46. Girl Talk
We entered Minas Tirith behind Aragorn. Together with Faramir and Éowyn we followed Aragorn from the Great Gates to the Citadel on the Seventh Circle of the city. Everywhere were garlands of flowers. Blossoms covered the flagstones of the pavement; white banners streamed from the towers and from many windows, singing and cheering greeted every step of our company. I have to admit that I felt more than a little overwhelmed by the time we reached the Citadel.
The last part of the coronation ceremony would take place at the foot of the Tower of Ecthelion. The Dúnedain, the captains of all the companies of the Host of the West, the fellowship and assorted dignitaries and embassies from all over Middle-earth gathered at the Place of the Fountain.
Again clarions sounded, and a squire of the Guard was presented with the Banner of the King. Not the one Arwen had made, that one was put up in the Hall of Merethrond behind the throne, but one that looked exactly like it. Music played and the squire ran up the stairs to the tower. The music played on, and after a few minutes another clarion sounded from the top of the tower to announce that the squire had arrived with the banner.
Drums rolled in a deep and slow rhythm, and the white colours of the Stewards went down at the top of the tower.
Then the drums stopped.
After a moment of silence, the music began again with a flourish. Many harps and bright clarions and lilting flutes played a triumphant hymn as the colours of the King went up on the tower of Ecthelion. When it was up, the wind caught at the fabric at once and unfurled the banner in its full magnificence: bright silver on a sable background, a flowerin tree with seven stars and a winged crown set above the tree.
All of us cheered and clapped and hooted and whistled.
The King had returned.
The King had indeed returned!
But at Aragorn's insistence the white of the Stewards went up again, on one of the smaller masts gracing the top of the tower. And because there was another king present, a third flag went up on the second smaller mast as well. This third banner showed the by now familiar green field with a white horse in full gallop running across it. The colours of Rohan. With the changing of the colours the official part of the coronation was over.
But the festivities had only just begun.
In the great hall of Merethrond a feast had been prepared for the coronation. But as coronations go it was rather a small party, I guess.
There was one long table for the dignitaries of Gondor and Rohan and the various ambassadors and emissaries. A second long table was set to the other side of the hall for the Dúnedain and all the captains of the Host of the West. A third, smaller table had been placed in front of the dais with the throne, for the really important personages of the realm and the guests of honour.
I was probably as disconcerted and uncomfortable as Sam when I discovered that I had been placed at this third table. Somehow I felt that I did not deserve the honour to be included among the Fellowship. Even though I had shared so much with my friends during the long months on the road, I still felt strange about belonging to the Fellowship. I breathed easier when I discovered that I knew almost all of the guests of honour. When I realized that I had been placed to the left of Faramir, and Éowyn was only one place further down the table, I almost relaxed. Across from me Elrohir and Elladan were seated, and next to them came Gandalf and Frodo, on either side of Aragorn.
But my heart started to race and my breath caught in my throat when the seat to my left was taken. Éomer sat down next to me and gave me a smile that made my heart spin.
"My lady Lothíriel. I see that I have been very fortunate in my dinner partner for this celebration," he murmured. I shuddered at the sound of his voice. Just hearing his voice made my skin prickle as if he had stroked across my naked body.
I could only nod. With Éomer being so close to me, there were no two coherent thoughts left in my brain. I had been in love before. But I had never been affected like that; being hardly able to breathe, or talk, or think. I had always managed to keep thinking, at least. I did not really enjoy the fact that my brain seemed to stop working more and more frequently when I was in close proximity of Éomer. He did not seem to be at a loss for words. Just now he was cheerfully greeting Faramir, asking how things were going and joking. He seemed to be totally at ease while I slowly relearned how to breathe.
To toast the new king, we were served golden goblets filled with sparkling white wine from the coast.
Faramir led the toast with another ringing: "Behold the King!"
Everyone cheered and in a wave of gleaming gold and silver every goblet in the hall was raised to Aragorn. How Aragorn managed not to blush at all this praising and toasting and bowing and cheering, I will never know. He remained as calm and noble as ever, a slight smile playing around his lips, his grey eyes warm and friendly.
