33. Chapter 33
The two men circled warily, each waiting for the other to give. Suddenly Erchirion lunged with lightening speed, but instantly Éomer cut his own sword underneath, blocking the move and trying to force his opponent backward. It was like trying to shift a mûmak, Erchirion might not be as tall as Éomer, but he outweighed him. Lothíriel drew her eyes away, she didn’t really want to watch them slogging it out, and they were so evenly matched it usually went on for ages. So far the honours were even, the last two months providing plenty of opportunity for her brother and her betrothed to knock the stuffing out of one another. In skill, there was little to choose between them.
Instead, she looked over to where one of Éomer’s guards sat on an upturned bucket whilst Master Éofor stitched his arm. The practice swords were supposed to be blunt, but rough edges could still break the skin. Concentrating on his task, Éofor ignored the grimaces of pain from his patient. The healer was an intransigent man, who, as Éomer had predicted, looked askance at the thought of a young woman having anything to do with battle wounds.
“I bet your stitches are neater.” Byrde whispered in her ear.
“I don’t think that will make much difference to his patient.”
“No, perhaps not.” Byrde smothered a giggle behind her hand. The grizzled warrior had so many scars one more was unlikely to be noticed.
Lothíriel stared at the healer for a moment, and let out a sigh. “It’s a pity Master Éofor isn’t as enlightened as Master Sigeweard at the Hornburg; he has already agreed to send a novice to Dol Amroth.”
“Ah…” Byrde said with another giggle, “but Lady Winfrith rules the Hornburg.”
How true, even Lord Erkenbrand bowed to her. Welwyn’s mother had appeared dour until one got to know her. Not surprisingly, in Lothíriel’s opinion. She had watched the Westfold burn under Saruman’s assault, lived through that awful battle thinking her husband dead, and tended her daughter who had been mortally wounded by foul vermin. Perhaps it was because Welwyn had been saved by Aragorn that made her so supportive of Lothíriel’s hopes of improving the training of healers in the Mark.
“I really like Lady Winfrith.”
“Oh, so do I. A sensible lady.” Byrde pulled a face. “But I am glad I was not brought up in that draughty castle.”
“Hmm…. I imagine it is cold in winter, but all the stone was a blessed relief after the heat of the journey.”
“Fun though!” Byrde said. “We had some lovely evenings around the campfire.”
Lothíriel nodded agreement, as a particularly loud grunt made her remember Éomer. Swinging her eyes to him resulted in a stomach-clenching surge of desire. She took a breath to steady herself, staring at her betrothed. It didn’t look as if he and Erchi had made much headway, except that they were now covered with a film of sweat. Both only wore leather jerkins on their top halves, but she was only interested in one set of deep brown arms – they stretched, muscled and taut, between the sleeveless jerkin and the leather vambraces. He had tied his hair back, which made him look older, but gave her the chance to observe the shape of his face. She loved it: rugged but not too much, the strong jaw nicely softened by his neat beard. The sculpted planes of his cheeks glistened in the heat, and his eyes were dark with concentration, absorbed in the struggle to beat his opponent. Warrior, first and last. Lothíriel felt a movement, and Welwyn sat down beside her. Throwing her a quick smile, Welwyn leant forward and put her elbows on the wooden shuttering that surrounded the practice ground to give her attention to the ongoing bouts.
Staring at the battling combatants again, Lothíriel shuddered at the sheer power of them, as sword struck against sword. They weren’t the only ones fighting, two other pairs pounded the dust on the other side of the ring, more big men who, when needed, could wield death with gruesome proficiency. It was almost unbelievable that Welwyn had stood between Éomer and Éothain in the caverns at Helm’s Deep. But she had, because Éomer had shown her exactly where. Out of all the things she had seen and done in the past two months, the visit to the Hornburg ranked amongst the most memorable. The close friendship that Éomer and Aragorn now enjoyed had been sparked into life on those battlements, to be nurtured to maturity over the following weeks of war. But glad as she was to have seen the place where so few had defied the hordes of Isengard, for her, the journey had been the most awe inspiring.
