5. In Dreams We Meet Again
Lothíriel considered leaving the Houses of Healing to stay overnight at her family's townhouse. It was also on the Sixth level of the city but at the far end, facing the West. Unlike the Lady Éowyn, she preferred to look to the West. It soothed her to turn her gaze toward the sea, toward the Bay of Belfalas and her beloved Dol Amroth, all of which she feared she would never see again.
It was late evening when Lothíriel finally thought to leave the Houses of Healing. However, a profound reluctance gripped her at the notion of returning to the now darkened halls of her Minas Tirith home, empty except for a minimal staff of family retainers.
The ghosts of the city house should have been soothing ones. Her father's occasional trips to Minas Tirith always turned into holidays if the rest of the family accompanied him. The rooms of Prince Imrahil's townhouse had echoed over the years with Boromir's booming affectionate voice and Faramir's compassionate amused one calling out to Lothíriel and her brothers. The older cousins had been good with children and as they grew older served as mentors to her brothers. In turn, the Dol Amroth heirs provided Faramir and Boromir with a familial intimacy and acceptance missing in the Steward's residence since the death of their mother.
Throughout her childhood, their Minas Tirith home had been a place of song, music and laughter--most of all, laughter. Lothíriel recalled the merry warmth of family gatherings, where even her Uncle Denethor's dour countenance had occasionally softened a little. As she grew older, there were glittering diplomatic affairs, where she had basked in her father's praise for her adeptness as a hostess.
All of these things formed a part of her cherished memories of that house. Instead of making that short walk, Lothíriel had collapsed again physically and emotionally exhausted on the narrow cot in the Houses of Healing that she had claimed as her own more than a week ago.
The dream came to Lothíriel, not with the feverish grip that Faramir, Boromir and Imrahil had described in their recounting of visions of foretelling, but as a gentle falling into a softer reality. The images shifted, not slowly enough to examine carefully, but melting one into the next too swiftly to focus upon. The Minas Tirith townhouse, brightly lit by hundreds of candles, was the scene of a celebration, of Mettarë perhaps, she could not be sure. She saw herself, much the same as now, but with her hair piled high upon her head in the style of a married woman. Viewing everything as an observer from a distance, she saw her horse lord approach her, put his arms about her waist and pull her close against him with a seductive smile.
Then her perception shifted. She felt his lips touch her bare shoulder and the feathery caress of his whisper against her ear. It would have been an inappropriate gesture, too intimate and frank to be acceptable in Gondorian society as she knew it, but in her dream those around them observed the couple with smiles of sympathetic acceptance. Then she saw Éowyn, proud and beautiful as ever, but with a tender, happy countenance, look up at Faramir with blushing admiration. The dream faded and the images disappeared like a shoreline overtaken by a heavy fog.
When Lothíriel arose from her cot shortly after dawn, she also immediately recalled her dream. What use are wishes and dreams, she thought. Finally, we have come to the end of it all. She immediately flushed with shame. She remembered her father's kind, courageous face, her brothers and, of course, the lord of Rohan who had claimed her heart. Then she imagined her cousin Faramir's grave earnest voice. He would have added, "...or a perhaps a new tomorrow."
Nearby in her modest chamber, Éowyn tossed fitfully and at last descended into her own dream. She stood on the walls of Minas Tirith in bright sunlight. He came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her in what seemed an accustomed, familiar embrace; she leaned into him, secure and content. As she lifted her head turning slightly to look up at him, she rejoiced at sight of his tousled dark hair and his clear grey eyes. His body felt solid and utterly right pressed against hers. His scent was that of fresh pine soap. His beardless cheek as soft against hers as that of a boy, told her that it could only be Faramir. He took her by the shoulders, turned her around and claimed her mouth with his in an ardent lingering kiss, warm, tender and meltingly sensual. She slowly opened her lips to him, allowing him to coaxingly touch her tongue with his own.
