Author: Crimson Coin Aragorn yearns for the life he has left behind. But his desires are fulfilled in a way he never imagined.
Rating: PG13. R in later chapters
Disclaimer: I do not own Lord of the Rings or any characters within. They are from the mind of Tolkien and are borrowed.
Archiving: Ask first, please.
Eomer stood from his desk, stretching his arms up to ease the tension in his back and shoulders. He still wasn't used to being a king and sitting caged inside, forced to bend over a wooden desk and stacks of papers. He easily cramped, his head pounding with all the considerations that must be made within the kingdom.
Continuing with his daily ritual, he walked to the long window and gazed out at his beloved plains. A soft smile pulled at his lips at the sight of the familiar outdoors. The fresh scent of horse, hay, and bread filled his lungs mixed with a crispness that foretold of the coming season.
Narrowing his eyes, he focused on a distant figure. His smile softened still as he recognized the princess riding one of his horses. She had been favoring Hæglfaru, the white mare, for some days. He wasn't sure why the guards watched her closely, or why even now, many others seemed to watch as well.
His mind fathomed one reason they would watch her so. But a fierce possessiveness and jealousy that had no right to be there filled him. The thought of her in a romantic involvement with one of his men infuriated him. But who was he to feel that way?
Searching for her again, he squinted, wishing to watch her more closely. Ah, so that was why she was attracting a crowd. Any man would be foolish not to watch her, but today she rode that obstinate mare barebacked. He had no idea she could ride that way.
Even from afar, she was the loveliest creature he had ever seen. Her hair whipping wildly in the wind, her tightened body gracefully moving with her horse. It was as if she were born to ride, as if she were a woman of Rohan.
Why again was he cooped up inside when he could be riding along the plains with her?
Lothiriel smiled brightly as she squeezed her legs a little tighter, urging the horse beneath her to gallop even faster. Oh, the freedom to be able to run. For the longest time, her father had been weary of letting her run free, afraid of all the evil men and monsters. But here, in Rohan atop so magnificent a horse, Hæglfaru ran.
She could feel a thin sheen of sweat on the horse, her mane wet and Lothiriel knew she had run the mare well. She deserved a good brushing when they returned to the stables.
Lothiriel slowed Hæglfaru, turning towards the voice and her smile softened at the sight of the young King of the Mark riding her way. "Hail, Eomer-King."
Eomer laughed as he slowed Firefoot and with pristine grace, dismounted. "It has been long since I've seen a woman ride bareback. My sister has on occasion as I've heard the Queen Arwen still does. But not from a lady of Gondor."
She cocked a brow, dismounting as well. "Obviously, my Lord, you have mistaken the capabilities of the women in Gondor."
His smile grew as she played his game. He gave Firefoot a firm pat before walking away from his horse, allowing the stallion to graze as he pleased. "I don't believe I have mistaken them. I doubt every lady of the Gondorian Court can ride as you have just done."
"Perhaps," she conceded. "But then again, I am not as every lady of the Gondorian Court."
"Indeed, my Dear, you are not," he answered deeply and his heart rate quickened when she flushed a pale pink. Or was she already flushed from the thrill of her ride?
Lothiriel quickly averted her eyes back to Edoras. "I expected you would still be in chambers, my lord, if not with advisors then at least bent over your desk. Do you often find time for an afternoon ride?"
"No," he said. "But I have missed the ride, and often I find any excuse to give Firefoot his reins and simply let him run." He sighed heavily, overwhelmed by her. The wind blew from the east and as she faced Edoras and that eastern wind; he willed his desire to remain controlled. Oh, how beautiful she was.
"Then tell me, Eomer King, how come now you see fit to stand here while your horse grazes over yonder?" Her chin raised defiantly, her eyes a challenge.
Eomer smiled softly, restraining to say the words in his heart. Instead he gazed out to the snowy hills in the distance. "Because, my princess, often I find something so breathtaking, I must stop to gaze upon it." He turned his head slightly, his eyes locking upon her. "I fear it has happened yet again."
Lothiriel's eyes widened, a slight gasp slipping from her lips as her eyes met his.
His eyes tender yet passionate, he took a step closer to her. "Forgive me, my lady, but I seem to be entranced."
Her cheeks flushed a deeper shade of red. "My Lord, you flatter me so ..." she trailed off, ducking her head.
He swallowed hard, his heart racing as he looked upon her. Was this the opportunity he'd been waiting for? "I fear, Lothiriel, I do not flatter you enough."
She licked her lips, her eyes still averted as her stomach dropped. She shivered when he reached out, hooking a finger under her chin and lifting her gaze to meet his. "Eomer."
