Letters to Edoras
Dol Amroth, September 1st 3019
My Lord King,
I trust this letter finds you in good health. My father has informed me of your kind offer of marriage, conveyed to him during his recent visit to Rohan when he attended the funeral of your late uncle, King Théoden.
I am honoured to accept and assure you that I will endeavour to be a good wife to you and a suitable queen to your people. Please let me also express my sincere thanks for your beautiful engagement present. The goblet is a testimony to Rohirric workmanship and I am proud to use it.
With my best wishes for your good health,
Lothíriel, Princess of Dol Amroth
Dol Amroth, October 20th 3019
My Lord King,
I trust this letter finds you in good health. How fares Rohan? My father has told me about the difficult times you are facing, trying to rebuild the houses and farms destroyed by Saruman's armies. I sincerely hope the harvest has fulfilled your expectations and I am sure you will manage to bring your people safely through the coming winter.
I am reluctant to disturb you with my personal concerns when I know how busy you are, but my father is sending a message anyway so I thought I might include this letter. You see, I have a favour to beg of you: when I come to Rohan in the spring for our wedding, may I bring my dog with me? He's a sweet little thing, very well behaved, and I assure you he will not trouble you at all. I am sorry to bother you with such a trivial request, but the matter has been preying on my mind lately.
With my best wishes for your good health,
Lothíriel, Princess of Dol Amroth
Dol Amroth, November 5th
My Lord King,
Thank you very much for your kind permission to bring Draug with me when I move to Rohan. He really is a very good-natured dog and does not destroy things anymore as he did when a puppy. But I seem to have given you the misconception that he is a lapdog, which is not the case. I received him as a present for my sixteenth birthday and he hails from Harad where his kind is used for hunting gazelles because of their turn of speed. On the flat Draug can actually outrace Morwen for short distances.
But please forgive my idle chatter. I just wanted to pen a quick thank-you note for your messenger to take back with him when he leaves in the morning.
Lothíriel, Princess of Dol Amroth
Dol Amroth, November 19th
My Lord King,
It was only a pair of boots that Draug chewed when he was a puppy. Unfortunately they were my brother Amrothos's favourite pair and quite beyond repair by the time we noticed them gone. I believe it was because of the leather tassels, which looked so inviting to a dog. But anyway, nowadays the only mischief he gets up to is chasing gulls whenever we go for a ride. (Draug I mean)
Morwen is my mare. She's the most gorgeous creature, completely black except for a white star on her forehead, which is supposed to bring luck. Another birthday present from my father, she is seven years old and has the loveliest eyes, like liquid dark honey. I wish you could see her: a delicately shaped head with flared nostrils, velvet coat, clean legs, good conformation and really fast. Also she will jump anything – she just throws her heart over it!
But I did not mean to bore you with a description of my horse, forgive me. Do you mind her being called Morwen? I have recently read that this was the name of your grandmother, but maybe I could get the horse used to another name? I can bring her with me, can't I? I'm already looking forward to seeing the famous grey steeds of the Rohirrim and going riding across the plains.
Anyway, I only meant to write a quick reply, as I know your man is waiting to return to Rohan in the morning.
Lothíriel, Princess of Dol Amroth
Dol Amroth, December 2nd
My Lord King,
Is it really impossible to bore you with horse-talk? I very much enjoyed reading about Firefoot, he sounds like a magnificent warhorse and a great character as well. Did he really race away from you when you first met him and it took you three days to catch him? I'm looking forward to making his acquaintance. (And of course also his master's)
Also I'm relieved to hear you do not object to my mare being called Morwen. The name really suits her and it might be difficult to get her used to another one. I am including a drawing I have made of her head with this letter. Only of course in reality she's much prettier!
