3. Chapter 3
Lothíriel left her cousin and made her way along the marble corridor, her steps irresolute and slow. She was deep in thought. Almost unintentionally she headed towards the exit that led to the Place of the Fountain. Once out in the December air she shivered. She had no cloak and a fresh wind whipped across the large open space. The Princess made her way to the wall, hugging herself to keep in her heat. Climbing up on a convenient flower trough she gazed searchingly out over the Pelennor, trying to imagine what it had been like when the City had been under siege. The horror of looking out on hordes and hordes of the Dark Lord's forces and hearing the cries of the foul beings assaulting the gates. What fear there must have been in that short moment between the Witch King finally breaking down the gates and the sound of the mighty horns of Rohan blowing. Bringing hope. She stared for a moment at the burial mounds skirting the river. She sighed to herself; it was no good, there was only one thing to do. Only one decision to make: if she was going to be Queen of Rohan then she would have to do the job to the best of her ability, even if her best was not very good. Reaching the decision she felt better, it seemed accepting her fate brought relief.
The Princess returned to the warmth of the Citadel and once inside walked quickly towards the large libraries. Her small feet tip tapping on the hard floors. Reaching the large ornate wooden door she heaved it open as quietly as she could and peeked inside. Good, Fenor the librarian was in his lair.
The man smiled, "Princess, it is good to see you again. What can I do for you?"
"Oh, I did not think you would remember me," she said surprised, "It is nearly three years since my last visit."
"I am sure I would have but I happened to see you arrive with your father. I imagine you still read as much as you did."
"Quite a lot. I am looking for some books now. I hope you have what I want." She cast her eyes towards the packed shelves. The library and archives in Minas Tirith were vast. The largest in Middle- Earth.
"What is your taste now, Princess?"
Well, I was hoping you have something on the Kingdom of Rohan: customs, history, things like that." She looked expectantly into his eyes. She needed a favour.
"Oh, of course." His face broke into a grin, "I understand you are to be congratulated as you will be the next Queen of Rohan."
"Yes, but I do not know much about the country. I never thought I would need to know," she said almost to herself. "Do you have anything? Anything written in the language of Gondor, I mean."
"Anything we have will be written in our own language, Princess. The people of Rohan have not converted their tongue to the written word. They pass their history by word and song."
"Oh dear, is there nothing much then?" She was disappointed.
"Do not worry, over the ages certain scholars have written the history down. We have quite a bit." He signalled to a young apprentice to fetch a set of wooden steps. The boy carried them to a corner of the room.
"The books you need are on a high shelf I am afraid. Not many wish to read them." Fenor ascended the steps and looked through the books on the top shelf. He eventually returned down, very cautiously, carrying three quite weighty volumes.
"Fenor," the Princess asked in her most winning way. "I will never read all these during my visit. I will be back again in March for Lord Faramir's wedding. Could I please borrow them until then?"
"I don't know, Princess. It is not normal practice," the man pursed his lips not quite knowing what to do. But she was a Princess.
"I will be very careful, I promise. My father will vouch for them," she told him with sudden inspiration.
"Very well. In that case I am sure it will be alright. But please make sure you do not forget and leave them in Dol Amroth."
The books were heavy and Lothíriel debated with herself whether to take them straight back to her room or continue with her next task: to find the King. She would see him at supper of course but she really wanted to talk to him in private, without her family around. She would go now. Once she had made up her mind to do something then she always liked to get it done straight away. She imagined that King Elessar would be using her uncle's old study as it had very commanding views. The room looked right out over the Pelennor towards Ithilien from one window and down past the Harlond from the other. In truth she was a little nervous about knocking on his door but luckily as she turned the corner into the corridor that led to his den she saw him standing outside talking to his steward. A Royal Guard blocked her way but as she spoke to give her name Aragorn looked up.
"Lothíriel my dear! Are you looking for me?"
She managed a slight bobbing curtsey made difficult by the heavy books, "I am my Lord. I have something to ask you."
"Well, you had better come in before you drop those. Whatever are they?" he asked grinning. "They look a bit like hard work to me."
She followed him into the room, gratefully putting the books down on a convenient table.
"They are on the history and customs of Rohan, my Lord. I know nothing about the Mark and thought that I ought to make an attempt to find out a little about the country I am supposed to Queen over."
Aragorn raised an eyebrow, catching something in her tone. "You are not happy about it?"
"I have accepted it, my Lord. I understand the sense of it but….it was sprung on me somewhat."
The King observed her thoughtfully, his probing grey eyes missing nothing.
