"I had in mind some sort of grating,"
said Prince Imrahil to the palace blacksmith, "something
that will not affect the outflow, but will prevent anyone using
the drains to enter the castle."
"I see no difficulty with that, your Highness," replied
the blacksmith. "I suggest that we rivet an iron framework
to the rock, here, here, and here, then attach a locked gate to
the frame. I will draw up some plans for your approvalI
take it you will want this work done as quickly as possible, sir?"
"Indeed. This business with the apothecary has made a major
weakness in the castles defences public knowledge...
"Legolas?" Imrahil narrowed his eyes against the light
of the setting sun.
Was that really Legolas wading out into the sea?
"I look forward to seeing your plans shortly, Master Bandivan,"
he said, "but now I must speak with Prince Legolas."
He dismissed the blacksmith with a curt nod, and ran over the
shingle to where the elf was standing, knee deep in the water,
reaching out towards the horizon.
"Legolas, what are you doing?"
Imrahil put a hand on the elfs arm. Legolas, unaware of
him until then, spun round and stared at him wildly.
Gods, thought Imrahil, those eyes!
"Come," he said, reaching again for the elfs
arm, "come with me. Eowyn is waiting. She will be worried."
He tried to pull Legolas back to the shore, but the elf lashed
out, sending him reeling full length into the sea.
Imrahil lifted himself onto his elbows and spat out a mouthful
Legolas was wading still deeper.
By the gods, thought Imrahil, his mind is completely
gone. I must get help.
Eowyn awoke, smiling, and rolled over to hug Legolas.
He was not there, but she vaguely remembered his saying something
about getting his bracer repaired, so she was not worried.
But it is almost dark, she thought. I had better get
dressed, and go and find him.
By the time Imrahil returned, with Aragorn, Gimli and Eomer,
Legolas was submerged up to his shoulders in seawater.
"I knew it," hissed Eomer. "I
love her, Eomer, he said. I will never leave
her, he said. But I knew an elf could not be
trusted. So what do we do now?"
"He cannot be reasoned with," said Imrahil. "I
have tried. I suggest that we three wade out to him and drag him
back by force. Then we take him to his chambers and let Eowyn
deal with him."
"Carry me out to him," said Gimli.
"Carry me out to him, Aragorn, or I will drown myself."
Aragorn lifted Gimli onto his back, and the four friends waded
out towards Legolas.
"Do not get too close," said Gimli "or you will
startle him. Can you take me in front of him?"
"No," said Aragorn, spitting out some water, "he
is taller than I am, and it will be deeper in front of him."
"Very well," said the dwarf, "then let us stay
Gimli gathered his thoughts: "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE
DOING YOU CRAZY ELF?" he bellowed, "YOU HAVE TERRIFIED
YOUR BEST FRIENDS WITH THIS NONSENSE AND IF YOUR LADY COULD SEE
YOU HER HEART WOULD BREAK IN TWO!"
Something in the elfs posture changed and, briefly lucid,
he turned to stare at the dwarf.
"Gimli?" he asked, in a small, frightened voice. Then
his eyes glazed over once more, and he turned back towards the
"Carry me closer," said Gimli.
Taking a deep breath and holding it, Aragorn took two more steps.
Gimli drew his axe, and struck Legolas hard with the flat of
The elf sagged.
Eomer threw himself forward, catching the elfs shoulders
before he could slide beneath the water, and Imrahil ducked beneath
the surface, grabbing his feet. Together the two men rushed the
stunned elf back to the shore and dumped him on the shingle.
"You might have given us some warning," gasped Eomer.
"And risk warning the elf?"
But although Legolas was stunned, he was still conscious and
he immediately tried to get to his feet.
"Stay there," yelled Eomer, throwing himself bodily
on top of his friend, trying to pin him down.
The elf was stronger, and easily pushed Eomer off his back, then
rose to his hands and knees and began crawling towards the sea.
