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The Princess and the King

Chapter 9: Chapter 9

by JMac

Chapter 9

Though most of the city was already out in the Pelennor awaiting the evening’s ceremony, Lothiriel was still in the castle. Between helping Arwen greet guests and keeping Eowyn from murdering her seamstress, she hadn’t had a free moment to see to the wedding chambers until it was almost too late.

In record time, she’d arranged the fresh flowers and put their belongings in the wardrobe. She was setting out the candles when the door opened. Assuming it was Eowyn, she continued across the room.

"I have managed to obtain a few choice pieces of advice on the arts of love," Lothiriel said.

"Have you now? And what did you discover?" Eomer asked, quite amused.

At the sound of his voice, Lothiriel dropped everything she was carrying. Candles rolled across the floor. She stooped to pick them up. Eomer strode across the room to help her.

Kneeling down beside her, he began piling the candles back into the basket. "Well?" Eomer asked, clearly enjoying her discomfort.

"You know those words were not meant for you," Lothiriel stammered, as she rushed to gather up the rest of the candles. "I thought you were Eowyn."

"That is a pity." Eomer winked at her. He took the basket of candles from her. "Where would you like these?"

The door opened and Eowyn stood just beyond the doorway, not walking inside. Seeing the two of them together her eyes rose in amusement. "What are you doing in here, Eomer?"

"Tormenting me," Lothiriel said.

"If he continues to do so, just give him a swift kick in the shins, it always worked for me as a child," Eowyn said.

"Actually, as much as I enjoy teasing Lotty, I am here in an official capacity," Eomer said.

"Official?"

"Faramir asked me to see to some things.”

At the mention of his name, a smile spread across Eowyn's face. "See to what things?"

Eomer shook his head. "I am sworn to a vow of silence. And if he knew you were near this room at all, he would be very disappointed."

Eowyn sighed and handed a box over to Lothiriel and started to close the door behind her.

"Oh, before you go, Lotty has some words of advice for you," Eomer said.

Lothiriel cross the room and whispered in Eowyn's ear for a long minute. With each passing second Eowyn's eyes grew wider. She looked at Lothiriel and said, "Really? Are you certain?"

Lothiriel nodded.

Eowyn glanced at her brother and shook her head, "Men."

The smile on Eomer's face had turned to an expression of outright curiosity for it was seldom that anyone told Eowyn something she did not already know. Growing up in a houseful of men there was little that she had not seen or heard.

Lothiriel had a smug grin on her face as she began to set out the candles.

"What did you tell her?"

"I am certainly not telling you."

"Perhaps if you will not tell me, someday you will be willing to show me?" Eomer asked, his eyes were twinkling.

She lifted her foot as if to kick him. He held his hands up in surrender. "I shall torment you no longer."

"Good."

Eomer left the room and caught up with Eowyn. They walked out to the edge of the city together. Eowyn had been so busy preparing for the wedding that she’d had little time to see to the arrivals of guests. The rows upon rows of tents decorated in the colors of Rohan that dotted the Pelennor took her off guard.

“So many…” Eowyn said softly. “I never imagined that so many would make the journey.”

“They are proud of you,” Eomer said. “No matter how far away from home you are, you will always be Rohirrim. I trust you will not forget that.”

Eowyn smiled. “Never.”

* * * * * * *

Amid the glowing reds and pinks of the sunset, Faramir and Eowyn said their vows to one another. They turned to the crowds and raised the wedding goblet and each took a drink. The crowd broke into cheers.

The festivities followed immediately. The Pelennor was a wonderful mix of Rohirrim and Gondorian cultures. It was possible to walk from tent to tent hearing the different languages as well as sample the varying music, food and drink of each culture.

Eomer joined Imrahil and Lothiriel as they sat beneath one of the tents. Buffets of food were close at hand, and the music was just far enough away to allow for conversation.

“Was the ceremony similar to those in Rohan?” Lothiriel asked.

“Rohirrim customs are not as formal as those in Gondor,” Imrahil said.

She turned to Eomer. “How so?”

“Once a lady has consented to the union, a public announcement of their betrothal is made. After that time they live as husband and wife,” Eomer explained.

“No formal ceremony at all? No wonder Eowyn complained so about this one,” Lothiriel said.

“Yes, they are a country of heathens,” Imrahil said with a grin.

“A wedding feast is not held until a year later,” Eomer said. “It has been that way for centuries. For often when war was upon us, a man who was betrothed may not live until the wedding date. Things are not so hard now, but we hold onto our traditions.”

Imrahil chuckled. “At least the good ones, eh?”

“Well tonight anyway, we only have to remember the Gondorian ones,” Lothiriel said. “If we do not hurry and escort Eowyn and Faramir away, I feel I may come to bodily harm. She’s been shooting evil glances at me for the last few minutes.”

Imrahil laughed. “Go then. Take care of your duties. I will entertain myself with another glass of elvish wine.”

