“Faramir son of Denethor,” he hears someone say. “You come at last, as Manwë bids.”
He turns around to see a tall, brooding man, whom he realises is the Vala Námo, standing in the threshold of the building. “Yes, my lord,” he replies. “And that is well, for I wish to see …owyn again.”
“You are doomed to wait,” Mandos says, stepping aside and leading Faramir into the wide hall before him. “And here you shall stay until Manwë bids once more. Welcome, Faramir son of Denethor.”
“Yes, my lord,” Faramir says again, bowing his head to the domineering, callous Vala. He enters the hall cautiously and peers around for a moment, then continues down the dim stone corridor, his footsteps resounding off of the domed ceiling. Other men and women watch Faramir as he passes; others with fatigued faces sitting in a hall of silence, others forced to ruminate on the lives they left behind long ago, and others who cannot breach the walls and flee just yet. Faramir knows that this is not the place for his …owyn, but he will find her nonetheless.
And there …owyn sits alone in a corner at the end of the passageway, staring out the window at the fiery sun setting over Ekkaia. She wears the same thing Faramir had last seen her in; an elegant silver and white gown with a wreath of purple wildflowers in her golden hair. Although it has been near to eighty years since he saw her last, this image of her has stayed with him throughout the seasons. And now Faramir has no need to remember, but to live again and wait.
“…owyn, my love,” he says. “…owyn, it is I at last.”
…owyn turns from the window and sees him, and a small smile appears on her weary and pale face. She then jumps up and runs into his arms, her salty tears watering his raiment. And so Faramir holds …owyn as he did when she passed all those years ago, and now they are closer than any dream could have brought them. “Oh, Faramir,” she whispers to him. “I have been waiting forever for you to hold me.”
“It was not forever, but sometimes it did feel that way,” Faramir answers. He traces the small lines on her face with his rough finger, stopping at her lips. She touches his hand gently and leans in to kiss him, her lips caressing his for endless seconds. They pull away at last, joyous to have shared a moment together for the first time in decades. “I have missed you, my love.”
“And I as well,” she smiles. “Not a day has passed when I have not thought of you and Elboron. How is he?”
“Elboron is more than a mere toddler now. He is a father, a grandfather, and a wise ruler,” he says. “And do you wish to know what he would say of you when he was a boy? He would point to your portrait and say, ‘That is my mother and she is beautiful and I love her very much.’ Elboron always wished to know when you would return to sing him to sleep again and I would have to tell him that you could not return to him. He still remembers you.”
“Still he must wait until we are all together again, and so must we,” …owyn says, crossing to the window and gazing out on the tranquil, dark water. She stands there for a minute in silence, and Faramir, seeing her mournful, distant countenance, comes to her and envelops her in his arms again. “But I fear I shan’t remain in these halls any longer, Faramir.”
“What do you speak of?”
“We must linger here in the Halls of Awaiting for a time, and then our spirits are free to pass over the Encircling Sea and out of Arda forever. My time of waiting is nearly over, Faramir, and it could not have come at a more inopportune moment.” She looks up at him, tears forming again in her icy eyes. And it is now that Faramir realises that although he loves her with all his heart, he cannot keep her tied to the circles of the world any longer.
“Oh, …owyn,” he sighs and kisses her brow. “You need not stay here. Go. Have the freedom you have desired for all your life.”
“I cannot,” she murmurs, taking his hand in her own. “Even if Mandos does not allow it, I shall stay and wait until your time comes.”
“But why do you wish to stay?” he asks. “I will join you in the end, I promise.”
“Nay, Faramir, I know not if I shall be able to find you once I depart forever. And I believe I shall not be wholly free without you,” she glances at Faramir and kisses him again. “Faramir, even though I am trapped in a dismal hall of tears and sorrow, your love sets me free.”
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