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Sinful Secrets (PG) Print

Written by Nerey Camille

11 October 2010 | 1805 words

Sinful Secrets – By Nerey Camille
Pairing: Faramir/Aragorn
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: The characters are Tolkien’s. No profit is being made.

Written for the ‘Deathbed Confession’ challenge by December

Several years after the war of the Ring, Faramir is tragically wounded while protecting a careless Aragorn during a hunt. The King’s remorse is so great that Faramir, already certain of his own death, reveals a long-kept secret that will help Aragorn getting over the loss of his Steward…

I tend to write very canon-respectful stories, so this is my first comical fanfiction. I’m not so sure I got it right, it’s a wholly new style to write in. All the same I hope you’ll enjoy it, and I’d love to have your feedback about it!
By the way, it is also my first challenge story on Faramir Fiction Archive. Not that I lack plot ideas as a rule, but this challenge really appealed to me. Thank you December for posting it, and great thanks to Bell Witch for beta-reading!

Archivist’s Note: There are French and Spanish translations of this story.

Faramir lay in a makeshift bed stained with blood, while Éowyn, Arwen, Beregond, and all the other members of the company waited outside the tent, weeping by the fire. The King had sent them from his side, but he would not leave Faramir. To the very end he would refuse to submit to fate, to accept the unendurable, unescapable truth.

He wetted a cloth in warm water to mop Faramir’s brow.

The Steward opened his eyes and said faintly, “I am going to die, my lord. There’s no use wearying yourself trying to heal me.”

“If I don’t do it I shall go mad. To think that I drank enough to be kissing the Queen when the beast came, and that you, you idiot, had to come in between!”

“Well, it was the only way. The stag was in rut and you were in his path: he charged you.”

Stop answering me, by Elbereth’s wrath! That you should die in a hunting accident, after all you’ve gone through! I can’t bear it,” said Aragorn in a broken voice.

Faramir smiled. “Well, it’s ironic enough. It seems that after all those sombre years, even old Fate has found its sense of humour again. I find it quite enlivening, actually.”

Aragorn gave him a very nasty look. “You may swallow your dark-humoured hints. You’re wasting your energy. I am the King and a healer, and you are going to die when you are old if I have to tend you day and night and keep you from talking by putting an apple in your mouth.”

He started removing Faramir’s bandages to examine the wound yet again.

“Please, my lord. I would rather have a quiet death. It hurts enough without you touching it, I assure you.”

Aragorn gave him a brisk tap on the head, then proceeded without heeding Faramir’s words of protest. All the while he muttered crossly and (at least for a Ranger’s ears) quite audibly, “Yes, you would like it so. The faithful Steward, sacrificing himself to save his stupid King from a stag. You’ve always wanted to be the better of us.”

“By no means,” said Faramir, looking mildly surprised. “Why do you say that?”

“Because!” cried Aragorn, suddenly flaring up. “You never gave me a chance to be as gentle to yourself as you were to me. You always outmatched me in everything, loyalty, selflessness, efficiency. You were the one always in the right place, never overstepping his functions, never showing the slightest weakness that would make you a common man. Always the same mocking smile on your lips, the same superior feeling in your heart, knowing full well that if my reign was a success it was because of you. And so proud, so self-satisfied that you never deigned to put yourself forward, you didn’t need or care for recognition from others, not even from me,” Aragorn stopped, and then suddenly started to sob. “And I… all the time, trying to rule in your footsteps… you’ve no idea… it’s been so difficult… and now you would leave me, and be always the one who sacrificed himself… everybody will think it was my fault, and I… I will feel so guilty…”

By this time Faramir was starting to get afraid. Repressing a gasp of pain, he half-lifted himself on the bed in order to look the King in the eyes.

“This is madness, Aragorn,” he said firmly. “I am very sorry that I gave that impression to you. It’s false, completely false. The truth is quite the opposite.”

He checked himself, but a new stab of pain reminded him of approaching death. He made up his mind and continued, “Listen, Aragorn, I never intended to tell you this but I can’t leave you believing what you are thinking right now. If all these years I have behaved as appropriately and efficiently as I could, it was not out of pride but of shame. I am not the wonderful man you credit me to be.”

He stopped again, whether because of pain or fear, none could have told. But Aragorn was looking at him intently now, and drinking in his words. He seemed so desperately in need of comfort. Faramir sighed; there was no way back now. Still he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“What do you mean?” urged Aragorn softly. “Is there anything you’ve been holding from me?”

“Aye, there is. I am still not sure if I should tell you.”


“Fine, fine. I didn’t want you to suffer. But really, it’s most humiliating for me to confess it, after all the complimentary things you’ve just said about me. What you’ll say of me next I dare not think about.”


“Well, here it goes. There are no two ways around it. I’ve slept with the Queen.”

Aragorn’s incredulous expression on hearing this was something impossible to describe. He remained speechless while his eyes asked for confirmation. With the Queen?

“Yes, with your wife, with the Lady Arwen.”

Aragorn was still staring at him, wordlessly and seemingly unable to fully understand the meaning of Faramir’s words. Faramir fell back on his bed and his eyes were sad.

“You must not blame her, my lord. Promise me. You were gone to the war, to chase the last remnants of the Dark Lord’s armies. She felt so lonely without you, a Queen in a place she did not know, where she didn’t have any friends, nor any chance to make some. For who would dare to approach her, so fair and royal, Elf-woman of marvellous beauty in a city of Men?”

He smiled reminiscently, and Aragorn was revolted by that smile. But Faramir didn’t notice it.

