Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

The Princess and the King

Chapter 7: Chapter 7

by JMac

***************************************

Chapter 7

The weeks blended together. The warm winds of late
summer gave way to the crisp chill of autumn.
Winter was coming soon.

Behind the armory, Eowyn and Lothiriel were having
their daily training exercises. While she would
never match Eowyn’s skill, Lothiriel was competent
and she never complained. Having Eowyn as an
instructor and not complaining said more about
Lothiriel’s strength of character than her skill
with the blade.

Since the horns had sounded on the night of the
attack on the Firienfeld, no further attacks had
come. Messengers from Minas Tirith to Dol Amroth
reported hearing the same. Though no one knew what
they meant. Some hoped they were the call to
retreat but Eomer was not so sure. Regroup was
more likely. Eomer understood the reckless power
of men who had nothing left to loose. But what he
couldn't understand was what they were waiting for.
Why hadn’t they attacked again?

Eomer stared out at the gently rolling plains of
Edoras. All looked peaceful. But looks were
deceiving. Tracks of small parties of men had been
spotted heading towards Gondor. Reports of horses
disappearing from the plains came from all portions
of the Mark, Lothiriel’s horse being among them.
Supplies had gone missing. The grass trembled in
the wind, tension lurked just beneath the surface.
It was as if the very air itself were waiting for
something to unfold.

Eomer sighed. It was not idle worry that lead his
thoughts down such dark roads but the fact the he
would be upon those roads within a few days. If
there was something out there, he wanted to be
prepared for it. Especially since he would be
traveling with Lothiriel.

Word had come from Dol Amroth, the roads were safe.
Or were deemed safe enough by Imrahil. Although he
was aware of the risk, Imrahil stated that he knew
Eomer was more than capable of returning his
daughter into his safe hands.

Eomer ignored his worried long enough to watch
Eowyn flip Lothiriel neatly onto her back. She
pointed a blade at Lothiriel’s throat.

Eomer cringed. “Eoywn, must you keep attacking our
guest?" He helped Lothiriel to her feet.

"She asked to be attacked."

Eomer shook his head. “She’s going to return to
Dol Amroth with horrible stories about the Mark.”

“And when will that be?” Lothiriel asked, dusting
herself off. “We saw the messenger arrive this
morning.”

“Best we leave as soon as possible. Tomorrow if I
can get the eored ready and find someone to take
care of things while I’m away.” He glanced in
Eowyn’s direction.

“Consider it done,” Eowyn said. “A ride to Dol
Amroth will do you good. You’ve been too worried
as of late and the journey will get you back into
high spirits I’m sure.”

“All my worries will be lifted when I get Lotty
away from you. And I plan on starting right away,
do you mind if I steal your prized pupil?” Eomer
asked. “She and I have plans to attend to.”

“Steal away. Besides, I’ve discovered that it is
next to impossible to keep her attentions once you
arrive as a spectator,” Eowyn said with a grin.

Eomer smiled.

“So let’s hear it,” Lothiriel said, once they had
started walking down the dirt roads towards the
stables.

“Hear what?”

“The lecture. Stay close to the eored. Don’t
wander off,” Lothiriel said. “I heard it all from
Dolore the captain of the guard of Dol Amroth
before I left. It was not so long ago that I have
forgotten it.”

“Indeed, it seems that you are still insulted that
he thought you such a fool,” Eomer said. “I have
no intention of making his mistake. You know well
enough what is required of you.”

Lothiriel was pleasantly surprised at his remarks,
if a little confused. “Then what did you wish to
speak to me about?”

Eomer smiled. “Something far more enjoyable I hope
than a lecture.”

He lead her to the stables and to a deep brown
horse called, Starlight, that she’d been riding
since her own had gone missing.

Starlight leaned his head out of the stall and
nuzzled against Lothiriel’s hand, sniffing for the
treat she usually brought him.

“Shall I ride him to Dol Amroth?” Lothiriel asked.

Eomer nodded. “And longer, I hope. Consider him a
gift, to remember your first journey into the
world.”

Lothiriel rubbed Starlight’s nose and looked back
at Eomer. “This is a grand gift, one I could not
possibly accept. I have done nothing but intrude
upon your house and hospitality since I have
arrived. Not to mention - - “

“You have kept life interesting and that is no
small thing. It is worthy of repayment. Please,”
Eomer said.

Lothiriel smiled. “Thank you. I wish I could
repay you someday.”

“You’re presence here has been payment enough,”
Eomer said.

And considering the courteous and formal sound of
his words, Lothiriel bowed. Eomer smiled, “A
princess could not have done it better.”

