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The Knight of Rohan (PG-13) Print

Written by Nerey Camille

19 December 2010 | 12657 words

Title: The Knight of Rohan
Author: Nerey Camille
Pairing: Éowyn, Gríma
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: This story tells of callous thoughts, acts of violence and intimidation, mild homosexual intercourse, bisexuality and biphobia, aggressive language, physical pain, angst and acute emotional suffering.
Disclaimer: This is a book-verse story based on Tolkien’s opus The Lord of the Rings. It is meant as a homage, and no profit is being made out of it.
Summary: Faramir and Éowyn receive Gríma’s diary, found by Frodo in Bag End after the man’s death. As they read, they learn more about Gríma and the feelings he harboured for both spouses.
Notes: Thanks to Bell Witch for this request, which was a treat for a Swap beginner. I set out to work on the idea 1, though I expect the story could meet also the ideas 3, 4 and 5, so I hope it’s not too far from your expectations or wishes. The story turned out much longer than I had planned, with the result that I lacked the time to polish it as thoroughly as I would have liked to. Thankfully Khylea consented to beta it, which was great given the tight schedule, so I hope it’s not too bad.

Written for the 2010 Midwinter Swap.

Request by Bell Witch: Idea 1: Faramir compared with Éowyn by Gríma—does he see in Éowyn what he saw/had in Faramir? No underage, please.
Idea 2: Possible AU/dream book or movieverse Henneth Annûn—Faramir has refused the Ring but still follows the law in sending Frodo and Sam to Minas Tirith. Does the Ring get used and who by?
Idea 3: Human partner (not family) in a relationship that ends badly. Could be violent, could be Denethor’s doing. A strong Faramir and how he deals with relationship and its ending.
Idea 4: Human partner preferred, rare pairing. (Éomer, Gríma, Beregond, etc. not family) A first love? (Yes, it could be fluffy.)
Idea 5: Surprise me. I do like darkfic, I don’t care for incest as a happy/healthy partnership. Prefer human partners but not married to the idea. Not a fan of underage stories (unless nonsexual, which is fine.)
Any rating for any idea.

Éowyn and Faramir were seated together in their beautiful garden of Emyn Arnen, having breakfast. The air was cool, forcing them to wear warm fur garments, but a clear sun brightened the woods and made the Lady’s hair look like pale gold. December was half-gone by and work was still going on in Emyn Arnen, but the domain was growing fairer and safer every day, and the Lord and Lady of Ithilien had every reason to be happy, from their mutual love and understanding which steadily increased over time, to the relish of this moment of peace out of doors before a day’s work.

A servant came to them out of the house.

“My lord and lady, there is a messenger before the gates, claiming to bring news from the Shire.”

“Bring the person before us,” said the Lady, after exchanging a glance with Faramir.

“The Shire! What may have happened there?”

The messenger was a man from Gondor. He came from Minas Tirith, where the message had been given to him, and knew nothing but that it had arrived from the Shire. He surrendered a letter and a package and retired.

The letter was addressed to Faramir by Frodo. Faramir was going to put it next to breakfast and read it later, but Éowyn wanted to know the news, so her husband tore the envelope and began to read. After a few lines, his face became grave and intent.

“What’s the matter? Has anything happened to the Halflings?”

“No,” he said slowly, “I don’t think so. But the letter concerns you too. Shall I read it aloud?”

She nodded, her face concerned, and he cleared his throat and started:

My Lord Faramir,

I address this letter to you, for I have no strong personal acquaintance with the Lady of Rohan. I presume, though, that its subject will be of equal interest to both of you,…

“What an intriguing beginning!” exclaimed Éowyn.

… and so I trust you to convey its contents to her. I believe my friends Peregrin and Meriadoc have sent extended news of the events here in the Shire, which is why I will not disturb you recounting everything that has happened. But I have something to tell you which, by its nature, I cannot reveal to anyone else. I am sorry to trouble you with it when you doubtless have much to do and may be enjoying the first peaceful days in many a long year. I hope the Lady Éowyn will forgive it me…

“I will, if he stops wandering about and gets to the point,” said Éowyn, her annoyance betraying genuine disquiet, as Faramir well knew.

As you may be aware by now, the Lord Saruman was wreaking mischief here when we arrived, with one Gríma Wormtongue who was the King of Rohan’s counsellor and a spy for Saruman, I believe.

Faramir stopped and looked enquiringly at Éowyn, who scowled.

“Aye, that he was,” she said between clenched teeth. “But we knew nothing of this at all. Saruman and Wormtongue in the Shire! Still, if Frodo writes about it I expect they’ve been overcome now. It seems strange to me that we should not have heard of it.”

“Wait, there is more,” said Faramir.

You may know also that they both have met their ends, but you are possibly ignorant of the exact circumstances and I feel that you should be informed of them. After we defeated Saruman’s men, I gave him leave to depart unharmed, and I offered Wormtongue to stay, for I knew not of any evil he had done to me. But Saruman kicked him and ordered him to follow, and that seemed to be the last straw for Gríma. He murdered Saruman, ran away, and was killed at once by three hobbit-arrows.

Faramir stopped reading.

“Dead! Dead so!” he cried, looking shaken. Éowyn gazed at him in wonder; she for one was glad of that news.

“Yes, dead,” she said quietly. “Would you be grieved by any chance, my lord? They were traitors and spies. Good men lie cold in their graves because of Saruman and Wormtongue, Théodred my cousin among them. And from what Frodo says, they have harmed the Shire too, even after Isengard was overthrown. Would you grieve that the world is rid of them?

“I do not grieve that the world is safe from them,” he replied, “but I do grieve that they are dead, and in such a terrible way. It was a foul deed, one more of the works of the Enemy.” He fell silent, as if lost in sad thoughts.

Éowyn understood that, in some strange way, the deaths of Saruman and Gríma reminded Faramir of his father’s. And she thought of King Théoden and his long fall into dotage; but that did not appease her, for it was the doing of the two men that Faramir was pitying.

“There must be some reason why Frodo tells us all this,” she said. “Keep reading, I pray you.” Faramir obeyed.

In the cleaning of the mess afterwards, I found in Bag End a ragged book, filled with annotations in a language that I believe to be Rohirric. It looked very much like a private diary, for there were entries preceded by what seemed like dates, and the words flowed like a tale would, quite differently from the short sentences one might expect to find in a spy’s notebook.

I have not spoken of the book to anybody. I would not have known what to do with it if I had not come across your name written in the Western tongue. Considering that as well as Wormtongue’s connection with Rohan, it seemed to me that sending the document to you and the White Lady was the wisest course of action. The scholared and high-hearted man who was not lured by the One Ring, and the valiant woman who slew the Witch-King and stood faithful throughout Saruman and Wormtongue’s deceits, will doubtlessly know how to deal with any sensitive information which might be contained in this diary.

I hope that you are both well, and pray you to give my greetings to your Lady.

Your friend ever,

Frodo Baggins

Faramir left the letter on the table and looked at Éowyn. His eyes were filled with horror and grief. Both spouses remained in silence for a while, each pondering Frodo’s letter. At length the Lady Éowyn spoke.

“You look very upset about this, my love. And why should Wormtongue mention you in a secret diary? You knew him, didn’t you?”

He sighed and nodded.

“Yes, I knew him. A long time ago.”

“Indeed! Tell me the story!”

“I was not yet twenty at the time. My father had sent me to Rohan on my first journey abroad. I was to stay there for some months, avowedly to improve my horsemanship (which, incidentally, I did), but in truth to know the country, its customs and its main rulers. King Théoden welcomed me, and your cousin Théodred, who was my brother’s age and a good friend of his, took me under his wing. But there was someone who, from the beginning, was mainly responsible for my feeling at home in the Mark.

