4. Chapter 4
Dol Amroth March 3021
At least Déor looked the part, immaculately turned out in burnished mail and embroidered cloak. He wouldn’t disgrace the Riddermark amongst the Gondorian pageantry and splendour. Éomer wondered why it all had to be so formal – handing over Lothíriel’s protection from one guard to another. Turning his attention to Imrahil he just caught the prince wiping a hand quickly across his eyes. Ah… now he knew: Imrahil was hiding the emotion of his daughter’s departure under a covering of pompous ceremony.
With more understanding, Éomer let his gaze move to his wife. His wife…the small word did not do justice to the huge place she had already seized out of his life. He watched lovingly as Lothíriel went to every guardsman, making time for a few moments’ conversation with each. Éomer couldn’t hear what was being said, but knew she would be thanking them for their past care of her. He also suspected she would be thinking about the ones who were missing. She might have put it behind her, but she would never forget. She reached Durthor; he got a little longer than the rest, moving his leg to show her it hardly bothered him now. At the end of the line she spun around to face Sergion, and that was where formality ended. After a brief locking of eyes with her captain, she flung her arms around him, pressing her head against his chest.
Éomer smiled to see her, and a finger dug him in the ribs. Now what was coming?
“I doubt you will be pleased if she does that to Déor.” Amroth’s eyes gleamed a challenge.
“On the contrary,” Éomer retorted. “I shall be extremely pleased if she does.” He paused, the chuckle rising in his throat. “In about thirty years, when he is old and grey like Sergion.”
Amroth laughed. “I can’t imagine you have anything to worry about. It strikes me that my sister is besotted with you. Although I must say that I fail to see quite why.”
“It is extraordinary,” Éomer agreed, grinning. “But I am not complaining.”
“Well, Mithrandir must have got it right when he told her all that stuff. And they were talking for ages the other night. Do you know what that was about?”
“No, I don’t. But no doubt she will tell me in time.” His attention was grabbed by the stamping of boots. Good, Sergion and Déor had saluted one another. “That’s it! Now she really is my responsibility.”
Amroth held out his hand, serious for a moment. “I won’t say look after her, Éomer, because I know you will. And I wish you every happiness.”
Éomer clasped it firmly. He knew how much Amroth would miss Lothíriel, and had noticed him to be rather subdued this past week, unusually thoughtful and preoccupied. Except, that was, when they had held an impromptu tournament, then he had fought like a demon.
“Come and visit us. Anytime you like.”
“I will, but I am committed here until the last lot of horses has arrived.” Amroth slapped him on the shoulder. “Now I had better go. I have to escort Prince Amal to his ship, he is leaving on the same tide as you.”
“You have spent a fair time in his company, I noticed.”
“They are not that different from us,” Amroth answered, shrugging. “In fact, I quite like him.” He smiled. “Anyway, I will see you at the Port and make my farewells to Lothíriel there.”
With another clasp of Éomer’s arm, Amroth left his new brother and strode across to the doorway where Amal was waiting with his wives, watching the spectacle of the change of guard. True, he felt the Harad Prince did have an odd attitude to women. But perhaps he had the right idea; certainly appearing to have no trouble with them – they just followed on behind. Which was more than he could say for himself.
He supposed it had come as a bit of a shock, having never worried much about women before. They were either there or they were not. The biggest problem he had had in the past was gently removing them from his life. Now the whole thing was giving him grief. He had spent the entire wedding feast admitting to himself that he wanted one, permanently. After which he had reluctantly decided that the chance of finding a suitable one was almost nil.
Then less than an hour later he was looking into those big honey eyes. Over the following two days the more he got to know her, the more he liked her. She was beautiful and funny, full of grace and poise. She had never sailed before or ridden much, but was not frightened. She was just scared of spiders. He very much wanted to kiss her again, to see her blush, but now she had run away.
That she had run away he had no doubt. She had deliberately pushed the cloak into his hands so that he could not reach for her, kissed him, and fled.