He leaned closer, one hand gripping her waist, resting near her hip. "Lothy."
Lothiriel licked her lips, his bold familiarity startling her and yet she did not object. She reached up, placing her hand on his arm, her fingers tightening slightly.
He smiled in response, warm and tender as he leaned closer still. "Lothy, I … I have dreamt every night since we met of kissing you."
She smiled softly. "You remember when we met?"
"Aye," he sighed. "You were a healer in Minas Tirith. I was wounded in the battle upon the fields. You were treating another rider from Rohan and I knew that I would be next. But that old crotchety man cared for me instead." His eyes narrowed, a playful pout on his face.
"Mm hmm," he answered with a nod. "I wanted you to heal my wounds."
She cocked her head, her eyes locked on his. "And what did you think when you first saw me?"
It was Eomer's turn to flush and he cleared his throat. "I thought you were beautiful and any other thoughts would be improper to disclose to a lady."
Lothiriel laughed, her eyes bright as she gazed at him. "Improper? Was it not improper to have them?"
He smiled softly. "No. But when I discovered you were indeed a lady, it would have been improper to act upon them. I will admit to you, though, the temptation was ever so strong."
"I remember you well, Horse-master," she said. "I remember how you looked at me, your eyes locked. I remember that saucy grin spread across your face and I remember the way your eyes scanned my body as if inspecting every inch. I ... Eomer?" Confused, she tried to meet his eyes, but he was looking into the distance, behind her, his eyes narrowed.
Unwavering, his eyes focused upon the forest's edge in the short distance.
"Eomer? What is it?" She looked back over her shoulder. There was nothing, at least nothing she could see. A faint glimmer of light and then nothing. Another faint glimmer of light ...
"Lothiriel," he called, tugging her forcefully as he pulled her behind him, standing in front of her. He emitted a loud cry, a few Rohirric words resounding. A whizzing blow and then a thud. Eomer jostled in front of her.
She cowered at the cry, pressed close to his back and when he jostled, she placed her hands on him to steady him. "Eomer?"
He didn't respond to her, but wobbled slightly on his feet.
"Eomer," she tugged on his arm, turning him to face her and her eyes widened.
Embedded deep in the area between chest and shoulder was an arrow. "Lothy ... run ..." he collapsed to his knees.
She did not obey but instead wrapped her arms around him, supporting him best she could as his weight gave way. "I'm not leaving you." She guided him to the ground then looked back to the forest's edge. The gates to Edoras were already open, a loud horn calling as guards raced out onto the field.
"Lothy ..." he pushed gently at her hands, keeping her away. "Go ... run ..."
The arrow lodged deep, his shirt already changing a brilliant shade of crimson around the arrow's stem and she quickly began untying his shirt.
A thin sheen of sweat upon his brow, his body beginning to glisten, he shook his head. "Lothiriel ... please ... leave me ..."
"I can't," she said quickly as she tore the shirt, allowing her to remove it without aggravating his injury. He was a beautiful man, hardened tanned muscles with a few scars, but this was not the time to observe him. She shook any desire from her mind, her hands finding the point of the arrow's entry.
He moaned, mumbling something incoherent then closed his eyes.
She sensed the signs immediately. The arrow must have had a poisoned tip. Inspecting the wound carefully, the arrow had to have a smooth head. Placing a steadying hand upon his shoulder, she gripped the arrow and pulled it from his body.
He cried out in pain as it tore from him and he forced his eyes open to see her staring closely at the arrow's tip and then bring it to her nose. She inhaled. He did not understand the mumbled words that escaped her, but a strange chill raced down his spine.
He shuddered, a severe twitch coursing through his body as the darkness slowly engulfed the edges of his vision. "Lothy ..." he licked his lips, as his vision darkened. "Lothy, I ..."
His strength left him and he succumbed to the blackness.
A fierce bright light penetrated the darkness and he shifted uncomfortably, grimacing at the assault.
"It is about time you roused, brother-mine."
Eomer winced, shifting his weight and only then did he notice the softness beneath him, the thin covers draped across his waist. He was stripped of all but a pair of soft linen breeches and as he forced open his eyes, he saw the familiar canopy sealing of his bed.
"I had thought you stronger than to be bed-ridden for two days from only a single arrow to the shoulder. Tsk tsk, brother, you are spoiled now that you are king."
He sighed, blinking slowly as his vision adjusted. "Eowyn?"
She laughed. "Of course. Who else would have the gall to speak to the King of Rohan in such a manner?"
