67. The Responsibilities of a Queen
The Responsibilities of a Queen
15th of August 3019
This morning I went down to the marketplace and bought a new journal. It is a beautiful book, the pages of parchment are so thin and smooth that they almost look like some special, expensive paper. The leather is soft and cream coloured. I bet I will get it muddy in no time at all. On the cover is a picture of a galloping horse, very fitting for the journal of the future queen of Rohan.
I went down to the market on my own, for which I was severely scolded by Míri upon my return. She said it's not appropriate behaviour for a noble lady, especially not for the king's fiancée. She also said that it could be dangerous.
I did not argue. She's right. I just didn't think. It will take some time to get used to the pomp and circumstance that comes with being engaged to a king.
On my way to the marketplace and back, everyone I met greeted me, with bows and curtsies no less. They obviously all knew that I was Éomer's betrothed. It very nearly freaked me out. Then the shopkeeper would not accept payment for the journal. It was awkward. I had no idea how to react. It is so weird. People I have never met know my name...
When Míri was finished scolding me, she took me to talk with Éowyn. We will leave for Dol Amroth on the first of September. Until then I am to learn as much as I can about the management of the royal household. I discovered that Éowyn was not only a fierce shield-maiden and a healer of some renown, but also a cunning manager of a household of the size and complexity of a large company.
Today I was only introduced to Mistress Gosvintha, the housekeeper and second-in-command of Éowyn in all matters concerning the royal household.
Mistress Gosvintha was a woman of about forty-five, and a woman of substance in every way-powerfully built, with very sharp blue eyes and a mob of light brown very curly hair. Really impressive.
The ledgers I was shown were even more impressive. Think thick, huge, leather-bound folios filled with spidery handwriting in those horrible runes.
I didn't speak, understand, read or write Rohirric. And I had no idea of managing anything more complex than a student's allowance.
When I thought about everything I had to learn during that damn year of my engagement to Éomer, I feel positively sick with apprehension. Up until now I had never given a thought about what being a Queen might mean in terms of responsibility and plain work. Tolkien never wrote a word about how hard Éowyn worked, taking care of her uncle and the day-to-day-management of Meduseld.
Now I also understood the reasoning behind Míri's plan of keeping me at Dol Amroth during the fall and winter. That way I would be able to learn at least a part of the things I would need as the Queen of Rohan unobserved by my future subjects and the formidable housekeeper of Meduseld. Although I still could imagine how I would be able to survive being parted from Éomer for such a long time, I did realise that I would learn better in the safety of Dol Amroth and the comparatively small household of Prince Imrahil.
Thinking about the responsibilities of a queen also reminded me of my Implanon. As my first duty would be to get pregnant, I would have to have it removed. If I remembered correctly what my gynaecologist told me, it might take up to six months after the removal of the implant for my periods to return. With the wedding date set at the beginning of September next year, I should probably have the Implanon taken out at once. I guessed that Lady Elaine of Tarnost would be able to do that. But I was not looking forward to it. I was also not looking forward to having monthlies again. The hygienic arrangements of Middle-earth for these things don't measure up to twenty-first century Earth. And there's a reason why I was so happy about my Implanon even back on Earth. I'm one of those women who always get pretty sick once a month. My mother once told me that she never had any problems that way anymore after she gave birth to me. I would just have to hope that I'd get pregnant at once and that what my mother said would be true in my case, too.
The events surrounding this morning's shopping, the introduction to Mistress Gosvintha and my thoughts of the many levels of a queen's duties had me sitting in Éomer's study-and feeling gloomy.
Would I be up to everything that would be asked of me?
I did not even begin to understand what being a queen is all about. But I did know that it was a responsibility of a greater magnitude than any job I could have taken on back on Earth. This job would claim my life.
And I didn't owe it to myself to be good at it. I owed it to more than a million of Rohirrim-men, women and children, who all of them had no say in the matter of who would be their queen.
That was a frightening thought.
I dipped my quill into the small pot of black ink, shook of the excess of ink and stared thoughtfully at three pages of rambling. The way I had written today was not the way I wanted to write this journal.
I did plan to carry on writing this journal as I had done the one I sent to my parents, the one Míri gave me in March. I wanted to write it more as if I was writing a novel than a journal. It had been fun and almost therapeutic to write about my journey from Erlangen to Edoras that way. It helped me during those dark days of waiting in March. It helped me sorting out my feelings during the last months. I was even thinking about writing down the tale of "The Ranger out of Erlangen" a second time, now that the first version was on its way to Nuremberg. My children would want to know how I came to be here, one day.
I sighed. More rambling. This was not at all the way I wanted to begin this journal. But today I somehow didn't feel up to the distance required for writing as if this was a novel and not a very moody, thoughtful day in my life. It was not only my fretting about my future responsibilities that made me so gloomy today.
There was another thing.
They had been gone only a day and already I missed them.
I missed them so much!
