7. Lothiriel's Journal 6
Lothíriel wondered if she would always feel that shiver of excitement when she thought of her first sighting of the men of Rohan. Closing her eyes, she sent herself back to that unforgettable morning on the Ered Nimrais: she had no trouble bringing the picture to mind…
Unfamiliar in their dark green cloaks and long fair hair, but familiar in the manner they held themselves. Alerted by the sound of horses they stood tensed with hands gripping sword hilts, as her small group swept around the bend in the road. Only relaxing when they recognised the blue and silver banner of Dol Amroth.
“A welcome party… or more likley Éomer’s reconnaissance.” Erchirion sounded amused as he held up his hand and kicked his mount to the front to meet the Rider who strolled leisurely towards them.
“Prince Erchirion, we were not expecting you from that direction.” The man smiled. At least, half his face smiled. The other half twisted into a grimace as skin stretched by an old scar splitting his left cheek, refused to move. But he met their gaze straight on, with just a bob of his head in deference to their rank.
Her brother jumped from his horse and clasped the warrior’s arm in genuine pleasure. Erchirion towered above the stocky Rohir, but the man looked as if he’d have no trouble holding his own against the taller prince. “Eorllic, you old warhorse. It’s good to see you. What are you doing hanging around here?”
Eorllic jerked his head to the right where a slight opening could be discerned through some scrubby bushes. “Éothain and Éomer King have gone to have a scout about.”
Hearing that, Lothíriel slid off her horse, handing the reins to a guard. “What’s happening, Erchirion?”
“Let’s go and see.”
But she shook her head, “I’ll stay here and have a look at the horses for a moment.” She certainly did not want to come across her betrothed in any embarrassing circumstances. In her experience men usually disappeared into bushes for one thing only.
Erchirion grinned, catching on. “Look after my sister, Eorllic. I will go and see what they are up to.”
The Rohir nodded, smoothing his neat beard between thumb and forefinger pensively. “Looks like I get to meet the princess before our King. I’m not sure he will like that.” He didn’t seem bothered by the prospect and shrugged, fixing bright blue eyes on her. “But I reckon he will like it well enough when he does get a look at you, my lady.”
Lothíriel felt herself blushing under the man’s blatant scrutiny, not to mention all the rest of the Rohan guards who were unashamedly staring at her. “Ha,” Erchirion laughed, “your first encounter with Rohirric directness, Loti. You’d better get used to it.”
Lothíriel took a deep breath, determined not to show any nerves or embarrassment, “Is that King Éomer’s stallion, Eorllic?” She imagined it must, being the only one with the White Horse of Rohan emblazoned on its saddlecloth, “Perhaps I will introduce myself, since his master is not here.”
“Just go careful, my lady. Firefoot takes instant likes and dislikes to people. But he’s usually gentle with the fairer sex.”
Luckily the huge stallion took an immediate liking to the piece of carrot Lothíriel had in her pocket. Knowing there would be a lot of horses around, she had thought it prudent to procure a few titbits. Firefoot – she’d heard his name before from her brothers, nudged into her looking for more carrot. However, not wanting to soil her clothing before being introduced to Éomer, she thanked the young Rider in charge of him and reluctantly pulled away.
“I imagine it’s safe to go after my brother, now.” Lothíriel gave the watching men a half smile and removing her gloves, followed Erchirion into the bushes. Maybe it would be better to meet him with a smaller audience.
She could hear voices – a strange one asking, “And where is your sister now?” It must be Éomer – a deep voice, but not enough words spoken for her to form any impression. And in reply she heard her brother starting to explain she was looking at the horses, but before he had finished she emerged from the bushes onto an open plateau.
Erchirion had his back to her, but facing her were two men, one of whom she recognised immediately. Hardly surprising, as she had been looking at his likeness every day for nearly six months. Éomer’s eyes opened wide, something like revelation written all over his face, “Princess Lothíriel…” His gaze went to her face, dropped to the area of her breasts and then returned to her face.
