6. Lothiriel's Journal 5
Lothíriel closed her eyes, and leant back against the cushions, sure that sometime in the future she would find the conversation she had had with her aunt, funny. Perhaps after she had been married for a few years.
All the while her aunt had lectured her, the old woman had remained standing: mostly pacing around the room, her stick tapping on the polished wooden floor. Then every now and then she would stop, fix her intense eyes on her niece and wave her stick. Each time Lothíriel retreated farther back into the chair, praying the gong would sound.
“What is most important to understand, Lothíriel, is that doing one’s duty in the bedchamber is not meant to be pleasurable. A refined nobleman will be shocked if his wife enjoys his advances. He will think she is no better than a trollop.”
Lothíriel opened her mouth in astonishment, and then closed it again whilst she frantically searched for something acceptable to say. Finally she managed to get out, “Why do only low women enjoy relations with men. Are they made differently than us?”
“Not physically, no. Although, of course, the peasant classes seem to be blessed with big hips, which is why they find it easy to produce such overly large families.” Lothíriel stared at her aunt’s massive lower body, but the similarity seemed to pass the speaker by. “Highborn ladies are more sensitive, and therefore the vulgarity of the actual act can affect their nerves in the most alarming way.”
“Yes, vulgarity, Lothíriel. I am afraid there is nothing pleasant about a panting, heaving and sweating man.”
Lothíriel swallowed. Anniel and Meren had never mentioned that. “Surely there are some noblewomen who welcome their husbands to their bed, Aunt. Why…”
“It is not to be encouraged.” Ivriniel interrupted. “Nothing is likely to disgust a man more than a wife who deliberately seeks his attentions. Lord Belgar was always very particular in informing me of his intent to visit my bedchamber and so give me the opportunity of refusing him.” She frowned and made a little noise of aversion, “Not that I felt able to unless ill or indisposed, for as Belecthor makes clear – a husband’s wishes are paramount. But I was able to show that I did not relish the corporeal side of our union.”
“That must have pleased him,” Lothíriel said, letting out a muffled sigh of disbelief.
“Yes, indeed. He appreciated my sensibility and never troubled me too much. Once Pelilas arrived he felt no further need to bother me and we went on very comfortably together.”
“I am sure you did, Aunt,” Lothíriel said, wondering exactly who her uncle used to bother, “and now you have explained that, I feel a lot happier. I am hungry; shall we make our way to the hall?” She stood up, offering Ivriniel her arm but the old lady waved her down again.
“No, no, child. I cannot shirk this duty. You are grasping the essence well, but I must steel myself to tell you what you have to do when it cannot be avoided.”
Feeling much as she imagined a rabbit caught in a trap might do, Lothíriel shrank into the corner of the chair, waiting for the club to fall. Her aunt cleared her throat a few times, inhaled, and forced back her shoulders with obvious determination.
“I shall instruct the dressmaker in the design of your nightgowns before I leave, Lothíriel. I would not have you embarrassed by your husband catching sight of any bare skin before you are safely under the sheets. Hopefully you will be able to ensure that you are in the bed by the time he enters your chamber, but sometimes one’s toilet takes longer than expected and accidents can happen.
“You mean I might trip over the nightgown, Aunt.”
Ivriniel’s head turned sharply, eyes drawing together in suspicion but Lothíriel kept her expression guileless. “No, I mean he might come in when you are not quite covered. You must instruct your maid to always have a robe ready.”
Lothíriel nodded, slightly puzzled. “If I never show myself, aunt, how does he…?”
“I am coming to that.” Another deep breath and with a slight reddening of her face, Ivriniel continued. “When he has got into the bed beside you he will probably kiss you once to assure you of his affection. You must keep your mouth closed. At first Belgar tried to get me to open mine, but I soon put a stop to that. A very unpleasant experience.” Her Aunt gave a small shudder of distaste. Lothíriel said nothing.
“Now, you need to accommodate him without exposing too much of yourself. When he is ready he will roll on top of you and you must pull up your nightgown to your waist. It will be dark so he will not see your flesh.”
No wonder Anniel said her husband had difficulty finding the right spot. Lothíriel smothered a nervous giggle. “How can I pull up my nightgown, Aunt, if he has rolled on top of me?” He, being the King of Rohan, whom she gathered to be rather large.
