"There is a great oak tree here," Legolas said, his finger pointing to a spot in the sketch Eowyn was holding. "Its surrounding is in a sad condition now, but one that can easily be amended. With some care the grass will again be lush and green, and I reckon that by the time you come to stay, we will have been able to plant many flowers. I thought of heathers, celandines, hyacinths, roses … all can be found easily in Ithilien. Perhaps you will add some native flowers of Rohan later on."
"I know that tree," Éowyn said with a smile. "Faramir showed it to me when he gave me a privileged tour around Ithilien." Looking carefully at the drawing, she said, "You plan to surround the tree with several shrubs. There are seven separate shrubs in this drawing."
"Yes, and we thought also of setting some poles where oil lamps can be hung, so at night the tree will be surrounded by sparkling lights. Again, there will be seven of them. A special request of the lord of the house," Legolas said with a wink.
Éowyn looked at the said lord of the house, who was listening to the discussion with amusement while reclining on the grass. "Ah, of course my lord will request it," she said. "One great tree and seven stars for the Steward of Gondor?"
Faramir smiled. "I often walked pass that tree in my patrols. It looked sad yet proud, just as Gondor at that time. Often I imagined it surrounded with lights. And 'seven stars and one white tree' has been etched in my mind since I was a child."
They were sitting in a green pasture, one of the many in Rohan. Legolas and Faramir were showing Éowyn the plans for the garden in Emyn Arnen. When Legolas learnt that Faramir planned to wed Éowyn and built a new house in Emyn Arnen, he had graciously offered to design their garden. Since then, Legolas and Faramir had often walked together in the hills, discussing the plan for the house and the garden. Now they finally had chance to show the plans to Éowyn. They had come to Rohan for the funeral of Theoden King few days before.
That day they talked long of the garden and of the beauty of Ithilien which had charmed them all. Éowyn found the plans quite charming. Legolas surely knew how to make a garden. He had spent all his long years in the wood of Lasgalen; trees, flowers and shrubs were his intimate friends, and he had seen the garden of Galadriel in Lórien.
"We will plant myrtles here," Legolas spoke again, "along the pathway that leads to the garden."
"I like myrtles," Éowyn commented. She read the notes in the drawing, "Nine in each side."
"Another special request of the lord of the house," said Legolas. "Fortunately nine trees match the length of the pathway nicely."
Faramir grinned. "After one white tree and seven stars, what could have naturally come to my mind but 'three times three'? I admit that I have indulged in my penchant for lore."
"Wait until you see the plan of your new house, Éowyn," said Legolas. "It is yet unfinished, but from what I have seen so far, it could serve for a lecture in the history of Gondor. Seven great halls to match the seven circles of Minas Tirith; each room have exactly three windows to match the number of ages that Gondor has seen; the number of steps in each staircase is a multiple of twelves, after the manner of the Eldar; an arch gate in the entrance, engraved with the White Tree and the seven stars …"
Faramir's laughter cut Legolas' recitation. "Do not take his jest seriously, my lady," he said to Éowyn, who looked astounded. "We are not going to have seven halls, or seven rooms with three windows apiece! As for the number of steps, I do not mind having twelve or twenty-four steps, but let me make it clear that it was the idea of my lord Legolas, and not mine."
Legolas laughed. "I admit it was mine. But your eyes brightened with delight when I mentioned the idea."
"I admit that," said Faramir, "and I do wish to have the arch gate and the engravings. But the gate will be adorned not only with the White Tree and the seven stars, for I wish that the white horse of Rohan will grace it also."
Éowyn gave them both a bright smile. "The white horse will stand side by side with the Tree and the stars. And I do not mind the steps, as long as they are not forty-four and one-hundred. For I will dwell there with you until we are too old for such many steps."
In the evening, as Éowyn and Faramir sat together in a terrace in Meduseld, she remembered their earlier conversation.
"This afternoon I wanted to ask you a question," Éowyn said, "but it seemed improper to mention this in the presence of another, even though he is a good friend." Smilingly, she asked, "Would you decide the number of our children based on lore also, my lord?"
"Nay," he said hastily, but without ire, "nay, for children are gifts and it is for us to accept them gratefully. It is not for us to decide, even if we were given the authority to decide."
Looking at Éowyn's fair face, a smile gradually graced his lips. Still looking at her, his face softened and he said,
"If we are given only one heir, I will rejoice, for from a single sapling a great tree will grow. And did not all the living spring from One?
If two jewels come to us, I will be content; two children make a father content, just as two Trees were sufficient to light the whole Valinor.
If we are given three, we shall be glad; they will preserve our House as the three Elven Rings has preserved the beauty of Middle-earth."
Éowyn looked at her betrothed tenderly. My lord is not an ordinary man, she thought, who else could have been as fair-minded, who else could have spoken as fairly?
Faramir's voice was almost melodious as he continued,
"A great rejoicing we shall have at the coming of the fourth, as we all shall rejoice and be glad when the Fourth Age begins.
Five children make a fine brood, were not five Istari sent to fight the shadow in our shore?
Six is a blessed number, for on my sixth day in the Houses of Healing,"
his finger touched Éowyn's blushing cheek,
"I beheld for the first time the White Lady of Rohan."
Éowyn laughed merrily. "I believe six children will be considered many, even in the coming age of plenty," she said, "but let me continue your list, my treasured bard. Seven children make a magnificent array, as magnificent as the seven circles of Minas Anor. Should the eighth ..."
I am afraid we would never learn the particular virtue of an eighth child, for Faramir found Éowyn's merry, blushing face and her fond regard of Minas Tirith too alluring. He kissed her and she responded with equal passion, and they cared not that some looked at them from afar. They, or at least Faramir, had not cared that their first kiss was seen by perhaps half of the inhabitants of Minas Tirith. Certainly being seen by few guards and servants would not bother them now.