63. Why Should I Need a Reason?
Dedication: This one's for my husband, because he needs no reason either.
Why Should I Need a Reason?
When I woke, I was all fizzy and squiggly and wiggly with happiness. But I did not jump out of my bed. I drew up the covers around me and huddled into the warmth. I was warm and happy through and through, from my head to my toes. I wanted to savour that feeling.
I was back in the small room in the palace of Meduseld where I had first woken after Éomer had rescued me from ending up first as the main act in an orc orgy and then as the main course in a barbecue. I was back in this room for the third time, actually. By now it felt like home.
The light was dim. The weather had probably not improved since yesterday, and the small stained window panes softened even the most brilliant summer sunshine. There was still not much to the room-just the wardrobe, the bed, a nightstand, a table and a chair, and the chest of drawers. White washed walls and a smooth wooden floor, the faint fragrance of lavender and roses from the wooden bowl of potpourri on the table. But I felt at home here. At home and at peace.
Time to take stock, I thought. Here I am, Lothíriel, the failed law student, sitting on a straw-stuffed mattress in a palace immeasurably far away from the Franconian hills where I had started out in August 2004.
Here I am, Lothíriel, the girl who walked with the fellowship.
Here I am...
I was not exactly unscathed. Neither physically, I mused, as I glanced at the pink scars around my wrists and ankles, nor where my heart and my mind were concerned. The memory of my last view of Boromir rose unbidden in my mind. And there was the question concerning the other Lothíriel that I still had not had the courage to ask. No, not unscathed. Nor unchanged. But here I was.
And on the chair in front of the small table in the corner was my old backpack. Its camouflage pattern had faded and the fabric was frayed around the edges. But it was still there. As was my sleeping bag, though my therm-a-rest had not made it beyond Amon Hen. I did not mind, as Aragorn had saved my most precious possessions from the disaster at Amon Hen, namely my sword Tínu, my dagger, the Elvish jewel from Glorfindel, the scarf from Gily, and the book Lady Galadriel had given me as a farewell gift.
Now my backpack also held the leather bound journal Míri had given to me at Dol Amroth, when we had waited for the world to end in March, and the two small gems Glorfindel had sent me. I had to grin in spite of myself. As fairy tales go, this quest was not exactly a success for me in the way of worldly treasures. Although I had to admit that the few things I mentioned meant more to me than anything I ever owned back home.
And for the other kind of treasure that comes with fairy tales... I felt my heart thumping heavily in my chest. Sudden butterflies fluttered in my stomach, making me feel ever so tingly all over. A king to take me as his wife! I sat on my bed, the covers drawn closely around my body and shook my head at myself. I never even liked that kind of fairy tale!
Yet here I was-and Éomer now actually had the kingdom he wanted to offer me.
But would he?
That thought made me finally slip out from under my covers, wash and dress in one of my Rohirric outfits (comfortable leather trousers, a soft leather tunic and a green silk shirt). Due to the magical powers of Lady Darla of the Golden Scissors and the generosity of Míri, my wardrobe had improved marvellously.
When I was ready, I was more than adequately dressed for the palace of Meduseld. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think that clothes are really important-apart from keeping you warm in winter or dry during rain-but wearing nice clothes in a palace is a big help for not to feeling completely out of place.
Silently thanking Míri and the genius of Darla, I opened the door and left my room in search for something to eat and some company.
Have you ever heard of Murphy's Law?
Two minutes after I had thought that I might actually look nice and palace-like in my new clothes I ran into Arwen.
She did not have that other-worldly, Elvish kind of beauty anymore that made any mortal woman feel like a mole in her company anymore. But she was still the most beautiful woman I had ever seen in my life. However, compared to Lothíriel on most other days, I still looked nice . I would have to content myself with that.
Arwen smiled happily when she saw me. "Oh, Lothíriel, how wonderful that I have found you! I thought you'd never wake up."
"Why?" I asked, feeling a little confused.
Arwen blushed prettily, her cheeks acquiring that lovely rosy shade that you never quite manage with make-up. "I wanted to ask you something."
"What did you want to ask me?" I still had no clue what she was on about, or I would have simply turned around and ran for it.
"Well, Éowyn and I had breakfast together, and we talked about..." Her cheeks flushed even more. "And... ahem... did you already have something to eat?" She gave me an innocent look.
From the way she blushed and suddenly changed the topic of the conversation, it finally dawned on me: The Queen of Gondor wanted to talk about...