Ignoring his rude appraisal of her – in fact quite enjoying it – Lothíriel extended her hand with a slight bob of her head. A curtsey would be inelegant wearing riding dress. He took her slightly trembling fingers and brought his lips down to connect with the back of her hand. Not brushing his lips over the skin like a Gondorian would have done, but pressing them firmly against her flesh. A tingle went all the way up her arm, causing her to catch her breath. The unfamiliar sensation, understandable nerves, and the fact that she saw he had a piece of twig caught in his hair, nearly made her break into a giggle. That was until Éomer raised his head and his gaze connected with hers – hazel – his eyes were hazel. But amongst the hazel were little specks of green and gold – the colours of Rohan in his eyes. She froze. He still held her hand. Should she drop her gaze; a man had never looked at her with such intensity before. Just as she was starting to feel uncomfortable the corners of his mouth turned up and the smile reached his eyes, which made the gold bits glitter and twinkle. Lothíriel relaxed and her own lips curved in response, but Erchirion interrupted their frail connection —
“You had better be very sure about this, Loti,” Her brother managed to sound amused and haughty at the same time. “I do believe your betrothed has spent the last half hour ogling your worthy companion.”
Éomer’s eyebrows drew together slightly and a puckered frown appeared as he struggled to say something. Lothíriel recognised guilt when she saw it – she’d had plenty of practice with Amrothos. Realising that her father’s camp lay below the escarpment she did wonder for a moment if Erchirion was right. However the explanation that came from Éomer’s captain, sounded even more unlikely.
“My Lady Princess.” A quick bow accompanied his gruff tones. “Éomer King is probably too embarrassed to say, but he thought to bring you a gift.”
“Éothain!” Éomer’s voice held a veiled warning.
“No, go on, Éothain. We would like to hear about this gift, wouldn’t we Loti?”
Lothíriel could tell Erchirion was enjoying himself, so she said nothing, but Éomer breathed out thorough his nostrils in an audible sigh, resignation written all over his face. She knew instinctively that he had no idea what gift Éothain was talking about. Intrigued, she waited as Éothain’s eyes travelled around the grassy plateau, coming to rest on a large clump of Spring Gentians, glowing iridescent in the bright sunlight. “Flowers, he wanted to pick you a bunch of flowers, my lady. The blue will go with your dress.”
The King of Rohan opened his mouth but only a faint strangled noise came out. Her brother, on the other hand, drew air between his teeth as he managed to contain his initial response and said with only a hint of mirth. “What a lovely idea, Éomer. We will wait while you pick them. I would hate my sister to be disappointed.”
Éomer stood transfixed, but Lothíriel noticed the fingers of his right hand flexing. Probably deciding who to hit first, she thought as she studied him. From his mass of tawny hair to his mud splattered boots, from his tooled-leather vambraces to the burnished hauberk that hung beneath his embroidered woollen tunic, from the top of the knife she could see protruding from one boot to the heavy weapon suspended on his hip, every inch of him – and there were many of them – proclaimed the warrior. For the second time her gaze locked with that of her betrothed. The appeal in his eyes had to be answered. The idea of this rugged king picking her a bunch of flowers in front of such a receptive audience as the captain of his guard and her satirical brother, could not be countenanced.
Lothíriel smiled, fleetingly touching Éomer’s arm in a gesture of solidarity. “My Lord King, I am flattered. But perhaps it would be better to leave the gentians where they are. They look so beautiful: a bold splash of colour amongst the grass. They will soon wilt and die if they are picked; I beg you let them live.”
Her words roused the King of Rohan from his stupor, a lazy grin transforming his mutinous expression into one of benevolence, “Never go against a lady’s wishes, Éothain.” He offered Lothíriel his arm, but not before he rewarded her with a conspiratorial wink. “We had best be going, my lady, if you wish to sleep under a roof rather than canvas tonight. We are much later than I intended.”
Lothíriel’s reverie was violently interrupted as something streaked past her sitting place. The fleeting impression of grey-brown feathers and the panicked shrieking from the flock of small birds told her that a sparrow-hawk had launched a raid. By the time she had put down her journal and gone to look it was too late to see if the aerial predator had been successful. The flock had disappeared from the edge of the pond, an indignant chattering in the nearby bushes the only evidence of their presence in the garden. Sighing at the brutality of nature, Lothíriel returned to her seat, tuning her mind to the Ered Nimrais again. Éomer had launched an attack that day – an attack on her heart. From the moment he had taken her arm, winked at her and whispered a grateful ‘thank you’, she had been lost.
And the assault on her senses had continued for the rest of that day. The magnificent vistas that could be enjoyed from the high mountain passes, the long cold journey under the Dimholt, even the decent from Dunharrow down the famous Stair, paled to insignificance when compared to the effect the Lord of the Mark had on her. The way he held himself, the lightness of his hands on the reins, his deep melodious voice, his easy discourse with her and everyone else, plus the fact that she considered him even handsomer that she had imagined from the likeness she had been given, all contributed to the total surrender of her heart. Not that she had let him see it of course. Anniel and Meren had agreed on that, they did not advocate her falling at his feet straight away. Lothíriel grinned to herself; Anniel had soon succumbed to his charms, though. Not being proof against the charisma of a young king who when introduced had taken her hand to his lips with practised aplomb and showed such concern for her welfare at the end of a tiring journey. Her worthy companion even gone so far as to say that Rohan, was not as bad as she’d feared, when they finally reached their destination that night and received another warm welcome from their host, the Lord of Harrowdale.
