Faramir did not look at Aragorn when the king sat down beside him. The bench in the gardens of the Houses of Healing faced Ithilien and he kept his gaze fixed there, looking longingly toward his home in Emyn Arnen even though he knew it would never be the same. He was grateful that Aragorn felt no need to fill the silence with meaningless words, his mere presence brought Faramir comfort.
Almost an hour passed with the only sounds being the singing of birds, the buzzing of bees as they moved from flower to flower around the garden, and the low murmur of voices in the background as those in the buildings went about their duties. Finally, Faramir stirred on the bench and began speaking in a low voice, rough with emotion.
“I met her here, in this garden. Her eyes and heart were full of grief and despair and, yet…” Faramir swallowed hard, pausing for a long moment before he could go on. “I could see that, but I could also see that there was much more to Éowyn. Yes, she was beautiful, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. But that was not all that drew me to her…” his voice trailed off. He shook his head at his frustration to put what he was feeling into words. It was something he normally did well and now when it seemed so important to explain what he had felt for his beloved wife he was unable to do so.
Faramir dropped his head into his hands with a weary sigh. He was so tired. The last ten days had been an endless nightmare and all he wanted to do was to be alone in his grief. But he had had little time for that. There had already been several small official functions to honor the memory of the Princess of Ithilien and those had exhausted him both physically and emotionally. The condolences of the nobles of Gondor brought him little comfort, though he knew they meant well. His cousin Elphir, Prince of Dol Amroth, and Elfwine, King of Rohan, were expected to arrive in the next few days and then the formal state funeral would be held. He would prefer not to attend that, but knew it was his duty to be there, for his children and grandchildren as well as the people of Gondor. Faramir sighed again.
A large, warm hand was laid on his shoulder and Faramir looked up into the face of his friend and king. Aragorn’s grey eyes were glistening with unshed tears, his face softened with compassion and sorrow. Faramir blinked away the sudden tears that sprang to his eyes. He was surprised at the tears; he had not shed any since the day Éowyn died and then only in the presence of his daughters. Faramir waited for Aragorn to speak, to say the same meaningless things that others had said to him in the past few days, but he waited in vain.
Over the many long years of their friendship, Faramir had seen Aragorn express many different things without ever speaking – irritation, amusement, anger, disbelief, joy, grief, fear, compassion, love, pain. His king’s grey eyes were very expressive. And today was no different. Faramir could easily read Aragorn’s deep sorrow for Faramir’s loss and pain. But he said nothing. He simply clasped the steward’s shoulder firmly before turning his gaze back out over the wall toward Ithilien. The king pulled out his pipe, filled, and lit it with the ease of long practice before slouching down on the bench with his long legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles, seemingly in no hurry to leave.
“Thank you,” Faramir whispered and Aragorn looked at him from the corner of his eye and nodded once. Following Aragorn’s example, Faramir leaned back more comfortably against the bench and after a moment his eyes slid shut. The steward missed the slight smile that crossed Aragorn’s lips when he began to snore, all he knew was that he felt comforted by the silence of a friend.