Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Trust To Hope

Chapter 17: Chapter Sixteen

by Novedhelion

Trust To Hope - Chapter Sixteen
Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel aka Anhuíl
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Fenwick just gets more annoying...
Beta: Riyallyn
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, no money to be made. Just doing this for the fun of it.


********************
Chapter Sixteen
********************

I can’t hide it
I can’t fight it
It’s so hard to live without the love
She gave to me...
Just to see her smiling face
Feel her warm embrace
Can’t find anyone to take her place
I’ve got to see her again...

Just To See Her - Smokey Robinson
**********************


************************
The Palace of the Prince
Dol Amroth
30 Nórui, 3019 T.A.
***********************

The princess sat on her bed, staring at the trunk on the floor. Her maids had been busily packing all day, making sure she had everything she would need for her travels. She chuckled. She had traveled for weeks with nothing but one clean change of clothing, her weapons, a journal, and a vial of lavender oil. Now for some reason, her maids thought it necessary to pack half of what she owned, and had the other half spread across the chairs and the bed.

Rolling her eyes, Anhuil stood and picked up her bow and dagger, slipping them inside the trunk with her journal. She also placed her tunic, leggings and boots underneath the piles of dresses before snapping the lid shut. Perhaps she and Cam would find time to do some sparring or spend a few hours on the archery field one afternoon.

As if on cue, the blonde peeked in the doorway. “You about ready?” She glanced around the room at the piles of clothing, shaking her head. “What in Middle Earth happened in here? It looks as if you are trying to clothe all of Minas Tirith!”

“These women are convinced I must have no less than three dresses per day,” Anhuil answered, rolling her eyes. “Must we do this?”

Cam grinned went to her, putting her arm around the princess’ shoulders. “It is the king’s wedding. I do not think it would be proper for you, daughter of the Prince of Dol Amroth, to dishonor him by declining his invitation.”

The princess raised one eyebrow. “My dear Lady Valesa is suddenly concerned with propriety?”

“Banish the thought,” Cam joked. “Besides, what if your soldier is there?”

Anhuil leaned her head to one side. “What would a soldier of Rohan be doing at the King of Gondor’s wedding?” she asked sardonically.

“Did you not say he was an officer? Perhaps he will be there with his king,” Cam offered.

Smiling, the princess considered this. “It is possible, I suppose, but I hold little hope. I do not know if he even survived, Cam.” Her thoughts drifted as her voice trailed off. “Still...” she said pensively. She shook away the thought. She was already betrothed to another. No sense in entertaining the idea.

“Come on,” the blonde urged her. “The men are waiting.” She ducked back out the door.

“Valar forbid we keep them,” Anhuil said sarcastically, throwing her cloak over her arm. Almost as an afterthought, she went to her bed and pulled the deep green cloak from under her quilt, tucking it into the bottom of the trunk. Satisfied, she followed her friend out the door.

****************
Meduseld
Rohan
30 Nórui, 3019 T.A.
*************************

Éomer sat at his desk, staring down at the missive in his hand, rubbing his beard thoughtfully. A slight knock at the door caught his attention. “Enter,” he called out.

The door creaked open softly, admitting the slim figure of his sister. “You called for me, Éomer?”

He sighed deeply, handing her the missive. “I am afraid I may be unable to attend the wedding,” he informed her. “An issue has arisen at Aldburg that I must see to ere I leave Rohan.” He looked up at her, watching her face as she read over the letter sent by Elfhelm, his marshal stationed there. “I am sorry, Éowyn. You could continue with guard and be there in time, but I fear I will not arrive for some days hence.”

“You are a king now, Éomer, and some issues will take priority over others.” She smiled at him, but he could see the slight disappointment in her eyes. “I will travel with you as far as the Eastfold, and then go on to Mundberg from there. You may join me as soon as you are able.”

She handed him back the parchment, which he laid aside. Leaning on the frame of the door, she folded her arms, watching him pull out a clean sheet of parchment and lift his quill. He raised his eyes to hers in question.

“What about Ani?” she asked him.

“I will send a message to Imrahil, making inquiry,” Éomer said, turning quickly back to his writing. “We should be prepared to leave at first light,” he continued. “You should get some rest.”

“Such a king you have become, big brother, ordering me around,” she teased him.

“Goodnight, Éowyn,” he said through gritted teeth, without looking up.

She grinned and turned to leave. “Goodnight, my lord and king,” she said, her mocking tone causing him to roll his eyes toward the stone ceiling. He certainly hoped Faramir knew what he was getting in to.

