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Trust To Hope

Chapter 10: Chapter Nine

by Novedhelion

Trust to Hope - Chapter Nine
Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel aka Anhuil
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Depressing, sappy separation. This is, after all, romance...
Beta: Riyallyn…and some help from ZeDrippyVessel
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, no money to be made...you’ve heard it all before. It’s a mixture of movieverse and book canon...bear with me. If PJ can leave Saruman at Isengard...

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Chapter Nine
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“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.”
Khalil Gibran
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Rohan
1 Gwaeron, 3019 T.A.
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Anhuil sat in the tent, that annoying voice in her head assailing her with her situation as she attempted to write.

You are leagues from home in the middle of nowhere with no horse. You are wounded. A man you do not love awaits your return home so you can be married. And now, you’ve got yourself a handsome rogue who said he would die for you. He doesn’t even know who you are!

“Shut up!” she said out loud, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes.

Anhuil felt odd in his tent, his belongings strewn about. Maps, gear, armor…all trappings of a soldier. He had wanted her to stay here, citing her injury as his reason for concern. The impropriety of it did not seem to perturb him in the least. It was all relatively innocent, true. But the appearance…he had even slept with her on the cot!

What would the gossips in the court say about that one if they knew? She giggled out loud at the hint of scandal. Prince Imrahil’s only daughter, sharing a tent with a rakish soldier of Rohan!

Anhuil stared at the blank page. The words were not coming. With a sigh, she flipped it shut and laid the quill on top. At least it would get her out of this stuffy tent.

She gingerly pulled on the boots, draping her cloak around her shoulders. Stepping outside into the cool early evening air, she patted her leg for Elenion to follow. He regarded her for a moment, reluctant to move from his resting spot. “Oh, do not be so lazy. Aphado nín.” The wolf raised himself to his feet and dragged along after her.

Éomer sat near the fire, her dagger in his hand. He had cleaned the blood from the weapon and sharpened it, and was now inspecting the curving Tengwar lettering engraved upon the silver blade.

Éothain stepped up behind him, looking over his shoulder at the Elvish weapon. “That hers?” he asked, offering the marshal a cup. Éomer took the cup and nodded. “What does it say?”

The marshal shrugged. “I do not know. I was just wondering that myself.”

“An Elvish weapon?”

“It would appear to be,” he answered. He lay down her dagger and picked up the bow, wiping the dried blood from the handgrip on the curved arc, carefully cleaning the intricate carvings on the wood. He plucked at the bowstring, shaking his head. “She vexes me, Éothain.”

The other soldier laughed. “Women vex us all.”

“I suppose you are right,” the marshal admitted.

“Be careful, Éomer,” Éothain warned jokingly. At his friend’s perplexed expression, he continued. “These are difficult times. Do not go looking for trouble. It will find you easily enough.”

The marshal regarded him with a wry smile. “I am fairly certain she could not be more trouble than she already has been.”

Éothain put his broad hand on the marshal’s shoulder. “That is because you have never yet truly been in love. Trust the voice of experience. They are all trouble. And you have only seen the beginning of it. Do not lose your head or your heart too quickly over this woman.”

“But you are in love, and in the end, is it not worth the trouble?”

“Some say so, my idealistic friend. However, I know exactly who and what Claennis is. We cannot say as much for your little warrior. A hellcat with a bow, for sure, though.” He paused.

He patted Éomer’s shoulder and stalked slowly away. The marshal stared down at the Elvish weapon at his feet, his mind drifting to the woman resting in his tent. Whenever his men returned from patrol, their wives were there at Aldburg to welcome them. He always felt a slight twinge of something…he didn’t know what…longing? Envy? Loneliness? Whatever it was, he was usually able to quell it sufficiently, if temporarily, with a trip to a local mead hall.

The truth was, he did not dislike the idea of having someone to come home to when he returned from patrol. A brief mental picture of Anhuil greeting him as he arrived home from battle entered his mind...her arms around him, him lifting her small form into his embrace, their lips meeting…taking her home, to their home at the fortress of Aldburg. His father’s old home. The hearth ablaze instead of empty and cold. He shook off the thought before it could go further. Was he truly, seriously considering this? The more important question was, would she?

Lose his head? That was debatable. Lose his heart? It might be a little too late for that one.

