The Lady Of Ithilien

by Thalia Weaver

It has been many years since the first fall of leaves she saw in Ithilien--she, white-clad and crowned, and the bowing of sombre-helmed heads and the shout--"Hail! Hail! The Prince is come!"

She has grown used to her crown, now--gilded, a circlet, with proud spikes lifting from it. She reaches a hand and touches it--softly--lowers her hand, and walks on the stone ledge as the autumn leaves blow past her bare feet. Even now he lies in bed--and he does not know his Éowyn. anymore. She walks the leaf-strewn courtyards and lets the wind blow about her as it will-and she closes her eyes, sometimes, even now--though years beyond her count have passed--and dreams of horses, and the great green rolling fields of Rohan. Even now he is lying on his bed, he cannot see her anymore, he lies on the bed that will see him pass beyond the circles of the world…

Even now--o for a horse, for a helm, for a sword! She walks. Even now, within the walls of the lonely white-stone palace, she wishes--wonders--if the stroke of her arm against the Nazgul had killed her, if the Shadow had swallowed her whole, if she had passed with all the glory due a true warrior of the Mark…

She holds the rail and looks out, unseeing. The spikes of her crown, Ithilien's queen--is this not but another cage? The battle ride, meant for a bitter end, swallowed by shadow she rode out to meet and did not wait for it to trap her with the weak--it should have ended there. She stands and holds the stone ledge and waits.

She does not know what she is waiting for. He does not even remember her; he raves now, in an addled, aged delirium. He cries for his father sometimes, for Boromir. Never for Éowyn. Even now, abandoned. Her shackles seem now bitter to her, and she wonders--am I blind, that I did not see my own entrapment? An hour of glory, of shattered shields--stolen for piece, and the measured rhythm of a peaceful house. Even now there are no caged birds in Ithilien…

Save one, she thinks; save one. And she drops her hands, and turns. There is a bed that waits for her.