“She came sometimes to see me, when I was working, and I tried to ease her solitude by telling her of your prompt return. But you stayed away so much longer than we expected. Then one night her maid found her crying and called for me. When I arrived she was standing in the middle of her bedroom, her eyes sparkling with tears. She looked at me… and well, you know,” he ended with a half-uneasy, half-shameless smile.

Aragorn watched him for a few moments in silence, his body shuddering, strong emotions contending on his face.

“Now you’ll be consoled of my death,” said Faramir in a satisfied though feeble voice, before fainting on his bed, exhausted by this deathbed confession.

A few days later his mood was entirely different. He was altogether alarmed to see that he had not died, and what was worse, that he was on a good path to recovering. Aragorn’s relentless efforts had managed what Faramir would never have thought possible –that he survived a horrible wound with almost no permanent damage– and he was now convinced that his confession had redoubled the King’s will to save him; to take full revenge on him, no doubt.

In the meantime Aragorn was tending him with unwearying care, but his face always wore a wry smile that didn’t bode well at all in Faramir’s opinion.

“Why do you smile in that way, my lord?” he asked one day. “Are you imagining how you will torment me once I am healed?”

“Indeed I am,” replied Aragorn, laughing freely. “I will never let you forget now that you are a common man.” He arranged a pillow with particular care before adding, with the tiniest wink, “I am very grateful that you told me what you did.”

“Grateful?” gasped Faramir.

“Of course. Now I know that you are no better than the rest of us. I feel much less guilty for having let you put yourself between that stag and me.”

“But – but – you don’t resent my sleeping with Queen Arwen? Though of course,” he added, quickly catching himself, “it was only once.”

“My dear Steward, I can’t resent that. It wouldn’t be honest. You see, I did no better than you in that respect.”

Faramir looked suspiciously at him, his expression suddenly darkening. Aragorn gave him a playful smile.

“Why, I did sleep with the Lady of Rohan the other night. Or should I say, with the Princess of Ithilien.”

Faramir looked dumbstruck.

“You what?”

“Really, you mustn’t blame her. She was so convinced you were going to die. She was beside herself with sorrow. She came to me –you know she had always a liking for me, even before your marriage– and I comforted her and, well, you know.”

Faramir lay speechless for a few seconds, then burst out, “And she would reproach me for consoling the Lady Arwen! I am going to kill her!”

“Do you mean that you told her?” asked Aragorn in utter amazement.

“Of course I did. She was in Rohan at the time, but I made the mistake of telling her when she came back.”

“Aaaaaah,” said Aragorn, realization dawning on him, “of course. That was about the time when you were reported ill for a fortnight. But you sure were mad to speak to her; I would never tell the Queen. Did she hurt you much?”

Did she hurt me? After what she did to me, I could no longer be afraid of your anger. I was loath to disappoint you, of course, but mostly I held my silence to prevent you from suffering, as I told you the other night. Well – I swear I will kill her.”

“There will be no need for that, dearest,” said the Queen of Gondor, entering the tent. “I’ve heard everything. Now that we all know each other’s little secrets, the King will no longer object to us all taking pleasure together, as I have wished to since I was honoured by the Steward’s regardful company.”


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16 Comment(s)

Oh, Nerey Camille, thank you so very much for this story! I’ve greatly enjoyed reading it, and it has left me in such a merry uplifted mood!

Er, I’m not exactly sure how to phrase it, for I’d rather not put spoilers in this comment… Ok, let’s say it like this: Aragorn’s reaction proves once again that he is a very wise man! :) You know, sensible about things :) And I’m sure a certain somebody had greatly benefited from it, too…

I also very much like your particular choice of confession – a thing like that, I think, Faramir indeed could have only fessed up under those sort of circumstances. Poor man, though, must have felt so guilty before everybody…

As for the choice of style, I’ll be frank, a comical note is not something I had expected to find in a response to this challenge – but in your story it fits perfectly, I think. Humour is direly needed when dealing with such sensitive matters… And your humour, I think, does not impair the realism of the story. I very much like that detail where Faramir allows himself a smug little smile when he recals what happened, and that Aragorn is revolted by that. I found that very… lifelike. And I thought that on the whole everybody is in-character, and making it a little light-hearted has in no way contradicted canon.

Once again, thank you so much for this story!

December    Monday 11 October 2010, 19:44    #

Well, I’m so glad you liked it, especially since you’re the author of that challenge!
I’ll answer you by mail about Aragorn, in order to avoid spoilers.
As for Faramir, you know him: he had kind reasons for doing what he did and so I hope he managed to sleep at night. Still it wouldn’t be easy to keep such a secret. Indeed I would say that one of his reasons for confessing is that he sees Aragorn’s extreme grief and feels he doesn’t deserve it.
And as for humour… yes, in fact as soon as I read your challenge I had the idea of the confession, and it could only work as comedy. But I tried to make it somewhat realistic all the same.

I am very happy that you think it fits. Thank you very much for this extensive feedback!

Nerey Camille    Tuesday 12 October 2010, 12:05    #

Yes, I it must have actually been his key reason. He knew the knowledge would make Aragorn suffer, yet he’d reckoned the suffering would be less than had Aragorn not known. I find it very in-character for Faramir that he had kept it to himself up to that point, even though it must have weighed on his conscience. Well, he may have acted out of kindness and sympathy and all that, and let’s hope indeed he could sleep at night, but still, in itself it was a rather questionable thing to do…
Which is to say, I’m ever so glad about the way things had turned eventually :D Frankly, I’ve been having a rather angsty period lately, so this tale was exactly what the doctor prescribed :)

Thinking of the details I especially liked – how Aragorn calls Faramir an idiot for saving him, that’s so endearing! And also, I very much like the ambiguity of the King-Steward relationship. It seems like friendship, but then that remark Aragorn makes about gentleness – that came across as something beyond friendship. And then the Queen’s last line – what exactly did she have in mind, I wonder…?

