Lathwyn knows that she has pleased Gríma with her enticement of the Lord Théodred, for she has seen him watching her with the faintest hint of approval. She knows that he will not compliment her aloud, but this does not lessen her pride.
At first she finds it more difficult than she would have thought, leading the Lord Théodred with meaningful eyes and slow curving smiles, for her inclination is still to look away from him, lest he scorch her with his brazen gaze. So she imagines that she is directing her actions toward Gríma, and finds the game much easier, much more appealing.
She is surprised when Gríma approaches her, and tells her she is to be Théoden King’s evening attendant; but she also takes this as a sign of his further approval.
Gríma explains her duties to her, and gives her a vial of liquid which is meant to ease the King’s joint ailments. One drop only, for dwail is very potent.
The name of the potion is vaguely familiar; her grandmother was a midwife, and as a child, Lathwyn spent many hours assisting her in gathering herbs.
His fingertips brush hers, and her breath catches painfully in her throat.
It is winter, and the Lord Théodred prowls the halls, watching her with shrewd eyes, and she allows him to catch her for quick embraces in darkened corners. She always makes certain to do so only when she knows someone else will happen along soon - it will not do to give him too much.
On one such occasion, it is Gríma who disturbs them, and she can see the irritation in the Lord Théodred’s face as he is obliged to release her. She is amused when Gríma questions the wisdom of teasing the Lord Théodred so, and explains what Gríma should already know: Lord Théodred prefers a chase to a surrender.
For an instant, Lathwyn sees something bright and cold in Gríma’s dark eyes, but then he asks her to carry out another task for him, and she is so overjoyed at being able to further assist him that she forgets this entirely. It is a simple task - see to gathering his letters. He receives and sends many, and does not have time to do so himself.
She is diligent in her new duties as attendant to the King. She holds Théodred King as dearly as she does the memory of her father, and makes sure that he wants for nothing.
Spring arrives, and Lathwyn can see Théodred’s frustration and impatience growing. She knows that she must soon give into him -- but not quite yet.
She waits until he has returned from a patrol, and is no doubt full of battle-heat. He does not refuse her, as she knew he would not. She immediately takes the lead, and he is most willing for her to do so.
After their first, almost violent encounter, he does a thing that confuses Lathwyn: he asks her her birth-name. Rarely has anyone asked her that question since she was brought to Edoras many years ago, and never has any man with whom she has lain. She regards him for a long moment, curious, but can think of no reason she should not tell him.
She returns four times over the next fortnight, being careful to make no pattern in when she comes to him. It will not do to be predictable.
The second night, he watches her while she dresses. You are the quietest woman I have ever lain with,
She arches an eyebrow at him, amused. You would prefer I shout down the Meduseld, my lord? Shake your lord father from his bed?
The mischievious gleam in his eyes tells her the answer to that question, but all he says aloud is You need not call me ‘lord’, when we are in private.
Then he chuckles, she assumes in response to her rather puzzled gaze. It is not a royal decree, Eledher. Do as you like.
He is to say this to her often: It is not a royal decree.
But she is very aware of his status, and, to her, many things he says might as well be orders from the throne.
She does not tell him that she will never shout down the Meduseld. The occasional twinge of pain in her nose reminds her that in all circumstances, it is better to be quiet.
Lathwyn had not expected the reactions from the other women of the household. Now that she has gone to Lord Théodred’s bed, most of them who were friendly are now cool toward her, and a handful are blatantly hostile. A tricksy whore, is that one,
she overhears in the laundry one day, as she is bringing in Théoden King’s bedding. Ignores the Prince, makes him beg for it, and gets moved to easy duties rather than kicked out onto the midden-heap with the rest of the refuse.
Often when she retires, she finds things in her cot; dirt, water, horse-droppings, once a dead rat. Although she holds no woman as dear friend, Lathwyn is hurt by these shows of jealous resentment, and one night, rather than return to a befouled bed, she stays with the Lord Théodred, as he has suggested twice before.
She has been with many men, and yet she has never fallen asleep in the arms of any lover. As she drifts off, lulled by his rhythmic breathing, she imagines that it is Gríma’s arm draped around her waist, Gríma’s chest pressed firmly against her back
For the first time in many nights, Lathwyn is not troubled by dreams of her past. She awakes, and for a moment does not know where she is. Then she remembers, and looks at the man sleeping peacefully next to her.
