Part 73 of the Elfwine Chronicles. The Elfwine Chronicles are a series of one-shots built around the family group of Eomer, Lothiriel and Elfwine. The total number will depend on how many ideas I get for new vignettes.
A/N: This is something of a companion piece to both "Homage" (the reference Eowyn makes) and "New Beginnings". Thanks for all who offered suggestions on descriptions of the men from their wives' perspectives.
No, you didn't miss #72 – that is still pending. It's another Theomund/Fele story, but since I got this one finished, I decided to go ahead and post it.
(Mar, 22 IV)
Too fast. It was all happening too fast. Dariel felt panic welling up inside her at the prospect of soon standing before the King of Rohan and speaking her wedding vows. She loved Elfwine – passionately – yet this ceremony would not only make her his wife, but eventually the queen of Rohan. The walls felt as though they were closing in around her, and she tried not to let anyone notice that she was having trouble breathing normally.
To her consternation, Queen Lothiriel rose and began clearing the room of everyone but her mother, Lady Eowyn and herself. When the four women were alone, she gave Dariel a tiny wink. "I do not know about you, dearest, but all that fussing before my wedding to Eomer very nearly drove me mad!"
"I would say it did drive you mad!" Eowyn countered. "Why else would a usually rational woman postpone her own wedding so she could sneak away and be married privately – in a cave!" Everyone broke into laughter at this. It had taken awhile before the entire story became known, but now the events surrounding Eomer and Lothiriel's wedding were almost legendary in their own right. Ever since first hearing it, Dariel had envied it, thinking it both wildly romantic and certainly far less taxing emotionally. At this very moment, it was looking like a most enticing idea.
Eowyn's eyes shifted to each of the others, and then she proposed, "Many years ago, when they were off fighting together, Faramir told me of a night before they were to return home. Our husbands were sitting around a fire, preparing to turn in for the night, when Faramir suggested they each describe their wives in a single word. What say you? Shall we take a turn at such a challenge?"
As everyone seemed in agreement, they began considering the matter.
At length, Arwen chose to go first. "Estel is...compassionate," she offered thoughtfully. The Elf-woman rose to gaze into the fire, explaining, "Some part of him always knows when another has pain in mind or body, and he empathizes with their suffering. Then he does all in his power to alleviate it. The world of Men admires his courage, his strength, his nobility, but my heart is touched by his gentleness and compassion toward others."
Moved by this apt tribute to a man they each knew and loved, there was a long silence before anyone else took a turn.
At length, Eowyn ventured, "Faramir is astute – in all things. He sees more than other men, and seems to understand better. Sometimes he sees things in others that they themselves do not see, and yet it is there. Whether it is kings, noblemen, soldiers or servants, he seems able to read men's hearts and act accordingly." The others nodded their agreement of this assessment of Gondor's Steward.
Lothiriel elected to go next, saying, "Eomer is surprisingly complex." Chuckles erupted in Eowyn, with Arwen following suit, and Lothiriel could not restrain a grin. Attempting to clarify, she told them, "To most, he is merely the noble King of Rohan – strong, brave and a proud, capable leader – but I see things that others are not privy to witness. I see his tenderness and passion with me, his warmth and gentleness with our children, his kindness and respect toward those who serve him, and his easy good humor with his friends. Most see only his practical efficiency, but not his intelligence and wisdom. He is so much more than what meets the eye."
As all smiled their approval, Eowyn in particular nodded her concurrence. "Perhaps that is why the two of you fit so well together – you see far beyond the obvious in him," she suggested.
After a moment, everyone's eyes turned to Dariel and she shifted nervously under their regard, feeling out of place in this gathering of women. Though one was her mother, and she had known the others her entire life, Dariel still felt somewhat in awe of them and not yet equal to joining their ranks.
Forcing her attention back to the topic of discussion, she considered her betrothed carefully, then said, "Elfwine is dependable, in all things. Any task he sets himself to, he is completely reliable. I have no doubt of his love for me, of his devotion to the Riddermark, of his concern for his people. He will one day be an excellent king, but first he will make the finest husband a woman could ever hope to have."
Lothiriel had been standing nearby and moved behind where the girl sat. Stroking her hair, she pressed a kiss to Dariel's head, saying softly, "Nor could I ever hope to have him find a finer wife, dearest. He will be even better for having you at his side."
Dariel could not restrain her tears at the warm endearment, and she looked up to find all the women smiling at her with understanding.
A knock sounded at the door, breaking the spell that seemed cast in the room, and Arwen laughed lightly. "It is time, iell nin. Let us go bind you to this fine man."
Only as they made final adjustments to her dress and hair, then stepped toward the door, did Dariel realize her nerves had fled. Yes, these were extraordinary women, but canny also. They had known just what to do to relax and reassure her in those tense moments of waiting. She could do this. She could be Elfwine's wife, and eventually Rohan's queen.
Super-secret Elfwine Chronicle trivia: In "You Want What?", Theodwyn wakes Eomer very early in the morning to ask again for an Oliphaunt. (Eomer's eyes slid closed; it was far too early in the morning for this. Just then, Lothiriel leaned across him and said sternly, "What are you two doing up? Back into bed - now! And, no, Theodwyn, we are NOT getting an Oliphaunt. To bed!") I always envision this "looking" like the scene in TTT where the warg has fallen on top of Gimli, he's killed the Orc so it is also laying on top of him and as he struggles to rise, another warg suddenly looms into sight over the dead bodies, snarling down at him. That is what Lothiriel was doing to the children, suddenly looming up from the other side of Eomer to glare down at them for being out of bed!
End note: It is best that you read the Elfwine Chronicles in the order they were written. The more of them that I wrote, the more likely I was to make reference to one of the previous ones and something that happened there. If you want to read them in order, go to the top of this page and click on my name (Deandra). That will take you to my profile page. Scroll down and you will find all the stories I have written. The Elfwine Chronicles are in order from bottom to top since ffn shows them in the order they were posted. A few were posted out of number order, but you can read them in posting order or number order since those few won't be affected in the story content.