1. That Short, Potential Stir
Every so often, something would remind her of the passage of time, and that blasted impatience to see and do everything possible in the brief days left to her, would seize her and force her to dash desperately from moment to moment. These past few days, bound to the dwelling in Emyn Arnen, she had wandered hopelessly from room to room. She wanted to return to Minas Tirith – try as she might, home was not the Citadel, but Rivendell. The one could not replace the other.
She missed her husband’s warm body at nights, the even sound of his breath as he dreamt the hours away – she was never more at peace then when she could lie with him, matching breath to breath, pulse to pulse. And then when he woke – sometimes on his own, sometimes because she had been unable to bear the sounds he made – he would tell his dreams, trying to explain the melting path his thoughts would take when he slept.
She swallowed a discontented sob, and glared out the window once again. She willed Manwë to hear her plea, and somehow bring an unseasonable thaw to Ithilien, but that it seemed was not the way of things. She sniffled, amazed at her own self-pity, and it came as something of a shock to hear Éowyn’s laughter behind her. When had the other woman learned to move so silently?
“I know you can stop Elessar in his tracks with that look my Queen, but it will not melt the snow.”
Éowyn moved to stand beside her at the window, and smiled at the Queen. She was pink-cheeked and a few flakes of snow still clung to her hair. “I always loved the winter,” she said.
“Everyone lived in the hall; it was impossible to ride across the plains in the winter storms. Théodred was free to play with me, and my Uncle would tell us tales around the fire in the night.”
Éowyn shook herself out of her reverie, and smiled again. “My lord thinks you will be able leave by the end of the week.”
“It seems so.”
Arwen burst into frustrated, childish tears, and Éowyn wrapped an arm around her, saying smilingly, “Come now Arwen, surely it is not so very dreadful.”
They sat down together by the fire, and Éowyn poured them both cups of clear, fragrant tea. Arwen dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief and noticed Éowyn hide a slight grin behind sheaves of golden hair. “I miss Aragorn!” She said, and then laughed loudly at herself.
“Will this snow ever stop?”
“Soon, I promise my Queen. And are you not glad you have a respite from his snoring? And his smoking?”
Arwen felt herself relax, and smiled at Éowyn shakily. Placing a log on the fire, the Lady of Ithilien said, “If it helps, I am glad you are here, though your stay was not of your choosing. I so seldom have you to myself – that wretched man is always interrupting.”
“He does make a habit of it.”
“And he never washes his hands.”
“All true. At least here I do not have to badger anyone into basic cleanliness.”
Éowyn laughed softly, and looked at the silk shirt in Arwen’s hands. “No wonder you’re upset,” she said, “A white thread on a white silk shirt that your son will destroy almost as soon as he wears it. I never know how you can stand to do so much embroidery.”
“It keeps my hands busy when I am housebound. The endless repetition of the White Tree is a little wearisome I own.”
Éowyn eyed her carefully. “Perhaps something a little more…varied? And more lasting come to that.”
“What have you in mind?”
Éowyn took the Queen’s hand and led her into the adjoining room. They sat together at a bench in front of angled up towards them. Éowyn took a needle in hand and said, “Tapestry work is more satisfying I find. Would you like to…”
“I did not know you cared for needle work.”
“Not for embroidery, of that you can be sure. So many times I had to repair Éomer’s finest tunic when we were younger, it killed my love for it entirely. But tapestry is something different. Tapestry lasts. It is harder work, but at least one knows that it will survive.”
Arwen thought of the many tapestries in Meduseld, and the perfect knowledge all had of who had woven them, and understood Éowyn’s preference. And so she allowed her friend to show her how to do it, though she was left with only a menial task (until she developed her skill.) Still, though green leaves and red ribbon nothing compared to the work Éowyn did on the dress and jewellery of a woman, Arwen enjoyed the work.
The colours were rich and vibrant; the feel of the finished tapestry was heavy and smooth. Éowyn used silks and wools for various effects, and Arwen ran her fingers across the heavy threads, closing her eyes at the sensation of ridged softness. Her impatience had quieted somewhat.
They worked for several hours, chatting idly over their thoughts, and Arwen actually felt glad to be there. Éowyn was one of the few ladies of the court who could treat her as something other than the Queen, and given the stresses of court life, and of her young son, this was a welcome quality.
Arwen put down her needle though when Éowyn said, “It is a strange thing my Queen, but Elboron reminds me of no one so much as Théodred. The King tells me he is like to Boromir, whom I met but twice…but perhaps there is some truth in it. They were friends after all.”
“Does that comfort you?”
“Comfort me? It is good to know that something of him will live on, and I am glad to be reminded of those I love…but I think Elboron finds it something of a trial.”
“Well, it is a little hard to always be told that one looks like one person or another. I know Éomer did not like it – but it frightened me when people said I was like my mother. I thought I would die too.”
“Truly? But you don’t resemble her any longer, do you?”
“No, not since I was very small. Once I took up the sword I was compared to my grandmother, which made me much happier.”
Éowyn smiled, lost in memories that must have seemed very distant to her. Arwen thought of her son’s face, already stamped with the strong features and feelings of his father, and of her daughter, who seemed somehow to have inherited Celebrian’s serenity of manner (something the Evenstar had always felt rather beyond her.) She thought of how rarely she was able to spent time with Faramir, Éowyn and their children – and the note of happiness in Éowyn’s voice when she remembered insignificant times spent around the fire telling tales in Meduseld. In all her long years she did not seem to have had more happiness or more grief, or more of anything that was worth remembrance, than in the brief days she had spent as Queen of Men.
There was no need to dash through the days in a desperate haste to do and see all that was possible. This moment of quiet joy should be cherished, not mourned for its passing.
Now was enough – now was perfect.
That short, potential stir
That each can make but once,
That bustle so illustrious
T’is almost consequence,
Is the éclat of death,
Oh thou unknown renown
That not a beggar would accept
Had he the power to spurn!
The tapestry I have in mind is the beautiful “The Lady and the Unicorn”, pictures of which can be found here - http://orion.it.luc.edu/~avande1/unicorn.html#
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.