Disclaimer: Still not Tolkien.

A/N: This is an issue I've wanted to write about for a while and now I have. Not sure how I feel about the story on a whole but I do like certain parts of it…anyways. Eowyn PoV, Post-RotK, Eowyn/Faramir.

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They look at her.

Swift looks from the corners of sharp eyes, whispers sprung from silver tongues, snipes and murmurs that follow her within her new home, echoing off the marble walls.

Pale hands and soft eyes, raven locks and well versed minds, all of them bowing and scraping when in her lord's presence, all mocking and questioning when lacking it.

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More and more often does she find herself alone, wandering her gardens in search for respite, finding temporary tranquility with the lilies and poises as duty draws him away.

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"Are you happy?" He asks in the solitude of their chamber, his breath warm on her shoulder.

"I am with you." She says and he lets the silence stand.

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She is not like them, but then again she never held illusions.

Stranded in the sea of marble and onyx how was a maiden of straw and leather ever meant to hide?

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Days pass in stillness and she finds the quiet of their white halls too heavy, finds the stares and inquiries too much.

They plan to smother her, she knows it, plan to crush her beneath the weight of their whispers and their eyes, wait for her shoulders to slump and her back to crack and bend until she can no longer draw breath for the mass of it all.

They wait for her to break and prove unworthy of this new place.

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"Teach me." She says, too proud to relinquish him, knowing he will think no less of her now should she kneel at his side and place in his hands some tome from his shelf, unknowing of what the raven dashes make.

Slowly and with joy does he open the book then, voice striking cords in the cool spring night, echoing within the safety of their rooms. Carefully he makes his way through the text; pointing out this rule and that note, and all of it she takes, storing it away in her mind.

She will grant them not satisfaction.

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The summer heat rolls across the land and they take their lessons outside, beneath the stars—the air choked with the scent of lilies and poises—she learns of all the bits and pieces that make his language. And in the winter, when the snow drifts make her garden slumber and he is called away less often, they keep to their chambers, and with patience and a smile on his brow he listens as she makes her way through the childhood tales his mother once read to him.

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"Are you happy?" he asks, fingers reaching, removing the dusty pages from her grasp, lips quick against her temple. And without a chance to answer he continues, fingers tracing the path of her jaw, "You asked me, lady, on the walls long ago, if I would bear my people's scorn for love of you. I told you then that I would." He kissed the inside of her wrist, "but I wonder now," He removes the pins from her hair with ease, "if their scorn was not directed else where."

He looks at her then, grey eyes shining like reflections of the sea in the night, and she bites the tips of her tongue. Pride and love alike, she thinks bitterly, touching his cheek with a gentle palm. For them it was an unequal sacrifice.

He waits and her mouth gives no answer.

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She reads to him in her garden, when winter is again resting but spring has not yet strength enough to take its place. Her words are carefully crafted but sturdy on her tongue and she feels a rush of pride at knowing it.

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They know it too and their whispers grow less audible. But they do not disappear.

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"Tell me a story." He says one day without warning, neck craned skyward, as though it will dictate his choice. "Tell me of the plains and the thunder."

Her eyes search the pages in her lap, deft fingers curling around their corners, knowing even in their search that they will find nothing. The stories he ask for do not reside in tomes.

No, he has never asked for those.

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The words come slowly as she reminds herself. In pieces she speaks of straw and golden dawns, of cobalt skies split in two by storms. She speaks as she remembers the galloping of horses and heartbeats like.

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End

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