As It Began

A long stone hallway, with narrow windows letting in sunlight along one side, and the sound of footsteps, running. A page rounds the corner into the corridor, hesitates for just a second, then comes tearing down the length of it. As he reaches the end of the hallway, an arm shoots out of the shadows and catches him by the shoulder, so the page swings around, off-balance for a moment.

Faramir moves out of the shadows where he was sitting, and steadies the page. A few lines of silver streak the darkness of his hair, and when he smiles, as he's doing now, there are lines around his eyes. "Gently, young sir," he says. "Where are you going in such a hurry?"

"My lady sent me," the boy says breathlessly. "She says you've been sitting inside all day, you are to come to the main courtyard and bring your sword." He bows quickly, then turns and runs off.

Faramir opens his mouth, to scold the page for running again, to ask which lady sent the message. Then he closes it again. He glances back over his shoulder: there's a pile of papers in the corner where he was sitting, closely written, the usual paperwork that's part of a steward's job. As the music begins, he kneels down and straightens the papers into a tidy pile. His sword lies on the floor. He picks it up and rises to his feet again.

So sad her eyes
Smiling dark eyes

Faramir looks at his sword for a long moment, turning it over in his hands. This is the same one he bore in the War of the Ring, and the scabbard shows signs of wear. He turns abruptly and goes over to the nearest window.

So sad her eyes
As it began

Through the window he (and we) see Eowyn, watching something in front of her with a small smile. She wears long skirts, better suited to being indoors and sitting down than to active movement. As if sensing her husband's gaze, she turns and looks straight up at the window.

On such a breathless night as this
Upon my brow the lightest kiss
I walked alone

The sunlight seems to fade along with the stone walls around Faramir: he stands within a garden, though the green is dull and faded beneath the clouded sky, and nothing flowers. A breeze tugs at Faramir's hair, which shows no sign of silver, but he pays no attention to it. His face is yet pale as with long illness, although with a new flush of health. His eyes are closed, face turned toward the west for a moment, as if drinking in the sunlight. Then his eyes open, dark with fear and worry. He begins to walk without direction, without even paying attention to where his feet fall. Despite himself, his eyes drift east.

And all around the air did say
My lady soon will stir this way
In sorrow known

The wind suddenly picks up for a moment, pushing Faramir's hair back from his face, and our eyes follow the wind back, back to the wall of the garden. There's a door there, of wood nearly as heavy as the stone. Someone pushes it open, and there stands a short man with rather prim mustache and beard, clad in gray and silver -- the Warden of the Houses of Healing -- and behind him Eowyn, in homespun the color of bone. The only signs of color about her are the gold of her hair and the determination that lights her eyes. She follows the Warden into the garden, but her steps look checked, as though she wants to push past him, to run, to do more than hobble through the halls of the Houses of Healing.

The white queen walks and
The night grows pale
Stars of lovingness in her hair

The scene fades again: Faramir and Eowyn are on the top of a wall, walking along. Faramir is still dressed in the same sober clothing as he wore in the garden, but Eowyn now wears clear white, and there's a faint touch of color to her cheeks. She's ahead of Faramir by a few steps, looking around her, though it's hard to tell whether it's curiosity or restlessness or some combination that drives her. Faramir watches her, his eyes soft. Eowyn realizes she's outpaced her companion, and turns around to face him. She's smiling, though the expression looks a bit uncomfortable, as though she's not used to smiling. The sun is once more low in the sky. It fires up her hair so her face can hardly be seen. Just above her head, the first star of the evening gleams forth.

Needing -- unheard
Pleading -- one word

Faramir opens his mouth, then closes it again. Eowyn closes the distance between them -- and then she's passing him, they're in the garden again, and she's going out the door. Faramir was sitting down on a stone bench: he rises to his feet and turns as if to go after her, reaching out one hand, calling out something clearly understandable as Eowyn's name.