********
Lossarnach
Along the River Anduín
Gondor
2 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
*************************

The journey to Minas Tirith was not an unpleasant one. The weather was warm and agreeable. They traveled through Belfalas, north up the River Gilrain. Staying south of the White Mountains, they crossed the Sirith and the Erui, and followed the Anduín north to the White City.

The party from Dol Amroth camped for the night just after crossing the ford of the River Erui. Anhuil and Cam dismounted their horses and headed up the river, the large wolf following closely.

“Lothíriel, allow the boys to take care of those horses. Come and sit. You and Cam must be tired,” her father called to them. “I promised Merric I would watch after Cam on this trip, and he will have me for a figurehead if anything happens to her, especially after he took such care of you.”

“He obviously does not know what kinds of reading material your father keeps in that library of his,” Anhuil muttered quietly to Cam, who stifled a chuckle. “We will walk them ourselves,” she answered her father. “Do not worry, Elenion is with us.”

Fenwick rode over to where the women stood on the riverbank and dismounted. “I will walk with you,” he offered.

“It is not necessary, Mardil. Cam and I will be fine,” the princess told him abruptly, turning her back on him. Elenion took one step toward the man, his gaze steady, making no sound.

“You should not wander alone at night,” Fenwick insisted, eyeing the wolf warily.

Cam stared at him, then burst into laughter. “Ooh, and what are you going to do, Fenwick? Protect us from the evil fireflies?” She gestured toward the tiny insects flashing in the underbrush.

Glaring at the two giggling women, Mardil turned his back and walked his horse in the other direction without a word.

***************************
Rohan
7 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
************************

In the late afternoon sun, the party from Edoras halted under a copse of trees near the road. Some walked their mounts to the small nearby stream, while others dismounted to walk about a bit and stretch. With a nod to Gamling, Éomer rode slightly ahead and away from the others. Reining in his mount, he dismounted, leading Firefoot to the edge of the small stream and released the lead to let him drink. Reaching down, he plucked a small yellow blossom from the grass near the stream.

Standing in the shade, he stared down at the crystal water cascading over the small stones, absentmindedly twisting the small flower in his hand. He tossed the blossom into the stream, watching as it tumbled over rocks, wondering if it would go all the way to the sea. He sighed. The sea. Dol Amroth. He would much prefer to be headed there instead of back to Minas Tirith.

“Perhaps you will find her when you arrive,” his sister’s soft voice startled him. He jumped slightly, turning to look at her.

“Who?”

Éowyn rolled her eyes. “Who? Whom do you think I mean?” She nodded toward his hand, which had gone to his pocket and withdrawn the small handkerchief without conscious thought.

He looked down at it and back up at her. “I do not know, Éowyn,” he said with a sigh.

“Did you not say that you suspected she was of an educated family, someone of nobility?”

‘Well, yes, I did, but-“

“There will be nobles and royals from all over Gondor at this wedding. And if by some chance she is not there, I would be willing to bet someone there will know who and where she is.” She came close beside him, slipping her small hand around his arm.

“Even if she is there, I will not be,” he commented. “She may leave the city ere I ever arrive, if she comes at all.” Éomer thumbed the flowers on the edge of the cloth again before hastily folding it up and slipping it back into his pocket.

He turned back to his sister. “When we return, we will bear Théoden home for burial,” he told her. “It is not a duty I look forward to.”

“You are the king, Éomer. There are going to be many things you do not wish to do that you will be required to do nonetheless.”

“I appreciate the reminder,” he responded sarcastically.

“Come on, big brother.” She released his arm and reached for the reins of his horse, handing them to him. “You will not find her by standing here staring into a stream.”

He smiled, taking the reins from her. “I would not be so sure,” he quipped. “It was beside a stream she found me the first time.”

Éowyn grinned as she mounted her horse. “Perhaps if I draw my sword on you she may come to your rescue.”

“I shall keep your offer in mind should I become desperate,” he droned, leaping astride his own horse and trotting in the other direction. With a chuckle, his sister followed as they joined the others.

**********************
Lossarnach
Along the River Anduín
Gondor
7 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
*************************

Anhuíl opened her eyes. Breathing heavily, she realized she was clenching the blanket at her sides. A voice had awakened her.

Her own voice.

Calling his name.

She had never had a dream so vivid.

Sitting up, she drew the quilt up, wiping her face with the edge of it. Nightmares she had dealt with before…but this dream…she wasn’t sure what to think. All she knew was that it ended too soon, long before she wanted it to.

Cam sat up as well, staring at her in the dim light of the tent. “Are you all right?”

