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Night Phantoms
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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1
Night Phantoms

Note: For this story I am following Jackson's movies for what Gríma looked like. The rest is book-based.


~~~

Faramir lay awake in the bed they shared, half-propped up on his elbow, as he gazed at his sleeping wife. Her breath came ever coarser, and her hand clenched around the coverlet. He started to reach out to wake her but stopped himself in time. He knew it was much worse to pull her out of her restless slumber before she was ready.

He well remembered the look of complete panic the time he had allowed her to see him, while the nightmares still lingered in her mind. Whose face did she see crowned by those dark locks – his, or the Dunlandish Gríma?

After that he had thought of asking her maidservants what they knew of her life in Rohan but decided he could not violate her confidences in them like that. So being a scholar, he had interviewed those people who might know. Gimli had no news of it when he visited Legolas from the Glittering Caves, and the few minor noblewomen of the Eastfold who had married sons of Gondor knew nothing of it.

Yet in his cousin Lothíriel, Faramir found a gold-mine of gossip. Her letters from Rohan told him what had been common knowledge among the ladies of Edoras: how the king's old counselor had molested her from the shadows, first with eyes and later with daring hands, all but claiming her maidenhood. Now Faramir knew to let his wife smell that mix of scents peculiar to him – mulch and peach nectar and ink – before she saw his face.

A sharp intake of breath, almost a hiss, replaced the harried breathing, and Faramir placed his hand on Éowyn's shoulder before she could cry out. He knew morning would find her embarrassed if she woke the maids sleeping in the next room; he would spare her that if he could.

"Leof--" He stopped short. What could he say to draw her away from Rohan and Gríma and her days as Dernhelm? "Éowyn." He squeezed her shoulder with one hand and ran the other through her hair. Yet he did not dare wrap her in an embrace like he wanted to. He ran his thumb along the scar on his palm, a token from when he tried to do just that. Éowyn had apologized afterward – she had felt so trapped, like she had to escape – and Faramir did not blame her, yet he hated the thought that his love could become a cage. "Éowyn, he repeated as soothingly as he could.

Finally Éowyn turned and looked at him. He saw in her eyes that she recognized him. She rolled over until her head rested against his chest, and he leaned down and kissed the crown of her head. This was why he often woke half way through the night in the weeks following the harvest. The chill in the air brought to mind the chill that had settled across Rohan after Gandalf stole Shadowfax. Come planting she would do the same for him, when the horrors of Rath Dínen most often overwhelmed him.

"Na hit bith hefelíc," Éowyn almost moaned, slipping into her birth-tongue, "ancenned ac gemynd...".

Without warning she pushed up against the bed, drawing herself to her knees. She leaned toward him and pressed her lips against his before he even realized what she was doing. He placed his hands on her shoulders and held her away from him. What did she need? Assurance that she was indeed loveable? The closeness that only that type of intimacy might bring? Good memories to replace the bad? Simply the end of thought? He did not know, but he would not allow her to cheapen herself so.

He shook his head mutely, wincing at the hurt look in her eyes – like she could not understand why he did this to her. She cast her eyes downward in shame and collapsed against him and wept; Faramir did nothing to forestall her. He patted her hair and rubbed her back like he would have his youngest granddaughter's. What he would do to take this pain on himself!

When her tears eased some time later he lowered her onto her pillows and loosened himself from her hold. He crossed the room and retrieved the pewter cup: poppy-draught he had prepared for just this situation. Returning to their bed, he held the drink to her lips and watched her swallow it.

Outside, the moonlight pierced the tree-boughs that shaded their window and a nightingale's voice broke the weary silence. Faramir remembered Mithrandir's stories: how the Lords of the West had sung a song more fey and perilous but also more beautiful than any that had ever been sung in the White City's concert halls or on the plains of Rohan.

Great it must have been to hear that song, but no more magnificent than what the survivors of the Dark Days had done. The first song was sung into silence, but the new melody Éowyn added to the world fought against a violent din of noise.

He smiled gently at his wife. In the end, all the might of Mordor had faltered. What had mattered was this: somewhere, a young girl in the fading light, humming softly to herself.*

Faramir placed the now-empty cup on the table beside the bed and let himself fall back into his own pillows. Éowyn would be as safe as he could make her, until morning.

~~~

Translations:

"Leof" --> "love"
"Na hit bith hefelíc, ancenned ac gemynd" --> "It isn't important, only a memory"

(Both Old English/Rohirric)

Thanks to Tanaqui and Gwynnyd for their help finding a word for "important" – it turned out to be a particularly difficult concept to find in Old English.

The asterisk'd sentence is taken (with some slight adaptation) from Aliana's "Dance on the Way Down". Used with the author's permission, of course.


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