Tiran, the rider Faramir had commissioned and compensated handsomely, was kept busy making the three day journey from Minas Tirith to Rohan and back each month for the duration of their betrothal. He carried with him all the letters Eowyn and Faramir wrote to each other while separated. Whenever there was a spare moment, when dreams kept them awake at night, when the loneliness became too much, a man and a woman sat down, put quill to parchment and poured out their hearts.
The week after King Elessar's coronation sped by much too fast for the newly engaged couple. On the morning that Eomer King and the remaining Rohirrim were set to leave, Eowyn was in tears as she tore herself away from Faramir with one last kiss. Emotions ran high for the new Steward too - he held her hand until the last moment, letting it slip from his grasp as the mare he'd gifted her with, Wen ("A lady for my lady," he told her when he gave her the reins), slowly carried her away.
They'd whispered their goodbyes earlier, in the famililar garden at the Houses of Healing. Faramir embraced her, fair and russet heads resting together, using the phrases 'my lady' and 'my love'. Eowyn also spoke to him, calling Faramir her gentle soldier, her lord and her heart. He checked to make sure his mother's cloak was clasped securely around her and Eowyn left with him a necklace from her father that exemplified Rohan - a proud stallion in full gallop.
Before they joined the others he kissed her once more and pressed a letter into her hand. "Read this only when you miss me, for I cannot leave you with memories alone."
She sniffed and wiped her eyes. "Then I shall read it the moment you are out of sight."
Which she did, while strands of hair were teased loose to dance in the breeze. Eowyn - I love you more than the sun and moon and stars. We spend each day under the same sky. When you are missing me, look up and there I will be, looking at the same things. Remember our moments and days together, those memories will be my light. Always - Faramir.
These things he remembered as their party disappeared over the first rise, but his eyes never strayed from the golden head that shone in the sun. That night when he returned to his room, Faramir found a letter laying on his bed and he grinned. How clever she was to smuggled it in for him! Unfolding the paper, he read her words. I choose you. I love you, and I will return. I promise. Just what he needed to hear when doubts assailed him without her reassuring presence to shut them out.
And now he had not seen her in five long months. Their second meeting was at Eomer King's ceremony, some three weeks following the king's coronation and joyful, if unexpected, wedding. Faramir traveled with Aragorn and his lady Arwen and a band of trusted escorts to the humble halls of Rohan's king. There Eowyn barely waited for his feet to touch the ground before she was in his arms, elated beyond words to see her beloved again. So wrapped up were the two in each other that it took some rather harsh throat clearing to bring them to their senses. Then Eowyn hid her face in his chest, blushing at so public a display of their feelings. Her brother looked on sternly, but Aragorn's expression was knowing. He had greeted the love he believed lost to him in a similar fashion not long ago.
They stayed at Meduseld for one short week in which Eowyn and Faramir frequently disappeared for long rides and walks and spent hours in quiet conversation, finding places to sit where they would not be easily interrupted. But at last the inevitable parting came, thought they left each other with the gift of letters - words and thoughts and hopes and love all wrapped up in folded pages to save and re-read often. Though inside were not always happy things.
Halfway through Eomer's imposed time apart, Eowyn was curled up in a chair in her room, smiling as she savoured the latest batch of communication Tiran had delivered. Of course, he was well rewarded with a hot meal and a warm bed for the night, as he was every time he came as the bearer of good news. Then she came to a letter stained with what had to be tears, which she could only imagine was written in the middle of a dark night following the memories that too often engulfed the man she loved.
Eowyn, you are the only family I have left, there is no one else. Without you I am utterly alone, and I fear that darkness gains more of a hold in each passing day. Do not leave me here to be lost in the shadows. I need you my lady, my love, my life. Please come back.
Her heart broke at the despair in each line and she quickly took up a pen. My beloved, do not believe the lies that come in such dark and lonely hours. I await only the day this time apart comes to an end, and then I will be at your side for as many years as we are granted in this life. Languish not in my absence dear heart, but rest in our love and the promise of forever.