It had left her with a myriad of impressions: vast plains of grasses burnt yellow by the sun; rugged mountains and tumbling streams. A land of proud, strong people, living in villages that clustered in the fertile valleys of the White Mountains, isolated from each other by high, rocky ridges that only the goats called home. And everywhere she had been welcomed; these people were fiercely loyal to their king. In Minas Tirith she had not fully realised the sway Éomer held over his land, in Rohan his rule was absolute.
Another glance showed her that Healer Éofor had not finished. Not a quick man, and if he dithered too much over whether to send a second novice home with her, Éomer would decide for him. He had no problem forcing his will on others when necessary. But what his people gave to him in the form of loyalty, he gave back in service. He took his duties very seriously, spending part of each day when they were in Meduseld answering letters and requests, or sitting in counsel with his advisors. It gave her the opportunity to take lessons with one of the scribes, and her Rohirric was improving. But with so many Gondorians as guests Westron was continually spoken in the Hall, so she saw no chance of being really fluent until she took up residence permanently.
She must have let out an audible sigh, because Welwyn looked around, and Byrde touched her arm.
“What was that for?”
“The time has gone so quickly!” It had flown past, she hadn’t even got to Aldburg, because Elphir had wanted to take the chance of seeing Helm’s Deep during his visit. He’d returned home in time for the birth of his second child, by now she most likely had a new niece or nephew. And as much as that called her, it paled beside the wrench of leaving Éomer.
“I have to leave in three days,” she said, hardly able to keep the despondency from her voice.
Welwyn smiled sympathetically, her face had tanned in the summer sun, leaving the paler scar a glaring reminder of terrible times. But growing confidence in herself and her approaching motherhood had overcome any embarrassment. “We must make them a good three days; the kitchens have already started preparing for the feast.”
Lothíriel wasn’t sure leaving merited any celebration.
“And we must also celebrate the birth of the heir to Gondor.” Byrde shook her head laughing. “I thought the Errand Rider had come to tell us a second war had been declared, the way he swept through the gates. He passed me on the hill still at a canter.”
“And the way he strode down the hall,” Welwyn agreed. “I have never seen such a flourish of a bow before. I was sure Éomer was being called to ride.”
“Well, Eldarion’s birth is certainly of importance to my people,” Lothíriel felt obliged to point out.
Welwyn nodded. “So, we will make it a night to remember. After all, Lothíriel, it will be the last proper dancing you will get until you are back with us. Your dances are so staid.”
Romantic though, Lothíriel couldn’t help remembering the dreamy time she had enjoyed with Éomer in Minas Tirith. Byrde and Welwyn must have caught her thought, because a look passed between them and they started chuckling.
Lothíriel joined in. And Rohirric dancing was fun, wild reels, accompanied by lots of clapping and stamping, they left you gulping for breath and needing a drink. But even if she and Éomer went outside, so did everyone else. In fact, the times she had been close to him, or been alone with him during her visit, had been very infrequent. The most intimate contact enjoyed on quiet evenings, sitting on the seats outside the hall watching the sun going down, doing no more than holding hands and talking. True, he hadn’t objected to her brothers’ self made rules. She sighed, to herself this time. The lion had gone to sleep again, but how she longed for the right to wake him. That thought pushed her gaze back to the ring.
They were still fighting! How ever did they keep it up for so long in this warm weather? Now dust from the dry ground had stuck to the sweat. Why he looked so magnificent in such a state, Lothíriel couldn’t quite work out. She only hoped neither would get injured, but they would certainly wind up black and blue. She swivelled round to check on Master Éofor, wondering if he would be needed again: he had finished the stitching, the upturned bucket waiting for the next victim. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Amroth stroll back through the gate that led to the stables, she’d last seen him sitting not far from her. His turn next in the ring, but perhaps he had become bored waiting and gone to look at the new horses.
“I’ve brought you a drink, my lady.”