The camp was set near the banks of the Entwash. She slowly walked to the top of a small rise, looking out over the rolling landscape. The river flowed infinitely south. The chilly water would make it to Dol Amroth long before she did. A tinge of homesickness pricked her at the thought. She missed her brothers. She missed Cam. She missed her father. Eventually she would have to go back and face Fenwick. The thought made her stomach tighten.

Elenion dropped a stick at her feet. With a sigh, she picked it up and carefully tossed it a short distance for the wolf, who ran to retrieve it.

The movement hurt her side. She bent over slightly, her hand covering the bandages under her tunic. Bandages he had put there. She shivered slightly at the thought of him seeing her unclothed. Perching cautiously on a nearby rock, Anhuil looked out across the plains, taking in the view, drawing her cloak a little tighter against the chill. Elenion dropped the stick again, climbing up on the rock, and sat beside her, looking at her apologetically. “It is not your fault,” she told him, scratching behind his ears.

The princess hugged the wolf beside her, with one arm. “I do not know what to do, Elenion,” she whispered. “I miss my home, and Ada, and Cam…but I do not want to go back. I cannot marry him. Not now. I want to stay here, forever, but I know I cannot.” Her fingers dug into the soft fur. “Sometimes I wish I could just get on a ship and sail away, like the Elves.” Elenion turned his lupine gaze on her, the unspoken question in his eyes. “Please, Elenion,” she chided him, “I know he is being nice to us, but…” her voice trailed off. She sighed, leaning her head on him. He nuzzled her hair.

The marshal spotted them in the distance, and strode purposefully up the hill. She had no business being up out of bed, much less traipsing all over camp. As he approached them from behind, he slowed his steps. Her could hear her singing softly, the haunting tune was in the tongue of the Elves. Leaning on a tree, he stopped to listen.

...“Estel pêl, non ardhon dû
Trî núath dannol ed rîn a lû
Avo bedo ve tellin sí nan methen
Felias ‘lain, nallar agevedetham
Hodathach sí min rainc nín, losto

Man pellich cened, buin rain amar?
Amman en gwael ‘lain nallar?
Ithil ‘ael eria athan Aear
I chîr tellin a choled le na mar
Sui cheled geleb nadath thiathar
Calad buin nen, cîr thind gwannar
Nan annûn.”

Éomer stepped up behind her, watching the sun set across Rohan. “It is beautiful up here, is it not?”

She jumped at his voice. “Would you PLEASE stop doing that?”

“Then please stop wandering off. I went looking for you, and you were not in the tent.” He sat beside her on the rock. Elenion dutifully deposited the stick at his feet. Éomer tossed it again for him. “You should be resting. How are you feeling?”

“It hurts,” she said honestly. “Nothing I cannot live with.” Anhuil tried to sound nonchalant, although having him sit so close made her heart race. His words echoed in her head. I would die before I would let anything happen to you. The voice in her own head resounded... He does not even know who you are….

“That was a beautiful song,” he commented. “What was it?”

She stared ahead, shifting her position slightly, drawing her knees up. “It is a song about the Elves, leaving Middle Earth.”

“You have a lovely voice.”

“I shall consider that an honest compliment,” the princess responded politely.

“It was meant to be. It is nice to know you have something in your repertoire that is not about drinking or virgins,” the marshal commented teasingly.

She turned to face him, one eyebrow raised. “This from one of the Rohirrim? Your men are not exactly short on drinking songs either, Marshal.”

Éomer smiled. “We do have other songs, but most are in our own language.”

“I would love to hear one.”

“Is that a request?”

Anhuil studied him for a moment in the fading light. “If you would do me the honor, Marshal, I would love to hear a song in your own language,” she requested politely.

“All right. I suppose it is only fair.” He appeared to ponder the possibilities for a moment, smiled as he thought of one.

In his deep voice, he sang softly.

“Héo naefre wacode daegréd
Tó bisig mid daegeweorcum
Ac oft héo wacode sunnanwanting
Thonne nihtciele créap geond móras
And on haere hwile Héo dréag thá losinga
Ealra thinga the heo forleas
Héo swá oft dréag hire sáwle sincende
Héo ne cúthe hire heortan lust.

Éomer finished the song, then turned to the Princess.

Anhuil smiled at him. “What does it mean?”

“It is a song about a maid who yearns for something, although she does not really know what it is that her heart desires.”

“How sad,” the princess remarked quietly, turning her gaze back to the stars.

