"Sometimes," Faramir said, in a burst of thoughtfulness, "I curse my Númenorean heritage."

Éowyn looked up at him worriedly from their bed, her grey eyes clouded with concern. "Why? Have dreams been troubling you again?" In the first few months of their marriage, Éowyn had awoken in the night, roused by quiet moans that turned out to be Faramir enduring a distressing dream. Now, after having been married eight years, she found these occurrences extremely rare.

Instead of settling himself onto the bed beside her, Faramir sat reflectively at the window seat, leaning on the stone ledge. "No."

She swung her legs off the bed and came to sit beside him, and together they gazed at the sky that spread out in all its nighttime brilliance before them. A curved moon dangled fragilely from the heavens, seeming to wave merrily at them, and the stars sprinkled across the black field twinkled mutedly.

"Chiaroscuro," murmured Faramir.

Éowyn wrenched her gaze from the sky to eye him questioningly.

He smiled and explained. "A union of dark and light, often applied to paintings."

She nodded and continued to gaze thoughtfully at him. She had accepted that he was not going to say, outright, why he cursed his Númenorean heritage—but she was worried, and so would find out herself.

"Perhaps," she said softly, "you curse your Númenorean heritage because of the knowledge that comes with it?"

He shook his head. "No, my love," he said, putting an arm around her shoulders. "I welcome knowledge as a gift, as you very well know, and I am only grateful that I am privileged enough to possess it."

A pretty, pensive frown blanketed Éowyn's features. "But if that knowledge comes at a certain price," she said slowly, "such as troubling dreams, perhaps, then would you welcome it still?"

He laughed at the frown wrinkled across her face. "The Númenorean heritage is like the sky," he said musingly, waving a careless hand at the vastness sprawled out before them. "Chiaroscuro. Dark and light. I must accept the good with the evil." And a sad little smile traced itself on his lips.

She shook her head as if trying to dislodge all other thoughts. "If you embrace this so-named chiaroscuro, I do not understand why, a few moments ago, you declared that it was a curse. It cannot be the features, that I am sure of. Why, Siliviel looks lovely, just as I expect Lothíriel looked when she was a child of three summers. And Elboron—"

Faramir put a finger to her lips, effectively halting the flow that threatened to swell if not paused immediately.

"I am sorry I mentioned it, my love," he said sincerely, smiling into her bewildered eyes. "It is nothing to be troubled about, truly. Now," he lifted her into his arms and gently, as if she were some valuable that might break, deposited her on the bed, "I believe it is time to sleep."

She laughed softly, the sound like silver bells. "Am I to be treated as Elboron is?" she asked mockingly.

He laughed as well and pulled the coverlets over her, depositing a kiss on her brow. "Yes."

He settled himself onto the bed beside her, putting an arm around her waist, thankful he had managed to bring her persistent, troubled questioning to a close. For even now, she seemed dearer to him than ever—and how, as he had sat at the window seat gazing at her shining hair and dancing eyes, could he have brought himself to give her his truthful answer?

Now, as her breathing calmed and she fell into slumber, he brought his face to her cheek, and murmured his selfish fear for no one's ears to hear but his own.

"If I live the long life ordained for me by my Númenorean heritage, how will I live, truly live, without my love?"


"If you live to be a hundred,
I want to live to be a hundred minus one day
So I never have to live without you."

-A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)


So, there you have it--the promised Lord of the Rings story. I think it's the shortest one I've ever written, not counting drabbles. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it, though it was a little melancholy-- I'd love it if you could drop a review. :)