"When I am old I shall have the largest stables.... The largest and most beautiful, and my horses shall be champions among their kind." Éowyn lay on her horse's back, and at these words she squeezed her arms lovingly around its neck. It didn't feel like betrayal when the dream held a vague image of this same horse in a stall at the end of her someday-stables, exactly the same but for gray around its muzzle and still happy to eat an apple from her hand.
"Easy for some of us." Éomer wrinkled his nose, and she wrinkled hers back at him. "You can marry well - you'll be beautiful, and it will be easy to get all that."
"Yes, I will," Éowyn said airily. "And I'll still ride as well as you, with all my practice on my most beautiful mounts."
He cheered up. "And you will let your dear brother ride with you when he comes to visit, of course, on any mount he chooses. In fact, do you have a prospective man in mind?"
With dignity and grace she drew upright her on her horse and set her shoulders, so that those qualities lay on her in a near-visible mantle. Éowyn already knew that this attitude was her first protection, before shield and sword and riding. "Éomer. What sort of schemer do you take me for? I will consider those who I have some affection for, and those who offer for me. It is not for me to go begging after wealth."
Éomer was impressed, staring at her; then he remembered that he was a brother, and she was a sister, and that they were each other's. "Yes, I concede," he said. "My apologies, Éowyn. Come, let's race."
She threw the mantle off and smiled, pleased at its success and pleased that it wasn't hers yet. If she could impress Éomer then she could certainly impress the ladies of the court that she knew her manners well enough, and she need not feel that slight scratch of guilt that came when they impressed on her when they told her that this attitude - poise, grace, gentleness - was her duty. It was, of course, it must be; it was the attitude of almost all the women she knew. But it was a boring duty, as bad as pre-dawn watch.
"A race?" She bade her horse trip around Éomer's and studied him as she went round. "Well, if you want me to make you even more sorry than you already are, I wouldn't dream of stopping you."
He smiled back. "I am so sorry ... that I'll give you a head start."
"Oh, will you?" she said, drawing up, for an instant a tower of disdain.
Then she took the head start, and he cried out that it was not fair and came thundering after her. She laughed at the sound and felt a love that she knew well: Love for her land and family and horse, and the sun on her shoulders, the wind in her hair, for the certainty that these things would be there all the days of her life to come back to, however dark the ways she might someday go.