Three days before Princess Lothíriel’s marriage to the Lord of the Mark, the young bride sat up late and spoke with her soon-to-be sister, Lady Éowyn, of all manner of womanly concerns. Both ladies having drunk, and still drinking, a good quantity of wine, their speech flowed as lightly and merrily as the springs of Isen. So did their laughter.
Alone in Lothíriel’s guest-chamber, the ladies spoke in whispers of Eomer-King’s fair form, and the wounds he had taken in many battles. Then Éowyn giggled and bared her right forearm. "See this raised scar?" She asked.
"Barely" said the young princess. "Is that where the Witch-King---"
"Nay, this was a skirmish with my lout of a brother when I was but five. I had raced at him with my dagger, and he tried to strike it from my hand with his, and missed. Our father took a cane to both of us, he was so displeased by our use of true blades."
Lothíriel lifted her skirt to show a crease across one pale-skinned knee. "I played at pirates with Amrothos, upon the rocks by the bay, and I slipped and fell, cutting my knee. Show me another, sister; I wager that you have better ones."
Éowyn refilled their goblets, drank, and unclothed her left shoulder. A line that gleamed red in the candles’ glare snaked down two inches over the smooth muscle between shoulder and elbow. "Here, the Witch-King struck me with his mace." She said quietly, and drank again.
The young princess stared at the scar. "I thought the mark would be larger." Then, grieved by her heedless words, she jammed her fist to her mouth, her grey eyes begging for forgiveness.
"’Twas large enough, at least the cursed mace was. Do not fret, Thiri-lass;" Éowyn said kindly, and with a certain measure of pride. "It is not much of a scar, for a wound that nearly killed me. Yet it heralded the end of the foul dwimmerlaik, so I am proud to have it."
After another draught, Lothíriel revealed a small ridge above her left wrist. "Thiss ish my only war-scar," she stammered. "Not so much of a war though. My second cousin called me a foolish baby and cruelly stamped on my dolls. I was so angered that I shlapped-er-slapped her, and then she bit me here."
"Well done!" exclaimed Éowyn. "You defended what was yours. She should not have attacked your helpless dolls."
"Did you have dolls?"
"I have a doll my mother made me before she died; and an éored of riders with little wooden horses."
As Eowyn shifted to refasten her garment, Lothíriel viewed her future sister’s neck and gasped. "Oh, Eowyn, what ish that?" she asked owlishly.
"Whaff’s, what is what?" Eowyn wondered, also starting to find speech somewhat more difficult.
"On the base of your neck, there, that red mark. Why, ‘tish the size of a coin!"
The Lady of the Shield-arm started, her golden mane rippling with the sudden motion. "Oh. Well, that was your cousin. Last night."
Lothíriel sputtered, releasing a small quantity of her wine down her chin, which she hastily dabbed with a kerchief. "Faramir? No! Surely he would not have hurt you like that!"
"He was not hurting me." Eowyn said gravely, then giggled. "And I gave him one to match mine". Seeing the younger woman’s confusion, the Lady of Rohan and Ithilien patted her hand gently. "Fear not, little sister. Soon you will understand. Iss, it is joyous, to have a mighty man, a warrior and lord of men, in your hands, hungry with love for you; and you for him."
Imrahil’s fair daughter felt her cheeks turn warm. She understood, or at least she thought, in her tired and somewhat muddled head, the words of the well-married Éowyn. But Éowyn’s secretive smile incited contrary emotions. Lothíriel could not think of her lordly, gentle cousin Faramir like that. Still, she could think of Éomer as hungry with love. And she could wonder, and hope…
Later, after the sumptuous wedding, the strangeness of the first night she spent with a man, and the discoveries of the many nights that followed, Lothíriel blushed less and understood still more.