6. Woman to Woman
The woman had come in the morning, clad in breeches like a man, carrying a threateningly large bow on her shoulder. She had introduced herself Niphredil Baggins, and Eowyn’s father had recognized the family semblance.
But Eowyn was not thinking about Frodo Baggins, nor the wonders of the South, nor anything else the visitor had told them about. She was thinking: She came trough Bree and said there was no hobbit waiter at the Pony.
As if on cue, Niphredil entered Eowyn’s room.
‘Can you send these two to their mother? I’d like to talk.’
‘I can talk too!’ said Ginny.
‘I bet you can, dearie. That’s exactly why you have to go - we will talk secrets.’
‘Glorry, take Ginny and go find your aunt Estella.’
After the kids had gone, Niphredil smiled warmly and sat on Eowyn’s bed.
‘I have met Éowyn of Rohan, and I must say there is a semblance. She is older, of course.’
Eowyn found no words.
‘I have something for you.’
Niphredil fished an envelope from her pocket.
‘Someone sent you a letter in Bree, and he had me promise I will give it only to you or to anyone of the Maggot family to deliver to their matron.’
Eowyn took the envelope, but did not open it.
‘Do you want to read it alone?’
‘Can I trust you?’
‘You can trust me after the sun goes dark and the moon falls, you can trust me after the sea has dried and the land twisted.’
Eowyn read the letter:
"August the third, 29 Fourth Age
Prancing Pony Inn
Dearest Eowyn, In my last letter I told you to follow your grandmother’s suggestion and start the preparations for our home.
Things have changed - for the better. The woman bringing this letter, Niphredil Baggins, had given us a wedding gift beforehand - and I have used it to buy a hobbit-house for us. The previous owner has already moved away, leaving some furniture that was too heavy to be moved, so that we have a featherbed, a large table with bolted-in benches, a wardrobe and one rather worn armchair. We still need the small bits and pieces, although I will buy some as soon as I decide what is most necessary. You may come as soon as you can, and if escape is still the plan, Niphredil will help you. But it seems she has other plans, too. Thank her once more for me!
‘Oh, thank you! We don’t even know you!’ ‘I think the Queen Arwen would be glad to hear her money so well used, and I think your mother would want you happily married, may decency rot if need be!’
Eowyn hugged Niphredil tight.
‘Your father, by the way, thinks I’m trying to persuade you change your mind. What shall I tell him?’
‘Tell him... hmm, that I cannot think of anyone else to marry me, and does he want me to become an old maid?’
‘Very good. All true, yet preparing for the escape - if need be.’
‘These other plans of yours...’
‘I suggested some to Merry, but he refused to accept any, not outright at least. What does your mother think?’
‘Estella? I never call her "mother". She is the worst. I used to love her, but now I can’t.’
‘I think I could use the Mayor against Merry. Would it work?’
‘Oh, Master Samwise would never dare to disagree with his old friend!’
‘Not even if Frodo’s daughter asked him?’
‘Not even then, I fear.’
‘I still think I should try. Does he know about this business?’ ‘No.’
‘That will be an advantage. What about the Thain?’
‘He knows, and agrees with my father.’
‘Do you have any friends in Hobbiton?’
‘One, the Mayor’s eldest daughter. Elanor. She visited me recently, but I did not dare tell her much.’
‘Elanor. Star of the Sun. Elanor, flower of Lórien. Elanor, named by my father...’
Eowyn gasped: she had heard a male voice, but there was no-one else in the room.
The voice continued:
‘Elanor the Fair, who outshines Niphredil of the Bow. Who holds both your fates in her hands. One change you only have, Shadow of Lúthien.’
‘Quetondo? You speak to me again!’
Niphredil opened a pouch on her belt and took out a glistening white jewel. It seemed to Eowyn that the smokelike patterns inside it moved, but she thought it must be a trick of the light.
‘Eowyn, meet Quetondo. He is a jewel-spirit, from beneath mountains that no longer are.’
Eowyn found herself greeting a stone, and got a polite but strange reply:
‘Well met, daughter of sorrow, mother of the morningstar!’
‘I think we have heard a prophecy.’ Niphredil grinned.
‘Quetondo likes to give new names to people. I think my mother taught him that. He’s never called me Shadow of Lúthien before.’
They talked of many things, after that, until the dinner bell was heard.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.