9. 9. An Evening Out
Erkenbrand watched from a table toward the back of the pub. Éalwyn sat in the company of several young ladies and a few amorous Rohirrim. He was happy for her. She had been forced to withdraw from almost all social circles save those she had attended with the advisor. The captain took a swig of ale and let his mind drift to his rather lovely aide.
She was blossoming under the Marshal's wife's guidance. Now that she did not live in terror, her sweet, quiet disposition no longer spoke of fear, but rather of a gentle spirit. Lady Cynwen had insisted Éalwyn dress in a more becoming manner; she was after all the daughter of a former captain of the West-mark. Erkenbrand had to admit he was glad for it—as were many of the young men of the Riddermark. She was a very pretty woman; just a few years past her majority. He smiled to himself; he knew many envied him for he spent much of his day with her. He was discovering paper work was not so bad!
His thoughts were interrupted by a disruption from Éalwyn's table. A young Rider, just back from an extended patrol appeared to desire a dance with Éalwyn. It was clear she had refused but the man insisted, the ale making him over bold. The more she declined the more insistent he became, finally grabbing her wrist and attempting to pull her to the dance floor. Erkenbrand stood swiftly, his size dwarfing most he passed. Éalwyn pulled her hand away from the would-be suitor as Erkenbrand's second's wife stepped between the two. The captain was impressed by her protective stance. He continued to move towards the table even as several Rohirrim now intervened and moved the young man to a corner to 'talk'. Erkenbrand saw the flash of fear in Éalwyn's eyes. She was trying to bid good night to her friends when he reached her. The others were begging her to stay. Still she backed away from them, rubbing her wrist, an air of apprehension about her. Her companions meant well but did not see the mounting panic in the gentle eyes.
"I will see you home," Erkenbrand said calmly, his smooth voice broking no argument. Placing his large hand on the small of her back, he bid them 'good night' and maneuvered her to the door. When they stepped into the cool night air, silent tears began to flow. Éalwyn whipped at them angrily, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. "Would you come with me to check on the filly? The stable is on the way home." He thought she might like a little diversion.
Éalwyn nodded and began to speak, "I know that Rider meant no harm; it was just he was so insistent and I get so overwhelmed." She took a deep breath, "This is new to me. I know they all mean well, but the truth is I have never been overly social, even when I was younger and my father still alive. I prefer a quieter evening. That is why it was so easy for me to hide when...well, I was not missed." He gave her a supportive look. She smiled up at him; she liked being with him. He made her feel safe. They walked the path to the stable in silence for a bit.
He knew that Lady Cynwen and many others were taking an interest in her reemergence in society. Unfortunately, they did not always seem to listen to her needs and wants. He felt for her.
He entered his mare's stall first, speaking softly to her, letting her know he brought a friend. Éalwyn waited at the gate until horse and master invited her in.
"It can get overwhelming," he said finally. "I go to the pub because I feel it is important for the men to see me outside of duty. Not to mention I do not really have anyone with whom to spend a quiet evening." He let his words sink in. He cast his companion a quick look, reading her reaction. There was a flicker of something and a small smile graced her face. She understood the meaning.
The Captain moved towards the filly that was eagerly butting her head into Éalwyn. The woman laughed softly and scratched the velvety nose. As the large man approached, the filly gave an unusually hard push, knocking the woman off balance and into the strong arms of the Captain. The horse neighed in delight as hazel eyes locked with bright green. A blush warmed her cheeks as he steadied her.
He gave the little horse a stern look. "Play nice," he warned. The filly only looked at him, shook her mane and nickered; prancing around quite pleased with herself. Éalwyn smiled. This was the best part of her evening.
Erkenbrand looked out the window. "It is getting late, I should see you home before Marshal Grimbold comes looking and finds us alone in the stables." He gave his little mouse a wink. She swatted at him playfully before accepting his arm. The two walked back to the main house in quiet conversation. When they reached the Marshal's suite the Captain bowed, "If you ever desire a quiet evening, my lady, I would be happy to oblige."
Éalwyn smiled shyly and gave a little curtsy. "I would like that," she said softly, meeting his gaze. The captain really was very tall and powerful; but he had the gentlest nature and the young woman found herself enamored with him. Before the silence became awkward, the door opened, Lady Cynwen raised an eyebrow at the pair.
"Captain," she said by way of greeting.
"My Lady," he said with a bow.
"Thank you for seeing her home. I trust," she eyed them both; "you had a pleasant evening?"
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.