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Leaving home; Coming Home  by Mirkwoodmaiden

Ch. 10 – The Fire is kindled

Lothíriel waited near the stables and saw the two men ride out and down the tiers from which she had just come.  She watched the disappearing figure of a man she had only just met the night before and yet she felt as if they had known as each other for so much longer.  She walked back into the stables and retrieved the curry brush and began brushing down Windermere. As she absentmindedly stroked her horse's hair in his after-ride currying she thought of intense blue eyes that seemed to look straight through her.  She had read her share of romance stories but no story she ever read spoke to the strange jumble of emotions she was feeling. Confused, excited and a little bit scared of the tumult and strength of her emotions.  She had had her share of suitors, approved by her mother and tolerated by her father.  Some had been nice, others not so much but none, none evoked this response from her.  She had not truly been interested in marriage beyond the fact that it was expected of her.  And in truth she had not looked forward to the prospect.  She saw her parents' marriage and they seemed happy together.  Teasing each other and talking affectionately to each other when they thought no one else was looking. Regardless of the reasons they were placed together they loved each other now.  If she could not have that sort of relationship she did not want any.  But then again that was not the way of things, she mused.  

She worked out a spot of mud with a little firmer brushing of Windermere's shoulder and then smoothed the spot down, "Oh Windermere.  I am so confused." she said to her horse and leaned her head on his neck. Windermere looked at her with his sage brown eyes and nickered softly.  Lothíriel smiled, "I love you, too."  She sighed and finished his brushing down.  She grabbed a carrot from the nearby wooden box and fed Windermere the treat.  She picked up the curry brush and stoked his neck with her hand. "Thank you for the lovely ride, my lad.  I do feel better." Windermere nickered again in response. She smiled as she put away the brush and wandered back to the King's house.  

"Hello my lady!" Lothíriel started, suddenly realizing that she was being called. Beregond laughed softly. "My Lady?"

Lothíriel blinked, "Sorry Captain,  I was miles away."

"So I could see," Beregond teased gently. "Queen Arwen and the Lady Éowyn are having midday meal and then a fitting for wedding finery and are asking you to attend.  I was sent to find you."

Realization fell upon Lothíriel.  She had completely forgotten the noonday plans so distracted she had been. "Thank you! Beregond.  Where is my mind today?  I will go at once."

Beregond traced an overly elaborate bow, "Allow me to accompany you, my lady!"

Lothíriel looked at him affectionately, "Silly man, Yes of course."

~*~*~*~*~*~

Beregond walked Lothíriel into the dining room, bowed low and stated grandly, "The lost Princess of Dol Amroth, my queen has been found." And again he bowed low, his eyes twinkling with mischief.  Lothíriel just looked at him and he winked at her.  Lothíriel suppressed the desire to slap him upside the head only because she thought it might give the Queen and her new found friend the Lady Éowyn the wrong idea about of her character.  

Arwen suppressed a grin as well, saying ever-graciously, "Thank you Captain Beregond. But if I were you I would step away from the 'Lost Princess of Dol Amroth' before you receive a 'slap upside the head.' I believe is how our Periannath from the north would put it."

Lothíriel was mortified that so much had shown on her face, "My Lady,  I would never --.

Arwen held up her hand, "Peace my dear.  Captain Beregond would have deserved it," she finished with an Elven twinkle of mischief in her bluish almost violet coloured eyes.

Beregond started to laugh, "I think you are right, my Queen.  I shall now take my leave of you." He bowed and removed himself from harm's way.

Lothíriel just stood there not quite knowing what to do, "If my mother heard of any of this I would be scolded for a month of Sundays."

Arwen looked quizzically, "Why is that?"

"Because she feels that it isn't ladylike behaviour?" Éowyn answered for Lothíriel with a knowing look in her eye.

Lothíriel at her new friend with a nodding appreciation, “I see you understand, My Lady.”

Éowyn smiled, “Just Éowyn please.  And yes I think I do.  Many a governess told me the very same thing.  I just stopped listening.”  Lothíriel smiled wider and began to relax.  She was truly beginning to feel she was among friends.

Arwen just shook her head, “Once again I am glad I was raised in Imladris and not mortal courts.  So many rules.   Please sit so that we may begin eating.” Arwen gestured to a cushioned chair next to her.  Lothíriel nodded and sat down. “Dolthiriel?” Lothíriel noticed a tall, dark-haired young woman behind Arwen step forward, “Can you please tell Cook that Princess Lothíriel has arrived and we are ready to eat and afterwards please come and join us for meal.”

The dark-haired young woman bowed, hand on heart and said, “At once, My Queen!” and departed upon her errand.

Once seated Lothíriel could not help but ask, “If I may ask, how were you raised, My Queen?”

