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Trust To Hope

Chapter 12: Chapter Eleven

by Novedhelion

Trust to Hope - Chapter Eleven
Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel aka Anhuil
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Epic battle scenes, not nearly described as well as I wish I could.
Beta: Riyallyn
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 lose the Houses of Healing...

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Part Eleven
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Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible.
- Hannah Arendt
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Minas Tirith
15 Gwaeron, 3019 T.A.
*******************

“Mithrandir!”

She found the old Wizard on one of the lower levels, leaning on his staff. He looked up at the sound of his name.

“Mithrandir!” she called again, running in his direction, breathless. “I have searched the city for you!” She bent over, hand on one knee, the other holding her not quite healed side.

“What are you doing here, girl?”

“Éomer sent me here, to bring word to my uncle and to…Oh, never mind! My father and the Knights have arrived, bearing my cousin Faramir to the Citadel.”

“Where are they now?”

“Denethor has had him taken to the Citadel, and there he lies. He is wounded, but alive.”

“He is there now?”

Anhuil nodded, still trying to catch her breath. “My uncle will not leave him,” she informed him. ‘My father is trying to talk to him, but he is insane with grief. He is talking of death.”

“I will see about it as quickly as I can, dear girl. Now, get yourself back to the Citadel, at least to the upper levels.” He moved toward the street, then turned back to her. “And I will not tell him you are here. Get up to the House of Healing. Tell the Warden that Mithrandir sent you, and help out there. It is the safest place to be for now. Ioreth could use the extra hands.”

With a quick nod, she took off again, running back to the main street of the fourth level.

As she rounded a corner, she was almost overrun by the soldiers galloping through the streets. Ducking into a doorway, she watched as the mounted men in armor trotted past. As she recovered her senses and stood to watch, she saw high above them, at the head of the column, the blue banner bearing the white swan ship. The Swan Knights of Dol Amroth, returning to the battle after escorting the wounded Captain to the Citadel. Her father. Her brothers.

No small sense of pride rushed through her as she watched them pass, although none recognized this rag tag street urchin standing alongside the crowded street. They didn’t even glance in her direction. Still she smiled to see them. And prayed for their safety.

Huge crashes resounded, the last one sending pieces of rubble flying down the cobblestone street. Flying over to the wall, she jumped, trying to see over the edge.

“Bloody hell,” she muttered, a bit amused at her unintentional use of the marshal’s curse of choice, directed at the genealogy that gave her brothers such stature and somehow left her rather diminutive. She grabbed a nearby crate, and clambered atop it to see over the wall, looking out across the Pelennor.

And nearly fainted.

Gripping the edge of the wall, her knuckles white, Anhuil stared down at the field outside the city walls. Thousands upon thousands of Orcs, formed in ranks, surrounding the city. Huge catapults launching boulders, apparently being lifted by trolls. TROLLS! She had heard of such things, but never in her life imagined seeing them, much less being attacked by them.

Another resounding thunderclap of stone meeting stone, this one far closer. Leaping from the crate, her eyes darted around the panicked crowd. A small figure, clad in black and silver, blasted past her. The halfling! Perhaps he could give her some news…. She bolted after him, down toward the lower levels.

“Pippin!” she called out, but he did not hear her above the din. As he rounded another corner, she had to stop and lean against the side of a building. Her side ached, each breath feeling like a knife in her side. All around, chaos ensued. It had become dark, and great flashes of fire lit the skies as the catapults of the enemy launched stones of fire over the outer walls.

Smoke permeated the air. She held her side, gasping for breath, choking on the thick smoke. How in Middle Earth had she ended up in the midst of yet another battle?

Taking off again, she bolted down the street the hobbit had rounded. Spending so much of her childhood there had its advantages, one of which being she knew many shortcuts. She dashed down an alley, through a building, down the stairs, and came out on a level below. The small figure was coming toward her. She grabbed the halfling as he dashed past her.

“Pippin! What is going on?”

Breathless, the hobbit clutched at her cloak. “Your uncle is insane. He is going to burn himself alive, and Faramir too! We must find Gandalf!”

Anhuil grabbed his shoulders. “No! Faramir is not dead! I heard my father say-“

“Denethor will not listen to reason! I must find Gandalf!”

“I just left him, Pippin...he was--“

The loud clopping of hooves on stone interrupted her mid-sentence. Gandalf rounded the corner, astride Shadowfax. Tearing free from the grasp of the princess, Pippin ran to him.

“Gandalf!”

“What are you doing here? Is it not law that those who wear silver and black must stay in the Citadel unless their lord gives them leave?”

