1. The Promise in Her Eyes
All right, yes, she was wearing a green dress with a motif of white horses around collar, hem, and cuffs -- but it was Edoras! Those people are obsessed with horses! Everyone had some bit of horseiness on their clothing!
Yes, yes, I knew she was noble -- common folk don’t wear fabric that rich nor decorated -- but noble girls are as quick to fall for a roguish grin and a wink as is any farmer’s daughter, and that makes ‘em fair game, far as I‘m concerned.
Besides, who would’ve thought that the King’s niece would be wandering around a faire unescorted? I saw her several times over the course of the day -- browsing merchants' tents, talking with folk both high and low born, chasing a stray dog with two small boys -- and not once did I see her with any sort of chaperone!
And you should have seen her dancing -- ah, she was a sight the likes I’d never laid eyes on before, and I‘ve seen a fair maid or two dance. Golden hair flying as she spun around, skirts swirling, face flushed and laughing -- I nearly lost my grip on my bodhran when the brazen girl flashed her ankles at me.
The sparkle in her eyes would’ve made a man years my elder stop and consider the possibilities, though she couldn’t have been more than 15.
So you can see how I thought she was only some minor noble’s daughter, can’t you? You wouldn’t expect the Lady Éowyn to flirt so boldly, would you?
And then when our set was over for the evening, she approached me. Believe it or not, I wasn’t planning to unleash my charms on her. Really -- and I’m ashamed to say it ---- but I didn’t have the nerve. I was 17 and had been tumbling girls from Minas Tirith to Bree since I was old enough to know they could be tumbled ---but she was different.
Although I’d no idea who she was, and though the way she caught my gaze as she danced told me she had an eye for me as well, I knew she wasn’t for me. This was a girl meant for someone of standing, someone who could give her everything she ever wanted and then some. Not a girl to be wooed and abandoned by some grubby, rootless, traveling musician.
And, truth be told, I was a bit ---well, I don’t think I’d ever looked at a pretty girl before that and not bet myself how long it’d take me to steal at least a kiss, if not more, but when I saw her, no such thought entered my mind. That’s how I knew I was well and truly smitten. I didn’t even want a kiss -- well, all right, I wanted one, but I certainly wasn’t going to try to get one.
Anyhow, she came up to me and complimented my playing, though I knew it had been shamefully out-of-time, thanks to her shapely ankles. I managed to not trip over my own tongue -- how, I’m not certain -- and even made her laugh a time or two. Such sweet, free laughter I’d never heard before nor since -- it made my skin tingle.
I should’ve noticed that her laughter drew a glance or two. I should’ve seen the young Rider watching us suspiciously, but I was so caught by her beauty that I wouldn’t have noticed if a balrog had sprung up from the ground and bit my head off.
So the black eye was really my own fault, I suppose. Usually I was a bit stealthier when I stole off with a girl, and I guess sneaking behind a barn was a little obvious, but the promise in her eyes was too distracting.
Her lips were soft and warm; she tasted faintly of honey-mead and smelled of cedar. I could tell she’d never kissed anyone before, and I virtuously followed the pace she set, which was quite the exercise in patience, let me assure you.
Her hesitancy began to melt away, she leaned into me, and --oh cruel delight! -- her mouth opened slightly beneath mine as she sighed against me…..
…and that, of course, is when the Lord Éomer came barreling around the corner in search of his wayward sister.
I ran, naturally. In my experience, it’s always better to flee an angry brother than it is to stand and try to defend yourself. They never listen.
He was nicer than he had to be about it when he caught up to me. Some men would’ve pummeled me black and blue; some would’ve broken my nose or my tipper hand -- the Lord Éomer merely hit me once (although I did see three of him for a moment), and explained in no uncertain terms that I would pack my things and leave Edoras at first light.
I was happy to oblige, and besides -- I’d already made a good bit of coin, and there’s always a troupe that needs a good bodhran player.
Of course I didn’t see Éowyn again, except for when I dreamed about her. And I did dream about her, to the point where I started looking only at slender girls with hair like the sun.
When I next opened my instrument case, however, inside I found a lady’s handkerchief, green,embroidered all around the edge with white horses.
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.