Why he frightened her so much he had no idea. One stolen kiss was hardly enough to provoke that reaction. True, if she had stayed he would have wrapped her in his arms, but what would he have done then, he wondered? He had just wanted to hold her. Perhaps he should have gone inside and dragged her out, but then what would have happened? He did not know. Now every time he closed his eyes, he saw chestnut hair, great big eyes and freckles, and all his dreams were of huge black spiders. And to make it worse Alphros kept asking at the most awkward times, usually when he was with Erchi, ‘when was the nice lady with the funny hair coming back?’
Amroth shook his head, angry with himself. He was going to have to push it from his mind, but the palace would be so quiet with everyone leaving. Most of the Rohirrim had returned home the day before, only a small company were going to Emyn Arnen with their King, and his new Queen. Aragorn, Arwen and the rest of the court were leaving in the morning, and by the next day all the guests would have returned to their various castles and dwellings. He’d have to find something to do until the horses started to arrive again. Fighting was probably best. At least it got rid of some of his frustration.
Amroth let the water deluge over his head, washing away the sweat and grime of the prolonged bout. Feeling refreshed at last he stepped out from under the spout, pushing his sodden hair back from his face.
Erchi handed him a cloth and he wiped the water from his eyes. “Thanks. Your turn now.”
“Right.” Erchi pulled off his shirt. “And are you up for a trip to the tavern tonight? I think I owe you one. You gave me a fright, thought you were going to beat me at last.”
Amroth laughed. He damn well would one day! And he had just got pretty near to it. He clapped Erchi on the arm. “I am not sure I feel like the tavern. It’s going to be a pleasant evening, I might go for a ride.”
“What!” Erchi pulled his head back, just before he ducked it under, looking at him aghast. “On your own again?”
“I need a gallop.”
Two prominent eyebrows rose in disbelief. “You need a woman!”
Not finding it easy to respond, Amroth said nothing. This allowed his brother to follow the feint with a thrust.
“You should have stopped all that mooning at the wedding and found yourself an available one. There were plenty around.”
“Not to my taste there weren’t.”
“Then all I can say, little brother, is that your taste must have changed.”
Amroth sighed: horribly afraid that Erchi had the measure of his unrest. He would go to the tavern. And he’d get drunk. That would sort him out.
But it didn’t. It only gave him a sore head. And he groaned the next morning when he saw Alphros coming down the passage towards him, thinking that he would probably get another grilling. But then he saw that the little boy was looking very miserable.
“What is the matter, Alphros?”
Trembling lips turned down in dejection. “I have lost Sauron.”
“Sauron?” What the deuce was he talking about?
“Oh, your spider, of course. Well, you had better go and get another.” Now he had said the wrong thing because he got an angry scowl back.
“How can I get another? They are not all the same, you know. Sauron was special, and I lost him.”
“I am sorry, Alphros,” Amroth said in a more understanding voice. “How did you lose him?”
“I put him down. I did not watch him and he ran away. Grandfather said that if you have something special you have to look after it.”
Amroth sighed. Why did he just not face the truth? “Your grandfather is usually right. Do you know where he is?”
“Talking with my father in his study.”
He ruffled the little boy’s hair. “Go and have another look, you never know.”
Further along the passage Amroth met his father’s steward, Ephrem, carrying a tray of tea. “Is that for my father, Ephrem?”
“Yes, my lord, it is.”
He held out his hands. “I will take it. Perhaps you would fetch another cup?”
The man went off and Amroth headed for his father’s door. He stood outside for a moment before taking a deep breath.
Imrahil looked up, alerted by a cross between a knock and a rattle. The door flew open and Amroth strode in. Without saying anything he dumped the tray he was carrying on the side-table and marched straight to the seaward looking window. He stood staring out.
Imrahil and Elphir looked at one another. Elphir shrugged. They waited for whatever pronouncement would be forthcoming. Imrahil wouldn’t be surprised at anything: Amroth had been decidedly out of sorts lately. Then shoulders went back, and his youngest son turned around to face him.