Arwen smiled, “When in private, such as we are here, please just call me Arwen.  I accept the strange need for titles in public or so Estel tells me of the importance of such things to mortal  ears.  But in private I do not see a need.”

It was Lothíriel’s turn to be quizzical, “Estel?”

Arwen smiled enigmatically, “Aragorn,” looking very elven to Lothíriel’s eyes and even to Éowyn’s.  “That was his name when he was fostered and grew up in Imladris.” 

Lothíriel’s eyes when wide, “So it is all true…” She had often heard the stories of the King’s life up until the Ring War over the past months.  But there was a difference between stories and hearing it firsthand.  Arwen simply smiled and nodded.  “You say there were no governesses, no thousand rules of polite society.”  When she thought of the endless rules that had been drilled into her, “I wish I had grown up in Imladris!” She said with feeling.  Éowyn laughed, “Aye, that would have been nice!”

Arwen laughed, “Life anywhere has its joys and its sadnesses.” Arwen’s voice had slowed over that last word and her tenor had changed.  Just then Éowyn noticed the same shadow as when they first met, crossing Arwen’s elven features and lingering a few seconds longer.

She decided to break the mood by asking Lothíriel, “Why did you sit through dinner in a wet dress?”  Lothíriel blushed at the directness of the question.  Éowyn noticed Arwen’s colour improved and the light returned to her eyes.  Éowyn breathed a sigh of relief.  She did not know what secret trauma caused the sadness to cross Arwen’s fair features but whatever it was, it had hurt her deeply.

Éowyn looked back at Lothíriel who gulped before she tried to explain.  Once again as with Éomer she sought the refuge of honesty,  “I don’t know.  I couldn’t stand to see your brother further embarrassed.  The look in his eyes.  It moved my heart.  So I sat throughout dinner wearing a wet dress.”

Lothíriel sat having bared her soul and wondering what these two strong and admirable women thought of her bizarre admission.  In her mind’s eye she saw intense blue eyes laughing with her.  Blue eyes seemingly peering through her.  She could not stop thinking about him, try through she might, for she was unused to the emotions that were swirling within her. Her thoughts were interrupted by Dolthiriel and servants entering with the midday meal.

Éowyn had been about to respond when the servers entered the dining room.  She held off commenting until the food had been served and Dolthiriel was at the table and seated, all the while observing Lothíriel blush redder and redder.   She liked this girl.  She really did.

“Éomer asked the same thing this morning.” Lothíriel added, “I guess it—“.

Éowyn interrupted the younger woman, “You spoke with Éomer this morning?”

Lothíriel nodded, “I was in the stables brushing down Windermere and I, well, I knocked him over with my saddle!”

The three other ladies started laughing, and Lothíriel joined in.  “I heard an ‘oooff!’ and then I looked from behind the saddle and saw Éomer sprawled on the ground.”  She laughed and realised it felt really good to laugh.  It relieved a little of the tension that had been gathering in her mind.

“What did Éomer say?” Éowyn asked.

“Well, ‘ooof’,” Lothíriel informed them again, Éowyn laughed, she was really liking this girl, ‘then I think something to the effect of that we certain had made an impression of each other.  It was all a little hazy.  But then, And I specifically remember this, he asked why I sat in a wet dress and I gave him the exact same answer I gave you.  I don’t know.”  And the young woman blushed again Éowyn noted with a growing happiness.  She looked at Arwen who had noticed the blushing as well and she smiled.  All seemed to grow on a pace. 

Arwen said, “Well now, after we have eaten it is time to fit wedding finery.  The seamstress awaits."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Because she was Faramir’s favorite cousin, Lothíriel was to be in the wedding party.  Her measurements had been sent to the seamstress and it was time for the final fittings.  The dresses were cut in the style of Éowyn’s wedding dress.  Arwen’s dress was a deep violet silk and velvet with gold trim and trailing sleeves, it would accent Arwen’s eyes, turning them almost violet and fitting her coloring perfectly.  Lothíriel picked up her dress still on the hanger and thought it was perfect.  It was the same cut as Arwen's though a different colour.  She swished it against herself luxuriating in the heavy teal silk and velvet.  She looked Ganeth, the seamstress, “You are a true artist.  This is beautiful.” 

The older lady coloured slightly, “Your ladyship is most kind!”

“Nonsense, it is beautiful.” Lothíriel quickly walked toward to the next room to slip it on.  “Dolthiriel can you help me!”

“Certainly my lady!” Arwen’s lady in waiting replied.