She rolled her eyes at him. “Well do not get used
to it.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Lothiriel found that packing to leave Rohan was
harder than she had expected. She'd arrived with
nothing but the clothes on her back. Eowyn had
seen to outfitting her with enough clothes to keep
her comfortable. She folded the favorite of her
dresses into a saddle bag and then sat upon the
edge of the bed to look around the room.

Lothiriel knew she should have been happy, excited
even, at the prospect of going home. Instead her
feelings were torn in two. Although she looked
forward to seeing her sister and her home again,
she was also sorry to be leaving Rohan. In a short
time she had grown comfortable here. Rohan lacked
the formalities of Dol Amroth. Here she had been
able to study and train whatever struck her
interest. Eowyn had become like a sister to her.
And Eomer. . .

A quiet knock at the door interrupted her thoughts.
Eowyn smiled. "I knew you would still be up. I
always have trouble sleeping the day before I leave
on a journey."

Lothiriel smiled. "I will miss being here."

"You sound surprised," Eowyn said.

"I am. All I've wanted to do since I've arrived is
be at home. And now that I'm going home - - I'm
not sure what I want anymore," Lothiriel said.

Eowyn smiled and sat down beside her on the bed.
"Well, I know what I want," Eowyn said. "If you'd
be willing, I'd love for you to be my attendant at
my wedding. The thought of having the giggling women of
Gondor help me, makes me ill."

Lothiriel smirked. "You forget, I am a giggling
woman of Gondor."

Eowyn laughed. "You may be a woman of Gondor, but
you don't giggle."

At that, Lothiriel laughed. "Don't be so sure
about that. You may change you mind when the
wedding arrives."

"I won't," Eowyn said. "Besides, it will also force
your father into letting you out of the house
again. I have a feeling that the walls of Dol
Amroth may seem higher than before."

"I hope you are wrong," Lothiriel said, quietly.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Three days upon the road was enough to remind
Lothiriel why she didn't like long journeys. Every
muscle in her body ached. Lothiriel was not so
sore as she had been when she'd first arrived in
Edoras, but she doubted if she would ever be a
skilled enough rider not to be relieved to see the
days ride come to an end.

Lothiriel slid down out of the saddle. Although
the Paths of the Dead took a week off their travel
time, Eomer kept up a brisk pace as if even the
saved time were not enough to want him to delay the
journey any longer.

Lothiriel walked around the perimeter while the men
set up camp. The mountains were still large in the
distance, but soon they would be no more than a
memory. She signed and flexed her fingers, they
were stiff from hours of gripping her horse’s
reins.

“Wearing gloves helps,” Eomer said, as he
approached her.

“I was wearing gloves,” Lothiriel said.

Eomer grinned. “Well, then don’t grip the reins so
tight."

She shrugged. “I didn’t think I was.”

Eomer took her hands in his and rubbed them
briskly. He slowly worked his way up each finger,
working out the stiffness.

“Do you offer this service to all your men after a
long ride?” she asked, grinning.

“I do not. This is reserved only for you,” Eomer
said.

Lothiriel grinned.

“Sore anywhere else?” Eomer asked. The corners of
his eyes wrinkled in amusement.

“I am, but I don’t think it would be quite proper
for you to be rubbing my bottom,” Lothiriel said.

“Alas, I suppose not,” Eomer said. In the
distance one of his men called his name.

“Duty calls,” Lothiriel said.

Eomer sighed. As he turned to walk away, he
swatted Lothiriel lightly on the backside. “Will
that suffice?”

“For now,” Lothiriel said.

Lothiriel watched as Eomer joined his men. From
their expressions, she could tell that something
was wrong. Eomer's body language changed, he
tensed and his eyes scanned the perimeter of the
camp. Without a word he motioned for her to come
to him.

She crossed the distance quickly. "What's
happened?"

One member of the eored held a spent arrow in his
hand. "Someone's playing games with us."

"And we are the pieces on the board I suppose?"
Lothiriel asked.

Eomer nodded grimly as he sent some of his men to
investigate.

That night, they slept in close quarters, huddled
behind an outcropping of rocks and trees. Three
men were placed on guard. Eomer should have joined
them for all the sleep he was getting. After
careful inspection, his men had found tracks
similar to those seen throughout Rohan and leading
in the same direction, but no further signs of
people were seen.

Eomer stared at the sky. For the first time in his
life, the sight of the stars shining brought no
comfort. He wished his party were safe within the
halls of Meduseld. In front of a roaring fire.
Eomer sighed. He shifted his weight.

