Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I only own the original characters that I created.
A/N: This is the first LOTR fanfic I've ever attempted, so I apologize if it's not great. Ok, so this one starts up just after the Battle of Pelennor Fields. If anyone has seen the Extended Edition of the movie, you can get an idea of the scene I'm branching off of. Hope you enjoy!
Chapter 1: Behold the Fallen
Anguish hit Éomer son of Éomund like a spear through his heart as he beheld his sister lying unmoving on the battlefield. His sword fell numbly from his hands as he ran toward her still form, panic lending him speed. Dropping to his knees beside her, he dragged her limp body to him, hugging her to him. Beholding the stillness of his beloved sister, a bellow of sorrow and outrage was ripped from his throat. Wracked by sobs and bowed by grief, he bent over Éowyn, his heart screaming at him that she could not be dead.
Around him, loyal soldiers, part of his eored, gathered at his back, silently sharing their commander's grief. His lieutenant, Gárulf, retrieved Guthwine, Éomer's sword from the ground where Éomer had dropped it, not daring to interrupt his lord. Or rather, his king, Gàrulf thought as he observed an honor guard bearing the king's body away from the field. In his bereavement, Éomer had failed to notice that the king had also fallen.
Aragorn, hearing Éomer's cries, hurried over to find out what ailed his friend, and was astonished at what he saw. "What madness brought her here, Éomer?" At Aragorn's question, Éomer looked up in grief-stricken confusion, his tear-filled gaze meeting Aragorn's.
"I cannot lose her! She's all I have left," he cried in sorrow. Kneeling down beside Éomer, Aragorn placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. As Éomer cradled Éowyn to his chest, slowly rocking her back and forth, Aragorn's sharp eyes noticed the subtle movement of Éowyn's chain mail as she breathed. Her breath was ever so shallow, that Aragorn was sure he imagined it. Leaning forward, he tightened his hand on Éomer's shoulder to halt his movement.
"Hold, Éomer. She may yet live." Hope filled Éomer's eyes, as Aragorn took Éowyn in his arms, listening intently for breath sounds. With a smile, Aragorn looked up and gripped Éomer's shoulder. "She lives, my friend, but now you must get her to the healers." Nodding, Éomer stood, gathering his sister in his arms, carrying her to his horse so that he may bear her to the House of Healing within the walls of the great city.
Éomer sat beside his sister in the House of Healing, holding a quiet vigil at her side as he waited for his sister to awaken. Despite the earlier hope that Aragorn had offered, he was beginning to despair, afraid that she might never awaken from the icy, cold grip that held her captive. The healers had offered little assurance, and his sister grew colder by the minute. Perhaps it would have been best had she died on the field, so that I would be saved from this torment of watching her die slowly before my eyes. He gazed down at Éowyn, willing life into her, and feeling a growing despondency at her continued languor.
He looked up wearily when Aragorn appeared before him, sorrow weighing heavily on him.
"I cannot watch her grow more and more lifeless, Aragorn, I cannot bear it," he said vehemently.
"It has been put to me that I may be able to heal those who have been felled by the Black Breath. I will do what I can for her, for I, too, wish to see her well again." Éomer feared to hope, his faith having dwindled as he watched his sister's life trickle away a little at a time.
"Do what you can, Aragorn, to heal her. But if you cannot," he paused, a sob catching in his throat. "If you cannot, aid her passage from this world, so that she suffers no longer." Éomer put his head in his hands as grief welled up once more. A piece of him would die with her if she passed, he knew, but better she die quickly than linger in torment.
His vision slowly blurred as he watched Aragorn sink into a deep trance, holding Éowyn's hand. Anguish and worry were finally taking their toll on Éomer, but he refused to give into the urge to sleep until his sister's fate had been decided, one way or another.
As he watched Aragorn work, he was unaware of how much time passed. It could have been hours, or only minutes from the time that Aragorn first took Éowyn's hand to the moment where she opened her eyes. Aragorn stood wearily as Éomer leaned forward, his hand reaching for Éowyn's as he sought to reassure himself that she lived
"I cannot repay you for this," Éomer said, looking up at Aragorn gratefully.
