But then, the Midsummer Festival had also brought many dignitaries to Minas Tirith, as it often did. Though the King was polite enough, it was those meetings that could often be unpredictable.
Just as Aragorn stood and took a sip of the wine in his cup, making ready to leave, there was a knock at the door.
He exhaled shortly. “Yes?”
The attendant gave a short bow from the neck as he entered.
“The Lord Aldor of Fornost, your highness. He requests an audience with you.”
“I have already completed my visits of the day.”
“He is aware of that, my lord, but has only just arrived in the city,” said the young man. “He says it will be brief.”
The King gave a sigh of annoyance. “Very well.” He took his seat again, and fixed a stern expression on his face.
Lord Aldor, a man of fifty or sixty years and a physique that showed signs of being much trimmer in his younger days, entered and bowed low.
“Stay a moment,” said Aragorn with a gesture to the attendant who stood by the door, “This will not take long, I am sure.”
“My most gracious thanks, your majesty, on this generous visit to your fair city.”
“You are welcome to the Festival, my lord. What is your business today?”
The man of the north drew himself up, his cheeks red with pride.
“I only wish to extend thanks on behalf of my city, your majesty, for the recent improvements in trade routes across Arnor.”
“That is good news. My son, the Lord Eldarion, will be only too glad to hear your compliments.”
The man stood somewhat nervously in front of the King’s desk, maintaining a surprising amount of composure.
“Yes, but of course, your highness, I will happily tell him.”
Aragorn watched him shift slightly.
“Is there nothing else?”
Lord Aldor gave a mild cough. “Ah yes, there is one matter, if it please your majesty. My son Alacar, as you know, he has distinguished himself very well in the Arnor guard these last years. He is well known in Annúminas now, but is yet unmarried.”
The King set his elbows on the arms of the oak chair, and folded his hands as he waited for the speaker to continue.
“And, well, Alacar is here with me this week, your majesty. What with the festivities tonight, I only wished to inquire if he might have an audience with the princess royal.”
Aragorn fixed his gaze intently on the visitor.
“My daughter is yet young.”
“If you please, your majesty, the Lady Mírra will be eighteen in the coming month, more than marriageable age, and I am sure if she were to meet my son – ”
“She is still young,” the King repeated, and rose from his chair. “I do not doubt your son’s distinction, my lord, but I shall not have my daughter entertain formal suitors at this time.”
“I can assure your highness that my son’s suit is very worthy,” Aldor protested.
“I do not question his distinction, my good lord.” Lord Aldor had become completely silent. “Should Mírra wish to dance with your son this evening, then he is free to do so. But she shall enter into nothing more.”
“Of course, your highness,” stammered Aldor, “I did not mean to offend. I shall take my leave of you now…”
“You and your son are free to enjoy the festivities.”
Taking a cue from the King’s nod, the attendant moved to hold the door open for the visitor, who left with considerably less confidence than when he arrived.
Aragorn shook his head in puzzlement and drained his cup of wine, finally ready to join his family for the evening.
As she looked over her appearance in the mirror, Mírra’s fingers flitted awkwardly over the dark blue silk of her dress, brushing away imaginary bits of fluff. More often than not she chose green, but her mother often encouraged her toward the blue. Regarding herself now, this colour did seem to have a different effect, set against her pale skin and dark hair. The neckline of the dress was a little lower than usual, and her neck felt bare.
It was not as if she had never done this before, but now all the details seemed to be so important, even if they had not been important in her mind before.
Turned her eyes upward, she saw a mild flush of pink on her cheeks, and inwardly chided herself for staying out in the sun too long earlier in the afternoon. But she had so enjoyed taking the guests on another tour of the city’s outskirts.
Doran had seemed quite pleased with the afternoon, something which Mírra realised had not affected her until now. There was that feeling in her chest again, as if her heart was not beating quite the way it should be. Would he be just as pleased with the evening?
“Oh, it will all be fine, I’m sure” the princess muttered quietly to herself, biting her lip as she turned her attention to her hair.
Just as she was smoothing careful fingers over the braids her mother had set earlier, Lúthea came into the chamber, followed by Arwen.
Excitement was evident on the younger princess’s face, and she was well dressed in a wine-coloured gown. Matching thread had been woven decoratively into her fine hair. The Queen herself was dressed in a simple, yet stunning silver-grey gown, befitting the anniversary being celebrated.
