2006 Birthday Drabbles
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Ang's 2006 Birthday Drabbles: 2. In The House of Grief
A mega-drabble from Raksha:
The Prince of Dol Amroth lies in state, attended by two Kings, emissaries from Umbar and Harad, and lords from all over Gondor. His own close kin cluster around the bier, looking at the beloved form, now stilled forever, of Imrahil son of Adrahil. They will bury him on the morrow. And yet it is too soon to say goodbye.
Faramir watches his cousin Lothíriel cling tight to the hand of her son Elfwine, whose fair and earnest face is, of all the Dol Amroth line, closest in likeness to the dead Prince. That likeness should comfort them, Faramir muses, but it seems strange, to see Imrahil's face beneath the braids of an Eorling prince, who wears the garb of Rohan instead of the blue and silver of Dol Amroth. They all feel orphaned this day, Imrahil's sons and daughter and grand-children and his sister-son. Elphir is a worthy man, who will make a fine Prince, but no one, least of all Elphir himself, is quite ready for him to take his father's place.
Imrahil's sister-son suppresses a sigh and bids the others a good night. He feels the sting of unshed tears, and does not want to let them come, not there, in front of Lothíriel, who trembles like a tree battered by a winter wind. He knows she is struggling to contain her own grief, and he would not make a show of his own sorrow. Slowly, Faramir mounts the long marble stairs and walks to the room that has been his ever since he could remember, when he came to this keep that was his mother's home.
Will he come back again, Faramir wonders as he makes his way onto the balcony. For the first time in his life, he feels old. Without Imrahil, can the keep of Dol Amroth still be a haven, still welcome him as a kinsman? Is his uncle with his mother now, far beyond the Circles of the World? Faramir can almost hear his mother's voice, for once she had walked through these sunny rooms that held the tang of the sea. How much had it pained her, to leave the sea she loved and to make her home so far away?
He hears the door open and shut. Éowyn comes to him, her step heavier than is her wont, and her fair face pale and sad. The breeze from the sea below the cliffs wafts up with sudden strength, furling her cloak. For a moment, time slips, and he is seeing the beautiful young Shieldmaiden standing by the walls of the White City, resplendent in his mother's blue mantle that he had placed on her shoulders.
He holds out his hand, and she takes it. "Tell me, Éowyn," he asks, feeling the tears pressing behind the eyes, burning to be shed, grief quivering and coiling in his heart. "It has been so long since you left the Golden Hall to live in a land strange to you. Have you been happy in Emyn Arnen, so far from the plains and grasslands of the Mark?"
Éowyn looks long and hard at him, her eyes widening, studying him. She is not a woman to examine her own feelings at great length, he knows from long experience. But she understands him well enough.
Her face softens, the corners of her mouth wrinkling slightly as she smiles. Then she brings his hand to her face and kisses his fingers. "You need to ask?
"Yes, I think I do."
"Whither thou goest, I will go" Éowyn says, and lifts her hands to frame his face. "Where thou restest, so shall I too lodge." The tenderness in her voice almost takes his breath away, to hear it in this place, now leached of love with Imrahil's passing.
Faramir pulls her close against him, holding her fiercely, needing and wanting and loving all at once.
"Your people are mine now, min leof," Eowyn declares proudly. "I was born of the Mark, and shall always love it, but I chose Gondor because it was your land. It is now mine, and our children's; and I will die the Lady of Ithilien, in the home we made together. But not for many years," she adds, her hands reaching up to caress his cheek.
"Come," Éowyn insists, and leads him to the cold bed. "Grief is lighter when it is shared. I loved him too."
And they lie together, close in each other's arms, remembering Imrahil's sheltering kindness, and courage. The grief remains, but no longer cuts so sharply. After a gentle coupling has warmed them both, Faramir holds Éowyn as she falls asleep, his hands stroking her long unbound hair. When his tears finally fall, they do not sting. Home is where she is. Home is where they are together.
Some of Eowyn's words are taken from the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, American Standard Version.
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