"Think nothing of it, my friend," Aragorn said with a weary smile. With a gentle pat on Éomer's shoulder, Aragorn walked away, leaving Éomer alone with his sister.
"Brother, you look so weary," Éowyn whispered, her eyes taking in Éomer's dirt and blood-streaked face, his tired eyes, and the slump of his shoulders. Sitting beside her, Éomer put his head in his hands, sobbing with relief that his beloved sister had not left him alone in this world.
Éowyn had never seen her brother this way, not even when their parents had died.
"You are overtaxed, Éomer. You should rest," she said, her hand weakly smoothing his hair back from his face.
"I am loathe to let you out of my sight, for fear something else may happen to you."
"I shall be fine here, my brother. Go rest," she said with a tired smile. Éomer wasn't the only one who needed rest. He gazed down at her worriedly, hesitant to leave her for fear that some affliction may befall her in his absence. She gave him a confident, albeit weak smile, patting his hand as their mother once had when they were afraid. "Go, Éomer. Rest."
"I will return in the morning, sister," he said, kissing her forehead as he stood. With one last look at her, he stumbled out of the House of Healing, weariness staggering him.
Sleep would not come to Éomer, despite his fatigue, for every time he closed his eyes, the faces of the dead appeared before him. Guilt weighed heavily upon him, for the lives he wasn't able to save, and deep down, he questioned whether there was something he could have done to save them.
Finally, frustration won out over his need for sleep and he rolled out of bed. Donning his tunic, he quickly left the chamber that had been allotted for his use and went to find something to do. With the number of dead in the streets, he knew there was no lack of work to be done.
Despite the lateness of the hour, large numbers of people were painstakingly removing the bodies from the streets, leaving the large, hulking carcasses of the enemy there to be collected and burned later. Seeing a small boy struggling to push an Uruk-Hai body off of a fallen Gondorian soldier, he stooped to help, slinging the rotting corpse off the soldier. The boy darted forward, looking down into the face of the soldier, only to slump his shoulders in defeat. He looked up at Éomer, shaking his head sadly, his lower lip protruding in a pout.
"Go rest, boy. This is no task for the young," Éomer said, placing a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder.
"We can't find my papa," he said stoically, trying to put on a brave face for this man who stood before him.
"Was your father a soldier?"
"Uh-huh. He went to fight the bad ones that came. But now we can't find him." Éomer knelt down before him, looking at the small boy in the face.
"Daran, where are you?" a voice rang out.
"Here I am, Rowan!" the boy called out, turning away from Éomer to run toward the youth that was calling.
"There you are. Mother was worried." Taking the child by the hand, he was about to turn when he saw Éomer. "He wasn't bothering you, was he, sir?"
"No. But you should take him home and have him put to bed. This is no place for children."
"We'll be lucky if our home is still standing. And there aren't enough people left. If we don't help, then who will? Besides, we cannot leave the dead lying here in the streets. They should be honored, not left to rot like the enemies that overran our city. I should help." He looked up at Éomer, before turning to gaze at the bodies of the dead lying all around them.
"Do not pity the fallen, boy, for they are free of the trials of this world." The boy looked up at him with a seriousness that belied his youth, a look in his eyes of a child who had seen too much death in his short life. Éomer felt peace steal through him as the truth of his own words hit him. Guilt lifted, and he offered Rowan a comforting smile. "I shall put the word out for my men to be on the lookout for your father. What is his name?"
"Derufin." Éomer nodded, committing the name to memory.
"If he is to be found, he will meet you at the House of Healing. You may ask after him there." Rowan nodded, and smiled up at Éomer, holding his head just a little bit higher.
"Thank you, my lord. I'll see Daran to bed now." He turned on his heel, his younger brother's hand held firmly in his own.
His own heart at ease, Éomer turned back toward his chambers to sleep. Tomorrow would be a long day.
A/N: Ok, so this chapter was originally paired with Chapter 2, but they didn't mesh as one chapter, so please read the next one for me!