Nonplussed for a moment, her aunt dithered before replying, “You pull it up when you know he is ready and then he rolls on top of you. At that same moment you must open your legs.”
Now they were getting to it. “So he will tell me he is ready?”
The puce colour returned to her Aunt’s face. “Not necessarily, Lothíriel. You may feel his …stalk … pressing against you. Then you’ll know he is ready to proceed.”
Stalk? She would have to tell Anniel that one! “What do I do then, Aunt?
“You, Lothíriel, do nothing. It would not be wise to encourage him to take longer than necessary. He…” The puce turned to dark mulberry red, but her aunt bravely continued. “Will attempt to insert his … stalk… between your legs. I would advise you not to resist. I feel it is one of those occasions when it is best to fearlessly accept the inevitable. Think of something else whilst it is happening. I always found it useful to make a mental inventory of my store cupboard. One can never have enough pickled cabbage.”
Pickled cabbage! Lothíriel stared at her aunt, dumfounded. Had age finally robbed her of sanity?
But Ivriniel continued in what sounded like a normal voice, at least for her. “I am afraid there will be a lot of huffing and puffing. Especially if he has taken an excess of wine, or even worse, ale, which I imagine they favour in Rohan.” Glaring at Lothíriel, as if she were responsible for her future husband’s drinking habits, her aunt turned down the corners of her mouth in disgust. The numerous chins sagged even more and the mole wobbled alarmingly. “You will know when he has finished because he will probably let out a loud groan and collapse on top of you. Don’t let him lie there. A quick flick with your knee will encourage him to get off and seek his own bed.”
Lothíriel imagined it would, but shock had rendered her speechless and she could only nod, mindlessly.
“Another thing you need to know, Lothíriel is that there will be quite a bit of …moisture… around…it is always wise to have a clean linen handkerchief tucked under your pillow.”
Ivriniel waved her hand and stuttered a bit… “I have always thought that the whole procedure was ill designed. A lot of residue ends up on the sheets if one is not careful. I have never seen the need for quite so much…sap to come out of the stalk. And you must be careful not to touch it, the stalk I mean, not the sap,” Ivriniel clarified, getting into her stride. “Touching it can cause a spontaneous eruption and that can be most disrupting of one’s laundry arrangements.”
Lothíriel felt the colour drain from her face, her mouth dried and she could only stare at her aunt.
“I can see my plain speaking has surprised you, my dear, but I thought it best you were fully informed. Too many young women go to the marriage bed in complete ignorance and never recover from the shock of that first night. I did not want that to happen to you.”
She smiled, but betrayed her unease by continually fiddling with the end of her stick. “Is there anything you would like to ask?”
“No, thank you, aunt. You have given me a very clear explanation and I feel much better prepared, now.” Ask? The only thing she wanted to know was how to get out of the door.
Her aunt stood over her, beaming, and looking very proud of herself. “I am afraid you had better prepare yourself for the worst, Lothíriel. You never know with these savages. They are not like us.”
Valar be praised! Lothíriel nearly cried with relief as she heard the first strike of the dinner gong. But it was not over yet for as she got up and smoothed out her dress her aunt fixed her eyes on her neckline and pursed her lips.
“You are showing far too much of your charms, my dear. Low cut dresses only serve to excite and are better avoided completely before marriage and only worn occasionally afterwards. In my experience men need less encouragement, not more.”
Lothíriel nodded and yanked open the door, gulping fresh air. Manners forgotten she fled to the hall.
Entry for 17th January 3020
‘What my aunt told me in regard to the physical side of marriage is the total opposite to what I have heard from Anniel and Meren and I could hardly wait until dinner finished to be able to question them. But in that I was frustrated: Anniel retired early with a slight head-cold and Meren rushed away when told Alphros had suffered from a bad dream. Not wanting to have any further conversation with my aunt tonight, I too have sought the sanctuary of my chamber. As I write this I have the likeness of my betrothed beside me. In spite of my aunt’s words my heart beats faster as I study his strong features, musing over the colour of his eyes. Sometimes, I feel he is looking at me, wondering too perhaps, how we shall deal together.’
