White Lady of Rohan - Chapter 21

It was as though winter had returned. The sky above Minas Tirith, which had been a high, brilliant blue in the days since the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, was suddenly dull and filled with steely grey clouds. The trees shivered in the strengthening north wind, and Eowyn folded her arms against the cold as she leaned on the wall of the sixth circle outside the Houses of Healing.

Her positive mood of recent days had blown away along with the good weather, and she narrowed her eyes against the wind as she gazed out eastwards. Smoke was rising from Orodruin - nothing to the belching brown murk that had preceded the battle, but an ever-present reminder of the threat of Sauron. The troops from Minas Tirith must have reached the Black Gate by now, she thought. It was frustrating, frightening - even galling - not to know what was happening, and whether it would soon all be over.

And what of this secret that Faramir had spoken of - the one that could prove the end of Sauron if all went well? How were they, so far away, to know if the battle was won or lost? She thought of her brother, her people and others she had met - Legolas, Gimli, even Aragorn - all gone to fight and all perhaps lying dead before the Black Gate, with no-one to tell the tale of their fate.

The strangest thing, Eowyn mused, was how easily she could now think of Aragorn without trembling. She did not love him... no, she did not. There had just been, perhaps, the dream of a hero and the hope of rescue.

With the clear thinking of a mind now freed from fears for Theoden - and for herself - she thought how foolish she had been. It was embarrassing to think of how she had behaved towards Aragorn - and because of him - and even worse to remember the look of concern mingled with pity in his eyes.

Eowyn sighed, and shivered as a freshening gust of wind blew against the side of her face. It was too cold for comfort. She turned to make her way back to the House and saw Faramir walking towards her, bearing a long fur-trimmed cloak for her over one arm. It was the deep blue colour of a summer's evening, and fastened at her throat with a silver clasp.

"It's beautiful," she said, nestling gratefully into its warm folds with a smile. "Thank you for thinking of me." He smiled gently and leaned against the wall at her side, content for the moment to stand in silence. She looked at him sidelong, and was glad to see that the dark smudges under his eyes had receded and he looked once again at peace with himself.

It was hard to imagine the agony of discovering the loss of his father - and in such a dreadful way - as well as struggling with a lifetime of Denethor's loveless disapproval. Not wishing to treat such feelings lightly, and unsure of how best to comfort Faramir once his first distress was over, Eowyn had not sought him out since their conversation two days ago in the King's House.

But she was glad that he had come to seek her. She had missed his company in this great city where she knew no-one except Meriadoc and the healers in the House - and she was not about to confide in Ioreth, however kind the older woman had been to her. Ioreth was a spreader of news, not a keeper. How very unlike her dear Haleth, whose life had been crammed with Eowyn's untold secrets in the years since her mother died. And now she waited patiently back in Dunharrow, not knowing if her mistress was alive or dead.

Eowyn was suddenly filled with an immense longing to see Haleth's gentle face again, and hear her laugh.

"What are you thinking of?" Faramir's question brought her back to the present with a jolt.

"Home," she said simply. "My lady-in-waiting - my friend - Haleth, her name is... I was thinking how much I miss her. The last she knows of me is a note I wrote to tell her I was riding into battle." She bit her lip. "She probably thinks I am dead... I wish I could tell her I am safe - for the present, anyway." She looked out again in the direction of Mordor.

"Out there lie all our hopes," said Faramir quietly, and shook his head. "The waiting gets harder with everything passing day. Do you not feel that?"

Eowyn nodded. "That was why I was standing out here," she confessed. "I was wishing I had eyes that could pierce the miles that lie in between, just to know - to not be in the dark about what has happened. Whatever has happened."

"Yet I have also wished, in a way, that these days would never end," Faramir responded softly, almost to himself.

"Why would you wish such a thing?" Eowyn asked, "Surely you would rather know what we face, for good or ill? I would prefer to know now that none of them are to return. Better that than to keep waiting and wondering."

"And who do you wait for, Eowyn?" Faramir asked. He turned his gaze upon her suddenly, his eyes oddly bright. "Do you hope for the safe return of all, or is there one whose safety is paramount?" He moved a little closer. "You know I do not speak of your brother."

She stared at him. How had he known of the feelings she had cherished for Aragorn? Had she been that easy to read? But he must know the truth - it was important that he know. She opened her mouth and shut it again, unsure how to begin.

"I did ... wish to be loved by someone," she said eventually, unwilling to say Aragorn's name. "I was so unhappy - I was trapped - and in him I saw the promise of... of... greatness. Of escape, of release... I don't know. It's so hard to explain." She looked imploringly at Faramir, willing him to understand, but he remained silent - though his eyes did not leave her face.

Eowyn lowered her head. "I misunderstood his feelings. All he had to give me was concern and ..." she swallowed, unable to say the word.

"He pitied you," said Faramir quietly. "And was that the greatest insult he could have offered?"

The words stung. Eowyn drew herself up proudly and looked squarely at him. "I want no man's pity," she said bluntly. "Not even yours."

Taking her face gently in his hands, Faramir stroked the length of her cheekbone with one finger. "Eowyn," he murmured. "It is not pity that I offer you. Don't you understand?"*

Dream crashed into reality with mind-cracking suddenness and Eowyn backed away from him, trembling and shaking her head numbly. She had heard those words before. But that wasn't possible.

Someone spoke to her, urgent and anxious, but she could not hear. A thousand voices were whirling in her mind, repeating over and over the words she had heard in her sleep, and showing her the speaker's face in her waking memory for the first time. And it was Faramir.

Eowyn turned at once and ran into the House.


* Those familiar with these stories might recognise this paragraph - it comes from the beginning of Chapter 7 (that's how long I have been planning this little revelatory moment!! )

Add New Comment

Latest Forum Posts

Join the Conversation!