Nearly a month passed before Faramir received her reply, but he knew immediately which letter her response belonged to, and as ashamed as he was of the weakness that left the paper stained with his tears, he cherished what Eowyn had written and kept it close to his heart for many days after. In the stack of letters Tiran had brought back, tied with a green ribbon and bearing a dried flower native to Rohan, Faramir found one that made him long for the freedom to fly to Edoras this very day and retrieve his lady love.
Faramir - my heart grows heavier with each day that passes. The rebuilding of Rohan and her people takes nearly every minute of our time, but in early mornings and during quiet evenings I remember how much I miss you. Even now your mother's mantle covers my lap and warms my skin, but I wish it was your hands, your touch. And though I spent a fortnight within reach of your arms, now I find I cannot remember your scent, nor the reassuring beat of your heart under my hand. I am lonely for you, my love, sometimes my heart aches for your presence so badly that I cannot find rest. Please-
But whatever else she was going to say had been scratched out and Faramir could not decipher the words. That very hour he began counting days until their wait was over and sent a tally in each of his following letters. The last was the smallest number yet. Fifteen days my lady, and we shall be together. I will look to your coming with all the flags of Gondor flying, if my king allows the indulgence. Make haste Eowyn and do not delay, my patience grows thin and I long for the moment I get to hold you in my arms once more. This time I will never let go.
Now the wait was finally over and earlier this day Eowyn and Faramir had stood before King Elessar and the wizard Gandalf and their people from Rohan and Minas Tirith as they spoke the vows which bound their hearts and lives together until their last breath. The surprise came when Queen Arwen stepped forward and presented her husband with two narrow gold crowns. The king beamed as he bestowed upon Faramir the princeship of Ithilien, a place which had long held his heart, and made Eowyn his princess.
Pride shone from her eyes as the honour was given and then Faramir cupped Eowyn's face in his hands, staring at her for a long moment before joining their lips to seal the promise of their union. A cheer went up, flower petals were thrown to shower down on the newly married couple, and Gandalf by his art caused a pair of doves to fly over their heads and away into the light of the sun. A meal was served once everyone had a chance to wish them well and say congratulations, and then the celebration began with singing, dancing and stories shared late into the evening.
At some point, without the notice of their guests, Eowyn and Faramir slipped away with the king and queen to separate rooms to prepare for their first night together. Both halves of the couple were then escorted to the chamber in the Steward's house that they would share for the bridal week and whenever business required them to return to the city. Outside the door Faramir straightened the loose tunic he wore, took a deep breath, and entered.
His bride was already there standing by the window and staring out at the stars. She wore a long cotton shift and her hair, as always, fell unbound down her back. He moved quietly behind her and slid his arms around her, brushing aside her hair to kiss her shoulder. "My beautiful wife," he whispered, a thrill shooting through him at the title she now bore.
Eowyn leaned back into him and turned slightly, smiling shyly. "My lord husband."
Faramir studied her eyes. "Do you fear me now, as your husband? Are you uneasy about this night love?"
Her hand came up to caress his cheek. "There were days I thought we would never get here, to belonging to one another. But I have no mother to prepare me or teach me how to be a wife." She leaned up to kiss him. "I do not fear you Faramir, but I suppose I am a bit anxious about what comes after this and you holding me in your arms."
He leaned his forehead on hers. "And there is no one to show me what a husband should be like. But I would do more than hold you tonight Eowyn, and I promise to be gentle and take everything slow so you are not afraid." He drew his fingers through her hair. "Will you lay down with me my lady?"
Eowyn nodded and they settled on the bed, pressed close together. Everything was brand new and she shivered at the contact. Faramir's arm was around her and his fingers skated over her back. "What are you thinking?"
A smile tugged at her lips and she touched his hair. "I was thinking that you are beautiful my lord."
