The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been or will be made from this story.
The rating and warnings for the this story are because of torture, injuries and sexual content concerning a husband and wife. I am in the process of revising and reposting this story.
I first wrote this story in 2004 and since then I hope my writing skills have improved a little. I am ashamed of my early version and have decided to remove it in favour of what I hope is an improved version. Should anyone want the first version, please e mail me.
Shadow and Thought
Chapter One – Strained relations
The Golden Hall at Edoras was filled to capacity for the Wedding Feast of Faramir and Éowyn. The occasion was even graced by the attendance of the High King himself and his Queen.
Éowyn was wearing a gown of white, embroidered with green and silver, a gift from Queen Arwen. She believed that she had never looked so beautiful as she did today. Faramir's attire of black velvet tunic embroidered with the White Tree of Gondor and black breeches, accentuated his noble features.
Éowyn smiled at her handsome husband. She reflected how blessed she was to have met such a man and gained his affections. As sister the King of Rohan, she had never expected to be fortunate enough to marry for love, but rather for political reasons. She still marvelled that a man such as Faramir would have chosen her, rather than one of the many beautiful ladies of Gondor.
The young couple smilingly greeted their guests. When the High King approached, they both bowed low. Now that she had fallen in love with Faramir, Éowyn was no longer uncomfortable in Aragorn's presence. She had come to realise the feelings she had experienced for him, had been nothing more than infatuation, embarrassing for them both at the time, but now in the past.
Aragorn embraced Faramir and kissed him on the forehead, murmuring words of congratulation. He then kissed Éowyn's hand and said: "It gladdens my heart, lady, to see you in bliss today. It was indeed a happy day when I told Faramir to care for you!"
The smile froze on Éowyn's lips. Her dreams crumbled to dust in that instant. It was all a sham, Faramir's protestations of love for her were nothing more than a political ploy to unite Rohan and Gondor and avoid her being an embarrassment to Aragorn's Queen!
A curious remark Aragorn had made to her brother at Théoden's funeral feast about him giving the fairest 'thing' in Rohan to Gondor was now all too clear. She was just a 'thing' to be disposed of however the King pleased.
She stiffened, but determined to hide her distress, which passed unnoticed even by Faramir, Éomer called for a toast to round off the festivities.
Éowyn now lay in the carved marriage bed, which had been used for generations by the house of Eorl. Her maid had helped her undress and change into a nightgown of finest linen adorned with lace. The bed had been sprinkled with pink and white blossoms while blessings were said for the prosperity and fertility of their union.
Now all that was lacking was the bridegroom. She had long looked forward to this night. Now the thought of Faramir's embraces was as repulsive to her as if she were a slave, sold to pleasure the highest bidder. Tears rolled down her pale cheeks.
She could not help but still love her husband despite the fact he and the King had deceived her over this marriage. The knowledge tore at her heart. It was impossible to hate Faramir, so quiet, gentle and shy. As for Aragorn: fury blazed within her at what he had done. She vowed to hate him until her dying day.
Éowyn tried to calm herself, thinking that at least, the coming night would show whether Faramir felt any attraction towards her at all, or was just blindly doing his King's bidding.
The door opened to admit Faramir, who entered looking somewhat uncomfortable. She could hear the raucous shouts of the men outside. "Tonight you venture deep into Rohan, Lord Faramir, be sure to leave a colt or at least a filly behind as proof of your visit!" they cried.
Faramir drew off his velvet robe revealing his nightshirt beneath. He climbed into bed beside her. Éowyn took a deep breath, determined not to show her feelings.
Faramir turned towards his bride. He studied her pale features and tear stained cheeks. Always perceptive and gentlemanly, he sensed her obvious distress and determined not to add to it by forcing unwelcome attentions upon her. Greatly though he desired her, he would wait until she welcomed his attentions. He planted a gentle kiss on her brow. "You look weary, my lady, this day has been tiring for us both. I will leave you to your sleep." With that, he turned away from her, blew out the candle, and fell into a deep slumber.
Éowyn lay sleepless beside him, silent tears pouring down her cheeks. She had feared him taking her, knowing he did not love her, but this proof of utter indifference to her charms was even worst. No doubt, his thoughts were with some Gondorian beauty who was his mistress!
A few hours later, Faramir was the first to awaken. He lay gazing at his beautiful bride by the pale light of early dawn. How he loved her! His experiences with his harsh father had made him determined that no one, least of all his wife, should ever think him cruel or unfeeling. Obviously, Éowyn felt uncomfortable about the intimacies of marriage but he was a very patient man.
The next day, Éowyn and Faramir, together with the King and Queen and their attendants, returned to Gondor. That night, and the nights that followed, Faramir spent in his dressing room, determined not to distress his nervous bride.
Having spent his entire adult life in the service of Gondor, he understood little of women. He had sternly suppressed his desires until he met the right woman. He assumed that the intimacies of marriage were something that would come to him as naturally as to his dogs and horses. It seemed, though, marriage might be more complicated than he had at first assumed. Maybe Éowyn was afraid of childbearing? He hardly raise such a delicate question with her, though. If only there were someone, he could talk to! How he missed Boromir! He had not approved of his brothers dalliances, but at least he would have known what a woman expected!