His name was Gríma, and he was the only son of a trusted counsellor, Gálmód. By the time I met him, he was considered the best warrior in Rohan, and the favourite of the court. Though hardly older than Théodred, he had been appointed to be his chaperon; however strange that might seem to foreign eyes, for doubtlessly he was more reckless and high-spirited than the heir himself. Yet for all that they were unlike, the son of Théoden befriended and admired him, as did any other person in the land.

As for me, he held my heart from the very moment I saw him. I remember that meeting as one of the most beautiful scenes in my life. I had just arrived to Rohan and I felt shy and clumsy on my horse, even as a company of Riders came to greet me, with Théodred at its head. He was smiling, and he looked princely and handsome on his steed, yet I barely noticed him, for instantly my eyes were drawn to the man riding on his right. I still can see him as he then was, a tall Rider of five and twenty, golden hair flowing in the wind, his fair face laughing and his hand managing his horse more proudly and masterfully than any other Rider. I stood in awe, wonder sealing my lips, thinking that no man that I had ever seen could rival this one in beauty and spirit. I think that somehow he reminded me of my brother, except that he was more graceful, more seductive, an irresistible manly charm emanating from him that Boromir could never claim.”

“It is strange,” said Éowyn thoughtfully. “When I first met him he was a handsome man, and later when I grew older I felt that strong enticing maleness of which you speak, but it made me shiver. From that time on I never liked him. Yet countless women in Rohan saw him the way you describe him.”

Faramir smiled.

“Not only women… Anyway, I soon had the opportunity to know him better, for I went with Théodred and an éored of men to tour the country, and of course Gríma was a member of the party. From the very first he took to me and there was a special connection between us. Though he would tease me, as my brother had, about my youth and lack of experience, his teasing was much gentler than what he would inflict on his young lord Théodred. Still, every mockery from him hurt me, for I deeply wished to earn his regard, but whenever he would show his affection for me I would swell with pride and sheer happiness. And I would marvel that such a man, so gay, so brave and laughing, could treat me with such tender care.

We soon became close friends. The life we led was an exciting one, full of freedom and joy. During the day we all rode for hours on end and practiced with spear and bow, and Gríma was always there to watch and aid my progress. And in the evenings, after the company had sat around the fire telling stories of Rohan or (for my part and at their eager request) of Gondor, once most men went to sleep and Théodred himself retired, Gríma and I would sneak to some shelter under the trees and exchange confidences. I don’t think he ever told another person what he told me about his fears, his weaknesses, his desires. It moved me deeply that a man so strong and prone to mock others should disclose to me his most vulnerable side. To him I felt I could confide my own problems with my father, my sorrow for my mother’s death, my fear of Mordor and dislike of war.”

Éowyn raised an eyebrow in mild disbelief, and Faramir smiled and nodded.

“The bond between us was indeed strong and my trust in him complete… till I learnt of his terrible secret. From then on everything changed.”

“What secret?” asked Éowyn, and her eyes grew intent. She bent forward, ready to absorb his words. This tale was becoming highly interesting.

“It was one night, not far from the Fords of Isen. We were walking near the river, talking softly, as we used to do. The moon was almost full and a cool breeze made the trees sigh.

‘Faramir,’ he asked, ‘have you ever kissed a woman?’

‘Yes,’ I said.

‘And laid with one?’

‘Not quite.’ He laughed softly.

‘That’s because you are so very young and pure. And have you kissed a man?’ He watched my reaction carefully.

‘No,’ I answered, a little surprised.

‘I have done both. Lovemaking, I mean. And I can tell you that the experiences are quite different, but both enjoyable. I’ve found I equally like the two of them. Now, what do you think of this?’”

Faramir stopped and watched Éowyn’s eyes widening in silent astonishment.

“I knew nothing about that, nothing at all. Good Valar…” she said in a hushed voice. “What did you think of it at the time?”

“I knew that the forwardness of the question hid a dreadful fear of what my reaction could be, for it was often so with him; he was a man who cared a lot about others’ opinion. But at the moment the first thing that came into my mind was that he was very fortunate to have so much experience; and then I thought he was exceedingly valiant to have dared do it and speak of it so. I for one would never have had enough courage; I was so shy, at least at the time.”

Éowyn knew that she would certainly not have reacted the same way; still, with Faramir she had learnt to be more broad-minded.

“What did you answer him?” she asked.

“I told him so, and he glowed with pleasure, but I saw he was also relieved. I could understand why, for I knew of men who loved other men and that people thought there was something wrong with them. This was the first time, though, that I had met someone who declared to love both sexes equally. Such a statement was even more unusual, almost unique, and no wonder he kept it secret.”

“No wonder,” agreed Éowyn. “What happened then?”

“We spoke no more that night, but walked in silence. And this may surprise you further still, Éowyn. Before we went to bed he gave me an intent, appraising gaze. That night I couldn’t sleep.”

“I’m not surprised at all,” she thought to herself. “May I ask you to explain yourself?” she asked, somewhat torn between exasperation and curiosity (not entirely devoid of alarm) as to where all this would lead.

“I knew what that look had meant,” replied Faramir, now appearing to speak mostly to himself. “He wondered if I would agree to experience with him what it could be to make love to another man. And…”


“I must admit I was curious. My mind was ablaze with pictures of what it might be like, my heart beat fast and I felt waves of heat run through my body. I don’t believe it was physical desire, whatever you may be thinking now,” he remarked, untroubled by Éowyn’s obvious smirk, “but rather the effect of nervousness and expectation. I tried to imagine the fact of being able to enjoy both men and women’s company, and for all the repulsion that people held towards such rare individuals, I felt almost envious. It looked so complete to me.”

Éowyn’s eyebrows were constantly raised now, but she said nothing, and Faramir understood that as an invitation to continue.

“For several days the subject held ceaselessly to my mind, though I didn’t bring it up with Gríma, and neither did he. We met as usual at night and we spoke of any number of things, but my mind was ever on what he had told me, and so was his. The unspoken subject brought a shadow of discomfort between us, but Gríma was not one to let that be for long. He sensed, doubtlessly, that I was curious but too shy and uncertain to dare take any step, for fear of what that might bring; and so he took the reins of the matter.”

Oh, for Elbereth’s sake, this was getting insufferable. Had Faramir actually lain with Gríma or not? Éowyn wished she could have the answer to that before hearing the rest of it. It was so hard to restrain her impatience while her husband slowly and tantalizingly unravelled his story, but she didn’t try to interrupt him; Faramir never told a tale in anything but his own way and rhythm.

Resignedly, Éowyn limited herself to budging in her seat to ease her impatience, while listening with both ears to this most intriguing and rather unsettling story. All the same, Faramir was an excellent narrator and listening to him was like lying in bed with him: you were certain of your pleasure in the end provided you could put up with his ways –even if sometimes they were nothing short of torturous.

“Never was the expression better used,” continued Faramir. “On the third night after he had told me about his secret, he came to me with our two horses in hand.

‘You look nervous,’ he said shrewdly, ‘you need a good ride. Besides, you have never yet taken a free gallop in the night of Rohan, and it’s worth it.’

I obeyed wordlessly. I was shaking a little (the cold, no doubt), as I mounted my horse. We walked quietly away from the camp, and then started a frenzied race through the fields. I felt conscious of every part of my body; of the heat of the horse between my legs; of Gríma’s presence beside me and his powerful, inviting aura. Thankfully the fear of falling made me pay attention to the ride and thus helped me keep my trouble under reasonable levels.

Gríma stopped at the foot of a hill that sheltered us from sight and the soft breeze of the night. The air was fragrant and warm, some nightingales sang and there was a small pond, surrounded by rich grass and some willows. I couldn’t help wondering if he had already come to this place with a lover before. It was so peaceful, so quiet and enchanting (we were near the eaves of Fangorn). The moon was full…”

“And what on earth happened, what, what, what?” Éowyn felt like shouting, but she held her silence, her feet tapping with impatience on the ground.

