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(Nanny occurs courtesy of her creator, EdorasLass.)
“Seriously, now Mag...” Nanny's cheeks were glowing, and her eyes were sparkling. “Of all the men you have known in the City, if you were to have taken one of them for a lover, which would it have been?”
It was midsummer in Emyn Arnen. The ladies had retired to Éowyn 's shaded garden to test out the plum wine so enthusiastically bottled by Faramir the summer before. Éowyn was proud that Nanny had finally come, combining her stay in Ithilien with a visit to her new grandchild in Minas Tirith. Between them, Nanny and Mag were the closest Éowyn had to a mother-in-law, and she thanked the Powers that she got on so well with them both. It was hugely entertaining to listen to their teasing laughter and fond reminiscence of the years that had spent together in the White City. The plum wine was helping things along quite a bit, too.
“Pah! Men!” Mag chortled. “What use would I have had for them? Loud, sweaty, smelly, selfish louts, most of them; I'd have been better off with a dog.” Éowyn nearly choked with laughter. “Though,” Mag added, winking at Éowyn, “ I was pretty enough in my youth; I daresay if I had wanted any of them, I could have, with little enough effort...”
“Who, Mag, who?” Éowyn asked, feeling both delighted and shocked at this turn of the conversation.
“Well, most any of your Rohirrim, visiting the city. Your cousin Théodred was a fine figure of a man,” Mag continued, almost dreamily. “I met him when he was eighteen, and visiting Minas Tirith for the first time. Those golden curls! That smile! Oh yes, he could have charmed the birds out of the trees...” She paused, lost in happy memories, while Éowyn tried not to dwell on the fact that Mag would have been nearly 30 years older than Théodred. Clearly, women kept their fires burning much longer that she had ever imagined.
“I don't think I remember Théodred,” Nanny said, yawning just the tiniest bit. “But I do remember, what was his name, that ranger from the north? Thorlemir or Thorgelson or whatever it was.”
“Thorongil, of course,” Mag grinned “And I remember how miffed you were at him, supposedly because he ignored Boromir, but perhaps it was because he ignored you?”
“What?” Nanny spluttered. “ I had no interest whatsoever in that scruffy ranger! I've always had the highest respect for good grooming in a man, something he seemed to take little interest in.”
“I'm surprised you didn't take up with Mormegil, then,” Mag teased. “He had that lovely hair, like silk. He was always testing out various hair ointments for Lord Denethor, did you know? That was Denethor's great vanity, his hair, much more than his clothes. He would use some potion for a few weeks, then tire of it. Poor Mormegil was always running to one apothecary's to the next, searching out something new. Lemon, rosemary, strawberry...”
Éowyn nearly choked. Of all the stories she had heard, no one had ever mentioned Lord Denethor having strawberry-scented hair. She was not sure if she wanted to question Faramir about this, though.
“Well, Mormegil was always mooning about after you, anyway. And what about the Chamberlain?” Nanny asked. “If I had been a wagering woman, and didn't know you better, of course, I'd have been certain you'd have married him. He seemed interested enough.”
“He did, didn't he? He was a pleasant man, always courtly and gracious, but not for me. When he retired, he married the mistress of the House of Silk, and helped her with the business. They bought out two other houses, made great heaps of money, and then sold the whole thing to that Inara, from Harondor, and moved to Tolfalas Isle.”
Éowyn was stunned. Did Mag know everyone in the city? And all of their secrets?
Suddenly there was a slight rustle, followed by a gentle cooing from the basket at Éowyn's feet. Nanny and Mag both paused to watch fondly as Éowyn took up Elboron and settled him to nurse.
“Did you never want a child, really, Mag?” Nanny asked softly.
“No, I don't think so, not really, but ... there was one man – well, he was not a man, actually; if I ever had wanted a child, I would have wanted it to be his.”
Éowyn and Nanny both stared at her, speechless. “Not a man?” Éowyn gasped. “An elf? Or --”
Mag's voice was faraway, dreamy. “No, not an elf, something far more than man or elf. There are tales, aren't there, of the Maiar, falling in love with mortals, and having children with them. Maiar have walked among us, in this world; you know this to be true, for you have seen them, just as I.”
Éowyn caught her breath as Nanny whispered. “Mithrandir. You were in love with Mithrandir. I never, oh, Mag, I never would have guessed!”
Mag's laugh was merry, youthful. “I didn't ever say I was. I said, might have been. For it would have taken wizardry to make me change my nature, and want a man.”
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