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Leaving home; Coming Home  by Mirkwoodmaiden

Ch. 3 --  Home to Minas Tirith

The six days journey to Gondor was uneventful and taken at a leisurely pace. Uneventful was something that welcomed by the entire entourage because there were still a few pockets of trouble here and there, mostly in Ithilien but it was still deemed wise to not let down their guard completely. The land between Rohan and Gondor was beautiful and in times of peace the forests and streams and open plains could be enjoyed for what they were.  Time was often spent for midday meals to be taken under the canopy of the fir trees that glistened in the Autumn sunlight and sleeping under the stars when it was deemed still warm enough to do so.  It was a lovely interlude of relaxed peace for Faramir and Éowyn.  He was going to have his work cut out for him going into Ithilien as sworn prince of that land, holding the title given him by Aragorn, but the time would be made far easier having Éowyn at his side, helping him in the work ahead.  She filled his heart with love and hope.  Boromir’s voice sounded in his head, “Does she know you snore?” He chuckled to himself.  He looked at Éowyn talking with her brother, Éomer. 

He thought upon the newly crowned King of Rohan.  He had not really known him before the Ring War.  He knew of him of course, but he had not known him.  But war throws people together in unexpected ways.  In the Houses of Healing he found Éowyn.  And he was slowly coming to realise he had also found a brother in Éomer.  No one would ever take Boromir’s place in his heart.  They had been through so much together.  Quite often it was the two of them against the world or at least their father.  Countless times of abuse or neglect on the part of their father lead to countless conversations between the two brothers.  Boromir sometimes would just sit and listen to Faramir try to work out what he was thinking or feeling.  Other times Boromir would encourage him to take a direction that Denethor had discouraged.  Boromir was very good at listening though people who only knew him as Captain-General of the Guard or as Denethor’s heir would never have suspected that quality to be one of his strengths.  Only Boromir knew the pain in Faramir’s heart when Denethor doled out another punishment or scathing judgment upon his second son.  As he grew older and came of age Faramir became loved by those under his command and to the common people of the White City, known for his wise judgment and empathy, but this only seemed to inexplicably strengthen his father’s criticism of him.  Éomer could never take Boromir’s place but Faramir was coming to realise that Éomer had qualities of his own that he could appreciate.  He was loyal and loved his sister great deal and was very protective of her.  That alone won Faramir’s respect and growing affection.

“Almost there,” Éowyn said breaking into his thoughts.  Faramir looked up as they had just crested a hill  and in the middle distance amid the swaying winter wheat of the Pelennor Fields stood the White City, his city.  His heart always swelled with pride when he gazed on the White Tower of Ecthelion.  He looked down on the Fields of Pelennor.  Six months removed from the battle and the land was recovering.  It was good to see.  Repairs were being made to the walls and as he understood Gimli was to speak to his fellow dwarfs about remodeling and renovating the city.  It was to be a time of good change as opposed to change wrought at the edge of blade and axe.

“It is will be good to be home.” Faramir stated.  It was the truth.  But what was also true was he was not sure who he was coming home to.  It was a most odd feeling.  His father had died under the most tragic circumstances.  Circumstances that he could still not completely accept as true though he had seen them in his mind’s eye.  His beloved brother was also dead in other circumstances that were very difficult to reconcile with the brother he had known and loved.  Aragorn, a man he had come to have great respect for, was crowned king of the reunited kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor, rightly so and to the great joy of all the kingdom.  Aragorn was placing a great deal of responsibility on Faramir’s shoulders.  He wanted so much to be worthy of this honor and responsibility.  He felt a great weight to live up this expectation. 

He looked in the direction of the Great Gate, repaired after the assault upon it by Grond, the massive battering ram of Mordor, and saw a guard of six riding out to meet them.  They were flying not only the king’s standard of the tree and seven stars, but also a flag that at first he did not recognize.  Only when the guard of six came closer and he saw that the one carrying the unknown standard was Beregond.  It was the standard of Ithilien.