“Father, I have come to ask if you would mind if I went on a little trip?”
Oh! Was that all? It sounded harmless. “You have done more than your duty over the winter, Amroth. We could not have dealt with all the horses without you. You are certainly entitled to a break before they start arriving again. Do you wish to go to Minas Tirith for the Fourth Age celebrations?”
Dark eyes fixed on him. “No, I wish to go to the Morthond Vale.”
The Morthond Vale! Why there? But before he could enquire further, Elphir burst out laughing.
“Duinhir’s daughter! I wondered how long it would take you.”
“Oh,” said Imrahil, enlightened. “The one with the ginger hair?”
“Chestnut,” snapped his son.
“Of course, chestnut.” Imrahil hid a smile and waited whilst another cup was delivered. But as soon as the door closed, he spoke sharply. “Amroth, I do not usually interfere in what you do, but that family has had enough trouble heaped upon them. The last thing the girl needs is you dallying with her and causing more.”
Amroth stared straight at him, his eyes alight. “I do not wish to dally with her, Father, I rather think that I wish to marry her.”
Having rendered them both speechless, Amroth grinned. “I think it is the only way that I will get within a yard of her.”
“A girl with sense then, Brother,” Elphir remarked, amused. “I must remember to congratulate her.”
But Imrahil’s mind was already busy on the implications of his son’s announcement. “Does she feel the same way, Amroth?”
“I really have no idea. She ran away before I could ask her.”
That was too much for Elphir, he doubled up. “I like her more and more!”
Amroth ignored him. “Would you object, Father?”
“Object! I would be highly delighted. In fact, it will be a big relief to have you settled. I live in perpetual fear of some irate husband challenging you to a duel.”
Laughing, Amroth waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, do not worry. They are usually fat and ugly. I would be sure to win.”
Imrahil went to the cupboard. It might be early, but some celebration was called for. “I think that the tea needs a little enhancing.”
Morthond Vale, March 3021
The woman gasped when Amroth introduced himself. She managed a bob of her head but then her interest darted from him to the deer and the two boars his men had hung from poles between the horses. Amroth winked at the little girl that peeked from behind her mother’s skirts before speaking to the woman again.
“I am looking for Lord Duinhir.” That brought her attention back to him.
She pointed up the valley “You can’t miss it, lord. The big house you can see built against that escarpment.”
“Thank you…?” Amroth preferred to address people by name.
“Then thank you, Éldes.” Her eyes had flicked back to the meat. Amroth could understand that, their larders were likely to be empty after the winter. “Is the village celebrating tomorrow?”
“Aye lord,” the voice came from the doorway and a man appeared from out of the gloom. “We are going to make some effort, for the young ones mainly.” He came up to stand beside his wife. “Thathar, lord. I saw you on the Pelennor,” he said when Amroth’s eyes landed on him.
“Did you, Thathar? Then you must have followed your lord. It’s him I’ve come to see. And Éldes has already pointed out the house.”
Thathar looked up to the house that dominated the head of the valley. “Difficult to miss. But I doubt Lord Duinhir will join us for the celebrations. He’s not too well.”
“So I understand. Then perhaps the villagers can use one of these.” Amroth issued a quick order and a moment later the biggest boar was propped, still on its pole, against a stone wall.
“That’s mighty kind, lord.” Thathar beamed. “We will be able to have a real celebration. We’ve permission to go for the deer, but no one’s had much luck as yet, so it would be one of the goats, or a few hares. And they’re a bit skinny still.”
Éldes had already gone to prod the boar. “We haven’t had one since before the Lord’s sons went to war,” she mused.
“And not likely to again. You can be sure Lord Alhael,” Thathar spat expertly on a struggling weed as the name left his lips, “wouldn’t part with any. Even if the fat maggot did manage to lift the spear to bag one. Although it would be better if he skewered himself.”
“Thathar!” His wife admonished, looking frightened. “Watch your tongue.”
