1. Bliss Before the Storm
Eowyn skipped down the passage, carried on the music that still wafted up from the Great Hall, her nurse plodding along behind. "Please, Heorthwyn," Eowyn pleaded "just one more round?"
"Child, your mother has bid you to bed."
"But Eomer stays at the Great Hall!"
"He now has twelve summers to his name and has made his Passage to Manhood today. He has received a sword from your father and so he need not retire so early as you."
Eowyn pouted, but obediently went to her room, changed into her nightgown, and climbed into bed.
"There!" soothed Heorthwyn, tucking the coverlet around her charge. "Would you like me to tell you a tale, to send you into a pleasant dream?"
Eowyn yawned hugely. "No, I am weary now. Good night, Heorthwyn."
The nurse took the candle with her. "Good night, child. Sweet dreams."
Eowyn listened as her nurse's footsteps faded down the passage, then she threw off the covers and moved silently to the door. Nurse should know better by now, the silly old thing. Oh well. Maybe she was eager to return to the celebrations too. Still, it would be wise to not wander too far, lest Heorthwyn come to check on her. Someone had left a candle burning in the King's writing room nigh unto the Great Hall. She could sneak in there and at least hear the music. Such music! The players were men of Gondor, come with the emissary as warriors, but they were masters of music as well. What luck for Eomer that the emissary of the Steward should be here on his Day of Passage!
The candle was still alight in the study, a faint glow showing under the door. The music swirled around her now, filling her heart and mind. She silently slipped into the room and let the music take her. She swayed and skipped and twirled in her long blue nightgown, leaping and giggling for the sheer pleasure of it.
Someone cleared his throat behind her.
Startled, Eowyn whirled to see a man standing near the shelf where Theoden King kept all his treasured scrolls and books. He was of full stature, but young. Certainly younger than Theodred. Something about his quiet face, his laughing eyes, dispelled her fear.
"I did not mean to startle you, nor to intrude upon your dance." He spoke in the Westron with the accent of Gondor.
"It think it is I who have intruded upon you."
He laughed then. "I came here with the emissary to learn of the people of Rohan. And I am learning even now." He replaced the book to the shelf. "Was that a traditional dance?"
Eowyn could feel herself blushing. "Mostly. The steps do not quite fit with the music, though. I had to add a little of my own, but this music! I simply had to dance! Do you hear it often in Gondor?"
"Often, yes, but not often enough for my liking." He seemed to come to a decision. "Can you teach me?"
"Teach you what?"
Eowyn giggled. "I suppose." Then she straightened. "To help you in your quest for knowledge."
He too smiled and bowed.
"Well, first, you hold hands in a circle, except there are usually many people. And then you skip three times to the right. And then I turn in your hand and..." The man of Gondor followed her instructions as best he could, but Eowyn winced in sympathy when she stepped on his feet several times. Both of them were reduced to laughter long before the song ended. "I am afraid I am a poor pupil," the young man said.
"I am not much of a teacher, especially when I do not know the music."
"You are far more graceful than I."
"But grace comes in many forms. I saw you with the book. Do you read, man of Gondor?"
"As often as my other duties permit. Do you know how to read? There are not many in Rohan who do, I understand."
"Oh yes. Grandmother Morwen insisted I learn, but I have little enough use for it. Theodred shall need it, for he shall be king one day and write letters to the Steward at Mundburg, but what use shall I have for it? I shall raise horses and learn how to be a wise and noble lady like my mother."
"The world is wide and great, child, and there is much to learn in it." He was grave and earnest. "Words that are written remain long, and they teach truths that otherwise must be bought at great peril and pain. Do not cast aside the written word so lightly."
Eowyn nodded and felt herself color again. No adult had taken her so seriously, not since Grandmother Morwen. "I have read a scroll of Theoden King. It spoke of Folcred and Fastred and their valiant sacrifice for Gondor."
"That is bloody reading for a damsel so young."
Eowyn shrugged. "The world is bloody. If I am to learn of it, I will learn of blood. But Theodred says blood without valor is the only true tragedy."
The young man raised an eyebrow at that, but before he could answer, the door slammed open and Eomer stood bristling in the doorway. "You there! What are you doing with my sister?"
Eowyn rolled her eyes, but the young man looked side-long at her, as though sharing a private joke. "I am plotting to steal her away to Gondor where she shall teach me dance and I shall teach her music all the day long."
"You mock me," Eomer answered, hand on his hilt now.
"Of course I do, you dolt. Your sister came in while I was reading and we were enjoying the music together. Nothing more."
"You are taking your Passage to manhood far too seriously," Eowyn said with her hands on her hips, but Eomer ignored her.
"You take liberties, Faramir, and whatever your position may be, you are in the house of my mother's brother and owe me more respect."
"Faramer?" Eowyn asked. "Master Wanderer?"
"Mir, you foolish girl, as in jewel." Eomer smirked, as though no self-respecting man would have the word 'jewel' in his name.
Eomer looked uncertainly to Faramir, who merely bowed his head.
"Well, Wandering Jewel of Gondor," Eomer recovered, "I caught you alone with my sister..."
"Just because you have a sword does not make you my lord!" Eowyn protested hotly.
"Well, you are supposed to be in bed, child. Go now, or I shall tell father what I have seen," Eomer answered ominously, then looked to Faramir, "and Theodred as well."
Scowling at her brother, Eowyn retreated to the door and stuck her tongue out at Eomer's back. Faramir fought a smile and bowed to her as she rounded the corner.
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.