He was meant for me.
Éomer Éadig, our puissant new King. I remember when he was but the Third Marshal - though I should not say "but," for as a captain he had no equal. Proud and keen he is, with the fierce, clear gaze of eagles and the long-legged pace of a hunting cat. Did I not know of my own observation that his ferocity is reserved only for his foes, I might tremble at his approach. All know he is searching, all know he is looking. Many is the glance he has spared among us, the soft smile and gentle laugh as he is aware of our regard, and sometimes one of us is blessed by the feather-light brush of his touch.
Ah, but there is an edge that is mine alone, for we know each other, Éomer and I, though days of smoke and sword come between us. I see the warming gleam in his eye as ever and anon our glances meet, in a remembrance of liaisons past. He must choose fairly, for a king cannot make such a decision frivolously. He and those who follow after will depend upon the choice he makes now. Only those of noble blood, only those of impeccable virtues, wise mind and fair forms can possibly be considered. And only one may be chosen.
But I know him. Even his scent is familiar and comforting as he draws near.
"And how are you, my pretty one?" he murmurs, for he would not have others hear such endearments between us.
The touch of his hand is as light as breezes in the grass, and my eyes close unbidden when his fingers sweep pale locks from my face. Mónalocces I am called for the magnificence of my tresses, and I watch him through long, demurely-lowered lashes. Well I know the timbres of his voice, the great shout of battle and alarm, the low growl of anger, the bright laughter that seems to burst from him like an unexpected freshet of joy. I know what he would ask of me by the merest shift of his body, the tension of leg and thigh against me. I have known the touch of others before him, and not all were as gentle. Not all were as kind, nor listened to me and spoke to me, and let us move together in a powerful, timeless dance that transcends the mundane world and becomes living poetry. Éomer is such a one. He knows, he sees, and he understands my quality. My family is long in heritage and every grace they possess is embodied in me. When he thinks I did not listen I have heard him speak in hushed admiration of my long limbs, my soft eyes, the smooth, flowing curves of my body and even the perfection of my feet.
Yet there are others, aye, there are others, and where pretty is as pretty does, it is the quality within that must prevail. And he knows me as I know him. He moves on and I raise my head to watch him pass, knowing he must pay heed to the others as well, though I cannot admit to being pleased. It is the way things are done. There is form and protocol so as not to offend, and when that choice is made there can be no complaints of unfairness.
Thus I must wait. I must trust that he will remember what lies beneath the eye's easy reach, that in my veins flows the blood of aristocracy and that my heart is as strong as the very soul of the Riddermark. He will see that my sons and daughters will carry forward the best of our kind and that he who looks upon them will be proud to claim them. He will know that I have poise, wit and steady heart which none of these others can match. Certainly not Flágetæl there, with her head in the clouds and her silly ways. Not Hwítfeðra whose sense abandons her entirely the instant she is faced with anything unexpected. And I would hope not Tácen, whose temper wavers from the uncertain to the positively wicked on any given day. Such is no fit companion for a king.
Éomer speaks now among his counselors, and I try not to watch him, my lord and king. With care he must speak and with care he must refuse, for among those men whose prizes vie for his selection are his captains and his kinfolk. To say no to beauty when it is offered takes the rarest sort of diplomacy, but I hear laughter among them now, and see smiles. All is well. Now he turns and walks back towards us and I cannot but stare as he approaches. He is glorious under the sun, the breadth of his shoulders gently swinging with latent power - ah, I know well the quiet kindness of that strength. Without thinking I turn my head to anticipate the caress of his hand on my face - do I act hastily?
No, I have not, and the warmth of his palm against my cheek is familiar as the sound of his indrawn breath. My king will honor our union of other days. He will not forsake me for a fresher or prettier face.
"I think it will be you, Móna," he says, and his smile rivals the touch of the sun on his face. "Pretty lass, would you like to come with me, eh?"
Foolish man, he need not ask. When he turns and walks away he knows I will follow, my head near his shoulder and my pace steady. I do not look back, though I feel the watching eyes behind.
"Éothain!" he calls ahead. "What do you think?"
"'Tis the choice I would have made, my lord," his captain replies with a smile.
Éothain's hand falls on my shoulder as we come to him, and I am pleased, for he has always been a kindly man. "She has proven herself true and sound, and she has many years yet before her. Whether under saddle or with a foal at her side, I should think your Lady Lothíriel will be greatly pleased with her."
"Aye, she is of the old blood," Éomer says, watching me with a fond smile. "And a match for my lady in spirit, I dare say. Alas we have not Shadowfax among us any more, but Mónalocces is near enough kin. The horses of Eorl's time are not lost to the past, so long as we have such as this one."
Then he turned and again I followed unbidden. "Come, my lass," he said cheerfully. "We have a new stall and paddock for you and a new mistress waiting. I think you shall become quite the famous pair."
Éothain laughed at that, and my spirits rose. If Éomer thought thus of his lady, then I had no fear that I would ever be treated as any less than the nobility I was. I would bear a queen so long as my strength should last, and through me the blood of the Mearas shall not die. Thus I followed my king home.
~ With special thanks to Julia C. for giving me this mad idea, and to Sevi for egging me on!
~ And to my Éomer-shaped muse, which is presently laughing its tookus off....
Mónalocces - Moon-locks. (I imagine her as a grey mare with a long, flowing white mane.)
Flágetæl - Arrow-swift
Hwítfeðra - Bright-wing
Tácen - Banner