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Trust To Hope

Chapter 14: Chapter Thirteen

by Novedhelion

Trust to Hope - Chapter Thirteen
Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel aka Anhuil
Rating: PG13
Warnings:
Beta: Riyallyn
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, no money to be made...interweaving book and movie...At least PJ kept the Eagles...

Translations at the bottom.

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Chapter Thirteen
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“When one is at home, he dreams of adventure. When one is on an adventure, he dreams of home.”
Anonymous
*******************

The River Anduín
18 Gwaeron, 3019 T.A.
***************************

The skies were still dark, even well after midday. Anhuil stood on the deck of the Thalion, watching the White Tower disappear in the distance as they slowly made their way down the Anduín, fighting the tears that threatened to spill whether she wanted them to or not.

“I thought I would find you here,” a chipper voice called out. Amrothos paced across the deck to her, heedless of the pitching of the ship. Of all of them, he had always been the most at home upon the water, whether the river or the open sea. Even as a small boy the prince had been fascinated with toy boats, and as an adult his chamber was filled with shelves of models he had made over the years.

“Why do you not come down and rest? It is a long journey yet, since the winds are not favorable. But at least we travel downstream.”

“I am not tired,” she answered, turning away to look over the railing.

“You look exhausted,” Amrothos chided. “You barely spoke at all during our ride to Osgiliath. That is not like you.”

She smiled weakly, leaning the heels of her hands on the rails, her gaze traveling back toward Minas Tirith. “Amrothos, may I ask you a question?”

He cocked his head to one side. “Since when do you request permission for your inquiries, sister?”

Anhuil chuckled. “Why did Ada send you home? Why not Elphir, if he was in need of a regent?”

The young prince sighed. He had known this question would come eventually. “Ada had duties to attend to, and Elphir insisted on being at his side. Erchirion as well. Being the youngest, I was not given the choice.”

“What choice? Amrothos, he is only acting as Steward of the city, is he not?”
Amrothos turned his back to her. She grabbed his shoulder and spun him around to face her. “Is he not, Amrothos?”

Her brother’s gaze fell to the deck. “Ani...”

Her eyes narrowed at his hesitation. “I am a member of this family, and anything that concerns the royal family and the people of Dol Amroth is my concern as well!”

Drawing a deep breath, he put his hands on her shoulders. “Anhuil, you know about the Dark Lord, and the legend we heard about the ring. Do you remember?”

With a puzzled look, the princess thought, searching her memory for the verses she had read in the library of Minas Tirith. “One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them...”

“Yes, yes. That is the one.”

“But Amrothos, is that not myth? A legend...”

Her brother shook his head slowly. “No, Ani, it is true. The legend is true. Isildur’s bane is real. The One Ring has been found.”

“But Sauron was defeated! The enemy has been driven back!”

Again, he shook his head. “Only a setback, Ani. It will not be long. Behind the Black Gates the Enemy bides his time.”

“Where is the ring?”

“This is going to sound insane, but,” he paused, weighing his words, “it is in the possession of a halfling.”

“Perianath? I met a halfling, in Uncle Denethor’s court. Peregrin Took, I believe was his name.”

“Yes, I met him as well. But it is not he who carries the ring. Another, a kinsman of his travels with a companion to the Mountain of Fire as we speak. That is the only place the ring can be destroyed, according to Mithrandir.”

“Mithrandir? I should have known. How do you know this, Amrothos?”

“A council was held.”

The princess sank on to a nearby crate. “So the ring will be destroyed?”

Amrothos shrugged, sitting beside her. “That is our hope. But they must first cross the plains of Gorgoroth to get to the mountain. Ten thousand orcs camp there, by Mithrandir’s judgment. Unless they are drawn out of Mordor, the halflings will not stand a chance.”

“And how exactly do they plan to do that, Amrothos? An army of ten thousand? What in Middle Earth are they going to do? March straight up to the Black Gates and -“ she stopped suddenly at the expression on her brother’s face. “Surely not,” she almost whispered. “Nan Belian, Amrothos...” She gripped his arm, her fingernails digging in through his tunic sleeve.

“It is the only way, Ani. They must. If the halflings do not destroy the ring, all is lost.”

She relaxed her grip on his arm, pressing the heels of her hands to her eyes, then looked up at the prince. “They are marching to their doom.”