“There’s not much anyone can do to me now,” Thathar responded. “I’ll speak my mind and take the consequences.” He looked straight at Amroth, lifting his chin. “And if you are going up to the Big House, lord, no doubt you will find out the way of things. You can judge me then.”
“There is no law against telling the truth, if truth it is, Thathar. And, as you say, I am likely to find out.” He raised his hand to Éldes. “Good day to you.”
He left them to it. By now the houses along the road were beginning to empty, mostly of the old and the young. They stared astounded, muttering and nudging each other: a Prince, an Esquire, a Captain, eight soldiers and a pair of hounds, caused quite a stir. But the whole place had a cheerless feel and already he blessed his father’s suggestion that they go well provisioned, and was glad they had hunted for more than their own requirements.
Leaving the village, the last following dog shooed away, Amroth saw women and men working in the fields. Lots of children around, but he knew it must be hard with so many young men lost.
The first thing he noticed as he approached the house was the general air of disrepair: a gate into a paddock tied up with rope, and a fence battered down. But the stockade looked sound. And the main gates stood open, they looked solid enough.
Seeing no one around, he rode straight into the courtyard towards the house and immediately furious barking started from behind a heavy, carved door. Amroth sent the hounds to the back of the line and waited.
The door opened, and Devoran stood there, holding the collar of the biggest, hairiest, scruffiest dog he had ever seen. She wore a plain green dress and her only adornment was her glorious hair, but his heart leaped. One hand went to her mouth in surprise, the other let go of the dog, which bounded forward barking madly. Amroth’s battle trained horse stood immobile. He looked the angry animal in the eye.
The dog skidded to a halt, and meeting Amroth’s fierce stare, sat.
“I said, down!”
The dog grovelled on the ground, tail thumping the stones.
But by that time Devoran had reached him, looking flustered and confused. And pretty. Lips twitching, Amroth looked from her to the dog and back to her. “Devoran, that dog needs a bath, a haircut and brushing.”
“Then you will have to do it,” she retorted, glaring at him. “Drummer refuses to let me.” But then she dropped her eyes and said softly. “Amroth, why are you here?”
He waited until she looked at him again. “Why do you think I am here, Devoran? I came to see you.”
All sorts of emotions passed across her face, uncertainty being the dominant one. But he thought – hoped – he saw a hint of pleasure too, quickly hidden.
“Then you had better come in and meet my father. There are stables behind the house, hay in the barn, but no stable hands.”
Amroth took his feet out of his stirrups. At least she was letting him in. “Do not worry. My men will see to everything. And we will put you to no trouble, I have brought tents.”
“No!” Pride flashed in her eyes as she quickly assessed their numbers. “We have rooms for you and your Captain, the men will have to share. But we might need help to light all the fires.”
He passed his horse over to his esquire, took her arm and went through the outer door into a wide passage. In contrast to outside, the interior of the house shone. Glowing woodwork and big bunches of spring flowers showed the care given it. She took him into a large dining-hall with a window looking down the valley; an old man was sitting there staring out. He turned on hearing the footsteps, smiling at his daughter. Devoran introduced him and Duinhir managed to clasp his arm, but after a few polite words he turned back to the window. Amroth felt sick, he could not believe that this was the same man who had proudly come to the aid of the White City just over two years before.
Devoran didn’t remark on her father’s behaviour, so he said nothing, letting her lead him away.
“I will show you your room, and then I must help Ashild prepare some supper.”
Weren’t there any other servants? Did she have to do it? “You must not worry too much. We have brought plenty of meat, and other things.”
“So I saw.” She smiled. “But the meat will take too long to cook today, and you must be hungry. I have enough for tonight but I will need to go and make some bread. Bregil will show your men where to put the game. There is also a barrel of ale, it needs drinking, if someone will fetch it from the cellar. And there is a stack of firewood outside. Bregil is getting old, so perhaps your men could help him.”