Simultaneously, all four friends jumped on him and held him down
and, although Legolas continued to struggle, even an elf was no
match for four sturdy warriors.
"Now that we have him, let us get him back to Eowyn,"
panted Imrahil, "quickly."
It was no easy task to carry an angry, struggling elf back through
the city gate, through the city streets, into the castle, and
up the spiral staircase to his own bedchamber.
Several times, a well-aimed kick or punch sent one of the friends
staggering. Then there was the shrieking to contend with. And,
on top of that, as they passed by The Pyewype tavern, a
few of the citizens of Dol Amroth, imagining that the elf was
being murdered, attempted to rescue himuntil they realised
that the blackguards they were thumping were in fact the kings
of Gondor and Rohan, and their own prince.
"If you do not stop that noise, elf," warned Gimli,
finally losing all patience, "I will be forced to use the
blade of my axe on you." He scowled, murderously.
After that, Legolas quietened down slightly, but that did not
stop him landing the odd blow, here and there, when the opportunity
arose. The most difficult part of the journey proved to be the
staircase, because Legolas soon found that by stretching out his
arms and legs he could wedge himself in the stairwell. Luckily,
Haldir, who was recovering well from his ordeal on the galley,
and Master Dínendal joined the fray and, eventually, the
three men, the two elves and the one dwarf succeeded in propelling
the screeching, struggling elf through the door and into his bedchamber.
Then everything stoppedeven the elf stopped struggling
and stared, for Eowyn, dressed in a gown of the purest white silk
and looking like a spirit in human form, was standing before them.
"Legolas?" she said, and stretched out her hand towards
The elf leaned towards her, pressing his cheek into the palm
of her hand.
"What has happened?" she asked.
"We do not know, Eowyn," said Aragorn. "We found
him up to his neck in the sea. He does not know us... He does
not know himself. He is like a wild animal." He shook his
head. "It is as if his sea longing has turned into something
wholly destructive. It is almost as if he has been bewitched"
"Oh gods," cried Imrahil. "I gave him permission
to question the apothecary. Perhaps he..." Imrahil could
not voice what they were all now thinking.
"Master Dínendal," said Aragorn, "can you
do anything to restore his wits?"
Carefully, as if dealing with a nervous horse, Dínendal
approached the subdued elf but, the moment he got close, Legolas
lashed out at him.
"No, no, my love," said Eowyn, catching his hand. Legolas
stared at her, not recognising her but clearly fascinated by her.
Eowyn pointed to a heavy chair. "Sit him down there,"
"It is not safe, my lady," said Haldir. "We must
take him somewhere where he can be properly restrained"
"No," said Eowyn, "I will not permit that. Sit
him down there."
"Very well, Eowyn," said Aragorn, "but we must
tie him down."
Biting her lip, Eowyn reluctantly agreed. The elf began to struggle
again as Imrahil and Eomer held him down on the chair, but Aragorn
used two leather belts to secure his wrists.
"Is that really necessary, your Majesty?" asked Dínendal.
"Until you can find some way to cure him, Master Dínendal,
yes, I am afraid it is."
"Leave me alone with him," said Eowyn.
"Are you mad?" cried Eomer.
"You have seen how gentle he is with me," said Eowyn,
wrenching herself free of her brother. "Leave me alone with
"My lady..." began Haldir
"I promised him, Haldir. I promised I would bring
him back from the sea."
"This is not just the sea, my lady," he said, gently.
"I promised him!"
"But what if you cannot?" said Aragorn.
"Then I will take him to the Undying LandsHaldir will
"My lady!" Even her champion, Haldir, was astonished
by Eowyns temerity.
"Yes Haldir," she said, stroking Legolas hair.
"If he does not recover we will not let him suffer like this.
We will take him to Valinor and then we will wait offshore, in
case he should come to his senses. Now, please, all of you, leave
me alone with him."
"This is madness!" cried Eomer, "Eowyn"
"My mind is made up, Eomer! Leave me alone with him."
