--

Man of Gondor

--

When the new boy arrived, the girls who had previously been tittering about how hot he was likely to be sighed in disappointment. She had rolled her eyes at their antics before going back to her book – at eleven years of age, she didn't see why they were so crazy about boys and dating and stuff. There were much better ways to spend one's time, like reading.

Not that she was one of those types, the immature 'boys-have-cooties' type. No, she was indifferent either way. The boys in her school were mostly boisterous, rowdy and had an unnatural love for wrestling each other and playing sport. But then the girls were ditzy, annoying and were obsessed with jewellery, make-up and boys. So really, it could probably be said that she held boys and girls in equal disdain for their ways.

At least, that was how it was until he had arrived. No, she hadn't turned into one of them overnight, rather it had been over roll call about a week after he had arrived at her school.

--

He burst into the classroom, five minutes after the bell had rung, his hair disheveled and his breathing erratic from having run.

The teacher arched an eyebrow, his glasses lowered down his nose. 'You're late, young man,' he said, tapping his watch.

The boy's words seemed to rush out before he could stop himself. 'A wizard is never late, Mr. Lamson. Nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to.' He immediately looked like he wished he could cover his mouth.

The other students had looked mystified before they shrugged and forgot about it; Mr. Lamson seemed torn between amusement and annoyance. Finally he said, 'Well, make sure it doesn't happen often,' before turning back to the rest of the class and starting the lesson.

The boy had sighed with relief and taken a seat in the class. He didn't notice, but she simply watched him for the whole lesson, a glazed expression on her face.

He had quoted Lord of the Rings.

--

The week after, when she went to borrow a copy of The Hobbit from the school library, she saw his name there on the card, showing that he had previously borrowed it. She sighed, and lightly touched her fingers to the messy scrawl before mentally shaking herself as she realized that she was acting more ditzy than those girls ever had.

She walked out of the library clutching the book to her chest, stopping abruptly as she saw the very person she had been thinking about, looking tense as some boys who were about a head taller than him hassled him to hand over his lunch.

She immediately rushed over and stepped between them. She could have said something awesome here, something kick-ass, something that would teach them never to mess with people again. But instead, this came out, almost instinctively: 'You shall not pass!' It might have sounded slightly more impressive if her voice hadn't suddenly become an octave higher than usual as she realized that if these boys were a head taller than him, they were certainly a head and a half taller than her, highly likely to do as much damage as any Balrog of Morgoth.

The two boys exchanged puzzled looks, and then shrugging turned back to her. Peering around her, they smirked at the boy. 'Make sure you thank your girlfriend here for saving your skinny neck.'

The boy straightened and clenched his fists. His voice rang loud and clear. 'Be silent and keep your forked tongue behind your teeth. I didn't come here to –'

But the bullies didn't stay to listen; seeing a teacher approaching, they hastily departed from the scene.

'– bandy crooked words with a witless worm,' she finished off for him, slightly breathless.

He smiled at her. 'You read them too?'

She nodded enthusiastically. 'They're my favourite books,' she said in a rush.

He held out his hand for her to shake. 'I am James, of Maple Grove, Glen Waverley, Melbourne. Where come you from, fair lady?'

She had to try very hard to stop herself from giggling. 'You, know it probably would have sounded more impressive if you had said Gondor, in the south of Middle-earth, or something like that,' she couldn't help observing as she shook his hand. 'I'm Emma.'

--

'Oi, James of Gondor-slash-Glen Waverley – a little help moving your bed would be appreciated, you know.' She struggled, trying to drag it into the room.

He got up from his position by the wall where he had for the past five minutes been watching her trying – unsuccessfully – to move his bed into his new room, moving over to the other side of the bed and helping her lift it. 'Technically, Em-slash-Eowyn, I am James of Gondor-slash-Glen Waverley no more.' He puffed himself up importantly and announced, 'I am now James of Gondor-slash-Ashwood.' Then he frowned, his chest deflating. 'Just doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?'

She gave no reply, instead cursing as one end of the bed dropped rather painfully on her foot. Why she had agreed to help his family move all their stuff in, she didn't know. Well, James was her best friend of three years, so that might have had something to do with it.

