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Destiny's Child  by Mirkwoodmaiden

A/N:  Once again many, many thanks to Ellynn for combing through the many words and divining my meaning! ((hugs))

Chapter 15

February 3019

Éowyn was returning from her weekly rounds smiling as she thought of Saeryth’s very accurate imitation of Deor complaining about his aching bones. She thought of the two and how perfectly they fit together. She could wish for such a relationship in her marriage, but realistically, she did not hold out much hope for that beautiful dream. She thought of the men from whom she was meant to choose a husband. As the King’s niece, she was quite the matrimonial prize. A prize, the joy fell from her smile to be replaced by duty; her duty. The duty forced upon her. She knew that Grima quietly whispered in the King’s ear that it was time, past time even for Éowyn to wed. She feared his words, but she most especially feared who he might intimate as her partner. She shuddered as she pulled her wrap closer; the February snows gently falling on Edoras, dusting the rooftops and streets having very little to with her reaction. However, her latest rider attendant, Héostor, seeing the shudder, immediately unbuckled his dark green cloak and made to place it across Éowyn’s shoulders. Éowyn stayed his gallant action with both word and hand. She was no damsel in need of succor, even if all the men in her life treated her as such.

“Good Héostor, I thank you, but I am not cold.”

“But my lady, you shuddered. Please take my cloak,” Héostor insisted, his earnest blue eyes full of intent.

Éowyn relented in the face of his innocent kindness and allowed him to place his cloak over her. She could feel the warmth of the heavy brocade spread across her shoulders, but she knew it would do nothing for the cold pit of fear in her heart whenever she thought of Grima and his intentions – the true reason for her shuddering. But Héostor could know none of this so she graciously looked at her young attendant and said, “Thank you, Héostor. Shall we stow the cart and share a bottle and a tart?” she asked referring to their after-errand treat.

“Oh yes, my lady!”

She gave him a smile that she hoped covered her melancholy and her fear. She drew in a fortifying breath and reminded herself that, whatever Grima’s intentions were, Théodred would never let him harm her in any way.

As they made their way to the kitchens to stow the cart, Éowyn spied Grimbold and Elfhelm as they climbed the front steps of Meduseld. Two commanders of their own Eoreds appearing in Edoras? She pursed her lips and resolved to speak with Théodred later in the afternoon about their visitation.


She found time after performing the mundane task of meeting with Mistress Thilda to formalize the evening meals for the week and then seeing her uncle into bed for his afternoon sleep. Éowyn found both Théodred and Éomer deep in conference, alone in Théodred’s study. They abruptly stopped talking as soon as they realised her presence, but not before she heard the words “Orcs” and “Isen”. A sense of danger rippled through her. Those words were never brought together in times of peace.

She looked pointedly at her brother first and then at her cousin as she walked up to the table covered in a map of the Westfold and the Fords of Isen. “I see Grimbold and Elfhelm, two leaders of rather large Eoreds, you fall silent as I enter this room, and I see a map of the Westfold held open.” She paused. “Tell me! What is wrong?”

The two men remained silent for a few beats and then Théodred began rolling up the map with such haste that one of the paperweights was toppled to the floor where it landed, shattering the globe that had contained a rampant horse over a field of green. It had been a gift from his father. “Nothing! There is nothing to fear.”

Éowyn looked at the shattered globe and then back at her cousin, who had continued rolling the map with unwarranted fervor. She turned her stare to her brother. “I fear nothing! That is no reason to keep me in the dark. Tell me.” She asked fervently, “What is happening?” At this, she looked back and forth at the two men she most admired and loved. “Damn it! I am not a child in need of protecting! What is going on?” Her voice pitched lower in its dread expectation.

Théodred gave a hard stare at Éomer and Éowyn saw her brother give the briefest of nods. He set the map back on the table and placed the remaining paperweights at the corners. Pointing at a section of the map he said grimly, “The Fords of Isen. Grimbold was here today with reports of growing numbers of Orcs in the area. They seem to be coming from the direction of Isengard.”

Éowyn crinkled her forehead in thought, “Isengard?” She looked down at the map and the import of what was being said hit her full force. “Gandalf… He said Isengard was no longer to be trusted.” She paused. “It is starting, isn’t it?” She looked at her brother, whose blue eyes held both anguish and acceptance.

