Legolas had been nervous for days—ever since speaking to Wystan.

Eowyn had no idea what the old man had said to him, and she did not ask—He will tell me when he is ready, she thought—but, each day, she unconsciously took pains to put him at his ease, making an extra effort to ensure that the time he spent with her was happy.

Tonight, she had taken him into her little hut, and she sat him down on her bedroll, and carefully unbraided his hair, beginning at his temples with his warrior’s braids.

“I love your hair,” she said, running her fingers through its length, soothing him with the gentle motion of her hands.

Legolas closed his eyes and leaned back, smiling. “I love your hair,” he said.

“I love your hair.”

Startled, Eowyn turned from her mirror, dropping her comb. “You should not be in here,” she said.

“Why not?”

“Because I am not a little girl anymore.” She was wearing nothing but a shawl over her shift and she pulled it tighter across her bosom.

“That is precisely why I am here,” said her cousin, smiling. He had closed the door behind him and now he came closer, moving like a hunter, his soft boots making no sound on the stone floor.


“Can I comb it?” He stooped with cat-like grace, and picked up the fallen comb.

“What would your father say?”

“He would probably send me out to groom the horses.”

Eowyn smiled. “A fitting punishment.”

“Punishment? For untangling this mess?” He took a handful of her thick, golden hair and, starting at the roots, carefully worked the comb through it. His hands were surprisingly gentle. “It would be scant reward.”

“I thought you said you loved my hair.”

“Yes…” He separated another strand. “But not when it looks like handful of hay. And,” he grinned, “not as much as I love certain other things about you.”

Eowyn blushed. “Such as?”

“Oh—let me see. Your excitement, at the sight of a newborn foal; your fierceness, when you practise your quarterstaff drill …” He laid a hand, lightly, on her shoulder.

“You will be king one day,” said Eowyn, for she knew where this conversation was leading—they had had it before. “And your father expects you to make an alliance.”

“With Ædith, pig-woman of the North.”

“Theodred!” Eowyn laughed. Ædith, daughter of Æðelbert, had unfortunately inherited her father’s features. “Or with the daughter of Prince Imrahil.”

“Whom I have never seen.”

“Well—they say there is elven blood in the family,” said Eowyn, slipping out of his grasp and rising from her chair, “so she is no doubt very beautiful. Now you must go, because I need to dress and you and Eomer need to patrol the Five Villages.” She tried to push him towards the door.

“I meant it, Eowyn,” said Theodred, suddenly growing serious. “I meant every word of what I said the other night. I was not drunk.”

“I know.”


“I am fond of you, Theodred. You know I am.”

“Then say yes. My father can be persuaded. You know I can persuade him—on a good day.”

“Oh, Theodred!” Eowyn shook her head, weakly. “There would need to be more than fondness. There would need to be…” But she could not bring herself to say the word.

“That will come in time.”

“But if it did not—”

“It will. I will make sure of it.”

“But if it did not,” she repeated, gravely, “you would grow to hate me.”


He took her in his arms and embraced her, and she could feel him restraining himself, in deference to her feelings, and it made her heart ache.


“I said,” he repeated, softly, “What are you thinking?”

She realised that her hands, which had been combing his hair, had stopped moving. “Nothing really—just a memory, Lassui.”

“Of what?” He was sitting with his back to her and he suddenly turned, and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. And it was such an ungainly manoeuvre for an elf that Eowyn knew at once that he wanted to tell her something important.

She laid her head on his shoulder. “Something has been troubling you these last few days.”

He told her the story that Wystan had told him, and explained the old man’s interpretation of his dream. “But you already knew what it meant.”

“I had heard something similar.”

“Do you,” he said, lowering her onto their bedroll so that they might curl up together, “have any idea who it might be?”

“That desires me violently? No! And I am not sure that your dream—well, it may not have been a premonition, Lassui—it may just have been—a dream.” She snuggled against his chest.

“It was so real.”

“Dreams often are.”

“You would tell me if there was someone who—scared you—someone like him—you would tell me?”


She sensed that Legolas was hesitating over his answer.

“Do you mean Gríma Wormtongue?” she asked.

She felt his head move against hers as he nodded, silently.

“Of course I would, Lassui. I would come running to you.”

She heard him sigh with relief—and then she heard the sigh turn into a chuckle, and she hugged him, smiling.

Theodred!” She flew into his bedchamber.

Her cousin, just returned from patrol and still in full armour, turned in surprise. “What is it? What has happened?”


What?” She had thrown her arms around him and he drew her close, cradling her head against his chest. “Shhhh, shhhh, calm down. Tell me what is wrong.”

“He—he touched my face—and—”

Theodred’s arms tightened around her. “Just your face?”

“It was not that, Theodred,” she said, though she shuddered at the memory, “it was what he said.”


“That there would come a day when I would be glad of his protection…”

Theodred drew her to his bed and sat her down. “We both know that it may only be a matter of time before he is in complete control, Eowyn,” he said. “Every day, my father falls further under his spell.”

“Why do you not do something, Theodred?”

“What can I do, whilst my father lives and will hear nothing against him—relies upon him?”

Eowyn’s head sank in despair. Then she asked, quietly, “Where is Eomer?”

“He stayed behind in one of the villages to—er—”

“I do not like her,” she said, sullenly.

Theodred smiled. “You hardly like anyone, Shieldmaiden—but Eomer likes her, and that is what matters. Will you help me out of my armour?”

“Of course.” Theodred turned his back, and Eowyn went to work on his lacings. “So you are resolved to do nothing?” she asked. “About Gríma?”

“I will go and make some noises—threaten him—though he will not, of course, listen.”

