8. Lothiriel's Journal 7
Lothíriel knew she would not be able to stay outside much longer with her maid expecting her in to change for dinner. She grimaced: the hall would be hot tonight. Could she get away with wearing a light cotton dress? Probably not, rich silks were expected in the evening for one of her rank. But not in Rohan, she would be able to wear cotton dresses there. She should have done so at Éowyn’s farewell feast, but at least her mistake of wearing too heavy a dress had led to her first kiss…
Lothíriel nodded, too exhausted to say anything for a moment. Éomer didn’t look hot, or exhausted. He appeared to have boundless energy. But then he had stood out for a few dances whilst she had partnered what seemed like the whole of his guard. But she liked the way he had claimed her back as soon as he had spotted her wilting in the heat of a packed hall.
“Come outside. The air will probably have some bite to it, but we need only stay long enough to cool you down.” He took her arm and led her towards the main door.
Amazing how a path cleared. With so many guests, most of whom seemed to be watching their every move, there was no chance of sneaking out. Lothíriel felt eyes following them as they left the hall and she wondered if they would be allowed to be alone for any length of time. The wedding party planned to leave for Gondor in two days and so far intimate time with Éomer had been fairly limited. And on the rare occasions they had found themselves alone, he had shown no inclination to do more than talk. But not this time. Éomer took her arm when she started to stroll towards the top of the steps and firmly guided her around the side of the hall.
“Come this way, it should be quiet.”
Surprised, Lothíriel allowed herself to be led a little way along the torch-lit path that ran past the kitchen entrance towards the Royal Apartments at the rear. Supremely conscious of his proximity in the semi-darkness, the pressure of his hand on her arm felt intense. Her heart beat so loudly she was sure he must be able to hear it. How much she wanted him to kiss her. Would he do so? And how should she respond? Whatever she had been told by her aunt or Anniel, her instinct was to fling her arms around his neck and press her lips to his – right now! Swallowing to control her mad impulse, she caught sight of the full moon. Hidden behind a dark cloud when they had first left the hall it suddenly emerged above the peaks of the Ered Nimrais, bathing the steep slopes in light and glinting on the pockets of permanent snow that filled the upper corries.
“Oh, how beautiful,” she exclaimed, stopping abruptly. As she did so Éomer’s arms came right around her, steadying her before pulling her back against his chest.
Come outside to cool down, he had said. But now the husky voice in her ear and the warm breath on her cheek was responsible for the scorching heat that flashed through her. And his words, did she imagine the ambiguity of them? Was he referring to the scenery or her, or both? Deciding to play safe, she stayed within the circle of his arms but said quietly, “I love the way the mountains always look different. Sometimes they seem far away and at other times they appear to hang close above us.”
“Lothíriel, do you think you are going to be happy here? I do so want you to be happy.”
Surprised, she turned right around, her hands clasping the hard muscles of his upper arms. Raising her face to look into his eyes she responded without hesitation, “Happy? Of course I will be happy. Why should I not be?”
A slow smile lit his face and his eyes gleamed gold in the light of the torches. Agonisingly slowly, he reached up one hand, allowing calloused fingers to trace down the line of her jaw. They lingered under her chin, holding it firmly but gently as though to stop her getting away. As if she wished to do that!
“Oh, Lothíriel…” He drew out her name until it became squashed between their lips.
Almost involuntary, her hands travelled upward until they buried themselves in his mass of tawny hair. As his kiss deepened one of his hands slid down her back until it nestled over the curve of her behind to pull her closer against his body. At the same time Lothíriel felt the tip of his tongue seeking entrance to her mouth. Sorry, Aunt Ivriniel, she thought irrationally, as she opened it to him.
And that was it! Lothíriel well remembered the depth of her own frustration and the expletive Éomer had let out when he had hastily released her as noise and guests erupted from the hall. She had wondered if her brothers had encouraged a mass egress outside, but perhaps it was just her suspicious nature where they were concerned.
Entry for 25th March 3020
‘Tonight we combined the celebration of the passing of the Dark Lord and the downfall of Barad-dûr with a farewell feast for Éowyn. But more significantly –Éomer kissed me. His lips tasted of the wine we had shared and his beard tickled my face. His hands moved possessively over me, one pulling me hard against him and the other cupping the underside of my breast. Meren spoke truly: sensations I have never experienced before coursed through me, invading all the secret places deep within my body. I felt his disappointment as he pulled away from me and we moved to join those who had decided to enjoy the night air. I can only hope the opportunity to be alone arises again.’
