“Does anyone want to help me with the dishes?” Eowyn asked, wielding two aprons and a dishtowel.

Faramir slouched lower behind his Gondorian Times, pretending not to hear.

“I said, who wants to help me with the dishes?” Eowyn repeated loudly.

“Daddy does,” Elboron volunteered helpfully.

Faramir scowled at his son. Turning, he smiled sweetly at Eowyn and lied, “Oh, I had a real busy day today, honey.”

Eowyn glared. “Come on, one of you has to help me.”

Elboron quickly stood up. “Er, I’ll be right back,” he said hurriedly.

“Just a minute, young man!” Eowyn reached out and grabbed his collar. “I think you can help me,” she said menacingly.

Elboron smiled weakly. “Oh. Right. I was just about to…” He didn’t get to finish his sentence as Eowyn pulled him into the kitchen. With a sigh of relief, Faramir relaxed on the couch.

The ‘happy couple’ sat on their respective sides of the bed, enduring a stony silence. Eowyn spoke up first.

“Faramir…” She frowned at her husband. “I don’t think a little housework would be too humbling for you, O Great Steward.”

Faramir winced at the biting sarcasm in her voice. “So I want a chance to relax. Is that a crime?” he asked, defensively.

“No, but-”

“Wait a minute. Wait. A. Minute.” Faramir held up a hand. “I don’t think it will kill you, either. After all, isn’t that what wives are SUPPOSED to do? In housework, ‘house’ equals ‘woman’s’!”

Eowyn glowered. “Yes, well, husbands are supposed to help out occasionally too, sexist!” she cried bitterly.

Faramir stormed downstairs to sleep on the couch.

“Daddy. Daddy, Daddy!” The whining tone of a two-year-old’s voice sounded in Faramir’s ear. “Daddy, why are you thweeping in the couth, Daddy?” Ioreth said in a loud voice. “Daddy, why are you thwee-”

“I heard you the first time!” Faramir roared. “I’m sleeping on the couch, because,” he continued in a calmer voice as he sat up, “because your mother is too pig-headed to understand that I have my OWN duties, which do NOT include housework, babysitting, or cooking!”

Ioreth stared. “Babythitting?” She said blankly. Faramir crawled out from under the covers.

“What time is it, anyway?” he muttered to himself.

“Theven-oh-thwee, egthactwy,” Ioreth announced. Faramir shot her a glare that said, very plainly, ‘go-to-your-room-or-shut-up-right-now’. He started up the stairs. Just then, Eowyn stepped out of the bedroom.

“Oh,” she said coldly. The condescending monosyllable was like fire and ice dumped on Faramir’s head.

He mentally cringed, but outwardly sighed and said, “Still unable to let bygones be bygones, hmm?”

Eowyn gave a chilling look. “Bygones? Bygones? It was 11 hours ago! That’s not bygones!”

“Well then what IS bygones?” Faramir said heatedly. He could feel his temperature rising.

“Like, the time that you couldn’t be bothered to take the cake out of the oven, and it was burnt to cinders? That was bygones!”

“That was 12 years ago!” Faramir protested.

Eowyn smiled superiorly. “Exactly. Bygones.”

Faramir sighed and pushed past her. Eowyn turned her back on him, loathe to betray any weakness.

“Come on, Ioreth,” she whispered, picking up the little girl. As Faramir stalked into the bedroom, he failed to hear Ioreth’s lisping words: “Mama, why ith your fathe wet?”

“I’m going hunting,” Faramir announced frigidly. Eowyn didn’t turn from the sink. She appeared to be ignoring him completely. He angrily stormed out the door, slamming it as hard as he could. As he stomped across the porch, one foot shot through a weak spot in the wood. Holding back a string of ugly curses, he carefully prised his foot from the rotting wood. He heard a childish laugh from the open window. He was suddenly glad he had restrained from swearing as he saw Elboron watched with some measure of amusement. Ioreth joined him.

“Daddy, why ith there a hole in the powth?” she queried innocently.

Grinding his teeth, Faramir threw his cloak over the accusing hole and tried to leave unnoticed.

Two hours later, he wished he hadn’t left his cloak at home. Rain thundered down relentlessly. He hunched his shoulders and clenched his teeth, riding on. And he only had one skinny quail to show for all his work! He tried to ignore the pounding sleet. He pulled his collar up around his ears. Eowyn would pay for this, he promised.

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