Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. – The Bible. 13.8
“Lady Éowyn is very ill,” the midwife said grimly. “The aftermath of the birth has gone very badly. The women of Rohan are strong it seems, but I still fear for her life, my lady.”
Arwen moved to the bedside and anxiously felt Éowyn’s brow. “If only I had not told Estel and Faramir to go hunting so soon after the babe was born! Éowyn should have her husband beside her to comfort her. She is in dire needs of my Estel’s healing skills. My father taught me, though, how to mix healing brews for women in childbed. I shall see what I can do.” She squeezed Éowyn’s hand. “Be strong, my friend, I will return soon.”
“I just want to sleep,” Éowyn whispered.
Éowyn knew not for how long she slept. When she awoke, the sun was streaming through the bedroom window. A dark haired woman was sitting beside her. For a moment, Éowyn thought she was the Queen. Then the woman lifted her head and smiled at her. She had never seen the lady before. Yet she looked oddly familiar.
“I have long wanted to meet you, my daughter,” said the strange woman.
“Lady Finduilas!” Éowyn cried with a sudden flash of realisation. “But you are dead! Does that mean I am too?”
Finduilas shook her head. “That is your choice, my daughter. Long have I desired to speak to you, but not until today did Lord Námo grant me leave.”
Éowyn sat upright and studied Faramir’s mother. She had always imagined her as pale and sickly, but this woman looked to be glowing with health and vitality. She had often been told that Faramir resembled his father in appearance, but the warm gentle eyes that looked at her now were her husband’s, as were the slender hands and graceful demeanour. Next to the Queen, she was the fairest woman Éowyn had ever beheld.
“Faramir sees you as the most beautiful woman that ever lived, daughter,” said Finduilas, apparently able to sense Éowyn’s thoughts. “He loves you dearly and you have made him very happy. You are exactly the bride I would have chosen for him. With your colouring, my blue cloak suited you far better than it did me. I always looked better in scarlet, like the Queen.”
“You think so? I lack the sophistication of the ladies of Gondor. Neither do I have the mental abilities of Faramir’s people. Most likely I will die many years before my husband!” Somehow it seemed easy for Éowyn to tell Faramir’s mother all her deepest fears.
“My son knew many a lady of Gondor and found them all wanting compared with you,” said Finduilas. “You have more spirit and joy of life than the quiet women of this land, and yet you also carry Númenorean grace, as well as the pride of the House of Eorl, through your grandmother needs you to take him away from his books and make him smile. As for the mental gifts of his people, the King’s friendship will see he never lacks for a chance to use them.”
Éowyn noticed that Finduilas had ignored the last of her confidences. She wondered if the lady had come to lead her beyond the circles of the world. She felt oddly calm, as if nothing mattered any more.
“Is there anything else you would ask me, child?” said Finduilas.
“Why did Faramir’s father not love him?” said Éowyn. “That makes me so angry. Who could be more lovable than Faramir?”
Finduilas looked saddened at the question. “They were too alike,” she explained. “Denethor saw in Faramir what he could have been, had he been cursed with less pride. He did love him, but he feared Faramir’s powers of mind and strength of will, and fear can destroy love.” She wandered over to the crib where Éowyn’s newborn son lay sleeping. “Now this little one is more like unto you, and perhaps my Boromir; he will be a great prince and leader of men, but at heart a warrior rather than a lore-master. Elestelle has the far-sight of both Faramir and Denethor, and the love of music that I gave to my son. . Poor little ones, they will know less of their mother than Faramir did of me!”
“No!” cried Éowyn. “I won’t leave my children, I won’t!”
“Then fight, daughter! Fight for life, as fiercely as you fought the Witch King! Lord Námo gave me leave to come to fetch you, but I would rather not break my son’s heart again by doing so!”
“Faramir!” groaned Éowyn. ”It will destroy him to know I died bearing his child!”
“And should you live to bear more children, you will easily bring them into the world,” Finduilas said gently. “I have called for my son to bid you farewell, but it is your choice whether you go or stay. Your kinsfolk are eager to greet you beyond the circles of the world, while others who love you just as dearly desire you to abide with them here.”
“I will fight to stay with Faramir and my children!” Éowyn cried. She tried vainly to struggle to her feet. The baby started to cry.
“We will meet again one day, my child. I am proud of you.” Éowyn felt the gentlest of kisses upon her brow as she sank back upon the bed. She knew no more.
It was dark when Éowyn woke again. Faramir was sitting at her bedside tenderly holding her hand. Aragorn and Arwen stood at the foot of the bed. A large vase of sweet scented roses stood on a table by the window.
“Praise the Valar!” said Faramir. “You are awake my love!” He raised a glass of water to her lips and supported Éowyn while she drank Tears glittered in his grey eyes.
Aragorn moved forward and felt her brow. “The herbs Arwen gave you worked, “ he pronounced smiling. “We were very worried about you.”
“I had the strangest dream, Faramir,” said Éowyn. “I saw your mother.”
Faramir turned pale. “When Aragorn and I were on our way homewards,” he said slowly, “I suddenly heard my mother’s voice in my head telling me to return at once. We rode home with all speed.”
“There are many things we do not understand,” said Aragorn, smiling at them both. “Maybe the Lady Finduilas was indeed granted leave to return within the circles of the world for a little while in your hour of need. Those we held dear are beyond our sight, but I believe they continue to lovingly watch over us and the Higher Powers permit them to offer aid when our need is greatest.”
Faramir’s eyes were moist as he whispered “Thank you, naneth.” He felt a gentle touch upon his brow. His mother’s kiss; or was it simply a draught from the open window?