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(Written in February 2015 for the International Fanworks Day Challenge.)
The hobbits were standing with the bride and groom, the bride's father and grandparents, Elladan and Elrohir, the Steward, Gandalf, Legolas and Gimli. It seemed many people wished to be presented to all of them.
Pippin was growing bored, as there was never a chance to speak with any of the lengthy line of well-wishers. They had to be on their dignity, so he and Merry could not even exchange jests. Gandalf stood right next to him. But Pippin's eyes grew wide as he noticed Prince Imrahil leading a handsome lady a few years older than he up to the King and his new Queen and presented her.
"Your Graces, my sister, Lady Ivriniel, Regent of Ethring."
She dipped in a formal bow, and then stood. Ignoring Gandalf, Pippin elbowed Merry. "Hsst!" He whispered. "He said 'Ivriniel'!" Not only Merry, but Frodo and Sam as well, jerked their heads around to stare briefly, before good manners asserted themselves, and they looked away, although they could not help but throw covert glances in her direction. She was very austere looking, thought Pippin. Easily as tall as her brother, she wore a chin-cloth and a veil secured by a narrow silver coronet; her gown of deep grey had wide sleeves that hung over her knuckles, and over it she wore a long surcoat of dark blue embroidered with a swan. She certainly did not fit his idea of the sort of poet who had written dreadful verses in honor of Captain Thorongil! He wondered if it broke her heart when she learned that the mysterious Thorongil had turned out to be the new King Elessar and that he was now wed to a beautiful Elven-maid. What was she thinking, he wondered?
Ivriniel did not let any of her thoughts show as the Queen graciously greeted her. If her brother had not already told her that the King Elessar was Captain Thorongil, she would have known at once. He was older, of course, yet he did not show the years save in the weathering common to soldiers, rangers and others who led an outdoor life and the hints of silver threaded through his still mostly dark hair. He wore a well-groomed beard, and Thorongil had always been clean-shaven. But there was no doubt this was the same man. His grey eyes were as piercing and wise as ever. She watched his gaze soften as he glanced down at his bride. It was clear he loved her dearly and the match was not one of political expediency.
As for the Queen, her beauty was beyond compare, unless it was the golden-haired Elven-Queen who had been identified as the Lady of Lothlórien, and the Queen's grandmother. Yet without knowing they were Elves, Ivriniel would have thought them sisters. She knew from both her brother and her nephew that the King's love for the Lady Arwen had been long in its fulfillment, and she thought back with amusement to that long-ago day when she had hopes of his returning her girlish infatuation...
Ivriniel leaned over the balcony of the quarters the Prince and his family had been assigned for the duration of the visit. There he was in the courtyard, with Steward Ecthelion, his son Denethor, and her own father; Thorongil and Denethor were of much the same age, though the captain was slightly taller than the Steward's Heir. In fact, he was taller than any of the other men.
She sighed dreamily. "He looks like the painting of Elendil the Tall in the mural painted in the great hall of the palace at Dol Amroth."
Her younger sister who was only fourteen, Finduilas, also stood at the balcony. Her sigh was one of irritation. "I would rather be home, riding on the beach than staring at the Captain. He is nice enough, but you know Nana would never allow such a match! No one knows his bloodline. Besides, she wants you to make a match with Denethor."
Ivriniel sniffed. "Denethor has no sense of humour."
"Yes he does. You just do not understand it. Anyway, Ada says you are too young to be courted yet."
"I am seventeen!"
"So you are." Finduilas stuck her tongue out, "And if Ada says you are too young then, you are too young. I am glad I am too young to worry about suitors!" She said the last word as though it were something nasty on the bottom of her shoe and skipped off.
Ivriniel kept staring at the Captain. He was so handsome and mysterious and so brave! Why he had led several battles against the Corsairs of Umbar in the last few years! If only he knew how much she admired him, he could not help but return her love.
The men in the courtyard moved on; soon they were out of her sight from her particular vantage point. With another sigh, this one of disappointment, she turned away from the balcony and went to the small bedchamber that had been assigned to her. She drew her journal from beneath the mattress, where she kept it hidden from the eyes of younger siblings, and took it to the small table beneath the window that served as a desk. Opening it, she took up a quill, dipped it in the inkstand and inscribed the date at the top of the next blank page. "I saw Captain Thorongil today from a distance. He is so tall and handsome; he was taller than any of the others who stood near him. I wish I could have the chance to speak to him. Perhaps at the feast tomorrow night? Naneth does not approve of him. She says that no one knows his history. But I think that gives him such an air of mystery...
She stopped writing and looked at what she had just put down. "History" and "mystery". If she could only write a poem about him! Could she? She had never attempted such a thing, although her tutor had her memorize several poems. The main thing she knew was that a poem had to rhyme. She opened the back of the journal and removed a couple of blank sheets, and pondered the rhyme she had discovered.
No one knew his history.
Well, that was a start. But that did not look like a beginning. Perhaps she should tell what he looked like. She remembered when Ada had presented him to the family, and she looked into his remarkable eyes. Most Gondorians had grey eyes, but his were so wise and kind. But what could you say of grey eyes. Blue eyes had many words; indigo, delphineum, cerulean. And green eyes could be emerald or leaf or beryl...or...even brown eyes could be called cinnamon or, or...nut-brown or...well, not so much for brown. And grey was just grey. Maybe silver? She tried that out, but nothing rhymed with silver. Very well, plain grey it was.