So sad my eyes
She cannot see

Back on the wall again, Eowyn staring out toward the East as if she could will herself to see what she yearns to see. Faramir stands just at her shoulder: he watches her, not the East. He speaks and she answers, but she still does not turn to look at him. Faramir sighs, a faint smile lingering on his lips: he reaches out and gently turns Eowyn's chin so she faces him. She meets his gaze with a quizzical stare.

Faramir's face darkens and silver streaks his hair: we're back in the present day, and he stands in the shadow of a narrow window, looking out at his wife. He sighs again, and buckles his sword about his waist.

How did thee fare, what have thee seen
The mother of the willow green
I call her name

In a hallway much like this one, Faramir accosts the Warden, asking him something. The Warden listens, then shrugs his shoulders and speaks a few words, gesturing down the hallway. Cut to: a door swinging open, and Faramir stepping into a sick-room. Merry looks up from where he was sitting by a table, trying to occupy himself with a book, his legs swinging freely beneath the chair as if he were a child playing at being an adult. Faramir greets him as Merry hops down to stand. Close-up on Faramir's lips: they shape the name of Eowyn.

And 'neath her window have I stayed
I loved the footsteps that she made
And when she came

Faramir sits by the window with Merry. Merry has perched himself on the window-sill, and is talking, but slowly, choosing each word. His brow is creased with concentration. Faramir listens closely, his eyes resting on the world outside the window. The paths and gardens are empty out there, but for a moment a white form shadows itself out there, an image that is now always before Faramir's eyes even when Eowyn is elsewhere.

White queen how my heart did ache
And dry my lips no word would make
So still I wait

Faramir and Eowyn stand on the wall once more. The wind blows color and health, and the green leaves that drift in the air are bright and living once more. Even the sky looks a clearer blue. But Eowyn is still pale in her white garments, still restless in her movements. Faramir wets his lips, tries to speak. Eowyn cocks her head as if to listen. Faramir tries again. She looks full at him. He tries a third time, and ends by offering her his hand. Her eyes drop to it, and she hesitates a moment. Then she takes it, and looks up at him. He pulls her into an embrace, nearly glowing with happiness.

Her eyes are open as she embraces him in return. She's smiling, but the faintest of shadows still lies behind her smile.

The shadowed eyes darken, become Faramir's: we're back to the present. He hesitates by the window for one last look. Then he takes a deep breath and walks down the hallway, slowly picking up speed as he goes, passing through one slant of light after another. At the end of the hall he turns, and goes down a set of spiral stairs.

The music shouts as with trumpets, as Faramir steps into the courtyard. Half the king's guard is here, with Elessar himself watching and laughing. Eowyn, her long skirts kilted up, is fighting sword-to-sword with one of the guards. She nearly glows with joy in what she's doing. The sword is perfectly balanced and exactly the right length, obviously hers, not borrowed. The bout ends, and the guard bows to Eowyn, making some compliment. She nods regally to him, still breathless and glowing, then sees Faramir standing on the edge of things. She comes over to him, offering him her hand: come, join us. He looks down at it, hesitates, takes it.

My goddess hear my darkest fear
I speak too late
It's for evermore that I wait

As Eowyn pulls Faramir into the center for the next bout, Arwen appears. Every man immediately rises to his feet. Arwen pays them no mind, but comes over to Elessar, speaking to him quietly. Pan around to Faramir: he's the only one not watching Arwen. His eyes are on Eowyn, who's energetically looking at nothing at all, certainly not Elessar and Arwen. Faramir blinks, and for that heartbeat he looks old and careworn, worried by something he cannot and will not name.

Dear friend goodbye
No tears in my eyes
So sad it ends
As it began

Eowyn turns to face him, and catches a glimpse of this. What's wrong? she asks him. He shakes his head, and smiles, once more clear-eyed and loving. I grow old, he says (and the light catches the silver in his hair). She laughs: Never. Faramir says nothing. His smile does not fade. He draws his sword and salutes his wife. Their swords cross, joyful battle, on the last note of the song.

end

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