“Yes. It is.” The words were spoken quietly, but their impact fell upon Éowyn’s heart with the full force of a blow from a hammer belonging to none other than Helm himself. She threw her shoulders back and tossed her thick braid over her shoulder and stated in a strong voice, “What is being done?”

A small smile quickly crossed Théodred’s face and was gone just as fast. “I have sent word to have men from the Westfold.” He reached for a carved figure and placed it at the ford. “They will bolster the defenses of the area and Grimbold will take his Eored to the Fords for extra numbers.” He placed another carved figure upon the map. “Elfhelm will follow with his Eored.” He twisted in his hand the wooden pointer he had picked up to move pieces around with obvious force and tension. “Éomer and myself will follow with force two days hence after mustering the King’s Eored and come down hard upon them.” A snap resounded throughout the room, the wooden pointer in Théodred’s hands was in two pieces. He looked at Éowyn his blue eyes ablaze with resolve. “That is what is happening, cousin.” He gently placed the broken pieces of wood on the map, leaned over and gently kissed Éowyn. “No one will hurt you, ever. Not while I have breath in my body.” He left the room. Éowyn’s eye fell upon the shattered globe lying on the tied rug. She walked over to pick it up and stared at it for a long moment. She then looked at her brother.

“I have the most awful feeling that nothing will ever be the same.”

Éomer stepped next to her. “Perhaps not,” he said sadly, taking the broken globe out of her hand and placing it on the table. He brushed hair off her forehead placed a gentle kiss there. “But know I will always protect you. You are my sister, and I will let no harm come to you.”

“I know you will, and I know you can, but I too can fight, I can defend myself. You have taught me well.”

Éomer’s eyes grew shaded. “I know. I do not doubt your abilities. But it harrows my soul to think of you, in danger, on the battlefield. I cannot even think about it.”

Éowyn saw the horror in Éomer’s eyes and refrained from further comment though a tempest grew in her soul. She yearned to break free. To break the yoke of her duties, to escape the life of quiet desperation she had been forced to live.


This departure of the various Eored had been the plan until Grima intervened supposedly on behalf of the King. Éowyn stood just outside the door to the King’s study. She was about to enter to say it was time for her uncle’s treatment with Léoulf, the King’s healer, when she heard her cousin’s booming voice.

“My King this must be tended to. Grimbold has reported that Orc numbers are increasing near the Fords of Isen. We cannot allow this incursion onto our lands!”

Next she heard Grima’s unctuous voice. She moved a little closer so that she could see through the crack of the not completely closed door. Théodred’s form came into view, and she saw his body visibly tense as Grima’s words washed over him.

“My King, such a large force would be unnecessary. While I agree that the Fords are an important passageway, surely we can depend upon Saruman, as ever our friend and protector, to see that nothing untoward happens at the Fords. I suggest only a supporting force. Much more than that and we run the risk of alienating Saruman, implying that we cannot trust his actions to keep us safe.”

“What would you suggest, Grima?” came the tired and distracted voice of her uncle, just out view from the crack in the door. She saw pain settle on her cousin’s face as yet again his father gave preference to Grima.

“That Éomer and his men stay in Edoras. Their numbers are not needed for such a task. If the King’s Eored is fully deployed, then Edoras would be more vulnerable to attack. And that would be unacceptable.”

“But, my King.” Éowyn heard her brother’s voice. She heard the strain and frustration colour his words as he fought to sound measured and reasonable. “If the threat is as large as Grimbold says it is, should not Théodred have the support of numbers? Surely the threat lies there, not in Edoras.”

Grima spoke accusingly, “Surely, Éomer, it is not for you to deem where the threat lay. You are not King to decide such matters!”

At this pronouncement Théodred hissed, “Nor is it yours, Grima! You presume too much.” Théodred’s voice had turned to one of beseeching entreaty. “Father, what is your decision?” Théodred turned his face from Éowyn’s view as he sought his father’s response.

Her uncle’s tired voice, just above a whisper, was heard. “Grima is right. Saruman will protect us. Éomer, you and your Eored will stay in Edoras. You, my son.” Éowyn saw Théodred throw his shoulders back readying for the King’s pronouncement. “You shall provide supporting numbers only. Now go!” His voice punctuated this point. “I am weary of this bickering and need rest.”