Faramir laugh skeptically. "Beautiful? I do not think-"
Eowyn cut him off. "No Faramir, 'tis true. I love everything about you. Long have I wanted to see if your hair is as soft as it looks." She moved down, tracing his eyebrows and the shadow of a beard. "Sometimes it tickles when you kiss me, but I cannot imagine you without it." Graceful fingers followed the bridge of his nose, mapped his cheekbones and jaw, and drew a circle around his mouth. "Your eyes are the colour of a stormy sea, yet there is ever gentleness and care in them. You have a distinguished bearing fit for a steward and a prince, but I love how carefree you look when you smile. And your lips," she smirked, "I am glad that mine have often made their acquaintance." Her hand came to rest on his chest. "But your heart, my love, is the most beautiful thing about you. I will cherish always that you chose to give it to me."
It was difficult for Faramir to control his reaction to her innocent touch. "Eowyn," he breathed, "how is it that I would be so blessed? You are everything I have dreamed and so much more. Let me show you what it is to be loved."
She closed her eyes and met his kiss, silently granting permission for whatever came next.
Early the next morning the sun's rays drew Eowyn from a peaceful sleep. Granted it hadn't been very long, but her dreams were happy. She stretched a little and then clutched the covers against herself, cheeks burning as she realized she was in nothing but her skin. Eowyn laughed softly as it came to her that never in her life had she been so indecent unless she was taking a bath. Turning her head, her gaze fell on her husband, fast asleep on his stomach, one arm resting low across her hips.
Memories of the hours before they had given into slumber danced in Eowyn's mind and she thought of what it had been like to become one with Faramir. As much as things had been rather awkward at times, and a little uncomfortable and embarrassing, it was the tenderness with which he'd treated her that stood out above all else. They'd come together more than once, learning about each other in the process, but Eowyn had a feeling that even a lifetime wouldn't be long enough for her to tire of knowing Faramir's love that way.
As if sensing her thoughts, he stirred, nuzzling her shoulder before opening his eyes and blinking slowly. "And I thought it was a dream. Good morning my lady."
"My lord." Eowyn smoothed her thumb over his beard and for long moments they simply looked at each other until Faramir leaned over to kiss his wife.
He stroked back her tousled hair and tried to read her eyes. "Are you well?"
The colour returned to her face and she had to focus her gaze elsewhere. "I believe I am." Faramir wished he knew for certain. Of all the things he feared, hurting Eowyn would be the worst. Her brow furrowed when his silence continued and she turned back to him. "What is it beloved? Why do you stare at me so?"
"I love you, my brave shieldmaiden," he whispered hoarsely, confused by the sly smile that claimed her lips.
Eowyn's fingers trailed across his chest. "A maiden I am no longer Lord Prince, for you made sure of that."
Faramir kissed the tip of each finger and curled them around his own. He didn't know how to phrase what he wished to know and simply let his eyes scan her sheet covered body, hoping she would understand. Knowing him almost better than he knew himself, Eowyn discerned the reason for his tentative manner. "Faramir," she began softly, turning his face towards her, "you have not harmed me. I am not in pain. I trust you husband, in this as in everything. I would ask for a day to...adjust," she floundered on a way to explain why without making him feel guilty, but in the end decided to leave it alone. "I want to be with you. Those moments are like nothing I have ever known and are precious to me. Put your mind at ease my lord, I am well."
Relief cloaked his features and Eowyn's shyness returned as she asked her question, snuggling close and wanting the security of his arms. Faramir gladly obliged. "And what think you of our night my love? Were you..satisfied?" She had to force the last word out and swallowed hard, for disappointing her husband in regards to their marriage bed would be a great shame indeed.
Faramir used one finger to trace her face as she had done to him last night. "I treasure the gift you gave me Eowyn, of yourself. I can ask for nothing more."
It wasn't really an answer but there were some things better left unspoken, she reasoned, trying to relax. Eventually Eowyn sighed. "They will be looking for us soon." Leaving the comfort of their chamber was not something she looked forward to.
Faramir chuckled and kissed her long and slow. "This is our bridal week my lady, we have no schedule to keep. I have arranged for our meals to be brought here, to eat together." He gazed at her lovingly. "I have no wish to share you with any other now that you are finally mine."
