"You look saddened this eve, my Lady."
Eowyn, gazing out into distant east, had lost herself within thought. A balmy breeze swept across the blooming courtyard of the houses of healing, and her golden tresses were pulled from where they lay unconfined, tumbling in gentle waves down her slender back. Upon her pale cheeks, a healthy blush coloured her cheekbones, and her eyes were set across the plateau, unblinking, sparkling with the lazy sunlight. With her hands resting gently on the light, cloudy stone wall, she was alone in the orange light of the setting sun, a pale green mantle pulled tight about her. The long sleeves of her grey dress flourished in the wind.
Taken off guard by the eloquent voice, Lady Eowyn spun around, a hand raised to her breast, as if to tame her fast beating heart. She exhaled deeply when she saw that she was faced by the gentle figure of Faramir, his deep grey eyes inquisitive yet knowing. She smiled slightly at him, her steely eyes meeting with his for the slightest moment and thawing, before she turned back to the wall and to the eastern horizon.
"My Lord, today the riders return from the black gates."
"Is this not worthy of celebration?"
"Aye, Captain, but there is fear growing within me."
"What is it that you fear, my Lady Rider?"
"That it is not over."
Faramir, who had not yet chosen to advance upon the stoic woman, now walked beside her and joined her into gazing east. His handsome face, unreadable and pure, stared ahead, and his dark hair joined hers in the dancing wind. Tearing her eyes from the horizon, Eowyn turned to look at him, examining the face of the man who was so adored by all who knew him. His high cheekbones cast a shadow on his face as the light drained from the sky, and his forest green raiment hugged his lean body comfortably. He was strong in both body and mind, but his character was tender and caring, and the ever present softness about his eyes conveyed his true self with a quiet vulnerability. She sighed and sidled beside him, allowing herself to tilt into him affectionately. Resting his head upon hers, he kissed her golden hair and remarked in a hushed voice:
"Eowyn, fair Lady of Rohan, surely you feel a stillness about the air, about your environment, about your heart which was rarely present until now? I know this to be so, because I too feel it. All is finally tranquil, and everyone who wishes it feels it too. The town is in song, and the sun shines. Colours are brighter, more vibrant than ever have they been, and the beauty of one woman," concluded Faramir with a glance downwards towards his lady, "has never seemed more radiant."
Eowyn pulled away from his warm embrace, her hands still in his, and she looked up into his earnest eyes. He rested his forehead upon hers, leaning over her in his height, breath bated. She brushed upwards and placed a kiss on his lips, feeling flushed with warmth the minute his mouth touched hers. He wrapped his strong arms about her, pulling her tightly towards him, before running one of his hands through her mane, curls tumbling through his long fingers. Eowyn had told him before that he had pianist's fingers, long and slender, and in response, he had caressed her gently curved face with them, touching her softly and tenderly.
The bastion of Minas Tirith was a hush below them, and the moment seemed their own. Stars shone gaily in the night sky, winking merrily as they and the pale faced moon cast an ethereal yet serene light upon the couple, bound so together by emotions and a twisted, lovely mess of arms and bodies. Eowyn had the collar of Faramir's dark green, velvet shirt clasped tightly in her hands, and she pulled him ever tighter towards her, her leg lifting slightly from the ground as she fell deeper into the Captain. Though Eowyn had instigated the kiss, there was no doubt that Faramir had gained the upper hand, and the kiss was now his, every move manipulated by him, because, independent and stoic as she was, the Steward had tamed her, and she was still a woman.
Finally, once all the breath in his lungs had been spent, Faramir took his mouth from hers and placed a small, final kiss on her brow. Giving a mirth-filled laugh, Eowyn inclined her eyes towards Faramir's and commented pertly yet sincerely:
"Whatever would I do, my Lord Faramir, without you to keep me from falling into-"
"I know not, but I fancy that you would find some dashing hero of the Rohirrim to fill my place," teased Faramir with a good natured laugh.
"As of yet, we are not married. Do not put all of your shield maidens into one basket, my Lord," replied Eowyn saucily, neglecting to tell him that he would ever be a dashing hero in her eyes.
"I have but one shieldmaiden, and I put her nowhere but within the safe confines of my arms."
