Aldburg stood on a hill, looking out along The Great West Road, which meant its promised comforts tempted her for many miles. Lothíriel could hardly take her eyes from the fortress that grew larger and more discernible with every stride of her horse.
All her bones ached, and her legs felt like jelly, but luckily after the first couple of days when he had tried and tested her, Storm behaved himself perfectly. This, she acknowledged with some reluctance, was a good job because she would have found it difficult to summon the energy to deal with him. Even though she had been riding from childhood, and Storm had a wonderfully smooth gait, never had she endured such a long and relentless journey. Only stubborn pride stopped her complaining and she had learnt to plaster a smile on her face and keep it there, just in case Rohan's king glanced her way. She had no intention of admitting exactly how uncomfortable she felt, even if he probably suspected.
Soon she could see that a high palisade enclosed the whole township and outside this cultivated fields ran down to border the road, a spur of which headed directly for the gates. Why were they closed, wouldn't the sentries have see them coming? As she thought it, the call of a horn rose above the rumble of hooves and she realised that Éomer's standard bearer had announced their arrival. Immediately an answer came from one of the watchtowers, and after a few moments the big gates began to swing open.
Éowyn eased Windfola close to her. 'Now for the difficult part, joy will be tempered by sadness.'
'It was the same at home,' Lothíriel answered. 'We celebrated our triumph and mourned, all at the same time.' And here she was worrying about a few sore muscles and dirty clothes when others had lost their loved ones. But at the moment it seemed victory took precedence for she saw many folk pouring out of the gate to line the last few hundred yards of the road.
Word of the outcome of the battles, and unfortunately lists of the dead, would have long reached the people of Rohan, but the joy of seeing a triumphant army marching home had no equal. The men from Eastmark were riding in the van and a cheering crowd met them, the cry of 'Éomer Cyning' rising above the general racket. Lothíriel studied the populace avidly: blond children mostly tanned from a life outdoors, tall women with fair, braided hair dressed in serviceable clothes of green and brown. A lot of men of fighting age waved their swords in welcome, but nearly all looked to have an injury of some kind. The other men present were obviously not of warrior inclination, like the baker still in his apron. No doubt all those who could fight had thankfully gone with their king to the relief of Gondor. Most of the welcome party looked happy, often calling excitedly to those back in the line, but here and there Lothíriel saw strained faces and sad eyes. One young woman caught her attention, a baby in her arms she searched the lines of warriors apparently looking for someone, but then her shoulders slumped and she turned dispiritedly away. The hubbub continued, and Lothíriel became aware that a lot of interest focused on herself. She tried to give everyone a friendly smile, no way did she want to be seen as a haughty Gondorian. Not that she could possibly look like one. She must be the most wayworn of all the Royal Party. Éowyn certainly looked reasonably tidy and clean, but that due to the Shield-maiden's natural elegance rather than any extra effort on her part, Lothíriel decided. In fact when she thought about it most of her own family had that same elegance and certainly her mother and father were rarely seen at any disadvantage, even after a challenging sea journey. Somewhere along the line she had missed out acquiring that particular trait. Her self-depreciating thoughts were ended when suddenly all but a few excited children fell silent. A horseman rode out to meet the vanguard, obviously high ranking as he was dressed much like the members of Éomer's guard.
'Earnweald,' Éowyn whispered, 'one of my uncle's friends, injured at Helm's Deep. He was left in charge of Aldburg whilst Éomer and Théoden rode to war.' The man, who Lothíriel could now see had one arm missing and a livid scar down the side of his face, bowed to his king and uttered something in a loud voice. Lothíriel guessed it was a traditional welcome and perhaps a handover of power. Her deduction proved correct when Éomer beckoned Elfhelm forward.
'He's telling Earnweald that Elfhelm is going to be the new Marshal of the Eastmark.'
'But Aldburg itself still belongs to Éomer?' Lothíriel queried.
'Yes, the fortress is really in the king's lands, but the hall has been passed down in a direct line from King Brego to our family. Now of course Éomer has Meduseld as well.'
Lucky man, Lothíriel nearly said, but stopped herself as Éowyn carried on. 'A lot of responsibility, goodness knows what he will do about all the dependents in Edoras.'
Éowyn nodded. 'We lost virtually the whole of my uncle's guard on the Pelennor. Their families will have to be provided for, as will those here. Although Elfhelm will have to see to them, as he will be living in Aldburg.'