Two days later Éowyn stood in the courtyard, watching as only a portion of the King’s Eored was readying for departure. She thought back to the earlier confrontation between Grima, her uncle and Théodred and Éomer. She bitterly regretted her uncle’s decision, severely coloured by Grima’s insidious counsel. She tried to speak to him about it, but he was becoming more irascible and refused to listen. In the end he forbade her to even speak of the matter, and after this pronouncement, she felt Grima’s eye upon her, boring down with his vile countenance, judging and plotting. His attentions were becoming unbearable.

“Lost in thought, cousin? No farewell words for me?”

She turned and saw Théodred at her side, clad in full battle armor and helmet in hand. She tried to make light of the situation, knowing her duty was to not send him off with sorrow in his heart, rendering his sword slowed with such sadness. “You will be back soon enough!” she said with the required lightness, albeit a little forced. As she spoke the words an image flashed in her mind: Théodred in ceremonial battle armor laid on a bier, his face a deathly white. She took a deep gulp of breath and forced the image from her mind.

“Cousin! What is wrong? You have lost all colour.”

Éowyn looked at her cousin. “Nothing,” she lied. There was nothing that could force her to share the image with her cousin. She cast her eyes towards the Hall. “I just realised that I must hasten to meet with Thilda and discuss servant rotas!”

Théodred stared at her. “Cousin, let us not part with a lie between us.”

Éowyn breathed deeply and tried to calm herself. She knew that whatever she said had to be believable. “It is Grima.” She turned back to Théodred. “I can find no way to reach Uncle and yet, I must try.”

Théodred’s eyes turned from doubtful to worried. He kissed Éowyn on the top of her head. “We will find a way. When I return, we will find a way. But now I must go.”

Éowyn hugged her cousin and whispered in his ear, “May Béma protect you!”

Théodred pulled away from the hug and smiled. “And you as well, my warrior cousin!”

Éowyn smiled wistfully at the naming as she placed her fist on her heart in the Rider’s greeting.  Watching Théodred mount his horse Éowyn tried to dampen down her desperate desire to be atop her horse riding off to battle with them.  To be of real service to her country not the pale shadow of duty her life was.

“Forth Eorlingas!” Théodred shouted.  He received the resounding cheer from his riders as they rode forth.

Éowyn climbed the front steps leading to Meduseld and hugged herself as she watched Théodred and his Eored ride off in the distance. It was as if she were trying to squeeze away the hollow feeling in her heart that Théodred's departure had caused. The bracing February wind cut through her, and she turned to go inside the hall to continue on with the duties her life amounted to when Grima appeared on the landing, not five feet away, staring at her intently. Caught off she started, "Lord Grima! You startled me!" She moved to vacate the landing and leave his foul presence when he touched her arm to stay her progress. Éowyn managed to not recoil from his touch but only barely.

"I see the departure of your cousin saddens you..." Came the odious voice.

Éowyn looked up from where he was touching her arm to his face. She immediately regretted that action for the naked longing she saw in his eyes seared her to her very core. It was more than a longing for her as she had seen before. It was a nameless need that she could not place. She reached for a platitude hoping she could leech the desperation from her voice in the process. "He does his duty, as do we all."

"Yes, of course."

Éowyn bowed her head, desperate to leave his presence. "Speaking of duties, I must attend to mine. If you will give me leave." She spoke quickly, her clipped words reflecting the formality of court speech. It was best to keep any exchange between them on such terms in an attempt to keep him at bay.  She felt his hand slip off her arm limply. She did not look back. She walked to her bedchamber as quickly as she could without causing comment and closed the door. She sat on her bed and quickly felt a comfortable snuffling at her elbow. Myrthu was at her side and quickly climbed into her lap. Éowyn hugged the dog, calming by degrees until she realized something unsettling. Grima had not hidden his eyes. She had seen that naked need before, but always he quickly averted his eyes and hid his thoughts. Today he had not and that truly frightened her. With Théodred away, what was he planning? Éowyn stroked Myrthu's coat and gamely fought back tears – of anger, frustration or sadness, she no longer knew. She needed to speak with Éomer, but she could not go anywhere until she calmed herself. Castles had ears and eyes, Meduseld was no different in that respect.


Éomer stood in the stables currying Firefoot. The circular motions of the curry brush and the occasional neighing from the bay stallion helped to calm his blood. Breathing in and out as he smoothed his horse’s black mane, Éomer was trying to think past his anger. He had to. There was no other choice. He knew he should have seen his cousin off, but his anger had been too ungovernable. “Breathe!” he said, not realizing he had spoken aloud.

