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Ch. 14 - Two Hearts Joined
Éowyn sat sipping her mulled wine and pondering her wedding dress as Waerith combed her almost dry hair in preparation for wedding finery. “It is a beautiful dress, Waerith, is it not?”
“Very beautiful, my lady.” Waerith acknowledged. Éowyn sighed happily. She felt excited but she also felt a calm steal over her. This was the day she joined with Faramir. It was a day like no other. She heard a tap on the open door and turned to see her brother with the most indescribable look on his face.
“May I come in?”
Éomer walked in, “This won’t take but a moment but I wanted to see you before the day really begins and we don’t have any time later on. Waerith, can you give us a few moments, please.”
“Of course, my liege.” Waerith said bowing with her hand on heart. Placing the comb on the dresser nearest her, she took her leave.
Éowyn tilted her head looking at her brother.
Éomer took her hands in his drawing up her from the chair in which she sat. He looked pensive, “I’ve always tried to protect you. You are my only sister. My only family." He paused. "But Faramir is a good and honorable man and you could have no better.” Tears started to form in intense blues eyes. Éomer looked down and then up again, “But I will miss you.”
Tears started to gather in Éowyn’s eyes as well. “Oh Brother, I will miss you as well!”
“I had this made for you.” Éomer said and took a small wooden box out his leather pouch and handed it to Éowyn.
She opened it and nestled within velvet folds was a brooch in the shape of a golden rampant horse inlaid with diamonds on a field of emeralds, “Oh Éomer, this is beautiful!” she hugged him tightly.
“So, you don’t forget your brother,” said Éomer with gruff affection, while still hugging.
Éowyn pulled away, “As if I could or would ever want to.” She smiled through her tears, “And something tells me you won’t be alone for long."
Again Éomer looked down and looked up, "She is most beautiful." he affirmed. "Is she not? That I have found her is most amazing to me. That she has found her way into my heart so quickly is even more so."
Éowyn smiled at her brother's bemusement. "True, seeing past the scruffiness shows what a good judge of character she is." She gently needled him.
"Scruffy!" Éomer bristled playfully, "Fastred made sure I looked presentable!" he claimed defensively.
"Aye, true, true." Éowyn laughed, "It was your internal scruffiness I was referring to!" she quickly put a chair between them and said, "You are a bit of a bear sometimes!" She smiled impishly.
"And you my sister dear, are a harpy. Does Faramir know this yet?"
"Well," came a voice from the doorway, " he has had me in his life so I'm sure he is already immune to a certain amount of harpy-ness already!"
Lothíriel stood there smiling with Arwen; Dorthiriel and Eliariel were just behind with dresses and wedding bits and pieces.
Éomer immediately straightened from the chair he had been leaning over trying unsuccessfully loom over his sister and then nodded, "Ladies!" he said in that low, rumbling voice that made Lothíriel's knees turn to jelly. "I shall leave you to your "Fluffing." He left the room only having eyes for Lothíriel and almost walked into the doorjamb avoiding it at the last second. He bowed briefly and exited quickly.
Éowyn shook her head laughing. She said to Lothíriel, "I feel I must say in my brother's defense that he is not usually a physical disaster just waiting happen. He is actually quite agile and not at all clumsy. You just seem to bring that out in him!"
Lothíriel blushed, "We seem to have that effect on each other. And at least my father doesn't want to kill him so I am taking that as approval. My mother is happy that I am interested in somebody other than my horse." she chuckled.
Arwen said with a twinkle in her eye, "One wedding at a time." Lothíriel blushed again. "Right, we best get the bride and then ourselves ready!"
The wedding dress had as an underlayer, a simple light creme satin dress with form fitting long sleeves and a scooped neck but the overlay was quite simply the most beautiful thing Éowyn had ever seen. It fit loosely over the head and was cut in the same fashion as Arwen's violet dress and Lothíriel's teal coloured one. Form fitting sleeves to the elbow and trailing long bell sleeves lined in the same light creme satin. But the overlay itself was made of pearl and crystal set in a repeating shell pattern. It tied in the back to give it some shape. It sparkled when the fabric flowed in motion. Éowyn stood still as Arwen and Lothíriel draped it over her head and when she opened her eyes, she looked like she was wearing a dress made of tiny points of lights. She turned to Ganeth, the seamstress, who had just arrived with her headdress, "Ganeth, this is the most beautiful dress in the world! How can I ever thank you!"
The older lady demurred, "It was my pleasure, my lady. When I was a young seamstress I was apprenticed to the seamstress who clothed the Lord Faramir's mother. Ah, but she was a sweet young girl. 'Twas truly a shame that she died so young. So, I am honoured to be making the wedding dress for the one who is to marry her fine young son. Treat him well, my lady."
Éowyn eyes misted as she said, "I will, Ganeth, I will."
