Login

Lost Password?

Create New Account

Trust To Hope

Chapter 23: Chapter Twenty-Two

by Novedhelion

Trust To Hope - Chapter Twenty-two
Author: Novedhelion
Type: FP Het
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel aka Anhuil
Rating: PG13
Warnings: Semi-nude Princess, hot king...(no, really...I mean hot...it is July, you know...)
World’s most patient Beta: Riyallyn
Disclaimer: Forgive my glossing over this but to mention EVERY character that was on this trip would have taken three chapters. Apparently Théoden had quite the funeral procession, as is only fitting. Funny how it took the Rohirrim only a few days to get to Minas Tirith before Pelennor but TWO WEEKS to get Théoden home. Sheesh!

***********************************
“What they don’t see
Is what is killing me
It’s a blessing and a curse
That love is blind...

In Another’s Eyes
Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood
***********************************
Minas Tirith
19 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
***************************

The sun shone brightly on the day of departure. The various banners of Rohan flew in the breeze as the host gathered to carry Théoden to his final resting place in the Barrowfield of Edoras. The Riders of Rohan, with Éomer, Gamling and Éothain leading the procession, surrounded the wain bearing the body of King Théoden. The herald beside them unfurled the banner of Théoden, the white horse upon field of deep green with a sunburst in one corner, and the king’s Esquire, the halfling Meriadoc Brandybuck, bore the arms of the deceased king. They rode for the gates of the city, solemn and silent.

Frodo and Samwise rode alongside King Elessar and Queen Arwen on their ponies. Prince Legolas of Mirkwood rode with Gimli the dwarf upon the Rohirrim steed Éomer had given them, Arod. The other halfling, Peregrin, in full armor, rode with the knights of Gondor. Many of the fair folk of Lothloríen and Rivendell went among them as well. Lord Elrond and his sons, the Lady Galadriel and the Silver Lord Celeborn. Prince Faramir never strayed far from the side of his beloved Éowyn, upon her grey steed, Windfóla, who had borne her as Dernhelm to the Battle at Pelennor.

The Prince of Dol Amroth and his family were also part of this great host. Imrahil rode with his sons on one side, the women on the other. Mardil Fenwick and his valet Neville also came, although none to happy about it. He could not see the point of traveling a fortnight for a king’s funeral when there were important duties to be attended to in Dol Amroth. Imrahil had insisted, however, and he did not want to upset the prince. Begrudgingly, he had relented.

Anhuil rode upon Olórin, the black stallion Éomer had given her. She had been surprised when the groom in the stable informed her that the king of Rohan had ordered the horse re-shod. She smiled at Éomer’s protectiveness. Whether of the horse or of her, she wasn’t sure, but it amused her anyway.

Gondor
The East/West Road
24 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With so great a number present, Éomer had been circumspect in approaching the princess, lest he give anyone cause to suspect. He had managed to catch her attention at least a few times daily since their departure, smiling surreptitiously at her. Wiping his brow with the back of his hand, he tried not to think about the days she rode in front of him in the saddle, her dark curls tickling his chin, the warmth of her pressed back against him, and the smell of lavender permeating the air. He sighed and shifted his weight in the saddle. It was going to be a long journey.

~~~~~~~~~~
Gondor
The East/West Road
28 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
~~~~~~~~~~

They sat around the campfires at night, listening to more tales from the Elves. Anhuil was glad she had brought her journal, and recorded as much as she could remember. This evening she had finally managed to corner the Silver Lord Celeborn and ask him the questions she had about the history of Dol Amroth. Off to the side of the fire, the princess sat with journal in hand, taking notes as he patiently answered her questions.

“So Amroth was son of Amdír, who died in the Battle of the Last Alliance?”

“Yes. Amdír was Lord of Lórien, and was killed at Dagorlad. His son became ruler after him.”

“There are stories that Amroth was the son of you and Galadriel,” she commented.

Celeborn laughed, a deep rumble. “No, my dear. I had heard such. Nonsense, of course. He was Lord of Lothlórien before my wife and I arrived there. Does a Lord inherit his domain from a son?” He chuckled.

“Who is Malgalad? Some of our history mentions him as the father of Amroth, but there is no detail as to who he was.”

The Elf smiled broadly in appreciation. “You have done your research well, Princess. Indeed there was a Malgalad. I believe the name is a reference to the golden-leafed mallorn trees of Lothlórien. ‘Mal’ means yellow or golden, and ‘galad’ means ‘tree’. Malgalad and Amdír were one and the same.”

“I knew it!” she exclaimed triumphantly. “I knew it. I told my history tutor that Malgalad and Amdír had to be the same person and she told me I was being presumptuous.” She grinned at her vindication. ‘It is such a source of controversy among Dol Amrothian scholars. Almost as much as whether or not a Balrog has wings.”

