Another bright morning shone over Minas Tirith. Éowyn decided to give up on the faked illness, but to delay sending word to Ivriniel for as long as possible. Around noon Faramir would be back, and that would be ample excuse to postpone the fitting session until the following day. And by the following day, she hoped, it would no longer be an issue. Faramir would put his foot down. Let him deal with it; this was his aunt after all. Éowyn pulled back her shoulders. She felt like an army leader making strategic decisions. The dress looked at her accusingly, but she shrugged at it and went into her day chamber, where Acha was setting the table for breakfast. The alluring smell of fresh rolls and honey filled the room. Éowyn sat down and ate with a hearty appetite.
No sooner had she drained the last of the spiced milk from her cup, than a knock on the door made her heart sink. However, when Acha went to open, it was not the dreaded Ivriniel who walked in, but the Princess of Dol Amroth. Éowyn rose from her seat.
"Good morning, Princess Lothíriel," she said.
"Good morning," said the princess in her soft, lilting voice. "I hope I am not disturbing you. Please just call me Lothíriel. We should not stand on such ceremony. After all, I am engaged to your brother. I heard you were not feeling very well, so I thought you might enjoy some company. But you seem to be better this morning."
"I am, thank you," replied Éowyn. "But that doesn't mean that your company is unwelcome."
She indicated a chair and Lothíriel sat down. Éowyn placed herself in the opposite seat.
"And how do you like Minas Tirith so far?"
"I like it well enough," said Éowyn. She looked at Lothíriel's face with the deep-set eyes and easy smile. The princess seemed genuinely kind.
"But," Éowyn continued," some of your customs are not to my liking."
"That is only to be expected," replied Lothíriel. "Consider, though, that it will be in your power to make changes. As Faramir's wife you will have much influence. People will be looking to you for guidance. Queen Arwen has already introduced several new customs at the court – and done away with one or two that didn't suit her. There was some talk about this, but in the end people went along with her wishes, and I am sure in time most will forget that things were ever done in another way."
"Oh, but this is different," said Éowyn.
Lothíriel inclined her head and looked at Éowyn with a mixture of amusement and curiosity.
"Ah, is it a particular custom that irks you?"
"Yes," said Éowyn. She hesitated, but the princess was kind and young and beautifully dressed in a gown of pale yellow silk. Éowyn got up from her chair.
"You'd better come and have a look," she said and led Lothíriel through to the bed chamber. With a mock dramatic gesture, she indicated the dress. Lothíriel looked and quickly covered her mouth with her hand. Her eyes sought Éowyn's and their shared horror needed no further expression.
"The famous wedding dress," she whispered. "I knew Ivriniel was bringing it, but she did not let me see it. She said it was to be a surprise. Oh, poor Éowyn, you will look like a stuffed pheasant!"
"I am not going to wear it."
Lothíriel gave her a sidelong look.
"Do not delude yourself. If my aunt wants you to wear it, then you will."
"You do not know my aunt Ivriniel."
"She doesn't know me. I slew the witch king, remember?"
"I am not sure how helpful that is going to be in this case," she said. "You can hardly attack my aunt with a sword."
"I certainly feel like it."
They both giggled.
"Still," continued Lothíriel, "my aunt always gets her own way. You had better believe me. When I was fourteen, I was supposed to take part in our annual ball for the first time. Aunt Ivriniel was adamant that this was my noble duty, but I had a mind not to, because I could not think of anything more tedious. So on the night before the ball I threw my dancing shoes over the cliffs into the sea and was very pleased with my own cleverness. However, the very next morning –"
Voices from the other room made them turn.
"That sounds like Faramir. He's back early," Éowyn said and strode through into the day chamber. Lothíriel followed. They found the Steward accompanied by the Prince of Dol Amroth. Cordial greetings were exchanged and all four of them sat down to drink the tea that Acha had just brought in. They spent half an hour in conversation about the state of Ithilien. Eventually, Imrahil and his daughter rose to take their leave. Lothíriel gave Éowyn a sweet smile and a wink.
"I shall tell you the rest of the story some other time," she whispered.
As soon as they were out the door, Éowyn took Faramir's hand, pulled him into the bedchamber and pointed at the dress.
"That," she said, "is what your aunt wants me to wear at the wedding, because it is the heirloom of your family. She didn't listen to me, so I want you to go and tell her that I shall not wear it."
"Faramir! It is a monstrosity. Lothíriel says it will make me look like a stuffed pheasant. I don't see how anybody can wear it and not die with shame."
"My mother wore it," Faramir said quietly.
Éowyn bit her lip and felt her cheeks flush. She had forgotten about that.
"Oh, well, yes, I mean..." Was there a way to wriggle out of this? "What time of year did your parents get married?"
"They were wed at Mettarë. What does that have to do with it?"
"It would have been cold then. So your mother was probably glad for such a warm dress. But it's summer now. I will melt in that fur-lined thing!"
"But dearest Éowyn, it is only for a few hours. Consider: the eyes of the whole court will be upon you."
"Indeed, and I wish the eyes of the whole court could see me in a more becoming gown."
Faramir framed her face in his hands.
"Éowyn, you are beautiful, and everybody will think so. It is only a dress, it does not matter. I don't think you need to make a scene about it. We shall have no peace at the wedding if Aunt Ivriniel does not get her will. And she is right, you know, it is traditional."
Éowyn drew breath. It was all she could do to stop herself from stamping her foot like an impatient child.
"I don't care if it is traditional! I want nothing to do with it. I brought a beautiful wedding gown from Rohan, and I will wear it. Go and tell her that."
Faramir sat down on the edge of the bed and sighed.
"Éowyn, do you have to take this so seriously? I wish you wouldn't begin to antagonize my family before we are even married. The Steward's wife has duties to her people; she cannot just do whatever she wants. I thought as a member of the royal family, you would understand this."
"I understand that as the Steward's wife I have some say in such matters. Go and tell Ivriniel that I will not wear it."
"I am tired, Éowyn. Talk to her about it yourself."
"But she doesn't listen to me. She is so...overbearing"
"Well, deal with it. Surely you are able to do so? You slew the witch king, didn't you?"
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.