4. Lothiriel's Journal 3
Something had changed, Lothíriel looked up, scanning the area of garden she could see through the greenery. A moment passed before she realised that the bathers had disappeared from the pond. Only a wet area on the paved edged remained, and a few leaves quivered in a bush beyond. A bee buzzed out of a bloom to her left, but the birds had stopped singing. It must be the hour in the afternoon when they all seemed to go for a rest. She had noticed before that they vanished into the trees at a certain time, reappearing when the sun sank a few degrees to stock up on food before retiring for the night. Running her tongue over her lips, she wished she’d thought of bringing a drink and considered for a moment whether to return indoors. But no – the time passed much faster out here and she wanted to finish reading her journal in peace…
Entry for 30th September 3019
‘Today my father returned home. Silver trumpets welcomed the Lord of Dol Amroth as he rode proudly through the gates of his fair domain with silken banners flying high. Such a welcome the citizens gave their Prince after his months away. As well as the Ship and Silver Swan, he came bearing the device of the King of Gondor, for none other is more loyal to our king, and now my father is his closest advisor. How handsome my brothers looked. No helms they wore but their black hair flowed loose down their backs and their armour gleamed red, catching the light of the westering sun.’
‘The feasting carried on long into the night as we all listened avidly to the tales of the past six months and of a journey to the land of the Horselords. A realm once seldom visited but that now lies less than a week’s ride north through a tunnel in the mountains. I heard of a mighty golden-roofed hall and rolling plains of grass where the wind set up a shimmering wave that echoed of the sea. A king buried and a king crowned. At his crowning the new king gave his sister to Gondor, pledging friendship between our two countries. So our families are to be joined and I will call the Royal House of Rohan, kin. But I heard nothing of any other uniting of our people. So the drawer that contains the likeness of the Lord of that Land — remains locked.’
Lothíriel well remembered the frustration of not knowing anything. She had tortured herself imagining Éomer refusing the offer from her father and that instead she had been promised to a dull and boring Gondorian nobleman with strict ideas on the role of women. The next afternoon, with her father and Elphir incarcerated with the council, Amrothos and Erchirion wedded to the stables, she wandered down to their private area of beach. Morosely, she walked along the tideline kicking sand and picking up shells until weary of the distraction, she settled herself on a rock to watch the sea-birds diving. She must have been sitting there a long time judging by the length of the shadows when the sound of barking shattered her peace. Her father’s two spaniels were rushing in and out of the surf chasing the wading birds – short stumpy tails wagging furiously. Their master had returned and they were wet – life for them could not get any better. Lothíriel looked back along the beach, expecting to see the steward who normally exercised them when her father’s duties kept him busy, but surprised, she saw the Lord of Dol Amroth himself striding purposefully towards her.
Watching her father approach, she thought perhaps she might have been a bit hasty in dismissing King Elessar as an old man. Not that she had met him yet, but all reports told of an upright and striking, finely-honed warrior. Looking at her father now she could believe it, he gave the impression of being just a slightly older version of her brothers. Even casually dressed he had an air of elegance: the dark wool tunic fresh and un-creased, the sand afraid to cling to his soft suede boots. As always, he looked every inch a prince.
Lothíriel stood up as he reached her, a sudden rush of love for him overwhelming her for a moment. Alone on the beach, or at least with the guards a good way away, he drew her into a hug, something he never did in public. She welcomed the feel of his strong arms around her, but then he pushed her away from him a bit, his all-seeing eyes searching her face.
“You looked so sad sitting there, and when I look into your eyes I see discontent.”
She shook her head, “Not really, but I missed so much in the summer. I would have liked to have joined in the celebrations and have seen Minas Tirith again.” She would see it in the spring of course, when she went to her cousin Faramir’s wedding and expected her father to say that, but his grey eyes creased in concern.
“Is your leg back to full strength, Lothíriel? When Anniel wrote she assured me you had only broken one of the lower bones and that it would mend well.”
“Yes, I went for a gallop with Erchirion this morning and have had no ill effects.” She grinned. “Unlike Amrothos, who had such ill effects from the feasting last night that we had to leave without him.”