He came from oh, so far away,
That was not too bad, maybe it would not be as hard as she thought to write a poem.
Two hours later she sat back. There was ink on her fingers, and her hair was disheveled from running her hands through it. But she looked with satisfaction at her work. One page was scrawled with various rhyming words. The other had the poem, many lines crossed out, but finished at last. She would need to make a fair copy, but she was sure it would impress the Captain. She read it out softly.
No other warrior had the skill
From the north he came
He was victorious in battle
Upon the high sea he did roam
He fought the pirate leader on his ship,
As well he was victorious on land.
But also he was gentle with smile kind,
He was so very handsome and tall,
Now how get him to hear it?
Just then there was a knock upon her door. "Ivriniel?" It is time for you to bathe and prepare for the evening. We shall be dining with the Steward!"
"Yes, Nana! I am coming. She darted up and tucked the pages into the back of her journal and shoved it back under the mattress. Maybe Captain Thorongil would be there.
Alas, he was not, but the next evening there would be a feast to celebrate the latest victory against the Corsairs. She determined that she would memorize the poem, and then perhaps she would have a chance to recite it to him at the festivities.
She spent the next morning in her room attempting to memorize her composition. After much repetition, she had the first two verses down and was working on the third, when suddenly and without warning her door burst open. " 'Dread' and 'raid' do not rhyme!" It was her little brother Imrahil grinning at her. He walked in with his nine-year-old swagger and asked, "Did you write that? It is awful!"
With a furious shriek, Ivriniel grabbed him by the hair. He howled as her fingers dug into his scalp. "You little orc-imp! You will wish you had never been born!"
His hands were flailing. "Let go of me!" Suddenly he reached out and snatched the poem from her hand. In her shock, she let go of his hair, and he used the opportunity to flee as quickly as he could.
"Give it back!" She raced after him, but he was far ahead of her. Undeterred she continued the chase along the corridors and past shocked servants. He raced down a long marble staircase, jumping over two and three at a time. She was halfway down when she realised they were in the public part of the Citadel and it was only good fortune that no one of importance had seen them. If her mother heard of her running like a hoyden, she would be in dreadful trouble. She slowed, and realising that she had lost her brother, she gave up the chase. She would find a way to get back at him, and get her poem back!
The Captain was certainly at the feast and much in demand and Ivriniel would never have had a chance to get near him anyway. She gazed at him across the room with soulful eyes until her mother rebuked her and her father laughed and said, "Let her be. It is harmless enough to look from afar, and perhaps it will keep other suitors away. She is too young for a serious attachment." Her mother glared at her father, but nothing more was said.
However, it made her sad to think that no one would believe that she was seriously in love with the brave and mysterious Captain. She spotted her little brother, hanging back and trying to avoid her. When he turned around for a moment, however, she strode over and hissed at him: "You had best give that back to me, or you will be in trouble."
He grinned at her. "No, I will not. I have hidden your horrible poem in a safe place, and if you do not leave me alone, I will show it to all of my friends! And you cannot tell Ada and Nana, or I will show it to them and tell them you were going to recite it!"
Defeated, her shoulders slumped. He was right. All that work for nothing; and it had been such a splendid poem!
Only a few days later, the brave Captain had been sent away on another mission and was gone for months. The family returned to Dol Amroth, and only a short time later, her mother introduced her to the young heir of Ethring, who was only two years older than she and who was also tall and handsome and grey-eyed, and who wrote dreadful verses for her. She seldom thought any longer of Captain Thorongil, save when occasional news came of his exploits, and when she did it was with a nostalgic sort of fondness. But she always wondered what Imrahil had done with her poem, and hoped no one would ever find it...
She smiled austerely at the King, pleased to see that his eyes were still full of wisdom and kindness, and felt relief that he would never know of her girlish infatuation. That would be too embarrassing for words.
The hobbits watched for a moment, and then the Lady and the Prince moved on to allow other well-wishers the chance to speak to the Royal couple.
Frodo looked at Pippin. "Do you suppose her brother ever told her about us finding that poem in the Archives?"
Pippin looked at Frodo in astonishment. "Are you mad? Do you think I would ever tell Pimpernel about the time I put Milo's love letter to her in with the mail to Father?"
Sam nodded. "No more than I'd tell Daisy about hanging her knickers on the front gate after she tattled on me about scrumping." The others stared at him. "She thought the wind had blowed them off the laundry line."
Merry and Frodo exchanged a glance. "I can see," said Merry, "that having no sisters has left a gap in our educations." Frodo nodded. Every time he thought he knew all about his cousins and Sam, he found out something new.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I am hoping I made no mathematical errors when I was figuring out this story. Aragorn left to go on his "wanderings" in TA 2957. According to what I could discover, Ivriniel was born in 2947 and Imrahil in 2955. Assuming that Aragorn, as Thorongil, spent about 7 years building his reputation in Rohan before moving on to Gondor, Ivriniel would have been about 17 and Imrahil about 9. Just the right age for that sort of spat.
According to Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle-earth, Ethring is a town that sits at the crossing between the great road that cuts through Souther Gondor and later becomes The Great Harad Road, and the River Ringlo. I decided that though small, Ethring would be a prosperous and important holding, due to its prime location. My backstory is that Ivriniel's husband and son were both killed during the long war with Sauron, and she is regent of the holding for her grandson, who is not yet of age.
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