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Ch. 19 – The Past Need Not be Prologue
Éowyn opened one eye and then the other. Early morning light filtered through and hit the wall opposite in the shape of the randomly opened slits of the winter curtains. She had awoken with her head on the white, soft linen pillow and Faramir’s arm thrown protectively over her. She lay there thinking about yesterday, about last night. She was overwhelmed with emotion. Overwhelmed by the fact that this was now to be her life. She thought about how tenderly Faramir had treated her when they first entered his suite of rooms. How he had thoughtfully had Waerith place some of her things in his suite so she would feel more comfortable. How he patiently handled her fears about…last night. She smiled. Last night had been…there were no words for it. She snuggled down and lay quietly waiting for sleep to come back to her.
Faramir had awoken. His arm was draped over Éowyn’s midsection and she had her back to him snuggled safely in his curved body. He gazed at the reddish gold of her hair as the sunlight from the slight opening of the curtain lit the beautiful interplay of colors. She was his. This beauty was his. He did not pretend to even know how, and he certainly was not going to ponder as to why the Valar sought to bless him with her. She was here. His heart was bursting with gratitude that she should love him. He thought of yesterday, bewildered by the joy of it. He thought of last night. She was so nervous. He could feel her panic. His only thought was to give her comfort, to show her patience and love in the same way he had finally won her heart when they were in the Houses of the Healing. He knew no other way. He kissed her bared shoulder, and whispered, “I love you. Thank you for loving me.”
Éowyn’s heart broke at the whispered avowal. She had never met someone so worthy of love and yet so convinced of the opposite, and it stunned her that he thought he should thank her? She turned and her heart broke anew. Faramir looked shocked that she was awake, and she saw a single tear tract on his cheek. “Did I awake you? I am sorry I did not mean to.” He looked a little ashamed and he continued to look at her, timidly searching for her reaction to what she apparently heard.
“I had awoken earlier, and I was lying here thinking. Do you want to know what I was thinking?” Faramir just stared, blinking. Éowyn smiled empathetically, “I was thinking that how happy I am and how wonderful it is that I am married to you. That I get to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Faramir looked at her and smiled incredulously. Sitting up in the early morning light before the day had begun, he had yet to construct his defenses to face the day. This beauty lay in his bed; she was seeing him with his walls down and she still seemed to love him. It was a revelation. He leaned over to kiss her almost to convince himself that she was really there. Their lips met, kindling morning fire...
Later that morning they were both awoken by Eirik trundling in with Faramir’s morning cup of mulled wine and breakfast for two, “Good morning, my lord AND,” He added cheekily, “my lady. Cook has sent breakfast; she was sure you would be wanting something hearty this morning.” He had a big smile on his face, “Where do you want me to put it, My Lord.”
Faramir just looked at his squire. He had several things he could have said to his cheeky squire, but he discarded them reluctantly. “Just put it all on the table near the balcony,” he said as he gave Eirik a pointed look.
Eirik’s smile grew larger as he said, “Yes, my lord!” in a chirpy and cheerful fashion. After setting the tray down on the table he came over nearer to the four-poster bed. “Will there be anything else, my lord?” Cheeky grin ever present.
“No! Thank you Eirik. That will be all.” Faramir stated trying to sound stern and only succeeded in sounding both resigned and amused at the same time. Eirik nodded with his hand on his heart and humming happily as he left the suite. “That boy. I need to teach him to show proper respect!” he lamented as he swung his legs over the side of the bed to get up.
“That boy worships the ground you walk on! And you would never do anything to hurt his feelings.” Éowyn stated as she stayed his progress by reaching over and hugging him from behind and placing her chin on his shoulder.
Faramir sighed. Éowyn was right. He would never do anything to hurt Eirik’s feelings. Maybe that made him soft but he had known harshness and refused visit that treatment upon one he cared for. And he did care for Eirik. He was genuinely a good lad and a very good squire even for all his cheekiness. He watched as Éowyn scooted herself off the bed and pick up her velvet robe that had been placed on the dressing rack by Waerith when she had made the room ready for her ladyship yesterday. She was so beautiful from head to toe. He was enjoying the view immensely and sighed when she wrapped herself up in the velvet robe and walked over to the table where Eirik had laid out the breakfast. He watched as she casually picked up a piece of toast and slathered it with the thick strawberry jam that Eirik knew that he loved so much. She looked back at him and saw his intense stare and rapidly blushed at his enrapt scrutiny, “What?” she said, suddenly self-conscious.
Faramir got out of bed and quickly wrapped himself in his robe to ward off the chill of the morning and strode towards his wife. “Nothing, can’t a husband admire his beautiful wife,” he said folding her in his arms, handful of toast and jam included. In fact, just as Éowyn raised her hand to her mouth he stole it and proceeded to take a bite.
Éowyn immediately cried, “Thief! Hugging your wife as a pretext to stealing her toast! Shame on you!”
Faramir grin unrepentantly, “It looked good enough to eat and so do you!” and at that he kissed her, which lead another kiss and another.
Sometime later they were sitting at the table finally eating breakfast. Éowyn looked at Faramir, “I was just wondering something.”
“What’s that?” Faramir was finishing the last of his mulled wine, somewhat cooler than he liked, but there had been distractions earlier that had the unfortunate consequences of allowing his mulled wine to cool down.
“Why did you excuse yourself early on during the Wedding Banquet?”.”
“Ah that,” Faramir looked a little uncomfortable.
“Yes, that.” Éowyn said looking even more curious.
