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Shieldmaiden's Song


Title: “Shieldmaiden’s Song”

Rating: K

Disclaimer: The characters of “The Lord of the Rings” were created by the genius J.R.R. Tolkien, not by me. I merely follow in the footsteps of the master. This story has been written for love, not for money, so please do not sue.

Word Count: 1,637

Characters: Arwen, Eowyn, Aragorn, Faramir, mention of OCs

Summary: We all have our own talents. Eowyn finds hers.

It was a beautiful day in Minas Tirith, so the Lady Arwen, recently become the Queen of the Reunited Kingdom, was only slightly jarred by the sound of a feminine voice singing off-key to the tune of very bad harp-playing. There was an unmistakable twang, as if a harp string broke, and then the sound of a distinctly un-feminine curse.

Curious, Arwen stepped out from behind the hedgerow and found Lady Eowyn, betrothed of Lord Faramir, Steward of Gondor, sitting on a bench, clutching a harp while wearing a frustrated expression.

“Is something amiss, Lady Eowyn?” Arwen asked carefully.

“Everything!” The White Lady of Rohan flung the harp to the ground at her feet, almost hard enough to break it. It landed with a jarring protest of the remaining strings, and the queen winced at the sight of such a beautiful instrument being treated so cavalierly. “There are horses in the land of my birth that are more musical than I!”

Arwen suppressed a smile. It would not do to let the betrothed of the Steward believe that the new Queen of Gondor was laughing at her. “Not everyone is meant to be a musician, lady.”

“But I must,” Eowyn declared feverishly. “My singing is as harsh as a crow’s, so I hoped that by playing the harp as accompaniment, I could make at least passable music. A hand harp is a dainty instrument, beside, more fitting for a lady…” Eowyn blushed slightly. “Or so I have heard.”

Looking at Eowyn’s frustrated, almost desperate expression, Arwen realized that there was more to this than a sudden urge to sing or play a pretty song. She sat down to Eowyn on the bench. “Pray tell me what troubles you, lady,” the queen said gently.

Eowyn looked at her with such an expression of fierce anger that Arwen felt a momentary stab of apprehension. Then suddenly, the shieldmaiden who had delivered the death-blow to the Witch-King of Angmar burst into tears.

Arwen immediately moved to place a supportive arm around Eowyn’s shaking shoulders and drew the blonde maiden close. “Oh, dear lady, tell me, what is wrong?” Arwen asked gently. “I would be your friend, as well as queen of this kingdom. Let me help if I can.”

“You c-cannot,” Eowyn sobbed. “N-no one can, for I am a wild sh-shieldmaiden, and no true woman of Gondor!”

“What a thing to say!” Arwen almost laughed, but then Eowyn looked at her with such misery that she realized this was serious. The queen offered a delicate, hand-stitched handkerchief. Eowyn used it to wipe her eyes and face, then looked at the bit of delicate cloth. The sight of it seemed to upset her all over again.

“You see!” she cried. “This is what I mean! Your stitching is so delicate, just the sort of thing a lady would do! All I have ever stitched are battle wounds!”

“That is rather a more useful skill, I believe,” the queen said gently. “Eowyn, why do you berate yourself so? Do you truly wish to be able to play the harp?”

The blonde maid sniffed, wiping her eyes once more. “No. I love music, but I have no skill at playing it, and even less at singing it. Always have I loved the songs of battle more than the romantic lays or other pretty ballads. But Faramir deserves better.”

“I do not understand.”

“Of course not,” Eowyn said miserably. “You are the most beautiful and cultured lady I have ever seen. You have no need to fear that you will ever be an embarrassment to your husband. You are a true woman.”

“Lady Eowyn, I am of the Eldar, and yet I am now queen of this land. If I, an elleth, can be queen of Gondor, how can you be any less of a ‘true woman?’ And what has this to do with Faramir?”

“I love him.” Eowyn took a deep breath. “And I would be a good wife to him. But he deserves a true woman, a lady most refined, and I am but a wild shieldmaiden, as I am sure you must have heard.”

“I have heard no such thing, and would take to task anyone who dared to speak such calumny!” Arwen said firmly.

The Lady of Rohan continued talking. “I—I thought if I could at least sing, and perhaps play a delicate lay or two upon the harp, then perhaps I might be able to show that I am a lady, one who will not embarrass my husband in refined company. After all, the ladies of Gondor—” Abruptly, she stopped speaking and looked away, her face reddening again.

