Head of the family
Minas Tirith, Third Age 3020
"Twenty-one!" Lothiriel stared at her brother in complete disbelief. "Please tell me you are not serious."
Elphir frowned at her outburst. "Thus has it ever been the tradition in our family and I see no reason to change it now."
She got no further as her brother held up his hand. "Father presented me at court soon after my twenty-first birthday and no doubt he will do the same with you," he replied. "Meanwhile you cannot possibly come with us to the celebration tonight. It would not be proper."
Proper! Lothiriel's heart sank as she recognized her brother at his most pompous. Had it been one of her other brothers she would have thought his words a joke, but this was Elphir. Where Erchirion and Amrothos had teased her mercilessly when they were all younger, he had always kept himself aloof, too full of his own importance as the heir to Dol Amroth to join in what he called their silly games.
"But I will turn twenty-one in September anyway, surely a few more weeks won't matter," she tried to reason with him, but he just shook his head.
Lothiriel sank down onto a chair as the enormity of his words began to sink in. "It's not fair!" she exclaimed heatedly. "Father never mentioned anything of this."
Elphir frowned at her outburst. "He probably did not think it necessary" he replied repressively, "after all, your are obviously far too young to think of going to court."
The problem was, Lothiriel had been thinking of little else the last few months. Ever since their father had returned from the Ring War full of tales of their splendid new king and his beautiful elven queen, she had wanted to go to Minas Tirith and see them with her own eyes. Prince Imrahil had not wanted to leave Dol Amroth again after having been away so long during the war, but then something fortuitous had happened. Their cousin Faramir had written to ask if Lothiriel would like to come and visit him and his new bride at Emyn Arnen in Ithilien. And what would be more natural than to stop over on the way in Minas Tirith to see her eldest brother and his wife?
Lothiriel had bent all her not inconsiderable powers of persuasion on being allowed to go and her father had finally assented. By a further stroke of good luck they had arrived on midsummer's eve, the day King Elessar and Queen Arwen celebrated their first wedding anniversary.
Now she was feeling bitterly disappointed. "I will go to the celebration tonight, there is no way you can stop me" she exclaimed.
Elphir frowned at her outburst. In his opinion their father had granted his sister far too much freedom while growing up and this sort of unbecoming behaviour was the direct result of it. With their mother dying whilst Lothiriel was still a babe in arms she had been allowed to tag along after her elder brothers learning all sorts of unsuitable things like horse racing, archery and even swimming.
Well, she was still young and all that was needed really was a firm hand to remind her of a woman's proper place in life. Even so he was looking forward to the hopefully not too distant day when she would pass into the responsibility of a husband. "That is quite enough, sister," he said sharply. "Father being absent, I am the head of the family and you will heed my decision." With that he gave her a curt nod and left the room.
Head of the family indeed, thought Lothiriel. Her brother did not know her very well if he thought she would be cowed by that. Slowly she walked over to the window and looked out. Like many of the noble families of Gondor, the Princes of Dol Amroth had their own town house in Minas Tirith, which in their case was situated in the sixth circle of the city, directly below the citadel where the king now resided. When she had been younger they had spent many a summer here as guests of her uncle, Lord Denethor. It was only when the shadows of Mordor grew longer that her father would no longer let her come.
Upon arrival she had been delighted to get her own room back, pretty much untouched since her last visit six years ago. Whereas the windows of the grander rooms gave a sweeping view of the Pelennor fields, this one only looked out over the kitchen garden, but Lothiriel did not mind. She sat down in the window seat and began making plans. She knew Elphir well enough to realize he would not change his mind now, but she was not one to give up easily. Already an idea was forming in her mind.
It was not long before she was interrupted by a knock on her door. "Lothiriel?" asked a soft voice. Looking up she saw her sister-in-law enter the room.
"It is all right, I am not going to throw anything at you, " Lothiriel replied with a slight smile. Melian came over slowly, not entirely reassured by these words and embraced her cautiously. To look at, the two women could not have been more different. Where Melian had long blond hair and gentle blue eyes, Lothiriel had inherited the looks of her elven ancestors. Tall and slender, she had hair as black as a raven's wings and eyes green like the sea on a stormy day.
Melian sat down next to her. "I only just heard, " she said, "and I am so sorry." She liked her sister-in-law, who had been unfailingly kind to her when she had first come to Dol Amroth as a shy young bride. Now she tried to cheer her up.
"Don't be disappointed. We can still go to the midsummer fair outside the city gates and you might well see the king and queen there. They say King Elessar likes to mingle with the common folk."
"If you say so, " Lothiriel replied, her eyes downcast. "I am tired from my journey anyway. I think I will just go to bed early."
Melian shifted uncomfortably. She had expected storms of rage, maybe even tears, but this quiet submissiveness was even more unnerving and did not bode well.
"Would you like me to stay in with you tonight and keep you company?" she asked hesitantly.
"Oh no, you go and enjoy yourself. Don't worry about me" Lothiriel replied instantly, patting her hand reassuringly. And that was all she would say on the subject.
Later that evening, as they got ready to go out, Melian confided some of her misgivings to her husband, but Elphir dismissed them out of hand. He had been pleasantly surprised by the way Lothiriel had sat quietly through the evening meal and then retired early, pleading fatigue. Surely she had accepted that her brother only had her best interests at heart. Even so, he thought, it would be a good idea to get her on her way to Emyn Arnen as soon as possible, and to send Melian along to keep an eye on her.
So it was with a quiet mind that he escorted his wife up to the Citadel. In the event, of course, it turned out that she knew his sister rather better than he did.