“He has,” Pippin answered. “But Gandalf, Denethor is out of his mind. He is going to kill himself, and Faramir too!”

“What is this tale? Be quick!”

“He has taken Faramir to the tombs. He says if we are all to burn, he is going to make a pyre and burn himself and Faramir! Can’t you save him?”

The wizard grabbed Pippin up on to Shadowfax, turning the steed and bolting for the Citadel. Anhuil ran behind, headed for the Houses of Healing.

A soldier in silver armor grabbed her arm. “You should get to the upper levels, lad,” he said to her, shoving her toward the street as the rest of his regiment came around the same corner.

She jerked her arm away from him, bolting back up the street, shoving her hood back. “I am not a lad. I am on my way to assist in the Houses of Healing.”

He stepped back, surprised at the feminine voice. “My apologies, Miss. It is on the --“

“I know where it is!” she shouted, taking off up the street. Reaching the sixth level, she turned south, past the stables and to the last doorway. The explosions of crashing stone were so loud she didn’t bother to knock. Pausing outside the door, she held her breath. It had been several years since she had last been in this house, but many a summer afternoon they had ended up here. Scrapes, bruises, and even Erchirion’s broken arm had all needed the care of Ioreth at one point or another during their childhood. Undoubtedly the old woman would recognize her, if the Warden did not.

Well, they would recognize Lothíriel, anyway, the princess thought as she remembered how different her reflection had looked in the mirror. Releasing her breath, she prayed it had been long enough. She creaked open the door.

“Hello?”

Several women were bustling from room to room, bed to bed, tending the wounded that had been brought there. She stopped one of them. “What do you want?” the lady queried.

“I want to help,” she told her. The older woman eyed her warily, and pointed her in the direction of an elderly lady down the hallway. She approached the woman.

“Who are you?” Ioreth asked her, point blank.

“My name is Anhuil. Mithrandir sent me.”

Ioreth took in her manner of dress, then decided extra hands were more important. “Do you know anything about healing?”

Anhuil shook her head. “A little. But I will do as I am told.”

“Good enough,” the older woman smiled. “Wash in there, and come back to this front room. Hang your cloak over there.” She gestured toward the hooks on the wall. “And your weapon.”

The princess sighed, flinging the cloak and the belt with her dagger on to the hook and rolling up her sleeves. If she was going to be in a battle and could not fight, she would offer such help as she could.

Over the next hours, she tended patients as the women instructed, all the while listening to the explosions and wails rising from the city. Wounded poured in. Anhuil carried fresh supplies back and forth for the healers, heating water, and cutting bandages. When the linen for bandages ran out, Ioreth set her to shredding the linen sheets. She tried to focus solely on her tasks and ignore the shrieks such as she had never heard echoing through the night.

“What is that?” she whispered to one of the women.

“Tis the fell beasts of the Nazgûl, dear,” the woman told her, speaking as if she were an inquisitive child.

“Nazgûl?” The princess’ eyes widened in horror. “Here?”

The other woman simply nodded and returned to her work, as if having giant flying reptilian creatures ridden by specters was an everyday occurrence in Minas Tirith. Trying to put the thought of the horrible creatures out of her mind, Anhuil returned to her patients.

Near dawn, she peered out the small window from the second floor, wiping her forehead with the back of a hand wearily. The sun had not yet risen. Below, she could see smoke rising from the burning lower levels of the city.

“The city is breached. It is only a matter of time until they reach us,” a voice behind her said quietly. She turned to see Ioreth standing behind her, gazing out the window.

“The tide may yet turn,” the princess told her, as much for her own comfort as for the old woman’s.

Ioreth smiled. “The optimism of youth is a good thing,” she said, patting the princess’ arm. “But I do not think-“

Before she could finish, the shrill sound of a cock’s crow echoed off the mountain. A strange sound to hear in the midst of a battle, Anhuil thought. Before she could give it another second of contemplation, another sound rang out.

Horns.

She had heard that sound before.

The sound of many, many horns, blowing loudly, resounding through the walls of the city. She dashed back to the window, but could see nothing. Down the stairs and out the door, she tore across the stable yard and to the opposite wall on the north side of the city.

What she saw sent chills down her spine.

Horses. Thousands and thousands of horses, atop a nearby ridge. The sun barely breaching the horizon beyond them lit them from behind, shining gold on their helms. Tall pikes stood upright throughout the cavalry, raised swords gleaming.

Rohan.

