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Ch. 18 - Amid Giggles and Gasps
The day had been joyous; it had filled Éowyn with more happiness than she thought possible, but after the wedding feast had ended she did admit to herself that she was tired. The family had retired from the Great Hall to their private apartments and she was sitting on a comfortable and overly stuffed settee sipping from a goblet of wine, grateful for this chance for a quiet moment of reflection. Intense emotion, either happy or sad, was exhausting. She looked at Faramir talking to her brother standing at the arm of the settee. Again, delight lit within her. She still had to remind herself that she was now his wife. Amazed happiness pervaded. She thought of her brother. Éomer truly let very few people close to him. He held most people at arms’ length. A great leader of men but few knew his heart. She surmised it was because of early tragedy in their lives, the loss of their parents, and the responsibility that had been thrust upon him at such an early age that caused him to keep his own counsel and rely on very few. She smiled. The fact that in the amidst of wedding week rush and madness her brother had found Lothíriel and somehow the slip of a girl full of life and fire had found, quite easily if truth be told, a way into his guarded heart. Éowyn mused that she and Arwen had prodded the relationship a little but what had happened, would have happened even if they had just stood by. It was clearly inevitable. The two would have found each other. Faramir looked down at her as Éomer went off in the direction of said girl of life and fire. He slid onto the settee, and just gazed at her, “did I ever tell you just how beautiful you looked today?”
Éowyn looked at him with a glint in her eye, “No.” she said playfully. Faramir’s reddish-blond eyebrows shot up feigning a shock expression, “Oh no? Well allow me to say, you are the most beautiful bride there has ever been.” He leaned over and kissed her, lingering a few seconds.
She smiled and then looked around the room, “Do you think anyone would notice if we left?” she asked a little nervously.
“Perhaps,” Faramir shrugged, “but I don’t think they will ‘say’ anything, even if they all will be thinking quite loudly,” He teased, his eyes sparkling mischievously.
Éowyn blushed. Faramir looked at her and smiled empathically, “Let’s slip away as quietly as we can.” What Éowyn did not know is that Faramir knew she was a little nervous and he had asked Arwen to let it be known that Éowyn wished to slip away tonight without fuss or fanfare.
They got up off the settee and meandered with purpose towards the archway that lead to the courtyard. Éowyn swore she could feel friendly eyes upon them, but as Faramir predicted no sound was made.
Éowyn felt the brisk late autumn wind cool her face as they left the King’s House. The night air felt refreshing after being inside for so long and amid so many, first at the banquet and then among family in the King’s apartments. Now it was just Faramir and her walking towards the Citadel. Her eye fell upon the newly planted White Tree with the four guards still standing attendant. She was drawn to the tree, struck by all that had happened within the last year, Faramir stood behind her with his arms wrapped around, warming her and shielding her from the cold. Literally and metaphorically she mused silently. “All that has happened,” she said aloud. “All that has changed. All that has been sacrificed. Do we have a right to be this happy?” she murmured with a little twinge of guilt.
Faramir had been kissing the top of her head, but when she said that, he stopped, paused and said thoughtfully, “I think how we proceed is important. We have a responsibility. We have to work to rebuild people’s lives, to help our people heal. So that the sacrifices that were made will be meaningful ones. I think we need to live our lives with purpose and meaning because then we honor their sacrifice by building a better world. Do we deserve to be happy? I never really thought I deserved happiness and then I met you and you showed me that maybe I did. So, if we live our lives with purpose, I think maybe we will earn this happiness.”
Éowyn turned in Faramir’s arms and unshed tears brimmed in her blue eyes and she looked into his, loving him so deeply for the man that he was. She kissed him long as the wind blew through the bare branches of the White Tree.
As they left the tree’s presence, one of the guard spoke, “Forgive me for the intrusion, my lord, my lady. But I speak for us all of the Tower Guard when I say we wish you all happiness and may the Valar bless your union.”
Faramir placed his hand on his heart and said, “Thank you, Harthedir. From my heart I thank you.” Harthedir smiled, nodded and returned to his vigil.
They entered the Citadel and headed up the staircase to the suites on the second level and Éowyn felt butterflies that were threatening to turn into fell beasts flying around her stomach. She did not know what to expect as they neared Faramir’s suite of rooms.
Éowyn stopped at the open door and stared through at it. She then placed one foot in front of the other and crossed the threshold. She looked around the suite and one could tell Faramir lived here. It was well appointed and yet comfortable and very neat. She looked off to one side and she saw things from her dressing table set up here. She walked over to the table and picked up her brush. Faramir said, “I had Waerith place some things of yours in here so it might seem a little more familiar. I hope you don’t mind.” He stopped and looked at Éowyn who had her eyes cast down. He paused, sighed softly and then gently lifted her chin. He saw a slight bit of panic, trepidation and even a little bit of anger. He smiled empathetically. “What is troubling you, my love?”
