Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Two: The King, and a Best Friend.

After Theodwyn's death, Eowyn and her brother were fostered with their mother's elder brother, King Theoden, lord of the Eorlingas. Eowyn had been close to Theoden since she was born. He it was who had set her on her first horse, almost before she could walk, he who had first placed a sword in her small hand. And it was Theoden who had first given her the name Lily, for he said that she was more beautiful than the fairest of flowers. Eowyn's cousin Theodred was a good friend as well. He was thirteen years Eomer's elder, but cared for his young cousins, and taught them how to deal with their confusion and grief. Theodred was acquainted with grief. His mother, The Queen Elfhild had died in bearing him. Eowyn did not forget her grief easily. The child took comfort in the horses, riding often and late across the Mark. Quickly, her skill increased, and as she rode through the fields and homesteads, she came to be greatly loved by all the people. It comforted them, that even in the shadow of approaching war, the children of the house of Eorl still bore themselves proudly. Often, Theodred or Eomer would ride with her, or one of the village children, for Eowyn had many friends. Morwen the daughter of Freawine, and Idis her sister, as well as many of the elder boys, Eomer's comrades; Grimbold, Elfhelm, Gram and Hama. And Theodred was, as ever her teacher in all things.

Eowyn had one best friend. A slender boy, but two years her elder. He had light, sparkling eyes, and a halo of ragged dark hair, inherited from his dead mother, one of the Gondorians. His name was Grima son of Galmod, and he quickly became Eowyn's greatest friend. Grima was an athletic boy, Eowyn's equal in feats of swordsmanship and riding. Grima had a black colt named Ellen, whom he rode everywhere, and often, Eowyn and Grima would race each other while folk smiled to see the two together, dark child and golden, with an almost elven light in their faces and their hair tangled upon their shoulders.
When Eowyn had turned six, Theoden had taken her riding far out over the plains, looking for the herds of yearlings and two year old colts, which grazed as they would across the Riddermark.

They had found the colts resting beside the Snowbourne river, and Theoden had given to Eowyn the greatest gift he could give. Looking at the colts, he gave to her Windfola, the grey filly that Eowyn had chosen. The little mare was perfect in every part of her making, whose sire had been Shadowfax the great, and whose dam, Lightfoot had mothered Theoden's own battle charger.

"Well, Lily," Theoden had asked her with a smile, "will she serve?"
Eowyn could not speak, but the King understood.

Eowyn's task then, was to break the filly, to master her and to teach her, as Eomer had broken Firefoot. It was slow going. Eowyn's small body had not the strength to constrain the filly by force, but this was how the Rohirrim had always taught their children. To befriend their horses, and to work with them, learning by skill and courage to master their great steeds.
Eowyn and Grima broke the filly together, and finally, in the year that Eowyn was eight years old, Windfola was old enough for her first ride. Eowyn, Eomer, Theodred and Grima together rode right to the feet of the white mountains, and there dismounted for a while to break their fast. After they had eaten, Grima solemnly took a small knife, and with it cut hair from each of the horses' manes. He divided the hair into four portions, and taking his own, began to weave the strands together, braiding a slender line, white and brown and chestnut and grey. Eowyn took up her own strands, her small, deft fingers braiding swiftly. White for Snowflake and Theodred, Black for Grima and Ellen, Chestnut for Eomer and Firefoot and a slender strand of grey horsehair for Eowyn and Windfola. When they had finished, each of the children held a slender bracelet of horsehair, knotted together at the ends. Quietly, each slipped the bracelet onto their wrist.

"We must never, ever take these off." Grima spoke solemnly into the silence. "This means that we will always be friends. And we will always help each other. Forever and always."

"Always." Eomer echoed his words, and silently, Theodred nodded his assent.

The children smiled at each other, knowing the power of the pledge that they had taken. In Eowyn's head, she heard again Grima's words. Forever and always. Silently, the children mounted and together rode back across the plain to the Golden Hall.