From Valoscope's prompt on Tumblr: fanfare. Very short character piece. Enjoy!


A Fanfare of Hooves

Éowyn does not need trumpets to announce her coming – not tonight, and not ever. Gríma feels her entrance like the shattering of the earth: a quaking rumble that starts low and grows until it nearly knocks him from his feet, sending him cowering on the ground and praying only to survive.

He has tried for years now to deny the affection that festers in his heart for this woman – this lovely creature who so shakes his world with her mere presence. He has tried to fight the tides of his own affections and hopes, knowing they will inevitably be disappointed. He has treated her with disdain and kept her at a distance; and if he is harsher with her than he is with anyone else, well, it is only for her own good, for his.

But tonight – oh, tonight – the chasm has opened wide indeed; and this time there is no escape; he will be swallowed whole, and he cannot even scream.

It is strange how a dress can change the way a man looks at a woman forever. Until tonight Éowyn has always seemed awkward in her gowns; and even her formal dresses always seem to have dirty hems and torn sleeves, as if she cannot stop herself from taking tumbles. (This, too, he has always loved, though he mocks her endlessly for it; it is the thing he says he hates the most about her, whenever his opinion on the matter is required. But hate is not so different from love.)

Not tonight. Tonight, her dress is perfect, and so is she. And at first, it doesn't matter. It only serves to annoy him more, seeing her in all her glory, clothed in fire and red wine, sweeping through the hall like a beacon in the night. Oh, red is truly a color that suits his wild princess. But it is almost obscene in the midst of the mead-hall, where serving wenches and whores sport similarly bright colors in the hopes of attracting suitors. He scoffs and plans to make the comparison known, should Éowyn ever ask.

He does not think about the way the moon can change things – the way the moon can turn things wild and strange and pure.

Tonight the moon is full, and he thinks, after some wine and some unbecoming thoughts (it is the whore comparison so tempting him, he believes) that he needs to see it. He leaves the feast and cries exhaustion, then takes his horse and rides out of Edoras's bounds to think. (There is nothing like the wind in Rohan to clear a muddled head, so crisp and cold and sharp that it is like a knife.)

He sits alone in the midst of the tall grass, with his horse grazing beside him, waiting for the wind to bring him clarity; and it does – oh, it does – but not in the way he is expecting.

The gates fly open with a creak, and when he turns he sees a beautiful white stallion charging forth, with Éowyn upon its back. It is not a Mearas, but it is surely close enough; and she, seated there upon it, riding like a man, with her blood-red skirts pooling between her thighs – she looks like an Elven queen, as proud and beautiful as the horse she rides.

It must have taken her maids some time to knot her hair into the elaborate braids she wore in Meduseld, but here she has set her tresses free to blow wild in the wind. The gold of her hair looks pale and silvery under the full moon, and streams behind her as she thunders past. For an instant, he sees her face, set and determined, turned towards the moon, and he thinks he sees to the very heart of her. It cuts him to the quick, to see her like this: her deepest desires bared before him, pure and raw and aching.

He has spent years building walls against her, brick by brick, all around his heart. But with the fanfare of hooves comes the breaking of the dam; and he knows in an instant that he is lost, forever lost.