Lothíriel sighed, putting her journal on her lap. A huge green dragonfly skimmed over the surface of the pond, but her gaze followed it flittingly, her mind still on her betrothed. Hazel eyes, with little green and gold flecks. Eyes that could flash with anger or fill suddenly with laughter. Thinking about Éomer brought on a longing that reached deep within her and started all sorts of secret places quivering with expectation. Perfectly natural, she now knew. Anniel and Meren had soon put her right on that…
“She said what!” Meren’s voice rose above its normal level. Anniel just shook her head in disbelief.
“She said that Éomer will think I am a trollop if I welcome his advances,” Lothíriel repeated. Actually, her aunt had referred to a refined nobleman, but it amounted to the same.
“On the contrary, Lothíriel, he is much more likely to think you a poor wife if you don’t,” Meren said. “The best way to send your husband into another woman’s bed is not to welcome him in yours.”
“I doubt that old prude knows what a welcome is,” Anniel’s tone showed she gave no credence to anything Ivriniel had to say.
“No,” Meren agreed. “In fact, Elphir told me that when Lord Belgar was alive and they used to visit, none of the serving maids were safe. He had a fearful reputation amongst the staff and your father, Lothíriel, had to speak to him.”
“There you are!” Anniel cried. “That shows what happens when you deny your husband. You must not take any notice of her prejudices.”
“Perhaps it was the other way around and his philandering put her off,” Meren said.
Anniel sniffed. “I doubt it, from what I’ve seen of her.”
“So how do I react towards my husband, if you say Aunt Ivriniel has it wrong?” Lothíriel asked, realising she might never again get such a good opportunity to obtain information. She did not miss the glance that passed between the two older women, but they seemed to come to some silent agreement and both turned to smile at her.
“It’s really a bit soon, Lothíriel, but since your aunt started to try and enlighten you, then we had better put you right on a few things.” Meren smoothed her hand over her bulging stomach and took a sip of tea. So Anniel took the opportunity to add her bit before she could continue.
“Enlighten you, it’s a wonder she hasn’t put you off for good. Trollop indeed! What’s that old expression?” She screwed up her face in thought, “Oh yes, – a man requires his wife to act like a strumpet in the bedroom and a goddess outside.”
“I think it’s a wanton, not a strumpet,” Meren put in, frowning slightly.
Anniel shrugged. “Anyway, what it means, Lothíriel is that men like their wives to take an active role. Lying on your back with your nightgown pulled up and your eyes closed, is not likely to make for a happy union.”
“I understand that.” Lothíriel said, flushing, “But what do I actually have to do?”
“Nothing to start with,” Meren interjected, “your aunt was correct there. Once he starts kissing and caressing you, then believe me, everything else will come naturally. Let him guide you and be receptive to his lead.”
“And we know just where he will guide you,” Anniel chuckled, “at least if he’s he like every other man. Men like to be caressed too, Lothíriel.”
“You mean on…” Her aunt’s words came back to her, “Aunt Ivriniel refers to it as a stalk,” she said, blushing furiously.
“Shaft, would be more appropriate if you ask me.” Anniel started to laugh, letting out her characteristic loud guffaw.
Meren, tut-tutted, but even her grin was poorly disguised. “The proper word is male-member, Lothíriel, but there are many others. I think manhood is the nicest.”
“I am sure you will find your own, Lothíriel, but the main thing is that it has incredible importance to a man. They tend to be a little fixated on it and expect their wives to be too. He will want you to caress it, I’m sure.” Anniel had managed to stop laughing but a smirk remained.
Lothíriel took a deep breath, knowing they would laugh again, but there was something she wanted explained. “Aunt Ivriniel said I must be careful not to touch it. She said that the …sap… had a habit of …discharging without warning and it messed up her sheets.”
Meren put one hand over her mouth and one on her belly, her body shook with poorly suppressed laughter. Anniel had no such inhibitions and laughed so hard she had to clutch the table for support. “I wish you would be serious,” Lothíriel snapped. “I am not finding this funny. You are supposed to be helping me.”
Immediately, Anniel looked contrite and stifled her mirth. “I am sorry, you are right. But what that woman told you is just hilarious. You really must take no notice of it, Lothíriel and follow where your husband directs you. He is no callow youth and I am sure he will have patience with your inexperience and,” a snigger escaped Anniel’s lips but she controlled it well,” he will not want to waste his …sap. Put things like that out of your mind. You will take pleasure in his love-making, I imagine, judging by your reaction to his picture.”