Her brother nodded slowly.

“None expect to return.”

He nodded again. Her gaze fell to the deck.

A sudden thought occurred to her. “Amrothos...you say the leaders of men held council. I assume Gondor is not alone in this,” she stated, not raising her head.

“No, they are gathering most of the remaining armies. They will march as one, under the banner of Gondor. The Dunedain, the armies of Gondor, and the Rohirrim - “

At the mention of the Rohirrim, her head jerked up. Her father. Her brothers. And Éomer.

Amrothos stopped abruptly, the pained look in his sister’s eyes tearing at his heart. Her green eyes glistened with unshed tears. “There is always a chance they could make it, Ani,” he told her, taking her hands in his. “They truly had no choice. I wanted to go too, but Ada...Ada insisted I stay behind, for you.”

The princess threw her arms around her brother, the tears that had been threatening to spill all morning finally finding release. Amrothos held her and let her cry. Fighting his own emotions, he hugged her tightly. His sister had never been one to cry easily. Amrothos would rather have torn out his own heart than watch her weep.

“Ani, listen to me,” he told her, pulling her back and lifting her chin to look in her eyes. ”There is still a chance. If the halfling destroys the ring, then there is still a chance. We have to believe that.”

Nodding, the princess stood and pulled away from him, straightening her skirts. “I am going to go below now,” she informed him. “I think I will lie down for a while.”

“Would you like me to walk you down?”

“No, thank you, Amrothos. I just need to be alone for a while.”

With an understanding nod, her brother released her and watched her make her way to the steps. Turning his gaze eastward, he said a silent prayer to the Valar.

********

In her cabin below, the princess pulled out her small bundle of possessions. Withdrawing the tunic Éomer had loaned her, she smiled, folding it back up and stuffing it back into her pack. She carefully took out the dark green cloak, fingering the gold embroidered trim along the edge. Tucking it under her arm, she left her cabin and headed for the hold.

Stepping below, Anhuil lifted one of the lanterns from its hook on the wall and turned up the flame slightly. The hold was dim, even with the small windows on the sides of the ship open. The horses stamped nervously as the ship pitched and creaked.

Approaching Olórin’s stall, she spoke softly. “Suil, mellon.” The lantern was hung near the stall, the cloak laid over the wooden gate. She rubbed his nose, and he nuzzled her shoulder in return. “I know,” she replied. “So you have heard?” She paused as if waiting for him to answer. Deep brown eyes stared back at her. “He is with them.” She patted his neck thoughtfully, then leaned against him, the tears flowing again. “Amrothos says there is hope, but I do not see how.” She picked up the cloak and draped it about her shoulders. Olórin sniffed at it. “I know. I did not get the chance to return it. I do not know what he will do for a cloak. I suppose it matters not now...” she trailed off, unable to continue. Dropping to sit on a crate near his stall, she lowered her head into her hands and cried.

********

“Ani? Ani, are you down here?”

The prince stepped carefully down the stairs into the hold, reaching for the lantern that should have hung at the base of them. Finding it missing, he peered into the semi-darkness, spotting the small illumination at the far end of the hold. Making his way to the back, he patted his own horse as he strode by. “Ani?” he called out again.

The lantern still hung on the post outside Olórin’s stall. The black stallion whinnied softly and rubbed his nose against the prince’s sleeve. “Suildad,” Amrothos responded, patting him gently. “Have you seen-“

He stopped mid-sentence, his shoulders dropping in relief. Anhuil lay against the wall near the door to the stall, asleep on the hay, curled beneath a cloak. Her brother knelt beside her.

“Princess,” he said softly, shaking her. “This is no place for royalty to sleep. What would the women of Dol Amroth would think of you holding court with the horses?”

She opened her eyes briefly, only to close them again. “I care not what they think. You of all people should know that.” She snuggled down under the cloak again.

“Come on, Ani,” he said, shaking her again. “You cannot stay here. Merric was concerned when we could not find you.”

Her eyes opened again, reddened and swollen from crying. “How far could I go, Amrothos? We are on a ship in the middle of a river.”

He ignored her churlish answer. “Why are you sleeping here?”

“I was tired,” she answered sarcastically.

“You should be resting in the nice warm bed provided for you, not down here among the animals.”