The Riders of Rohan spread like a sea of gold and green, the breath of their horses visible in the chilly air. She could see, from the near the top of the city, the lone white horse in front of the cavalry. The King of the Mark.

Beside him was a rider on a dark horse, the white horsetail of his helm blowing in the breeze.

“Éomer,” she whispered.

The lines of the enemy that had been attacking the city now turned, reforming their ranks and facing the Rohirrim.

The riders brandished their swords and pikes, flashing in the early sun. Shields bearing the emblem of the golden sun shone. The chanting of the soldiers could be heard echoing off the mountain behind the White City.

“DEATH! DEATH! DEATH!”

Anhuil held her breath.

The thundering began.

Six thousand horsemen, swords and pikes raised. The cavalry charged forward, plowing over the ranks of the enemy, crushing them under the hooves of horses. Line after line mowed them down with sword, pike and bow. Washing over them like waves crashing over her drip castles.

Something was missing, she noted. Their singing. They did not sing this time, as they rode roughshod over the ranks of their enemy.

Anhuil tore herself from the wall and ran back to the House of Healing. Bursting through the door, she gasped for breath.

“What is it, girl?” the Warden asked her, coming to her side.

“King Theoden’s Riders have come!”

Ioreth breathed a long sigh of relief. “I knew they would come. I told them the Rohirrim would come!” She smiled at the grinning princess. “Well, don’t just stand there grinning, girl, go help Annith with that patient in there. We have work to do.”

“Yes, ma’am,” the princess responded with a nod, darting into the room Ioreth had indicated.

******
She was busily working, cutting and rolling bandages for the women when a commotion at the entrance caught her attention. Peeking into the corridor from the back room, she saw a patient being brought in on a bier. She could hear the voices but dared not step in. Anhuil heard the man’s name. Faramir.

Breathing a silent prayer of thanks to the Valar for his survival, she ducked back. Pippin was with him, and Mithrandir, and the last thing she needed was for these women to find out she was the Princess and shoo her away.

A wave of relief washed over her. She leaned back against the wall. Faramir, at least, lived. As soon as they were gone, Anhuil walked quietly to the room where Faramir had been laid. Ioreth sat beside him.

“How is he, Ioreth?” she inquired haltingly.

“The Black Shadow is upon him. We will do what we can, but like I told that Wizard, I wish there were a king in Gondor, for the hands of a king are the hands of a healer, that’s what I told him, and he said…”

Anhuil tuned her out, instead bending over the inert form of her cousin. His brow was damp with fever, and he mumbled incoherently in his sleep. The princess took a damp rag and wiped his face, speaking softly to him.

Looking up, she noticed another new patient, at first thinking it to be a child. “Another halfling? These are strange days indeed.” Ioreth only nodded, intent on the herbs she was mixing.

“What of this lady?” the princess asked, her eyes falling on a blonde woman who had been brought in. “A woman, in armor? She was injured in battle?”

“That is the Lady Éowyn of Rohan. A shieldmaiden of the North. Mithrandir says she slew the king of the Nazgûl, and the Shadow has fallen on her as well. And her shield arm is broken. It must be set and wrapped. Assist Ladwyn with that, if you will.”

Éowyn. The princess drew in her breath at the name. The lady was stricken with the same fever that had taken Anhuil’s cousin. Looking down at her fair skin, flaxen hair, Anhuil wondered if the Lady had the same deep brown eyes as her brother. A slight smile crossed her face as she thought of Éomer’s description of his sister, and his love for her.

“Shall we use a compress?” Ladwyn queried, looking toward Ioreth.

“Comfrey reduces the bruising and swelling,” Anhuil answered without thinking.

Ioreth turned to stare at her, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

“At least, that is what the healer used when my brother broke his arm,” she hastily added. “It was a long time ago. If it is incorrect...”

“No. That is correct,” the older woman said slowly, eyeing the princess. Anhuil quickly turned, leaving the room to retrieve the needed supplies. She helped the healer tend the wounded arm and laid a cloth on Éowyn’s brow.

Her tasks momentarily finished, the princess wandered to the window, suddenly noticing the thundering and crashing had ceased. The sun was beginning to set as Ioreth lit a lantern on the table. “It is so quiet,” Anhuil observed.

“The battle is over, for now,” another woman responded. “The enemy has been driven back, overrun. Did you not hear? Mithrandir told us…”

Shaking her head, she plopped down on to a stool, so tired she could barely sit upright.

The woman continued talking to Anhuil, who could not focus on what she said about Black Ships and a dead army. The princess sat back on her stool, covering a yawn with the back of her hand.