“I...I do not know...” the princess stammered, rubbing her eyes. “Did I wake you?” She pressed her fingertips to her temples.

“Ani,” the blonde whispered, “you were calling his name, and not quietly! What were you dreaming?” she asked, her eyes wide.

“Ani?” Her brother’s voice came from outside her tent. “Are you all right? We heard you call out.”

“I am fine, Amrothos. It was just a dream. Go back to bed.”

Her brother paused outside the tent for a moment. “All right. Call me if you need to.”

“I will. Goodnight.” She breathed a sigh of relief as he walked back to the men’s tents, and looked at the blonde. Anhuil shook her head slowly. “Cam...I...”

“Did you…I mean…when you were with him, did you and he…”

“Oh, no, Cam. No. He kissed me, but…no…” She smiled shyly. “He said he wanted to wait.”

Cam looked at her, grinning. “He wanted to wait?”

The princess nodded.

“For what?”

Anhuil stared at her, shocked. “Camwethrin, for the love of the Valar! He was being a gentleman.”

Raising her hands in surrender, the blonde laughed. “All right, all right. I understand!” She looked knowingly at her friend. “You were dreaming of…him?”

“To be honest, I do not remember exactly what I was dreaming, but it was...well, I am certainly no expert in the matter, Camwethrin.” Anhuíl answered dryly, flopping down on her cot.

Cam laid back and rolled over. “From the sound of your dream, he certainly is,” she shot back over her shoulder as the princess stared at her, wide-eyed.

********

Mardil Fenwick lay on his back, in his own tent, staring up at the ceiling of his tent. A bad dream, her brother had said. Nightmares would be understandable considering what they all had been through over the last months, but the sounds he had heard did not sound like a nightmare to him.

She had called out a name.

Narrowing his eyes, he glared at nothing in particular. The princess had been less than open with him about her travels and now he wanted to know whose name it was she called out in her sleep. Who was it that could make her cry out like that, even in a dream?

He rolled over on to his side, punching the bedroll that he used as a pillow with a fist. No man would take what was rightfully his. He would find out who, and he would deal with it.

****************
The Fortress of Aldburg
The East Fold
Rohan
8 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
*************************

Éomer stood on the steps of the main hall of the fortress, a cup of hot tea in hand, looking out across the courtyard. Cottages surrounded the main yard, where women and children bustled about. A few dogs trotted here and there at the heels of their masters, chasing the occasional chicken across the greensward. On one stone porch, a grey and white cat slept, stretched in the morning sun. Men of the Eastfold éored moved about the stable, some preparing to go on patrol, others returning, exchanging news from the outlying lands.

Aldburg, the first fortress of Rohan, where kings had dwelt ere King Brego had built the Golden Hall of Meduseld. Thus had been the home of his father, Éomund, former Marshal of the Eastfold. His childhood home. His adult home, from the time he had taken the office of Third Marshal until assuming the throne of Rohan. He shook his head. This should still be his home, he thought.

He watched as a small boy ran across the courtyard, wooden sword in hand, blonde curls bouncing on his shoulders. His father, who was busily buckling the billet straps of his saddle, turned, and with a wide grin, lifted the lad on to the back of his steed. The boy beamed as his father then placed his helm upon his head, and led the animal back to the cottage the child had run from. A tall, willowy blonde woman appeared in the doorway, carrying an infant on her hip. The soldier plopped the boy on the ground, and leaned in to kiss his wife.

Éomer sighed deeply as he turned to go inside. The hall was now the residence of Elfhelm, who had taken up the office of Third Marshal. Éowyn sat at the wooden table near the fire, sipping a cup of tea. She was chatting with Elfhelm’s wife, who was bouncing a fussing toddler on her knee while she ate her breakfast with her other hand. The bushy bearded marshal plucked the child from his wife’s lap and swung him around, eliciting giggles. His wife smiled her appreciation and turned to finish her meal.

The king observed the little family, his gaze traveling from Elfhelm and his child, to his wife chatting animatedly with Éowyn, finally coming to rest on the warm fire crackling in the hearth. How many times had he laid on the floor in front of this same fire, playing Stratagem with his own father, or shooting marbles with Éothain, playing with carved wooden horses with his sister?

As an adult, when he had returned from campaigns, the hearth had always been cold. He had thought, for a while, what it would have been like to come home for once to a warm welcome, to his own wife. To Ani. Before the war changed everything. Now he didn’t know if he would even be able to find her again. He sighed again, staring down into his cup.

