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Chapter 8 : Edoras and Minas Tirith
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Eomer and Faramir in the same chapter?! Lovely if you ask me ;)
Edoras & Minas Tirth
Arlena finally began to understand why Cora liked to people watch so much. She began to pick up on things she never would have noticed otherwise. She noticed that Éomer was right-handed while Théodred was left-handed. When Éowyn was upset, she would fidget with the sleeves of her dress. She didn't need special observation skills to notice the way Grima watches Éowyn like a hawk.
Arlena needed to talk to Éomer about it as soon as possible. Her encounters with Grima were thankfully brief and few. She wasn't looking forward to the day when she would encounter him by herself.
She never tried to observe the King though. Mostly because she never saw him and when she did she didn't want to bring too much attention to herself. They were all eating lunch in the hall when she was paying particular attention to the only nephew of the King.
"What are you staring at?" Éowyn asked when she realized that Arlena wasn't paying attention to a word of what she was saying.
"Your brother," Arlena stated bluntly, forgetting who she was talking to.
Éowyn began to choke on the soup she was eating. She definitely wasn't expecting Arlena to be so honest.
"Alright there, Éowyn?" the younger girl asked.
After several coughs, the blonde nodded fiercely. While all this was happening, Arlena failed to notice Éomer getting up from the other table to get another helping of the soup.
"I often forget that you're so blunt, Arlena," she said once she finally recovered.
Arlena shrugged and went back to eating her soup.
"Do you like him?" Éowyn whispered.
Arlena coughed loudly as she choked on her soup. She glared at Éowyn while she tried to recover.
"What could possibly be causing both of you to choke on your soup? You are making quite the scene, my dears," a masculine voice whispered closely to them.
Arlena jumped in her seat and turned to find Éomer smirking at them. She blushed, wondering how much he had heard.
"None of your business, brother."
"Ah ah ah, now don't be snippy, my dear sister. I will let it be for now, but rest assured, I will find out sooner or later," he said with a wink before returning to his table.
"What's wrong?" Éowyn asked when she noticed the odd expression on Arlena's face.
"Is your brother always so.. playful?"
"For the most part, yes. He has quite the sense of humor. Why?"
"He's always reserved and serious around me."
"How odd." Éowyn stated plainly, not really sure what that meant either.
"You never answered my question, Arlena."
"Your brother is a mystery to me, Éowyn," she answered honestly. Éomer was so quiet and guarded around her and it only frustrated her. Especially now when she saw that he can joke around.
"What about Théodred?" Éowyn asked quietly.
Arlena looked at Éowyn in confusion. "What about him? He's not so guarded around me. He respects me. He even teases me every now and then. But," Arlena sighed.
"There's no spark. Nothing that grabs my attention. At least in the romantic sense," Arlena explained.
Éowyn nodded, trying to understand. She barely acknowledged Arlena as the witch excused herself from the table. Her thoughts were consuming her focus. Although she had been surrounded by men for the majority of her life, her brother and cousin never allowed any men that were interested in her get close to her. They just wanted to protect her, she knew that, but it frustrated her to no end.
The fact that they felt they needed to protect her frustrated her, not them preventing her from having a love life. Ever since Arlena showed up, however, she began to realize how much she has missed out on.
She left the hall wondering if she would ever be set free from her cage.
Arlena was wandering aimlessly through the hallways. The past two days had been nothing but stormy weather, so she was stuck inside. It was damp and drafty, which reminded her of parts of Hogwarts.
"Trying to sneak up on me, Grima?" Arlena asked. She had noticed Grima watching her the past couple of days, but she was watching him ever since she learned who he was.
She didn't like what she saw; he reminded her too much of Pettigrew.
"I've been watching you," he said vaguely.
"I know. Will you begin to follow me everywhere like you do to Éowyn?" she mocked.
She stared him in the eye and felt a chill creep up the back of her spine. For Merlin's sake, the man didn't even have any eyebrows!
"I can do far worse than that," he hissed.
Arlena could tell that this was a man that wouldn't threaten something like that unless he meant it. He might not be able to act upon these threats right this instant, but her gut was telling her that it wouldn't be long now till Grima had the ability to carry them out.