“Indeed,” Éomer responded, watching her carefully. Why he had chosen that particular song he was not sure, but the irony was not lost on him.

Taking a deep breath, she turned to face him. “Éomer, about yesterday…”

“I am sorry, Ani. I was wrong to raise my voice to you. That was—“

“Deserved. I should have listened to you. You were right. What I did could have been disastrous. I am sorry.”

“You did save two of my men. For that I am grateful. At least you aim true,” he said, his voice light, “for one so disobedient.” Éomer cut his eyes over at her, grinning.

Casting him a sardonic smile, the princess took the high road, ignoring his obvious attempt to bait her. “Another result of having three older brothers. I was determined to get better than them at something. Archery proved easier for me than swordplay.”

The marshal chuckled. “Speaking of weapons, I have cleaned yours. They are in the tent. I take it you found your bag,” he said, indicating her clean clothing. “The men found Cyric this morning, a little shaken but safe.”

She nodded. “Thank you for taking care of my weapons.”

“I would not want such a beautiful blade rusted.” The princess smiled. “What does it say, the inscription on your dagger?”

“It is Sindarin for Little Warrior. My eldest brother had it made for me, much to the chagrin of my father, who thought--“ she stopped short, not completing her sentence.

Éomer smiled at her. She had almost given more information that she had intended.

“What about your bow?”

The princess brushed imaginary dust from her knee, regarding the toes of her boots in the fading daylight. “It belonged to my mother. Her father made it for her. She gave it to me before she passed.”

“It is an elegant weapon,” the marshal commented. “And most deadly with you behind it.” She smiled shyly at the compliment. He flashed her another devilish grin.

Damn, that smile of his. She almost wished he wouldn’t smile at her like that. Almost.

“Ani,” he began. When did he start to use such a form to address her? The princess was taken aback by his boldness, addressing a member of the royal family with such familiarity… She almost laughed out loud, realizing once again he did not know she was a princess.

“…difficult.”

Anhuil startled, realizing her mind had wandered. “I apologize, I did not hear what you said,” she told him sheepishly.

He grinned again. “I said, I would like to see you safely to your destination, but not knowing where you are from, it is difficult.”

Anhuil figured he would ask eventually. At the very least, he deserved an honest answer. “My home is in Dol Amroth.”

“What?”

“Dol Amroth, the chief city of Belfalas. By the sea.”

Éomer looked at her, incredulous. “That is over 100 leagues from where we found you.” Had she traveled that distance alone?

“Yes,” she agreed.

“Going…?” He waited for the answer.

Anhuil shrugged. “I had thought to travel north, to Lothlórien.” She sighed deeply. “But that party of orcs I met along the riverbank changed my plans. I managed to evade them, but it was night… I lost my sense of direction, and the next thing I know I am lost in a forest.”

The princess shrugged again. “I was not sure where I was until I heard you and your men speaking, talking go your horses. I had read about the Rohirrim.”

The marshal studied her profile, the dim light. She stared straight ahead, her gaze traveling across the fields.

“Lothlórien? What induced you to go so far from home alone, if I may ask?”

Anhuil shook her head. “I had been doing research on Dol Amroth’s history, and had questions I felt Lord Celeborn could answer.” She shrugged. “My homeland is lovely, but sometimes when it is all you have seen your entire life, your heart yearns for something...different. I needed to see more than just sand and water. I wanted to write. I wanted to travel, to get away from all that was familiar.” And stuffy suitors who negotiated her hand in marriage with her father as if she would be sold to the highest bidder. She didn’t mention that part, casually crossing her legs at the ankles and leaning slightly forward. The truth was, she was perfectly content right where she was.

Elenion nudged the stick at her feet again. She handed it to Éomer, who threw it as far as he could. The wolf bounded off like a puppy.

“So you are running away,” he stated, confirming what he already knew.

The princess looked straight ahead, swallowing hard. He was right. “Not necessarily running away from something as much as running to something else,” she sighed, then changed the subject. “It is amazing how this reminds me of the sea,” she said, watching the grass ripple in waves under the evening breeze. “The way the grass moves with the wind. It looks like the waves at sea.” She turned to face him. “Have you ever seen the sea?” He shook his head. “One after another, the waves roll over, their white crests and crashing to the sand…the sound is amazing.” The look on her face said far more than she would have wished.

Éomer looked out across the field. “You miss it.”