He heard Lothiriel stir beside him. She raised up
on an elbow and looked at him.

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” Eomer said.

“You didn’t.”

"I am sorry about all of this," Eomer said.

“This is not your fault. No one was hurt. They
are just trying to frighten us,” Lothiriel said.

“They have succeeded.”

“I find it hard to believe that you would be scared
of something as inconsequential as a scratch from
an arrow,” Lothiriel said.

“It’s you I fear for,” he said softly.

She reached her hand out until it found his, and
gave it a squeeze. "I shall be fine."

* * * * * * * *

Though no further troubles greeted them upon the
road, Eomer did not relax until they approached the
lower gates of Dol Amroth.

“Where is this sea you speak so fondly of?” Eomer
said. “I think I can hear it and smell it, but I
have yet to see it.”

Lothiriel smiled and urged her horse to a gallop.
Eomer chased Lothiriel over a small rise of dunes.
At the top he stared out in front of him. . . and
for the first time in his life his gaze was not
hindered by land or mountain but reached on
indefinitely to the horizon. The great wide
expanse of water stretched out before him and he
could not tell where the sky ended and the sea
began.

The roar of the waves mingled with the rush of wind
in his ears as he raced through the edges of the
beach, urging his horse to catch Lothiriel’s. As
the horse ran, Eomer gazed out at the ocean and
felt that he no longer riding upon the earth but
was flying in the midst of a never ending blue sky.

Lothiriel slowed her horse to a stop and Eomer
reined in beside her. She was smiling.

“So? What do you think?” she asked.

Eomer stared out at the sea and back at her. “I
have never seen its equal.”

They dismounted and walked along the shore, leaving
the horses to wander where they wished. Eomer took
a deep breath.

Lothiriel sat down on the sand, and tugged off her
shoes. “Take them off, it doesn’t count as a real
trip to the sea unless you put your feet in the
water.”

“Is that so?” Eomer sat down in the sand and
pulled off his boots and his socks.

They walked back down to the water, letting the
waves gently lap their toes.

“It’s cold.”

Lothiriel nodded. “Even in summer it doesn’t get
very warm.”

They walked in quiet contemplation down the
shoreline. Lothiriel stopped every now and then to
pick up a shell or a rock.

By the time they turned around to return to their
shoes, her father was riding up the shoreline to
meet them. As they watched him ride towards them,
Lothiriel asked, "So. . .do you like it?" Her voice
was slightly anxious.

Eomer turned to her and smiled. “I like it very
much.”

She smiled. “I’m glad.”

Imrahil dismounted and grasp Eomer's hand. "Thank
you Eomer for returning Lothiriel safely home,
though I fear my daughter has forgotten all sense
of custom and propriety. I should have greeted you
as you arrived." Imrahil shot Lothiriel a
disapproving glance.

"I'm afraid that is my fault, I insisted upon
seeing the ocean."

Imrahil smiled. "And what do you think of our fair
land?"

"Lovely." Eomer said, but his eyes were on
Lothiriel.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Eomer had planned to stay longer at Dol Amroth but
the incident upon the road caused him to change his
plans. Even with the men of the eored to protect
the city and its people, he did not like the
thought of abandoning his people should they need
him. Less than a week had passed before he was
preparing to leave. And that week was spent in
council with Imrahil. Eomer had seen little of the
city, and even less of Lothiriel for which he was
regretful.

Upon his last night in Dol Amroth, council was put
aside for festivities. A large feast was held in
his honor and in the return of Lothiriel. Songs
were sung, the best wines were savored, and the
people of the city rejoiced in the peace that had
once again returned to Dol Amroth.

Eomer took a drink of wine enjoying the
festivities. Erchirion sat at her father's side,
the perfect picture of composed nobility. Her
smile was so friendly Eomer could only imagine what
stories Lothiriel had been telling her.

Across the table, Lothiriel was being tormented by
her brothers. They hung on her, seeking to get her
undivided attention over whatever boyish game they
were playing at. From the looks of it, Eomer
deduced that Lothiriel was an orc, captured by the
great wielding of forks and knives and held at
their mercy.

Eomer excused himself from the table and walked to
Lothiriel.

“Would you care to walk with me? I’d like to see
this sea of yours once more before I leave,” Eomer
said. “that is of course, if your father has no
objections?”

Imrahil smiled, "None at all."


* * * * * * *

The sound of the waves filled the silence between
them. They walked along the shoreline for some
time. “I leave in the morning and I wished to say
my goodbyes here,” Eomer said.

“You think I would not be there to see you off?”

