"Come in!" called Eowyn.
The door opened. "Lady Eowyn? Is something wrong? Lord Legolas
"Legolas is on the archery field, practising with the March
Warden and his brothers, Lord Fingolfin," said Eowyn, "which
is why I sent for youI want to talk with you in private.
Please come in and sit down." She gestured towards the chairs
by the fire.
Fingolfin, the oldest and most trusted of Legolas' Council of
Advisors, looked uncomfortable but did as she asked.
"Can I get you a drink, my lord?"
"No, thank you."
Eowyn nodded. "I have asked you here because I want,"
she said, "to make absolutely sure that we create the right
impression, and I really do not know how to go about it
"If this were a human realmsay, Rohan,"
said Eowyn, "and we were making a state visit to another
human realmsay, GondorI would know exactly
how to arrange it," she said. "I would know exactly
how many counsellors, how many servants, how many guards to include
in the king's retinue to convey dignity without ostentation. I
would know exactly what gifts to take. I would know how to manage
business once we were there. But these are not human realmsand
so I do not know."
"I see, my lady," said Fingolfin, though that was only
partially true. "But surely, Lord Legolas"
"Needs help on this occasion," said Eowyn, "for
he would prefer to go alone, on horseback." She sat down
in the chair opposite the elf. "Can I be frank with you,
"Are you going to ask me to keep a confidence, my lady?"
Eowyn thought for a moment. "Not from Legolas," she
said, "for I will tell him what we have discussed. But from
Fingolfin considered her words. "From Lord Caranthir?"
"No. I have no objections to Lord Caranthir's knowing, but
She rose and walked towards one of the elegant stained glass windows.
"I would be grateful if this did not become common knowledge,
my lord." She placed her hand on the carved wooden frame,
slowly tracing its subtle curves. "Whilst Legolas and I were
in Minas Tirith, we received a letter from King Thranduil. I will
not go into detailssuffice to say that the King does not
approve of his son's choice of wife and he claims that two experts
in elven law have confirmed to him that Legolas and I are not
"I see," said Fingolfin.
"You do not sound surprised, my lord," said Eowyn,
turning towards him.
"In truth, my lady, I am not. King Thranduil isshall
we sayconservative where the law is concerned and protective
where his son is concerned."
"He treats Legolas like a child," said Eowyn.
Fingolfin said nothing.
"King Thranduil insists that, as Crown Prince of Eryn Lasgalen,
Legolas cannot marry without his consent."
"Is it necessary to pay any attention to the King's opinion,
my lady? There is no one here who would challenge the legitimacy
of your marriage. And, in time
"We plan to have a child, my lord. And I do not have much
"No. Of course, my lady."
"We could not bear for the child's grandfather to treat
himor heras illegitimate."
"I understand, my lady."
"So we hope to persuade King Thranduil to give us his consent.
Then we will remarry, here in Eryn Carantaur, according to elven
The Counsellor nodded.
"I want to do two things on this visit, my lord," said
Eowyn. She sat down again, and leant towards him. "I want
to show King Thranduil just how much the son he still calls 'Tithen
Lassui' is loved and respected by his own people."
"Yes, my lady," said Fingolfin. Now she had an ally.
"Secondly," she said, "I want to make sure that
we are fully preparedthat we can support our emotional appeal
with a strong legal case. Will you help me?"
Fingolfin smiled. "Of course, my lady. Tell Lord Legolas
that he can leave the arrangements for the state visit entirely
in my hands."
Three weeks later
"Ah, there you are, Fingolfin," said Maglor, the librarian,
holding up a small book. "I do believe that I have found
something useful, at last."
Fingolfin hurried over to his colleague. "Well done, mellon
nínbut, please," he glanced around the library,
quickly checking that the scholars scattered about the hall had
heard nothing, "keep your voice down. Is there somewhere
we can speak more privately?"
Maglor shook his head. "I have never had any need of privacy,"
Fingolfin nodded. "Then just show me the passage."