Aragorn sighed. "He is calmer, and more lucid, now that
he is with her. We will leave them. But we will stay nearby, in
the sitting room below," he said to Eowyn. "And if you
need us, you have only to call."
"Thank you, Aragorn."
The men, the elves and the dwarf all filed
out reluctantlyEomer giving his sister a pointed look. Then
Eowyn locked the door behind them, walked over to Legolas, and
began to free his hands.
"Can you speak to me, my love?"
Legolas tipped his head to one side and looked at her intently,
like a bird.
"Do you know me?" she asked, softly.
"Have we met before?" he asked.
"You can speak," she said. "Yes, my love, we have
met before. We know each other intimately."She unstrapped
his hands and knelt before him, placing her own hands lightly
on his knees, and looked up into his stormy blue eyes.
He had once told her that the sea longing was like desire, and
she could see the lust in his eyes nowhe had been denied
the sea and instead he wanted her. Perhaps this is where I
can defeat the enemy, she thought, perhaps this is my battlefield.
She slid her hands up his thighs.
Gods, she thought, he is so hard! "You need
release, my love," she said.
"Yes," he whispered, mesmerised by her touch.
"Then let me help you find it." Quickly, she unhooked
the fastenings of his jerkin, pushed aside the skirts of his tunic,
unlaced his leggings and pulled them open, freeing his erect penis.
"You are beautiful," she said, softly, "so thick
and straight." She kissed the tip of his penis, and let her
fingers slip down inside his leggings to stroke his testicles.
"Hiril nín!" he gasped.
"Do you still not know me?"
"No," he sighed, pressing himself into her hand. "Butbut
do not stop"
"What do you want me to do, my love?"
"Ride me," he whispered.
She nodded and, lifting her skirts, she clambered onto the chair,
placing her knees either side of his thighs.
He stopped her. "I want to see your breasts, hiril nín,"
"Then unlace me, my love," she replied.
He pulled at her lacings but, in his haste, he snagged the knot
and cried out in frustration, seizing the front of her bodice
and pulling hard until the lace gave way, exposing her chest and
"You are beautiful!" he cried. "Please, hurry!"
Eowyn raised herself on her knees and, with his help, sank down
upon him, gasping as he filled her. The moment she started to
move, she felt him tense, his fingers digging into her flesh,
and he bucked his hips violently, spilling himself inside her,
crying "Oh gods! Oh sweet gods! Oh hiril nín!"
"There, my love," said Eowyn, smiling. "Do you
remember me now?"
He raised his head from her shoulder and looked into her eyes.
Butalthough she could see that their brief union had almost
restored him to himself againhis memory of her had not returned,
and the distress on his face broke her heart.
"Oh, my love," she whispered, "come back to me.
Please, please come back to me."
"I am sorry, hiril nín," he said, brushing
away her tears, "I still do not know you. I do not know if
I will ever remember you. But I feel that I couldthat I
dolove you. Will you let me pleasure you as you have
And he took hold of her waist and rose to his feet, carrying
her to the bed, their bodies still joined, and he laid her down
and kissed her tenderly. "Will you let me make love to you,
hiril nín?" he asked.
"Yes, my love," she whispered.
He began to thrust, gently at first, then harder, and harder
still. "Ah! Hiril nín," he suddenly moaned,
"I am sorry. I am already too close. I am coming, I cannot
"Then we shall both come together," cried Eowyn; "both
together, my love. Oh! Oh, my Legolas!" She writhed beneath
him, sobbing his name, as her love for him somehow took physical
form and flowed through every part of her body.
She collapsed onto the bed, shaking, and only gradually did she
realise that he was saying something to her.
"Eowyn? Eowyn, melmenya, did I hurt you? Please do not cry,
But tears continued to stream down Eowyns face and, smiling
through them, she said, "No, my love, you did not hurt me.
The sea had claimed you; the sea thought she had finally won you.