“Oh, thank you, Mother.” Byrde responded before Lothíriel could react, jumping up she took a pottery cup from the wooden tray.
“Thank you,” Lothíriel said as Byrde passed it to her. “And thank you, Lady Byrhtwyn, but a servant could have brought this.” She sipped the elderflower cordial, cool and refreshing. She couldn’t persuade Byrhtwyn to be less formal with her.
“Oh… it keeps me busy. And I would have come anyway, a messenger came in from Aldburg, and Wilflede has replied to my letter.”
“And…?” said Byrde, as she passed Welwyn a drink.
Ignoring her daughter, Byrhtwyn smiled at Lothíriel. “Young Hulde has jumped at the offer of becoming your handmaiden, my lady. But as I said, what will do in a camp in Gondor, will not pass for the Golden Hall. So Wilflede says she will take her training in hand over the winter, and then she can come here for a few weeks before travelling south with the wedding party.”
“Oh, that is good, thank you both.” Lothíriel replied, genuinely pleased. “I will write to Wilflede before I go home. It is one more thing settled.”
“Ana is a nice girl, but I think it’s better for you to have a Rohirric maid.” Welwyn put in.” There will be lots of little things you might need explaining.”
Lothíriel concurred with that. Like the time she had opened her door to find a long line of men outside, one even clutching a chicken. Somehow Éomer had forgotten to tell her it was the day when the citizens could request a private audience with him. “Well, Ana doesn’t want to come back. She has enjoyed the experience, but has made it clear she considers Dol Amroth to be her home. I wouldn’t force her.”
“No,” Byrde agreed. “Much better to have someone willing.”
“It’s a shame I did not get to Aldburg. I would have liked to have seen Éomer’s old home, and met up with Wilflede again.”
“Well, if we are going to Ithilien after your wedding, we will be coming back that way. I am sure we can stay a couple of nights,” Byrde said.
“Yes, I am looking forward to that.” Especially the journey home, when she could actually share a tent with Éomer. They’d done a lot of camping during her visit and she’d been so envious of Déor and Byrde, sharing with Ana couldn’t compare. Her anguish spilled out. “It’s such a long time away.”
“It will pass quickly, don’t you worry, my lady.” Byrhtwyn gave her a sympathetic smile. “Once Yule’s over, there’s only a few weeks until Éomer King will be leaving to fetch his bride.”
At that moment a horse’s loud shriek reverberated across the open ring, and then an angry, neighing challenge matched it.
“Sounds like a couple of stallions facing off. Nothing new there!” Welwyn stood on tiptoe looking towards the stables.
Many heads turned as the noise of wood being kicked by powerful hooves rose above the clash of steel. Lothíriel glanced back at the ring, nothing looked to have changed, but then there was a further thunderous shriek from the stables, and Erchirion’s sword was at Éomer’s throat.
“Oh, dear.” A voice came from behind her. “Rohan has lost its king, again.”
Lothíriel swung around, meeting Amroth’s laughing black eyes. “Erchi’s only one ahead, and I bet those horses distracted Éomer.”
“Really! A warrior should ignore all around him. Even his own horse.”
“How do you know it was Firefoot?” Lothíriel stared at her brother for a moment, she knew that look. “Amroth, what have you been up to? And what were you doing in the stables?”
He leaned close to her ear. “Oh, I got bored of waiting for my turn, they could be at it all day. So I went to give orders for my new mare to be led around for a bit, she needed to stretch her legs.”
Lothíriel frowned. “But you said this morning you thought it might be her sweet-time.”
“It’s difficult to tell with an unfamiliar mare.” His straight face lasted only a moment before it dissolved into a roguish grin. “No doubt about it now, though.”
Lothíriel opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Surprise rendered her speechless. No guessing needed as to where the mare had been led.
“Amroth, are you ready?” Déor yelled from the ring.
With a grin to her, Amroth jumped lightly over the shuttering, and strode across to the armourer to collect a sword.
