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To Tell a Tale  by Lindelea

Chapter the Fifth: Never Cross Swords with a Shield Maiden
in which Eowyn does her part
contributed by Bodkin

Pippin felt as if ants were crawling up his back. It reminded him somewhat of the time that he and Merry had over-indulged in some of the Gaffer’s home-brew, liberated cunningly from Frodo’s cellar. But he was sure--fairly sure--that he wasn’t suffering from the effects of too much drink. And he was almost sure that he wasn’t trying to sleep in an ants’ nest: not this time, anyway.

He persuaded his overly heavy eyelids to lift a crack. There was no point drawing attention to himself just yet.

Even so, the blue eyes fixed unrelentingly on his face made him gasp.

‘You are awake,’ Éowyn stated, her voice stern. ‘Good. I was told to make sure you had some of this as soon as you woke.’

Pippin closed his eyes again and gave a gentle snuffle in the hope that he might convince the shield-maiden that he had merely been dreaming.

The chink of a bottle on a glass, together with the strong scent of cloves rather suggested that he had not succeeded, but he thought there was nothing to lose by continuing the attempt. After all, he couldn’t run. Not with his breeches on the other side of the room. He hitched the coverlet a little higher--a flimsy bulwark at best.

Two fingers grasped his nose in a relentless grip, forcing him to open his mouth in order to continue breathing and, with a speed that reminded him of her well-reputed skill on the field of battle, she tipped the noxious mixture into him and pushed his jaw closed.

He swallowed. It was that or choke. ‘That was not fair,’ he protested as soon as she released him.

‘From what I’ve heard, you are as bad as Éomer,’ she told him. ‘I’m not putting up with your nonsense. They can leave me in charge of you if they want,’ she frowned, ‘but you’ll swallow what I tell you to swallow.’

Pippin looked at her warily. For all he knew that Merry admired the White Lady of Rohan, he had to admit that he found her quite alarming. There was something about being confronted with a slight lass, however tall, and knowing that she had slain the Witch King, that made even a Took decide that there was something to be said for caution. He smiled winningly. ‘I wouldn’t dream of being difficult for you,’ he said. ‘Family is fair game, after all.’

A shadow of a smile touched her lips. ‘I suppose so.’

‘I don’t suppose you’ve got anything to eat?’ Pippin asked automatically. ‘I haven’t had any food for hours.’

She raised her eyebrows at him.

‘No, I didn’t think so,’ the young hobbit said sadly. ‘Not that I could eat much anyway.’ He lay still for a couple of minutes before shifting restlessly. ‘Can’t I get up?’ he asked. ‘I’m much better now.’

‘You are as bad as Éomer,’ she snapped. ‘You stay where you are.’

Pippin looked at her speculatively. ‘Tell me about when you had to keep Éomer in bed,’ he said, ‘and I will.’

She had a nice smile, Pippin decided. Perhaps he could see what Faramir saw in her – at least when she wasn’t looking fierce.

‘He had a fever,’ Éowyn said simply. ‘He was just about old enough to ride out with his first éored--he had been looking forward to it for months and boasting about what a great warrior he was going to be--and the day before he was due to leave with Théodred he went down with the speckled pox. He was mortified. Only children get the pox and if there was one thing Éomer didn’t want to be, it was a child.’

‘I can understand that,’ Pippin commented.

Éowyn looked at him thoughtfully. ‘The speckled pox isn’t a particularly dangerous illness,’ she said, ‘but you need to keep warm and out of draughts--and drink plenty of water.’ She poured a glassful and handed it to the hobbit. ‘Éomer, of course, thought the healer’s advice didn’t apply to him--and we were forever finding him trying to get down to the stables. In the end, my uncle decided that, since I had already had the illness, I should sit with him.’ She grinned. ‘Éomer had a hard enough time avoiding me when he was well. With him in his bed and me watching over him, I think Uncle suspected he would have little chance of escape.’

‘Did it work?’ Pippin asked.

‘Oh yes. By the time the spots had faded and he was allowed to begin training again he had quite given up trying to get away from me. He would take any vile potion I offered, too, if only to stop me forcing it down him.’ Éowyn narrowed her eyes at the hobbit. ‘And I am going to make sure that you don’t disobey healer’s orders either.’

Pippin decided that, for once, discretion would be the better part of valour. ‘I wouldn’t dream of it,’ he said.

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