* * * * * *

With great cheers from the crowds, Faramir and Eowyn rode through the Pelennor on an open carriage before Eomer and Lothiriel escorted them back to the castle. One of the stable hands took charge of the carriage. Although, there were four of them on the steps, Faramir and Eowyn acted as if they were the only two people on the face of the earth.

Faramir bowed formally in her direction. Eowyn smirked at him, "Please, I can stand no more formalities this night."

"I am relieved to hear it," Faramir said.

Eowyn shrieked with laughter as Faramir scooped her up into his arms carrying her as gracefully as possible up the steps into the castle.

Eomer and Lothiriel watched until they disappeared behind the castle doors.

“I would be honored if I could escort you back to the Pelennor. You owe me a dance,” Eomer said.

“Or we could check on the horses.” Lothiriel turned in the direction of the stables before he could answer.

Eomer glanced over at her. Her innocent expression hid a challenge. “We could,” Eomer said. He took her hand. “You know there is one difference between sneaking a lady to the beach in Dol Amroth and sneaking one to the stables in Rohan.”

“And what would that be?” Lothiriel asked.

“Unlike sand, hay is very very comfortable.”

A small smile spread across Lothiriel’s face. “Let me be the judge of that.”

The moment they were alone, Eomer could tell this meeting between them was different. Although unspoken, something had changed between them. In the long months at Edoras, Eomer had danced around the subject, fooling even himself. But there was no denying this. He could not have kept his hand from reaching out and takings hers even if he had wanted to.

The streets were deserted, everyone was in the city was taking part in the celebration. They walked silently up the sidewalk, their fingers carrying on the conversation for them. Her hand was soft and small within his large one. His fingers intertwined with hers, exploring every line on her palm, every finger, as if his hand had never touched another before this very night.

The distinct blow of a horn pierced the night. Eomer froze. He listened to the short staccato notes blown in succession.

"What is it?"

"Intruders within the city."

Before he could form another thought, they heard horses running towards them. The carriage galloped recklessly through the streets, the stable hand urging the horses faster. Following behind the carriage was a company of riders in black. A few yards away they caught up with the carriage and slowed it to a stop. One of the riders, yanked the stable hand from the seat.

Instantly, Eomer pulled Lothiriel off the road and into the cover of a doorway. It offered little cover but it was better than being in the street. Eomer covered her body with his. Hoping the shadows the doorway offered would hide them from view. He drew his sword.

While a handful of men questioned the stable hand, the other men bided their time by looting the nearby shops coming precariously close to Eomer and Lothiriel’s location.

Grimly, Eomer reached down and drew a dagger from his boot. He pressed it into Lothiriel’s hand. She held the dagger so tightly that her knuckles were white. Almost as white her pale face. He realized that she was depending upon him to see her to safety.

Responsibilities had been forced upon Eomer all his life but never one so precious as this. When he went to battle, always it had been to protect his homeland, his way of life, his people. They were all abstract things compared to her. Never had someone's immediate survival depended solely upon his skill as a warrior. He felt inadequate for such a burden and at the same time honored that it fell to him and no one else to bear. And he knew, with a certainty that he'd never felt before, that he would not hesitate to give his life to protect her. There was no hesitation. No second thoughts. It was a truth.

"No harm will come to you, so long as I stand," Eomer whispered.

"I know, but it is your falling that I worry about."

Eomer raised his eyebrows. She gave him a weak grin.

Lothiriel stood with her back pressed hard into the doorframe. Her heart pounded furiously in her chest. Eomer's jaws were clenched, his hand twitched on the hilt of his sword. He leaned out and looked down the road.

"How many?" Lothiriel asked. She knew he heard her but he did not answer. "How many?"

"Too many." Eomer's eyes told her more about their situation than she knew he would have ever admitted aloud. There was a desperate fierceness in his gaze that gave away his worries. He was not certain they could win.

A knot formed in Lothiriel's stomach. Certainly, Gondorian troops would arrive at any moment? This was the White City, it was suppose to be safe. Lothiriel's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of breaking glass. Laughter drifted to her ears as the men looted the shop next door. They were close. Gravel crunched underfoot. Someone was almost upon them. This was it. There would be no rescue, unless they rescued themselves.

Lothiriel noticed the almost imperceptible manner in which Eomer's posture changed. His body tensed. He adjusted the grip of his sword. She strained her ears as the footsteps came ever closer.

One step.

Two steps.

Three - -

In one sweeping fluid motion Eomer stepped from the shadows and plunged his sword into the enemy's chest. With a strangled cry the man fell. The sound caught the attention of two other men.

Eomer grabbed Lothiriel by the arm, “Run!” They raced down the nearest alley, as they came out on the adjoining street they were cut off by the enemy. They drew their swords.

“Surely you don’t believe you can succeed at this attack? Even with all the might of Sauron, the White City would not fall,” Eomer said.

“We have no wish to succeed, simply to see that those responsible for our master’s death avenged,” the man said.

“If that is the case, then let this lady go, for your quarrel is with me,” Eomer said.

“And who might you be?”