"Yours," Eowyn whispered, content with his claim. Eventually though her hunger made itself known and she sat up, holding the sheet to cover herself as she looked for her nightclothes. The garment was draped over a chair at their bedside and Eowyn reached for it, then frowned when she felt her husband's heated gaze. "Avert your eyes sir." Despite what they'd shared last night, she was not ready for him to look upon her unclothed in the light of day.
Faramir made a face but agreeably closed his eyes as Eowyn slipped into the dress and bent over to kiss his lips. His arms encircled her and he dragged her down on top of him, unable to get enough of being able to touch and hold her this way. A knock on the door interrupted the couple and Eowyn's eyes shone with mischief before she got up to answer the summons. She came back moments later balancing a heavy tray, which she placed on the bed between them.
Getting up and donning the soft breeches and loose tunic he'd worn last night while Eowyn kept her eyes on the rumpled covers, Faramir joined her to sit crosslegged on the bed and began indulging in the lavish spread, eating mostly with their fingers and occasionally feeding each other a piece of fruit or bread or tender, seasoned venison. The couple talked and laughed and kissed and finally lay back, sated and happy.
Eowyn rolled over and propped her head up on one hand. "So tell me Lord Prince, what is it that we do now?"
He traced the pale column of her neck with his finger, swallowing back what he wanted to say. "I thought perhaps you would like a bath, and then a ride across the field to banish any lingering ghosts."
Feeling suddenly bold, Eowyn caressed her husband's chest above the loose laces of his nighshirt. "And will I be taking that bath alone husband?"
Faramir captured her hand and held it over his heart. "If you would allow me to assist, it would be a pleasure to wash your hair."
Eowyn's brow furrowed. "My hair?"
He seemed a bit embarrassed and feathered his fingers lightly through the soft waves. "Gold like the sun. Never have I see anything that compares."
"Did you marry me for my hair alone Faramir?" she teased, but his expression grew serious.
"You brought light into shadows and love into loneliness. I married you because without you life would never be the same."
A smile claimed Eowyn's lips and she pressed them gently to his. "That, my lord, is a very good answer."
After water had been brought to fill the tub in the small room adjoining their chamber, Eowyn covered herself with a thick layer of bubbles and turned towards the door. "Come join me beloved." The heat felt delicious, soothing away aches and tension and she closed her eyes, savouring it.
Her husband entered and pulled a stool beside her, swirling his fingers through the water before he lifted the cup on the table near the tub and began slowly wetting her long hair. That accomplished, Faramir poured thick liquid from a stone jug into his palms and began smoothing it over and through the golden strands. Nearly beside herself with pleasure, the new princess relaxed fully and enjoyed the way his fingers felt combing gently through her long hair. Finally he rinsed the suds away and Eowyn smiled, lifting dripping hands to cup his face and bring his lips to hers. Faramir indulged in the kiss, sliding his hand around the back of her neck and tilting his head to deepen the caress. When Eowyn pulled away, the twinkle in her eyes lifted his spirits.
"Well my lord, I see we will get nothing done if you insist on pampering me so. If you give me but a few moments to attend to personal needs, I will get ready and join you for that ride. Wen will think I have utterly abandoned her now that two days have passed without a visit to the stables."
"And Thoron is always ready for a good gallop. Perhaps I will race you halfway to Osgiliath and test the stamina of your steed."
Eowyn shook her head, a smirk turning up the corners of her lips. "Halfway will not be nearly far enough my lord. Wen and I will race you to the very borders of Osgiliath before we dare admit defeat." The smugness in her expression was his warning. "Do not expect an easy victory. We are warriors, she and I. Thoron will not be unevenly matched."
Faramir loved the gentle teasing between them and stood, bowing slightly. "Then I await your coming in the stables my lady. The ride will test us both."
She watched him go then hurried to finish her bath. Tying back the front part of her hair, she dressed in the coarse, common clothes of Rohan which made for excellent riding apparel and would not hinder her movements. Eowyn managed to get to the stables with only a minimum of stops to nod and smile and exchange pleasantries with curious people who recognized the glow of a new bride. Faramir stood at Thoron's stall, tightening the last knot on his saddle. At her step he turned and grinned. "All is ready, if you are."
