Written for Imhiriel for her birthday. Thanks so to RiverOtter for the beta!
“My Lord King?”
Surprised to hear a voice, here in the private gardens behind the Citadel, the newly crowned Aragorn Elessar turned to find himself faced by a woman he could not remember having met before. She was strikingly beautiful, with a particularly long and elegant neck that many would compare favorably to the swans of Dol Amroth. However, there was a hint of something in her eyes he could not identify at first--a glittering. Was it attraction? Calculation?
Then it struck him--it was a hint of desperation! Whatever her personal ambitions, this woman looked on him as her final chance to achieve what was expected of her. He felt both amused and exasperated, both of which were quickly eclipsed by an unexpected feeling of pity. He’d seen such desperation before, long ago, when he served in Gondor as Captain Thorongil. Most of the time the women who had approached him then had been singularly beautiful as this one was, and most of the time they had been pushed into their approaches by ambitious and calculating mothers.
A surreptitious glance about him proved him right--an older woman indeed was watching from what she thought of as a place of concealment behind a bush that was covered by brilliantly white blossoms of camellias.
He hid the sigh building within him. He would need to be carefully diplomatic in dealing with this fair lady who desired his suit if she was not to suffer serious castigation from her mother! Perhaps if he were to arrange an introduction for her to one of his kindred from Eriador, or perhaps Lord Elfhelm from Rohan, whom he’d learned was a widower. Not this one for Éomer--the new King of Rohan might be initially attracted by such beauty, but he would only be truly drawn by one who had remarkable sense as well as physical presence.
He forced himself to smile as openly as he could....