With a faint start, she notices that he is quite handsome, something which had never truly occurred to her before. And while he is lost in slumber, she need not see any other man’s face, for his intensity is at rest. He looks as young as she is, and quite unintimidating.
She comes again to the Lord Théodred’s chamber; knocks and is granted entrance. He is sprawled on his back in the middle of the bed, covered only by a drying cloth, looking as if he might be asleep. Without moving, he bids her come to him. She does so, shedding clothing as she goes, shaking her hair free of its tight braid -- Lord Théodred never seems to tire of running his fingers through her auburn curls.
She moves onto the bed, meaning to begin by rousing him with her hand, but before she knows what has happened, she is trapped beneath his strong, solid body, which is still slightly damp from the bath.
You have been most attentive to my needs,
he drawls, and I think it time that I am attentive to yours.
For a moment, Lathwyn has no idea what he means by this, and then his meaning becomes apparent as he brings his mouth to the curve of her neck and his hand to cover her breast.
She does not know how to protect herself from this. She has always been the one dictating the course of their encounters, and she has done this quite purposefully, so that she may remain detached. When she is riding the Lord Théodred, head thrown back, eyes closed tightly in concentration, it is easy for her to imagine that it is Gríma between her thighs, panting and groaning; it is even easier when Lord Théodred is taking her from behind, for then she need not even be aware of his face. This is why she prefers these positions - she can remove herself from the situation, from Lord Théodred himself, and still gain relief.
Her experience has taught her that most men do not care if a woman enjoys herself, as long as their own desires are met.
She realizes that for a mistake now, as Lord Théodred’s mouth replaces his hand on her suddenly tender breast. She has rarely been with the same man more than once, and she never expected that all her feigned ferocity and aggression would not be enough.
She cries out softly at the hot wetness of his tongue encircling one nipple, and feels him smile against her. She tries to summon a picture of Gríma doing this to her, but she has never considered such a situation. In Lathwyn‘s daydreams, she is always the one who performs, never the one who is performed upon.
But now she is not allowed to do anything. The Lord Théodred’s weight presses her to the mattress, and he is overwhelming her, filling her senses, making her tremble beneath him.
His mouth, moving from one breast to the other, teasing.
His roughened hand, lightly, insistently stroking the sensitive flesh on the inside of her thigh, eliciting a stifled exclamation.
The smell of him - sweat, horses, leather, a clean whiff of soap, and an underlying musky scent that is his alone.
His hips, grinding into hers, the hard length of him pressing into her, as if asking for entrance.
His mouth…oh, his mouth…..
She cannot think of anything other than what Lord Théodred is doing to her, much less make her mind see anyone else. Gríma does not feel, smell, touch like this, not even in the secret corners of her mind. She is besieged, and she has no way to defend herself from such a tactic.
She raises her hips, reaching for him, opening to him, but, to her startlement, he eludes her.
, he murmurs, breath a feather-light touch as he marks a slow tingling path toward her belly. Patience.
She begins to protest, for her anticipation is already cresting, but the Lord Théodred moves lower yet, and at the fire of his mouth on exquisitely tender flesh, she clutches convulsively at his wide shoulders, breath stopping in her throat.
It has been so long since Lathwyn wanted anything other than a simple outlet for tension that she has forgotten what sweetly aching desire a man can rouse in her body; has forgotten how a clever tongue and knowing fingers can make her quiver and gasp and strain toward him, silently asking for more, more, ever more - -
She can do nothing but writhe beneath his touch, for he is determined to take his time, and even her breathless, ragged moans when she reaches her shuddering peak do not persuade him to stop his careful exploration.
When finally he pursues his own release inside her welcoming heat, he is already pushed to the far edge of restraint, and she has a fleeting moment of remorse that it does not take longer.
They lay so entwined, panting, Lathwyn’s arms tight around his neck, Lord Théodred’s face buried against her shoulder. He withdraws from her and lies on his back. Shall you stay?
he asks lazily after several moments of silence.
She cannot stifle a yawn which turns into a crooked smile. I shall, if you will let me sleep.
Lord Théodred grins, and Lathwyn is struck by the way the expression softens his face. Of course I will,
he assures her, drawing her against him, fitting himself to the curve of her body.
She does not quite believe him, for he is absently caressing her hip even as he speaks, but has no desire to leave and return to her narrow cot. She closes her eyes and is almost immediately asleep.
Two days later, Lord Théodred leaves on another patrol, and Lathwyn finds herself regretting his absence, for she does so enjoy sleeping in that wide, soft bed.
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.