“Do they?”

Anhuil shrugged helplessly.

Celeborn chuckled. “You impress me with your diligence. Most humans do not care that much for the matters of the Elves.”

“It is also my history, Lord Celeborn. Why would I not wish to know it? I only want the truth. There is so much that is not known.”

Celeborn’s grey eyes sparkled. “The quest for knowledge should be never-ending, Princess. Once you think you know everything there is to know life becomes very dull.” He smiled down at her. “You have more questions?”

“I have hundreds, my Lord. What of Mithrellas? Was Galador’s mother really a Silvan Elf?”

“Indeed she was,” he responded. “Mithrellas was the handmaid and companion of Nimrodel, Amroth’s true love. Nimrodel was lost in the White Mountains as she fled Lothlórien with many others when the Balrog was awakened in Khazad-dûm. Mithrellas was found wandering alone in the woods of Belfalas by Imrazôr, the Númenôrean, Galador’s father, who later married her.”

The princess was rapt. She did not even look up when Éomer walked past the fire and watched her for a moment, her attention undividedly on the Silvan Elf. He was pleased she had found the opportunity to speak to the Elf Lord, as that had been the reason she gave him for traveling alone before the war. Smiling to himself, he moved on about his business, not wanting to interrupt.

“But what became of Nimrodel? And of Amroth? The stories say he leapt from his ship when it was blown to sea without his beloved, because he could not bear to go without her.”

“That is what the legends say,” Celeborn answered with a nod. “The final fate of Nimrodel is not known. Amroth had founded a port on the coast of Belfalas, in what is now your fair city of Dol Amroth. He waited at Edhellond for his love, for he had promised her that if she came to him he would take her by sea to the land of Aman, the Blessed Realm.”

“The Undying Lands...” the princess murmured quietly.

Celeborn nodded. “It is from what is now Dol Amroth that the white ships used to sail, until the reshaping of the world. Now the ships pass from the Grey Havens.”

The princess blew out her breath slowly, and was silent. Malgalad and Amír were the same person. Amroth was not the son of the Silver Lord and the Lady of Light. And Mithrellas truly was a Silvan Elf. Studying the stories in the libraries of Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth were one thing, having someone who had actually seen these things was another entirely.

Celeborn looked at her, one eyebrow raised. “Surely that is not all you question, dithenil?”

“I am sure I will think of more,” she answered. “I thank you for taking the time to answer.”

“Consider it my part in dispelling myth,” the Silver Lord laughed. “I would not want your history books to be inaccurate.”

“Then it appears I shall have to do a considerable amount of re-writing them,” she quipped, flipping her journal shut and smiling at the Elf.

“It is late, Princess. We will have more opportunity to talk. You should rest.” He stood and reached for her hand, helping her to her feet.

“Hannon le, Lord Celeborn. I am most grateful for your time.” She bowed politely.

“I will be pleased to answer any other questions you can conjure, if they are within the boundaries of my knowledge. Perhaps you should speak to my wife as well.” The princess nodded. “But do not listen to those two rogues,” he said, indicating Orohpin and Rumil near the fire. “Those two would have you believe they invented the bow and arrow.” He chuckled as he walked away, grinning over his shoulder at her as she rejoined the others near the fire.

Amrothos offered to escort the ladies back to their tent. The princess had a suspicion that it had more to do with Camwethrin than herself, but she said nothing. This night they strolled through the camp, arm in arm, the young prince between the two women, talking softly. Reaching the small quarters she and Cam shared, Anhuil stood on her toes and kissed her brother on the cheek, pulling the tent flap open.

Cam started to follow, but Amrothos pulled her back. Anhuil gave them a questioning look over her shoulder. Her brother winked at her surreptitiously. Assuming he wanted some time alone with Cam, the princess feigned a yawn. “Goodnight, you two,” she chimed, stepping into her tent.

Camwethrin turned to the prince, one eyebrow raised. “Walk with me,” he whispered.
“But...”

"Shh," he snickered, casting a knowing glance toward the tent, coupled with a mischievous grin. "Saes?" Understanding his meaning, the blonde allowed him to lead her away from the tent.

They strolled among the tents, talking softly. “So, what did you do? Tie Fenwick up and lock him in a trunk?”

Amrothos laughed. “No, but that is not a bad idea. Shall we seek him out?”

“I suppose not,” her voice laden with regret. “Someone would eventually find him.”

“You are probably right,” he agreed.