"Anyway," she carried on; "I will try and be a good Queen. The people of Rohan deserve my best efforts. I came to ask, my Lord if you could arrange for a letter to be delivered to King Éomer? When you next send a messenger of course," she added quickly.
I would be delighted, my dear," he smiled warmly, "but I am not quite sure when it will be. It is mid winter and the road is often closed by snow. But it will definitely get there some time soon, I imagine, as the winter does not appear to be that hard."
"It is not that urgent but I wish to ask King Éomer if it is possible to send someone to help me learn a bit of Rohirric. I think it would be better if I did. I thought he could bring someone when they travel for his sister's wedding and they could return with me in September. I am sure my father will agree."
"I am sure he will. It is a very sensible idea and no doubt Éomer will think so as well. Actually Lothíriel we have some stable lads from Rohan working in the City," he paused a smile growing on his face. "But no, on second thoughts it would not be a good idea for the future Queen of the Mark to learn Rohirric from stable boys," he grinned.
"Perhaps not," she laughed, pleased that her King was so normal and approachable. She wondered if Rohan's King was just as easy to talk to. "Hopefully someone in Edoras will not mind teaching me," she said seriously. "With luck there will be a scribe or some other who will relish spending the summer in Dol Amroth."
Aragorn allowed himself a gleam of amusement at her naivety: he doubted anyone Éomer picked for the job would have much choice. The young King of Rohan was more than comfortable with his own authority. "I imagine Éomer will have no trouble finding someone suitable," he assured her in his best diplomatic manner.
"Good. Then I will go and write now," she said decisively, wanting to do it before she changed her mind. It was difficult to write to a man one had never met.
"Lothíriel," Aragorn asked kindly, his keen perception sensing some anxiety, "is this upsetting you very much?"
The Princess stared at him for a moment. His eyes held hers and she found it was impossible to lie to him. "I am happier than I was - since I had a talk with Faramir this morning," she explained. "But I find it very disconcerting that everyone has met my future husband except myself."
"Yes…. that must be disturbing," he mused aloud. "I am sorry - we never thought of that," sounding surprised that they had not considered it.
"My Lord, I would not have expected you to," she said quickly not wanting to offend her King. "I blame my father." It was out before she could stop it.
"Ah…." There was a pause as Aragorn considered her words. "Lothíriel," he said after a moment, "I do not as yet have a daughter, but if I did, I would wish to ensure that when I am no longer here, she was wed to a man who I completely trusted."
"And my father completely trusts him?"
Aragorn nodded his head, "As do I."
"Oh, I see." She shrugged with an obvious air of acceptance, "Well, my Lord I have decided to be as good a wife and Queen as I possibly can. Hence the books," she laughed. "So I had better get started." She dropped a small curtsey and made for the door, picking up the books on her way.
Aragorn opened the door for her and as she passed through he put his hand on her shoulder, detaining her for a moment. "Lorí," he whispered quietly, using her pet name for the first time and planting a soft kiss on the top of her head, "your father loves you."
The Princess gave a slight affirmative nod before heading quickly off down the corridor.
Lothíriel spent a large proportion of the winter months curled up in a chair in one of the large window embrasures of the Castle. Some of the time she spent gazing out of the window at the sea, wondering how much she would miss it. The rest she spent reading about the Mark. The history was fascinating and some of the customs were strange. She was glad that she had had the forethought to borrow the books: at least certain things would not come as such a shock. She wondered if her father knew what embarrassment she would have to endure. Thinking of it though, it would probably embarrass him more than her. Good.
About a month before they were due to leave for Faramir's wedding a letter came from Edoras. Éomer welcomed her willingness to try and familiarize herself with Rohirric and had chosen someone to teach her. A young man, the son of a scribe, who had insisted on riding to war. He had been badly injured and would not fight again but was up to the journey and would welcome the time spent in Dol Amroth. The letter told her little about its writer and she did speculate if Éomer had written it - and the previous one - himself or if they had been penned by a scribe. Questioning her brothers however she found out that not only were the Lords of Rohan fluent in Westron, many could write in the Language of Gondor. At least that was something, she thought, not being able to imagine a culture with no written language. Lothíriel wondered if she would be expected to sing; singing seemed to be very important to the Rohirrim according to the books. Luckily she was considered to have quite a sweet voice.
The last few weeks seemed to fly by and it was not long before the Princess was overseeing the packing of her trunk. She had two new dresses; one for the welcome feast and one for the wedding itself. The one she was going to wear at the wedding was a soft blue- green which reminded her of the sea and picked up the colour in her eyes. The other was in Dol Amroth blue edged with silver swans. It was beautiful and had been altered from one of her mother's. Very suitable for her betrothal ceremony she decided. Especially one that's only function was to link the White Tree of Gondor, the White Horse of Rohan and the Swanship of Dol Amroth in one well planned manoeuvre . But in spite of that she was pleased with them and would have been even more pleased if she could have worn her hair down in the soft curls she used to like. Luckily she had found nothing about compulsory hairstyles in the books on Rohan.
