This is the second of my little stories that look at various scenarios regarding Éomer and Lothíriel's courtship. Was it a love match? Was it arranged? We shall never know. There is one thing however of which I am absolutely sure: if we accept Tolkien's reading of Éomer's character, then he would have treated his wife, the daughter of a close friend with nothing other than respect.
To those who loved 'Kissing is Different' I am afraid that this is not quite so amusing, but it pleases me, I hope it pleases you. I tried to thank everyone who reviewed but if your e-mail was not shown- then I thank you now.
I also thank my friend Eirwen for her continued help.
Edoras August 3019
Éomer thought that he had better hesitate no longer. He picked up his goblet and headed towards Imrahil. It had to be now. The Prince was sitting on his own for the first time that evening and he was returning home in two days. The hall was reasonably quiet for once, Faramir and Éowyn had sneaked off somewhere, Aragorn and Arwen had retired as the King had just returned from escorting the hobbits part way home, and the Prince's sons were no doubt lining up their next conquests. He had made up his mind: there was no reason to wait.
Imrahil looked up and smiled as he approached, "I expect you will be glad to get rid of us all."
"I have enjoyed it," Éomer laughed, "but I must admit there is so much to do." He took a deep breath, "That is more or less what I wish to talk to you about."
The Prince looked expectantly at him, waiting for him to speak, "Yes, Éomer?"
"You have a daughter; I need a Queen and a wife. I wondered if we could come to some arrangement."
"A sort of trade you mean?" Imrahil asked, lifting one brow.
"Yes. Well no, that is." Éomer ran his fingers through his long golden hair. "I understand that in Gondor most marriages are arranged. Amrothos and Erchirion speak fondly of their sister and have said that she is not yet promised. I like and respect you and your family and just thought that she might make a suitable Queen. I have no real time to go searching for a wife and the council are jumpy because there is no one left of the House of Eorl but Éowyn and me."
Imrahil took a draught from his goblet and surveyed his friend through narrowed eyes, "It is true, Éomer that marriages for the high born are often of political merit but the parties involved usually meet first."
"Of course, I am putting this badly. I thought that if you were willing I could take a quick trip to Dol Amroth. I was going to come with you and Aragorn as far as Erech anyway. I can spare a few days."
"I am glad you can spare a few days to find a wife, my friend," said Imrahil dryly.
The young King sighed, "I am sorry. I am under pressure from the Council. Many of my people are still homeless and our borders are not entirely safe. However if I do not make some effort it will be years before Rohan gets an heir."
"I know, it is difficult." The Prince smiled, "And to be honest the idea had already crossed my mind."
He nodded, "I have not mentioned it because I knew you would meet at Éowyn's wedding. But if you wish to come to Dol Amroth then I have no objection. I would welcome you into my family, Éomer and I am sure you know that, but it may not be right. I would not wish my daughter, or you for that matter, a totally unhappy marriage. Lothíriel has long known that her union would probably be for political advancement, but I would not promise her to one she found abhorrent. Just before the war I was made a suitable offer but I turned it down. The match vexed her greatly and she gave me her reasons. They were sound and I accepted them."
"I am surprised that I have not met her before. I would have thought she would have come to Minas Tirith for the post war celebrations."
"She stayed at home to help Elphir. Many of our costal villages were raided and there was a lot of work to be done. Also, she felt it not right to celebrate too much with the number of widows and orphans we had after the war."
"I can understand that. For most, even victory is not a celebration and I commend her for it. Can you tell me more of her?"
"I have no doubt she would make a good queen, Éomer: she is a natural diplomat and has an easy way with those of all ranks. Her mother died whilst she was young so she assumed responsibilities which I feel have caused her to appear older than her years." Imrahil thought for a moment, "As for a wife, my friend, then you must be the judge. She is not a beauty, and as her father I am obviously biased, but there is a certain attractiveness about her. She appears calm and cool at all times, but underneath I sense something lurking." The Prince laughed, "If you wish to discover more then I suggest you go riding with her. I think you may glimpse her true self."
Éomer quirked an eyebrow, "It sounds well. I will definitely come with you when you return home." He smiled, "I would enjoy visiting Dol Amroth anyway."
"Do not look for too warm a welcome from Elphir," Imrahil chuckled, "As you will miss Éowyn, he would also miss his sister. He relies greatly on her advice. His own wife Melisa is pretty, soft and fluffy, fine for the bedroom perhaps but useless in the council chambers."
A pang of envy and regret ran through him. He rather liked them soft and fluffy himself, but Kings did not marry for love, or indeed the quality of the bedroom activities.
Dol Amroth September 3019
The Castle was bigger than he had imagined, rising out of the rocks. He could see the waves crashing against them on one side but on the other a long sandy beach stretched away into the distance.
He hung back with Aragorn when they rode through the gates. As kings, protocol would dictate they were greeted first but as neither Imrahil nor his two youngest sons had been home since before the war they did not wish to deny them their welcome.
Éomer watched with obvious interest. He saw a slim, dark haired girl run into her father's arms. She was perhaps average height or a little above, not quite as tall as Éowyn. Her two brothers vied to hug her first; Amrothos swung her round and around. She was laughing, begging to be put down.
At last her father brought her over to be introduced. Éomer saw what he knew to be a genuine smile of welcome; it lit up her face and reached those cool grey eyes.
"This is indeed a pleasure, my Lord, we had no idea you were coming."
"I hope it will not inconvenience your household arrangements, Princess."
"Not at all, my Lord. There is refreshment prepared and whilst you are enjoying that I will give orders for rooms to be made ready."
"I thank you, Princess."
"It is I who should thank you, my Lord. We have had many letters from my brothers telling of the brave deeds of you and your people. All here are grateful."
Éomer watched her depart. Imrahil was right; she was a born diplomat. Gracious and confident. He had no doubt she would make an excellent queen. But a wife?
