Disclaimer: Faramir, etc. are not mine.
Written for the 25fluffyfics LiveJournal community.
Takes place before Eowyn's and Faramir's troth-plighting. I see no reason why Eowyn would not play a harp. Thanks to Laurelote for allowing this to count as a Faramir fic. Just FYI: Theodwyn is Eowyn's mother and Morwen is Eowyn's maternal grandmother.
It was Theodwyn who had first introduced her daughter's hands to the harp. Morwen of Lossarnach brought to Rohan a harp such as the Gondorians used, and played it often to the great delight of her husband and children. Theodwyn in turn learned the art, and also played for her family, encouraging her young daughter to take interest in the instrument. When Eomer and Eowyn joined the household of Theoden at the death of their parents, the King, remembering fondly the merrier days when his mother and sister yet lived, ordered that Eowyn learn to play the harp as well. Contrary to her own expectations, Eowyn found the harp as enjoyable as the sword, and became quite accomplished with it, rivalling even Morwen of Lossarnach with her skill.
After the fall of Sauron, while she and Faramir waited for the arrival of Aragorn and the host, Eowyn spent many hours in the Citadel, completing various tasks to aid the Steward or simply passing the hours in leisure. At times she would walk the halls alone, but often she walked with the Lord Faramir, in whose company she spent much of her time. He would show her hidden courtyards or secluded hallways, or perhaps just wander with her, following her footsteps as she discovered such places for herself, allowing her to choose their course, delighting in her laughter when she found some new place of unexpected beauty in the cold halls of the Citadel.
During one of these walks Eowyn led Faramir and herself to a remote, dark wing of the Citadel. Faramir seemed quiet while there, though she did not question him, believing that he was probably concerned with some of the many matters that now occupied his days. She opened a door and looked inside. At first glance the room appeared to be no more than a storage room, with many different items inside, but on further inspection Eowyn espied a Gondorian harp, very similar to her own.
With a smile she walked into the room, Faramir trailing slowly behind her. "It is beautiful," she breathed, running her hands along the instrument heedless of the dust that now coated her fingers. "Why does it sit here, in such a distant corner of the Citadel?"
Faramir smiled sadly. "There are none now who can play it."
Eowyn smiled broadly, sitting down at the stool beside the dusty harp. Her fingers touched the familiar yet foreign strings, and played a chord triumphantly.
Both she and Faramir winced. "It needs to be tuned," she said. She turned to face Faramir. "May I have it moved to my rooms? For it seems foolish to hide so beautiful an instrument."
"I did not realise you played," he replied, looking quietly at the harp. He gently ran his hand along its length, frowning at the amount of dust on his fingers. "Aye. It is foolish to keep it here. I will have it moved to your quarters. You may keep it as long as you wish."
Eowyn smiled and thanked him gratefully, eager to play once more. Faramir seemed to blush, then spoke quietly. "It would please me greatly, if you would allow me to listen to you play at times."
"Once it is tuned, I will play for you as often as you desire," Eowyn replied heartily, determined to repay him for such a gift.
During the subsequent weeks, Eowyn often played the harp for Faramir in the evenings, after he had spent many hours at work. She knew her playing brought him great pleasure, and so in giving pleasure she found much pleasure herself.
After the coronation of Elessar, Faramir was kept at work more often, and so Eowyn found herself alone several evenings. She still played, however, relishing the memory of those quiet evenings with Faramir. He would come to her rooms later, sometimes, and so she left the door open in case he came to visit.
She did not expect Prince Imrahil to walk through her door, however. She stood to acknowledge him, as he bowed in greeting. "Good evening, my Lady Eowyn," he said.
She studied his face for a moment before responding, wondering what had brought him to her rooms, for she had not spoken to him much before. "Good evening, Prince Imrahil."
"I hope I am not disturbing you…"
Eowyn walked over to her sitting area, gesturing for Imrahil to sit across from her. "Of course not, Prince Imrahil. I am honoured by your presence. My brother has spoken highly of you."
