In the weeks following, Araiel found it simple to fall in love with Hamir. He was kind, gentle, and handsome, though when he was involved in state affairs, he seemed intently determined and serious in his work. She of course was never informed of state affairs. She almost missed it listening to her father’s voice as he described oncoming wars, financial problems, or environmental issues, the state of the economy. She would fall asleep listening to his voice.
During the day, Araiel would spend her time within the city, exploring the palace, or returning to the lagoon the Prince had taken her on the night of their wedding. He would join her during the day when he could. At night, they would dine together and were entertained by many of the dancers who were always dressed in Easterling garb. Day in and day out, Araiel found herself in many disconcerting situations. She would walk the streets of the city and see the women frolic about in their colorful silks and veils while she still wore the elven garb of her country.
A few weeks afterward, Ariael went to speak with one of her lady’s in waiting, a woman named Faya.
“Faya could you please make me a garb of the Easterlings,” Araiel asked as they paced about her bedchamber.
“I could sew it for you today, my lady but why?”
“It is a surprise. That is another thing. You must not tell the Prince at all. I would also like to dance at the feast tonight. I want to dance for him tonight when he brings some of the royal officials in.”
“Do you think that wise milady? Would he not rather have your presence by his side?”
“I guess we will just have to find out,” she smiled mischievously.
Araiel’s garments were finished. She slipped into them easily and lightly. The Prince was already sitting in the banquet hall, and many of the royal officials were just coming in. She also learned that a special guest would be joining them, but she told the Prince to sit without her for a short while. The dancing was just about to begin. She could hear the music playing. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her stomach was exposed as well as her shoulders, and the skirt was slit on each side to the thighs. Her dark curls hung all the way down to the waist. Araiel had always been a good dancer. She just hoped she wouldn’t trip over her feet.
The Princess took a deep breath and slowly issued out from behind the curtain. Each of the officials in the hall straightened as she began to move to the music. Araiel approached the center of the room, and the Prince finally turned his eyes to her, and he stopped in mid drink and a sudden expression of shock appeared on his face. Several of the royal officials fixed their eyes on Araiel as she danced and even began whispering to each other. The Prince remained extremely patient through the entire display, and when Araiel finally issued behind the curtain, he instantly stood up, excused himself from the Hall, and followed her. Once they were out of earshot, Hamir firmly gripped her shoulders.
“What do you think you were DOING?!”
She looked up with confusion mixed with sadness on her face. “I-I wanted to dance for you. I thought it would be a surprise…”
“Araiel,” he rubbed his eyes. “Do you realize what you have just done? You have not only humiliated yourself but me as well. These men…my officials, this land is far different from your own.”
“My ladies in waiting have told me many princesses dance at banquets.”
“Not you…you are not from here. You are half elf, Araiel. And I will not have you revealing yourself to these men. Any of them can turn murderous in a moment when they lay their eyes on a beautiful woman. You were not modest. I will not have you frolic about in such a display. Why did it have to be tonight of all nights?”
“What is tonight?” she asked lowering herself to the bed.
“My brother is coming tonight. We have long been enemies because he chose to leave these lands for a time, and my father passed the crown onto me though I was the younger. He came back to reclaim it but the people’s favor was with me. He took leave for a long time, and he has only just returned. If only to achieve friendship, I must have everything my palace, my city, and in my private life perfect.”
She looked at the floor. “I apologize, my lord. I will change now and return to my bedchamber.”
“No,” he took her arm and lifted her up. “Change into your banquet attire and come into the Great Hall when you have finished. And Araiel,” he softly brushed a hand across her cheek. “Do not ever change. I love you just the way you are.”
The Princess chose a dark blue satin gown that rested off the shoulders and was lined with silver. She delicately pinned some of her hair up, and then returned to the Great Hall. When she issued in, Hamir approached her and offered her his arm leading her to their places at the center of the table. She sighed and looked at the floor when she took her seat and tried her best to ignore the official’s stares. Her mind drifted away as they laughed and talked of political affairs until when half the meal had passed, there was a stranger at the door. Araiel would have recognized him anywhere. He was only slightly taller than Hamir, and the only things that seemed different about the brothers was the notorious and serious expression on the elder’s and his eyes were dark hazel and not deep brown like Hamir’s. The Prince stood and approached his brother and extended his hand.
“Welcome, Tairan, welcome.”
Tairan glanced at his brother’s hand for a moment and then slowly took it in his own. He looked around at the state of affairs and then spoke.
“You seem to be prospering,” Tairan replied as they approached the table.
“The land always prospers when we are at peace.”
