2. Chapter 2
Lothíriel was right: she did find it hard to forgive her father. In spite of what Amroth had explained to her and even though she understood the reasons for the match, she was upset. She could not understand why the decision could not have waited until she met him at Faramir's wedding. Now it seemed she would meet Éomer an hour or so before her betrothal ceremony. She would have to stand up in the Great Hall of Merethrond next to a total stranger. Was it any wonder she was upset she asked herself?
The promised letter arrived from Edoras a few weeks after her father's return. She had to confess that it was a very nice letter. Éomer apologised for the fact they had not met. He needn't have done so: after all it was not his fault, was it? He assured her they would talk at his sister's wedding and he would do his best to make her happy. What more could he say? He probably felt as bad about it as she and was now regretting the whole thing. If he was as popular with the ladies as Amroth had intimated then whatever was he going to think of her? He could surely have had the choice of many. She just hoped he was good at hiding his disappointment. It took her a while to pen her reply. Whatever could she say? In the end she remained very neutral and said that she would be honoured to be Queen of Rohan and was looking forward to meeting him. Afterwards she was grouchy about the whole thing and guessed her family were becoming a little fed up with her. Serve them right!
Luckily something cheered her up: an invitation came from the new King and Queen of Gondor. Would the whole family like to join them for Yuletide in the City? It was not surprising, as Elphir had not met Queen Arwen and the two Princesses of Gondor had not even met their King. Erchi volunteered to stay behind. Her father was astonished as usually he relished the delights of the City. But Lothíriel knew exactly why: she had caught him in a slightly compromising situation with one of the young war widows. She would keep it to herself, of course, as it would be useful to have something on Erchi especially when he became too annoying and bossy. Lothíriel quite liked the pretty young woman and she was of noble birth. She wondered if her brother was serious about the lady as after all her father may not object too much now that the succession was assured and Merilan was with child again. Elphir had married for duty but at least they had met and agreed to the match, liking the look of one another straight away. Hardly surprising, she thought, for, although he could be infuriating like all her brothers, Elphir was very attractive. It was probably only herself who would be stuck in a loveless marriage. Oh, what was the point in thinking about it? She might as well just forget it for a while and enjoy the visit to the City.
The journey to the White City was not too arduous, as it was a mild winter and she was a good sailor. She had not visited Minas Tirith for a couple of years and was amazed at the change. The burial mounds were not an improvement but the courts were far less formal and now full of life. A spark of annoyance flashed through her at her first sight of the new Queen: she was not wearing one of those stupid caps! She did not even have her hair up. Lothíriel did not blame her, as perhaps being a queen and an elf let her get away with it. Unlike herself, she thought irritably. For even though her own official betrothal had not been announced, she was spoken for and thus her father insisted that she had to wear her long hair braided around her head in the Gondorian tradition. She hated it. It would be bound to itch in the summer as you could not wash it so often with all the trouble it took to replait the braids. That aside, she liked the King and Queen very much. They met in an ante room for a private reception before the feast started. King Elessar went out of his way to be kind to her: thanking her for the quick arrival of stores after the war and explaining again the importance of her marriage. The Queen just grinned and whispered that she was sure she would be the envy of many ladies. Maybe she would, but it was most galling that everyone had met her future husband except herself. Lothíriel had not been expecting the Queen to be so beautiful and felt quite plain beside her. Her self confidence took another knock when they filed into the hall for dinner and she looked down onto a sea of dark haired beauties. How had she forgotten the loveliness and sophistication of the ladies of the City? She was envious of those who were unattached and could still wear their hair down. She felt a frump. It was not long before she was aware of glances aimed in her direction: some were friendly but many seemed to be hostile.
Amroth must have noticed because he whispered, "I doubt you are popular with all, Lorí. There were quite a few who hoped they might have been Queen of Rohan!"
She started to feel quite uncomfortable after the meal as the guests mingled in conversation. Firstly, everyone expressed surprise that she had never met her future husband. How could her father do this to her? And then it became obvious from the many remarks that she had got it quite wrong. The King of Rohan was definitely considered a handsome desirable man and quite a catch. Far from pleasing her it caused her more anguish and anxiety. Whatever would a man who could have had his pick of all these beauties here, leave alone those in his own country, want with her? What must her brothers have said about her and would he be able cover up what were bound to be feelings of mortification? What could she do? She decided that her cousin Faramir would be the best one to give her more information. She knew she could trust him to tell her the truth and they had always got on. There was no chance the first night once the dancing started. She was not short of partners, probably because she was a princess, but she was a little peeved to discover that none took the slightest liberty. It must be the silly hair style she decided. It was totally unbecoming. If she could not attract the young men around her then what chance would she have of pleasing her future husband? It was all most worrying. She found with more than a little relief however that, although the hall was full of handsome young men, she did not think she was in danger of falling for any of them. She had been a bit concerned about that: it would be awful to find yourself in love with someone and betrothed to another. Was the King of Rohan likely to be in love with someone else she wondered?
