A/N: Wow. This has been a long time coming hasn't it? Truth be told, I was stuck as to how to finish Tolkien's story without taking away from the majesty of his words. In the end I decided to keep his dialogue and just add the feelings and gestures that he omits, and I hope I've done the scene justice as it is one of my favourites in the whole book. Anyway, this is the end of the story - the end of all things as it were. I hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Thank you for reading and please review this final chapter for me. Maybe I'll write another LOTR fic now as this one has been so much fun! Thanks again.
Disclaimer: It's not mine - the idea and most of the dialogue belongs to J.R.R Tolkien and his storytelling genius, and to New Line Cinema and Peter Jackson for bringing it to life on the big screen.I'm just playing with it for a while and I promise I'll give it back in one piece.
VIII: Do You Love Me…Or Will You Not?
The evening sun shone on the city of Minas Tirith as it had done for many days since the eagle's tidings. In the city below her Éowyn could see the preparations for the return of Aragorn and the company, men and women running and shouting to one another joyously as they prepared food, wine and buildings for the celebrations to come. Yet the sight filled her heart with less joy than she knew it ought. For with Éomer's return would come a departure that in her heart Éowyn knew she did not yet want to bear – an ending to something she felt had only just begun.
A footfall on the stairs drew her from her musings but she did not need to turn her head to know her visitor and she did not speak, fearing what she might say if she did.
The sound of Faramir's voice made her heart beat a little faster, though she still mavelled at the effect such a simple thing could have upon her counternance. Had she, a proud Shieldmaiden of Rohan really fallen in love so easily with this gentle Captain of Gondor? Had her heart changed its course so swiftly? Were it not for the effect such simple things had upon her, Éowyn would scarce have believed her own feelings yet here she stood, unable to speak for fear her feelings might betray her.
"Éowyn….why do you tarry here, and not go to Cormallen where your brother awaits you?"
"Do you not know?" Éowyn asked, her eyes still fixed on the evening sky and her voice barely a whisper on the gentle breeze.
She heard Faramir's sharp intake of breath at her words, as if he guessed her reasoning and yet dared to hope it was true, and yet his voice was level and reasoned as he replied.
"Two reasons there may be, but which is true, I do not know…"
Summoning all her courage Éowyn turned to face the young Steward, raising her eyes to his but for the briefest moment before finding herself forced to drop them once more by the fervent hope she found within them.
"I do not wish…to play at riddles. Speak plainly my lord," she demanded, though her words were stronger than her voice.
Faramir smiled gently and he took a step towards her, bringing a welcome warmth to her.
"If you would have it so, my lady...either you do not go because only your brother called to you and to look upon the Lord Aragorn now would bring you no joy, or…" he hesitated, "Or because I do not go, and you desire still to be near me. And maybe...maybe for both these reasons, and you cannot choose between them…"
Then at last the question she had both hoped for and dreaded, to which there was an answer she was only now sure of giving.
"Éowyn, do you love me…or will you not?"
Breathing in deeply, her heart pounding for the joy within her, Éowyn decided that now the time had come for honesty. It was on these walls, where they had first met that Faramir of Gondor, who had won her heart, deserved her plain answer.
"I…I wished to be loved by another" she admitted, smiling a little at her foolish younger self and the admiration she had thought to be love, "but I desire no man's pity."
Faramir nodded gently, taking her hand in his own. She could feel the beat of his heart through his fingers, pulsing as quickly as her own.
"That I know," he murmured, his voice filled both with the pain of remembrance and the hope he found within her words, "You desired to be loved by the Lord Aragorn. You wished to have renown and glory and, as a great captain may to a young soldier, he seemed admirable…"
Faramir paused, collecting his thoughts before continuing onwards, "For so he is…he is a lord among men, the greatest that is now. But when he gave you only understanding and pity, then you desired to have nothing, unless a brave death in battle…"
Éowyn could feel his gaze upon her though she kept her head down, half fearing the truth she knew she would find there. Gently he brought his hand to her face, lifting it until their eyes met.
"Look at me Éowyn" he asked, barely constrained emotion making his voice falter as his eyes met hers, "Do not scorn pity that is the gift of a gentle heart….but I do not offer you my pity. You are a lady high and valiant and you have won yourself renown that shall not be forgotten. And you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell. And…I love you. Once….once I pitied your sorrow. But now, were you sorrowless, without fear or any lack, were you the blissful Queen of Gondor itself, still I would love you…Éowyn, do you not love me?"
And it was then, standing there on the walls of Minas Tirith under the fading sun, that Éowyn of Rohan knew she had finally found what she had been searching for. Once she had sought death and glory to take away her despair but now she wished only for healing and growth, her despair wiped away by the future she saw in Faramir's clear blue eyes.
She smiled gently at him, letting her hand caress his cheek and brushing away a stray stand of his hair, "No longer do I desire to be a queen."
Faramir laughed, seeing in her answer the hope he himself had felt, "That is well for I am not a king…yet…yet I will wed the White Lady of Rohan, if that be her will?"
"Then must I leave my own people, man of Gondor?" Éowyn asked teasingly, "And would have your proud folk say 'There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North!"
She paused, her laughter dying as Faramir stepped even closer to her: so close she could feel his breath upon her cheek, making her voice drop to barely a whisper, "Was there no women of Númenor to choose?"
Leaning even closer, his voice a tone that made her heart jump and her body shiver, Faramir whispered gently, "No, there was no other. There was only my White Lady, and I would have her as my wife."
And he kissed her under the sunlit sky, upon the walls of Minas Tirith. And Éowyn cared not that the people saw them and shouted for joy, her thoughts filled only with joy and love and thoughts of a future free from shadow and despair.
And, unbeknownst to either of his patients, the Warden stood in the door of the house smilingly contentedly at all that had come to pass.
And to the Warden of the Houses Faramir said: "Here is the Lady Éowyn of Rohan, and now she is healed…"
- The Return of the King: The Steward and the King -