Éowyn watched her brother over the top of her cup. His wistful admiration of the marshal’s family did not go unnoticed by her. Her heart tightened at the thought of leaving him alone when she married. Éomer had much to offer the right woman, she thought, if he could only find her.

A knock on the door interrupted the quiet. Stepping inside, a young soldier bowed to Éomer, then addressed Éowyn politely. “My Lady, your mount is prepared. We are ready to ride at your leisure.”

“Thank you,” she responded, as he bowed and exited. She turned to her brother, who still stood near the fire. “I suppose we should be on our way,” she said, smiling weakly.

Placing his cup on the mantle, Éomer reached for her cloak and set it about her shoulders, and gestured toward the door. He turned to Elfhelm. “I will see them off. We will plan on meeting with the village elders midmorning if that suits.”

Elfhelm nodded. “I will send word.”

The king turned and escorted his sister out to her waiting mount.

***********
Field of Pelennor
Gondor
8 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
*************************

As the White Tower of Ecthelion came into view, Anhuil reined in her horse, staring ahead at the huge city in the distance. Elenion, who was trotting alongside Olórin, also halted, panting in the summer heat. Cam rode alongside, her golden Palomino keeping pace easily with the Rohirrim steed. “Come on,” she urged, “It will be fine.”

The princess shook her head. “I do not know, Cam…”

“Stop worrying about what if. We will deal with whatever comes. Perhaps he will be there.”

“Who will be there?” Amrothos chimed in, riding up behind them.

Instead of answering, Anhuil glanced at Cam, eyebrow raised. Cam grinned, and at the same time they spurred their mounts into a full run toward the city, leaving him in the dust. Amrothos shook his head as he watched the girls in the distance. “You could have just said it was none of my business,” he commented to himself.

Anhuil had always loved Minas Tirith with its bustling streets. There was always so much to see. Her cousins Faramir and Boromir had grown up here, and they had played many games of hide and seek among the garden paths of the Citadel. She looked forward to seeing it again.

************
Fortress of Aldburg
Rohan
8 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
*************************

Walking alongside Éowyn, he led her to her already saddled horse, standing among several of his men and a few ladies of the court who were traveling with them. “I will be along as quickly as I can,” he told her as she mounted Windfóla, the same horse that had carried her into battle at Pelennor.

Éowyn smiled. “I will pass along your regrets to the king. And I will be on the lookout for women from Dol Amroth,” she responded with a mischievous chuckle.

Éomer grinned at his sister. “Determined to see me married off, are you not?”

“Of course. Rohan needs an heir to the throne. I plan to do my part to ensure they have one,” she quipped, jerking the reins in the direction of the gate.

The king watched her go with a shake of his head, then headed back up the steps for yet another meeting with an aggrieved village council.

**********
Minas Tirith
12 Cerveth 3019 T.A.
************************

Anhuil had always loved visiting the magnificent library of Minas Tirith. She spent hours poring over various texts, maps, any information she could gather. Studying the history of the elves, the Kings of Gondor, the ancient stories of the creation of Middle Earth…even the legend of the One Ring.

One particularly beautiful day, Anhuil decided to read in the gardens instead. Selecting a few texts, she strolled down the stone paved path. A large tree off the path provided the perfect place to lean back and read. Elenion lay beside her, his huge head resting on his forepaws. It had taken some amount of coaxing to get him inside the walls of the city, but he had relented and followed her dutifully. Her fingers absently stroked his ear as she read.

She had not been there long when she heard voices coming down the walkway. Raising her eyes from the book, she saw her cousin Faramir walking on the path, the beautiful White Lady of Rohan on his arm, chuckling at something amusing her fiancé had said. The princess smiled and buried her nose back into the book.

“Lothíriel!” Her cousin called out to her. “Can you not find anything better to do in this fair city than read?”

“There is a lot to be said for educating oneself, cousin,” she retorted teasingly. Éowyn laughed. The couple approached where she sat.

“Your brothers say you have done nothing but hide in that library since you arrived.”

“There is a lot to read there, Faramir.” The princess closed the book she was reading and looked up at him. “You used to enjoy spending time there as well, if I recall. And that is not entirely true. Cam and I have spent several mornings on the training field.”

Faramir glanced down at the wolf, who had raised his head and was staring at him, tongue lolling out. “Did you have to bring that beast with you? Wolves do not belong in the city.”

“Hush before you insult him. He is not a beast, Faramir. Many royals keep hounds, did you not know that?” she mocked him.