The next morning she sought out her cousin in his study.
"Lorí, come and sit down." Faramir walked towards her, kissing her on the cheek and leading her to a chair. "We did not have much chance to talk last night. Would you like some wine?" He indicated the carafe on his desk.
"Yes, please, I would." Her father would have a fit if he thought she was drinking wine in the morning. She was only ever allowed one cup anyway, as wine tended to loosen her tongue. Lothíriel studied her cousin for a moment as he poured a generous measure of rich red liquid into a silver goblet. She had thought last night that he looked much happier than last time she saw him. This morning she was sure. Although he was even older than Elphir she had always thought him a handsome man, but now his usually stern face and cool grey eyes both bore a much softer look. It must be his betrothal to Éowyn of Rohan she decided, and also, she hardly dare admit to herself, the fact that his father no longer held sway over him. Her uncle Denethor had always alarmed her. She absently picked up one of Faramir's quill pens and began systematically digging it into the top of the desk. Why was everyone happy but her? She took a gulp of wine wondering how to bring up the subject. Her cousin's voice startled her from her reverie.
"Now you have totally destroyed that quill, Lorí, would you like another or are you going to tell me what is wrong?" Faramir was leaning back in is chair watching her with an amused but not unkind grin on his face. She took another large gulp of wine.
"Can you tell me about the King of Rohan, Faramir?"
The grin left her cousins face to be replaced by one of sympathy as he realised her anxiety, "What do you want to know, Lorí? Surely your brothers have talked about him."
"They have, of course, although at first I did not believe them. I thought he would be an ugly great warrior with a big bushy beard. That is the impression our men gave me when they returned."
Faramir's smile resurfaced, "Lorí, I think he probably did look huge on a warhorse with both him and Firefoot wearing armour. And yes, I imagine that during the march to the Black Gates he did not bother to trim his beard. But I promise you that by the time he entered the City with Aragorn it was neat and tidy. And I do not think anyone would call him ugly, quite the opposite in fact."
"That's the trouble." Lothiriel had given up returning her goblet to the desk each time she took a gulp. She was now clutching it in both hands and taking little sips.
"I've lost you. Are you not pleased?"
She shook her head, "It was last night when I listened to all that was said about him. I know now that he is not eight foot tall and all that." She stood up, still clutching her goblet and paced around the room. "I am not such a fool, Faramir, that I have not picked up on how popular he is with the ladies. They are all so beautiful. I had forgotten how much since my last visit." She sighed heavily staring out of the window and then turned back to look her cousin in the eye. "He could have had his pick of many; whatever is he going to think of me?"
Faramir stood up reaching for the carafe as he did so, a soft smile playing around his lips. "Lorí, have you looked in the mirror lately?"
The mirror? Well, of course she had but all she saw when she did look were those horrible braids wrapped around her head. She passed her goblet to Faramir who grinned and filled it up.
"Well, have you?" he asked raising an eyebrow.
"What do you mean? I look everyday and see me," she replied slightly confused.
"Lorí, you always were a very pretty child and you have turned into a beautiful young woman."
"Oh, I do not think you are right there, Faramir," she said straight away. "Not one of the young men I danced with last night did anything they shouldn't."
"I beg your pardon," her cousin could not hide his shock. "Whatever do you mean about not doing anything they shouldn't, Lorí?"
"Oh, you know," she said waving her hand airily and taking another gulp of wine. "Nothing too naughty, just a little squeeze around the waist or a slight brush of the hand on one's bare shoulder. Last time I was here, when I was eighteen, I really enjoyed it. But last night it was so boring. This awful hairstyle cannot help," she finished indignantly.
To her surprise Faramir burst out laughing. "Lorí, I promise you it has nothing to do with the hairstyle. In fact it shows off your features to perfection," he added still chuckling. "My dear girl you are promised to the Lord of the Mark: they all know Éomer; none would dare take the slightest liberty."
"Oh, I see," she said slowly. A shiver of anticipation ran through her, closely followed by the customary flash of anger that all knew him except herself. "Well, all that aside I cannot understand why he would agree to wed me when we had not even met. I know all the very sensible reasons of course but it still seems very strange. Why did it not all wait until your wedding?"
"It's a little difficult to explain." He paused, not sure what to say. "But I will try," he said seeing her expectant look.
"It was when we were at Edoras. We all, that is Éomer, Aragorn, Gandalf, Elrond, your father of course and me," he grimaced to himself at his part in this. Éowyn had taken a long time to forgive him, "well, we sat talking into the early hours one night. Galadriel and Celeborn were there as well but they did not join in the discussion," he said remembering. "Anyway, we were discussing the future of Gondor and Rohan and everyone agreed the closer we made the ties the better. I think Aragorn must have joked that they could not be any closer than if Éomer married the Princess of Dol Amroth. Your father admitted that he had already thought about it and had hoped you would have made the journey to Edoras or at least come to the City. I totally expected Éomer to dismiss the idea out of hand but strangely he did not. Elrond and Gandalf gave their support to the reasoning behind it and Gandalf assured Éomer that you would make an excellent Queen and would be a beautiful and loving wife and mother."