“My dear,” the older woman said to her, “we rest in shifts. It is your turn. You should sleep.”

“No,” Anhuil protested, “I am fine.”

“You must rest. You are no good to us if you cannot stand on your own feet. There is a spare cot in the furthest room. Lie down there, we will wake you ere long I am certain, as there will be many wounded to care for now that the battle is over. Come.” Taking Anhuil by the arm, she led her down the hall to a room containing two small cots.

“I am sorry we have no blankets. They are all being used for the sick and wounded.”

The princess nodded her thanks, rolling on to her back as the door closed. The battle was over, for now, the woman had said. As sleep overtook her, she prayed silently that Éomer was still alive.

*******
Early the next morning, before dawn, Éomer quietly closed the door to the room where his sister lay, turning to the healer in the hallway.

“She will be all right?” he asked, an edge of concern in his voice.

“Her body will heal quickly, yes,” Annith told him, “but we have instructions to keep her here for several days.”

“As for her other hurts, they may take longer to heal lest some other remedy come to her,” Ioreth chimed in.

Éomer looked at the old woman quizzically. “Don’t mind me, young man. I’m just an old woman who sees far more than I should. Your sister will be fine.” She patted his shoulder and turned to the hooks in the hallway. “Oh, here is your cloak,” she said to him, pulling the dark green riding cloak down from a hook. As she did so, Anhuil’s sheathed dagger thudded to the floor. Ioreth mumbled under her breath and bent to pick it up, but was beaten to it.

He held the sheath, staring at the jeweled handle, and slowly drew it out. His heart skipped a beat at the familiar inscription on the blade. Shoving it back into the sheath, he looked up at the old woman. “To whom does this belong? A patient here?”

“Oh, that. No, it belongs to that girl that showed up here last night. She said Mithrandir sent her to help. I told her there was no need for weapons in this house, but she insisted on having it with her, so I just told her to hang it up there.” She indicated the hook where a familiar riding cloak also hung. “She calls herself Anhuil.”

Éomer drew in his breath, almost afraid to ask. “Where is she now? Is she here?”

“She’s in that back room,” her head inclined toward the closed door, “but don’t you go waking her!”

Éomer was no longer listening. He strode down the hall, stopping outside the door Ioreth had pointed to.

“Don’t you wake her, young man,” Ioreth warned again, shaking her finger in his direction, “or I’ll set the Warden on you.”

“I would not dare.” He grinned at the older woman, turning back toward the door. Taking a deep breath, he slowly creaked the door open. It was a sparsely furnished room, two narrow wooden beds with a small table between, holding a pitcher and a basin.

The princess lay on one of the cots, curled on her side, one hand tucked under the small pillow, the other atop it. She had not even removed her boots. Her curls fell across her face, partially obscuring her eyes. Éomer moved into the room quietly, laying her dagger on the table. Kneeling beside the cot, he winced slightly at the scraping sound the scales of his mail made against the stone floor. Anhuil didn’t stir.

He stayed still, watching her sleep, hoping the pounding of his heart did not wake her. Removing his gloves, he reached for her hand, resting on the pillow, closing his fingers over hers. Her hands were cold, and she seemed to snuggle deeper into the pillow as he warmed her hand.

Scanning the room, Éomer looked for something with which he could cover her. Seeing nothing about the sparse chamber, he stood and removed his riding cloak, carefully laying it over her. She seemed to relax into its warmth, moving slightly in her sleep.

Kneeling again, he gently brushed the dark curls from her eyes. The ends of the soft strands curled around his calloused fingertips. He looked down at her, dark lashes resting on her lightly freckled cheeks, her lips parted slightly in sleep.

Memories of the last weeks flooded him. Helm’s Deep. Ten thousand Uruk-hai. Trees that moved. And killed. White Wizards trapped in towers. Halflings, Elves, Wild Men in forests… The battle at Pelennor. Huge beasts, legions of orcs, Haradrim, Easterlings, Southrons… Theoden falling. Finding Éowyn. Black Ships sailing up the Anduín, the banner of the King of Gondor fluttering in the wind… An army of long dead warriors swarming over Minas Tirith. And she had been here the whole time, in the city he was fighting to defend.

He wondered if she had heard the horns, if she had known the Rohirrim had come. Did she recognize his sister?

Éomer smiled. He had made her a promise. He told her he would find her, and he had.

There was a light rap on the door, and Ioreth stuck her head in. “Excuse me, sir, but the Prince Imrahil’s son is out here calling for you,” she informed him quietly. She regarded him kneeling beside the low bed for a moment, then let the door fall shut again as she shuffled off.