“Hound? You call that fire-breathing behemoth a hound?” The Prince of Ithilien laughed out loud, rolling his eyes skyward. “Look at him, Lothíriel. He could eat small children in a single bite.”

“He has far better manners than you, dear cousin, and is far more obedient, yet they allow you in the courts,” she quipped, much to Éowyn’s amusement. “I suggest you greet him properly before you offend him. He is a member of the prince’s household, after all.”

Resigned to defeat in this exchange, Faramir patted the wolf on the head in greeting. He held out a hand to help her up, shaking his head slowly. “It is always an uphill battle with you, is it not?”

She took his extended hand, and he pulled her to her feet. “Éowyn, this sharp tongued creature is my cousin, Lothíriel of Dol Amroth. Lothíriel, this is my betrothed, Éowyn of Rohan.”

Anhuil recognized Éomer’s sister immediately from the Houses of Healing. She desperately wanted to ask about her brother, to find out if he had even survived, but held her tongue. She smiled warmly, taking her hand.

Éowyn returned the smile, a small flash of recognition crossing her face, then disappearing just as quickly. Of course it could not be the same girl. What would a princess be doing in the Houses of Healing? “Lovely to meet you, Lothíriel. Faramir has told me many amusing stories of your antics as children.”

“Oh, yes? Did he tell you about the time he and my brothers had a berry war near the east wall of the garden? They stood on either side of the wall, hurling berries at each other…the white stone was covered in purple and red spots. Finduilas and Denethor were livid!”

Éowyn laughed out loud, “No, he had not told me that one!”

Faramir held up his hands. “I was only trying to defend the fortress. Berries and slingshots were the only weapons we had then, save a few wooden swords.”

“It took years for those spots to fade,” Anhuil laughed.

“It sounds as if you had a wonderful time together,” Éowyn smiled up at Faramir. The princess grinned at him, taking his fiancé by the hand, pulling her close, looking back over her shoulder at him.

“How about the time he and Erchirion stole wine from the cellar and—“

Faramir clamped his hand over her mouth from behind. “That is quite enough,” Faramir joked, “I think my future wife has heard enough of my escapades as a child.” He kissed her on the cheek and released her. “You always were a tattle tale.”

“And you always were a prat.” She plopped back down on the grass, picking up her book. “Lovely to meet you, Éowyn. I am looking forward to your wedding, even if I do not understand what it is you see in this boor.” She grinned widely. “Although I suppose the one who felled the Witch King of Angmar can more than handle a mere Prince of Ithilien.”

“A pleasure to meet you as well,” Éowyn smiled down at her. “I will see to it that he behaves, I assure you. I will forbid him all use of slings.”

The princess giggled. “See that you do.” Faramir narrowed his eyes playfully at her, and she stuck her tongue out in return before turning back to her books.

Éowyn chuckled at the exchange. “She is delightful,” she told her fiancé as they strolled down the path.

Faramir raised an eyebrow. “Delightful? Ha! She wields that tongue of hers with the same skill with which most men wield a sword, with much the same result. Lothíriel eats suitors for lunch. Why do you think she is still unmarried?”

“She does not seem threatening to me,” Éowyn commented, looking back over her shoulder.

“She likes you,” Faramir responded. “You should see what she can do to those she does not favor. I hear she is betrothed now, though.” He shook his head slowly. “I pity the man if he is not long on patience.”

“You make it sound as if her high-spiritedness is an ill trait.” The White Lady stopped and looked at Faramir.

The Prince of Ithilien halted his steps and looked down at his betrothed. “I did not intend to sound negative. For all the trouble it may bring, I much prefer a lady with a little fire in her heart.” He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “I daresay you and my cousin have much in common.”

“Yes,” Éowyn said, turning to continue down the path. “It seems we do.”

***************************
Minas Tirith
Citadel Training Field
12 Cerveth 3019 T.A.
*****************

Cam sighed as she stared at the empty training field. She had hoped someone would be here to work out with, but everyone appeared to be busy with preparations for the king’s wedding.

"I thought I might find you here."

She startled at the familiar voice behind her. "Amrothos! Sneaking up on me like that could get you hurt," she chided, lowering the dagger she had drawn reflexively.

He laughed, "I did not think you would last long at the library with Ani." At her look of mock indignation he added, " I have no idea how you can sneak around as well as you do, for one who cannot sit still."

"There is a marked difference between patience and boredom," she clarified, trying her best to appear offended, as she replaced the dagger in its small sheath at her waist.

"I may be able to remedy your boredom.” He tossed her sword to her with a flourish.

