Once upon a Time

Author: Culumacilinte

Pairing: Gríma/Éowyn

Rating: PG

Summary: Another Gríma/Éowyn fic. Similar, I'll grant, to my other one- Ice Princess- but it's another idea with an analogous format. As the title might suggest, this is Gríma comparing Éowyn and himself to the classic storybook romance.

Once upon a time- so the tales of old begin- there was a princess, locked in the highest room of the tallest tower, languishing, all alone, until a prince, handsome and brave, came and rescued her and they lived happily ever after in blissful peace and love.

Not us. You, the princess, beautiful and cold, trapped in your own body, alone amidst the courtiers of the Hall. And I, with a mind as keen as any knights lance, but a sickly body- hunched and weak and pale.

In the stories, the princess pined away at her window, waiting for her knight in shining armour. She would sigh, sweet breath in the fume and smoke of the dragon guarding the castle gate. The knight, gallant and bold, would ride up upon his white steed and slay the dragon with much ostentatious whirling of swords and issuing of battle cries.

I? I pine for you, my lovely princess, waiting in the shadows, slinking, creeping- afraid that you might catch me unawares. Your stinging scorn and contemptuous gaze are dragon enough, vicious words piercing my breast, far more painful than any serpent's claw, for that pain is swift and clean. The wounds you inflict fester in the dark, fed by my longing. I am afraid of your dragon.

After the knight had defeated the dragon, he would gallop on his snowy stallion up the causeway into the tower, voice ringing in the all but empty castle- "Princess, thy waiting is over! The dragon is slain and I have come to rescue thee from thy plight!"

I have no white steed. My voice is soft and oily in the dusty hall, placating words whispered to an aging king. Words that I would speak to you stick in my throat, giving way to my usual subtly cunning tones, speaking words of empty praise, giving no hint of the devotion I have for you.

The princess, upon seeing the prince, would draw him into a passionate kiss, love kindling in her heart at the first sight of her savior. The prince would smile at her, and lead her out of her prison, graciously holding her arm upon his.

I knew that I might love you from the instant I first saw you, though then you were but a child- a lonely girl of twelve years aching to be anywhere but stuck in the royal hall of Meduseld. I saw a spark in your eyes, your lovely storm-grey eyes, hinting at the spirit within, a wild horse raging to be free of its bindings. I smile at you, or I try to. It seems, at times, that my mouth refuses to bend to the proper shape, and I fear that it ends up looking like a grimace or a leer. But if I could, I would give you a smile more dazzling than any prince might favour you with.

The princess would present the prince with some little token of her favour- a handkerchief, perhaps, or a ring. The prince would thank her graciously and slip the ring on, or tie the kerchief to his arm. The couple-to-be would share a secret smile, and the prince would pluck a flower from the ground and present it to the princess, who would tuck it behind her ear, blushing demurely at her prince's gallantry.

I have bestowed you with little gifts, tokens, though I doubt you know it was me. Waking up to a lily on your bedside table, a necklace on one occasion- a fine, golden chain with a small beryl set into a gold pendant- would surely have been considered a thing far too kind and considerate for Gríma Wormtongue. But it was me, and every time I see you wearing that necklace- shining so very bright against the pale curve of your throat- it sets my pulse racing, even though I imagine if you knew who that necklace was from, you would throw it away in an instant. But you don't know, and I intend to let it stay that way.

The prince would ride with his princess to his kingdom and present her to his parents, the king and queen. Their betrothal would soon after be announced to the entire kingdom, and there would be much rejoicing. "A fitting match", people would say. "They will make a fine king and queen when their time comes."

Nobody must ever know of my feelings for you. No one. I let Saruman find out and it was my downfall. For know, my lady, that I never would have agreed to put the land of Rohan under his domain had he not promised me the hand of whoever I desired, knowing what I would say. No one else must be allowed to find out. I have no doubt you have guessed. Why else would I dog your steps, just happening to chance upon you whenever you are alone? No doubt the thought disgusts you, but you are stronger than I, and you know it, so you do not fear me. I am glad of that, at the very least.

When the king and queen died, the prince and his princess would ascend to the throne. They would be gracious and gentle rulers, just and well-loved by all. Their love would never wane, until the ending of the world, and they would live happily ever after.

My love for you shall never diminish, and I shall keep it locked in my heart until the day I depart from this World. You shall go on to marry some great lord of men and become a queen, or a duchess, or some other royal personage. Perhaps you will be happy, perhaps you will not. Perhaps, somewhere in the back of your mind, a thought will spring unbidden, that your husband does not understand you as I did, all those years ago. Mayhap you will wish that you knew how I really felt about you, but it will be too late. Alas, princess, this once-upon-a-time is never to be, however badly I may wish it. So go hence, and find your knight in shining armour, who will love you and cherish you and give you children and your own happily-ever-after, and that, for now, is the most I can wish for.