“That is excellent advice, my Lord…”

Éomer turned to see Gamhelm standing by the wide, clean stall. “Gamhelm, it is good to see you.” Relief and genuine affection colored the younger man’s face.

Gamhelm smiled wide and his wise voice inquired, “And what do I owe your presence to… Surely it is not just tending to Firefoot, though I am grateful because he gets in high temper indeed whenever someone other than you tries to groom him. Don’t you, Firefoot?!”

At that sentence the bay stallion stamped his foot impatiently. Éomer just looked at Gamhelm so wanting to confide in the older man, but somehow, he could not voice his fears. Gamhelm looked at the younger man he had known since he was twelve, even then trying so hard to shoulder responsibilities that had been foisted upon him at too young an age. “A stableman sees far more than he ever says.” He smiled knowingly and took the curry brush from Éomer’s hand. Gamhelm held his gaze for a few long seconds and then began currying Firefoot, who immediately began to fret. “Now you just settle yourself, my four-footed friend...” Firefoot appeared to ponder his options and then quieted down. “That’s my smart fella.” He addressed Éomer once again. “Whatever is weighing on your mind, I know you will make the right decision. You are your father’s son. A good strong man who knows what is right and who is wrong. Listen to your heart, my lord. It won’t steer you wrong.”

Éomer looked at the old stablemaster and uttered the words, “Thank you, old friend. You cannot know what your words mean to me.” At this a young novice rider walked up to them and handed Éomer a note addressed to him in his sister’s feminine yet strong hand. He dismissed the rider, then broke the seal and quickly scanned the contents of the small missive.

“Brother, please come to my chamber as soon as you may. I must speak with you. E.” Éomer finished silently reading. “Gamhelm, I must now take my leave of you. I thank you for your wise counsel. It shall sit with my heart.”

“All is well with my Lady, I trust?” Gamhelm ventured earnestly.

“In truth, old friend, I know not. But I shall answer her summon though it is issued most strangely.”


Éomer knocked the door to his sister’s chamber. He heard a faint tremulous “Come!”, which was unusual for his sister for she was always so calm and in control. He entered and found her sitting in the chair nearest the fireplace with Myrthu at her feet. She was staring into the fire as if transfixed by the snapping flames.

“Sister, you have need that must be written? Why did you not seek me out yourself?”

Éowyn then turned her eyes upon him and he was shocked to see the fear in her eyes and the dried evidence of tear tracks upon her cheeks. Immediately alarmed Éomer ran to the arm of her chair and bent on one knee. “Éowyn! What has happened?”

Éowyn snapped out of her stupor. “Nothing as yet, but Éomer, I am so scared. Grima—”

“What has Grima done? I will slice that worm in half!” Éomer began to rise, but Éowyn stilled his motion by placing both hands on his hand that gripped the armrest.”

“He has done a great many things, but nothing to me!” Éowyn paused and took a breath. “My mind is in a muddle, brother. Pray sit and let me explain.”

Éomer nodded his acquiescence and rose to bring the other chair close, startling Myrthu with the noise.

Éomer scratched the black labrador’s ears. “Shh-shh! Myrthu, it is fine… Lay back down.” Myrthu laid back down, but not before nuzzling Éomer. He smiled despite his worry. “Down, girl. Good dog!”

Éowyn had calmed somewhat and began, “After seeing Théodred off, Grima approached and it was just what I saw in his eyes.” Éowyn shuddered a little. “A naked longing…” At this Éomer gripped his armrest, almost as if it were Grima within his grasp. Éowyn saw that but pushed on, “I have seen that look before, but this was different. Any time before, he would avert his eyes and scurry away—”

“As well he should! The worm!” Éomer interjected through clenched teeth.

“Yes, well, this time he didn’t. He didn’t bother to hide his feelings. And that scares me, Éomer. It truly does. The minute Théodred is gone, he is emboldened?”

“He can do nothing without the King’s say.” As soon as he said it, however, Éomer realized how hollow that statement was. The King was ever more and more in thrall to Grima. Éomer breathed heavily as rage began once again to build within him. A rage he could not afford if he was to keep all that he loved safe. Grima had been looking for a way to lessen the King’s affection for both his son and nephew. He and Théodred had discussed this many times, always wary of how their actions were perceived by the King. He and his cousin had always made sure to present a united front against Grima. Éomer recognized in a flash that that was no longer the case. Grima had finally managed to separate them. An intense feeling of foreboding swept over him. It had begun.


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