Author's Notes: I wrote this for a friend over at LJ and it was supposed to be a Christmas fic and turned into a New Year's fic. Again, I forgot to publish it here when I posted it on LJ. I haven't written anything for LotR in a long time, and I haven't really been into the fandom so I'm not sure if anyone is in character. And it's also AU in the fact that rather than Aragorn, Eowyn was in in love with Legolas for the course of the movies. I also edited that conversation between Aragorn and Eowyn in "Return of the King" a bit.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize.
Eowyn stared into the low fire of her room, the dying orange light illuminating only her as she sat still in the large chair pulled close to the hearth. Her eyes gazed unfocused as faint sounds of continuing celebration echoed down from the Golden Hall. The new year had come with merriment and laughter for all but her. She felt the same relief now that peace had settled over most of Middle Earth, yet she could share no other uplifting feeling.
Her brother's eyes had sought hers through the jovial crowd, the pity in them so great she had to look away. She saw the same within every gaze that glanced her way and had no other choice but to leave. Would no one look at her as they once did? They saw only the widower, heavy with child when before they saw the shield maiden who defeated the Witch King and led the recovery of the fractured alliance between Gondor and Rohan with her marriage to the White City's most beloved son. That felt like lifetimes ago.
Now Faramir slept in the silent halls of a Gondorian tomb in eternal rest between the empty sarcophagi of his father and brother. Alone in death had he had been in most of his life. He loved his brother, and his brother had loved him but he confessed to Eowyn, when they were tucked in the safety of each other's arms, that Boromir's duties as eldest son and future Steward had left his younger brother to on his own more often than not.
She had loved Faramir as well as she could. In the days after his death she found herself wondering if he had known she didn't love him with both heart and soul. Once she had walked away from her true desire, once her journey to the beyond and back had shown her she could never allow herself to take what she truly wanted, she healed her heart as best as possible to give to the brave man. And it had been enough for him. Faramir was such a great, kind and courageous man, who deserved much better than this broken woman, but he wanted nothing more and they lived as happily as possible. And yet every day her soul ached for its other half and it held her back from true happiness with Faramir.
Eowyn raised a slender hand to touch her dry cheek. She had no more tears to cry for her fallen husband, she had given them to him already. The pale arm lowered and her hand rested upon her swollen belly, her mind wandering through the past. It seemed so long ago she had fallen asleep in front of the fire in the great hall, woken by a fearful dream and seeking from front from a man she had no right to seek. It seemed so far away that night, when she confessed to her new friend the feelings growing between the White Lady and Elf Prince. Aragon had cautioned her against it, citing his own current heartache and after the war was over and her heart broken it was with those words ringing in her ears she accepted Faramir's hand.
They were married six years when he had been killed during a search for lingering Uruk-hai and other dark creatures, and two months had passed since then. So now she was alone, returned to her home for solitude and to grieve. Yet Edoras felt strange and so unlike the home she remembered in her childhood. And she could never be alone, not with the constant reminder of her past walking in her footsteps.
At this thought Eowyn's eyes flickered to the silent shadow behind her. It seemed she was always in tune to where he stood; her body naturally reacted to his presence. She had known the moment he rode into her brother's kingdom and her heart stuttered at the sight of him, yet they hadn't spoken a word to one another since his arrival.
As Eowyn returned her gaze to the dying embers, she wondered what he thought of her, cloaked in pure white among the crowds decked in various shades of red and green. According to Rohan tradition, Eowyn was able to leave the deepest part of mourning in time for the holiday celebrations. Rohan tradition called for black clothes at funerals and white garments for a year following the death. She had not yet finished mourning her cousin and uncle when Faramir died and Eowyn found it hard to remember the times when she wore other colors.
It was also expected for the widow to avoid all romantic excursions for that year. He knew that, the silent creature whose blue eyes pierced her though she could not see them. He understood her mourning yet he had not kept away from her since his arrival. She had hoped that keeping the wedding rings visible on her finger would perhaps ensure more distance, yet he remained close and the court gossiped.