Maglor handed him the volume. At some time in the past it had
been well used, and its deep pink binding, held closed with ribbon
ties, was badly scuffed and faded. "Ancient Laws of the Silvan
Elves," read Fingolfin, quietly. He opened the book. "Where
do I look?"
"Page forty-two," said Maglor.
Fingolfin carefully turned the thick vellum pages and stopped
at a delicately-tinted illustration showing a young elf weeping
over the body of a dead woman.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Read it," said Maglor.
Fingolfin studied the ornate chapter heading, Decree 12: The
case of Melethron and Gwilwileth, then scanned the following pages
quickly. "May I borrow this?" he asked.
"Of course," said Maglor. "Do you think it will
Fingolfin sighed. "The precedent it sets is unambiguousyou
have done well, mellon nín. But the course of action it
suggests is a dangerous one. I think we will keep this as a last
A month later
For almost four weeks the elves had been following the course
of the Anduin.
They had passed the lonely ruins of Minas Athrad, where they
had found no further signs of the Merman, then continued north
and, for two days, had enjoyed Faramir's hospitality in the foothills
of Emyn Arnen. A few days later they had crossed the Anduin, just
above Osgiliath, and had spent some time with Aragorn and Arwen.
They had travelled north-west along the river for a further two
weeks, meeting with Eomer and Gimli beside the Falls of Rauros,
where Legolas had planted a carantaur sapling in memory of Boromir.
Then, straying for the first time from the river's edge, they
had skirted Emyn Muil, and instead followed the East Wall of Rohan
until it rejoined the river, north of the hills. Slowly, the joint
cavalcade had made its way, ever northwards, through the Brown
Lands and across the plain of Parth Celebrant.
And now, with the southernmost tip of Greenwood the Great less
than seventy miles to the east, they had decided to rest for a
day or two, on the outskirts of Lorien.
It was hot for the time of year.
Eowyn unfastened her suede jerkin, slipped it off, and stretched
out on the grass. A light breeze was stirring the blossom in the
trees above her, birds were singing, and, somewhere nearby, a
stream was bubbling over rocks. She closed her eyes and began
"Melmenya?" Legolas' voice was gentle and concerned.
Eowyn pushed herself up on her hands and smiled at him.
"You are tired," he said. "We should have stayed
in the camp todaythen you could have rested properly."
She shook her head. "No, I am fine, Legolasand I am
enjoying having you all to myself for a few hours."
He sat down beside her, opened his travelling pack and pulled
out a checked cloth, which he laid on the grass, and a parcel
of food, which he unwrapped. There was fresh bread and cheese,
some cold, roasted vegetables, a small jar of fruity pickles,
and a rather misshapen, slightly burnt, pasty.
"I made that for you last night," said Eowyn, proudly.
Legolas picked it up and cautiously took a bite. "Ummm,"
he said, struggling to swallow the ashy crust, "iter
"Is it very bad?"
" he mumbled, his mouth still full.
"Yes it is," said Eowyn, sadly.
Legolas put the pasty down on the grass, and took her in his
arms. "I am afraid it is inedible, melmenya," he said,
kissing her forehead. "Even after all the lessons you have
had from poor, long-suffering Master Elros, you are still a terrible
cook. But I did not marry you for your housekeeping skills, meleth
His voice trailed away when he realised what he had said, and
they gazed at each other sadly.
"It will be alright, melmenya. I promise." He leant
his forehead to hers. "My father will give us his consent.
He will not be able to resist you, Eowyn nín." He
smiled mischievously. "Provided, that is, you do not offer
to cook for him."
And he laughed as Eowyn swatted his arm.
"How long did you live here?" asked Eomer, as they
rode across the Tongue and entered the forest of Lorien, following
the overgrown path from the hythe to the city.
"I was The Lady's March Warden for almost five thousand
years," replied Haldir.
"You were indeed fortunate," said Gimli. "I saw
her for no more than a few days
They emerged briefly from the trees and looked down into a vast,
saucer-shaped depression filled with giant beeches and elms and,
at the centre, on a natural rise, a great circular grove of yellow-leafed
"There it is," said Haldir, softly, "Caras Galadhon.
