What You Miss: Love and Loss
To Miranda Otto, who helped me to truly appreciate and love Éowyn.
Twenty years after the coronation of King Elessar, Éomer and Éowyn reunite their families at Edoras. Warning: Character death.
Years after the Downfall of Sauron, his evil lived on. King Elessar of Gondor and King Éomer of Rohan often rode together to battle, hoping for the day when Middle-earth would finally be purged of the Dark Lord's foul creatures.
Yet these were still years of blessedness and merriment, and in such a time did Faramir and Éowyn, Prince and Princess of Ithilien, bring their family to Edoras to reunite with Éowyn's brother, the King of Rohan.
Éomer and Éowyn had grown up in the bustle of the royal court, but there were times when it still overwhelmed them. By the second night of feasting during Éowyn's stay in Meduseld, she was ready to escape it, and so was Éomer. Faramir noticed this and leaned in towards them conspiratorially.
"If you two are ready to leave, do so," he encouraged in a whisper. "Go to your rooms, change into plain garments, and simply leave. Queen Lothíriel and I can hold things well enough on our own."
"If you are certain," said Éomer slowly.
"Go, love," Lothíriel urged.
Faramir heard his wife's impatient sigh and grinned. "I am absolutely certain. Perhaps you can endure more of this, my friend, but your sister, I think, cannot."
Éowyn's eyebrows knitted together as she glared at Faramir.
The King's weathered face broke out into a smile. "All right, my brother. Thank you."
Éomer and Éowyn met at the royal stables. The sky was dark, an hour past sunset, and several stars shone overhead. There was a slight breeze from the West, a gentle chill rather than the hard winds that normally buffeted the city. Golden light spilled out of the Golden Hall, along with the diminished noise of voices and music.
Éowyn laughed as Éomer trotted over to her horse's stall. He laughed with her. "You chose a good husband, my sister – he knows exactly what one needs."
Éowyn smiled widely. "I know." She laughed. "He and I do this every now and then – simply escape. Sometimes, we manage to do it with King Elessar and Queen Arwen."
The King shook his head, still smiling. "Now that we are away, what should we do?"
His sister flashed him a meaningful grin. "Is it not obvious? We ride, of course!"
They rode several circuits around Edoras just inside the city walls. There was no activity on the streets so far down, so they could safely race. And race they did. It was obvious that their horses were enjoying the galloping just as much as the siblings were. At last, Éomer reined in his stallion, and Éowyn followed suit. They were at the back of the town, and it was very quiet and deserted.
"I think I won," Éowyn told her brother.
"No, I am certain that I did," Éomer countered. Then he shrugged. "It was close, at any rate. Perhaps we tied."
Smiling, Éowyn drew her cloak tighter around her to counter the chill. "Perhaps." She leaned over her mare's neck, staring straight ahead at the blue mountain peaks touching the stars. "It is a beautiful night."
"Indeed. I rarely have the chance to enjoy such beauty from inside Meduseld."
"Mmm." Éowyn's eyes became unfocused, and her mood pensive. Her silver-shot golden hair cascaded down around her face like a veil.
"A coin for your thoughts?" Éomer asked softly.
Éowyn did not turn to look at him. "I was simply thinking about my niece."
Confused, Éomer frowned. "Niece? You have a nephew."
Éowyn smiled dreamily, still staring ahead. "I mean my future niece. The one that you and Lothíriel are going to have soon."
Éomer stared at his sister: Lothíriel was not with child. "Unless you know something that I do not, Éowyn…"
Éowyn grinned as she finally turned toward her brother. "I always know something you do not, Éomer. And yes, I know that Lothíriel is not with child. But I hope that she will be."
Éomer might have laughed, had there not been something serious and longing in Éowyn's blue-grey eyes. He smiled softly instead. "You do not ask for much, do you, sister?"
Éowyn's grin slowly disappeared, and Éomer recognized the look. He had seen it so often on her beautiful face during the dark times – solemn, earnest, longing, almost mourning. He leaned towards her. "Why is this so important to you?"
Éowyn shook her head and stared down at her saddle. "I look at your son, and he seems… alone."
Éomer frowned and leaned towards her. "Alone?"
"I feel as if there ought to be someone with him, someone close to him, but there is no one."
"Elfwine has several friends."
"How close are those friends?" asked Éowyn, looking up at her brother. "Can he confide in them, share his heart?"
Éomer nodded, understanding. "As I did with you."
Éomer sighed. "No."
It was Éowyn's turn to nod. "You ought to think about it – for his sake, at least. I look at my children, so many best friends and confidants… and I look at Elfwine, alone." Éowyn eyed him keenly. "I know what it is like to be alone, Éomer."
Now Éomer looked down at his saddle, at a loss for words.
Suddenly, Éowyn grinned, deciding to lighten the mood. "At any rate, you cannot have a son only! You need a daughter to balance your family!"
Éomer laughed as he looked back up.
"Say that you will consider it!" Éowyn cried, drawing an imaginary sword.
Éomer threw up his hands in mock surrender. "I will, I will!"
Éowyn nodded, then turned her horse around, a dangerous glint in her eyes. "Race you back to the top level!" she cried as she spurred her mare forward. Éomer laughed and spurred his stallion on after her.
Two days later, reports came in of a roving band of orcsmarauding the Westfold. Éomer the King rode out with Faramir the Prince of Ithilien and their men, and with them rode Éowyn, the Lady of the Shield-arm. Éomer had gainsaid her, but Faramir knew that his wife would come with or without their consent, just as she had done twenty years ago at the Pelennor Fields.