The Lord of Dol Amroth raised a wry brow, “Overindulgence is a sign of extreme youth, he cannot use that excuse much longer.”
“He…” but she never finished her remark because suddenly two wet spaniels were racing around them, showering them in salty droplets and trying to gain attention after having enthusiastically denuded the beach of feeding waders. Order restored, they went off to investigate the prospects of the tidal pools while her father sought out a relatively dry bit of rock and drew her down beside him.
“An unfortunate accident indeed, but I imagine you would do the same again. Did the gull survive, by the way?”
She managed a half smile wondering if her father was laughing at her, “Yes, I would not let the guard carry me back until he had cut the gull free. But I imagine you think me stupid to have worried about the life of a bird when so many had died.”
He put a calloused but manicured hand over hers, rubbing his thumb across her knuckles. “Not at all. My daughter will always try to protect those who are weak and in trouble and I would want it no other way. But I wish you could have joined us in Minas Tirith and travelled to Rohan, because I have had to make decisions about your future in your absence…”
Her father hesitated. Not surprisingly, she thought. Even for him it must be difficult to say that he had attempted to arrange a marriage for his daughter without even informing her, however many rights he had. Especially as yet he did not know that she fervently hoped he had arranged a match – at least the match.
He had still not spoken so she decided to take the initiative. “Perhaps it was better I did not go to Rohan. Éomer might have taken one look at me and decided that no alliance with Gondor would convince him to marry me. Without me around, you at least had a chance of persuading him.”
She had thought to surprise him with her direct approach, but only his lips twitched. “Meren told you, I presume. I should have guessed.”
Lothíriel said nothing but stared out to sea, her whole body tense with the expectation of his pronouncement.
“But you are wrong, my daughter. I would have had a much easier time if you had been there. In the six months I have been away you have lost your youthful tendency to be gangly and filled out. You are a beautiful young woman.”
Praise indeed! For her father did not throw his compliments lightly. But the viability of marriages of state did not often rest on the physical aspects of the protagonists, except of course the child bearing capacity of the bride. However, the results of her father’s scheming had not yet been conveyed to her and a mixture of apprehension and trepidation made it hard for her to answer him. But feeling his eyes studying her she pulled her gaze away from the sea and looked down at his hand which still covered hers. She would not allow him to witness any disappointment.
“And were you successful in your persuasions?”
“Yes. A marriage contact is to be drawn up between Éomer, King of Rohan, Lord of the Mark and Lothíriel of Dol Amroth, Princess of the Realm of Gondor.”
A wave of relief shot through her but when she said nothing her father carried on. “But that is what it says on the parchment, Lothíriel. What is important is that my only daughter will be marrying a man that I hold in high esteem. And that she will have a purpose for her life, free of the restrictions placed on her by our society.”
Her head shot up and she met a serious expression. Her father gazed at her for a moment before stretching out a finger to push a stray black lock of hair behind her ear, “Do you think I do not know what goes on in that pretty head of yours? I am very aware, Lothíriel that you find your life…shall we say – uninteresting.”
“Only the last few years, Father. When I was younger I found plenty to do.”
“You mean you could play with imaginary heroes, Lothíriel, whereas now you can only read about them.”
“You do think me a fool,” she said, her face flaming red.
An arm shot around her head, pulling it down against his shoulder so he was able to whisper. “Men get to become heroes, Lothíriel; women have to be content with caring for them. It is the way of things but that does not mean you cannot wish for more. One day things may be different but in the meantime a little dreaming does no harm.”
“But they are different in Rohan; the Lady Éowyn became a heroine…”
Her father laughed out loud, “Lothíriel, do not think that being Queen of Rohan means you will be able to ride at the head of an éored waving a sword. It horrified Éomer that his sister rode to war, the idea that his wife would be allowed to do anything similar is absurd.”
She grinned at him. “I suppose so, and I would be useless anyway. But it will not be as restrictive as being the wife of some boring Gondorian nobleman.
“Lothíriel, I am a Gondorian nobleman. Am I that boring?”
“Oh,” her hand shot to her mouth, “I did not mean…” but she stopped when she saw her father trying to contain his amusement. Taking a deep breath she asked, “What’s he like?”