Once the heart of elvendom on earth; now almost deserted."
Legolas had stripped off his clothes and was happily splashing
in the stream.
Eowyn smiled. Though she had been living with him for more than
six months, she was still surprised at how innocent and unselfconscious
a naked elf could be. She unlaced her boots and pulled them off.
"Come in, melmenya!" he called, "the water is
She raised her eyes to look at him and her breath caught in her
throat. He was standing, quite still, ankle deep in water, his
slender, muscular body damp and glistening in the sunlight, his
long, blond hair lifting from his shoulders in the breeze.
Eowyn slipped out of her leggings. Gods, he is beautiful, she
thought. And he is all mine. "The first time I saw you naked,"
she said, "completely naked, I was afraid."
She giggled. "Your size," she whispered, as though
someone might overhear her.
Legolas smiled. "And how many others have you seen, melmenya?"
"Only two," she admitted, "but they were both
"They were both men," said Legolas, "and I am
an elfthough slightly bigger than average."
"Only slightly?" Excited by her attention, his penis
had instantly grown to its full, impressive size. "Daer Lassui,"
Still wearing her tunic of bright yellow silk, and very conscious
that her feet had only recently fully healed, Eowyn carefully
picked her way down to the water's edge, stretching out her arms
to keep her balance. As she stepped into the stream, a sudden
gust caught her loose tunic and fluttered her sleeves around her
"Come, gwilwileth nín!" cried Legolas, holding
out his hands to her, "fly to me!"
They rode up to the outskirts of the city, crossed the bridge
over the deep, dry fosse and passed through the Great Gates, now
"It was a sad day for Middle Earth when The Lady left
"The time of the elves had passed," replied Haldir.
"Why did you not go with her?" asked Gimli.
Haldir hesitated. "I had my reasons," he said, quietly.
As they followed the winding path to the summit of the hill,
Haldir scanned the flets above, but could see no sign of occupation.
To his unchanging elven eyes the forest appeared to be sliding
into decaythe boughs of the great mallorns seemed to droop,
and the lawn at the base of the vast central tree looked ragged,
and scarred with fallen leaves.
"Up there was her house," said Gimli softly, "where
she made us all welcome."
"Are you sure you do not want to see it again, Gimli?"
"Aye, lad," said Gimli, "I am sure. I will sit
down here in the glade, and remember it in happier times."
Eomer and Haldir approached the broad steps at the root of the
treeWhich once, Haldir thought, would have been flanked
by Galadhrim Guardsthen began the long climb, up the graceful,
spiralling staircase, passing the elegantly roofed flets that
hung from the branches like living things.
"Like spiders," said Eomer. "It is magnificently
built," he added, looking out across the city, "though
I think I prefer Eryn Carantaur
"Each city reflects the taste of its creators," said
Haldir. "Eryn Carantaur is more severely beautiful. And,
of course," he added, "Eryn Carantaur still thrives."
As they reached the top of the staircase, and stepped out into
the Chamber of Celeborn, Haldir paused briefly, almost expecting
his former lord to appear leading The Lady by the hand. But this
is the fourth age, and the eternal has passed, he thought. He
turned to his companion.
"Thank you for bringing me," said Eomer. "I count
it a great privilege to have seen this."
"Mmmmm?" He kissed her neck.
"What does gwilwileth mean?"
"Butterfly," he said.
"I thought so," said Eowyn, softly.
"My beautiful, yellow butterfly
What is wrong, melmenya?"
He lifted her chin.
"I am no more than a butterfly, compared to you," she
said, sadly. "It is no wonder your father does not think
me good enough to marry you."
"I thought we were past this, Eowyn nín," said
Legolas. And his words came out more harshly than he had intended.
"We will never be past it," said Eowyn, turning her
face away from him. "I will never be past it."