"Then you are safe, my Lord," stated Eowyn with a smile, before adding as a foreboding afterthought, "for now."
Giving another throaty laugh, Faramir pulled Eowyn close to his body, leaning once more his head upon hers. She closed her eyes and rested her head against his chest, hearing his deep, steady heartbeat and being comforted by it. Faramir brushed her long locks of hair from her face, and kissed her soundly on the forehead, when both heard an obvious coughing from behind them. Both spun guiltily around, and to Eowyn's delight and Faramir's horror, Eomer stood towards the entrance to the gardens of the Houses of Healing, his hands clasped behind his back in the manner of a naughty schoolchild.
"Brother!" cried Eowyn, running from one embrace to another, leaping into Eomer's arms.
"You act as though you did not expect me back at all, Sister."
"I was concerned, but I know that you are formidable in a fight."
Eomer laughed and tousled his sister's hair, but in a moment, when he looked up and met the eyes of Faramir, his face turned grave once more, and he released his sister and told her firmly:
"Sister, I wish to speak to Lord Faramir, and as such I beg your leave."
"As you wish brother," said Eowyn with a light curtsey to Eomer, before she turned to Faramir, curtseyed again, and called gently: "Good night, Captain Faramir. Will you join me later? I wish to take another turn about the gardens."
"I will, Lady Eowyn."
With that, Eowyn turned and left the gardens, shooting one last look at the bewildered Captain. He was frantically calling her back with his eyes, but she just smiled a little and retreated around the corner from which Eomer had appeared.
The king of Rohan walked towards Faramir, his hands still clasped behind his back, and he looked nonchalantly across the eastern plain, almost as if he were ignoring the unfortunate steward. Faramir stood in silence, allowing Eomer to take his time in dealing his punishment, but he was surprised when the rider turned quietly to him and asked him softly:
"Lord Faramir, may I ask what I have just witnessed?"
"It depends, Eomer King. How long were you standing there?"
"Merely a moment."
"Then you witnessed a friend comforting a friend," claimed Faramir.
Eomer nodded knowingly, his lips pursed and a doubting look in his eyes. Scratching his bearded chin thoughtfully, he looked into Faramir's honest grey eyes with scrutiny, before coughing gruffly and questioning:
"And were I there longer?"
Faramir, who had returned to leaning wearily on the stone wall, froze rigid and sighed in defeat. Never a natural liar, his candid face often gave away the truth and he learnt from an early age that he was better off using that. Boromir had informed him that he was a terrible liar, and had also told him that, having instead an innate charm and endearing nature, it would be more beneficial for him to use those to his advantage. As such, turning to Eomer and looking firmly yet respectfully into his eyes, Faramir told him:
"A lover comforting a lover."
The two held each other's gaze for what seemed aeons, the two honest men trying to read each other's indecipherable faces. Finally, Eomer broke into a smile.
Pippin skipped merrily towards the beautiful gardens of the Houses of Healing. The smells and colours were the closest thing he could find to The Shire, and he frequented the area. The place was silent, and the flowers were wrapped in a bright darkness, moonlight and starlight cutting through the black. The balmy evening had turned into a mild night, though there was a chill about the air, and Pippin tucked his cloak tightly about his form.
"Brisk out here tonight, Pip," he told himself. "Should've brought an extra blanket."
He walked towards the main courtyard and he rested his head on the wall. His curly brown hair rustled in the wind, and all was quiet. Were it not for the smell of pipe weed, Pippin probably wouldn't have known that he was in the company of another. He spun round in surprise, and discovered that a man was sitting on the stone wall of a large flower box. His long lean legs were stretched out before him, and he was leaning his back against a short, thick tree. His mantle was pulled all about him, the dark green colour enveloping his slender frame, and the hood was pulled down below his eyes. A long stemmed pipe protruded from the void within the hood, and a thin curl of smoke lifted gently in wisps from the lit weed. One hand was visible from beyond the cloak, and it held the bottom of the pipe gently.
Advancing slowly, Pippin scrutinised this fellow, the image reminding him of a strange night in Bree. He cocked his head to one side and asked indecisively:
A laugh came from within the hood, and the hand holding the pipe lifted and tossed the cloak back from his face, revealing the kind face of Faramir, wrought with bemusement.