Nodding, she smiled at her father. “Oh I know about him being the ultimate warrior, the men told me that. And I know from Meren he’s attractive to women.” Her father raised a wry eyebrow at that remark which caused her to blush, but she saw the kindly light in his eyes and carried on. “I want to know what he’s really like.”
“You are happy about this marriage, aren’t you? I can read it in your eyes, your voice.”
How could she hope to fool him even for one short moment? “I know it sounds strange, silly even, but from the very first time I heard about him I had a really strong feeling that this would happen. That I wanted it to happen. And it could not have only been because of his brave deeds, others, our own knights, all did great things. When Meren gave me the picture I felt even more drawn to him…”
“She gave you a picture of Éomer?”
“Yes, when she told me you were going to try and arrange a match. And although I tried not to let myself become fixed on the prospect, deep down I knew you would be successful.”
“One could read all sorts of things into that, Lothíriel. There is no doubt that fate takes a hand in our lives but also maybe, without you really realising, your mind could have worked out that an alliance with Rohan makes perfect sense. What better way to achieve it than with the bonding of the Lord of the Mark to Gondor’s highest born lady.”
Lothíriel clamped her lips together not trusting herself to answer.
“Have I taken all of the romance out of it? I am sorry, I did not mean to.”
“No matter, from today I will have to start behaving like a Queen anyway,” she giggled suddenly, “or at least trying to.”
“Do not chastise yourself over your behaviour. You may still like to romp and spar with your brothers, but when it comes to it there is nothing wrong with your comportment on formal occasions. And while certain standards of behaviour will be expected of you, I had to assure Éomer that you were not a haughty Gondorian princess who would look down her long nose at him and his people.”
Her eyes opened wide, “Did you tell him much about me?”
“I left that to your brothers, they talk the same language.”
Best not to ask them what they said, instead, “You have not yet told me about Éomer.”
“Hmm…” her father sat up straight, looking out to sea. “Other than what you know I would say he is a mixture. A hardened warrior, but with a soft side. Never would he use his strength against those weaker than himself. And the honesty shines out of him, as it does out of most of the Rohirirrim. They are a straight thinking, plain speaking people. But that does not mean that Éomer is not blessed with a considerable amount of intelligence, he is. Also he has the sort of presence and personal power that makes
men want to follow him”
Much as she imagined him to be. Then aloud she said, “I am pleased, Father. I have always known my marriage would have little to do with romance, but I am happy to be going to Rohan and all I have heard of Éomer tells me he is a man to admire. I can ask for no more but…”
“But what, my dear.”
“No doubt I will meet him at Faramir’s wedding to his sister, a very public occasion. It will not be easy and I shall have to behave very correctly. Not the best way to get to know one’s future husband.”
“Lothíriel,” her father said with mild rebuke in his voice, “you surely know me better than that. I would not do that to you. No, we are going to Rohan in the early spring, a few weeks before Faramir’s wedding. It will serve a number of purposes: you and Éomer can get to know one another in the relative informality of Meduseld; you can learn from Éowyn how things are done in the Hall and you can help her with anything she needs to know about life as Faramir’s wife in Gondor. We will travel to Rohan under the Dimholt and back to Minas Tirith with the wedding party, taking the road over the shoulder of Halifirien and through Anórien. It will be a real adventure for you.”
Lothíriel hugged her journal to her chest again. A real adventure – she could still recall the tingling excitement she had felt when her father had told her of the arrangements. She had gone back to the palace in a daze. Anniel had taken one look at her face and let out a strangled groan. “I suppose the cat-that-got-the-cream expression means we are off to Rohan. Well, you had better order some thick woollen clothes; you will need more than lust to keep you warm in that place.”
Affronted at the time, she had later told Meren, who dissolved into her normal giggles saying a bit of healthy lust never hurt anyone, and she could not deny experiencing the sensation when she had first set eyes on Elphir.
Lothíriel chuckled, remembering her sister-in laws words but wondered if it could be counted unusual to feel such wanton thoughts when all one had was a picture. Anyway, it had not taken Anniel long to change her mind about Rohan, or actually – have it changed for her. But, she thumbed the thick book thoughtfully; there were many pages to go in her Journal before she got to that bit.