Still in shock, she glared after him. What could she say to Éomer? Should she say anything to him? Amroth would have known only too well that the merest flicker of Éomer’s eyes in any other direction than his opponent would have allowed Erchi the chink he needed. And Firefoot had provided that chink. Would Éomer be mad? For the moment he had disappeared, she knew he would have gone to the cistern between the practice ground and the stables to wash off.
But it suddenly struck her he would have made for the stables first. Firefoot was his friend, his companion, his fellow warrior. What happened to him affected his master; Amroth knew that well, the toad. The horses were the lifeblood of Rohan, as Éomer had been keen to show her, taking her on another wonderful journey, to see the herds. They had followed the northern bank of the Snowbourne before heading for the Entwade. A ride through a lush grove of alders, willows and birches, until leaving the river they took off along tracks that cut swathes through the rustling grasses to meet with the herders as Éomer had arranged. The foals, it was the foals she would remember, long legged and sweet smelling, and the stallions, proud and intractable with deadly hooves and fierce eyes.
She just hoped Éomer didn’t have fierce eyes when he reappeared. Well, it was nothing to do with her, Amroth could look after himself. She watched her brother and Déor for a while, another evenly matched pair, their sword play fast and clever.
Lothíriel sat back – Byrde had her eyes glued on her husband; Welwyn had spotted Éothain on the opposite side of the ring getting ready to compete, she settled to watch; Lady Byrhtwyn collected the cups and moved away. Not interested in the ring anymore, Lothíriel looked again in the direction from which she expected Éomer to come.”
“Looking for someone?”
“Oh!” She nearly jumped out of her skin. Lothíriel got to her feet quickly, turned around and…Sweet Elbereth, her eyes were caught by the half-open jerkin, the glimpse of muscled chest and the curls of golden hair. A wave of heat suffused her, flushing her face. Quickly she lifted her eyes, to meet lips twitching with amusement.
Wet! He was wet! All of him. He must have taken off the leather jerkin and boots and plunged in the cistern wearing only his hose. The leather band untied, his hair flowed down his back, damp and heavy, like thick honey. Droplets of water still glistened on his arms. Lothíriel ran her tongue over her lips, she had to say something. His eyes glittered – annoyance, or something else, she did not know.
“I’m sorry you lost.”
“Are you?” An eyebrow quirked.
“But you will have the chance to get even again,” she ventured.
Éomer folded his arms across his splendid chest. “Out of interest, which one of your brothers do you suggest I get even with?”
She dropped her eyes, although why should she feel guilty? Only because she and Amroth tended to look out for one another. “You’ve been to the stables?”
“Before I cleaned up. I wanted to find out why my stallion was all fired up when he should have been peacefully dozing.”
“Éomer I…” but she didn’t get any further because he burst out laughing.
“Lothíriel… your face!” He doubled over, chuckling. Heads swivelled around in interest. “Were you going to make excuses for Amroth?” Her mouth opened but nothing came out. “Please don’t trouble yourself, my love.”
“You don’t mind?” she managed.
“I am not saying I shall not think of some interesting retribution, but ingenuity should always be admired. And he has taught me two valuable lessons.”
“Oh…” she breathed out in relief. “What are they?” she asked with a quick smile.
“One is that I didn’t think I could be distracted from the task in hand. I can, and it won’t happen again.”
“And the other?”
“Never underestimate the bond between siblings.”
The soft murmurs of conversation, and the gentle melody being played on a lyre, were in stark contrast to the riotous frivolities of the feast the night before. But the early start the next morning was not the only reason for the lack of the normal laughter and fun that characterised a typical evening in Meduseld. Éomer’s unusual moroseness must have affected the rest of the household, in spite of those on the dais trying to keep up a pretence of cheerfulness.