Amrothos watched her as they walked. He had known her practically all of his life. The tiny four-year old cherub had come to live with them when the Admiral’s wife, her mother, died. Prince Imrahil and his wife agreed that a ship was no place to raise a daughter, and brought her into their home. At the time, eight-year old Amrothos could think of nothing worse than another female in the house, especially one that tagged along wherever he and his brothers went. One that turned into the seven-year old imp that used to steal his bowstrings, a ten year old who insisted on being taught how to use a sword that was almost as tall as she was, and a tall, slim sixteen year old who could on occasion, best him in a duel. And six years later, a young woman whom he would let best him anytime.

He had always taken her presence for granted. After all, she had always been as annoying as his own sister. Lately, though, he noticed other things about her he had not in the past. The way the moonlight glinted in her hair. Her breathtaking smile. The gentle sway of her hips as she walked. Glancing over at her, he steeled himself as he took a step closer to her, reaching for her hand. Anhuil’s happiness was not his only plan for the evening.

“Amrothos!” a voice called out. The pair looked over as Erchirion strolled toward them. Elphir sat near a fire with several soldiers. “Where are you two headed,” the elder brother asked, a wry grin on his face.

“We were going for a walk,” Cam answered, oblivious to Amrothos’ rising ire.

With a wink at his younger brother, Erchirion caught Cam’s hand, pulling her toward the fire. “We were just telling stories. Please join us.” Amrothos followed, silently vowing to wreak a certain amount of violence upon his elder sibling.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The princess groped around in the semi dark, trying to find the small lamp. Stepping toward her cot, she jumped at the sudden touch on her back. Before she could react warm lips covered hers, lips she knew well. Yielding to his sweet kiss, she wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Hello to you too,” Anhuil whispered softly. “You scared me.”

“Well, I could not exactly have a herald announce my presence here, now could I?” He bent and kissed her again, his arms around her tightly. “I miss you, Ani. It is very difficult to have you this close, and…”

“I know,” she sighed. He stood, holding her, for a long time, just enjoying the feel of her in his arms.
“Éomer,” she broke the silence. “Thank you for taking care of Olórin. The groom told me--“

“I thought I told him to keep quiet,” Éomer said, with an exaggerated sigh. “It is so hard to find good help these days…”

Anhuil punched his chest. “You are turning into such a king.”

He looked down at her, one eyebrow raised. “Is this a bad thing?”

“Not at all,” she leaned against him again.

“I cannot stay long,” his fingers played across the curls at the back of her neck. “It would not be a good thing for me to be found here. I would not want to do anything to impugn your reputation.”

“Oh, you mean like sneaking off with me in Minas Tirith, or hitting my fiancé? Not to mention undressing me to tend to my wound, and sleeping on the same cot...” The princess feigned indignation. “Shall I name a few more?”

“You were wounded. There was nothing untoward about that. I stayed in case you needed me.” Éomer tried to sound offended. “And you were cold.”

“And that was the only reason?” Anhuil asked sarcastically.

Silence followed. Anhuil looked up at him in the shadowy light of the tent. “What is it?”

He sighed heavily. “I did not realize how burdensome this journey would be. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have you here. Your presence alone makes it bearable.”

She looked up into his eyes. “I am so sorry, Éomer, for your loss.”

Éomer reached for her, gathering her into his arms beside him. “Théoden was a great king. He lived a long and full life, and died with honor. I hope to do the same,” Éomer answered softly.

Her gaze remained locked with his. “You will be a good king, Éomer.”

“I wish I had your certainty,” he chuckled.

“Do not underestimate yourself, Hír nin.” She smiled.

“What does that mean? Hír nin?”

“Hír nin. I am sorry. It means My Lord,” she answered with a giggle.

He leaned back, a look of surprise on his handsome face. “My Lord? You are calling me My Lord?”

“Well, you are a king now…” she teased.

“I see. No longer a lowly marshal am I. The princess addresses me with respect, now that I am king…” his voice trailed off, the joke forgotten.

“And yet you still claim not to believe in fate.” She answered quietly, laying her head against his chest again.
“I am beginning to change my mind.”

It was her turn to sigh. “So much is uncertain.”

“But there are things that are certain, Anhuil.” He lifted her chin up, and smiled down at her. “I love you. I cannot imagine my life without you now. That is certain.” Éomer pulled her to him, gently lowering his lips to hers.

“Lothíriel!” A harsh whisper came from outside her tent.

Éomer pulled back and shook his head. “Bloody hell,” he growled.

“LOTHIRIEL!”

“Fenwick!” she whispered back. “Let me go see what he wants.”

He moved to the back of the tent, lifting the heavy canvas. “I shall show myself out,” he whispered teasingly. She stifled a giggle, stepping outside the tent into the moonlight.

“Mardil Fenwick, some people around here may be sleeping! What do you want?”

Looking down at her boots still on her feet, he surmised she was not one of them. “I was only concerned about you--“ Mardil began, his patronizing tone infuriating her.

“You do not care one whit about me, Fenwick, so what is it you really want?”