A choked noise escaped me. "No," I managed to croak. "No way. I will not answer any questions Éowyn might have implied I could answer. No way."
"Really?" Arwen sounded disappointed. "I wanted to surprise Aragorn with something new tonight..."
Now it was my turn to blush. Éowyn, I am going to wring your bloody neck. I took a deep breath. If I did this, Aragorn would owe me.
Suddenly I felt my lips quiver with a smile. "You know what? Let me have some breakfast -hmm- lunch, I guess, and I promise I'll think about this."
Arwen was not inclined to leave me alone while I considered her request. Éowyn wisely did not make an appearance.
When I had finished my stuffed pancakes, I poured us large cups of tea. Then I turned to Arwen. She was waiting impatiently, twirling and untwirling a strand of her hair.
I couldn't keep a silly grin from my face. "Now, tell me, what have you two been up to-and was it any good?"
I am a good girl. And I try to be a good friend. So I won't give any more details here. I will only say this: oh, my...
But nevertheless, Aragorn will owe me...
We were in a study close to the Golden Hall, so we could not help hearing Éomer's angry roar in the middle of the afternoon. It sounded very much like: "Get the hell out of here! All of you!" Or something remarkably similar.
Arwen jumped a little at this outburst of a fiery mortal and male temperament. Then she looked at me uncertainly. "Don't you want to go and find out what's the matter?" she suggested shyly.
"Don't you Elves ever lose your temper?" I retorted.
Arwen lowered her eyes. The blue-grey of happiness disappeared behind a veil of sorrow. "Yes," she answered. "We do." Then she gulped. "They do." She gave me a wavering smile. "But... they don't do it that very often. Perhaps once in five hundred years?"
I gently touched her arm. "I'm sorry, Arwen. I didn't think just now."
Her smile warmed. "It's... how do you say? Oh-kay? It's okay-it... just takes getting used to. But I still think you should go to Éomer."
I was not so sure about that. But I went.
I ran right into Éomer as he was storming out of the Golden Hall. For a second he looked as if he wanted to shout at me, too. Then relief spread across his face. "Lothíriel!" Relief was also palpable in his voice. "I have to get away from here for a bit. Would you go for a ride with me? That is, if you think it appropriate?"
"Well, Míri certainly won't think it appropriate, but I think I'll make an exception to save anyone else from being shouted at by a king in a bad temper," I told him, tilting my head to the side with an inquiring look.
He shook his head. "Not now. Let's get out of here, before I tell you what got on my nerves." Éomer grabbed my hand and hurried to the door.
He did not speak all the way to the Royal Stables, but he also did not let go of my hand-with the usual result of my stomach somersaulting. Even the slightest touch, even the slightest whiff of this spicy fragrance that I'd taken to calling 'eau d' Éomer' in my mind, and I felt mad with desire.
We quickly saddled Hiswa and Mimi and galloped out of the Gate of Horses.
Éomer was sure in a bad mood. He galloped away from the mountains, giving Hiswa his head, allowing the great stallion to run where he would, and as fast as he would. Even Mimi could not keep up with Hiswa running like that, so I decided not to try and followed at a much slower speed, keeping up just enough to know where Éomer was going.
He was leading us along the Snowbourn River, staying on the northern side of the river, where the wide plains of the West Emnet rolled away to the horizon in green and golden waves of grass. Finally he slowed down. Abruptly, without giving any notice in advance, he slid down from the saddle. The banks of the Snowbourn River were rocky here, the river down below fast and cold, even though it was the middle of summer. Behind us stretched the plains of the Emnet, before us the softer fields and gentle hills of the Eastfold, and behind them the great heights of the Ered Nimrais. Much as yesterday, the peaks of the mountains were hidden by clouds. But there was no rain today, and I thought there were less clouds and more wind, clearing away the bad weather.
I dismounted, too, securing the reins to allow Mimi to walk about and graze as she wanted. Éomer sat in the grass above the river. His face was calm again. I was relieved. I had not liked it at all to see him so upset for no apparent reason. He lay down on his back, his eyes gazing up into the sky. I sat down close to him, cross-legged and intrigued.
"What was this all about, back at Meduseld?" I dared to ask.
"Grimsir," Éomer hissed through clenched teeth. "Not that I am not grateful that he respected Théoden's wishes yesterday, and refrained from causing any problems... but I should have known that he would even use his silence against me. He wants to have a reform of our structure of government. On my first day as a king. He wants to turn our customs and laws upside down before I even had a chance to study them."
