2. Escort Home
Hesgar and Lilium walked quietly down the path to the Miller's homestead, speaking little. As they approached the house, they saw a gruff-looking man sitting in a chair smoking a pipe. He wore an eye patch and Hesgar noticed a cane and splinted leg; injuries most likely caused by war.
"'Tis late and I was getting' worried," he said gruffly, eying the younger man with suspicion.
"I am sorry Da, it was very busy tonight; poor Beornnath is still there cleaning up. This is Rider Hesgar; he was kind enough to see me home so I would not be even later."
"I see," the Miller said coolly, making his way to his feet with the help of his daughter. "Well, ya done seen her home," he said to Hesgar, barely acknowledging the man. "Now good night." The man hobbled to the door with Lilium on his arm.
The young woman looked over her shoulder with an apologetic look. Hesgar smiled and nodded in understanding. He watched them disappear through the door. As he turned to make his way back to the barracks he caught part of their conversation.
"Ya know I don't like you like you workin' there. Don't need to be socializing with them Riders! Bring ya nothing but heartache…"
Their conversation faded into the night as the young man walked the path home. Fréarid was right; he sure knew how to pick them!
The following evening found the young Rider back at the Warrior's Den. Hesgar again took a seat at a back table where he could watch the Miller's daughter as she worked. For a petite young woman, she worked harder than any other in the place! Hesgar watched the natural sway of her hips as she walked; it was not the intended movement like with the other women. He smile, she had a lovely figure with ample curves in all the right places-- definitely not too skinny. She had a beautiful smile and her eyes…oh her eyes! When she would look at him, his heart melted. Hesgar knew he was not the only one who noticed her feminine beauty; but when others propositioned her, Lilium graciously and discretely turned down every advance. It seemed Hesgar was going have to work had to gain her favor…and that of her father!
The Rider had yet to finish his first tankard of ale when he notice Lilium donning her cloak, accepting a hug from the barkeep and leaving quietly through the back door--unescorted. Well, that would not do! Hesgar quickly moved through the crowed, ignoring the calls from his comrades and exited the back of the tavern.
"Lilium, wait," he called as he jogged to catch up to the young woman.
She turned, startled to hear his call. When she realized who followed her, she smiled at him. "Rider Hesgar," she said softly, with a small curtsy. "Is something amiss?"
"Only that you left the tavern earlier than usual and without an escort."
"Da was not so happy about the late hour last night and wanted me to stop working all together," she explained as they began to walk along the path. "We finally reached an agreement; as long as I am home early, I can keep working. He worries," she hesitated, "an' I want to apologize for his behavior last night."
"There is no need to apologies," Hesgar replied with a smile.
"Oh but there is, sir!" she continued. "My Da was quite rude and you being so kind to see me home. I fear he thought that you…well that your intentions were…"
Hesgar did not need to see the blush to know it was there. He was not surprise at the accusation. For all the honor bestowed on the Riders for protecting Rohan, they did have a bit of a reputation. "Like I said, there is no need to apologize. He just wants to keep you safe and I can respect that."
"You are most kind to understand. Thank you."
"If I may ask, if your father objects to you working in the Warrior's Den, why do you do it?"
"The war destroyed many of the crops this year and there is little mill work. There is damage to the homestead and the mill that needs repaired before winter and Da cannot do the work himself with his injury. I am hoping to earn enough to pay someone to do the repairs. Most positions I looked into were during the day, and I am needed at home to look after my little brother and sister, so the tavern was the closest and best option. Beornnath was kind enough to hire me even though I am not eighteen yet. I know the other girls think me aloof because I do not flirt and entertain the Rid…" She stopped suddenly embarrassed
Hesgar stopped and gently turned her to face him. He looked at her, her head bowed. Gently he lifted her chin with his finger, forcing eye contact. For a moment time stood still as he gazed into her bright cornflower blue eyes. Finally he spoke. "There is nothing wrong with not wanting to 'entertain' men. It is refreshing; a Rider cannot enter that place without being propositioned. Your father should be proud of the way you handle yourself. He has raised a fine young woman." Suddenly realizing their close proximity and in view of Lilium's house, Hesgar quickly stepped away. "We had best not keep your father waiting."
Lilium's heart had been pounding as she stood so close to the young man. Hesgar was very handsome, not too tall just long and lean. His brown hair fell in soft curls past his shoulders. He had such warm brown eyes and the sweetest smile. It was nice to meet a Rider who did not try to talk her into his bed; although, if he asked… butterflies hatched in her stomach. Where did such a thought come from! He would certainly not be interested in an untried Miller's daughter. Hesgar had basically said he could have any woman at the tavern he desired and those women were very talented. Still she could not deny that he made her feel all warm.
"Lilium," Hesgar said when the young woman did not move to follow him towards the homestead.
She smiled shyly; glad the moonless night hid the blush that stained her cheeks. The two arrived at the house. Hesgar waited until she entered before turning to leave. From a window in the house, Lilium's father watched the young man intently.
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.