Title: Heart's Desire

Genre: Romance, some angst

Rating: T

Pairing: Éomer/Lothíriel

Disclaimer: The Lord of The Rings, the storyline and the characters belong to J. R. R. Tolkien. This is a work of fanfiction, written for the enjoyment of myself and others. I gain no financial profit by writing this.

Summary: Young Lothíriel is saved from the waves by Éomer, son of Éomund. Thus begins the story of a life-long love between the Princess of Dol Amroth and the Horselord of Rohan.

Author's Note: I've always had a soft spot for Éomer. He is pretty much one of my favourite characters when it comes to Tolkien's world. I can't exactly tell what about him interests me so much – he is just such a fascinating personality. Perhaps it is the fact that I've always wanted to know and read more of him.

Also, his relationship with Lothíriel has long been one of my favourites. I wish Tolkien had written more of the two, but then again this way one can pretty much picture their relationship from the very beginning. My Éomer is very much based on Karl Urban's portrayal in the movie trilogy, complete with the quick temper and serious, even grim, expression, although I attempt to be faithful for the story as it is in the books.

I will go somewhat AUish with my fic and I have taken some artistic liberties, but I try to follow the general timeline and provide extra information if it is needed. According to what I've read, Éomer actually met Lothíriel first during his stay in Gondor, but I have decided to present a different view on how they met and how their relationship came to be.

Now, an important thing to be noted is that I wrote this fic couple of years ago when I was going through a somewhat hard time in my life. You could say that this was some sort of self-therapy at the time. This story is not by any means perfect and at some points it will require some serious suspension of disbelief. I am aware of the problems the story has, although I've done my best to edit it. I suggest you take this with a grain of salt.

As such, I feel that this story should not be taken as seriously, but more as a story meant simply for entertainment or perhaps a plunge into a dream world that I once needed to deal with the every day life. With that in mind, I hope you will still enjoy the story.

English is not my first language, so there may be typos and grammar mistakes. I'd be glad to be notified of them, of course.

Part 1

True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked. - Erich Segal


3002, Third Age of the Sun

One of Lothíriel's earliest memories was being carried off from the waves by his strong arms. She was only 3 years old at the time, yet she could remember the experience with almost perfect clarity. Later in her life, she learned that near-drowning often left the victim with a life long fear for water. That was not the case with her.

She did not remember how she got in water, not the feeling of being suppressed by the waves, and even the commotion and anxiety of the people on the shore fell second to what she felt when Éomer, son of Éomund, caught her and carried her to the shore. For the years to come, Lothíriel would remember the tall boy, his long fair hair glued against his head and a serious expression on his young face, saving her life. She never feared the sea after that, but always connected it with her first memory of Éomer – his swift aid, his safe arms holding her. For a moment, their gazes met, and no matter how long she lived, she always remembered that one look into his eyes.

There are some things in life, sometimes unexplainable, that you can't experience with another person without a bond being forged between the two of you. That was what happened to Lothíriel and Éomer that day on the white shores of Dol Amroth. He was eight years older than her and a horselord's son, born and come from a very different world than hers, but after he saved her life one was never seen without the other in the fair city of Dol Amroth.

Saving Lothíriel's life also made Éomer the ruling Prince Adrahil's and her father's, Prince Imrahil, favourite person for as long as Éomer stayed in the palace of Princes. Adrahil promised the young horselord would always have friends here – not just Lothíriel, who appeared to absolutely adore her life-saver. It was not the same kind of affection she felt for her older brothers, but that was something she only realised much later.

So, when Éomer's visit finally came to an end, no one was as despaired as Lothíriel. She did not want her friend to leave – she wanted him to stay here and perhaps become a Swan Knight. But who would listen to a little girl? After all, Éomer was a nephew of the King of Mark and once he became a man, he'd be needed in his home country. And when the day of parting came, the boy hugged her tight and gave her a small wooden horse: he had carved it himself.

"This is Felaróf, the horse of King Eorl the Young. They say there never was a steed as great and loyal as Felaróf was to his master. May it remind you of me in the times to come", the boy said quietly and wiped tears from Lothíriel's cheeks. The girl flashed a wide smile to him then, hugging the small wooden horse to her chest and promised to take good care of it. She wished she could have somehow explained that she would remember him anyway, but she was still a small girl and did not have words for such grand feelings. A small smile quickly visited Éomer's usually sullen face, and then he was gone, and Lothíriel watched him ride away with his people - the riders of Rohan.

