Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Twelve: The Women's Side.

The day of Eowyn's sixteenth birthday began badly. Eowyn awoke early as was her custom, and set about dressing. For this day, she had decided, she would honour the King's wishes. Later, there would be time to speak with him about her decision not to join the Women's side. To this end, Eowyn pulled on a dress over her blue riding tunic, a simple garment made of homespun brown wool, but one that looked well on her slender figure. She combed her golden hair back from her face and knotted it, and then, as an afterthought pinned to her breast a golden brooch that had belonged to Morwen Steelsheen.

The King was not impressed by her attempts.

"Thou lookst like some peasant child." he told her angrily. Then he spoke to one of the two serving women who stood in the shadows of the hall. "Idis!" the King instructed sharply "Take the Lady Eowyn back to her chambers, and do not let her be seen until she is at least dressed like a daughter of the house of Eorl."

"I am quite capable of dressing myself, Eam." Eowyn said, and her eyes narrowed dangerously.

"Thou art of the woman's side now, and a daughter of Kings." Theoden replied "It is not fitting for thee to be without a handmaiden." then, without another glance in her direction, the King turned to speak with Grima, who had witnessed the entire scene, curled in his customary position at the King's feet.

Eowyn dismissed Idis at the door to her chambers, but to Eowyn's surprise, her friend refused to take her leave.

"I have my orders from the King, Lily" the girl said, half smiling, half serious. "Try not to make things any more difficult for me than thou canst help!" Ill humoredly, Eowyn allowed her friend to help her dress again, this time in a heavy gown of dark green edged with gold. Eowyn did not like the gown much; it weighed heavily upon her shoulders and was too long for her to move comfortably in. Idis braided Eowyn's hair, fixing it in elaborate coils beneath a golden coronet.

"There!" Idis smiled at last, admiring her handiwork. "it is not really as bad as thou would think, joining the women's side." Eowyn smiled wanly at her, and stood up slowly.

"I had best go and greet the King again." she spoke sadly. Suddenly, she felt very much like crying. Idis knew it. The girl put her arm hesitantly about Eowyn's shoulders and embraced her friend.
"Come now Lily." Idis whispered "Today at least, thou must needs smile."

Eowyn had tried. She had stood behind the King when he sat at the feast, trying not to look at her brother and cousin, who barely concealed their amusement at her attire. After he had supped, the King, with much ceremony had taken from her the silver mail coat, and the beautiful sword Aenlic and locked them in a wooden chest.

"For thy own daughters to bear, when the time comes." He had smiled. 'What for?' Eowyn had wanted to ask 'So that thou canst merely take them from them again? So that thou canst destroy their hopes as thou hast destroyed mine?' But she had smiled at him as Idis had told her to, denying herself the comfort of tears, denying Grima any satisfaction he might find in her degradation.

Then there had been dancing and revelry, but Eowyn had not felt like celebrating. Angrily, she watched as Grima made his creeping way towards her.

"Wilt thou pay me the courtesy of a dance, my Lady?" He asked softly, extending a long pale hand towards her. Eowyn stared at him, but he knew that she could not refuse. The King was watching. Eowyn looked furiously at him, hoping to daunt him with her eyes, but he avoided her gaze. Slowly, unwillingly, Eowyn reached out and placed her hand in his. Grima's long slender fingers closed tight about her own, and his touch was cold and inhuman. Eowyn's hand shook slightly, and she glanced down to see the twin bracelets about their wrists. Grima's was still stained with Ellen's dark blood. Eowyn tried to push him away from her, revulsion overcoming her sense of propriety, but in that moment, Grima looked up and at last met her gaze. What she saw there smote Eowyn like a blade to the chest. In Grima's eyes was the look of one utterly forsaken, one without hope of friendship nor of redemption. He expected her rejection, she realised, but still he craved the old friendship. All this was her fault, Eowyn realised. She had abandoned her friend when he had needed her most, and now things could never be the same between them.

Slowly, her eyes still filled with the horror of it, Eowyn clasped the cold hand in her own, allowing Grima to lead her onto the dance floor.