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Trust To Hope

Chapter 5: Chapter Four

by Novedhelion

Trust To Hope - Chapter Four

Disclaimer: The usual disclaimers apply. Tolkien created these characters, I just used them for my own selfish purposes. The wolf is mine. The Elvish is not perfect. Translations at the bottom. No profit to be made here. See Prologue for complete disclaimer.
Warnings: None to speak of, I suppose…
Beta: Thank you, Riya! She puts up with all my typos and my complaining…and Zee…so honored you approve!
Rating: still PG

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Part Four
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“Happiness is the china shop. Love is the bull.”

H.L. Mencken
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Rohan
22 Nínui, 3019 T.A.
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She awoke the next morning to the sounds of the men moving about the camp, preparing to ride out. She sat up on the cot, swinging her feet to the floor, massaging her sore head. A young soldier peeked in. “Oh, you are up,” he said, haltingly. “I, uh...brought you some breakfast. There’s some water here, too, if you’d like to wash up. Glad you’re all right; the men say there was a big wolf around last night. Found his tracks.” Setting down the plate, he backed out of the tent, and scurried off like a scared rabbit.

Anhuíl sighed resignedly. She washed her face and hands, pulling off her muddy leggings and slipping into the clean pair from her bag. She removed the small piece of fabric from the pocket of her old trousers, fingering the embroidery on the edge. Impatiently, she tucked it into the pocket of the clean trousers and pulled on her boots. The tunic, however, was not hers. Shrugging into it, she sighed. It was a bit too big and had an annoying habit of falling off one shoulder, but until she could wash her own it would have to do. Grateful she had worn an undershirt, she rolled up the dirtly clothing and stuffed it into the bag. The breakfast consisted of some bread, cheese, and an apple.

Sighing heavily, she picked up the tea and sipped it, closing her eyes. Hot tea was one thing she had dearly missed. She sat back down on the cot carefully. The dizziness had subsided substantially, but her head still pounded if she moved too quickly. She sipped the tea slowly, intermingling a few bites of bread and cheese. Polishing off the tea, Anhuil picked up the apple and carefully took a bite, mindful of her sore lip.

“Are you dressed?” The deep voice outside the tent startled her.

“After a fashion,” she responded, scrutinizing her attire.

Éomer appeared in the doorway of the tent. “Come with me.” He motioned outside.

“Charming first thing in the morning, are we not?” she muttered to herself, tossing on her cloak and stepping out, squinting against the bright sun.

Éomer led her to where his horse stood waiting, already saddled. She spoke softly to the animal, petting him gently. “Vendui, mellonmin. Le na vanima.” She cooed, stroking his glossy coat, giggling as he nuzzled her neck. The princess offered him the rest of her apple, which he took greedily.

The horseman watched curiously. His people were masters in the breeding of steeds, and often spoke to them. It was not a trait he commonly saw in strangers. He leapt skillfully into the saddle and reached for her hand. “You will ride with me.”

Anhuíl was taken aback. “I assure you I can ride alone,” she responded, stepping back from the horse.

“I do not doubt you can.” Éomer continued to extend his hand toward her.

She looked at him defiantly. “I thought you were going to trust me.” The princess folded her arms.

Éomer took a deep breath. This woman certainly tried his patience. “Trusting you to stay in your tent without tying you up is one thing; however, giving you a horse is something I am not yet willing to do.” He reached for her again.

She looked at his outstretched hand. Somehow the thought of riding that close to him both excited and frightened her. He looked strikingly handsome in his full armor, astride this beautiful animal. Where did that thought come from? Backing up slightly, she asked, “Why can I not ride with one of them?” The other men were mounting their horses, eyeing her warily.

Growing weary of her arguing, he dismounted, picked her up with his hands on her waist, and swept her up into the saddle. She weighed nearly nothing, at least to him, and he was surprised at how she could be so light yet feel so solid under his hands. Shaking off the thought, he swiftly settled in behind her. “You cannot ride with one of them,” Éomer leaned close, his breath warm on her cheek, “because they are all afraid of you,” he whispered into her ear, and spurred his horse on.

