Author: RowenaR

Rating: K+

Category: gen, slightly het

Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings very much isn't mine because otherwise I'd been in danger from Eowyn for wanting Faramir all for myself.

Summary: The Lady Eowyn is afraid of exchanging one cage for another.

Holiday Fic Request Meme. Another virgin fic and I'm not sure if I'll ever write anything again in this fandom. I don't even remember how long I agonized about this prompt. I always loved Eowyn and Faramir/Eowyn but somehow during writing this, Eowyn and I bitched at each other a lot :P I'm really nervous about this fic and I'm so glad rareb was there to save it from being scraped altogether. So, um... go easy on me, please? :S

Anyway, as always: Not a native speaker, so please excuse any weird grammatical constructions, run-ons and typos. Feedback will earn you a cookie, flames will roast my marshmellows.

Like Puzzle Pieces From the Clay

"I am thinking it's a sign
that the freckles in our eyes are mirror images
and when we kiss they're perfectly aligned
And I have to speculate
that God himself did make
us into corresponding shapes
like puzzle pieces from the clay."

The Postal Service, "Such Great Heights"

Eowyn Eomundsdaughter is afraid. She was released from the Houses of Healing and has taken up lodging in the city, to await the return of her brother and the King from the East but she is still afraid. The Lord Faramir is most attentive to her and she enjoys his company, more with each day they pass together. But she is still afraid. She is afraid that she is slowly exchanging one cage for another. It is not that she doubts the Lord Faramir's care and affection for her. It is rather that she doubts if she is worthy of his affection.

The Lady Eowyn is the Shieldmaiden of Rohan. She slew the Witch King of Angmar. She fought with her kinsmen and she died with them when she moved her hands to close the broken eyes of her uncle the King on the Pelennor. She is not made for love, and everyone she loves will die before their time.

It is this why Eowyn Eomundsdaughter is afraid to form new bonds, to let herself love again. She is afraid to bring only pain and misery to yet another peaceful hall.

The Lord Faramir tells her that when her brother and the King will be back, a Golden Age will begin. He tells her it will heal everything within them that could not be healed within the walls of the House of Healing. He does not know that Eowyn fears the opposite will be true. He does not know that Eowyn fears that letting herself care for the Lord Faramir as more than just a companion in the lonely hours in waiting will cause new wounds rather than heal old ones.

She is aware that this time, she is building the cage she fears so greatly herself. It is her thoughts that seem to be encircling her, like a horde of hungry wargs that have cornered their prey. The White Lady of Rohan does not relish to be cornered. When she is cornered, she fights her way bravely out of the trap or dies trying. She does not simply cower in fear or look for the easiest way out.

Yet she feels as if she has done both by fleeing to the highest tower of Minas Tirith. It is just that she always feels as if she is suffocating in the city the Lord Faramir grew up. Maybe that is because he had such an unhappy childhood here or maybe it is because he has told her that his mother died within these walls. Or maybe it is just because being surrounded by these walls of stone and misery only made her more aware of her own demons troubling her.

She should be happily awaiting the heroes return, just like every other inhabitant of Minas Tirith that has a loved one among those having ridden off to face Sauron in the East and bring his end upon him. She should be happy she was considered well enough to be released from the Houses of Healing that have started to become stifling to her. Instead she is restless and fidgety and she is constantly going in circles.

It is not logical, this fear and cannot be explained rationally and so she never told her closest confidant in this city, the Lord Faramir, such a logical and rational man about it. He would maybe just laugh about her and the Lady Eowyn cannot abide the thought of being laughed at by someone she cares so much about.

So Eowyn fled to the highest tower, to breathe as freely as one can in a city without horses and air. She gazes out on the Pelennor, towards shattered Osgiliath, lying by the river like a wounded animal. Shivers run through her, like always when she watches out toward the East from Minas Tirith. Osgiliath is where the Lord Faramir nearly met his end. She wonders what would have happened if she had been with him, then. She wonders if he had been the one called from her, instead of her uncle.

"As much as I am pleased to discover that you seem to appreciate one of my favorite places in all of Minas Tirith as much as I do, my Lady, I am afraid I will have to tear you away from this magnificent sight." To her credit, the Lady Eowyn did not flinch when she heard the familiar lilt of a voice that has become so dear to her so rapidly, a touch of amusement apparent.

For the Shieldmaiden of Rohan is never startled, she turns around in a calm and controlled manner. "Do you, my Lord?"

"Oh yes, my Lady," he says and there's mischief twinkling in his eyes that was not nearly as prominent only a few days ago, "for I need a helping hand in translating a text in ancient Rohirric. Would you do me the honor of your skilled company?"

It is a tantalizing offer. If it would not mean passing even more time inside of thick walls without windows and breathing in the dust of centuries in the city's library. The White Lady likes books just like the next well-educated woman of her standing but she prefers to read them out in the open, on a blanket in the soft shade of a tree above. She is still tempted to accept it, only that in her current state, she cannot tolerate the combination of thick walls and old books. "My lady… is something troubling you?"

The Lord Faramir is entirely too perceptive for his own good, Eowyn decides.

