3. Token of Kindness
Éomer could not drive the damn woman's voice from his head. "…no mother or chaperone, what do you expect…" The words echoed in his head. She was right. The arrogant witch was right. Éowyn should not be here, she should be at home, overseeing Edoras in his absence. He reached out and grasped his sister's hand; it was so cold. How could no one have noticed her in the ranks? How could they miss the Hobbit riding with her? How?
"Because," his mind whispered, 'everyone was too focused on the task at hand—too terrified that all would be lost--too busy with the battle!" Éomer's tired mind drifted to that battle, to the blood and the carnage. He had learned his uncle fell only after everything was laid waste and the siege over. It was then he found her, his beloved sister amid the smoke and mud. He had thought her dead. It had been Inrahil who saw the slight rise of her chest. He broke through to the grieving man and got Éowyn to the healing halls. The Prince then sent his young daughter, that beautiful flower amid the rabble, to fetch Aragorn. The girl bolted, skirts hiked to the knee, from the Healing halls with Gamling in tow, leaving behind a rather perturbed Lady Beriedis who continued to complain about the inappropriateness of the Princess running on a servant's errand, through the ranks of commoners, in search of an exiled would-be king! When Imhrahil could ignore her no more, he dismissed Lady Beriedis with the promise that Lothiriel would be fine and return with virtue intact.
Éomer had been vaguely aware of a later conversation Gamling had with Erchirion about Lady Beriedis role. The Prince had explained that since Lothiriel lost her mother at so young an age, she was given a mentor, a chaperone, who would teach her how to be a proper lady of the court, what to say and how to act; it was quite customary among the upper class. She made sure the princess kept up with her studies and was properly attended when in the company of a man. In short, she was the guard dog that made sure Lothiriel had no fun—or suitors.
At first, Éomer thought it a ridiculous practice. But as he sat there in the silent healing halls, praying to Béma that Éowyn survive her ordeal, he began to think; perhaps, the Gondorians had it right. If Théoden had put a mentor in place, maybe Éowyn would not have been so emerged in the ways of men and battle. She might have found joy in being the beautiful woman she was. Perhaps she would have already found a husband and be safe at home. Yet if she had not been here, who would have slain the Witch King? How would the battle have gone? How many more would have died? The King released his sister's hand and buried his tear stained face in his hands. He felt so alone. In his distress, he had not heard the servant approach until the young girl spoke at his elbow.
"My Lord? Lady Lothiriel bade me bring you supper." She set the tray of stew and ale on the bedside table. "And she thought you might need this as the night will grow chilly." Gently, almost reverently, the girl laid the King's newly laundered cloak across his shoulders.
Éomer looked up and gave a small smile that caused the girl to blush. "Tell the Princess that I am indebted for her kindness." With a small curtsy, the girl left. The aroma of the stew made his stomach growl and the King ate hungrily. With his body nourished and wrapped in the warmth of his cloak, he sat back to think.
When a healer came around to check on Éowyn, Éomer asked if someone could send for his captain, a tall, seasoned Rider by the name of Gamling.
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