6. Down the Trellis
It had been a beautiful day for Théoden's funeral; Lothiriel was glad for that. Somehow the warm sun helped lift the shadow of sorrow that hung over the land. Now the day was done and a bright moon illuminated the land with a peaceful silver light.
"No I will be alright." The Princess said. "I am just drained from the funeral and need sleep; it has been a long day." Lothiriel bid her chaperone 'good night' then closed the door.
It had not been a lie, really. It had been a taxing day. She was emotionally wiped out. The funeral for King Théoden had been unbelievable! The princess swore all of Rohan, lord and peasant, attended and wept together for their loss. She briefly wondered if that is how it will be when her father passed…probably not. Things were different here. The line between classes was blurred. Here it was not unusual to see a lord or lady quite willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty or enter a tavern and share a tankard of ale with the commoners. The nobles never asked of a servant something they themselves would not do. Lothiriel liked that about Rohan. Actually she liked Rohan and its people a lot.
Unfortunately, thanks to Lady Beriedis continuous outbursts, and almost constant complaining, the people of Rohan did not think much of either woman. They treated the princess with proper respect of course, but people kept their distance. It was clear that she would have to do something to change their opinion of her if she hoped to get to know Éomer better. Beriedis had imposed her prejudicial ideals long enough the princess was no longer a child—even her brothers and cousin recognized that! Lothiriel wanted to see Rohan as it truly was. See what the people were really like. She wanted to see the world outside her protective bubble! A devilish smile crept across her face as she unfolded the extra blanket that the young serving girl had left. In a flash, she removed her formal clothes, padded up her bed—just in case—and donned the simple dress. She grabbed her cloak and made for the small window.
'What luck to have so sturdy a trellis just outside,' she thought as she swiftly climbed down the vine covered structure. She dropped to the ground and froze, taking in her surroundings. Drawing her cloak tight about her small frame and pulling the hood low, she darted across the grassy knoll, heading towards the "Den" as the local tavern was affectionately named. If she wanted to glimpse what the people of Rohan were like when not fussing about with visitors; that was the place to do it. The plan was simple. Slip in unnoticed and observe. Deep down she hoped to spy the young king there for he had captured her interest long ago! However, she doubted that he would be there tonight; not after the funeral.
Unfortunately, even the simplest laid plans can have unexpected results.
Gamling nursed his ale; he was tapped out. Aglaril sat next to him, her arm about him, resting her head on his shoulder. Their relationship was young, but already they knew each other's needs. They sat at a table in the back with Éomer, quietly listening, supporting the younger man in his grief.
Éomer felt adrift, as if his entire world had been shaken to its foundations! He and Éowyn were all that remained of the royal family and his sister looked now-a-days to Gondor. The king knew that she would remain in Edoras if he asked it of her, but she would soon wither. No, Éomer would give his blessing to Faramir and let his sister seek her happiness in the Steward's arms. Yet, again his joy for another was dimmed by his own lonely heart. Now that he was King he had to maintain an image; he could not be seen moving from one bed to another whenever he so desired. Not that he wanted to roam from bed to bed—not any more. Seeing Gamling finally admit his feelings for Aglaril and Éowyn find love at first sight with Faramir, Éomer wanted to find something lasting.
"I am alone Gamling," Éomer sighed into his tankard. He ran a shaky hand through his mussed hair. "I am so lost."
The king hung his head in despair. Aglaril reached across the table and squeezed her King's hand. She knew the pain of loss well.
Unexpectedly, Gamling rose, grabbing his cloak. "I will return shortly," he said as he stood. Aglaril watched her love weave through the mass of people, watching the sign of trouble which might have caught the Captain's eye. Éomer was oblivious to the tall man's departure.
Gamling quickly made his way to the entrance of the tavern where a flash of grey had caught his attention. Coming up behind the cloaked figure, he gently wrapped an arm about a slender waist and covered a warm mouth with his hand as he dragged the startled stranger back into the shadows.
Lothiriel was so stunned she did not think to struggle against the unexpected attack until it was too late. When it finally registered what was happening she began to thrash.
"Hush and be still, Princess, no harm will come to you," Gamling whispered in her ear before turning her towards him and releasing her. He eyed the young woman with a raise eyebrow. "What in Béma's name are you doing?"
She had the sense to look slightly repentant as she peaked up into the stern faced Captain of the King's Guard. "I, I wished to see how the people of Rohan really are. I wanted to observe them…discretely." She looked up with pleading eyes.
"Where is your guard dog?" Gamling asked, his dislike of the woman in question obvious.
"Asleep in her room."
"And she gave you leave to venture out in the wee hours of the night to socialize with the rabble?"
Lothiriel wrung her pale hands. "No, not exactly--I stole away unnoticed."
Gamling tried to hide his smile; this sounded so very familiar. It was not so long ago that he caught another young lady doing the exact same thing. "Came down the trellis did, you?" Sparkling blue eyes glanced up at the older man. "You are not the first; caught Éowyn several times."
"Then you will not tell and I can stay?" Lothiriel put on her most charming smile.
"You can stop with all the feminine persuasion and eyelash batting; it is wasted on me. But yes, you may stay…" the young princess face lit up. "…providing you follow my instructions." She nodded enthusiastically. "Here, take my cloak; pull it tight and keep the hood up at all times. While most will not care that you are here, I cannot guarantee they will not gossip and that would be bad for all parties involved." Gamling then took her cloak and, folding it carefully, stashed it in the shrubs. The princess began to move from the shadows. "Wait!" Gamling stopped her just before she entered the circle of light. "Here," he said pushing the hood back down. He removed the leather strap from his own hair and quickly tied the young woman's raven tresses back before pulling the hood back up. "Too dark for Rohan. Now stay close and do not stray." The two stepped into the warm, cheerful atmosphere.
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.