“My King, your lady wife is put to bed,” intoned the chamberlain of Edoras and was answered by a chorus of raucous shouts from the assembled Rohirrim. The men of Čomer’s personal čored advanced on their king, calling out ribald jests and singing snatches of bawdy songs. The young king set aside his cup and good-naturedly allowed himself to be led, with much friendly jostling and no little ceremony to the door of his chamber. Inside lay his new queen, presumably waiting in lustful anticipation for his arrival. Čomer sighed inwardly, knowing his queen too well to believe anything involving her could ever be that simple.
Squaring his shoulders, he waited as his friends and retainers pounded on the oaken door three times and then allowed himself to be borne through to stand beside the bed where his queen lay. Her attendants joined his and formed a half-circle around the great carven bed, watching expectantly for him to open the drapes. Čomer could feel the weight of their anticipation and considered for a moment whether to throw them all out on their ears. Nevertheless, the marriage must be consummated before witnesses. That was the custom from time out of mind and he would not dishonor his queen, whom he loved well, in the eyes of his people.
With a rakish grin and a wink, he slid between the draperies and disappeared into the curtained depths of the bed.
“Thěri?” he whispered, peering through the gloom.
“I’m here.” It was an angry hiss, dripping with ice. He sighed again and steeled himself for battle. Seeing the pale oval of her face where she sat propped against the headboard, he settled himself beside her. She had the velvet coverlet pulled all the way up to her neck and clutched it there, scowling. He chuckled, knowing, as she did not that he found her scowl most endearing, like that of a small kitten.
“Do you find this *funny,* my king?” He did not need to see the sparks in her clear, grey eyes as spat the words at him. He knew that expression well enough.
“’Tis always thus, princess. I assumed your folk had a similar custom, else I would have prepared you for this.”
“We do not. Nor do any other *civilized* folk in my knowledge.” She clutched the coverlet more firmly beneath her chin. “I will not engage in this…barbarian ritual. Send them away,” she commanded.
He stroked her cheek with the back of his index finger. “That I cannot do, love. Were we in your land, we might abide by your customs, but we are not.” He could feel her shiver beneath his touch. The fine thread of tension that had existed between them since the near disaster of their journey to Gondor had stretched nearly to the point of breaking. More than once in the days leading up to their betrothal and marriage, he had been sorely tempted to have her on her back no matter the consequences. He strongly suspected that she felt the same.
“I would have you rule beside me, Lothěriel, not just be an ornament to my court. To be accepted by my people, you must honor their customs. I thought you, raised in such a noble household, would understand that.” He twined a lock of her black hair around his finger, tickling the side of her neck with its silky tip.
“I…I do. I just never imagined it would be so…” Her breath quickened and she trailed off, distracted by her husband’s feathery caresses.
“Public? But we are snug here in our own little world, are we not? None can see in and we cannot see them. Could we not simply forget they are out there?” He traced the line of her stubborn jaw and then the outline of her parted lips.
“But…they can hear us. How could I ever look into their faces again?” she whispered against his fingertips.
He drew the coverlet from her loosened grasp and drew it down along her slender, naked body. “If I cover your lips with mine, they will not hear a sound. Like this…” Her arms encircled his neck and drew him closer, more heedless with each kiss of any who might bear witness.
It is said among the Rohirrim that a lusty bedding blesses a marriage and that a lusty bedding between the king and his queen blesses the very kingdom. That night, and for years to come, Rohan was blessed many, many times over.