“I thought I heard voices, Lothíriel. Is Valesa here?” He tried to peer into her tent. She yanked the flap shut.

“No. She has gone for a walk with Amrothos. And I will thank you for respecting my privacy.” The princess positioned herself in front of the tent opening.

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Who were you talking to, Lothíriel?”

“I was talking to no one, Mardil. This camp is full of people, perhaps it was one of them you overheard.” Anhuil crossed her arms and stood her ground.

“Do not take me for a fool. I know I heard voices. I was right outside and--“

“You were spying on me?”

“You are lying to me!” Fenwick pushed her aside and yanked open the tent flap, stepping inside. Two cots, a small table, a lantern, some trunks in the corner. He looked around sheepishly.

Sighing heavily, she followed him inside the tent. Fenwick was looking underneath the cot. She almost laughed out loud. “Are you satisfied, Mardil?”

“Where is he?”

“Who? What are you talking about, Mardil?”

“That Rohirrim king. I know he was here.” He watched her for some reaction, but got none. “I know, Lothíriel, and if I catch you with him again, you will rue the day you ever met the King of the Mark. He will pay for striking me as he did.”

“Do not threaten me, Mardil Fenwick,” she answered angrily. “Or him! You are lucky he only hit you once, the way you insulted him. For the love of the Valar, he is a king!”

“It seems fitting that those peasants would have a swain for a king.”

The princess stiffened, glowering at him. “’Those peasants’ saved our lives! ‘Those peasants’ DIED so that cowards like you could continue breathing!” She growled in frustration. “You do not get it, do you Fenwick? If not for ‘those peasants’, Minas Tirith may have fallen, and had that happened, I would be dead. Do you understand THAT?”

“He struck me, Lothíriel! No gentleman would have behaved that way.”

“You insulted me, and shoved me. Any gentleman would have hit you, including my father or my brothers! You are fortunate it was not one of them, and even more so that Éomer did not feel it necessary to tell them of the incident!”

Fenwick glared at her. “Lothíriel, I am not playing games with you. I mean every word. You are mine and I will not have another man --”

Anhuil rolled her eyes. “I am not playing games with you either, Fenwick!” She gestured around the tent. “There is no one here. You can see that. Look around if you wish, but I am quite alone. I do not know what you think you heard, but I would like to get some rest, now. Please take your delusions and return to your own quarters.” She flung open the tent, motioning him outside.

Fenwick looked at her suspiciously, glancing around her tent one last time. “Goodnight, Lothíriel,” he snapped. Stepping out into the dark, he was gone.

Anhuil flopped down on the cot, breathing a sigh of relief. Kicking off her boots, she closed her eyes. Éomer was right. It was getting very difficult. She was not pleased about lying, even to Fenwick.

She heard soft voices outside, a soft laugh. Cam and Amrothos. The princess rolled over on to her side, smiling despite herself. Cam ducked inside, grinning. “Ani? Are you still awake?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“So did you get to talk at all? Or did you talk?” Cam kicked off her own boots and laid back on her cot.
“Yes, we did, actually,” she answered quietly.

“What is it, Ani?”

Anhuil thought over her conversation with Éomer. She sighed. “Nothing. We need to get some rest. Tomorrow will be another long day. Losto vae, Camwethrin.”

