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Éomer was not home very much, anymore, but he could follow an eye as well as anyone else, and he knew where Gríma’s rested.

Éowyn, Béma be praised, was no milksop.  She had a strong arm (he knew from experience in their youth) and could wield a blade as well as most riders.  He did not fear for her safety the way many brothers would, but seeing that snaketongued man lusting after her was still enough to make his blood boil.

Treachery he suspected, for Théoden King, no matter how far his mind was gone, would not force his sister-daughter into a marriage unwilling.  If Gríma had wanted to make his move, he would have done so already.

No, the worm was waiting for the right time to strike, and when the House of Eorl fell, only then would he claim his prize.   But he doubted that Éowyn would go willing.

There was little Éomer could do without being accused of treachery himself.  But he would do it, and he would do it gladly.

He and his men were set to ride out this morning, but Éomer had left another to give the orders—ride out, then wait for him.  He stood in the stables, and waited.

During the noontide meal, he crept into one of the hallways that Gríma was wont to use, and stood carefully to the side where few would notice him.  When at last the worm walked past, he beckoned him, his face menacing.

“My lord Éomer,” said Gríma, quietly, though Éomer could hear the nervousness in his voice, “I thought you were out riding with your men.”

“I am,” said Éomer.  “I merely wished to remind you that a gelding can serve his master as well as a stallion.”





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