Ganeth blinked away a tear and then said, "Now for your hair! Sit please, My lady." she motioned at the straight backed chair near the table in the center of the room and she conferred with Waerith and Dorthriel as Waerith finished combing through Éowyn's hair with a wide-toothed ivory comb. All seemed to agree on free- flowing locks with a little bit of curl. Most of the top layer of hair was loosely pulled back and pinned. The delicate headdress, with an unadorned mithril band across the crown of her head with the mithril leaves and pearls falling off to the sides and joining in the back, was placed on her hair and gently secured. Éowyn's front locks were gently curled and white satin ribbons attached to the mithril band were loosely intertwined in the locks which lay on her shoulders. She wore the earrings that had belonged to Faramir’s mother and her ever present necklace that had belonged her mother. The last piece was the brooch that Éomer had just given her.
They all stepped back and Éowyn looked in the polished silver looking glass. She stared looking at her reflection, “Oh my.” She whispered. She gently swished the dress and a thousand luminescent pinpoints swirled with her. It was a gown that sparkled with every move. She felt like a being made of light.
“You look absolutely beautiful,” said Arwen.
Éowyn smiled, “And now everyone must get ready!
The Gondorian wedding ceremony had existed basically unchanged since the days of the first Ruling Stewards. The joining ceremony was guided by the eldest member of the groom’s family, which would have been Prince Imrahil, but as Faramir was Steward of Gondor and the newly named Prince of Ithilien, Imrahil himself suggested that Aragorn perform the role of Chief Celebrant in the uniting of his steward and the White Lady of Rohan, Sister to the King of the Mark. To which Aragorn humbling acceded.
A wedding amongst two families in Gondor was celebrated in any open space, a garden, a courtyard, some families even ventured into the hills outside the walls to hold the joining amid the winds of Manwë and then to feast with family and friends at home. When it was a joining of nobility and even more so royalty it was held on the prow of the ship on the seventh level.
Éomer stood inside the entrance to the King’s House awaiting his sister to walk with her in procession towards the steps of the Great Hall where the ceremony would take place. First came Arwen, a wreath of holly was set upon her raven hair and she was holding a small sprig of holly leaves and handed Éomer a similar sprig. The entire wedding party would carry these sprigs of holly leaves as a symbol of the past and the future joining together in the present. An acknowledgment of the past and a blessing of fertility and hope for the future. All would carry just a single sprig and they would be placed on the steps before the joining in sort of a communal blessing.
Lothíriel was next to appear wearing the teal dress she wore when they had shared their first kiss. Her hair was loosely turned up with soft wisps of hair escaping and framing her face. A wreath of holly and berries ringed her golden hair. At first, Éomer was speechless but then he managed to say, “Are you wearing shoes this time?” in his low rumbling voice.
Lothíriel had an impish grin and raised her dress to show she did indeed have on teal colored slippers, “I had a little more time to dress this time.”
Éomer’s booming laugh was cut short as he caught sight on Éowyn coming down the staircase. He was again speechless as he saw his sister shimmer and sparkle as she moved towards him. “Sister, you catch the lights and make them more brilliant.”
Éowyn coloured at her brother’s unexpectantly eloquent compliment, “Oh dear,” she said somewhat flummoxed, “I have stunned you into eloquence!”
Éomer laughed softly, “I still sometimes see you as you were, dirt stain across your nose and dragging your little doll everywhere hiding from Guthhild! But you are all grown up now and truly so beautiful. Faramir is a very, very fortunate man. Shall we go?” Éomer offered his elbow and Éowyn placed her hand in the crook of his arm and they stepped out into the bright late morning light to the cheers of people lined along the pavement of the Citadel courtyard. They followed Arwen and Lothíriel down the short walk to the footsteps of the Great Hall. Both sides were lined with citizens of Minas Tirith. They had cheered for Faramir as he walked to the same steps just minutes earlier. Éowyn had looked on from her window while she waited. She had heard the crowd cheer and she ran to the window to see. She saw Faramir and Beregond walk the short distance carrying their own sprigs of holly. Faramir looked so handsome wearing a small coronet, a white silken brocade surcoat with a wine coloured undertunic. He never looked more handsome.
“Come away, my lady! Tis time you are to make your appearance at the stairs!” Waerith had chided hurriedly. Éowyn cast one last look at Faramir’s retreating back and smiled, “See you soon, my love!” She turned to her beloved attendant, “I am ready, Waerith! Let us go forth!”
Waerith had tried to cover the fact that her eyes were filling with tears as she flustered and fluttered about, smoothing non-existent wrinkles on Éowyn’s dress, “Waerith!” Éowyn had to stop her hands from fluttering about, “Waerith!” she said again to the normally unflappable attendant that she had known for all of her life, as first her mother’s attendant and then hers.
“Oh, my lady,” the older lady began, “So sorry to be getting so onion-eyed. But I was just thinking that your lady mother would be so happy and proud this day, my lady!”
Éomer saw the far-away look in his sister’s eyes. He leaned in and whispered as they walked amid the cheers nudging her from her reverie, “What are you thinking?”