"Thank you," the older man replied, sitting down. An awkward pause followed, during which Eowyn took the opportunity to truly look at the Prince of Dol Amroth for the first time. To be honest, she had not paid him much attention before; all her energies were spent on Faramir and Eomer. Looking at him now, she could see something of Faramir in Imrahil – a faint resemblance, certainly, but a resemblance nonetheless. It was strange to think of this Man from the coast of Gondor as Faramir's eldest living relative. She wondered how close they were. Faramir and Imrahil seemed to be on friendly terms, but she had always avoided discussion of Faramir's family for fear that such talk would distress him, and so she did not know if they were very attached.
Now, sitting across from Faramir's uncle – and the Man who would be her uncle by marriage – she wished she had made more of an effort to learn of Faramir's remaining family, whether from Faramir himself or from another source. After all, she wished to be on good terms with them. Since they were important to Faramir, they were important to her.
Imrahil broke the awkward silence. "I heard you playing."
"I hope I did not disturb you."
"Nay, you…" Imrahil stopped suddenly and looked at the instrument. "That harp has not been played in many years."
Eowyn smiled and laughed lightly. "That I know. It made quite a sound when I touched it. It was painful to both Faramir's and my ears."
"Faramir knows you have the harp?" Imrahil inquired sharply.
Eowyn wondered whether she should not have mentioned that Faramir was there when she found it. But since Faramir was Steward, surely her playing the harp was not wrong – he would have told her if it belonged to someone else.
"Aye," she replied, "he allowed me to move the harp to my quarters after I found it. Did he act wrongly? He did not say anything." She frowned in anxiety, worried that she had inadvertently offended Faramir's uncle, the very man whom she wished to please.
Imrahil's expression softened. "The harp is his inheritance to do with as he wishes." At Eowyn's look of confusion, he explained further. "The harp belonged to my sister Finduilas, Faramir's mother. After her death, Denethor removed all her belongings and placed them in some forgotten corner of the Citadel."
"I see." Eowyn thought back to that day and understood his strange mood – he knew where she was leading them but did not say anything. Why? She feared for a moment that she had offended Faramir, but, remembering that he had given the harp to her and believing that he would have denied her request had he been offended, she felt confident that Faramir did not mind the harp being in her possession.
"Faramir must hold you in high esteem to give you such a gift."
Eowyn inhaled deeply. She and Faramir had already agreed that she would help rebuild Rohan and then return to Gondor to marry him, but they had yet to officially announce their engagement. Indeed, Faramir had not even spoken to Eomer about their plans. He hoped to do so in the coming days, but…
"My lady, I would speak plainly with you."
Eowyn straightened her back and looked directly at Imrahil, determined to defend both herself and her lover from any hint of disapproval. "I would prefer you to do so."
"That is good," Imrahil replied, "for while I do not intend offence I may sound unpleasing to you."
Eowyn regarded him proudly. "You have my permission to be as harsh as you deem necessary."
Imrahil smiled slightly at this. "Not harsh, lady, but honest. I know that my nephew's heart is yours." Eowyn opened her mouth to speak but Imrahil raised his hand in protest. "I pray you, allow me to finish before you speak."
"As you wish, my lord."
"I know that Faramir's heart is yours," he repeated, "for I know him well. He does not need to speak to me. I can tell by the way he looks at you. Yet my nephew has suffered much grief in these last few months and I would spare him further grief. I do not know you, my lady; I know and respect your brother, but I know nothing of you that all of Gondor does not know."
Eowyn weighed her next words carefully. "I know that I am not worthy of such a man as Faramir, but if you are asking whether I love him – then the answer is yes, I do. More than anything."
Eowyn looked away for a moment, then returned Imrahil's gaze. "You refer to a past infatuation, not a present love. As I hold Faramir's heart, so he holds mine."
