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A/N: Originally this was one chapter but I felt it was a little too long so I split it into 2! Enjoy! and stay safe! :-)
Ch. 16 - Promises for the Future
With the wedding line finished and all the guests properly greeted and seated it was time for the banquet to begin in earnest. It was a more relaxed affair than one would assume, for only friends and family and a few honoured guests were invited. The main state occasions happened earlier in the wedding week culminating in the wedding ceremony, the reception line the only requirement in the otherwise relaxed affair that took place in the afternoon. Éowyn proclaimed after having greeted the last guest, “And now it is time we eat!”
Faramir laughed, “You sound like Merry and Pippin!”
“Do I?” Éowyn remarked mischievously, “Well, too much time spent with Merry I suppose! I do miss them! The dear little ones!”
Faramir smiled, “They do find a way into your heart, don’t they?”
“Aye that they do,” came a voice from behind them. It was Aragorn. “we shall see them again! But for right now I think the cooks are glad they are not here. Not sure we could have laid in enough provisions to satisfy Hobbit stomachs.” He chuckled lightly.
Faramir laughed as they walked to the high table properly festooned with flowers of varying hues and types. An archway of small flowers and sprays rose above the high table and floral runners ran along the lengths of all the others. As he neared the high table he noticed that Éomer and Lothíriel were once again off by themselves pinning up a final floral decoration. He smiled and turned to Éowyn and said, “Once again they are together.”
Éowyn, trying feign innocence stated, “I don’t know what you are talking about!”
Faramir rolled his eyes and said, “Indeed!”
Éowyn looked at him, “You hush! I think they are off to a very good start….we are finding ways for them to spend more time together; to help them along; to perpetuate.” she said in a spritely way.
“We?” Faramir said, quizzically.
“Don’t fight it, my lord Steward,” Aragorn said with amused resignation, “The ladies have decided that Éomer must have a wife!”
Arwen quickly declared, “Pish! We have merely nudged them along to the inevitable!”
Aragorn looked at Arwen, “Pish?” He then looked at Éowyn, “My lady, you have had a terrible effect on my gently bred wife!” he stated feigning concern.
Arwen started to laugh, “I think it is a very good effect!” And she linked arms with Éowyn who looked on regally.
Aragorn said to Faramir shaking his head with a rueful chuckle, “This can only lead to trouble!”
Faramir nodded, “Well, my lord. It is only to be expected.”
“What is to be expected?” Faramir looked to his left and saw Prince Imrahil joining the conversation as he and Princess Neneth met them as they meandered toward the high table.
Imrahil bowed his head to Aragorn who in turn nodded his head and then said, “We are speaking of the efforts of our wives have been undertaking.” Imrahil looked quizzical, tilting his head. “Having brought King Éomer and Princess Lothíriel together.” Aragorn said, gesturing to Éomer and Lothíriel near the high table who, after having complete their task, were talking to each other as if nobody else in the whole room existed.
Imrahil looked at Arwen and Éowyn. “So you are responsible for the loss of my daughter!” he said in mock seriousness.
Arwen looked unabashed, smiling in her most elven and beguiling way, “Oh come now, my lord prince. We merely nudged them along. Surely you can see that they were made for each other.”
Prince Imrahil tried to resist the elven charm, “All I know is that I’m losing my little girl.” Arwen just smiled at him, Imrahil was no proof against that, “In truth, she looks very happy and Éomer is among the finest of men, from what his men say. And—”
“And soon we hope to hear wedding bells,” Princess Neneth finished.
Imrahil quickly inserted, “Now hold on...they have only just met! Stopping trying to usher my daughter away!”
Princess Neneth looked unrepentant, “A mother can hope!” Imrahil laughed and kissed his wife of many happy years.
Arwen laughed, “Quite right too!”
They finally approached the high table. Éomer was the first to notice their approach and he quickly bowed to Aragorn as they all stood in front of the high table distracted from sitting by their own conversation. To Prince Imrahil and Princess Neneth he again inclined his head. Prince Imrahil returned the nod and Princess Neneth greeted him, “Éomer King, are you soon to be our son-in-law?”
“Mother!” Lothíriel exclaimed.
Princess Neneth stated innocently, “What? It was merely an inquiry.”
Éomer looked longingly at Lothíriel, “I would like nothing better.” He said speaking from the heart, “But that is up Lothíriel.”
Lothíriel looked at Éomer wonder written across her face. She looked into those intense blue eyes, “Truly?” again it was if they were the only two people in the Great Hall.
“Yes, I know it is too soon. I know we have only just met but I have never felt anything so strongly, nor have felt anything was more right. But only if you wish it as well.” Éomer said in a rush of emotion.
Lothíriel looked into those intense blue eyes and saw love and commitment. She saw her life. She knew she should have felt panicked; she knew she should feel rushed. But she did not feel either emotion. She just, at the core of her being, knew that this was right. “I wish nothing else. Yes!” With that Éomer picked her up and spun her around and as their lips met, he heard an “Ahem!” Realising again where they were, Éomer looked the people who surrounded them. Emotions of varying shades coloring faces. The one he focused on was that of Imrahil, Lothíriel’s father, who looked him with myriad emotions chasing themselves across his countenance, sadness and joy chief among them. Éomer immediately dropped to his knee at Imrahil’s feet, his head bowed and his fist on his heart. “All course is with your permission and blessing, my lord prince.”
Imrahil looked at the kneeling man before him. A selfish sadness pervaded his heart. He was losing his little girl. Éomer was a good man. He knew he had to allow this match. It was right, but it made him sad. “Is this what you call a little time, my lord King?” Éomer looked up at that but there were no words to satisfy the moment. His eyes, though, were a mirror of Imrahil’s. Both loved Lothíriel, both wanted her happiness. It seemed an age had passed as the question was left unanswered; but only a few moments indeed had gone. “Rise my son, for indeed you will be my son. I wish you every joy.” Imrahil reached down and pulled Éomer to his feet and joined the hands of Éomer and his daughter, a wistful smile on his face. “May your union be blest by the Valar.”
“Oh Papa!” Lothíriel whispered and as she hugged him, she said “I love you!” into his ear. They pulled apart and Éomer was eyed by Imrahil with pursed lips and a look of resignation combined with joy for his daughter’s happiness. The younger man stepped forward, inwardly resisting the urge to drop to his knees once again, all the while holding Imrahil’s gaze. The father looked upon the future son-in-law and said, with his heart in his throat, “You are a good man, Éomer, son of Éomund, King of the Mark. I know that you will always treasure the precious gem that is my daughter.”
Éomer looked at Prince Imrahil and solemnly promised, “I will, always.” He reached his hand to Lothíriel who clasped it fervently with both hands. Éomer brought her hands together with his and kissed them both. He heard a sniff to his left and he looked to see Éowyn in her wedding finery and tears of happiness running down her cheeks. She said cheekily, “You may not be looking but that does not mean you will not find.”
Éomer shook his head then laughed, “You were right, my sister. For once I will take great pleasure in the fact that you were right.”
Éowyn beamed with a smile that lit up her face. She picked up the skirts of her beautiful pearlescent dress, “Now at the risk of sounding like our dear absent hobbit friends, it is time to eat! I am starved!”
Faramir laughed, “Well my dear ladywife, we cannot have that!” he made an elaborate sweeping bow, “Allow me to escort you to the high table!”
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