Eowyn checked her own mount thoroughly, though one of the grooms had already tacked her up, and took the reins, facing her husband. "We are. Lead on my lord and may the best rider win."
Faramir caught her free hand in his. "Would that be a challenge Eowyn?"
Her eyes twinkled. "It would."
They walked slowly towards the Pelennor Fields. Over the past months men of the city had been busy clearing away all evidence of battle. First the dead had all been accounted for and any that could be identified were returned to their families for burial, while those fallen on the enemy's side were piled up and burned. Next weapons had been gathered and those that were still fit for use or which could be repaired were taken to the smithy, and enemy armour and broken armory were melted down to be used in the creation of new ones. All of the animals who fell were also cremated, though the oliphants were first skinned and their hides given to cobblers in Minas Tirith and Rohan to be made into boots, among other things. Once the fields were cleansed of battle sights, men and lads were kept busy filling in holes that could cause a horse and rider harm. Finally, after many weeks of intense labour, the Pelennor Fields were returned to their former glory and it was on this that the Steward and his lady now rode out.
Eowyn mounted without a thought of waiting for help and Faramir couldn't help but grin. His wife would never be the type to be waited on or coddled, but a more strong and beautiful helpmate and companion he couldn't imagine. At her nod, he counted down from three to one and they kicked their horses into a run. Both animals responded beautifully and the race began. Halfway across the field with the wind flying in their faces and lighthearted laughter echoing around them, Eowyn and Faramir were still tied for first. Leaning over Wen's neck, Eowyn whispered into her ear, urging her to make haste. The mare, loving to go fast just as her mistress did, threw herself forward with a burst of speed.
Faramir's eyebrows rose and he tapped his heels once against Thoron's sides. "It is time to show our quality old boy." Thoron, used to the pace of the battle charge, quickened his strides and caught up easily to Wen.
By the time they reached the outskirts of Osgiliath, Faramir thought they might have a tie, but then Wen nudged her nose forward and claimed the winning place just as they pulled to a stop. Victory lighting her face, Eowyn slid from Wen's back and turned to praise her horse. Faramir also thanked Thoron for his hard work and then lifted his wife into his arms and swung her around. "My lady, you are the undefeated champion."
Eowyn smiled when he set her down and reached up to caress his cheek. "You are a fine horseman my love. Next time we may not be so fortunate as to win the race."
Faramir laced their fingers together. "Shall we explore the city?"
The stonemasons had been hard at work, though repairing Minas Tirith had been their first priority, and slowly Osgiliath was being restored to its former glory. Eowyn looked around at the white stone, the intricate architecture, and the many columns and arches. "It is beautiful."
Wishing he could see it through her eyes, Faramir squeezed her hand tighter. "Boromir called this place the jewel of our kingdom. Before the war, before the enemy, Osgiliath was filled with light and beauty and music and my brother vowed it would be that way again. The damage that was done here was great, but the time is coming soon when the descendants of those who had to flee to Minas Tirith to escape the attacks will be able to return to their homes. My hope it so keep Boromir's promise, to see the city as it was a thousand years ago, even though I could not save it at the end of this age."
The sadness in his tone caught Eowyn's ear and she looked into his eyes. "What memories do these streets hold for you my lord, that you would feel as if you failed? You nearly gave your life to defend this city, what more can be asked of you?"
Faramir found the arch where he had stood with Boromir during their brief celebration and rested his hand on the stone. "Father charged me with the protection of Osgiliath. But there were not enough men to keep it safe and we were forced to retreat. As usual, Boromir came to the rescue bearing the full weight of Minas Tirith's armies. There was nothing I could do right in my father's eyes." In his head echoed Denethor's crushing words, Always you cast a poor reflection on me. "No matter how hard I tried, I could never meet with his approval."
Eowyn was upset on her husband's behalf. "Why did he favour Boromir so? Were you not also his son?"
His heart squeezed remembering their time in the throne room of the Citadel. "I do not think he had any desire to claim me. In our last conversation he confirmed what I suspected - that he wished I had died and Boromir had lived."