December    Tuesday 12 October 2010, 18:11    #

I had never seen that “gentleness” remark as implying more than friendship, but well – each reader has a right to interpret a story in his/her own way. On the other hand I thought the Queen’s intentions pretty clear…
That’s one of the reasons why I love having feedback from other people, each person sees the text in a different way and so I discover things about my story I would never have found out by myself…
Strange that you of all people should find Faramir’s comforting questionable, since YOUR Faramir sleeps with Aragorn as soon as Éowyn is not there… haha. Which I don’t mind as long as you give us the rest of that very captivating story soon (Hungry Eyes and a Blade of Steel, I love the joke behind that “blade of steel” expression). I’m so impatient to read it (but don’t feel like I’m putting any pressure)!
As always, thanks so much for your long, kind comment!

Nerey Camille    Saturday 23 October 2010, 16:44    #

Ah, but you see, for people with dirty minds like mine, there are insinuations everywhere! :) Especially when it comes to Faramir and Aragorn… So that’s why I was wondering exactly what kind of arrangement Arwen was thinking about. You know, there could be possibilities

Oh, and yes, I also absolutely love the new perspectives people give on one’s work. It often turns out a reader may find the most depth in some part the author had not even been sure about including. As for character motivation, I’ve found out that no matter how directly you write out somebody’s feelings/reasons, every reader would still interpret them differently. And that’s great, leaves space for discussion :)

Thanks for encouragement on my story! The next chapter is soon to be released, I assure you. And like you said in your last letter, knowing someone out there is waiting for your work is a powerful stimulus, so no worries about pressure.
By the way, I never said Faramir’s conduct with Aragorn wasn’t questionable ;) That’s why I love exploring the subject of infidelity (in writing, that is) – there’s always more than one way to look at any given situation. For example, it seemed to me that in your story Eowyn wasn’t much impressed by Faramir’s kindness and sympathy…

December    Monday 25 October 2010, 12:18    #

I love that expression “(in writing, that is)”, especially since before reading it I had not even considered otherwise^^.

Indeed, my Éowyn does get mad at Faramir’s infidelity, but I’ve never seen Éowyn as a gentle, understanding wife (rather as a loving, passionate one). And of course, Arwen is so beautiful that “kindness” really seems like an easy excuse to sleep with her… and then Éowyn has already lost Aragorn to Arwen (well, not entirely as it turns out later), no wonder she’s afraid of losing Faramir too. She’s never had too much reason to trust in men’s kindness to women, has she? I fear Faramir is paying there for all the men that disregarded Éowyn in her life… I guess enduring this (partly) undeserved punishment without complaining or defending himself would be part of his noble character (after all, I doubt Éowyn could have hurt him physically without his consent). He would understand that someone had to atone for other men’s offences to make Éowyn reconciled with men (or the Queen of Gondor for that matter).

Strange, how all these ideas come to me easily. I never really thought about the reasons why Éowyn should have that reaction and no other, but clearly they were there, unconciously. It’s great to discover through someone else’s remarks why I wrote a text in a particular way. Thanks!

By the way, may I ask what are exactly the possibilities you are thinking were in Arwen’s mind? Maybe there’s something I have never thought of that could be really worth writing!

Nerey Camille    Monday 25 October 2010, 12:47    #

You know, that often happens to me also. First the characters in my story do something, and only post-factum, after doing some thinking, do I realise that this was the only course of action I could have imagined them to take. I love this post-writing kind of analysis, it can make you more aware of how you see the characters, and thus gives you so many more ideas for the future, right? :)

As for the punishment itself… You know, I personally never questioned this bit, either: it does seem totally like something she could do. Although I would rather not imagine the details, because I can’t without making myself either go O_o or laugh. Yes, he would have had to have given at least some sort of consent to it – I mean, he’s a strong man, he could have stopped her if he seemed it fit. Otherwise I’m getting this vision of Faramir crawling under the dinner table and Eowyn trying to drag him out by the ankle, brandishing her rolling-pin. Doesn’t sound right, does it now? But then the idea of being ‘consensually hurt’ brings to my mind all those furry handcuffs, studded collars, etc. – and that doesn’t seem quite right either… So let’s just say I’m with you on the fact that it was done, somehow, and perhaps it brought her some more general comfort that specifically punishing her husband for his excessive sympathy.

I love the idea of Eowyn having a bit of a grudge (even if not an entirely conscious one) against the male-kind. Personally, I don’t see it much of their fault that she felt disregarded and misundestood, though… I mean, of course I found tha scene tear-wrenching, when in the HoH Aragorn tells Eomer how she’d been unhappy and lonely for so long and Eomer’s like huh, I had no clue. But then again, she sort of brought it on herself, don’t you reckon? She’d always acted like this proud, strong girl who can deal with things, so little wonder the men around her, being far from sentimanetal themselves, took that to be the way she truly was. It is sad though that the first man who saw through it, namely Aragorn, had to reject her… But oh well, she brought that on herself too, I think: it was more than obvious he was not into her, and yet she did what she did. Ooh, guess I’m beginning to sound a bit anti-Eowyn here… Actually, what I was getting at is that probably poor Faramir got far more than his fair share of kicks (or whatever she gave him).