Éomer put his arm across his eyes. "Béma! How I wish I had paid more attention to my tutor as a boy!"
"What does he want?" I asked calmly, although inside I felt almost sick with apprehension. Yesterday had been too good to be true. Why is it that you never get off that easily in real life?
Éomer sighed. "What does he not want? Apart from me as his king? He wants to be responsible for almost anything in his province; he wants to make his own laws, he wants his own taxes, he wants his own bureaucrats... Though I have no idea why anyone would want that. Perhaps I should just let him have what he wants, just so that he leaves me in peace."
"Sounds to me as if he wants to introduce federalism to Rohan," I commented.
"As if he wants to do what?" Éomer sat back up and looked at me with a frown.
"Federalism. When a province is not a province in a centralized state, but more like a small state within a state. A federal state to the nation as a whole. There are a number of countries where I come from where federalism works very well. The country where I was born, for example." I thought about it for another moment. "But I don't think federalism will work if there is not a history of regional political structures to begin with. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I have the impression that Rohan as a whole is the smallest real political entity for this area."
Éomer stared at me, non-plussed. Then he nodded. "That's true. During the early centuries the Éothéod were more or less tribes moving with the herds. Eorl was the one who changed that. Only since he fought the battle of the Celebrant and was granted kingship, Rohan has been a realm of its own, and not just a province of Gondor."
"Then I don't think it will work really well," I said. "But to be sure I would have to know a lot more about the way the government of Rohan works. Do you get to decide everything? What is the function of the Thing, and the Council? And what is the structure of the current administration?"
Éomer groaned. "Do you realise that you know more than I do about ruling?"
I frowned at him. "How governments work maybe. And not about Rohan."
Éomer sighed. "No, not about Rohan, I realise that. But the questions you just asked... I don't even know how to ask the right questions!"
"Well, I did mention that I studied the laws of the country where I was born for four years, didn't I? Even if I did not really enjoy it, I did work hard, and I was pretty good at it."
"I will need your help, Lothíriel," Éomer said, suddenly very serious. "I never cared for politics. I left that to Théodred-who had to do it, because he was the son of the king- and to Éowyn. She actually enjoys scheming and strategising. But now... I have to do what is right for Rohan. For all of Rohan, for all the Rohirrim. And I find there are only few that I can trust. Even after a single day, I feel burdened by this responsibility. What if I make the wrong decisions?"
I chewed on my lower lip. What if... one of my least favourite questions. "For the time being, I would suggest to tell Grimsir that there won't be any reforms during your first year as the king. There is enough to do as it is, with so many dead and so many maimed or still recovering from their wounds... not to mention the property that was destroyed by Saruman's and Sauron's hordes." I shuddered when I thought of the tales I heard from some of the soldiers.
Éomer nodded. "That's more or less what I just told Grimsir and the others. Grimsir and Eutharich tried to wangle out of it. I can count myself lucky that Berig wants no reforms, but time to repair the damages done to his villages at the moment. But when those two simply would not take 'no' for an answer..."
Suddenly Éomer moved a little closer to me. The tension around his eyes had eased, and there was a soft, self-deprecating smile on his lips. "And all the time those fools were arguing I only wanted to see you. I think that is what really made me lose my temper in such an undignified manner. I woke this morning, and I felt so relieved that this day had finally come, and then it seemed to me that I would never be able to spend even a minute with you today. I felt like screaming, I wanted to get away from all those... politicians so much." He could not come up with a worse epithet than 'politician'. I could not help smiling.
"You did scream, you know. You frightened Arwen."
"Really?" Éomer frowned. "I'm sorry. It was not on purpose. But let's not talk about everyone and everything else right now. I wanted to come here with you for a reason."
His eyes were so dark and so warm that I thought I should simply melt away under his gaze. His full, sensuous, inviting lips were so close. So kissable close! Suddenly all thoughts but 'Éomer' were gone from my mind. My heart was beating like one of those big Rohirric drums; my blood was like fire in my veins.
But he did not kiss me. I could see the thrill of our closeness burn in his eyes. But he only smiled. "This was one of my favourite spots as a boy," Éomer told me. "I used to swim in the river. And there was a small herd of Mearas that used to come to drink here, right over there. The herd I got Hiswa from." A dreamy expression softened his features. "It's the greatest dream of every boy among the Rohirrim to get a Meara foal... I think you know that Mearas are reserved for those Riders of the Mark who can claim to be of royal blood?" I nodded.
