A/N: I was going to wait another day or two before I began posting this, but I may get stuck on jury duty come Monday (the 14th) and that may disrupt my posting of it, so I thought I'd at least get it started. So here's my third version of Eomer and Lothiriel's love story – this one is 14 chapters long.

A/N2: I couldn't find anywhere anything that gives specifics about Imrahil's wifename, alive/dead, died when, etc. and since quite some time ago I got a plot bunny off a story summary for an Eomer/Lothiriel story, I realized I could use those vagaries about Imrahil's wife to steer the story. So here is yet another story about Eomer and Lothiriel meeting and falling in love. It remains to be seen how/if they differ from the E/Ls in my other two versions! (And, in case you're wondering, yes, I do have ideas for more Elfwine Chronicles, Freawine/Theodwyn, Elfwine/Dariel, etc. floating around, but none of those seem to be going anywhere at the moment. I remembered this idea back in September and it struck me enough to sit down and start writing. So better this than nothing at all, right?) I'm not really sure why this one is so much longer than either of the other two stories; maybe the circumstances allowed for more threads that needed to be woven together…

Chapter 1

"Welcome, Eomer King!" Aragorn said, stepping forward.

The King of Rohan had just come from Edoras with an escort party to carry home the body of their slain king, Theoden. As they were to depart the next day and it was already nearing sundown, after Aragorn embraced Eomer, and greetings were made all around, Aragorn had servants usher Eomer and Elfhelm to their quarters to wash off the dust of the road. He had kept supper to a simple affair of family and friends, knowing the party from Rohan would be weary, and eager to turn in early for the long trip back home. The main body of the Rohirrim had camped on the Pelennor for the short overnight stay at Minas Tirith.

As expected, supper was accompanied only by friendly conversation. During the course of it, Eomer inquired, "Where is Prince Imrahil? I had thought he intended to travel with us."

Aragorn nodded, and gestured to Faramir to respond. "My uncle was detained somewhat, but he sent word on ahead that he would join us tomorrow, or somewhere along the road."

"It will be good to see him again," Eomer acknowledged. "He has been a good friend." He paused thoughtfully a moment, remembering the debt he owed Imrahil for discovering Eowyn was still alive, and getting aid for her during the War.

Pulling himself from his reverie he glanced up at the steward, who was soon to be his brother-in-law, and asked mischievously, "So, have you had sufficient time to reconsider marrying my sister?"

Faramir smiled benignly and answered, "There is not enough time in my entire life for that to happen. I fear you will not be rid of me so easily!"

Eomer laughed appreciatively, then told him, "Very well, but do not say I did not warn you – and give you ample opportunity to run!"

"Now, now, my Lord," Elfhelm interjected, "clearly the man is in love. Do not continue to attempt dissuading him...or we will never be rid of your sister!"

Eomer chuckled again, pleased that Elfhelm felt comfortable enough to make such a comment. He knew full well that Elfhelm thought quite highly of Eowyn and would defend her to death against anyone.

"Not to worry," Eomer assured the man. "Eowyn has it in her head to marry him, despite his unfortunate birthplace, and you know how difficult she can be to sway. She will have him whether he wants her or not!"

Faramir eyed the two men with a raised eyebrow, and said, "Might I point out, my friends, that Eowyn and I will not wed for several more months. You have to live with her until then. You might wish to guard your words in front of her betrothed, lest he let slip what he has overheard here this night!"

Eomer and Elfhelm roared with laughter, "Well said, brother! You make a very good point!"

Rising from the table, Eomer added, "I think perhaps I'd best turn in before the wine loosens my tongue any more and I live to regret it! If you will excuse me."

"Of course," Aragorn answered. "Sleep well. We will see you in the morning."

Elfhelm rose also and accompanied Eomer from the room, and the remainder of the party broke up shortly after that.

xxxxx

Even rising before the sun was full up, Eomer could tell that it would be a warm day. Rohan was hot during the summer months, but nothing like Gondor. He would be glad to return home, where at least he could count on a fairly cooling breeze most of the time.

They ate a quick breakfast, and then the funeral cortege set out, along with the mourners joining them from Minas Tirith. The Rohirrim were gathered and ready to meet them as they left the city, and the group soon settled into the proscribed positions for each person.

There had yet been no sign of Imrahil's party from Dol Amroth, but they would be traveling slowly to accommodate the wain carrying Theoden's body, the wagons with supplies, as well as the carriages along for the ladies. It should not be difficult for his party to overtake them along the way.

Despite the slow pace, however, Imrahil did not arrive until their fourth day on the road. They had stopped for the midday meal when a messenger came, bearing word that the Dol Amrothians would join them shortly, so they remained a bit longer. A quick meal was eaten by the newcomers and then the processional continued on.

