Eowyn was standing at her favourite, although rather dangerous, spot on the point of the Citadel, when suddenly a sweet, husky, melodious voice said behind her, “Eowyn?”
Whirling round, Eowyn nearly toppled backwards when she saw who it was.
It was Queen Arwen Evenstar.
She was wearing a low-necked white silk gown, which swished and fell about her slender body in drapes and layers. She wore a simple Elvish silver crown upon her long dark hair, and the Evenstar pendant that Aragorn used to wear glimmered at her throat.
Eowyn choked, gasped at the sight of this lovely, but hated apparition standing before her. For this beautiful Elf had taken away one of the few things she had ever desired: Aragorn, son of Arathorn.
Arwen smiled radiantly, her sapphire eyes sparkling.” Lady Eowyn, elen sìla lùmmen
omentielvo.* I have looked forward to meeting you, since we got back from the journey seven days ago, but I never saw you around. I am glad to be talking to you at last.”
Eowyn had no idea what the Elvish words might mean, so she just nodded dumbly and tried not to think about much she hated Arwen. And how on earth was she supposed to talk to her, and stop herself from saying that she’d like nothing better to do than to kill her?
The Elf moved forward to stand at the point of the Citadel, where Eowyn had been standing only a few moments before. “I love to come here,” said Arwen dreamily. “I can’t explain it, I just feel so…free”
Eowyn was furious. This Elf, coming here to stand at her favourite place? Why, this was the only place in the huge city of Minas Tirith that Eowyn could feel like herself. And the last person on Middle-earth that she would have wanted here was Arwen, never mind that she was Queen of this city.
Arwen turned, and tucking a loose strand of hair behind her pointed ear said, “I was disappointed that you did not make the part-way journey with us seven days back. I understand that you were invited along.”
“I had other things to attend to,” said Eowyn coldly. She hated Arwen even more already. She would have preferred it if she was horrible, but here she was, being nice to her. “Your Highness” added Eowyn, a trifle scornfully. She did not really care what would happen to her if she were disrespectful; she did not much care about anything at the moment.
But Arwen merely laughed, the sound tinkling like crystal bells. “Come, Lady Eowyn!” she said. “Call me Arwen, please. For you are a princess too, are you not? And were you not I would ask you to call me by my name, anyway as equals.”
“I wouldn’t really call myself a princess,” said Eowyn icily.
“I would,” said Arwen firmly. ” And what does rank mean, anyway, when you compare it to joy, peace…love…the essences of life.”
“Fear, hatred, pain” replied Eowyn, rather nastily. She could not help it; naturally enough she was in a black mood and the sight of her worst enemy (although Arwen did not know it) standing in front of her was doing absolutely nothing to improve it. Besides, she got the impression that Arwen was living in a sort of dream world when she talked about the `essences of life’.
Arwen’s eyes grew misty. “Fear” she murmured. “Pain.”
“Pardon me,” said Eowyn suspiciously, “but what would a Queen like you know of these things?”
Arwen smiled sadly. “Do you not know? I am an Elf, and in order to love Aragorn, I must forsake my immortality and a future with my people out West. When he dies, there will be no comfort for me to ease the pain of his passing. I must linger on for many, many years in bleakness and in grief, until the long days of my life are utterly spent. Or so my father once told me” she added with a little bitter laugh.
“Oh” said Eowyn sadly. For if Aragorn loved this Elf who was prepared to sacrifice everything for him, how would he ever love Eowyn?
“I never see you at the feasts” continued Arwen. “Won’t you come tonight? There will be music and dancing.”
“I suppose I will” said Eowyn glumly. She was feeling resentful of Arwen, because she had a friendly, sweet disposition…and was Eowyn actually beginning to think she might…like her?
Of course, her hatred was still present, but it was no longer flaring, but more burning dully deep inside her. It was exhausting, somehow.
“I’ll see you tonight, then” said Arwen, and she walked gracefully away.
Eowyn sighed. What on earth had she gotten herself into?
She was still thinking the same thing at the feast. There was the strum of instruments, and the sound of merriness all around, but Eowyn was feeling left out and lonely.