In fact, reactions to the news of her betrothal varied. Her brothers the most pleased, since they had had a hand in it. Lothíriel marvelled how they had managed to keep quiet about it for the twenty-four hours they had been home. But by then she had wanted very much to get to her room and to unlock the drawer that contained the drawing of Éomer. Amrothos, however, waylaid her.
“You have no idea how glad I am you got the prize, Loti …” He broke off when she scowled at him, they would insist on calling her that.
“Why are you that glad, Amrothos?” suspicion clouding her voice.
He tweaked her ear, grinning hugely. “I got massive odds in Minas Tirith because you weren’t there. No one else thought of putting their money on you. I shall have a lot to collect in the spring.”
“You bet on me!”
“Of course. Have you ever known our father miss an opportunity like that? It stood to reason that once Aragorn was spoken for he was bound to go for Éomer. And King of Rohan or not, he didn’t stand a chance against the Lord of Dol Amroth.”
Lothíriel felt her hand clench into a fist. Even thinking about it now she wanted to hit him, and if he hadn’t darted behind a statue of Imrazor and out of the door, she would have done so then. Her brother’s frequent past misdemeanours crowded her thoughts for a moment. How could she have decided he would have her best interests at heart? He’d probably throw the letter away. Rising from her seat and scattering the cushions, she took a step out of the arbour only to see the door to the garden opening slowly.
The rush of expectation withered as she saw Ina, one of the maids, come through the opening carrying a tray loaded with a jug, a beaker and two small saffron cakes. She caught sight of Lothíriel and smiled. “Ah, you are here, Princess, I have brought you something to drink. It’s such a hot afternoon.”
“Thank you, Ina.” Lothíriel took the tray from the maid, smelling the citrus tang of fresh lemonade. “Did Lady Anniel say I might be here?” Disappointment had given way to pleasure at the thought of a drink.
“No, Princess. Your brother, Prince Amrothos, suggested you might be thirsty and he thought you would be in your mother’s garden.”
“Yes, Princess, and he asked me to tell you that the messenger has not arrived yet but he will bring you your letter as soon as he does.”
“Oh,” that made her feel guilty for thinking so ill of him. Maybe Amrothos did have his good points.
Sitting back down she put her journal aside for a moment – not wanting to spill lemonade on it – and mused on the rest of that fateful day. Eventually she had managed to get to her room and unlock the drawer…
As before the image jumped off the page at her, the vibrancy of the drawing making her catch her breath. Not only had the artist captured the emotion in Éomer’s eyes put he had managed to portray the pure strength of the man. And not just his physical strength, but the raw power of him. Fascinated, she traced her finger over his face, wondering about the colour of his eyes. The picture gave no clue. Not grey, she thought, but maybe blue, or brown. A scant beard, the facial hair just framing his well shaped lips. The artist had smudged on a little ochre but it did not disguise the firm chin, or the slight kink in his nose. How strange that nearly all people had been blessed with the same basic features but they could be put together in so many different ways. In her opinion, Éomer’s had been put together brilliantly.
Leaving the likeness of her betrothed – betrothed, that had a good ring to it – she concentrated on the horse. Another powerful beast with liquid fire in his eyes. The sweat almost glistened on the tightened haunches and sparks flew from a hoof that pawed over the steel clad chest of a trampled Southron. Again the artist had caught the very essence of his subjects – horse and warrior were moulded as one.
Her thirst quenched for a moment Lothíriel picked up her journal again. Another night when the words had been difficult to write…
Entry for 1st October 3019
‘Am I nothing but a fool to wish so much for my life to change, for there to be some purpose to it? No, not for that, perhaps, but to expect other than a marriage of political alliance, to yearn for a loving and passionate bond – a fool indeed. I must put these thoughts away, for I will be Queen of Rohan, and wife to a man that I not only admire but who has helped to ensure the very future of Middle-earth. May the Valar help me to be worthy of the honour.’
To be continued – when Aunt Ivriniel decides to give her niece advice about marriage
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.