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She closes her eyes and lets the midday sun wash over her body.  She feels light headed and bright spots dance across her eyelids. Her heart seems to skip, and  just when she thinks she’ll swoon, the feeling passes.   She opens her eyes to the green of grass and trees and the light reflecting off the river.  Then she looks down and smiles.

He’s lying there under the shade of the trees in nothing but his skin.  For a moment she thinks he’s fallen asleep and the sound of his voice almost startles her.

“Are you going to stand there dripping half the Snowbourne  on me, princess, or are you going to come down here and kiss me?”

“Do you think that is wise, my lord?”,  she teases as she reaches for something to dry herself,  “I mean, a man of your age needs to be careful  in the heat of the sun.  However would I explain it to the healers?”

“A man of my age?  I would have you know I’m not yet 40 and for my people that practically makes me a child.”

“A child?  And here all along I thought it was YOU who robbed and cradle and I who robbed the grave.”

“I’ll show you cradles and graves, woman.”  And with that he pulls her down into his arms.

“Ah”, she murmurs between kisses, “I take back every word about you being old.”

And then there is no more talking for a very long time. She is lost in the weight of his body, the heat of his mouth and the feel of his hands. He’s moving inside her and she has to fight for every breath. She cannot get close enough, cannot pull him deep enough.  She cannot get enough of him.

“Come for me, love,” he says and she can’t form thought or words, can’t focus on anything but the way he’s moving and the ache that’s building inside her. And suddenly, something breaks and she’s falling and her blood has turned to fire and somewhere far way someone screams.

Her eyes fly open and she sees him. His lips form words but she can’t understand what he says. And then she feels his breath against her neck, hears him choke out her name and feels a surge of warmth deep within her.

He catches his breath and shifts some of his weight off of her. “I love you, Princess of Rohan.”

She smiles at this.  He’s the only one who’s ever called her princess. “And I love you, man of Gondor.”

They lie there, his head on her chest, content just to be together. The sunlight through the branches makes patterns on their bodies and she thinks that if she could only live this moment for all of eternity she would ask for nothing more.

“Do you think your brother’s   going to draw his sword on me when we get back?”

“Hmmm… more than likely.”  She runs her fingers through his hair. “You should never have told him you were taking me out into the wilds to ravage me. Such honesty will get you in trouble every time.”

He laughs and his smile is so beautiful it makes her heart ache. “May the Valar protect fools who love beautiful maidens.    Especially the ones with sword-wielding brothers.”

“He saw the ring.”

He looks up to see her eyes. “And?   What did he say?”

“He asked if  it means something or if it’s just supposed to ward off evil spirits.”

He barks out a laugh but she can tell he’s bothered. “You know he thinks of you as a brother, my love.  He just can’t imagine any man is good enough for his baby sister.”

“He’s not wrong about that.  No man is good enough for you, myself included.  But I promise you this,   Eowyn -   no man will ever love you as I love you.  It’s nowhere near what you deserve, for I would make you a queen - but someday  I will  make you  wife of the Steward of Gondor and mother of the steward who follows me.”

“I don’t recommend you mention anything to Eomer about making me a mother, or he’ll make me a widow  before I’m ever a bride.”

“Mmm… but I like the idea of making you a mother.” And his lips find hers and they begin all over again. She locks her eyes with his and swears an oath of her own to  remember that look on his face until the moment she leaves the rings of this world.

The sounds of another summer day, another river, wake her from her memory.  She opens her eyes and smiles to see her husband and son splashing in the Anduin.

“Mama, Mama! Watch me, Mama!  Papa’s helping me find fishes!”

“I see you, Elboron.”   She gets up and moves to the water’s edge.  Faramir  flashes her a smile that echoes another given so long ago on the banks of the Snowbourne.  Her son turns his golden head and her breath catches and for a moment she feels her heart stop – or maybe just break a little.

She’s stricken at the sight of those same eyes, her dead lover’s eyes, looking out from the face of his nephew.

Maybe it’s because she’s just seen him in her mind’s eye, but she has to struggle not to cry, not to weep and wail at the pain of it.  She’s never been able to decide if it  is  fate’s  cruel jest or great kindness that  Faramir’s first born look exactly like Boromir.  She catches Eomer staring at the child  sometimes and knows the whole thing unnerves him.  But if he guesses her pain, or even shares some of it, he will never say a word.

She knows Faramir rejoices at the uncanny resemblance.  To him it seems his beloved brother has returned from the grave after all these years.  And  she’ll  gladly give herself to Sauron before she’ll ever taint that for him.  Always  second  to the man in life,  she won’t have him play second to a ghost.

All of a sudden she’s overcome with the need to feel Faramir’s arms around her, to feel his beating heart alive beneath her lips.  She calls out to him and before he knows what’s happening she strips  to  her chemise and wades  out to join them.

                                                                              THE END