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The Princess and the King

Chapter 8: Chapter 8

by JMac

Chapter 8

The tower of Ecthelion gleamed in the morning
sunlight. The entourage from Dol Amroth had been
upon the road for many days and their destination
was finally in sight.

Six months had past since Lothiriel watched as
Eomer had ridden from the gates of Dol Amroth.

Lothiriel found that drifting back into her routine
at Dol Amroth was harder than she had anticipated.
The sound of the waves did not ease the discontent
that grew in her heart. Her father had refused to
continue her training with the sword, and had been
angry for months over her outburst with Eomer.
Although he did permit her to assist him with the
duties of Dol Amroth, he sheltered her from the
grittier aspects of leading a country. The very
things that she most wish to learn. So she
devoured books throwing herself into her studies as
she never had before.

But the long months were behind her. She gazed at
the White City.

Imrahil noticed his daughter was lagging behind and
turned back. “Keep up, Lotty. We must make our
formal entrance together, you are not in Dol Amroth
nor gallivanting around the fields of Rohan any
longer.”

“In my dreams I did not imagine the city would be
so vast or so lovely,” Lothiriel said.

Imrahil smiled. “I have grown so accustomed to it’s
look that I have not given a thought to it’s beauty
in many years.”

After leaving their horses at the stables they made
their way through the bustling city streets to the
castle. It seemed as if the entire city were
involved with the wedding preparations of Faramir
and Eowyn. People were coming and going with
provisions of food and drink for the festivities.
Visitors from Rohan browsed the shops. Excitement
was in the air.

Heralds who watched from the parapets had announced
their arrival. By the time they had reached the
courtyards of the castle, the King and Queen
awaited them.

If the beauty of the city had astonished her, it
was nothing compared to the beauty of the Queen and
King of Gondor. They reminded Lothiriel of the
stories of the Elves in songs of ages long past.
Imrahil greeted Aragorn and Arwen with a slight
nod. “Aragorn, Lady Arwen. May I present my
daughter Lothiriel.”

Aragorn bowed and took her hand. “It is an honor
to have you here. Words of your deeds have
preceded you. You risked much for Dol Amroth. I
owe you my thanks.”

Lothiriel was surprised at his words. “No thanks
are necessary. I did what I must to protect my
home. I would do it again.”

“I hope your journey was a pleasant one," Aragorn
said.

“It was not too tiring,” Lothiriel said.

Arwen smiled. “That is good for I think Eowyn
plans to keep your time occupied before the
wedding.”

Before Lothiriel could respond, Faramir and Eowyn
walked down the steps into the courtyard.

“Sorry we are late,” Eowyn said, she carried
herself with the dignity of a queen but there was
mischief in her eyes.

Eowyn gave Lothiriel a hug and took her hand.
“Come, there is much to be done. If I’ve been put
through the torture of being fitted for a dress
then you must endure it as well.”

They excused themselves and walked along the outer
gardens of the castle.

As they walked through the castle, Lothiriel
noticed the guards. There seemed many more of them
than she was accustomed to in Dol Amroth.

“Have you had any more troubles?” Lothiriel asked.

“There have been signs of movements of people,
tracks, deserted campsites, nothing to give any
indication of who or what or where they were
going,” Eowyn said.

“Several months back, we could see the lights from
ships as they sailed along the coastline, but by
dawn there was no sign of them,” Lothiriel said.

Eowyn nodded. “Faramir has doubled the guard on
Ithilien. And I’ve noticed more guards around
Minas Tirith as of late.”

"I hope all is well in Rohan." Lothiriel said.

Eowyn smiled. "If you mean my brother, then yes,
he is well."

Lothiriel sighed. "We didn't part on the best of
terms."

"So I heard."

Lothiriel groaned. "What did he say?"

"I think his exact words were that you wield words
in argument the way men wield swords in battle,"
Eowyn said. "Though he never did tell me what
exactly was said."

"I would rather not repeat them. They've haunted
me enough in these past few months," Lothiriel
said.

"My brother has always been one for battle whether
with words or with a sword, if anything you're
words will be a challenge," Eowyn said.

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

Eomer stood upon a high wall looking out upon the
Pelennor. He had not been back since the war.
Though barely a year had passed it seemed an
eternity. So much had changed.

Earlier upon their arrival Eowyn had asked him to
go to the Mounds of Mundburg, she always showed her
respect for those who fell in battle when she first
returned to Minas Tirith. He had refused to go.
It was not something he wished to relive. Not with
her. It brought up too many bad memories.

Upon the edge of the Pelennor near the gates to the
city, huge canopies were being set up. So many
people had arrived for the wedding that the
courtyards of the city were not large enough to
accommodate the crowds. He watched the comings and
goings with a quiet detachment. Eomer sighed. He
wanted to share in his Eowyn's happiness but knew
he would not be able to do that with the past
whispering over his shoulder.