Tears filled her eyes and spilled over and Eowyn took his face in her hands. "Oh my love, what a loss that would have been!" She swallowed and brushed her thumbs over his cheeks. "To have never met you, to have never known you...I know your brother's death left a hole in your heart and I am sorry for the grief you bear. But I am so glad that you lived."
Faramir's hands came up to curl around her wrists. "Say that again."
Eowyn molded her mouth to his for a long moment, then pulled back to repeat the reassurance he desperately needed. "Faramir, I am grateful for your life. If no one else says it then I must, this world would be a dark place indeed if you had not been born."
He stared at her in utter disbelief and then kissed her deeply, crushing her to his chest. Eowyn held her husband tightly, whispering every kind of comfort she could think of and also silently chastising Denethor for being so blind to the son who loved him despite his faults and only wanted to please him. Finally they drew apart and she took up his hand again. "Come beloved, show me the city that was saved." Above their heads the white flag of Gondor rippled in the wind and in one man's heart a bit of healing was begun.
Just as the faintest stirrings of dawn began on the eastern horizon, Faramir opened his eyes to see Eowyn watching him, a small smile adorning her lips. He took her hand and kissed her knuckles, letting the fatigue slip away from his consciousness. "Can you not sleep?"
She shook her head slightly. "This day belongs to you my love. I know it is not much, but after the demons that were faced yesterday I would offer you a wife's comfort and her undying love."
By the blush staining her cheek Faramir could guess the kind of comfort she hinted at and slid his hand around the back of her neck, drawing her closer. "If that is something you are ready to give, you will not find me refusing." His lips skimmed over his and Eowyn tugged him back when he tried to move away.
"I believe, sir, that you are missing my point."
Faramir chuckled. "Dear lady, I do not think this is something we can accomplish while still in our nightclothes." He read in Eowyn's eyes that she had forgotten about that detail.
With a smile she loosened the laces on his linen shirt and watched as he pulled it over his head, her fingers mapping the solid muscle of his chest and torso. Once his breeches were also discarded, Faramir turned his attention to the thin cotton chemise his wife had worn for sleeping and slowly undid the bow holding the front together. Anticipation quickened Eowyn's breathing and he took time to stare into her eyes before going any further.
"Eowyn," Faramir breathed, "have I yet told you what a gift you are to me?"
Her fingers tangled in his chestnut hair and she lifted her face for a kiss. "You may tell me as often as you wish, if you believe me when I say that you are mine as well."
With that their mouths met again and hands and fingers began to wander over flushed skin. Passion was demonstrated slowly, with aching tenderness steeped in the depth of Eowyn and Faramir's love for each other. The sun was fully risen before the couple parted and returned to sleep cradled in each other's arms and it was nearly lunchtime when they finally quit their bed to have at least one meal in the dining room.
There was a long table meant for seating guests, but the newlyweds would have none of being separated any longer and sat so close together as to be touching every time they reached for something to fill their plates or shifted in their chairs. Although Faramir would have been quite happy to see no one but his bride for the remaining days of their first married week, Eowyn expressed a desire to spend a little time with her brother, since he would be leaving the city soon and she was not likely to see him for months after they took over rule of Ithilien. Able to deny her nothing and understanding now better than he ever had that moments with family should never be wasted or taken for granted, Faramir escorted her as far as the Citadel and promised to wait for her on the bench near the White Tree with the book he'd brought.
Sooner than he expected Eowyn was back, looking for all the world as if she knew a great secret and trying to stifle the laughter that wanted to break forth. Faramir took her hands surveyed her quietly. "Come now my lady, let us have no secrets between us. Pray tell me why you appear thus."
Eowyn bit her lip and shook her head. "I should not tell you, my lord, for I may have caught a glimpse of the future."
"Taking lessons from Mithrandir, are you my love? For he is one of the few I know gifted with a sight beyond what we can see."
She leaned in and cupped her hand around his ear, whispering conspiratorially. "I saw my brother and your cousin leave the king to take a walk through the Citadel. Perhaps we should not disturb them yet."