Not for a long time it hadn’t. The journey to Minas Tirith had been fun and exciting, but it was not possible to go very far from the nightly campsites with guards and scouts patrolling continuously. However a new intimacy had arisen between them and sometimes during the long ride he would catch her eye and wink, or make sure he was on hand to help her from her horse at the end of a tiring day. Even that small contact took on a new meaning when his lips brushed her ear and strong hands squeezed her waist as he lifted her down. All of which accounted for the incident in Minas Tirith coming as such a shock…
It seemed that every square inch of the City had been crammed full of people for nearly a week – the marriage of Faramir to the White Lady of Rohan commanded exuberant celebrations from every level of Gondorian society. But now the festivities were over and after days of open air dancing and picnics the city gradually returned to normality. Very soon Lothíriel would be back in Dol Amroth, with nearly six months to wait until her own wedding. How she wished for it – to be married to Éomer and be in charge of her own household. To be answerable only to her husband – a man she had already found to be easygoing and respectful of the strength and qualities of womanhood. A man she had fallen in love with.
Her head full of pleasant thoughts as she anticipated her future, Lothíriel decided to take a walk in the garden before the planned events of the evening. Strolling leisurely along one of the neat grass paths that edged the wall of the palace she heard the murmur of voices, too low to distinguish. She continued around the corner, stopping abruptly as she recognised the two people in deep conversation. Numbed with shock, Lothíriel hastily retreated the way she had come, praying they had not seen her. How embarrassing that would be! She certainly didn’t want to have to listen to some bogus explanation as to why her betrothed was in the garden, half hidden by a bush, talking to another woman.
She might have guessed she couldn’t hide her distress from Anniel.
“Now, my girl, you had a face that could sour cream all through dinner, are you going to tell me what’s the matter?”
Lothíriel didn’t know if she even wanted to discuss the incident with Anniel, but she knew it would fester and grow and her companion would probably wheedle the information out of her eventually anyway. “Anniel, have you heard any gossip about Éomer since we arrived here?”
Anniel’s eyes narrowed speculatively. “What kind of gossip? The kind that says how lucky he is that Gondor has found him such a gorgeous bride, or something else?”
Lothíriel couldn’t even smile at the uncharacteristic compliment. “About him and Lady Rívorwen.”
Anniel sighed. “Now, why would you ask that?”
“Because I saw him talking to her in the garden.”
Lothíriel shrugged, not really wanting to remember — something about the way they stood spoke of intimacy between them. It had been apparent even from a distance. “They were talking, standing quite close but not touching. Then Lady Rívorwen put up her hand and stroked his cheek.”
“And nothing,” Lothíriel replied. “I stepped back before they noticed me.”
“Hmm,” Anniel looked thoughtful. “He didn’t touch her?”
Lothíriel shook her head, “Not that I saw.”
“So all it amounts to in the end is that your Horselord was talking to a woman in the garden.”
Lothíriel fiddled with the lacing of her bodice, looking down at the floor. How could she explain that Éomer could talk to dozens of women and she wouldn’t think anything of it, but somehow – she knew she had witnessed something of importance. “I could tell they were more than just acquaintances. And he did dance with her a few nights ago.”
“He danced with me, as well,” Anniel retorted. “Which I must admit I thought very brave of him. We must have looked a ridiculous pair – with me two thirds his height and twice his girth.”
Lothíriel managed a smile but it did not last long. “She is very lovely and I overheard Amrothos making a comment to Erchirion about … her figure.”
“You mean she has large breasts,” Anniel said in her blunt manner, “but so have you.” She grinned when Lothíriel made a half-hearted protest. “What’s more, you can give her a few years and you have no need for powder and paint.”
“Even so, she is still very attractive and I am sure knows a lot more about men than me…” Lothíriel hesitated, wanting to ask but not really wanting the answer. In the end she couldn’t stop herself as what had not bothered her before suddenly took on new significance. “Anniel do you think she and Éomer have been lovers…”
“I imagine so.”
“You do?” Crestfallen, she dropped her head once more.
“Lothíriel,” Anniel put her arm around her charge’s shoulder and gave her a hug, “You know from Meren and your brothers that he was much sought after during the celebrations at the end of the war. I have heard some remarks that led me to believe that she might have been – shall we say – particularly friendly towards him. She is just the type, after all. If that’s the case, then he could hardly completely ignore her now, could he?”
“I suppose not,” she agreed slightly mollified, but only for a moment as the real worry surfaced again. “What about now, though? Do you think they are still…”
“If they are then it is something you will just have to ignore,” Anniel broke in. “But I have not heard anything and my instinct is to doubt it. I feel he wouldn’t have had to meet with her in the garden if he was meeting here elsewhere in private.”
“Oh,” Lothíriel exclaimed. “No, you are right, he wouldn’t.” And she had to hope that Anniel was right. She could hardly ask him but she could ask Anniel for some more advice.
“Anniel,” she started hesitantly, “you and Meren said I mustn’t sprawl all over him straight away but do you think I ought to try and show him that I…” she stopped, not quite knowing what to say …welcome his advances sounded so prim. As usual, though, Anniel seemed to know what was on her mind.