My sister-in-law and I went shopping yesterday to buy fabric for my wedding gown. Miriel is my brother Elphir's wife and has excellent taste. Also she knows all the best places to go and took me to this little shop on Market Square. The entrance is tiny, but then you go along a short corridor leading through the main part of the house and into a small courtyard ringed with half a dozen storerooms crammed full with cloth of every conceivable colour. You should have seen the silks they brought out for our inspection! Some were so thin they seemed to float on the air, others thickly encrusted with embroidery or shot through with gold thread. And the colours! Shimmering like butterfly wings. I felt like some exotic dancer from Harad when they draped them around me. However, Miriel said that I should go for a traditional dark red as it suits my colouring, so that's what I bought.
I also got the material for your wedding shirt (linen) and I wondered if you could send me an old shirt of yours so I can use it as a pattern? Miriel reckons you're about the same size as Elphir, but I want to get it exactly right. Would the design of a lion be agreeable to you? I understand it's your personal emblem.
Anyway, a servant just knocked on the door to say that your courier is ready to go so I have to finish.
P.S. I've just reread this letter and it seems to concern itself almost exclusively with clothes. I would not blame you if you decided I was too frivolous to become Queen of Rohan! But I assure you I have other things in my mind as well, in fact I've been reading up on my future country.
P.P.S. And I'm pleased to hear you do not own any boots with tassels. In my opinion it was my brother's fault anyway, for leaving the door to his quarters open. The sheerest invitation to having his boots chewed, don't you think?
Dol Amroth, December 14th
My Lord King,
Well I'm glad that you still have every intention of marrying me! And that you liked the picture of Morwen. As for sending one of myself, I include one I drew a couple of months ago. It is actually quite difficult to draw a picture of oneself, because you have to sit in front of a mirror to do so, but Miriel thinks it is a good likeness, especially the eyes. Just disregard the nose as I had a spot of trouble with that. Also please ignore the scribblings on the margins of my letters, it's a bad habit of mine that I'm trying to break. Amrothos keeps teasing me about it.
Reading about your desk facing south towards the Ered Nimrais and Dol Amroth made me decide to have mine moved around so that it looks out the north window, instead of west across the sea. On a clear day I like to think that I can spot a smudge on the horizon, which are the mountains. I wonder what you are doing at this moment? Riding perhaps, or in council with your advisors? As for myself, I went for a walk along the beach at the bottom of the cliffs this morning. When the tide is out it stretches sandy and flat for miles and you can collect all sorts of interesting things like shells and seeds washed up from distant lands. When we were children we used to try and plant them in my mother's garden, but nothing ever grew. I suppose the salt water kills them. I have a whole collection of bits of flotsam on my windowsill that I have amassed over the years.
I'm not allowed to go riding out at the moment unless one of my brothers accompanies me, because a couple of corsair ships were spotted off the coast last week. Unfortunately all three brothers are rather busy, so I'm mostly stuck inside. I've been running the keep since my eighteenth birthday, but recently handed that over to Miriel so she gets some practice while I'm still around. As a result I have nothing much to do anymore.
At least I started on your wedding shirt. I have to admit it was the strangest feeling holding the shirt you sent me in my hands, seeing the patches where somebody (your sister?) had mended it and smelling it. Not that it smelled! Oh dear, please forgive me, I think I'm making a hash of my letter again. Father always tells me to keep it short and simple, but somehow I never manage to. What I meant to say is that the shirt suddenly made you real. I know this is silly after all the letters going to and fro, but it's just different to hold something you actually wore. I wish now I'd gone to Minas Tirith for King Elessar's wedding and met you there, but at the time Dol Amroth was full of refugees and somebody had to help look after things. As poor Miriel had not seen her husband for over three months I volunteered to stay. So you see, all I know about you is from second hand information. In fact I asked my brothers about you when my father told me about the betrothal, but I have to say they weren't very helpful, going on endlessly about your fighting prowess. But Miriel said you had a nice smile, so that cheered me up.
And now I have to finish, for it is growing late. Draug has been stretched out in front of the fireplace this hour or more, fast asleep and snoring away happily, so I think I'll follow his example. (Sleeping I mean, not snoring. At least I don't think I snore.)
