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PostPosted: Sun 17 Jul , 2005 9:07 pm 
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When Azrahil stepped forth, Faramir noticed that the merry chatter of the crowd was slightly hushed, as attention shifted to the two. The sudden turning of heads, the stares and the half-hidden whispers seemed to make the young man even more apprehensive. In fact, Faramir could not remember having ever seen him so nervous before. Even when about to confront his uncle (and an uncertain fate), he had shown boldness and determination, although some of it might have been show, Faramir assumed. But now, taken out of his familiar surroundings, watched by a crowd of strangers some of whom still regarded the young Umbarian with suspicion and certain prejudice, and moreover laden with a guilty conscience – or so Faramir read his expression –, all courage seemed to have fallen from Azrahil. He looked as obviously he felt: vulnerable, delivered to others’ mercy. And it was plain to see he loathed every moment of it.

Faramir pitied him. Azrahil had reached him now and was glancing up to him nervously, bereft of words. To shorten his ordeal, Faramir simply reached for his hand and shook it. “There are many people I have to thank for the fact I am here now,” he said gravely, “but you I owe the most.”

Azrahil stared at him in surprise and disbelief. “You owe me nothing,” he said. “It is the other way round – you were the one who saved my life. And I failed you when it was my turn to repay you. I did not keep my promise to come to your aid.” He hung his head, looking grim and dejected.

“Because there were greater forces at work,” Faramir said gently with a nod to Teherin and a smile. Seeing that Azrahil still looked uncomfortable, even guilty, he clapped his shoulder. “Azrahil, I know you would have come had they let you. You are not a man to break your word, as you have proven in the past. With what you have done you have earned not only my sincere thanks but also my highest opinion – if that means anything to you.”

Azrahil raised his eyes to meet his. “It means a great deal,” he said earnestly. “And yet you are wrong in setting me up so high. It was you who showed trust in me, and indeed who considered me worth anything but a mere servant to do other people’s dirty work, despite the wrongs I had done to you.”

“You acted on your uncle’s orders.”

“Which is no excuse,” Azrahil returned with astonishing fierceness. “I should have turned against him years ago. But I lacked the courage. I admit to being frightened of his revenge for a long time. Moreover I considered you the enemy, and even approved of you being held captive. But the longer I watched you resist him, enduring whatever he flung at you, the torture, the constant attempts at humiliating you ...”

“You began to doubt his attitude,” Faramir finished the sentence for him. “And this doubt is exactly what speaks for you. You were the one who made the first step, by reconsidering your allegiance to your uncle. And a very difficult, very dangerous step that was. Yes, perhaps it was I who offered you a possibility to change your life, but without you recognising and indeed embracing it, my offer would have been pretty useless, would it not? You took an immense risk, without any thought for personal gain and indeed personal safety, and this deed of bravery and selflessness shall not be forgotten. You are on the best way of making yourself a great name, Master Azrahil. And since despite your complaints I still consider me in your debt, I will do what I can to aid you furtheron – if you do me one favour, that is. Today is supposed to be a day of cheer and celebration. So stop looking that gloomy and dejected! Such an expression should have no place here today. Also, I should add, ‘tis a sure way to disappoint your avid admirers.”

Smiling, he indicated a group of girls who had been following Azrahil’s every movement with obvious interest, and who now giggled when he briefly glanced in their direction. Faramir’s smile turned to a slight grin when the young man blushed rather violently, so much that even his strong tan could not hide it. But then Azrahil relaxed visibly, and took a deep breath, as if a great load had been taken off his shoulders. He seemed to straighten, as if reminded of how a proper Umbarian was supposed to bear himself. Finally he smiled as well, almost shyly at first, then more broadly and with increasing confidence, encouraged by Faramir’s smile and the now mostly friendly attention from the bystanders he was receiving.

“This is much better,” Faramir told him softly, clapping his shoulder again. “How is Pharzi doing, by the way?”

The way Azrahil launched an enthusiastic account on the lioness’ doings showed how much more at ease he was feeling now. More people gathered round to listen to him, and he seemed pleased by the attention, even delighted when one of the stable boys plucked up courage and inquired if the lion was really dangerous, and so involved the Umbarian in a conversation.

Faramir listened to them for a while, until a loud whimper from Meriadoc made him turn to Éowyn. Taking his leave of Azrahil and the others, he went over to her. “I think I have greeted almost everyone now,” he said. “Thank you for staying. But now ‘tis time for the little ones to get their food. We have kept them waiting for so long already. I could do with a bite as well, to be honest.”