The Steward buried himself in his work, trying to put aside his feelings of being rejected. He had hoped so much for a wife who loved him and could give him a large brood of children to whom he could be a loving father. He often dreamed of himself embracing his children and playing with them. He could see a little girl, as beautiful as her mother and a boy who resembled Boromir, and they were just the eldest of his large brood. It seemed, though, he was destined to remain unloved. His only consolation was his love for his lord, who treated him with the kindness and compassion that Denethor had denied him. Yet, for all the King's kindness, he feared that one day, he would reject him too, and dismiss him as not good enough to serve one so great.
Éowyn continued to brood over how the King had tricked her.She wondered what Faramir's true love looked like
Aragorn Elessar, High King of the reunited kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor, struggled to suppress a yawn as the fourth course of the state banquet was served. 'Surely only a Hobbit could enjoy eating so much food,' he thought.
A trade delegation was visiting from the lands of the Haradrim in the South, and this was the third banquet this week that was being held in their honour.
Aragorn was seated beside Éowyn, Princess of Rohan, and now wife of his Steward Faramir, Prince of Ithilien. The lady was engaged in an animated conversation with a Gondorian noble several places down the table, concerning the relative merits of the horses of Gondor and Rohan and was ignoring the King completely. He tried once more to involve her in the conversation. "You have been in Minas Tirith for several months now, my lady, how do you like the City?" he asked pleasantly.
"Not at all!" she snapped. "I detest stone cities, wood is far superior such as my people build with."
The Gondorians looked shocked at Éowyn's outburst. A deathly silence hung over the gathering as all eyes focussed upon Éowyn. Faramir, who sat on her other side, blushed scarlet; looking as if he wished the floor would open and devour him.
Queen Arwen, ever the diplomat, hastily tried to smooth matters by saying: "It takes a while to learn to like a new home, I know. I too, missed Imladris for a time."
"Yes, my lady, indeed that is so," Éowyn replied pleasantly, much to Faramir's relief. Faramir could not help but notice that the Queen seemed to have put on weight and seemed to have an especial glow around her tonight. Obviously, life in Gondor suited her.
The King smiled proudly at his wife. Trying to put his embarrassed Steward at his ease, Aragorn turned to him and asked. "The silk, which we have been shown is very fine, do you not think, Lord Faramir? Should we ask for a regular supply to be delivered to the city?"
"As you wish, my Lord King." Faramir replied.
"I wondered what you thought," Aragorn persisted.
Faramir flushed. "I defer to your judgement in all matters, my lord," he answered.
Aragorn sighed and gave up attempting to make Faramir express an opinion. He caught the eye of Imrahil, Faramir's uncle, seated across the table. The Prince of Dol Amroth shook his head and started a hasty conversation about the weather in Harad.
"Only one more course and then we can retire," Arwen whispered in her husband's ear.
He smiled and forced himself to continue playing the polite host.
"Why were you so rude to the King?" Faramir demanded of Éowyn, once they were alone in their apartments. Éowyn had just dismissed her maid and was sitting un-braiding her long golden tresses, which she preferred to brush herself.
"I detest the man and his stone prison of a city! He patronises me and has done from the moment we first met!" she replied forcefully, brushing her hair with increased vigour.
"But you owe him your life, we both do!" Faramir protested.
"Had he not scorned me, I would never have despaired so much in the first place. He is nothing but a hypocrite, who pretends to be good and noble while he ruins others' lives!" Éowyn snapped, putting down her hairbrush. "Your gratitude will have to suffice for us both, seeing as you act like the man's lap dog! I'm going to bed now!"
"He is a good man, the greatest and noblest of our age," Faramir protested, "I just do not understand why you hate him so much."
"You are under his spell just like my brother!" Éowyn retorted. "I bid you goodnight, my lord."
"I will leave you to your sleep, my lady," Faramir said quietly, repressing his feelings, as he had been taught since early childhood. Fearful of incurring his wife's wrath by saying more, the Steward retired to his dressing room, leaving Éowyn alone in the large bedroom. Climbing into bed, she buried her face in the pillow, stifling her sobs, as thoughts of how Aragorn had tricked her into this loveless marriage overwhelmed her
On the other side of the wall, Faramir wept quietly too, wondering why it had all gone so awry with his marriage. He loved his wife so much. Yet, now she hardly seemed to be able to endure being in the same room as him.
Éowyn had looked so happy on the day when they had spoken their wedding vows. Yet, before the sun had set on that same day, she was again the cold and melancholy woman he had first encountered. He had shrunk from her scornful gaze since that day. Often, he wondered if secretly she still loved the King. Was that why she professed to detest him so?
In the Royal Apartments, Aragorn and Arwen lay side by side in the darkness.
"You are troubled, Estel," said Arwen.
Aragorn turned towards her and stroked her hair. "You sense my thoughts well tonight, vanimelda!" he replied. "I was fearing you had lost the ability in these past weeks.
