A/N: May get busy later and not find time to post this, so I'll do it now. I sat down and wrote a oneshot yesterday that isn't connected to my other stories, but now I'm trying to decide whether to keep it a oneshot or continue on with it. Guess you'll find out what I decide when I post it.

Replies at end.

Chapter 14

Reluctantly, two days later, they hugged and kissed Faramir, Eowyn and little Elboron good-bye, and then they were on their way. By now, the wisdom of Imrahil's decision to add the extra time to the schedule was evident. They were leaving only one day sooner than he had allowed for, and they were grateful for his foresight in the matter.

The group quickly made its way to Minas Tirith, to collect the Dol Amroth party and others wishing to travel with them to the festivities in Edoras. Upon their arrival in the White City, King Elessar arranged a quiet supper for family and friends as they would be departing the next morning for the longer part of the journey.

In the confusion of their getting settled into rooms, sharing the good news about the Steward's new son and greetings all around, Lothiriel did little more than acknowledge the King and Queen of Gondor. It was not until supper had been eaten, and all were standing around talking afterwards, that the couple approached her.

Lothiriel was surprised to see the queen giving her a knowing smile, and she suddenly remembered the previous year when Arwen had housed her with the Rohirrim party rather than her own family. A suspicion came upon her that perhaps the queen had not been entirely surprised to hear of her betrothal.

King Elessar was smiling warmly at Lothiriel, and said, "So, Prince Imrahil tells me that the Gondorian Ambassador to Rohan wishes to be permanently stationed in Edoras. Is this true?"

Lothiriel blushed slightly and nodded. "It is, my lord."

Elessar bowed his head pensively a moment, then raised his eyes to hers. "Very well, then. I give my consent to this arrangement. However, I must insist that said Ambassador keep me apprised of any changes of population in Rohan, specifically within the King's household." His eyes twinkled with mischief despite the serious expression on his face.

With a laugh, Lothiriel told him, "As you wish, my lord. I will make very certain you receive word when any increase is expected!"

Lothiriel caught the sound of Arwen's musical laughter joining her own, and turned to the Queen. After a moment, she sobered slightly and observed speculatively, "You are not surprised by my decision to form a union with Rohan."

Arwen gave a slight shake of her head. "My father has some measure of foresight, which I do not believe I have particularly inherited, but I may claim some slight advantage of perception. When I saw you with Eomer, and then you confided your intent to return to Rohan for a longer period, it was plain there was more than friendship and generosity at work."

"But...you had arranged for me to be housed among the Rohirrim rather than my family even before we arrived," Lothiriel mused, raising a questioning eyebrow.

Arwen shrugged. "A mere hunch, a shadow of feeling that led me to do so. I did not fully understand it until I saw you."

Lothiriel smiled in return and pondered her words, then looked up, startled. "Then that is why you so vocally supported my decision to return to Rohan. Had you not done so, my father might never have agreed to it."

Arwen nodded, smiling serenely in return. "There are advantages to being queen! I suspected your family would oppose it and thought my support might tip the scales in your favor."

Lothiriel blushed slightly, but acknowledged fervently, "Then I am indebted to you. It was during that winter in Edoras that I came to realize my feelings for Eomer. And I am persuaded that his feelings began to change then also. Had we been separated after Eowyn's wedding, it might not have come to this."

To her surprise, Arwen reached over and pulled her into a hug. "And that would have been a great pity!"

xxxxx

The wedding party departed Minas Tirith just after the morning meal. Unlike the funeral trek for Theoden, the weather was pleasant and the excursion bore a festive mood the entire way.

Lothiriel had been able to convince Eomer to occasionally keep her company for a time in the carriage, though he continued to insist it was not necessary to his health. He had already given up using the crutch, though he still could not keep himself from limping. She was willing to accept whatever acquiesence she could get, whether he admitted any need or not. Once they were close to Edoras, however, both of them returned to their horses to ride into the city side by side.

As they drew near the gates of Edoras, Eomer pressed Firefoot in close upon Anlicferth. In one quick motion, his right arm shot out, caught Lothiriel around the waist and lifted her from the saddle. With a gasp, she flung her arms around his neck as he hefted her crossways onto the saddle in front of him, grinning mischievously.

"You were the one who suggested we do things by Rohirric custom," he teased. "Let me show you how the Rohirrim claim a wife!"

He nudged Firefoot into a slow canter up the hill. Lothiriel had expected him to stop at the steps to Meduseld, but instead Firefoot continued up until he reached the terrace. At that point, Eomer turned the stallion to face the crowd that had gathered, murmuring in excitement as they recognized the significance of their king's actions. Eomer was silent, waiting for the rest of the party to ride up the hill and join them before he addressed the assembly.

"People of Rohan, I, Eomer, son of Eomund, King of Rohan and Lord of the Riddermark, have asked Lothiriel, daughter of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth, to be my wife and queen, and she has consented. What say you to this?" he called out loudly so all could hear.