He stood slowly, his gaze lingering on the sleeping princess. Leaning down one more time, he brushed her hair back and pressed his lips lightly to her temple. “Ani, I will be back,” he whispered. Gathering his gloves from the table, he moved to the door. With one more glance at the woman sleeping under his cloak, he slipped out the door and into the dimly lit hallway.

“You know her?” Ioreth inquired, her grey eyes raking over the young soldier in front of her.

“Yes,” Éomer answered quietly, moving toward the door. “I do.”

“You want me to tell her you were here?”

Éomer paused, turning back to the healer. “Yes. Tell her the marshal still does not believe one can make castles out of sand.” At her puzzled expression, he flashed her a charming grin, bowing slightly, as he stepped out the door.

Ioreth stared at the door for a moment, then turned to the door behind which the princess lay sleeping. “Oh, to be that young again,” she lamented.

Sunlight was just beginning to stream between the shutters of the small window. Anhuil woke with a start, sitting straight up on the cot. “Éomer?”

Wide eyes darted around the small chamber. Seeing no one, she closed them again with a resigned sigh, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyelids. She had been so sure she heard his voice. It must have been a dream, however vivid. Drawing her hands down over her face until her fingertips covered her lips, she inhaled deeply. She could still smell the musky scent of leather and of him she had grown accustomed to. Anhuil pressed her hands flat together, as if in prayer, resting her forehead on her fingertips.

“I am losing my mind,” she muttered, drawing her knees up and opening her eyes. Reaching to toss the covers off, she suddenly wondered where they had come from. The other healer had told her there were no spare blankets. She stared in shock at the material across her knees, running a hand lightly across the dark green wool, fingering the gold embroidered edge. His cloak. She lifted it to her face, inhaling the scent. She had not been dreaming.

“Éomer,” she whispered. Leaping from the bed, dragging the cloak with her, she bolted into the hallway.

“Ioreth!” she called, dashing through the hall, peering into different rooms. The old woman hobbled into the hallway.

“What is it, girl? Folks are sleeping here,” she admonished her.

“I am sorry, Ioreth, really…but I need to ask you something. Was there a Rohirrim soldier, tall, blonde--“

“Honey, they are all tall and blonde.”

“Yes, Ioreth, I know,” Anhuil continued, exasperated. “His name is Éomer. He is the brother of the Lady Éowyn.”

“Oh, him. The marshal. Yes, he was here.”

Anhuil’s mouth dropped open. “Hannon i Valar... I thought I had dreamed…when?”

“He left a while back, honey.” She pointed at the door.

The princess yanked the door open, eyes darting around the still empty street. The sound of hooves on the flagstone paving could be heard in the distance. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she looked down at the cloak in her hands, clutching the material against her, then out across the nearly deserted city.

“Where are they going?” she asked the old woman.

“The Captain of the Dunedain, he was here, healing the sick. The king, that’s who I say he is, but does anyone pay me heed? Anyway, he has a camp with his men, in the field. They went there for a council, I believe is what they said.”

“Then he is gone again,” Anhuil said, almost to herself.

“He left you a message,” the old woman said, stepping out on to the stone steps behind her. Anhuil turned to her, blinking back the tears. Ioreth smiled at her. “Odd message, thought. He said to tell you he still does not believe one can make castles out of sand.”

Chuckling, the princess placed a hand over her mouth, then wiped at her tears with the back of her fingers. Ioreth put a wrinkled hand on her shoulder. “That young man was certainly pleased to find you here, if that eases your mind at all. He sat in there for quite a spell while you slept. I made him promise not to wake you.”

Anhuil sighed. “I am grateful just to know he is alive.” She wrapped his cloak around her shoulders, hugging herself tightly in the soft wool.

The old lady grinned. “Mmm-hmm. He will be back, trust me. You show me a man content to sit that long and watch a woman sleeping, and I shall show you a man hopelessly in love and don’t you doubt it.”

The princess laughed softly. “Thank you, Ioreth.”

“Come on, girl,” the old healer said, smiling. “We can’t stand here all day. These people need us.” She turned and walked through the door, leaving the princess alone on the steps. Anhuil watched the silent street for a moment. Not only was he alive, he had kept his promise. He had found her. She looked down, fingering the gold embroidery on the cloak, smiling. Ioreth was right. Éomer would be back.

With a last glance down the cobblestone avenue, she turned and slipped inside the door.

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Chapter name
Chapter Eleven
Created
04 Feb 2004
Last Edited
04 Feb 2004
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