As Éowyn slowly awakened in the dim early light, she remembered her dream, at first longingly and then with annoyance. As though to cast off an unwelcome spell, she shook herself, and thought, that tenacious man haunts my every waking hour and now he even insinuates himself into my dreams. Well, I have never denied, even to myself, that he is a remarkably attractive man.
That the morning, the warm sunny weather of the previous week had fled replaced by what seemed a malevolent return of winter. A chill wind whipped around the walls of the Sixth level of Minas Tirith. One week had passed since the Armies of the West had set out for the Gates of Mordor. The day had come when the host would engage the enemy and the last chance to create the diversion upon which all hope for the future rested.
When Lothíriel came into the kitchen, she found Ioreth supervising the kitchen staff, bustling about loading up a wheeled cart with heavy plates and cups, a giant kettle of tea, baskets of bread and, of all things, a large ceramic bowl of steaming boiled eggs.
"This large one here is yours, my lady. Look. Things are returning to normal. There is an egg for each of your men. There also will be meat and fresh vegetables to make stew later today," she announced cheerfully. Lothíriel knew that Ioreth was not so foolish as to believe there was anything ordinary about this time and place and sought only to give comfort. Nonetheless, instead of being glad at Ioreth's kindly words, Lothíriel thought acidly, Does she think I am child to be soothed with pretty tales?
It was all Lothíriel could do to control her tongue, which she feared grew more caustic with each passing day. "Thank you, Mistress Ioreth," she replied evenly. "It has probably been months since any of them have seen an egg."
After seeing to her patients, Lothíriel could no longer bear to be alone. Despite the bitter wind whipping about the garden, she walked outside, shivering in the light cloak she had quickly grabbed as she left the hall. She hoped to find Éowyn or Faramir. The garden was deserted. Nothing, not even birdsong, competed with the skittering of a few dry leaves and twigs driven along the ground by the blustery wind.
At last, she found Éowyn in her room staring out of her window with its repellent eastern view. Shuddering, Lothíriel snapped, "Ai, Elbereth, Éowyn! How can you be anything but morbid looking at Orodruin all day!"
"Good morning to you too, Princess Sunshine," Éowyn answered brusquely.
"Do you mind if I come in?" Lothíriel answered, entering and flopping herself on Éowyn's bed, somewhat mollified. She had learned that if Éowyn barked back, it was a sign that she was willing to accept company. Silence would have meant a refusal. Noticing that Éowyn was again wearing the same flowing white dress, she said, "I knew I should have gone to our house last night. I have wardrobes filled with dresses that you could use. They might be a little long, but we could easily hem them."
"It is clean. I even ironed it," Éowyn replied.
"I see. But it is going to be threadbare soon from so much washing," Lothíriel said.
"Perhaps, or maybe I will not need it for much longer," Éowyn answered. Lothíriel laughed bitterly.
"You may be right. I was furious earlier because poor Ioreth tried to tell me things are returning to normal, because we received a new supply of food that included eggs," Lothíriel admitted grudgingly. "But I want to stop thinking about all that. I am weary of my own thoughts. Tell me a story."
"You tell me a story. You and Faramir are the ones with all of the stories and poems," Éowyn countered.
"You know them all already. Tell me about Rohan. Tell me about what your life was like before," Lothíriel pleaded.
"You do not want to hear about sadness, death and treachery. Not today," Éowyn said.
"There is more to tell, Éowyn. You love your people, your country, your brother," demanded Lothíriel. "Tell me about the good things you remember."
"You met my brother..." she began.
"We are not sure that was your brother," Lothíriel objected, "I do not have enough information."
Éowyn laughed, "Lothíriel, why do you refuse to accept that the man you met was my brother?"
Lothíriel could not answer at first, but after a moment, spoke falteringly, "If he becomes too real to me, then, should I lose him, it would break my heart. Since I do not really know him, then my unfulfilled desire for him remains just another wish which makes it bearable."
Éowyn looked skeptical and asked, "Have you had so many faded dreams? I would not have thought you of all people had."