“Yes, I do,” she admitted. “I love the ocean. I love the smell of the air, the salty taste of it on my lips. I love the sand between my toes.” She glanced down at her boots, trying to remember the last time she went barefoot.

“Sand? Between your toes? Does not sound very pleasant to me,” he laughed.

“It is wonderful,” she said wistfully. The princess stared off into the distance, the river’s glittering surface reflecting the newly rising half moon. “I used to sit for hours on the beach as a child, making drip castles.”

The marshal looked at her questioningly. “Drip castles?”

“When you dig a hole in the sand on the shore, it fills with water,” she explained. “You pick up wet sand in your fingers, slowly dripping it to form a tower.” She demonstrated the motion delicately, thumb and index finger in the air. “They are quite lovely. We used to build entire fortresses. We would be covered in sand by the time we were done.”

“Castles made of sand?” He shook his head at the absurdity of it.

She laughed. “I suppose we all have our customs that others find strange.”

“Oh? And what customs do the Éothéod have that others would find odd?”

Anhuil cast him a coy smile. “You sing in battle, for one.”

“You find that odd? You, who screams Elvish insults at the enemy?” They both laughed softy, Anhuil holding her side. She winced.

“You should not be up,” he admonished her softly again.

“I am fine, Éomer. It is naught but a scratch, you said so yourself.”

“I said nothing of the sort. I only said it was not as bad as I thought.” The vision of her blood on his hand, the feeling of its warmth as it seeped through his gloves on to his fingers came flooding back to him. The hilt of his sword slick in his hand… He clenched his fist, tying to banish the thought.

Noting his expression, she spoke quickly. “Rohan is very different from Gondor, in many ways,” she observed, lightly steering the conversation away from her injury.

“Ah, yes.” He smiled. “We are not scholars. Most of our people are unlearned. We have no written language; our history is passed down through song and verse. We are a country of heathen peasants,” he quipped teasingly, grinning sideways at her.

Anhuil laughed. “I am sorry, I did not mean it like that!” She fiddled with the ring on her thumb, thinking. “Just that there are many differences in our cultures. Your country does not observe betrothals, for one.”

“You know about our customs?”

“I told you, I used to have a lot of time for reading. I love to study the customs and languages of other peoples. There is a large library in Dol Amroth. You do not believe in formal betrothals, or extravagant rituals.”

“You think that is strange? I think it is peculiar to wait an entire year to marry. We are relatively simple when it comes to such things, preferring not to stand on ceremony. We make a promise and keep it.”

“Do you choose whom you marry freely?” she asked. Éomer nodded. The princess looked down, toying with her ring again. “Many marriages in Gondor are arranged. Some as soon as a daughter is born.”

“I am glad most of the Éothéod do not hold to that practice. How can one keep vows to another that they have not freely chosen? Would you not wish to love the one you marry?”

Anhuil shook her head. “I do not know. It is so common in Gondor that there are those who believe that true love is a detriment to a strong marriage, as emotion tends to cloud one’s judgment.”

“If marriages are arranged so early in life, why the year of betrothal?” he asked curiously.

“Agreements may be made early in a girl’s life, but actual betrothal contracts are not signed until she is old enough to be married. That leads to the one year betrothal period, which is supposedly designed to give a couple that has never met a chance to get to know one another before their marriage. Then the poor girl is sent off to live with her new husband, like him or not, and produce heirs.”

“You make it seem as if women are naught but a means to an end,” he commented.

“Sometimes that is how it appears,” she admitted bitterly. “And even those who do marry for love must still observe the betrothal period.” Anhuil shrugged. “It is simply our custom.”

“A year still seems like a fair long time to wait, if you ask me.” Éomer smiled mischievously. “I am certain there are far fewer agitated men in Rohan than in Dol Amroth.”

“I would not be so certain it is only the men!”

They both laughed out loud, Anhuil clutching her side again.

She realized he was no longer laughing, but watching her intently. Was that was she was running from? Dare he ask?

“What?”

His gaze met hers, her green eyes questioning. He decided against it. She was finally opening up to him
and he was not about to have her slam that door shut again. He would bring it up another time.

“You have the most beautiful smile," he told her.

Anhuil felt the hot blush color her cheeks. She was grateful it was dark, maybe he wouldn’t notice.