"I expect it will return," Arwen said vaguely. "You will toss and turn all night if you continue to fret so," she said, sitting up to light the bedside candle. "Now tell me what troubles you."
"I did not mean to keep you awake." The King sighed and turned to face her, thinking how beautiful she looked by candlelight, her black hair framing her fair skin and tumbling over the shoulders of her lace trimmed nightgown.
"I was wondering if I made a mistake in keeping Faramir as my Steward and advisor, though no one could work harder than he, nor know more about Gondor. However, I need someone who will give me different opinions and tell me when I make mistakes. Faramir looks as if I intend to beat him every time he is spoken to, and has never once voiced an opinion of his own!"
Arwen listened sympathetically to her husband's outburst.
The banquet tonight was the last straw!" Aragorn continued, "I think he resents me taking his place! Yet at first, I thought we could be friends. Although, I could never hope to fill the place of his brother, I hoped I could be as family to him, or at least befriend him. I truly like the man. Yet, he always acts like a hound waiting to beaten! I suspect he is in pain still from his old wounds, yet if I offer to treat them, he refuses and looks as if I wanted to torture him!"
Arwen shook her head at the despair in her husband's voice. "Faramir loves and respects you, Estel, I see it in his eyes. However, he also fears you, for you, like his father, are his lord. He worries he will do something that irks you and he will then feel the weight of your wrath as he felt Denethor's. Make no mistake, though, however timid he might seem, he would stand up for what he believed to be right, whatever it cost him. For did he not face his father's wrath by letting Frodo go? Then, you told me he was furious when he thought your had uprooted the White Tree. Give him time to get to know you. He will come to see that you are no tyrant like Denethor was."
"I hope you are right, my love," Aragorn said gloomily. "The Lady Éowyn's conduct pains me too. Though, I would gladly have been as a brother to her, she looks on me with hatred! I cannot but help feel sorry for Faramir; the poor man is married to a shrew! I pitied him tonight."
Arwen laughed. "You misjudge the Lady Éowyn," she said. "I like her; she has a good heart beneath that prickly exterior. She and I are fast becoming close friends. No doubt she still smarts from having once loved you"
Aragorn looked surprised.
"She felt discarded by you, so you feel the rough edge of her tongue," Arwen explained. "I see her with the other ladies, where she is much loved and admired, but no woman looks fondly on any man who rejected her, even if it were but a young maid's infatuation! Then she feels caged in the city, after the plains of Rohan. You could not have asked her a worst question!"
"You are wise, my Evenstar, you see things that I do not." Aragorn tenderly nuzzled his wife's cheek.
Arwen laughed, a soft musical sound that her husband never tired of hearing. "You forget I have lived many more years than you and there is little that I have not seen or experienced. I can also see you feel caged and are lonely."
"Lonely? But you are everything I dreamed of and more, Arwen!" Aragorn protested, while at the same time looking slightly sheepish that she could read him so well.
Arwen stroked his dark hair soothingly. "Remember how Ada used to say that love was like a rainbow and one needed to experience all the colours?" she replied. "You miss the freedom; to be able to go out riding or hunting with good friends, where you can forget the pressures of being King for a time. Your fellow Rangers, and the members of the Fellowship, now that Legolas and Gimli are travelling, are all far away. Your good friend, Éomer is busy in Rohan with his royal duties. I have my ladies as companions, while you are surrounded by bickering nobles and a Steward who could be your friend, but acts like a beaten lapdog! You need to remedy that and get away from the Court and the City, which stifle you."
"Maybe if we were to ride out in the countryside, without any retainers and get to know each other better, Faramir would learn then that I am just a man like any other and then be comfortable when he is in my presence." Aragorn mused.
"You are not just any man, I would have no other!" Arwen said, embracing him. He drew her close, savouring her nearness, her touch, and her scent. "Did you manage to pass the afternoon pleasantly?" he asked, thinking ruefully of the Meeting with the visiting Ambassadors he had endured.
"Yes, I spent it with Dame Ioreth."
"Dame Ioreth?" Aragorn sounded puzzled. "I had no idea you enjoyed that old crone's company!"
Arwen chose her words carefully before replying. She wished now that she had managed to avoid mentioning Ioreth's name. She had no wish to awaken her husband's curiosity just yet. "She is wise and is telling me many things I need to know about mortal women." she replied carefully.
Aragorn yawned. "I could think of many more appealing companions that you could choose," he said. "But, if her company makes you happy, I am pleased you have found a companion for when I am called from your side by affairs of state."
"We should try to sleep now. You have another banquet with the Harad delegates tomorrow." Arwen suggested, anxious not to discuss Ioreth further.
Aragorn groaned as he blew out the candle. "I shall need you with your diplomatic skills at my side to endure it!" he grumbled.
"I will be beside you. In a few days they will be gone, and then you can plan how you can escape for a while and maybe befriend your Steward too, " Arwen said, settling down beside her husband and snuggling into his arms. Within a few moments, he was snoring peacefully. Arwen lay awake for a while, pondering the complexity of human emotions, and wondering when the time would be right to tell her husband her secret.