The Lord Théodred , Heir to the throne of Rohan, knows it is ridiculous to be so irked by a kitchen maid’s lack of attention, particularly one who is rather free with her favours, if rumours are to be believed. He is a man full-grown, and not some mooning boy.
But it is well into winter, and he is bored, for the Orcs have been strangely inactive. He is willing to play her game; he could not have asked for a more welcome way to pass his time.
Why trouble yourself with her?
Éomer asks more than once, over the last weeks of winter. There are many other women who are more easily gotten.
More than once, he has replied, Because it is a challenge, little cousin. You have no patience. The chase is half the fun.
So Lathwyn leads him, and he pursues her. She is subtle; she does not look at him openly, though he often catches her looking at him from the corner of dark eyes full of promise. She rarely has need to speak to him, but when she does, her voice is low, warm, threaded with a hint of invitation that is as enticing as it is pleasantly maddening.
It is easy for him to imagine that husky voice crying out his name in the heat of passion.
Théodred does not know why she has decided to suddenly show an interest, when she has been indifferent for so long. He is not inclined to dwell on this, for he is old enough to accept that some questions about women will never be answered, and just vain enough to assume that she has always found him appealing, despite all evidence to the contrary.
She lets herself be caught only infrequently, but their too-quick, fiery encounters in halls and empty rooms only whet Théodred’s appetite further.
He still sits with his father and Gríma after the evening meal, but now he rarely takes part in the conversation. It is not as if they talk of politics or matters of importance to the realm - evening is when Théoden waxes nostalgic, and Gríma nods and smiles and panders like the veriest worm. Théodred is glad to have something which distracts him from Gríma’s fawning.
Théodred learns that Lathwyn will be seeing to the King’s chambers and feels triumphant. She will have a much harder time eluding him now, for his chamber is very near his father’s, and she will be wandering late in the evening.
He notices that his father seems still weakened from the illness he suffered in the summer, but the winter has been very cold, and Théoden does not shake off small ailments as quickly as he once did. It pains him to think of his father growing old, and he does not like to acknowledge that this is inevitable.
He smiles when he hears that she has stopped keeping even the most casual company with any man.
Spring comes, and he is restless. Restless, and Théodred’s impatience with Lathwyn’s feigned disinterest is rapidly growing. Soon he will lose interest in her entirely, if she does not do more than tease -but not quite yet.
Théodred returns from a two-day patrol in a foul temper, for they find only old camps, and no Orcs. Killing a horde of Orcs would calm the heat that spring has raised in his blood. The heat that Lathwyn
has raised in his blood, though he is reluctant to admit how her ploys have affected him. It is, after all, ridiculous.
There is a knock at his door, and he does not even rise from his chair. I did not call for an attendant!
A low voice, almost a purr. Shall I leave, my lord?
The faint amusement in her eyes tell him that she is very aware of how she has affected him, and for a moment, he considers sending her away, if only to see the look on her face when he does so.
But the flush in her cheeks tells him that this is not another way to toy with him - he can see that he has affected her as much as she has him.
The swift meeting of mouths and furtive gropings over the winter have only hinted at Lathwyn’s ferocity. Théodred is welcoming of such aggressive behaviour, for far too often women who have chased him so boldly are shy and timid once they are in his bed.
Lathwyn is neither of these things. She takes him into herself with no urging on his part, setting an almost frantic rhythm that is surely born of weeks of restraint, and he follows her, holding her hips with a grip that will leave bruises, rising beneath her, letting the sight of her astride him inflame his senses, surrending himself to her heat.
She is already preparing to leave when he has not managed to fully catch his breath. You do not have to leave so soon,
he tells her, stretching. You do not have to leave at all, if you do not wish to.
She turns a wry gaze on him. So I will be here in the morning, when you wake needful?
Théodred has to laugh at that- it is no more than the truth. Will you at least tell me your name?
She whitens as if he had slapped her. So she is not as completely indifferent as she would like to appear, he thinks.
I know what you are called,
he assures her, But that cannot be the name your parents gave you.
She regards him for a long, silent moment, and he can make no guess as to her thoughts. Finally she asks, Why does it matter?
He smiles. You have brought me no ill-joy thus far, and I would not call you thus.
At length, she answers. Eledher. That is what my parents named me.
She returns to him, two, three, four times over the next fortnight. Twice she accepts his invitation, twice she appears of her own accord, and he cannot find a pattern in why she does either. Each time, she leaves him shaking, drenched in sweat, sated yet already thinking of when he will have her next.
Théodred sees scars on her belly and back, but does not wonder what caused them. He knows whose weapons leave such marks.
She agrees to stay one night, for no reason Théodred knows, and he falls asleep with her fire-touched hair spilling across his chest.
A quiet whimper stirs him partially from slumber. It is a dream. You are dreaming.
She is still asleep, and her voice is startlingly childlike. Orcs.
He draws her against him, already drifting back to sleep. There are no Orcs in Edoras. You are safe.
In the morning, he is awakened by her warm mouth bringing him to swift release, and he does not think to ask her about her nightmare.
Her company is sweet, and satisfying, yet Théodred has the nagging feeling that something is not quite right. Then it strikes to him - she is not there. Oh, to be sure, her body is there, but the faraway look in her eyes is not the distraction of a woman fully immersed in sensation.
It is the look of a woman who is thinking of someone other than the man she is with.
This brings him to another realization.
She is still playing the game. He has been so caught by her intensity and undeniable skill at rousing his passion that he has only just recognized that Eledher is still avoiding him. She makes certain that she is the one in control, does not allow him to chose position, pace or acts performed. She takes nothing from him - she achieves relief, but never pleasure.
This stings Théodred’s pride. It piques his anger, not only because she is picturing another man, but also because he does not consider himself a selfish lover.
It does not anger him enough to put her aside - he has no intention of casting her off any time soon, for she is most appealing.
But Théodred will not continue to have her thinking of some other man while she is with him.
When she comes to his chamber next, he will make certain that she can think of no-one else.
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.