Tairan threw back his cloak as he began to sit. “Peace never lasts.”
Hamir stopped his older brother and motioned a hand to Araiel. “May I introduce my wife, Araiel Alya of Minas Tirith.”
Araiel curtsied politely and took Tairan’s extended hand as his lips brushed across her knuckles. She felt his eyes linger upon her for several moments.
“Yes…I understood that she was heir to the throne of Gondor. Why would you give up your right to power to come here and be the foreign queen of Hamir?”
“His alliance with my father was…of great necessity.”
“Gondor is weakening during this time?” Tairan asked as they took their seats.
Hamir replied, “Minas Tirith is already now thriving. We have formed a supply chain of trade leading to that of Minas Tirith. We buy and sell with them and will give them protection if they ever have the need. King Elessar pardoned the Easterlings long ago. We should do everything in our power to repay that debt of kindness.”
Ariael smiled pleased with the answer, but Tairan took a swift draft of wine. “What do you intend to do now, brother that your country is thriving and peace has come?”
Hamir’s eyes fell upon Araiel’s. “I intend to enjoy the time I have with my wife and possibly raise a child soon.”
The statement caused Araiel’s eyes to widen, and she choked on her food. He smiled, “Oh not yet my love? Do not worry. You have only just turned seventeen. We have time to wait.”
“She is indeed even more beautiful than any of the songs tell. You have done well, Hamir,” Tairan replied, but Araiel felt discomfited by those hard-set eyes watching her every move. Even now she could see that Tairan was forming some scheme. Her half elven senses aided her in these dilemmas.
“What land do you come from, my lord?” she asked Tairan.
“I have risen to an important state in the Herima tribe, my lady. It is the most powerful tribe in South Harad.”
“And the most deadly and gruesome,” Hamir grunted. “I do not see why you must associate yourself with them, Tairan. It gives our family a bad name.”
Tairan instantly stood his eyes filled with flame and rage. “A bad name! And what kind of name has fallen upon this city when the rights of the older are passed onto the younger! A weak old father who changes his mind at the last moment and gives the country to someone barely young enough to be a king.”
“Tairan calm yourself!”
The two brothers stood eyes enflamed as their rage began to overcome them particularly Tairan. Araiel instantly stood and grasped Hamir’s arm and drew him away.
“Hamir, please…come away.”
Tairan glared at his brother. “And yes…a simple-minded weak fool who surrenders to the will of women. If I have a wife, she will learn her place in respecting those above her.”
“Above me?” she looked up in revulsion. “Kindly remember Tairan that I have enough bloodline in me to trace back to that of the great King Elessar. My blood is of the elves which I believe is far above than that of a simple man. Mind your words with me. I am not of this country.”
This time it was Hamir’s turn to grip Araiel and lead her away. He faced his brother. “Why must these situations come up, Tairan? Why can we not have peace?”
“Peace…” he pondered the word for a moment and then looked up in scorn. “Peace ends all things. Peace causes men to be lazy and dull-witted. The only great triumphs are made through war, and you have never even seen a war little Prince. You were not meant for this throne, and someday that crown that sits on your head shall be mine. But for now, I shall drink to your health when someday I will drink to your bones,” he raised the wine chalice and took a firm draft and then set it on the table. “And when I drink to your bones, I shall teach your wife a lesson about honoring her men.”
Araiel held onto Hamir’s shoulders as she watched him leave. The Prince turned and looked her in the eye. He smiled and noticed her frightened expression. Hamir slowly lifted her chin.
“Do not worry, my love. I do not wish to see tears in your eyes. Let us enjoy this night.”
Araiel crawled under the soft sheets and rested her head on the pillow. She closed her eyes and prayed to the Valar to keep them safe until morning. Hamir slowly crept under the sheets with her and slipped and arm around her waist and softly kissed her lips.
“Will your brother do anything, Hamir?” she asked.
“I would not put it past him, but Araiel…I have the finest arsenal in the Harad. I am at the top of my peak. My soldiers are the best trained. If he did try anything, he would not win.”
“I trust you,” she huddled up next to him.
Hamir looked into her eyes and sifted his fingers into her hair. “You are so beautiful, my Araiel. I hope you have come to love me as I love you…everything about you, your soul, your spirit, you are patient yet you are determined. You know what needs be said at times and what not. You are truly unique.”
She smiled and rested her head against his shoulder as he did with on her hair. They slowly drifted off to sleep wrapped in each other’s arms. Yet, during the middle of the night, Araiel looked up at her husband and softly uttered the words, “I love you, Hamir.”
“I know,” he squeezed her gently. “I just wanted to be sure I would hear it.”