Lothíriel just wanted the meal to end. She thought it would have been better to have had the feast tonight, despite the need to leave at dawn. Yet if this weren’t her last evening she would be enjoying it, she had loved the quiet meals with the minstrels playing, the hall darkening as the sun slipped behind the mountains. Meduseld came alive in the candlelight. With sconces placed to light the tapestries, the flickering flames gave movement to the many figures – armies marched down the side of the hall; horses reared; iron-helmed men clashed swords, and the yellow hair of Eorl the Young really did appear to blow in the wind as he blew his great horn.
In the middle of her reverie, Éomer stood up. So suddenly, it surprised even her. Everyone on the dais struggled to their feet. Napkins fell to the floor, somebody choked trying to swallow the food in his mouths, a goblet got hit over. Those in the body of the hall followed suit, the whole household and guests rising in response to the King’s unexpected move, accompanied by a cacophony of scraped chairs and coughing.
Éomer took her hand as she got to her feet; she just managed to wipe her mouth. Not that she had eaten much. “What are you doing?”
The eyes that had been dark and grim all evening, softened to their normal blue. “Just come with me, no questions.”
She nodded, and Éomer pushed back her chair. Her brothers half-turned to find out what was going on, their chins immediately went up in question.
Éomer’s fingers tightened on her hand and his voice came out as hard as steel. “I am going to spend some time with your sister. The next time we will be alone she will be my wife.”
Amroth looked as though he was going to argue, but in the face of an icy stare he eventually nodded. A good thing really, in the circumstances, Lothíriel decided. So far, the only retaliation for the Firefoot incident had been Éomer arranging for him to be introduced to every toothless granny, and pigtailed young girl, who fancied dancing with a prince. But he’d better not push his luck.
A hundred eyes followed their walk down the hall. “Slow down,” she whispered.
“Sorry.” Another squeeze of her hand. Her face must be bright red, the only thing was to shut her mind to everyone around. But oh, the cool air felt good when they got outside.
“Where are we going?”
Éomer chuckled, already he sounded a lot happier than he had all evening. “The stables. It is the only place we have any possibility of being alone. Other than my bedchamber, of course, which I have to admit is extremely tempting.”
“Oh.” He couldn’t! Surely he couldn’t mean…
Another chuckle and he pulled her sideways, kissing the top of her head. “Don’t worry, I just want to kiss you properly, and say goodbye. I have decided that I need something to remember over the next few months, and something to anticipate.”
He’d decided! What about her…?
“You don’t mind, do you?”
No, of course she didn’t mind… She shook her head. “I would like to say goodbye properly.”
A little light still remained in the sky, the marbled clouds back-lit by an orange glow. Already Edoras settled for sleep, the candles out in many houses. Somewhere a baby wailed, a door banged shut, a tom-cat shrieked, Éomer said nothing more, hurrying her along the path to the stables. They met no one other than an inquisitive dog, shooed away with a curt word. Lothíriel said nothing either, concentrating on not tripping on the cobbles in the gloom, she wished he’d slow down a bit.
Full of activity in the day, the stable-yard looked abandoned, but as Éomer put his hand on the gate a guard appeared from the shadows. A few words spoken in Rohirric, too fast and low for her to understand, and he disappeared again. Éomer pulled on her hand. “Come on. He says there’s only one lad on duty, the rest are at supper.”
On duty, and right near the entrance! The poor boy whirled around as the heavy door was flung open in Éomer’s impatience. He stood open-mouthed, bucket in hand as his king explained in a few words that his presence was not required. At least that must have been the gist of it because the lad left in a hurry, still clutching the bucket. Warm and sweet smelling, Lothíriel breathed in the familiar smell of horses and hay, letting her eyes adjust to the half-light. Éomer closed the doors, and then leant back against them, locking them with his bulk. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close.
But she placed a hand on his chest. “We ought to speak to the horses, they’ll know we are here.”
“Later!” His arms held her tighter. She had no option but to relax against him, feeling the beat of his heart against her breast. His chin rested on her head.
“I have been thinking about this all day. By the time we sat down at the table the thought of kissing you, or worse, not kissing you, was driving me mad.”
