Never Say Never - Part Two
**Edoras - many years ago**
"Théodred! Éomer! You do not treat your mounts thus. If you do not earn their trust you can never truly be at one."
The two boys looked shame-faced at their mentor. They did not think hiding the treats from the horses had been so bad...but looking into those big, dark, trusting eyes of their mounts, they truly felt ashamed.
"Forgive us, Lady Rían," a very young Éomer says, bowing his head.
"We meant no harm," Théodred apologizes.
"I am not the one you need to seek forgiveness from," she smiles gently, easing the sting of her earlier words. "Come! Give those carrots to your poor horses and we will sneak in some archery lessons after our ride!"
The she-elf gracefully mounts her horse as the two boys scramble wildly onto theirs and looks back toward the stable.
"Éowyn, are you coming with us?!" she calls out.
"Don't leave me!!" a tiny, golden-haired girl on a white pony shouts as they gallop out to join the party.
"Théodred, lead the way," Rían says with a bow of her head.
The young prince smiles widely as they head out of the city, several riders of the Mark following.
As they drew near the city gates, Rían could see Háma speaking with two visitors on grey horses. They obviously were elves; their blond almost silver hair blending in with their clothing and bows made from mellryn were slung across their back.
Háma called a greeting to Théodred and his cousins as they passed; the two visiting elves stared at Rían. The elf closest to Háma watched with a detached, almost cold gaze while the other was clearly surprised to see another elf in Edoras.
Upon seeing them closer, Rían recognizes the elves' attire. March wardens. Feeling an almost forgotten, uncontrollable anger well up within her, she eases her horse into a lope and quickly leads her charges away from the gate.
"I beg your pardon that I was not able to introduce you," Háma says to the Lothlórien elves as they watch the group ride away. "Lady Rían likes to take the king's son, nephew, and niece riding before their lessons. She says it expends their restless energy and they concentrate better on their other studies."
"I did not realize the king of Rohan employed an elleth as a nanny," the older elf says, his tone laced with disdain.
"Lady Rían was sent here as an emissary from Rivendell, she has been advising Theoden King. In her spare moments she enjoys time with the children," Háma explains before turning to lead the way to Meduseld.
The march warden turns, seeing that the she-elf had stopped in the distance. She glances back at the city, her pale green eyes challenging grey before the horse leaps away once more.
"How often does Edoras have visitors from Lothlórien?" Rían asks Théodred upon returning to the stables and seeing the Lórien elves' horses settled in stalls.
"I do not know. I have never seen them here before, but I have heard Father speak with Háma and his other advisors of dark times ahead. Perhaps Rohan is renewing our old alliances," answers the prince.
The four were silent as they bedded down their horses, then a shrill voice breaks the air.
"Not Agaeth," the small girl groans in dismay. "She will make me put on a dress and practice tapestry."
"What is wrong with that?" asks the elf.
"But that is girl stuff!"
Rían kneels before Éowyn so she could look her in the eye. "I enjoy wearing beautiful gowns when I get the chance and I have been known to work a few tapestries. Does that not mean I cannot wield a sword or shoot a bow?"
Éowyn shakes her head, remembering vividly the archery lesson from earlier.
"You can do both, little shield maiden. You have the heart."
At that, the girl smiles brilliantly then runs to join Agaeth.
Rían gets to her feet and turns to the two boys. "Now you two hurry, Gamling asked to see you before supper."
As the three walked from the stable, they saw Háma escorting the Lórien elves through the city.
"I wonder if we will be able to meet them," Théodred says in excitement.
"Most likely," Rían answers, her voice suddenly flat of emotion. "Your father will make sure any visiting...dignitaries...are introduced to his family and court."
Éomer noticed the edge to the elf's voice and how she refused to look in the direction of the Galadhrim.
"Lady Rían," Éomer says quietly, forgetting how keen elvish hearing was. "Do you not like the elves from Lothlórien?"
Rían stops and takes a deep breath, forcing herself to unclench her teeth.
"Many respect the elves of Lothlórien. Their wardens have a difficult and dangerous task keeping their borders safe. They must protect it against orcs, invaders, and other less dangerous foes. They tend to guard their wood overzealously, as they should, I suppose," she answers not caring if her words were heard by other ears or not.