Lothíriel knew she also had also responded to Éomer from the first, but her training as a princess had allowed her to keep up interesting and polite conversation, to show pleasure in her betrothed’s company, without giving away her complete capitulation. She’d just wished she’d known what he had thought of her that first day, and she had mulled it over in her journal.
‘Éomer seemed in an extraordinary good mood. He laughed and joked with my father and brothers, treated Anniel extremely kindly and generally gave the impression that he was pleased with the arrangements that had been made for his future. Sometimes I felt his eyes on me and looked up to encounter a rather preoccupied expression, but then he would smile as he caught my eye and his face would light up as if mirroring some inner amusement, in which I was invited to share. My first impressions of my future husband convinced me that all my instincts had been correct and no better match could have been found for me. How lucky I am to be promised to so fine a man, whom I will be proud to support in the difficult role he finds himself. It cannot be easy for one so young to rule but I feel the depth of his personality and commanding presence will aid him in this. There is no doubt he has the respect and affection of his men, over whom he holds total sway whilst still being able to join in their banter.
I hope he considers me to be a good choice of queen to stand at his side, I shall certainly try to be worthy and am prepared to pledge my life to Rohan, her king and her people.’
She had certainly gone to bed that first night in Rohan hugging herself with excitement, not quite believing that life could be so good to her.
Lothíriel glanced up, checking the position of the sun. The afternoon waned, she still had a lot to read, and the messenger still had not come. Surely he would be here by nightfall? She didn’t think she could wait another day to find out if Éomer had actually put more in his letter than the state of the harvest and the progress he was making with her horse. She thumbed through her Journal; there was so much that she would just have to pick out the important bits. She turned over the page with the description of her arrival in Edoras and her welcome in Meduseld, looking for the entry she had made about her impressions of Éowyn, but her eye alighted on something else.
Entry for 8th March 3020
‘When we reached the Royal Stables in Edoras it surprised me to see the way Eorllic assisted Anniel from her horse. He held on to her for much longer than necessary, keeping his arm around her waist as she reached the ground. She did not try to pull away and in fact giggled like a young girl. So many men and horses filled the stable yard that I doubt she thought anyone noticed her coquetry. I discovered during our journey that Eorllic holds the position of second-in command to Éothain in Éomer’s guard and because of this was made responsible for Anniel during the dark ride under the mountain. Therefore I would not have thought her behaviour worthy of comment had it not been for the interesting occurrence this evening.’
Lothíriel remembered how pleased she had been to find that a feast had been arranged to welcome them that first evening in Meduseld. The journey from Harrowdale did not take long so there had been time for a good rest and for Éowyn to be able to give her a short tour of the Hall before they all gathered for the evening meal. But it was not the food that remained in her mind, or even the songs that were sung throughout the meal, it was the dancing afterward that she could not forget.
Not surprisingly, as it was the first time she had felt Éomer’s arms around her. The Rohirric dances were such fun, and even more so because at first she kept stumbling and had to be stopped from falling by her betrothed. But she had soon learnt the steps and whirling around the hall in the arms of a man she already had started developing feelings for – had to be memorable. When she had wilted eventually at the end of a long day, Éomer had pulled her to the side and sent someone to fetch her a drink. They stood in comfortable silence for a moment watching the dancing until Anniel romped past, partnered with Eorllic.
“Your companion seems to be enjoying herself.” Éomer said.
“Yes, she likes dancing.” Lothíriel wondered if she dared ask him if he had been spying on her father’s camp, but he beat her to it.
“She’s a very nice lady, but I admit to being relieved when you appeared behind your brother.”
“You were spying!” Lothíriel accused him. Then she suddenly realised the significance of what he had said. “Did you think she was me?” He didn’t answer, but she could tell from his face that he did. “Surely you realised at once that she wasn’t. She’s a good few years older than me, in fact even older than you.”
“Well, I did when I thought about it, of course.”