Eomer shook his head. “No, I know you will be
there, but so will half of Dol Amroth.”

“Ah, you mean it will be formal and polite and you
want your goodbye to be otherwise?” Lothiriel
said, with a grin.

“I have had the pleasure of your company to myself
for so long, I simply wanted it one more time
before I left,” Eomer said. “I enjoyed having you
at Edoras.”

“I liked being there.”

“I am glad to hear it.” He wanted to say something
more. To tell her how he felt, but his own
feelings had become so muddled as of late whenever
he was in her presence that he wasn’t certain of
anything anymore, least of all his own emotions.

Lothiriel took a slow step towards him until she
was almost but not quite touching him. She looked
up at him expectantly. Eomer breathed in deeply,
he could smell the sweet scent of her mixed with
the salty spray from the water. He started to
reach a hand out to touch her face, but thought
better of it and quickly took a step away, putting
some distance between them.

“We should return to the castle,” Eomer said.

“You do not wish to stay a bit longer?” Lothiriel
asked, puzzled. She took a step towards him but he
stepped away.

“Forgive me, my lady, I should not have - -

“No, the fault is mine,” Lothiriel said. “It was
just that when you asked me here, I assumed that -
- “ She shook her head trying to clear hheer
thoughts. “I misunderstood your intentions.”

They frowned at each other a moment. Lothiriel
headed back up the shoreline towards the path that
lead to the castle. Eomer caught up with her.
“And what intentions should I have had when I
brought you out here?” Eomer raised his eyebrows.

“Nothing so scandalous as that!” she said, reading
his expression. She sighed and turned to him.
“When a man wishes to steal a few kisses, he asks
the lady for a walk upon the beach. I thought you
were a bit bold to ask me for a walk with my father
and the rest of the dinner table present, but then,
you are a King.”

Eomer groaned. “No wonder everyone at the table
looked at me as if I was Sauron himself. I’m
surprised Imrahil hasn’t sent his whole army down
here for me.”

“Don’t let it worry you, Dol Amroth never gets
enough to gossip about.” Lothiriel laughed.
“Besides walks upon the beach are innocent enough.
Everyone knows that sand isn’t a suitable place for
anything but walking. As enticing as it looks, it
doesn’t make a comfortable bed.”

“You sound as if you speak from experience.”

“I guess you’ll never know, will you?” Lothiriel
said.

“I suppose it would be a shame for us to let
perfectly good gossip go to waste,” Eomer said, as
they walked along the beach. “If they are going to
talk anyway, we might as well make the most of it.”

“Do you really need a reason to kiss me?”

“The last time I kissed you, you broke my nose,”
Eomer pointed out. “I want to make sure the
pleasure is worth the risk of bodily harm.”

“And?” Lothiriel shot him a look of pure
exasperation.

Eomer took both her hands firmly in his. “I think
battling a hoard of orcs would probably get me into
less trouble than one walk along the beach with
you.”

She was still smiling from his remarks as he bent
and touched his lips to hers. Eomer had expected
an innocent kiss, sweetly chaste, becoming of a
princess. It started off as he had imagined. But
after a few moments of hesitation, her lips parted.
She eagerly welcomed his lips against her own and
wasted no time in exploring the depths of his
mouth. It seemed as if she pulled the very breath
from him. He pulled her closer to him until he
could feel her soft curves pressed against him.
And then he did not know whether it was the roaring
of the waves or the pounding of his heart that
filled his ears.

Eomer wondered if her claims about the sand were
true. Surely it could not be that uncomfortable.
And he was more than willing to find out but he
never got the chance.

“Ahem.”

They pulled away from each other so abruptly that
Eomer nearly lost his balance. Erchirion stood at
the edge of the beach, grinning. “I thought it
best that I came to get you before father sends out
a search party.”

Eomer bowed. “I did not mean to keep your sister
so long. She was just instructing me in the lesser
known customs of Dol Amroth.”

Erchirion grinned. "So I see. Lotty has never
been one for customs."

“There are some customs that are not to
disagreeable,” Lothiriel said, as Erchirion took
her arm and lead her from the beach.

* * * * * * * * *

Imrahil met Eomer as he walked up the path towards
the castle. “Eomer, may I have a word.”

Eomer ran a nervous hand through his hair. “I knew
nothing about the custom of Dol Amroth until Lotty
told me of it as we walked along the shoreline.
Had I, I assure you I would not have dared to
injure her reputation among her people.”

Imrahil laughed. “Lothiriel is more than capable
of handling her reputation. That is not what I
wished to talk to you about. Well, not precisely."