P.S. And don't worry about me missing the sea. It's true that the sight of it is beautiful, but what you wrote about the plains of Rohan being like a sea of grass now really makes me want to see it. Shall I let you in on an awful family secret? Here it is: I get terribly seasick. All my brothers are born sailors and I just have to look at a boat to start feeling queasy!
Dol Amroth, December 25th
My Lord King,
I'm afraid your letter does not find me in very good health, so please forgive me if I keep my reply short. I caught a cold and have been in bed with a fever the last two days. Now I'm aching all over in the most disagreeable manner and my head feels like it's been stuffed with wool. And why do all possets have to taste like they're made from - well, never mind.
Forgive me, I will have to reply another time.
Dol Amroth, January 5th
Dear King Éomer,
I have a suspicion you are going to spoil me rotten! So many presents! I really don't deserve them. I have the fur cloak wrapped around me as I'm writing this and it's unbelievably soft and warm. Such a beautiful hand mirror with horses engraved on the back, and also the riding gloves are very pretty! The only thing is that I feel guilty about not having sent you any Yule gifts. I did in fact have something ready for you, but forgot to give it to the courier because of my illness. But please don't worry about me, I'm much better now. In fact I've reached what Amrothos likes to call the 'listless stage', but your letter and presents cheered me up immeasurably.
Also don't worry about me riding out on my own. As I wrote, I'm supposed to always have one of my brothers along and I am not so foolish as to break that rule. Anyway, my brother Erchirion and his men caught the pirates and sank their ships. Not without a fierce fight though. In fact it was probably while caring for our wounded that I caught my cold. A terrible storm blew in that night and we all got soaked to the skin whilst helping the men disembark and getting them to the infirmary. The wind blew so strongly that all our lanterns went out and we had to stumble along in the dark! That's one thing I won't miss about the sea, anyway.
I'm flattered that you should like my drawing. Did you really ask your courier if it was a good likeness? I have to confess I've been plying your men shamelessly with questions about Rohan and Rohan's king. Most of them speak the Common Speech quite well and they don't seem to mind my ignorant questions. And I admire them for riding so casually under the Dimholt like they do. They seem to think nothing of it, whereas I'm really not looking forward it. At least my father and brothers will be along and they've been that way before.
I read with great interest what you wrote about your plans for Meduseld in your last letter. I don't mind the rooms being little furnished, most understandable with there being no queen for a long time. The ladies' solar sounds nice, just the kind of place to sit in the winter and do some needlework, and I agree there is no need for separate bedchambers. At least my parents never had them. I really appreciate your kind words about not realizing what an arranged marriage would mean for me, but I assure you that I always knew I was destined for such a match (part of my obligation to my people I think). While I was a bit nervous at first, I'm quite willing to trust my father's judgement now. I suppose it's silly, but your letters make me feel like I've known you for a long time already and you do not sound grim and forbidding at all.
My maid insists I have to rest now, so I will finish this missive.
P.S. I'm including my Yule gift with this letter.
Dol Amroth, January 16th
Of course you may call me by my first name. I'm pleased to hear that Firefoot likes his new saddlecloth as I embroidered it myself - but then I always suspected he was a horse with taste! Will it make you think of me every day? I hope so, anyway.
I'm completely recovered from my cold now, thank you. As for being a healer, I'm nothing of the sort, but I perforce learnt how to patch up simple wounds during the war. It seemed so little to do when our men had to go and risk their lives to keep us safe, but what else could I do? I will never forget the sight of refugees filling the castle courtyard to bursting, despair in their eyes. You could literally smell their fear, but we had to put on a brave face in order to avoid any panic. Or the terrible day when I said my good-byes to my father and brothers, never expecting to see them again. And I wouldn't have, if it weren't for the Rohirrim coming to our aid. But forgive me for recalling those days to mind, I know you suffered much loss. Here you wrote that my letters cheer you up, that they bring a breath of warmth and sunshine with them and then I go and write about such distressing subjects. I will endeavour to be more frivolous in the future!