Anhuíl sat rigid in the saddle, intent on ignoring the Horsemaster behind her. Éomer’s arms were around her, slightly resting against hers as he held the reins. The chill in the air matched her mood, and the coolness of the breeze only served to intensify the warmth of his arms as they pressed against her when the trail became rough. She yanked the tunic back up on to her shoulder, impatiently brushing her hair from her face.

Éomer glanced down at the woman in front of him. Her unruly curls were dark, almost black, and glinted with auburn highlights in the sun’s rays. The tunic he had given her kept slipping off, baring her shoulder. The smell of her lavender scented hair permeated the air. He was beginning to regret his decision to seat her in front of him as he shifted slightly in the saddle, grateful for the armor between them.

“Are you comfortable?” he tried to sound as genuine as possible.

Anhuil stiffened. Inhaling deeply, she took in the smell of warm leather surrounding her. Long blonde hair tickled her bare shoulder as he leaned forward to speak, and she quickly pulled the sleeve back up. “I am traveling against my will with a forced escort and a cracked skull and a split lip, wearing someone else’s clothing, sitting in the lap of a man I do not know. No, I am not comfortable. Thank you.”

A soft chuckle escaped his lips, earning him a sharp elbow in the ribs. He soon discovered that any inappropriate move on his part would result in the same. Another reason to be grateful for the armor, he decided.

Anhuíl was relieved when they stopped for the night. Éomer slid from the saddle, and reached up to help her down. Brushing him off, she attempted to climb down unaided.

Éomer pulled lightly on the reins, causing the animal to side step. Her foot missed the stirrup and she fell backward, into his waiting arms, a self-satisfied smirk crossing his face. His arms supporting her slight weight tightened around her. Their gaze locked. The princess suddenly found it difficult to find the words, much less the necessary air to speak. "Put…me…down," she finally stammered.

“My lady,” Éomer soothed, “I have held you in my arms all day. If I had any intention…”

Anhuíl found her voice. “PUT ME DOWN!”

“As you wish.” Éomer released her. Anhuíl suddenly found herself on the ground, on her backside, glaring at his retreating back.

A nearby soldier offered a hand, but the menacing look on Anhuíl’s face made him back away. Rising to her feet, she stomped off toward the river.

******
The marshal bent down beside Firefoot, busily unfastening the leather buckles on the saddle. Nice going, he told himself. She lectures you on courtesy last night, and today, you drop her. Without doubt those journals will be filled with lovely stories of the Rohirrim.

He paused what he was doing, staring down into the dirt beneath his horse. He had been surprised by the feel of her in his arms when he held her. Feminine curves, yes, but solid, as one accustomed to using her muscles. His fist clenched involuntarily as he thought of the feel of her against him, in the saddle, and in his arms. Taking a deep breath and deliberately flexing his fingers, he pushed the thought from his mind. She was a pain in the backside and he needed to be rid of her as soon as possible.

He did, however, owe her an apology.

“Where is the lady?” Éomer inquired of the two Rohirrim near the fire. One of them shrugged and pointed toward the river.

“That way.”

Éomer cursed under his breath.

Anhuíl knelt beside the river, splashing the chilly water on her face. She watched the glittering water move south, toward the sea. Closing her eyes, her head filled with images of her home… a real bath…her warm bed…water that seemed to go on forever… She sighed and shook away the thought. She couldn’t go back. Not yet.

The marshal strode down to the dark riverbank. This woman had become more of an annoyance than he anticipated. They would escort her as far as they could, and then she would no longer be his problem. She was a distraction from his duty.

Still, he reckoned, she was not an unattractive distraction.

Anhuíl was crouching on the ground near the river, affectionately petting a large wolf. Her fingers were buried in the thick fur of his neck, the words she spoke soft and lilting. “Mani na essa ‘en le?” She teased the wolf. He whimpered and lay down. She took his jaw into her hand and looked into his eyes. “Orni delio nín,” she admonished him. Éomer could hear her voice, but he could not make out the words.

The wolf jumped up, front paws on her chest, knocking her backward. She laughed and ruffled his fur, pulling on his ears, wrestling with him playfully.