Last edited by Khorazîr on Thu 21 Jul , 2005 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jul , 2005 6:33 pm 
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“Remember what I told you,” Éowyn reminded Éomer. They had carried on their own private discussion about Azrahil while Faramir spoke. “I was about to take them inside,” she told Faramir. Then she added quietly, “Your words were needed and appreciated. He has not felt comfortable here since his arrival. Hopefully that will change now that everyone knows he has your approval.” Here she glanced swiftly at her brother, then down at the babe in her arms. “But now it is time for this one to eat before he becomes even more upset with me.”

“Elboron eat,” he said from his perch.

“Yes, we have not forgotten about you,” Éowyn assured him. “If you come down from there, you can take your Dadi to the kitchen and see if the cook will let you have any food.”

“Down you go,” Túrin said as he swung the boy from his shoulders. Elboron trotted over and quickly grabbed hold of his father’s hand.

“And now if you will excuse us, gentlemen,” Éowyn said, smiling. She slipped her free arm around Faramir as they walked toward the house. Rían trailed behind them, entertaining Peregrin. “Let him have a little bread and cheese, or some fruit,” she suggested, nodding to Elboron, “but not too much. Otherwise, he will not want to eat later on, even if he says he will.”

They paused for a few moments just inside the threshold for Faramir to reacquaint himself with his home. The soft light shining through the windows filled the house with a warm glow while the curtains rustled in the current of a slow breeze. Soon they continued on, stopping briefly at times to look at a painting or tapestry or to greet someone who had not managed to come out to the terrace. “I’m afraid we must leave you two for now,” Éowyn said when they came to the staircase. “You should join us when you are done eating.”

“Or sooner,” Faramir said before leaning in to kiss her gently.

She returned the kiss and smiled as Elboron tugged on his father’s hand in his impatience. As they continued to the kitchens, Éowyn watched them for a few moments and then started up the stairs. “Is he really here?” she asked Rían, “Or is this just a wonderful dream that I do not wish to wake from?”

“This is no dream, my lady,” the other answered, smiling.

Meriadoc announced his full displeasure when Éowyn put him down in the cradle for a few moments while she got ready. She called to him, trying to soothe him with the sound of her voice, but he continued to cry, his face turning a bright pink. Soon Peregrin began crying in Rían’s arms, though without the intensity that his brother displayed. He did not settle when Éowyn lifted him and carried him over to the rocking chair. However, his cries ended abruptly when he realized that he could finally eat. “One would think I never feed him,” Éowyn commented, taking Peregrin in her other arm.

“Little boys demand attention,” Rían observed.

“And the demand does not end when they grow up,” Éowyn added dryly. She sighed and rested her head against the back of the chair, closing her eyes. She could relax now, with her two littlest ones in her arms and the knowledge that her husband and son were downstairs. Rían folded the blanket that they had taken to the garden, picking some loose grass blades from the cloth, then left to tidy up the other room.

“I know this day does not mean much to you,” Éowyn softly told her sons several minutes later, “but maybe one day when your Dadi tells you about it, you will understand why it is so special.” She smiled as Peregrin looked at her while she spoke. “Even your brother does not understand everything – I know that surprises you, Meriadoc,” she said when he coughed suddenly. “But all he knows is that something bad happened, and that his Dadi was gone for a long time. Yes, he is happy now, but he does not know all of the reasons why he should be happy.”

A few more moments went by, silent other than the quiet sounds of the babies nursing. “And when your Dadi’s arm is healed, he will be able to play with you both at once,” she continued. “I know you will like that. He enjoys being your Dadi, so be sure to give him plenty of excuses to be happy.” She rested her head against the chair again, a contented smile spreading across her face.

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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul , 2005 1:55 pm 
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Led by Elboron, and again surprised by the strength of the little boy’s grip, Faramir followed him to the kitchen. The place was busy as an anthill. The chief cook had just returned from the terrace and was holding a speech to her underlings about what was expected of them today and during the days following in order to prepare everything for a Midsummer feast appropriate both for the occasion, and the fact that their lord had returned. To Faramir’s slight surprise, there were only few complaints about the tight schedule the cook set her helpers. On the contrary, despite it meaning extra work, the staff seemed to be looking forward to the feast as well. Again he felt warmth spread through him at the realisation of how much they seemed to be considering him an essential part of this place, and not just somebody to take orders from.

While the cook was still talking, one of her apprentices espied Faramir near the door, and hurried over to him. “My lord, what can we do for you?”

“Cheese,” said Elboron before Faramir could answer, pointing at a large red cheese sitting on a wooden plate on a table not far from them.

The apprentice glanced down in surprise as she had not noticed the boy before, then she smiled. “Ooh, the little lord is here as well. Would you like some cheese?”

Elboron nodded, smiling a little shyly at being addressed directly.

“And what else would you like?” the young woman asked.

Elboron looked up to his father questioningly, who smiled and shrugged. “How about some bread and milk, Elboron?” he suggested. “And perhaps if you ask her nicely, the lady will peel you a carrot and give you a slice of cucumber.”