And thank you so much for your offer to meet us on the Gondorian side of the Dimholt. I have to admit it would make me feel safer to have you along and also it would be nice to get to know you without so many eyes on us. As I wrote down the date of this letter I suddenly realized that it's less than three months until I leave here! My ladies-in-waiting have already started packing my dowry chests. I get the impression the silly women think I'm leaving civilization for a barbarian country and need to take everything with me, from linens to clothes to food.
We've got my aunt coming for a visit next month. Ivriniel is a darling, but I really don't get along with her husband. He's written a book on deportment and now thinks he can lay down the law to all and sundry as to what is permissible behaviour for a Gondorian maiden. If you don't hear from me again it's probably because I'm in gaol, awaiting my trial for murder! Although anybody who has actually met Belecthor couldn't possibly fault me for putting an end to his sorry existence.
As for being grim and forbidding, that's just the impression I got from my brothers' tales about the great battles. But I'm sure anybody would be grim in that kind of situation, wouldn't they? (Although to be honest I would probably be scared) You sound so nice and amusing in your letters, it's as if the great warrior is a completely different person. I'm sorry if I did not express myself very well!
And I'm also sorry that this letter is so disjointed. Blame it on me being tired. Your courier arrived late in the evening today and is in a rush to leave again at first light, but I wanted him to take a letter back to you.
Dol Amroth, January 26th
Would you really come and rescue me from Gondorian justice? I'll keep the offer in mind, for my aunt and uncle will arrive the day after tomorrow. Fancy you having met Belecthor in Minas Tirith! But then he's difficult to overlook in any gathering. Did he really try to 'improve' your barbarian manners? What a cheek - I wish I'd been there to give him a piece of my mind.
There is a gull sitting outside my window at the moment, watching me enviously, for I am nice and warm thanks to a fire and your lovely cloak. Looking at him I wondered if he would carry a message north for me in his yellow beak? It would be so much quicker than having to wait for your couriers all the time - although admittedly they're very fast considering the distance they're covering. I have found a place on the battlements where I can sit and wait when I know another message is due and also the guards at the gates know by now to call me at once. But I'm really looking forward to the day when I can speak to you face to face.
Winter can be a bit dismal here, today is a cold, rainy day that makes me long for spring. When I look out my window I see nothing but grey! Grey sea, grey sky, grey clouds. But I really enjoyed reading about the snow you had in Rohan and I wish I were there already. Can you truly build a house out of snow, even if only for children? It doesn't seem possible, but then I've never seen more than a couple of inches of the stuff in my entire life so far. You will have to show me next year. And I'm so glad to hear about the supplies sent to you from Gondor. I did ask my father if he couldn't do something about the situation in Rohan, but apparently King Elessar and Faramir had already thought of it.
Not much else is happening here. Your wedding shirt is finished, but since you wrote that you don't have many shirts that aren't mended I have started on a couple more, just less lavishly embroidered. Some king you are! My ladies are helping me with my own dress and it looks lovely. The thin undergarment of white silk is finished already and over that will go the heavier gown of dark red brocade. It fits tight at the top, but flares out into a wide skirt with a short train and there are slits in the sleeves through which you pull out bits of the undergarment. I know that sounds strange, but it will look really elegant, I assure you. At the moment we're busy stitching on hundreds of small pearls along the hem. Not very interesting work, but you can just let your mind wander to more diverting places (say north, for example).
Did I let myself get carried away with writing about womanly fripperies again? But then you said that you like me being frivolous and you can just scan over the passages that bore you.
Many greetings from a frivolous maiden to a grim king!
Dol Amroth, February 5th
Your letter just came saying that you will be away from Edoras for a while to fight orcs. The courier said you will probably be gone by the time he returns, but he promised to try and catch you up, so I'm making haste with this missive.
