6. The Field of Cormallen
When they came to the northern part of Ithilien, Lothíriel was escorted to the wide green Field of Cormallen on the eastern bank of the Anduin between the great river and the Ephel Dúath mountain range. All around she could see crowds milling among tents, booths, wagons and stalls under a glorious sun. It resembled nothing so much as the great midsummer fair held each year in the environs of Dol Amroth. How all of these people had come here so quickly was in itself a marvel to Lothíriel. There were stalls vending every form of food and drink, puppet shows, jugglers, ropedancers, and such like. And throughout the crowds walked minstrels with their lutes, the majority from Dol Amroth, which was famed throughout Gondor and beyond for the number and artistry of its singers and storytellers.
It was not difficult to spot the tent of the Prince of Dol Amroth, even among the multitude of colorful tents and pavilions. It was one of the largest and the most elegant, colored blue and white, flying the silver upon blue flag of Dol Amroth, with its swan-prowed ship faring on the sea. So anxious Lothíriel was to see her brothers and father that she handed over her horse to the nearest Swan Knight esquire, picked up her skirts, and ran.
She heard her brother Amrothos' laugh before she entered the tent. Inside she found her two younger brothers, seated at a long camp table with a diverse assortment of Rangers of Ilithien, Swan Knights, and other guests of high and low stature. Some she recognized and others she did not. Amrothos reached her first and, catching her in his arms, lifted her off her feet and twirled her around. Erchirion was not far behind him. They all three laughed like they had as children and her brothers kissed her repeatedly. They taunted her that for once she was the one who smelled like horse and sweat. She insisted that while she was certainly dusty enough, and may have smelled a bit like horse, she did not stink of sweat.
She asked after her father and oldest brother and was told that they were out and would not be back for a couple of hours, but that she could easily find them.
Erchirion nodded at her dusty, inelegant split-skirt riding habit and said, "I think you will want to clean up a bit and change. Father will want you to meet everyone."
"I will need my luggage," she said. And could scarce believe her eyes when Amrothos hurried out to find it. "Among all the wondrous things I have seen since legends have stepped forth from myth," Lothíriel laughed, repeating a phrase that had become common place in Minas Tirith over the past few days, "that of Amrothos jumping up to wait on me is perhaps the most marvelous."
Amrothos entering the tent with one long large pack, answered, "Of all the wondrous things I have seen, the most astonishing to me, is that our precious Princess of Dol Amroth traveled all the way from Minas Tirith on such a festive occasion with only one bag."
After performing a quick wash up in a curtained area and changing into a light white summer dress, for it was hot that spring day in Ithilien under the brilliant southern sun, she quickly released her long hair and combed it, letting it fall loose, and reappeared.
"Now that I am presentable, brothers, where can I find Papa?" she asked.
Erchirion and Lothíriel walked down a wide avenue created between the tents, arrayed on the long green lawn. All manner of folk strolled around them: riders of Rohan, Rangers from the North and the South, simple farmers, elegant noblemen and women of Gondor, minstrels, tradesmen and vendors. She stopped to look at the wares of a vendor of floral wreaths and on an impulse bought one, wrought of a wildflower, which graced the spring woodlands of Ithilien with its brilliant blue bell-shaped blossoms. These are nearly Dol Amroth blue, she thought. They will wilt quickly, but Papa will appreciate the gesture.
I spot Elphir and Prince Imrahil and rush toward them. Papa embraces me and kisses me on the forehead and then takes both my hands, stands back, and looks at me approvingly. All I can think of is that my darling Papa and brothers are alive and the long years of shadow well behind us.
"You look radiant, my dearest daughter," Imrahil beamed. Elphir for once agreed. "You are beautiful today, Lothíriel, truly beautiful," he beamed at her proudly. I am pleased that my critical older brother thinks I am a fitting representative of Dol Amroth amidst all this joy and splendor. I am clinging onto Elphir, too happy to say anything, when I glimpse, out of the corner of my eye, that Papa has turned to greet someone.
"Éomer," Imrahil said, "you know our entire family, except for my youngest. This is my daughter Lothíriel."
I faintly hear my father's voice, over a tremendous roaring in my ears caused by the rush of blood to my head.
"Lothíriel, this is my dear friend, Éomer King of Rohan." Lothíriel let out a small surprised cry, which her father chose to ignore.
It is he, my horse lord, whose memory has comforted me though all those ominous nights and long dread-racked days of waiting. So, he is, indeed, the heroic young King of Rohan.
Lothíriel's face turned hot. Their eyes met and held. Princess Lothíriel, mistress of the castle of Dol Amroth, ever confident and at ease amongst the ranks of the proud and powerful, shy before no one, struggled to open her mouth and failed. She attempted a bow, but a jerky movement, something between a curtsy and a nod of the head, was all that she could manage.