“Elei velui, Ani.” The princess lay on her side, staring at the canvas wall of the tent. Cam lay back, silently staring up at the ceiling.

~~~~~~~~
Gondor
The East/West Road
30 Cerveth, 3019 T.A.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Days passed, and the Valar had still not seen fit to offer any reprieve from the hot sun, either by cloud or by breeze. Anhuil’s head began to ache, her neck and shoulders stiff. The Elves did not seem bothered by this at all, Orophin and Rumil regaling them all with yet another wild tale of their youth in Lothloríen. Occasionally a soft laugh from Galadriel was heard, or the smooth voice of Lord Celeborn, adding some detail that the brothers had conveniently left out of a story. Anhuil was beginning to think immortality might not be such a good thing…it gave one entirely too much time to get into trouble.

Her thoughts wandering, she let her gaze meander as well across the procession, falling on Éomer. Sitting ramrod straight in his saddle, he had removed his cloak and wore only his shirtsleeves. His blonde tresses fell across his back. The princess knew how hard this journey was for the new king, and this sun beating down on everyone did little to ease the stress. These were long days for them all. Her heart ached for him. She longed to offer him some kind of comfort, some small semblance of solace. A fleeting thought of her hands kneading the muscles of his broad shoulders…

“Ani, can you believe these two?” Cam’s laughter shook her from her daydream. “Ani, are you listening?”
“I am sorry, Camwethrin. I…just need some air. I think I will stretch Olórin’s legs a bit. I will be back.” With that, she kicked him into a canter and rode forward and to the right, away from the throng of dignitaries.
Hearing a horse’s quickened pace, Éomer half turned in his saddle to scan the accompaniment. He saw Anhuil guide her horse from the crowd, allowing Olórin to run a bit. An involuntary smile crossed his face.
“Lord Éomer,” Gamling’s voice startled him. “There is a stream up ahead. Do you wish to take a brief rest there, water the horses?” The king nodded his affirmation and turned back to Anhuil, but she had moved out of his line of sight.

The Lady Galadriel had been observing the pair throughout the journey. She had noticed them first in Minas Tirith, and had been intrigued by the interaction between them. As the riders began to dismount at the clear stream, she quickened her pace and followed the young princess.

“Princess Lothíriel, may I join you?” Anhuil looked over to see the graceful Elf Queen, clad entirely in white, upon a pale grey mare. How was it she never looked the least bit dusty or disheveled?

“I would be honored,” Anhuil answered. “It appears we are dismounting for a brief respite.” The princess popped lightly to the ground, leading Olórin to the stream to drink. She held the halter of the Lady’s horse as she dismounted with more grace that Anhuil could ever imagine mustering.

The two women exchanged pleasantries, joking about the Lothlórien brothers’ antics. Yet underneath the serene exterior, Galadriel felt the princess’ turmoil over her father, her love for Éomer, and her despair at her betrothal to Mardil Fenwick. Her hopelessness and frustration moved the Lady of the Wood deeply.

They allowed their horses to drink, then gathered the reins, walking slowly to join the others. Lord Celeborn stood beside his mount with a wide smile, waiting for his wife. Anhuil looked for Éomer and for Cam, but instead her gaze fell on Mardil, cold gray eyes regarding her silently. He was glaring at her as she spoke to the Lord and Lady of the Wood in Sindarin, trying to hear what she said. Galadriel turned and glanced at Fenwick, then back to Anhuil.

As the princess prepared to mount, the Lady of the Wood caught her by the arm. Softly cupping her chin, she brought the dark green eyes up to meet her own deep blue ones. She spoke no words, yet Anhuil heard her as clearly as if she did.

Lasto nin, hên. Cenni man gwaith u’cennich. Cenni meleth thilia min hin lín mar cennich aran lín. Avaro naeth. Lasto guren lín. Estelio, Erniliel. Estelio a harthac. Leaning down, Galadriel placed a soft kiss on her cheek, now damp with tears.

Anhuil looked at her, puzzled. “U’chenion.”

“Gerithac. Ab anand.” The Lady said aloud. The princess nodded. With a beautiful smile, Galadriel mounted her horse, guiding the mare over to where her husband waited. With a deep sigh, Anhuil decided they had to be one of the most beautiful pairs she had ever seen. They rode off to join the rest of the party from Lothlórien.

Anhuil mounted her own horse, riding back toward Cam.

“What was that all about?”

The princess turned to see Fenwick riding alongside her. Straightening her back, she tossed her head. “Nothing.”

“Lothíriel, I heard what that Elf-witch said to you. What is it you will understand in time?” he persisted.
“Mardil, to be honest, I wish I knew.” She urged her horse forward. “I suppose it is not time.”

