Title: When winter comes
Author Name: Linda Hoyland
Summary: Éowyn is not enjoying her visit to Rivendell.
Author's Notes: Ficlet. I imagine elvish music to sound a little like Gregorian chant and the music of Rohan to sound rather like Cossack songs.
Disclaimer: The characters are the property of the Tolkien Estate. No profit has been, nor will be made from this story.
Éowyn returned from her morning ride in good spirits. The countryside around Rivendell was perfect riding country. She was enjoying the experience of riding horses trained by Elves. Not that any other steed could compare with her faithful Windfola, though, but these horses were undoubtedly special. Windfola was enjoying grazing in Rivendell’s lush pastures after their long journey here.
She was about to go to change for the noonday meal when an Elf stopped her. “I trust you are enjoying your stay here, Lady Éowyn,” he said.
“It is most pleasant,” Éowyn replied. “My family and I are enjoying the hospitality of the last Homely House.”
“We hope you will attend a music recital in the Hall of Fire this evening,” said the Elf.
“I will be pleased to come if my children do not need me,” said Éowyn. “My youngest is teething at present.”
“We shall look forward to your presence,” said the Elf before silently gliding away, or so it seemed to Éowyn.
The Princess of Ithilien groaned inwardly as she climbed a flight of stairs to her chamber. Truth to tell, apart from the riding, she was not greatly enjoying her visit to Aragorn’s childhood home. Accustomed as she was to Arwen’s silent way of moving around, it was nevertheless highly unnerving to be surrounded by strangers who seemed to appear out of nowhere. Then, she missed being occupied in the day-to-day management of her household and herds. There was little to do here when she was not out riding. Faramir was in his element and spent most of his time in the library, emerging only at mealtimes, or occasionally to join her out riding. The children were occupied playing out of doors, supervised by their capable nursemaids. Aragorn and Arwen spent most of their time with their kin, going for long walks or showing their children the haunts of their own childhood. Éowyn found herself feeling out of place and rather bored and lonely. She also felt melancholy, but could not understand why that should be so.
Faramir greeted her warmly. After enquiring if she had enjoyed her ride he said, “Erestor has just told me that there will be a musical recital tonight. Is that not delightful?”
“I think I will stay with the children,” said Éowyn. “It is strange for them here.”
“You cannot miss the chance to hear Elven music,” said Faramir. “We have excellent nursemaids who would send for us at once if the children need us.”
Éowyn supressed a sigh. She did not feel able to confide in Faramir that she found Elven music tedious in the extreme. He had told her that the musicians conjured up events of bygone days as if they were happening before the listener, but Éowyn had never had that experience. Maybe it was because she lacked Faramir’s elvish ancestry, or perhaps it was because she was not fluent in Quenya, in which they were usually sung. She only hoped that she could manage not to nod off during the evening. She had no desire to insult their kind hosts.
The first piece of music was even worse than Éowyn had feared. The harpist was undoubtedly talented, but the music seemed to go on forever, praising the different shades of green in the spring woodland. Éowyn concluded that you would need the immortal lifespan of an Elf to have the time to count innumerable shades of green, let alone sing about them. She struggled not to fidget as what felt like hours passed. She applauded politely when the music ended. If only elvish music were more like that of her homeland, hearty tunes concerned with everyday activities such as riding or feasting.
Much to her surprise, Aragorn then rose to his feet and took the harpist’s place. “Tonight I would like to remember an old friend who often graced this hall with his songs,” he said. “Bilbo Baggins wrote songs that any elvish minstrel would be proud to sing. Tonight I will sing one of his favourites and mine.”
Éowyn listened intently as Aragorn’s fine bass voice sang, “I sit beside the fire and think of how the world will be when winter comes without a spring that I shall ever see.”
Suddenly tears pricked her eyes and she understood the reason for her melancholy. This place was a poignant reminder that even for Elves, all things change and pass away. This was Rivendell’s autumn and it would not see a spring. Her life too, would reach its autumn sooner than the lives of her husband and the King and Queen.
Faramir glanced across at her. He reached out and took her hand. He gazed at her tenderly and she knew in that moment that he understood.
Maybe now that she understood, she could better enjoy the rest of her visit here. Éowyn realised that she was privileged to be one of the few in these latter days to enjoy the hospitality of the Last Homely House. She would try to cherish those memories.