'We had a similar problem in Dol Amroth. There is a limit to how many maids and kitchen staff one can employ, although if you want Meduseld spruced up...'
'That will keep them busy for a short while, until they find new husbands. ' Éowyn agreed. 'And hard work is a good way to forget one's troubles.' She smiled wanly. 'Not all can ride to war.'
'No,' Lothíriel agreed. 'But will the women find new husbands when so many of your men have been lost?'
Éowyn shrugged. 'Unless they are lacking in some way, virtually all our grown women are married, whilst we have always had many warriors who cleave only to the sword. I am sure that with the new peace that will change. Eventually those women who have lost their husbands are bound to seek new ones.'
Thinking about it Lothíriel realised that Gondor was not much different, not all men choosing to marry. So hopefully the surfeit of servants would be short-term. At least it would mean plenty of help.
The formalities over, Éomer, Earnweald and Elfhelm led them through the gates into an open square of beaten dirt surrounded by wooden houses. Lothíriel looked around, fascinated by her first view of a Rohan settlement. There was much more wood and none of the statues or fountains that characterised Dol Amroth. Aldburg had been built right against the mountain, which she found slightly oppressive, even more than Minas Tirith. It was all so different than at home and about her she could hear nothing but Rohirric. A slight unease wormed its way into her consciousness: there had been a certain camaraderie travelling with the army, but now people would be getting on with their daily lives, and she would be very much an outsider. Still, she reminded herself, it needn't be for more than a few weeks. After all, getting Meduseld to rights couldn't take that long. And it was a great opportunity to see places she had only read about. Storm pulled on his bit, sidestepping into Windfola. The horse probably sensed that a stable and fodder were near and Lothíriel quickly turned her attention back to him as horses and townspeople crowded in behind them, the excitement and noise mounting as families greeted one another and dogs barked a welcome. Many of the Riders dismounted in the square which was becoming increasingly jam-packed, but Éowyn shook her head and Lothíriel thankfully followed her and Éomer up the road towards the large thatched hall. The dwellings continued up the hill and those she passed had steep roofs covered in wooden tiles or thatch and the overhanging eves were intricately carved, mostly in designs of horses, deer or boar, from what she could see. A fierce, stern people: no flowers and fruit here.
A further fortification protected the hall itself, behind which perched another much smaller area, levelled out of the hill and paved with slabs of stone. The hall was similarly decorated to the houses although the wood had darkened to black with age.
Éomer jumped down from his stallion as an old lady wearing a spotless apron came hurrying towards him. Lothíriel watched intrigued as the woman flung her arms around him before pushing him back and running her eyes up and down the King of Rohan as though to check he was still in one piece. But far from being offended by the inspection, Éomer said something soft and low and dropped his hands on her shoulders giving them a hearty squeeze
Beside her, Éowyn laughed, jumping quickly down from Windfola. It sounded as though she was asking about her own welcome. But Lothíriel could only pick out the woman's name – Mildryth. The apron marked her as a servant, but quite a senior one, Lothíriel surmised. And ancient: blue eyes were set in a deeply lined face and plaited hair formed a silver-grey cap around her head. Mildryth took a step towards Éowyn, raising an accusing finger. Talking too fast for Lothíriel to have any idea what she was on about, she administered an obvious scolding which made Éowyn drop her head with embarrassment. Éomer certainly didn't interfere, and in fact looked as if he agreed with whatever Mildryth was saying, but after she had finished the old lady hugged Éowyn to her anyway, like she was forgiving a naughty child.
Lothíriel deduced that she must have known Éomer and Éowyn from when they were very young, the only explanation for such a display of informality. Not wanting to intrude on an intimate moment she slid quietly off Storm's back, but bright, intelligent eyes instantly marked her.
'Hwa is þéos?' Mildryth cocked her head to one side awaiting an answer.
Éowyn grabbed Lothíriel's arm pulling her forward. 'This is Lady Lothíriel,' she said in Westron, 'a princess from Dol Amroth, and my friend. She needs some of your care and cosseting, Mildryth, it's been a tiring journey.'
Mildryth pursed her lips, intensifying the lines around her mouth when she subjected her to the same kind of scrutiny she had given Éomer. 'She doesn't look much like a princess.'