Please take care! You tell me they will be starved and desperate and I can understand that you want to root out those evil creatures from their mountain retreats before they prey on defenceless farmers. Just don't take any chances.
My thoughts will be with you.
Dol Amroth, February 17th
No news from you yet, but then you said not to expect any for a while. I've persuaded my father to send a messenger to Rohan though, so you will at least have a letter waiting for you when you return to Edoras. I wonder where you are and what you are doing at this moment? Here it's been drizzling all day and I imagine camping in a tent in this weather must be pretty miserable. I hope you are in the dry somewhere, but above all, I pray that you are safe.
I tried to come up with some frivolous news, but it's difficult when I'm worrying. My aunt and uncle are here now and yesterday I snapped at him over breakfast for something derogatory he said about the Rohirrim. But he's such a pompous fool! He keeps insisting I ought to write to you to get permission for the simplest things, such as going for a ride along the beach. So I asked if I also needed your permission to go to the privy and what to do in the meantime and he went beet-red in the face! I suppose it was rather rude of me and I will have to apologize, but I'm out of all patience with him. Poor Aunt Ivriniel is such a sweet thing, I don't know how she puts up with him. If he quotes one more sententious saying from his book at me I will scream!
It's just asking too much to have to face him over the breakfast table. I'm not a morning person and like to wake up slowly. I just hope you're not one of those people who jumps out of bed at the first hint of dawn, all bright and cheerful? Because I have to warn you, I'm not! My brothers call me downright grumpy in the mornings, although I think that's overstating it.
Not much else is happening here. Work on my wedding dress continues apace and soon we'll have to start thinking about organizing my farewell ball. It's the first time Miriel will have to manage such a big occasion, with half the province invited, so I'm lending a helping hand. You probably wouldn't believe how much thought goes into the seating arrangements alone, just so nobody feels slighted! At least this time, if one of Amrothos's drunken friends tries to pull me behind a pillar for a slobbery kiss, I can threaten him with my grim betrothed. That should scare them off, don't you think?
Well, that's all the news I can think off. I just hope you will return safely and please let me know at once when you're back in Edoras. I suppose I should be used by now to doing nothing other than sitting and waiting for news, but it never gets any easier.
Dol Amroth, March 1st
You have returned! Ceorl rode in this morning, grinning over his whole face when he spotted me, and shouted "The king is back, safe and sound!" I'm afraid I did something rather unprincessly (is that a word?), I rushed up to him and hugged him. I'm just so glad you got back unhurt! It's funny, for I had a feeling this morning that a messenger might be on his way, so I took along the basket with my needlework and sat in my favourite spot on the battlements. It's sheltered from the wind and quite warm in the sunshine and I was able to work on one of your shirts while keeping an eye on the north road at the same time. And I was right!
Were you really thinking of disguising yourself as one of your own couriers and riding south to meet me? Unfortunately my father always talks to the riders to find out how things are in Rohan, so you would be recognized. It's a shame, though, for I love the idea. But just think, it's less than a month until I leave here.
And you had me in tears of laughter with the very official looking document you included. Although I have to admit at first I was worried for a moment when I saw the Great Seal of Rohan encrusted on it. The silliest notion that you were going to break off the match because of what I wrote about being grumpy in the mornings flitted through my mind. But then I read what you'd written and nearly collapsed with laughter. It's a good thing that I always read your letters in my bedchamber, for if anybody had seen me they would have thought me mad! I can't wait to see Belecthor's face when I show it to him: 'Princess Lothíriel has my permission to do whatever she pleases.' Thinking about it, I wonder if this document could come in useful in Rohan as well? In my married life? No, no, don't worry. I will of course always be an obedient, docile and perfectly behaved wife.
The farewell ball will be on March 25th, to celebrate both our victory over Sauron and my departure for Rohan a few days later (Oh, that sounds a bit odd, as if people were looking forward to me leaving! Although I suppose at least the merchants might celebrate, for I drive a much harder bargain than Miriel when it comes to buying supplies.) As for the drunken kiss, that was only the once at a dance last year. I just pushed the man away and later told my brothers, who dunked him in the ornamental pond in the garden. I felt a bit sorry for the fish, but it certainly worked, as he never bothered me again. So you see, I'm well looked after and you needn't worry.