Elboron tried to say the last word and laughed because it sounded so funny. Then he looked at the apprentice and said, “Carrot.”

“I think you forgot to add something,” Faramir told him softly.

Elboron looked at him, then he understood. “Carrot please,” he repeated.

The woman laughed. “He’s such a cute little boy,” she said, reaching out to ruffle his hair. “And well behaved, too. I will get your carrot immediately, Master Elboron. And what can I get for you, my lord?” she asked.

“Some of the same, please,” Faramir replied.

She courtsied and bustled off to prepare the food, and arrived again a short while later with a tray containing bread and cheese, some carrots, half a cucumber and an apple cut up in pieces, and a small flagon of milk and two cups. Nodding at the milk, she said, “I was not sure if you would like to drink milk, too, my lord. I can get you something else if you wish.”

He smiled. “Thank you, but the milk is fine, and will, I am sure, meet with your mistress’ approval because she seems very concerned about my health, and up on the terrace stated publicly that she would do her utmost to “feed him until he looks his old self again”.”

The apprentice cast a glance over her shoulder at the chief cook. Grinning, she said, “Yes, this sounds quite like her. But, lord, she has been very concerned, as have we all. Is it true what the rumours say, that they poisoned your food and everything?”

He shook his head slightly as a shadow of remembered hardship passed over his face. “Not the food, the water.”

“Dadi come,” Elboron interrupted them, and both turned to him.

“He is right,” Faramir said. “His mami is waiting for us.”

“Ah, but how will you carry the tray with one hand only? Oi, you there,” she then called to a servant who had just delivered a tray with empty glasses, “I‘ve got a task for you.” And she handed the young man the other tray, and told him to accompany Faramir and Elboron.

With the servant trailing after them, they left the kitchen and made their way through the house. Elboron was eating a carrot and seemed where cheerful. Faramir noted subtle changes here and there, and increased security everywhere. There were far more guards around than usual, and a number of Rohirrim seemed to have taken over guard-duties as well. On the corridor leading up to their bedroom, Faramir passed the door of his study. He was quite glad it was closed so that he could not see the pile of unanswered correspondance that most likely was sitting there, a reminder of all the tasks that would require his attention ere long. But not today, he thought, and not tomorrow, either.

Reaching the bedroom door he knocked. Rían came and opened, and the servant handed her the tray. “They are in the nursery,” she told Faramir while setting the tray down on a low table. Helping himself to some food, he went to the door and halted there, watching Éowyn and the twins. He noted how happy she looked, and smiled at the sight as it touched him deeply.

“Do you have any idea how good it feels to see you smile like this?” he at length said quietly.


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PostPosted: Thu 21 Jul , 2005 7:06 pm 
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Éowyn looked over to where he leaned against the doorframe. “I think it might feel as good as seeing you standing there,” she replied. Noticing the food in his hand, she said, “Ah good, you found something to eat. And you too,” she added, watching Elboron squeeze around his father’s legs. In one hand he held an apple wedge, and in the other, a cucumber slice. He held both up to show her.

“Cumber,” he said, lifting the green slice.

“Cucumber,” Eowyn said slowly and clearly.

Elboron repeated, “Cu-cum-ber,” laughed, and then took a bite.

Both Meriadoc and Peregrin had taken a break from eating to watch the newcomers, but now their curiosity satisfied, they returned to their nursing. Elboron dragged a large pillow across the room and sat on it next to the rocking chair to finish his cucumber slice. Peregrin noticed and tried twisting around to see him. Elboron held up the apple slice and said, “Peri eat.”

“No,” Eowyn said gently, “Peregrin can’t eat apple slices yet, but thank you for wanting to share it with him. You can tell him how good it was later.” Glancing over at Faramir she said, “You do not have to stand there the whole time.” She nodded to a nearby chair. “Come and sit with us.”

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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jul , 2005 7:47 am 
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“I was enjoying the view,” Faramir explained with a smile, before crossing the room, but instead of taking the chair he lowered himself onto the pillow next to Elboron. The boy crawled onto his lap, and on the folds of his father’s tunic he began to play with the apple-wedge, pretending it was a ship sailing on a stormy sea. Faramir wondered about what had inspired this, because so far the only ships Elboron had seen had been during short visits to Harlond or the shores of Anduin, and he had been much younger then. But perhaps, he decided, Túrin or Khorazîr or one of the others had told him tales about the sea.

The ship got attacked by a monster (Elboron’s other hand), and soon vanished in his mouth. “Get more,” Elboron announced, scrambled to his feet and darted off towards the tray in the other room. Faramir watched him, a feeling of happiness and content spreading through him once more.

“Can this be real?” he asked softly, looking up at Éowyn. “For if it is a dream, I do not want to wake.”