They were strolling around the battlements; she was making polite conversation, something she was exceedingly good at. He would have to talk to her, as he knew her father had spoken to her of the reason for his visit. Her father was right, she was not a beauty but she was quietly attractive. Her hair was lovely and so was her skin. Her features were regular and put together in a way that would displease nobody. When he had danced with her he had felt generous breasts against him and had found himself more than once glancing down at her cleavage. But she was certainly not soft and fluffy. She was an intellectual, and that worried him, because he was not. He sighed to himself, he did not have time for all this. He needed a wife.
"Your father has spoken to you, Princess?"
"He has, my Lord."
"Well, may I know your thoughts on the matter?"
She looked directly at him in that cool way of hers, "You have not seen too many summers, your gait is strong and your teeth look sound. I could do worse."
He stood open mouthed for a moment and then saw the twinkle in her eyes and burst out laughing. "I am sorry. Have I been staring? If so, then I apologize."
"Just a bit, but do not worry I would expect it."
"It was rude of me. I can only say that it is an unusual situation."
She smiled at him, "In Rohan perhaps, my Lord, but not in Gondor. I have been brought up to accept this. But you are right, that does not make it easier."
"Your father intimated that he would not force you into marriage, and I would not wish that. I would not want either you or I to be unhappy."
"That is true, but I have already refused one suitor so I would need good reason to refuse you. I do not think we can deny that it would be beneficial to our countries."
"Yes, it makes good sense."
He could see that she was considering something. Deciding whether to voice her thoughts.
"Is there something you wish to say, Princess?"
"Do you mind if I speak frankly?" she said at last. "There is something I wish to ask you. I would know how things would stand between us from the beginning."
"In what way, Princess? Please be as frank as you like."
He could tell it was causing her some difficulty but eventually she looked up at him.
"Kings cannot always marry the lady of their choice. I would ask if your heart has been captured by another? One you would be loath to give up. It may not necessarily affect my decision but I would appreciate an honest answer."
To say he was surprised was to understate the matter. He had a distinct feeling that perhaps she was not so confident as she first appeared, but the grey eyes told him nothing. He wondered what marriages were really like in Gondor if she felt it necessary to ask if he would keep a mistress. He knew without a doubt that that was what she was asking. A wave of compassion shot through him. It must have cost her a lot to voice her concerns and he felt that she did indeed deserve a totally honest answer.
"There is no lady who holds my heart Princess. I admit that I do not always sleep alone, but those are casual arrangements only and would cease on my marriage."
She gave him wry look, "I would not expect you to be sleeping alone, my Lord, my brothers seem to be incapable of it."
He grinned at her, "I have noticed. They rather took Edoras by storm and will be missed I think. He paused for a moment and then looked at her thoughtfully, "You have spoken frankly, Princess and so shall I. I need a Queen and a wife, and you are eminently suitable. Also the thought of joining our two houses pleases me, your father and brothers are now close friends. I would hope that we could deal well together, at the very least care for one another. I would expect my marriage to fulfil all my needs and would try to be a good husband. Think about it overnight, Princess. Your father suggested we go riding together, perhaps we could do that tomorrow and you could give me your answer then?"
"That is a good idea, my Lord, things often seem clearer in the morning. If you are riding for the first time in Dol Amroth, it needs to be at dawn. When the sand is new and clean and the surf pounding on the beach."
He saw a challenge in her eyes. Whether she thought he could not rise at dawn after what would undoubtedly be another drinking session with her brothers or whether it was something else. He could not say.
"I will see you in the stables at dawn, Princess."
Éomer was determined to get there before her and managed it by not really going to bed. A black horse was being led around the yard, probably to stop it kicking its stall down, he thought. It was entire, and letting everyone know, stamping its feet in anger. A beautiful animal, but lighter and finer boned than their own, deep black with just a white blaze. The horse was beginning to calm and he strolled over to the groom, "Whose horse is this?" he asked interestedly.
"Princess Lothíriel's, my Lord."
It stopped him in his tracks. He now knew why Imrahil had suggested he ride with her, there was definitely something lurking beneath that quiet cool exterior. He was immediately interested. It was true that some of the women of the Mark rode stallions but it was unusual. Very unusual. For a Lady of Gondor it must be unique.
The horse pawed the ground and he turned and saw her coming. She was dressed in the plainest of tunics and hose but the garb showed off her very good figure.
"Good morning, my Lord. I see that you have met Sabre."
"I would not say that I have met him. I would say that I have avoided his hooves," he laughed
She smiled, "He will calm down after a gallop on the beach. He is always awful in the mornings." Totally ignoring the horse's display of manhood she took him from her groom and spoke softly to him; he pawed the ground again but allowed her to lead him to a mounting block. "He will buck when I mount him, but do not worry. He always does."
Éomer took hold of his own horse, Firefoot, who had been brought out to him, "Why do you ride such a one?" he asked rather amused.
"Because there is none faster, and that is how I like to ride; fast and furious."
He did buck, but she controlled him with obvious skill and practice and then headed off towards the long beach.
Once on the beach he started tossing his head in frustration at her holding him back. She fought with him for a moment and won, and then turned to Éomer. "We can gallop to the end of the beach and then walk over the headland to a lagoon that I would like to show you." She grinned at him, "I will give him his head until we are halfway along and then slow for you to catch up. If we were going a greater distance then of course Firefoot would have the edge."
He nodded and she relaxed her grip on Sabre's reins. Éomer could only liken it to one of Legolas' arrows leaving his bow.
True to her word after a while she slowed her horse for him, and they galloped to the end of the beach together. Bringing their mounts to a walk she led them into the edge of the surf for a way and then over the low headland. Sabre was almost behaving and they descended to a rocky platform where they could overlook a shallow lagoon.
