A/N: And, alas, 'tis the final chapter at last. It was fun, my friends. I'd like to dedicate this chapter (indeed, the entire fic) to the faithful reviewers who stuck with me and kept on reviewing. Especially those who were reviewers of the first fic too. You have my undying gratitude and thanks. Your encouragement makes it worth it. :)
Presenting the final chapter of Danger in Edoras...
Three days later, Mordeth was found dead in his cell in the dungeon of Edoras. He had been stabbed. The guards noticed nothing unusual about strangers coming into the cells that day or about any strange noises, which was rather strange in itself. However no one cared half as much as they might have because everything else was turning out as happily as an ever after can.
That morning, Éowyn was walking in the garden (actually sneaking through the garden carrying a bunch of flowers she'd snipped at risk of the gardener's wrath) when she caught sight of her dark haired friend, his right arm wrapped in a splint and hanging in a sling. With a gulp, she tried to hide behind an urn that was the color of a mossy brick, but Faramir saw her and grinned.
"Good morning, Lady. It is quite an assortment of flowers you have there—a gift from an admirer?"
Was that jealousy she heard in his voice? Couldn't be. It was a silly sort of imagination that she had—and come to think of it, why should he be jealous? She certainly didn't want him to be jealous—and jealous of who? Rather more sharply than his question demanded, she replied, "Of course not. They're for Amrothos. His room is so dull just now. But then, I suppose the sick room is always dull."
"Ah," said Faramir with a nod. "Surely, though, your ladyship would like a flower of her own to grace her golden locks? Perhaps—," With a magician's flair, he drew a white rose from thin air (his sleeve, really—hadn't been a good idea but he'd forgotten about the thorns) and handed it to her gallantly. "—a rose?"
Éowyn grinned and tucked the rose behind her ear (the stem was conveniently short enough for her to do so. Faramir did, indeed, think of everything.). Something moved by the bush to their left, and both of them whirled, startled, toward the sound.
"Calm yerselves, cubs," said a gruff voice quietly. "It only be me."
"Farothul!" Éowyn exclaimed in surprise. "I certainly would never expect to find you in a place like this!"
"Makes two of us," the man grunted, and then turned his beady eyes back to the girl and young man. "We be leaving tomorrow—back to the caves, we're goin', to look for Gollum in the blackness."
"The king has granted you permission, then?" Faramir asked, raising an eyebrow.
The short man snorted and replied, "Taking into account that we saved 'is niece and such like, be ye surprised?"
Éowyn grinned and shrugged.
"I'm not. I'm only glad you decided to find someone and help us. If you hadn't, who knows what might have become of us?" She paused, and then cocked her head at the man. "Will you come with me to see Amrothos? I'm sure he'd want to say goodbye."
Farothul shook his head, but grinned.
"No, cub, that I'll not. Not even when ye look at me with that winning smile. Did I ever say ye weren't much in the way o' looks?" He let his eyes wander over her face and long hair of gold and shook his head. "The roses of Imloth Melui ain't prettier, not by far."
Then suddenly, as if realizing he had been thinking out loud, Farothul turned gruff again.
"I'll be goin' now. Hunt well, Lady Éowyn. Tell the other cub I wished 'im well."
"We will," Éowyn replied. She hesitated, and then walked toward the man and planted a light kiss on one of his grimy cheeks. "Hunt well, Farothul."
The man made scarce of himself after that. Faramir had rather an odd look about him, and Éowyn wondered, again, about jealousy, but then asked, with mock shyness, " Would his lordship like to accompany us to his lordship's cousin's sick chamber with the intent of cheering his lordship's cousin up?"
Faramir made a face. "Too much formality, my lady. But yes, I'll come with you. Poor Ro is probably drawing up escape plans right now."
As a matter of fact, he was. As soon as the servant showed them to his room, Amrothos shoved a number of suspicious looking papers under his pillow and proceeded to look innocent. Needless to say, neither of his visitors was deceived, although they did decide to ignore it. Éowyn strode forward and set the flowers on the table beside the bed, giving Amrothos a sunny smile.