Éowyn pursed her lips and looked a little peeved. “I am just upset with myself for feeling this nervous! I mean I killed the Witch King! I have faced down many dangers and challenges. Why is this making me nervous? I don’t like feeling nervous. It is ridiculous.”
Faramir sighed again and smiled, “Well, those things are radically different from…tonight. It is generally not considered a danger or a challenge. Unless you are doing it wrong.” He ended, trying to make Éowyn laugh. Éowyn pursed her lips again and just looked at him. “I’m sorry, my love. I was only teasing, just trying to get you to laugh.”
Éowyn just looked at him, her worry growing. She disconsolately dropped on to the settee in the middle of the room, “It is just that--. It is just that--,” She paused then burst out with, “I have no idea. I have had no one to talk to. I just don’t know. I hate not knowing!!” She looked most put out.
Faramir pulled a straight back chair close to the settee and took hold of both of Éowyn’s hands in his to still their nervous motion and said gently, “We can learn together.”
Éowyn looked at him, saying a little desperately, “I had rather hoped that, well that you had, you had…” she looked away and shrugged lieu of finishing that sentence.
It was Faramir’s turn to color a little. It was a most bizarre conversation they were having but he soldiered on, “Ah, well, yes. I have.” He sighed again. Éowyn’s eyes took on a slightly tortured look. “Oh my love, I only meant we can learn each other together. But if you don’t want to tonight. We don’t have to… I don’t want you to do anything you are not comfortable with.” Faramir ended slowly.
Éowyn stated, “This is ridiculous! I most definitely…want to.” She said turning another level of pink, “I just have no idea how or what!” She ended in exasperation.
Faramir breathed a sigh of relief, “Good, I am glad…that you want to.” He looked down at Éowyn’s hands and started to gently caress them, “Let’s not think about anything other than being in each other’s company tonight.” He brought her hands up to his mouth and kissed them both. He then looked into her eyes and reached forward to smooth a stray tendril of hair escaping her headband and looking into her eyes. “How does that sound?”
Éowyn was mesmerized by the patience, kindness and gentleness she saw in his eyes. It was so much akin to when they first met in the Houses of Healing. She nodded still staring into his eyes, “Yes,” she whispered. He moved from the chair to the settee and Éowyn tried to lay her head on his shoulder, but her headdress kept getting in the way.
“All right,” Faramir said, “Clearly we have to take this off. Sit up!” Éowyn sat up straight and Faramir set to work. He first looked at it, inspecting it from all sides, “Hmmm,” and “Ahh” were heard in his surveying the lay of the land. Éowyn chipped in, “I am not quite sure how they did it, but I know many pins were used.”
“Yes….” Faramir acknowledged, thinking. He continued his surveying, “Well, let’s try this!” and he proceeded to pull the first pin. And then the second, then the third. After the fourth pin and fifth pins were removed Faramir remarked, “They REALLY did not want this falling off your head now they did?” At those words, an image of the pearl headdress hanging off one ear as the ceremony continued along popped into Éowyn’s mind and she started giggling. “Hold still!” Faramir said urgently, trying desperately hard not to catch the giggles as well, “I think I’ve almost got it!” He pulled the headdress and it started to move…unfortunately though, a previously unseen hairpin started to pull Éowyn’s hair as well.
“Ow!” Éowyn exclaimed as her hair was pulled along with the departing headdress.
Immediately Faramir stopped, concern written across his face, “Sorry! Are you okay, Éowyn. So Sorry!” He heard sobs. “Accursed thing, now I’ve made you cry!”
There were, indeed, sobs but upon closer inspection Faramir discovered they were not tears of pain or sadness, but of laughter. Éowyn was laughing so hard, tears were falling. Faramir started laughing as well but he valiantly fought the tenacious headpiece. “Wait, Wait, I think I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” he tugged a little and again Éowyn’s head jerked a little, “Sorry!” But he saw where the problem was. He reached ever so gently to disconnect one strand of hair from a bottom leaf and after that the headpiece pulled free. He held it up in triumph and shouted, “the dastardly headpiece is vanquished!”
Éowyn jumped up and kissed him in congratulations. The kiss grew longer and the forgotten headpiece dropped from Faramir’s hand and he combed his fingers through Éowyn’s now loosened and free flowing hair deepening the kiss. His other hand was trying to loosen the ties to the outer layer of her dress and not quite managing it. Éowyn broke the kiss briefly, looked into his eyes and said, “Let me.” She reached behind and pulled the bowstring. The pearlescent layer flowed, “It is freed,” she smiled into his eyes. Faramir reached down and pulled the overlay over her head and dropped it to the floor where it lay unheeded next to the headdress until morning. Next the silk dress amid giggles and gasps. “You are so beautiful…” were the last intelligible words uttered…
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