Faramir sighed and paused and then began to speak, “I was questioning Sarthmir about why he was disciplining the serving maid who had been serving at table.” Éowyn’s brow furrowed, not quite understanding why the intervention had been necessary. Faramir saw that more explanation was necessary and he was unsure about how much he could talk about his feelings with Éowyn. He had only ever spoken about such things with Boromir. Only with him he knew no judgment would come; no questioning of his motives or his “too soft” heart that his father disparaged him for on an almost daily basis while Faramir had remained under his roof before the posting to Ithilien, which had come as a blessing and relief to both he and his father. “I did not like what he was saying.” Faramir said a more guarded tone than he would have liked to have used, but the habits of a lifetime were hard to change. He wanted to be more open with Éowyn but he did not know if he could.
Éowyn looked at Faramir. A change had come over him. His voice guarded. His words clipped. He even held his body in a more tense and constrained fashion. Something inside her, some intuition told her to tread carefully.
“What was wrong with what he was saying?” she asked gently.
Faramir looked at her with inexplicably wounded and guarded eyes…
Minas Tirith, 2991 TA
It had been a lovely three weeks. Prince Imrahil and Princess Neneth, Faramir’s uncle and aunt had come to stay and visit with Faramir and Boromir. Ostensibly the reason for the visit was a council meeting to be held by his father, Denethor. He had requested the Prince of Dol Amroth attend, but his uncle told Boromir and him that he decided to make it a family trip because he had not seen his nephews in far too long. So it was that his cousins and his aunt had been including as a part of the traveling party.
Faramir reveled in the attention paid to him by his uncle, aunt and cousins. He had been able to show off his ability to shoot his bow, which his master trainer, Dorthion, said he showed great aptitude for even though he was only eight. His aunt and uncle got to watch him shoot and ride his horse and he and his cousin, Elphir sparred with their practice swords. His aunt and uncle cheered at each pass, each hit. All the things that his father said he did not have time for because he was very business and could not find the time. Faramir believed that was true because he made time for Boromir and therefore did not have time for him as well. But these last few weeks he reveled in the attention that his aunt and uncle gave him because they did not have any duties in Minas Tirith as they were only visiting and so they did have time for him.
But now it was time for them to be leaving. Everything had been packed upon the horse carts and the final goodbyes were being said. Faramir was standing looking at the proceedings with a doleful look upon his young face. Prince Imrahil hugged Boromir good-bye and then looked down and saw the sad look upon his eight-year old nephew’s face and his heart went out to him. Not just because he so reminded him of his beloved sister, Finduílas but also because he was such a dear little child, so talkative and inquisitive. Imrahil looked up and saw that Denethor was at the top of steps coming to bid them good-bye. He sighed and crouched down to his nephew, “Cheer up, my lad. Remember in the summer we can arrange for you and Boromir to come and visit us in Dol Amroth? Would you like to see the sea?”
Faramir’s face broke out in a sunny smile, “Yes, please. Uncle! I would really like that!”
“Well then, it is settled. We will arrange a time and you both shall visit us by the sea!” Faramir threw his arms around his uncle and his uncle whispered in his ear, “We all love you, Faramir. Always remember that!”
And when he set him down again Faramir said in a voice unintended to carry far, “I love you, too. Uncle.”
Denethor had been descending the steps when he saw Imrahil hugging Faramir, who was smiling and he overheard the little boy’s avowal of love for his uncle. He felt a sharp stab in his heart and the show of affection upset him more than he would admit to. His next words were harsher than he had intended, “My Lord Prince! Is it not time you were leaving!” The effect was immediate.
Imrahil stood up and his back was ramrod straight. “Forgive us. We have tarried overly long. Beg pardon. We shall depart post haste.” He looked down his nephew, who was no longer smiling, and a fretful crinkle of the child’s brow indicated his worry that he had somehow yet again displeased his father. He smiled and Faramir looked at him with big blue eyes, not wanting to further incur his father’s anger. Imrahil ruefully mounted his horse and turned toward the archway leading to the sixth level.
“Faramir!” Denethor forcibly whispered as he waved farewell to Finduílas’ brother, “Just what kind of emotional spectacle was that! We of the House of Mardil are to maintain a proper sense of decorum at all times. Disgraceful.” He ended with opprobrium. He looked down when he did not receive a reply. He heard a sniffle and a very small voice that said, “I’m sorry, father, that I embarrassed you!” another sniffle and a surreptitious wiping of his eyes with his sleeve. “May I be excused?” he said quietly.
“Yes, you may.” As a subdued eight-year-old climbed the steps, Boromir just looked at his father. Words were left unspoken, but his opinion was clear as he departed to catch up with his dejected little brother. Denethor closed his eyes and briefly allowed shame to flow through his spirit for a few moments before yet again allowing his mask of arrogance and indifference to slip back into place.
Faramir got up quickly and walked to the balcony placing both hands on the bannister to overlook the city. Why, she asked. Why, indeed. How could he tell her that when he heard Sarthmir forcibly whispering to the serving maid it took him back to all the times Denethor publicly dressed him down for perceived transgressions. Hearing the maid’s tearful responses had just ripped his heart out. He stood remembering it all when he felt two arms circling him from the back. The scent of lavender and rose mixed with Éowyn’s own essence permeated his senses. He felt her face pressed against his back. He willed his spirit to ease. He would not allow his past to colour his future. He heard, “I love you.”
Éowyn stood and simply held her husband. She had no idea why her question had elicited such a pained and emotional reaction. She did not know if she would ever know. But she knew with every strand in her soul that not only did Faramir have a boundless ability to love but that he had been hurt by much in his life and he needed comfort and approval at that moment. She felt him turn in her arms and look at her with such wonder and at the same time such hunger and such caution in his eyes. She kissed him with the ferocious need to assuage his pain. She would be his life.
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