16. 16. Come With Me
"Tis enormous!" a young Rider said staring at the bow of the Galadrihum.
"Could not use that on horseback!" another exclaimed.
"Bet even the Cap'n 'ill have trouble drawin' it."
"No way! Bet he can draw it and 'it the target at fifty paces."
The men were admiring a long bow from East Loríen. Many had never seen an elvin bow but those that had knew the deadly precision of the weapon. Bows like this saved many a life during the battle of Helm's Deep. Several younger guards had tried to pull back the string and their arms quivered.
"A round at the Pub says the Captain can not hit a target at fifty paces."
"I will take that bet," Hesgar said, arriving with Fréarid and said Captain.
"What say you Captain? Up to a little challenge?
The tall man sauntered up and took a close look at the weapon. He knew that it would take all his strength to draw it and it really was foolish to encourage such childish behavior, but he was never one to back down from a challenge…
…He should have. Before it was all said and done, he had shot ten arrows, hitting his mark from varying distances; now he was sore. He cursed to himself as he and Fréarid walked back to his office. His shoulder and chest were stiff and sore. If he felt it now, it would be worse come morning. The two men greeted Éalwyn as they entered the outer office.
"I will go fetch some ointment and be right back," Fréarid said leaving the captain in his office.
"Fine, but be quick. My shoulder is already stiffening up."
Fréarid shut the door as he left, a sly grin on his face. He returned a bit later with a jar of muscle ointment. "Hey Mouse, can you give this to the Captain? I need to check on the recruits."
"Sure," the woman responded, laying down her quill and picking up the jar left on the corner of her desk. She stopped at the Captain's door just long enough to knock and enter. She stopped in her tracks, her heart fluttered and her breath hitched as she witnessed Erkenbrand pulling his shirt over his head with a groan. The muscles in his back flexed and his pants sat low on his hips. She had seen men without shirts before, but never one so desirable; the sudden need to run her hands over him cause heat to pool in her core.
The captain turned, expecting to find Fréarid at his door. Instead, he found a rather befuddled young woman, admiring his physique. Éalwyn was transfixed; he was all muscle. He had a small patch of light hair on his chest and a small trail running from his navel to…she flushed and quickly averted her eyes. "Um," she stammered, "Fréarid said you wanted this." She held out the ointment, the blush on her cheeks deepening, eyes now pinned to the floor.
Erkenbrand gave a small humph. "He probably failed to mention that he was to put it on as I cannot reach." He pointed to his back.
"Oh," was the only thing the woman could say.
Erkenbrand smiled at her behavior. He was flattered by her reaction but felt for her embarrassment. He would have words with his second. This was a setup if ever there was one. Erkenbrand reached for his shirt and the movement caused him to wince.
Shaking out of her stupor, Éalwyn pulled a stool into the middle of the room. This was ridiculous; she was a grown woman who worked with many a soldier. It was not the first time one needed such help! The young woman squared her shoulders. "Forgive me; come, sit. I will take care of it; if you wait too long, you will not be able to lift a sword for a week."
The captain eyed her before sitting; he did not wish to make her feel uncomfortable, but he really needed that liniment. She moved behind him and after pushing aside his thick hair began applying the warming ointment. He shivered at her touch. Her hands felt wonderful; she knew just how hard to rub to really work the ointment into the skin with the least amount of discomfort. He felt the muscles loosen and he relaxed into her touch.
"How is that?" she asked softly, still caressing his shoulders.
"Mmm, feels nice. Perhaps a little more right there," he pointed under his arm to a point on his lower shoulder blade.
Éalwyn dipped her fingers in the ointment and again rubbed it into his back and shoulder, relishing the feel of his skin beneath her fingers. "There," she said, giving the top of his shoulders a final squeeze, "All done. Maybe next time you will think twice before taking foolish challenges."
Erkenbrand grabbed her hands from his shoulder and kissed the back of them. "Thank you."
She gave a quick kiss to the top of his head. "My pleasure." She let him go and moved to leave. He caught her hand again, turning on the stool. She tried to give him an exasperated look but failed miserably. He gave her a boyish grin, still holding her hand.
"You know I am leaving for Edoras soon."
"Fréarid and I survived your trip to East Loríen; I think we can survive this."
"Actually, I was thinking Fréarid could handle it by himself this time." The captain pulled his adjutant to him. She came to stand between his long legs as he gently wrapped his arms around her waist and looked up expectantly.
Éalwyn looked at the man with questioning eyes. Did she understand his intent correctly? Her heart pounded in her chest.
"Think about it; just the two of us, no one trying to manipulate us." He indicated the ointment and his second's obvious ploy. "I had planned on staying at Aglaril's place but you could instead, and I can bunk in the barracks. What do you say, come with me?"
The woman looked deep in his eyes and saw in them hope, affection and desire. Perhaps it would be good for them. Erkenbrand had been very patient with her and the speed of their relationship. She would like to move forward but often felt self-conscious with everyone nosing around. Perhaps she could relax a little if they got away. She smiled and caressed his soft beard.
"I have never been to Edoras," she said by way of answer.
"Then you will come!" Erkenbrand exclaimed. "Gamling is anxious to meet the illusive Colemáse of the West-mark--and the woman who has enamored me so."
Éalwyn curbed his enthusiasm a bit. "If the Marshal will give me leave, I will go with you." She leaned forward and for once, had to lean down to kiss him. "Now I have work to finish if I am to be gone for three weeks," she playfully scolded, moving out of his embrace.
As she sat at her desk, a sly smile crept over her face. This trip might be the perfect time to try some of the advice Lady Cynwen gave her; and as Erkenbrand said…there would be nobody there to interfere. Éalwyn suddenly felt very giddy and even a bit devious.
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.