“We took a little walk around the pond, in complete silence. I was totally conscious now of his attractive smell, of his strong and agile presence, and I found myself wondering what kissing him would be like, what would be the taste of his tongue, the texture of his skin, the form of his body beneath the garments… I desired him to touch me, but the moment he did so I trembled all over.”

He paused again.

“Well?” asked Éowyn. “What are you waiting for, my lord?”

“I was wondering,” he smiled, “if you were really happy about hearing all this.”

She thought: “Why on earth should I be unhappy? After all, I’m just about to discover how exactly the man I hate seduced the man I love and was the first to lie with him. Nothing that I should worry about in that, is there?”

“Everything that concerns you is important to me, Faramir,” she replied quietly. “I do want to know the particulars of your relationship to my late fellowman. So… how exactly did he touch you?”

Faramir glanced at her as if in no way fooled by her seeming detachment, and he allowed himself an inward smile while he complied.

“He came to a halt in the most sheltered place around the pond. The moment I stood near him he turned towards me and reached to caress my hair. His hand just rested on the side of my head, and we gazed at each other, without a word. Then he stroked my face, starting over the cheek and the jaw… He advanced very slowly while he kept brushing my hair, neck and features, lightly, as if he was afraid I would reject him. But I didn’t. Then his face came near mine and I closed my eyes and he kissed me, and my arms went around his body and he started to touch my back and my hips, firmly and yet tenderly…

It was so different from being with a woman, Éowyn. He had no beard, but his skin, soft though it was, could never be silken as a female’s –as yours. It was unnerving and at the same time extremely agreeable to caress someone of my own height and girth, not to have to bend to kiss him. And his body felt extremely hard and strong –just as mine, and much more than the soft curved body of a woman, even a strong one like you.”

He repressed a gentle laugh on seeing Éowyn’s stony face.

“Do smile, my lady, and think not that I prefer males to females, for it is not true. Besides, have you never kissed a woman?”

His eyes were so piercing that she looked aside, grudgingly, and she said: “Only once. On the long ride to Gondor and the fields of Pelennor, a girl kissed me goodbye, thinking that I was a male Rider. I held her for a few moments in my arms.”

“Then you must know what I mean. I was merely praising the advantages of being with a partner whose body is like yours in size and form. It gives you a great sense of equality. When we lay down on the grass, side by side, there was a kind of glory in the knowledge that our bodies were perfectly aligned, his feet and legs and lips reaching mine effortlessly. In the knowledge that I could roll over him without crushing him with my weight… though I dared nothing more than slide a leg over his and allow my hands to explore his chest, his arms and thighs, only tracing one finger ever so slightly near his groin.

He was aroused, that was plain, and I guess the fact was partly responsible for my embarrassment. Also I felt extremely shy. He was a tender lover, unhurried and expert, and his caresses were extremely agreeable, but when his hand grazed my most intimate part I suddenly felt I didn’t want it to happen. It was well as it was, I didn’t want to go further on that way. And I told him so.

He accepted it with a smile and kept fondling me, for I was restless, fearing that I might have disappointed or angered him. I returned with him to the camp feeling grateful for what he had shown me and for having stopped it at my request, but that night had not been without consequence, as we would both understand soon enough.”


“Because he fell in love with me,” said Faramir, endless pity and sadness in his voice.

“At first it was not much noticeable, though I knew that he still felt attracted to me. But as days passed and brought no development to what had taken place between us he became haggard and fierce. He would avoid me at times, or suddenly become sharp and biting, and then ask for my pardon remorsefully. He never mentioned it, but I beheld his love in his eyes, felt it every time he spoke to me. We kept together, doing our usual activities, and he laughed before the others as ever, but I knew pain was consuming him inside. And there was nothing I could do, except feel sorry for him as a true friend would.

His eyes were on me constantly, yet however strong his passion might be, he remained strictly within the bounds of friendship. Not once did he allow his desires to create an uncomfortable situation between us. I it was who, after hesitating for some time, kissed him one night to relieve his agony. What a fool I was! He pulled me into a desperate embrace, kissing me with an ardor the like of which I have never experienced before or since. Then he drew back with sudden violence, doubtlessly knowing that it was comfort I was offering him, not love. He sank to the ground, and hot tears rolled down his face.

‘I am sorry, Faramir,’ he said wryly. ‘I love you. I don’t believe it can be helped. You might want to stay away, lad.’

I stood there, shaken by what I had just witnessed. I had never imagined the violence of the fire that burnt him, nor how savagely it would blaze if fed but a little by reality.

‘It is not love,’ I panted, ‘it is insane passion, isn’t it?’

He nodded. The image of Fëanor came then to my mind, unbidden, and I shuddered, dreading what such a love might lead my friend to. After that I never kissed him again, fearing the effect it could have on him, but I admired even more the strength with which he fought his own soul’s desperate desire. Yet I could do nothing to ease his torment; I could not go back to Gondor before being called back by my father, nor tell anyone of my friend’s plight so that they would separate us. I do not condone his taking an evil path, but I do pity him, for I saw how he suffered. Never have I met with a worse example of the cruelty of the gods above. What a horrible torture it must have been!”

“And he never tried to force you…?”

“Never. He was a noble man, Éowyn.”

“That was not the man I knew.”

“Even the man you knew would not have tried to have you against your will. Few rascals would take the risk to touch the Shieldmaiden of Rohan without her consent, but he wouldn’t have wanted to, either. I believe some loyalty was preserved in his heart.”

Éowyn looked doubtul, but she did not argue.

“What happened when you left Rohan?”

“When I returned to Gondor, my mind was relieved, for I thought that Gríma would have now the opportunity to overcome that wretched obsession. But he chose not to do so, and seized every available occasion to come and see me, whether on his own as an ambassador from the King or while accompanying Théodred on some journey. I told him many times that it was unreasonable in the extreme, and asked him to remain in Rohan, but he wouldn’t listen. In the end I became very distant in order to protect him, though it made my heart bleed to be so hard. That seemed to work, for I knew nothing more of him, and some time later he wrote me a letter about you.”

“About me,” she repeated, her tone neutral. After all, that was no more astonishing than the rest.

Faramir nodded.

“I burnt it, for it was dangerous correspondence in my father’s time, but I learnt it by heart and have since copied it, one day I was thinking about you. It ran thus:

My dear Faramir,

You were right about telling me I should stay in Rohan and forget you. Your coldness at our last meeting made me suffer horribly, but since then the distance has slowly, too slowly, lessened the pain. I take the quill today for a supreme farewell, and hope I can deliver it with a cool heart to the one whom I trust now will not have ceased, throughout all this, to be my friend.

I never told you why I was in love with you. I do not speak of my insane passion, which had no cause but an innocent kiss on my part, that should have stayed so. Long before that night I loved you truly, with an attachment as sacred and profound as a mother could have for her child. Your grace and beauty enchanted me as soon as I beheld you, that morning long ago when I rode out with Théodred to meet you. But what thoroughly conquered me was that combination of strength and sorrow that is the very essence of your character. Any one looking at you could see that you had been hurt, yet you bore it serenely and without complaining. Your soul was sensitive and pure, and yet your mind was wiser and your heart more steady than could have been believed of one so young. I had never seen such an exquisite blending among our strong, careless Rohirrim, and it moved me to the core.