But you have come back. You have come back to me."
Despite the events of the previous few days, the final banquet
was joyful. The guests were entertained with more strange and
exotic foods from Near and Far Harad, and with dancing from another
group of energetic girls, who took a particular liking to Gimli
and the hobbitsand coaxed all three of them out onto the
Once the formal part of the banquet was over, Legolas drew Aragorn,
Gimli, Eomer and Imrahil together, and apologised to them in turn.
"Do you remember how it happened?" asked Aragorn.
"I remember talking to the apothecary," said Legolas.
"I remember trying to persuade him to tell me where we could
find Wolfram. He tried to bribe mehe wanted me to help him
escape. I refused. And thenand then I felt something..."
"What?" asked Imrahil.
"It felt as though his hands were on my head," said
Legolas, "though he was nowhere near me."
"I will be dealing with that wretch, first thing tomorrow,"
"After that," continued Legolas, "most of it is
a blur, though I do remember Gimli hitting me with his axeand,
later, threatening to kill me." He turned to the dwarf.
"The mildest hobbit maid who tends the lambs would have
killed you, the fuss you were making, elf," said Gimli.
Legolas laughed and slapped him on the back. "Come sit with
us, Gimli," he said. "Eowyn and I have need of your
By bedtime even Queen Lothiriel seemed to think that the evening
had been a fitting end to her sons naming celebrationsthough
her verdict might have been very different had Aragorn not tactfully
intervened when her drunken husband challenged Gimli to an axe-throwing
"Are you never satisfied?" asked Eowyn, struggling
"Do you not want to, meleth nín?"
"I always want to with you, my love," she said.
The servants had loaded the visitors carriages at dawn,
and the various retinues had been assembled for over an hour.
The King of Gondors personal guard, shining in their dress
armour, were jostling with the Prince of Ithiliens rugged
soldiers who, in turn, were crowding out the King of Rohans
mail-clad Riders. Everyone was growing impatienteven the
quiet, dignified elves of Eryn Carantaur were getting restive
and their horses were stamping and champing at the bit.
But the friends of the Ring were still taking leave of one another,
even though, for most of them, the separation would be short:
Eomer, Faramir, the hobbits, Gimli, Legolas and Eowyn had all
agreed to spend Yuletide with Aragorn and Arwen at Minas Tirith.
As Faramir finished saying his formal goodbyes to his host, Eowyn
drew him to one side.
"You are looking well," she said. She glanced around
her, making sure that they could not be overheard. "And you
look happy, my dearhappier than I have seen you in a long
time. Are you happy, Faramir? Have you found a way to beto
share your life with him? At least some of the time?"
Faramir smiled, and hugged her like a favourite sister. "Yes,
Eowyn," he whispered in her ear, "things are better
than a man in my position could ever have hoped for. Partly thanks
to you, my dear. And I am glad to see that you are happy, too,
with Legolas. I do miss you, Eowyn. I miss your gentle support
and your wise counsel. You will always be in my heart, my dearest
friend." He kissed her forehead, tenderly, before swinging
himself up onto his horse and saluting her as he set off at the
head of his retinue.
Eomer and Legolas, calming Eomers horse whilst the king
waited for his wife and son to settle themselves in their carriage,
had both watched the exchange between the Prince of Ithilien and
his former wife with interest.
"I will never understand why he let her go," said Eomer.
"And I must say that the events of the last few days have
not entirely allayed the worries I have about you and my sister.
But I admit that she looks better than I have ever seen her."
He examined his horses bridle, intently. "Maybe it
is worth taking a risk and following your heart to have the chance
of that sort of happiness, however brief it may be..." His
eyes wandered to his own wife before he added, softly, "Make
sure you take care of her, Legolas."
