A Dark-adapted Eye by Karri

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Story Notes:

Many thanks to my beta, Marta, whose critique resulted in a tale vastly superior to the original.


oOoOoOoOoOo

 

Eowyn wandered absently through the garden of the Houses of Healing.  She wasn’t certain, really, what had drawn her there.  It certainly wasn’t where she should be.   The King and Queen were, no doubt, already greeting guests in the Hall of Feasts. 

 

They will be wondering where I am, she told herself. Faramir will be wondering where I am?

 

Yet she couldn’t quite muster enough sense of urgency to turn her steps in the right direction.  Instead, Eowyn found herself wandering out onto the wall.  Gazing out, her mind wandered to a time that seemed just yesterday, and yet equally a lifetime ago. 

 

In a way, I suppose it was a lifetime ago, Eowyn considered, as her memory turned to Faramir and those first days they’d spent together.   He had been so full of light and hope, and so willing to love, even then, despite the darkness surrounding them. 

 

And I, even now, when all of Gondor is full of light and hope, still cling to the darkness.  Perhaps, I grew too accustomed to the grim duty of serving those who loved me, but did not really see me.   Even the King, who I believed to be the key to escaping that cage, did not truly see me.  Faramir sees me.  Faramir loves me.  He did not have to -- such an eligible match would not have required it – and yet he does, with all his heart.  I am fortunate.  I comprehend as much, why do I not feel it more. She sighed. I failed at my bid to die in battle, and now find myself failing at living, as well. 

 

“My lady?”

 

Eowyn started at the sound of Faramir’s voice, but quickly composed herself and turned to greet him with a smile. 

 

“You are missed,” he remarked, striding up quickly to her side.  “Legolas and his company have arrived.  He inquired about you.  I think he is eager to acquaintant us with our potential neighbors, though whether to convince us to have them, or to convince them to have us, I cannot say,” Faramir added, with a chuckle.  “Will you not join us?”

 

With a nod, Eowyn took the hand he offered and allowed herself to be guided back through the garden. 

 

 

oOoOoOoOoOo

 

Eowyn wasn’t really aware that she’d wandered out of the clamorous Hall, until she started as a voice inquired, “Are you not enjoying the feast, my lady?”  Turning she found Legolas standing beside her. 

 

“Your pardon,” he offered, with an apologetic bow. “I did not mean to startle you.”

 

Eowyn waved away the apology, “Nay, it is I who am to blame, for I was not paying attention, I fear.”

 

“May I inquire as to what distracts you so?” Legolas queried, patiently. 

 

Eowyn frowned slightly, her gaze wandering toward the busy Hall at the center of the feasting area. 

 

“Indeed, it is quite the feast.  I needed a breath of fresh air, myself,” Legolas remarked, attempting to interpret her silence.  “I hope you do not mind the company.  I recall that the people of Rohan were not wholly comfortable with elves.”

 

Eowyn’s gaze jerked up to his face.  There had been no judgment in the tone of his voice, and she saw now none in expression, either.  In fact, his eyes twinkled merrily, and she smiled, acknowledging the teasing, before replying, “I am glad for your people’s willingness to aid in the mending of this land.  Have your companions decided yet if they will join you?”

 

“There is much still to discuss, but I think they are agreeable,” Legolas replied.  Eowyn smiled approvingly, but it faded as her mind recalled something the Queen had once told her about elves.  

 

“I am told I shall have to become accustomed to feasting often with elves as neighbors,” she remarked, dismally.

 

“It is true,” Legolas responded.  “My people are fond of celebration.  That displeases you?”

 

“Nay, it is only…I am...,” she began, haltingly.  She did not know Legolas well, but he was a friend of King and would eventually be her neighbor; she wasn’t eager to offend him.  

 

“Please, speak freely, Lady Eowyn,” Legolas urged, with a reassuring smile.

 

 “I am uncomfortable.”   Eowyn admitted, with a soft sigh. “But it is not your people that cause the discomfort, nor even the threat of frequent feasting,” she amended, attempting a teasing tone, as she struggled to find the words to explain a feeling she was not sure she understood herself.

 

Legolas was not fooled, but he smiled, all the same.  Then he waited with a look of patient expectation in his expression that soon had Eowyn continuing on, “It is what they bring with them.”  Legolas’s brow furrowed, but Eowyn did not see, as she had turned away from him.  Sighing again, she forged onward.  “Already, my world has become so full of light and joy, and …and…well, I feel so out of place amongst it.” She turned to face Legolas once more, her bewilderment at her own mind clearly written in her expression.  “Your people, they are so full of light and merriment, and I feel as if I might drown in what already surrounds me.”

