A Mud Summer Night's Dream-Epilogue
At this time, however, Faramir was perfectly content to soak in his hot bath and quietly converse with his wife.
It had been just that afternoon that he had finally been released from the Houses of Healing, after spending five days under the watchful care of Aragorn and the healers. It had taken some time and skill to discover the best way to counter the lingering effects of the poison; the athelas had lessened the fever and weakness, but the taint of the Orc's blade had remained. At length, the best course of treatment had been determined, and after the ingesting of much medicine and a great deal of sound sleep, it was at last declared that Faramir could return to his chambers and his wife to complete his recovery.
He sighed to himself, sliding down a little into the ornate copper bathtub, the steam rising around him. It felt terribly good to be in their own rooms once more, with Eowyn by his side, no longer merely a wishful dream. He still felt sore and somewhat weak, and he knew he remained a bit pale and that the dark circles under his eyes would take more rest and several hearty meals to fade entirely. Yet none of that mattered tonight. They had accomplished their task and come back safely, and now he was home, with the woman he loved, and in possession of some truly extraordinary memories.
While he soaked, Eowyn sat behind him on a stool at the head of the tub, clad in a plain dress, her hair loosely done up and now falling in tendrils around her face from the humidity of the bathing chamber. Her face was wreathed in an expression of concentration as she worked to massage some of the tenseness from Faramir's shoulders. Upon a small table at her elbow sat a few vials of oil and a cloth, and she alternated between pouring some of the scented oil into her palms and carefully kneading it into Faramir's skin.
"Try not to slide too far down," she advised with a smile. "I've barely made any progress at all just yet. It must have been an arduous adventure indeed, to knot you up so much."
He sat up a bit straighter. "My apologies," he offered. "If it means remaining beneath your talented touch, I promise I shall move not another inch." He relaxed against the back of the tub, draping his arms along the sides and closing his eyes. "They've taught you this art well at the Houses, it feels wonderful!"
"Hmm," she murmured, sliding her slickened hands back and forth between his neck and shoulders, gently but firmly pressing her fingers into his flesh. "I had hoped you would find it soothing. When Eomer told me what happened during your journey, I decided you had at least earned a nice soothing bath."
Faramir sighed. "Perhaps it will give me the strength to remember everything that happened so I can arrange it in proper order for the Council. They will find it all somewhat fantastic, I'm sure."
Eowyn was concentrating on the muscles at the base of Faramir's neck, working around his long damp curls. "Well, I did as you asked, and had Eomer write down all he could," she said, before sitting back and pouring more of the scented oil into her palms. "Between his notes, and Aragorn's report, I'm certain they'll find it satisfactory, if most unusual."
"Yes," Faramir murmured as she resumed massaging his neck. He had leaned forward a little to make her task easier, his eyes open now. As he sat, his eyes fell on his dressing table in the adjoining bedchamber, and on the small leaf-shaped pin that lay there, quietly glowing in the gentle gloom.
"It all still seems like a dream," he said softly, not moving, his eyes fixed on the brooch. "Had I ever imagined I would meet Boromir again, I would have thought myself mad."
Eowyn had slowed her kneading motion as the massage drew to its close. "I do wish he might have come here, just for a time, " she said with a sigh. "I would have liked to have spoken to him, and it would have done his heart such good to see his city at peace and thriving once more."
Her right hand had been sliding along Faramir's shoulder; now Faramir reached up and gently grasped it, holding it as his expression softened, his gaze still on the ghostly pin. "I believe somehow he has seen it," he said in a hushed tone, as Eowyn slid her hand more firmly into his, her other hand caressing his shoulder. "And as dearly as he wanted to come home, and greet you as my wife, he knew it was best that he return to the realm of the Dead."
Faramir fell silent, his expression somber. After a moment, Eowyn leaned forward, wrapping her free arm around her husband's bare chest and holding him close.
"I am sorry, my love," she whispered. "You have had to bear losing him twice."
He said nothing for a moment, then slowly shook his head.
"I cannot call it a loss, now, precisely," he said quietly in reply. "We are parted, 'tis true, but if you could have seen him as I did, before he left me..." His voice faded, and he sighed. "Through all of our adult lives, I cannot recall ever seeing my brother truly at peace. There was far too much for him to bear, between the war, and Mordor, and Father. There were happy times, but he always carried those dark burdens at the back of his mind."
He nestled his head against the hollow of her neck. "But I have seen that he knows peace now, such that we can scarcely imagine. It will always pain me to be apart from him, but it is a gentle pain, for I know that he dwells in the everlasting light of Iluvatar. And it is not forever."
Faramir thought for a few moments more, then looked up at her and smiled a little, squeezing her hand.
She returned the expression. "That is a comforting thought indeed, my love," said Eowyn. "And I am grateful beyond words that you were both allowed to meet again, however briefly. Among other things, I will be most interested to see if what he told Eomer will soon be true."
Faramir gave her hand one more squeeze before releasing it and sitting up in the tub, at the same moment that his wife straightened and unwrapped her arms from around his chest. "About the baby?" he inquired, shifting his weight in the hot water with a small amount of splashing. "Well, Eomer should be back in Edoras by now, so if there is news, we will hear of it shortly. But Boromir was not specific; there is no telling when the child may arrive." He yawned. "We shall simply have to be patient and see."