The tables laid with food were set against the wall to make space for the dancing floor. Eowyn watched Aragorn whirling his beloved Arwen around, the Elf’s lavender beaded gown swishing as she danced gracefully.
Presently, when Aragorn had stopped dancing for a while, he approached Eowyn. Her eyes were wistful as she watched the dancers, and she looked lonely at the edge of the hall, but her chin was still held up defiantly. Aragorn admired and pitied her at the same time.
“Lady Eowyn” he said graciously, “may I have the pleasure of this dance?”
“Oh!” she said, looking startled, and a rosy flush climbed up her cheeks. She smiled shyly. “Well, if you don’t mind. Or if Arwen doesn’t” she added, a little too quickly.
Aragorn laughed. “Of course she won’t! She is quite worn out, let me assure you. Now come.” With a proffered arm he escorted her onto the dance floor, and they began to sway in time to the music of the minstrels.
Aragorn winked at Arwen over Eowyn’s shoulder. His wife was sitting at the edge of the Hall, and she smiled lovingly at him, as he laughed and whirled Eowyn around.
Eowyn herself was in bliss. Here she was, in the arms of the man she desired…
Wasn’t it? Didn’t she feel happy?
Pushing these troublesome thoughts away, she smiled at Aragorn as he finally let go of her, and she felt a little bubble of joy swell inside her, but it quickly burst when she saw Aragorn taking Arwen’s hand.
She jumped, and whirled round. “Faramir!”
He kissed her hand. “It’s not often we see you at the feasts.”
“Oh…well…” said Eowyn, “the Queen Arwen invited me.”
“And I am grateful for it” he said.
She danced with Faramir, then, and as her periwinkle dress whirled as Faramir turned her around, she felt quite a different sensation than when she had danced with the King. She felt peaceful, contented even…and there was a new feeling deep inside her that she had not the courage to explore yet.
Faramir bent her right backwards, and her long golden hair swished on the floor.
The minstrels struck up a faster tune, and suddenly Faramir was whirling her around and around, and she was passed from one pair of arms to the next, as were all the other ladies; all Eowyn could see was a vision of merry faces, and deep, rich velvets and flying colourful silks and glittering jewellery, and now she was in Aragorn’s arms, and within barely a second he had whirled her right into the next pair of waiting arms; Eowyn was dizzy, elated; everything was a blur as somehow, in the wild rhythm, her feet found the tune and steps; and she was surprised to find herself not tripping over as she was practically thrown around in the dance. She got a flash of Arwen’s face, and she was being whirled around in the same way all the females were, but quite obviously she was not being `shoved about’ quite as roughly as the others.
Then Eowyn caught a glimpse of Faramir’s handsome face, and she grabbed onto him tightly, giddy and exhilarated by the dance, but exhausted. Faramir seemed to be the only thing solid that she could cling to.
The minstrels struck up a different melody, and Faramir wrapped his arm around Eowyn’s waist, as did the other men with their partners, and he took her free hand and, more gently this time, began to dance.
“Did you enjoy that?” he inquired.
Eowyn was watching the other women turn gracefully in the dance, like beautiful coloured birds. “Oh, yes” she said, slightly breathlessly. “It was amazing. I never knew it could be so much fun!”
“Yes…” he murmured.
Eowyn looked at him. They were almost still in the middle of the room, only half-dancing, their feet moving instinctively from side to side. But Eowyn was oblivious to all the other dancers around them. All she could see was his light brown hair, his pale blue eyes, his tender expression…he was bending down to meet her face and she was responding, stretching up to him…
Suddenly, Aragorn was there, talking merrily, and he was unaware of Eowyn and Faramir drew apart like lightning. Arwen was clinging to Aragorn’s arm, her cheeks flushed, as the King and Queen talked to Eowyn and Faramir, not realizing that the pair was not responding.
“Eowyn?” said Aragorn, for she was pale.
She was unable to meet Faramir’s gaze. “It is late. I must go,” she muttered, and turning around, she fled from the Hall, trying not to think of Faramir’s face.
*a star shines on the hour of our meeting