Anyway… The possibilities. Well, possibilities are endless :D It all depends on how liberal and versatile everybody is in their tastes, right? If we allow the idea that the men could… fit together – there you go, there’s a whole new array of arrangements for the four to try. Also, if we agree that Faramir has a dormant submissive streak in him (the consensual punishment, remember?) – now that also quite broadens the horisons. He could, for starters, get blindfolded or tied to the bed or both, and then the ladies would entertain themselves with him, while Aragorn… Er, if I’m to continue, I’m afraid we’d have to put an NC-17 on this comment. One last thing – do you think they have sex-toys in Middle-earth…? Oh, and one last-last thing, what if Eowyn’s culture is, say, a bit more buttoned-up when it comes to these things, so Arwen could teach her some spectacular new techniques…?

December    Wednesday 10 November 2010, 9:27    #

Wow, December, I do love your comments! I’ll try to answer shortly, though it’s next to impossible not to get overenthusiastic about it and write three pages!

I totally see your point about the punishment: saying that it was just done somehow is easier than picturing the actual scene. If I had to, I can see two ways : the one you described with Faramir hiding under the table (or alternatively running from his pursuer all round the house), which would be in tune with the comical note of the story. Or if I wanted to be realistic, he would just let Éowyn hurt him (with a riding crop for instance) without defending himself and without being afraid (though of course he would be in pain), only holding her at bay whenever she would become too violent. It wouldn’t be submission at all but willing acceptance for the reasons stated previously.

Well, I disagree with you about Éowyn’s plight… partially. I don’t think it was her fault that as a woman she was expected to stay home and do a nurse’s job. I don’t think either that Aragorn’s lack of interest was so obvious, at least in the book; he’s not a very expansive sort of lover, is he? And she had no experience as to how a man in love would act, especially a stranger.
But I do think that she endures the situation and gets bitter over it instead of either making the most of it or refusing it. I mean, Théoden loves her, she’s valiant and strong, if she had stated her will to lead the same life as her brother I do not think there would have been any one in Rohan to stop her. And why on earth should she ask Aragorn’s permission to go with him? Can’t remember Legolas or Gimli ever asking for it, nor Pippin or Merry or Sam ever asking for Frodo’s. So in that way I think she brought frustration on herself, just by waiting for some Prince Charming to save her.
I mean, Galadriel grows in a society just as male-dominated, and yet she makes her own decisions, marries someone who allows her to do whatever she wants and rules a kingdom with him. Éowyn waits till she’s desperate to disobey the rules. Stupid girl.

Possibilities… I expect Arwen’s words mean that she wants to sleep again with the Steward, and probably that she is curious about having sex with a woman. I don’t think she cares at all about Aragorn’s desires (he’s the one cheating on her and trying to deceive her), she just wants to enjoy the three of them instead of just her husband. If I had to write the scene I don’t think I’d over-emphasize the slash side, rather the swap pairings (Éowyn/Aragorn and Faramir/Arwen) and the girl’s experience.
I absolutely think they had sex toys… made of polished wood or of stone (that would get warm easily with human heat).
And last thing… usually I think Arwen is a big idiot who has no idea of anything, so I’d say Éowyn (who is likely a very enthusiastic lover) could teach her a couple of things… but in this story I made a different Arwen because it was better for the final effect, and yes, I guess she could teach Éowyn many things and probably the Éowyn in this story would be rather buttoned-up at first… or not.

Mmmm, I’m getting rather violent towards the girls… don’t want to, but it’s difficult to delve deep into the characters without strong personal opinions emerging sooner or later…

Nerey Camille    Thursday 11 November 2010, 22:41    #

About Eowyn. Yes, if you come to think of it, this whole undercover act, what with sneaking to the battle, is a little odd. I mean, the men of Rohan did not seem much amazed to see her walk around in armour and volunteer to go on the campaign with them, and there must have been someone who actually taught her to fight – this leads me to think that her desire to be a warrior was not seen as fundamentally inappropriate, so indeed it is a little strange she had suffered in silence and never spoke up. Perhaps this is again an instance of her own pride making her life difficult.
As for her not having to get Aragorn’s permission. I agree, she did not require it – but, given she was in love with him, I think for her the point was that he be glad that she wanted to join him. And instead he acted like she was the embarrassment… Besides, when Aragorn told her she could not go with him, he did have a point: after all, Theoden did leave the civilians in her care, so it was pretty irresponsible of her to ditch it all and run to war instead. Also, her duty was not that humiliating: she was entrusted with a very big job, to assure for the well-being of all the people in Rohan, that’s pretty much an equivalent of a steward’s position, I think.

Now, I know this is going to sound mean, but to me she did come across as a bit of a drama queen. All this suppressed suffering and tears at night, then throwing herself at a stranger’s feet, then this whole ‘ah, he doesn’t love me, so I’ll go get myself killed’ thing, then ‘I was rejected, so now I don’t want anybody, I’d rather simmer in my own spite and die’. Don’t take me wrong, I do very much like her, and certainly admire her courage, and her decisiveness, and the passion with which she gives herself to whaever she chooses as her goal, but, to be frank, I was pretty surprised to find out she was 24 at that time, I had initially thought her to be more like 16… Of course, these is another way to look at it: instead of interpreting her actions as a result of her being proud, and peppery, and a little spoilt and immature at times, we could focus on how she’d been hopeless, and loveless, and desperate for all these years,and quite likely clinically depressed – and then Aragorn not wanting her was the last straw, and she snapped and went and did what she did…
But in any case, I had always thought it was just her incredible luck that she looked lovely in her sorrow, and our gentle-hearted Faramir was there to see it, and be swayed by it, and have the patience to talk her into falling in love with him. To be completely honest, ever since I was a little girl, it has irked me he married her: I had always thought a man like him deserved someone more sensible and balanced.