But he did nothing other than hold her for what seemed like an age. She savoured the wonderful contact, until wanting more, she slowly moved her head back and lifted her eyes. Past loose laces through which she could see a cream undershirt – no prospect of a glimpse of that lovely chest now – until they reached the red embroidery on the collar of his tunic where a pulse throbbed in his neck. Her scrutiny must have amused him because when her gaze landed on his lips, they curved into a lazy smile. Lothíriel swallowed, she’d go mad herself soon. “Well, kiss me then.”
“With pleasure, my love.” Éomer pushed himself up straight, his hands sliding from her back to rest lightly on her sides. He ran them upwards over her breasts, his thumbs finding her nipples. She gasped as they sprang into life. They reached her shoulders, and slowly he slid them together, carefully spanning her neck using those thumbs, this time to tip up her chin. For a few heartbeats his eyes searched her face, before he lowered his lips to hers – warm and firm, but so gentle. Her hands found his waist; they crept of their own accord around his back as she strained against him. “Hmm…” a tiny sound escaped her mouth as he teased open her lips with his tongue… then, not so gentle, and all coherent thought disintegrated in a bone-melting surge of longing.
When he let her go her breath came shallow and fast. She could do nothing but cling to him, she’d have fallen otherwise. After a moment she looked up: no smiling eyes, they looked dark and dangerous. “Why have you not done that before?”
The sound that came out first sounded like a low growl, the lion had stirred. But with a deep sigh, Éomer pulled her head back down against his chest and buried his lips in her hair. “Because I knew that I would find it extremely difficult to stop. And also, my little love, because within you I sense a smouldering fire. If I wake that, there will be one little Princess who will not sleep so easily in her bed through the long winter nights.”
Too late! Fire had already kindled. Lothíriel wound her arms around his neck, and into the softness of his hair. “And you, Éomer, how will you sleep?”
“I will sleep alone, if that is what you are asking.” His voice tickled her ear, low and warm. “Don’t ever think that I would risk our future for a moment’s fleeting pleasure.”
His lips moved around to her cheek, a path of hot embers on their way to her mouth. Demanding lips touched hers again, and somewhere deep in her belly, the flames roared.
The Ered Nimrais.
Amroth had never seen her cry before. Even when he had found her a soaked, shivering wreck by the side of that river, mourning her horse, she had just been muttering that she ‘could not hold her.’ But the tears had flowed when they had said goodbye to Éomer at Erech.
He wondered if he and Erchi had been harsh, perhaps she had been right – maybe because they were in love with each other it was different. He had no idea, having never been the slightest bit in love with any woman, as much as he liked them.
Perhaps that was the problem, why he could trust no one as far as his little sister was concerned. He glanced over to Ana. The trip had done the girl good, she looked fit and healthy, much happier than she had been, and was sitting talking quietly to one of the young soldiers. Nobody had kept a check on her, only an accident of birth made Ana, at seventeen, responsible for her own virtue and reputation. Whilst Lothíriel’s was valued, cosseted and protected at every turn. But she and Éomer seemed to accept it, and had spent most of the time holding hands and talking, or Éomer would sit with his arm around her playing with her hair whilst they listened to the music and the singing. Until that last evening, when he had marched her out of the hall. Amroth let a little chuckle escaped him as he remembered Éomer’s determined face. Who could blame him? They’d obviously gone to the stables, but later he’d found them sitting together on their usual bench outside, watching the stars as the clouds cleared.
For the first time Amroth fully realised what a hard few months it was going to be for her, and that she would need to be kept busy. Hopefully she would agree to help him with the horses. He thought the plan to horse their men a good one, it meant mobility. They did not all need to have trained battle horses, the idea being to get the soldiers quickly to wherever there was trouble. He just had to sort it all out whilst Erchi was learning about scouting and patrolling in Rohan.