I will not lie to you: that love still endures and some of my passion too, but I am able to subdue them thanks to the presence of another. Her name is Éowyn, daughter of Éomund; you must have heard of her. Her parents died months after you left, and then she came to live with the King. He’s her uncle, for her mother was Théodwyn, daughter of Morwen of Lossarnach whom we in Rohan called Steelsheen. And indeed Éowyn has inherited that quality. I wish you could see her; you would think that she is your twin flame, for she is so like you. Though she has the golden hair of the Rohirrim, her eyes are grey and thoughtful, piercing at need. She has a tender heart and a will of adamant. It is heart-wrenching to see her, young and pure as a lily, striving to fulfill a role that she dislikes; no one at the court understands her true value. Yet all love her, but none more than I.

I wish you to find such love in your own country, and be happy.

Yours ever,

Gríma, son of Gálmód.

I wrote to him at once asking if he was loved by you, for (as you may have noticed) there was not one hint of that in his message. He never answered me, nor wrote any other letter. I was pained years later to learn that as Théoden decayed Gríma’s influence grew, and I dreaded the worst. As I believe indeed has happened. Alas! I fear I can guess what might be in those notes: the path that led him from loving you to betraying his country. I expect no joy out of the reading; yet read them I will, in memory of him who was a noble man and would have stayed so, maybe, had I loved him.

“Do not blame yourself before even looking at the diary, my love. It wasn’t your fault that Wormtongue cherished a passion for you, just as it wasn’t Aragorn’s fault that I took a fancy to him. You could never have been openly together, and therefore requiting his love would only have made both of you miserable. As for the contents of the package, I expect they concern me too, and to me the reading may well prove not more enjoyable than to you. Therefore, let us get over what pain is in store for us as soon as we can: open it right now and let us support each other during its perusal.”

Faramir caressed her cheek in gratitude for her wise words and seized the package. Cutting it with a breakfast knife he extracted a small brown leather book, which he examined closely, turning it around in his hands. The material was good and certainly of Gondor craft; the cover was made of deer skin and the sheets were of the finest parchment. But the book had clearly suffered from Wormtongue’s exile: it was battered by rain, some of its sheets were half eaten by mice (or who knew what), the leather was worn and indeed torn in a few places. Faramir opened the volume and saw that it was covered in a somewhat uncouth writing. Most pages had been written with a good-quality quill and black ink, but the last ones were hurried, and written first in green and then in bright red. Faramir also noticed that while a good number of pages at the end had been left blank, some written pages had also been ripped off.

“The letters are those of the Western tongue,” he said, “but the language is Rohirric, as far as I can discern. Frodo then was right. Will you read it for us, Éowyn?”

The White Lady took the book and turned some pages of it.

“It is a diary, as we were told. On the front page is written ‘This book belongs to Gríma son of Gálmód‘. The first entry is March 15, 3002. There are traces of tears upon the parchment.”

“That was the very day I departed from Rohan, unless I am mistaken.”

Faramir has left today,” said Éowyn, starting to read.

I feel as if my soul will break any moment. I know I will likely never see him again, and I cannot face it. I would flee my country to be with him, but what use would it be, if he doesn’t love me?

And now I have lost even his soothing presence as a friend.

I have decided to pour my feelings into this diary. I do not want to write to him, for he has already suffered enough from seeing my suffering. It would scare him as it scares me. Yet writing is the only thing that seems to give me some relief. Life without Faramir holds no sense, indeed it barely has any existence. Though my eyes behold a shining sun, my mind sees only darkness, and my heart aches more than I would ever have thought possible. I have dug deep cuts into my arms trying to stop my mind from dwelling on him, to no avail. I hardly feel them. Yet my mental pain is greater than I can put into words.

All the following pages have been torn off. The next entry comes several years later, on September 30, 3008.

“That would be some weeks after he came to see me for the last time,” said Faramir, and for all his poise Éowyn sensed that he was more than a bit apprehensive.

I hate him. How could he be so cruel to me? Three times I had been to see him, and he had seemed glad of it, though always he told me that it was unreasonable. Yet to me those visits were the only reason to live. I would stand the solitude and the pain, thinking that if he was not happy at least he was healthy and respected, and I would content myself with checking on him every once in a while, when Théoden would send me on a mission to Gondor I had discreetly intrigued to receive.

Rage and shame burn me every time I recall his cold expression when he met me.

‘I do not want to see you again,’ he said. ‘Your feelings towards me are improper and your presence is unwelcome.’ Unwelcome, to that boy who confided in me that I was the only one ever to have been his friend! That he didn’t want to see me again, after all we have shared together! The words pierced me as a sword couldn’t have done. I faltered like someone mortally stricken; indeed, I believe it a miracle that I didn’t faint on the spot.

Éowyn stopped reading and glanced at Faramir, who looked anguished and remorseful. He shook his head sadly.

“What else could I do, Éowyn? I feel ashamed every time I recall those terrible words. Yet I wanted him to forget me, to have a chance of happiness. The only way I could come up with was to become despicable in his eyes. And so I did. If you had seen the look on his face, Éowyn, when he heard me. If I had foreseen that look I would never have had the courage to act as I did. I almost fainted myself; I don’t know how I managed to stay steady and not fall into his arms and ask for forgiveness.”

The only thing that soothes, at least, my wounded pride is that I gave him a long stare, mounted my horse and left without another word. It is some comfort now, though it wasn’t on the long road home. I kept reliving the horrible moment, and his cold, distant eyes. My heart had never ached so much since the day he left, but then I had the thought of his friendship to comfort me. Whereas this time I knew that no one in the wide world cared about the pain I was feeling.
I cried unceasingly from the moment I left the city at midday to the following dawn. I have never spent such a hopeless night, never felt so alone in the entire universe. I believe I could have killed myself, if all my energy hadn’t been drained from my body by his pitiless words.

Éowyn looked again at Faramir, whose eyes were now filled with tears. Indeed she could barely contain hers; she would never have dreamed that the man she had loathed could have been suffering such a torment. Her own grief after Aragorn’s refusal seemed feeble compared to it. She squeezed Faramir’s hand.

“Alas,” he cried, “that he should have believed that, which was so far from truth!”

She steadied her voice and resumed the reading.

The following days were little better. I couldn’t even ease my heart through writing, for every time I took my quill I dissolved into tears. Indeed I am weeping now.

Still, I feel that all those tears have carried away some of my love for him. And I am glad of that. What was I thinking? Can it be that I have spent seven years of my life loving a man who didn’t care for me? And who was capable of such a callous, humiliating behaviour towards me?

Son of the Steward of Gondor though he be, he has no right to belittle me or despise my affection. Henceforth I pledge myself never to give him an occasion to do so again. I will drown my love in the abyss that my heart has become, and will stamp it till not one drop of it remains. Let Faramir’s name be cursed for ever and erased from the very bottom of my mind.

I have torn and burnt all the pages of this diary where I recounted the journeys I made to visit him. That I did such efforts for him is a shameful memory now. I have only left the first page, that I should remember how much I have suffered for a man who didn’t deserve it.

I shall never see him again: that is my decision, and yet it sounds more like a sentence. I shall never see him again.

November 6, 3010.

More than two years have passed since I last wrote in this diary. I swore never again to lament myself over an unrequited love, and I have maintained this promise. Of this I can be proud. And I have been rewarded, in that now my heart beats warmly again, and it beats for another: one born in Rohan and whom I can openly love. A woman.

I have been graced also in that I feel now at peace with the past. Yet the way all this has come to pass is so full of ironic contradictions, that I cannot but marvel at it.

Faramir’s gesture and my subsequent anger and despair were what prompted me to let go of him, more out of hurt pride than real common sense. In turning my eyes away from him I was able to behold the world again, and find my present happiness. And only when I stopped caring about him could I truly start to see him as he was.