He closed his eyes, a soft smile upon his face. "Gamling, for one and I'm sure some of my captains. Do not forget your husband, and no doubt, Aragorn. Perhaps even Gandalf ..."
"I see. I see," she interrupted him. "The list would go on. Now come, Eomer, open your eyes. Look at me." She placed a cool hand upon his arm.
He licked his dry and chapped lips, letting his head fall to the side, his eyes attempting to focus on her. "Eowyn ... I do not like when your hands are chilled." He said, softly. "It reminds me of when the worm was here ... and you were so ill." He weakly reached across his chest, placing his much larger hand over hers.
Eowyn smiled. "I am glad you are finally well. Many were worried. Lothiriel ..."
His eyes widened. "Lothy ..." he struggled to sit up. "The princess ... where ..."
She chuckled. "Calm yourself, Eomer. Your princess is fine. She has not left your side for two days. It was only a few hours ago I sent her back to her room. She needed to sleep."
"She was with me?" His brow rose with disbelief. "I ... I would not expect her to."
She nodded, her gaze soft. "And yet she stayed with you. But I fear, my brother, that I am not here because of your injury, though it came at a strangely coincidental time. Aragorn tracks Arwen into Rohan. Gondor is resisting his need for aid and Faramir ..." she averted her eyes. "Faramir needs my ... our help."
Eomer quickly shook his head, forcing himself to sit up. "Nay, sister, you are not doing what I know you are thinking. And don't look at me like that. I will lead the Rohirrim out. Where are they? I received some strange messages from the Eastern Borders a few days ago. Strange activity, I believe was the message. It must be there."
Eowyn placed her hand upon his chest, pushing him back down onto the bed. "You are in no condition to lead any army against anything. The arrow you took was tipped with poison. You are weakened. Actually, if not for Lothiriel, you may have been dead."
"Aye," she answered with a stern gaze. "She recognized the scent. And when you fell into unconsciousness, your guards came upon you both and she was sucking the poison from your wound. It was a dangerous treatment she sought for the poison could have easily entered her as well. But the healers here say that if she had not, you would not be here now."
Eomer exhaled, a pensive expression on his face as he sank back into his bed. He slowly turned his gaze upon his left shoulder. The bandage tied tight but still the slightest glimpse of dried brown fluid showed. The wound must still be seeping. "It is not my sword arm." He said, coldly. "I can still fight."
"You will barely be able to stand from that bed," Eowyn scoffed. "Nay, you are in no condition to spar against your young seasoned warriors, much less face whatever foes cross our path."
His bedroom door quietly opened.
"I know what you will say, Eowyn," Lothiriel said softly, her eyes focused upon the tray she carried, ensuring the contents did not fall. "I could not sleep and I have no intention to. Plus, I have need to change his ... Eomer?"
His eyes softened, his smile tender as he looked upon the young princess of Dol Amroth. Her dress was simple and plain, most likely comfortable. It reminded him of what Eowyn would wear when she practiced her swordplay. "Hello, Lothiriel."
Eowyn couldn't help but smile at her brother's reaction. Perhaps someone was a little smitten with this tanned sassy princess from the south. "I will leave you to clean his wounds. And Lothiriel, no matter how sad his expression, do not let him rise from this bed."
Lothiriel smiled as Eowyn softly closed the door behind her, leaving her brother and the princess alone.
"Change my bandage quickly, Lothy, for I must be ready to ride when the eord leaves."
She raised a single brow at him. "Ride? I am afraid, my lord, you will ride no where. For that poison was lethal. I doubt you could sit up against your headboard, much less sit up in a saddle."
"Sassy ... woman ..." he snarled, his teeth clenched as he braced his hands on the mattress. He forced himself into a sitting position, his elbows shaking with the strain. Sweat beaded upon his brow and his wound seeped new fluid, the bandage wet again.
"Eomer!" She gasped, running to his side. "Eomer, stop! You will open the wound again." When he did not listen, she placed her hands upon his shoulders and pushed hard. The force knocked him off his balance and his arms gave way; his back hit the mattress.
His eyes hardened as they met her gaze. "How dare you! I was fine."
"Fine?" She responded, her eyes furious. "Fine! Do you know how much you were bleeding for me to see such in that bandage?" When he moved again, she pressed her hands onto his chest, keeping him pinned to the bed. "Move again ... and I will tie you where you lay."
Eomer ceased his struggles, a sly grin upon his face as he met her gaze. "Is that a promise, princess?"
Lothiriel rolled her eyes, a snort of disgust escaping her. "Men. Now lie still while I see to your wound."
