I had almost blushed, surely, at the compliment. Thinking back on it, I recollected that day and the praise proffered to me, unasked for and certainly unexpected. Once back in the sanctity of my home and comfortably in my solitude, I knew that I had smiled when remembering the Wizard’s words. Would that my father had yet been alive to hear such praise; the man never did think that I would amount to anything. Arrogant Gálmód, so sure that I would want to follow in his footsteps as a crafter of leatherwork, as though only my hands were of use and not my mind. Now, Father, I had considered, I live in a blessed quiet, your ill-concealed disapproval and verbal digs about my learning to read and write as silent as you are in your grave.
Odd how such a moment has come to the forefront of my memory, now that I stand on the edge of my leavetaking, the wide vista of my future as boundless before me as the featureless plains of my birth.
A land of interminable sky, of unrelenting mundanity. Sheep. Horses. Flies. Barley.
A people who are heedlessly proud, forever living on the feats of our ancestors. So why, then, do we always answer the beck and call of Gondor? Are we not our own people? Leave the southern remnants of the insipid, bloodless, failing line of mythic Númenor to their own devices. There is enough work and self-preservation here to occupy us for many generations.
Looking down, I now see that I am twisting the ring on the last finger of my left hand, and I force myself to stop. It is an irritating habit, but I give it one last twist so I can see its gem in the dim glow of the room. Set in gold is a shining diamond which even to my eyes when a child seemed to harbour an inner glow. As a rule, men of Rohan do not wear jewellery of any kind save betrothal bands, but my father had been especially proud of this gem, and he wore it unabashedly. ‘Purchased it at unbelievable price from one of the crafty Dwarves, I did,’ my father would say, even as he put the bauble to his mouth and breathed on it, then rubbed it on his trousers. He insisted that there was a much longer story behind it, but neither my mother nor I cared to hear about it. And yet, I wear it still, a legacy of the line of Gálmód, leatherworkers seemingly from the mists of time.
Walking to my hearth, I put a cloth on my hand and gingerly lift the steeping tea from above the flames, pouring it into my cup. On the board near the fire is a bottle of brandy, and I allow myself a generous hand with it. This is a day of celebration. As the tea is too hot to drink immediately, I put the cup on the table.
As I look around the room of this simple homestead, I realise that I will not miss it for an instant. Let interlopers take it, I care not. I am off for far greater realms than this mostly-forgotten area in the west, known only (and rightly so!) by the influence of its most wise resident, the White Wizard, Saruman. Thanks be to whatever wretched forces rule our fates with invisible hands that I was discovered, and nurtured, and not left to be yet another nameless drone, a worker bee for the greater cause of the royal house of Rohan. With my own knowledge, and the seemingly unlimited wisdom of the esteemed Wizard who graces these lands, I shall savour the sweetness of power.
Smiling, I take up my tea, and walk to the window. I am greeted by an unlikely sight: the moon, hanging heavily in the sky, an odd shade of orange. A harvest moon. I sip my potent hot beverage, and am grateful for its warmth as it courses through me. I put the cup down on a table near the window to let it cool for awhile longer, and find myself reflecting back again.
It had been a good night, aside from the incessant noise of neighbours celebrating a wedding in a nearby homestead; the ruckus of violins, drums and flutes carried easily through the windless sky. I had been invited, of course, but I was not in the mood for such festivities. And besides, my heart’s delight, Hærwyn, had taken a fever, and I did not much care to attend without her at my side.
Thinking of her, of her fair face, I had retreated to my bedchamber and decided to allow my imagination to run its course. It would not be long before I would ask her to become my wife, providing Saruman the Wise also thought that an astute decision.
Or perhaps, I had thought, I would ask her regardless.
She was beautiful - long, shining golden hair, blue eyes that seemed to reflect the sky when it was at its most perplexing and compelling shade of twilight, a mouth full of promise. Perhaps her family had taken pity on me since I was an orphan, though I was already newly in my adulthood, but I thought not. Even now I am a handsome man, after all, though not as brawny as many of the men of this land and not as prone brazenly to offer to skewer whatever foe has appeared on the horizon. I was handy enough with a sword, and though it surprised some, my aim with a spear was deadly. And I am clever, a trait that is only appreciated over time, so my mother had told me. Hærwyn and I would have time, I thought.
Back in my chamber I had helped myself to a large chalice of fine wine from Ithilien. Though I had inherited my father’s distaste for all things of Gondor, this particular acquiescence to the fact that the Rohirrim would never be purveyors of decent wine had not escaped my keen eye. The further South whence it came, the better the vintage. And with no-one else - yet - on whom to lavish my not-inconsequential funds, I had this indulgence.
I had settled myself into a cushioned chair, the piece of unexpected furniture further evidence of my father’s penchant for imagining himself above his station. It was certainly comfortable, and I was glad of it. As I had sipped the heady wine, I had felt my limbs loosen. After a few moments, the cacophony of noise from the nearby wedding no longer distressed me; rather, it encouraged me to let my mind run to flights of fancy about the wedding that, destiny willing, I would be celebrating within the year.