“I am Eomer, son of Eomund, King of the Mark, keeper of the Oath of Eorl. I fought beside King Elessar in the battle of the Pelennor. I stood beside him at the Black Gates when your master fell,” Eomer said. “If it is revenge you seek, you would do well to take me, but let this lady go.”

“Very well. The lady will be free to go, after you are dead,” the man said.

Eomer considered the man’s words. He was no fool. He knew none of them were honorable enough to keep their word. As he tried to think of a way out of the situation his eyes caught movement from the tops of the walls. Gondorian archers were moving into position. They were simply waiting for the safe shot.

Eomer nodded. “Agreed.” He slowly set his sword on the ground beside him.

Eomer caught Lothiriel’s eyes and gestured up to the walls. Without looking, she understood and took several steps backwards. One of the enemies grabbed her, pinning her arms behind her.

“On your knees, King of Rohan.”

Obediently, Eomer went to his knees. And all hell broke loose. Around him, the men fell. He grabbed his sword and joined the fight.

Lothiriel struggled with her attacker in a panic until she remembered Eowyn’s instructions. Instead of pulling away, she pushed herself closer into his grasp causing him to lose his balance. His grip loosened, and she reached for her dagger. He lunged towards her. Instinctively, Lothiriel raised her dagger. She could feel his flesh give way as the dagger sunk into his chest.

And as suddenly and unexpectedly as it had begun, it was over. The streets were silent. Around them the ground was littered with dead and wounded.

“Are you all right?” Eomer asked.

She nodded.

“We should return to the castle.”

Eomer raised his sword in thanks to the Gondorian archers, before taking Lothiriel’s arm and heading back to the castle.


* * * * * * * * *

Eowyn met them on the steps. Beside her, Faramir was red with anger. He was half-dressed holding his longbow staring out into the darkness.

“What’s happened?” Eomer asked.

"They were hidden within the spectators, dressed as Gondorians and Rohirrim,” Eowyn said.

“Targeting royalty only. One of Arwen's ladies took an arrow for her," Faramir said seriously. Then he looked at Lothiriel. "Imrahil was hit. He is in the House of Healing."

"What?”

Faramir nodded. "You should go to him." Faramir's eyes caught Eomer's. From his grave expression, Eomer guessed the wound was deadly.

"I'll take you there," Eomer said, softly.

Before they could walk away Faramir said, "Aragorn is gathering the troops."

Eomer nodded. “Tell him I did not take the Oath of Eorl and not expect to use it. I will ride.”


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

Lothiriel hesitated as they approached the doors to the house of healing.

“Shall I go see how he is?” Eomer asked.

Lothiriel shook her head. “No. I want to go. It’s only. . .I am afraid of what I will find.”

On a bed on the far side of the room, Imrahil lay stretched out, as still as death. An arrow protruded from his chest. Lothiriel’s knees gave way. Eomer arms slipped around her waist, keeping her on her feet.

"Lotty -- you shouldn't be here," Eomer said, gently.

"I have to speak to him. I have to."

Eomer nodded but he did not let go of her as they crossed the room together. Lothiriel sat down on the bed beside her father.

Imrahil jaws were clenched in pain, beads of sweat were pouring down his pale face. Seeing Lothiriel, relief washed over his face. "You are all right?"

She nodded. "I'm fine. I was not harmed." She took his hand. He was not even strong enough to squeeze it.

"If I do not make it --"

"Don't talk like that Papa, you will be all right."

"If I do not make it -- see that Erchirion leads our people until Amroth comes of age."

"I will."

The healers approached to do their work. Eomer took Lothiriel’s hand and helped her to her feet. Imrahil reached out and grasp Eomer's arm. "Take care of her."

Eomer bowed. "Yes, my lord."

Once the door to the Healing Room closed behind them, Lothiriel let the tears fall from her eyes. Eomer pulled her to him, holding her gently in his arms.

Elfhelm approached them.

"Get the eored ready," Eomer said. "Let me change and I'll be down in a moment."

Elfhelm nodded. "Shall I send a man to assist you?"

Lothiriel wiped the tears from her face and gathered her composure. "I will assist him."

* * * * * *

In his chambers, Eomer stripped down to his tunic and trousers. Wordlessly, Lothiriel handed him his coat of chain mail. He slipped it over his head. Lothiriel walked behind him, making sure there were no kinks in the chains and that it hung properly down his back.

Eomer pointed to the breast and back plates and held them in place while Lothiriel tightened the holds. Piece by piece she helped him get his armor in place.

In all his years of fighting, Eomer had never had a woman assist him with his armor. Preparing for battle was a private ritual. It was a rare intimacy that was generally only shared with the members of his eored. Though unspoken, each of them knew that it could be the last time they stood together.

Eomer knew this reality was not lost on Lothiriel.
There was so much he wanted to say, but there was no time for any of it. So he said the only words that mattered, "I love you."

And he walked out the door.

* * * * *

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Chapter 9
Created
25 May 2003
Last Edited
25 May 2003
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