He made no further protest as her brow furrowed, her eyes focused on the wound. He watched her carefully as she slowly unwrapped the bandage and he licked his lips as he saw her wince at his exposed wound. He angled his head, trying to look. "What is it?"
She slowly shook her head, her fingers touching gently at the swollen tissue. "Nothing. Tis not infected but it still does not look good. How does it feel?"
"Honestly, since you have been here, I have not noticed."
She froze at those words, refusing to meet his eyes. She knew his eyes all too well. How they would cloud like a stormy afternoon, whirling with emotion and unspoken truths. No, she could not look at him.
"Lothiriel, why do you not look in my eyes?"
The honest answer upon the tip of her tongue, but she bit it back and instead, leaned a little closer to him, closely inspecting the wound. "Because, my lord, there is no sense me looking into your eyes when the wound is on your shoulder."
He smiled, reaching out and he hooked a gentle finger under her chin, lifting her head. "And what if I prefer your eyes elsewhere."
She shook away his hand, returning her attention to his wound. She still had yet to meet his eyes. "What you prefer is not an option this moment. It is what needs to be done." She exhaled heavily, reaching for the bowl of warm water and herbs and a cloth. "This will sting. Previously, you were not conscious when I did this."
His eyes widened when she pressed that cloth to his wound and he couldn't stop the hiss from slipping passed his lips. He clenched his teeth, his body tensing as she cleaned his wound, ensuring no infection would come.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, wincing in sympathy. Quickly she placed the cloth down and then reached for a small leather pouch. "These herbs will draw any more poison from you." She explained, pushing some of the crumbled yellowish green herbs into his wound. "Roll onto your side a little. I have to wrap your shoulder again."
Eomer obeyed her, his eyes never leaving her as she carefully wrapped his shoulder, her movements expert. She had had much experience wrapping wounds. He wondered how much she had seen as a healer. "When you were in Minas Tirith, did you do all the tasks of a healer?"
"I was not only fetching bandages and hot water, if that is what you mean." She responded coolly and she quickly stood to fiddle with the supplies on his bedstand.
He rolled onto his back again, his eyes focused upon her. "I have heard what they say you have done for me. Risking your own life to save my own."
"It was nothing," she quickly dismissed his comments. "It was only what any healer would do were they in my position."
His brow furrowed as the recent events scrolled through his mind. He reached out, his fingers brushing her arm. She jerked from his touch and a slight pang ached in his heart. But he would not let that discourage him. "Lothy, how did you know? How did you know to react the way you did?"
"I have seen much, my lord," she responded, exasperated and her eyes met his. "I have seen sights that few other soldiers of war have seen, much less noble women of Gondor. So if you believed I was a prim and proper princess of Gondor who has seen no worse than a pricked finger from needle-working, you are severely mistaken."
Eomer clenched his teeth a part of him searing at the thought that she had witnessed such horrific aftermaths of war. And yet a part of him seemed to swell with a sense of pride for how strong must this woman be to endure such a test. Though she could hold the air of a princess and noblewoman, there was something quite harsh and real about her as well.
His eyes wandered to the door at the far end and he saw Eowyn standing against the frame, a serious expression upon her face. "And tell me, Brother, do you make it a habit of insulting our guests?" Her eyes focused upon the princess. "Lothiriel, perhaps you should give him some of that tea to relax him."
"I need not to relax" Eomer stated defiantly, struggling to sit up. "I must ready my eord. I must be ready to ride out ... to battle."
"You will ride no where, Brother, lest you rest first."
"I need to organize ..."
"Your marshals are capable enough of that task," Eowyn interrupted him. "Now cease this chatter. Lothiriel, give him the tea."
Eomer looked towards the young princess, noting her chilled grim expression. She seemed guarded as she handed him the mug of hot tea and herbs and confusion furrowed his brow when the young dark haired beauty looked towards his sister before returning her attention to the bandages on his bed-side table.
He slowly raised the cup to his lips and let the hot liquid pool into his mouth. Steadily, he drank every bit and then tipped back as he finished the last of the tea. He handed the cup back to Lothiriel, which she took without a glance at him.
Eomer turned his eyes towards his sister and then his brow furrowed. His mind grew slightly hazy, his head and muscles heavy. "Eowyn?"
"Relax," Eowyn said softly. "You must heal."
He glanced frantically around the room as a sleepy haze surrounded him. He looked towards Lothiriel, but the young princess would not meet his eyes. "Lothy ... Lothy ..." he reached for her, his fingers brushing her arm.
Lothiriel reluctantly met his eyes, her voice barely above a whisper. "I am sorry, my lord."