“Are you ready?” the younger girl asked her sister.
“I think so…” Mírra answered, fingering the end of a piece of hair.
“Ah, then perhaps you will not need what I brought with me,” said Arwen with a wink, holding out a flat wooden case.
All three moved over to the dressing table at the side of the room, where the Queen set down the case, her daughters looking on with quiet curiosity as she opened it.
Lúthea gasped gently as she saw the small collection of jewels that was revealed as her mother lifted the lid. “Are they for us?”
Arwen smiled. “Any of these that you two would like to wear tonight, you may,” she said softly.
The contents of the box were not the entire extent of the Queen’s collection by any means, but were her most personal, cherished pieces. Some of them she had kept since she was not much older than her daughters were now. Some were heirlooms, others were gifts. She removed the flat of the upper compartment, which contained mostly necklaces and bracelets, to reveal a few headpieces in the remainder of the case.
Lúthea reached over cautiously to run her fingers gently over a necklace of silver teardrop pendants, strung together on a thin chain.
“That would be a fine choice,” the Queen said appreciatively.
Arwen lifted the piece from its small velvet encasing, and as Lúthea held her hair out of the way, secured it around her daughter’s neck. The girl smiled brightly and stepped over to the mirror to verify her choice, her expression evidently showing her contentment.
“I must go and show ada,” Lúthea told her mother happily.
The Queen chuckled. “Alright, but do not be too long.” And with that, she was off.
The older princess had looked on quietly while Lúthea had selected her piece. Arwen watched Mírra look at the selection for a moment.
“Is there anything you would like to wear? A necklace perhaps?” she asked gently. “I only thought you might enjoy something special for tonight.”
Mírra’s hand immediately went to her bare neck. She had a necklace as birthday gift from her uncles, but since the chain had broken during her accident she had been reluctant to replace it with another piece.
“It is difficult to choose,” she murmured, poring over the contents.
The headpieces seemed so… well, regal. But Mírra’s eyes kept turning back to a thin silver circlet, with small flowers cut in emerald set at the front. She ran a fingertip over the shaped stones, catching her mother’s eye briefly.
“It would suit you very well,” Arwen said softly. She gave a little nod of encouragement. “Shall I help you with it?” Her daughter nodded in turn.
They both went to the mirror, and Mírra watched as her mother set the thin circlet on her forehead. It was not as heavy as she thought it would be. Almost unintentionally she found herself standing a little straighter, holding her head higher.
“My mother also had a preference for emeralds,” Arwen observed. “I am happy to see you wear this.” The princess was still quiet, watching her reflection. “Do you not like it?”
“Oh I do, naneth, very much.” Mírra turned to her mother, thoughtfulness in her expression. “I remember how I used be so shy of such things, but they do not change who I am, underneath them.”
“Some times the hardest part is making the outside reflect what is inside,” said Arwen softly. “But I think you accomplish that more often than you may think.”
The princess blushed.
“Whatever you wear,” continued the Queen, “it always looks better when worn with a smile.”
In response, Mírra could not prevent the corners of her mouth from pulling back in a warm smile, her blush increasing.
“It feels different with Eldarion gone. Being the oldest there, I feel as if all eyes will be on me.”
“Perhaps they will be, but I would not want you to dwell on that.” Arwen lifted a hand under her daughter’s chin. “I only wish for you to enjoy yourself.”
“Then I will.” She put her arms around her mother briefly. “Thank you.”
“My pleasure, darling.”
“But tonight is not for me, it is for you and father,” Mírra noted, facing Arwen again.
“I suppose you are right about that.” There was a glimmer in the Queen’s eyes.
“Then I too wish for you to enjoy yourself.”
Arwen chuckled again. “I will, without doubt.”
A few hours into the evening’s celebration, Mírra was slightly out of breath from dancing when she seated herself next to her father at the high table.
“You seem to be enjoying yourself,” the King told his daughter, as she kissed him happily on the cheek. Arwen looked on next to him, smiling.
“Very much,” she answered, “So much dancing, and such wonderful music.”
There had been no shortage of activity for the princess. In previous years she had been wary, but it had not been as hectic as she feared. One of the Citadel guards had even asked her for a turn across the floor.
“Was that the Lord Alacar I saw you with just now?” Arwen asked lightly. Aragorn had related to her his earlier conversation with the young lord’s father, but she had agreed with him not to press the issue with their daughter.