Arwen had a sudden flash of insight. “Lady Eowyn, *has* someone said such unpleasant things about you?”

“Not in so many words. But I had Lady Branwyn and Lady Morwen to tea.” Arwen had been in Minas Tirith only a short time, but she knew that both of the women mentioned were from the oldest families in the city, and were married to men on the Council. “They did not criticize me directly—they are too well bred for that. But they made it clear that they thought *I* had less breeding than one of Rohan’s mares! My looks, my dress, my background, my manners—there is nothing about me that is at all ladylike. Once, when I excused myself for a moment, I overheard Lady Branwyn tell Lady Morwen that there was naught about me that was refined, that I could not dress properly, or do needlework, or do anything befitting a lady. She—she said with a voice like mine, I probably could not even sing or play music, and that if the Lord Faramir were to marry me, I would be nothing but a source of shame to him.” Eowyn’s voice broke.

“Oh, Eowyn!” Arwen embraced her as a sister. Eowyn returned the embrace fiercely, but Arwen could still feel the wetness of tears on the blonde maid’s cheeks. When they drew apart, the Queen took Eowyn’s hands and looked directly into her face.

“Hear me now, daughter of the House of Eorl! You are a far better, nobler, greater lady than either of those women! I happen to know that both of those women have daughters of marriageable age, and that Lady Branwyn, for one, hoped that she might marry her daughter to a son of the Steward. But the Lord Boromir had no interest in marriage, and the Lord Faramir has no interest in the daughters of either of those women! Then when they met you—a princess and a warrior maid, who will be a more than fitting wife for the new Steward—they must have realized that their families had no chance at all to marry into the Steward’s line! It is not that you are lacking, but that they are, so take comfort, Lady of Rohan!”

Eowyn stared at her. “Truly?”

“Verily,” Arwen said firmly. She had not been in Gondor for long, but as a daughter of the Eldar, with many years of living behind her, and as the granddaughter of Galadriel, she was skilled at reading hearts and minds. Moreover, Aragorn, who had lived long in Minas Tirith when he served Gondor as Captain Thorongil, knew much about the old families, and Arwen had taken care to glean what information he had to offer.

At that moment, they heard the sounds of approaching footsteps, and masculine voices in conversation. “The King and the Steward approach,” the Queen said, and then added; “I promise you, Lady Eowyn, that at the next royal banquet, Lady Branwyn and Lady Morwen shall both be seated as far from the royal table as possible—if indeed, they are invited at all!” Suddenly inspired, she said; “I know—I shall seat them both next to Mistress Ioreth, and make sure the good dame has plenty of wine with her dinner!”

Eowyn burst into delighted laughter, for both she and the Queen knew how loquacious the elderly goodwife could be, especially during a social occasion, when she had partaken of a few glasses of wine. The other two women would be fortunate if they had a chance to speak at all, or to talk to anyone else all evening long. “Now *that* is ‘music’ that will be appropriate for them both to hear!”

By this time, the King and his Steward had drawn abreast of the two ladies on the bench. “My Queen!” Elessar greeted Arwen. “My lady wife, Queen of the Reunited Kingdom!”

Arwen smiled. “Aragorn my dearest, all know that I am Queen. You need not say it every time you see me.”

“Perhaps,” he said, taking her hand and kissing it. “But we have both waited so long for it, that I enjoy repeating it as much as possible.”

“Did I hear someone mention music?” Faramir said, and then noticed the damaged harp at Eowyn’s feet. “What happened?”

“An accident,” Arwen said, before Eowyn could speak.

Faramir picked up the instrument and examined it. “No matter,” he said, putting it to one side. “It can be restrung.” Smiling down at Eowyn, he took her hand. “The sweet laughter of the beautiful lady I love is the finest music I have ever heard, and all I truly need.”

Faramir was surprised that such a simple remark made Eowyn’s face light up as if transfigured, and in the next moment he did not care, for Eowyn was on her feet and kissing him fiercely—with all the passion of her nature. Faramir kissed her back in return, thinking that surely, there was no greater love in all of Arda than that between a man and a woman, and that surely that must be the greatest thing ever conceived in the music of the Ainur.

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