“There’s nothing wrong with showing him you are enjoying his kisses now, Lothíriel, or giving a hint you will enjoy more in the future. I have observed that you are getting on well but I have not noticed much sneaking out to be alone.”
“It’s pretty impossible for a king and a princess to sneak anywhere,” Lothíriel retorted, but then she sighed as she acknowledged the truth of Anniel’s remark. He had spent hours in her company – ridden with her almost every day while they were in Edoras – shown her blood-red sunsets and the spiralling grey mists of dawn. Together they had watched the herds thundering across the plain and marvelled at the stamina of the leggy new foals. In the evenings they had danced or whiled away time in conversation, – but sneaking off for illicit kisses had not been on her betrothed’s mind. Or if it had, he certainly had not acted on it. “I have enjoyed his kisses,” she said rather wistfully, “I just wish there were more of them. Every time we are alone we are either interrupted or after a while he suggests we had better go inside.”
“Well,” Anniel grinned, “it sounds to me as if he is treating you with too much respect. You had better make it clear that a bit less would be acceptable.”
Yes, she agreed with that, but would she get a chance?
‘I will take Anniel’s advice as soon as possible,’ she had written that night, ‘but there are very few days left. We will be returning to Dol Amroth and five long months will pass before I see Éomer again. He has not said how he really feels about our betrothal but I hope he is not displeased. I know I must be very sensible and cannot expect more from him than loyalty, affection and respect but that does not prevent me wishing that in the future he will return my love. I just pray that his heart is not given to any other woman.’
Lothíriel stared at the page. How brave she had been to commit her fear to paper. She well understood that a king could not always follow his heart and for all she knew it had already been given to another. However, somewhat reassuringly Éowyn had never mentioned anything like that. She and his sister had become quite close over the weeks before Éowyn’s marriage to Faramir. Surely she would have said, or at least dropped a hint. But there had been nothing. Lothíriel had decided back then that she would put the thought away and concentrate on showing Éomer that she cared for him – surely the right thing to do, trusting to hope that eventually her feelings would be returned if she made him an admirable wife. However, telling herself that did not stop her watching for any sign of a continuing relationship between him and the lovely widow and the next night her fears had resurfaced when she realised that both Éomer and Lady Rívorwen were missing from the dancing.
Trying to behave like a princess was not easy and she steeled herself to concentrate on the music and not keep looking around the room. Thus she jumped when a deep voice came in her ear.
“Would you like to take a walk?”
His soft breath caressed her cheek, and her senses quivered. She had not even been aware he had come up behind her. Nodding, she allowed herself to be led across the hall, all the time conscious of the heat of his hand on her arm.
“I am sorry to have left you alone but Aragorn wanted a quick word with me.” Éomer explained as they neared the outer doors.
Lothíriel nearly sighed with relief; she knew that Éomer was not the type to lie. Most likely Lady Rívorwen had gone off with someone else, after all she never lacked for dancing partners. Deciding to put the matter out of her head worked quite well until Éomer led her to the same bit of garden he had shared with Lady Rívorwen the previous afternoon– she did not know whether to be amused or affronted. The area had a secluded feel in the bright light of day, now though, the bushes were dark shadows against the night sky and the crickets chirped their rasping song.
Éomer was unusually quiet, and she too aware of him and her own confused thoughts to make inane conversation. So they walked in silence until upon reaching a small arbour, he suddenly pulled her inside.
“Oh!” Her little cry of astonishment was abruptly cut off by lips hungrily seeking hers. Any hesitation on her part could only have been momentary, and as he pulled her hard against him, hands already roaming her body, Lothíriel kissed him for all she was worth…
She couldn’t believe it; even now she still couldn’t believe she had started that embarrassing bout of sneezing. Out of the various plants covering that little arbour and giving out their night scents, one had certainly not agreed with her. But why it had amused Éomer so much she was still not sure. Admittedly she had liked the way he had held her against him as he shook with suppressed laughter, but she hadn’t been so happy when he had caught her hand and led her back to the more frequented part of the garden.
“Lothíriel, I think the gods are trying to tell me something.”
Tell him what? That he shouldn’t be kissing her in the garden? But why not – that’s what she had wanted to know. They were betrothed so he had every right to kiss her – at least she thought so even if her aunt and that other prude, Belecthor, did not. Sighing, she started to thumb through the pages – that had been the last occasion she had spent time alone with him. He had very publicly kissed her goodbye and her last sight of him had been from the deck of Wild Swan. Magnificent he had looked – in her opinion anyway – astride his mighty stallion, sun glinting on his mane of dark-gold hair as he watched them from the bank.