The wine was good. Fruity, a hint of lemons and oranges, with a hint of vanilla and saffron at the edge. A little bit like good Californian Chardonnay. When I wanted to put my goblet down, Éomer intercepted me. He looked at me with an intense gaze of dark brown eyes flecked with amber highlights. I lost myself in his gaze, completely mesmerized. A fool. A fool falling in love. I think those amber flecks come out only when he's happy, I mused.
"Lothíriel, where are your thoughts, pray tell, my lady," Éomer murmured. "Your eyes go all deep and green when you are thinking so hard."
I swallowed hard. My eyes go green? My heart pounded in my ears.
"I was thinking if those amber flecks in your eyes only appear when you are happy," I said. I realized that I had said exactly what I had thought. Once again I felt my cheeks grow hot and hoped that it was only heat and not colour that suffused my face.
Éomer's smile deepened. I noticed that he had dimples. His eyes seemed to grow darker, too, making the amber flecks shine all the brighter. "There is no mirror at hand, so that I could ascertain what my eyes look like right now. But I can tell you that I feel very happy indeed this evening. Will you share a drink with me? May I drink to your visit of my home in the near future?"
"You may, my lord," I answered, my voice husky and halting. But at least I did not sound like the complete moron. He touched his goblet to mine, and then we drank, our eyes locked.
I took a large swallow of the cool wine, savouring the soothing cool liquid.
We were interrupted by the soup being served. I was grateful. I needed a diversion. Éomer's presence was affecting my brain. If this process wasn't going to stop any time soon, I would be reduced to a gibbering idiot at a single glance. For heaven's sake, Lothíriel, I reprimanded myself silently. You've been in love before. Quit acting like a fifteen year old girl!
And why was I acting like a fifteen year old teenager? I sighed into my soup. Perhaps because I was falling madly in love with an attractive man, and there was no chance in heaven or hell to do anything about the growing tension of desire inside of me in the foreseeable future. I sighed again. I was undeniably in love. I was also undeniably horny. I sighed again. You do a lot of sighing when you are in love.
But somewhere among the sighs, mirth bubbled up inside me.
After darkness, war and pain now there was peace and sunshine and happiness, and Éomer.
If not in my bed, at least at my side for another excellent dinner. And perhaps even some dancing later on. The last sigh turned into a big, radiant smile on my lips.
In German there is a beautiful expression for this kind of feeling when you are in love, this wild vacillation between happiness and depression.
We call it "himmelhoch jauchzend – zu Tode betrübt". You can't really translate it, of course. The dictionary says "up one minute, down the next". But that's not it at all. It's this feeling of being sky-high with this bubbling, squeeing feeling of happiness, this need to hug the world (one minute), and then feeling low and blue and sighing with the weight of the world and the uncertainty of the future (the next minute).
You would think that you outgrow these silly feelings sometime. But you don't. It's like the common cold. You can catch it with seventy as easily as with seventeen. But the older you get the more stupid you feel with it.
Between sighs and contemplation of the conditio humana amante, I had eaten and enjoyed my dinner without really noticing what I had eaten at all. Well, I don't think it was anything icky. It was Aragorn's coronation dinner, after all.
After dinner many of the guests went for a little walk to aid the digestive processes.
When Éowyn came up to me with flashing grey eyes, asking me to take a walk with her, I could tell that this was not what she had in mind, but as I had no idea whatever I had done wrong this time, I obediently followed her outside. We walked to a small garden behind the kitchens.
Éowyn made sure that no one was within earshot, then she rounded on me.
"You – my brother – speak up!"
I blinked at her.
Was she mad at me that her brother liked me? It had been her idea, after all.
"What do you want to know?" I asked.
"What do I want to know? Well, tell me what happened!"
"Nothing, she says," Éowyn snorted. "Look at you! You can't take the eyes off each other!"
I stared at her. I still did not understand why she was angry. "Yes?"
"We are talking my brother here, Lothíriel!" Éowyn's eyes were blazing now.
"It was your idea that I should go to Cormallen and be your brother's dinner partner," I replied, frowning. But it was slowly dawning on me that all of a sudden Éowyn was worried about my intentions towards her brother.
"Yes, I did. I know I did," Éowyn moaned. "But I did not think it would work, for heaven's sake! My brother's only interest was his horses up until now!"