Faramir's expression betrayed his surprise. "Lothiriel? I would not expect her to give him leave of her time so soon. They were only introduced two days ago!"
Eowyn turned the gold ring he wore as a symbol of their promise. "And how many days after we met was it before you attempted to dog my every step?"
He made a face but could not refute her logic. A moment's thought gave him a better perspective. "On the other hand, she may be very good for him. I have known no stubborn man who cannot be broken gently by the love of a good woman." Faramir tucked her hair back. "Are you disappointed?"
Her brow creased. "That my brother may have the chance to be as happy with someone as I am with you? I would not begrudge him that gift, even if I will miss his company." Eowyn walked to the wall surrounding the courtyard and looked out over the city. Faramir joined her, sliding his arms around her.
"Have you any regrets my lady, for leaving your home?"
She shook her head. "No. I will miss Rohan, it is woven into the very fabric of my being. But I look forward to building a life and a home with you my lord. If Ithilien is as beautiful as you describe, I shall have little trouble learning to love it there."
"I will take you back to Rohan Eowyn, I promise. I cannot bear to think of you missing it."
Eowyn spun to face him, never leaving the circle of his arms. "I know what happened to your mother Faramir, but it shall not be so with me. You are my very heart and when I am with you I will always be home." She had such a way of touching each insecurity and making them fade away like smoke into the air. Faramir hugged her close and they remained like that until a voice interrupted them.
"If you were not her husband Faramir, I should like to have words with you about being so free with my sister." They turned to find Eomer watching them with crossed arms and a solemn expression which broke into a smile as soon as Eowyn rushed to hug him. He held her tightly, then pulled back to study her. "You look happy Eowyn."
She tilted her head. "Did you expect to find me otherwise?"
"I am unused to trusting your care to others," Eomer protested, then reached out a hand to Faramir. "But I thank you for putting the light back into her eyes. That I have not seen for many years."
Eowyn put her hand on his chest. "I am free of the shadows now Eomer, you need not worry for me. Besides, I think there may be another woman on your mind now that I am safely wed."
Shock sped through Eomer's eyes to be replaced with a cautious wariness. "Have you taken up the study of the Rangers Eowyn, that you seem to have followed me without my knowledge?" An innocent little shrug told him nothing and he sighed, running a hand through his hair. "I am intrigued. And she has not turned me away yet. I suppose now that I should have believed you when you tried to explained how fast you and Faramir came together."
She smiled. "I would wish you happiness brother. Practice gentleness as you court her heart. It would be such a shame to lose this chance."
Eomer nodded but was ready to be done with the conversation. "I confess I did not expect to see you until I departed. Have you tired of each other already?"
Eowyn blushed and Faramir laughed but they neither confirmed nor denied his statement. "The people are less likely to consider us a novelty if they see us out in the city, and I would not deny my wife the opportunity to spend time with her brother while he was here. In fact," Faramir held up the book in his hand, "I believe I can occupy myself quite well for an hour or two if you and Eowyn should like to go for a walk."
Eomer nodded gratefully and held out an arm to his sister, who accepted only after kissing her husband's cheek and promising to return. The royal siblings of Rohan made their way through Minas Tirith and out the gate to Pelennor Fields. Yesterday there had not been time for Eowyn to think too much of the ground over which she rode, but today Eomer led her to the very spot, near as he could guess, where he had found her half-dead laying by their uncle's body.
"Never have a felt a grief more intense than when I thought you had fallen in battle sister." He kept her close to his side. "You cannot imagine the agony of those hours, waiting for a sign that there was still life in you."
Eowyn had not heard his cry of despair, but Aragorn had told her of it once, that he had not seen a man in such pain as when he discovered her with Theoden King. She tucked herself against him, holding on tight. "I am sorry to put you through that Eomer, grieving you was not my intent. Perhaps I should have heeded your warning, but I cannot regret fighting for my king."
He put his hands on her shoulders. "Do not do that to me again Eowyn. Promise me that you will put away your sword and nevermore to fight. I cannot lose you that way."
