This fic means no offence to J.R.R. Tolkien, whom I periodically disgrace. Also, please pardon my incurable pronoun disease and my affinities for romantic realism and going into philosophic rambles. I can't help any of them, much less my habit of writing Farawyn fics at all hours of the morning. Excusez moi. :)
Constructive criticism is always welcome. I'll probably come back and edit this fic, as I had a killer headache when writing it and it didn't come out well enough, but whatever for now.
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Éowyn of Rohan was hardly a force to be reckoned with, or at least that was what the healers had told him. Still, he thinks, neither is he. Tall and proud he stands, his uplifted, stormy eyes scrutinising the bare branches lingering above his head in the gardens, unaware of the fiercely subdued power he anchors in her. If only she would speak again - simply some verification of her fading soul, simply one word! One word. One hope. One life. It is all they could ever require – something better than this, better than this bitter death beneath blackening skies and the weight of the world's forgotten hopes.
"Are you feeling better, Éowyn?" he had asked her once. She had shaken her head, saying, "I could not possibly know what better feels like." Yet he sees that which she cannot: new life coursing through her veins, a spark of bare feeling in her cold eyes, a potential of hope which she herself had forsaken. He will not forsake it – or her. Never. Yes, he promises to both of them, she will never be alone again.
Now, her hand rests under his as they sit together under a weeping willow in the gardens, the stark white of her soft, flowing gown harmonising the pale gold of her hair, rendering her noble as the fair Varda, yet childish as one who has not yet seen the inevitable spread of darkness over a lifeless mountain. His rough hand caresses hers, delicate and refined, on the grass on which they sit, exchanging quieted words to each other without hearing their soft voices breaking the deadly silence of the place. He smiles often; her face remains blank save for the fire in her frozen eyes, but she listens intently to his words, differentiating every syllable, searching for some implication she feels she may never find. They stand on the threshold of hope, fearing nothing save fear itself, knowing that their darkest hours are yet to come. But they do not await that. He awaits another beginning; she awaits no resolution.
"I do not know of anything beautiful," she whispers, her piercing gaze turned toward the bare treetops of the garden that penetrate the blazing azure of the sky. Her free hand now lingers on the base of the willow, the paleness of it starkly contrasting the dim, dead colour of the bark, and a fleeting thought comes to him: this is perfection; this is wasted life at its fullest. He half expects the little life she has remaining to flow out from her fingertips into the willow at her slightest utterance. "I cannot hope to."
"That is not true, my lady," he says, and, for the first time in his life, he cannot deny it.
"I suppose," she says, her hand dropping and her shoulders shrugging in what he hopes is not defeat. "I do not often think of such things. I once did – in the days before the decline of Rohan. But beauty does not exist any more. It cannot, and it will not. Such things cannot exist in these times. It is too dark."
"They do exist, Éowyn, and beauty is oft more beautiful in the midst of despair," he says delicately. "If you would ask for proof, as I know you will, look at yourself."
She opens her mouth to speak, but finds she cannot; the words she had thought to say now lay scattered about the recesses of her hazy, agonised mind, eluding capture. "I could not be… I cannot be… I feel as if I am already dead…"
"Éowyn," he whispers. He feels his voice – and heart – might break at the sight of so noble a woman, so worthy of honour and praise, broken and humbled by that which she cannot embrace. "Are you alive, Éowyn?"
She nods gravely, her countenance blank.
"Then do you not wish to live?"
"I… do, but…" she sighs, exasperated. "I often feel as if it is useless."
"What would be the aim of life if one is not to live?"
"There would be none."
"Exactly," he moves his hand to cover hers, then places it on his muscular chest, over his steadily beating heart. "This heart still beats – but for what? For love. For beauty. For hope. For life itself. An illusion, even the sweetest one, could not make this heart beat as it does. It beats not for what I have lost in this war, but for what I will gain. It beats not for your sorrow, but for the power and spirit that are yours. It beats for the conquest – not of death, but of life. Call it what you will, but I like to think of life as a tale, though the very description degrades its worth and true significance. But, life is a tale in itself. It is not a chapter, nor a lament. It is, and should be, whole. And every great tale ever told has a theme, something that binds it together, completes it, even. That theme is beauty, for without beauty, there would be nothing to look for in the bitter nights I have spent alone, nor on the eve of battle, nor an escape to a revered dream to be made my reality. Do not blame yourself for the ways of the world that was here long before you were here to bless it with one loving gaze it has yet to meet. Be the first to meet it, or the last. It will never matter, so long as you meet it. Waste not your numbered days adrift on a sea of misery! Let beauty be your anchor, as I have anchored myself… to you."
She sits still as if stunned by his words; her eyes, round and bright in her pallid face, seem to be reflected in themselves. "Faramir," she whispers, "I know not what to… say… or think… or feel, if this is a feeling at all…"
"A sign of life," he smiles slightly. "I was hoping for one."
"I feel naught else," she says, "but I know not if I could ever feel anything other than this – or empty despair - again. I know not if I would wish to."
He leans in to kiss her lips and she pauses for a fleeting moment, her insecurities escaping with the hushed moment of connection between them. Together, alone, meshed not into a web of self-treason and doubt, beyond all recollection of memory and desire… no words are enough and no thoughts release themselves into the thick, swarming air that seems to choke them if they dare to breathe. He cannot describe the emotion; she could never wish to.
"Did you feel that?" he asks quietly.
He smiles. "That is what it feels like… to be alive. I wish you would try it sometime."
Hours later, he sees her from the garden below her chamber. Her pale face, illuminated by the moonlit sky and turned to the innumerable stars above, shines as radiantly as the light he feels rushing from somewhere within his heart, and he laughs, a deep yet fleeting laugh of joy. Startled, she quickly turns her gaze to him, her golden tresses loose and blowing in the light, crisp breeze. "Whatever could you be laughing at, my lord?"
"Nothing. Just a dream."
"That is what sleep is for, my lord," she laughs. "Surely you need it by this hour?"
"Aye, I believe I do. Sleep well, Éowyn," he calls.
"And you, Faramir. Shall I see you tomorrow?"
"Yes, if you would wish it. I wish it. Desperately."
"I would," she says, a hint of a smile forming on her lips. "Good night, Faramir, and I shall be thinking of you tonight."
With a quick smile and nod, he turns from her window. He laughs again, quietly, as if to the stars that shine about them in the beautiful rendering of what never could have been a dream.
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