She wasn’t convinced; the look he gave her was too bland and innocent to be believed, but at that moment something else caught her attention. Anniel and Eorllic had stopped to rest not far from where she and Éomer were standing, they were half hidden from those in the main part of the hall by a pillar, but not from them. Lothíriel made a mew of astonishment as Eorllic’s hand slid from Anniel’s waist to her behind, lingered there for a few moments and then gave the rounded cheek a firm squeeze. Lothíriel was not so much amazed that he did it; but more surprised that Anniel instead of admonishing him leaned against him and whispered something in his ear. Whatever she said caused the man to smile.
“I wonder what Eorllic got up to in that tunnel.”
Éomer sounded genuinely interested rather than shocked or surprised and for a moment Lothíriel wondered what to say. She didn’t want to sound prudish, but neither did she like to give the impression it was normal behaviour for Anniel or herself. “I don’t know why she has that effect on men. The baker is always trying to do that sort of thing to her but she always bats his hand away. Once she stamped on his foot.”
Éomer burst out laughing, causing everyone in the vicinity to look around. Lothíriel blushed as she met nods and smiles. No doubt it looked good for them to be laughing together. Éomer grinned at her, “It looks like Eorllic is having better luck, but he wouldn’t worry, anyway. He likes a challenge.”
Lothíriel just hoped the man would get a challenge. From what she had seen the battle was almost won. Not that that stopped her speaking to Anniel about it when she came in to say goodnight.
“You and the King looked like you were getting on, Lothíriel. I have to admit he’s a handsome man in the flesh.”
She couldn’t deny that. Or that he was easy to talk to, but she couldn’t really tell what he thought of her. He seemed happy enough but could just be being polite. However, she wanted to discuss something else. “I imagine Eorllic was a good looking man too, until he received that nasty wound, Anniel. You seemed to be enjoying his company.” Lothíriel stared as a tell-tell flush of colour suffused the older woman’s face and she turned away to hide it. “Anniel,” Lothíriel declared, “You are blushing. Mind you, I am not surprised after what I witnessed in the hall.”
“I don’t know what you saw,” Anniel retorted her face still pink. “But it would have been nothing improper.”
“I’d say him squeezing your bottom to be very improper.” Lothíriel answered tartly.
Anniel’s lips quivered under the pretended outrage of her charge. “It was only a little squeeze.”
Lothíriel giggled. “Come on, tell me all the details.”
Anniel dropped her head, rather coyly. “There is nothing to tell. He is a good man who likes a bit of fun and relishes a dance. Maybe I will get to know him a bit more and maybe I won’t. In case you are wondering, my girl, a squeeze is one thing – anything else is a liberty and won’t be tolerated.”
And that was all she could get out of Anniel that night, but it became obvious that a relationship had formed between her companion and the Rohir. How far it had developed Lothíriel did not know and decided it best not to enquire, but the two spent a great deal of time in each other’s company. Lothíriel grinned, unexpected happenings often had consequences and the outcome of that friendship was that she would not be going to Rohan alone. When Éomer had suggested Lothíriel might like Anniel’s companionship during her first few months as queen, the idea had been welcomed with enthusiasm from Anniel as well as herself. But Anniel could not be drawn as to whether she would be staying there permanently.
The Rohirrim were not as easy to read as her father had intimated, Lothíriel thought. It sounded as though Eorllic might not have made his intentions plain, and as for Éomer – well his intentions were obviously honourable but as for his feelings – she didn’t have a lot to go on.
Entry for 18th March 3020
‘I have been here nearly two weeks and have fallen in love with Lord and Land. The Lord of the Mark is now the Lord of my Heart. Tonight our official betrothal was announced and he embraced me in front of all the assembled guests. A gentle chaste salutation worthy of Belecthor, but how I longed for him to sweep me off my feet and cover my willing lips with passionate kisses. Apart from the lack of any real display of ardour, I cannot fault his behaviour toward me. He has been by my side as we have ridden across the plains of the Riddermark and partnered me on every evening when dancing has been instigated. He has taken me to see the Royal Herds and asked that he be allowed to pick and train a horse for my bridal gift, rather than I choose myself. He wishes to allow himself the pleasure of presenting such a marvellous gift and witnessing my delight with his choice.’
Lothíriel sighed; she had waited a long time for that first kiss and had begun to wonder if Éomer found her desirable at all. How awful to be married to a man who kept up a show of politeness but had no real feeling toward her. But the first kiss had reassured her. That is, she had felt happy enough until that difficult time in Minas Tirith. Now a slight worry lurked in the recesses of her mind. If only the letter would arrive.
To be continued – when we find out what Éomer wrote in the letter.
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.