~~~~~~~~~
Rohan
The East/West Road
5 Urui, 3019 T.A.
~~~~~~~~~~~

Anhuil rolled over on her cot. Cam lay asleep, her blanket kicked off. How anyone could sleep in this heat eluded her. She sat up, trying to take a breath in the stifling air. The tent only made matters worse, blocking what little breeze might have been blowing. Even her clothing felt sticky and hot. What she wouldn’t give to be able to wash it out, and clean up a little herself. She sighed, blowing the curls from her eyes.

Then she remembered the stream. She had taken Olórin there for a drink when they had stopped for the evening, and she had noticed the pool off to one side. If she couldn’t sleep, at least she could get her clothing clean.

Quietly pulling on her boots and slipping a tunic over her head, she grabbed her dagger and a blanket to dry off with. Digging through the trunk, she realized the only cool item of clothing she had clean was a cotton frock. She picked it up with a sigh, and headed for the small pond she had seen earlier.

The water was still in the dark, only a sliver moonlight breaking through the trees along the bank. A small stream flowed into it, but the water pooled behind some larger boulders and trees, offering some cover and a bit of deeper water. Anhuil made her way to the water’s edge, kneeling beside it. She looked around furtively, and seeing no sign of any of the other travelers, peeled the leggings off, washing them quickly. The tunic she was wearing followed suit, leaving her clad only in a thin shift she been wearing to sleep in. Her dry clothing lay piled on a rock nearby.

Kneeling once again to splash some of the water on her face, she sighed at the cool sensation on her skin, washing away the stickiness and dust from their travels. Gods, what she wouldn’t give for a bath.

Her gaze fell on the pool. Without another thought, she waded into the pool. At its deepest it came not quite to her waist, but she knelt and ducked under the still surface. What had felt cool to her hands was rather chilly on the rest of her, but it felt so good to be removing the layers of dust on her skin and in her hair that she ignored the cold.

Éomer stormed through the camp. A soldier keeping watch had awakened him, telling him he had seen the princess headed for the stream alone. Having an idea what she would be up to, he hurriedly dressed and stomped off after her.

He could hear the splashing of the water faintly as he neared the pool. Rounding the small copse near the shore, he noticed the clothing spread on the rock. Quietly making his way around a tall tree he saw her, standing in water.

Blatantly staring, he froze, unable to tear his eyes from her. Anhuil wore a thin cotton shift, sleeveless, but it was soaking wet and pasted to her skin, outlining every curve clearly. Her back was to him. She pulled her hair back with both hands, wringing the water from the dark curls. Moonlight rippled on the water, glinting softly off her bare shoulders. His eyes followed the concave path down her back to the curve of her hips, accentuated by the drenched fabric. *Turn around, man, just turn around,* he chastised himself. His breathing had all but stopped, and he was fairly certain his heart had as well, although other parts of him seemed to be working just fine.

She turned her head quickly as if listening. Éomer could see she held her dagger in her teeth. Good, he thought. At least she did not come out unarmed.

He ducked quickly behind a tree, leaning his back on the rough bark. As if having her this close to him wasn’t enough, now he had the images of her soaking wet and nearly nude to contend with. He drew in a long, deep breath, letting it out slowly.

Her eyes darted around the shadows as she took the dagger in her hand. “Hello?” she called out.

Apparently satisfied that no one was coming, she placed the dagger on top of her blanket on a nearby stone and lowered herself into the chilly water once again. Ducking herself under the water, she scrubbed at her face and ran her fingers through her hair, rinsing out as much of the dust as possible. Blowing out her breath as she broke the surface, she stood, wringing out her hair with both hands, shivering slightly despite the warmth of the night air.

Her eyes still closed, she reached for the blanket she had laid on the rock, surprised when her fingers met only stone. Wiping the water out of her eyes with her hands, she opened them and looked around for the blanket and her dagger. Neither were in sight. She felt around under the shallow water to no avail. “Where the bloody hell did it go?” she wondered out loud, muttering a few Rohirric curses she had heard the men use.

“Lose something?”

The deep voice startled her, but she recognized it immediately. She peered into the shadows but could not see him. “Where are you? Where is my blanket?”

Éomer chuckled, leaning on the other side of the tree near the bank, his back to her. “You know, Princess, a dagger will not do you much good if an attacker gets to it before you even know he’s there. You really should be more careful.”

“And a gentleman would not be out here spying on a girl while she bathes.”

“I thought we had already established that I am not a gentleman,” he answered pointedly.

She splashed the water hard toward the sound of his voice. “Éomer, this is not funny. I am freezing.”

He held the dagger in one hand, touching the point of it to a fingertip on his other hand. “You know,” he called to her from behind the tree, “I am getting sorely tired of reminding you that sneaking off alone is not a good idea. I should make you walk back through camp soaking wet.”

“You would not dare,” she warned him.

“Would I not?”

Seething, Anhuil contemplated the situation. No matter how she looked at it, the fact remained that he was holding the cards, not to mention her blanket.

Well, maybe he did not hold ALL the cards...

“Why would you want to do such a thing?” she queried, moving as quietly as she could through the water toward the shore, sliding out of the water and on to the bank.