"Though I loathe to disappoint, it is only I."
Pippin laughed and shook his head, before walking over to where Faramir sat. The captain pulled the pipe from between his mouth and wiped the mouthpiece subtly with his sleeve, before offering it to the young hobbit. Sharing a pipe, in hobbit lore, was a show of great friendship, and Pip accepted it gratefully. Puffing on it for a moment before sighing with a groan of satisfaction, he leant against Faramir's tree and stated cheerfully:
"You're never a disappointing companion, Lord Faramir."
"You only say that because I usually carry pipe weed with me."
Pippin had introduced him to the hobbit pastime and since, Faramir had taken to it quite vehemently. After Pippin offered him back his creamy, ivory pipe, he pulled his hood back over his head, feeling the chill wind on his face, and replaced the pipe to his mouth. He let out a deep sigh and then stretched his long legs with a contented groan. Pippin picked a piece of lint from his companion's sleeve absently before asking with curiosity:
"What are you doing out here Faramir? Smoking alone isn't as enjoyable as smoking with friends."
"I was enjoying the company of the White Lady of Rohan."
"Oh aye? I'm afraid I'm not so fair company as Lady Eowyn, or at least, so Merry has led me to believe."
Faramir raised an eyebrow at him from under the hood of the mantle, and Pippin sent him a look that was supposed to be withering before grinning and commenting casually:
"So where is your fair Lady?"
"My fair Lady?" repeated Faramir quickly. "Whatever do you mean, Master Pippin?"
Freezing suddenly, Pippin's eyes grew wide and, with his lips pursed, he turned his head stiffly and opened his mouth to say something, before changing his mind and closing it again. Faramir glared at him, and eventually, under the Captain's harsh frown, Pippin sighed and admitted:
"Well, it was mostly hobbit shrewdness, Lord Faramir. Merry had suspected that you and Eowyn were courting, and had confided in me, so naturally, Meriadoc and myself pressed Eowyn to glean more obscure details."
"You nosey hobbits!" laughed Faramir, more amused than angry. "You and Master Brandybuck should be ashamed!"
"Then it is so?"
"Marvellous news," smiled Pippin. "There hasn't been much reason for a party for over a year, what with Frodo wandering off with the ring and Saruman and the Siege of Gondor and Denathor's-"
"That will do, Master Peregrin," Faramir told him sharply, just as Pippin realised what he was saying. "But I agree. It couldn't have occurred at a better time."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean…"
"Worry not, my young friend. I am not angry."
A slightly uneasy silence fell upon the pair of them, and Pippin shifted uncomfortably, while Faramir stared forward, his eyes glinting slightly in the pipe embers from the darkness of his hood. In that moment of contemplation, Pippin thought that he looked more like Strider than ever before, his hood pulled over his face like a shroud, mantle pulled tightly about him mistrustfully. The foolish near-comment about Denathor had clearly ruffled the passive man, and Pip worried that he had offended him, but when Faramir offered him his pipe once more, Pippin left out a relaxed sigh and accepted it gratefully.
"Are you planning to marry her?"
"I am. I wish to, at least."
"And what has Eomer said?"
Faramir exhaled with a small laugh, and if he flung back his hood Pippin would have detected a hint of a blush on the pale cheeks of the Steward. Standing up, he walked casually over to the wall overlooking the east, and he pulled himself onto it and sat facing Pip, before replying:
"He has given his happy consent."
"Eomer is a good man, Faramir. Were you expecting otherwise?"
"No; but Eowyn is all he has now. Also, it had struck me that he might prefer her to marry one from Rohan."
"You are a decent, respectable man of Gondor. The bond between the two regions will be wrought anew."
"So said Eomer King," Faramir agreed, before a light of mirth glowed in his grey eyes, and he added, "He also said that he said that he was looking forward to having a brother to bully Eowyn with."
"I bet Lady Eowyn will be overjoyed to hear that. Eomer's probably looking forward to the nuptials more than either of you."
Faramir laughed, holding Pippin's shoulder affectionately, his dark locks sweeping over his face. Shaking the hair from his face, he sighed amusedly and accepted his pipe back from the young Hobbit, slipping it between his lips deftly and looking into the starlit sky. In a second he was grinning again, and he shook his head, holding his forehead in hand, before stamping the floor with his foot decisively and walking fast towards the exit of the gardens.
