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The Unvarying Princess
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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2
Many Meetings in the Swan Palace

Dol Amroth: October 2974

Autumn

Ivriniel paced her antechamber, biting her fingernails. Finduilas had been making her anxious during the past weeks with her infatuation towards Lord Agoron. Even though her sister had claimed to be in love with this dashing man, Ivriniel could not believe it to be anything more than maidenly behaviour. Ivriniel knew this was certain, for she herself was going through the exact same thing. It had been a little under a month since she had met Lord Losdir, and yet he continued to enter her mind on a daily basis. She did not fancy herself to be in love with him; he just fascinated her.

Finduilas flung open the door and slammed it shut behind her. "I have just spoken with father," she said, flopping into a chair. "I have told him I have feelings for Lord Agoron."

Ivriniel frowned, becoming quite alarmed. "You fool!" she hissed. "Why would you do that?"

"Because I cannot continue seeing him in secret," Finduilas said, rising from the chair. "I hate secrecy!"

Ivriniel crossed her arms. "What did father say?"

"Well, he and Mother were quite surprised by my confession," she said, smiling. "If it were not for Mother having a soothing presence over our father, I believe it could have been a lot worse."

"Is Father going to banish Lord Agoron?" Ivriniel queried.

"Valar, no!" Finduilas said. "Father admitted he wished I could have chosen a higher nobleman than Lord Agoron, but he knows Agoron to be an honourable and sensible man to court his youngest daughter."

Ivriniel nodded. "You are very fortunate, Finduilas. This whole matter could have become a lot worse, especially for Lord Agoron."

"I know," Finduilas said, sighing. "You have no idea how much he makes me happy. Lord Losdir makes you happy, does he not?"

Ivriniel blushed at his name. "I am not in love with him, and the last thing I would do is march into Father's study and declare myself in love."

Finduilas giggled. "You and Lord Losdir would make an adorable match!"

"Oh, hush!" she said, folding her arms. "Stop speaking such nonsense."

"You spend a lot of time with him," Finduilas continued, walking over to the window. "He is of noble birth."

"I do not believe he shall remain in Dol Amroth," Ivriniel said. "He has plans to travel to Minas Tirith."

"People travel all the time," Finduilas replied. "I am sure he would return to our city eventually."

Ivriniel sat down and placed her hands on her lap. "That does not change my feelings towards the whole situation."

Finduilas sat down opposite her sister. "You have always been the more serene and insightful sister. Can you not grant yourself happiness?"

"I admit Lord Losdir is a kind and gently nobleman," Ivriniel answered, "but his status here in Dol Amroth is nothing more than a Swan Knight."

"He is still a Lord no matter where he travels in Gondor," Finduilas stated. "Are you afraid Father would not allow such a union?"

"I believe Father would be open to such a union," Ivriniel answered. "I still have not yet decided." She stood up and started pacing the room once more. "I am so confused!" She turned to her sister. "I am not romantic as you are."

Finduilas chuckled softly. "Sweet, dear sister. You do not need to be romantic to fall in love."

"Your statement does not ease my mind," she replied, slumping into a chair. "I have always believed that one day I would marry and produce many children. It is something that I do want in this lifetime."

Finduilas nodded, staring at her sister with empathy. "You could not have worded that any better, sweet sister of mine. I want a life full of joy and love from he who I end up marrying. I am also keen on starting a family. I want a life filled with the laughter of children."

"Do you honestly believe Lord Agoron is the man you are destined to be married to?" Ivriniel asked her sister curiously.

"I do so believe, with all my heart," Finduilas replied. "He completes me."

Ivriniel faintly smiled. "Then I am happy for you."

...

Two days later, Ivriniel found herself standing out in the front palace courtyard with her family. They were expecting Lord Tarondor of Linhir and his younger brother, Lord Toven. Lord Tarondor was a young man of thirty-one to inherit Lordship. His father had died suddenly during the winter. It was an ailment that many people caught, leaving few survivors.

Swan Knights lined the pathway leading through the middle of the courtyard, standing at attention. Ivriniel was always marvelled at how disciplined her grandfather's men were.

Lord Tarondor strolled through the great grates with his brother trailing behind. Both men were very attractive, having the same dark-blue coloured eyes and long, dark-brown hair, falling just below their shoulders. It was a shame, Ivriniel thought; both men were married and sired children.

"Welcome," Prince Angelimir, said, stepping down the stairs. "It has been far too long, my friends."

Tarondor grinned and bowed before his Prince, his younger brother following his action. "My lord, Prince Angelimir, it is wonderful to see you again!" He turned to the man standing next to the Lord of Belfalas. "Prince Adrahil," he said, bowing his head in respect. "I trust your wife is in good health?"