Amroth left his captain, Gidon, to sort out the men and find the ale. After washing away some travel dust, he sought out the kitchen. Large and clean it might be, but it bothered him that Devoran had to work in it. Even though she looked utterly charming standing at a scrubbed wooden table kneading dough.
“That dog tried to jump on my bed, and you have flour on your nose.”
Devoran wiped off the flour with the corner of her apron, and grinned at him. She seemed to have relaxed a bit. “You must keep your door shut tight, you have obviously made an impression.” Her eyes focused behind him and Amroth realised Drummer had followed him into the kitchen.
Meeting Amroth’s uncompromising stare, Drummer slunk back through the door.
“How do you do that?” Devoran asked, frowning over the top of her dough.
“You just have to be firm. Tomorrow we will bathe him, he is quite disgusting.” He softened his voice seeing her looking a bit affronted “He’s very loyal, where did you get him?”
“He arrived not long before my father went to war, starving and with all his fur singed. His poor paws were sore from walking. Father let him stay, and now I love him.”
“Lucky dog,” Amroth responded instantly, looking deep into her eyes.
Devoran stared dumbly at him, her colour rising, but was saved from making any comment by the arrival of Ashild with a large basket of vegetables.
“I imagine,” Amroth carried on as if he had just been passing the time of day, “that he came over the mountains from Rohan. Many of their villages were burnt to the ground.”
“Yes, that is what we thought. Now, if you want any supper I must get on.”
“What are we having?” he asked, enjoying her discomfiture.
Devoran slapped the hunk of dough down on the board. “Rabbit stew!”
But there was more than rabbit stew: a goat’s cheese, tangy and ripe, was put on the side, and Ashild found a few jars of preserved fruit left in the larder. It turned into quite a merry meal, even though the soldiers were inhibited at first, for they normally only all sat together around a campfire. But the ale relaxed them. Gidon kindly spent the whole time talking to Duinhir even though it was a very one-way conversation.
Once they had finished eating, Amroth looked towards the lyre that was propped in a corner of the room. “Devoran do you play and sing like your mother?”
Her lips trembled. “I do. My father likes it, although it usually makes him cry.”
Amroth sat back to keep himself from wrapping his arms around her. Wanting to comfort her, it irked him not being able to even hold her hand. “You know, Devoran, when my sister went missing for a week, I watched my father change from a proud, strong man, to one who was grey and old. If Lothíriel had not come back, things at home would be very different.”
Devoran smiled at him, blinking back a tear. “Thank you.”
“Well, are you going to play?”
She nodded and pushed back her chair, going over to the lyre. Her face changed as she picked it up, coming alive when she fingered the strings.
He knew it would be beautiful. It had been obvious from the first moment he danced with her that she was full of rhythm and music. She sang songs of the sea that she said her mother had brought from the coast and then ballads of the mountains that her grandmother had taught her when she was little. Everyone ignored the tears running down her father’s face.
March 25 FA1
Not quite the way Amroth thought he’d be celebrating today; his brothers would laugh their socks off if they could see him. “Keep still, you disreputable animal!”
“You’ve got soap suds in your hair.” Devoran’s lovely eyes sparkled with laughter, and she reached across the tub and batted them away.
Good job his hands were stuck in the dog’s fur or he would have grabbed her, she looked so delectable. There were compensations for missing the festivities at home. He let his eyes linger on her face, whilst still rubbing soap into Drummer’s fur. Under his scrutiny the smile gradually left her, but she held his gaze. Now was his chance. “Devoran…”
“My lady, what about the deer?”
Startled, they both swung around: Bregil had come from behind the barn.
“Oh… the deer.”
“Shall we joint it, or roast it outside, my lady? Only we will have to get it going if we want to eat it tonight.”
Devoran looked as though a deer was the last thing on her mind, but recovered herself quickly. “Yes, it’s a special day, Bregil. And the weather looks set fair. Let’s roast it whole outside.”
Bregil nodded. “Then I’ll get some of your men to help, my lord, if that’s all right. They’ve finished the gate.”