Like, Arwen… lol

It is very interesting that you bring up the question of Eowyn not being familiar with what a man in love would act like… If we come to think of it, what was her life in the romantic sense before the War? We know Grima stalked her, which must have creeped her out, of course. We also know she was described as cold and sort of not yet ripe for love, so we could assume Aragorn was her first real crush. But what about the other men in Rohan? She is pretty, she is noble – wouldn’t she have, like, a ton of suitors?

Ok, given she had feelings for Aragorn, she could have explained away the complete lack of action on his behalf with the usual ‘he is shy’, ‘he is not sure whether I like him’, ‘he does not know how to express his feelings’, ‘he is a stern man and is not used to tenderness’, etc. etc. But, in truth, his behaviour was not all that ambiguous, he did not send any mixed signals, as far as I remember. Of course, he was polite with her and even smiled at her (once!), but that doesn’t mean anything!

And… I can’t help but be intrigued by you describing Aragorn as a non-expansive lover. Why do you think that? It’s not a critisisim, I’m just really curious. I mean, we get very little information on how he is with someone he loves. And generally he is quite a versatile man, I guess. He shows that side of himself which is appropriate in the given situation. So who knows what he would be like in the bedroom…?

Arwen, now. You think she is a big idiot? This is very interesting… May I inquire as to the reasons why?
Although, to be honest, there are some things about her that unsettle me also – but I’d like to know your opinion first :)

December    Monday 22 November 2010, 14:58    #

Hi again!
This is getting ever more interesting.
You have a point about Éowyn, I had not thought of it but yes, the Rohirrim don’t look shocked at all about her acting steward (as a matter of fact it’s one of Théoden’s men that suggests the idea, and obviously the people know and love her). And someone had to teach her how to use a sword, so… You’re right about Aragorn too, the point for her was that he would desire her company, but the humiliation would have been less if she had offered it instead of begging for his permission, you see what I mean? And then, the fact that he says “I can’t grant it without the King AND YOUR BROTHER’s permission (what on earth has Éomer to do with it?)” really sounds to me like “a woman shouldn’t move without every man in her family’s permission”, which I understand vexed her.
I think the trouble with her is she just can’t say what she really wants. I mean, if she didn’t want the steward’s job (which is a very big and honourable job, by the way, I agree with you) she should have refused it right away, instead of accepting it then running away and leaving the people without a leader. And she wanted Aragorn because to her he represented glory and freedom, so why on earth didn’t she go with him to battle whether he loved her or not, just as another warrior? Then she would have gained freedom and glory, and not needed him any more. It seems to me she’s always hoping that someone will understand her problems and getting her out from her cage without her having to say anything (as a matter of fact, that’s very nearly what Faramir does).
I don’t know if all this comes from pride, shyness or whatever; probably she runs away because as you said she’s clinically depressed and she just breaks at some point, but all the same I think like you she’s partly brought it upon herself. And I also have that impression of a drama queen, even if I too admire her courage and skill and strength of will. To me she is rather unbalanced emotionally and I was always a bit disappointed that Faramir married her (that’s why I wrote two challenges asking for an alternative, haha). I feel he’s faced pretty much the same as her and got through it much, much better. So I think he deserved a mate that would rate him, and Éowyn doesn’t in many ways.

Éowyn’s suitors in Rohan… well, given her rank and how proud she is and that she probably wouldn’t be in the mood for love with all that happens with Théoden etc, I don’t believe she would have many suitors, at least in the book. Maybe Théodred, but he’s so much older than her, he’s Boromir’s age (Faramir is not that younger but he’s Númenorean so we can suppose he looks younger). Though of course we might imagine her having a crush on some young rider who then fell in battle and that did nothing to ease her plight…

As for Aragorn, well, a lover who waits seventy years before marrying his love just because her father says so doesn’t strike me as being very expansive… And then the way he speaks to Arwen before he dies, it’s so formal… It’s like he’s really eaten up by his duty of being a King and a leader and he doesn’t allow his wishes and emotions to come forth. I’m sure he loves her deeply, but he always seems to act strictly as everyone expects him to. He looks to me like someone a bit dead inside, if you ask me. Sam and Frodo show much more affection for each other than he shows to Arwen. It’s like they’re more at ease with their real personalities, whereas Aragorn is always playing his hero role instead of being himself.

And as for her, the question would rather be “why do you think she’s NOT an idiot?”. It’s great to compare our perceptions of a character, because to me her stupidness is so obvious. I mean, she’s an elf, she has an immortal life, she has lived long, she must have met lots of wonderful people. And yet she knows no better than falling in love with a mortal boy of twenty (what on earth has he to offer her?) and she’s ready to give up her immortal life for him, to no avail (she could have lived with him then gone into the West, couldn’t she? To Elves memories are almost as good as living things). She’s supposed to be wise, but she regrets her choice at the end, as Elrond foresaw, which means he knows her better than she does. During her whole life she just is the beautiful queen who enhances Aragorn’s success. She forsakes everything for him : her home, her race, her family, her friends, her Elven life, her customs. She has no life of her own, she just follows him.
She has the nerve to compare herself to Lúthien! The only thing they have in common are looks. Lúthien rescued her lover from Morgoth’s fortress and she convinced the Valar to give both of them a second life. I can’t remember Arwen ever putting her dainty foot on the land of Mordor, participating in a council or doing anything more than making Elessar’s banner and comforting him with her unfaltering faith. She’s descended from Elrond, Galadriel and Lúthien, but she has none of their spirit, their power or their wisdom. It’s just unbelievable. To me, she’s just silly and empty-headed, and leads the only life she can think of: the one her ancestor led before her (not very original, is she?). It’s like very romantic, it appeals to her, and Lúthien was so famous and everyone tells her that she looks like her, so let’s do the same. Except that I think Lúthien had better reasons for doing what she did, I believe. Beren was a well-known warrior when they met (Aragorn wasn’t) and they fell in love because it was fated so (not because oh, I will do like my ancestor and die for a man), and they shared such terrible things together that you can imagine they wouldn’t want to be parted. And Lúthien made her choice knowingly, after Beren was dead the first time. But Arwen… when she accepted to give up her immortal life for Aragorn she had seen him like, twice, and barely spoken to him. And they had nothing in common but their lineage and their respect for other people’s authority. And well… if you love a man enough to die for him, then you go rescue him from Morgoth’s claws or you go with him on the Quest, you don’t just sit there for seventy years waiting for your father to give you permission to marry.