Ivriniel's father nodded. "Lady Anneth is in good health overall, besides having a small ailment these past few days."

"I am sorry to hear that," Tarondor replied solemnly. "Send her my warm wishes for a quick recovery."

Adrahil smiled and placed his hand on Imrahil's shoulder. "This is my boy, Prince Imrahil."

Tarondor raised his eyebrows. "You were just a young lad the last we met."

Imrahil grinned. "Your visit has been a long time coming."

"Indeed," Tarondor replied. "I apologies for my delay; my wife is once more heavy with-child."

"Truly?" Angelimir asked, surprised. "It was not long ago that I received word that she had just delivered."

"Yes, she did," he replied, grinning. "She delivered a boy; our third son. We are hoping for a second daughter this time round."

Angelimir chuckled. "Send her my best wishes for a safe delivery."

Tarondor bowed. "I thank you."

"And is this your younger brother, Lord Toven?" Angelimir asked, looking at the shorter man behind Tarondor.

Toven stepped forward and bowed. "My lord Prince," he said. "It is an honour to be in your presence once more."

Angelimir smiled at the compliment. "Come; let us withdraw to the west-wing of the palace. I have just recently had it renovated."

The palace of Dol Amroth was large; some said that is was larger than the palace in Minas Tirith. The whole of Dol Amroth was made out of the same shinning, white stone, and marble as Minas Tirith and Osgiliath. The 'Swan Palace', as it was called by many of the people of Belfalas consisted of eight, lavishly built apartments, a great hall for entertaining, guest quarters, and a throne room that had six exquisitely carved columns. The great hall had the founding of Dol Amroth carved into the walls, with the banners of the current Prince of Dol Amroth hanging from the ceiling. It was truly a spectacular place to visit.

Prince Angelimir had a love for architecture. It was one of his passions, which he had passed down to his son, Adrahil. Both father and son had sat down in the study and drawn up plans to renovate the older sections of the palace. This consisted of the west and south-wing of the palace. Both wings had breathtaking views of the oceans, making them the most favourite wings of the palace.

Ivriniel walked with Finduilas into the large reception room that gave a wonderful view of the harbour below through a large, open alcove. The sisters sat down together and made pleasant conversation with their guests. The day drew on, and Ivriniel became restless. Her grandfather had a habit of talking ceaselessly; he had good intentions. Ivriniel shared a smile with Imrahil across the room; their grandfather was now dragging them all into a conversation about the trade between Linhir and Dol Amroth. The trade was strong, but the taxes were rising rather high in the event of the Dark Lord rising and wreaking havoc along the coastline.

Finally, as the sun started to lower itself in the sky, everyone was permitted to retire to his or her respective chambers to freshen up for the evening meal. Ivriniel walked out into the alcove in her antechamber. She breathed in the fresh air, smiling; it was going to be a beautiful evening. She looked below the railing and saw a company of Swan Knight trotting through the stone street, heading towards the palace. She narrowed her eyes, trying to get a better look. She knew Losdir had been on patrol with Captain Alagosson, and he was due to return any day now. Hoping that today was the day, Ivriniel grabbed her cloak and headed down to the throne room.

Captain Alagosson was standing before her grandfather, discussing events that had occurred during the patrol. Ivriniel spotted Losdir, standing at attention with another knight behind his captain. She stepped out of the back entrance and walked up to her grandfather.

"Ah," he said, gesturing his granddaughter over.

"Grandfather Prince," she said sweetly, accepting his hand and kissing it. "How goes the patrol?"

"Rather well," Alagosson said, bowing his head. "I trust your Ladyship is in good health?"

Ivriniel smiled. "I am most certainly."

"I have invited Captain Alagosson to the evening meal," her grandfather said, acknowledging the man before him. "He is an old acquaintance of the Linhir brothers."

"Then you have returned in perfect time," Ivriniel remarked to the captain. "You must be eager to be in their company once more."

Alagosson nodded. "Indeed, I am. It has been far too long. We have kept in contact through letters, but alas, it is not the same."

Ivriniel's eyes moved over to where Losdir was standing. "Is that Lord Losdir of Pinnath Gelin?" she asked.

"It is," Alagosson replied, gesturing for the young Lord to step up. "I did not know you are in acquaintance to the young princess?"

Losdir bowed before the royal members. "I met the princess last month after I had just been knighted."

"We met at the port," Ivriniel added, "after Finduilas and I had lunch."

Angelimir nodded slowly, and then turned to Losdir. "How goes your father?"

"He is well," Losdir replied. "After the... death of my mother, his mood has become sombre, but he will not allow it to stray him away from his duties."

