For those of you who don’t know this set of toons, I’ve a few Rohirrim teenagers in Rohan. Oswy is 14 with a club foot and a very new post as quartermaster for his hall. Cengifu, also 14, is madly crushing on him from her post in the kitchens. Oswy, however, is crushing on a noblewoman who is now engaged. His mentor Idhelm told him to ask Cengifu out walking. Here’s how it goes.
“You’re one of Gifu’s sisters?” He kept his urgent whisper low as he cornered the first curly-haired chubby girl he saw near the kitchens. She nodded.
“I’ll give you… an arrowhead if you ask her if she’ll go walking with me.”
The little girl whose name escaped him at the moment burst into giggles and said saucily, “Oh no. Not an arrowhead, silly. I want… a button.”
“A button or nothing.”
“Fine.” He tugged a nice horn-carved one from his best shirt, and she slipped it onto a clacking string around her neck. “Make sure you don’t tell her I asked you if she says no. Just… figure out.”
The tow-headed girl disappeared into the kitchens, and he cringed as he heard her hollering, “Cengifu! Do you want to go on a walk with Ooooooswy?”
“Pull the other one, Godrun.”
“No, really. Do you? Because somebody wants to know.”
“Nuh uh. Yes or no, or I won’t say.”
“Ugh. Fine, yes. Who wants to know.”
He covered his ears against the squealing and briefly considered retreat. No. Not now. Idhelm would find out and be disappointed. Men don’t run. Men ask girls on walks. So he stood and waited until someone pushed a blushing Cengifu into the hall. He eyed her in terror. She giggled and didn’t say anything. How would a man handle this? And why did she have to have so many bosoms? They kept pulling his eyes like water rolling downhill. Huge. Freckles. Maybe they felt like pillows.
The pause grew awkward, so he said, “Um.”
She tugged at her bodice and… why was she doing that thing with holding her breath and sucking in her waist? Her bosoms were doing things again. Winflaed at least kept hers where they weren’t … big at him.
He was a man. He tried again, “So. Do you want to walk?”
She looked at his leg and he tried not to cringe. And failed. She seemed to unfreeze a little and managed, “C… I mean… we could sit too.”
He said, wounded, “I can walk! I walk as much as anyone here.”
She blurted, “I d… don’t mind. You don’t ha…have to pretend with me. If it…. it hurts.”
He shouted, “Rider’s teeth, woman, do you want to go walking or not?”
Her back straightened and her eyes flashed. Suddenly, her bosoms were not such a problem and he felt a slight trickle of apprehension. “Cengifu.” She said it crisply, sounding suddenly like her mother, and not a squeaky mouse. “Not woman. Cengifu.”
He backpedaled, saying, “Sorry! I.. um.” Do men shout? Do men apologize? Why didn’t he think to ask Idhelm more about how this was done?
“You call me by my name, or Miss. Or… or… I’ll make sure you never eat bacon here again!”
“No bacon? Come on!”
“No. No bacon. You treat me proper or no bacon.”
He conceded the point. Surely men did things for bacon, and… well. She was right about manners. Men have manners. “Sorry, Miss Cengifu. So.”
She deflated and said more mildly, “Walking would be n…nice. Where did you want to go?”
He let out a breath. He had this. He could do this. “Idhelm said you’d want to see the armoury maybe.”
Up went her brow again. It had a freckle right over the arch. “Idhelm said?” She gives him a suspicious look. “Why did you want to go walking with me?”
“Idhelm said to ask you!”
She seemed to grow inches taller. Her hands went onto her hips. She had hips like a Mearas on her, all round and firm and strong. “So. You didn’t want to ask me?”
“I….” he felt himself freeze. Battle had been easier. Why couldn’t he just shoot a Dunner off her and sweep her away? That’s how men do it. Not this stupid asking thing.
“No. You just did it because Idhelm said. Well no. No thank you, sir. I will not be anyone’s pity cuddle, and I will never go walking with a man who wants to be with some other girl the whole time.”
“Oh yes you do. You want to get back at Lady Winflaed for liking Lord Jaenbert. It’s pathetic. You’re pathetic. Come back when you’ve grown your own brain, thank you.”
He gaped, wondering how she knew. Did everyone know? How awful. He was so stunned, he missed the slap stinging his cheek, and barely felt the whoosh of summer air left as she turned on her heal and stomped off. She smelled of strawberry tart.
“Never again.” he told himself. “No more stupid, awful women. Ever!” Even to his own ears, he sounded like a little boy.