'I don't feel like one,' Lothíriel answered, laughing. 'In fact I don't feel much except one big all over ache.' At that moment she didn't even care what Éomer thought, all she wanted was rest and hot water. Her face must have shown her need because in a few short minutes Storm had been taken away with the men and she and Éowyn had been ushered inside, Éowyn whispering to her that Mildryth had been the housekeeper at Aldburg since she was a child. No problem with the upkeep of the hall here, Lothíriel noticed, as they entered the main area. Two rows of supporting wooden pillars ran down the side of the hall, beautifully carved and glowing from frequent polishing they held up massive beams that formed the roof, and between them were set many trestle tables laid for a meal. In spite of the warm weather a modest fire burned in the oblong pit in the middle of the large space, smoke rising to the roof where it was drawn out through open vents. The stone floor had been swept and washed clean and the tapestries on the walls glowed with muted colours, softening the whole effect. Lothíriel let out a deep inward sigh – simple but comfortable, the care given to the hall apparent, which gave her high hopes of receiving similar treatment herself. A bath first, and then it would be good to actually sit at a table to eat. Her stomach grumbled as the appetising smell of roasting meat reached her from an open doorway.
'Something smells good. What is it? ' Lothíriel asked.
'Boar,' Mildryth supplied the answer. 'Those able to hunt have been out all week knowing we had so many to feed.'
Lothíriel nodded and followed Mildryth and Éowyn to the back of the hall, across a raised dais and into a passageway, leading off from which were many doors. She guessed this was a wing added to the main hall later as the woodwork looked newer, and her deduction was confirmed when Mildryth opened the door into a room with a window that looked out over the town.
'Will you and Éowyn share, my lady? We are a bit short of space with everyone here.'
Lothíriel nodded. 'Of course.' The bed looked big enough for more than two and was temptingly covered in a richly embroidered quilt in red and green. A wooden screen stood in the corner of the room – there just had to be a bath behind it.
Éowyn followed the direction of her eyes. 'Don't worry, you can have it first.'
Mildryth huffed. 'No need for that, I'll send in another. We've enough water; the men will just have to wait a bit.' She bustled out muttering about sending their bags up, and Lothíriel went over and sank down on the bed rubbing her neck, which besides itching from the bites felt uncomfortably stiff.
'It sounded as if Mildryth was telling you off.'
A faint flush appeared on Éowyn's cheeks, so something had certainly discomfited her. Lothíriel thought she knew what. 'Was she scolding you for riding to war?'
Éowyn nodded, looking even more embarrassed. 'But worse, she reminded me that I had neglected my duty. Théoden King left me in a position of responsibility, in charge of the refuge at Dunharrow and I more or less abandoned my post.'
'I see.' Lothíriel had never really appreciated that, as understandably Éowyn had kept it quiet. 'But surely you appointed another in your stead.'
'Of course. Some of the warriors injured at Helm's Deep remained there with their families, so it was not so bad. But I had to be a bit devious and leave orders: they would have tried to stop me riding otherwise.'
Lothíriel opened her mouth to say that a commander who abandoned his post would be in serious trouble in Dol Amroth, but thought better of it. No point in making her feel worse. 'I imagine the outcome of you riding probably negates any misdeed. What does your brother say about it?'
'He said just that, albeit reluctantly. Luckily I was too ill for him to lecture me overmuch before he went to the Black Gate, and when he came back his worry about my relationship with Faramir took precedence. Probably our victory will put my misdemeanour from people's minds, but although none are likely to openly criticize me, there may be a few who will look askance.'
Éowyn came close to the bed, her eyes seeking reassurance; Lothíriel reached up and took hold of her hand. 'Then they must look into their own hearts, for who has not made any mistakes during their life.'
'Thank you. I am not overly bothered by any whispers there may be, but it is good to know I have your support.'
The conversation ended abruptly as a knock on the door heralded the arrival of the second tub and buckets and buckets of hot water. A line of tall blond women trooped in to fill the baths, supervised by Mildryth. Another maid carried their bags and following her, clutching towels and a stone jar in her arms, was the young women Lothíriel had noticed outside, easily recognisable because of her curly hair.
'This is Hungife, my lady.' Mildryth introduced her once the towels had been draped over the screen and the jar put down on a stool near the baths. 'She speaks good Westron, so if you are agreeable she will attend you for tonight.'
Lothíriel smiled. 'You had a baby with you outside.'