“Why would I not? You fail to understand the danger of this situation, Princess, and nothing I have said seems to make any difference. What if it were not me? What if someone else had come upon you, alone and defenseless?” As he spoke, she crept out of the water and out of site behind another tree, trying to keep her chattering teeth quiet. “Do you think anyone else would only have taken your blanket?”

The king listened, hearing no sound from the water. “Ani?” he called tentatively. When he received no response he turned and peered toward the small pond. “Ani? Where are you?”

Stepping from behind the tree, he strode down to the bank, his eyes darting furtively around the shadows cast by the pale moonlight. “Princess?” He stood at the edge of the water, searching the shallow pool for a trace of her. A slight panic welled up in him. He dropped her dagger and blanket on the rocks nearby, and bent to remove his boots. “Bloody hell, Ani...”

Before he could finish the princess darted from behind the tree and shoved him with all of her might. Standing on one foot with one boot halfway off, the king lost his balance on the loose sand and toppled into the shallow, cold pool.

Sputtering, he surfaced, turning to glare at the scantily clad imp standing on the bank. Both hands were over her mouth in a useless effort to stifle her laughter at the soaked king in the pond. Heaving himself from the water, Éomer stood and stomped through the shallows toward her as she slowly backed away, still laughing.

“Admit it,” she chastised. “You deserved it. Following me out here only to harass me.“

“Well, then both of us should get what we deserve,” he teased menacingly. “And what you deserve is to be turned over my knee.”

“You would not dare,” she warned, her smile fading slightly.

Éomer stopped. She was standing in front of him, her hands up as if to ward him off. Dark waves spilled down her shoulders, almost covering the front of the shift but not quite. What little had been left to the imagination from behind was not well hidden at all from the front. He was grateful the tunic he was wearing was long enough, because his body wasted no time in responding to what he saw, cold water or no.

The thought of spanking her actually crossed his mind, if only as a means of getting his hands on that rounded backside he had seen earlier. Clenching his fists at his sides at the thought, he stood still, regarding her silently.

“I am sorry, Éomer,” she offered rather insincerely, seemingly unaware of what she was doing to him.

Closing his eyes, he desperately sought to listen to the voice in his head.

He knew the proper thing to do would be to turn around, avert his eyes. He knew the proper thing to do was to retrieve the blanket, wrap her up and march her back to her tent. He knew it certainly was NOT the proper thing to stand here staring at her.

Fortunately, he also believed propriety was highly overrated.

The princess met his stare, immediately recognizing the look in his eyes. The look she had seen the night before he first kissed her. He stood in front of her, blonde waves dripping on his tunic, his wet leggings clinging to muscular thighs. Suddenly the princess did not feel the chill from the water at all. Suddenly, once again, she was quite warm.

“Ani,” he began, “this is not-“

“I swear if you say 'proper' I will-“

Before she could finish her statement, she was in his arms, his mouth covering hers with such fierce possession she had to grasp the collar of his tunic to remain standing. His hands splayed across her back, searing through the thin, wet material, pressing her against him.

Standing on her tiptoes, Anhuil wrapped her arms around him, her fingers delving into his damp hair and pulling him to her. If his hands were warm on her skin his lips were like fire, blazing a trail across her bare shoulder and back up her neck, finding hers once again. It took no encouragement from him for her to part her lips, the invitation gratefully accepted, his tongue teasing hers, heat from him pouring into her and pooling rather pleasantly in places she did not know existed.

Éomer’s hands slid down the curve of her waist to her hips. His fingers glided over the damp fabric covering her backside, pulling her against him, deepening his kiss. It took a moment for Anhuil’s brain to connect the slight sting she felt with the resounding smack she heard. She pulled away from him, wriggling to free herself from his grasp, glowering at him indignantly. “I cannot believe you, Éomer, son of Éomund! I cannot believe you actually struck me!”

Bending, he picked up the blanket he had discarded and walked toward her, that damned devilish grin firmly in place. “Admit it,” he said mockingly, repeating her words back to her. “You deserved it.”

Anhuil’s eyes narrowed as he approached her, holding up the blanket to cover her. She yanked it from his hands and turned her back, wrapping it around herself. It wasn’t so much her backside that was hurt as her pride.

“I had no choice," he said with a shrug. "You dared me.”

She whirled to face him, desperately fighting a grin. “My father would nail your hide to a wall, do you know that, King of Rohan?”

“Are you going to tell him? Or shall I? He would probably do it himself if he knew you had sneaked off alone again.”

Dropping her hands to her sides, the princess blew out her breath. “When are you men going to realize that I am not a child?”

Éomer’s gaze raked over her. The blanket hung loosely from her shoulders, her smock clenched in one fist at her side. Her damp shift still clung to her, outlining her rounded breasts, the hardened peaks clearly visible through the thin fabric now that she had flipped her hair back over her shoulders. Whether this was the result of the chill or her arousal at their kiss briefly crossed Éomer’s mind. He dropped his gaze and closed his eyes tightly, pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers.

“I think it is quite clear you are no child,” he stated.