There is no reason not to try and still evade him, though. "No, my lord, I am well." He does not answer her at first. Instead he looks at her with eyes that always appear to be older than his years, so wizened and often so sad, too. The Lady Eowyn is tempted to shiver. It is as if he can see through her flimsy pretense of contentment, straight through into the dark swirls of her mind. She resists the temptation to turn away from him.

She half wishes she had done it anyway. Nothing escapes the keen vision of the Lord Steward or Gondor when he bends his head to the side, only a little, as he is doing now. She chooses not to dwell on how well she knows his mannerisms after only a few days in his companionship. "I am glad to hear that, my lady." It surprises her that he would let it go, or that perhaps he never even saw it at all. "But if you were not well, I would put myself at your disposal as your confidante, if you would have me." Or perhaps not.

Eowyn is sorely tempted to brush him off, even though she knows it would be nonsense. It is not like he never saw her out of sorts before. So she decides to take the other route he offered her. After all, she would be just as honest as if she were to deny his offer. "I would have you, my lord, were I not feeling well."

It conjures a small smile on his face and the effect it has on the Lady Eowyn's gloomy mind is the same a ray of sun has on a storm torn landscape. Much as the first time they stood together on a terrace in Minas Tirith. "And were you not feeling well, my lady, what would be the cause of your discontentment?"

Hesitation was never one of her prominent reactions to a question such as this, even if it was mock hypothetical. But the answer to it would make her vulnerable, even if it is mock hypothetical. She is not the Shieldmaiden of Rohan for nothing, either. Turning back to the East, she replies to him.

"Are you familiar with my family's history, my lord?" A quick glance to her side tells that he is. It is not at all improbable that he knows more about her people and her family than she does. "Then it will not come as a surprise to you that if I were to be unwell, it would be for fear that the last one close to me will not come back."

The Lord Faramir is silent for long enough that she feels compelled to turn back to him. There is a severe look on his face that tells her that her words must have moved something in him. The White Lady of Rohan is close to flee the scene for she just realized that she laid her heart bare in front of a man she has but known for a very short time.

He would not be Faramir the Far Too Perceptive if he would not surprise her again, though. "None of them died because you loved them, or they loved you, Eowyn." It is strange to hear someone else articulate her greatest fear in front of her and try to assert it so steadfastly at the same time. It is no less strange to see that same brave and sharp man become cautious and even a little hesitant when he adds, "Nor is the Lord Eomer the last one close to you. Or at least I rather hope he is not."

No, he is not, she agrees. Her brother has a unique place in her heart and he will always stay there but she knows she opened her heart to another one, far wider than she ever thought she would open it to the King, from the moment on she first saw him in the Houses of Healing. She feels a sudden longing to take Faramir's hand in hers and draw the certainty that he will not leave her, too, from the comforting touch.

As if he has read her thoughts, he does what she has only been longing to do and even though she hoped for this outcome, it is surprising to her that if he would just continue to hold her hand she would never fear of being left behind again. She turns her hand over and squeezes his. "I rather believe your hope is not at all unfounded, my lord."

That makes him smile again and this time it feels not like a sole ray of sun. It feels like a sunset rising from the mountains surrounding Edoras, on a clear high summer's day, bright and warm. Her fears and doubts are still lurking around the edges of her mind but it is this moment when the Lady Eowyn understands that as long as the Lord Faramir will continue to hold her hand and smile at her like this, she will have the strength to see past them and break out of every cage she is danger of getting trapped in. She understands that it is not a sign of weakness to share her burden with another human soul. It is a startling revelation.

It is not any less startling how effortlessly the Lord Faramir can shift from topic to another when he says, "How about my hope that you will accompany me to the library then?" Well. Her troubles might have lifted a bit, that is true. But as she just discovered, she still is not all that keen to spend a day cooped up indoors. The Lord Faramir laughs; a low pleasant sound.

"Very well." Then he reaches into the folds of his mantle to pull out an ancient looking scroll. "As it so happens, my lady, I have brought the very scroll with me." That she can see. "I had a faint feeling I might not be able to persuade you of all people to spend a day with me in the library." Was it so obvious then, that I dislike thick walls and windowless rooms, Eowyn wants to ask with an amused tint but Faramir makes a pretend defeated sigh. "It is just as well. Perhaps we will even be able to see the King and your brother when they return from their foray East, long before everyone else does."

She feels a smile prick at the corners of her mouth. She starts to like the way he thinks more each day. "Perhaps we will." There is a moment of mutual silence and she is glad that she has found a man who knows when words are necessary and when none are in order. It is what makes her say, "Pray tell, my lord, what is the fabled script about?"

"Oh," he says, a mischievous little grin on his face now, "I was hoping you could tell me." This elicits a laugh from her and she urges him to hand the scroll over and there is a new ease to both of them that they fall into when they start deciphering it together. There might yet be hope for her to shake off her self-imposed cage, if she just lets herself. The Lord Faramir just taught her that and she is resolved to teach him something in return. Even if it is just old Rohirric. It is a start, after all.