It has taken time for my anger to abate. Some of it lingers still. Yet in time I have grown convinced that his hurting words must have been intended to protect me. Faramir was not a man to be so cruel out of sheer indifference. Of course, understanding him has brought back some of my old love. But Éowyn holds now the first place in my heart. Still, it is strange that I should owe my love for her to Faramir’s attitude, and my love for him to her soothing presence. For the sake of it, I have written him about the new state of things; thus he shall know that I don’t need him any more.

December 22, 3010.

I’ve just received Faramir’s answer to my last letter. It has revived all my old wrath. That he should be so condescending, worrying about my love not being requited instead of being glad for me! I expected this to gain his admiration or at least set his mind at rest: it has disquieted him! Can I never do right in his eyes, or has he been so abused by his own father that he knows no better now than to despise his only friend?

I have started several letters, to explain that Éowyn is too young, that she will love me in time, that I am already teaching her to wield the sword secretly: what would he say to that? But I won’t explain anything, not give a single word of heed to that insulting message.

If I answer, I am bound to be disappointed again; though I regret our friendship ending thus (but it is his fault, isn’t it?), I will not give him another chance to mortify me.

Éowyn stopped and eyed her husband worriedly, then patted his arm tentatively.

“It is fine, Éowyn,” said Faramir wearily. “It pains me to see that Gríma was in such a state as to think of me thus. But as for me, I hope I am above being hurt by such groundless remarks. Another thing interests me more: I didn’t know he was your sword master.”

“He was indeed, the only one I ever had. He started being around me when I was fourteen, but he was cunning, always treating me with great reverence and as a man would encourage a promising child. I felt important and flattered that he should address me as a grown-up woman, and a wonderfully beautiful one, according to his words. Most men seemed to think that as a maid I was only fit to be a burden, and they hardly paid any attention to me, although they were always befriending my brother. Gríma acted as if I was his queen, and I came to think more of him as my cousin than I did of my true kinsman, Théodred. I told him all my childish secrets, and when I confessed that I dreamt of becoming a warrior, he promised to teach me. And so he did. He was the one who persuaded Théodred and my brother to let me ride with them, he taught me how to use a sword, a shield and a spear, he was the one who hardened me against weariness, pain or fear. Both my brother and Théodred were never enthusiastic about it, but such was his influence over his friend that he could achieve what he wanted.”

Éowyn smiled at these remembrances, and so did Faramir. They squeezed hands tenderly for a moment; then she resumed the reading.

“I guess this is where it gets nasty,” she said.

June 3, 3014.

Yesterday I asked Éowyn to grant me her hand. I had been courting her for over a year, secretly –her brother is so jealous. I had shown her my passion countless times, revered her in any possible way and done my best to make her happy, not least by helping her grow into a warrior, as she wished; even at the risk of incurring her family’s wrath. But when I offered myself as her husband and companion, she just looked at me coldly and said: ‘My lord, you have won my friendship and my gratitude long since, but you do not own my heart. I do not want to give you false hopes; I do not think you shall ever have it.’

Faramir looked at Éowyn in astonishment. “My love,” he said, “weren’t those cruel words?”

“It was a straight answer,” she said, shrugging. “It may have been a bit rough, but I’ve told you, there was ever something I didn’t like in him. He was much older than me, he didn’t belong to the noblest houses and I had never given him any reason for hope. I expect his proposal came across as something inappropriate and conceited, and that’s why, having no time to think, I replied in such a cavalier way. Still, I wouldn’t have if I had known the true depth of his feelings, or what those would drive him to do,” she sighed.

He nodded. “Do read on.”

The ingratitude and cruelty of her words hurt me more than I could say. They left me no hope, for if everything I had done had not won her heart, then what possibly could? I left her without a word, and suffered in silence as I could the rest of the day. At dusk, I saddled my horse and went for a long nightride, as far as the first spot where I had met Faramir years ago.

I’ll admit I wept again, thinking of my two lost loves, how both of them had cold-heartedly repelled me, and wondered what I must do to be loved for once in my life. At this point I heard footsteps behind me, and I turned to face an old man dressed in a grey tunic with a hood.

‘Well, well, well,’ he said, before I had recovered myself, ‘a Rider crying his heart out in the fields, and not just any rider, too… may I ask, who is responsible for the bravest warrior in Rohan being in such a state?’

His voice was musical and understanding, and he sounded so wise, that despite his being a complete stranger I couldn’t help but answer ‘Éowyn’ and recount him my plight, ever since I had met Faramir. He listened to me attentively, then said, not unkindly:

‘You are a child, Gríma son of Gálmód. You know little of women, if you are surprised by your lady’s answer. Éowyn of Rohan is a princess, proud of her rank. She is able to recognize a good warrior and man such as you are, but she will not marry beneath herself.’

‘Then it is hopeless,’ I said.

‘No… Tell me: do you know anyone in Rohan that would rule this country better than yourself?’

I thought of Théoden, ageing and soft; of Théodred, his son and heir, who had always been second to me in the men’s hearts; of Éomer, impulsive and unrefined; all the others were old counsellors or mere warriors.

‘You see,’ he said, divining my answer before I had given it. ‘You are the only person in Rohan that has a head both for war and peace, politics and your people’s well-being.’ (I had never thought of myself in such terms, but it came to my head then that they were rather appropriate). ‘If you were King of Rohan, that would only be to the country’s advantage… and Éowyn would doubtlessly grace you with her love.’

‘That may be so,’ I said, dejectedly. ‘But I am not, nor will I ever be King of Rohan, so it is useless to think about it.’

He then started a lengthy speech. I cannot remember everything he said, but mainly it was that he could help me become King of Rohan, if I would follow his instructions. He told me his name was Saruman, that he lived in Isengard (indeed I had heard those names before) and that he was a wizard, which meant he had been sent by the Valar to fight Sauron and right the evils of the world. For which he had great powers that he was ready to put at my service.

‘But why would you help me?’ I asked. ‘I am nothing to you.’

‘How it shows that you have been mistreated, Gríma son of Gálmód! You trust no one,’ he said. ‘Yet one might think that my reasons for helping you were obvious. A war is coming against the Dark Lord, and when it starts this country will need to be ruled by a strong leader, one who will work with me, for I alone can protect Rohan from darkness. I doubt that Théoden or his son will have the wits to understand this great need. You would be serving your country to the best of your ability by accepting my offer. Indeed it is a duty for you to accept, regardless of the matter of your love.’

That convinced me at the moment, and I nodded.

‘But how is it to be achieved?’ I queried.

‘It will not be done in a day. Théodred will have to be put out of the succession line. And you need to win Théoden’s confidence, make yourself his most trusted and needed advisor, so that he would be ready to adopt you as his heir. Then as soon as the present King dies, you would have upon your brow the diadem of the Green Horse… and at your side the Lady of Rohan.’

‘I do not want my friend Théodred to die,’ I said.

‘What need is there for that? He might quarrel with his father, decide to serve in Gondor, or otherwise be made to renounce his claim to the crown. There are many ways. That is for me to arrange, you need not trouble about it.’

‘I still need to think this over,’ I said.

‘By all means, but do not forget that the destiny of your country and the heart of the woman you love both lie in your hands and depend on your decision. You may call me whenever you need me, and I shall come to you.’

Before he turned and left, I impulsively asked the question that had burnt my lips for a while.

‘Do you mean that Faramir didn’t love me because my rank didn’t match his? Because all noble people are proud? Do you mean that he, too, might have loved me if I had been the King’s heir?’

He looked at me with a kind of pity, as if my question was an obvious one.

‘Certainly I mean it,’ he said, and disappeared in the shadows.

I came back and took out my diary to write. Usually writing eases my heart, but not this time. It seemed so clear while Saruman was speaking to me, but now I am deep in doubt. I do not know what to do. What I have been offered comes at the price of being unfaithful to my King, to Éowyn’s family. Ambition and love drive me towards it, but honour and what I have respected all my life hold me back. Also, to be truthful, uncertainty. I have no proof but an old man’s words that everything will turn out as I intend.

