AN: There's no excuse for this. I mean, there is, but it's not a very good one, so I won't even bother to type it in. Just let me say:
I'M SO SORRY FOR NOT UPDATING!!! I hate it when fanfic authors do that, and here I was doing the same thing. :( Oh well, here it is at last, the final chapter of The Chase.
The rest of my day was taken up by a formal greeting of the populace, and a high state dinner. Eomer and I didn't have the chance to do more than cast smoldering glances at one another down the length of the dining table. I was so anxious to tell him father's decision, Elphir had to remind me more than once not to eat so fast.
At long last, after 3 hours of polite mingling, Amrothos escorted me back to my room. Not all of my yawns had been faked for a quick exit; it had been a long day.
"It is good to have you back, Ria. Goodnight." My brother smiled and embraced me quickly before leaving me at my door. His happiness gave me a brief sense of guilt: I had not yet told the boys that I would be leaving Dol Amroth permanently in a few months.
Once in my chambers again, I exchanged my cumbersome dinner dress for a plain, dark blue gown. The silvery gray cloak I donned would help the shadows cling to me, I hoped. The gardens would likely be completely deserted by this hou5r, but the last thing I wanted was a witness to the intimacy I fully expected- and hoped- Eomer and I would indulge ourselves in.
I knew it would be some time before Eomer could escape the hall, but I unlatched the glass door that led into my garden and stepped outside anyway. It was a beautiful night, overflowing with moonlight, winking white stars, and the distant sound of the tides crashing to shore. Taking a deep breath, I savored the smell of the sea air... only to encounter a vague longing for the grassy, earthy smell of Rohan's breezes. Slowly, I worked my way westwards, until I was standing against the stone wall that overlooked the ocean. Off to the south I could see the great beacons that were always kept lit to warn ships away from the rocks.
My mind wandered forward in time. It was going to be hard to leave my family, my old home... but for Eomer, I knew, I would do anything. The strength of my feelings for him frightened me a bit until I remembered the expression in his deep brown eyes whenever he looked at me. I smiled to myself, knowing he loved me as much as I loved him.
"When you say 'westernmost' you really mean it, don't you my lady?"
I jumped at the sudden voice behind me. As hands closed on my shoulders from behind, I couldn't help but flash back to that morning's adventures. I whirled around, knife at the ready...
Only to find it taken away from me and pocketed by my assailant. Again.
"You would think I'd learn not to sneak up on you, love." Eomer chuckled at the look of relief on my face.
"Someday you really must teach me how to attack someone standing behind me and NOT have my blade confiscated." I relaxed and accepted my dagger back from Eomer.
"And have my throat cut? I think not." I turned towards the sea again, leaning my head backwards to rest on his shoulder. His arms tightened pleasantly around my waist. We were companionably silent for a few moments.
"I talked to Father today."
I felt Eomer's muscles tense at my back. "What did he say?"
"About what?" I smiled to myself, enjoying teasing the King of Rohan.
"About what, she says. You know what: us." Eomer stepped back and spun me around to face him.
He was wearing the robe I had made for him. Its dark hues set off his golden hair and noble expression to perfection. His dark, dark eyes froze me to the ground once again. Such eyes should be illegal south of Rohan, I thought, for they would surely be my undoing tonight.
Not that I would really mind.
"Well?" Eomer interrupted my reverie.
I paused, savoring the moment. "He gave us his blessing, Eomer. We are free to marry."
In an instant, I was swept off my feet and twirled around, laughing. Still holding me up, Eomer looked down at me with an elated expression and kissed me passionately. The world spun away. There was only Eomer's hard body, his heated lips on mine, and the feel of his hair as I ran my fingers through it.
"Let's do it tonight." Eomer finally lowered me to the ground and spoke.
I tried to catch my breath and gather my thoughts. "Do what?"
I stared up at him. "What? There's no priest, no witnesses..."
"In the Rohirric tradition, there is no need for anything but the vow of two people to love only each other. I need to year you say the words, Ria. I will understand if you wish to wait until our marriage is formally acknowledged it, but please...I love you so much, I feel like I can't wait anymore to declare myself to you."
My eyes were filled with tears of joy. "Oh, Eomer that was beautiful. Of course I agree...I- I don't want to wait, either."
Eomer drew himself up to a tall, kingly stature and took my hands.
"Then I, Eomer King of Rohan, son of Eomund Marshall of the Mark and sister-son of Theoden King do hereby take as my wife Lothiriel, princess of Dol Amroth of Gondor, daughter of Imrahil. I vow in this moment to love, cherish, and respect her throughout our lives together, to be true to her and loyal to her and to set her highest in my esteem. Eru and Valar, witness our union and bless it." He took something out of his pocket and slipped it onto my finger. I looked down and saw that it was a signet ring, closely resembling his own, yet smaller and more delicate. A woven gold band held a deep-green stone overlaid with...
"A winged horse? I have never seen such a thing before."
Eomer smiled. "With your leave, my lady, it is to be your personal seal and symbol. It combines the horse of Rohan with the swan of Dol Amroth, that you may show pride in both your homes. I commissioned it while we were in Minas Tirith, and it was rushed here as soon as it was done."
"It is beautiful, Eomer. I love it!" A moment passed as I admired the marvelously wrought ring and waited for my wedding vows to come to me. They soon did.
"I, Princess Lothiriel of Dol Amroth of Gondor, daughter of Imrahil, do hereby take as my beloved husband Eomer King of Rohan. Before the Valar and The One I pledge to love and honor him forever, to be faithful and loyal to him, to respect him and stand always by his side. May our marriage be blessed."
In the sacred West, a star seemed to flash brighter than its neighbors for a second. With a burst of white light, it streaked across the sky.
I led Eomer slowly back to my room. Thankfully, my handmaid was not in attendance, but there was an oil lamp burning beside my bed. I stooped to blow it out.
I will leave it to your imagination what happened next. I had had ideas about what to expect in the marriage bed, and after kissing Eomer so much they had been quite pleasantly detailed. Suffice it to say, however, that the reality proved to be much, much better than I had dreamed. For a moment, we were truly one.
Afterwards we lay together gazing up at the canopy. Lazily, I spoke my thoughts.
"I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't run away."
My husband leaned over me. "We would have found each other eventually. Some things are meant to be."
I smiled at that sweet sentiment. "Undoubtedly...but perhaps you wouldn't have had to follow me through the wilderness, wounded, if we had met at a state function."
Eomer considered that. "You did lead me a merry chase, Ria...but it was worth it. I wouldn't trade that chase for the world."