Sorry for the violence of my discourse but I’ve always found Arwen’s way of life exasperating.

Now what unsettles you about her?

Nerey Camille    Tuesday 23 November 2010, 21:17    #

Sorry it took me a while to get back to you on this. So here goes :)

Haha, I do adore the ‘violence of your discourse’. Sometimes I even feel embarrassed of myself because I too can get very violent speaking of these characters, and it’s so comforting to find understanding on this point. I mean, I love them all, but many of their actions rouse in me a powerful need for passionate discussion :D

So. About Eowyn. She did offer her company first – but Aragorn said no. Then she said she loved him – but still he said no. So then she fell to the ground and begged. Simply could not take no for an answer when her own mind was already made up that she was going with him. To me that is the clearect indicator of how depressed she was, that she even forgot about her pride. And of course she was depressed: she was in the care of the men of her family, but did they actually ward that creepy Grima off her? And why did they teach her to fight if no one expected that she would actually use the skill?

As for fatherly/brotherly permission. Well, I guess in the medieval culture they have in ME, it is indeed up to the father to decide what an unwed daughter does, or, if like Eowyn she has no father, then it’s the uncle, or the brother, or whatever male relative – and after she weds, the decision-power passes to her husband. Because, apparently, she does not work to support her own living, she does not have any money in her personal property – everything belongs to the family, they would only allocate her a dowry, if that is their custom; plus,she carries the prize of innocence between her legs, which all sorts of bastards would be after. So the men see their daughters as completely non-independent creatures in need of protection. Tough luck.

Besides, I doubt it the society saw any point in emancipating its women at large. Let’s not forget the sad truth that in such time as theirs, there was no efficient contraception and no medically sound abortions – and even if there were, I doubt it the culture would approve it – so once a girl was married, her chief function came down to popping out a baby every year or two throughout all her fertile life whether she wanted motherhood or not. And even if she was wealthy enough to hire maids to do all the laundry, nursing and house cleaning for her, still she would be too busy being pregnant and raising her flock to actually think about what she would have liked to do with her life – unless, of course, she just died of miscarriage, in child-birth, in post-labour fever, or because her milk-filled breasts got severely inflamed: again, no mass medicine. I know I’m painting a gruesome picture, but if the Middle-Ages in Middle-earth were anything remotely like in our world…

Even if we think back on Galadriel, who is so powerful and emancipated – she is no maiden, she is a married woman who has a granddaughter (and a Ring of Power). And even though it was obviously G who wore the pants in the house, still she let Celeborn sit at her side and act all big and lordly, she didn’t shove it in his face that she was the leader, she had the wisdom to do things subtly.

So, if Eowyn wanted to have freedom, tagging after Aragorn was hardly the smartest plan – to me it seems the best solution would have been to marry some high-born but soft-spined wimp whom she could get under the heel of her shoe, and then she would have weight in society and be her own boss. But for that she would have to be rational, and pragmatic, and cynical, and not give a damn what anyone thinks of her, which is clearly not her case…

Also, I think that what Aragorn meant by saying he needed Theoden and Eomer to give their ok, is that if he took her along without their permisson, it would cause her dishonour. I mean, she is an unmarried virgin, and going off with a bunch of men – come on, who would believe in her virtue after that? :D I think Aragorn just didn’t want to have to deal with that kind of responsibility :)

As for that he accepted Elrond’s authority in terms of waiting for the Elf’s permission to marry Arwen… Again, this was the way of things, and also, I think he did it out of respect and love for Elrond, and also out of wishing the best for Arwen. He loved her, so he wanted to give her the best he could, not the life of a roaming military wife of somebody who doesn’t even have his own house, but a life of comfort, and bliss, and respectability. I think he also wanted to give her children that would be proper princes to a real king, with a relatively secure future. But I don’t think it was easy or pleasant for him to spend the freshest years of his life in solitude and waiting, so he just learnt to deal with it in private…

Now, this brings us to the subject of Arwen…

December    Sunday 19 December 2010, 10:06    #

She is 3000 and reputedly very wise, but I haven’t found any specific proof of her wisdom, like a single instance of her doing something incredibly wise… Moreover, just before Aragorn dies she tells him that she had always scorned the people of Numenor for how they had let the fear of mortality corrupt them, and only now, when he is going and she too will die soon, does she understand their plight. To me, that doesn’t come across as something a clever, sympathetic and merciful kind of person would think. Of course, it’s easy to feel contempt for those stupid mortals and their petty worries when one has a life of eternal youth – but that’s exactly where wisdom should have made her see otherwise, don’t you reckon? That bit in the Book had always greatly unsettled me… To think that Aragorn had spent his whole life with a woman who despised his people…

Also, it’s interesting how when he heals Eowyn, he says that what she did re the Nazgul had put her on a par with the great queens of the old – that remark makes me a little sad for him, because his own beloved had never, like you said, done anything like that for him.