Imrahil smiled. "That I know. I have seen how he looks at you, but I have also seen how you look at him." Eowyn looked down at her hands and blushed, a smile playing on her lips. The smile had disappeared from Imrahil's lips, however, by the time Eowyn raised her head. "But my sister loved her husband well, and now all that remains of her are her children and her possessions."
Eowyn, not knowing what to say, remained silent. "Lady Eowyn, I knew before I even walked in this room whose harp that is, or was. As I am sure you know every instrument is unique, and I recognised the sound of it immediately. My father gave this to Finduilas as a wedding gift, when she came to live in Minas Tirith, in the hopes that it would bring her comfort in this city of stone. It brought comfort, but not enough to save her."
Hearing these bitter words, Eowyn stirred uncomfortably. "I know the tale of Finduilas's death. I am sorry for it."
"Indeed," Imrahil replied, visibly shaking off the resentment. "Finduilas left the land of her birth and came to the City, and there she faded and died. You too will be leaving the land of your birth to marry a Gondorian. Do you not see what I fear?" He did not wait for Eowyn to respond. "When I walked in and saw you playing that harp, I saw Finduilas again. What if you discover that you cannot bear this land? What will you do then? Will you also fade and leave my nephew alone in his grief?"
"Faramir and I will make our home in Ithilien, not Minas Tirith."
"You will still spend much time here, and even though you will live in Ithilien, you will not be in Rohan."
"I would not succumb to such sorrow. And the Shadow has departed, never to return."
"The Shadow may have been defeated, but it lurks in every corner of Middle-Earth. And the pull of her husband and her two children was not enough to save Finduilas."
"I am no Finduilas. I am strong. I will not despair."
"Yet you already have. I was there at your awakening, my lady, when the King saved you after the Battle of Pelennor Fields."
Upset by these sudden accusations, unable to think of a defence, Eowyn lowered her eyes. "You seem determined to prove that I ought not to marry Faramir."
Imrahil's voice turned kind once more. "I mean to protect my nephew, lady, not to bring you sorrow. Denethor knew not what sorrow would await him when he married my sister."
At this, Eowyn unswervingly looked at Imrahil again, determined to gain his approval somehow. "Faramir is no Denethor."
"That I know." Imrahil sighed. "My lady, your own mother suffered a similar fate. I would protect you also from such sorrow."
"The death of my father caused the death of my mother. I cannot deny that facing a life without Faramir is undesirable to me. Yet if I fade as my mother did, it will be because Faramir already dead, and thus it will not matter to him if I fade, since he will already be waiting for me." She valiantly managed to keep all sorrow from her voice when speaking of the death of her own parents, attempting to convey only strength with her words.
She could see that Imrahil was impressed, and seized the opportunity to raise herself in his eyes. "You may think that I am weak and that I am prone to despair. But I am not weak, as Finduilas was." Imrahil appeared shocked, but Eowyn spoke before he could protest. "Aye, she was weak. She ought to have carried on for those who needed her. I understand her, and I pity her, but I will not follow in her footsteps. My mother, too, was weak, and paid the price for this weakness, causing great sorrow to others. But the Shadow has departed, Prince Imrahil, and though there is still darkness in Middle-Earth there is more than enough light in my life to support me in dark hours when despair threatens."
Imrahil watched her carefully, the proud Shieldmaiden clearly visible in the fair Lady. "You seem determined to prove my suspicious unfounded."
Imrahil laughed slightly. "Faramir has indeed chosen well," he said, smiling.
Eowyn smiled in response. "I thank you." Her features turned serious for one moment longer, though, as she spoke. "I give you my word, Imrahil of Dol Amroth, that I will cause Faramir no grief that can be prevented. Though hard times still lie ahead for all of us, I will never willingly cause him sorrow."
Imrahil bowed his head. "I thank you for that." Both relaxed once more, and Imrahil smiled. "Perhaps you would play for me, Lady Eowyn? It is long since I have heard this harp played."
"I would enjoy that, Prince Imrahil." And she did.