9. A Parting Gift
A fortnight passed quickly. During that time, Éomer attempted to spend time with Lothiriel; however he found getting past Lady Beriedis was no small task. That woman knew of his growing attraction and she did not approve! Still, Éomer had a trump card up his sleeve; he hoped it would be well received.
The delegation from Gondor was gathered before the Golden Hall. Pack horses were loaded with provisions; the escort was mounted and awaiting their Lords. A small group of the éored would also escort the Prince and his company to the border of Rohan. After all formal goodbyes were dispended, Éomer approached the young princess.
"My Lady," he said with a small bow as he stood next to her mare, "I would have you take something from Rohan as a reminder of your time here. You have been a shining light, a joy during this sorrowful time and I thank you for that." The King handed the blushing woman a small basket.
Lothiriel eyed the basket and then Éomer. His smile warmed her heart and he silently encouraged her to open the basket. A soft "Oh" escaped her lips. "Thank you!" she said with glee, forgetting all decorum and hugging the tall man.
"Lady Lothiriel!" Lady Beriedis said, all aghast as she stormed towards them. "The Princess does not need or want any reminder." She rather roughly pulled the gift from Lothiriel's hands. An unexpected mew from the basket almost caused Lady Beriedis to nearly drop it.
Éomer took the basket from her with a glare then turned softened eyes to Lothiriel. "If the Princess does not wish the gift, I will understand and trouble her no more." Éomer hoped the black haired beauty would accept.
By this time, Amrothos and Prince Imrahil drew closer. Lothiriel looked at her father, waiting and wondering. The Prince said nothing but the look in his eyes said the decision was hers. With a blinding smile, the Princess gently took back the basket and with a bit more restraint, curtsied to the handsome King. "How did you know this was my favorite?" She asked as a small, fluffy grey head popped out from under the lid.
"I am King; it is my duty to know these things," Éomer answered with a wink. He was rewarded with the sweetest blush. Carefully he took the basket while Amrothos helped his sister mount. Then Éomer returned the precious cargo to its new mistress. Éomer could hear bits and pieces of Lady Beriedis' conversation with Prince Imrahil, but he really did not care about it at the moment. Lady Lothiriel appreciated his gift and that is all that mattered.
"My lord," the young woman addressed him from her horse, knowing Lady Beriedis was to preoccupied with her father to hear her words. "I know you have much to concern yourself with but if it would please you, I should like to correspond."
Éomer's smile reached his eyes. "I would like that very much, my Lady." Reaching up he took her hand in his and bestowed a chaste kiss to the back. Then he stepped back and watched as the delegation moved down the hill and out of the city.
"Clever, big brother," Éowyn whispered as she passed the still smiling King.