"There. Some color in this room at last!"
Amrothos snatched the bouquet up and sniffed deeply.
"Mmm…that almost makes up for those horrible herbs they keep shoving down my throat," he quipped with a grin. Faramir snorted and tousled his cousin's already-disorderly hair.
"You little liar—I'd bet you pour it into the chamberpot while they're not looking, like you did when you were ill last summer. We can hardly trust you to tell the truth about anything now—disobeying your father and all."
Éowyn giggled at the indignant look that flashed across Amrothos' face. She'd thanked him so many times in the past few days for saving her life that he'd gotten irritated and said that he almost wished he hadn't (saved her life), but all of them knew that it was all bluster. Predictably, Amrothos began to protest in response to Faramir's accusation.
"I didn't disobey Father—not exactly, anyway. I rode back to Edoras like he ordered and delivered the message like he ordered too. But he couldn't really have expected me to stay behind—not with you two still captive. And going through the tunnel in the stable is not going outside the walls—not really, it isn't."
Letting out a hearty laugh, Faramir cuffed his cousin's head affectionately.
"That's all well and good, but does your father agree with your reasoning?"
At this, Amrothos paused and combed his hand through his blond hair.
"That's the funny thing. Father was awful angry at first about my coming back, but he doesn't seem to mind now. And he listens to me when I talk—and he doesn't call me a nuisance or miscreant anymore. I think…I think…" his words trailed off as he tried to put the feeling into words, but then gave up. "I don't know. All I know is that I have only you two to thank for making him…making him…"
"Realize that he loved you?" Éowyn supplied quietly. Amrothos met her eyes and nodded slowly.
"Yes. Something like that."
The chirping of birds from outside the window filled the silence that followed. It was a good silence, though, full of contentment and relief and happiness. At last Amrothos sighed and shook himself, waking the others from their silent trance too.
"So what happened with Mordeth?" he asked, fidgeting in his bed. "I can't get anyone to tell me!"
"That's because no one really knows," Faramir replied. "He was murdered in his cell—or killed himself. Some say it was the White Wizard—some say the ghosts of the people and horses he killed in his past. I've also heard stories of a vengeful father—though Uncle denies anything of the sort. But like I said, no one knows for sure. All that we know is that he's dead. Quite dead."
"Was he really behind all those…those horse-napping things that Éowyn was talking about?"
Jerking her head in a nod, Éowyn allowed herself a smirk.
"That's right. They found lots of dark horses in the caverns—horses that had been stolen from our stable. Apparently, Mordeth was working for Mordor, and was stealing the horses that he couldn't buy from us. The grownups were talking about Morgul Knights, and that Mordor needed horses for some of their forces, but I couldn't make heads or tails out of it. They got some away, of course, but we saved most of them.
"I told everyone they were being stolen," she added under her breath.
They talked some more until the healer who was tending Amrothos came in and insisted that it was time for him to rest. Making a face, the son of Imrahil sighed and rubbed at his midsection.
"I wish this would heal faster. I do so hate to be abed, especially with a wound that's not really too bad. The healers say it was," he put on an expression that really did look like one of the healers, and finished, "a deep cut that fortunately did not penetrate any organs. Bosh and tosh. It was hardly deep. Little joy in getting your first wound if it isn't even life-threatening."
"I'm sure your father would hardly agree with that," Éowyn retorted.
"Buck up, Ro," Faramir told him teasingly. "You'll be up soon enough and causing trouble before anyone is ready for you. Uncle said we'll stay here until Théoden has decided whether or not he can spare us men for Osgiliath and the border—which might take a very long time. But for now you need your rest."
"That's right," Éowyn said, grinning at her two friends mischievously and feeling a thrill of excitement run down her back like a shiver. She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and felt her fingers tingle as they brushed the white rose gently.
"Besides" she continued, meeting Faramir's eyes and feeling her stomach flutter as he smiled back at her, "summer's just begun. I have a feeling that another adventure could be waiting for us already—just around the corner."