I totally, totally agree with your point regarding Luthien. Actually, in a letter to another Tolkien-fan friend some time ago I had written pretty much exactly the same thing. And, if we think on it some more, remember how Luthien fell for Beren after he had wandered starving in a forest for a whole year, in a half-delirious state? He was stooped, and weary, and dressed in hell knows what, he likely had a bush of a beard on his face, and he probably stank, too. And still, she fell right for him, because, like you said, it was fate!

But Arwen. Actually, to me it always seemed she didn’t fall in love with Aragorn when she saw him at 20, she only said that perhaps she would one day repeat her ancestor’s fate (uh-huh, she had that thing back then already) – and fell for him only when she saw him in Lorien years later, when he looked impressive and decked out pretty like an Elven-lord. So what basically made the difference to her was the looks. If she had truly truly cared for him, not what he was, she would have felt the profoundest connection to him even when he was only an inexperienced boy, you see what I mean?

Besides, like you said, she had lived with such amazing people all her life. If all that mattered was style, take Glorfindel, for example. He actually glows with light – hey, that’s unbeatable, it doesn’t get any cooler than that!

So yes, Arwen does indeed unsettle me in many ways – although still I feel quite in awe of her, or at least she fills me with wonder. Because, after all, her heart did chose a mortal man whereas she could have had any Elven lord she liked… And I always cry when I read of how her life ended, on such a woeful note…

Ok, this brings us back to Aragorn. You say he’s somewhat dead inside… Personally, I think that Tolkien used such an official style in that scene for artistic purposes, same as he does when Eowyn comes to ask Aragorn to take her to war. But I do see your point, and I won’t say that I disagree with it entirely :) Aragorn had lived the first third of his life not as king, but as someone who was under a lot of pressure to become king, and he knew it was not his due, that he truly had to go out of his way to deserve it. So likely at least some of the pressure remained after he did get the crown, and he felt like he had to live up to the role… Actually, I very much like exploring the subject of the kingship weighing on him and making his life difficult.

I always perceived him as an extremely romantic person. How he fell in love at twenty, and for several decades lived solely on the few images he had in his head, before he even got to know Arwen at least a little. He told Galadriel there was only one thing he desired, aka to be with Arwen, everything else just came along with it. After he became king, he told Gandalf that if Arwen did not come, he would stay celibate for the rest of his life, and his line would end. (Now, of course we know he wouldn’t be celibate because, ahem, there was Faramir, but anyway…) Given all this, I think he could have actually been quite an expansive lover – just, you know, didn’t show that side of himself to the general public…

But, since you see him otherwise – I so much do wonder what Eowyn’s experience with him in your story was like… Ever consider fleshing it out? ;) Because I’m already working on the other couple in this story, would be sweet to compare… ;-p

December    Sunday 19 December 2010, 10:10    #

Hi December!

Back to you at last. So, first: Éowyn. Yes, indeed the clearest sign of her depression was that she was ready to beg rather than say “OK, go to hell” or “I’m coming with you, whether you agree or not”. And I guess the main reason for Aragorn to refuse was that rather than offering help, she seemed to be asking for a saviour (“please, save me from this cage and take me with you on your white horse to your castle where we’ll be happy”), and I guess he had enough to do without stopping to deliver distressed maidens from their sorrows (especially shieldmaidens who should be able to care after themselves). I guess his pity was the best proof that he was really a kind and understanding man, because anyone else might have felt embarrassed above anything else. OK, this is unnecessarily spiteful, Nerey control yourself…
I don’t totally agree with your view of their society. I think a lady of high birth like Éowyn might have been able to ride with Aragorn without dishonour: both of them were noble, it would be an insult to doubt their sense of honour and propriety, wouldn’t it?
As for Éomer’s permission, if Faramir doesn’t ask for it, I really can’t see why Aragorn should, except that Aragorn’s ideas on the matter are more conservative than Faramir’s.
And as for Éowyn not having her own personal money, who knows? Medieval laws of inheritance varied depending on the regions and the times. In some parts of Europe property was equally divided between the children; in others, the elder, be it a man or a woman, got it all (a bit like in Númenor). So Éowyn might have had her own personal fortune. And even if she hadn’t, who says she didn’t earn a living? It’s the Rohirrim who suggest that she rules them, not her family. They say she’s fearless and high-hearted and loved by all, so I expect she did something else than stay at home and walk in the gardens all day (like Arwen!); she was well-known by the people, she knew how to fight and how to rule, I think all that would suggest that she did “earn her living”. As for virginity… well, we don’t know Rohirrim customs on the matter and personally I find it doubtful that a woman of 23 would still be a virgin… especially a noble one who could afford to give any unwanted children in adoption.
Arwen, now. I have the impression that when she sees Aragorn at 20 she thinks “oh, he’s cute, I might love him and do like my ancestor” and when she sees him again her choice is confirmed (“oh, yes, he’s soooooo cute, I can’t live without him”). Because Aragorn says at his death that “this hour was made” when they met in the garden of Elrond (not Lórien).
And Aragorn…