Éomer was fascinated. He could see great shoals of colourful fish swimming around coral outcrops. She pointed out a turtle crossing the lagoon just below the surface and then a huge black and white ray that gave the impression it was flying under water.
After a while he turned to her, "Would you ever want to leave?"
"Are you asking me if I have reached a decision?"
"I am, Princess."
"Then if you are still of the same mind, my Lord, I will tell my father that I am in agreement. To answer your other question, I would prefer to live in Rohan where I understand life is fairly relaxed, than in Minas Tirith where I would feel stifled. I doubt you would shut me up in Meduseld forever and that I would be allowed home to visit once in a while."
He smiled gently, "Yes of course, and thank you. I will do my best to make you happy."
"And I too, my Lord."
Éomer eased Firefoot towards Sabre, a very brave move he thought. He took her hand and raised it to his lips. "Could we dispense with the titles do you think?"
She laughed, "Lothíriel is such a mouthful. My family call me Thíery, but it is up to you."
"That sounds much better."
He left the next day, wondering if he had done the right thing. Anyway it was too late now, their betrothal had been announced and that was that. At least when he got home and sat at his desk he could cross 'find a wife' off of that long list. That list of things to do that seemed to grow ever longer.
Éomer looked out of the corner of his eye. She was pushing her food around her plate again. As he watched, she gave up the attempt to eat and put her fork down.
She was sick with fright. He knew she was. She had eaten a few mouthfuls at supper the night before and at breakfast he had noticed her pick up a piece of fruit and then put it back untouched. Now the wedding banquet was coming to an end and not one morsel of food had passed her lips.
He did not blame her and what's more he recognised that it was his fault. She had just married a man she knew did not love her. In not much more than a week she would be living in a country she had never seen and trying to speak to its people in a language she barely knew. Somehow he had to put it right. He still did not know why or what had happened but was aware that he should have asked her at the time and not just ignored it.
He thought back to Éowyn's marriage; trying to make sense of what had gone wrong. He could not. The weeks between meeting Thíery and Éowyn's wedding had seemed long. He had been surprised also how many times his thoughts had strayed to her whilst sitting at his desk in Meduseld. Thoughts about the way her hair smelt and her very attractive cleavage mostly, but also imagining her pounding along the beach on that ill-mannered stallion she chose to ride. Yes, when he had arrived in Minas Tirith he had definitely been pleased to see her and they were getting on really well; at least he thought they were. She had a witty sense of humour, which he liked, and he also enjoyed dancing with her. She felt good in his arms and her hair smelt wonderful. Even Éowyn liked her. It had been difficult to find somewhere to kiss her properly, but he had, and that is when he had started to think that his marriage might turn out to be far more enjoyable than he had first thought. Even though she was delightfully inexperienced she had been more than willing to kiss him back. It was the next day when those grey eyes had gone cold. She had tried to cover it up, reverted to her cool polite ways, but she had withdrawn from him. He sighed to himself, he knew he should have asked her what was wrong, but he did not because he was afraid of the answer. That little niggling thought had entered his head again, the one that kept telling him she would have wanted a scholar and not a warrior.
He had been hurt, and so he had reacted badly. He intended to invite her to visit Edoras before the wedding, but he did not. When he got home he should have written and invited her, but again he did not. Now he was ashamed of himself. By the time he had seen some sense, it was too late. He had been wondering what to do about it when her letter arrived. It was a very nice letter. She told him of the arrangements being made for the wedding and that she was looking forward to it. She was trying very hard to learn Rohirric, it was difficult but she was making progress. Was there anything she needed to know about the ceremonies in Rohan? She was reading about the history of the Mark and studying maps so that the names would be familiar to her. If he felt bad about himself before, then the letter made him feel even worse. She even had to ask if she could bring a few small treasured pieces of furniture with her. There was no criticism in her writing and that made him feel even guiltier. He still had no real idea what the problem had been but it should not have stopped him doing what was right. That was when he decided to put it behind him; he would do his very best to make his marriage work. It had to, there was no choice. She was the daughter of one of his closest friends and he could not be the cause of her unhappiness.
He had written back apologising for not inviting her for a visit. Circumstances prevented it. He did not elaborate and thus was not lying. Please bring what she liked some feminine touches would be welcome. They would go on a tour of the Mark before winter set in. He was sending a scribe to help her with Rohirric and to go through the ceremonies with her. It did not make up for his error but it would have to do.
Éomer brought his mind back to the present. He had arrived yesterday and had been relieved to see the smile reach her eyes when she welcomed him. Whatever it was had gone. At least he hoped it had gone, but she was still scared. He looked across to Éowyn and Faramir. His sister had been nervous before her wedding and she had been safe and secure in Faramir's love. He had not talked to Thíery for months, not even much since he had arrived as he had been so pleased to see Éowyn. In a couple of hours she was supposed to share a bed with him and consummate their marriage. No wonder she was scared, too scared even to eat. He had to do something. She was his wife now, his responsibility, and his pride alone wanted to make it right for her. He looked across to Faramir again and knew without a doubt that if Éowyn was sitting next to him nervous or scared for any reason, then his brother in law would seek to reassure her by whatever means it took. Éomer suddenly realised that the only thing to do was to treat his wife as if he really loved her. She surely deserved that.
He reached over and took her hand in his. She looked up surprised and he winked at her. Her face broke into a lovely soft smile that more than reached her eyes. As he leant towards her he could smell the exquisite jasmine scent of her hair.
"If I fall asleep in the speeches, will you nudge me?"
She chuckled softly, "It may be the other way around. I do not think that I slept at all last night."