A healer she was now, as well as the mother of several children. Though the independent spirit burned on in her, her heart had been torn between her children and her brother. In the end, a sense of urgency had convinced her to go. "You will need me to watch your back," she had insisted to her brother.
Caught between his brother-in-law and sister, Éomer had relented and reluctantly agreed.
It was an ambush. The combined Ithilien-Rohirrim army was considerably larger, but, unfortunately, the orcs had the element of surprise. The army did not remain large for very long.
Faramir led the archers of Ithilien, and Éomer led the spearmen of Rohan. Éowyn was at her brother's side, making good on her word to "watch his back." She wielded her sword with as much ease as her brother, and he was grateful to have her with him…
… especially when he did not see the orc coming up from behind, and she did. She spurred her mare at the orc and plunged her sword into his chest. Éomer turned to look at her, and she grinned mischievously at him. "I admit it!" he called. "I need you."
"Thank you, milord," she said with a flourish of her left arm. At that moment, an orc swung his mace at her shield, breaking it. She whirled in the saddle and decapitated the orc, then turned to her brother with a sheepish grin. He shook his head and returned his attention to the battle.
The orcs pressed in harder on the brother and sister, cutting them off from the rest of the army. Faramir and the rest of the men fought to free the King and the Princess.
Éowyn did not know why, but she had a sudden impending sense of danger. She turned in the saddle to see an orc archer aiming for Éomer. She called out to him, "Éomer! Watch out!"
He did not hear her.
Taking a deep breath, she did the only thing she could. She spurred her horse forward as the arrow sang through the air…
…and lodged itself in her chest. She swayed and fought on to keep the orcs at bay.
Faramir had seen it happen. Moments later, a Gondorian arrow sprouted from the archer's throat.
And then the army came crashing through.
As their men surrounded them, Éomer approached his sister, but Faramir reached her first. They nodded an understanding, and Éomer continued to lead the men. The battle went on around husband and wife, unheeded, as if non-existent. Faramir tenderly lifted Éowyn out of her saddle and onto his. Her slender body felt so delicate, so fragile, and yet she had proved again and again that it was not so. Faramir did not attempt to remove the thick black arrow for fear of harming her further. She moaned softly and her face contorted slightly, the only signs of her great pain. Blood seeped from the wound, staining the leather of her jerkin and his saddle.
Faramir rode them gently away from the battle.
The sun was setting when the last orc was killed. Only then could Éomer be spared. He galloped over to where Faramir had taken Éowyn and sprang off his mount. He took in the scene: Éowyn, lying cradled in her husband's arms, grasping her husband's right hand, still losing blood, the arrow still lodged in her chest. The fireball sun bathed husband and wife in its warm, rosy glow.
"Éomer," Éowyn breathed, trying to turn her grimace into a smile. Éomer's eyes sought Faramir's, and, unwillingly, the older man looked up. Unshed tears glistening in his bright eyes, he shook his head almost imperceptibly.
Tears sprang to Éomer's own eyes. Unbidden, his mind flashed back to a similar scene twenty years ago when he had found Éowyn lying, seemingly lifeless, on the Pelennor Fields. She had survived, cheated death that time with the aid of the High King. But Aragorn was not here. She could not do it alone.
He knelt down beside the couple. "Éowyn," he whispered.
She finally managed the smile. "Told you… you needed me… to watch your back.."
Éomer nodded, and he attempted to smile. The expression did not reach his tear-blurred blue eyes. "That is right. I did. Thank you." He squeezed his eyes shut, then opened them. "Éowyn, it was not worth it!" he cried out, his voice pained.
Éowyn's face softened. "Worth what – your life? No… no, Éomer… I would do it… again." Her right hand still around Faramir's, she reached up with her left to stroke Éomer's rough cheek. Éomer took the hand and held it there.
Faramir's face hardened. "This is her sacrifice – do not diminish it."
The tears finally fell for Éomer. "I will not. I never will."
Faramir nodded, his face softening also.
"Beloved, beloved sister," Éomer whispered, leaning over Éowyn and kissing her. "I miss you already."
"You have not… lost me," Éowyn whispered. "My heart… will be with you. Always." She took a shuddering breath, her eyes turning glassy.
"Éowyn!" both men cried.
She was gone.
Faramir pressed his wife's body to his own, and Éomer gripped her hand tighter. They wept together.
The sun sank below the horizon.
Éowyn was much beloved and much mourned, not only as the Lady of the Shield-arm of Rohan, the Princess of Ithilien, but as the sister of Éomer, and the sun and center of Faramir's family. Her body, arrayed in the same gold dress that she wore at King Elessar's coronation, was laid to rest in Rath Dínen, among the Kings of Gondor, and there,many years later, was Faramir laid beside her. At her grave bloomed the only simbelmynë in Minas Tirith, planted there by King Elessar himself.
Faramir and his children found that life could still go on after death. Their sun was never forgotten, not only as the valiant warrior, but also as the compassionate mother and loving wife.
Éomer, Lothíriel, and their son, Elfwine, also kept her memory alive in their hearts. And, a year after Éowyn's death, came the niece she had longed for.
The girl was named Éowyn.
My first disclaimer is this: I am not J.R.R. Tolkien.
My second disclaimer: the only original characters in this story – the children – COULD possibly have existed in Middle-earth. We simply don't know if they did or not.
My third disclaimer: the inspiration for this story came from a Star Wars fan fiction at called "No Greater Love," by RebelMom. My tale grew into a story independent of its inspiration, however, and became a work of love for Éowyn, one of my favorite characters. She deserved an honorable death of love.
Fourth disclaimer: Fear not – there is no plagiarism!