“That’s true.” Meren said, winking at her. “Your body will start reacting to him once he starts to woo you. And the first kiss is special; you will be flooded will all sorts of new sensations. As long as you do not act on them until your wedding night… then just enjoy them.”
Anniel nodded her agreement. “That is important, Lothíriel. I am usually the last one with prudish ideas but we are going to be spending three weeks in Edoras and then Minas Tirith. All together, you will spend a considerable time in the company of your betrothed. You must show that you are willing to participate fully in your forthcoming union without allowing him to take liberties before you are married.”
“How am I supposed to do that?” Lothíriel queried.
“By responding to his kissing, but not letting him put his hands inside your clothing,” Anniel replied in her usual blunt manner.
Well –Lothíriel stretched. Her arm had gone to sleep and she massaged it a bit with her other hand –she hadn’t needed to worry about that. Éomer had behaved perfectly. Too perfectly. In fact she had thought she was never going to get a kiss out of him, not a proper one anyway. But when he did eventually kiss her it certainly enlightened her as to how her body would react. A giggle erupted. No wonder Anniel had warned her about not letting him take liberties, but to be fair he had seemed to be keeping a tight hold on himself. As long as that wasn’t because he didn’t find her attractive, but she thought not. Maybe the nearby presence of her father and brothers had inhibited him. She sighed. If only the letter would arrive and if only it contained something significant.
Lothíriel turned the pages quickly. Nothing much had happened that winter so she might as well get to the bit that told of the first meeting with her intended husband. But a few entries caught her eye, and she smiled as she read… ‘My new nephew came into the world today. Unlike Alphros, who had only a covering of soft down on his head, Elphin bears a shock of thick black hair. How sweet he is. I love his milky smell and the way his lips move in that unique rhythm. Meren, although quite fragile in her build, has no trouble producing healthy princes for Dol Amroth. How I look forward to the day I hold my own babe…’
Best not to think of that yet; get the wedding over first. Grinning, Lothíriel carefully pulled a couple of pages apart. She’d have to be careful – it looked liked a bit of jam had stuck them together. Pondering for a moment she thought back. She’d written one entry on the road to Rohan whilst eating her early meal, which would be where the jam came from.
Entry for 3rd March 3020
‘My adventure has started. Yesterday we left Dol Amroth and began our journey northward. I relish the ride, although I know Anniel finds it quite hard. But she does not complain and keeps up an almost continuous chatter whenever I ride with her. Because of this I spend time galloping ahead with my brothers who have low tolerance to the speed of the packhorses. Strangely, they have stopped their normal teasing of me and are being unusually kind and thoughtful. They think I am anxious about meeting King Éomer, and I suppose am. I worry that he will be disappointed with his friend’s daughter and regrets agreeing to marry a woman he has never met. However I do not regret it and for every league we move closer to the mountains — my excitement grows.’
In fact, Erchirion had been so kind that he had arranged for her to spend the last night before meeting up with Éomer and his guards at the home of Lord Albin. It had enabled her to wash the travel dust from her hair, have a clean lacy blouse pressed and generally prepare herself for the most important meeting of her life.
Lothíriel turned to the entry she had made in her Journal the evening she had finally met her betrothed. It had not been easy –writing by the light of one candle whilst sitting up in bed in the chamber allocated to her. Anniel had already dropped off to sleep, her plump body humped under the quilt beside her. Sharing a room was unusual for Lothíriel, sharing a bed even more so. But, more importantly, the Lord of Harrowdale had been as hospitable as he had been able, and the welcome from everybody had been warm. Yes, it had been difficult to write that night, but she had been determined to record her first sight of Éomer.
Entry for 7th March 3020
As we left Lord Albin’s home and turned onto the road back to Erech we emerged into bright sunshine but below us the valleys were still hidden by the early morning mist. Tendrils of moisture-laden vapour reached up to wind around our horse’s feet. Above, the sky was cloudless and the streams that crossed our path chattered and sparkled in the fresh morning air. I felt exhilarated by the beauty of the day and the fate that awaited me. I think it amused Erchirion and he warned me to remember to act like a princess and not like the hoyden he knew I really was. So much were we laughing together that had it not been for our guards we would have come on the party of Riders, unaware…
To be continued – when Lothíriel finally meets the Lord of the Mark.
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.