Beregond closed the gap and then slowed to a stop.  Éomer’s entourage followed suit.  Beregond placed his hand upon his heart and then bowed his head before looking Éomer in the eye, “Éomer King, we are honored that you are among us once again!”  

Éomer placed his fist on his heart, “We are honored that you receive us.”

Beregond intoned, “Faramir, Prince of Ithilien.  The King is honored you have returned to us.” He then bowed his head, hand on heart.

Faramir bowed his head, “The honor is mine. Captain.”

Formalities done Beregond’s face broke into a huge smile.  “My lords, it is so good to see you back again and for such a happy occasion.” At this he rode up to Éowyn, reaching for her hand not holding the reins and kissing it, “My Lady Éowyn it so wonderful to see you!  Such beauty shines amid such scruffiness!”

Éowyn laughed as she allowed her hand to be kissed, “Flatterer!  It is so good to see you again as well!”

Beregond laughed as Faramir eyed him with mirth in his eyes, “Watch who you are sweet talking, Captain!”

“Several pardons, My prince. My lady’s beauty caused my forgetfulness!  Come let us ride!  The King is anxious to greet you all.”  And with that the guard of six wheeled their horses around and rode a quick pace to the Great Gate.  Rohirrim horses had no problem catching up their pace and soon out stripped them and a friendly competition ensued.  Quality horseflesh and Éomer King, born to ride gain the gate first and entered through it in a flash and flurry, pulling his horse up evenly by the reins and waiting for the others to enter a few seconds later.

Beregond entered through the Great Gate riding up to Éomer, “As ever you are the finest horseman I have ever known!”  Éomer dipped his head in response.

Éowyn chimed in pulling her mount to a halt, “Please! Do not say anymore or my brother will not be able to fit into his helmet.  They will have to be remade at great cost to the Mark.”

Beregond laughed, “Alas my lady, I had not reckoned the consequences of my words!”

Éomer retorted, “Keep it up, Sister dear and I may remember a few things that Faramir simply has to know before wedding bliss takes place!”

Éowyn stuck her tongue out at her brother, in a very unladylike fashion.

Éomer laughed a hearty laugh and turned his horse to begin the ascent through the tiers to the Citadel. 

As the joined party climbed up the cobbled streets of white stone through each tier, Faramir noticed with great satisfaction that life in Minas Tirith was returning to normal as much as was possible.  There were still repairs and construction going on and still some rubble on the lower levels to be seen but the bakers and the crafters, the fletchers and bowyers were getting on with their work and bringing their crafts to the once again bustling markets on the lower levels. Stall owners barking their wares and women bantering and bargaining for the best price for items ranging far from ribbons for their daughters’ hair to rugs to be placed in their best rooms for visiting. Children pestering parents for spice candies and honey buns.  Life was continuing.  He was filled with a sense of pride in the resilience of the people of Minas Tirith. 

As they progressed through the tiers there were cheers and pleasant acknowledgements of who it was that rode among them. Éowyn rode next to Faramir for a good portion of the way up.  “It is you they are waving to.”

Faramir had never felt comfortable with such adulation.  He never felt quite worthy of it and when presented with it en masse as he was today he did his best simply ride through it, not knowing quite how to act.  But today he looked at Éowyn riding at his side.  “They love you,” she said.

“But they don’t really know me,” Faramir stated with the doubt built of a lifetime showing in his eyes.

“I think they do,” Éowyn countered, “More than you realise.”

Faramir looked at her and in her eyes he saw love and belief.  He then looked in the eyes of a few of the people that lined the streets pausing as the entourage went past.  They looked back smiling and he saw the same love and belief in their eyes as well.  He was staggered to see it.  He never really had the courage to look before. Not among the common people.  Among those of his command yes, but they were soldiers, trained to follow orders and respect their officers.  Among commoners he had never had the courage to look, feeling unworthy somehow.  Now he looked and he found respect.  He tenuously nodded to those who met his eye and he was rewarded with more smiles and nods and cheers.  It was an unsuspected affirmation that he was unsure how to handle.  He looked at Éowyn again and she had unshed tears of happiness in her eyes, “They love you…and so do I.”