He raised his eyebrows, "All brides are supposed to be nervous. It is expected." He wanted to see what she would do, to see if she was anxious of touching him so he pulled her hand towards him letting it rest on his thigh. Covering it with his left hand and putting his other arm around her, he eased her gently against his chest. He thought she would sit stiff and straight but quite the opposite, she relaxed into him, not even attempting to move her hand. He was surprised how much it pleased him and he whispered in her ear, "Are we allowed to do this in Gondor or does it bother their propriety?"
"I think it is allowed on a wedding night," she laughed.
A suspicion entered his mind, a suspicion that it was not him she was frightened of, at least not directly.
He managed the first few dances with her, before she was whisked away from him, and he held her as close as he dared in public. He was sure she enjoyed it. Everyone seemed to want to dance with the bride and after he had taken the floor with his sister and Arwen, he stood with a goblet of wine and watched. He did not wish to partner anyone else. She was dancing with a young man he did not know who had obviously had more wine than was good for him and Éomer swore under his breath when he realised that she was starting to look uncomfortable. He immediately headed towards them forcing down the urge to take the offender by the scruff of his neck. Instead he interrupted smoothly, "I think it is time that my wife was returned to me."
"Thank you," she smiled gratefully at him.
"It is going to get worse, and we will have to run the gauntlet of every rude suggestion and innuendo known to middle earth. Is there any way we can sneak off without being seen?"
She looked surprised, but not alarmed as he thought she might. "If we dance to the far corner of the room there is a blue velvet curtain, behind it is a door that leads to the kitchens. We can go that way, if you like."
He nodded and started to lead her in that direction. They had just reached it when, fortuitously, a server dropped a tray of drinking cups causing a wonderful diversion. Grabbing her hand he pulled her behind the curtain. She led the way through the kitchens and the staff made a few good-natured remarks, which did not seem to bother her. She dealt with them lightly and he found himself admiring her natural easy manner. He realised that she was popular and well liked. But then he had never had any doubts about her suitability as a queen, only as a wife. He had never made love to an unwilling woman although he was beginning to think that she was not that unwilling. Before whatever had happened at his sisters wedding she had certainly been responsive, and now she did not seem at all hesitant, taking his hand to guide him through what seemed like a maze of passages until they eventually reached the rooms they had been given.
"I know my valet will be here. Why he thinks I need him, I have no idea," he said with a grin. "Do you wish to ring for your maid?"
She shook her head, "I have already told her that I will manage myself. She would giggle and fuss so, it would probably annoy you. It certainly annoys me. My things were due to be delivered sometime this evening. I am sure that they have been."
He nodded and opened the door. His valet was sitting in a chair obviously not expecting them quite so soon. Éomer waved away his apologies and issued some orders in Rohirric. The man bowed and left. Lothíriel disappeared into the dressing room without saying anything. He did wonder if she would come out again but thought he was perhaps being silly. It was a warm evening and he was glad to take off his boots and his tunic. It was much more comfortable in just his shirt and leggings. There was a cool breeze coming through the open shutters and he walked over to look at the view. It was a beautiful moonlit night and the water looked almost silver. Hearing the door open he turned around. She had let her hair down and was wearing a silky robe tied around the waist. He had the clear impression that there was nothing but her underneath.
"My dress was so heavy I could not wait to take it off."
His brows lifted. "Please feel free to remove any item of clothing you wish," he laughed.
She said nothing, but he saw her lips twitch. She walked over to him and he put his arm around her. "I have ordered you some supper."
"Oh," she stammered. "I do not think that I can eat."
"Thíery, you have not eaten anything all day. There is no need to be so frightened. I do not know what you are thinking but it is not my intention to throw you on the bed and jump on you, if that is what is worrying you."
She swallowed, "Then what are your intentions?"
"To make love to you. If you will let me. Hopefully tonight sometime, but if you are really unhappy," he shrugged, "then I can wait."
She shot her eyes up to meet his, "No!… I mean I do not want you to wait and I am not frightened of you."
"Then what is the matter, because something is?" he asked gently taking hold of both her hands in his. He saw her take in a breath as if readying herself to say something he would not like. He felt a slight pain in his chest as he steeled himself for whatever was coming.
"I feel so very ignorant. I do not know what to do," she said at last.
He could not speak for a moment as he started to make sense of her words. She must know what happened. She rode a stallion for Bema's sake.
She saw his confusion and said a little ruefully, "I know what happens of course, I am surrounded by horses. I mean that I do not know how to please you…in that way. I am afraid that I will disappoint you."
He looked at her slightly stunned and then before he could speak all her words came out in a rush.
"I know that ladies do not simply lie there and do nothing. My brothers sometimes forget I am around and they are always making remarks. Sort of comparing. I tried asking Melisa but she was too embarrassed to talk to me. I cannot understand it when she has a husband and a baby. I would have talked to your sister because I think we could be friends, but they were delayed getting here and went straight to bed. The next morning you arrived so there was no chance to speak to her. I want you to enjoy your wedding night, but I do not know what to do." She pulled away from him and stared out the window.
Éomer would have laughed out loud if she was not so obviously serious and he did not want to upset her any more. Then he felt a flash of anger. Firstly for her silly fluffy sister-in-law who could not talk to a young motherless girl about her wedding night. And of course her father was right; she appeared much older than her years. The second angry thought was for himself. He had totally monopolised Éowyn the day before, hardly giving her any chance to talk to anyone else. He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him and then he put his arms around her, drawing her head down onto his chest, "Thíery, you…
There was a knock on the door. She went to move away but he held onto her tightly. A steward was carrying a tray with a jug of wine, two goblets and some food. Éomer motioned him to put it down on the small table. The man bowed and left the room.
"Thíery you do not have to know what to do. If you know the basics then that is fine. A man does not expect his wife to be experienced in that way. At least not on their wedding night. The fact that you are willing to try and please me at all is wonderful and over the coming weeks and months I hope that we shall learn to please each other, Both in and out of the bedroom." He took her chin in his fingers and raised it up waiting for her to lift her eyes and meet his, "Is there anything else bothering you?"