She pushed her hands against his chest. "It is not the future
that concerns me, Legolas, for, though I do not want to leave
"You will not leave me for long, melmenya. I have said that
I will follow you"
Eowyn shook her head. "I accept that I must dieI have
never feared death. But it is the pastyour pastthe
length of your past that
" she searched for the word,
Legolas sighed. "How can I convince you that no one but
you has ever mattered to me?"
"I do not know
" She looked up at him, sadly,
"Will they all be there? At your father's court?"
"Many of them, melmenya."
She nodded, bravely.
"Oh, my love!" He crushed her in his arms. "You
are the only one who has ever made me happy
In all my life,
the only one. And I am so happy. When we make love, melmenya,
we share something that only those who are truly bonded can experience.
Do you not feel it?"
"Yes," she whispered, "yes, I do
"Tell me," said Eomer, who had been deep in thought
since they had begun their descent, "how could an elf fall
in love with a woman? He is immortal; she will live no more than
a few years. To him she must seem so much his inferiorlike
an insect compared to a man. How could he possibly give his heart
to her knowing that their love cannot last?"
"Of course it will last," said Haldir. "It will
"How can it?"
"Because the elf will never forget her. Even if he sails
to Valinor he will take her with himin his heart and in
his mindto dwell in the undying lands for eternity."
"That is very poetic," said Eomer. "But a man
cannot bed a memory. Besides, memories fadea man marries,
his wife dies, he marries again, the first wife is forgotten."
"No," said Haldir. "No, I do not believe that.
Perhaps she is no longer his chief concern, but she is not forgotten.
And she lives on in the man he has become. And for an elf
He stopped descending the stairs and turned to face Eomer. "An
elf loves," he said, "truly loves, only once.
Legolas has found his true love and he is bound to her for as
long as he lives."
"Butwhat will happen when she is old and he is still
"Legolas is already three thousand years old."
"You know what I meanshe will be physically old. Surely
he will not want to
" Eomer's voice trailed away.
"Make love to her? It is a human failing to find only youth
attractive. Perhaps Legolas' love will changeperhaps it will
deepenbut there is no doubt that it will remain. He will love
and cherish Eowyn until she finally passes away. And then he will
bury her. And I do not believe that he will outlive her long."
Haldir sighed. "That is why the love between an elf and a
mortal seldom ends happily."
"And what of you?" asked Eomer, suddenly. "She
is not your wife and yet you love her, too. Are you also bound
to her for eternity?"
Haldir resumed his descent. "I would not normally talk openly
about this, your Majesty," he said, quietly. "But, because
you are her brother, I will tell you: I do not know. All I can
say is that since the day I met Eowyn I have had no desire for
He lowered her into the stream, tenderly kissing her mouth and
her neck. The running water was cold, but the sensation only heightened
her desire and, suddenly, her worries were forgotten. "Oh
Legolas," she whispered, "are you going to take me here?
Oh yes, please
" He entered her slowly, pushing
himself deep into her body.
"Wait," she whispered, "wait, stay still."
"Am I hurting you?"
No, my love
" Her body arched. "Youohyou
feel so beautiful
" She stretched out her arms, grasping
handfuls of the stream's gravelly bed, and began to move her hips
beneath him, making little, incoherent noises of pleasure.
"Melmenya," Legolas gasped, "nono you will
" He slipped his hands under her buttocks,
lifted her out of the water, and carried her, still desperately
trying to ride him, over to the bank, where he laid her down on
a smooth, flat rock.
She wrapped her legs around his waist. "Take me now,"
He kissed her gently, thenmoving and holding her legs to
protect themhe rolled over, so that she was on top. "No,"
he whispered, "you take me."
She smiled down at him, almost sadly. Then, leaning forward and
placing her hands on the rock at either side of his head, she
did as he asked, her body rising and falling in a steady rhythm.
Trembling, Legolas reached up, pushed up her wet tunic, and enfolded
her breasts in his hands.
