Days have passed since the funeral and Éowyn has not stirred from Emyn Arnen, so Éomer now comes to her. Since the day he thought her dead on the Pelennor fields, he has come to realize how much he truly loves her - and seeing her now, silent, pale, and grave as in the dark times, his heart is sore within him.
For Éowyn's part, she hears his voice as he speaks though she does not hear the words; his was the voice that called to her and helped draw her from the Shadow. There is warmth in his voice when he speaks to her, and she knows she can trust him.
'What of the war?' she asks, cutting him off in mid-sentence though she does not realize it.
He scowls, as though unhappy with her question. She persists and this time he answers. 'It is not finished - their retreat is only temporary. They are well within their own borders and they are regrouping, Aragorn knows, but we will be ready for them when they come.'
'I see,' she answers, her voice strangely toneless.
Éomer glances at her sharply, worry in his eyes.
'Do you stay with us much longer?'
He shrugs. 'While life is peaceful in Rohan and I am able to aid my friend, I will stay.'
She looks at him; subtlety is not his strong suit. 'You stay for more than this,' she says, abrupt. 'You stay for me.'
He grimaces. 'Yes,' he replies bluntly.
'Éomer.' His grimace changes to a frown. He stops walking and places a hand on his shoulder, his clear bright eyes seeking her own. 'Always I have tried to look out for you and that will never change, say what you will.'
'Lothíriel will be wishing you home.'
'Lothíriel will understand - she knew it might be some time before I returned.'
She recognizes the tone of his voice, his stance; he is a stubborn man and he will not let it lie. She knows not whether to be angry or grateful - she knows only that she wishes to be alone. Shaking off his hand and gaze she begins to walk again, her bare feet making no sound as she treads over grass and earth.
'There is something else,' Éomer calls to her, sounding frustrated.
She keeps walking; part of her acknowledges that she being difficult, while the other half simply does not care and does not wish to hear.
There are hurried steps behind her and in a moment her brother stands before her once more. This time he puts both hands on her shoulders. 'Éowyn, listen to me!' he growls.
She stares into his eyes - eyes so like her own - and remembers a time not long ago when a pair of grey eyes were turned on her in much the same manner. She shudders slightly and feels Éomer's hands tighten.
'Éowyn?' His voice is gentle.
She shakes her head. 'What is it you have to say?'
He studies her only a moment before plunging ahead. 'What will you do now?'
Éowyn glances at him sharply but he continues without waiting for an answer. 'You could return to Edoras -'
Startled, she stiffens and does not hear the words that follow. 'You could return to Edoras…' Return to Rohan? She folds her arms and rubs her cold hands over them. Leave - this place? she thinks, gazing around the manor garden. Leave? Something in her chest constricts at the very idea. Suddenly she realizes that Éomer is waiting expectantly, wanting an answer now; he was never very patient. Her arms tighten around herself. No. 'Let me think on it,' she says.~
She knows that Éomer will not wait long before he asks again - and he will not be pleased with her answer. He will not let the matter lie - he is stubborn, that way - but she cannot answer what he wishes. She cannot say what he wants to hear.
She stops her weeding and sits back on her heels, gazing about her at the autumnal flowers and shrubs, and the small apple tree she and Faramir had planted when they first came to Emyn Arnen. Leave this place? Slowly she shakes her head, breath catching in her throat. No Éomer, you do not understand. How can she leave a place where his memory is tied to everything?
Abruptly she bites down on her lip, hands clenching tightly in her lap.
…a place where his memory is tied to everything…
Shuddering, she covers her face with her earth-stained hands, trying to breathe, only breathe - it is the only way she can go on.
Overhead the clouds part and it begins to rain.~*~
Éowyn stopped in her tracks and tilted her head, listening as he rain began to fall; softly at first, then with greater force, drumming on the manor roof and the stone floor of the courtyard.
Moving to stand at a window, she thrust her hand outside to feel the water on her skin. This rain was unlike any in Rohan: it felt warm and the summer air clung to her gently, like a second skin.
Withdrawing her hand, she wiped it dry on her skirt and continued on her way. Down the stairs, through the hall, past an open doorway -
She came to an abrupt stop, glanced over her shoulder, then retraced her steps and went to stand in the doorframe, looking out into the garden. 'Faramir?'
Her husband stood out in the garden, in the rain, his face turned to the sky. His raven hair was plastered to his head and water ran in rivulets down his face; his clothing was soaked through. At the sound of his name being called he looked in her direction, shaking the water from his face. 'Éowyn,' he said, smiling.
Éowyn crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow curiously. 'What are you doing?' she asked.
The smile changed to a grin as he blinked the rain from his grey eyes. 'I should think it was perfectly obvious - I am getting wet.'
Her lips twitched and she chuckled softly. 'So I see.' She said nothing else, only waited, knowing there was more.
Faramir remained silent for a moment and he began to walk towards her, face suddenly thoughtful. 'Boromir and I,' he said at last, 'would often go out when it rained, especially in the summer. It was a way to cool off - and time to be together without - without father always looking over our shoulders.' His voice trailed off and his expression turned wistful.
Éowyn bit her lip. There was nothing she could say, she knew, that would ease his pain…and she felt slightly awkward, having intruded on his memory.
As if sensing her thoughts Faramir smiled at her, full of warmth. Then he held out his hand and nodded his head at the garden. 'Come with me,' he said.
She stared out at the pouring rain, then at the drenched figure of her husband standing in the doorway. Her lips twitched again and she burst into merry laughter. Still laughing, she took his hand and followed him out into the rain.~*~
The rain falls - cold, for it is autumn - running down her face, soaking her dress and hair. Her shuddering begins to subside and she rises slowly from her place by the flowerbed. She turns and starts to walk back to the manor, blinking the rainwater from her eyes. At the door, she hesitates and looks over her shoulder at the garden, seeing the apple tree, water trickling from the tip of each golden-red leaf; she and Faramir had planted it that day, in the rain.
Her eyes close and her fingers grip the cool brass doorhandle. She opens the door and steps inside, leaving the garden behind.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.