Today had sunny and bright, one of those last golden, perfect summer days, when fall is already waiting around the corner. One of those days, when the earth itself seems to hold its breath, for even the slightest breeze might push summer over the verge of autumn. It was a day for languishing in the sunshine, for riding or swimming or walking, but I didn't feel up to that, either. I felt downhearted, morose, gloomy, depressed.
I was only now realizing how much the other members of the Fellowship had become an essential part of my life during the last year. I never knew that friendship could run so deep.
I knew that I had to let go. Life goes on. I had to move on, they had to move on. I knew I would see Merry and Pippin again next year, for Éowyn's wedding, and I was fairly sure that Merry would stick around for my wedding. Galadriel would come for my wedding, too, because of Rohan and Lórien being neighbouring realms. Such an honour! The twins would come to Dol Amroth in winter. I was already looking forward to seeing them again. Apart from Legolas they were the most "human" Elves that I had met. Probably because of their long association with the Dúnedain. Arwen was much more Elvish than her brothers when I first met her.
There, I would meet many of my friends again. That should cheer me up.
But I would never meet Frodo again, or Gandalf. They would leave Middle-earth forever in two years, along with Lord Elrond and Glorfindel and many other Elves. Although they were no close friends, I did share Arwen's grief, because she was my friend. And I would really have liked to meet Glorfindel again-I would have liked to thank him for his help and his beautiful gift in person, and not only in that letter that Gandalf had agreed to pass on to the Elf-lord.
I knew I should not be so depressed about this. After all, they were not going to die. They would sail to Aman, the Blessed Realm. They would go to the paradise of the Valar somewhere beyond the tides of time and the circles of this world, second star to the right and then straight on till morning... They would live happily forever after, or as long as they wanted to. So I really should not be so sad.
Perhaps a part of my gloominess was due to the fact that yesterday's farewells put such a very final line under the events of the year that changed my life completely and forever.
"Lothíriel? What are you doing here, all alone?" Éomer's voice suddenly asked from behind me. He sat down next to me and cocked his head slightly, looking at me inquiringly with those deep, dark eyes of his. "You look so sombre. What is the matter?"
I sighed deeply and closed my journal. "I feel sombre. Gloomy. Depressed." I sighed again. I looked into Éomer's eyes and felt silly tears burning in my eyes. "I miss them. Éomer, they have been gone only a day, one single day, and already I miss them. It's like a gnawing pain somewhere inside of me."
I touched my hand below my collarbone. For a moment I thought he would laugh at me. But he only touched the back of my hand lightly with his finger tips. "I miss them, too. It will be hard to live without that cantankerous wizard stealing our best horses and getting me in trouble with my peers."
I scowled at Éomer. He closed his eyes for a moment, and I realized that Éomer was tired and that there was a lingering sadness in his eyes. "No, really, Lothíriel," he said in a gentle voice. "I will miss Mithrandir. Not only his wisdom, though it will hard to get by without it. But his bad moods and his irksomeness. I'm going to miss Shadowfax, too. He could have sired so many beautiful foals. Now it will be up to your Mimi to keep this most noble line alive."
"I will miss Lord Elrond, too," I said softly. "Has Arwen eaten anything at all?"
He shook his head. "I don't think so. She has not left her room at all today. The tray Gosvintha sent her is untouched. She needs time. We all need time to get used to this new age of men."
"The age of men," I repeated. My voice sounded cheerless. I traced the outline of the horse on my journal. "I know I should be happy about the peace, and what we will be able to do with this 'age of men'. I know there are so many opportunities for us shaping this world for the better of all its peoples. And yet... the Elves, you know, when Aragorn dies, the last of the Elves will depart from Middle-earth. I don't quite know how to explain it... but it seems to me that there is some magic, some special blessing that clings to them that lives only in their presence. They will go, and nothing of this will remain in Middle-earth. I think this will be a loss for all of Middle-earth. And I don't know if this loss can ever be healed."
Éomer thought about this for a moment. His voice was low and gentle when he finally answered, "I know what you mean. I feel very much the same. But there is nothing to do about it. They are the children of the Valar, and we are only the aftercomers. They belong to Aman, and we belong to Arda. We are blessed that we might know them; we are blessed that our children may know them still. One day the Elves will be forgotten in Middle-earth. Our great-grandchildren may even think of them only as figures of tales and stories."
It comforted me to know that Éomer did not only understand me, but also shared my feelings. I realised suddenly how few times we had had to talk, to really talk to each other about anything, something, just to have a conversation... And I enjoyed talking to Éomer. He looked directly at me when he was talking, making a firm eye-contact. And he really listened to me, not like some men who only listen to the thoughts in their own minds; who see conversation only as an opportunity to show how right they are. Suddenly my heart lifted and I was able to smile at Éomer. Éomer, however, remained serious.
He hesitated for a moment. Then he asked, "You know how and when Aragorn will die?"