Éomer slid from his place at her side, turned and knelt on the grass in front of her. Taking her face in his hands, he paused. Anhuil smiled again. “That is what I was waiting for.” His mouth claimed hers, so softly she was grateful she was sitting. He nudged her lips apart with his tongue, slowly exploring the sweetness of her. She traced his lower lip with her own tongue, the resulting sensation nearly undoing him. Éomer deepened his kiss, and she moaned softly, almost inaudibly. It was all he could take. The kiss that had started so softly and sweetly rapidly became ardent, each claiming the other with such intense passion it surprised them both.

Anhuil leaned into him, her fingernails digging into his shoulders. The pain in her side…what pain? She tangled her small hands into his hair. Lifting her off the rock, he laid her down on the soft grass, his mouth never leaving hers. Careful not to put weight on her injured side, he lay beside her, propped on one elbow. She protested slightly when he moved his mouth from hers, but forgot what about as he trailed kisses up her neck. “Ani…” he whispered, his breath warm against her ear.

Éomer tried to be mindful of her injury, but her responsiveness was making it very difficult. Strong fingers traced the neckline of her tunic, gently fingering the strings tying the front. Anhuil shivered slightly at his warm touch.

“Éomer,” she whispered quietly. He pulled back, suddenly aware that he might be hurting her. “It is alright,” she responded to his questioning look. Small hands cupped his face, turning it back to hers, as his mouth once again captured hers.

Éomer drew back and looked at her, dark green eyes looking almost black in the pale light. She searched his face, trying to read the expression. He stroked her soft cheek with the back of his fingers.

“Ani, in my entire life I have never wanted anything as I want you.”

The confession jolted her, her eyes widening. She swallowed hard, unsure how to answer. She could not deny that she reciprocated that feeling, but she had always wanted to wait…

“But not like this,” the marshal’s expression softened. Relief flooded her. “Not here.” He kissed her cheek, moving to brush his lips against hers. Éomer spoke softly, his lips against hers. “No, Ani…when I make you mine…” His lips moved to her ear, warm breath sending a tingling sensation through her. “I want you in my bed. You deserve far more than a cursory coupling in a field. I promise it will be worth the wait.” His kiss was so soft, the heat of it made the princess feel as if she would melt into the grass beneath him.

The pounding of her heart drowned out all else.

The thundering sound she heard became louder, and she realized it was not her heart but the sound of hooves, pounding the soft ground.

She pushed him away, looking at him, listening. “Horses…” she said breathlessly.

The sound of the horse’s hooves could be heard clearly now. Through the dark, there appeared a white rider on a white horse, thundering into the campsite.

Éomer stood, carefully helping Anhuil to her feet. Looking toward the camp, they saw the White Rider dismount and approach a group of soldiers. Careful of her injured side, they made their way back to the camp.

“Where is your marshal?” Gandalf inquired of a soldier near him. Éomer strode quickly to where Gandalf had dismounted Shadowfax, leading Anhuil by the hand.

“Ah, Éomer, I must speak with you at once.” Gandalf dispensed with usual greetings. “I apologize for my abruptness, but this is a matter of utmost importance.” The Wizard glanced with a raised eyebrow at Anhuil, who surreptitiously shook her head. With a slight nod of understanding, the old man winked. Éomer led her into the tent, following Gandalf.

“I apologize for my oversight. Gandalf, this is Anhuil of Dol Amroth.”

Anhuil’s eyes bored into the Wizard’s, and he smiled. “A pleasure, my dear. I wish it were under better circumstances.” The marshal motioned for the old man to sit. He did so, with the weariness of one who carries many burdens.

“Thank you, sir,” the princess responded politely. She stood quietly near the opening to the tent. Gandalf gave her another long look, then turned his attention to the marshal.

“Éomer, Théoden King has moved the people to Helm’s Deep.”

”Helm’s Deep?”

“Yes.” The old man looked at him intently. “Gríma Wormtongue has fled, most assuredly to Isengard. The king felt it would be safer for the people to move to the fortress. Sauruman’s hold over Rohan is broken, and he is wasting no time. He has created an army, marching on the keep as we speak. Éowyn is with them.” He paused for a moment, leaning on his staff. “I am sorry to tell you your cousin passed shortly after you left.”

Éomer rubbed his forehead with his fingers, grieved at the news of Théodred’s death. He was relieved to hear that Wormtongue was no longer a threat to his beloved sister. The news of Saruman’s army, however, was disconcerting. “An army? No army can storm the keep.”