Eomer had met two of Imrahil's sons during the War, but his eldest son and his daughter had remained in Dol Amroth to defend that city and watch over its people. Once again, Elphir, the eldest, had remained behind to oversee the running of things in his father's absence, but now Lothiriel joined her father.

Brief introductions had been made upon their arrival, but as the lady rode in a carriage, Eomer saw little more of her after that. Faramir, apparently, was quite close to his cousin, and he temporarily gave up his mount to ride with her and visit. A few times during the trek, Imrahil's family joined the king of Rohan for supper, but Eomer had little opportunity to get a sense of the girl. He was rather taken aback to learn that she did not know how to ride a horse, hence her continual presence in the carriage. Amrothos had imparted that knowledge about his sister, explaining that horses were not a big part of their life at the seacoast and so Lothiriel had never happened to learn.

Privately, it was Eomer's opinion that he would never have learned to ride either if it meant riding in the silly side-saddle fashion employed by Gondorian women. As appalling as it was not to know how to ride, he could hardly blame her not wanting to ride like that.

The journey was hot, dusty and long, but at length they came in sight of Edoras, gleaming on the hill. Much of the town came out to respectfully line the roadway as Theoden's body passed. The guests followed Eomer up to Meduseld, while the soldiers and wain moved off to another location. Gamling was waiting, and efficiently got everyone shown to their dwellings for the duration of their visit, and most retired to rest from the trip.

Over the next three days, Rohan prepared for Theoden's funeral. Though much of the funeral ceremony itself was done in Rohirric, the visitors got enough sense of what was taking place to adequately follow along, and finally the deed was done. Theoden lay in the Barrowfield alongside his ancestors.

At length, the mourners gathered to the Golden Hall and, in the way of the Rohirrim, put away their sorrow. Instead, they paid homage to Theoden, for the full life he had lived and the valor with which he died. As part of the feast, Eomer announced the trothplight of his sister to Faramir, and more celebration ensued at that happy news.

xxxxx

During the subsequent four days, Eomer's guests relaxed, but made ready for their departure to various destinations. And by the 14th, only a few remained, including Faramir and Imrahil's family.

Now that things had quieted down a bit, Eomer took the opportunity to seek counsel with Imrahil about his role as king. He still felt very unprepared for the responsibility which had befallen him, and Imrahil's sage guidance was helpful and reassuring to him.

While they paused for a midday meal, Imrahil seized the moment to approach his friend with a request. "Eomer, I wonder if I might ask a very great favor of you?"

"Certainly, my friend. Anything that is in my power, I will grant you," Eomer readily responded.

Imrahil stood and paced the room thoughtfully, searching for the words of explanation that he needed. With a sigh, he seated himself again and gazed at the king, "I do not know if you have taken much notice of my daughter. I suspect you have not, what with all you have had to do these past few weeks. But there is a sorrow and despondency that rests upon her, that she cannot quite shake."

Eomer took a bite of buttered bread and eyed Imrahil curiously, waiting for him to finish and make his petition. Another sigh escaped the older man, and it was evident that Lothiriel was not the only one who sorrowed. "My wife died some ten months ago of a fever. Lothiriel tended her in her illness and was at her bedside when she passed. On the heels of that was this War, and all the fear and worry that has hung over everyone's heads. She had to watch her father and two brothers ride off, never knowing if she would see them again. And she remained behind, to stand at her brother's side, hoping to keep Dol Amroth safe in my absence. Of course, she is overjoyed at our victory, and the safe return of her family, but even so, she lost a beloved cousin and a good many friends."

He lifted his eyes to Eomer's, "Would it be too much to ask that she be allowed to remain in Rohan for a time? Dol Amroth holds too many painful memories for her at present, and I think a change of scenery might help her get back on course. Might make her smile again."

"I have seen your daughter smile, Imrahil. Are you certain your concern is not unfounded?" Eomer asked.

"She smiles, but it does not reach her eyes, and it does not come from her heart. She is a lady of the royal court – she knows well how to hide her feelings from those around her. But she cannot entirely hide them from her father or brothers."

Eomer pondered his words, and then nodded, "We would be happy to have her remain here as long as you or she wishes it. She may return with us when we go to Minas Tirith for Eowyn's wedding, or stay longer, through the winter."

"Thank you. I will tell her later today. Do not be surprised if she balks at the suggestion. She will insist she is fine, and that she is needed at home, to care for us helpless men, but I truly think this will do her much good. She needs time away to regain her strength."

As predicted, Lothiriel did argue the point when her father announced it to her. They were strolling in the garden adjacent to Meduseld, as Imrahil was certain it was unwise to bring this up in public.

"Father, I am fine! Why do you insist on this? This trip to Rohan is sufficient. I assure you, I will be well again and regain my spirits by the time we are home."