"Well, it did work," I commented dryly, feeling my stomach flutter with the admission. "It worked rather well. In fact it's worked so well that I am reduced to a pot of sighing and blubbering jelly in your brother's vicinity."
"You are what?" She stared at me for a long moment, frowning, her eyes piercing. I don't know what she saw in my face or in my eyes, but suddenly the frown left her face to be replaced by a growing grin. The grin grew to light up her whole face. Then she started chuckling softly. Finally the chuckles turned into great whooping laughter. Her laughter was contagious. And I already felt silly enough after my stint of hot cheeks and sighs at the dinner table. I felt my lips crinkling up. The next minute I spent trying to suppress completely undignified giggles. With no success. The giggles quickly turned into unhinged laughter.
When we finally calmed down, we were in each other's arms, red-cheeked and tousled from sharing our laughter.
At long last, serious again, I turned to Éowyn. "I had no designs on your brother when I went to Cormallen, Éowyn, you have to believe me. I did not want to fall in love with Éomer." I paused. I liked the sound of his name. I did not sigh, though I wanted to, but went on briskly. "I only wanted to take my message to Prince Imrahil and see my friends again. That is all. The rest… simply happened."
"I believe you," Éowyn said simply. "You get a really stupid look on your face when you say his name."
"Oh, thank you," I replied. "And what do you look like when you hear the name 'Faramir'?"
I was rewarded with a soft, dreamy-eyed smile.
"That's an entirely different matter," Éowyn objected.
She did sigh.
Then her face brightened. "You know, there will be a lot more fuss around your wedding than around mine." This seemed to delight her. I felt a wave of nausea rising up in my stomach.
"Míri, the Lady Míriël of Dol Amroth has appointed herself as my chaperone," I said bleakly.
"The Lady of Dol Amroth herself?" Éowyn's eyes sparkled. "That's bloody brilliant."
"Should you use such words? And why is that brilliant?"
"Well, the Dol Amroth family is one of the most ancient and noble families in the realm of Gondor. If the Lady Míriël watches out for you, there will be not as much trouble," Éowyn explained.
I did not get her point. "Trouble?"
Éowyn looked at me and sighed. Then she took my hand and patted it as if she were talking to a small and not too bright child. "Because you are not a descendant of one of the noble houses listed in the books of the kings. The Lady of Dol Amroth will help there. Perhaps Aragorn can help, too. After all, he's the King of Gondor now."
"Books of Kings?" I gaped at my friend.
"Yes. Surely you did not think that the heir to the throne of Rohan may marry just anybody? The future queen of Rohan has to be a virgin of one of the families listed in the…" Her voice trailed off, as she remembered something. "Ooohhh," she added softly. "That is indeed a problem."
I felt myself grow cold all over. Up until now I had not really thought about what being in love with Éomer, with Éomer King, with Éomer, the King of Rohan, would mean. I stared at Éowyn, her voice echoing in my ears. Oops…that is a problem…I should have realized that a future king would have to marry a virgin from a noble family of his country or an allied realm.
I was neither.
It had only been a dream. Only a dream.
"Does he know?" Éowyn asked abruptly.
"Do you think that's the first thing I tell anyone?" I looked at her in disbelief.
Éowyn pursed her lips. "Well, probably not. Hm… let me see… Boromir, Faramir and I. You will simply have to lie and say that you had a husband in your world and he died."
I stared at her, shocked. Then I slowly shook my head. "I won't lie. I like Éomer. I am falling in love with Éomer. I will not lie to him. Not now. Not ever. And besides, I think that Aragorn knows about Boromir, too. And it's not only Boromir."
"Not only Boromir?" At this Éowyn's voice rose somewhat shrilly.
"Calm down," I hissed at her. "Not what you think."
I paused. Middle-earth, 3019, and Germany, 2004, were light-years apart.
And damn it, he hasn't even asked me yet, I thought. Perhaps he never will! Thank God. He hasn't asked me yet. But there in a corner of my mind I heard this horrible, nagging voice again, the voice of conscience never sleeping, always waking: But he has almost asked you, that day at Cormallen. And you did not say no to that almost, either. And if he asked, you would say yes, wouldn't you? Or at least you would want to.