Deftly catching the scabbard, she drew her sword, smiling at the ringing sound of steel clearing the sheath. "Think you can take me?" she challenged.

”Of that I have every intention." Amrothos grinned as he drew his own blade. Tossing the scabbard aside, Cam’s smile was more challenge than pleasure.

They circled each other slowly. Cam looked Amrothos up and down, gauging strengths and weaknesses. Long muscled legs, narrow hips, broad shoulders, powerful hands, incredibly built… Sidestepping quickly, she tapped his incoming thrust away with the tip of her blade. "Not much behind that, Amrothos."

"I am merely warming up, Camwethrin." If you only knew how warmed up I am getting, he thought to himself. The circling continued. Delicately built, her strength well hidden. His gaze traveled from her long, lean legs to her narrow waist, up to her the curve of her… Shaking his head, he mirrored her sidestep, he knocked the incoming blade aside. "I know it has been some time, Cam, but have you completely stopped practicing?"

She smiled at his dig. "Of course not. I want to enjoy this… make it last awhile."

Their eyes locked. At the unspoken signal, swords clashed in a flurry of blows. Sunlight glinted off steel, powerful thrusts met by graceful counters. Sweeping strokes turned aside. Stepping in and away with precision. The dance of combat, neither giving quarter. They simultaneously backed off.

Cam stepped back, pushing loose strands of moon silk hair off of her face. "Nice warm-up." She watched him wipe the sweat off of his brow. "That was a warm-up, right?"

"I am feeling fairly warm now, thank you."

"Think you can handle another go?" she taunted.

Amrothos raised his blade, "I am up if you are."

"I would not want to wear you out." Cam smiled sweetly.

"I would truly like to see you try." Amrothos countered.

She arched her eyebrow regally, "Is that a challenge, my lord?"

"I believe it is, my lady." With a roguish grin he took her hand, and gently kissed her fingertips.

Cam laughed and stepped back. "Very well, then. Commence at your leisure."

"As you wish." He lunged toward her, forcing her to take several steps backward.

"That is much better," she said as she blocked his blade. "I was beginning to wonder if you had lost your edge."

"Never," he scoffed. "Actually, I have learned a thing or two I would love to show you."

Still moving backwards, she had to admit his technique had improved. But something felt off. A certain intensity was missing. At his failed attempt to disarm her, she figured it out. "I believe you are toying with me, Amrothos."

He appeared hurt by her declaration and pressed his attack. "I would never toy with you, Camwethrin."

She rolled her eyes. "Assuredly not." Deftly turning his blade, she took the advantage and put him on the defense. "I thought you said you had something to show me."

"All in good time, love."

Cam quickly regained the ground she had lost. Pressing harder, her attacks grew faster and more intense. Amrothos matched her pace, but started to become slightly concerned. At his look of discomfort she stepped in, hooking his blade with hers and sent it flying across the field.

With a beautiful smile, she held her sword to his chest. "It appears you are at my mercy."

He gracefully nodded his concession. "What do you intend to do with me now?"

"That is a good quest-" Before she knew what was happening, he kicked the sword out of her hand and closed in, her arm suddenly twisting behind her. "That was new," she admitted, her breath coming in short gasps.

"I told you I had learned a few things." The smugness in his voice was apparent. "Now the question becomes, what do I do with you?"

She froze, startled by the heat in his voice. He slipped his other hand around her waist and pulled her tight, her back pressed against his chest.

Amrothos closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of her in his arms, and the sweet scent of jasmine scented soap as bent to nuzzle her hair. "What to do indeed..." His voice washed over her, her heart pounding wildly. He turned her to face him, his strong hands holding her hips, drawing her in. The young prince held her gaze captive to his own. The thought crossed his mind that if he had to die right now, drowning in those liquid pools of deep blue would not be an unpleasant way to go.

Camwethrin’s heart leapt to her throat. His malachite stare felt as if it bored straight past her own and into her soul. Surely he would not...

"Amrothos! Cam!"

Cam turned quickly to see Erchirion running toward them. She didn't see Amrothos' furious glare at his older brother.

"What is it, Erchirion?" she asked, unsure whether to be relieved or disappointed at his arrival.

"Your father's ship has docked in Osgiliath. He will be arriving soon. I thought you would want to meet him." He glanced to Amrothos, who looked away in frustration.

"I do. Thank you." She turned back to Amrothos, a challenging gleam in her eyes. “Next time, you will not be so lucky.”

With a short laugh, the prince retorted, “It was not luck that just defeated you. It was pure skill.”

“I will keep that in mind.” She gave him a beautiful smile and turned away, jogging down the path to the Citadel.

