Daughter of Kings

by Evermind

Chapter Six: Grima Returns

Grima was not dead, but it would have been better for all if he had been. Grima had been twelve at the time of the accident, and it was another year before he returned to Edoras. His friends has missed him terribly, and were glad when they heard that he was returning home, but they were not prepared for the change the accident had wrought upon the boy. Saruman escorted the boy back to the golden hall, walking, not riding. Grima would not ride again. They were forced, too, to go slowly, because of Grima's injuries, which still pained him. He walked now with a shuffling gait, his shoulders hunched and his head bowed low, not looking at the road in front of him. Theodred was at that time away patrolling the borders with his Eored, having now assumed the title of Second Marshall of the Mark, but Eowyn and Eomer stood upon the steps of Meduseld, eager to greet the friend whom they had believed lost. As the wizard approached the king, Eowyn leapt swiftly from the steps, rushing to embrace her friend. The look she saw in his eyes brought her up short, and a small gasp of breath escaped her. Grima's eyes narrowed. His face had a sullen, hostile cast, and his once laughing eyes were pale. Close to, Eowyn could tell that the boy had not washed for a long while, and his hair hung lank and greasy over his clouded eyes.

"Grima." Eowyn whispered his name. Beside her, Eomer let out his breath in a low hiss. Eowyn recovered herself swiftly. Her friend had almost been destroyed, of course he had changed. What had she expected? 'Not this.' her thought said within her. 'Never this.'

"Grima" she spoke steadily now, trying to convey all the old friendship in her tone. "We are so glad to see thee returned to us! How hast thou been? We have missed thee." She fell silent again under the glance Grima now gave her from his dead eyes.

"My Lady." he spoke at last, speaking cordially as though to one he hardly knew. A slight tilt of his head to Eomer. "My Lord." then, without a glance at his friends, he shuffled past them to stand with bowed head behind Saruman.

Eomer glanced at his sister, and she could tell that he was as concerned by their friend's words as she. But it was the look in Grima's eyes that haunted Eowyn the most. In the split second before he had glanced away, Eowyn had thought she discerned in Grima's eye a hunted, pleading look, like one imprisoned beyond all hope of recovery.

It was not until later that Eowyn first had the opportunity to talk to her friend. Theoden, at Saruman's asking had taken pity upon the crippled child, and offered him chambers in Meduseld, that the boy might not be alone when his father was away. Grima had acknowledged this with a silent nod, and had then retreated to his chamber. They had already gathered from Saruman that the boy now disliked venturing outside. Eowyn was strangely disconcerted by this, she kept remembering the way Grima had fought with her at the tournament, the old light in his eyes and his ever ready smile. She thought of the look he had given her today, the trapped and desperate glance that he had quickly concealed. Eowyn knew now what she must do. She must befriend him again, teach him again his old life, Bring her friend back from the dark void into which he had descended. With the resolve fresh in her mind, Eowyn arose and went to seek out her friend.

"Why did thou not ride here?" Eowyn asked. She sat with Grima upon the edge of his bed, and although he plainly was not comfortable with this, there was nothing he could do to prevent her, crippled as he now was. "Saruman hath worked a marvelous change in thee." Eowyn persevered "I'll wager thou couldst ride now as well as afore time."

"Ellen is dead." his voice was remote and distant. "He is dead, and I killed him."

"It was but an accident, Grima." Eowyn said "It was the orcs who killed him, not thou." Grima looked at her strangely
"There were no orcs, Lily. I was riding too fast. I tried to jump too high. Ellen fell. It was I who killed him."

"No." Eowyn whispered she thought of the tale of the riders who had found Ellen. Dead they had told her. Dead, with three orc arrows in him. Eowyn shook her head, confused. Mayhap Grima was still ill.

"Thou canst ride any horse in the Mark." Eowyn told him firmly. Grima smiled a strange, twisted half smile.

"Why, Lily" he asked her "Canst thou ride any horse in the Mark?"

"Of course" Eowyn replied, wondering at the odd question. Grima's smile broadened.

"Ride Shadowfax for me."