For the first time in years I wish to ask Faramir’s advice, to seek the comfort of his acute mind and gentle heart. He’s always been a delicate balance to weight good and evil. But I do not trust his reaction. If he were to betray me!

It is nearing dawn. As hours pass, my trouble becomes greater. The choice that is before me will determine my whole life and may rule the fate of many others. So much is at stake, and I have nothing to guide me in this election. I am feeling fevered, turning cold and hot each time I think of the risks and of what I might gain.

What shall I do? What shall I do?

June 17, 3014.

It is done. No way back now. Éomer’s menaces have sealed the fate of my country… and mine. Though I am still shaken by what has happened, I must try to recount it in an understandable way.

I have spent these two weeks anguished with doubt, unable to reach a resolve. I was still suffering from Éowyn’s refusal and her attitude, which has been very distant all these days. Yet I had quickly consoled myself by gaining a stable boy’s affections: it was good to know that I could still easily please another, and his body so fair, young and strong, was a welcome relief of my solitude. Yesterday evening doom struck when I went down to the King’s stables to meet him again. We were kissing when Éomer, who had clearly been spying on me, entered and surprised us. He ordered the boy out of the stables, then drew his sword (I was unarmed) and pointed it at my throat. He was shivering with rage and disgust and obviously barely refraining from killing me then and there.

‘You pervert,’ he spat, ‘I have been tailing you for days. You are sweet around my sister; you dare sully her with your unworthy love, even as you roll in your own lust, defiling this place with your abominations. Worms like you should be wiped off the face of the earth. I believe not even an Orc would stoop to such debauchery as you.’

‘I believe not even an Orc would nurse such hate and narrow-mindedness as you, Éomer son of Éomund. And your conduct is more shameful than mine. A true man doesn’t insult and threaten an unarmed opponent, merely because he himself carries a sword. Learn to control your own emotions, and then perhaps I will listen to you,’ I answered.

Those words angered him further, and he stormed out after saying that once he recounted what he had seen to the King, I would be shamed by all and punished as the worthless beast I was.

I walked proudly out of the city and into the fields, but I was terrified inside. Once my flaw was widely known (and Éomer would make sure that it was), everybody would shun me and I would have nowhere to go in the whole land of Rohan. The best I could expect was exile; the worst, a shameful and painful execution at the hands of the people of Edoras –being stoned to death, no less. I knew Éomer had duties now that would prevent him from seeking the King at once, but it was merely a matter of hours before I was exposed and stripped of my position, my honour, and of course every chance of fulfilling either of the expectations I had hoped for. Not least painful was the knowledge that even if I lived, Éowyn would now look on me not with cool indifference, but with outright abhorrence.

Can I be blamed for what befell afterwards? I was in a state of utter terror and despair. I murmured the name of Saruman, and he appeared. He seemed to have read my mind, for at once he knew what had happened.

‘Come, we must act swiftly to counter this doom. Lead me to the King of Rohan.’

I brought him up through secret ways into Meduseld. I was a counsellor of the King, and so nobody found it strange to see me leading a cloaked stranger into the hall. When we reached the King’s chamber, he ordered me to wait outside and he entered alone, while I stood against the wall, sweating. I heard voices, but could not make out what they said, though I tried hard. Then Saruman came out.

‘The King is now our ally,’ he said. ‘His Majesty is feeling a bit faint at the moment. He will need you to escort him to the hall, where he has an announcement to make.’

I asked him what he meant, but he would not answer, and he took leave of me, saying that he would find his way out without help. I entered. Théoden King looked weary, but he smiled at me and told me to lend him my shoulder, so that he could go into the hall.

An hour later, by Théoden’s orders, transmitted by me, the whole court was assembled in the great hall of Meduseld, and I was publicly appointed as his main counsellor, having access to him round the clock and authority over all military chiefs in Rohan… even over Théodred, his own son.

My first decision has been to send Éomer to serve in the East-mark. Now Éowyn will be left alone, and my worst enemy will no longer threaten me. The path to happiness and imperishable glory lies open before my feet… Thanks to Saruman.

“What I don’t understand,” said Faramir, “is that he ever dared to keep such a diary. If any of you had searched his rooms, he would have been immediately discovered.”

Éowyn let out a bitter laugh.

“We had no reason to suspect him at first. And he soon took his own precautions. No one but his most trusted servants was allowed near his quarters in Meduseld. He locked them whenever he went out. He had spies everywhere, and anyone who tried to meddle into his affairs was arrested or worse. There were some strange accidents… Believe me, once he had my uncle’s mind in his keeping there was no one in the whole country who could oppose him. I only wonder that my brother didn’t speak up that evening in the hall, for he must have known it was his last chance to counter Gríma’s threat. But then, I recall the atmosphere in the hall… Everyone was too surprised to protest at Théoden’s decisions, and also there was some quality in him that night that made it impossible for anyone to disagree with him… Saruman’s doing, I expect. Éomer must have known that had he spoken, Théoden would have sided with Wormtongue and have him arrested or exiled for menacing the King’s new counsellor. He had no weapons, since none were allowed in the King’s presence, and by the following morning he was forced to go away.”

“The plan was well devised and successful, indeed,” said Faramir thoughtfully. “Read the rest!”

August 25, 3018.

Four years and more have passed since I gained power over the King of Rohan. Things had evolved so far according to the plans that have been carefully made by Saruman for the good of us all. My influence grew ever greater, and Théoden was discouraged from any war that might bring the Dark Lord looking towards us… even when Orcs of Mordor started thieving horses, which I found ill to bear, but I trusted Saruman’s wisdom.

Yet recent events have befallen that make me feel deeply uneasy. Gandalf the Grey was here days ago, asking for help, and told the King that he had been held prisoner in Isengard and that Saruman was levying an army to attack Rohan. Thankfully Théoden didn’t listen to his words and told him to choose a horse and leave… and Gandalf had the effrontery to take Shadowfax, lord of horses, which ensures at least that he won’t be welcome –and therefore not a threat to our plans– for a long time.

But before he went, he drew me into a corner and said: ‘Listen, Gríma son of Gálmód, I hear that since you were appointed as the King’s counsellor Théoden has aged twice as quickly as before. Today you denied the truth of my warnings in front of every member of the court. Has Saruman bewitched you to believe his lies, or are you serving him against your own country?’

I sweated at this, and Gandalf seemed to understand much of what was passing through my mind, for he said: ‘Do not be a fool, Gríma. I saw you looking at her in the hall. But you’ve made the wrong choice. Turn back and let her go, or you will regret it.’

Gandalf’s visit unsettled me, and for the first time I doubted Saruman. Was he a traitor? Why should Gandalf lie? My heart was filled with an anxious foreboding, yet I was not ready to let go of Éowyn, and so I kept on my path, and two days later Saruman visited me. I asked him about the army Gandalf had spoken of, and about his holding another wizard prisoner. At once he looked in pain, as if I had said something very hurtful.

‘Gríma, my friend, I did not think that your confidence was so easily shaken. Have we not worked together for years in order to achieve the greatest good for our estates? The army of which Gandalf spoke exists, and I intended to tell you about it soon, for it is almost ready. It has been brewed, as I am sure you guess, to aid you in the war against the Dark Lord, which cannot be much delayed now. But whatever else your Grey Pilgrim has told you are nothing but lies. Gandalf is not with us any more; he has concealed for long now secrets of the utmost importance from me, his head and master. I discovered his treachery most recently, and then he refused to make amends, forcing me to imprison him to keep him from doing greater harm. Deeply I regret that he has turned out so! Yet my guard has been useless, for he has many friends and has been able to escape. Indeed you are to blame for having allowed him to leave thus unhindered.’