“Éomer, Saruman has created his own army of Uruk-hai, over ten thousand strong. Theoden is hopelessly outnumbered. But he is stubborn. He has faith in the Keep, in his ability to defend it. You must ride to his aid, Marshal. They will be trapped. There is no escape from that fortress. I have rounded up Erkenbrand and his men and sent them ahead. If we make haste, we can catch them and ride together. They are naught but a day ahead.” Gandalf looked at him expectantly.

“Ten thousand?” The aged Wizard nodded. Éomer considered this fact for only a moment. “Of course we will go. We will waste no time. I will call the men to ride immediately.” He stood and headed outside, stopping to look at Anhuil, who was still standing near the opening to the tent, leaning on the table. Her eyes searched his, her fear showing despite her attempt to mask it. Éomer squeezed her hand. “Wait here with Gandalf,” he told her, and stepped out of the tent.

The Wizard turned to her with an expectant look. “And what secrets am I expected to keep this time, Princess Lothíriel?” He grinned at her. “You and your brothers were always into some kind of mischief,” he joked.

“And you always knew when we were into something.”

He stood from the stool, walking slowly toward her. “I seem to remember a time or two…something about your father’s wine once…and I vaguely recall a little dark haired imp that liked to steal my staff…”

“Oh, Mithrandir, it is so good to see you again.” Anhuil threw her arms around him, gently hugging the old man. She winced in pain and pulled back, her green eyes meeting the gaze of pale grey ones.

“You look…different,” she observed, noting that he had traded the grey garb he used to wear for a robe of purest white.

“I am different, my dear,” he explained, “but the telling of that tale is for another day. And as for you? Will you tell me why I must pretend not to know who you are? And why the Third Marshal of the Riddermark is addressing you, Princess of Dol Amroth, by a childhood nickname?”

“I am sorry, I never meant to deceive him. It is a long story. He does not know who I am—“

“He does not know?”

“No, Mithrandir. I did not tell him. When I met him I did not want him to know I was a princess…I was afraid he would take me back…I never expected…” She dropped her face into her hands. “I never meant to deceive him.”

Gandalf put a large, gnarled hand on her small shoulder. “Even the smallest deception has the potential to create overwhelming perplexity, my dear.”

“It does not seem to matter now. If he is riding out to meet an army of ten thousand…” He could see the tears welling up in her dark green eyes. She blinked them back.

“Many a man has been sustained in battle by the thought of his homecoming, my dear.” He paused, letting his words sink in. “Fear not. Your secret is safe with me.” The old Wizard patted her on the shoulder. “Do not underestimate your young knight of Rohan, Lothíriel. He is destined for things he has not even begun to imagine.”

Anhuil looked at him, puzzled. Hers? Had he called him HER knight? The old man simply smiled back at her, indicating he would say no more. She had always hated it when he did that.

Éomer ducked back into the tent, again dressed in full armor except the helm in his hand, which he laid on the table in the tent. She had seen him in armor many times, but the sight of him dressed for pending battle still sent a chill down her spine. She drew in a sharp breath.

He carried her cloak over his arm, her dagger in his other hand. “We are breaking camp immediately,” he told Gandalf. “I will be back shortly to go over plans with you.” The old Wizard nodded.

“Ani, can I speak to you for a moment outside?”

With a quick glance at Gandalf, she followed the marshal out into the darkness. He led her a short distance away from where several men were preparing the horses to ride. Handing her the weapon, he tossed her cloak over her shoulders as she buckled the belt around her waist. Taking both of her hands in his, he looked into her eyes.

“I want to go with you.” She knew what the answer would be before she spoke.

He shook his head, placing his hand on her cheek. “I want nothing less than to be separated from you now.” He kissed her, as if to emphasize his point, then placed a hand over her wound. “This is no ordinary army of guileless Orcs. These are Saruman’s Uruk-hai-“

“I am not afraid of death, Éomer,” she stated flatly, “At least, not my death.”

The marshal met her gaze. “Courage, I grant you, my lady. But I would never forgive myself if something happened to you.” His hand was warm through the fabric of her shirt and the bandage underneath. “The risk is too great.”

The princess lowered her gaze, staring down at her feet. Éomer reached for the clasp to her cloak, fastening it, and raised her chin with his hand. He brushed the wayward curls from her eyes, tracing the outline of her face from her temple to her jaw, then softly traced the outline of her lips with his index finger.