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PostPosted: Fri 22 Jul , 2005 4:10 pm 
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“I have asked myself that several times already,” she replied as she shifted the babies in her arms, “but this is no dream.” Careful not to upset the nearest twin, she reached down and ran her fingers through Faramir’s hair. “You are home at last, and our family is together again.”

Elboron came trotting back into the room with a piece of bread in one hand and a cup in the other. “Milk,” he said, holding the cup toward his father.

“That is not how a good boy asks for something,” Éowyn corrected him.

Elboron scrunched up his face, thinking, then said, “Milk please, Dadi.”

“That is much better, thank you,” Éowyn praised him. Then she chuckled softly. “And just when you had gotten comfortable,” she said as Faramir rose to his feet, steadying himself against the rocker with one hand. She watched them disappear into the other room, then looked down to where Meriadoc had finished his meal and was now rubbing his eyes with one fist. Then he hiccupped. “Oh, let’s get that out of you before you fall asleep,” Éowyn murmured, lifting him to rest against her shoulder and rubbing his back with her hand.

From the other room, she heard Faramir say, “Carefully now. Hold it with both hands and walk slowly.” Expecting to see her son come back in with his cup of milk, she was surprised to see him and Faramir carry in the tray of food. Elboron clutched the handle with both hands, his face a mask of concentration as he tried to keep his end steady. “We will put it on that footstool,” Faramir said, indicating the plain wooden stool near the rocking chair. They successfully put the tray down and went back for the cups and flagon of milk.

“Well done, both of you,” Éowyn said with a smile when they returned. She watched as Faramir poured some milk into a cup and gave it to Elboron, who immediately started drinking it. “You should say ‘thank you’ when someone gives you something,” she reminded him.

“Thank you, Dadi,” Elboron said quickly, then took another sip. Meanwhile, Faramir had poured himself a cup of milk and had returned to his seat on the pillow.

“Would you mind taking Meriadoc?” Éowyn asked. “His hiccups are gone, so he should fall asleep for you without too much fuss.”

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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jul , 2005 6:27 pm 
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Faramir set down his cup and took Meriadoc who, he thought, looked very content now that he was fed, and also rather sleepy as he lay nestled in his father’s arm, sucking his thumb. “You really do appreciate your food, do you not?” Faramir asked him gently. “And well for it. ‘Tis amazing how much you have grown. And you, too, of course,” he added with a smile, carefully reaching up with his other hand to hold Peregrin’s which the baby had extended towards him, as if to remind his father that he was to be regarded as well.

Feeling a painful sting in his shoulder, Faramir lowered his arm again. Éowyn’s keen glance reminded him that he still had not told her about this injury, and indeed his return journey. The others would want to hear an account of that as well. Actually he had been surprised that Azrahil had not inquired about Al-Jahmîr’s fate immediately. “You wonder about the shoulder, do you not?” he asked Éowyn. “It got dislocated when Al-Jahmîr’s men caught me again, but Elessar set it, and it should heal in no time. If you do not mind, I will give you and the others a full account of how I was freed when all are assembled. Perhaps at lunch, or supper – if you can wait that long. You must have lots of questions.”

Meanwhile Elboron had begun to soak some bread in his milk. He fished out a piece, and laughed when he discovered he could squeeze it like a sponge – which he did vigorously, dribbling milk all over the floor.

“I hope you are going to eat that still, Elboron,” Faramir said. “You know that you are not allowed to play with your food. And look what mess you have created on the floor.” Elboron looked down at the milk stains while stuffing the soaked bread into his mouth. Then he gave his father a glance which indicated that he knew quite well he had done something he should not.

“There is a napkin on the tray you can wipe the floor with,” Faramir told him, nodding towards the footstool. Elboron gave the tray a swift glance, then shook his head, stooped, and began mopping up the spilled milk with his sleeves. This looked so funny that both Faramir and Éowyn laughed. “He is highly inventive, for sure,” Faramir commented. “Although I fear the person who is going to have to wash his shirt will not be too pleased about this inventiveness.”


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PostPosted: Fri 29 Jul , 2005 8:33 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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“And to think he still has years of growing left to do,” Éowyn replied. “I have a feeling that he will only become more inventive as time goes by. I think that we have you to blame for that.” She grinned at Faramir. “And if Vorondil is anything like his father, the two will make an interesting pair.” She watched as Elboron walked to the tray and chose another apple wedge. “Though I suppose it is only fitting that the sons cause as much trouble as the fathers. Oh, are you done, little one?” she asked, looking down at Peregrin. He grinned and wriggled in her arms. She sat him up on her lap and began rubbing his back, then asked Elboron to bring her the two light blankets hanging over the edge of the cradle.

Elboron almost tripped over one as he came back, but quickly regained his balance and continued. Éowyn took one from him, then said, “Now help your Dadi cover up Meriadoc before he gets too cold.” He carefully spread the blanket over his brother, then watched intently as Faramir tucked the edges snugly.