"Thiri, please do this for me. I feel so guilty that I have not been able to better shield and protect you from the cares of the world. It would please me to give you this time away, to think of nothing more than amusement and pleasant company. Besides, you and Eowyn have become good friends, have you not? Likely she would welcome your presence to help her prepare for the wedding, and provide guidance on life in Gondor."

Lothiriel knew her father was using Eowyn as a means to help break down her resistance to the idea, but she could not deny that Eowyn had hinted she would welcome all the help Lothiriel could give her. And Faramir had been encouraging her to take Eowyn under her wing and assist her.

With a rueful shake of her head, she gave him an annoyed smile, "Very well, I will remain here. And I will have such a fine time that I will be far too busy to write to you and you will mourn my absence and regret insisting on this!"

He gave a laugh and kissed her head, "I will risk this torment if I can see you smile again – and mean it. Besides, you may well be of help to Eomer also."

She lifted an eyebrow questioningly at him and he added, "You are well schooled in political matters and diplomancy. He is feeling his way in this new role where he was thrust so unexpectedly. I will recommend that he seek your counsel when I am gone. You know how things are done in Gondor and I am certain you can advise him well."

"Ah. So now you are trying to make me be agreeable to this by suggesting I am here as a goodwill ambassador?"

He gave another laugh, "You know me – I will use whatever method works best!" Sobering, he told her, "Please, Thiri, enjoy your time here. Let your heart be healed. Indulge your interest in different places and cultures. Come back to us refreshed."

"Very well, Father, for you." She kissed his cheek.

xxxxx

Eowyn was ecstatic when the decision was announced at supper, though Amrothos sulked a bit at the news. He had always been close to his sister, and would miss her company more than the others. When he at last caught her alone later, he pouted, "Just do not fall in love with some Rohirric soldier and refuse to come home, Thiri. It will be dreadfully dull without you around."

She gave him a hug and laughed, "That isn't likely to happen, Amrothos. How could I ever leave you, or the sea? If I fall in love with a Rohirric soldier, he will just have to move to Dol Amroth to live and become a Swan Knight!"

Knowing they would not see her for awhile, her brothers spent much time with her in the days prior to their departure for home. Lothiriel fell into her habit, from long years of practice, of hiding her true feelings on the matter. Why her father thought the pain of separation from her family would ease the pain of loss of her mother and Boromir was beyond her comprehension. As much as she was fond of Eowyn and fascinated by Rohan, already homesickness was taking her, and she had spent more than one night weeping into her pillow at the thought of being apart from those she loved for several months.

Faramir, alone, seemed to know the pangs of emotion she was experiencing. He made it a point to tell her, "I know this is not what you would wish, but as it is decided, do try to enjoy it. Eowyn is very happy that you are to remain and help her, and I know you well enough to know that you can delight in this experience if you choose to do so. You will be home all too soon, and you may never have another opportunity for such an adventure."

He gave her a hug, which she returned tightly. "I know all that, Faramir, but it is still difficult. I have never been away from home for any length of time, at least not without someone of my family with me."

"Then remind yourself that you still have family with you, for Eowyn will soon be like a sister to you!" he teased.

She let out a laugh, "Yes, I suppose that is so. Do not worry, cousin. I will make sure your fair maid is knowledgeable of our ways before your wedding day!"

Pinching her nose, he assured her, "You know full well it matters not to me. I love Eowyn just as she is...but it is important to her that she not do anything that might be embarrassing to me. Teach her what she needs to know, Thiri, but please do not let her change who she is."

She giggled at him and covered her grin with a hand. Teasingly she told him, "Who would ever have thought YOU would turn so sappy and lovesick!"

He grabbed her and began to tickle her, saying, "You laugh now, wench, but when you are in love I think you will be just as lovesick as me!"

Wriggling and squealing as she tried to escape his torment, she exclaimed, "Stop! Stop! Have mercy on me, cousin!" He let her slip free and then they fell into one another's arms.

"In truth, Faramir," she whispered fiercely in his ear, "it does my heart good to see you so happy! Eowyn may ask anything of me that she wishes, if it will add to that happiness."

xxxxx

At length, the time of departure came and a tearful farewell was said. Finally, Imrahil mounted his horse, with Eomer's assurance for the safety and well-being of his daughter ringing in his ears. They waved a last salute and the Dol Amroth party turned for home.

Eowyn kept Lothiriel occupied most of that day, talking of the wedding and various things she wanted to know about Gondor and its customs. Not until after the evening meal was Lothiriel able to slip away to the garden. She sat watching the sun set, tears slipping down her cheeks.

When she had not been seen for some time, Eomer went to check on his guest. He had heard she liked the garden, so he checked there first. His footfall was so soft, she did not hear him approach, and when he spoke, she started with surprise.

"I did not mean to sneak up on you, Lothiriel. I wanted to make sure you were...well." He shifted awkwardly, not used to this sort of thing.