Angelimir nodded again, but sadly. "I was deeply saddened when word reached my ears of the death of Lady Erynel. She was remarked as a graceful lady, fully deserving of all compliments."

"Yes," Losdir replied, lowering his eyes. "It was an unnecessary tragedy."

Angelimir placed his hand on the young knight's shoulder. "You must attend this evening's meal. I will have it no other way." Losdir opened his mouth to politely refused, but the Prince of Dol Amroth placed his hand in front of him. "You are a Lord's son of Gondor. You are always welcome at my table."

Losdir bowed. "I thank you for your generosity, my prince."

Angelimir smiled, turning to his daughter. "I need to speak with you in my study."

Ivriniel nodded. "Of course, grandfather." After he dismissed Alagosson and Losdir, Ivriniel followed him into his study. He sat down in his large chair behind the desk.

"Sit, my dear," he said, gesturing towards a seat.

Ivriniel obeyed. "Grandfather, may I ask what this is about?"

Angelimir sat back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling. "I have spoken to your father and mother concerning Finduilas."

Ivriniel pressed her lips together, wondering what the next words were going to be out of his mouth.

"Your father has informed me that Finduilas has grown a certain infatuation towards my Admiral of the Fleet."

"N-no, grandfather," Ivriniel stuttered. "It is no mere infatuation. Finduilas is indeed in love with him."

Angelimir frowned. "How can you be so sure?"

"It is quite easy to tell, grandfather," she answered. "If you would only see the way Finduilas' eyes light up whenever you mention Lord Agoron's name; the way she speaks of him, always shows a fondness in her voice. Do not think ill of the Admiral; he is a man worthy of Finduilas' affections."

Angelimir sighed heavily and sat forward placing his hands on the desk. "I have always had the greatest respect for Lord Agoron; I always will. My concern is that Finduilas may become carried away with these feelings. You know how she reacts to those she loves. Her admiration for the sea has made her boldly state that she would never leave Dol Amroth for a long period. Your father intends to have a talk with Lord Agoron concerning Finduilas before this whole situation can progress any further."

"Progress any further," Ivriniel repeated. "What do you speak of?"

Angelimir smiled with a twinkle in his eyes. "My dearest, if two people are in love, then usually they unite their love through marriage."

Ivriniel's eyes widened. "You would allow them to wed?"

Angelimir nodded. "Through certain conditions - yes. Your father agrees with my thoughts, but your mother has her doubts; mostly due to Finduilas beings her youngest daughter."

Ivriniel nodded at that statement. She shared her mother's doubts, whatever they may be.

"Nevertheless," Angelimir continued, "I desire nothing more that to see you and Finduilas married to men worthy of your affections. If Lord Agoron is such a man, then I will allow him to wed your sister."

"You are very thoughtful, grandfather," she replied, smiling.

"Well, since that is settled," Angelimir said, standing up. "I have invited Lord Agoron to dine with us in two days time, after your father has had a chance to speak with him. I would appreciate it if you keep Finduilas away from him until then."

Ivriniel nodded again. "That shall not be a problem, grandfather." She walked over to him and kissed his cheek. "I will see you this evening."

"Bless you, dearest child," he said warmly. "I hope one day you will also find love."

She lowered her eyes and smiled. "May I speak plainly?"

"I hope so," he answered.

Ivriniel grinned. "I will only say this to you, for I am not yet certain of my true feelings." She hesitated before continuing. "I have a growing... fondness for Lord Losdir. I have just met him, but he is such a gentleman; I admire that for a man of the court. He wishes no personal gain from my friendship, and for that I am grateful."

Her grandfather's eyes widened slightly. "Dearest, I had no idea. You do very well at hiding your feelings."

"Like I have said," she continued, sheepishly, "I have only just met him, and I do not know how this fondness I have for him shall progress."

He nodded. "I understand. I shall keep this to myself, until you have spoken to me further on the matter."

"Thank you, grandfather," she said, gratefully. "I knew I could trust you."

...

Ivriniel sat at the long dining table in the great hall. As she had predicted, the weather proved a evening lovely. It was autumn, and a coming winter breeze gently flowed through the hall, causing the flames of the torches and candles to flicker. Ivriniel was sitting next to her mother, and across from Finduilas. Her mother's face was pale from the ailment she was suffering. Her father had said earlier that her ailment was only minor, but the family knew better. Her mother had been suffering for many weeks now. She had pains in her breast, causing her to grasp her chest and breathe heavily. It pained her husband and children to see her suffer, but she was determined to make public appearances as often as she could.