Anhuil held his gaze, trying to read his eyes. She swallowed hard. “Éomer…”

He laid his finger on her lips. “Smile for me.” His request was almost a whisper.

“I do not know if I can,” she replied, tears welling up in her eyes.

He laid his hand on her cheek again, wiping her tears with his thumb. “I do not want to remember this parting with tears. I want to remember the little hellion that took on my éored and called me out for my indecorous behavior. I want to remember the woman bold enough to drink whiskey and sing licentious songs to entertain my men. The woman who hurls insults as fast as she does arrows.”

Lowering his lips to hers, he kissed her softly. “I want to remember your kiss.” The marshal paused, his dark eyes locked on to hers. “I want the image of your smile burned in my mind. I fear I will have need to call upon it in the coming days.”

His grin prompted one in return from her. “That is better,” he told her, gently wiping her tears again. “No tears. I need you to do something for me.”

“What can I do?”

“Ride to Gondor. As fast as you can. I need you to go to Mundberg, the city of Minas Tirith. I am sending Haleth to alert the Steward. I want you to go with him. You should be safe there. I will find you.” He whistled to a nearby soldier, who led over a beautiful black horse with a braided jet-black mane. The horse had been saddled, the Rohirrim armor removed. Her bag, bow, and quiver were already fastened to the saddle. Éomer took the reins and dismissed the soldier. “This was Handarion’s mount, Orlórin. I want you to take him. He is fast and steady.”

His eyes searched hers. This was all happening so fast that Anhuil’s head was reeling. “You are trusting me with another of your precious horses?” she finally managed, her attempt at humor not lost on him.

“I will come for him later, so take good care of him,” he teased, smiling weakly at her. He held out the reins of the horse toward her. She stared at him, unable to move, knowing that once she took them in her hands, he would be leaving. Finally he took her hand and placed the reins in her palm, closing his hand over hers.

Anhuil knew she had to tell him.

“Éomer,” she began, “I need to—“

The marshal placed his fingers on her lips. “Anhuil, I will find you when this is over. I promise. Believe that.” He bent and kissed her again, not caring anymore who saw.

“But…Éomer…I need to tell you…” She raised a hand to stop him.

“Marshal!” The sharp voice called him away.

“Go with Haleth. Ride to Minas Tirith. I will find you, Anhuil of Dol Amroth. I must see a castle made of sand for myself!” Capturing her hand with his, Éomer brought it to his lips, lightly kissing the pads of her fingers. He gave her one long, last look, then jogged off in the direction of the voice.

The princess placed the fingers he had kissed to her own lips. She stood there, holding the reins of the horse, watching him disappear, not even trying to blink back the tears anymore.

“Miss?” Haleth appeared behind her, already astride his own horse. “Are you ready? The marshal says we need to get moving.”

She stared after Éomer for a moment longer, the old Wizard’s words ringing in her head. ‘Many a man has been sustained in battle by the thought of his homecoming, my dear.’

Taking a deep breath, she exhaled slowly. “Just a moment, Haleth. I must do one thing first.”

****

Éomer watched as Haleth and Anhuil disappeared into the dark, the wolf racing alongside the pair. At least she was headed in a safer direction. As he leapt astride Firefoot, something caught his attention. A small white piece of fabric, tucked into the harness. Pulling it out, he unfolded it, gently running his thumb across the embroidered edge. He lifted it to his lips; deeply inhaling its lavender scent.

Smiling, he tucked the small scrap inside one of his gauntlets. With a loud whistle, he called forth the riders as the horns rang out. “Forth Eorlingas!”

**********


Aphapdo - follow me


Anhuil’s song
(“Into the West”, translated into Sindarin by Tara)

Hope fades into the world of night
Shadows falling out of memory and time
Don’t say we have come now to the end
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again
And you’ll be here, in my arms, just sleeping

What can you see on the horizon
Why do the white gulls call
Across the sea, a pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home
And all will turn to silver glass
A light on the water, grey ships pass
Into the West

Éomer’s song
(“The Missing” from the Two Towers Soundtrack)

She never watched the morning rising,
Too busy with the days first chores
But oft she would watch the sun's fading
As the cold of night crept across the moors

And in that moment she felt the loss
Of everything that had been missed
So used to feeling the spirit sink
She had not felt her own heart's wish

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Chapter name
Chapter Nine
Created
22 Jan 2004
Last Edited
22 Jan 2004
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