"Daughter?" Faramir repeated foolishly, as he gazed at the bundle in Éowyn's arms. He had expected another boy, a new son, a little brother for his beloved Elboron.
"Yes, most certainly," Éowyn answered. A shot of color flamed on her pale cheeks, and a certain edge sharpened her voice. Faramir could understand, Éowyn had endured long hours of a labor, they told him, that had been much harder than that which had brought forth Elboron. "Sometimes women bear daughters as well as sons, my lord."
Faramir knew that Éowyn's rising ire was justified, and struggled to collect his thoughts. He had never really considered the birth of a daughter, more fool he. Yet now that he did, the prospect was pleasing. A daughter! A pretty little girl, pink and white like a tiny Éowyn! She would have dolls and fine gowns and flowers. And of course, being Éowyn's daughter, she would ride before she could walk. But why not; he would want his daughter to know how to ride!
"Well then, I must meet her," Faramir said, smiling; and crossed to his lady's bedside. Éowyn's demeanor gentled as she handed him the bundle.
The first surprise was the child's lightness. Elboron had been a large infant at birth. This one was smaller; except for its voice, which arose in a shrill keening and grew steadily and determinedly louder. Was he holding the child too tightly? Faramir relaxed his grip slightly and pulled the coverlet from the infant's face, to behold the second surprise. The child looked nothing like Éowyn; in fact, it looked very like his own father, that is, if Denethor had been a squalling, red-faced baby. "Does she please you, my lord; or do you wish to give her back?" Éowyn asked coolly.
Oh, this was not going well. "I am just surprised, my heart," Faramir answered, raising his voice above the child's cries. "I had not expected a girl-child." What to say? Elboron had been fair even as a newborn, pink-cheeked and sturdy and serene. Not this one! Faramir saw that the skin of its face seemed wrinkled as well as reddened. Its stormy dark eyes and the wrathful twist of its sharp little features reminded Faramir uncomfortably of his last conversation with his father. "She seems a strong child; she will grow to be a worthy daughter of our house."
Faramir knew that he was now in dangerous waters. He must find something better to say about this odd-looking child that Éowyn had exhausted herself to give him.
Faramir looked again. In truth, he had seen some children who were born wizened and red-faced gain flesh as they grew, becoming strong and healthful. Mablung's daughter Indis had been a puling, sickly babe; and was now a fetching maid-child of some ten years, the delight of all who knew her. He touched the babe's cheek to see for himself if there was fever. But it just seemed the usual slight heat that crying brought to a small child's cheeks.
At his touch, the infant slowed its cries for an instant, and looked up at Faramir. Her eyes were the deep, startling grey of the sea in a summer storm. Some called those eyes Númenorean grey, while others called it sea-grey. That should not have surprised him. The babe did carry the blood of Númenor on both sides, and many of her sires had gone down to the sea in the ships of Dol Amroth. More importantly, the strength of her squalls lessened slightly as she stared at Faramir.
"Greeting," he said gently to her. "Thou hast had a long journey, little one, and thou art gladly welcomed." He stroked her cheek again, and then opened the blanket, since it was warm enough in the late summer afternoon that he risked no chill. Her small face was capped by a mop of black hair, and her body seemed well-made, her limbs already pushing and kicking with a surprising strength. She raised her voice again, wailing louder and louder like a sea gale.
"Be easy now," Faramir soothed, closing the blankets and caressing her cheek once more. She looked at him again, and sighed between cries, a plaintive little sound. And again, he saw Denethor in her face. A sudden surge of pity filled Faramir's heart. "Oh, it is all right. All shall yet be well. No one shall harm thee."
Indeed, he vowed, pity mingling with a deep, fierce resolve, no one would ever harm this child! She would grow up strong and tall and unafraid. "No Shadow shall ever dim thy light, iell-nin, no fire shall touch thee."
The cries diminished to the intermittent wails of a tired child. Faramir stroked the little face as his daughter's dark grey eyes widened, then disappeared under soft eyelids as weariness took hold. She was not a bad-looking infant at all, when not screaming out her displeasure, Faramir noticed. Her eyes were most striking, her nose distinctive but not over-large, and her mouth well-shaped. Men would find her fair. He tightened his hold. Yes, one day men would seek her out, a Prince's fair daughter. And they will reckon with me, and it shall be few indeed that I will find worthy of her!
"Fear not, my daughter," Faramir vowed. "Thy father loves thee, and thy father will always guard and protect thee." He kissed her forehead, observing that his daughter had Denethor's high, noble brow. The sobs had ceased now, and Faramir thought he heard the sound, like the smallest of waves trickling onto the sand, of a baby's contentment.
Or was it Éowyn, who now smiled at him wearily, her bright grey eyes soft with unspoken tenderness. Reluctant to loosen his hold on the babe, Faramir stood a moment, treasuring the sensation of her chest rising and falling against his heart. Then he sat down in the chair by Éowyn's bedside, and took her hand. Together, they watched as their daughter slipped into slumber and peacefully dreamed.
A slightly less polished version was posted in my LJ a few months back, written in honor of an alphabet challenge necessitating that a story begin and end with the letter "D". This story, which has been germinating for a few years, is exactly 1000 words according to Microsoft Word.
The phrase iell-nin is Sindarin for my daughter. Opinion differs on whether the term should be iell-nin or sell-nin.
My thanks to Tanaqui for her excellent beta-work on this piece.
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.