 

Legolas ducked his head, pondering her words.  He glanced up again as she asked, “How did your people manage it?” 

 

Legolas cocked his head in question, and she quickly clarified, “Your home has been full of evil and darkness for centuries, or so stories say.”  Legolas nodded in confirmation. “Yet your people remain so full of light and joy and hope.  How did they manage it?” she asked, somewhat plaintively.

 

Legolas smiled, patiently, before answering.  “We are a long-lived race, Lady Eowyn.  The world changes more swiftly than do we.  Thus, we can remember a time before shadow and hold to that memory in darkness.”

 

Eowyn nodded, yet her expression remained troubled.  “Faramir is a Man, and yet he, too, was able to cling to the memory of light and joy and hold on to hope, so that when the darkness was vanquished, he could embrace life, rather than flail for a foothold as do I.”

 

“It is not that he is stronger, my lady, if that is what you fear,” Legolas assured, gazing at her directly.  “Nor is he in some way superior.”

 

“Is he not?” Eowyn murmured under her breath, forgetting the excellent hearing possessed by the elves. 

 

“Nay,” insisted Legolas.  “He is a fine Man, one of the best I have known, but so are you.”  Eowyn blushed a little at this, but Legolas pretended not to notice. “You simply have not given due consideration to the differences in your situations.”

 

“Oh?” replied Eowyn.  “I do not see our situations as so very different.  We both, in turn, suffered the loss of those dear to us, as the world around us fell into war and chaos.”

 

Legolas nodded, solemnly.  “Indeed, Lady Eowyn, and yet… through all this Faramir had a family of trusted companions with whom to share his burden; he had the freedom to fight the darkness closing in on him, by sword and deed.”  He waved his hand vaguely, indicating the land surrounding them. “He was not stifled, as you were; he was not caged.”

 

Eowyn’s gaze dropped at those words.  “But I am caged no longer…”

 

“Indeed,” Legolas agreed. “You have broken free from that cage, and yet…  A caged soul is like an eye that adapts too long to the darkness.  When the light returns, it is blinding – until the eye adapts once more.  Your soul has not yet adapted to its freedom.”

 

Eowyn’s gaze rose as she prepared to argue, but Legolas interjected before she could.

 

“You will argue that much time has passed since you broke free of the cage that held you?”  Eowyn nodded.  “Yet, it has not been so very long, even as Men measure it.  For a soul does not adapt so quickly as does an eye, especially when thrust into an unfamiliar land filled with unfamiliar people.”

 

“What am I to do then?” she muttered forlornly.  “Must I feel forever out of place in a life full of all the light and love and joy that Faramir offers?”

 

“Nay, my lady,” Legolas countered, patiently.  “For your soul will adapt, I assure you, and one day all too soon, as an eye that has adapted to the light no longer finds it blinding, you will no longer feel out of place amongst the light and love and joy that life with Faramir offers.”  Legolas paused to allow his words to settle, before adding, “It will all feel…ordinary.”

 

Eowyn peered up into the sky, pondering Legolas’s words as she gazed into the starry expanse.  Legolas joined her, and they watched the twinkling light for a long time in silence, before Eowyn whispered, softly, “I suppose, then, that I had better try to appreciate the blinding brightness while I may, so that the memory of it will stay with me should I ever find need of it.”

 

“You are wise, indeed, Lady Eowyn,” Legolas replied, and shared a smile with her before finally turning to rejoin the feast.

 

oOoOoOoOoOo

 

Standing upon the wall outside the garden once more, Eowyn did not start when she heard, “My lady?” 

 

“My lord,” she bade, smiling as Faramir sidled up beside her.

 

“Am I intruding?”

 

“Nay, my love,” Eowyn replied easily.  “I am merely enjoying in the light while I may, and it shines all the brighter when you are near.” 

 

Faramir’s brow furrowed.  The expression provoked a laugh from Eowyn – a sound so delightful that he forgot his puzzlement and simply gazed upon his wife. 

 

“Come, husband,” Eowyn said seductively, returning the gaze.   “Let us see what light there is to enjoy beneath our bedcovers.”

 

No further words were needed between them, as they walked hand in hand back into the garden. 

 

The end.

 




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