Eowyn studied his drooping eyelids and smiled, reaching behind her for a white towel that lay nearby. "I believe it is time to end your bath for tonight," she observed, turning to him with towel in hand. "Your brother may not have worried about being precise, but the instructions the healers gave us were very detailed indeed."
Her husband groaned slightly, rubbed his face with his wet hands, then relented, allowing her to help him as he slowly climbed out of the hot water.
"This has certainly been a most extraordinary few weeks," mused Faramir as he carefully dried himself, with Eowyn's assistance. "Council meetings and paperwork are going to seem very dull after all this."
Eowyn sighed as she handed him his underclothes and long white linen nightshirt. "Alas, we should cherish it while it lasts," she said. "I'm sure the Orcs have not finished giving us trouble."
"That is too much the truth, my wife," replied Faramir in agreement as she helped drape the long nightshirt over his body. Once the garment had been smoothed into place, Faramir shook out his long damp hair, then put his arm around Eowyn and drew her close as they slowly walked to the bedchamber.
"Rest assured that I do intend to cherish it, every boring, tedious, peaceful moment," he continued as they moved along. "Tonight, I want for nothing. We have all returned safe to our homes; the Orcs are defeated and our goods reclaimed; my health is returning, thanks to you and our King; I am warm and, thank the Valar, dry; and I may anticipate a good restful night in our own bed, with you beside me."
They had reached the threshold of their bedchamber. Here, Faramir stepped away and took Eowyn's hands in his own, peering earnestly into her blue eyes.
"And," he continued with some firmness, "if any messenger from the King dares knock on our door, I have resolved *not* to answer it!"
Eowyn laughed a little. "I'm sure Aragorn would understand," she said, and kissed him. "Now get to your rest, before one of the healers comes by and scolds me for keeping you awake."
A small huff of a sigh escaped Faramir's lips as he climbed into the large, soft bed. "You'd think from their talk that I did not just spend practically a whole week abed," he muttered, settling himself beneath the feather-stuffed comforter.
"This won't be for long," Eowyn assured him as she kissed his brow. "Tomorrow you will be buried beneath the business of the realm once more, and wondering where the time for rest went. I'm going to help clear away the bath, and then I will be in."
His lip twitched. "I'll probably still be awake," he remarked. "I've slept so much the past few days, I'm not sure how I will fare tonight, even with the bath and your wonderful massage."
She straightened, put out the lamp on the table by the bed, and smiled. "Just close your eyes," she suggested. "It may not be as difficult as you imagine. I'll be back soon."
Faramir watched her silhouette move through the lit doorway leading into the bath chamber, then vanish as she pulled the door closed. With a sigh, he obeyed her and closed his eyes, hoping that he could still rest properly even after so many days when he had done little else.
In the next moment, it seemed, he opened his eyes to a room that was much darker. The night sky outside was speckled with many stars, signifying that some time had passed, and he realized that Eowyn was lying beside him, her head reclining on his shoulder, one arm wrapped loosely across his chest in an almost protective pose.
He blinked and stirred, not wanting to wake her but surprised at how quickly and soundly he had dropped off.
"I'm sorry," he heard his wife whisper, and turning his head he could see her regarding him, her eyes glittering in the gloom. "I tried not to wake you."
He shook his head and eased his arms around her. "It's no matter," he assured her. "I can hardly complain if it means I may see you upon awakening, and may go back to sleep with you in my arms." He gave her a soft kiss on her forehead. "I have missed you, my Lady."
"And I, you," she answered, kissing him back. "But I am sure you have guessed that already."
He smiled at her. "The possibility had crossed my mind."
"Good," she said, returning his smile and resting her head once more upon his chest. Silence fell in the room, and soon Faramir realized that his wife had drifted off.
Faramir held her in his arms as he began to slowly slip back into slumber. Soon he would resume his duties, and there would be more paperwork and Council meetings, and at some point there would likely be another threat to the safety of Gondor, and he would have to pick up the sword once more and leave Eowyn's side to secure their home, not knowing if he would return to her at the end.
But tonight...tonight, he was with her, and his heart swelled with gratitude that no matter what else, this had been given to them. He drank in the peace of the moment, willing its memory to his heart, to carry him through whatever lay ahead.
As he was thinking this, Eowyn stirred in his embrace, tossing slightly n her sleep. When she came back to rest, her face was to the sky, her golden hair falling away from her fair throat.
Faramir studied his sleeping wife for several long moments, marveling at her beauty and how he had been blessed with her. Them very carefully bending his head down a little so as not to wake her, he kissed Eowyn very gently, just below her ear on the soft skin of her neck.
As he had hoped, she did not come to awareness, but in the dim moonlight he did see her smile in her sleep.
Smiling himself, and saying a silent word of thanks to his brother in his heart, Faramir held Eowyn closely, resolving to practice that kiss upon her when she was awake at the next possible opportunity.
With this pleasant thought in mind, Faramir fell into a sound slumber, to dreams full of love, peace, happiness, and not one single speck of mud.
Thanks for reading!! Comments always welcomed and appreciated!
Thanks to de_lurker for her idea about giving Faramir an oil massage. He really liked that suggestion!