25 August 2011 | 1306 words
Title: The Path Now Taken
Rating: PG (to be safe)
Warnings: Het, mild battle imagery.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. All written in good fun with no offence intended!
Author’s Note: It’s been almost a year since I joined this archive, so about time for something a little different, perhaps? :)
She awakens to the soft sounds of rain. No voices, no whispering, save the occasional dream-murmurs of her husband beside her. She rises, and the coverlet slips away as she steps toward the window and pulls open the shutters. Moonlight bathes her, cold and silent, and she closes her eyes as the chill air of the night envelops her and sends the first shivers through her body.
Éowyn’s dreams are troubled. The images she sees when she closes her eyes, when Faramir’s safe embrace falls away as he too drifts into sleep disturb her. She sees battle, death, blood-stained banners and horses crumpling as arrows fell them beneath their riders. She sees a broken spear in the hand of a dead boy, too young to be at war, but his flaxen hair spills out from beneath his father’s helm, and she knows he wanted to be brave, to fight, to be a man. She hears the moan of the dying, the shriek of wounded warhorses, and beneath her unshod feet the ground is warm and damp with rain and blooded soil. She does not fear these images; she has been seeing the glory of battle every night for a long time now, but still they come to her. How wonderful it is to die with honour, she thinks. How dutiful. Once, something she craved, to die a good and just death. For it to have meaning, when all else was lost to her.
She had once had little to live for, but dying well was at least within her grasp.
Faramir shifts in the bed behind her, kicking at the sheets, turning over, settling and reaching a hand into the warm space she has left beside him. He does not wake, and Éowyn stays in the moon’s light and watches him, and wonders how it is his dreams are so peaceful. He has seen war, he has seen death; she knows the horrors he has been through and the loss he has experienced and yet Faramir’s steady breathing is the sound she falls asleep and wakes up to every night they have been together. Éowyn closes the shutter again, and pads back to the bed, lifting Faramir’s arm gently and slipping in beneath it and staring out into the shadows.
They are both orphans, and she knows Faramir feels the loss of his brother as keenly as she misses Théodred, and her dear uncle. She wonders, sometimes, if her mother would approve of her choice of husband; would she be proud of her daughter, for choosing a man so strong and yet so gentle-hearted, or would she be angry, disappointed that she has forsaken Rohan, and run away with this southern ranger to the woodlands of Gondor. He is a competent horseman, but she knows Théodred would have run circles around him on his chestnut courser. But she loves Faramir, for all his qualities peculiar to those south of the border. She suspects he finds her ways odd on occasion, too.
Some nights, she sings to herself one of Theodwyn’s lullabies when sleep evades her. When Faramir finds her lying sleepless her sings to her too; soft songs she does not know, lilting melodies that his low voice carries with a rough beauty. Sometimes they make love, again, in the midnight hours, and she forgets all at once the creeping sadness of her errant thoughts as she feels the weight of Faramir on top of her while the white waves crash through them both.
Éowyn shivers again, and pulls Faramir’s arm around her, his knuckles to her lips. He snores somewhere behind her, lost in his own night-thoughts, prone and at ease. She envies him that; the ability to let it go, to forget, to accept, to live. To be happy.
She killed Angmar’s Witch-King single-handedly, but all she could think of while looking at her arm in a sling was how much it all hurt. As she paced endlessly the hushed halls she thought only of home, of escaping this new, white prison. But Rohan was far away, and what awaited her there? No parents, no family save Éomer who would have little and less time for her as King. No Théodred, even her horse had fallen on the Pelennor. She felt more and more listless each morning as they brought her a new and different gown to dress in, with only the sad, gentle gazes and kind words of a man named Faramir to bring comfort to her lonely days. She had shut him out, in the beginning, and then he had worked his way into her heart, and she cannot ever conceive of a time now where she would ever wish to be parted from him.
Rolling over, Éowyn reaches up and twines an auburn curl around her finger. Faramir lies still as stone, lost in the deep sleep with which men seem unfairly gifted. He is warm, heat seeping from his body to chase away the chills and soothe the tension in hers. Éowyn smiles, in the darkness, a small, private, secret smile. Faramir will keep her safe.
She closes her eyes, and breathes out. The arm she has draped about herself moves, and a hand slides down her back and back up between her shoulders, before pulling her close. An unshaven lip tickles her throat. Words drift up to her, buried within a mingling of gold and copper hair. A song, and Éowyn allows Faramir to cradle her against him as her heartbeat calms and the pull of sleep begins to tempt her. Even disturbed from dreams he does naught but love her, and she clings to him, wrapping arms around the solidness of his body, breathing in the scent of him, loving him so dearly. She must hold him tightly, for he ceases the lullaby and murmurs kind laughter from somewhere amongst the pillows.
“I am not going anywhere, my lady.”
She smiles again, and looks upon his shadowy form with only devotion in her heart. “I know.”
He lifts his head, and from the way the sigh of laughter escapes him she can tell he is still smiling. He leans in, closing all gaps between them, and kisses her deeply as he hooks his ankle over her calf. Something flutters shyly within Éowyn, but now is not the time for passion, and indeed they have already made love this evening. Instead, she melts into the touch, and kisses him back, and wraps her arms more tightly about him for an instant, before settling back and looking up at him from the pillow.
“Sleep,” he says, softly and with only tenderness. Éowyn reaches up and cups his cheek in her hand. “I will watch over you.”
Éowyn closes her eyes, and feels long fingers weave themselves into her hair briefly, drawing it back from her cheek. Faramir lies down again, forehead against hers, and though she cannot see she knows he is watching her from beneath drooping lids, stroking her hair and waiting for her breathing to slow.
The rain patters impatiently against the window, and Éowyn finds herself drifting peacefully in the arms of her husband. The fields she walks through are quiet, the grass between her toes cool and dry. The sun washes her in light, and the man who keeps pace with her in silence has hair of spun copper, and eyes pale blue and filled with love. Éowyn breathes in the delicate scent of simbelmynë, and walks with him, ever onward.
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Thank the author
The following people read the story, enjoyed it, and would like to thank the author: Mira Took