It was a day both of sorrow and of joy. Sorrow, for the King of the Mark was dead and would find his final resting place to-day; joy for the memory of him, for the crowning of Éomer as his successor, and for the betrothal of Éowyn, his niece, to Faramir of Gondor.
A day of tears and laughter both it was to be that found the Lady Éowyn on the walls of the city in the early morning sun, looking out towards the east, from where the Shadow had crept upon her homeland not so long ago. The Shadow that had now been vanquished, and the memory of which she had thought she had left behind her in the Houses of Healing in the White City. And yet – and yet…
A melancholy mood had found her on this morning, and she had found herself avoiding even the company of the one that brought her such comfort and joy at other times. Her beloved – her husband so soon! But even this thought failed to bring the usual flush of pleasure today, even though the hour of their betrothal was so near.
Thus lost deep in thought, she startled when a clear voice rang through the crisp morning air, addressing her.
“Greetings to you, fair lady! Would you mind if I joined you in your vigil?”
She turned, and, surprised, she saw who it was that approached her: An elven lord of Elrond’s folk, tall and fair, that air about him that they all seemed to have - young they looked, and yet ancient. She thought she recognized him; he was the only one of Master Elrond’s entourage whose hair gleamed golden, and Meriadoc, she thought vaguely, had spoken of him as Glorfindel, and spoken well of him, too.
When he reached her side, he bowed low, and smiled in greeting. “I hope I am not intruding upon your solitude, my lady? It is a fine morning, and I would enjoy it, but there a many places to do so in your beautiful city, and I may easily find a different one, if that is what you prefer.”
It seemed an earnest request, and she was tempted to ask him to do just that, but a faint stirring of curiosity kept the words in. This was the first time she had had occasion to speak to one of the fair folk alone, and beyond that, her thoughts wandered to a tale Faramir had recounted to her, one sunny day when she had finally found the words to speak of her hard-won victory over the hateful servant of the Dark Lord on the Pelennor Fields.
So instead, she offered a greeting, and smiling, said: “Nay, lord, do not worry. I shall be pleased to have such gracious company.”
He inclined his head in acknowledgement. “As am I, my lady.” There was a pause, in which he looked out upon the plains, seeming thoughtful, and she thought he would speak no further. But then he turned to her again and said:
“I must confess, while it was indeed to enjoy the early morning sun that I came here, upon seeing you I also thought to indulge my curiosity – though we have travelled alongside each other, I had yet to personally make the acquaintance of the brave soul whose hand brought his doom on the Witch-king of Angmar, and so banished one of the great evils of this world. And I have wished to meet you, for it was I who foretold his doom once, on a day long past in the reckoning of your people.”
At this, she could not but laugh, as his words mirrored her own thoughts so closely. “It is well then, my lord, that I am no less curious.” ,she said. “I have learned of your tale only recently, and it has been on my mind ever since I heard your name mentioned upon the beginning of our journey.”
But now she remembered the reason that tale had so occupied her thoughts, and her face darkened. “But alas! If this is what you say, and thus confirm the tale, it is the truth then - that not even this honour shall be entirely mine, if it is a doom long foretold that led me into the abomination’s path, and him to his downfall. And here I had thought to have stood defiant of others choosing my path for me, for once. More the fool, I.”
For she had, in the times of squalor and despair when Wormtongue’s insidious words had poisoned her uncle’s thoughts, wished nothing more fiercely than to have what her brother seemed to have, and to be able to at least decide her own fate, even if an honourable death was all there was to be had.
Glorfindel, however, shook his head at her words, and there was a quiet intensity in his voice when he answered: “Nay, Lady, do not speak thus. It may be that I caught a glimpse of what might be, that day, and premonition guided my words; but the ways of the world are never certain, and in the end, it was your own choice that brought you upon that battlefield, and your courage which prevailed in the darkness.” He looked at her earnestly then, and it seemed to her that there was a brightness about him, a subtle glow that suffused his features. “Believe me when I say this - For I have seen darkness, and I have stood against it, and I shall honour you for your deeds that day, and you alone.”
At that her heart strangely lightened, and the corners of her lips twitched up into a small smile. “You humble me, my lord, and I thank you for your words. Though I would ask that you not forget young Meriadoc in your praise, for if not for his intervention, I should be dead and the servant of the Dark Lord should have taken the lives of many more that day.”
And Glorfindel laughed, and said: “You are generous, Lady Éowyn, and you speak the truth. It would be gravely neglectful of me to forget about the deeds of the periannath, and of these what you speak of is not the greatest. But this does not lessen your honour.” He smiled warmly at her, “Keep thou your fierce spirit, Éowyn of Rohan, and no-one shall be able to cage thee long!”
“I have no intention of doing otherwise.”,she answered firmly, and she felt as certain of that in that moment as she had not since they had set out on their journey.
After that, they stayed on the walls for a while longer, speaking little but in companionable silence. And when her maid called on her to prepare for the funeral ceremony, Éowyn left with sadness in her heart, but also warmth, and her mind much calmer.