‘I do not know if I am to blame,’ I said, ‘but I don’t trust your plan any more. Since I gained influence over the King, more and more of my former friends have become cold towards me. Éowyn herself shows me a veiled hostility, that grows more acute every day. This is not what was planned. I do not want to go on with it.’

He became instantly as furious as I had never seen him.

‘You fool!’ he said, ‘Are you going to throw away everything you have fought for, when it is almost within your grasp? But I understand your fears, Gríma son of Gálmód,’ he said in a softer voice. ‘You are wrong, however, to attribute them to my own failings. It is your former friends who are conspiring against you. Do you think that an heir to the crown will gladly accept a counsellor’s power? The Riders are faithful to him, for he is the acknowledged successor and also a captain of war, which seems to them nobler and easier to understand than a man who wields power through words and intelligence. Éomer also is turning many of them against you. And as for Éowyn, did you not know that she was in love with Théodred?’

My insides went cold at this words, and Saruman smiled and said, as if wanting to turn the knife in the wound, ‘I thought that you had heard of it. Why would she love another? He’s of royal blood, isn’t he? And she hopes to become queen by marrying him.’

‘Then Théodred will die,’ I said, burning with rage and jealousy.

‘He must indeed,’ he said coldly, ‘for he has now been a hindrance far too long. The time is ripe. My armies will attack Rohan and ensure that he is killed in battle. Then Théoden will name you his heir, and as soon as he dies you will be King.’

‘And Éowyn will love me. She will have to, for I will be the only one worthy of her,’ I thought savagely.

Saruman left then, and I have had two days to understand that my task will not be easy. Many men believe Gandalf’s words, and I cannot now tell them Saruman is our ally. Whatever doubts I still have myself I have decided to cast away, for they are useless. I must run the chance that Saruman will be true to his word. If he is, all will be well. If he is not… there is no way back for me now.

March 2, 3019.

I write in the fields, using a plant’s juice as ink, and a piece of reed as a quill. I have fled Edoras. All was going well until today: Saruman had attacked at the Fords of Isen, and Théodred had been slain as intended. My power was greater than ever: I had convinced the King to imprison Éomer for having threatened me and I could hope to be named Théoden’s heir before long… but then Gandalf came back.

He seemed much more powerful than last time, robed in white, and escorted by three companions, one of whom claimed to be heir to the throne of Gondor, no less. I have to admit that he looked lordly enough. The others were an Elf and a Dwarf, which bode ill to me, for it meant he had allies among every kind of people. I should have denied them entry, but I wanted news… and that was a great mistake. Gandalf terrified me out of my wits with a flash of lightning and took the King out of doors, while I stayed behind. Little later I was summoned and frightened even more, if possible, for Gandalf had clearly freed the King from the ensnarement which had kept him senile all these years, and he had convinced him to order Éomer’s release. As soon as he sighted me, the young serpent started to mock and insult me. I ignored him and tried to reverse the course of events, but Gandalf had already prevailed upon the King to go into battle against Saruman. When I tried to persuade him to let me stay behind as a Steward, Gandalf accused me of being a traitor and all was lost. Judging me was the matter of an instant; clearly Théoden held Gandalf as his saviour and would heed no one but him. He offered me forgiveness, by Gandalf’s counsel, provided I proved my faith; and for a moment I was tempted. But when I scanned Théoden’s face, his gaze was strewn with pity and kindness… and I suddenly understood that such a man would never make me his heir, would never understand me or truly love me, because I was not of his blood. Théodred being dead, Éomer would be the favourite, and he would torment me with his sniggers, which I was not ready to stand any more. I had been given the choice of going where I would, and that I did. They have supplied me with a horse, and in two or three day’s time I will reach Isengard. Then I shall get my revenge for every torment I have endured. Saruman’s armies will defeat Rohan, and I will gain my kingdom by arms, over Théoden’s and his nephew’s body. And Éowyn the proud shall marry me, if she would not witness a massive bloodshed.

March 6, 3019.

All is lost. Every hope, every reason for joy have dissolved into nothingness.

I came to Isengard yester morning, only to discover that it had been ripped down and was being guarded by a horrible breed of speaking trees come from the Valar know where. I cannot put into words my angst and bewilderment when I saw that –for Saruman had told me he could not be vanquished. Yet worse was to come. I tried to escape, but one of the trees caught me and forced me to go into Orthanc, where Saruman was caged. I went in, and confronted his lies about his Valar power.

I do not have the strength to report his words, which were more hateful and contemptuous than I could have thought possible in any creature. But the meaning of them must be told. I learnt, without any room for doubt, that I had been used, that he had seduced me for the sole purpose of using me as a spy and tool in Rohan, while he prepared himself to overrun my country. He had invented Éowyn’s love for Théodred so that I should agree to my dear friend being killed; he had –that was hardest for me to bear, since it was the most irrefutable proof of his treachery– himself put Éomer on the trail of discovering my tastes so that I would be forced into a treason which I was loath to accomplish.

After he had spat all he had to say he left me, and I sank to the ground, tears running freely. I could not reason at that moment, nor feel anything but a heart-breaking pain at understanding that I had lost everything –honour, friends, position and even my own self-respect– for nothing. Then the pain became a maddening rage and a burning thirst for retaliation. I had to avenge myself and all who had died by my fault and his, no matter the cost. Saruman I dared not attack, for he was a magician and despite his having suffered a defeat I could not trust that he had lost all his powers; but I explored the tower of Orthanc in search for something that could serve my purpose, mostly vital information that I might be able to pass to the besiegers. Yet I found nothing, and it was not to be wondered at, for there was a high chamber where Saruman had locked himself and I expected all his possessions of value were inside.

In the afternoon there came riding Théoden with Éomer, Gandalf and his companions. They called for Saruman and I went to fetch him. Much as I wanted to have news of the battle that apparently had been fought and won away from Isengard by Théoden’s troops against Saruman’s army, I stayed behind. Saruman had left the door of his chamber ajar, and it was a matter of duty to seize this occasion to scour it.

There were many strange and magical-looking objects there, and also lots of papers –and I had little time to search. I was going to take all the parchments away for reading when my eyes fell on a dark crystal sphere, set on a pillar in the center of the chamber. I had seen it upon entering, but I now gazed intently at it and words came to my mind: Faramir telling me of the old palantíri of Gondor, which were believed to be lost, and Saruman once mentioning to me that he had means of witnessing what happened far away. The conspicuousness of this object in the room made me suspect that it was one of the Seeing Stones: I took it with me and dropped it from the balcony to the foot of the tower, even as Saruman’s parley with his visitors came at an end. I wondered if the object would smash itself against the ground or resist the fall; either would serve my purpose, for Saruman would be deprived of his means of knowing about the world. But the sphere must have been more solid than rock; it splintered the stairs. Gandalf took it, and the hope that he and Aragorn will be able to recognize its powers and use it against the Enemy, that I should have in some small measure redeemed myself and been of some use, is a slight comfort in my present darkness.

For my vengeance has been a good one, if I am to judge from Saruman’s reaction. He was wroth when he discovered what I had done, and though his staff had been broken, he grabbed with his bare hands a torch from the wall and burnt me terribly. Then he kicked me unconscious.

Since I awoke in the night I have not seen him, but I hear him raging in his chambers. Though my body hurts awfully and my misery is as acute as it can be, still it heals my wounds to hear his mighty disappointment. For the papers that I briefly looked at in his chambers, and the reaction he had to my throwing the Stone, showed me that he was in league with Sauron, and used the Stone for communicating with him, though doubtlessly he had intended to betray him also. And though this knowledge and the fact that I have been serving Sauron’s plans make me want to retch, there is no denying than Saruman’s posture is now worse than mine. For which I am glad.