Éomer’s heart skipped at beat as he saw her lying on her back. Huge paws pinned her to the soft ground. Her hands were on the beast’s neck. Breaking into a run, he drew his sword.

The distinctive sound of a sword clearing its sheath coupled with his sharp voice made Anhuíl jump to her feet. “Anhuíl!” He called to her. Eleníon stepped in front of her, growling.

Anhuíl knelt and put her arms protectively around the wolf. “Put your weapon away,” she said calmly.

Éomer eyed the creature warily. “I thought you were being attacked.”

Without taking her eyes off Éomer, she spoke to the animal softly, “Eleníon, le henio. Le ilharnannen.”

Looking at Éomer, she said, “He will not harm you. I promise. Put your weapon away.” She directed her voice to the animal beside her who was eyeing the marshal warily. “Eleníon, havo.” The huge wolf sat beside her like an obedient dog. Éomer remembered the way she had spoken to the horses. “Eleníon is an old friend.” She smiled at the beast beside her.

Still holding his sword at his side, Éomer shook his head. What next? Oliphants? He was not sure he wanted the answer. “You should not be out here alone. And now…a wolf?”

“I traveled for quite a long way alone before meeting you, Lord Marshal,” she quipped, burying her face in the soft fur, and hugging Eleníon tightly. “And he is harmless, I promise you.”

“I do not know if I can convince my men of that.”

“Your men may believe whatever they will.” Anhuíl stood and headed up the bank toward the camp. Eleníon, clearly not interested in the exchange, crept off into the underbrush.

“They will believe what I tell them, Anhuíl, of which I prefer the truth.” Éomer followed her up the path from the bank. “I am beginning to feel I should reconsider my decision to trust you.” He grabbed her arm to stop her. “Why did you save my life?”

She stopped, silently regarding the sword in his other hand, her gaze trailing to his hand locked onto her arm. Raising one arched eyebrow, she glared at him. “Had I known you better then, I might have reconsidered my decision.”

Éomer stared at her, taken aback. Anhuíl jerked her arm from his grasp and continued down the bank. He sheathed the sword, and jogged after her. “I beg your pardon?”

She stopped in her tracks, turning to face him, fists on her hips. “Consider the change in my luck, my lord. Since I saved your life, I have been hit over the head, tied up, held against my will, ordered around, forced to ride all day long with you, and then dropped on my rear. I am beginning to regret that choice.”

Éomer looked amused. “You told me to put you down.”

“I did not wish to ride with you in the first place!” she retorted. “I do not need an escort, nor do I want one. I am perfectly capable of defending myself. I have traveled alone a great distance already and would prefer to continue in that fashion.”

“It is our law that strangers do not wander the Mark without the king’s leave. The Eastfold is my responsibility, therefore as long as you travel in my land, your safety is also my responsibility,” Éomer told her.

Éomer saw the fire rising in her eyes as her temper flared, fists clenched at her sides. “I am no man’s responsibility!” she snapped. Turning on her heel, she stormed off toward the camp. “Edaín! Nowahain hanya il inis! Nowahain n’inimiete ava brono er!

Éomer could hear her cursing all the way up the hill but could not understand the words. Probably a blessing, he told himself as he made his way back. As soon as they hit the border of his land, she was free to go. He needed to focus his attention on to the dangers facing his own people.

So much for an apology, he chastised himself.

He found her later, sitting by the fire. Her cloak on her shoulders, she sipped from a cup. “If you are going to wander around in the dark alone, you might need these,” he said, dropping her sheathed dagger, quiver and bow beside her on the ground.

Biting back a string of sarcastic comments desperately trying to surface, she looked up at him. “Thank you,” she said softly, turning her attention back to the fluttering flames, ignoring him. The marshal watched her silently for a moment before striding off to his tent.



Mani na essa en le? - Where have you been?
Orni delio nín - I told you to stay out of sight
Eleníon, le henio. Le ilharnannen - Eleníon, listen to me. He will not harm you.
Edaín! Nowahain hanya il inis! Nowahain n’inimiete ava brono er! - Men…they think they know everything! They think no woman could survive alone!

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Chapter name
Chapter Four
Created
20 Jan 2004
Last Edited
20 Jan 2004
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