"Oh!" Eowyn wailed, "oh, oh, oh
she threw back her head and twisted like a flame as they both
There were three of them, sitting beside the fountain. She approached
them quietly, carefully, without so much as stirring the grass
beneath her feet.
The first was an elf, tall, proudbeautiful, in the way
of elves. She stretched out her hand and lightly stirred his silvery
hair, laughing softly as he tried to avoid her touch.
The second was a dwarf, a small, noble creature with coppery
hair and deep-set, gentle eyes, filled, at this moment, with immense
And the thirdoh, the third was sunlight made flesh!
"Listen!" hissed Eowyn, pushing herself up from the
rock. "Is that a bear?"
Legolas wrapped his arms around her protectively. "I think
so. And it is close," he said. "Very, very close. And
curious. Where are your clothes?"
"On the other side of the stream."
He nodded. "Together with my bow."
"We should have been more careful."
"If I call Arod, can you mount him?"
He kissed her forehead. "Ride out onto the open flood plain
and wait for me."
"Why are you not coming"
"Do not argue, melmenyanot now. It does not want me.
We need to get you awayI will fetch our things. Are you
"Yes," said Eowyn, her voice catching in her throat.
He whistled, soft and low.
Then Arod broke through the trees, and crossed the stream, pausing
only to take the woman on his back before returning the way he
And Eowyn, clinging to the horse's neck, heard Legolas cry, "I
love you, Shieldmaiden," before his voice was drowned by
a terrible roar.
The elf was speaking. "We must go now," he said, "so
that we can ferry the horses back across the Celebrant whilst
there is still light."
"No," she cried, "no
Do not leave yet
I have been alone for so long
The man rose to his feet and called to his horse.
"Please do not leave me
" She followed him, running
to keep pace with his long strides, startling the horse in her
"Peace, Westwind," said the man, gently, stroking the
beast's muzzle. "The forest is deserted; there is nothing
here for you to fear." Then he sprang onto the horse's back,
and seemed to look down at her, his beautiful dark eyes piercing
"I will not let you leave me behind
" she said.
And, soothing the horse with her song, she climbed up behind him,
and wrapped her arms around his waist, and buried her face in
his golden hair.
For the first time she would leave the forest that bore her.
And she would follow this man wherever fate took them.
Eowyn had been waiting on the flood plain for at least twenty
minutes, nervously cantering back and forth. "Why did he
make me leave him behind?" she cried. "And why, why
did I choose now to start following his orders?"
Where is he?
She turned Arod's head and urged him back to the edge of the
It has been far too long, she decided. He needs me. And with
a kick of her heels, she spurred the horse forward.
It was darker now and the forest, which had earlier seemed so
inviting, suddenly felt alien and threatening. Eowyn gave Arod
his head and, ignoring the forest paths, they galloped straight
to the clearing.
Eowyn cried out in horror. On the rock where they had recently
made love, Legolas, still naked, lay sprawled beneath the bear's
great pawsand the huge golden beast, in a hideous parody
of her own earlier actions, rocked back and forth, lapping at
the elf's throat.
"Legolas!" Eowyn shrieked. "Legolas!"
The bear raised its head and stared at her.
Eowyn had no sword! But, leaping down from Arod, she seized a
stout, fallen branch and ran towards the animal with a blood-curdling
yell. The bear snarled, baring its teeth. Without a second's hesitation
Eowyn swung her makeshift club at its face, driving it back from
the defenceless elf. The beast reared on its hind legs and lashed
out. Eowyn blocked with the branch, taking the full impact of
its blow on her shield arm.
Memories of a previous battle spun through her head. "I
will kill you if you touch him again," she cried; and then,
"Arod, help your master."
As she dodged two more blows, Eowyn heard Arod neigh behind her.
Legolas was safe!
Then she saw Brightstar, galloping towards her, and she realised
that her own life now hung in the balance. As the horse came to
a stop beside her, the Shieldmaiden rammed her branch into the
bear's jaws, threw herself astride her mount and dashed into the
forest, following Arod, who was now bearing Legolasdazed
but consciousback to safety.