I jumped at his question. I had not realised what I had said. I bit my lip. I did not want to tempt the fates with talking about dates. In a way I was relieved that I had no clear recollection about the date in Éomer's case anyway. I remembered only that he had grown to be very old. But I did remember the year of Aragorn's death. I swallowed hard. And here had I thought that I had finally passed beyond the reach of those damn books. "Well, I have read about it. And I think it will happen like that. Most of what I read about turned out to be true. But... I'd rather not talk about it. I don't want to tempt the Fates to change the date."
Éomer inclined his head in acceptance of my decision. I think it was easy to read from the way I had answered that the way Aragorn's demise had been described in the books did not disturb me.
"Good," Éomer said. "That's good to know." Then he carefully lifted my hand to his lips and kissed the back of my hand. "I would that you smile and not sit in here alone thinking dark thoughts."
I gave him a lopsided smile. "I can't help myself. I miss our friends, and writing the letter to my parents has stirred all kinds of melancholy thoughts in my heart. We have a nice word for this feeling in German. We call it 'Weltschmerz'-the pain you feel at carrying the weight of the world in your heart, this melancholy agonizing that comes over you mostly during grey days of fall and winter, or when you listen to sad tunes."
Éomer sighed a little. "I know this feeling you describe. Still I do not like to see you looking so sad."
"It will pass," I assured him. "Do you know how much I will miss you during the long months of fall and winter?"
Éomer's hand tightened around my fingers. "I will miss you more," he murmured. Then his eyes brightened with a thought. "Tell me, in your native tongue, how do you say 'I love you'?"
This request made me smile. "I love you is 'Ich liebe dich' in German."
"Ic liebe dic," Éomer said.
I grinned. "Not quite. It's more like the Elvish 'ch'." I hissed at him to show him how it should sound. "Chhh!"
He chuckled, "You sound like an angry cat." Then he winked at me and tried again. "Ichhh liebe dichhh!"
I could do nothing but smile at him happily. For the first time that day I felt all warm, safe and fuzzy inside. "And now you have to tell me what I love you is in Rohirric."
"Ic lufie thee." He answered.
"Really?" I asked him. Then I tried and felt as silly as he must have felt just a moment ago. "Ic lufie thee," I said haltingly.
"I do love you," I repeated. "Even if I don't speak Rohirric yet."
Éomer smiled at me reassuringly. "You will learn. Elrohir and Elladan speak a clearer Rohirric accent than I do, from centuries of riding and fighting with my people."
I inhaled deeply, trying to appear relaxed and confident. I think Éomer felt just how nervous I was. He embraced me, hugging me against his strong, broad chest. "Don't worry. You will learn. You are smart. You will have the best teachers in Middle-earth. And everyone here knows that you come from far away. They will be patient with you and not at all insulted when you use Westron."
I sighed, slowly relaxing against Éomer. I would learn. I had managed to learn German civil law and Latin. I would manage to learn Rohirric.
A bell sounded from somewhere outside. I felt Éomer shift behind me. "You have to go, haven't you?" I asked softly.
"Hmmm..." Éomer murmured. He bent over me, burrowing his face in my hair, touching his lips to my neck. Desire flared up inside of my so intensely that it felt almost like pain.
Reluctantly Éomer drew back. "Béma, how I am going to miss you!"
Then he rose to his feet and quickly moved away from me, a wry smile on his face. "You are right, I have to go. Yet another council. Don't stay in here all alone and being sad, Lothíriel. Go riding or walking in the gardens. Summer's almost over. We have to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Tonight I have arranged for dinner in the yellow dining room. Aragorn, Arwen, Faramir, Éowyn, Legolas, Gimli, Imrahil, Míriël and us. Nothing fancy. A simple dinner for friends."
A simple dinner? If Mistress Gosvintha would have anything to do with this dinner, we would not get away with anything less than three courses. Well, I guess you could call a three course dinner simple as compared to a feast of seven courses.
"Gimli and Legolas will set out for the Glittering Caves tomorrow," I mentioned, feeling another pang of sadness at yet another goodbye.
Éomer nodded. "I know. But they should return here before you depart for Dol Amroth, so it's not even a real goodbye, Lothíriel. And you know that they will stay around. Gimli has already sent for his kin to work in the Glittering Caves, just as Legolas has sent for his to come to Ithilien."
"You seem to know my every thought," I said, smiling at him.
"I do my very best," Éomer replied, blowing me a kiss. Then he left the room for his duties as king of Rohan.
I remained sitting at the table for a while longer, daydreaming. My thoughts were no longer gloomy and filled with melancholy, but happy and contented. I loved talking with Éomer. He was perceptive and patient, he had a slow, kind humour, and he had not problems with talking about his feelings, at least when he was talking to me - or his sister. I sighed. With Éomer at my side, my worries suddenly seemed insubstantial, and my sorrow at the farewells of the day before faded away like mists above the Anduin in the summer sun.
Everything would be alright.
How much more difficult than Latin could Rohirric possibly be?
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.