15. Going as Planned
Despite Éomer's protests, Gamling fussed over the king's attire as he prepared for the wedding. Secretly, the young king had to admit he was glad for the Captain's care for it allowed his mind to drift to what had transpired the night before…
Dinner the night before had been difficult. The Queen's brother had been seated next to Lothiriel and the two seemed to enjoy each other's company greatly. Every once in a while, Éomer caught the princess' gaze; she blushed and quickly turned away. It tore at his heart and it took all his will power to maintain a pleasant disposition. It did not go unnoticed by him that Lady Beriedis seemed quite content with the situation. Never once did she throw the Imladrien Prince a dirty look or discourage his "friendliness". It made Éomer's blood boil! He knew he was not fooling Gamling but he hopped his sister was too preoccupied to notice his increasingly foul mood. He did not wish to do anything to distract or dampen her joyous occasion. After supper, he quickly excused himself for the night. He feigned exhaustion and bid the party good night.
He had barely stepped out of the great hall when he felt the presence of another. He turned to find Lord Elladan walking purposefully towards him. The King dipped his head in greeting.
"Éomer, King," Elladan said as he approached. "I would speak with you a moment if you can spare the time. It is rather important."
"Of course my Lord," Éomer replied politely. He really did not wish to speak with Elladan but could not avoid it. He was fairly certain he knew what this was about and the subject was painful enough. The elder twin did not need to worry that Éomer would in anyway try to come between Lothiriel and Elrohir. Éomer had far too much pride for that! The two walked through the halls silently for a moment. Then Éomer spoke, "Your brother and Lady Lothiriel make a stunning couple. Her father and Lady Beriedis seem quite pleased…as does you sister."
Elladan clapped Éomer on the shoulder and steered the younger man into a nearby alcove. "That is exactly why I wish to speak with you."
Éomer stepped out of the friendly gesture and turned on the tall elf-lord, willing his anger into control. "I assure you, I have no intension of making things difficult. Your brother is an honorable elf and a far more worthy match for Lothiriel than I could ever be. I hope the two will be happy together. Now please, I am weary…" Éomer made to step past Elladan when a hand to the chest stopped him. He did not look up for he wanted none to see the pain in his eyes.
"You would give her up without a fight, Éomer, King of Rohan?" Elladan said with challenge in his voice.
Rich hazel eyes met storm-grey ones, Éomer poised for confrontation. "I will step aside to insure her happiness. I cannot offer her what your brother can! I want what is best for Lothiriel! I care for her more deeply than any know and her happiness is most important!" At this point, Éomer stood toe to toe with the tall elf. They were an even match, looking eye to eye. Éomer's face was flushed and the elf-lord raised an elegantly sculpted eyebrow.
From the shadowy hall, Lady Beriedis smiled. 'Perfect,' she thought as she silently glided back down the hall. Everything was going well.
Inside the alcove, the two males squared off. Finally Elladan smiled and stepped back. "Peace, my friend," he said softly. "Your passion does you justice and I assure you, my brother is not a better match for Lothiriel."
Éomer stood dumb-struck. Did he just here Elladan correctly? He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. Surely Elrohir did not trifle with Lothiriel! He waited for Elladan to explain and explain he did.
"Sire?" Gamling asked a second time as Éomer stood before him with an odd smile on his face. "Your majesty?" he said a bit louder.
Éomer withdrew from his musings and looked at his long time and most trusted friend. He gave the older man's shoulder a squeeze. "Thank you my friend; I could not manage this without you."
Gamling looked at the younger man with a critical eye. Éomer's smile was genuine and his eyes sparkled. The Captain wondered what had happened last night to change the younger man's disposition so quickly. Éomer had been asleep—alone as far as Gamling could tell—when the captain had retired for the night. Well, whatever the cause, there was no time to discuss it now.
"Come, my Lord," Gamling said, fastening the King's mantle. "Your sister will be anxious."
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