I exhaled deeply. "Look, Éowyn, I have told you that I come from another world, with a society that is very different from this one."
"And that pertains to your virginity in what way?" Éowyn raised her eyebrows at me, her voice cool and mocking.
I clenched my teeth and forced myself to stay calm. Stay calm. "Where I come from, it is quite normal for young women (or men) to have several lovers before settling down, marrying, having children and all that. And you don't even have to marry. It's perfectly normal to simply live together, have children and be happy without marrying at all." How was it possible that something that was entirely normal where I had grown up suddenly sounded cheap and trashy to my own ears?
Éowyn simply stared at me.
"Please, Éowyn, don't look at me like that! I am not a tart. I am not a slut or a whore or something. I am not at all casual with love and sex. Please, don't look at me like that!" I begged her. "And if you tell me now that… I can't be anything to your brother, I will simply disappear. I am a good girl. Or at least I was, in my world. Really."
"Stop it, Lothy…" Éowyn said in an absent-minded way. I wondered where her thoughts had gone off to. Then she looked me straight in the eyes. "You could have lovers? And no one would object? You could live together, have children and everything and not marry?" she asked, with a wistful expression dawning on her face.
I did not quite understand what she was talking about. "Well, where I lived, most people eventually married. Most of my women friends fell in love for the first time in their late teens. Some of them had their first lover then. Only we call them boyfriends. Most of those first relationships did not last. When you are that young, you don't really know what you want from a lasting relationship, I guess. Although some do, it depends on the person. I think in the years between twenty and thirty you get more serious about love and relationships. Most people I know try out living together for some time before they marry, try out if they really belong together. But eventually, most people do marry. So, you see, where I come from it's normal that you are not a virgin when you marry. I just did not think of it that here it might be different."
"Why should you think it could be different here?" Éowyn asked.
"In my world, it was like it is here today in earlier ages. Girls were married very young and as virgins whenever possible. But where I lived, those customs died out some fifty, sixty years ago. I just did not think about it. Please, believe me; I did not do this on purpose!" I hated the fact that I sounded so pleading. But if I had to make myself fall out of love again, I did not want to lose my only woman-friend in this world along with my love.
Éowyn looked at me, slowly shaking her head. "Lothy, I've said it before, and I guess I will say it again and again. Forgive me if I say so, but you are an idiot to leave your world for this one. Gods! What would I give to get to know Faramir before… what would I give to be able to keep my freedom!" She shook her head again, sighing deeply. "You are truly mad, Lothy. But you are a sweet girl nevertheless." Then she blinked at me, remembering another important question that was on her mind. "How many?"
"How many what?" I stared at Éowyn, completely confused by now.
Éowyn cocked her head. "Lovers, of course."
I felt heat creep up my cheeks. I gulped. "Three with Boromir."
"Only two in your world?" Éowyn gaped at me. "But why? If you could…"
I frowned at her. "I did say that I am not casual with my affairs, didn't I? I only ever had sex when I was in love. Really, truly in love."
"Then whatever went wrong?" Éowyn towed me to a wooden bench under a rose brier.
Apparently more girl talk was on her mind. I felt like running away. Instead I sat down next to her and told her about my lovers. "The first one was in my first year at university. My first time. I was a late bloomer. But it did not work. He went to another university, we tried to keep the relationship going, but it just did not work. Finally he found another girl, and that was that. The second one was a year before I came to Middle-earth. He was nice; it was nice but only nice. He was all for marriage and settling down. I was not so sure. Finally I realized that I did not want to settle for nice. I called it off. And that was that… until Boromir happened. And I have already told you all about that."
Éowyn looked a little disappointed. "The way you tell it, it doesn't sound all that exciting."
I shrugged. "Sorry. I said that I'm a good girl. I am boring. I know."
"Goody good." Éowyn grinned at me. "But I guess my brother's after changing that."
I covered my face with my hands and moaned. "Didn't you just go to great lengths to tell me that I have to be a virgin and of noble birth if there's a chance in heaven for your brother and me? Éowyn, I don't want to have an affair with your brother!"
To my embarrassment I had to blink away tears. I so did not want to cry. I was astonished when Éowyn put an arm around my shoulders and hugged me. "I don't want you to have an affair with my brother either. He's all the family I have left. I want him to be happy. For all of his life."
