a/n: Someone asked how Legolas got away back when the Corsairs first attacked him and Selanae. They let him go, so Gondor would know their demands—Selanae for Gondor. That was always my thinking anyway, but sorry if it didn't get across. And now the chapter . . . .
Not so much a sacrifice
There were simply too many people around. First, the soldiers on the journey back to Minas Tirith. And now, at Aragorn's court. Thankfully, Eowyn kept her distance. Selanae figured she scared the woman last time. At least she didn't have to deal with that yet.
But the hobbits, Arwen, Gimli . . . they all fawned over her, and she hated it! Even Aragorn was outwardly relieved—he asked about a dozen times if she was all right.
A feast began before she could even process her return to Gondor. The laughter began immediately as the hobbits chattered. Selanae was dressed in a stormy gray gown, something she thought was appropriate for her. She sat in the middle of the table, though she might as well have been alone.
She didn't know who to speak with. Eomer was across from her, but speaking with Eowyn. Eothain sat diagonally from her, but they were never close anyway. To her side was one of the hobbits, well on his way to drunkenness, and on her other side—
"You think too much," she heard in her ear. Selanae turned to her side to face Legolas. The elf had been quiet so far, but he smiled sweetly at her. "Remember what we spoke about before the Corsairs came."
She frowned for a moment. She wasn't sure what he meant.
"He cares for you, no matter what," Legolas filled in. She nodded, remembering but not believing. He must have been able to tell. "You're not a danger to him, you know."
She raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure of that?"
The elf chuckled. "Well, a danger that he's willing to risk then." Selanae granted him a smile. "What will you do?"
Selanae sighed. She looked across the table to where Eomer sat, happily conversing with his sister. He was clean and well-groomed for the moment, but part of her couldn't help but prefer the wet, messy warrior that came to her aid at sea. His hands were still bandaged, but he used them as if nothing was wrong.
Before she could answer, Aragorn spoke up above the many conversations going around the table.
"Eomer," he called out. "When do you return to Rohan?"
The new king smiled crookedly. "Trying to get rid of me, Aragorn?" Everyone laughed, and Aragorn along with them.
"The sooner, the better!" he joked back. The crowd roared. Eomer's grin made Selanae stare. Had he always been so cheerful, somewhere inside? Not to mention that he looked so irresistible when he smiled . . .
"Tomorrow, my lord," Eomer said as the laughter died down. Groans followed.
"So soon!" Aragorn asked. Eomer nodded.
"Rohan needs us to return as soon as we can," he said. He looked away, and his eyes found Selanae. She drew a sharp breath as he stared at her. But it was only for a moment. Then he turned to Eothain and began speaking with him.
Selanae smiled sadly to herself, and then raised her chin to Legolas.
"I will move on."
Dawn came quickly, but Eomer was wide awake. He was well aware of the hour and that he hadn't slept yet. Too much plagued his mind. Part of it was his duties awaiting him in Rohan. How he dreaded those. Never had he wanted such responsibility. But what plagued him more was Selanae.
Somehow the night had passed away and they never were alone to speak. He thought she would come to him, especially since she ran away last. But she never came, nor did she look at him more than once.
He tugged at his armor. The weight of it bothered his shoulder a bit, but it was necessary for such a journey. His hands were mending, and overall Eomer was mending. His heart was the only thing uncertain.
He sighed at the dawn's quiet. Reaching for a sword, a regular soldier's sword since he'd lost his to the sea, Eomer sheathed it and left his room.
His horse waited, already saddled and ready. The Rohirrim knew their king well. But they weren't all ready.
"How long till they're prepared to move out?" Eomer asked Eothain. His second-in-command looked over the men.
"One hour, Eomer King."
Eomer glanced at him sharply. "You're just calling me that to annoy me." Eothain grinned.
"Yes, my lord." With that, he turned and scurried off to hustle the troops. Eomer shook his head.
He walked off through the city, which was mostly asleep despite the noise his men were making. He wandered to the upper tiers, admiring the city. How grand it was. He would miss it, but not as much as his heart yearned to be home. Eomer kept on, finding his way to the gardens.
The new sun hadn't quite penetrated the gardens yet. In the shade of the trees it was cooler. Eomer walked quietly through the grove and sat on a bench in its midst. He shut his eyes as the thoughts flooded him.
How can I do this? The future seemed so bleak, even with the Corsairs and Sauron and any enemy defeated. He should be full of hope, feeling strong and undefeated. Rohan needed time to rebuild, sure, but his people were proud and able.
But how would he return, a sole ruler in an old court? He felt alone. Even Eothain, for all his joking, was now apart from him. His ruling position isolated him, and Eomer knew of no way to ease the road ahead.
There is one person who could help . . . He scolded himself for thinking of her. She was asleep, safe in her room and not to be disturbed. He wouldn't change that. It seemed that he had no choice.
Someone was watching him, though. After several moments, Eomer could feel it. He stayed himself and just listened to his instincts.
Suddenly he glanced to the left.
Selanae sat on the ground at the base of a tree. She didn't smile or greet him. She merely stared as he discovered her.
Eomer's heart hardened, but he made himself not react in anyway. He just looked away, back over the gardens.
"Good morning," he mumbled. From the corner of his eye, he saw her nod. Just nod—nothing verbal. Silence hung between them, covering up what at least Eomer wanted to say.
He sighed quietly to himself. How could he do this? How could he leave or be without her? And how could she not care?
What if she really does care? The trouble was that he did not know. Eomer wasn't keen on asking either. But the hour drew near for him to leave . . .
Eomer cleared his throat. He didn't look at her, but finally spoke.
"What are the odds that you would forget everything that's happened between us and come with me to Rohan?" His heart suspended any beats as soon as the words left his mouth. She said nothing for several moments, extending his agony. He glanced sideways at her, then refocused on the garden.
"Forget everything?" she repeated. "Why would I do that?"
His heart hiccuped briefly, and his eyes found the ground. He had her answer.
"If I forgot everything, I wouldn't know you," she continued after the delay. "I don't think I'm willing to lose that."
Eomer gulped and looked to her. She still sat, completely relaxed but cautious about him. He wondered why.
"What are you willing to do?" Eomer tried next.
Selanae shrugged. These cryptic questions, both his own and hers, and then such cryptic responses were driving him crazy. Yet he had one more.
"I'm leaving today, for Rohan," he started. "If you choose to leave as well and go the same direction, I wouldn't mind." Eagerly, he bit his tongue and waited for her response.
"Is that supposed to sway me?" she asked, a laugh in her voice. Eomer frowned and glanced at the ground again. His blood ran swiftly. How much more confusing could this woman be!
Eomer stood abruptly and started to pace the garden. "You are the most frustrating woman alive," he seethed between clenched teeth. His voice rose as he spoke. "I don't know what you want, but I know what I want. I want you with me, always. Obviously I can't force you and since I have no idea what you plan, I—"
"Eomer," Selanae called out, stopping him mid-sentence. His face was flushed, he knew. He didn't care. His body was tense with anger, frustration, and somewhere inside him, a small measure of hope.
"Eomer," she repeated, standing and walking to him. Her eyes locked with his. Eomer waited for her next words.
She just smiled. A breeze swept through the gardens, lightly blowing her hair. It was graceful and beautiful, while for Eomer it just obstructed his view. He swiped at the stray hairs and stared at her.
Slowly, he understood.
And he smiled back.
a/n: Well, there you have it. Probably not the most elaborate or obvious ending, but I like to leave things to the imagination—you guys can speculate Selanae and Eomer's future as much as you want. I hope you've enjoyed this chapter and whole story. Thanks for reading!