Protect Me

By: anolinde

Summary: No one thought to keep us separate. A one-shot about Éowyn and her savior.

Warning: This story contains subject matter that may be triggering. I have chosen not to give a specific warning, because otherwise the ending of the story will be spoiled. However, if you have any triggers, I would advise to only continue reading at your own risk, and even then to proceed with caution.

When we were younger, life was so uncomplicated. We were the best of friends. I spent all my days with him, and no one frowned upon it. No one said that I was a woman, and that I should stay inside and learn to manage a household. No one said that he was a man, and that he should train constantly with his sword. No one thought to keep us separate.

On my fifth birthday, we walked together around the stables in the brilliant morning sky, full of hope and the future. We were going to fight glorious battles together, and rid Middle-earth of all the Orcs.

"And then," he said, "we will marry."

Before I even had time to react, he pressed his lips against mine. The kiss was brief, lasting for not three seconds, but I carried it with me for the rest of the day. It was wrong, I told myself, we were too young, but a part of me that I could not yet fully understand wanted him to do it again. For the first time in my life, it seemed not such a bad thing that I might stay at home as a wife.

As the years went by, we learned to keep secrets. Subconsciously, we knew it was wrong. I came to long for those times when he would pull me behind the stables and press his mouth against mine, strong and safe against the darkening days. But we never told anyone. My uncle Théoden was overprotective of me, for I was a pale thing; often as one sick I looked. If he ever found out… I did not think of it.

War started growing on our borders. Nearly all of his time was spent training for battle. I learned the ways of the sword as well, but by myself and in the dark hours of the morning. The faces of those around us were drawn, heads bent against the gathering gloom. But I still knew happiness, for he found the time to meet me, to kiss me.

I was sixteen the day that we rode out together upon the plains, though not very far as there had been rumors of riders disappearing of late. It was just the two of us; my uncle had insisted upon a guard, but I wore him down. "He is a formidable warrior," I had said, ignoring the look from Éomer. "He will protect me."

Protection was what I wanted, what I needed, especially after the arrival of the king's advisor Gríma. The man stared at me in ways that made me feel unclean, ways that made me feel afraid of him—I loathed him for that, and found all ways possible to avoid him.

But my savior (I called him that in my mind, for his name brought to life what we were doing) was not like that. As we picnicked together upon the grass, sitting side by side, his arm slung over mine, he said simply, "I would have every day like this."

"Aye," I agreed, leaning closer to him. "The times grow dark, but with you I can see all."

He kissed the top of my head. "Speaking of dark, what think you of the king's new councilor?"

I shuddered, recalling Gríma's burning stare. "No," I whispered. "Let us not mention him." Longing to banish the cloud that had just settled on my mind, I tilted my head up and kissed him full on the lips.

He responded, wrapping his arms around my neck, pulling me close to him. Wrong, a warning voice told me, but I did not want to listen to it. One of his hands slipped to my waist, gently but irresistibly pulling me on top of him. My conscience commanded me to stop, and yet I would not have been able to pull away even if had I wanted to.

"Éowyn," he whispered, his breathing fast and heavy. The hand still on my neck slid lower, until it rested upon my chest.

Suddenly I realized what we were doing. "No," I said, pulling away from him. "We cannot… it is wrong."

He sat up, helping me off of him. "You are right," he agreed, sounding shaky. "This should not have happened."

Our food lay forgotten before us. "Anyone could have ridden past," I added, glancing around just in case. The plains were utterly devoid of any life except for us.

"We should have been more careful," he said. "Éowyn, I am so sorry."

"Do not be," I told him, briefly taking his hand in mine before rising.

After that incident, however, we saw less of each other. A part of me was afraid of what would happen if we were alone together. My other half, however, ached with a yearning that was most improper—and yet, I could not rid myself of it.

The next three years passed without event. My uncle steadily grew more incarcerated to the will of Gríma, who was soon becoming the ruler of Rohan in all but name. It grieved my heart to see Théoden enslaved thus; sadness was wrapped so tightly around my heart that I could not shake it off.

As the will of the king waned, Gríma grew bolder. He stared at me with such an intensity that I began dreading the mere sight of him. He took to shadowing my steps, thinking that I marked not the falling of his feet, thinking that I could not see his dark cloak whipping around the corner. I began carrying a dagger around with me.

When I was nineteen, the year's harvest was exceptionally good. There was a celebration at Meduseld; even those who held a grudge against Gríma came, for the ale was good and plentiful. I saw my savior there frequently, for he was taking a much-needed break from his duties as a soldier of the king. I noticed that, of all the men around him, he drank the least.