Hungife dipped her head. 'Yes, my lady, someone is minding him.' Her voice was pleasant, although the Westron heavily accented, and she made an effort to smile. But the emptiness in her eyes tore at Lothíriel's heart. Without saying any more Hungife went over and checked the temperature of the nearest bath, swishing her hand into water and saying something to one of the women still holding a bucket. A little more hot went in.
'It will be just right in a moment, my lady; I'll help you with your clothes.'
One of the other women already had Éowyn's riding dress half off and Lothíriel willingly handed herself over to Hungife. Not as expert as a Dol Amroth trained handmaiden, but she wasn't complaining as very soon she was wallowing in hot water laced with sage oil and rosemary whilst a sweet smelling soap was being lathered into her hair. Lothíriel hesitated as whether to say anything about Hungife's obvious grief, but then remembered the careful way she had been treated after Berenor's death when she really would have found it easier if people had talked openly. It would be cowardly of her not to say anything, but she waited until she got out of the bath and Hungife had started to brush her hair dry.
'Who were you looking for outside, Hungife?'
The brush stopped, and Lothíriel heard a loud swallow before Hungife answered. 'My husband, he has not come home.'
'You were expecting him?'
'They told me...'her voice broke and it was a moment before she carried on. 'They told me he had fallen, but I thought...hoped...' the rest came out in a rush. 'He never saw his son.'
Lothíriel looked round to see tears streaming down Hungife's cheeks. She could understand the false hope, many in Dol Amroth had been the same – meeting every ship even though they had been told their loved one's fate.
'I am sorry, Hungife, I understand how awful it must be for you.' She put her hand on Hungife's arm, but the young women shook it off angrily.
'How can you understand?' Hungife snapped back. 'My son has no father I have no-one to support me. My husband worked with the horses and was well thought off, but he wasn't a proper warrior and should not have been put in such danger. Now I will be living on hand-outs whilst the nobles of Gondor... '
'Hungife!' Éowyn's icy voice cut through the tirade. She said something fast in Rohirric and Hungife dropped her head, wiping the tears from her eyes with the sleeve of her dress.
She sniffed. 'I apologise, my lady, I spoke out of turn.'
Well, she had heard the people of Rohan spoke their mind, was this her first taste of it? Should she let grief excuse such rudeness? Éowyn had her eyes fixed on the Rohirric woman, ready to say something else, but Lothíriel caught her gaze and shook her head, deciding that nothing would be achieved by admonishing her further. There had been anger in Dol Amroth, and one could not deny that the rank and file with their jerkins and limited chainmail had suffered more than those able to clothe themselves in superior armour.
'It is difficult for many, Hungife. But I am sure you will be looked after.' Lothíriel gave her a sympathetic smile. 'Perhaps you could braid my hair so it will be easier in the morning, and then go and care for your son.'
After another sniff Hungife nodded and took up a comb to section Lothíriel's long hair. She tried to ease the situation by getting Hungife to talk about her baby, born just after her husband had ridden to war.
Later, wearing a clean dress that had more or less survived being rolled up in her saddlebags and feeling fresh and tidy for the first time in days, Lothíriel followed Éowyn onto the dais. The hall was crammed full with the families of the Eastmark and Éomer and other lords already sat at the board. Seeing the only two empty places were one each side of the King of Rohan, she hesitated, but Éomer stood up and beckoned her forward.
He stretched out and pulled out the two chairs at once. 'Lothíriel, you sit this side.' He indicated the seat between him and one of the Peredhil twins.
Now that was awkward as she still found it difficult to tell them apart, possibly because she'd had very little conversation with either, both appearing a little reserved with her and Éowyn. But it looked as if she would have to talk to one of them at least, but which one? If she didn't pick up a clue, she would have to admit defeat and ask. Luckily rescue came before she sat down, as she heard Éomer say.
'You sit here, Éowyn, between Elrohir and me.' Éomer spoke to Éowyn, but flashed her a look that told her he'd been totally alert to her predicament and had chosen to help her out. But one friendly overture didn't mean she would drop her guard as far as the King of Rohan was concerned, that would be extremely foolish. However she smiled at him, extremely aware that if she had thought him good to look at before, then tanned from the journey, his hair bleached by the sun and dressed in a dark green tunic, he was any woman's dream. Not her's though, she told herself firmly. She would not give him the satisfaction of any conquest. Arms length and studiously polite would be the way to deal with such a threat to her equanimity.
