Banduil and Aragorn

"Why did you bring her?" asked Theodred.

"I did not bring her," said Eomer. "She just came."

Theodred, for all his bluster, knew better than to try where Eomer had already failed. "Well," he said, "she had better be quiet."

He drew back the heavy curtain, carefully lifted the massive latch—grimacing at the noise it made—slowly pushed open the door, and peered into the Council Chamber.

"It is empty. Come on." They slipped inside and closed the door behind them.

"Where can we hide?" asked Eomer. The chamber was smaller than he had expected, and sparsely furnished—just an oak table surrounded by nine heavy chairs, the seat at its head a small throne. Three of the walls were bare; the fourth was draped with a tapestry.

Theodred grinned. "In the privy," he said.

"What privy?"

With a flourish, the King's son lifted the wall hanging to reveal a doorway. "This privy."

"But what if someone wants to go?" asked Eomer.

"They cannot. It is my father's private privy."

"But what if he wants to..."

Theodred ended the debate by grabbing Eomer's arm and dragging him into the small room. Eowyn tried to follow. "You cannot come in here," said her cousin, pompously. "This privy is only for men."

He dropped the curtain, leaving the girl standing alone in the Council Chamber.


Eowyn turned around and around, looking for somewhere else to hide.

The table? You can see right under it...

But there was nowhere better. She dropped to her hands and knees and crawled beneath, just as the door opened behind her and someone wearing a new—and ill-fitting—suit of armour, metal grating on metal as he moved, came into the chamber.

There was a moment's silence. Then he said, "I can see you, you know."

Eowyn closed her eyes. Perhaps, she hoped, he means Eomer.

"I can see you."

No, he means me.

"Come out, my lady," he said. Then he added, with a desperation that Eowyn was too nervous to notice, "Please do not make me bend."

Eowyn stayed exactly where she was.

"Theoden King and his Counsellors will be here at any moment," he pleaded. "If they find you, you will be in trouble, and I shall very likely be dismissed on my first day—please, my lady, come out."

Sighing (silently) to herself, Eowyn began to crawl backwards.

"No! Wait!" he hissed. His hand pushed her bottom.

The door latch was lifting.

There was a grating of armour. Eowyn rolled over and drew up her knees, wrapping her arms around her legs to make herself as small as possible. The young guard had turned and was standing between her and the door, shielding her with his mail-clad legs.

"Father!" he said.

"I told you not to call me that here. Is the Chamber secure, soldier?"

"Yes, Captain."

"Then do not linger—you know your duties. Come on, Banduil—what are you waiting for?"

"I—er—a rat, sir—I think I saw a rat," said Banduil. "And I was just—"

Captain Falemi swore. "The Council Meeting is about to start," he said. "Find the wretched thing and use your sword."

"Yes, sir."

"And do not leave it lying in here." The door closed.

Eowyn shot out from under the table.

The young guard grinned. "You do have a face, then," he said. "Come on—stay behind me." He led her to the door, cautiously opened it, and peered outside. "The King is coming, we must hide you quickly. Do you know where the door opposite leads?"

"My uncle's bed chamber," whispered Eowyn.

Banduil used the same oath as his father. "The one beside it?"

"Theodred's bed chamber," said Eowyn. "I could go in there."

"Are you sure?" She nodded. "Good. Then keep your head down and do not look about you." He gave her another grin as he seized her hand. "Ready?"


They slipped from the Council Chamber, crossed the corridor in a blur—Eowyn could already hear the measured tread of her uncle's Body Guards to the left—pushed open the bed chamber door, and fell inside.

"There," said Banduil, as her helped her to her feet, "you are safe and sound."

He smiled.

Then, as if remembering his place, he drew himself up to his full height, clicked his mailed heels together, with a slight wince when his armour pinched, and bowed his head respectfully. "At your service, my lady. Good night."

He backed out of the chamber.


Eowyn waited several hours until her cousin and her brother returned at last, each blaming the other for the dare that had forced them to endure, in silence, the endless tedium of a Privy Council meeting.

"You will have to do that every day when you are King, cousin," said Eomer, throwing himself down on the bed.

"And so will you, when I make you First Marshall of the Riddermark, cousin," replied Theodred, carefully pouring out two glasses—and a half glass—of his father's finest spirits.


Years later, Eowyn realised that Banduil had been no more than a boy that day—just fifteen.

But to an eight year old he had seemed a man; and, for many years—with his youthful grace, his dark, mischievous eyes, and the faintest trace of beard above his lip and on his chin—he had remained the finest, the bravest, the most handsome man she had ever seen.




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Chapter 2