Understanding

Oddly it was the same thing that I feared about him that drew me to him, and won my heart.

At first I thought him stern. Swiftly I realised my mistake; his fine eyes reflected a gentle soul touched by deep pain and I remembered what the Warden had told me of him… the last remaining member of his line. Pity would have moved me then if not for my own selfish pain. Though I was not, I too felt alone, and needed no reflection of pain to be my companion.

Neither did I want pity. That I was given it so freely by one more wounded than I angered me and left cool words dripping from my tongue. In the face of his flattery too, I angered, thinking his wishes silly, could he not see the futility of it all in the wake of such devastation?

It had been easy then to pretend that his gentleness was in fact weakness, but even then I knew I was wrong – eyes that spoke of such torture did not speak of a weak soul, but one that was strong and knew well how to endure. And my trained eye noted a warriors bearing, though his quiet strength was quite unlike the proud displays I was used to in Rohan.

Soon though, I conceded that his offer of company would be better than loneliness, so to the gardens I would go each day and we would talk long of many things, or sit in silence, content with our own thoughts, and he would smile as if shy - or rather, that he was reluctant or afraid to allow himself such a luxury of feeling. But soon I came to see that though his manner was oft grave and solemn, Faramir was in truth a man quick to smile, and I grew to long for a glimpse of that which so transformed his handsome face; stern nobility would yield, melting into the warm face of a man of this earth, who could be moved, touched by life yet. I would long too for the twinkle in his eyes, as grey stone would become bright as the sea, full of light and colour. Playful yet intense.

Then it was I who smiled shyly – reticent, unsure, or unwilling to acknowledge the stirrings of something within me that flared to life under his ever-watchful gaze. Though I would not admit it then, I knew; I knew that beside me stood a man whom I could love. For all his strange differences he had what I had unknowingly yearned for. I think that truth scared me, for I had long learnt not to need another, to trust only in myself. I was afraid because I knew already the change in me had begun, already I longed for his quiet strength when he was not at my side, and I, so proud, could not bear the thought of such dependency upon another.

So I distanced myself, seeing the creeping of confusion and hurt in the eyes I had grown used to expressing delight. Ah, it had been so easy to be cold before him, when all my hope had seemed lost and I had sought escape or release, when inside I had felt the cool tendrils of death reaching out to claim me, inexorable yet slow. Then, it had been easy to feel nothing… just numbness, born of pain.

And so I would falter and anger at myself, directing it always at him. Patient, he bore it all with a calm acceptance that rocked me, and as I learnt more of him shame burnt me deeply for it was clear he had grown used to rejection thus expected little else of me. Cruel, unfeeling woman, I would say to myself, you deny him yet what he asks of you is small, stay your pride and your control, they are worth little enough here.

It was with surprise then that he watched me soften; my rigid, fearful hauteur melting so that my own stern face became one of a woman who could be moved, touched yet by life.

The surprise soon bled from his gaze to be replaced with a light of understanding mingled with hope. Yet he would be silent, saying nothing at all. But as the days passed his eyes spoke of things to me…though I was not ready to see. I would drop my gaze and when courage had been mustered enough and I looked at him once more he would be smiling gently, content to bide his time, understanding everything…

It both shames and amuses me now that I was too much a coward to admit it then that I loved him, had fallen as I knew I would. I, a shield-maiden of Rohan, I who had defeated the Witch King,I who knew no fear.

Oddly it was the same thing that I feared about him that drew me to him, and won my heart.