His tanned face flushes red, not unlike my own, but his warm brown eyes hold mine boldly. A warrior's courage? He takes my trembling hand, and raises it to his lips, and kisses it, holding it a moment longer than courtesy would allow. "It is you," he says, his surprise and delight transparent.
Imrahil asked after Faramir. Elphir commented on the crowds, the plans for assemblies and festivities, and all praised the magnificent summer weather. March had been a cruel month for all, but on the Field of Cormallen that cruelty was but a memory. After a few minutes, Lothíriel looked up at Éomer and softly said, "I have news for you of your sister, my lord."
Éomer turned to Imrahil and said, "Prince Imrahil, your daughter and I met in Minas Tirith in the Houses of Healing, although we were not introduced. I beg you to permit me to deprive you of her company for a short while, for I would hear how my sister fares and your daughter and I had other things to discuss but were abruptly interrupted by our immediate responsibilities when last we met."
Elphir's eyebrows shot up in surprise. Imrahil nodded gravely, his eyes darkening, and replied, "Of course, go for a stroll. Have your talk and enjoy the day."
"Would you like some company?" Elphir asked with a grin and wink.
Éomer restrained a smile, though his eyes were laughing, and answered evenly, "No, Elphir, but thank you for the kind offer."
Then before anyone can say anything more, Éomer bows to my father and smoothly leads me away to turn onto a smaller less traveled path among the tents, away from the stares and the talk and the jostling crowd. As soon as we are out of sight of my father and my brothers, he grabs me by the shoulders and firmly, lingeringly kisses me, running his tongue gently along my lower lip until I open my mouth to him. My entire body suffuses with heat. How I have wanted, needed this.
"My sister? Is she well?" he asks. "Yes, she is. Very well. But I must leave the details for her to tell," I smile.
"And you? Are you happy to see me?" he says huskily, his eyes dancing with barely contained jubilation.
What a fool I feel, so completely enthralled I am. I cannot answer him. Instead, I throw my arms around his shoulders and I pull myself up to cover his mouth with mine again.
"Oh, my pretty, pretty princess," he says, his expression softening, "I shall take that as a 'yes.'" Then, once more turning the tease, "I have imagined endless possibilities of what you would say to me when I found you, but never that you would say nothing. But I am forgetting that we are strangers."
I finally speak, albeit in a hoarse whisper, "I thought I knew you, Éomer, when I did not know your name. But now I am not sure I know you at all." I cannot address him as king after such familiarity, without feeling utterly foolish and pretentious, although my manners tell me I should.
"But you do still want me, little princess?" Éomer asks. His eyes tell me he needs no answer, but the intimacy of his tone, elicits a sound, a small moan, hardly more than a short gasp for air from me.
"I thought you looked a king, all golden, tall and strong, but too much like one to be one," I whisper.
"I think I know you, Lothíriel. I should have imagined that you would have such a name—Lothíriel, flower-garlanded maiden. But you had no flowers in your hair." He straightens my wreath, which has slid precariously to one side, pleasing me with his familiar warm smile.
He holds my face with both hands as though to study it carefully and he laughs aloud, " You also look a great deal like your father and your youngest brother, though I did not see it until now. I am not a complete stranger; your father knows me and likes me well enough. That is, he did, until a few minutes ago."
"If he objected, he would certainly have followed us. Or at very least sent my brother after us," I laugh back.
"That is better. She speaks and even laughs," he smiles at me. He kisses me, gently this time, first on the lips, then softly on my forehead, my eyelids, the end of my nose, and enfolds me in his arms, resting my head gently against his chest and stroking my hair. He sighs contentedly. We remain this way in silence for some time. Finally I raise my head to look into his handsome face.
"Now what do we do?" I ask.
"We learn to know one another better. Do you prefer chicken or fish? Wine or ale?" he asks, with an endearing grin.
"Need you ask? I am from Dol Amroth, with the best seafood in Gondor," I laugh, "but chicken is fine too. I certainly prefer wine, but I could learn to like ale. I have heard it is the drink of choice in Edoras," I say, blushing when I hear the presumption in my words—in Edoras!
He appears not to notice, but then says softly, "Then you truly might consider leaving a magnificent castle on a cliff by the sea for the windswept war-torn fields of a barbarian king?"
"Do not start teasing me with your exaggerated cultural distinctions," I protest. "You forget I already know your people well, from the time I have spent with them in the Houses of Healing."
He laughs aloud and then asks again so softly, "You did not answer my question, Lothíriel. Would you consider leaving Dol Amroth for the Riddermark?"
"That would depend entirely upon you," I say, trying hard to sound playful and not overeager, but I feel far from tranquil.
"Then I will do whatever I must to convince you," he says, and kisses me again, this time lustfully and long. He takes his mouth from mine for an instant and whispers, "Will you come with me? Will you be my love?" If I was not already, I am utterly lost from this moment. If he asks me to walk into the waters of the Anduin with him, I will, without a backward glance.