Having decided that, Lothíriel settled in her seat and turned to the twin beside her, Elladan she now knew, but before she could say more than a polite greeting Éomer spoke again.
'That's better, a woman each side of me, and I am sure we will be able to converse on something interesting tonight, Lothíriel, I need a change from talking about field beans and cabbages.'
She imagined he might, but looked suspiciously at him, wondering if he was being serious or in some way trying to make fun of her. However, Éowyn immediately pulled a sympathetic face. 'Comes with the new role, Éomer, you would be surprised how much our uncle knew about farming, or at least feeding our people.'
A spasm crossed Éomer's face and somehow Lothíriel knew that it was not his uncle's death that was causing him anguish, but more the feeding of his people, and she felt instant concern. Was it that bad? She knew that the beans would feed animals as well as people, and there was still time to sow cabbages and kale. Grain was on the way from Gondor, but the Rohirrim would have to plant rye and wheat in the autumn to ensure a good early crop next year, and probably do quite a lot of hunting to see them through. However, boar did not keep well, it would have to be heavily salted. She mused on whether Rohan had plenty of salt, not sure if any had been loaded onto the supply wagons. Éomer interrupted her deliberations.
'I am sure we can find something to say to one another, Lothíriel. And not about horses, either.' His eyebrows shot up and his lips twitched. Obviously he had decided to make an effort to get on with her, possibly only to make things easier for his sister.
But she gave a laugh and held out her cup for him to fill, happy to think that he really just wanted some light conversation to take his mind from the consequences of a vicious and destructive war. She could deal with that. As well as a good knowledge of how to make sure enough food was produced for the populace, she'd had plenty of practice at making polite chit-chat to entertain and put folks at ease, and usually succeeded, but diverting the King of Rohan from thinking of his problems without falling into an argument promised to be a lot harder.
No conversation yet though, because first Éomer stood to honour those that had died during the battles. The whole hall rose, raising their drinking cups to the 'glorious dead.' She felt dwarfed by the two warriors flanking her, both powerful presences, albeit very different. Risking a glance towards Elladan, Lothíriel encountered enigmatic grey eyes studying her thoughtfully. She found difficulty in pulling her gaze away from that striking face, which appeared to her as being both fair and fell. Her brothers had almost salivated when describing the prowess of Elrond's sons, so she knew her dinner companion to be a fierce warrior, but then he smiled, his eyes softened, and it was like looking into an ancient book brimming with undiscovered knowledge.
She swung her head around quickly and met a very different look. Éomer raked dark eyes up and down her lingering momentarily on her neckline, before he fixed them on her face. 'Sit down and tell me about the sea, I know nothing about it except what I have heard from your brothers. I am sure you will be able to give me a much more eloquent description.'
Had she imagined that extremely masculine appraisal? Conscious of him very close to her, so close that she could see a thin white scar that disappeared under his beard, she tried hard not to show any reaction. She sat down with a start and put her cup to her lips, mostly to hide the flush of colour to her face. It was not as if her dress was over-revealing, true it was cut lower than her riding dresses, but not...
'Is it right what I have heard, that the water can expand, at times being far from the land but at others it batters the very foot of the cliffs?' Éomer asked as he sat down himself, only a slight glint in his eyes giving strength to her suspicion of male interest.
'Éomer, we have spent numerous nights around the campfires and you have not asked me a thing about the sea. Is it that you prefer to talk to this lovely lady, or do you doubt my knowledge on such matters?'
Éomer frowned. 'It never occurred to me.' But then a roughish grin broke over his face. 'But you are right, Elladan, given choice I would favour hearing such things from a lady's lips, and I am sure Lothíriel is very knowledgeable.'
But before answering she turned impulsively to Elladan, sure that he knew much more than her about tides and how they appeared to be linked to the moon. However, he gestured for her to carry on and taking a deep breath she started to explain, all the while acutely aware of Éomer's intense concentration on her. But he seemed to be genuinely interested, asking intelligent questions about their ships using the tides to travel along the coast.
'Do you swim, Lothíriel?' Elladan had kept quiet during her explanation and the sound of his voice made her jump.
'Yes, I used to a lot when I was a child. And still do when I get the opportunity.'
'I remember that the waters around Dol Amroth are very enticing, so warm one could be in a bath.'
'You have been to Dol Amroth,' she exclaimed.
'A few times, the last was to visit with Galador...'