King Fengel of Riddermark had but one son, Thengel. Fengel was known and remembered as a greedy man, grown up as a spoiled boy and youth. His son Thengel was as different from his father as night was from day: he was charming young man with open heart and thirst for freedom. Long he would quarrel with his father, until the prince finally had enough of constant battles in his home. After one particularly harsh fight he left the realm of horselords and settled down in Gondor with the family of his mother who was from that land. There he met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen: Morwen Steelsheen of Lossarnarch.

Morwen was seventeen years younger than the Crown Prince, but the pair soon fell in love and were married. Despite of their age gap Thengel and Morwen had a happy marriage, and through her he became more and more entrenched to the Gondorian society and lifestyle. He dressed like a Gondorian lord, being distinguished only by his fair hair and tall build when compared to the dark-haired people of Gondor. He also learned to speak Sindarin – a language he insisted his children would learn, too.

And then, as if to cast a dark omen for the future to come, his father died.

Thengel had become so adjusted to his new home that at first he did not even want to return home. His heart was now planted deep in the Gondorian soil. But duty's call could not be ignored, and Thengel was reminded that this responsibility, given to him in birth, was of greater importance than his own personal wishes. So, with heavy heart, Thengel packed up his growing family and moved back to the lands of his ancestors. He never saw Gondor or beautiful Lossarnarch again.

Fair Morwen bore five children to her husband, amongst them the Crown Prince Théoden. As the Queen of the Golden Hall she had her hands full of work. The King's household needed to be attended to, and she had five children to look after and raise. Thus it was near impossible for her to visit her old homelands. Still, no matter how long she lived, she always preserved her heritage and her identity as a daughter of Gondor. To Morwen, it was important to keep the connection between her old home and Rohan, even if she couldn't see her beloved home anymore. So she took good care of her children being raised with the knowledge and sense of their Gondorian ancestors. She even sent her daughters to visit her relatives and to stay there for long periods of time. She insisted naming her youngest daughter in the ways of her ancestors, giving the girl a name more befit for a Gondorian maiden: Lótesse. Morwen did not just pass her cultural heritage to her children – from her, some of her descendants received height and elegant build that came with Númenorian blood, or as in Prince Théodred's case, dark hair and grey eyes.

After Morwen, Lady Lótesse retained the close connections to the families of her mother and her father's mother. She carried on with the custom of preserving the Gondorian heritage among the children of the royal family, visiting her mother's homeland as often as she could and trying to teach Sindarin to the children of her siblings. Lótesse became good friends with Lady Ivriniel, Prince Imrahil's older sister who was only a year older than Théoden King. Lótesse herself never married, so she doted on the offspring of her brother and sister. After Théodwyn's death, Lótesse came to be a kind of a mother to two children her sister had left behind: Éomer and Éowyn.

The boy and his sister lost their parents in a tragic way. Éomund, the First Marshal of Mark, met his death in a battle against orcs, and his death cast his wife into dark depression. Day by day her family watched as she wasted away and not even her children could bring back her will to live. That same year, Théodwyn was laid beside her husband in a grave, while her two children watched with sorrowing eyes. Théoden pitied the two orphans and took them in, to raise them like he would raise his own children. But he was the King of Mark and thus wasn't always able to attend to his sister's children. Much of the parental duties fell in Lótesse's hands.

So it came to be, as Lótesse watched the two grief-stricken children, that an idea came to her: why not send the orphans away from Rohan for a while, to have new refreshing winds blow the dark clouds away? Théoden approved of the plan, for both of them had the blood of Eorl and were children to a renowned Marshal. And after Théodred, Éomer was next in line of succession to throne. The boy was important and needed an extensive education. What could be a better idea than to send the boy and his sister to Gondor, where some of the ancient wisdom of Númenor still lived?

And so it came to be that, perhaps by fate, Éomer son of Éomund and his sister Éowyn were sent to the white shores of Dol Amroth, where the Marshal's son would first meet Princess Lothíriel.

A/N: I know we're not really getting to the actual story yet, but I feel that this prologue was needed in giving some backstory to the actual tale. As far as I know, the history of the characters should be correct (except for Lady Lótesse - I'll explain her in a moment). I wanted to give plausible reasons as tow why young Éomer would visit Dol Amroth, so having him have this aunt who has close ties with Gondor was in my opinion a good solution.

Lady Lótesse is not essentially Tolkien's character. However, he did write that Thengel and Morwen had five children together and only Théoden and Théodwyn were named. So I picked one of those unnamed daughters and gave her a name and purpose in my story. I feel that Morwen may have very much longed for her home, so to me it would make sense that she'd try and preserve her ties to her birth land, and even name at least one of her children in a Gondorian way. As for Lótesse's two other sisters, they are not important for this fic and they will not be making an appearance.