It all began the eve before Yuletide. The baby had wakened her; though she knew her nightmares had done her no good either. She stood at the window, the night unusually warm, and slowly opened it to breathe in the fresh air. Something caught her eye and she looked down to see him standing below, pale skin glowing in the full moonlight. Though she could not see his face clearly she could feel his stare on her. It did not waver as she returned to her bed.
After that she saw him nearly every day, most times out of the corner of her eyes, but other days she would see him standing in the corner or leaning on a pillar, arms crossed and his stare never wavering. This behavior started the whispers barely concealed behind hands and though she tried to ignore them, the gossipers grew more and more bold and when a woman dared to ask her directly about the Elf-prince, Eowyn went to Eomer. He did not seem upset by the situation, in fact he seemed rather pleased to have another set of eyes on her. With the days before the baby's birth passing quickly, and her decision not to go into confinement, he felt it important someone watched her.
"He is probably a better watch than I," he said distractedly as he poured over maps, as though to prove his point. "He is doing no real harm and people will soon find something else to talk about. As long as he doesn't disturb you, sister, I see no reason for you to worry."
She had wanted to argue that he was disturbing her, but to do so would sound childish so Eowyn did her best to live with his constant presence. But the knowing looks from even her own ladies grated on her nerves and she wanted to box the ears of the lot of them in the hope of knocking sense into their brains.
Eowyn sighed heavily, irritation and exhaustion nearly heavier than her belly. She leaned over slightly to try and relieve the pressure in her ribs, but the baby merely pushed harder. Without a sound he was at her side, his hand hovering above her own as though he wanted to touch her, yet didn't dare.
"Are you well, my lady?" He asked in a soft voice, a voice that brought on so many memories she longed to forget.
"Tired, my lord." She answered truthfully before adding, "avoiding court rumors is quite tiresome." She thought she saw his lips quirk into a smile, but it vanished so quick she convinced herself it had been a trick of the dim light.
"I am sorry for the trouble I have caused you in that respect," he answered slowly as she leaned back into the chair. Legolas knelt beside her chair and stared at her in almost an adoring way. His mood confused her as he had refrained from actually speaking to her now. "Yet I will not apologize for my presence here."
"No." Eowyn tried to keep her voice light. "My brother sees it as quite a blessing to have someone look after his sister too stubborn to allow herself shut in a room for three months."
"And you?" He sounded truly curious. "What are your thoughts on my being here?"
Eowyn looked back at him and almost regretted it as she lost herself in his clear blue gaze. "In truth I am confused as to your attention to me. After all, it is I who dealt our hand to fate." Pain that she knew was a reflection of her own flashed across his face.
"I suppose," he said in a strained voice after a few moments of silence, "I suppose I was worried about how you were dealing with your husband's death. I have had some doubts about who it was you truly wanted. To see you so sad has led me to believe that you loved him more than I and that you did not want me as much as I thought."
"I have always wanted you," Eowyn said shakily. "My heart, broken as it was by my own making, I gave that to Faramir. He took care of me, and did his best to damage my heart no further. But my soul has been in pieces since we parted."
"As you said, by your own making." Coldness crept into his voice and Eowyn suddenly understood. He wanted to give her another chance but he could not forget what she had done to him, to both of them.
"Yes," she agreed quietly. She stared at his heartbroken gaze before rushing on, the need to make him understand urgent. "I never sought to break either one of us this way. Before the battle at Pelennor, I had intended to be yours in every way."
"Lord Aragorn is saddling his horse, he is preparing to leave." The soldier's voice cut through Eowyn's thoughts and she paused behind a tent, out of sight from the conversing men. "Where do you think he is going?"
"Far away from here, if he had any sense," the other man said gruffly. " We are riding to our deaths."
Eowyn heard no more as she walked away swiftly, in search of Legolas. She knew that wherever Aragorn went, he would follow and she could not allow him to leave without truly understanding her heart. She already knew she would be riding out with the men, disguised as one of many soldiers and with Merry at her side, and she could very well die before the battle was over.