Lothíriel gasped. 'That was a thousand years ago.'
'Hmm...I've been rather busy since then. But perhaps now I will have time to travel again.'
She hadn't meant that he should have visited more often, but didn't bother to say so, realising he could tell her all sorts of things about some hazy ancestors. 'Can you...' But Éomer interrupted her.
'What about sailing? Your brothers told me they go out on small boats for fun. Do you do that?'
Lothíriel quickly brought her mind back from thinking of the origins of the Princes of Dol Amroth and tried to concentrate on her host. Should she tell him about the time she had marooned Amrothos on the island and the way they used to race across the bay before the threat of Corsairs became too much, or should she just say she liked sailing and leave it at that? Luckily food was put on the table at that moment which gave her chance think about her answer
'I think we're lucky and have bream,' Éomer remarked as a whole fish was put in front of him. 'I'm sure I saw a pike pass the table.' He started to portion the fish, neatly removing a piece of flesh from the bone and putting it on her plate, before doing the same for Éowyn. 'It's anything they can catch, I'm afraid.'
Lothíriel poured the offered creamy sauce over her bream. 'You eat a lot of fish?'
'What we can, whether it be fish, eels or crayfish, but I have to admit that the seafood I enjoyed in Gondor was generally superior in flavour.'
The bream did taste a bit earthy but the sauce improved it somewhat. 'Do you go fishing yourself?'
Éomer laughed a little hollowly. 'Not since I was a boy, no time to sit around on a river bank. And I am afraid to tell you that they probably netted the river to feed us tonight.'
Who could blame them with an army coming home? She smiled. 'I see no difference to our fishermen staking nets out to catch the fish coming in with the tide.'
'A very crude way of doing things,' Elladan remarked. 'A fish will swim into your hand if you call it in the right way.'
Lothíriel stared at him wondering if the slight upturn of lips on an otherwise emotionless face meant he was ribbing them. Éomer openly laughed.
'And I suppose deer run into your arrows and boar jump on the end of your spear. It's a good job you will be around for a while, we will not go hungry.'
Elladan ignored him. 'You were going to tell us if you can sail, Lothíriel.'
'No, she was going to tell me. You were going to give her a history lesson, which can wait.' Éomer treated her to a lazy smile. 'I imagine getting wet and salty in a small boat wouldn't bother you too much.'
Lothíriel wasn't sure if that was some kind of compliment or he was amused by her dishevelled appearance the last few days. Best to take no notice. 'I don't mind getting a bit wet because, as Elladan has said, the water is warm, in the summer anyway. Elphir taught me to sail, and Erchirion to ride.' A wicked thought came into her head and she let it come straight out. 'Amrothos taught me that I always need to hold my own against overbearing men.'
Elladan actually laughed, which made Éowyn and his brother look up. Éomer leaned towards her and dropped his voice. 'I am not sure which I enjoy more, the truce or the hostilities.'
'Oh,' she shot back, 'a truce has to be negotiated. And the terms are stringent.'
He leaned even closer so that she could feel his breath whispering across her cheek. 'I shall look forward to discussing your terms another time, Lothíriel; I do not think this the place.'
His eyes caught hers and she saw them darken with barely concealed desire. Heat rushed to her cheeks but she daren't turn her face away or someone else would see, so stared down into her lap wondering how things had changed so quickly. Vaguely she became aware of clapping, and the smell of roast boar filled the hall.
Looking up she saw a haunch being brought their way. Éomer stood up to welcome it, saying something to Éowyn in Rohirric. He took a knife from his belt and started to carve off pieces of meat, looking totally relaxed. Perhaps she had dreamed that whole episode, but feeing a tingle on the back of her neck she turned around to face Elladan. She had no doubt those eyes of his saw everything, real and imagined.
'We too must talk, Lothíriel, I am sure there is much I can tell you. 'A look of fun came on his face that she had totally not expected to see. 'Besides, it will annoy Éomer.'
Still astounded by what Elladan had said, she jumped when Éomer spoke to her. He had a piece of meat speared on the end of his knife, which he carefully loaded onto her plate. 'The best should be given to the Lady from Dol Amroth, I think.' His face remained impassive, but his dark brown eyes flung out a challenge.
Caught between the Lord of the Mark's raw power and Elladan's hidden depths she felt like a helpless jellyfish that had lost its sting, with no real idea how to get away.
To be continued.
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.