8. Of Elves and Revelations
Lothíriel was a little tipsy when Amrothos arrived to play the dutiful brother to his purportedly unreasonable sister. Whatever was in the glass Papa gave me was not the light wine I expected. I should not have tossed it down like a sailor on shore leave, she thought grumpily.
"Do you want to talk? I take it from the opaque details that father provided, that Éomer—how is it said now—asked for your hand?" Amrothos snorted with a mock elegant bow, "and that father tried to indefinitely defer the discussion," he continued with a pompous glowering look. Lothíriel could not restraint a hiccup and a giggle.
"Oh, Amrothos, he is threatening to turn my life into some sort of farcical court spectacle, or worse paint Éomer's proposal and my acceptance as a tasteless prank by love-struck children. I am stunned and furious and now, thanks to him, very nearly drunk," she said, with a self-deprecatory groan. Hearing the humor in Lothíriel's tone, Amrothos felt relieved enough to laugh.
"Surely it will not end so badly, little sister," Amrothos chuckled, putting his arm around her shoulder in a comradely clutch. "I know he likes and admires the man. Who would not? If father has only blundered into vexing and mildly insulting the two of you, I think Éomer will be man enough to handle it. I wondered all day how you and Éomer found the time to become so involved."
"This is not a joke, Amrothos, I am madly in love with Éomer," she said.
"Sister, may I suggest you not use the words 'mad' or 'insane' or any others of that nature the next time you speak of this to father?" Amrothos advised in a solemn voice.
Lothíriel laughed, "What would I do without your impudence?" Together, arm in arm, they began to walk in the direction of the light and music.
At that moment, Elrohir and Elladan, dark-haired, grey-eyed, their faces elven-fair, appeared, blocking their path. "Oh,Valar!" Lothíriel groaned aloud, rolling her eyes. Elrohir seemed unduly pleased with her greeting with no attempt to control a wicked grin.
Elladan began, "It seems, my lady, that for the second time today we come to offer you an apology."
"Please, my lords, spare me further apologies. Your last ones cost me dearly," she moaned.
Elrohir, very nearly looking penitent, "I am sorry, my lady, it was not my intent to instigate a lover's quarrel."
Lothíriel replied, "You instigated no such thing. But, you overstep yourself, Lord Elrohir. I will not insult the House of Imladris by assuming you learned such behavior there."
"My dear lady, are you implying that I have the manners of an Orc?" Elrohir asked contritely.
Elladan threw his head back laughing, "Princess, you have already made enough conquests for one day, if you continue to speak to my brother in such a stern voice, he will be groveling at your feet and following you around like an abandoned pup. He does love an assertive female."
"I have had more than enough trouble for one day," Lothíriel sighed. Amrothos was relishing the exchange. Giving his sister an opportunity to work out some of her bad temper seemed desirable and if there were ever two beings who could withstand her assault without sustaining any damage, these were the ones.
"My dearest sister has had a difficult hour or two. Perhaps one of you gracious lords would invite her to find solace in music and dance," Amrothos suggested, a perfect parody of supercilious courtliness.
"Princess?" Elladan asked, offering her his arm, bowing gracefully, "May I have the honor, as I fear my brother cannot be trusted?"
"Thank you, my lord," Lothíriel said taking Elladan's arm. "My head is far from clear. Perhaps moving about will help."
It took courage for Lothíriel to touch the Peredhel, despite all her fascination with the First Born and her apparent capacity to argue with them. She had heard tales of Elves from childhood and, as a young girl, the stories of her own Elvish ancestry had driven her to the library, but she had never thought to know one. Now she knew three and, to her surprise, they could be as humanly annoying and impertinent as her brothers. Still, to find herself in the arms of one, the idea of such close contact with one of these so exotic beings, unnerved her. As the couple moved onto the dance floor, Elladan's strong firm grip on her waist reassured Lothíriel. Placing her hand on his muscled shoulder, she mused, this is no delicate mythical Elf, but, for all his beauty, a large, strongly built warrior who exudes attractive masculinity.
As she looked up at him, Elladan gave her a warm, knowing smile and suddenly, a blaze of his disconnected fragments of thought, of unspoken dreams and surprising desires, hit her. Her eyes were drawn to his sensuous lips; she shook her head and broke the gaze.
"My lord, please stop. I do not mean to be impolite. However, I am a little tipsy. I unable to close my mind to your thoughts," she said, her cheeks growing hot.
"I am sorry, princess," Elladan said, totally taken aback. "I am accustomed to mortals being mind blind."
"I have never heard that expression. My experience with the capacity to sense another's thoughts or communicate in that way is limited to my immediate family and, somewhat less so, with my cousin Faramir. I was taught as a child that it is rude to read thoughts unbidden and equally inconsiderate to open your mind to others carelessly," Lothíriel said earnestly.
Elladan, who she realized had gone very quiet, answered, "I understand perfectly. I do apologize."
Suddenly afraid she had offended or embarrassed him, Lothíriel spoke quickly, with an uneasy little laugh, "The exception for me is my brother Amrothos. He is incorrigibly intrusive, with me at least. But, there is no harm in it, since I keep nothing from him anyway."