Her desperation grew as she failed to spot the fair-haired elf but felt hope when she found Aragorn beside her brother's horse. It was as the men said, then. "Why are you doing this," she asked as she approached. "The war lies to the East. You cannot leave on the eve of battle. You know Legolas will follow and we may be parted forever." The sorrow in his eyes made her swallow her words. She knew he thought her in danger of her love, yes she believed it now to be love, for Legolas. He knew because though he would outlive Eowyn, they both knew the trouble of loving an immortal. "You cannot abandon the men," she added lamely
"Eowyn," he sighed. "I do not ask him to come."
"Yet you know he will."
"It is by his own choice!" Aragorn's voice did not grow loud but she could feel his rising frustration. He sighed again, defeated. "Why have you come?"
Eowyn felt her eyes prick with tears. He was her only companion, the only one to understand her love for an elf and yet he seemed determined to abandon that bond. "Do you not know?" It wouldn't be the first time she asked him to accept that her fate rested with Legolas.
"It is but a shadow and a thought that you love," he answered impatiently. She stepped back, unable to stop the tears from forming. She was alone now. "I cannot give you the assurance you seek."
"Do not blame him," Eowyn said as her story ended and she saw the anger in his eyes. "He was right to warn me." She could no longer look at his face and her eyes shifted back to the remnants of the fire. "I will stand by my decision until I die because-" her voice broke and she tried to swallow away the tears she thought she no longer possessed. "I will die one day, Legolas." His name sounded foreign on her tongue after avoiding it all these years. "My hair will turn silver and my face will wrinkle. Already my appearance has altered with age, yet you will stay the same and it will break our hearts. I cannot do that, to either of us."
"So you broke our hearts anyway." Legolas' voice sounded so full of despair Eowyn turned her eyes to him again. The sight of tears slowly making their way down his cheeks broke whatever was left of her heart. And yet she knew she could not let her resolve waver. "Why did you leave me?" He asked in a whisper.
"I went to Faramir because I knew we could spend our lives, fully and happy, together. Never to worry about the day when one of us would die and the other would continue to live. Never to have future heartache cloud our happiness."
His face turned soft, almost apologetic. "And yet here you are in that very moment. He is dead and you are not." Eowyn flinched even though there was nothing hurtful in his tone. He sensed her discomfort yet clasped her cold hands in his own. "Can't you see? We have another chance at the life we should have had. It is not to late to reclaim our dreams."
"And where shall we live?" Eowyn said sharply, near hysteria. "Shall I go with you and be stared at and looked down upon by your people? I will not have you leave your home for mine, so we cannot stay here." Legolas looked as though he would speak but Eowyn continued. "There is no way for us to live in the happy future we had wished for. It cannot be."
Legolas gripped their hands together tighter as he spoke. "Perhaps you could be granted special passage into the Undying Lands. I believe they will give it to Gimli for his friendship with me. Who is to say they will not give it to my only love?"
Eowyn's breath hitched at this, yet she tried to remain resolute. "If they will not allow Aragorn, the greatest king mankind has seen in ages and one who was raised by elves, why would they give it to me? No, Legolas," she sighed and pulled away a hand to stroke his cheek. Her fingers trembled but both ignored it. "It cannot be."
"Why will you not live out your life with me?" He asked harshly, suddenly pulling himself standing. "Why will you not let me love you?"
Eowyn remained seated. "Because it will break our hearts. Because it will be what we think of at every moment."
"You said your soul had been ripped away." He began to step back into the shadows. "Shouldn't feeling whole again be worth the risk?" And with that, he left. Eowyn was left suddenly alone and afraid, her mind buzzing with thoughts.
Out in the Golden Hall, the Elf prince stood as still stone, watching the joyous revelers with impassive eyes while treacherous hope beat within his heart. Alone in her room, the White Lady laid her head in her hands and wept.
Please let me know what you think! Reviews are always helpful when I go to write my next fic.