“Yes, that’s fine, Bregil.” He’d set the men to do various chores as well as dig a bit of Devoran’s vegetable garden after discovering she had no wish to ask her cousin for help. And the man was unlikely to send someone graciously, anyway.
Bregil went off. Devoran watched him for a moment before turning back with a wistful smile on her face. “We have a large spit, all the village used to come for celebrations. It was great fun. I hope they enjoy themselves today.”
“I left a boar in the village.” Amroth told her.
Her face lit with pleasure. “Did you? That was kind. They will be really pleased. ”
He thought how very different it must have been before the war. Now her people were struggling and she had had to let the servants go and do many of the chores herself. Amroth sighed, it could have been worse for all of them. “I think he’s clean. I will rinse the soap out and then take a razor to his fur.”
She looked a bit doubtful, but Drummer surprised her by standing still and letting him get rid of a great weight of hairy coat.
“He does not look like the same animal. You look lovely, Drummer.” She flung her arms around the dog and hugged him.
“The dog gets all the luck!” Amroth murmured under his breath.
Devoran looked up at him bubbling with laugher. If she had heard she was ignoring it, still only interested in the dog. “I hope he will let me bathe him in future.”
With a sigh, Amroth took Drummer by the scruff of the neck and looked him in the eye. “From now on, Drummer, you will do exactly as your mistress tells you. Do you understand?”
Drummer cocked his head on one side, looking the soul of innocence, and wagged his tail.
The bath finished, Amroth started on the wood pile, in spite of Devoran’s protestations. “It’s good for me. Splitting logs is excellent at helping to develop muscles, especially those needed to wield a sword.” She gave up arguing and went off to organise the meal for everybody. They intended to have some kind of celebration.
Throughout the afternoon the smell of roasting venison filled appreciative nostrils. The men gradually finished their tasks, and hearing noise wafting up from the village, Amroth put down the axe. He guessed they had started on the ale down there. Aware that he’d dragged his men up into the mountains on this special day, he offered them the chance to join the villagers where they would likely get a livelier time, but surprisingly all preferred to stay. A table was carried outside and Devoran and Ashild loaded it with baskets of newly baked rolls, cheese and pickled cabbage, plus some dried fruits Amroth had brought from home. The evening had its own quiet charm with Devoran singing and playing her lyre and one of the soldiers producing a flute. Amroth spent most of the time trying to think of a way of getting Devoran on her own, but she gave him no help whatsoever. In fact she made sure he got no opportunity for even a few minutes by taking her father’s arm when bedtime came. Frustration mounted. Sleeping in a room so near to her was extremely disturbing and he was absolutely sure that the dog slept on her bed.
Whack! The log split down the centre. The two pieces flew out to the sides, one narrowly missing Drummer who had crept close once more. “Don’t you even think of making a bed on my shirt again.” Amroth warned him.
Whack! The pile of wood grew. He had spent most of the morning at it, finding it an excellent way of venting his feelings. Amroth knew he was going to have to speak to her soon, even if the answer was one he would not like. Trying to work out what to say, and how to get the opportunity to do so, he became aware of a prickly feeling on his back. Turning around he saw Devoran standing not far away, attention fixed on him.
He was well aware of the effect that he had on a considerable number of women, young and old, and not particularly vain about it. Just a very useful accident of birth. Unfortunately, whatever asset he possessed had so far not helped him with this one. Until that moment, he thought, as he saw a flash in her eyes. But it vanished almost as quickly as it had appeared. Now she just looked shocked.
He burst out laughing at her expression. “Devoran, do not tell me that you never saw your brothers without their shirts!”
“You, Amroth, are not my brother!”
“Well, that is a comment that gives me hope.” Her mouth twitched and he carried on. “Where are you going with that basket, because wherever it is, I am coming with you!”
“I am going to plant these beans, since your men have kindly dug some ground. If you wish to come with me then please put on your shirt.”
Still laughing, he shrugged on his shirt and took the basket from her. It contained seed beans, gloves and a trowel.