A quick glance down alerted the princess to her exposure. She looked back up at the king, who was now rubbing his forehead with his fingers, his eyes still closed. Her mouth twitched as she fought a smile. She tugged the blanket tight around her, holding it closed with one hand, and stared at him.

Raising his eyes, he was almost relieved to see she had covered herself. He watched her face, searching for some sign that he was forgiven.

“I suppose I will have to work much harder than a hot bath to be forgiven this time,” he said resignedly.

“IF you are ever forgiven,” she answered haughtily, with a teasing smile.

“I have doomed myself to a life of servitude,” he sighed.

He closed the distance between them, pulling her into his arms, keeping the blanket wrapped around her. Water still trickled from his hair. Reaching up with one hand, she brushed back a stray strand with her fingers, trailing them down the side of his jaw, his beard tickling her fingertip.

“If you are fortunate,” she answered as he lowered his lips to hers again.

“ANI!” The harsh whisper startled them both. A look of panic crossed her face. Thinking quickly, he grabbed her and pushed her behind him, standing with his back to the shadows.

Cam came around the copse of trees, blue eyes widening in surprise at the sight of Éomer standing there. “Your Majesty,” she addressed him politely. “I am sorry...you surprised me. I was looking for Ani.”

“Ani?”

The blonde cocked her head to one side. “Yes, Ani. Short, dark curly hair, has a tendency these days to curse in Rohirric?”

“Oh...yes...well...”

“Have you seen her?”

Éomer stared at her blankly. “Seen her?”

Rolling her eyes, the blonde enunciated her words clearly. “Have. You. Seen. Ani?”

Shaking his head, he gave her his most innocent look. She wasn’t buying it.

“Then pray tell, why are her clothes lying on that rock?” she asked him, one hand on her hip.

His gaze traveled to the stone near the pond where she had laid out her wet clothing. “Perhaps she forgot them?”

Cam sighed. “You are a terrible liar, Éomer King.”

Anhuil could not contain her laughter another moment. She stepped from behind him, giggling. Camwethrin took in the sight of them, both wet, Anhuil wrapped in a blanket and obviously not much else, and looked at them pointedly.

“I will not ask what was going on here, as it is none of my affair. I will, however, inform you that your brothers are looking for you, and unless Éomer wants to contend with the wrath of four princes of Dol Amroth, you had better dress. And hurriedly. I will keep an eye out.” She turned on her heel to go, then looked back over her shoulder. “Rest assured, Princess. This one will cost you.” She stepped back around the trees.

The king and the princess exchanged glances, both erupting into laughter. “It seems this evening will cost us both for quite some time,” he observed.

“No doubt,” the princess agreed, grinning. She turned her back and wriggled out of the wet shift, keeping the blanket around her, making a production out of holding it up and wringing it out. Éomer watched her, trying to think of anything except the fact that she was nude under the blanket. It was not working. He turned away.

She giggled again. “Éomer, certainly you have seen a lady’s undergarments before. For pity’s sake, you have a sister.”

Éomer drew himself up, staring straight in the other direction. “Contrary to what many believe, not all brothers and sisters engage in games of ‘you show me yours...’” he quipped. “I adore Éowyn, but I assure you I have never seen her underpinnings, at least not since she was over the age of five and old enough to know to keep her skirts down.”

Laughing out loud, Anhuil shrugged into the dry dress and straightened her skirts. She pulled on her boots and bundled her wet things up into the blanket, turning to him with a smile. “You can turn around now,” she informed him.

Gathering her into his arms once more, he leaned down and kissed her lightly. “I love you, Ani.”

“I know.”

“Ani!” Cam called from the darkness.

“Goodnight, Princess,” he whispered, pressing his lips to her forehead.

“Elei velui, meleth nín,” she answered softly as he gently pushed her in the direction Cam had gone. He turned back to the pond.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

The king sighed. “I think I am in need of a cool bath now myself,” he said. With a smile, she made her way up the bank to where her friend waited, giggling to herself as she heard the splash behind her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lasto nin, hên. Cenni man gwaith u’cennich. Cenni meleth thilia min hin lín mar cennich aran lín. Avaro naeth. Lasto guren lín. Estelio, Erniliel. Estelio a harthac.
Listen to me, Child. I see what others do not see. I see the love in your eyes when you look at your king. Do not worry. Listen to your heart. Trust, Princess. Trust to hope.
U’chenion - I do not understand.
Gerithac. - You will understand.
Ab anand. In time. (lit. after time)
Elie velui, meleth nin - sweet dreams, my love

****Author's Note - I realize there will be some of you who might be offended by his smacking her in this chapter. Please note, he did not beat her. Please don't email me all upset and angry because Éomer is now committing domestic violence. It was a playful smack on the butt. My husband does it all the time. It's not violence against women and it's not S&M. It's fiction, and it's fun. Chill. *******

****Author's Note, Again...**** The history of Lothlórien is one of the things that is not too clear...there are conflicting answers in different sources. It appears Tolkien changed his mind about who Amroth was later in the story line, so I read extensively on the subject and formed my own opinion...and I'm not even TOUCHING the part about Balrogs and wings.

****Another Author's Note****PLEASE review and rate if you can...Your reviews motivate me to write faster! (Ok...it's a shameless ploy...but I really do LOVE reading what you think! Hannon le!*******

Chapters

Jump to chapter

Chapter name
Chapter Twenty-Two
Created
07 Apr 2004
Last Edited
07 Apr 2004
Hits
1530
Words
7673