"Oh, Éowyn. Have not we all? Some that seemed enormous at the time and others that I knew were small but that I tried to make grand, out of what my father calls an excess of passion. Things that I wished for and could not have-everything from dresses, to horses, to men. But this one, if I permit it, would make all of those seem as nothing," Lothíriel replied.
"There were men?" asked Éowyn.
"The first one was someone you actually know. When I was five years old and he was a handsome young soldier, I decided that I would only marry my cousin Faramir. My brothers tortured me mercilessly over that and teased him about it--in my presence no less," Lothíriel laughed. "Sweet Faramir held me on his lap and promised that if I stopped crying he would read me a story."
"But after you were grown?" Éowyn asked.
"There was a minor noble of Dol Amroth. He was fine to look at indeed. The same type as Faramir: tall, lithe, pale, black hair, with that air of a handsome Elf lord out of an ancient tale. He was a captain of the Swan Knights. Oh, to see him on a horse!" Lothíriel shrugged self-deprecatingly. "He never really looked at me. I did not know that he loved another and while I wished I were just a little older and waited, he married her. I am grateful that my brothers never learned of that one. And you?"
"There is someone. Faramir knows of him," she said. "I think even Éomer guessed, although I did not tell him. I am surprised that you have not heard the tale. There is little enough privacy and a surfeit of gossip if one is of the ruling houses of Gondor or Rohan. I wished to be loved by Lord Aragorn, but he could not love me," Éowyn answered steadily.
"Oh, Éowyn! I am sorry. But you could not have truly known him, not even as well as I knew my Swan Knight," Lothíriel said.
"I knew enough," Éowyn insisted stubbornly.
"You knew he was the heir of Elendil, the king returned, a brave warrior, a leader in battle," Lothíriel responded. "Would you not have known more, before giving him your heart?"
"And you, Lothíriel, what do you know of your so-called captain of Rohan?"
"I know his kisses and I recognize his need of me. I have observed him with his men and not only the way he sat a stallion. That is improvement on my history and at least a place to begin," Lothíriel said. "But, I also know enough to fear my own reckless intemperance," she laughed bitterly.
Éowyn answered, "I am weary of this talk. Would you still have me tell you a story?"
"Yes, I would. But I worry when you are so miserable," Lothíriel said. "Éowyn, you have become my friend, almost a sister in these dark days where we stand nearly alone at the brink. What would I have done without you and Faramir?"
Then Éowyn shrugged and briefly grasped Lothíriel's hand, "Never mind, let me tell you of my handsome brother. That will provide you something to think about when you are in need of distraction. He is brave and generous and has an easy laugh. You have brothers. You must know how much I love him, for I have only one. He looked after me when our parents died. He wiped my tears and rescued me from my nightmares. Others consider him a most gallant and valorous warrior. He is known throughout the Riddermark for his bold passion for justice. I know him as a profoundly decent and honest man."
Lothíriel said, "I dreamed of him last night-I mean the man you believe is your brother." Éowyn laughed, shaking her head.
"And did he kiss you again in your dream?" Éowyn asked with a tolerant smile.
"Yes," Lothíriel answered, "I mean, a type of kiss. He softly kissed my shoulder. I was wearing an elegant low-cut gown."
"I had a dream last night also. I received a far superior kiss in my dream," Éowyn scoffed.
"Was it Lord Aragorn who kissed you in your dream?" Lothíriel asked, instantly wary.
"No. It was not. It was another. Someone who, according to your logic, I know much better. In my dream he certainly knew how to kiss," Éowyn said sighing. "It does not matter. Dreams are but the result of restless sleep--too much tea, too late at night," she continued mulishly.
"That is not necessarily true. Dreams can foretell the future, or at very least reveal one's innermost wishes that one has not admitted to while awake," Lothíriel insisted.
"Your dreams, or Faramir's, perhaps," Éowyn laughed. "But my dreams are just dreams and nothing more. At least I am grateful that it was not a nightmare."