"My brother Elrohir and I share that type of bond as well. But, the gift of seeing into another's mind is not a widespread one, even among the Eldar," Elladan commented. "I meant no disrespect."
"Lord Elladan," she said, as the music ended, "No offense was taken on my part. I am flattered, but I did not think you intended your thoughts to reach me."
"I did not," he said.
"I did not wish to violate your privacy," she said.
"You did not. I was careless," he answered. He took her by the arm and they walked together to the side of the floor.
Elladan was now still and inscrutable, "And you love a most worthy mortal man and I respect that," he said gently. "I would hear more of the remarkable qualities of the heirs of Dol Amroth. There are many things that our races could know of one another."
"The great library of Minas Tirith contains wondrous old volumes with some references, but they are largely speculative as to our origins," Lothíriel said. "My father gives them little credence."
"Legolas, on the other hand, is quite sure of your Elvish antecedents, despite his ambivalence about the nature of his own roots, and who are we to argue such unprovable matters with one who talks to trees," Elladan said with a playful irreverence worthy of his twin.
Laughter was a release for Lothíriel: a relief from what she saw as her father's obtuseness, her own anger at Imrahil, her bewilderment at Elladan's dangerous longing, and this whole unexpected new Arda that promised everything and, so far at least, granted nothing.
"You refer to Legolas's habit of calling himself a simple woodland Elf, when by now we all know that he is a prince of Taur-nu-Fuin, the son of its illustrious Sindarin King Thranduil," Lothíriel said. "It is becoming tiresome how you and your brother continue to tease him, after he has explained his position on adopting Silvan culture."
"I cannot speak for my brother, but I worry that Legolas's refusal to face his legacy will cause him unnecessary pain, He already feels what he calls the sea-longing, the desire to leave for Elvenhome in the West," said Elladan.
"Do you think he will do that?" Lothíriel asked, intrigued.
"Not soon. He fights it. He is a stubborn Elf," Elladan answered.
"Do you feel that longing?" she asked.
"I have not yet, but then I also have the blood of Men. Perhaps I never will," Elladan answered sadly. "And you, fair princess, why do you deny that you might have Elven heritage?"
"It is an annoying pretension common among certain classes of people in Dol Amroth to make much of a rumor cloaked in myth," Lothíriel answered, "as though the blood of the noble exiles of Númenor were somehow unworthy."
"I look forward to you meeting my sister. You will see that you are very like her—your hair, your eyes, your bearing," he laughed.
"Well, for that matter, you bear a certain superficial resemblance to my brothers. Who knows what is true or possible in these days when legends come to life," Lothíriel said skeptically. She scanned the crowd anxiously, wanting the support of Éomer's vibrant presence. He saw her and greeted her from across the dance floor with one of his predictably open smiles. My own true love needs no extraordinary faculties to make his thoughts known, she mused. Moving easily through the crowd, Éomer quickly reached Lothíriel and Elladan.
"Lothíriel, your brothers want you and Elladan," Éomer said, "Come with me. We have been invited to join a private celebration."
Éomer placed an arm around each of their shoulders and guided the two off the dance floor and onto the lawn into the dark night. Moving down a soft grassy slope, he led them toward a small group lounging on blankets on the grass. A small lantern lighted a cloth spread with cheese, cold cuts, bread, fruit and pastry, flagons of wine and cups. Soft voices and the sounds of muted laughter met their ears before they could identify the participants of this small feast. Legolas sang a Periannath drinking song, which was doubly humorous coming from his lips and met with much applause.
The sky was black and spotted with bright stars. A cool breeze now moved through the trees on the edges of the large open field, carrying the scent of their red blossoms through the air. The summer day had turned into a fresh spring night.
The newcomers came upon Lothíriel's three brothers, as well as Elrohir and Legolas. Amrothos inclined back, supporting himself on his arms, knees bent, while a lovely, auburn-haired young lady used his knees as a prop. Elphir jumped to his feet to greet his guests.
"Permit me to introduce our cousin, Nimrodel," Elphir said.
Erchirion quickly added, "our kissing cousin," with a mischievous look at Amrothos.
"Kissing cousin?" Elladan asked arching an eyebrow, while bending and kissing the lady's hand.
Elphir explained, "It is an expression used to describe a kinsman distant enough to be considered marriageable." Nimrodel laughed unselfconsciously and Legolas launched into the first lines of the Song of Nimrodel, "An Elven-maid there was of old, A shining star by day…" whereupon the entire original group broke into loud groans and guffaws. Legolas stopped singing and shrugged his shoulders, with one of his ingratiating, almost credibly guiltless, smiles.
Erchirion said, "Apologies, my friends. You are at a disadvantage. We must explain the rules of engagement here. This gathering has established its own set of regulations, two of which Elphir and Legolas just flagrantly violated."
Amrothos interrupted him and announced with false sternness, "First, there are to be no further jokes at the expense of Nimrodel, based upon her name or possible ancestry, Elvish or otherwise." He then gazed disarmingly into Nimrodel's eyes, who returned his mooning look by provocatively wrinkling her nose, a gesture revealing simultaneously that she was wise to his pranks and affectionately tolerant of them.
