Late on Mettarë Eve, after the bonfire has been lit and songs sung, dances happily pattered on the marble floor of his hall in Emyn Arnen, the Prince himself returns from Minas Tirith.
The night is warm for the season, as is Faramir's heart when he spies his lady in the courtyard. She stands beneath the holly tree; her hair bound only by a wreath of green leaves. The full moon's light bathes her in shadowed silver. He catches his breath, for she is as fair as she was when he first pledged her his love, a pale and slender maiden.
Heart and loins quickening, Faramir strides to Éowyn, and takes her in his arms.
She laughs. "You are home early! The King's message said to expect you tomorrow."
"We finished our deliberations early." Faramir answers, tightening his grip. Éowyn is less slender now, but the slight roundness of breast and hip becomes her. She is too active a woman to add excessive flesh. The body that has borne three children also trains horses, and has a horsewoman's strength. He strokes his lady's golden hair, inhales the clean scent of soap, mint, and Éowyn herself.
"Father!" a clear voice rings out just as Faramir prepares to kiss her. Elboron runs out of the house in bare feet, a robe over his nightshirt. His younger sister Míriel follows, similarly clad. Thankfully, little Cynwen is too young to walk, let alone trot out so late at night.
"What are you doing there?" Their son and heir inquires, frowning. At ten, Elboron views kisses as a loathsome spectacle. He and Míriel exchange wary glances. Míriel tosses her dark head impatiently, while Elboron wrinkles his nose in distaste.
"Observing a special tradition of our house, my son," Faramir's voice sounds pompous in his own ears, but he continues, ignoring Éowyn's subdued snicker. "During Mettarë, when one stands beneath the berries of the holly tree, one may bestow a kiss…properly asked of course."
Looks of horror cross the children's faces. Faramir takes pity on his son and daughter. "In this tradition, only those who are of age may expect, or give kisses."
"Children, you'll catch cold" adds Éowyn. "Hurry back to bed!"
"Elboron, please escort your sister back to her room." Faramir says quietly. "I trust I need not come after you to see that you are truly asleep."
"Very well. I shall see you both in the morning;" Faramir promises. "If you go to sleep now, there shall be presents tomorrow."
His children smile, and run hand in hand back into the house. "I would have gifted them even if they stayed up longer," Faramir admits. "But I wanted this time with you alone."
"You enjoy giving the children presents even more than they enjoy the getting," Éowyn says fondly; moving closer against him. "And when did we begin this custom of kisses under the holly tree? Is that not a Northern habit?"
"Since this night," he replies. "And the Halflings' mistletoe is too far north to use here." He stops her soft laughter with a deep kiss.
A few long and lovely moments later, he releases her mouth. She grins, then touches his thin, eager face. "My lord, I fully approve this new custom."
"I thought you might find it worthy of our court." Faramir answers, mischief lurking in his keen yes. "But bide with me; and let us try the rite once more in practice. I have missed you this last week, my lady."
They press together, lips meeting hungrily while hands wander. He hardens; her breath quickens in want. When at last they break apart, her mantle has fallen, and his hair is disheveled. He retrieves the silver cloak and fastens it around her green-clad shoulders. His fingers trace a trail of milky-smooth skin up her throat to her ear. Of course, another kiss is needed. New customs should be fully tested before they become traditions.
The moon shines on Éowyn's hair and glistens on the red berries that adorn the holly tree's dark green leaves.
Laughing like young lovers, Faramir and Éowyn join hands. Together, they forsake the courtyard for the candlelit comfort of their bedchamber.
Author's Note: Míriel and Cynwen are OFC's. I always believed that Faramir and Eowyn would have at least one daughter as well as the semi-canonical Elboron; and the girls insisted on being named here.