The party from Dol Amroth arrived to find the City heaving. Not only had people arrived from the surrounding countryside but a large contingent from Rohan was camping outside the gates. Lothíriel was intrigued by her first sight of the tall fair-haired men. Most did have big bushy beards, although Amroth again assured her that Éomer did not. The royal party from Edoras were not due to arrive until the next day when the welcome feast would be held and her betrothal confirmed. There were also a great many entertainers attracted to the celebrations and amongst the jugglers, snake charmers and fire-eaters, their carriage took them past a cage which held a huge lion. Her father told her that the trainer was from Harad, the first in the City for many years. The Princes had brought their horses but Lothíriel did not wish to risk King Éomer asking her to ride with him. She knew she would feel a fool on her small palfrey and Merilan was not allowed to ride in her condition anyway.
The first night they dined quietly with the King and Queen. Lothíriel had a long talk with Aragorn who told her how King Théoden and Éomer had led the Rohirrim to the aid of Gondor leaving their own land vulnerable to the Orcs from the North, trusting Gandalf's word that the Ents would protect Rohan and they would have a home to return to. Of course Théoden did not return home. She knew what the King was trying to say to her, but he did not need to: she had already made up her mind to make the best of it. However that did not stop her being extremely nervous and the next day panic set in. Whatever would they talk about? She would have to sit next to a total stranger throughout a long drawn-out feast and then dance with him. It was frightening. During lunch inspiration suddenly struck her. He was a warrior so she would talk about battles. Not just any battle of course, but a sensible comparison between Eorl the Young leading the Rohirrim to the Field of Celebrant and King Théoden leading them to the Pelennor Fields five hundred years later. She had all afternoon to swot up on it as he was not due to arrive for a few hours and she would meet him just before they went into dinner, good.
The Princess headed towards the library, she had to return the books anyway and she could perhaps find something more detailed on the battle of Celebrant. She was pretty well up on the recent battle; her brothers still talked of it at every opportunity. Fenor was in his domain but he seemed to be flapping around.
"My apprentice is ill, Princess and I have to go to my sisters wedding. They took the opportunity to wed with all the entertainers here. I am afraid I will have to lock up early."
"Oh," she was disappointed. "I have returned the books, Fenor but I really need some more." She thought for a moment, "If you found them for me I could read them here and then lock up for you."
He sighed; it was strange how the sweetest looking women could be the most determined. "Very well, Princess. But you must promise me to lock up properly and return the key to the guardroom."
She nodded, "I will of course."
"Well then, what do you wish to read now?"
"I would like details of the battle plan for the Field of Celebrant," she smiled engagingly.
He looked at her astonished, "Battle plan?"
"Yes, there must be one. Men can never resist it."
"Oh, there is one alright. It was very important to Gondor. It was modernised not that long ago so if you wish to read it you will be able to."
She was obviously waiting for him to produce it so he pulled the steps over and climbed a few rungs up. "It is with some books on the wars of Gondor," he explained passing it to her.
She nodded her thanks and took the book over to the table.
"I will be off then, Princess; the key hanging up by the door. You know where the guardroom is?"
"Yes, please don't worry. I will lock up." She buried her head back in the book. The man shook his head disbelievingly and hurried out.
It was more difficult than she thought. Lots about weapons and numbers of men. To be honest there did not seem to be much of a plan at all; the Rohirrim looked to have turned up unexpectedly. Maybe she should see if there was anything from Eorl the Young's point of view. Leaving the one book open on the table she walked over to the bookcases, gazing up at the top shelves. What she needed would probably be up there. Lothíriel moved the steps over a little. It was difficult to make them steady as the floor was uneven and in the end she gave up. It did not matter if they were a bit wobbly: she was not frightened of heights, only dark enclosed spaces. Damn, why was she so short? The book she needed was just out of reach and she could not move the steps because there was a pillar in the way. There was nothing for it; she was not going to give up now. The Princess climbed onto the top platform of the steps holding onto the pillar. She reached right out and just managed to grab the book she wanted when she heard a noise. It was the door opening and closing again and then she heard solid footsteps on the stone floor. Lothíriel let go of the pillar and without thinking turned quickly around to see who had come in. It was a silly thing to do she acknowledged in that short second between feeling the steps begin to topple and hearing a deep male voice shouting something she did not understand. The only word she recognised was 'Bema'.
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.