Much later Lothíriel rushed to the window because a great howling wind had arisen suddenly. She spotted Éowyn and Faramir standing at the wall looking toward the East. They stood close together. It blew their hair, black and gold, streaming out behind them, mingling in the air. The dark, smoky clouds completely shadowed the weak morning sun and a final ominous wave of fear and dread swept over Lothíriel. At that moment the wind carried all the darkness and clouds away and a brilliant sun burst forth in the cleared blue sky.
Then the Eagles flew over the city singing:
Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.
And, so it was that Lothíriel, Éowyn and Faramir and all of the city of Minas Tirith learned of the destruction of the one ring, the fall of Sauron and the victory of the Armies of the West before the Black Gates.
Minas Tirith still waited, for it would be days before the first couriers began to arrive from the host with news of their families and friends. However, it was a far different sort of waiting. Lothíriel thought of it as hope based in reality, rather than the fragile thread of hope tied to will alone that she had held onto for so long.
Éowyn stayed in the Houses of Healing. Éomer sent messengers to Éowyn, begging her to join him in Ithilien where the armies were resting, recuperating, and great celebrations were planned. She refused to leave Minas Tirith.
Faramir energetically attended his duties as the Steward of the City, preparing for the return of the king. He had less time than before to spend with Éowyn in the Houses of Healing, but sought her company whenever he could. Lothíriel saw less of both of them, as she continued her work with her Rohirrim, taking time each day to return to the Prince's townhouse, to open it fully, and supervise preparations for the return of her family and any guests they might bring with them.
On her way one day from the Rohirrim ward to work at the townhouse, Lothíriel stopped by Éowyn's room and, not finding her, went into the garden. Éowyn sat alone, a book unread in her lap, her shoulders slumped foward, the corners of her mouth turned down. Lothíriel sighed with the now habitual exasperation she felt when she found Éowyn like this.
"Éowyn, I have come to ask you to travel with me to Ithilien in two days time. I know your brother has sent for you. My father has sent a guard of Swan Knights to escort me, and extra horses. If you are able to ride, you may have your choice of mounts, gentle or lively, whichever you prefer. The Swan Knights have quality horses, even by your standards." Lothíriel spoke quickly, hoping to talk over the expected objections.
"If you do not want to ride, I can arrange for us to go by the river. What is your preference?"
"I cannot go, Lothíriel. I will await my brother here," Éowyn said. "I thank you for your offer."
"Why not? What keeps you here?" Lothíriel spat out. "If you will not go for yourself, then go for the sake of your brother."
"Please do not press me, friend. I will not go," she answered.
"Fine. As you wish, Éowyn," Lothíriel said and stormed off.
Lothíriel left the Houses of Healing, not to return until mid-morning of the following day. I will ask one more time. It is not healthy that she continues to brood and mope about when the rest of Arda rejoices, she thought as she sought out Éowyn.
Again, she found Éowyn outside and alone. Éowyn looked up at Lothíriel, brightly, expectantly, as she entered the walls of the garden. The change in Éowyn was extraordinary, but Lothíriel was too preoccupied with her mission of deliverance to notice.
Lothíriel, sighed deeply, and asked, "I leave tomorrow, Éowyn. Will you come with me or not?"
"Oh, Lothíriel, I wish to stay here with Faramir. He cannot leave the city and I would have this time to be with him before everyone returns," Éowyn said softly, with a rare blush.
Lothíriel squealed with joy, ran at Éowyn and grabbed her, hugging her tight.
"You love him? Faramir is the best and bravest and noblest of men. You will never regret it."
Éowyn smiled, tears filling her eyes, and kissed Lothíriel heartily on both cheeks. "Yes, I do. Yes, he is, and I know that I will not."
The image of "their hair black and gold, streaming out behind them, mingling in the air" and the song of the Eagle are taken from "The Steward and the King," Return of the King.
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.