Roses have Thorns

 Roses have Thorns

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done,
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud. – Shakespeare

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may:
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying. - Herrick

Roses have Thorns

“He is just so perfect! I think he has Éowyn’s eyes,” Faramir said for about the hundredth time. “My own son will become Steward after me!”

“Not for a very long time, I hope. I like the Steward I have now,” Aragorn said dryly. He stretched out his long legs and shifted to a more comfortable position. The two men had been banished on a hunting trip by Arwen, as soon as Faramir had been told the joyful news and glimpsed the new baby. The midwife had declared that Éowyn was exhausted and needed to rest.

Aragorn and Faramir had dined on stewed rabbit and then caught another for the pot. Their hunting completed, King and Steward relaxed sprawled on the grass in a sunny glade in Ithilien watching the swallows dart to and fro overhead. The summer air was perfumed with wild roses. Nearby, Roheryn and Zachus grazed contentedly on the lush grass, their riders having removed their tack.

“I must give Éowyn a special gift to thank her for the child she has given me,” Faramir said thoughtfully. “A mithril pendant of the emblems of the Houses of Eorl and Húrin might please her.” He suddenly became grave. “I should like a gift for Elestelle too. I should never wish her to think she is any less dear to me than the baby. I shall love them both equally. I shall never neglect her, or Elbeth.”

“I know you never would, mellon nîn,” said Aragorn. “I should love to have a daughter next.” For a moment he felt melancholy that his friend had two children already. Much as he and Arwen desired another child, they still only had Eldarion. He forced himself to cast such thoughts aside and share his friend’s joy.

The two men fell into companionable silence contemplating their hopes and dreams for the future.

The afternoon grew warmer. The two friends shed their outer tunics; there were none save the birds to see them informally attired. Aragorn grew sleepy and was soon snoring softly, his head resting on a bank of moss.

Faramir smiled indulgently at his friend. He was determined to stay awake. Despite his happiness, a feeling of growing unease was pricking at the edges of his consciousness. He berated himself for his foolishness. The sun became hotter, while the chirruping of the grasshoppers sounded almost like a lullaby. Faramir’s eyelids grew heavy. He had had little sleep the night before.

Aragorn was awakened by a loud cry. He leapt to his feet, instinctively reaching for his sword. He turned in the direction of the cry and beheld Faramir struggling to free himself from the thorny branches of a rose bush.

“I nodded off and fell into the bush,” Faramir said sheepishly. “I had forgotten it was behind me.”

Aragorn regarded him with a mixture of sympathy and amusement. “A rose bush is not a good place to sleep!” he remarked extending his hand.

“I had forgotten it was behind me,” said Faramir taking the proffered hand and trying to get up. “Ouch!”

“I had better cut you free.” Aragorn grimaced in sympathy. He raised Andúril and hacked at the bush. Faramir rather gingerly freed himself, wincing in pain as the sharp thorns tore his shirt and dug into his back.

“You are hurt! Let me see!” Aragorn ordered.

Faramir ruefully presented his bloodied back to for his friend’s inspection.

Aragorn carefully removed the twigs and leaves, which were sticking to his Steward’s back. Faramir’s white shirt was now speckled with blood. ”You have been badly scratched,” he commented wincing in sympathy.

“It feels like it!” Faramir said wryly.

“I have brought my healing supplies,” said Aragorn. “Arwen insisted that I bring them. She always fears some ill will befall us, for some strange reason!”

“Ladies do tend to fret, Éowyn is just as bad” said Faramir. “Still, your wife has been proved right.” He laughed inwardly that his feelings of unease had foreboded such a ridiculous accident.

Aragorn fetched his satchel from the far site of the clearing and rummaged in it. “Your wife is correct. There is not a scratch on me!” he said a trifle smugly. “You had better take your shirt off so that I can tend your injuries.”

Faramir cautiously removed his shirt and propped himself on his elbows. Aragorn carefully removed the remaining thorns embedded in Faramir’s upper back, and cleaned the scratches with water from his flask before applying some calendula salve. Faramir sighed contentedly as the stinging eased. “It could have been far worse,” he said “If the scratches had been over my face, I would never have heard the last of it from Éowyn, especially as next week there is the reception with the Ambassadors from Dale to attend.” Rising to his feet, he pulled his shirt back over his head. “Thank you, mellon nîn!” He hugged his friend gratefully.

By now the sun was starting to sink. “I think we should return home in time for the cook to prepare rabbit pie for supper,” said the King.

Faramir was thoughtfully studying the branches that Aragorn had lopped from the rose bush. “I think I will take the blossoms home for the ladies. It would be a pity to leave them here to wilt. They smell so sweet. Éowyn loves roses.”

“As does Arwen. I will cut them while you load our saddle the horses. You have had enough of rose bushes for one day!” said Aragorn. He set to work with a will, choosing the finest blooms for his beloved wife and good friend.

A few minutes later the two men were riding slowly homewards. Faramir noticed that Aragorn was holding Roheryn’s reins rather awkwardly. His eyes moved to his friend’s hands, one of which was marked with blood. “You have hurt yourself!” Faramir exclaimed in concern.

“It is only a scratch, no real harm is done” said Aragorn. “Alas, though, it seems that Arwen is quite correct in that I seem unable to avoid mishaps!”

Faramir grinned. “As ever, your lady speaks the truth!” The smile froze on his lips as a sudden feeling of dread assailed him. He heard an almost forgotten voice from long ago, as clearly as if the speaker were standing beside him. “Ride home to your lady with all speed, ion nîn. She has need of you and the King’s healing hands!”

“What is the matter?” Aragorn enquired seeing the frozen, far away look on Faramir’s face.

“My mother just spoke to me,” said Faramir. “Éowyn needs us to return at once!”