Meanwhile, Peregrin had begun acting sleepy as well. Éowyn wrapped the blanket around him and laid him against her shoulder, letting the chair rock slowly. He began fussing as he sometimes did when he did not want to rest, but it was a short battle, and soon he was sound asleep on his mother’s shoulder.

Éowyn looked down to where Meriadoc had fallen asleep as well and smiled as she watched Faramir cradle his son. She was glad that the twins would not be able to remember these past months and that Elboron would eventually forget about them too. Their earliest memories of their father should be ones of happiness and safety, not fear and worry, she thought. Kissing Peregrin’s hair gently, she rose and put him in his bed. She turned to take Meriadoc, then stopped, deciding that it was more important to let Faramir spend time with him.

“I think it is time for your nap too,” she reminded Elboron.

“No nap,” he protested loudly, crossing his arms and scowling.

“Do not argue with me, young man,” she said firmly, “and do not speak so loudly, or else you may wake Meriadoc or Peregrin and they will be unhappy.”

“No nap,” he repeated, still scowling.

“I will be back soon,” Éowyn said, stooping to kiss Faramir’s cheek.

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PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug , 2005 8:49 am 
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Faramir smiled at her, then put on a sterner expression when he turned to Elboron. The boy still wore a scowl on his face as he played idly with his piece of apple. “Are you sure you do not want to have a nap now?” he asked him quietly, so as not to wake the baby sleeping in his arm.

Elboron shook his head, a fierce look in his grey eyes that reminded Faramir of Boromir, who at times had revelled in fits of utter stubbornness, too, especially when he had been told to go to bed early, or had been forbidden to do something he enjoyed. “No nap!” the boy insisted.

“Well, then I fear I will have to go and say hello to Narâk on my own, without you,” Faramir went on matter-of-factly, but watching Elboron closely. “And afterwards I may visit Pharzi the lion. I would have liked to take you with me, but I will not if you are unrested and grumpy. So – no nap, no visit to the stables.”

Elboron’s scowl lessened. “Go see horse?” he asked excitedly.

“If you have your nap now, we shall, in the afternoon.”

Considering the possibilities, Elboron took a bite of his apple, looking thoughtful. He seemed to be fighting a small internal battle, which was mirrored in his changing expressions. He raised the apple to his mouth, but lowered it again and glanced at it. Then obviously having made up his mind, he dashed to the footstool and put the half-eaten apple-wedge next to the tray. “Give horse,” he explained, looking rather pleased with himself.

“Narâk will be delighted,” Faramir said, smiling. “Well, off to bed then, young man. I shall check in a moment to see if you are really keeping word.”

He watched as Elboron trotted off towards his room. Meriadoc moved in his sleep, and Faramir shifted his attention to him. As he studied his features, he was stricken how much he and Peregrin resembled Éowyn and her brother in looks, down to the shape of nose and mouth, and of course the fair hair. The semblance was much more prominent now then at their birth. No wonder Éomer has taken a liking to the twins in particular, Faramir thought as he watched the baby lovingly.

“You have no idea what it means to me to be able to hold you like this,” he told the boy softly. “There were moments when I thought I would never see you again. You are lucky you are too small to comprehend what has been going on here these past four months, and why your Mami has been sad so often of late. ’Tis well she had you and your brothers to look after her, to cheer her up when she needed it most.”

Hearing footsteps, he looked up to see that Éowyn had returned to fetch Meriadoc and smiled. He waited until she had lifted the baby out of his arm, then slowly got to his feet. His left leg had nearly fallen asleep. “I am going to check on Elboron if he really went to bed,” he told her softly, kissing first the baby’s forehead, then her temple.

Elboron’s room was just across the corridor. When Faramir entered, he found the boy sitting on the bed, struggling with his shoes. Faramir helped him as best he could with one hand, then he held up the blanket so that Elboron could crawl underneath. “Omer come?” he asked as his father tucked in the blanket around him.

“Later you can ask him. I am quite sure he will want to accompany us. He used to take you to the stables very often, did he not?”

Elboron yawned and nodded, looking rather sleepy. “Did he let you ride on his horse as well?”

Elboron said an incomprehensible word which might have been the name of his uncle’s horse, then he yawned again, and only a short while later he was soundly asleep. Faramir remained at his bedside for a little longer, watching him, then he returned to their bedroom. Éowyn was still busy in the nursery, and he stepped to the window, looking out. On the topmost branches of the giant blood-beech that grew not far from this wing of the house, a bird of prey was perched. He wondered if it was Aiglos, and remembered that he had not greeted and indeed thanked Lordel yet as he had not be present on the terrace.