"No matter how distant the relationship," Éomer smirked. "So most noble boys have a fair shot at becoming the rider of a Meara. And even a common boy's dream is not completely hopeless... If a mare allows you near when she gives birth, she acknowledges you as kin-and thus, as one of royal blood. But approaching a Meara when she's near her time is a dangerous and difficult thing to accomplish. But this herd, they knew me. They allowed me to stay. And it was a miracle. The mare gave birth to two foals, two stallions. Hiswa and a white foal. Hiswa's brother leads the herd now. But their guardian told me they don't come so close to Edoras anymore. The war and those damn orcs have made them wary of all that moves on two legs."
Éomer fell silent, and for a moment we looked across the river together, in silence and peace. Éomer's face was soft and vulnerable with the memory of his boyhood dream coming true at this very spot. Suddenly he turned to me and gave me a gentle, hesitating smile. "Somehow I hope that this place holds some kind of magic. That, if the greatest wish of my childhood came true here, perhaps the greatest wish of Éomer King may also come true here." Éomer reached for my right hand. "Will you marry me, Lothíriel?"
My heart skipped a beat.
Make that three.
I tried to come up with a deeply romantic answer. Something moving and meaningful.
"Yes," I said softly.
Suddenly I was in Éomer's arms, being showered with enthusiastic kisses, which turned more languorous as I opened my lips to him.
Finally we broke apart, our faces flushed, gasping, and our hearts racing.
"No," Éomer moaned. "Not this way. I mean to honour you, my love, after the laws and customs of my people. Not yet, my sweet. Not yet."
"A year and a day?" I asked, breathlessly, wondering how I would survive that long.
Éomer smiled and kissed me again, but quite chastely on my cheeks and temples. "A year and a day, my love."
Then he reached into the pocket of his tunic. "I asked Gandalf about how things are done where you came from, and he said that it's done like the Elves do, with a ring, only that it's the man who gives a ring to his betrothed. Is that right?"
I could not speak. There was such a big lump of happiness lodged in my throat. He had asked Gandalf how a man betrothed a woman in the world where I was born! I nodded mutely, dashing away tears of happiness that still spilled out of my eyes.
"I am not a great artist. But I wanted to give you something that was really mine. -If you don't like it, I will have another one made for you... silver or gold..." He quickly slipped a ring on my right hand.
I looked at my hand and gasped. I had never seen such a ring before. It seemed to be made from threads of silver, and green-golden pearls glittered at the front of the ring.
"I braided it from some of Hiswa's tail hairs and some amber pearls from the Sea of Rhûn," he explained, looking at me nervously.
"It's beautiful," I whispered.
"Then why are you crying?" Éomer reached out and gently wiped away my tears.
"I think I'm just too happy not to," I answered and leaned against him. Carefully I removed the ring and put it on my left ring finger.
"Did I get the wrong finger?" Éomer frowned.
"For a girl from Germany, yes," I replied and found that I could grin at him again. The moment of crying was over. Now only I felt happy. Happier. Happiest.
"Left ring finger for engagement, right one for marriage. But for marriage the man gets one, too," I elaborated.
Éomer nodded, his expression one of satisfaction. "Gandalf was right about that at least, then."
"I guess he had other things on his mind than noticing which ring was on which finger during his stays in Germany," I excused the wizard's mistake.
"Perhaps," Éomer admitted grudgingly. Then he drew me into a tight embrace. Laying his lips soft and warm against my temple, he whispered to me, and the touch and his hot breath made me shiver against him and my nipples pucker up and rise against the fabric of my shirt, "But you do like the ring?"
My answer was a gasp. Éomer chuckled. He enjoyed making me gasp.
We stayed like that for a long time, sitting in a warm embrace, head touching head, hands intertwined, but nothing more. Nothing inappropriate. When the sky grew dark with dusk, I finally drew away from Éomer. The ring felt tight and good around my finger. I stared at Éomer, at this wonderful man, warrior, rider, singer and dancer, at my fiancé. It was almost impossible to believe that this was really true. That this was really happening to me.
"Why?" I asked, my voice full of wonder. "Why do you love me?"
Éomer looked at me for a long moment. Then he drew my left hand to his lips and kissed it, his lips lightly caressing my fingers. After an even longer moment that ended with me gasping once again, and with a delighted smile growing on Éomer's face, he answered my question.
"Why should I need a reason to love you?"
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.