Éowyn smiled and with misty eyes she whispered into Éomer’s ear so she could be heard amid the cheers, “Something Waerith said about how happy and proud Mama would be this day.”
It was Éomer’s turn to be misty-eyed, “So true,” he whispered back, “And Papa, too.” He smiled, and kissed Éowyn on the forehead as they continued walking towards the steps.
The men waited in a line upon the bottom step. Aragorn stood on one side of Faramir and Beregond and Imrahil on the other. They all stood holding their sprigs of holly. First Faramir saw Éomer and then his eyes fell upon Éowyn. The sight took his breath away. She was wearing a dress that seemed to be made of tiny pinpoints of light. But it was the look in her eyes that lit his heart with joy. He saw a happy, contented soul, a far cry from when he first looked upon her in the Houses of Healing, where she mourned not dying in battle and then chafed under the restrictions of healing and rest placed upon her by the warden of the House. She looked upon him with the eyes of love, which he still had to resist the urge to look behind him to see who she was staring at.
Having approached the first step, Éowyn smiled at Éomer and then turned her gaze to Faramir in whose eyes she found abiding love and acceptance. Smiling, Faramir then stepped forward and waited for Éomer to present Éowyn’s hand to him. Éomer did so with a small bow and then joined in the line standing on the first step. On Aragorn’s raised hand as Chief Celebrant all turn to face the steps to the Great Hall. Aragorn began the ascent alone. Upon reaching the top step he faced a tall fluted silver vase containing a withered white branch on a small square glass table. The branch symbolized the white tree of Gondor, the hope of Gondor in the returning of the king. Two lit tapered candles in tall pillared candlestick holders stood on either side of the glass table. In front of the vase was an unlit round candle on its own small silver dish. He rounded the table and was now facing the gathered many. He bowed reverently and reached to remove the branch which he then handed to Eirik, Faramir’s squire, who carried it away respectfully and he held up his own sprig and then placed it the silver vase. It was a new dawn; The King had returned. He bowed again and motioned for each member of the wedding party to place their sprigs of holly into the vase, signifying the communal joy of both families in such a joining and that they were now to be considered as one family. Later these sprigs were to be bound together and hung over the entrance to the newlyweds’ bower in a blessing for the future and fertility.
Lastly Éowyn and Faramir were to ascend the steps together to speak their words of bonding to each other and before their families. Éowyn and Faramir ascended to steps hand in hand and then faced each other. Faramir spoke first, “Éowyn, daughter of Éomund,” he whispered in a voice choked with emotion, Éowyn smiled at him and suddenly Faramir’s nervousness went away, “my love, my heart. You have come to me as if in a dream to fill my heart that had stood alone, with light and love and acceptance. I stand here in the light of day and know that I love you and that you are my life.”
Éowyn gazed into the gentle eyes of this good man, then said, “Faramir, Son of Denethor. You have saved me. You rescued me from a world of regret and sorrow and duty with gentleness, patience and above all with the love in your heart and shown me a world where my heart is free and happy. I see hope in the world because of you. I love you and you are my life.” And together they placed their sprigs of holly in the tall silver vase amid with the ones placed there by their families. Then Éowyn reached for the candle on her side of the vase and Faramir reached for the candle on his side of the vase and together lit the flame of the candle sitting on the silver dish, then returning the candles to their holders.
Aragorn watched the simple ceremony with his heart overflowing in joy for these two good people. He spoke in a voice filled with emotion and yet strong enough to ring out far into the watching crowd, “These two, Faramir, son of Denethor and Éowyn, daughter of Éomund have avowed their love for each other.” Eirik stepped forward with an ear-to-ear smile, holding the rings that Éowyn had commissioned upon a white satin cushion. “Let these rings symbolize this love and the joining of these two hearts.” When Faramir looked down at the cushion he noticed immediately that the rings were made from stones from Éowyn’s mother’s treasured bracelet. He looked at Éowyn, who smiled at him, and he thought of a certain conversation they had had before they set off from Edoras.
Faramir picked up the lady’s ring and noticed it had the tree and silver stars carved into it, “This is beautiful and so are you…” he whispered. Éowyn coloured slightly. In a strong, clear voice he said, “By the lighting of the candle and with this ring, we are one.” as he placed it on Éowyn’s third finger.
Éowyn took the man’s ring from the pillow held by Eirik and whispered, “I love you.” In a strong, clear voice she continued, “By the lighting of the candle and with this ring, we are one,” as she slipped the ring onto Faramir’s third finger.
Aragorn then called out to gathered family, friends and citizenry, “These two, Faramir and Éowyn, are joined in their hearts and in life forever. Witnessed by all and by Manwë of the Winds, Yavanna of all that grows and the night stars of Varda. May the Valar forever bless them!”
Faramir looked upon Éowyn, and however undeserving he felt of her love, he knew he would spend his life trying to be worthy of it. Their lips met and he felt her love in his heart. It would be enough.
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