Soft footsteps and a touch on his hale shoulder told him that Éowyn had come to join him. He slipped his arm around her waist and drew her close to him. “I was wondering about the bird,” he said, “and if it was Aiglos. I do not want to imagine how horrible things would have been without the buzzard. And they have been bad enough.”


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PostPosted: Tue 02 Aug , 2005 4:45 pm 
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Éowyn looked out to the tree. “Aye, they have,” she said quietly. “We owe Lordel and Aiglos much for what they have done for us.” She wrapped her arms around him and rested her cheek against the soft cloth of his tunic. It almost felt strange now to have Faramir back home, though Éowyn knew she would not miss the worry and loneliness that had been her constant companions while he was away.

She closed her eyes and listened to his heart beat beneath her ear. Its steady rhythm was such a comfort now, an assurance that this was no figment or dream. A sigh escaped her lips. “This is wonderful,” she whispered, tilting her head to kiss his chin lightly. “I could spend the rest of the day like this, holding you, the children quiet, no one demanding anything of us. This is perfect,” she murmured, resting her cheek on his tunic again.

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PostPosted: Wed 03 Aug , 2005 7:32 am 
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“Yes, it is,” he agreed softly, kissing her hair. “Let us hope it will remain like this for a while.” Then he fell silent, as if feeling that even quiet words were a disturbance now. He closed his eyes and buried his face in her hair, simply enjoying her warmth and the feel of her close to him. Reaching up, he began to stroke her hair and back gently. He could not remember when last they had had a quiet moment like this – it must have been some time before the twins had been born, he assumed –, and he had missed them. He had missed her, in fact. Not only she had been lonely these past months, but he as well, although for him the worry to survive and to return home had often been the more prominent, and had banished all other thoughts from his mind.

He must have tensed at the memory of these dark times when he had been in serious doubt he would indeed survive, because he felt Éowyn raise her head from his chest, and opening his eyes he met her questioning glance, accompanied by a slight frown. “’Tis nothing,” he assured her quietly. “I have just become aware of how much I missed you.” With that he leant forward and kissed her lightly.

A grim smile played about his lips as he withdrew. “You know, although his presence would surely spoil the atmosphere, I cannot help wishing that Al-Jahmîr was here to behold how all his plans of destroying us and all we hold dear have been thwarted utterly. There could hardly be a worse punishment for him.”


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PostPosted: Wed 03 Aug , 2005 6:22 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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“No!” Éowyn said suddenly, a fierce light in her eyes. “I would never wish him anywhere near this place, near our family. You say it would punish him. I say it would only make him more determined to escape and succeed. He causes enough trouble from afar.” She stepped back and crossed her arms, surprised to find herself shaking slightly from her anger. Closing her eyes and shaking her head, she turned to sit upon the edge of the windowseat.

After a moment, she spoke again softly. “You do not, no, cannot, understand what it felt like to wake up and find that someone was in there with Meriadoc and Peregrin, trying to—to—” Her voice broke, recalling the horror of that night. “And then to wonder if Elboron had been first…” She wiped her eyes quickly. “That his plans could come so far and be thwarted only by chance…”

Feeling Faramir sink next to her and slip his arm around her shoulders again, she leaned against him, listening to him as he murmured soothing words into her ear. She had missed this as well, his comforting nearness during times of worry. “I know you did not intend those words to upset me,” she after she had regained control of her voice, “but I cannot stand the thought of that snake near our home.” She took a deep breath to try and steady herself.

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PostPosted: Wed 03 Aug , 2005 9:28 pm 
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“Chances are good he will never come close to our home, or ever regain a position to be able to harm you or me or the children,” Faramir said soothingly, stroking her hair. Her fierce reaction had painfully reminded him of how much she had suffered lately, and also how very nearly their beloved children had been murdered. Both thoughts incensed a long-slumbering anger.

“Forgive me for speaking so tactlessly,” he went on. “I did not consider that even though you never met him, he has tortured you as well from afar. And that he attempted to kill the children is unforgivable. Elessar is hunting him now. Perhaps he has already caught him – he did not have much of a headstart when he fled –, or else the Umbarian has been slain during a fight. His chances for both escape and survival are slight, nevertheless we should not underestimate him. He is good at worming his way out of tight spots.”

He leaned back and rested his head against the cool wall, closing his eyes wearily for a moment. “During our ride hither the rangers inquired what kind of punishment I would desire for him,” he said quietly, as if speaking to himself, “and I told them I would be content to know he was stripped of all his powers, never to rise again into a position to threaten us. But back then my entire thought was bent on you, on returning home. I think only now, as I hear more about how you felt during those months I begin to realise that his malice ran much deeper. He did not want to destroy me alone, but you as well. And ...,” he sighed, “I am not sure I know how to deal with that. Part of me tells me that I should hate him thoroughly. I should pursue him with the same hatred, ruthlessness and cruelty he displayed towards me, and his punishment should consist of as much pain as he caused me. But what good has hatred ever done to anyone? And if he was tormented as well, it would not change anything that happened to me. Then again I cannot forgive how much pain he has caused you. ‘Tis is a different matter altogether.”