Ten minutes later, they were both lying exhausted on the bed, heads at opposite ends, for a moment saying nothing.

'Hey, Em?' he asked, his voice coming from the other end of the bed.

'Hmm?' she asked lazily, her eyes closed. It was a lot more comfortable to lie on this bed than to drag it up a flight of stairs and into a room.

'Your feet smell.'

She snorted, eyes still closed, shoving her bare feet closer to his face. 'Fool of a Took.' She couldn't see his face, but as he batted away her feet, she could feel his body shaking with silent laughter.

--

'James?'

'Hmm?'

'My eyes feel like they're going to drop out.'

'Em?'

'Hmm?'

'Watching all three Lord of the Rings movies in a row tends to do that to you.' He groaned, sinking back into the couch and closing his own tired eyes. 'Maybe we shouldn't do this every year – we could be permanently damaging our eyesight.'

Although she was cradling her aching head, she disagreed. 'No, it's special. It's like our summer ritual, and it's fun, even if we've practically memorized it.'

He smiled, but then looked at her seriously. 'I'll miss you, you know, next year.'

She punched his shoulder. 'It's not that bad, man of Gondor. We're going to different universities, yeah – but they're in the same city, and we live in the same suburb. Don't worry, I'll come and crash here at least every second day.' She hugged the DVD boxes of his extended edition Lord of the Rings movies to herself. 'Besides, I couldn't leave my preciouses, now could I?'

He smiled softly, rolling his eyes. 'I love you, Lady of Rohan.'

She froze suddenly, staring at him with her mouth hanging slightly open.

He looked alarmed. 'Did I just say that out loud?'

She nodded wordlessly, still staring at him as his face turned forty-eight shades of red. Then suppressing with all her might the blissful smile that was bursting to get out, she said seriously, '"Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have more bitterness and shame for a woman's heart than to behold the love of a man so handsome and noble –"'

He cut her off, looking at his feet. 'Yeah, I know, I know,' he said gruffly, finishing off the quote, '"that cannot be returned," I get the point.'

She huffed impatiently. 'Fool of a Took,' she muttered. 'Let me finish, idiot. "For a woman's heart than to behold the love of a man so handsome and noble –" when she tricks him into thinking she doesn't return it by using a misleading quote.' She could not contain the beatific smile any longer.

He slowly looked up, eyes glinting. 'You mean you made me have a minor heart attack over nothing?' Then his face broke into a sudden grin as he gently cupped her face in his hands. 'I know your face, Eowyn.'

She couldn't help laughing, her fingers wound in his dark hair as she had always wanted to place them. 'Wrong quote to use, man of Gondor. For one thing, that quote was only in the movies. And for another, the guy who said it to her was her uncle.'

He rolled his eyes and smiled, "and then he took her in his arms and kissed her under the (plaster ceiling), and he cared not that they (sat on a sofa in his living room, the LoTR DVDs squashed between them)".

--

'I ask you this now: Em-slash-Eowyn, Lady of Rohan, will you marry me?' He held out a box with a Ring of gold, a thick band with some words engraved upon it in Elvish script, though the language was the Black Speech of Mordor.

She snatched the Ring, squealing with delight as she traced her fingers over the carvings. 'Oh my gosh! Omigosh omigosh omigosh!! You actually made me a Ring of Power!' She handled it reverently, admiring its smoothness, the fineness of the engraving, the…

'Oi!' The voice sounded torn between amusement and irritation. 'I'm still on my knees here, and it's starting to hurt! An answer would be nice.'

She peeled her eyes away from the Ring and looked to her man of Gondor, smiling. 'Fool of a Took! The Ring is mine.' She slipped it on her finger, laughing maniacally. And he stood upright, taking her into his arms and placed a matching copy of the Ring of Power over his own finger.

'Why do I get the feeling you're only marrying me for the ring?'

--

A/N: Had to get that out of my system. I was itching to write my version of the best friends cliché, and had to express my love for LoTR at the same time. Please review!