"Then what are you talking about?" My head was hurting and I felt those silly tears pricking in my eyes. I had been so happy only a few hours ago. And now a perfectly normal, not to say boring past that included two nice boys and one dead hero was about to shatter any future this Lothíriel might have with Éomer King.
"I did not realize just how different our – worlds are, before. It is not your fault that you are not… the way you would be, had you been born here. But you will have to tell him," Éowyn said simply. "I am not going to say that he will like it. Men are strange in those things. But he will understand. I think," she amended. "After all, how could you have known that you would end up here? You had to obey the customs of your country just as much as I had to obey the customs of Rohan."
I blinked at Éowyn. My heart quickened its beat. "Do you really think so?" It was hard to keep my voice even. Could it perhaps be possible…? "And what about Boromir?"
"Boromir is dead," Éowyn said curtly. Then another thought occurred to her and she looked me up and down with narrowed eyes. "Are you pregnant? That would be a real problem."
I gulped and shook my head. "No, I can't get pregnant –" I raised my hand to stop another outburst beforehand. "Wait! Let me finish. Where I come from there are several quite reliable methods to prevent the conception of a child – that's one of the reasons why we have the freedom to try out making love without marriage. We can make pretty sure that there won't be any unwanted children. One of the newest and most reliable methods is a little stick that is implanted into the skin of your arm. It gives off a substance that prevents you from getting pregnant and in many cases it makes your monthlies disappear."
Éowyn stared at me with wide eyes. "And you have such a stick in your arm?"
"Yes. It's good for another two years. Here, you can feel it quite easily through the skin."
I rolled up my sleeve and held out my arm to her. Gingerly she placed her fingertips on my Implanon.
"There is really something in there, under your skin," she sighed, shook her head and smiled at me. "Well, that's alright then. But I still think you are mad. A world where you can work, a world where you don't have to marry, a world where you can have love with no strings attached, no monthlies to boot, and you choose to come here – you are absolutely insane."
"Don't worry," I could not restrain myself from saying. "I don't think it's a hereditary condition."
For a moment we sat in silence and I rubbed my pounding temples. Where the hell had all those problems come from, all at once? And why tonight? Why couldn't that conversation have waited until tomorrow, or next week or…? And how and when should I tell Éomer – the bloody King of bloody Rohan – that I came from a world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll? Was there a chance in hell that he would really understand? Or at least accept it? And when all that was said and done, I was still a nobody in Middle-earth. They might count me among the fellowship now and throw flowers at me along with the others. But I did know something about the way society works. In the long run, there would be a lot of people who cared much more about my family name than what ever I had been doing traipsing around the wilderness with nine unmarried men.
"Don't worry, Lothy. We'll find a way." There was a hint of a giggle to Éowyn's voice. "Especially if your madness is confined to your person. We'll find a way. Everything will be alright. And I get to watch a woman who could be free and do anything that she wants being led right into slavery. This is simply too good to be true! Did Lady Míriël tell you about our custom of betrothal?" A giggle escaped Éowyn's lips.
"Yes, she did. A year and a day. And may I remind you that your time of betrothal has only just started?" I replied grouchily.
Éowyn only snorted. "But my brother has not even asked you yet! And with a royal wedding they will observe every old-fashioned custom they can remember from way back when Eorl the Young rode across the Wold. I on the other hand have almost convinced Faramir that we could shorten our betrothal what with the war and everything."
"That is a low blow," I said. My head was beginning to hurt now in earnest. How in hell had a little girl-talk turned into Éowyn's version of Dante's inferno? I had gone from happy to desperate to hopeful in less than an hour and the party had only just begun. But Éowyn was already ahead of me again, her thoughts racing to topics where no Rohirric virgin had ever gone before.
"Would you tell me how it is, to make love?" Éowyn asked, her eyes gleaming expectantly. "I mean, I know the technical side of it, of course, having helped with births and the breeding of horses, but how does it feel? And--"
"Éowyn," I interrupted her. "You are my dearest friend in Middle-earth. And I will do everything for you. But you cannot expect me to talk to you about sex right now!"
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.