A rousing and enthusiastic cheer arose; they knew and liked the Lady Lothiriel. Not one to miss an opportunity, Eomer rakishly grinned down at his betrothed, and his arms tightened around her an instant before he favored her with a long and tender kiss. This brought forth more cheering, as well as a few catcalls and much laughter.

Eothain and Gamling stood nearby, but moved forward as Eomer lifted Lothiriel down from the saddle, and then dropped down himself. He balanced against Firefoot until Lothiriel moved next to him to provide support. Both of Eomer's friends eyed him questioningly as they noticed him favoring his left ankle.

"An accident," he told them curtly. "I will explain later. It is not serious." Lothiriel rolled her eyes in their direction and Eothain restrained a snort of laughter. Knowing Eomer, they could amputate the entire lower half of his body and he would claim it was a minor flesh wound!

Eothain led Firefoot to the stables, while the king, Lothiriel and Gamling made their way into Meduseld. The wedding party that had accompanied them began relinquishing their horses to stable hands, and proceeded up the stairs to the Golden Hall.

Lothiriel was given the same room she had used previously, and the same maid was attending her. The maid babbled on incessantly about the general delight over the queen their king had chosen, and Lothiriel listened with quiet amusement. If Lothiriel had any concerns about how the people of Rohan would receive her as their queen, they were soon dispelled. Virtually everyone she had ever met at Meduseld made it a point to approach her, as the guests were being settled into rooms, and wish her well.

And it was not only the household staff who approved of her. At the feast that evening, the people of Edoras pressed eagerly forward to greet and congratulate Lothiriel on her betrothal. She was quite overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill toward her, and admitted such to Eomer when he found her catching her breath in a dark corner, sipping a goblet of wine.

He cocked his head to the side and asked, "Why does this surprise you? You have already provided great service to Edoras and Rohan, both with your counsel to me and the labor of your hands. Even if we were not to wed, there are few in Rohan who could ever think ill of the Lady Lothiriel of Dol Amroth." He pulled her close, and whispered, "They loved you even before I did, but I promise my love is deeper despite its tardiness."

Both could have gladly stayed hidden in the shadows the remainder of the night, enjoying their embraces and kisses, but Erchirion turned up a short while later, clearing his throat meaningfully. They broke apart from their kiss, but Eomer's lips lingered on her forehead as she murmured to her brother in annoyance, "Erchirion, can you not go seek treatment for that throat ailment and leave us undisturbed?"

He chuckled, but caught at her elbow. "Come, sister! You are familiar with Edoras, so you can help me find that treatment...while Eomer has time to cool his passion! For another five days, you are still an unmarried lady and, even in Rohan, you will have to restrain yourself."

She gave her brother a glare, but knew he only had her best interests at heart. Besides, if he did not retrieve her, then her father would be the next to come looking, and he would not be so lighthearted about it. Catching Eomer's hand, she drew him after them as Erchirion led her back to the dancing.

The ensuing days were a bit of torture, as there was little to do but wait. Despite entertainments that were provided for the guests, Lothiriel found it difficult to concentrate on them, and Eomer was buried under meetings and work needing his attention, from his absence and in preparation for some private time once he was wed.

Though not to their liking, at least the enforced separation caused by Eomer's work made the waiting slightly easier, despite Lothiriel's restlessness with having little to occupy her time. Alcathir had finished the beadwork on Lothiriel's wedding gown that made it even more beautiful. Eomer had given Lothiriel leave to alter his bedchamber as she saw fit, for her future residence there, but for the time being she wasn't terribly inclined to make many changes, rather enjoying its masculine ambience. Were it not so late in the fall, she might have been able to occupy some of her time in the garden, but the gardener had done an admirable job of continuing what she had begun; already it was prepared for the winter, so she could do little more than enjoy it. When he could, Eothain took her out on rides to places around Edoras, joined by any others who were inclined to come along.

And, finally, the wedding day arrived. The couple was kept apart the entire morning and ate the noon meal separately. Lothiriel had expected all the fuss and preparations to make her increasingly nervous, but the nearer the time of the ceremony came, the calmer she found she felt. As she pondered that, she recognized a sensation of almost relief that the time had at last come, and she was certain this was the course she truly wished to follow.

The Rohirrim were not ones for a great deal of pomp and circumstance, and though there was a formality and proscribed routine for marrying a king, the ceremony was actually rather brief and to the point. It did not take long at all for Lothiriel to find herself standing at Eomer's side, a circlet of gold on her head, being accepted by the crowd as the new queen of Rohan. While the gathering enthusiastically approved her, she squeezed Eomer's hand. Being queen was all very well and good, but most important to her was the knowledge that she was now his wife.

Eomer's thoughts seemed to be moving along the same lines, and when he turned and swept her into a kiss, it was far from chaste or polite, and definitely hinted at things to come. A few moments later, and all were drawn into the chaos of the wedding feast, the subsequent dancing and general revelry.