“I rather like the company,” she answered curtly, finally raising to a sitting position. She rubbed her eyes, blinking hard.

“Let me help you up,” he offered, standing and reaching to help her to her feet. As she stood, the cloak fell in a heap on the hay. Amrothos bent to pick it up, noting the design. “This is not your cloak,” he observed.

The princess stared for a moment at the dark green fabric. “I know,” she answered, hoping he would not ask further.

She hoped in vain. “This is the cloak of the Rohirrim,” he said, as if this were news to her.

Casting a casual glance at the cloak, trying to be nonchalant, she brushed the hay from her skirt. “So it is.”

Her brother watched her pluck hay from her hair, one corner of his mouth turned up thoughtfully. “What troubles you?”

Standing straight and squaring her shoulders, she glared at him. “Our countries are being ripped apart by war. Our father and brothers are marching into certain death. You dare ask what troubles me?” She snatched the cloak from his hands and hurriedly folded it.

“Where did you get a Rohirrim cloak, Ani?” he asked her.

“Does that really matter at this point, Amrothos?” she asked defensively.

“For that matter, from where did you get this horse?” he gestured to Olórin.

“I am tired, and you woke me, and now I am going to my cabin to resume my sleep.” She grabbed the lantern and headed for the stairs.

“Oh, no, you are not.” Her brother caught her arm. “I want to know what is troubling you, Ani. And you are not answering my questions.”

“I was not aware that I obligated to divulge every detail of my life to you.” She jerked her arm away.

“This is not like you,” he said, his tone softening. “You told us much of your story at dinner with Ada, but I feel there is much more you are not telling. It is very likely, that we are going to be all that is left of our family.” Her mouth opened, her eyes wide. “Do not look at me like that, you know it is true. I would not wish to have secrets and animosity between us.”

The princess lowered her eyes to the hay scattered on the wooden planks. The soft groaning of the ship and occasional stamp of a hoof were the only sounds for a few long moments. Drawing in her breath, she raised her eyes to her brother’s.

“It is a long story, but I shall try to make it brief. When I was traveling, I came across a regiment of knights from Rohan. They provided an escort for me to Minas Tirith, and the horse as well, as mine had been stolen.”

“Yes, we found her a few days after you left.”

“Then she is-“

He shook his head. “No. I am sorry. The orcs had found her first.”

Anhuil sighed. “I hate to think what fate was hers, but there was nothing I could do. Suffice it to say that the marshal of the Riddermark saw fit to provide me with a spare horse from his company and to ensure that I arrived in Minas Tirith safely. He insisted I keep the animal.”

“That is quite a gift, such a magnificent horse. And a black one, as well. I hear they are rare indeed these days, after the raids of the Enemy on their herds. Why would he choose to give you such an animal? Because you are royalty?”

“He does not know that I am a princess. I did not tell them.”

Her brother stared at her in disbelief. “You did not tell them?”

“I did not,” she answered haughtily. “I saw no reason to parade my title.”

Amrothos shook his head. “So this marshal, he gifted you with this stallion and escorted you to Minas Tirith?”

The brief downcast look that crossed her face disappeared so suddenly her brother couldn’t be sure if he had seen it or not. “No. He sent another to escort me.”

“And the cloak? That is a gift from the marshal as well?”

“It is his, yes. I meant to return it but did not get the chance.” She ran her hand across the soft fabric, draped over her arm.

“Who is he?”

“It is no longer important,” she murmured, staring down at the cloak.

The prince regarded his sister in the dim lamplight. “Yes, it is,” Amrothos countered.

“Why?” she asked him, looking up defiantly.

“Because you are in love with him.”

Staring at her brother, her mouth opened to retort, then snapped shut as she turned and fled up the steps.

Her brother close on her heels, she ran to her cabin. He swung the door open, following her inside. “That is it, is it not? You are in love with this man. Who is he?”

“Amrothos, I told you. It does not matter. He will be marching on the Black Gates with the rest of the Rohirrim and I will never see him again so please stop asking me about it!”

“Ani, I cannot ignore this. As your elder brother I have a right to know.”

The princess had to bite her tongue to keep from laughing. “He was a perfect gentleman, Amrothos. You need not worry. It is more likely he would complain of my behavior.”

