A/N: This story is different from the others, as it is not about the Fellowship but about Éowyn and Faramir. Poor, poor Faramir. He's one of my favorites.
A New Torture
Éowyn fumed silently as she watched Faramir walk away. They had been married for a year now, and Éowyn had been looking forward to a romantic anniversary with her husband. However, it was not to be; Faramir had been called to attend a council in place of King Elessar instead. What was most infuriating was that, as of late, Faramir had been so busy that she had hardly any time with him.
Well, this time he was not going to get away with it. No one angered Éowyn and got away with it. No one. Not even a certain Witch-King (Éowyn was still rather proud that she had managed to slay a Witch-King, and was privately very pleased that she'd had the presence of mind to come up with the retort "I am no man!" while faced with almost-certain death). The question was, how to make her beloved husband pay? Éowyn brushed her flaxen hair out of her face and pondered for an hour or so before the answer came to her. A wicked smile spread across her fair face and her sky-blue eyes glinted. Oh, yes, that would do perfectly...
In the council room, a sudden feeling of foreboding washed over Faramir. Something was not right. He fidgeted in his chair while the Haradrim delegate droned on. Really, how much was there to say about horse trading? Gondor's horses were, after all, nowhere near as splendid as those of Rohan. Eril, another Gondorian delegate, glanced at Faramir.
"Are you alright?" He murmured softly out of the corner of his mouth. Faramir shrugged.
"I just feel...odd. As if something bad is about to happen."
Eril nodded wisely. "I always feel that way after eating beans. Did you eat beans this morning?"
Faramir said nothing, although he did subtly scoot his chair away from the other delegate.
The ominous feeling stayed with him all day.
"Good morning, darling!" Éowyn swooped over to her still half-asleep husband and laid a kiss upon his forehead. He had stumbled in late last night after an entire day of listening to Haradrim trade negotiations, and had, to his wife's chagrin, promptly passed out on the bed without so much as a "hi". The good news, which Éowyn had just found out a couple minutes ago from a messenger from the King, was that Faramir had been granted the day off.
Faramir grunted. Éowyn's eye twitched. Outside, a bird sang merrily, and after a moment of sweet song Éowyn marched to the window and slammed the shutters closed. Faramir sleepily grunted again; the ominous feeling was back. He slowly opened one eye and peered warily about the room. There were his shoes strewn on the floor, there was his brown cloak thrown hastily over a chair, there was Éowyn smiling sweetly at him from across the room...wait, that couldn't be right. She'd been mad at him yesterday, therefore she had no reason to be smiling at him today. Mayhap his vision had just been blurred by sleep so that it had looked like she was smiling when she was really glowering at him and planning to stab him while he slept. Mayhap his wife had been replaced by a shape-shifting fiend that was attempting to lull him into a false sense of security by acting cute and demure. The possibilities were endless.
He opened both eyes and squinted. No, she was still smiling. How peculiar. It gave him a feeling that he supposed would be similar to how he would feel if Gimli donned a swan-shaped doily as a hat and started proclaiming a love for Oliphaunts while trying to dance like a drunken Elf.
"Good morning!" she repeated. Faramir sat up and stared.
"Good morning," he said carefully. Éowyn's smile grew (he suppressed an urge to get on his knees and apologize madly for every mistake he had ever made), then she scooped his cloak into her arms and said, "You've been given a day off. I was thinking we could spend the day together!"
Faramir swallowed. By the stars, she was looking at him so hopefully, her eyes huge and innocent, and he knew he was trapped. "Yes. I am looking forward to it." Silently he prayed for Orcs to magically materialize in their bedroom, for Elessar to fall suddenly and gravely ill, for fiery hairballs to start raining from the sky. Something, anything, to save him from his wife's wrath. Faramir had faced a great many terrible things in his life, but none had prepared him for the fury of a shield-maiden of Rohan.
But no Orcs appeared, no urgent message arrived from Elessar, and the sky remained a perfect blue that was the exact color of Éowyn's eyes. In fact, nothing went amiss all morning. It was all very disconcerting.
They spent the day riding around the countryside, admiring the Elves' work in Ithilien and the blooming spring flowers. Éowyn was nothing but caring and charming all day, and by the time evening rolled around Faramir was sure that he had simply been acting paranoid. He had nothing to fear from his wife. Really. As dusk started to fall they rode back home, and as soon as they got indoors Faramir proclaimed himself immensely hungry. Being paranoid for half the day was hard work. He sat at their plain wooden table and was anticipating the servants' arrival with dinner when he noticed that Éowyn had not seated herself. There were no servants around either. In fact, the dining room was entirely empty of everyone save him and Éowyn, who was looking very pleased. The foreboding feeling came back full force.
Éowyn, looking fit to burst, said "I'll be right back" and swept out of the room. Faramir stared after her, and his palms started to sweat. Oh, Valar. Maybe he should jump out the window while he still could? He was contemplating how seriously the fall would maim him when Éowyn reappeared. She was carrying a plain black pot in her hands, and the liquid inside was steaming lazily and smelled faintly like what he imagined to be pig sick. Faramir paled. Éowyn beamed.
"I made dinner for you!" She set the pot in front of him, produced a wooden bowl and a spoon from her pocket, and proceeded to ladle out a generous portion of the soup.
"You...cooked?" Faramir eyed the soup. Éowyn had never cooked for him before. During the war he had heard a rumor that she had attempted to cook, and that her food had succeeded in causing several cases of stomach illness. The soup in front of him affirmed the second half of that rumor. Faramir clenched his spoon. There had to be some way out of this. He noticed that she had brought no bowl for herself.
"Aren't you going to eat as well?"
"Oh, I'll eat after you do. I want to see you enjoy your soup!"
Faramir saw a window of opportunity and leapt upon it. "You should have some too. Here, I'll go get a bowl for you." He made to stand but before his legs could even straighten completely he found himself with an armful of Éowyn. She steered him back into his chair and pouted sweetly.
"I insist, dearest. I wanted to make something special for you for our anniversary."
Oh. Their anniversary. No wonder she was so peeved. Slowly, and with a feeling of great doom, he picked up his spoon and dipped it into the soup, which let out a strange gurgling sound. He took a deep breath and, sending Éowyn a rather pained-looking smile, lifted the dripping spoon to his mouth.
Éowyn watched him swallow; his eyes watered slightly and his hand clenched hard around the spoon. "How is it?"
"It is..." he paused, searching for a word that would describe the soup and not offend his wife further. It was very difficult. "Hot," he decided. Yes, that adjective was innocuous enough. "It is hot. I think I will have to wait for it to cool down." He set down his spoon and, under the table, clenched his hands into fists. Éowyn looked disappointed.
"Hot," she repeated flatly. He nodded and kept his mouth firmly shut in an effort to keep from being sick. Valar, the horrid taste was still lingering in his mouth.
"I see." Éowyn's eye twitched for the second time that day, and she rose smoothly. "I am not very hungry myself. I think I will get ready for bed." She glided out of the room and Faramir let out a breath he had not been aware he was holding. Relief took hold of him, and he pushed his bowl of demon-soup away and rested his forehead on the tabletop.
That night, Faramir made a very solemn vow: he was never, ever going to forget his and Éowyn's anniversary again.
It was a vow that he never broke.