A/N: Here we are at the end. Hope this satisfied all of you who wanted to see Amrothos and Danwen hook up. I just "finished" the third version of Eomer and Lothiriel's love story, though I need to go over it a few more times. I kept "losing" plot points and would have to go back and add/change to fix that. I still have one plot point I have to get some details on to decide how to "fix" it. That may start posting by the end of the week. It is 14 chapters long (not sure why this one was the longest of the three...)
smor - picky, picky! I caught and fixed "soon-to-close" by putting "be" back in there. What more do you want? Just teasing! No one else ever tells me about stuff like that and I have to find it myself. In a certain sense, my stories are never totally finished since I tweak and correct and change ad infinitum!
Horns sounded the arrival of the eored, and families scurried throughout Edoras to come out to welcome them home.
Lothiriel's pleasure at their return choked in her throat when she saw them carrying her brother in, wrapped in bandages. He was laid in his bed and Danwen, who had followed him in, was weeping beside him.
"What happened?" Lothiriel asked Eomer quietly, gazing worriedly at her brother.
"It was foolish, really. He should never have acted as he did. But I do not think he understood that things are different here, and by the time we could get to him... I am sorry, Thiri. I should never have let him go with us. He should have stayed here where it was safe."
"Stop it!" a voice hissed nearby, and they turned toward it, startled.
Danwen stood glaring at them. "Stop talking about him like that! Amrothos is brave and intelligent! Do not act as if he is just a foolish boy! He is not dead, and I will not let him die!" Her voice broke and a sob escaped. "I will not let him die! I cannot lose him! He is all that I have that is worthwhile in my life! I will not lose him!" With a moan she fell to her knees on the floor and began sobbing into her hands.
Eomer and Lothiriel stared at her for a moment, then hesitantly Lothiriel knelt beside her. "We will not let him die, Danwen. Do not misunderstand. Amrothos has always been somewhat reckless and this is not the first time he has gotten into a scrape because of it. It does not mean he is stupid or that we think ill of him. That is just his nature, and usually it has worked to his advantage, but occasionally it is ill-conceived."
It felt very odd to the queen, offering comfort to this woman she had despised for so long. But there was no mistaking the anguish the woman was feeling over Amrothos' injuries. If nothing else, that alone won Lothiriel's compassion.
Once Danwen had calmed, she resumed her watch at Amrothos' bedside and would not be persuaded to rest. During the night she may have slept occasionally in the chair brought for her, but there was little evidence of it the next day. Her face was haggard with exhaustion, and Lothiriel found it difficult to be dispassionate toward her.
When the queen brought her a food tray in the morning and urged her to eat, she nibbled a few bites but clearly could not stomach the food. Lothiriel had remained, talking quietly with the healer about her brother's condition. When he left to fetch more herbs, Danwen hesitantly spoke, "My lady...would you stay with him through the day? I must go to my work, though I do not wish him to be alone."
Swallowing hard, Lothiriel asked, "Where do you work?"
"I am a seamstress. I work for Fromgast's wife, who makes dresses to order. To tell you the truth, I am not very good, and I do not think she would have hired me were it not for Amrothos," she answered softly, her eyes lowered. "But I must work if I am to afford the room at the inn," she added.
The queen considered this a moment, then told her, "Wait here." She moved out of the room and down to the housekeeper's quarters. When the woman answered, she instructed, "Send Blidhe to see the wife of Fromgast. Have her tell the woman I have sent her to replace Danwen while she tends a sick friend. She may see me if this arrangement is not agreeable. Blidhe is to go each day until further notice."
The housekeeper nodded her understanding, though she looked slightly puzzled at the request. Returning to Amrothos' room, Lothiriel quietly told Danwen, "I have made arrangements for a servant to fill in for you as seamstress until Amrothos is well. You may stay with him."
Danwen's eyes flooded with tears, and she choked out gratefully, "Thank you, my lady! Thank you so very much! I can never repay your kindness!"
Reluctantly, Lothiriel said, "My name is Lothiriel. If we are to be sisters, that is what you should call me in private."
Danwen stared disbelievingly at her, then stammered, "Thank you...Lothiriel."