Oh, how she wanted to hex him into oblivion. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"As can I, Grima. Do not cross me," she stated coldly. She wasn't the only one who could threaten.
"Is that a threat?" Grima asked angrily.
"Would you like to find out? Stay away from me and Éowyn," she gritted out.
Deciding that now would be the best time to leave, she quickly turned on her heel and left Grima behind.
She needed to be as far away from Grima as she possibly could. Luckily, this was a decently sized building. Unfortunately, in her attempt to get away from Grima she was now lost and didn't recognize where she was.
Panic built up in her as she realized she desperately needed a private place to regain her composure. Blindly, she entered the first unlocked room that she could find. It was someone's bedroom, but thankfully it was empty.
Not really giving a damn about who's bedroom it was, she began to pace in an attempt to calm herself down. Her encounter with Grima had left her shaken. She hadn't had such an exchange with someone since the war.
She practically gave herself away with her threat to him. She wished she could have kept her stupid mouth shut. Swearing profusely, she realized that she may have completely jeopardized what little sense of security that she may have had.
She stopped pacing when she realized that it wasn't helping her one bit. It was then she noticed a forest green tunic draped over one of the chairs.
She froze. She knew that tunic. It belonged to Éomer. She was in his room.
"Bloody hell, why me?" she muttered in disbelief. She had to get out of here. How would she explain herself if he found her?
Picking up her skirts she quickly made her way to the door, but almost collided with Éomer.
She visibly paled.
"Éomer I'm so sorry. I needed to get away from him but then I got lost so I panicked and rushed into this room and realized it was your room. I swear I didn't know that this was your room," she said in an awfully high pitch.
Éomer noticed her shaking hands and her even paler than normal complexion. She was shaken and it wasn't because he caught her in his room. He then thought over her extremely fast explanation of how she wound up in his room in the first place.
"Who were you trying to get away from?" he finally asked.
"Grima," she said quietly.
His eyes narrowed. What did that snake do this time? Éomer swore he would make him pay for whatever thing he did to shake Arlena up so much.
As she began to explain what had happened, Éomer began to wonder. It was strange to see her like this. The incident with the Wargs barely shook her up but a few minutes with Grima Wormtongue and she's on the verge of a meltdown.
"Éomer, I don't think you understand. The way he watches Éowyn is sickening. How does she not notice?" Arlena said, breaking Éomer's train of thought. He noticed that her voice was thick with emotion.
"She notices," he stated flatly. Arlena noticed his jaw clenching and knew she had to stop him before he did something foolish.
"Éomer, don't," she warned him.
"Why not? First he traumatizes my sister and then threatens you? No, enough is enough. That snake needs to go," he said, ready to storm out of his room and beat Grima to a bloody pulp.
"Éomer!" Arlena cried out, panic evident in her voice.
He paused at the door and slowly turned around. Arlena was still standing where he had left her, but was now on the verge of tears.
"Never confront Grima," she whispered.
"Why not? I could take him easily," Éomer stated arrogantly, wondering why she was doubting him.
She shook her head vehemently. "There's no question about that, but that's not the reason why."
Éomer remained silent.
"We don't know what tricks he has up his sleeves, Éomer. He is physically weak, yes, but that means nothing when he has all the power," she quickly explained.
He walked back towards her, realizing what she said made sense. They didn't know how much power Grima had over the King. For all he knew, Grima could persuade the King to banish them all.
"You're right, Arlena. I let my anger cloud my judgement," he said.
She nodded numbly, trying to keep her emotions in check but failing miserably. Without a second thought, she hugged him. At first he was shocked, but then wrapped his arms around her.
She suddenly pulled away, embarrassed by her actions.
"Sorry. Forgive me for my weakness," she said quietly, not looking at him.
When she still didn't look at him, he tilted her chin so they were making eye contact.
"You are far from weak, Arlena. Always remember that," he said softly before brushing away a single tear from her face.
She slowly smiled.
Faramir woke up to a loud crash of thunder. Lightning lit up his room and was closely followed by another booming thunder. Faramir ran a hand over his face, knowing he wouldn't fall asleep easily with a storm such as this.