Before he realized what he was doing, he found
himself in the stables. The rich smell of horses
and hay was always a comfort. He waved off the
stable boy who offered to saddle his horse. As he
walked down the row of horses he froze in his
tracks. Starlight was in a stall beside Firefoot.

“Princess Lothiriel and her father Imrahil have
arrived?” he asked.

The stable boy nodded. “They arrived early this
morning.”

Eomer walked to Starlight. The horse looked to be
in perfect condition. He noted the saddle and
realized that Lothiriel had gotten one made in the
Rohirrim style but with the decorations of Dol
Amroth etched upon the leather.

He lead Starlight out of the stables and swung up
into the saddle. Eomer had gotten as far as the
wedding canopies when he stopped to assist them
with the last of the large tents that were being
constructed. Despite the protests from the other
laborers he threw himself into the work. Manual
labor was preferable to facing ghosts.

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

It was late afternoon when Lothiriel finally
managed to escape from the clutches of the
seamstress. The streets were busy. The noises and
the people were a distraction. She followed the
crowds of people until she was at the edge of the
city walls. She looked out at the fields and from
a distance saw Starlight. Beside her horse stood a
man.

After losing her horse while in Rohan, she had
become overprotective of Starlight. Rarely did she
ever let him out of her sight. So to see the horse
in possession of a stranger infuriated her. She
was trying to decide on the best way to torture the
stable hands who let him get away, when the man
with Starlight turned around. The man swung up into the saddle and
with a jump of her heart Lothiriel realized it was Eomer.

He smiled at her.

"Is this how the King of Rohan gets his horses? By
stealing them?" Lothiriel asked.

"I wanted to see how she faired while under your
care."

"And? Do I pass inspection as a competent owner?"

"I haven't decided. I was about to take her for a
ride out on the Pelennor," Eomer said. Then
impulsively he asked. "Would you like to come with
me?"

"I would love to, shall I run along behind you?"
Lothiriel asked.

Eomer laughed. "I don't think you could keep up."

"Then kindly get off *my* horse."

"How about a compromise," Eomer said, his eyes
were twinkling and from the grin on his face she
knew he was up to something.

"A compromise sounds acceptable," she said,
narrowing her eyes, wondering what compromise he
had in store.

"We shall both ride *your* horse," Eomer said, his
tone of voice made it sound almost like a dare.
She tried to stammer out a protest but the words
somehow got stuck in her throat and before she knew
what was happening, Eomer leaned down, grabbed her
arm, and hauled her onto the saddle in front of
him.

She squirmed around until she was comfortable. She
could feel the warmth from his chest radiating
against her back.

"Comfortable?" he asked, his breath against her ear
cause a chill to run down her back.

She nodded wordlessly.

"I thought my sister would have you under the
torturous hands of the seamstresses of Gondor."

"I was but I managed to escape when they came back
for her for one last fitting."

The green grass of the Pelennor stretched before
them. They rode along at a slow trot, Eomer seemed
in no hurry. Indeed, Lothiriel realized she had
never seen him ride so slow in all the time she had
known him. Well, she would change that. She put
together a sentence in Rohirric, but was hesitant
to use it, for he would be the first Rohirrim to
hear her attempt at speaking their language and she
was worried of his reaction. And her
pronunciation.

She turned at him over her shoulder and said in
Rohirric, "Can we go any faster?"

Eomer was so surprised at hearing his native
language coming from her lips that he slowed
completely to a stop. A grin of delight spread
across his face and he locked an arm tightly around
her waist before urging his horse to a gallop.
They seemed to fly across the Pelennor.

Eventually, he slowed to a stop and dismounted. He
offered her his hands and she slid off the horse
into his outstretched arms. He set her on her
feet, a smile upon his face as he looked down at
her.

He spoke a sentence in Rohirric but said it so
quickly that she could not follow all of his words.
Realizing his error he spoke slowly, clearly
enunciating each word, "How did you learn my
language?"

Eomer watched amused as he could almost see her
thoughts in her serious expression as she
translated his words and formed an answer.

"A stable hand in Dol Amroth is from Rohan,"
Lothiriel said slowly. "It was my horse that got
him to telling me of his home. And I asked if he
would teach me."

Though her grammar and pronunciation was far from
perfect, the sound of his language coming from her
lips was like music to his ears.

"You speak it well," Eomer said.

Lothiriel raised an eyebrow at him, skeptically.
"You are a liar. . . . but thank you."

Eomer reverted back to common speech. "What made
you want to learn it? Faramir can barely string
together one sentence and he is marrying a
Rohirrim." Eomer gazed at her intently.

She shrugged self-consciously. "I had little else
to do in Dol Amroth."

"What about your endless beaches? Surely they were
more enticing than learning an all but ignored
language."

"As beautiful as they are I cannot spend all day
staring at them," Lothiriel said. "Besides. . I
wished to give Eowyn a proper Rohirric greeting on
her wedding day. She asked me to be her wedding
maiden. Eowyn said she had no one else to ask."

"That's because it is a position usually held by
the mother or a married sister," Eomer said.