Several hours into the evening, the assembly showed little sign of slowing their celebration, but Lothiriel was beginning to flag. Though Eomer's ankle had prevented his dancing with her, many others had. Despite her calm, it had still been a long and tiring day, and there was still the night to come. As if reading that last thought, Eomer appeared at her side and caught her hand, raising it to his lips and kissing her knuckles.

His eyes held a question, which hers readily answered in the affirmative. Drawing her after him, he led her, to her surprise, to the front doors of Meduseld. When it was clear they were exiting, she hesitated, "Should we let them know we are leaving?" She glanced back to see that no one yet seemed to have noticed.

"They will figure it out soon enough," he murmured, bending close to her ear and kissing her neck. "I assure you, we will not be missed."

As her stomach lurched in excitement, she willingly turned to follow him once more. The sight of Firefoot, saddled and standing on the front terrace with Eothain, brought her to a halt. "What is this?" she asked, both amused and bewildered.

Eomer mounted and then lifted her in front of him, stealing another kiss before answering, "Apparently you failed to read all of the Rohirric customs of marriage. We ride in and claim our bride, and then we ride away with her," he whispered, teasingly.

She grinned in anticipation, not completely sure where this was leading, but trusting Eomer completely. Eothain relinquished his hold on Firefoot's bridle, and told them, "My king...my queen, I bid you a good night. We will see you...in a few days!" Laughing, he turned and made his way inside as Eomer urged the stallion down the steps.

For awhile, Lothiriel was too wrapped up in the adventure to give the matter much thought, but the farther they rode in the darkness, the more curious she became. "Eomer, where are we going? Surely you cannot leave Edoras unescorted."

He just grinned at her in the moonlight, but did not answer. A short time later, he rode into the small yard of a pleasant little cottage. After staring at it a few moments, she finally was able to identify the place. "This is Eothain's house."

"It is, but for tonight, and however long we choose afterwards, it is our hideaway. Tonight, and always in my heart, we are just a man and woman who are deeply in love, and have just been married. Eventually the king and queen must return, but not just yet..." Eomer murmured. He began to pepper her face with kisses, drawing her close against him. It was difficult to think, with all the new sensations racing through her, but with effort she finally whispered, "My love, I think I would enjoy this discussion far more if we went inside and made ourselves comfortable!"

He broke off his ministrations, smiling into her neck. "Aye! I believe I must agree!" After helping Lothiriel down, Eomer slid to the ground to join her. With a pat on his shoulder, Eomer directed Firefoot, "Head on home, my friend. They will be waiting for you." With a snort, the stallion turned, then broke into a trot back toward the barn.

With a whoop of joy, Eomer swept his bride up in his arms, laughing, and then moved toward the door and the start of their future together.

THE END

9/5/05 – 11/6/05

A/N: In case you're wondering, sprained ankles take two to four weeks to heal completely, depending on how severe they are. By the day of the wedding, it has been about three weeks since Eomer's accident. He is mostly well, but the ankle is still a little sore. It hampers his mobility a bit, but not appreciably, which is fortunate because writing that crutch into the finale kind of put a damper on the romance!

Replies to reviewers:

utsuri – "so for this ride, can I use a horse?" – but of course. We are Rohirrim, are we not? What else would we ride? ; "Btw, I am glad you're not sticking to our modern tradition of using a white dress at a wedding." – exactly as you said, that wasn't a common practice until much later. That's why I chose one of her nicest dresses for it.

plzkthx101 – Glad you're still with us even if you don't care for all my choices. Guess I'm too much of a "happy" writer to want to kill people off (other than nameless orcs, that is). I do hurt them a bit though, emotionally or physically, though nothing like some writers do.

Blue Eyes At Night – "I saw that blatant allude to babymaking! woohoo!" – ha! wait til you read ch 14!

Elwen of Lorien – "Maybe in the future one of your stories could be centered around them?" – smor has suggested I do an Eowyn/Faramir story, too, but nothing really has sparked for me there. I've read many wonderful stories about them, but all I've ever been inspired to write about them is some nice little bit in one of my E/L stories. But, who knows – that could always change at some point. I never know what I will suddenly be inspired to write. There's currently a very nice movie gap-filler story about E/F that is posting called After the Storm. It is by Chibi-Kaz and you might want to check that out.

Jazzcat – "At least you didn't delay the wedding for a broken leg, or an Orc arrow to the shoulder, or any other number of horrid calamities at your immediate disposal" – Nah! If I'm going to keep writing E/L stories, then I want to at least try to make them at least a little bit different from each other. What's the point in doing the same old same old, ya know? I'd get as bored as you readers would! I'm from KY and we have sinkholes there, so that seemed a likely new source of trouble! I searched out the particulars on the Net to make sure I made it fairly realistic. ; "Whew, it got a little busy in Emyn Arnen. A missing king and an immanent birth." – Yep! I intended for it to be a madhouse. Isn't that the way it always works – nothing happens and then everything happens all at once? ; "Save some cake and cider for me; I'm coming to the wedding. RSVP with my name on it" – you're all invited, and I hope you have a great time dancing with Amrothos and keeping him out of mischief!