16. The Ruse is Up
Lothiriel's breath hitched as the bridal party advanced. Éowyn was beautiful in her pale blue gown. Yet it was not the bride that captivated the young princess; it was her brother—Éomer, King of Rohan. Lothiriel noted how very regal he looked. His face was a mask of serene happiness, very different from the melancholy reflected there at dinner the night before.
The young woman stole a glance at her own escort. Lord Elrohir was tall and stately, with a strong lithe body and the wisdom of the ages in his grey eyes. He was beautiful in an awe inspiring, ethereal way. It actually made Lothiriel a bit uncomfortable. He was generous and most kind and the Prince's daughter was quite certain that he would be an attentive, sensual, gentle lover and husband. Yet, as her gaze turned to the King of Rohan as he passed, she began to compare them.
Éomer's skin would be warm—perhaps even hot under her fingers—unlike elvin skin which she knew to be cool and smooth like porcelain. The king's body was strong and powerful and muscular unlike the sinewy lean build of an elvin warrior. Lothiriel began to feel her body flush. While she knew Éomer was a compassionate man, he was also full of fire and raw passion. She imagined he would be a demanding lover, a wild lover, a heart-stopping-all-encompassing-blood-boiling lover who would make her feel beyond her imagination; yet still a gentle doting husband. Lothiriel was certain that Éomer's passion for life would consume her! Suddenly, feeling her heart fluttering and her face flushed, the young princess looked down at her trembling hands. She had to get control and forget him. She was attending with Lord Elrohir, a suitor her chaperone and father found acceptable; so acceptable in fact that Lady Beriedis was dismissed for the night!
As Éomer escorted his beloved sister to the front of the grand hall, he stole a look at the beautiful Lothiriel. Although he knew there was nothing between the princess and Lord Elrohir, the King could not stop the pang of jealousy as he looked at the pair. They did make a stunning couple but it was just a ruse…Éomer kept telling himself that throughout the whole day for the elf-lord did well keeping up the pretense.
Éomer finally relaxed during the wedding feast. He found himself seated next to the beautiful princess and her escort at the King of Gondor's table. Across the way sat Imrahil, his sons and Lady Beriedis who seemed to still keep careful watch over Lothiriel. Dinner was splendid with delightful food and conversation; Éomer soon found himself truly enjoying the night. While Elrohir continued to shower Lothiriel with attention, he kept it 'proper' and chaste.
Éomer felt bad that Lothiriel knew nothing of Queen Arwen's plan and he hoped that she would not be too disappointed or hurt when the truth came out. He desperately wanted to tell her, to lavish the princess with attention, to whisk her away…
Éomer suddenly stood and moving around the seated Lothiriel, tapped Elrohir on the shoulder. The elf-lord stopped his lengthy discussion with Elessar and looked up at Éomer.
"May I have a dance with Lady Lothiriel?" Éomer asked politely.
Elrohir smirked, then seeing Lady Beriedis watching closely, he smiled and replied, "I have no objections if the Lady agrees." He looked at Lothiriel who all but knocked over her chair in her haste to stand.
Éomer took her delicate hand and guided her to the dance floor. They hesitated a moment, a shy awkwardness overcoming them; then they began to dance. As the king of Rohan held the slight woman in his arms he was suddenly very thankful that his uncle had insisted he learn some of the finer things in life. Despite his warrior's frame and considerable height, Éomer moved gracefully about the floor. Maneuvering them far enough away from prying eyes and ears, the two began to speak freely and comfortably. Éomer found it so easy to talk to Lothiriel. She was bright and witty and empathetic. In turn, Éomer was surprised that when she spoke it was of things much deeper than most ladies of the court, things of worth and merit. How could Lothiriel be so well balanced and kind when her chaperone was a closed-minded shrew of a woman? Éomer looked across the hall and sure enough, Lady Beriedis was watching them like a hawk. An odd thought struck the king as their eyes met…Lady Beriedis was actually a rather attractive middle-aged woman! Éomer quickly looked away.
From her place at Imrahil's side, Lady Beriedis shifted her gaze to the elegant Queen of Gondor. As their eyes locked a knowing look crossed the woman's face. She felt the hair on the back of her neck prickle as the Queen's ageless grey eyes bore into her. Beriedis raised her chin, suddenly she knew they had been deceived—Elrohir had no interest in Lothiriel! Looking at the younger woman Beriedis realized that the poor girl had no idea. Lothiriel truly believe the elf-lord sought her affections! Beriedis' blood began to boil. She would not tolerate the princess being hurt; but there was little she could do about it now. The issue would be addressed but not here. Queen or not the she-elf needed to understand that it was not her place to meddle in the personal affairs of Dol Amroth! Giving Arwen one last cool gaze, the Lady of Dol Amroth returned her attention to the Prince.
The music ended and Éomer lingered with Lothiriel still in his arms, neither really wanted to let go. When the minstrels began again, Éomer wasted no time; this would most likely be as close as he got to the Prince's daughter for quite some time. They smiled and laughed and Éomer felt as light as summer's cloud, lost in the sky blue eyes of the beautiful lady in his arms. But all things must end and as the last strains of music died, Éomer felt a tap on the shoulder.
"I fear I must steal her back," Elrohir said quietly, an understanding smile on his lips. "My dear, I promised my sister to have you back to your rooms at an acceptable hour." He bowed to Éomer as the tall elf lead the lovely woman away.
As Éomer moved back to his seat, he noticed Queen Arwen standing at the hall's entrance as Elrohir and Lothiriel bid her father good night. The king then saw Lady Beriedis, a less than pleased look on her face, lean in and whisper something to the Elrohir which cause the elf-lord to pause. There was an air of disapproval about the woman and Éomer suddenly had the feeling they had all been caught! He worried that Lothiriel would be on the receiving end of the Lady's ire. The king wanted desperately to approach Beriedis, plead with her, swear to her, that the Princess knew nothing of the plan. That it had only been he and the Queen who planned the charade so he could have time alone with the princess. The tall man stepped forward but a hand on his shoulder stayed him.
"Let it be, my Lord," Gamling said quietly. Éomer eyed the older man. "I have been enlightened and while the gesture was kind on the part of Queen Arwen, it was a risky move that may well not work to your benefit in the long run."
Éomer picked up his goblet and drank heavily. "It was all so I could spend a moment of time with her."
"Perhaps it is best we leave earlier than planned. When the Lady discovers the truth…when the Prince learns of the deception, better you not be here. The children of Elrond will be able to clear you of any blame as there is none on your part."
Éomer knew Gamling was right. While it was wonderful to feel Lothiriel in his arms, to talk openly with her, it might have come at too high a cost. His captain, as usual, was correct. Their party would leave for Rohan in the morning.
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.