"There will be no more talk of marriages or betrothals, or any recent not-to-be-named disputes regarding the same," Elphir said, with an apologetic glance at Lothíriel and Éomer.
"Since we are all friends here, the use of titles or names indicating the rank, office or nobility, or lack thereof, by any of us is prohibited. And, lastly, at Nimrodel's request, we agreed to avoid gory tales of battle," Erchirion finished.
"If you will agree to abide by these conditions, of course, within the limits of each person's wit and level of sobriety, please make yourselves comfortable and have a drink," Elphir said.
Éomer straightened himself into a posture of regal authority and bowing to his two companions, asked, "May I speak on behalf of our party?" He received amused nods of acquiescence from Lothíriel and Elladan.
"We gladly accept, with one additional provision. Anything that is said or happens here tonight remains within this group," Éomer added with wide-eyed innocence. Greeted by a chorus of "yeas," he gracefully collapsed into a seated position, unceremoniously pulled Lothíriel onto his lap and kissed her soundly. Lothíriel reluctantly moved her mouth away from his briefly and then resolutely returned his kiss fully.
There was a brief silence followed by general approving laughter and a short, low whistle from Amrothos.
Elphir said, "Éomer, my friend, I was well aware of your prowess in combat, but you impress me tonight with your formidable skill in peacetime negotiations as well."
"I am cold," Lothíriel complained shivering. "When I dressed today it was more like midsummer than spring. I had no idea I would be out so late without changing."
"Move closer, my love. I will keep you warm," Éomer said his lips barely touching her ear, enfolding her lovingly in his arms and caressing the skin of her exposed arm with his large warm hand. She sighed contentedly, laying her head on his chest.
"I do not see how she can get any closer!" Elphir scowled. "Catch this," he said and tossed a lightweight blue blanket at Lothíriel, which hit her in the head, unfolded, and draped itself over her face. Éomer grunted, took the blanket, wrapped Lothíriel cozily in it and enclosed her again in his arms, kissing her lingeringly on the lips, immediately eliciting her breathless response.
Lothíriel snuggled closely against Éomer's chest and few minutes later, sweetly said, "Thank you, Elphir. That is much better." Lothíriel's playful reply did little to dispel her brother's uneasiness.
"Humph," Elphir grumbled, "I suppose you are cold too," he said, casting a rueful glance in the direction of Amrothos and Nimrodel. Amrothos, knowing his brother well, reached up and easily caught with one hand the blanket Elphir threw at them.
Éomer murmured, "Is your brother really irritated?"
"No," Lothíriel whispered, "but he thinks he should be. He tries to be the diligent older brother, but is always sympathetic and he knows I do not offer myself to you light-mindedly. If it need be, he will take our side with Papa."
"And to think that Amrothos told me the ladies of Dol Amroth are distant and cruel," Éomer whispered, nodding in the direction of the other couple who were now sitting side by side, arms around one another. Amrothos had tucked the blanket securely around Nimrodel's arms and shoulders and she was blissfully permitting him soft, but frequent kisses.
"Dear as he is to me and always kind, Amrothos has been stupid and rude with women he thought he fancied. He has imagined his pretty face should be enough recommendation to endear him to any. He had not met a woman that he really cared about, although perhaps he has now," she whispered back to him quickly. "But he knows well enough that the women of Dol Amroth are said to be hot-blooded, a quality apparently related to the warm Southern clime."
"That I can more easily believe," he said laughing softly, carefree as a boy, and bit her lower lip seductively before running the tip of his tongue across it. Lothíriel was just able to suppress a moan.
"Éomer, be careful, please. There are limits to what even Elphir can tolerate," she whispered.
"I am going to speak to your father again tomorrow. Even if I cannot separate him from Aragorn," Éomer said forcefully in a louder voice.
"That is an interesting concept. I believe we may have an ally there. Aragorn knows I love you and he encouraged me to learn Rohirric," Lothíriel said.
"Lothíriel and Éomer are violating the prohibition against talking about betrothal," Erchirion announced.
"Idiot. That does not count. The rule was intended to protect them against the insensitivity of the rest of us. They can talk about it if they want," Elphir said.
"It is a shame that these things are so difficult for mortal Men. All that is required among the Eldar is a declaration of intention between the lovers and physical consummation," Elladan sighed. Elphir choked on his wine, while Erchirion and Amrothos howled with laughter.
Elrohir, looking very serious, said, "It is not true that it is always so simple. What about the conditions our father has placed on the marriage of our sister and Estel?"
"Estel? Is that not the name you use for Aragorn?" Elphir asked. Elladan glowered at his brother.
"Do not look so worried, brother. Remember the pledge we made that anything that is said here remains here," Elrohir said placidly. "In all fairness, if the fact that Estel intends to wed our sister were known, one obstacle to Éomer's suit for the hand of Lothíriel might be removed."
Taur-nu-Fuin = Sindarin name used by Men for Mirkwood in the Third Age. I think it is too soon after the fall of Sauron for it to have been renamed Eryn Lasgalen.
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.