As Dolthiriel was loosening the ties on the dress she was wearing, Lothíriel was aching to ask what she knew about Éomer but she could not.  She was tongue-tied, which for her was most unusual.  The feeling was still too personal to allow anyone in just yet.  Dolthiriel slipped the new dress over her head and Lothíriel stroked the teal velvet as Dolthiriel cinched the back up to define the shape more.   Lothíriel turned the polished metal mirror and caught her breath.  The dress was beautifully done.  She placed the hand loop connected to the skirt on her wrist and rushed out to show Arwen and Éowyn the dress in all its glory.  She walked out swishing the skirt with a flourish, “Will it do?” she sang out. And stopped in her tracks when met by an intense pair of blue eyes.

Éomer had come in to ask Éowyn something when a voice sang out “Will it do?” he looked toward the voice and saw a vision of such loveliness that he completely forgot why he was there.  Lothíriel stood in an ethereal dress of teal and velvet, flourishing her skirt.  He had never seen a more beautiful vision.  He simply stood gaping. 

“My Lord, I did not know you were here!”  Lothíriel stumbled out.

“My apologies.  I did not mean to startle you.”  Éomer said transfixed.  “You look….very pretty.”

He then heard his sister’s voice, “Éomer.” And realised they were in a room full of people.  He looked around rather sheepishly and noticed Éowyn, Arwen, Dolthiriel and another woman he did not know.  He bowed to them in a rather stilted way and departed. 

Driven by a force she did not understand Lothíriel chased after him.  Once again the anguished and embarrassed look in his eyes cut straight through to her heart.  She simply had to go to him.  She left the dressing room and looked left and right and saw Éomer turning a corner into the near right passage, walking quickly.  “My Lord Éomer, please wait!”

Éomer heard the voice calling to him.  Part of him simply wanted to get away, to be alone with his own thoughts. But he silenced that part quickly enough. He paused by a railing that overlooked the internal courtyard. When Lothíriel caught up to him she stopped running and slowed to a thoughtful pace, almost as if she were approaching a skittish bird that might take flight, which was a severely incongruous image with the man she was approaching; a Rider born and bred and King.  His eyes though, they held gentleness.  If truth be told it was his eyes that held her. 

She smiled, “We do keep meeting in the most bizarre ways.”

“Yes,” came the husky voice, then a plaintive “I do not know why.” He said dipping his head in a slight bow and in that low rumble of a voice that held bewilderment.

“Isn’t it odd.  We only met yesterday and yet I feel as if I have known you for far longer.”

Éomer, not understanding the torrent of emotion coursing through him at her nearness, merely said, “We have only just met.”  He had had experience with women.  He was no innocent, by any description, but this torrent was unlike simple passion.  This, he did not understand.  After one day she could see past all his defenses.  It was unnerving.

“I know that, but I see you and I want to protect. Not me from you, but you from everything else.  Isn’t that odd?”

Éomer looked into her eyes, in them he saw a kind heart but also a fierceness of a mother bear and a courage that would always meet life head on, come what may.  A fire for life.  He was drawn towards that fire.  It would match his own.  “Very odd,” He whispered. He drew close and continued to look into her eyes and true to the nature he saw there, she stood her ground.  Their lips met and the spark was kindled.  

Lothíriel drew back and knew that her life would never be the same.  She saw it in his eyes as well.  “Well, in terms of life changing events, yep, that would do it!  Why didn’t anyone ever tell me kissing would be like that!”

Éomer laughed another booming laugh, “Because it usually isn’t so.”

Lothíriel replied, “Ahhh!”  She looked at him and he took her hands in his, mostly to stop the shaking of his own hands, “What do we do now?” she said.

“Well,” Éomer said, swinging her hands back and forth and then brought them both up to kiss her fingers and stall for time to let him gain control of his emotions again. “You need to go and finish getting that dress fitted," he said as he could see that it was slipping off her shoulders, "And I need to learn to breathe again.” He smiled. Lothíriel smiled back and suddenly realised she had no shoes on.  She ran out of the dressing room in her stocking feet and onto the cold stone floor.   She pulled up her skirt and showed her unshoed feet.  Éomer laughed, “Well we can’t have that.  You’ll catch your death and then where would we be!”  He scooped her up in his arms and carried her back to the dressing room. 

He saw a blondish red head sticking out the doorway and then heard the sound of scurrying as he approached the dressing room.  He walked in carrying her in his arms.  “Anyone looking for a lost princess?” He quipped quickly and set her on her feet.

The room was silent the inhabitants simply looking with varying degrees of wonder or joy.  After Éomer had put Lothíriel down Éowyn walked up to him with a smile on her face.  She peered up to him, “Feeling better?”

Éomer looked at his sister. “Yes.”  A one-word affirmation that conveyed so much more.  Éowyn's smile grew and she leaned up to kiss his cheek and then whispered in his ear “You may not look but that does not mean you will not find.”

Éomer recalled the earlier conversation when she said the same thing.  Éomer smiled, looking at Lothíriel.  She was right.  He had found his heart.





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