Eowyn took hold of his hands. "I refuse to make a promise to you that I may have to break. And while my days fighting in battle are over, I may yet have need to wield a sword in defense of my home and my lord. Ithilien is not as tame as Minas Tirith, nor as clear of the enemy. As long as I may work at Faramir's side in peace and in danger, I cannot promise what you want."
Eomer sighed and kissed her forehead. "Then fight bravely Eowyn, for I would have you safe and happy for the rest of your days." He stared at the place where she had been found. "Do the nightmares still trouble your rest sister?" Too many nights he had paced the halls of Meduseld and heard her distressing cries.
She was remembering the wild courage that overtook her when the Witch-King went after her uncle, how she fought him and his fell-beast and won. She rubbed the arm that had been damaged by his blow. "Occasionally, on dark nights. But I believe having someone near will help with that. If nothing else, Faramir will tell me it is over, that there is no longer reason to be afraid." Eowyn gazed at her brother. "And what of your dreams Eomer? Are they haunted by scenes of the battles in which you rode?"
He swallowed. "They are haunted by this one, when I thought I had lost what remained of my family. Haunted by regret for not being there to save Theodred or protect you from Grima. Haunted by the responsibility I now bear as king over our people. But perhaps you are right and maybe one day I will also find that peace of having another there when I wake."
Eowyn smiled. "You have chosen well. I know little of Lothiriel, but if she is anything like our cousin, it will be a good match." She bent down and picked a small bunch of flowers, life where there used to be death, and handed the bouquet to her brother. "Take these to her. Ask about her home, about her childhood with her brothers. And when you are done talking, I hope you know your heart with even more certainty."
Eomer hugged her again. "Thank you sister. In this I believe I will follow any and all advice you have to give." He took her back through the long winding passages and circles of the city, up to the courtyard where Faramir was absorbed in his book. "Go now to your love. Perhaps I go to mine."
"I love you," she whispered as he walked away. Eowyn joined Faramir on the bench, sitting in silent contemplation so long that he finally looked up and slid his hand over hers.
She shook herself and tried to smile at him. "I am fine."
Faramir closed the book he held. "Do not speak false with me Eowyn, I know your heart."
Eowyn sighed. "May we go sit in the garden of the Houses my lord? There are good memories there and I am suddenly weary."
"It is never easy to say goodbye," he observed, "but in our corner of Middle-Earth peace is beginning to reign. I do not think you will soon lose your brother."
She nodded but remained too quiet for his liking as they made their way to the Houses of Healing where their lives had first begun to intertwine. There in the gardens they sat together, until Eowyn fell asleep against him. Faramir settled back to hold her, content as long as he was close enough to feel her heart beat. Only two days into their marriage and already they were learning that being happy did not mean the shadows would not suddenly appear. Someday he hoped to vanquish them all, but today he would start with one.
At the end of their bridal week in Minas Tirith, Faramir and Eowyn packed what little they had kept with them, everything else had been sent on ahead, and prepared for the two day journey north to their new home in Ithilien. Together they bid farewell to Eomer and took their leave of King Elessar and Queen Arwen, with Faramir promising to return as soon as his liege had need of him. "Navaer. Farewell. Go with my blessing, good Steward and Prince. And take care of your lady, for she must always be the treasure of your heart."
Faramir bowed. "Indeed she will be my king. I can think of no greater good than to live with her at my side for all the years of our lives."
They were dismissed and walked slowly out to the courtyard, where the flowering white tree stood as a proclamation to all that the king had returned. Then they made for the stables where Thoron and Wen were waiting with a third animal on which their bundles of clothing, provisions and belongings rested. Eowyn and Faramir mounted their horses and walked to the gate, turning for one last look at the home of his fathers. Then he held out his hand to her and smiled. "Shall we go home my lady?"
Eowyn spared a final glance at her brother and squared her shoulders, nodding once. "Yes my lord, take us there."
With that they began their life together, under the same sun and moon and stars, and rode off into all that the future had to offer. This was the start of forever.