He drew a deep breath. “Fact is I am glad Elessar has taken over the matter, so that for the moment I do not have to burden myself with the decision how to catch and punish Al-Jahmîr. But I fear that decision will be required of me – of us – much sooner than we are prepared for. And for some reason I am afraid of what may happen then. I know not what I will do when I see him again. There should be, there must be justice, but not revenge. Yet the more I learn of what passed here, the more I wish for the latter. And I loathe myself for that, for ‘tis not me – at least not the ‘me’ I remember.”

He glanced at her, his eyes searching hers for an answer to the questions troubling him. “I have changed, have I not?” he asked softly, with a trace of sadness in his voice.


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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug , 2005 4:22 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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Éowyn rested her forehead against his. “Yes… no…” she replied softly, then silenced herself, quite unsure of what to say and feeling disappointed that she could not easily answer his questions. She did not know how to tell him, or even if she should, that she would surely question his devotion to his family if he did not desire some sort of vengeance after what had happened to them. If left to her, she would not leave Al-Jahmîr alive, especially not after he had tried to murder her babies. For taking Faramir, she could be content with seeing the Umbarian punished, broken, and humiliated, never to regain his strength, but in attempting to harm her children, he had been far too daring, and for that she would not let him live.

But he was right, she had to admit. This new need for vengeance conflicted greatly with his usually gentle nature. In that he had changed, certainly, but it was not as though his desire was unfounded. Al-Jahmîr had brought this upon himself, and any action against him would be justified. It would be difficult to sympathize with someone who wanted to kill helpless children, children whose only crime was that they lived. Éowyn leaned back and shook her head slightly. Even without being here, Al-Jahmîr was spoiling the mood.

Reaching down, she took Faramir’s hands in hers, being careful with his right. “Let us not talk about these things now,” she suggested quietly. “There will be other times for them. Today should be a day of joy that you have returned.” She raised her gaze to meet his eyes. She could easily read the weariness in them, but now it seemed to be a weariness untainted with worry or fear.

“You really need to rest,” she said, reaching up to brush a few strands of hair back from his forehead. “Especially since it will not be long before your children are awake again, and I cannot see them being persuaded to leave you alone.” Now she saw a smile spread across his features, and the sight warmed her. After touching her lips to his, she leaned back and stretched slightly. “And I feel like I could use a nap as well.”

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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug , 2005 10:20 pm 
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“And I would not want the little ones to leave me alone,” he said, smiling. “And the same goes for you. How I managed without you all these months is a marvel to me.”

Slowly he got to his feet, only now realising how tired he really was. First anxiety, joy and excitement afterwards had kept his weariness at bay, but now that he was finally home – for only now he was beginning to really feel like he was – he allowed himself to relax, and his exhaustion to show. One look at Éowyn told him that she was in sore need of rest as well. He held out his hand to her and helped her up from the seat, before together they walked over to the bed.

He lowered himself to the edge and unclasped the belt, then carefully pulled his arm out of the sling and removed the strip of linen. The shoulder was still bandaged heavily so that the joint was more or less fixed and movement of the arm restricted, nevertheless he managed to stretch it gently to activate the circulation in his hand and lower arm.

Noticing that Éowyn was watching him, he gave her a wry smile. “I would have preferred had it been the left shoulder. Not being able to move the arm and right hand properly is a real nuisance. But there is one advantage, at least,” he added with a grin while stripping off the boots, the shafts of which were rather wide, fortunately, so that he could get rid of them without help. “Since I can hardly hold a pen and much less deal with my correspondence or matters or the fief that need extensive writing, you need not fear I am going to indulge in work for some time. I hope this meets with your approval.”


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PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug , 2005 5:17 am 
A maiden young and sad
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“It does, indeed,” Éowyn said with a smile, taking his boots and setting them aside. “I would have seriously questioned your judgment if you had intended otherwise. However, there is little you could do anyway without my knowledge, since I have the key to the door.” She stooped to kiss him quickly as he grinned. “You will also have to prove to me that you are fit enough to resume your duties before I give it back.” They both chuckled as she started to help him with his other clothes.

Removing Faramir’s tunic and shirt was a far trickier task than the boots had been. With his shoulder joint effectively prevented from moving, it was difficult to remove his arm with as little discomfort as possible. At one point Eowyn found herself choking back laughter when he looked utterly ridiculous with his good arm three-fourths of the way inside the sleeve and the rest of the garment halfway over his head. She almost lost her composure when he muttered something about being stuck.