Continuing on, the two boys stare again at the visiting elves who were in turn watching them.
"We will meet you inside shortly, Háma. My brother and I would like a few moments to check on our horses."
"If you need further assistance, just call. Dinner will be ready in two hours."
Once Háma was out of hearing range, the younger elf turns to the other. "Overzealous?! What would she mean by that?"
Raising a hand to silence the tirade he knew was coming, the march warden watches the retreating back of the she-elf.
Who was this Rían of Imladris? She spoke as if she knew the Galadhrim, but he would have remembered her. Raven black hair, eyes the pale green of new leaves, that rich, arrogant voice...No. He did not know her.
"Be patient, Rúmil. We will find out more of this she-elf."
Rúmil takes a deep breath recognizing the tone in his brother's voice. Rían had insulted the Galadhrim, subtly of course, but an insult to the wardens of Lórien was an insult against his brother. That would not be tolerated.
The Lórien elves watched as Rían took her seat at the other end of the table. She barely acknowledged the introductions Theoden made, but Haldir thought he saw her hesitate when Rúmil's name was spoken. She smiled at his brother, her dark head nodding briefly before turning her stony gaze to himself as the king continued introductions.
"You honor us with your visit...March warden," she says icily before turning to her wine glass.
Everyone took their seats, the elves silently studying each other.
What had they done to earn this coldness? Haldir wondered. Why was she even here?
Rían was listening to something the king was saying, ignoring the other two elves by all appearances. But she was acutely aware of their continued perusal and their unanswered questions.
She was dressed as a lady of Rohan, no elvish robes or silk gowns here, but there was no mistaking the regal, almost haughty bearing the she-elf possessed, the glow of her porcelain skin, the elegant tip of her ears. Rían was no faint hearted elf-maid that was certain. She had seen centuries upon centuries and the wisdom and experience of those years shown as a banked fire within her beryl colored eyes.
"Yes, Theoden King," Rían says, pulling Haldir from his own thoughts. "My Lord Elrond believes the first threat will come from Isengard."
"It seems as though the Lord and Lady of the Golden Wood share those feelings as well," Théoden states, gesturing to the two Galadhrim.
"Is that what brings two of Loríen's wardens so far from home?" she queries. "I did not think the elves of Lothlórien ever left their borders."
There was a tense moment at the silent challenge.
"My brother is Lady Galadriel and Lord Celeborn's most trusted and skilled emissary. He often leaves the Wood to gather news and renew alliances," Rúmil states proudly.
Again the hesitance, Haldir noted as Rían looked to be remembering something deeply hidden.
"You are a long way from home yourself, Imladhrim," Haldir says, the sneer so very evident in his voice. "I do not remember you stopping in Lothlórien on your journey here. Elrond does not pass up an opportunity to send word of the Lord and Lady's grandchildren."
For the briefest of moments Rían wanted to smile, but caught herself. He was baiting her! He was hoping to make her look like an inept inexperienced elfling!!
"I doubt even a warden as great as you can watch every foot of your border and know every elf that enters. But on this occasion, Lord Elrond sent a separate message to Galadriel and Celeborn. He realizes when I am on a mission for him I do not waste time on something as insignificant as a social visit."
Rían could almost hear the march warden's teeth grinding.
"Did you not have kin you would have like to seen?" Rúmil asks, unaware of the tension in the room.
Rían set her glass down, her eyes trying to hide the pain she suddenly felt.
"My parents are in Lórien," she practically whispers.
"What are their names? Maybe I know them," Rúmil stops, feeling his brother's hand on his elbow, warning him.
"You would not know them," Rían manages to reply, her entire being emanating grief. "If you will excuse me Theoden King, there is the early patrol and I have things to prepare."
"Rest well, Lady Rían," Theoden says, well aware of the tension among the elves.
"Maer dûl," she replies woodenly before leaving the chamber.
"Forgive me," Rúmil says after several moments. "It was not my intent to cause this strife."
"You did not know," Theoden sighs. "Her only family is an uncle in Rivendell who raised her after her parents died."
"But she said they were in Lothlórien," the younger elf says his brow knit in puzzlement.
Haldir drew a deep breath as old, buried memories came flooding back.
Now he remembered!
Maer dûl --- Good night