The walled garden was warm and he was relieved to see, private. It smelt of herbs and fresh soil. A small gang of Mountain Choughs – yellow beaks probing for worms in the newly turned earth – fluttered in the air before settling again to carry on their search. But they soon took off as Drummer charged, rising hurriedly into the air, their echoing call voicing racketing displeasure. The choughs dispatched, Drummer rushed off seeking rabbits, and Devoran took Amroth over to a corner that had been recently dug.
“I will plant them. You can hold the basket and pass me a few at a time.”
He nodded, and did as he was told. Concentrating on her task she didn’t speak, but every now and again held out her hand for more beans allowing their fingers to touch fleetingly. Each time a shock of awareness pulsed through him and he had to pummel down the urge to grab her hand and pull her up into his arms. When she bent again to her task he wanted to push the heavy hair away from the nape of her neck and kiss the creamy skin underneath. Damn it… he wanted to taste her lips again. But what would she do if he tried any of it? Dig him with the towel probably.
Suddenly he felt very angry that the Lord’s daughter, such a feminine, graceful girl, should be planting beans. Why on earth didn’t that useless cousin arrange something? He had talked to Bregil about him and found out that the old man all but hated him, as not only had he not gone to war himself but did not allow any of his household to go either. If everyone had taken that attitude none of them would be here. Now of course he was thriving and the rest of the valley suffering. Amroth hoped he did not turn up, as it would be extremely temping to shaft him right through his fat gut. Then he realised that Devoran was waiting for the last few beans and that they were almost finished. The last few were going to be planted right in the corner.
She stood up, and as she turned around he took a step forward, putting one arm on each wall. He had been planning it for ages, knowing he had to make some move.
“Caught you!” He laughed as she looked wildly for escape; the only way was to duck under his arm. He rather hoped she would, as he could catch her around the waist. But she did not; she just gave a resigned sigh as if accepting the inevitable. What was she afraid of?
“Devoran, I just want to talk to you.”
Her mouth quirked in a half smile. “Well then, Amroth, what do you wish to say?”
He took the plunge, it might be the only chance he had. “Devoran, since we met I can think of nothing else but you. I’ve fallen in love with you. Please, will you marry me?”
She did not even look surprised; she just shook her head, her eyes empty of emotion. “No. I am sorry, but I cannot.”
“Cannot? Or do not wish to? There is a big difference and I need to know.”
“I cannot leave my father.”
He had already thought of that. “There is plenty of room in the Palace, he can come as well.”
She shook her head again. “He would not leave here, you do not understand.”
“Then tell me, Devoran, make me understand.”
She looked up to the mountain that rose behind the house. “The escarpment up there, it is where we found my mother. She never went there, she hated heights. It was no accident, Amroth.” Honey eyes filled with hurt. “My father and me, we were not enough for her. She wanted her sons. I am all he has, I cannot leave him as well.”
Love, compassion, all welled up together and Amroth did what he had been desperate to do ever since meeting her: he wrapped his arms around her and held her close against him. She clung to him, burying her head in his chest whilst he held her tight. Then, after a while, she looked up, eyes brimming with unshed tears and said quietly, “Amroth, please go. Please just go.”
To be continued.
Déor- R Friend of Éomer’s. Captain of the Queen of Rohan’s Guard.
Durthor- G One of Lothíriel’s Dol Amroth guardsmen.
Sergion- R Captain of Lothiriel’s Dol Amroth. Guard.
Father of Oríon.
Ephrem- G Imrahil’s Steward.
Gidon – G Amroth’s captain
Devoran- G Lord Duinhir’s Daughter.
Thathar- G A Bowman from the Morthond Vale. Wounded badly on the Pelennor.
Éldes-G Thathar’s wife.
Ashild - G Housekeeper to Lord Duinhir.
Bregil- G General Servant, Ashild’s husband.
Alhael- G Devoran’s cousin. Son of Duinhir’s elder sister.
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.