She shook her head.
"Good." He bent his head and kissed her lightly on the lips. "Then you are going to drink some wine and eat." He led her over to a chair and put the little table next to it.
"Come on take a big gulp," he said with a grin, handing her a goblet. "It will relax you."
She took the wine from him and did indeed take a gulp. "Good, now some food," he said, passing her a saffron cake.
She smiled up at him, "Are you always such a bully?"
Bending down to her ear he whispered softly, "Only when I have designs on my wife and I do not wish her to expire on me."
She chuckled and at last put the cake to her mouth.
"Now, eat," he said standing up straight again. He watched her eat a few mouthfuls and then went to the door and shot home the bolt. "I do not trust your brothers not to do something stupid when they realise we are missing," he laughed.
She grinned at him through a mouthful of cake.
"You remember when I kissed you at Éowyn's wedding?" he asked. Pouring himself some wine and drawing up another chair.
"Yes, of course I do."
"Well, if it reassures you at all, I enjoyed it very much." He winked at her, "And the nicest thing about it was that you had obviously never really kissed anyone before."
She gaped at him with a slightly astonished look on her face, "How could you tell?"
"Easily," he said with a mischievous twinkle." He stared at her for a moment and then it just came out. He did not know what made him say it. It came without any bidding.
"Thíery, what happened? What did I do wrong?" he asked gruffly.
"You know what I mean. One evening you were kissing me and liking it. I am sure you were. The next day you would hardly speak to me. What did I do?"
She took a big gulp of wine, "You did nothing. It was nothing. I am sorry."
"It was something, and whatever it was, it stopped me inviting you to Edoras as I had been intending to. It was totally remiss of me, as your father has very strongly pointed out. I did not like the look in your eyes and it caused me to behave badly. So I think that I deserve to know."
"I am sorry. I tried to hide my feelings but I failed. It was not you," she took another gulp. "I overheard something and it upset me. That is all it was."
"What did you hear?"
She shook her head.
"Tell me!" he said forcibly.
"I did not wish to listen, but I could not help it," she said defensively. "The next morning after you kissed me you were in a meeting with Lord Aragorn and my father. I took a book into the Citadel garden, to that little arbour where we were the night before. It was totally secluded even in daylight." She paused and sighed, "There were many walking in the gardens, mostly ladies. I heard two ladies approaching talking in Rohirric, of course I could only understand a few words then. They stopped the other side of the hedge from where I was sitting, to pass pleasantries with some ladies from the City, conversing in the common tongue. They started to gossip. About you, about me," she ended dejectedly.
Éomer swore vehemently in his native language.
"Your scribe did not teach me that one," she said with an attempt at some humour.
"What did they say, Thíery?" he asked softly.
She just stared at him.
"Please tell me. It is better that you do."
"It should not have upset me so much. It was not as if I did not know it." She took a deep breath, "They said that you would never have even looked at me if it were not for my title. That the ladies you favoured were anything but like me. I would never hold your interest and you would discard me as soon as you had a couple of sons. I do not think I would have minded so much if you had not kissed me that way the evening before. It made me think we could be happy together."
She shook her head, "Do not say anything, please let me finish now. They said the only reason the people of the Mark would put up with a spoilt Princess of Gondor was because of the trading agreements and that I would never be accepted. I know that I was not being rational, but all I could see was a long lonely life in front of me with a husband who did not love me and a people who did not want me." She lifted up her eyes to meet his. "I knew that I had upset you and I am sorry. By the time I had sorted it in my mind you had gone home. I told myself I was being silly because we had discussed our marriage right at the beginning and you made it clear you wanted to try and make it work. I know that you are a man of your word. I usually get on quite well with most people and I could not believe that all in Rohan would dislike me. I am sure there must be some ladies who are not so spiteful and with whom I will make friends. It would probably have been better if I had told you then and you could have allayed my fears. I am sorry if it caused you distress."
He wondered if she had told him all that had been said, probably not. But only his honesty would do now if it were all to be put behind them. "I was upset, Thíery, because as you, I thought we were starting to like one another very much. The fault was mine. I should have asked you what was wrong but I was afraid of the answer."
"Afraid of the answer?"
"Yes, I thought you had decided that you should have chosen a scholar. Not a warrior who drags you into a dark garden so that he can kiss you."
Her look was so incredulous that he knew he had been totally mistaken. Somewhere deep inside he felt a warm glow.
"My father and brothers are warriors, Éomer. I could not imagine marrying any man unable to wield a sword well enough to protect his family. Your reputation on sword wielding does rather precede you," she laughed. "I think I read enough books for both of us. The history of Middle Earth is very exciting you know, much more exciting than embroidery or weaving I assure you."
There was silence for a moment as they both thought on what had been said, and then Éomer sighed.
"I think, Thíery that we had better make it a rule, that in future we tell each other what we are thinking. I can only tell you now that when your letter arrived I decided that I would do everything I could to give our marriage all possible chance to work."
"Perhaps we had better start again."
"An excellent idea," he said with a rueful grin. "So that there is no mistake, I will say that when you wrote so nicely to me, I felt terrible. My housekeeper had been hinting that I was making no provision for a Queen arriving, and she was right. I charged her with overhauling the Royal Apartments. Ransacking, I would call it," he laughed. "All the hangings and upholstery have been cleaned or replaced and the rooms made more suitable for a wife to share. You can put the finishing touches yourself. Also I decided that I could not expect my people to respect you if I did not show you respect myself. I did not wish you to think when you arrived in Meduseld that the bed would still be warm from someone else. There has not been anyone but me in my…our bed since."
Lothíriel looked straight at him, "Are you telling me that you have not had a woman in your bed since my letter arrived?"
"I am, and not in the stables either." He grinned, "I could not persuade any to risk soiling their dress."
