rohanson: (Armour)
[personal profile] rohanson
Backdated. Takes place immediately after Théo is rescued from the wraith.

The embers were still warm in the hearth when Théo returned home, his mind slipping into his body still sitting in the chair by the hearth. When he’d left Rohan to travel to Wellington to assist in the plotting against the wraith, he’d had no idea of what fate had in store for him. He'd been gone less than a night. His soul had been torn into tatters, his heart shattered again and again and all in less time than it took the fire in his room to die and cool.

His body had sat in the same position for so many hours that he ached from head to toe and he shivered as he stood to throw a log on the fire. He felt like an old man as he dragged his weary bones to his bed. He fell on it and curled into a ball, pulling the furs on his bed around him, tormented by the death and destruction he could still see vividly in his mind's eye. He hadn't wanted to leave Wellington; he’d wanted to stay wrapped in Mer's arms, loved and safe. But there had been no choice but to come home and it had a bitter taste to it.

There was no certainty left. He knew what he’d seen wasn’t his future, but it was a possibility, and he couldn't push them far enough away to stop them wriggling and turning through his mind. He buried his face in his pillow, squeezing his eyes shut as if to try and physically block the images from his mind, desperately searching for some shred of hope he could cling to. In the darkness, a memory caught him unawares. He fell into it gladly, taking the comfort it offered.

Still quite small, he had been waiting for his father to return after a trip to Aldburg. His grandmother had made him promise to stay within the city gates until his father arrived, so Théo had taken up watch in the tower, letting out a yell as he finally saw horses approaching. He ran down the steps and through the open gates before the guards had a chance to stop him, and raced through the sea of grass which was almost as tall as he was towards the horses. His father's stallion burst through the grass in front of him and a strong arm reached down and pulled him onto its back. He laughed with delight, and wound his fingers into the coarse mane as Théoden wrapped one arm around his son to keep him safe as they rode home.

A bone deep shiver wracked Théo’s body, pulling him from the warmth of his father’s embrace and slamming him back to the present. Sadly, he left the memory behind where it belonged. He was no longer a child, safe in his father's arms. He was a man now, with all the burdens that leadership brought sitting firmly on his shoulders. He may not yet be a king, and after recent events he had begun to question if he ever would be, but he took his duty to protect his people seriously.

… your land will burn.

The wraith's words still haunted him and left him doubting. What if he gave everything and it was still not enough? Did he have the right to command his riders to follow him into battle knowing that they may all die and it may still not be enough to stop the darkness? Théo shuddered and curled further around his pillows, snuggling down under the furs. He imagined Eomer wrapped around his body, holding him close, and he wept.

No-one would ever see him cry. No-one. Too many depended on him to be strong. And he was strong, but he wasn’t made of stone. Théo sobbed silently until there was nothing left, until the tears washed enough of the Wraith’s taint from his mind to let sleep claim him. He fell into a deep, thankfully dreamless sleep until the morning noises of the keep roused him from his slumbers.

He dressed slowly, methodically, the doubt of the night before replaced with a steely determination. After a breakfast eaten in uncustomary silence, he and his riders rode out on patrol and the band of orcs they tracked and ambushed didn’t live to rue the day they had dared to set foot on the Riddermark.

Théodred became death. Sweeping down towards the foul beasts he was vengeance incarnate, spear finding its mark every time with deadly precision. His sword slashed down through skin and bone again and again, unleashing sprays of bright blood which painted his armour and Brego's hide. He roared, the battle rage upon him like never before, ferocious in his cold and calculating anger and his riders followed, spurred on by their prince's fearlessness.

Later, in the hall of Helm's deep, they sang his praises. Their commander, always fierce in battle, the man who already had their unwavering loyalty had surpassed even himself. One or two of the older men privately wondered what had inspired him into such brutality. Théo lingered late in the hall, his mood bolstered by the camaraderie of his riders and the atmosphere as they celebrated their victory. When he finally left, one glance in ?????’s direction was all it took to have her join him in his chambers.

Théo didn't want to sleep alone, but he didn't want to pretend that some young rider was the man he ached to be with. So he chose soft curves over hard muscle and drank in the warm feminine scent as he pulled her close and kissed her pliant lips. Her arms slipped round his neck as she returned his kisses and slender fingers tangled in his hair. Her body moved in his arms as he undressed her, slipping the dress from her shoulders and she gasped as he picked her up and carried her to the bed. Responding to his touches and kisses, she was soon ready for him and he took her with a gentle passion.

“Stay.” Théo whispered in her ear as they lay sated together, and she curled up against him, her body warm in his arms. He buried his face in her hair, only now letting himself imagine it was another’s hair against his face, another’s scent filling his senses. As she slept, his mind wandered. Strengthened by the day’s events, he was more able to look at the problem at hand objectively.

He could never directly take is revenge on the wraith, he knew that. To do so would mean Jed's death, and he had come to understand that despite the man's acceptance of his fate, it was not an option. If Jed fell in this fight, the wraith won a victory, even as it lost its way into Wellington. That was unacceptable.

One way or another, the wraith must be denied access without the sacrifice Théo now knew Jed was willing to make. And for Théo, that meant doing the one thing he did not know if he could do. Return to the warehouse and risk encountering the dark being again.

He was a warrior, strong and fearless, but the wraith had plucked each and every one of his deepest fears from his mind, designing a torment for him that had nearly been the death of him. In order to conquer his fears and give hope to the man who was the portal through which the wraith passed, returning to the warehouse was something he had no choice but to do.

His mind made up, he settled down for the night with Éomer on his mind, a talisman against any nightmares that threatened to invade. He took strength from his lover even though they were so far apart and longed for the day when they could fall asleep in each others arms again. But for now, he had to be content with the memory of Éomer’s welcoming smile to lull him to sleep.

December 2007

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