Faramir cursed his luck. For the past two weeks he and his brother had been working constantly to prepare for the defense of Osgiliath. Both had little time to sleep or do much of anything else besides being near the vicinity of the training grounds. If all went according to plan, Faramir would be ready to leave with his men by the end of next week. If Faramir's half of the plan went through, then Boromir would be ready to leave with his men a fews days after that.
He was tired and had wanted a decent amount of sleep. Sighing, he stared up at the ceiling, listening to the storm rage outside. A few minutes later, he thought he heard a knock on his door, but wasn't exactly sure.
Sitting up, he listened for it again. Another knock. Faramir quickly got out of bed and went to the door.
Faramir opened the door and found himself facing Adair, one of the patrollers of the Night Watch.
"Captain Faramir, I'm sorry to wake-"
"What is it?" Faramir cut him off, wanting to get straight down to business.
"A young woman was spotted standing in the courtyard. She looks like Miss Black, and I tried calling to her, but she wouldn't respond."
Faramir quickly went back into his room and got dressed in record time. Why in the world would she be out by herself in the dead of night - in a storm no less!
"Do you know how long she's been out here, Adair?" Faramir asked as he made his way towards her.
"No sir, but I'm guessing for awhile due to her inappropriate attire for such weather," Adair said awkwardly.
Faramir ordered Adair to wake up Cora's maid and he hastily left. He hadn't seen her in almost two weeks. She was just standing there in only her nightdress, staring off into the distance.
"Cora!" Faramir shouted over a crash of thunder.
She didn't even move. Somehow managing to avoid any major puddles, Faramir was now standing in front of Cora. He was standing directly in her line of sight, but she was staring straight through him. She was in a far away world, lost in her memories.
"Cora," he said again, this time touching her cheek. She was soaked to the bone.
She blinked and panic surged through her.
"Faramir? What's going on? How did I get here?" She asked, confusion evident in her voice. She didn't remember how she got here.
She started to shiver uncontrollably and became weak. Faramir picked her up and made his way back to her quarters, ignoring the fact that her nightdress was plastered to her skin.
When Faramir came back to her room after changing into some dry clothes, he took in her appearance. Her skin was paler than normal, but besides that she looked fine. He didn't fail to notice that she didn't make eye contact with him.
"This wasn't the first time this has happened to you," he stated quietly as he moved one of the chairs closer to her bed.
She remained silent, staring down at her hands.
Faramir's hand enveloped hers.
"There's nothing to be ashamed of," he said in an effort to soothe her.
"I know," she said quietly before taking a deep breath.
"For a long time after the war, I had a series of-" Cora paused, trying to find the right word. "-episodes in which I would go to sleep in my bed and then somehow wind up in the most strangest of places. I have no recollection of how I would get there."
"How long after the war?" Faramir asked.
"Six months. Then suddenly they just stopped. I don't know what could have caused them to return," she said sadly.
Faramir squeezed her hand in reassurance, not knowing what to say.
"I'm sorry to have woken you up," she suddenly said.
He was about to protest but she wouldn't hear it.
"I know how busy you and your brother have been with preparations. You need all the rest you can get. I can see that you're tired, Faramir," she quickly added.
"You have not seen me tired, Cora. Just wait until I return from Osgiliath," he said.
Cora's breath hitched and her hold on Faramir's hand tightened. Every time someone would mention Osgiliath, a sense of foreboding would overwhelm her.
"Cora? What is wrong?" he asked.
"I'm just worried, that's all. I'm not used to letting the men do all the fighting. I hate being useless," she said honestly. There was little protest of her participating in fighting the war back home.
But here, such things would not be tolerated.
"I know, Cora. But it's for the best. You know that," he said softly. If he was going to be honest with himself, he never wanted Cora to be in harm's way.
Leaning back, she closed her eyes and slowly nodded. She was awfully tired.
"I shall let you sleep. Rest well, Cora," he said before standing up.
"You're always there when I need you. Thank you, my Captain," she mumbled.
Faramir smiled and quietly replied, "The pleasure is all mine. I shall always be there, if you so wish it. Amin naa tualle."
She fell asleep with a smile on her face.
A.N: Hope you enjoyed this chapter! Reviews are ALWAYS appreciated! :)
Amin naa tualle = I am your servant
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