He must see it in my face, because he does wait for my answer but takes me into his arms and begins kissing me more urgently still. Finally, I am aware of our crowded surroundings and the fact that we must appear positively indecent to anyone passing by—all this impassioned kissing and frantic clutching. I gently withdraw from him.
"Then I may speak with your father?" he asks.
I have never made promises lightly, but so desperately in love am I that I am afraid to risk an hour.
"Yes, yes, oh, yes," I answer.
Composed and careful to appear to be only the best of friends, Lothíriel and Éomer, her hand placed through the crook of his arm and his resting lightly upon hers, walked back slowly toward the spot where they had left her father and brothers. Even amidst this glittering assembly, they made an arresting picture. He was glorious sunlight, with his hair of beaming gold, and she was a whisper of midnight, black shining hair, her dress as white as a summer moon. Lothíriel held her head high, actually to keep her flower garland in place on her silky straight hair, but the effect was regal. Éomer appeared to onlookers much as Lothíriel saw him—kingly, strong and valiant.
Imrahil, Elphir and Erchirion had moved only a few feet and had been joined by Amrothos, the Elf Legolas, and Elrond's sons. The entire group turned as one, upon noticing that Amrothos was smiling broadly in the direction of Éomer and Lothíriel, and watched the couple approach.
Seeing all eyes upon them, Lothíriel's face turned crimson. Éomer moved almost imperceptibly closer in a reflexive protective gesture and tightened his hand on hers reassuringly. "Greetings, my lords," Éomer said with an easy nod. "My lords," Lothíriel said with a rather stiff curtsey, still aware of her posies.
"Éomer King, Princess Lothíriel," Elladan said, "I was just telling the princes of Belfalas, that we are playing messengers to King Elessar this morning, who requests that you attend him at the royal pavilion shortly."
"Lothíriel," her father asked, "have you made the acquaintance of everyone here?"
"Thank you, Papa. Yes. I met Prince Legolas and the lords of Imladris briefly in the House of Healing," Lothíriel answered sweetly.
"I might have guessed that," Imrahil said flatly. "You seem to have met a great number of people in Minas Tirith."
"Princess Lothíriel, I am pleased to see you again, and looking so refreshed and lovely this time," Elrohir said with an amused openly flirtatious grin. Elladan shot his twin an impatient frown. Legolas mimed impassive innocence, with the bare suggestion of a smile. Éomer's mien was carefully controlled, while Lothíriel's brothers, to a man, sparked with suppressed hilarity.
Lothíriel, feeling herself the butt of an incomprehensible joke, nonetheless answered undaunted, "Thank you kindly, Prince Elrohir. The lack of dirt and gore becomes you as well."
"Well done, Princess," Elrohir said brightly, while the others, with the exception of her father, laughed heartily. "Please accept my apologies. I carelessly included you in an unfortunate attempt to tease Legolas and my brother. When we spotted you earlier with Éomer, Legolas waxed eloquent on how exquisite is your beauty with its evident mix of Elven blood and the intensity of the mortal. My more prosaic brother acknowledged your loveliness but noted that he almost did not recognize you, having last seen you careworn in a bloodstained dress."
"My lady," Elladan interrupted, "I am sorry that my brother's all too infrequent attempts at apology often add to the original offense. My encounter with you on the night of the Pelennor may not have been with a joyful maid wearing flowers in her hair, but has reminded me more than once that valor is not limited to the battlefield." Legolas, Elrohir and the three younger princes of Dol Amroth appeared thoroughly entertained.
"All apologies are accepted, lords Elrohir and Elladan. In the future I will have no difficulty in distinguishing between the two of you, though you are equally enchanting. I need only remember that Elladan is the kind diplomatic twin and Elrohir the wicked reckless one," Lothíriel replied with an enticing laugh. She looked to Éomer to see if he was laughing. He distinctly was not. Oh, Valar! Lothíriel thought, I see what the Elves mean by the intensity of the mortal.
In the distance, trumpets sounded and cheers echoed. Dragging himself back from whatever thoughts had silenced him, Imrahil said gravely, "It is best that we be going. We ought not to keep the king waiting." Then turning to face his daughter and Éomer, he said blandly, "Did the two of you complete your unfinished discussion?"
Éomer answered, his somber expression giving way to a slow easy smile, "We did not finish, my lord, but we made a good beginning."
The handsome company made its way toward the king's pavilion, swallowed up in the increasingly noisy throng moving in the same direction. Lothíriel once again placed her hand on Éomer's arm and looked up at him. His face softened as he caught her eye and leaned in close to her, whispering mischievously into her ear, his breath on her neck causing her to shiver with pleasure, "Flirting with Elves, my love? I should make you pay for that."
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.