She stated to laugh, "My brothers would be climbing the walls."
"Yes, well. I was rather hoping you would take pity on me tonight."
He saw her rather amused look. "I did say that I wished to, if you remember."
"Good. Then eat!"
She smiled and reached for the plate.
"Better still," he said, "come and sit on my lap and eat."
"Why? So that you can force feed me?" she shot at him.
"No," he said slowly. Watching her intently, wanting to gauge her reaction, "Because I would like to put my arms around you and kiss you which I cannot do from this distance." He gave her one of his mischievous looks, "But most of all because the knot tying your robe is starting to slip. The resultant gaping of the front is allowing me a very good view of your delectable breasts. A view which will be even better if you sit on my lap."
She looked down at the front of her robe, but made no attempt to pull it together. "I suggest you constrain yourself to just looking at the view. If you kiss me I will be unable to eat."
"Come on," he said laughingly. "I had forgotten how much you amused me." He got up and moved the table towards his chair and then pulled her to her feet. "You are right, if I kiss you, your supper may never get finished." Dropping a light kiss on her forehead he drew her down onto his lap. The robe was gaping very nicely and he had to resist the urge to slip his hand into its silky folds. Suddenly he found he wanted her very much and realised with increasing clarity that after the remarks she had overheard, she probably needed him to want her. For the moment, however, he contented himself with holding her around her waist whilst she finished the cake and a piece of fruit.
"Have you had enough?"
"Yes, thank you. I do not think you have to worry now, I am unlikely to expire."
"Well that is a relief," he laughed. "Now finish the wine." He watched as she took a few more gulps. "All of it," he ordered. She grinned and drained the goblet. Taking it from her hands and placing it back on the table he pulled her right against him. Her eyes widened as she felt what he had intended her to feel. "If that did not happen when my wife sits on my lap, Thíery, then the succession of Rohan would be in serious doubt."
"I suppose it would," she murmured, snuggling into him, "and of course as you have pointed out, I am no expert, but there does not seem much to worry about."
He knew that the wine was taking effect, but it still pleased him. Prissy women had never interested him. Soft and fluffy maybe, but not prissy. She was not fluffy but her breasts were soft against him and her hair wonderfully silky. He knew she was very willing and he was resisting the temptation to carry her straight over to the bed. She was young, she was his wife, it was her first time and they hardly knew each other. She deserved more. "You smell lovely," he said nuzzling into her hair. "Whenever I thought about you back in Rohan, I remembered your perfume."
"I am glad," she laughed, "I first bought it when I was about sixteen, and the merchant told me that no man could resist it. I think that was to justify the exorbitant price. It comes from Harad. Last time I told him it should now be cheaper as we are no longer at war."
"We will arrange a special messenger to bring it to Rohan." He put his lips close to her ear, "Tell me, Thíery," he teased, "why did you want a perfume men could not resist, at sixteen?"
"I had a crush on one of our Knights, but every time I went near him he just said I smelt nice and ruffled my hair."
"How very disappointing," he laughed.
She suddenly ran her hand across his chest and then his shoulder, tracing her fingers down his biceps. "I remembered your muscles."
She nodded, "It was what I noticed the most when we danced that first time. You were very different than…." She hesitated.
"Very different than whom?" he quizzed.
"My father received an offer for me just before the war. He was what you would call a scholar. He had white soft skin and I doubted he could even lift a sword. I could not bear the thought of him touching me," she shuddered.
Éomer could not help being amused and then he remembered what Imrahil had told him about 'sound reasons'. "What did you tell your father?"
She looked surprised, "The very same, of course. He understood quite well. I told him to find me a warrior."
He was already aroused, but the knowledge that it seemed she actually wanted to marry him caused quite a surge in that part of his anatomy.
"Well," she said softly, "that is one muscle I have not yet felt."
"I assure you, wife, if you make any more saucy remarks it will not be long before you do."
She chuckled and snuggled in closer causing a wave of desire to flood through him. He could resist no longer. A willing saucy young woman sitting on him was just too much. Her lips tasted of wine and she did not hesitate to part them to accommodate his probing tongue. She moaned softly when he at last slipped his hand amongst the folds of her robe and found a very erect nipple. "I think the chair has served its purpose, Thíery," he murmured. She felt light in his arms and she wrapped her arms around his neck so that he could carry her easily. Heading towards the bed, he took the opportunity to blow out a few candles leaving just one soft lamp burning. "Tonight, you do not have to do anything," he whispered, "just trust me and let me love you."
Her skin was smooth and deliciously fragrant and her body lithe and supple. She melted beneath him, squirming with delight when he suckled her breasts and gasping with surprise when he slipped his fingers into her wetness. Her hands were tracing pathways, up his arms, across his chest and then burying themselves in his long hair. He held out as long as possible but she was so soft and yielding that he desperately wanted to be inside her. Settling himself between her thighs he stroked her hair and looked deep into her eyes. They were not cool now, they were smoky and dark. He wondered if they would ever be really cool again, "I will be as gentle as I can but there may be pain."
She smiled at him, "I have a feeling it will be worth it."
He pressed into her, a little deeper with each thrust. She was tight and he guessed it was uncomfortable for her but she made no attempt to pull away and then suddenly she gave a little cry. Gathering her against him, he nuzzled into her neck and then planted little soft kisses on her lips, her eyelids, her ears. "Was it terrible?"
"No, not at all terrible, very nice. The pain has gone now."
"Thíery, I rather need to carry on. Can you bear it?"
She nodded, "Of course, I am fine now."
She was fine, wrapping her legs around him and instinctively matching his rhythm, moving to meet each powerful thrust. Holding him to her and stroking his shoulders when at last he collapsed on top of her.
"It was worth it," she murmured. "Was it good for you?"