Eomer followed Imrahil into his study. It was a
comfortable room with shelves and shelves of books.

Imrahil looked at Eomer across his desk for a long
moment. "You are a good man, any one would be
proud to call you ally. Prouder still I would be
to call you son."

Eomer started to speak but Imrahil raised a hand in
silence. "I'm not asking anything of you. Only
that you listen and consider my proposal. What is
spoken in this room never leaves it."

Eomer nodded.

"In these last few years before the war, the ties
between Rohan and Gondor were broken. Indeed,
Theoden himself felt alone at the battle of Helm's
Deep and for that I am greatly troubled. The rift
between us should never have happened. A marriage
between our countries would ease some of those past
hurts and bring our countries together closer than
they have been in recent memory."


"It would."

"You have met Lothiriel and seem to find her
companionable enough," Imrahil said.

The door to the study opened and Lothiriel walked
into the room. Her voice was quiet, but her words
were sharp.

"I'm capable of making my own decisions about my
life," Lothiriel said.

Imrahil sighed, heavily. "We were only talking,
Lotty."

"About me. You're treating me like a horse to be
sold to the highest bidder," Lothiriel said. "Do
you want me to let Eomer examine my teeth? Or
perhaps you want me to take him up to my chambers
so he can see how I ride?"

"Lothiriel!" Imrahil stood and took a step towards
her. She held her ground and glared at him.

Eomer cringed at her words. While he had been a
bit uncomfortable discussing the future, he had not
foreseen a confrontation such as this. It was ever
bit as rough as those fights Eowyn had waged with
Theoden.

"We weren't making any definite plans. We were
only discussing the future," Imrahil said.

"If you want to discuss my future. Then I should
be the one you're talking to, not a man who has
barely known me a few months," Lothiriel said.

"I have tried talking to you. For the past 4 years
I've tried. It gets me no where," Imrahil paced
the room.

"That's because you already know my answer. I will
not marry for a political alliance," Lothiriel
said.

"You have an obligation to your people."

"Not when it comes to marriage."

"My marriage to your mother was political and it
lead to love. That has been the way of it for
centuries. Have you no loyalty at all to Dol
Amroth?"

"I rode across half of Middle-Earth looking for
you, so you could protect the city. I held one of
our soldiers in my arms as he died. Is that not
enough to prove my love for my home?" Lothiriel's
voice cracked. She took a deep breath, when she
spoke again her voice was soft. "I know you think
you're doing what is best. And I love you for it.
But in this matter my mind will not be swayed.
When I marry it will be for love. Or not at all."

With those parting words, Lothiriel fled the room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Erchirion sat at the edge of Lothiriel's bed
patting her back gently. "Why did you say such
things?"

"Because someone has to say them. You have been in
love with Rihiel for years and yet you have said
nothing to father about it. Someone had to let him
know that we will not be used as pawns in his
political game of chess," Lothiriel said.

"I thought you were fond of King Eomer?" Erchirion
said. "You did not look like one who would object
to a marriage when I saw you on the beach together.
If anything you looked already betrothed."

Lothiriel glared at her. "It was only a kiss. I -
- I had hoped that some day it may have hhaad the
chance to become something more."

* * * * * * * * * *

The last thing Lothiriel wanted to do was see Eomer
off but she knew it would be rude if she did not.
And it was not Eomer's fault he was caught up in
her father's scheming.

The members of the eored were mounted and waiting
just beyond the gates of the city. Lothiriel
watched from a polite distance while her father
said his goodbyes to Eomer. When he was finished
Lothiriel stepped forward. Eomer smiled at her.
She shifted uncomfortably on her feet. "I hope you
will forgive my outburst yesterday, you should not
have gotten caught up in my quarrels."

"There is nothing to forgive," Eomer said. "Women
must fight hard for their independence."

"It is a constant battle," Lothiriel admitted.

Eomer nodded. "I have seen Eowyn fight that same
battle many times. And more than a few of those
fights were with me."

"And how did she fair?"

"She always won. But there was little celebration
in her victory." Eomer bowed formally. "I've
enjoyed meeting you Lothiriel. Whoever wins your
affections will be a lucky man."

Lothiriel sighed. "I doubt there is a man who
would go to the trouble."

"I wouldn't be so sure of that." Eomer smiled
broadly, and then swung into the saddle. "I shall
see you at the wedding?"

Lothiriel nodded. "I look forward to it."

"As do I."


* * * * * * * * *

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Chapter 7
Created
20 May 2003
Last Edited
20 May 2003
Hits
2446
Words
4437