Dol Amroth, March 11th
What wonderful news! I had to race down and tell my father at once, but he had already read your letter to him. Mind you, it will upset all Miriel's seating arrangements to have you come to the celebration as well, but don't worry, I will make sure you get a seat next to me. Is it really traditional for a Rohirric bridegroom to meet his bride at her home? Or is that just a pretext for my father's sake? You certainly never mentioned anything of the sort before! I have a niggling suspicion it has something to do with wanting to make sure I do not get what you called 'mauled' by my brothers' friends. But whatever your motivation, I won't complain if it brings you to Dol Amroth.
Just imagine, this means that in another two weeks we will see each other. In fact I took Draug for a walk down to the beach this morning and was thinking how spring had arrived without me noticing. Already the crocuses and primroses are defying the cold ocean winds and soon swallows will stop over on their journey north.
Well, Bearnulf is waiting to take my father's reply back to you, so I have to keep this short.
P.S. And how crafty of you to write 'Princess' Lothíriel in that document giving me permission to do as I please. Does that mean I will have to try and obtain a new one when I am your wife? Anyway, I'm sending my most docile, meek, biddable and submissive greetings. Will you be a very strict husband?
Dol Amroth, March 22nd
Only another two days! I am so looking forward to meeting you. Amrothos teased me for wanting to send a message back to you, but Ceorl has to ride back anyway, doesn't he, so he might as well take a letter with him.
Everything is in readiness here: I've made sure you get the room with the best view of the sea, the linens are freshly aired and I've put your new shirts in the chest at the end of the bed for you. How strange to think you are in Gondor already by this time and soon we will be able to talk face to face.
I'm so exited!
P.S. And I always had the suspicion you were going to be a terribly strict and implacable husband, so that news does not shock me.
Dol Amroth, March 24th
I think I've become so used to writing to you that I can't stop anymore. But just think: now I can simply send a servant along with this message and you will get it at once. I'm sitting in my window seat as I'm writing this and if I crane my neck I can actually spot the yellow glow of your bedchamber window, so I know you're still up. What a strange feeling to finally meet you in person! On one hand it seemed like I'd known you forever, like meeting an old friend again, on the other you are still a stranger to me.
I'm sorry Draug growled at you, but he can be rather possessive and gets jealous when I pay too much attention to somebody else. However, I'm sure he will soon warm to you. How clever of you to give him the leftover jerky from your saddlebags, that certainly seemed to please him.
Now I'm looking forward to showing you Morwen and going for a ride along the beach, like we've arranged to do for tomorrow. If we get up early we can get away from all the other guests and I can prove to you that I'm not grumpy in the mornings. You won't need all your guards along, will you? After all, I will be perfectly safe with just you. I'll get a basket of food from the kitchen and then all we have to do is to be back in plenty of time so I can get changed for the evening's entertainment. I want to put on my beautiful new necklace and earrings (how you spoil me!) and look pretty, because I have promised all my dances to a certain rider from Rohan. Don't forget to put on one of your new shirts. Oh, that sounds downright wifely, doesn't it!
Do you know, I have to admit I felt a little bit shy when you rode into the courtyard this afternoon surrounded by all your men, for you seemed to be so much the renowned warrior king. I hadn't realized how tall you were and your voice sounded so serious when you exchanged greetings with my father and brothers. But then you bowed over my hand and looked up at me with a twinkle in your blue eyes and it was all right, you were the Éomer from your letters.
A/N: There will be probably be five to six different scenarios altogether. I owe the inspiration for this to Willow-41z who has written a similar series as a birthday present for me – you can find it in my favourites, it's well worth reading. Again many thanks for the present and the inspiration!
Also many thanks to my wonderful beta LadyBluejay.