"She didn't tell me that," Lothiriel said quietly,
obviously surprised at the significance of the
role. "She didn't tell me *anything*. We have no
similar custom in Dol Amroth. What is required of
me? I want to do this as well as any sister would.
She deserves that."

Eomer smiled. "But you are not married."

"Why should that matter at all," Lothiriel said.

Eomer considered his words carefully, trying not to
smile. Discussing the customs of Rohirrim wedding
nights was something girls giggled over in large
groups behind closed doors, it was not a topic of
discussion that Eomer had been expecting. "In the
Mark, it is considered bad luck to enter the
wedding chambers before the ceremony. The day of
the ceremony, the wedding maid prepares the
chambers for the night."

"That does not sound so hard. Is that all?"

"Before the celebration gets too late, the maid
escorts the bride to the wedding chambers - - "

"And?"

But Eomer did not answer. Lothiriel stepped in
front of him blocking his way.

"Out with it, or I shall have to fluster my way
through this same conversation with a complete
stranger," Lothiriel looked up at him frustrated.
"And once is quite enough."

Eomer smiled. "The maid is always a married woman
because she offers the bride advice. . on. . . "
Eomer struggled for the most inoffensive word. ".
. .the art of love."

Lothiriel considered his words. “I suppose I can
come up with something.”

“Do you?”

“The libraries of Minas Tirith are well-known
throughout Middle-Earth. They have books on all
subjects. Some. . .even have drawings,” Lothiriel
explained.

Eomer laughed. They gazed out across the Pelennor.

"What are those mounds?" Lothiriel asked, pointing
into the distance.

"Where they buried the dead from the battle,"
Eomer said.

"It came so close to the gates of the city?"
Lothiriel asked.

Eomer nodded. He pointed back where they had come.
"This whole area was surrounded by Sauron's forces.
I was not sure I would live to see the end of this
battle," Eomer said. "And in some ways, I did not
wish to."

"Why ever not?"

"Theoden was dead. Eowyn was gone." Eomer
shrugged uncomfortably.

"Eowyn?"

"I saw her and she was so pale and still she had
the look of death about her. Was it not for your
father, she might have died. He saw the life
within her, though it was very faint and had her
taken to the Houses of Healing," Eomer said. "But
I did not know that until the battle was over."

"So you fought the rest of that day thinking your
entire family was dead," Lothiriel said.

Eomer could only nod.

"You would not have recognized me," Eomer said.
"I did not even recognize myself."

He should not have come back here. It was a
mistake. The memories were still too fresh in his
mind. He had spent the past year burying them, and
standing upon these grounds brought it all back in
a rush. The madness. The death. "I did not
expect to live through the battle. I did not want
to. I - - wanted only to kill."

"You thought your family was dead. Anyone would
have been filled with rage," Lothiriel said.

Eomer shook off her words. "You don't understand.
I didn't just kill. I made them suffer. I enjoyed
it. The sound of their screams...their blood on my
hands. I * enjoyed * it. No man of honor would do
what I did upon this field." He should not have
spoken. He should not have told her.

Eomer turned to her, uncertain of what he was even
asking or what he even wanted. She opened her arms
and he pulled her to him in a tight embrace.

"No matter what happened here, you are an honorable
man," she whispered softly. She offered him the
forgiveness that he could not give himself.

Eomer held onto her, resting his chin atop her
head. For a long time they did not move nor speak.

"I had forgotten about that," Eomer said.

"About what?"

"That conversations with you are entirely too
exhausting," Eomer said.

"That is no fault of mine."

They rode back to the stables in companionable
silence and met Eowyn as they headed back to the
castle.

Seeing the two of them together, Eowyn smiled. "So
my brother is your kidnapper. I should have
guessed as much."

"He's not so much a kidnapper as a horse thief,"
Lothiriel said with a grin.

"You shall have to tell me the whole story at
dinner, you have just enough to get washed up
before it's time to be seated," Eowyn said.

Lothiriel started to go but Eomer stopped her by
taking her hand. She looked up at him.

"Thank you."

"I meant what I said," Lothiriel said, softly.

Eomer bowed slightly and gave her hand a squeeze
before letting her go. He watched her go until she
disappeared through the castle doors.

“There is no shame in admitting you've missed her,”
Eowyn said.

Eomer raised his eyebrows. “I thought I was
suppose to be the older and wiser sibling?”

Eowyn linked her arm through his. “You are a man.
And every woman upon the earth, no matter her age
understands matters of the heart better than a man
ever will.”

Eomer snorted. “You women can keep your matters of
the heart. They are nothing but a headache.”

“Poor dear brother,” Eowyn teased. “Whatever
shall I do with you?”

“Cut off my head and put me out of my misery,”
Eomer said.

“Your head?” Eowyn laughed. “I was under the
impression that a man suffering from such a
condition would have trouble in quite a different
part of the anatomy.”

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Chapter name
Chapter 8
Created
20 May 2003
Last Edited
20 May 2003
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