and named for a certain hobbit, smiled at Faramir. He had thought long and hard about what story he wanted and now knew exactly what it was. "Grandfather, tell us about you."
Faramir sat back in his chair and raised his eyebrow. "During the war?"
The young man shook his head. "No, about you. Last year we heard about Grandmother. I want to know your story."
Faramir sipped his drink and looked around at his family. Estel, Arwen, Elladan, Elrohir, Glorfindel, and Eluial. Éowyn, Aewiel, Eldarion, Elboron, Inzilrûn, Eláston, Elhísen, Halla, and Harith. All his grandchildren. He smiled. "Very well. My earliest memory is the death of my mother. That was when my father, Denethor, began to change…"
Night fell and all went to bed after a round of hugs, kisses, and 'I love you's.' Éowyn gently wrapped her arms around her husband as they lay in bad, careful of the old wounds that were paining him more and more. "Faramir."
The once golden-haired lady nestled closer to Faramir. "It has been good, has it not? Our lives."
He kissed her forehead and held her to him. "It has been very good."
"Do you have any regrets?"
Faramir thought back throughout his life. So much heartache, yet so much love. "Nay, there are no regrets min léof. Not one."
Éowyn laid her head on his chest. "I love you, Faramir."
"I love you too, Éowyn."
It was Estel that found them the next morning, their arms still locked around each other. Their spirits had left the boundaries of the world together, as the king knew they would have wanted it. The whole of Gondor grieved their deaths, as did Rohan under King Elfwine.
Faramir and Éowyn were buried together, for no one could separate their bodies. They were laid beside Lanthiril and their granddaughter in the Tomb of the Stewards in Emyn Arnen. No eyes were dry that day.
Years later, after the deaths of Estel and Arwen, Elladan and Elrohir took to the sea with Glorfindel and Eluial. They traveled to Valinor and were reunited with their parents, Elrond and Celebrían. After the tale was told of his foster sons' last years, Elrond removed himself from his family to stand beside the sea. As the tears clouded his eyes, he smiled at the memory of the boys who had become his beloved sons. Until we meet again, my sons. Until we meet again.
sniff. sniff. I think I'm going to cry now. I can't believe it's over! I was planning on making some prequels focusing on Elrond, but I just don't have the time right now. Perhaps someday... I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Thank you for being so wonderful!