Nerey Camille    Monday 27 December 2010, 16:14    #

Why do I think he’s more conservative than the society he lives in? Well, take for instance his first meeting with Arwen. He’s never seen her, so he asks her if Elrond kept her in a secret tower or something (why not in a box, while we are at it?). No character that I know of in Tolkien’s works was ever kept in a tower by her father. So it’s not like Aragorn’s ideas are supported by any external evidence.
Then when F and E are trothplighted. What does he say? “No niggard are you, Éomer, to give thus to Gondor the fairest thing in your realm”. Have you ever seen a more sexist statement? He’s saying:
a) that Éomer is giving E to F (while Éomer’s words actually were “F asks for her hand and SHE grants it full willing”.
b) that Éowyn is a thing, however fair.
c) that her marriage to F means she’s “given” to Gondor, implying that a woman is but a property of the realm she belongs to. Ahem.
And all this in one sentence, difficult to outdo that, huh? Especially since it is intended (indirectly) as a praise to the bride.
So I think if he didn’t marry Arwen it was because he thought no woman should marry without her father’s consent, not out of respect for Elrond or for Arwen but out of respect for male power at large. And as for giving her a good respectable life, what on earth prevented him from marrying her and leaving her in Rivendell/Lórien until he became a King? I’m sure no one would have objected. And they would have been together much sooner. And anyway, do you really think that (even to Arwen) material comfort was more important than being with the one person she was ready to give her life for? Wasn’t the waste of seventy years (a third of their allowance of time together) far worse and more cruel than “disrespecting her” to the point of marrying her before having a proper home to offer?
And as for the romantic side, waiting seventy years to marry someone you do not know doesn’t seem romantic to me, but outright foolish. Giving your life to the person you love, or waiting seventy years for some sensible reason rather than marrying someone else could be romantic (provided that the object of such love is someone you really know, at least). But the simple fact of loving and marrying without knowing the person… pfff.

Wow, you’re already working on F/Aw? I want to see it! E and Ag… well, I’ll have to find some way for him to please her, which given my opinion on him shall be hard… nevertheless I can try. But you got the funniest part, I think^^.

Nerey Camille    Monday 27 December 2010, 17:00    #

Ok, our views on Eowyn are entirely different. I can’t possibly imagine her not being a virgin, honestly. In fact, I see her not only as innocent, but as rather clueless in this sense until Faramir gets his hands on her.

Her being described as cold when she met Aragorn, something like spring without warmth or something like that – I don’t remember exactly, to me it always suggested she had not yet known love. And for a maiden like her, romantic and idealistic, I can’t believe she would lie with a man without loving him, just for fun and to find out ‘what’s it like’. And then to cold-heartedly give her baby away for someone else to raise… I mean, is such sex worth such sacrifices, really? And frankly, I can’t see how Theoden or Eomer could possibly be ok with someone screwing her, and knocking her up, and then not taking the responsibilty… For ex, if Aragorn had lain for a couple nights with her, and then rode off to mind his own business – what, everyone would see that as ok? And to think that Faramir married a girl with whom someone else had already entertained himself – and then Eowyn comparing experiences, grading Faramir as a lover from 1 to 10…

Of course, we don’t know what were their views on sex. Medieval cultures in our own world differed quite a bit on this, and before the arrival of Christianity and its relatives, indeed they were often more liberal… In some it was perfectly fine for a woman to go through any nummber of sexual partners until she found the man she wanted to settle down with. In others there were many pagan feasts and rituals which would involve sex between non-married partners. We know very little of religious and sexual practices in ME, so of course everyone is quite free to imagine it whichever way they like – and that’s great :)

As for me – yes, I do have a strong feeling that in ME a girl would be expected to be pure for marriage – in fact, it would not surprise me if in Gondor or Rohan a marriage could be annulled if it were discovered that the bride had already been with a man…

Please, don’t try to convince me otherwise re Eowyn. I understand each of us has their own opinions, and has according reasons to ground these opinions, and it’s all right – but for me, if I were to think she was not a maiden when she met Faramir… I don’t know, her whole charm, and the charm of their love story, and their whole relationship – and even Faramir’s charm – it would be just lost to me. And I wouldn’t want that to happen, right…?

I really want to think of him as her first, who had bred warmth and trust in her heart, and introduced her to intimacy, and tenderness, and showed her what she had not known before. I too see him as quite a perfect character – and such a man, I think, would truly deserve to be her first…

I see we also have very different views on Aragorn, for to me it always seemed those were not just his views about what say a father has over the daughter’s life – to me it seemed this was the way things were. And the scene of F’s and E’s official betrothal – I always understood it as Eomer actually giving his permission for it, and him highlighting the point that Eowyn is doing this willingly meant to me that, had Eomer so wished, he could have made her marry F regardless. Again, all this is up to each reader’s interpretation…

All this difference in views makes me wonder then – what do you think were their views on adultery? And was it judged the same for a man who was unfaithful to his wife, and for a woman who cheated on her husband? In your story Aragorn finds a clever solution that lets everyone elude punishment – but in general, what do you think would have happened to Faramir and Arwen, or to someone else in their places?

December    Tuesday 28 December 2010, 17:15    #

Hi December,

If you read me carefully, I didn’t say Éowyn was no virgin, but rather that one could imagine for the women of Rohan to be able to have sex before marriage. I think your view is equally credible (probably more so, in fact) and since interpretation is open, I choose the one that suits me depending on the story I am writing. For instance, it always seemed to me that Elven society might be more strict than Men’s on the matter (the fact that Aragorn longs so to marry Arwen would indicate that that is the only way for them to be together).
I also think that Éowyn, in particular, would most probably be a virgin, which doesn’t mean to me she was forced to.
As for her marriage, Faramir says “I will marry the lady of Rohan, if she will”, as if he didn’t care who else could oppose that. On the whole it seemed to me she was expected to choose her own husband.
And though you say Elrond had the ultimate say in the matter, he didn’t oppose the marriage, the book says “when he learnt the choice of his daughter”.
As for adultery, I believe interpretation is open too. Much though I dislike to admit it, probably the expectations would be different for men and women, for ME seems to me like a very male-dominated world as a rule. But… we have no actual information about adultery, have we?

Nerey Camille    Tuesday 28 December 2010, 19:25    #

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