My lord is not an ordinary man. I have known this since our first meeting. When I first met him in the Houses of Healing, I was much occupied with my own despair and did not pay much attention to anyone. Yet even then I could not have failed to notice that he is different. Never before I met someone who shows me sincere understanding, yet firmly compels me to see where my duty lies. I think that is one thing which makes him different from many others. He gently compels people to see their duty, but he does so with much understanding. He somehow understands others' failings and doubts. This is remarkable, and even more so, for I know there are only a few persons who understand his. Not that he expects people to excuse his failings. In this matter, as in many others, he gives so much and expects so little.
Another thing that astounds me is his attitude towards glory. I was raised among knights and princes of the Mark. We see renown and glory as the highest aim of our life. If we are asked to choose between long life with no deed worthy of songs and glorious death in battle, I have no doubt which one we all will choose. Now if you ask Faramir that question, you will get a completely different answer. I actually asked him this question once, when he was staying in Edoras to formally court me. He gave me that characteristic faint smile of his, and said, "It depends on the situation. If Gondor still needs me, though for a small, unremarkable service, then I will choose long life. What gain is it for me to have all generations to come sing my glory if Gondor should lack something due to my untimely death?"
When I heard his answer, I suddenly felt how unworthy I was to be his lady. How could someone like him overlook my desertion? Theoden King asked me to rule in his stead when he went to the battle in Minas Tirith. Yet I left my people, just like a guard deserts his post. When I told Faramir all this, he looked at me thoughtfully for some time. "Do not rebuke yourself too hard, lady," he finally said, "there are times when our duty becomes unbearable. You are still young, there are still many chances to fulfil your duty." Then his eyes twinkled, "And a great good has come from your choice to ride to Minas Tirith." We both knew he was not referring only to my fulfilling the prophecy concerning the Lord of the Nazgul.
To my lord it was always his duty that matters, not his own glory or gain. At first I thought that men of Gondor simply have different view on renown than the men of Rohan. But as I get to know more men of Gondor, I know this is not true. So far I only know one person similar to him in this regard: Aragorn. Through these years, I have realized how he, like my husband, does not care much about his glory. He regards his crown and sceptre in the same way Faramir regards his white rod: a duty instead of a right. Perhaps it is in their Númenorean descent.
To me Faramir embodies all the characteristics of Gondor: ancient, solemn, unbent and unbowed. Faramir often reminds me of ancient sea-kings and elf-lords that I heard in tales. He is so solemn most of the time. He is not a bitter or despairing man, but certainly he is not what we call merry. But I can understand that. He was raised as a lord of Gondor, love of Gondor was instilled in him, and he was taught from a very young age that his foremost duty is to defend Gondor from the ever approaching threat of the shadow. He loved Gondor fiercely, its people and its land, its cities and its history, its customs and its tradition. He always smiles instinctively every time he describes the beaches in Dol Amroth, the farm lands in Lossarnach, the orchards in Lebennin. When he talks about Ithilien, there is more than a smile in his usually grave face. He seems to know the location of every spring and every glade in the woods in Ithilien, he can find his way from Emyn Arnen to Henneth Annun with his eyes closed (I heard this story from some of the rangers of Ithilien), he can name every trees, herbs and flowers in Ithilien and can lecture me for hours on their unique scents and their use in healing. Since a very young age, being the bright child that he was, he had known that strong and grand as Gondor might still be, it was a dwindling realm. He knew that the threat of the shadow of Mordor was more and more imminent as the years went by. He knew that their army was only half of what it used to be. He knew that most likely he would die in battle, defending his City. He once told me that what he feared most was that he should live to see Gondor falls. With all these thoughts occupying his mind for almost every day of his life, how can he be merry? But that is not to say that he knows no joy. No, nothing can be farther than the truth than that. Even with the Shadow constantly at his sight, Faramir could still find joy. He has always found delight in music and poetry, lore and tales, and in so many simpler things. Children playing, flower blossoming, the sun rising, when you hear him describe all these things, you will feel rather uncultured for never having appreciated these beauties as he does.
Though he does not seek renown or praise, the people of Gondor give him those, and something harder to earn: they all love him. During my stay in Minas Tirith following the siege, when it had been known that the Steward courted me, many people told me (some bluntly and some more subtly) what a treasure I have gained and that there was no one in Gondor more deserving of love and bliss than their Steward. Prince Imrahil and his children, the rangers of Ithilien, the guards of Minas Tirith, Ioreth and the Warden of the Houses of Healing, the head cook, even the farmers that I met during my stroll in Pelennor. Pippin told me how people wept when they saw Faramir lying still in Imrahil's arms after that perilous retreat from Osgiliath. I heard how some of the guards and the servants served Aragorn warily during the first year of his reign. The King's quality finally won them over, but the way Aragorn treats Faramir contributed much to their approval. And Faramir, being Faramir, has done his part to ensure that the people get to know Aragorn for the great man and king that he is, and to love him. When I carefully asked him whether he is afraid that Aragorn will supplant him in the people's hearts, again he gave me his faint smile. "A little," he said. "No one likes to be forgotten. But I have confidence in the people of Gondor. They do not easily forget." And forget they do not. All these years the people have shown me how love does not have to be reduced when it is shared.
I once told Faramir to do something for himself, not for Gondor or for me and the children. He laughed and said that as we all had become a part of him, he could not see how he can follow my suggestion. "But rest assured, Eowyn," he added with a twinkle in his eyes, "when I courted a certain shield maiden of Rohan, I did it in whole for myself, not for Gondor or for anyone else."
The children have brought some changes in him. When he is with them his face loses some of its gravity. But with the joy comes also the concern. One evening few months ago we were all sitting around the hearth. He was telling the story of Bilbo and Smaug to our sons, and I was feeding our new-born daughter. After a while the boys fell asleep (after complaining that it has taken too long and they have not even reached the part about Smaug). Faramir looked smilingly at their sleeping faces, and then he looked at me and our daughter. He still smiled, but it was a different one. There was sadness in his face. He did not say a word. He did not need to, for I understood. He was to lead a campaign the next morning. It was not a perilous campaign, for thankfully we live in a time of peace. Yet we both knew that there is always a danger even in a minor battle. He had always been ready to defend Gondor at the cost of his life, but now it is harder for him to think about his death. He could not bear the thought of leaving me and the children bereft. Verily I hope that he shall never have to choose between his duty to Gondor and his love for us. Yes, he is fiercely protective of us. I used to think that when people wanted to protect me, that was because they thought I was unable to protect myself. But I know better now.