Erchirion waited until Cam was out of earshot. "What just happened?" He looked at Amrothos expectantly.

"Nothing," Amrothos muttered, as he turned to pick up his sword and shoved it in the scabbard at his waist.

"Come on, little brother, I may have been born at night but it was not last night." Erchirion pressed, never one to give up easily.

“Perhaps something might have happened, had your timing been better.” Retrieving Cam’s blade and sheath, he threw his elder brother a wry smile.

*************
Merethrond
The Great Hall of the Citadel
Minas Tirith
15 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
*****************************

“Good evening, gentlemen.”

Heads turned. Cam stood behind them, casually looking them over. They were accustomed to seeing their sister’s best friend in the same tunics and trousers their sister favored, and occasionally even in a modest dress. Tonight, she had chosen a velvet gown of deep red. The scooping neckline was trimmed in fine gold embroidery. Her blonde locks were swept up, a few curled tendrils delicately touching her shoulders. The brothers stared at her, speechless. “I said good evening, gentlemen.”

“I…uh…” Erchirion stammered.

“Good evening, Lady Valesa,” Elphir found his voice first. “You look lovely.”

“Thank you, Elphir,” she smiled sweetly.

Amrothos just stared at her.

Elphir noticed his youngest brother’s intense gaze. “Valesa, would you like to join me on the dance floor?”

Smiling sweetly, she held up her hand. “I would be delighted, Elphir, provided you remember my intense dislike of my given name.”

“Of course, Cam,” Elphir corrected himself. Placing his hand upon the small of her back, he led her to the dance floor.

“Can you believe that?” Amrothos was indignant.

“Oh, I believe it my friend. I am seeing it with—” Erchirion was staring at the back of Cam’s dress.

“Not the dress, neithadol!” Amrothos smacked him in the back of the head. “Him, asking her to dance!”

“And he is doing this just to annoy you, little brother.” Erchirion laughed. “Go cut in, if you dare!”

Anhuil sipped her wine, amused by her brothers’ banter. Glancing nervously around the hall, she looked for familiar faces. Her father was seated at a table, joking raucously with a group of men, including Mardil Fenwick. Turning quickly away before he caught her eye, she saw the Lady Éowyn and her cousin Faramir, speaking quietly to one another. Mithrandir stood in one corner, the halflings with him, engaged in a discussion.

Elves also graced the halls of Merethrond. The Silver Lord of Lothloríen, Celeborn, and his wife, the Lady Galadriel, stood among several of their kin, including the father of the new queen, Lord Elrond and his sons. Rangers from the North gathered near the kegs of ale, toasting their kinsman and the new King of Gondor.

Across the floor, the Princess saw the King and Queen of Gondor, their gazes locked on each other. Anhuil smiled at how happy they appeared.

She didn’t see him anywhere. Perhaps he had not come after all. She sighed, and glanced back at Amrothos. He was still staring at Cam.

“Amrothos, if you want to dance with her, ASK!”

“But she is dancing with Elphir, and—“

Anhuil cocked her head to one side. “Dear brother, you can stand here and make excuses all evening, and allow every other man here to dance with her, or you can go cut in yourself. It is your choice.”

Amrothos considered this for a moment, then strode purposefully across the floor, tapping his eldest brother on the shoulder. “Good man…” Anhuil muttered, sipping her wine again. Erchirion laughed as Elphir approached.

“You two put him up to that,” scolded Elphir. Erchirion and Anhuil beamed.

Her smile suddenly vanished. Fenwick strutted over to the group, leering at Anhuil as he drew near. She suddenly wished she had chosen a less flattering gown. He leaned to kiss her on the cheek. She turned her head.

“Hello, Lothíriel,” he crooned. “You look lovely this evening.”

The only response she gave was a slight nod, then turned back to her brothers.

Elphir patted Erchirion on the shoulder. “I see someone I wish to speak to,” he said, excusing himself. Erchirion turned to his sister and Fenwick. “Are the two of you not going to dance this evening?” he asked.

“Your sister claims she is not feeling well enough to dance,” Mardil answered abruptly.

Erchirion glanced at his sister who peered at him with narrowed eyes from above her cup as she sipped her wine. “I see,” he responded. “If you will excuse me, I see Lord Henvain’s daughter is free, and I should like to say hello.” With a curt bow, he disappeared.

Anhuil shook her head. “He is incorrigible,” she muttered to no one in particular. Ignoring Fenwick, she walked over to the table where her father sat.