Wiping hastily at her face, she kept her eyes averted as she answered, "Yes, Eomer, I am well. Do not be alarmed by my tears. I cannot help but miss my family and home, but I will see them soon enough. I just need time to adjust."

He hesitantly sat down on the bench next to her, saying, "If there is anything we can do to make your visit more pleasant, and to ease your...homesickness, I hope you will not hesitate to make it known."

Lothiriel turned to him knowingly, "My father told you, did he not, why he thought I needed to be here."

It wasn't so much a question as a statement, and Eomer shrugged, "He felt you needed the time away from painful memories. He hoped you might find peace."

She nodded, explaining, "He has been concerned about me for some time. I have tried to hide my sorrow from him, but I have not been successful. But be assured, Eomer, I am not so fragile as he would have you believe. I am coping with the loss of people I cared about and the ravage to our lands. I am regaining my strength and hope, though perhaps not so quickly or outwardly as he would wish. All things considered, I look around and see that many others have suffered far more than I have, and I have no room for self pity. My life will go on, and I will move forward and be happy, and make something worthwhile of my existence."

Eomer smiled at her, saying, "And Rohan is honored to help in any way that we can! Perhaps in helping you to heal, we will find some healing of our own."

His smile trailed off as he became lost in his thoughts, and Lothiriel realized he did understand her situation. He, himself, was one of those who had suffered far more than she and, yet, he was called upon to put aside his own cares and meet the needs of his people first. Maybe her father was right; perhaps she could do some good during her time here and help him face this challenge. Perhaps he would find some healing as well if she were able to ease his burden even slightly.

They remained silent as the sun finally dropped behind the distant mountain, leaving them mostly in darkness. Lothiriel shivered slightly in the night air and stood. As Eomer rose also, she turned to him and declared, "There is one thing Rohan can do for me, Eomer."

His eyebrows rose questioningly and she added, "Teach me to ride a horse. In Dol Amroth, I swim in the sea, because that is what we do there. While I am in Rohan, I will learn to ride a horse, because that is what you do here!"

He gave a laugh, "Then we shall see it done! But be warned – there is nary a side-saddle to be found in all of Rohan. If you learn to ride, you will learn to ride properly!"

"I would have it no other way!" she declared, laughing.

A/N3: Pretty long – Sorry about that! Mostly referencing my just posted story Secrets and replying to some reviewers of that.

Glad you all enjoyed discovering the truth about Danwen. I thought I had pretty well established in the No Mistake series that she wasn't simply an old flame of Eomer's that didn't want to give him up, so that raised the questions who was she and with no encouragement from Eomer, why was she behaving that way and doing those things? Most people have a reason (albeit, not always a GOOD reason) for the way they act, and I'm glad you enjoyed exploring that with me.

It was also nice to give Amrothos a little more depth, too. Up til now, he's just been the affable, carefree, teasing brother, but he does have substance and a good heart.

Jazzcat asked about seeing Amrothos and Danwen in future Elfwine Chronicles. Part of the reason you haven't seen them before this, is because this story has been brewing (suggested by several of you faithful readers) since before the Chronicles came into being. Until I wrote this story and laid out some "canon", I couldn't very well do much with either of these two since they would be married by the time Elfwine was born. Now that you know their story, all bets are off and they become fair game for future Chronicles! At this point, Lothiriel and Danwen aren't "best buds", but at least they have reached a tentative peace and are on the way to forgiving and forgetting.

dragonfly – "The thing I love about your stories is that you don't drag things out endlessly. Like having Amrothos injured and then dragging out his recovery for three chapters." – Glad you like that! To me those are plot devices and they only go on so long as I need them to for the story. However, in fairness to some other authors who have them "last longer", it may just seem that way because of the difference in our writing style. I'm a rather "concise" writer. You may have noticed that I don't put in a lot of the minute detail that so many others do (and in some ways that makes theirs better writing than mine), but I just can't write that way. I include the information that I think is important to the story. Describing the sunset in great detail that Eomer and Lothiriel are sitting and watching probably isn't important to me so much as why they are sitting and watching and what they are saying to each other while they do it. So I tend to cover pretty much the same ground as other writers but I take a lot less paper to get there. (The advantage being that it makes for quick and easy reading!)

shie1dmaidenofrohan – "And a THIRD E/L love story version? Wow. I don't even think I could write a second for E/F. But then, I guess it's a little more restricted since there is canon plot to deal with there. ;)" – The lack of canon may play a big factor in my being such a prolific writer. Even though I try to match canon in the details, much of what I focus on has no Tolkien facts to be adhered to and that makes it easier. Not sure why a third version of E/L came to mind, but the scenario is quite a bit different than in the past and it gave rise to a lot of new possibilities. As a result, this story is almost twice as long as either of the other two – well, if you don't count the sequels…