Months ago, it seemed now. And why she had taken the chance and hinted at her feelings in her last letter, she still didn’t quite know. A bit despondent, and not sure she wanted to read any more, Lothíriel closed her journal and leant back against the cushions. The intense heat had gone from the sun and she would have to go in and prepare for the evening. Eyes shut, she tried to imagine what Éomer might be doing now – probably taking a last look at Firefoot before the evening meal. Did he often think of her, she wondered as her mind drifted up over the Ered Nimrais…
The first indication she had that someone had entered the garden came from the flutter of wings as a dozen little birds took to the air. She opened her eyes and looked up quickly, quivering with anticipation as she saw the top of her brother’s head over a pink hibiscus.
“Amrothos!” She exclaimed, tipping her journal down on the bench as she leapt up.
“Yes, it is me.” Her brother was grinning as he came into full view, waving a letter in the air. “Is there something you want, little sister?”
Lothíriel controlled herself, knowing him capable of all sorts of tricks if he thought she would react to them. She smiled as blandly as she was able to, and held out her hand, “Yes please, Amrothos, I would like my letter.”
“And what’s it worth?” He held it enticingly out of her reach and she had to steel herself not to make a grab for it.
Smiling sweetly, Lothíriel cocked her head to one side and looked up at him, “What it is worth, Amrothos, is me not hinting to father how you pay Ina to look after a certain child at night so you and said child’s mother can …”
“Lothíriel!” He looked scandalised. “I didn’t think you were a sneak!”
“Needs do as needs must,” she chanted, plucking the letter from his outraged hand. “Thank you for bringing it, brother dear. Now don’t let me keep you.”
“I should have let you wait for it,” he grumbled, turning to go.
Lothíriel laughed, pleased to have got one over on him. Not that she would have told her father. If Lissi had found some comfort with her brother, albeit only temporary, then she would not interfere. “Oh, Amrothos,” she said to his retreating back, “could you take this tray back?”
“Take a tray back!” He turned and glared at the offending item, “I am not walking through the courtyard carrying that. I’d be bound to meet some of my company.”
“Oh, don’t you think your standing good enough to overcome that?” she asked, arranging her face into a mask of innocence.
“No. Quite frankly, Loti, I don’t,” he replied before stalking out.
Grinning, Lothíriel sat back down and studied the letter. ‘Lothíriel of Dol Amroth,’ in Éomer’s flourishing hand. He had lovely writing, which had admittedly surprised her. Certainly there was nothing the savage about her betrothed, as her aunt had once suggested. She turned it over and examined the seal, realising she was putting off the moment of actually opening it. Thick green wax, and pressed into the shape of a sun, no one had interfered with it – her father not being the type to insist on reading his daughter’s correspondence. After a moment she slipped in her finger and with a bit of a struggle, pulled the sheets apart. The stiff parchment crackled in her hand.
Smoothing down the sheet, Lothíriel ran her eyes quickly over the first few lines –the harvest and her horse! She jumped up and threw the letter down onto the seat in disgust. Why ever had she expected anything more? The hints she had given him must have embarrassed him, not encouraged him to give away any of his feelings. What did he think of her? Sighing dejectedly and telling herself to stop being a romantic fool, she sat down, retrieved the letter and gave it her full attention
‘I hope this letter finds you in good health. I have been very busy and it looks as if it will be a good harvest.
The horse I have chosen for you is well into her training and is responding admirably. I am sure she will be ready in time. I hope you are pleased with my choice and I can hardly wait to see your reaction to her beauty.’
A blot – how careless – he had made a large blot. Then there was a smudge and a crossing out. How odd! But her eyes opened wide as she read the next words and her heart started thumping wildly – so wildly that it had to be in danger of relocating to her throat!
‘I am finding it hard without you here. When I returned from Minas Tirith, Meduseld felt incredibly lonely. I miss Éowyn of course, but I miss you more. It is a little over two months until our marriage and I am counting every day, longing for the time you stand by my side as my wife. I admit when your father broached the idea of this match I never thought that it would turn out to be the best thing I had ever agreed to. From the moment our eyes met you captured my heart…’
A quick scan of the rest of the letter and Lothíriel jumped to her feet with a shout of pure joy, frightening the little flock of finches into once again seeking the safety of the bushes. She stared mesmerised at the words he had written, almost not believing them, - Éomer thought she was beautiful and – arranged or not – he actually wanted to marry her!
Grinning stupidly, she started to tuck the letter into the bodice of her dress but it was too bulky, so it had to go under her arm. Picking up her heavy journal with both hands she clutched it against her chest. Tray forgotten and already planning the entry she would write that night, Lothíriel sped towards the gate.
To be continued – when we join Éomer and Éothain on their way to meet the soon- to- be Queen of Rohan. And, of course, Éothain cannot resist offering well intentioned advice!
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.