Lothiriel gave a curt nod and turned for the door. She almost ran into Eomer who was standing just outside it, and he reached out to steady her. When she looked up, he slipped an arm around her shoulders and led her to his study. Closing the door behind them, he turned and wrapped her in his arms. "That was very kind of you, my love," he murmured softly, holding her close. "Even if she proves insincere, your brother would appreciate your thoughtful treatment of his beloved."
He held her for a long while, knowing how difficult it had been for her to bend that much, and wanting to offer what support he could.
It took two more days before Amrothos finally opened his eyes. In addition to a wound from a blade, he had fallen from his horse and struck his head. Though the wound was healing well, he suffered with a severe headache for another week. Still, though he was weak, he was alive, and all rejoiced because of it.
As soon as he awakened, Danwen was given a room nearby to stay in until he was well, and Blidhe continued to fill in for her several more days before she returned to work. As soon as her work was finished, she returned immediately to his side and they spent long hours talking into the night, frequently peppered with tender kisses.
After a few days of this, Eomer appeared in the room just after supper, and the couple looked up at him curiously. Nervously, Eomer cleared his throat, not entirely comfortable with what he was about to say, but certain it had to be done.
"Amrothos, under the circumstances, I am afraid I must insist that from here on you and Lady Danwen be more properly attended in your interactions. I will send a servant to sit with you while she visits in the evening."
Amrothos' face revealed his astonishment. "You...you are not serious?"
"Indeed, I am. The young lady has enough black marks against her without anyone gossiping about impropriety. As her king, it is my responsibility, in the absence of any male relatives to do so, to protect her reputation. Her father has forfeited any say in the matter, but until you are wed, you must not give reason for anyone to speak ill of her."
Amrothos blinked several times, and then sighed. "I suppose I should thank you for this, though at the moment I am finding it difficult to appreciate your involvement."
Eomer chuckled slightly, and replied, "Actually, it is your sister you should thank. This was her idea. Who would have thought that the woman who showed such disdain for propriety during our courtship would prove such a stickler for it now! I can only guess it is for one of two reasons. Either she is doing her best to be a good queen of Rohan and look after her subjects, or she wishes very much to annoy her brother. I am rather inclined to think it is the latter..."
Both men started laughing, and Amrothos assured him, "It may also be the former, but you are correct in assuming she was glad that the latter effect would be achieved!"
Considering the unusual circumstances, a quiet announcement of the betrothal had been made shortly after Amrothos had returned with his father's permission to marry. Once he was well enough to be up and around, the plans proceeded and, within the month, the ceremony took place with a small group in the Golden Hall.
An invitation had been sent to Lord Grimdred, as a courtesy, but no one was surprised when he did not attend, and though Danwen was saddened by the reason for it, she did not mind having a peaceful, happy wedding day without him.
After a short honeymoon in Edoras, the couple finally departed to go and make their home in Dol Amroth. Danwen was not particularly displeased about giving up her work as seamstress, and Fromgast's wife made no complaint either. As Danwen had surmised, she had been pressured into hiring the girl by Amrothos, who had promised to see to her wages himself.
As the Swan Knights assembled to escort them on their way, the pair said their good-byes to the king and queen on the front terrace of Meduseld.
Amrothos clung to his sister when they embraced, finally whispering to her, "Thank you, Thiri. I am sorry for the pain I have caused you by all this, but know that I truly do love her, and I know that she loves me. Trust me on that."
Lothiriel could not stay her tears, both at the farewell and at his words. At length, she pressed a kiss to his cheek. "I know you would never intentionally hurt me. And I am beginning to believe she may be sincere, but you must give me time on that. I could not bear to see you hurt."
He caught her by the back of the neck and looked deep into her eyes. "You will not. I promise. I know her heart." He kissed her forehead and turned to shake hands with Eomer.
Lothiriel wiped at her eyes, then focused on Danwen standing silently behind her husband. Finally, she said stiffly, "I wish you joy. I meant what I said about what would happen if you hurt him...but I am persuaded I may not have reason to worry about that. I truly hope you are all he thinks you are, and that you find great happiness together."
Danwen could guess what it had cost the queen to admit even that much, and she never would have expected even this amount of capitulation so quickly. Tears slid down her cheeks. "You have no reason to fear. I will dedicate my life to his happiness."
They stood staring awkwardly at each other for several moments, and then with a soft sigh, Lothiriel moved forward and embraced her. "Safe journey, sister."
6/20/05 – 10/30/05