I have seized this time of sanity and solitude to recount the events, for Saruman’s mere presence terrifies me now and I don’t know, anyway, how long my life is going to last here. By chance I brought that reed from the fields; the ink is not a problem, since blood is still running regularly from several of my wounds. But I dare not make this text much longer, lest Saruman should discover me at it. I hope that when Orthanc is finally conquered, and if the West gains victory, someone will find this and clear my name. And if it is the Dark Lord who comes, let him know at least that here he had an enemy.

“There is no more,” said Éowyn, slowly closing the diary. “It is a sad and wonderful tale.”

“He was a man of good heart and many qualities, who should have enjoyed an honourable and happy life,” said Faramir sorrowfully. “He was consumed by a passion greater than his soul could stand.”

“You are thinking again of your brother,” she said kindly.

“Boromir was lucky compared to him,” said Faramir darkly. “Chilling thought, that such great pain should exist, and be used to break and corrupt a man, to the effect that he should be plunged into even more misery…” he said wretchedly.

Éowyn rose from her seat and came to him. “Yes, but even as men can fall from grace, they can be saved too and healed… as can women, and we both are examples of that. And now we have the chance of redeeming Gríma’s memory. Is that no comfort?”

“Yes, it is,” he said, smiling tenderly, “but you, lady, are the greatest comfort of all.”

He stood up and bowed his head over hers, and as they kissed under the rising sun, a glistening tear and a small trembling were the only signs that Faramir son of Denethor was paying the last farewell to the Knight of Rohan.

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4 Comment(s)

As to the length of the story, these things have a way of getting out of hand. I certainly don’t mind.
On first read, it was an incredible, completely new view of Grima. I always want to see something more, because he wasn’t just an Evil man—there was always more. Your idea of how he might have come to do what he did is plausible and interesting. Can’t help but feel for the man as Faramir and Eowyn did. I like the complex characterization of him, as well as your portrayals of Faramir and especially Eowyn.
Well done.

— Bell Witch    Sunday 19 December 2010, 15:46    #

Well, I’m glad you liked the story. I would have liked you to beta it (I am sure you helped me improve Sinful Secrets a lot), but I suspected you were the recipient… However, you’re welcome to point out anything that could be bettered, I’ve been told there’s no rule against editing the story after publication.
And yes, it was fun to work on this. I had never had the occasion to explore Gríma’s personality, and it was quite interesting to do so. I also notice I ended up featuring two het relationships as well as the main slash one… and even some femslash. That was because your request allowed me a lot of freedom, for which I am most grateful, as I have said. Especially since it was my first Swap.

Nerey Camille    Sunday 19 December 2010, 20:33    #

Even though the ending is on a clear hopeful note, I’m still left with the stuffy heavy feeling that’s been growing since about the second page of your story… I don’t know what to attribute the larger part of it to: Grima’s tale itself or rather Eowyn’s reactions as she learns it. On the one hand, it’s of course very understandable why she’s so much harsher towards him than Faramir: Faramir had known him in the better years, and was never threatened by him like Eowyn, but still… I find very sad the irony that Grima likened F and E, whereas the two show themselves so differently when it comes to him.

To think of it, they both had refused him, but their thoughts on doing so are exactly the opposite. Faramir had waited for so long, hoping Grima would get the message, and then said only the obvious thing: that G’s feelings were inappropriate, which in their society indeed they were. And still, more than 10 years later, Faramir is twisting with guilt for hurting G so, and even thinks that his love might have saved G. But Eowyn… she’s like, what did he expect, I was only being honest with him…

I find your characterisation of Grima very realistic and very canon-friendly, even though you’ve given a whole new side to him that Tolkien had never mentioned. On the one hand, it’s nice to think that G was, at least in his heart, a better man than one would initially deem him – but on the other, it is all the more painful to think on what he’d come to at the end of his path. I think it was a good choice to stop his narration where you did and not describe his further descent into personality deterioration. It’s like this journal is the diary of the real Grima, what was in him good or at least sincere, and once he completely falls under Saruman’s spell, the diary stops.

I suppose part of my sadness originates from knowing that G did not have a chance of a happy ending, that it was not merely a twist of fate or some coincedence that led him to his doom. Of course, Saruman had chosen to come to him at exactly the best moment for S’s plan to work – but even without S at all, G would’ve never been happy. It’s quite clear he’s a seriously disturbed man. I find it quite staggering, how wide is the gap between F’s description of him at the beginning of the story, and how G sees himself. F was basically rendered speechless by his charm and authority, and says how both women and men found him attractive (which must have been so indeed, for G to get all that experience he later speaks of), and how he was trusted by the king – but G himself constantly, constantly is moping about how nobody loves him, and nobody cares, and everybody thinks poorly of him. And he consistently chooses people who just cannot return his feelings, but even when his lack of chance with them becomes evident, instead of saying, ‘well, to h#ll with you’, he grows 10 times more obsessive than before and starts boiling in spite and hurt, and losing his sleep fretting what they think of him, etc. Even if there was no Faramir and Eowyn, I have a strong feeling he would have found himself someone else to idolise, someone in whom to put all his hopes, to whom to tie up his sense of self-worth – to then have it all crumble and fall in on itself like a card-house.

All this makes me really wonder about Grima and want to learn why he is… well, the way he is. I must say I’d never before been interested in him, deeming him a character with whom ‘everything is clear’ if you know what I mean. But you’ve given him an intriguing, thought-provoking contradictoriness of personality that makes one want to pry even deeper into his past and the circumstances of his life to try and understand why he is like this…

And much as I want to be sympathetic towards Grima, I can’t help but think that Faramir is really better off having refused him (or having been unable to accept, him you could say). A realtionship with G, I have a feeling, would have been quite a nightmare, even all the social risks put aside…

December    Saturday 25 December 2010, 17:51    #

Hi December,

Thanks so much for this in-depth comment!
Your point of view is, as usual, very refreshing and interesting. I believe the difference in E and F’s attitude towards Gríma is a question of vulnerability. Faramir may dislike some aspects of his life, but he never feels impotent about it. He trusts himself and therefore can trust others. Éowyn feels caged, like everyone can decide for her and she just can’t do anything about it (of course it’s wrong, but that’s the way she feels, I think), hence her aggressiveness. I believe if Éowyn had really felt free and happy, she would never have answered in that way; she would have shown both kindness and pity. But I guess she pitied herself too much to have much feeling for others’ suffering, especially in the case of a man that had a lot of influence in the court and therefore might be able to threaten her in some way.
I think you’re right about Gríma, he would never have been happy in spite of his many qualities and the many people who loved or admired him; but neither would he have betrayed his country, but for Saruman. In fact to write this character I thought a lot about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, with Saruman as Palpatine and Gandalf as Yoda (the voice of reason that the hero won’t listen to). Anakin has a lot of qualities, but he just can’t stand that his mother (and later his wife) might die. And his desperate efforts to ensure that they live will make him turn to the Dark Side and in the end cause him to lose precisely what he was trying to preserve. The idea is that a person who cannot accept disappointment or suffering, who cannot survive on his/her own, is bound to be unhappy. And if it is a powerful person, someone can use that desperate need to bend them to their will. As did Saruman.
And yes, I expect a relationship with Gríma would be as happy as Padme’s relationship with Anakin (he ends up trying to strangle her). Thankfully Faramir had more sense than that!

Nerey Camille    Monday 27 December 2010, 15:42    #

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Nerey Camille

Welcome everybody!

Two things. First, all I have published here is at your disposal to enjoy, share, copy or modify freely. Just make sure to state where you took it from, and let me know you’re using it, because I’ll be thrilled to learn my work was worth your attention. Should you ever want to use it commercially or in some way not stated here, you’ll need specific permission.

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