Mírra turned her eyes back to the dancing again, locating the tall, brown-haired young man from Annúminas. He was attractive enough, she supposed, but no more or less pleasant than any fine lord of the city. She had shared a waltz with Alacar, but soon spotted him in the crowd with a red-haired young lady in his arms.
“Oh. I was dancing with him, but it looks like he is happy with his new partner,” Mírra replied, seeming fairly unruffled.
Just as she reached to take a refreshing sip of her drink, Arwen quickly shared a reassuring glance with Aragorn, and said no more on the subject.
Lúthea came up then joined the other members of her family, with a familiar companion. Mírra greeted him with enthusiasm.
“Brennan, how good it is to see you well again!” He took the hand Mírra extended. “Your arm is quite healed?”
“Indeed, my lady,” he replied amiably, “I have had no complaints about my dancing abilities from your sister here. But I would be honoured with your company for a short turn, while the music is still lively?”
“I would be happy to join you.”
Brennan gave a courteous bow, and the pair joined the many other couples on the floor.
Mírra felt so very comfortable, caught up in the music as she stepped across the floor. Just short distance away, Mírra saw Doreth in Adair’s arms, a broad smile on her face as they danced. She would join them when the song concluded, she decided.
The evening was a clear success, Mírra decided, but still incomplete. The one person she truly wanted to dance with was the one person she could not find.
As the musicians finished their piece, the princess gave a curtsy to her partner, thanking Brennan for the dance, and went to join her friends while she had a moment.
“Are you enjoying the evening?” she asked as she found Doreth to give her a brief embrace.
“Oh indeed, Mírra, I could never have imagined such festivities!” The fair lady’s eyes sparkled to match her happy expression.
“I cannot remember the last time I was called upon to dance so much,” confided Adair, with a wink, “I fear I do my wife an injustice.”
“Nonsense, you have done marvellously, husband mine.” Doreth raised herself up on her toes to give him a quick peck on the cheek.
“I have not yet seen Doran,” Mírra observed, deliberately keeping her voice light. “Has he not taken part?”
Doreth smiled inwardly. “My brother has been here, but shied away from the dancing. I think he stepped out to one of the courtyards a moment ago, to take some air.”
The princess calmly took in this information. “Would he mind, do you think, if I asked him to return?”
Doreth’s reply was genuine. “I do not think he would mind at all.”
There were three main entrances to three sides of the Great Hall, each of which led out to a wide surrounding corridor, filled with artwork. From there one could find a few small courtyards.
It took only a few minutes for Mírra to locate the right one, but she hung back a moment before allowing him to see her.
Could it be that he found her attractive? There were some times, like tonight, when Mírra could go to court feeling entirely confident and comfortable, even as she felt all eyes upon her. Sometimes she thought men looked at her, but she always managed to put it down to circumstances, and not her own appearance.
This was different, though. Doran was different.
A few tiny stones scraped underneath her foot, the sound drawing his attention toward her.
Doran’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. Each time he looked upon her anew, she seemed as a new person. Just this morning they had been riding, and now there were jewels in her hair, and her neck was bare. How beautifully pale her skin was.
“My lady,” he said, giving a short bow. Straightening, he seemed at a loss of what to say next. “It is a pleasure to see you.”
“You are not enjoying the celebration?” Her voice showed concern.
“It is wonderful, of course. I think I simply wanted some solitude, there are so very many people about.” He clasped his hands more comfortably behind his back. “Have you decided the same?”
He watched her shrug her shoulders slightly, a gesture that seemed more indicative of the young woman he first met, and less of the one that stood before him.
Still, there was some quality about her, perhaps the tone of her skin, or the slenderness of her limbs, that set her apart from any woman he had ever known. But then she met his eyes when she spoke… and then he knew he was at ease.
“I only came to find you. But I think if I go back, I will only have to dance with someone else, and now I wonder if I should take some rest.”
“We need not go back if you do not wish to.”
Mírra pursed her lips a moment in thought. “Will you walk with me?”
Doran needed no encouragement to accept such an offer. “I would be very pleased to escort you, my lady.”
They prepared to leave the courtyard to go back to the corridor, and the princess tucked one hand gently into the crook of his arm. Such contact was so formal, and yet it made her heart beat in just that irregular way again. It felt so secure to be next to him.
“Our visit to the White City has been quite an unexpected honour.”