Further down the table, Losdir was sitting across from Alagosson, talking merrily with Lord Toven. Ivriniel smiled to herself; she was hoping to have a private conversation with Losdir later in the evening, to ask him how his first patrol went.

"Lady Anneth," Tarondor said, "I am glad to see your health has improved."

Adrahil took a deep drink of his wine to hide his emotions. "I am well, thank you," Lady Anneth replied politely. "I trust your wife is also well?"

Tarondor grinned. "We are expecting our fifth child within the month."

"That is wonderful news," Lady Anneth replied, smiling. "I shall write to her later this week. I have missed her company."

Tarondor bowed his head politely, before returning his attention back to Losdir and his brother.

"He is a fine young man, is he not?" Ivriniel's mother asked her.

Ivriniel frowned and turned to her mother. "Of whom do you speak of, mother?"

"Lord Losdir," she whispered. "I caught you... admiring him."

"When?" Ivriniel asked, feeling her heart starting to beat faster.

Her mother smiled. "Just before, while Lord Tarondor was speaking."

Ivriniel felt nervous. "Did anyone else notice my behaviour?"

Anneth placed her hand over her daughter's hand. "There is no need to worry, my child. Like I said, he is a fine young man."

Ivriniel looked over at Finduilas who was talking joyously with Imrahil. "I wish to become better acquainted with Lord Losdir before furthering anything."

Anneth sighed happily and turned back to her plate of food. "I am blessed to have both my daughters finding happiness at the same time."

"You approve of Lord Agoron," Ivriniel whispered.

"Yes and no," her mother replied quietly. "I had always hoped that Finduilas would make a more... important marriage than to an Admiral."

"They are not married yet, mother," Ivriniel reminded her.

"Well," her mother continued, "if a man of higher birth approaches your father and requests your sister's hand in marriage, then I do not see why such a union shall not take place."

"It would make Finduilas so happy," Ivriniel said. "She deserves it."

"So do you," her mother replied. "Do not thirst yourself of such a luxury."

Ivriniel smiled. "Yes, mother."

Dinner proved to be lovely. After, Angelimir moved his family and guests to the smaller assembly room behind the great hall. There, a great fire roared in the fireplace; the floor was lined with expensive carpets a gift from a Harad Prince many, many years ago. Large, comfortable chairs proved tempting, as the servants brought trays of wine out and platters of honeyed fruit.

Ivriniel was fortunate to find herself seated in between Finduilas and Lord Losdir. He was talking to Imrahil, who was sitting to his other side; she hoped their conversation proved fruitless.

"I need to tell you something," Ivriniel said to Finduilas, holding her hand. "Grandfather spoke to me this afternoon. He said that Father intends to speak to Lord Agoron before he is invited to dine with us in two days time."

Finduilas' eyes widened with pleasure. "Oh, sister! That is so wonderful."

Ivriniel squeezed her sister's hand. "However, Grandfather wants me to make sure that you stay away from Lord Agoron until Father has had a chance to speak to him."

Finduilas slightly frowned. "Why?"

"I presume it has something to do with protocol," she answered. "I am sure everything shall move smoothly now for the two of you."

Finduilas grinned, her eyes sparkling. "I do hope so. Oh, sister, I am so happy!"

Ivriniel let go of Finduilas' hand and turned to Losdir, who was now sipping his wine. "My lord," she said quietly.

He turned to her and bowed his head with courtesy. "My lady," he answered, "it is good to see you again."

Ivriniel blushed. "How did your first patrol along the coastline of Belfalas go?"

"The progress went rather smoothly. There was little to no activity from the enemy." Losdir paused and looked over at Angelimir. "It has made my lord, prince very happy."

Ivriniel smiled. "It is enlightening news that you encountered little resistance from the enemy. However, I fear this smooth sailing will not last."

Losdir bowed his head. "I know, my lady. It is a shame that such a beautiful and serene realm is cursed by the presence of such evil."

"Perhaps one day it shall not be so," she replied gently.

"Princess, would you do me the honour of showing me around the port tomorrow morning," he asked quietly and little too suddenly. "I have had little time to explore on my own, and I fear becoming lost in such a large city."

Ivriniel opened her mouth slightly, surprised by his request. "I would be glad to give you a tour of my family's city. What time would suite you?"

"Would you meet me at the front palace gates at the ninth hour?" he asked hopefully.

She nodded. "Of course."

Losdir smiled and sat back in his chair, feeling a great wave of relief flow through him.

Ivriniel turned to Finduilas and smiled shyly. "What?" Finduilas mouthed.

"Later," she whispered in reply. Ivriniel smiled to herself; she could barely conceal her excitement that she would be able to spend her morning in Losdir's company.

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