My brothers married all the same year. It was a joyful time at our house. Boromir was marrying a daughter of the city, and would return to live here! Sam married a girl from my mother’s clan. Lucky Sam! He would live in the mountain hall and his children would be raised on sweet mare’s milk and wildflower honey. Frodo’s wedding was last. He would marry here, then take his bride to the northern kingdom where he’d made his life. His bride came from the southern lands. She was a princess, and she arrived early in the summer with all her retinue.
I was twelve now, and old enough to believe in romance. Everything about that year was romantic. Boromir, with his dark-haired, solemn wife was now living close by, so that I saw him nearly every day. His wife, Lorell, spoiled me and seemed happy to have me visit. Sam was there too, with his red-haired Fraya. Fraya bought me a pony and a jar of honey, and she and Sam laughed and smiled so much that everyone looked at them, sighed, and said, “what a lovely couple!”
Frodo’s princess bride came in a curtained palanquin. We didn’t see her until the day of the marriage, and even then, throughout the ceremony, she wore a red veil that covered her from head to foot, even her face. Her arms, when she reached to take the ceremonial golden chain, were brown as cinnamon, and slender. Her hands were decorated with henna. When the vows were finally spoken, she slid her veil off, and stood before my brother, naked.
I hadn’t been expecting that, and gave a little gasp. Everyone else must have known, because there wasn’t a sound from the crowd. My brother bent, picked up her veil, and draped it over her shoulders, covering her nakedness. Then he lifted her hand and kissed it, sealing their marriage.
The princess stared over his shoulder. Her eyes were fixed on something only she could see. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad. Then she turned her head and looked straight at me.
I thought she was beautiful. Her skin was like caramel, her hair black as jet and wildly curly. Her lips were full and yet firm, like the rest of her body. Slender and strong. But her eyes were her best feature. Long, heavy-lidded and as dark as night. She had curly lashes, and her brows arched high on her pure forehead. She looked at me for what seemed a long while, and then the corners of her mouth lifted ever so slightly in a tiny smile.
That week there were parties and festivities – torches burned in the streets until dawn, and there was singing – strange tunes sung to strange instruments – as the Southern people bid farewell to their princess.
She and my brother went north to live in the city by the sea. I never saw her again. I wish I had. I wish I had had time to speak to her when she was with me, but I was shy, I was young, and anyway, we didn’t speak the same language. Then, the next week, everyone was gone. The princess and Frodo to the north, her people, the singers, the instruments, the fire jugglers and performers gone back to the Southern lands.