Summary: Faramir gives a gift to his wife. "Leofwine" means "dear friend" in Anglo-Saxon.
NOTE: Written for Prompt #18: Gift at the 25fluffyfics LJ community.
Early in the years of our marriage, while Aragorn was still becoming accustomed to his new duties, I was often called upon to attend the King in my official capacity as Steward. Thus, I spent a great deal of time in Minas Tirith and not Emyn Arnen. This arrangement was disagreeable to my wife and me, since we both preferred our beloved Ithilien to the City. Nevertheless, duty is duty, and I had no choice.
However, it seemed impractical for both Eowyn and me to have to forsake our home. Far more sensible was for me to visit Minas Tirith alone and to leave my many duties in Emyn Arnen to Eowyn during my absence. Therefore we were often separated, causing even more frustration on both our parts. But there was a great amount of work to do in rebuilding both Minas Tirith and Ithilien, and, knowing that Eowyn was a more than capable administrator and that I was needed by Aragorn, we decided that our temporary separations must be borne as well as possible and that we must simply enjoy the time we did have together and look forward to more time in the future.
Often we would lie in our bed the night before I left and remain awake, enjoying each other's company before we would be parted. One such evening before a particularly long separation, Eowyn remarked, "I only wish that there was some way for you to stay here. It is so very lonely without you laying beside me."
"There are many who would enjoy keeping you company during the nights of my absence," I teased, enjoying Eowyn's growing blush.
"But," she replied with a smile, "none of them meet my high standards."
"And I do?"
Her smile turned more serious. "You are the only one who does." The depth of love for me in her eyes took my breath away, as it always did, and I promised myself at that moment that I would find some way to fulfil my wife's desire.
For me, this was not some insignificant task. Carrying in my heart the memory of my mother, who faded when separated from her homeland, I constantly dedicated myself to ensuring that the same fate would not befall Eowyn. And so I could not fail in the task I appointed myself.
But what could I do? I was needed in Minas Tirith and she was needed in Ithilien. There was no way to prevent our separations. This thought troubled me during my journey to the City, and continued to plague me during the days I spent there. Eowyn did not lack for company, certainly; she had many servants and guards, with whom she was quite close. She had a stable of horses that she could ride. She had large gardens to tend and enjoy. She had her duties as my aid in Ithilien during my absences, as well as her studies with the healers. I was the one thing that she lacked but could not have.
This dilemma was, in my eyes, very serious, and not something to be considered lightly. I would not allow Eowyn to suffer because of me. During my sleepless hours in the night, missing her as keenly as I knew she missed me, I struggled to find solutions, carefully turning over each idea in my head, but no thought seemed practical or appropriate. I began to despair of ever finding a solution. But that solution came to me unexpectedly.
After the death of my father, I had to move into the Steward's official apartments, an arrangement that did not please me at all, not only because of my father's ability to haunt my thoughts even from the grave but also because I truly did love my original rooms. Many tasks abetted my procrastination in cleaning out my old rooms, but each time I was in the City I forced myself to spend at least some time sorting through my old rooms.
Thus it was that my faithful Beregond, temporarily exchanging his guard duties for those of a manservant, found a trunk of old clothes that I had half forgotten about. "Shall I dispose of these, my lord?" he asked, gingerly lifting a rather dusty tunic.
"Nay, surely there are some clothes there that can be distributed among the poor."
"I doubt it, my lord; most of these clothes are so riddled with holes and tears that they would be best used as rags for cleaning." He removed the arm of a tunic from the trunk, smiling wryly at me. "Or piecework," he added as an afterthought.
I do not know where the idea came from, but suddenly the picture of a possible solution to my quandary appeared clearly in my head. "Save what you can for the needy, then leave the rest in the trunk. I will attend to it later." Beregond looked at me doubtfully but said nothing.
After the evening meal, I returned to the trunk in my old rooms. Lifting the lid, I could see inside a scattered assortment of pieces of old clothing, all of which had belonged to me at some point or another, many from my childhood. Carefully, I selected from the better pieces a variety of articles of clothing, trying to choose several different colours and textures. Having accomplished this, I spread them out on the floor and looked at them for a while.
Perhaps what Eowyn needed was just a simple reminder of me. Perhaps she needed something to act as my substitute when I was absent. After all, my mother's cloak, though dear to her, was far too fine for everyday use, and that was the greatest gift I had given her.
Eowyn said she was lonely. But I would give her a companion to ease some of that loneliness.
When I was a small child, one of my greatest friends had been a small stuffed rabbit that my grandfather Adrahil had given to me. I had that rabbit as long as I could remember, and would have probably had him still, had not he been shredded by one of a visiting lord's dogs when I was eight. That memory had come back to me, seeing the clothes of my childhood, and it had occurred to me that giving Eowyn a similar companion made from my clothes might give her the company she craved.
But now, as I sat there, staring at my tools, I began to reconsider my idea. It was more than childish – it was utterly ridiculous. No man had ever given his wife a more absurd gift. Eowyn was a shieldmaiden, after all, not some spineless beauty. She would scoff at such a gift, perhaps even resent it as being a gift for a weak, courtly lady. I could not bring myself to pick up my scissors to begin cutting the cloth.