Shaking his head slowly, her brother sank down on to the edge of the bunk. “For the love of the Valar, Ani, what did you do?”

“Nothing terrible,” she said with a smirk. “With their love of songs, however, we did regale each other with tunes we knew."

Amrothos had heard some of the songs of the Rohirrim around the campfires at Pelennor. Not exactly songs he relished his sister hearing. He shook his head. “What did you sing?”

Giggling in a most un-royal fashion, she faced him down. “I sang them your dragon song.”

His eyes went wide, his mouth dropping open. “No, you did not!” His shock turned to a grin he tried to hide.

“I did indeed. And it was quite well received, thank you,” she stated with no small satisfaction.

“Who is he?” her brother asked again.

“I will not say,” she said defiantly.

“Ani, if he loves you, he may come to ask Ada for permission to court you. What are you going to do then?”

“He will do no such thing, Amrothos. He has no idea who I am. I did not even give him my proper name.” At her brother’s puzzled look, she smiled sadly. “He knows me only as Anhuil.”

She dropped beside him on the bunk, staring down at the cloak in her hands, her fingers moving idly over the fabric.

“You love him,” her brother said again.

Anhuil sat silently. “Yes, I do,” she admitted. “But if what we fear is true, I will never see him again. May we please not discuss it further?” The tears she thought she had spent completely began again, falling softly on to the fabric in her lap, darker green spots appearing on the soft wool. The prince put his arm around her, drawing her to him.

“Should you wish to discuss it later, you know where to find me." He hugged her and stood to go. "Now, please, get some rest.”

“Amrothos,” she called after him. “May we keep this between us?”

The prince nodded. “Please rest now. We will have much to do when we arrive home.”

Her brother closed the door behind him. Lying back on the bunk, she pulled the cloak over her again, tucking one corner under her cheek as she lay on her side. The fading scent of leather lingering on the fabric comforted her only slightly as she fell into a fitful sleep.

********
25 Gwaeron, 3019 T.A.
*****************************

Days passed quickly as they traveled down the river. One brief stop in South Ithilien to restock supplies and they had continued downriver and into the Bay of Belfalas, turning west to follow the coastline around the cape to Dol Amroth.

Anhuil tried to keep busy, reading some of the many volumes loaned to her by the Admiral. He had given her free reign to select from his rather large and varied private collection, and she had gladly taken up his offer. Anything to keep her mind occupied.

Her thoughts were almost always of her family and Éomer, as no news had yet been forthcoming. Her brother’s attempts to get her to tell more were in vain. The books, at least, offered some distraction.

Sitting curled on a bench in the galley one afternoon, she sipped her tea and read over again a volume she had found concerning the customs of the people of the desert of Harad. As she read about the practice of keeping harems, she did not hear the Admiral enter.

“Ah, there you are, Princess,” he said with a grin. “I found this-“ he stopped short, his expression freezing.

“What is it, Lord Merric?” she asked, rising to her feet, the book still in her hand.

His mouth moved as if he was trying to speak but it took a few moments for the sound to come. “Are you reading that volume?” he asked her, indicating the one in her hand.

“Why, yes. It is very interesting, you know. About the customs of the Haradrim, and of the Umbarians as well. It is-“

“Entirely inappropriate for a lady of your standing to be reading such things,” he said quickly, deftly plucking the book from her hand. “I had forgotten that book was in there. Here,” he said, offering her the book he had carried in. “I was bringing you this.” He placed the book of poetry he had brought in her hands. “It is far more suitable reading material for a princess.”

“I found that book interesting, Admiral. Did you know the Haradrim can have more than one wife?”

“Your father would have me keel-hauled if he knew I had allowed you to see such a thing!” he answered in a hushed tone, blushing.

“As you wish, Admiral. I would not want any enmity betwixt you and Ada over such an issue. I am certain this poetry will be lovely.”

With a curt nod, the sailor turned away, tucking the book into his coat pocket, muttering under his breath. Chuckling softly to herself, the princess sat back down and opened the poetry book with a sigh.

******

“Ani!”

The princess looked up from her tea as her brother burst into the galley. “Come topside, Ani. I want to show you something.” He reached for her hand.

With a resigned sigh, she stood and laid the book aside, following her brother to the deck above. In the grey skies clouds hung menacingly low, but in the distance she could see the shores of Dol Amroth and the palace of the Prince.