"Gandalf?" She opened her mouth in bewilderment. "I have not seen him since I was about fifteen." She remembered it well as it was not long after they had made her ride sideways. He had been very sympathetic. In fact thinking about it now he had said something very strange but for the life of her she could not think what it was.
"Well, you must have made an impression." He chuckled softly, almost to himself, "After all he is a wizard, so he should have been able to see how you would turn out."
"But even so Éomer just agreed to this?"
"He did, there and then. In the morning he and his advisors sat with myself, your father and Aragorn and thrashed out the details."
"You mean how many bags of wheat and barrels of fish?"
Faramir walked over to where she was standing looking out of the window and put his arm around her. "It is no good us denying that that sort of thing did not come into it, Lorí, but it probably would whoever you married. You are a Princess of the Realm. The prospect of having the royal blood of Gondor on the throne of Rohan has certainly made it easier to persuade certain nobles to release the vast amount of aid that the Mark requires. However, I tend to think that Éomer had heard quite a bit about you from your brothers. He must have liked what he was told and it also got the Council of Rohan off his back. The word 'heir' never seemed to be far away. Also by agreeing to this match it took away the pressure of being targeted by the seemingly increasing number of 'hopefuls'," he laughed.
Lothiriel looked up at his kind face, "But I am not really suitable to be the wife of the King of Rohan, Faramir. I am not tall and strong like a Shield Maiden and I cannot even use a sword." All her anguish came through in her words.
Her cousin hugged her to him, "Lorí, I am absolutely convinced that Éomer's first requirement in a wife is not her ability with a sword." Seeing that she was not persuaded he sought for inspiration. "Tell me," he said gently, "who would you have said was Gondor's greatest warrior? In your lifetime," he clarified.
"Boromir, of course," she replied without hesitation.
"And what sort of ladies do you think would catch his eye?"
"I… I have no idea. I have never thought about it except to wonder why he did not marry."
"He did not marry because he and our father could never agree on the subject. No one was ever good enough for him," he remarked rather ruefully. "But that is not the point," he carried on. "His taste was for pretty gentle females, even petite. He certainly was not interested in meeting them on the training ground. I guess Éomer is much the same. I will go as far as to say that I have observed that he definitely prefers the more delicate varieties." Faramir watched her closely hoping that had not upset her, but she grinned at him. Having three brothers she tended to accept a man's reasonable interest in women as normal.
"So he is like Boromir, is he?"
Faramir considered for a moment, "He is a warrior as was Boromir and is physically powerful of course. But there is something else in Éomer, an intangible personal power, I suppose." Faramir looked away from her from her for a moment as though there was something he did not want her to see. "But no, Lorí, Éomer is not really like Boromir at all," he sighed sadly.
"In what way?" she asked with interest sensing some nuance of intrigue.
"It is not very easy to say. But I can tell you one big difference," he said grinning suddenly to lighten the atmosphere, "Boromir would never have trusted Gandalf's recommendation for a wife or anything else for that matter."
"I wonder why he did," she mused to herself. "So you are sure that Éomer will be happy with a not very tall, rather dainty wife?" she asked looking up at her cousin again.
"I am sure. Perhaps the tougher they are the gentler they like their ladies," he sought to reassure her.
"What about you though? You are marrying a Shield Maiden."
"But I, Lorí am a very reluctant warrior."
"Well, I hope you do not have to fight again," she said seriously "Tell me Faramir," she asked, scanning his grey eyes with an obvious question on her pretty face. "What is she like, your Éowyn?"
A misty look came into her cousins eyes. "She is tall and slim and blonde of course. Outspoken, brave and loyal," he finished with a flourish.
"The opposite of me then?"
"Now there I do not agree," he laughed. "You are certainly not blonde," he joked, smoothing her jet black hair. "Nor as tall as Éowyn, I concur, but you are slim. I am sure you are loyal and I understand that you were quite brave when you were left in Dol Amroth during the war. I also think that with another cup of wine you would be quite outspoken," he said kissing her on the cheek, his eyes gleaming with laughter. "Actually, Lorí, unless I am very much mistaken both Éomer and Rohan will be good for you. As Queen of Rohan, I imagine you will be a lot less restricted than as a Princess of Gondor."
"Well, I hope I do not have to wear one of those stupid caps!"
"I am sure you won't." He laughed at some sudden hidden thought. "To be honest, Lorí, I am not sure I will be able to persuade Éowyn to wear one."
The princess squeezed his hand, "I am glad you are so happy cousin, and I look forward to meeting her." She stopped suddenly her hand going to her face. "It's going to be so embarrassing meeting Éomer for the first time. Especially with everyone around."
"Lorí, do not worry. I have a feeling it will be fine."
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.