My eyes were drawn to him more than I cared to count. Someone was bound to notice that my gaze was often focused on a certain warrior, but there was a heavy flow of wine and most barely seemed to realize where they were.

Gríma was nowhere in sight, for which I was exceedingly glad. That day he had attempted to strike a conversation with me; I brushed him off with an excuse, but not before he managed to touch my hand. Ten scrubbings in the washbasin had not cleaned away the filth.

The hour grew later. One by one, the guests tottered off towards their homes. Some of them collapsed right in the hall, and were carried out by members of the guard. I looked around for my savior, hoping he had not left; there he was, standing by the door, speaking with another soldier. His eyes met mine, and I gave the tiniest of nods before slipping into a dark passage.

He came soon after, looking wary and unsure: we had not been alone together for several months. I cared not, for after Gríma's touch I wanted to be safe. It was the man standing before me to whom I would entrust my life.

"Éowyn," he whispered, coming to me. "Are you sure—" I cut him off by pressing my mouth over his. He relaxed slowly, reaching up and running his fingers through my hair, sending shivers all along my scalp.

The distant clatter of a mug broke us apart. "Not here," he said. He was right: the risk of someone finding us was far too high.

"Come with me," I told him, and before he could argue I took his hand and led him down the passage. My heart was hammering with the boldness of what I was about to do.

I stopped just in front of the door to my bedchamber, glancing at him to see his reaction. He looked nervous.

"Éowyn," he began, "I do not think—"

"Do you wish to come in or not?" I interrupted, holding the door open. Every part of my mind and body was praying he would not reject me.

He hesitated for a moment, then squeezed my hand and followed me inside. With a soft clicking noise, I closed the door and bolted it. At the sound, he tensed up once more.

"This is not right," he said, but I was tired of not getting what I desired. I pressed my body against his, moving a hand up and down his back, touching the familiar places with a sense of belonging.

"Do not speak," I whispered, putting a finger to his lips. "Protect me."

His resistance was swiftly fading away. "Who am I to deny you something?" he replied, kissing me softly on the mouth. I responded with a moan, arching my body towards his. Digging my nails into his shoulder, I was rewarded with a low hiss.

Suddenly he gripped me by the shoulders and spun me around, so that I was the one with my back against the wall. My pulse quickened, and a thrill raced through me. Our mouths were devouring each other; his tongue was everywhere, equally matched by my own.

"Éowyn," he groaned, coming up for air at last. My body was reeling from the intensity of his kisses. "I cannot do this to you, not now."

"Protect me," I repeated once more, though it sounded more like a whimper, weak as a child. He was the only one who knew of my frail side, the only one who saw past a cold exterior.

He paused, and then gently bent down and lifted me up. As though I weighed no more than a babe, he carried me over to my bed, setting me down at last. I reached up for him, needing him more than I had ever needed anything in my life.

"Protect me," I said again, and he lowered himself onto the bed, pulling me on top of his lap so that I was straddling him. Already my dress was bunched up around my hips, but I was not embarrassed.

We came together once more, fumbling with each other's clothing as we kissed. He undid my dress first and slowly lifted it up, casting the cumbersome garment upon the floor. My shift was the next thing he removed; I heard him moan as he saw my body for the first time. "This is wrong," he gasped, though I knew he wanted it as much as I did.

"Tonight, it is right," I whispered back, at last managing to remove his shirt. He pulled me to him, and I felt my curves molding perfectly to his broad chest. His hands were roaming all over me.

With his help, I managed to unbuckle his pants and slide them off. There was nothing separating the two of us now, and for a moment I faltered.

He looked at me, guilty regret written all over his face, but the sight of his strong muscles, arms that would rip apart Gríma if I merely said the word, stiffened my resolve. "Do not stop," I begged, "Please."

He took me as gently as he could, but in the end I cried out from the pain. With a great shudder he pulled out of me, just a second before I felt a hot liquid flow over my legs. I gasped, utterly drained, but also beginning to comprehend the magnitude of what had just happened.

"What have I done?" he murmured, pulling me close, tears beginning to form in his eyes. "Éowyn, Éowyn…"

I rested my head in his shoulder, weeping as well. I was no longer pure; I was an unmarried woman who had given herself to her brother.

"Éomer," I whispered, repeating his name over and over, "Éomer…"

We lay together, awaiting the dawn.