4. King Ellessar's Wedding
AN: This chapter takes place after the happenings of The Blacksmith's daughter and at the beginning of The Dunadan's Daughter—just to put it in perspective.
Lothiriel sat at a table watching the festivities around her. To her right sat the ever present Lady Beriedis, scowling at any man who might be thinking of approaching the princess. To her left sat a woman she had met just a few weeks ago, Lady Arathea. According to Faramir she was a close friend of King Elessar. The two women were quickly developing a friendship, although it was clear Lady Beriedis did not much approve. However, Lothiriel had learned over the years that there was little the Lady approved of so it really mattered little.
"Tell me," the young woman began, addressing Arathea, "are all the people of Rohan so serious? They celebrate, but their joy seems forced. Even their king is still full of sorrow. Can they not find it in their hearts to rejoice for the life and freedom gained?"
"The people of Rohan are nothing but common villagers, child" the Lady Beriedis interjected, her nose high in the air. "They have no sense of decorum; I am sure they feel quite out of place in so elegant a setting as this. Do not trouble yourself with them; there is not one among them who is of your breeding. Now, look at some of these fine men of Gondor. Ah, there is Septhan; he is from a good family and has served the stewards well. He would be a wonderful match for you."
Lothiriel rolled her eyes and ignored the older woman. The princess felt she was quite able to find her own husband; she certainly was not going to agree to some political marriage! She turned her gaze again to the King of Rohan.
Arathea did not like Lady Beriedis. She had no patience for people who thought themselves above others and the lady of Dol Amroth looked down from a high pedestal, indeed! How Arathea would love to knock the peahen down a few pegs, however, Master Erestor taught her to be better than that. She would hold her tongue and demonstrate restraint—for now. Therefore, she, too, ignored the rude woman and instead offered her own thoughts regarding the Rohirrim.
"The people of Rohan are simple only in that they have no need of…" Arathea waved her hand about indicating the grandeur about them, "all this. They are hard workers who understand the land and relish the simple joys life has to offer. I envy them for that," she added softly. Realizing she had spoken the last part aloud, she quickly continued. "I am told they are a very lively people under better circumstances; however, the war has cost them greatly."
"Oh poor Rohan!" Lady Beriedis chimed in dramatically. "They suffered so much more than the rest of us! HA! The war took its toll on the lands of Gondor, also. They have no business to act as if only they suffered."
Arathea found it difficult to hold her tongue. She looked at Lothiriel and read the embarrassment in the younger woman's eyes. 'Good,' she thought, 'the princess sees her mentor's shortcoming.' Aloud she replied, "King Théoden's son was killed through the treachery of an ally while the king lay under a spell. Then when their own lands lay ravaged by war, they came to the aid of Gondor. Gondor regains her King…" Arathea looked around Lothiriel and pinned Lady Beriedis with a poignant stare. "…but Rohan lost theirs and on foreign land. I must say the people of Rohan have made quite a favorable impression. As for their young king? Éomer finds himself wearing a mantle he never expected or desired, while his sister has found comfort in the arms of your cousin. I know the loneliness he feels."
Lothiriel said nothing for a long time, thinking about what Lady Arathea said. She continued to watched Éomer; she could not help herself. There was something about the King. He was attractive in a rugged way and very strong—both physically and emotionally. His hazel eyes held deep emotion. The Princess tried to imagine what he might look like if he smiled—really smiled and the joy reached his eyes. She wished to be able to see that sometime. Lothiriel felt a blush stain her cheeks when she realized that Éomer now gazed at her. She quickly averted her eyes and therefore missed the small smile that the young king offered her. When the Princess of Dol Amroth decided to chance another look, she found Éomer deep in discussion with King Elessar. Lothiriel turned her attention back to the celebration and Lady Beriedis' constant attempts to point out a suitable suitor. A presence behind her made Lothiriel turn and she was surprised to find King Elessar addressing Lady Arathea in hushed tones.
"If you will excuse me," Arathea said as she stood. Elessar offered her his arm and the two made their way towards Éomer.
Lothiriel watched as the beautiful lady took a seat next to Éomer. Their heads were bent close in conversation. The princess felt a sudden flash of disappointment; yet how could she even think he would be interested in her? Lothiriel knew little of the world outside Dol Amroth. She was still quite young on so many levels; not to mention Lady Beriedis would throw a fit. Lady Arathea was beautiful, highly educated, a friend of King Elessar and elegant. There was no doubt in Lothiriel's mind that the older woman was of noble birth; she would be a perfect match for a new King.
Therefore, it was with dimmed happiness that Lothiriel got her wish. As the music changed, Arathea stood and offered her hand to the handsome king of Rohan. Éomer accepted it and the two danced about the room; Éomer's face, for the first time, looked relaxed and the smile on his lips reached his eyes.