Her mirth quickly faded once his shirt was off and she saw the obvious effects of his poisoning and other treatment. Faramir had never been one to carry much extra weight, yet his leanness had always been the result of his seemingly constant motion and activity. What was there now was from something quite different. Eowyn frowned deeply as she lightly ran her hands down his chest. She was used to leanness, yes, but what she saw now was stark gauntness. His collarbone was clearly defined, as were several ribs. He looked fragile, a condition she had never seen him in and one that she instantly disliked. Éowyn frowned deeply. “What have they done to you?” she whispered, her voice conveying her shock and sadness.

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PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug , 2005 2:17 pm 
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Faramir reached out and gently touched her cheek. He had not yet seen himself in a mirror, and judging from Éowyn’s reaction he was not sure if he wanted to. “It will pass,” he assured her softly, but with conviction, while standing again to remove his trowsers. “Here where there is rest and safety and moreover pleasant company.” With that he leaned forward to kiss her.

“Also, you know how well our cook knows her trade,” he went on as he drew back, “and how much I enjoy eating. So do not worry. I will look my old self again in no time. Well, except for the scars, I guess,” he added, as he watched her expression when her gaze passed over the numerous new ones, her frown deepening. There were the injuries he had received during his duel with Al-Jahmîr and that had only begun healing, a long scar on his side – a reminder of the wound one of the guards had given him during Azrahil’s rescue –, and a number of smaller cuts and bruises his sojourn on the rough coast of southern Tolfalas had caused.

“Lately I received enough stitches to last for a lifetime,” he remarked with a wry smile as Éowyn carefully inspected the scar on his side. “Luckily I was unconscious when most of them were being administered.”

Then suddenly he squirmed slightly and laughed because her touch tickled on the recently healed skin. “You did this on purpose, right?” he asked, trying to lighten the mood because Éowyn looked more troubled than ever. “How very clever of you. Now when I am hardly in a condition to retaliate properly.”


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PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug , 2005 10:07 pm 
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His remarks caused Eowyn to smile slightly, but she was still troubled by the changes that she saw. But he was right, she had to remind herself. The cook’s excellent food would fatten him up again, and after time, these scars would fade as others had. Sighing, she rested her cheek against his chest, enjoying the warmth and feel of his skin against hers. “No, that was an accident,” she replied. “I would never think of attacking someone so injured and defenseless.”

She heard him chuckle and felt him leave a trail of kisses down the curve of her neck to her shoulder. Then she felt his free hand wander up her back and toy with the clasps on her dress. She laughed softly and squirmed as his fingers brushed against the sensitive skin on her neck. “I know that was on purpose,” she said, lifting her head and stepping back a pace. Reaching behind her, she quickly unfastened the clasps and slipped the dress off. “Is this better?” she asked softly.

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug , 2005 1:54 pm 
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“Much better,” he replied just as softly, his throat tight of a sudden. She, too, had lost far more weight than she should have in such a short time, with the twin‘s birth only four months away. Her plain linen underdress played around her figure more loosely than it ought to. He remembered how Teherin had written to him out of worry for Éowyn. Now he could see the traces of her ordeal, and he felt a brief but powerful stab of anger.

But then he looked into her eyes and saw how they sparkled with joy, realised how her cheeks were flushed and that she was smiling, and he smiled as well, deciding to concentrate on the happiness of the moment and not to let any dark feeling spoil it. Whatever the visible reminders of past worries, to him she had never looked more beautiful. He reached out, caught a strand of her hair and let it slide through his fingers. It was soft as silk, and looked lighter than usual, as if the sun had bleached it. Then stepping close to her, he ran his hand down her cheek and throat, stooped his head and kissed her. Tenderly at first, but soon more passionately when she wrapped her arms around him tightly, he felt her draw even closer to him, and noted how eagerly she returned his kiss.

“Now I really curse the sorry state I am in,” he muttered, slightly out of breath, when they broke apart after a long while.


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PostPosted: Mon 08 Aug , 2005 7:39 pm 
A maiden young and sad
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“It could be worse,” Éowyn suggested wickedly. “You could have no legs, one arm, blind, mouth sewn shut—” Before the situation could get any worse, Faramir stopped her words by proving that his mouth was not sewn shut indeed. Éowyn sighed when this kiss ended. She had missed this, these tender and intimate moments with him, not only during the time he was away, but also for many months before that, when she had been ordered into bedrest while pregnant with the twins. She had felt neither beautiful nor desirable then, quite the opposite of what she felt now.

“You know I will always love you, no matter what state you are in,” she reminded him, reciprocating his kisses by letting hers linger on his neck and shoulder. “I seem to recall that you said you wanted to return home to find your Éowyn in all her glory and not pale and sad from worry,” she said as she slipped out of the linen garment. “I hope she meets with your approval,” she whispered, already knowing from his expression what the answer was.

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