"Where are you going, Faramir?"
Sweeping around, his cloak folding about him in a smooth wave of dark green material, he walked backwards while shouting back to Pippin:
"I have an appointment with my fiancée!"
Eowyn closed the door of her bathroom softly, having bid the handmaidens to go. They had fluttered from her room one by one leaving her to finally relax. Before they had left, they had made her a bath, and Eowyn untied the belt on her bathrobe and let it slide to the floor. Stepping into the warm water, she let out a sigh of contentment, before she sank down and allowed the steam to curl about her.
Her hair was loosely tied atop her head, but curled locks furled down her back, pooling about in the water. He long lashed eyes were closed wearily, and her thoughts were filled by certain 'dashing' Captains of Gondor. She wondered what Eomer had said to him, and she nearly began to giggle aloud when she though of the look on Faramir's face when she had left. She felt a little bit guilty about it, but above all, she was amused.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the door opening behind her, and an inquiring voice calling softly:
"Eowyn? Are you..?"
The voice was cut short when a head popped around the door, and Eowyn squeaked in a very brave manner. Faramir started and promptly slammed the door shut, before calling through the ornately carved entrance:
"Eowyn! I'm sorry, I-I didn't know that you were… You told me to come up…!"
At Faramir's embarrassment, Eowyn did laugh, but she then pulled the suds atop the bath towards her, covering her immodesty, before calling back:
"It's all right now Faramir, I am decent."
Faramir shyly opened the door, and with a sheepish look on his face, he sidled through the door. Eyeing him with a grin, Eowyn beckoned him closer, and he walked behind her and rested his head on the naked shoulder. She turned her face towards his and placed a kiss on his mouth, before asking with a sigh:
"What did Eomer say to you, my Lord Faramir? And what could you have taken so long discussing?"
"Well, my Lady, I spoke to Eomer King of the matter of us, and our engagement."
"And what did he say?"
"He gave his consent."
Eowyn howled suddenly with ecstasy, and she spun round in the bath to grab Faramir and embrace him tightly. Taken off guard, the poor Captain was pulled towards her, and he was roped into the bath, fully clothed and looking slightly subdued. He lay atop Eowyn, whose arms were still lying around his neck, and their faces were nose-to-nose. Faramir leaned down to kiss her soundly on the mouth, and she closed her eyes contentedly. She sighed happily and commented:
"Then you are now my fiancé?"
"I feel light headed," Eowyn informed Faramir in a matter-of-face voice.
"I tend to have that effect on people," laughed the Captain.
Eowyn pouted at him sarcastically, and Faramir just grinned at her charmingly, before giving her a final kiss on her brow, to which she responded:
"Now, my silly Captain, get out of my bath and wash my hair."
Faramir nudged her nose with his lovingly before he pushed himself out of the bath. His clothes were sodden and heavy and his cloak swam out into the water. His hair was soaking, strewn about his handsome face in soggy strands and when he stood up and looked in the mirror, he gave a laugh at his reflection. Water was all over the floor, and it squelched out of his boots when he walked, but he didn't mind. He knelt at the end of the bath where Eowyn had rested her head, and he poured some liquid from a small earthenware pot at the side of the bath into his hand, before rubbing it into Eowyn's soggy golden hair and lathering it up. He massaged the soap into her hair with the tips of his fingers, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and she rested against his hands leisurely.
"So what took so long with my brother?"
"Well, speaking with Lord Eomer didn't actually take that long. After that though, I smoked in the garden for a little while, and then I spoke to Pippin."
"You smoke too much, my Lord."
"Don't worry. I've only just taken it up. I'm sure the novelty will wear off."
"I'm not complaining. You look good with a pipe. Anyway," laughed Eowyn, "What could have been so important with Master Took that you postponed washing my hair?"
Faramir chuckled happily, before pulling Eowyn's head to face his and kissing her. She looked beautiful, her hair covered in white foam, squinting to stop her eyes stinging, the body submerged beneath cloudy, aromatic water. He was marrying this amazing woman, after all of the strife he had endured in his life, and he couldn't be happier.
"Nothing at all, my love."