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There's Another Dance

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Well there's another dance
All you gotta do is say yes
And if you're rough and ready for love
Honey, I'm tougher than the rest
-Bruce Springsteen, Tougher than the Rest

*

He saw her first in the courtyard, silent, unmoving, gazing out toward the roiling darkness in the east. Her arm was wrapped in white bandages, her face empty of color, her eyes washed out of tears. When he came to stand next to her she startled and stilled, and she said, "This isn't me. I'm not like this."

The man who'd been a father to her, who'd argued with her and misjudged her and tried to protect her and failed, the man who'd loved her was dead, and the man she loved had gone off to fight without her. Faramir understood. "Neither am I," he said, "but it will be over soon."

They sat together and stared into the storm.

*

She wasn't like this. Before the men had returned to the city, she'd begun practicing, wielding a broom against her invisible enemies since the healers would not give her a sword.

"The battle is over, my lady. Why do you still fight?"

Éowyn said, "To know that I still can."

*

Faramir does not remember a time when he did not have to fight, nor a time when he did not fear, a time when he did not hate. Before he was old enough to hear words like Mordor spoken aloud, he knew that his father and his brother scorned him, that he was too slow, that he thought too long and too deeply before he dared to strike.

Éowyn is nothing like them. She fights for, not against. For her land, for her family, for her people, and the enemy is the least of her cares. When the King returns he declares the Enemy is no more, and Éowyn goes on fighting, more beautiful, healthier than before, triumphant as the sun of each new day.

*

At Elessar and Arwen's wedding they dance awkwardly, missing beats, surprised at the pain that still lingers in their limbs, comes back with a bite when they try to step together, flares in their chests when they hold each other too close.

Their own wedding is quiet, small, far away from the White City, and the only music is one woman's prayer for peace and new beginnings, rising solitary and strong against the open sky and harsh wind.

*

Éowyn is most graceful when no one else is watching. They dance and spin over young grass and wildflowers in the fields of Ithilien, dodging and feinting, falling and laughing. He holds up his hands in surrender as she leans over him, sword close and careful against his throat. She sets their weapons aside and kneels on top of him, bends near, takes his mouth, and Faramir gives. Their love is victory without defeat.