As I had been alone, and warm (the fire I had lit had crackled merrily in its hearth), and a bit under the influence of my wine, I had thought of Hærwyn. Even as I had listened to the joyful sounds of wedding songs, and some raucous laughter, I had felt the most private aspects of myself becoming aroused. And so, I had pleasured myself. It was not an endeavour that I had ever done except in haste, and always in fear of being discovered. But that night, as master of my house, and with my beloved ill, I had taken my time.
After a few more sips of wine, I had unlaced my shirt in order to be able to feel my chest, tugging at my nipples, imagining Hærwyn's mouth on them. Ah, but in my mind's eye, on our wedding-night-to-be, she was delightfully insistent. Denial was an uninvited guest. And so she had ventured further...
Soon I had rid myself of my cumbersome breeches which were only in the way, anyhow, and my imagination-Hærwyn was free to do as she pleased.
And please me she had.
Even as I could almost feel her hot breath on my very hard member - you are as large as a stallion! I heard her exclaim in naïve delight - with my own hand I had stroked myself up and down, the fires of desire barely constrained in wanting her. How long would it be before she would truly bless my body with those tender lips which verged on the obscene in their ripeness?
Such thoughts had set me aflame. She was young, it was true, but so had I been. In my mind’s eye I imagined her pleasuring me with her tongue, her inviting mouth circling me, deeper and deeper; taut, young breasts swaying in opposite rhythm to her ministrations on me, so gentle and yet so satisfying… I had tried to make the vision last for as long as I could, but with such a provocative fantasy, it had not been long indeed before I had come back to myself, hand on throbbing self, completely spent. I had sprawled there, in that cushioned chair, dark curly tendrils of hair glistening in the moonlight, my ragged breathing slowly returning to its more regular pattern.
More wedding sounds travelled down to my ears, and I had smiled. Consummation shall be a most exhausting night! I had idly thought, then glancing down at the mess that had been made during my flight of fancy, I had risen, cleaned up, and returned to burrow into my fur-covered bed.
That had been after I had checked the closure of each of the two doors, yet another trait which my father had found irksome, and yet which my mother had found equally prudent.
Cozy, a bit tipsy, and rather sated, I had drifted easily into sleep.
Willing myself back to the present, I pick up my cup of spiked tea. All of these remembrances have had an affect on me, and I feel a very intense ache in my groin. I am not off to my bedchamber tonight, however; it is anger rather that accompanies my erection, which I only rub at in a vain hope to make it subside. The morning after that night of patient, solitary satisfaction had been a very bad one. I shake my head, and drink some of the potent beverage, which permits me to think much more objectively about that next day, even as I look again out the window at the oddly-coloured orange moon.
The next morning I had been confronted with a scene that brought me to a rage that I hope never again to experience. I had enjoyed a quiet fast-breaking, marvelling at the succulence of the preserved figs my mother had unwittingly left to me in her unexpected death, then decided to ride to my beloved’s house and see how she was faring. As I had walked to one of the communal boarding-houses, the clarity of the blue sky struck me, and I had spent some moments standing in the road, admiring the beauty of the chill autumnal light, burying my hands into the pockets of my woolen coat.
I had continued on, but as I entered the stable to retrieve Brémel, I heard noises which were not those of horses. Quietly I had stepped toward the sounds until I had been confronted with the rather unbelievable sight of my Hærwyn engaged in graceless, but still enthusiastic kisses with her neighbour, Ísensmithson. It had been as though all of the breath had been stolen from me, and I do not know how long I stood there, but I had found that all I could do was return home.
The chill now seemed to mock me, and after I had reached the sanctity of my home, slamming the door behind me, my vision filled with a red fury. Looking down, I saw with wrath that I was twisting that ring on my finger - the one which I had intended to proffer to her as a betrothal band. With all of the anger I had possessed, I yanked it off of my hand, and with deadly aim, threw it at the looking-glass which hung by the door. It had shattered with a very satisfying sound, and then silence again reigned in the room.
I refused to clean up the mess of shards for several days.
I had no longer gone to visit Hærwyn and her family, making as many excuses as I needed to stay away. She had called on me several times, speaking through the window, asking what she had done wrong, why was I no longer coming to see her, but I turned a deaf ear. Instead, I had thrown myself into all that I could learn from Saruman.
Looking down into my cup, I swirl around the remaining contents and finish it off. There is more tea, more brandy, and most importantly, more hope. Before returning to my fire, I look again into the night sky, and marvel at the knowledge that as of tomorrow, I will be living in Edoras, serving as an advisor to King Théoden, my way having been laid clear by Saruman’s oft-heeded councils. There will be more women in Edoras, far less rustic and cruel than those here.
My future is unlimited. And though I am not completely sober, I do feel outside of those effects of drink that I am on the verge of personal greatness, that something truly life-changing awaits me beyond this small region.
My prospects, my hope, await me in the Golden Hall. My destiny has always been beyond these shepherds and simple folk; it will be with kings where I shall come into my authority.
Hærwyn- ‘joy of autumn’
Both words are of Anglo-Saxon derivation.
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.