“You should challenge him—fight him—”

“I cannot, Eowyn. And neither can you, nor Eomer, not whilst he holds my father’s Seal. We must all bide our time—”

“Until when?” She opened his cuirass and he shrugged it off.

“Until he makes a mistake. Until he goes too far—moves too quickly.”

Eowyn turned to his nightstand, filled the basin with water, took up the washcloth and a cake of soap.

“In the meantime,” said Theodred, stripping down to his shirt, “there is much for us to do, protecting our people from Orcs and Wargs and Woodmen.”

“But what if—”


“You did not answer my question,” said Legolas, softly.

“Did I not? What was it?”

She settled her head comfortably on his chest and Legolas stroked her hair. “I asked you what you were thinking; you said it was just a memory; and I said—”

“‘Of what.’” Eowyn sighed. “Just Theodred, Lassui. I was thinking about Theodred.”

“Ah.” It was always a difficult subject between them. But, remembering what they had been talking about just before she fell silent, Legolas suddenly asked, “Did Theodred force you, melmenya?”

He sat on the bed as if sitting on his father’s throne, his back straight, his hands resting on his knees. He was of a size with Eomer and, though his features were stronger and his hair long and straight, a stranger might have thought them brothers.

Eowyn cleaned the grime from his face, and carefully rinsed the washcloth. “Roll up your sleeves.”

Instead, Theodred pulled his shirt off over his head. Then he held out his arms in front of him.

Blushing, Eowyn took one of his hands, sponged the sweat and dust from it, and slowly worked her way up his arm, the flush spreading from her cheeks to her throat and down to her bosom.

Theodred waited until she had washed and dried both arms, then he said, softly, “I will never let him harm you, Eowyn. I love you.”

She kept her eyes lowered. “I know.”

Gently, he removed the washcloth from her hands, and dropped it in the basin. Then he slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her close—she did not resist—and, for the first time, he kissed her as a lover might kiss his mistress.

“Did he?”

“No,” said Eowyn, firmly.

“But he took advantage—”


“Tell me to stop,” whispered Theodred. “If you do not want this, tell me to stop.”

But Eowyn had made a decision. He is a good man, she thought, who loves me and who will—at the very least—do everything he can to protect me from Gríma—and perhaps do more if I am by his side. “I do not want you to stop.”

Smiling, he kissed her hands. “Thank you…” He turned her, so that he could reach her back, and, gently brushing her hair aside, he unlaced her gown, and slid it off her shoulders—“Perfect,” he whispered, kissing her neck—and he pushed it down to her waist; then he stroked his hands, lightly, down her arms, and slid them forwards to cup her breasts, and smoothed them over her stomach, and under the fabric of her gown, until his fingers slipped between her thighs.


“Perfection,” he whispered.

Surrounded by him, caged in by his arms, Eowyn relaxed into him, turning her head to expose more of her neck to his lips. “Theodred…”

He kissed her tenderly. “Stand up, my love.”

She did as she was told, and her gown fell to her feet, and she turned, and stood naked before him.

Theodred shook his head in wonder.

“Are you going to undress?”

He laughed. “Bossy Shieldmaiden.” Still smiling, he unlaced his leather breeches and slipped them off.

Eowyn had seen many men stripped to the waist, even some naked—and she had seen horses mate—but she had never seen a man aroused before. She blushed deeply.

Theodred reached out, and took her hands, and placed them on his erection. It was warm and hard and Eowyn marvelled at the silken texture of it smooth, pink head. “You are beautiful.”

Theodred pulled her into his arms. “You do know what I am going to do to you?”


“You can still say no.”

“I want you to do it.” She smiled, “I just did not expect you to be so big.”

Theodred laughed. “There are many bigger than mine, my love.”

Eowyn pulled back from him. “How do you know?

He laughed again. “Never you mind.” Then, suddenly serious, he said, “It will hurt you, the first time.”

“I know. I have heard other women talk of it—but how do you know about that?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “Warriors talk too.”

“I am not your first.”



“Shhhh.” He put his finger to her lips. “Not now.”

Eowyn slipped from his arms and, climbing onto his bed, lay down on her back. “Do it quickly.”

“No, love.” Theodred shook his head. “You are not ready yet.”

“He did nothing dishonourable, Lassui,” said Eowyn, firmly. “He loved me and he believed that, in time, I would love him too. I was the one who did the dishonourable thing, because I knew I did not love him.” She kissed his chest, whispering, “He was not you, edhel nín.”

His caresses were gentle, and when he lowered himself upon her, and she felt him between her thighs, pushing gently against her, she reached down and guided him.

Supporting himself on his elbows, he held her face in his hands, and gazed down into her eyes, smiling.

Then he thrust his hips forward.

And Eowyn heard someone scream—but the pain in her head was so intense that she could not be sure where the sound was coming from.

“Oh my love…” He gathered her in his arms and lay still, kissing her, and whispering sweet words, until the tension had left her body. And then he began to thrust, slowly and gently. And Eowyn found that it was not unpleasant, if she relaxed.

“I was very fond of him,” said Eowyn softly.

“And you would have made him a loving wife, a supportive queen,” said Legolas. “And… And I think he was right, melmenya—he was a worthy man, and he loved you—and I think that you would have come to love him, in time.”

“But not as I love you.” She raised her head and smiled down at him (but there was sadness in her eyes). “Poor Theodred.”



Back to main Challenge page


challenge story 1

Last part



Next part



This starts a few days after Meanings.


This and the next part were requested by Belle ;-)

The story may seem strange to some American readers, but marriage between first cousins is perfectly legal in the UK.

Æðelbert, father of the unfortunate Ædith, is the warlord who has allied with the Beornings in Misrule in Mirkwood.

Do you like my picture of Theodred alive? It's taken from his Decipher card.