"Perfect. A perfect wedding night. But it will become even more perfect when we know each other better. Especially for you."
"I am tired now."
He rolled off of her and then tucked her against him. "Go to sleep. You need to sleep."
"Yes," he whispered mischievously in her ear, "because in the morning I shall be hoping that you will take pity on me again." He heard her chuckle softly and murmured seductively, "I am awful in the mornings." He thought that she had already fallen asleep and did not hear him but he saw the corners of her mouth turn up and felt her squeeze his hand. He lay awake for a while gently stroking her hair. He had always thought she would make a good queen; perhaps she would be quite good as a wife also.
When Éomer awoke it was light. He realised he was alone and then became conscious of hearing movements and the sound of water being poured in the adjoining room. He stretched contently thinking about the night before: it had started so badly and ended so well. Treating her as if he really loved her was definitely the best way for both of them. He heard the door open and raised himself up to look at her. The view was stunning. She was totally naked and with her long legs, slim figure and full breasts she looked utterly desirable. "Good morning, wife," he grinned.
"Oh, I thought you were asleep. Should I wear a robe?"
"When we go to dinner, and in the Council chambers perhaps," he replied nonchalantly, "but otherwise I am not bothered."
Laughing quietly she slipped into the bed beside him and he pulled her gently towards him, pushing back her long hair behind her ears. "Are you alright, Thíery?"
"Yes," she smiled at him, "except that I was in desperate need of a wash. I did not think last night. I was so tired."
"It is understandable. I need a wash too." He kissed her lightly, "Do not go away."
The cold water did nothing to lesson his very large arousal. Just the thought of climbing back into bed beside her was causing heat to surge through him. When he re-entered the bedchamber she was watching him just as he had watched her. She looked straight at his maleness and then up at his face.
"I am not sure 'awful' is the right word," she said with a grin.
"And what is the right word?" he teased.
"I have no idea. It is beyond my experience," she replied laughingly.
He was surprised, as he had been the previous evening, how totally unembarrassed she was. Not that he was complaining. That her fun and wit extended to the bedroom was extremely pleasing. He sat on the bed beside her, amused. She was studying him or rather a certain part of him with a very serious expression on her face.
"Did it all fit?" she asked at last looking up at him. "I did not really take too much notice last night."
He burst out laughing, "Yes, every bit, but if you do not believe me then I shall be delighted to demonstrate."
Tentatively she reached out, exploring gently with her fingers, feeling up and down its length. "It's soft and hard at the same time," she said surprised.
Éomer enjoyed the sensations for a while and the put his hand over hers, "You wanted to know what to do."
"Oh, that is nice is it?"
"Very nice," he replied rather huskily, "and it makes it bigger."
Her hand stopped just as he thought it would.
"Do not worry. It will not be much," he grinned at her. "Anyway I think that is enough, I do not wish to get too excited yet. You and I have some unfinished business."
"What…" But he answered her with his lips.
This time her cry was very different as with profound satisfaction he took her with him, holding her tight and stroking her hair as she shuddered against him.
He thought she had fallen asleep in his arms but after a time she whispered, "I do not feel quite so ignorant now and I had no idea it was so amazing. Is it always like that?"
"Not always. We need to keep practising," he chuckled softly. "I imagine we do not have to appear until supper tonight. We can go for a walk or a ride and then practice again."
"If we are going to do it again," she retorted, "then it had better be a walk, not a ride!"
Imrahil could not concentrate at all on the document he was reading. He and Elphir had lapsed into worried silence. He knew that his eldest son felt the same as himself, although they had not voiced their concerns to one another. They did not have to; Elphir and his sister were very close.
Whenever he was home they shared this time after breakfast together, talking over any problems. Elphir saw to most of the day to day running of Belfalas, Imrahil felt he had done his bit over the years, and anyway his son seemed to have a natural ability to be a ruler. He sighed to himself; it should be a happy time, his only daughter marrying a King. They had looked to be getting on well at Faramir's wedding but by the time they had got home he had realised something was wrong. Lothíriel was very quiet and the invitation never came for her to visit Rohan. He did not know what Éomer was thinking of, it was most unlike him. To expect Thíery to be Queen of a country she had never seen, a country that was now only four days ride away. Yes, there was definitely something wrong. At least she had seemed a bit happier after they had exchanged letters, but she would not discuss any of it, she just said all was well. As for last night, he did not know if them disappearing quietly without telling anybody, was a good or bad sign. They had not appeared in the hall for breakfast, but then most had asked for trays, it meant nothing. He heard a chair scrape and looked up, Elphir had given up any attempt at working had picked up his teacup and was heading towards the window.
He saw his son look out towards the beach and the sea, saw him go to take a sip from his cup, a cup that never reached his mouth. "Father!" He gestured to the window with his head.
Éomer and his daughter were strolling down towards the beach. Éomer had his arm loosely around her shoulders and Thíery was gesculating with her hands, obviously explaining something.
Imrahil and Elphir looked at one another and both unashamedly looked back out of the window to watch.
They saw the two of them bypass the long winding path to the sand and head the short way over the rocks, Éomer taking her hand to steady her. Father and son watched as they reached a place where a jump down was needed to some flatter rocks bordering the beach. Éomer hopped down easily to the rock below and then turned to lift his wife, holding her around the waist. However he did not put her down straight away but held her in the air until she laughingly bent her head to kiss him. He put her down and then it seemed he changed his mind as he pulled her back into his arms.
Imrahil felt the tension fall from him as he watched his daughter and her new husband indulge in what was obviously, even from this distance, a deep and passionate embrace. Of course, in Gondor, even newly married couples were not expected to behave like that in public, but at that moment he did not care a damn.