It would be down to them both in the future, each with a fully trained company ready at a moment’s notice. Elphir was going to make too good a ruler to risk to war whilst there were two other Princes who could go, and his father was due some rest. Amroth was happy to play his part, although he did not particularly relish war. But with rank and privilege came duty and responsibility. With any luck though, there would be a few years of peace. The enemy had been badly hit and it would take them a while to regroup. He wondered how Aragorn felt about riding to battle again if needed. He was probably more of a warrior than people realised and was not yet content to send others out in his stead. At least he could leave Faramir in charge. Amroth knew that his cousin had no wish to fight.
Then of course, there was Éomer. He was part of the plan. His hope was that he would never have to muster the whole of Rohan again, but that he would have a permanent force able to ride to Gondor’s aid, or anywhere else, at short notice. A force of men who wished to fight. Amroth wondered if Lothíriel knew this. He looked over to her. Sitting on a rock and staring into space, she looked lost. So he got up to go and talk.
Amroth dropped his hand on her shoulder and squeezed. “The time will pass, you know.”
“Yes, I know, it is just a little hard.”
She shifted over a bit, and he sat down beside her. “Will you help me over the winter? With the horses I mean, choose the ones to train for battle and match the rest to the men. There is a lot to do. Some of the men do not ride well yet.”
“Do you really need my help or are you being kind?”
“Both, but I would really appreciate your help with the schooling.”
“Yes, of course I will, you know that I will enjoy it.” She looked across to the horse lines, pursing her lips. “I meant to ask you, Amroth, why did you buy that strawberry roan?” She grinned. “Apart from using her to upset Éomer! You are surely not going to send her to war?”
Amroth shrugged, not willing to own up to giving in to an impulse. “It was an indulgence, I admit. I bought her for myself. She is up to my weight without armour.”
“Even so, she is hardly a man’s horse, far too pretty.”
“I know, she needs a pretty lady to ride her really. Perhaps I will find one.” He laughed; at least he’d got her smiling. “I will call her ‘Lady’, for she is just how a Lady should be.”
“Oh, and how should a Lady be?”
“Beautiful, proud, spirited, and just a little reserved.”
Lothíriel looked at him thoughtfully, and then she laughed. “Talking of ladies, did I miss something in Rohan, or were you as remarkably well behaved as you appeared to be?”
“Éomer warned me: the Ladies of the Mark do not trifle. Try it, and the arrangement would be permanent.” He grinned. “Although I am sure Erchi will find some willing serving maid!”
Her face froze, and he mentally kicked himself. “Lothíriel, I do not think for a moment that Éomer is going to notice any other woman, let alone a serving maid.”
“Are you sure? It is a long time for a man.”
“Of course I am sure, and anyway, he will spend so long fighting with Erchi he will have no energy left. And do you really think he will stay behind when the rest go out to scout the wild land? He will want to pass the time until your wedding.”
She smiled, eyes going dreamy. “He told me Faramir gave him a little ‘tip’ to help.”
“Plenty of cold baths.”
Amroth laughed loudly. “I always did think that our cousin was a man of exceedingly strong constitution!”
They sat companionably for a while, and then Amroth turned to her. “I like Éomer very much and could not wish for any better brother, but do you know, Lothíriel, I never thought that you would choose such a warrior for a husband. I thought that you would wish for a scholar, someone gentle.”
Her brows drew together. “He is gentle!”
She looked at him sharply, but her face relaxed when she saw that he was teasing, “I will tell you, Amroth, that it is only when I am with Éomer that I feel completely and utterly safe.”
To be concluded.
List of Original Character appearing or mentioned in this chapter.
Ana - A young maid.
Déor- Friend of Éomer, brought up in Aldburg
Welwyn- Daughter to Erkenbrand – married to Éothain.
Byrde - Hama’s youngest daughter. Married to Déor
Lady Byrhtwyn- Hama’s widow.
Wilflede - Hama’s eldest daughter – Married to Elfhelm
Lady Winfrith- Erkenbrand’s wife
Master Éofor- Edoras Healer
Master Sigeweard - West-mark Healer
Hulde- Girl from the Eastfold.
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.