He struggled to keep his eyes open, his breath increasing in panic. "No ... what ... what have you done ..." He fell back onto the bed, his eyes finally closed as the sleep took him.
Eowyn approached her brother slowly then stopped at his bedside, reaching out to smooth the hair from his face. "This was for the best, you know. Even the other healers agreed that this should be done to ease him."
"But it was by my hand."
Eowyn looked up, shocked at the young Princess's harsh tone. Her eyes chilled as she regarded the other woman. "Perhaps. But if not sedated, he would have followed us, even if his body had not the strength. This is the only way to let him heal."
Lothiriel didn't respond but clenched her teeth and left the room, unwilling to let Eowyn see the glistening tears in her eyes.
Eomer's eyes slowly opened, his head a whirl and hazy fog. As his breathing regulated, his eyes focused. He had no other reaction at first as he lay still upon his bed, staring at the canopy ceiling of his bed.
His thoughts could not focus and he found himself lost, unsure of what had happened. He remembered seeing Eowyn standing over his bed, smiling and pleased that he had awakened. And then the most beautiful creature walked into his bedroom. Lothiriel. A soft smile pulled at his lips at the thought of the dark beauty.
He remembered her checking his wound, the sensation of her soft fingertips grazing over his bare chest and the intoxicating scent of rose petals that flooded him whenever she was near. Then she had mixed some tea to ...
His eyes widened. The tea.
"I know you must be tired of seeing me," Lothiriel said to the proud white mare.
Hæglfaru tossed her head then stomped the ground, her mane flying wildly about her.
The Princess smiled. "I knew you enjoyed my company. And I brought something for you as well." She slowly stepped into the stall and reached between the folds of her skirt, presenting two carrots to the beautiful beast.
The mare's eyes sparkled as they focused upon the treat. She snorted, one hoof stomping the ground.
Lothiriel laughed, closing the distance between them as she outstretched her hand, offering the carrots. "He is still not awake."
The horse chewed on the carrots, her ears turning then twitching at the melodic voice that spoke to her.
"It has been a day already. And I know you are sick of hearing this story." She sighed. Hæglfaru must have sensed the young princess's plight and nuzzled her. Lothiriel smiled. "Yes, I care for you too. I only hope that after what I've done, the King will still let me take you."
The door to the stable swung open and the loud crash made Lothiriel jump. She quickly peeked over the side of Hæglfaru's stall and glanced to that door. Eomer leaned heavily against the door, his weight balanced upon the handle as he caught his breath. His body sagged, weakened from the days in bed and immobile.
"Eomer!" Lothiriel rushed out of the horse's stall then to Eomer but she thought better of approaching him and stopped a few steps away. "Eomer, what are you doing?"
Eomer glanced up, his eyes sagged as his teeth clenched. "Treasonous ... Wench!"
She recoiled, stung by his harsh tongue though she deserved any assault he would give.
His eyes moved passed her as he focused upon Firefoot. With a whistle and a string of Rohirric words, the big stallion kicked at the gate then trotted up to his master. Firefoot tossed his head then snorted as Eomer released his grip upon the door to instead hold the back of the large stallion.
"Eo ... My Lord," Lothiriel stepped a little closer to him but then thought better of it and eased back. "What are you doing? Where are you going?"
"To my eord," he growled then glared at her. "I trusted you ... not only as my healer. But as something so much more ..." He clenched his teeth as he pulled himself up onto Firefoot's back.
"You aren't wearing any armor. Where is your sword?" She rushed to Firefoot's side, her hand daring to rest upon his leg. "Eomer, please. Do not do this."
He shook his head, almost mad in his drive. "You betrayed me, my lady. I open my home to you, my country ..." his voice grew soft as he met her eyes. "My heart."
She bit her lip, every desire to scream that though it was her hand, the action was guided by Eowyn and by his advisers. But no, she could not say that. "Eomer, please. You cannot ..."
"I can!" he growled. He pulled the dagger from his boot then kicked Firefoot, racing out into the night. The guards scrambled to open the gates.
Lothiriel swore in a colorful tongue and lifted her skirt to run back to Hæglfaru's stall. "We must ride swiftly, my love." She said, softly, to the beast. The horse tossed her head as Lothiriel grabbed a small knife from the corner then flung herself upon the white mare's back. "Come, my dear. We must go quickly."
Hæglfaru let forth a snort than reared back a moment before bursting out the stable doors and falling in Eomer's path.
( Wow, it has been some time, but school and work keeps me so busy. I will finish this story, but I ask for patience. Thank you to all my reviewers and readers. I love knowing what you think, bad or good.)