The Journey Home
Éomer could not believe that it was only three weeks since he had made the journey up this road. Then he had been full of apprehension, wondering why he had put himself in the situation of deciding to spend the rest of his life with a woman he hardly knew and with whom he had so little in common. Now? Well, now he thought that it was unlikely he could have made a better choice, as not only would she be such a help to him in matters of state, but also, he grinned to himself, he could hardly keep his hands from her. There had definitely been something lurking under that quiet controlled demeanour: a sensual, passionate young woman. It amused him that her brothers were not sure whether to be pleased or perhaps slightly shocked that he so obviously preferred to take their sister to bed, rather then stay up with them, drinking. Thíery had dealt with their teasing with her usual grace and then finally shut them up by asking nonchalantly 'if they thought that pleasure was something reserved solely for the male of the species?'
He had stayed up last night though, not drinking with them, but talking with the Lord of Harrowdale: border patrols, guarding the Dimholt pass, the usual stuff. They had arrived in Dunharrow late the previous afternoon, and of course she had acquitted herself more than admirably. She greeted everybody in Rohirric, and, although the common tongue was used all through supper in deference to those from Dol Amroth, she had continued to speak to the servants in their own language. She had charmed everybody. By the time he had gone to bed, he knew she must have been asleep for a couple of hours, but he wanted her. The whole room was filled with the lingering evocative scent of her. It was warm and she was lying face down on the bed with the covers barely reaching her hips, her dark hair spread down her back. He lay there for a while trying to sleep. It was impossible. The amount of drink he had consumed was enough to seriously increase his desire without he was sure, having a noticeable effect on his performance. In the end he had told himself that she was young and missing a little sleep would not hurt her, and anyway, what was the point of having a wife if one could not indulge oneself. He started trailing his fingers down her back. She murmured and turned to snuggle into him, but did not wake. He blew gently onto her ear.
"Is it morning? It is very dark."
"No," he whispered, "it is the early hours."
"Then why…?"She chuckled softly when she realised what was pressing against her.
She opened her arms and her legs to him and then afterwards, sighed contentedly, put her head on his chest and went back to sleep. In the morning she had teased him, 'lovemaking'? He must have been dreaming, she remembered nothing. He wondered why it had been so absolutely fulfilling. As couplings went it was nothing really special, just very, very nice.
He turned to look at her. She was engaged in a deep conversation with one of his éored. The older man was explaining to her the reason why Edoras was always so clean and sweet smelling. The stream divided to provide drinking water and then to wash all waste away to the far off reed beds, where the water emerged crystal clear again. Éomer had no idea if she was interested in such things, but as usual she was paying the speaker complete attention. It was difficult for her as Sabre was particularly bad tempered and misbehaved. The mountain trail from Dunharrow did not suit him, especially first thing in the morning. Éomer knew that his stable master would soon teach the horse some manners. Not too many though, he did not wish to spoil her enjoyment, realising that part of her relished the stallion's wild ways. Suddenly he wanted to call to her, he needed to see her turn and smile at him. That lovely soft smile that would light up her face and her eyes, the one she seemed to keep just for him. All at once the truth hit, hard and unexpected; he had fallen in love with her. He immediately knew it was right, it had crept up on him and then pounced, ambushed him when he was not looking. No sooner had he acknowledged this then he realised that he had to tell her. Right now. Well at least before they reached Edoras, before they started up the road to the Golden Hall, before she faced the Council and the ceremonies. Certainly before she faced anyone likely to be spiteful and unkind to her. She needed the confidence those three little words would give her, because this morning she had sat at breakfast in Dunharrow, kept up interesting and courteous conversation with everyone and eaten absolutely nothing.
Éomer looked around for inspiration. He could ride right next to her, but it would not be the same as having his arms around her when he told her. He wanted her close. Looking towards Edoras he caught sight of the standing stone, marking the spot where the road turned straight towards the gates for the last half league. Of course. It could not be better.
She turned to face him. That lovely smile.
"You see that stone about half a league from the gates?"
"Yes," she nodded.
"When we get there I want us to race the rest of the way. Gallop straight through the gates." He immediately heard the appreciative murmur from his men.
"But there are many people there, inside as well as outside," she replied cautiously.
"The gate guards will clear them as soon as they see us coming. Théodred, Éowyn and I used to do it all the time. Of course," he laughed, "then we had to walk our own horses to cool them off."
"I suppose if you are sure, Sabre could certainly do with the run, but," she grinned, "do you really want your people to see you bested by a woman?"
That was exactly what he did want, but he laughed, "I can handle it. There will not be much room to pull up inside the gates. You go right and I will go left."
As soon as the guards realised the race was on, the wagering started. Not of course who would win, but by how much their new Queen would beat their King.
He was about three lengths behind her when she flew into Edoras. Just as he expected, pulling Sabre up so quickly caused the horse to rear and then sidestep madly around the cleared circle, giving the appreciative crowd a wonderful display of her riding skills. She was flushed and black hair was escaping in little tendrils around her face. She looked utterly delightful.
Éomer motioned to someone to hold her horse, "Come on, Thíery ride the rest of the way with me."
Not wishing to bring Sabre too close to Firefoot, she jumped down and Éomer lifted her up in front of him to the general cheering of the crowd.
"Welcome to Edoras," he said as he pulled her against him.
They started up the steep road and as soon as the excitement of the crowd had died down a little he leant forward and whispered, "I love you."
He felt her go still in his arms, "What did you say?"
"I said, I love you. Very much."
She twisted in the saddle to face him. That lovely smile again. "Come on," he grinned, "let's go home."
They stood outside Meduseld together; she had rehearsed time and time again the little speech she was to make after he had introduced her. He listened to the familiar words delivered in her practiced Rohirric and then realised she was changing the last sentence.
"I already love your King; I will love his people and his land also."
"Thank you for saying that," he whispered, as he carried her into the Golden Hall.
"Éomer, I have loved you since you first rode into the courtyard at Dol Amroth."