But for three weeks I had been grasping for an idea, and now that an idea had come to me, I could not turn away from it. To do so would be to fail Eowyn. I decided that I would make her a stuffed companion, and then decide later whether I would give it to her. No harm came from being prepared.
And thus I began work on a stuffed horse, for I believed a horse would be the most appropriate animal for my Rohirric wife. I let my instincts and previous skills with mending my own garments guide me as I worked. It was strange, using all my free time to work on crafting a little cloth horse. I checked the door carefully before I laid out my tools to start work each day, praying that no one would discover me in such an odd occupation. Moreover, in my attempts to keep my project secret, I kept the little horse in the trunk along with the cloth, thread, and needles, and had the trunk moved to my room.
The weeks of my stay in Minas Tirith gradually passed by, and with each day the stuffed horse neared completion. I used a different cloth and colour for each part of the little creature – legs, head, body – and then filled him, or rather it, with softer cloth, finally shredding some material for the mane and tail. Two buttons served as eyes, and finally, with a sense of the ridiculousness of my gift, I stitched a great red smile onto his, or its, nose.
Finally finished with my task, I held the little stuffed horse up for inspection, and immediately felt embarrassed to have wasted valuable time on such a silly gift. I would certainly not waste Eowyn's time with him – it – either. Without any hesitation I placed the horse in a trunk of state papers, certain that I would never have cause to look at him – it – again. I then disposed of my remaining materials and waited anxiously for the next few days to come and go so that I could see Eowyn again.
Upon my return home, as always, Eowyn made me feel like the luckiest man in the world, with her joyful welcome and the care she put into everything for me. My favourite meal was prepared, along with a nice hot bath, and the next few days progressed blissfully in a similar fashion.
Most of my baggage from the journey had already been unpacked – clothes, books, scrolls all returned to their proper places – and honestly I forgot entirely about the little stuffed horse I had made for Eowyn, who still slept, or rather remained, in the trunk of papers I had hidden him in. Therefore I thought nothing of it when Eowyn offered to help me unpack the last papers.
But I certainly remembered him as soon as she opened the chest containing him. She gasped, and then lifted the little horse up, as she turned to look at me incredulously. I immediately blushed.
"What is this, Faramir?" she asked, confused.
"'Tis a horse," I replied, unable to think of better words. For a man reputed to be well spoken, I can be driven speechless too easily at times.
Eowyn raised an eyebrow. "That I can see." She stood there, horse in hand, waiting for an explanation.
I blushed in embarrassment, and looked at my feet, now unable to avoid this gift giving but wishing that I could. "I made him – it – for you," I said, cheeks burning furiously. "I thought it might make you… less… lonely…"
Eowyn simply stared at me, then down at the little horse, then back at me. "You – made him? For me?"
I nodded my head, uncertain of her reaction. She immediately launched herself at me, throwing her arms around my neck, even as she still held the horse in her hand. I wrapped my arms around her automatically, though I did not understand at all.
When she finally pulled away from me, there were tears in her eyes. "I cannot believe you went through all this trouble for me. This is the most thoughtful gift that I have ever received."
"You – like him then?" I asked, unbelievingly. "I was certain you would think it a silly gift, and I had already decided that I would not give him to you."
"Silly? That you care so deeply for me and for my happiness that you seek to help me even when you are not here?" Eowyn placed her hand upon my cheek. "That is not silly. That is – that is wonderful."
I had no words for her, so I said nothing, speechless once more. That is the strength of the power that Eowyn holds over me.
We kissed then, and when we finally parted, she raised the little horse to her cheek, feeling the material. "He smells like you," she said with a laugh.
"I made him from my old tunics," I replied. "I hope the smell is not unpleasant."
"Nay, not at all," she said, smiling once more. "Indeed, he shall make an excellent companion for me when you are away." She stroked the horse's mane, then looked up at me again. "I shall call him Leofwine, and he shall remain my 'dear friend' always."
When next I returned home from Minas Tirith, I arrived in the middle of the night, and so I crept into our rooms and undressed as silently as possible, not wishing to disturb Eowyn. The darkness prevented me from seeing Eowyn clearly at first, but when I approached our bed, I could see that she had one arm stretched across the bed where I usually slept beside her and that her other arm was tightly clutching little Leofwine to her chest.
Seeing her like that, so fiercely protective of Leofwine, so fiercely protective of my substitute and thus of me, and yet so fair, with her golden hair streaming over the pillow and over her shoulders, covering Leofwine in a shimmering blanket – seeing her like that made me realise that she would not leave me, as my mother did. I did not have to fear her fading, for she did not long for her homeland or for her family or for freedom from a cage. She longed for only me, desired only me, needed only me.
If it was possible, I fell even more deeply in love with the woman who was my wife.
Gently, so as not to disturb her peaceful sleep, I climbed into our bed. But my movements had already woken her, and she sat up, raising joyful eyes to meet me and stretching out her hand to pull me beside her. I smiled. "I see you and Leofwine have bonded," I said. "I do hope there is room for one more in this bed."
"I must look so silly," Eowyn said quickly, keeping her eyes and her cheeks now red with embarrassment turned down towards her lap, where Leofwine now sat.
Using my hand, I gently raised her face and looked directly into her eyes. A smile came to my lips. "There is no fairer sight in all of Arda," I replied.
Note: I won't claim to know whether stuffed animals fit into LotR canon, but I don't see why not.