3. To Rohan
Author’s note: I understand that in our society, a gentleman only kisses the hand of a woman who is married, however…that is not the case in Rohan.
Chapter 3 To Rohan
During the journey through Rohan to Edoras, Arathea became acquainted with Gamling, Captain of the King’s Guard. She found she liked the man greatly. He had a dedicated, serious side, but in the evenings was quite willing to join in song or share a bawdy tale. At first Éomer was embarrassed and reminded the men that a lady was present. Arathea set them all at ease with her own bawdy tales about the twin sons of Elrond.
As Arathea predicted, the general unspoken consensus was that she was Éomer intended queen--as was evident by the guards desire to give them plenty of alone time, even going so far setting both Éomer’s and her bedrolls in more private areas. Gamling seemed to be the only one not of that mind and did what he could to dismiss the notion. Thea found it all amusing at first, however as Éomer’s discomfort grew, she thought to put a stop to the rumors now. There would be enough of them when they reached Edoras.
“There is a lake just beyond that rise, Sire,” one of the guard suggested quietly to Éomer as the group relaxed after supper one evening, “perhaps your lady would like a swim. It would afford you a bit of privacy.” He had the nerve to wink. Éomer stared at the man like he had just grown two heads. “You have had little time together and well, it is close enough that you could venture there alone.”
Éomer abruptly stood and glowered down at the man. “SHE IS NOT *MY* LADY!” he snapped. “Can a man and a woman not be just friends? She comes to Rohan to seek a new life and NOT AS ITS QUEEN!”
The group sat in stunned silence as the King stormed off. The guard, who had been at the center of the tirade, looked sheepishly at his captain, then at Arathea. She gave a reassuring smile and made to follow Éomer. Gamling caught her hand.
“Give him a moment. He will return when his ire settles. He tries not to lose his temper and is embarrassed when he fails.”
Thea sat back down. “You know him best.” After a few minutes, she spoke again, “If the lake is not all that far, might I still freshen up?”
“Aye, but you best not go alone.” Gamling replied. Several heads shot up as the younger men suddenly saw the woman in a new light. If she was not Éomer’s intended, then perhaps...Gamling saw their intentions and decided there would be time for them to compete for her affections when they were all safely back home. He stood and offered Thea his hand. “Come, it will be best if I accompany you.”
“Why Captain,” she answered slyly.
“I will tell Aglaril!” one of the guards called after them.
“Go ahead!” the tall captain said as he and Arathea left the campsite.
It felt good to wash some of the dirt from her arms and face. Thea went so far as to undo the braid in her hair and immerse her head in the very cold water. She wished she had grabbed her soap, but this would do for now. She wrung out her hair and pulled it into a ponytail. Then returned to where Gamling waited.
“Thank you,” she said.
“My pleasure my lady. I fear the young men see you differently now.”
“Well it is good then that I have you to protect my virtue. This Aglaril,” something about that name sounded familiar, “is a lucky lady indeed if she has captured your heart.”
Gamling actually blushed as his relation with Aglaril was still new and he still marveled that she chose him. “It is I who am the lucky one. Come, Éomer will have returned and I would not have him worry.”
As they approached the campfire, Thea did see Éomer and it seemed that all was forgiven. She moved to sit next to him. “Is it safe to sit here?” she teased.
“Just do not drip on me.” He replied dryly.
The next day they came into site of Edoras. Arathea’s eyes grew wide and her smile bloomed. It was absolutely beautiful! Sitting in the middle of the vast grasslands, perched atop a rise and surrounded by the thatched roof town, was the Golden Hall of Edoras. It was splendid, but not in the sense of Gondor or Imladris and its beauty was not the ethereal beauty of Lothlórien, but it was magnificent, and as they rode up the hill, the people bowing to their King, children throwing flowers, Arathea’s heart felt at peace like never before. ‘This,’ she thought, ‘this is where I belong.’
The group dismounted and handed their horses to stable boys. As they mounted the steps, Thea looked to see a man wearing the armor of Rohan, a broad sword at his hip, waiting at the top. He had sable hair that reached just beyond his broad shoulders. His beard was neatly trimmed. He was muscular with a barrel chest and powerful arms. He stood with an air about him that told her this was not just another guard. This man was a Lord of Rohan. His appearance caught her attention, yet it was his eyes that stirred something deep within her. His eyes were deep-set and nearly black but they held such warmth and welcome. The man bowed low to his King. When he stood, Éomer grasped his arm in a warriors’ greeting.
“Welcome home Sire,” the man’s rich baritone that sent shivers through Thea’s body. “I see you brought home a souvenir.” He said with a lopsided grin, giving a small bow to the lady.
Éomer laughed. “Not the kind of souvenir you and everyone else think.”
Elfhelm’s eyebrows rose in understanding. “Really,” he said, a curious expression on his noble face.
“Marshal Elfhelm, may I present Mistress Arathea.” The marshal stepped forward and taking Arathea’s hand, brought it to his lips.
“Mistress,” he said against the back of her hand before placing a chaste kiss to it.
Thea’s cheeks turned crimson as she smiled coyly, “My lord,” she replied with a small curtsy. Elfhelm gently released her hand.
Éomer rolled his eyes and moved past them. “Watch out for this one,” he said in a loud whisper, clapping his Marshal on the shoulder, “he is a charmer.”
“No kidding,” Thea said with a breathless sigh. At Gamling’s prompting, she followed them into the hall.
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.