Aragorn did not hesitate. Faramir was farsighted and given to visions. ”Then let us make haste!” he said, urging Roheryn to a gallop.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. – The Bible. 13.8

Lady Éowyn is very ill,” the midwife said grimly. “The aftermath of the birth has gone very badly. The women of Rohan are strong it seems, but I still fear for her life, my lady.”

Arwen moved to the bedside and anxiously felt Éowyn’s brow. “If only I had not told Estel and Faramir to go hunting so soon after the babe was born! Éowyn should have her husband beside her to comfort her. She is in dire needs of my Estel’s healing skills. My father taught me, though, how to mix healing brews for women in childbed. I shall see what I can do.” She squeezed Éowyn’s hand. “Be strong, my friend, I will return soon.”

“I just want to sleep,” Éowyn whispered.


Éowyn knew not for how long she slept. When she awoke, the sun was streaming through the bedroom window. A dark haired woman was sitting beside her. For a moment, Éowyn thought she was the Queen. Then the woman lifted her head and smiled at her. She had never seen the lady before. Yet she looked oddly familiar.

“I have long wanted to meet you, my daughter,” said the strange woman.

“Lady Finduilas!” Éowyn cried with a sudden flash of realisation. “But you are dead! Does that mean I am too?”

Finduilas shook her head. “That is your choice, my daughter. Long have I desired to speak to you, but not until today did Lord Námo grant me leave.”

Éowyn sat upright and studied Faramir’s mother. She had always imagined her as pale and sickly, but this woman looked to be glowing with health and vitality. She had often been told that Faramir resembled his father in appearance, but the warm gentle eyes that looked at her now were her husband’s, as were the slender hands and graceful demeanour. Next to the Queen, she was the fairest woman Éowyn had ever beheld.

“Faramir sees you as the most beautiful woman that ever lived, daughter,” said Finduilas, apparently able to sense Éowyn’s thoughts. “He loves you dearly and you have made him very happy. You are exactly the bride I would have chosen for him. With your colouring, my blue cloak suited you far better than it did me. I always looked better in scarlet, like the Queen.”

“You think so? I lack the sophistication of the ladies of Gondor. Neither do I have the mental abilities of Faramir’s people. Most likely I will die many years before my husband!” Somehow it seemed easy for Éowyn to tell Faramir’s mother all her deepest fears.

“My son knew many a lady of Gondor and found them all wanting compared with you,” said Finduilas. “You have more spirit and joy of life than the quiet women of this land, and yet you also carry Númenorean grace, as well as the pride of the House of Eorl, through your grandmother. Faramir needs you to take him away from his books and make him smile. As for the mental gifts of his people, the King’s friendship will see he never lacks for a chance to use them.”

Éowyn noticed that Finduilas had ignored the last of her confidences. She wondered if the lady had come to lead her beyond the circles of the world. She felt oddly calm, as if nothing mattered any more.

“Is there anything else you would ask me, child?” said Finduilas.

“Why did Faramir’s father not love him?” said Éowyn. “That makes me so angry. Who could be more lovable than Faramir?”

Finduilas looked saddened at the question. “They were too alike,” she explained. “Denethor saw in Faramir what he could have been, had he been less cursed with pride. He did love him, but he feared Faramir’s powers of mind and strength of will, and fear can destroy love.” She wandered over to the crib where Éowyn’s newborn son lay sleeping. “Now this little one is more like unto you, and perhaps my Boromir; he will be a great prince and leader of men, but at heart a warrior rather than a lore-master. Elestelle has the far-sight of both Faramir and Denethor, and the love of music that I gave to my son.  Poor little ones, they will know less of their mother than Faramir did of me!”

“No!” cried Éowyn. “I won’t leave my children, I won’t!”

“Then fight, daughter! Fight for life, as fiercely as you fought the Witch King! Lord Námo gave me leave to come to fetch you, but I would rather not break my son’s heart again by doing so!”

“Faramir!” groaned Éowyn. ”It will destroy him to know I died bearing his child!”

“And should you live to bear more children, you will easily bring them into the world,” Finduilas said gently. “I have called for my son to bid you farewell, but it is your choice whether you go or stay. Your kinsfolk are eager to greet you beyond the circles of the world, while others who love you just as dearly desire you to abide with them here.”

“I will fight to stay with Faramir and my children!” Éowyn cried. She tried vainly to struggle to her feet. The baby started to cry.

“We will meet again one day, my child. I am proud of you.” Éowyn felt the gentlest of kisses upon her brow as she sank back upon the bed. She knew no more.


It was dark when Éowyn woke again. Faramir was sitting at her bedside tenderly holding her hand. Aragorn and Arwen stood at the foot of the bed. A large vase of sweet scented roses adorned a table by the window.

“Praise the Valar!” said Faramir. “You are awake, my love!” He raised a glass of water to her lips and supported Éowyn while she drank. Tears glittered in his grey eyes.

Aragorn moved forward and felt her brow. “The herbs Arwen gave you worked, “ he pronounced smiling. “We were very worried about you.”

“I had the strangest dream, Faramir,” said Éowyn. “I saw your mother.”

Faramir turned pale. “When Aragorn and I were on our way homewards,” he said slowly, “I suddenly heard my mother’s voice in my head telling me to return at once. We rode home with all speed.”

“There are many things we do not understand,” said Aragorn, smiling at them both. “Maybe the Lady Finduilas was indeed granted leave to return within the circles of the world for a little while in your hour of need. Those we held dear are beyond our sight, but I believe they continue to lovingly watch over us and the Higher Powers permit them to offer aid when our need is greatest.”

Faramir’s eyes were moist as he whispered, “Thank you, naneth.” He felt a gentle touch upon his brow. His mother’s kiss; or was it simply a draught from the open window?

The End.

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Make a free website with Yola