“Wish me joy, my leige-lord and healer!”
“I have wished thee joy ever since I first saw thee. It heals my heart to see thee now in bliss.”
The exchange between his betrothed and his king pounded like a drum in Faramir’s head. He quietly excused himself from the celebrations, unfeeling unable to handle the friendly chatter of old friends that buzzed around the Golden Hall. He needed air; he needed a momemt alone with his thoughts.
A chill breeze whipped his hair into his face as he sank onto a stone bench, fingering the ring given to him by his betrothed. It was in the design of traditional Rohirrim jewellery: a silver band covered with ornate swirls, with a minute ruby in the centre, glowing slightly from the moonlight. The ring was beautiful; yet he felt that it was wholly undeserved. Eowyn should be marrying the man she loved, not some poor second choice.
Faramir knew all too well that Eowyn had once been – and clearly still was – utterly besotted by the former Dunedain Chieftain and present King of Gondor and Arnor: Aragorn Elessar Telecontar. But the man was beyond her reach, bound in marriage for the rest of his life to the beautiful Elven Queen Arwen Evenstar. This should be a comfort to him, but Faramir realised all too well that the more unattainable something became, the more it would be longed for.
For a moment, he considered marching back into the Hall and breaking the bond that had been undertaken earlier that evening. How could he truly love someone whose heart was given to another long ago? It was impossible. But, for reasons he knew were entirely selfish, Faramir could not bring himself to do such a thing to Eowyn. It was, after all, through her friendship that he had found healing and security in the days following his Father’s suicide. When violent nightmares plagued him, it was the Lady of Rohan herself who had sat by his bedside, holding his hand and singing to him as he drifted into the throes of slumber. When he had awoken, covered in sweat and screaming, it was Eowyn’s shoulder that his tears fell upon. He needed her.
But did she need him?
“Correct me if I am mistaken,” A familiar, ethereal voice slipped out of the darkness as Queen Arwen Evenstar appeared from behind a pillar, “But is it not discourteous to leave a party that is being thrown in the honour of you and your lady?”
Faramir was on his feet in an instant, bowing clumsily. “My lady, ” he said reverently.
“Faramir,” she said, concern evident in her voice. “Is something wrong?”
He sighed, needing to confide in someone. “Alas, I fear that celebration could not be farther from my mind at this moment, my queen.” He sank back onto the bench, as a heavy sigh escaped his lips. “Perhaps I do not have something to celebrate after all.”
Arwen seated herself beside her, her dark locks saying gently in the breeze. “Can I assume that you are referring to the exchange between the Lady Eowyn and my husband?”
He nodded. “That is correct, Your Highness.”
“Faramir,” she said suddenly, “Do you not find it strange how you can confide in me so easily, yet cannot call me by my name?” A smile crossed her lips. “Please, just Arwen. I mean you no offence, but I find titles like that most irritating.”
“As you wish,” he replied. “Arwen.”
The two sat in the awkward silence of new friends for several moments, each lost in their own thoughts. Faramir tapped his foot against the ground, a nervous habit since childhood. Part of him wanted to race back to the Golden Hall, expecting to see Eowyn in the arms of Aragorn, dancing to the music and kissing softly…
He gave himself a mental slap. Paranoia would not rectify the situation, only add to the mounting agony and tension in his heart.
“Do you ever wonder if anything truly happened between your husband and my lady?” The question had escaped his lips before he even considered Arwen’s reaction. Her blue eyes bore into him as she considered her answer.
“I suppose,” she began quietly, “That I must have considered it at some point. But I dismissed it. My trust in his fidelity is unwavering. Estel would never betray me. After all, he has much more to lose than he would gain.”
“Well, his life, for starters,” Arwen said, smoothing a crease from her dress. “If my brother of Ada ever got hold of him, they would be merciless. Elladan especially once threatened to flay anyone, be he man, elf or dwarf, who even looked at me the wrong way.”
“Your brother sounds much like my own,” Faramir replied forlornly as he gazed at the stars. “Boromir always defended me against anyone – there was only one whom he was unable to fight. Our father.” He turned towards the Elven Queen, needing to change the topis of conversation. “Do you believe that the love Eowyn professes to hold for me is true?”
“When I saw her look at Aragorn, I saw only faint remnants of a brief but potent infatuation. But,” her eyes met his, “When I see her look at you, there is nothing but adoration in her eyes. Faramir, you can doubt it until the end of Arda, but Eowyn’s love for you is greater than you could possibly realise. And Faramir, be very careful. You know as well as I that Eowyn is not a woman you can be subdued or chained. Do not allow your jealously to drive her away.”
He paused for a moment, absorbing the truth of Arwen’s words – he had been overreacting and harbouring an immature possessiveness of Eowyn. “I believe that you are correct in that assertion,” he eventually replied, standing. “And I also believe that it is time I returned to the celebrations.”
“All right then,” Arwen said, remaining seated. “Good night, Faramir.”
“Good night to you too, Arwen.” With that, the young Steward of Gondor turned and hurried up the stone steps, only to find a figure waiting there for him.
“There you are, Faramir!” Eowyn said, smiling as she felt his arms around her waist. He lowered his lips to hers for a brief, gentle kiss. “I was wondering where you were hiding!”
“Nay, beloved, I hide not from you,” Faramir replied. “Now come. let us return to the celebrations, lest your brother become suspicious.”
Laughing, the two slipped into the Golden Hall, arm in arm. Aragorn passed them smiling. “Has anyone seen my wife?” He asked.
Faramir nodded. “She should still be the garden.”
“Thank you, friend.” With that, the Gondorian King raced down the stairs and into the darkness, the sound of his boots slamming against the granite echoing into the night.
Arwen turned, sensing her husband’s arrival. “It took you long enough to find me,” she commented, before he pressed his mouth to hers in a passionate kiss. “Now, I appear to be lost. Tell me, in which direction is our bedchamber?”