They eventually entered the Citadel on the seventh level and Éomer seeing Aragorn standing on the steps awaiting their arrival dismounted his horse.  Fastred, his attendant Rider immediately dismounted and took the reins from his liege.  He looked to Éowyn’s mount as she quickly dismounted handing the young Rider her reins as well, nodding her thanks.

Éomer bent his head in thanks, “See that they are well tended, Fastred.”

“At once, my King,” Fastred put his fist to his heart and bowed.

Faramir watched as Aragon and Arwen stepped forward. He quickly dismounted and Eirik had come forward having dismounted his own horse to collect the reins of his Prince’s mount, “Thank you, Eirik.  Please see that Brandion is properly seen to.”

“At once, My Prince!” Eirik nodded, hand on heart.  He looked at Fastred, “Come let me show you the way to the stables!”

Fastred nodded his relieved thanks and the two made their way through the back pathways of the Citadel to the stables along with the luggage and the rest of the entourage. 

As Aragorn reached the bottom step Éomer stepped forward and dropped to a knee.  Aragorn said with a full heart, “Rise my friend, we need not stand on ceremony on such a joyous occasion as this!”

Éomer rose and immediately found himself embraced by Aragorn.  The younger man exclaimed,“So good it is to see you again, My Liege, on this most happy of occasions.”

Aragorn looked at Faramir and stepped forward to embrace the younger man and then said, “My friend, I cannot tell you how happy I am for you.”

Faramir paused, at a loss for words briefly, “Thank you, my King!” he recovered himself a little more, “She is more than I deserve.”

Aragorn grew sober, “No my friend,” Faramir heard in amazement as he was named friend once again by this great and good man, “You deserve all good things.  Never forget that.”

Faramir nodded and resisted the temptation to cast his eyes downward.  “You must listen to my husband, you know.  He gets very cranky if he is not heeded.” Arwen spoke in her most lyrical and calming voice sensing that the young steward was in need of a little equilibrium. 

Faramir did indeed feel somewhat better and smiled at the dark-haired beauty in front of him.  “I shall indeed try to heed his words!”

“See that you do!” Arwen averred.

Éowyn bent a low curtsy as Arwen neared.  “Rise my lady Éowyn!”  She held out her slender and graceful hands to the Rohirrim lady, “Between us there shall be no ceremony!  We shall be sisters after a fashion.  You must always remember that!”  Arwen was unused to the pomp of court life such as it was in Minas Tirith society.  It bore little resemblance to life in either Lothlorien or Imladris and she looked escape its bounds whenever possible.   What little she knew of the White Lady of Rohan she already felt she was a kindred soul and she wished for friendship with Éowyn. 

Éowyn quickly rose and grasped both hands of the Queen, “Yes, My Queen.  I wish that as well.” Éowyn spoke both fervently and earnestly.  She had had very little time or patience for court life at Meduseld and that had indeed set her apart from court life though few would openly have said so as she was the beloved niece of the king.  She indeed welcomed Arwen’s overtures of earnest friendship.

Arwen spoke in a conspiratorial whisper, “Come let us leave the men to their talk.  We shall retreat to my solar where we may truly relax.”

Éowyn nodded with great enthusiasm, “Let’s!”

Faramir watched them scamper off leaving the menfolk to their “talk.”

Éomer next to him murmured, shaking his head, “No good can come of this!”

Faramir watch them go and said, “Well as long as they are happy.”

Aragorn and Éomer shared a look and Éomer shook his head just wondering what mischief his sister would invite this time.


A/N:   A tiny bit of a cliffhanger.  Not my usual style but I’ve been reading Lindelea’s wonderful work and I think cliffhangers are starting to rub off on me.  😊)

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