He slapped the elf on the back and swung himself up into the
saddle. "I will see you in Minas Tirith, a month hence, my
friend," he said. And he rode out through the great castle
gates at the head of his cavalcade, narrowly missing Master Dínendal
who was saying goodbye to the King and Queen of Gondor and the
"Thank you Master Dínendal," Aragorn said, "for
everythingfor examining the Queen, for sharing your knowledge
with her healer, and for taking care of our brothers. With your
permission, my wife and I would like to ask Lord Legolas to bring
you with him when he comes to Minas Tirith for Yuletide."
"I would be honoured, your Majesty," replied Dínendal,
He turned to the Queen and bowed again, but Arwen, who had already
grown fond of the diffident healer, held out her hand to him,
and Dínendal, though he was almost entirely innocent of
the ways of Court, took it with a natural grace, and lifted it
to his lips, placing a feather-light kiss on the flawless skin.
"I will speak to Legolas now, meleth nín,"
said Aragorn to his wife, but as he started towards the elf, he
noticed that Legolas was already talking to Prince Imrahil. He
was not sure why relations between the two former friends had
recently been so strained, but he was pleased to see that some
sort of reconciliation was apparently taking placeso he
quickly turned away and busied himself with a short inspection
of his men.
"I want to thank you, Imrahil," said Legolas, hesitantly,
"for helping us rescue Eowynespecially as I can remember
lashing out at you afterwards, and knocking you to your knees
in the sea..."
"I did nothing out of the ordinary, my friendshe is
a dear lady. And as for the otherI did come close to retaliating,"
he admitted, "but fortunately I remembered in time that a
maneven with traces of elven blood in his veinsis
no match for an elf. Besides, I had seen your eyes, and I knew
you were not yourself." He paused. "In truth, it is
I who should be apologising, Legolas. When you arrived I greeted
you with the wish that your stay might be everything you desired.
Little did I know that two of my citizens were planning to kidnap
you and use you in the most cynical way. The apothecary had customers
in Far Harad, and he planned to"
"Yes, he told me," said Legolas, cutting him off sharply.
Then he added, "Do not trouble yourself on that account,
Imrahil. There are dishonest citizens in every realmI know
only too well how difficult it is for a ruler to keep control
of his people, and how responsible he feels when one of them strays.
As you know, one of my own people committed murder at the harvest
ceremony..." He hesitated. "And maybe these events have
had one positive result...
"You are an honourable man, Imrahil, a very honourable man."
"But our friendship took a wrong turn, and our desires remain
opposed, so we can never again be true friends," Imrahil
"Then let us agree to be civil," said Imrahil, deliberately
echoing Legolas words of a few nights earlier. He held out
his hand to the elf, who accepted it, and shook it, human-fashion,
with genuine warmth.
Another person, besides Aragorn, had been pleased to witness
the exchange between Legolas and Imrahil. After talking to Faramir,
and saying goodbye to the hobbits, Eowyn had joined Haldir and
the four guards from Eryn Carantaur, deliberately leaving Legolas
free to build his bridges.
"I have been thinking," said a gruff voice behind her,
"that the moving target I made for the elfs conception
day may require a little adjustmentit is some time since
I checked it. And since Eryn Carantaur is on the way to Minas
Tirith, this would be a convenient time for me to take a detour
and just make sure that it is working properly. I would not want
those elves to think that dwarven inventions are not reliable."
Eowyn smiled. "You can ride with me, if you would like,
"But Gimli," she added, putting her hands on his shoulders,
"whatever you may like to pretend to Legolas,"she
winked, conspiratorially"I know why you want
to travel with him along the coast road. You need never use an
excuse with me, because I know how much you care for him. And
nothing makes me happier than to see the two of you playing together."
She grinned mischievously at the dwarfs expression. "You
bring him something special, Gimli. You bring him joy. You bring
out the elfling in him." She bent, and kissed Gimlis
Gimli blushed deeply.
"Should I be jealous?" asked Legolas, walking over
to join them.
"Yes indeed," said Gimli, wiping something from his
eye, "you should; for I shall be riding with your lady all
the way to Eryn Carantaur."