Imrahil stood to kiss her cheek. “Lothíriel, where were you? I wanted to introduce you to someone. Ah, well, we have all night, do we not?” He turned to Fenwick. “Mardil! Why are you not dancing with your lovely bride to be?”

“She does not wish to dance, my lord,” Fenwick answered politely, with a sideways glance at the princess.

Her father raised an eyebrow. “I am sorry to hear that. Not feeling well, dear?” the prince asked her with a look of concern.

“I am fine Ada. You have a good time with the men. Do not worry about me.” She kissed his cheek and patted his shoulder. “I am going to find Cam.”

With Fenwick following her like a shadow, she left the table in search of her friend. “Lothíriel, why are you ignoring me?” he asked her.

“I am not ignoring you, Mardil,” she said, smiling sweetly at him.

“You have hardly said two words to me all evening. You are my fiancé, and it does not do for appearances to have you striding about leaving me in your shadow and refusing to dance with me.” He took the goblet from her hands and placed it on a nearby table. “Come with me,” he ordered, taking her hand.

“I told you, I do not wish to dance,” she muttered through clenched teeth.

“I did not ask you if you wished to, Lothíriel. I will not be made a fool of.” He led her to the dance floor and pulled her to him, smiling gallantly. “See?” he asked, twirling her around. “It is not so bad, is it?”

Ignoring him, she took the opportunity to scan the crowds. Éowyn was there, but Éomer was nowhere in sight. His sister stood nearby, talking with her betrothed and another guest.

“...but my brother regrets he was unable to attend. There were urgent issues requiring his attention in the Eastfold,” she overheard Éowyn telling a nobleman. “I expect him within a few days.”

Anhuil’s heart flipped in her chest. Torn between tears and shouting out, she schooled her expression to calm. He is alive. The words echoed in her mind. She swallowed the lump in her throat as Fenwick leaned closer to her.

“I will not have the gossip mongers starting rumors that my fiancé is anything less than adoring my presence. Smile, Lothíriel.”

With that, she tripped over the hemline of her gown, bringing her heel down on Mardil’s foot. He yelped in pain as the couples around them turned to stare. “I am sorry, Mardil,” she apologized, sounding as sincere as possible. “I am so clumsy sometimes...it is this dress, it is far too wieldy to dance in. I do apologize.” She bit her tongue as she held his arm, leading him from the dance floor.

“You did that on purpose, Lothíriel,” he muttered under his breath, limping along beside her.

“I did no such thing,” she quipped as he slipped into a chair, rubbing the aching appendage. He looked up at her, the raised eyebrow and slightest hint of a smirk telling him otherwise.

“If you think this kind of behavior is amusing, woman, let me just assure you-“

“Is everything all right, Ani?” Amrothos broke in, suddenly appearing behind Fenwick with Cam at his side.

“Everything is fine, Amrothos. I carelessly stepped on the foot of my betrothed when we were dancing, and I fear I have injured him.” Cam’s snicker was almost loud enough for Mardil to hear. She buried her face in Amrothos’ arm.

“I am sorry,” the princess continued, turning to Fenwick. “I am just far too exhausted to stay. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.” She turned to go.

“Lothíriel,” Fenwick started in a sharp tone, but graded it down as he caught the stare of her older brother. “Princess,” he tried again, this time in a softer tone, “Please do not go.”

“I am sorry, Mardil,” she responded. “I am suddenly not feeling well at all. Please, stay and enjoy. I must retire to my room.” She turned and walked briskly away, disappearing through the stone arched doorway.

Mardil stared after her, looking as if he could spit nails.

*********

The princess walked to the window of her chamber, looking out over the gardens. She could hear the laughter and music from downstairs ringing through the night, a few party guests strolling among the paths below.

She heard the blonde enter quietly. Cam crossed the chamber quietly and sat beside her on the window’s edge. Anhuil stood, her head bowed, her hands flat together, index fingers resting against her lips. Her eyes were closed. “I overheard his sister say he had issues to attend to, and had sent his regrets. She said she expected him within a few days.”

Sighing, Camwethrin looked up at her. “I am sorry, Ani.”

Raising her gaze to her friend’s she smiled down at her. “Sorry? Cam...he is alive! All this time my greatest fear has been that he did not survive.” Her smile widened, the tears in her eyes trailing down her cheeks. Facing the window, she looked out, over the gardens below toward the northern sky, the stars clear and bright on the midsummer’s eve. “He is alive,” she repeated softly.

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Chapter Sixteen
Created
02 Mar 2004
Last Edited
02 Mar 2004
Hits
1241
Words
7268