Mírra looked up at Doran and smiled as she responded. “It is so strange to think that only a few months ago, I had not met all of you.”
Some how they had turned away from the entrance to the Great Hall, and found themselves alone at the end of the corridor, at the edge of a small foyer.
“Life does take unexpected turns, at times.”
“Indeed. The river was something I never could have predicted.”
“It must have been frightening for you, to have been caught so.”
Within seconds he regretted saying it. Doran saw her eyes shift down, and for the first time in their conversation she began to look uneasy.
“It… bothers me sometimes. To remember it, to remember the river.”
“I am very glad, that we were able to help,” he added, attempting a remedy. “When I think of how you looked when I came upon you… well, I was simply relieved to see you recover, is what I mean to say.”
A curious expression came over Mírra’s face just then. She paused in her step and let her hand slip from Doran’s arm, facing him.
“Do you still think of it?” she asked softly, “that day?”
“I think of it often.”
If it was at all unusual to be here, alone in the company of the King’s daughter, Doran no longer felt it. Else he would not likely have said the words he spoke next.
“It is impossible to forget the day, when such a lovely creature entered my life.”
A smile spread across Mírra’s lips. Perhaps there was something wrong with her head, or else her heart was pumping too fast, for she suddenly felt light, wonderfully light.
“Lovely?” she repeated in a whisper, as if searching for verification.
She could only feel herself reaching out, for what she did not know, but just as she extended her hand, Doran’s was there to meet it.
As they neared each other, her fingers momentarily traced the creases on his wide palm, before lacing together with his own fingers. With a curious smile that tweaked the corners of his mouth and eyes, Doran glanced down at their joined hands.
“I remember the touch of your hand, as you reached out when I spoke to you, and it was so very cold. I wanted only to take you to warmth and safety.”
“It could have been anyone, but it was you who found me.” She could feel her heart thundering in her chest. “How very glad I am, that you did.”
“Do you think of it too?” he spoke gently. The pressure of his fingers around hers was matched by the tenderness in his gaze.
“I remember… I remember your voice.”
He lifted his free hand and brushed the back of his fingers ever so lightly against her face.
“Your cheek,” he whispered, “it was so cold…”
Mírra tried to hold his gaze, but somehow the distance between them began to disappear, and she could sense only the shuddering rise and fall of her chest as she tried to keep her breathing steady, and the soft puff of his breath near her lips.
“Now, my heart feels very warm in your company, my lord.”
Then, there was no space left, as Doran put his lips to hers. Her skin under his fingers was just as smooth as he had imagined it.
She did not think, only responded and tilted her chin upwards to take greater hold of his mouth. Taking her hand from where it rested against his chest, she found his collar and grasped it gently, as if she might drift away without something to tether her.
Just as softly as the kiss had begun, their lips parted and they regarded each other with pleasant surprise.
Mírra would often wonder later, what would have happened next, if they had not been interrupted. But perhaps if she had heard her sister calling out down the hall, she might have been more cautious, might not have realised how close she still was to him, how near his lips still were to hers…
As it was, when Lúthea found them, they stood in such a fashion, eyes locked and hands clasped, Mírra clutching his collar and Doran stroking her face.
“Mírra? Naneth asks for you. Mírra, are you here – ” Lúthea stopped short. A hand rushed to her mouth as she gasped silently.
It was enough to shake them from their reverie. Doran withdrew abruptly, stepping away.
“No, wait – Doran – ” Mírra looked from her sister, who had immediately turned away, to Doran.
How could he have been so foolish as to forget who she was, forget all else but his own passion?
“I should not be with you, you should not be here.” He shook his head, releasing her hand at the last. “Forgive me, my lady.”
He turned as if in a daze. Mírra’s feet felt rooted to the floor as she watched him walk away.
“What was that? What happened?” Lúthea’s eyes were wide, but the hushed tone of her voice revealed more shock than surprise.
“Nothing. It was nothing.” Mírra said firmly, looking vaguely in the direction of the wall.
“But I saw you – ”
“It was nothing. Please, let us just go back?”
“Alright.” Lúthea looked quickly down at the floor.
They were both silent as they walked back to the Hall.
Mírra felt as if she had been shaken from some kind of strange reverie. It hadn’t been nothing. He had simply taken her hand in his and kissed her, but that moment between them had been so much more wonderful than nothing.
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.