“Home,” she said quietly, wondering if it ever truly would feel like that again.

Amrothos came beside her, putting his arm around her shoulders. Leaning on the rail, she watched the sea spray flying up alongside the ship as the wind drove them toward the shores of Belfalas. As they stood on the deck, watching the coastline draw nearer, the sun peeked through the deep clouds, shining first afar on the white stone walls of the palace of Dol Amroth, then slowly creeping across the sea. Looking up, brother and sister watched in awe as the darkness rolled back, the sky clearing. The ship’s crew all but stopped their work, staring up at the sunlit sky, a wonder after so many days of darkness.

Merric stood in the center of the deck, his eyes searching the horizon. “Look!” he shouted, pointing to the eastern sky. A dark shape flew in the distance, the calls becoming clearer as it drew nearer.

And Landroval, the brother of the Great Eagle Gwahir, flew over the coastline of Dol Amroth, calling out the same tidings from the Lords of the West that his brother had delivered to Minas Tirith.

The realm of Sauron is ended for ever
and the Dark Tower is thrown down...

The prince hugged his sister to him. “Did you hear, Ani? I told you there was hope!”

“So it would appear.” Her smile thin, she turned to Merric. “How long until we put in to port?”

“Less than an hour, my lady,” came the response.

The princess turned to stare out across the sea again, her hands together in front of her face, the sides of her index fingers against her lips. “Perhaps we shall have more news once we reach land,” Anhuil said hopefully, staring into the distance where the Eagle glided. “Now we have only to hope that Ada and the others are safe.”

“It will be fine, Ani,” Amrothos promised. “Go and gather your things, and prepare to take leave.”

“I will,” she told him. “I love the water, you know that, Amrothos, but I fear it will be a week ere I can walk without waiting for the ground to pitch under me.” She turned and descended the steps to her cabin.

********

The Thalion pulled into the harbor of Dol Amroth at sunset. Disembarking, the prince and princess were greeted by servants of the palace. Amrothos found himself searching the faces, and wondered why. Of course she would not be among them. She had duties to attend to. She would be too busy to--

“Ani!” a voice called out.

“Cam!” Forgetting completely about proper protocol, the two women hugged each other tightly and stepped back, grinning.

Amrothos watched as the blonde greeted his sister, the slightest pang of jealousy stirring in him that the greeting was not for him. He stepped back, surprised at his own reaction.

“I have so much to tell you, Cam!”

“I suppose it is time for another walk on the beach? Come. I am sure you would love to get cleaned up. The cook is preparing a special meal for you and Amrothos, to welcome you home.”

Anhuil sighed. “What is it, Ani?” Cam asked her, a concerned look crossing her face.

Anhuil shook her head, dismissing Cam’s worry.

“Do not worry about her, Cam,” he chided lightly. “She has taken to these fits of melancholy lately. I keep telling her it does not suit her at all.”

The princess cuffed him on the shoulder with a chuckle.

Offering his arms to the ladies, he smiled. “If I may escort you lovely ladies, I would be most honored.”

“I am honored by your offer, my Prince,” the blonde answered mockingly, “but I already have an escort.”

“Valesa!” the deep voice behind Amrothos called out. “There is my girl!” The Admiral stepped down the gangplank and wrapped his daughter in his strong arms, swinging her off her feet.

“Ada,” Cam said with mock consternation, “this is not very proper behavior from the Admiral of the fleet.”

“The Admiral sets the standards for behavior around here, girl, and do not forget it,” he scolded playfully, kissing her cheek. He turned to the prince. “Trying to usurp me, youngling?”

“I would not dare,” the prince answered with a grin at Cam, backing up graciously and taking his sister’s arm.

Cam laughed. “The horses are waiting, your highness,” she teased Amrothos.

“Then let us not keep them, Lady Valesa. Never let it be said that Prince Amrothos keeps any waiting, even his steed.”

Cam rolled her eyes and glanced over at the princess, who still only bore the slightest hint of a smile. Yes, tonight was definitely another night for a walk on the beach.

********

tithen siler - little sister
Nan Belian - Valar forbid
Suil mellon - Hi, friend
Suildad - hello

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Chapter Thirteen
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11 Feb 2004
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11 Feb 2004
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