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eowyn and legolas



They had ridden to the outskirts of Eryn Carantaur, where the forest—of beech and elm—was dense and dark. “Where are we going?” asked Eowyn.

Legolas smiled. “If I told you that, Melmenya, there would be no surprise.”

Dismounting, and leaving the horses to graze, they threaded their way through the trees—sometimes side-by-side, sometimes one behind the other—both in high spirits, Legolas laughing out loud at Eowyn's stories of her childhood. “And, by then, Eomer was covered in it. And my uncle said—”

But the elf had suddenly grown quiet.

“Legolas? Is something wrong?” When he did not reply, she caught his arm. “Legolas?

“I am sorry, Melmenya. What were you saying?”

“I asked what was wrong.”

Legolas smiled, sadly. “The trees here remind me of Mirkwood.”

Eowyn looked around. “Why does that make you sad, my love? Are you missing your father?”

“No... I... I was just... I was remembering how it used to feel, Melmenya. When I walked in the forest. Before I heard the gulls.”


They continued in silence, hand-in-hand, deeper and deeper into the woods, Legolas sometimes taking the lead to guide Eowyn through the brambles, Eowyn burning to ask the question that had haunted her since the terrible day she had found him standing on the sea flet, reaching out towards the West...

At last, she said, “How did it happen, Legolas? The sea longing? Can you tell me... Will you tell me?”

“There is nothing to tell Melmenya.”

She felt like an intruder, prying into something so private—so elven—that she had no right to ask. And her shame rushed to her face and stained her cheeks red.

But—“Oh, Eowyn nín! I am sorry!”—Legolas took her in his arms and, after several tender kisses, drew her to a fallen tree, and sat down with her.

“I first heard the gulls at Pelennor Field,” he said, holding her close, “as we sailed into Harlond. They flew around the ship, wailing, and I stood upon the deck and stared at them, forgetting my friends, forgetting the war... Forgetting everything but their cry, Melmenya, because it spoke to me of the Sea.

Alas! for the gulls!

“I watched them soar and felt my spirit stir inside me and try to follow, and I knew then that their cry would never leave me; and I thought—No peace shall I have again under beech or under elm.


She crushed him in her arms, as though she might force the longing from his body.

“Oh, Eowyn! You are my anchor, hervess nín—you hold me safe.” He slid from the tree trunk, lowering them both to the ground. “When I am with you, Eowyn, I scarcely feel its pull. You bring me peace...” He kissed her lips. “Oh, you are cold! I had forgotten you feel the cold...” He wrapped his cloak around her and drew her against his chest. “There, meleth nín, two elven cloaks to keep you warm.”

“Legolas,” said Eowyn, softly, “what will happen—to you—when—when I—”

“Shhhh, my darling... Let us not think of that now.”


He helped her to her feet and they continued on their way.

“The longing was unbearable at first,” said Legolas, “a deep, aching void that nothing else could fill—I thought I would run mad with it.”

Having decided to bare his spirit to her, he was now being perfectly open. “But Aragorn and Arwen helped me, and Lord Elrond, and Gimli—good, loyal, practical Gimli—took me into the Forest of Fangorn, and sat with me amongst the trees—talking when I could listen and staying silent when I could not.”

Legolas smiled, fondly. “With his help, I learned to control it, Melmenya, and eventually recovered enough to come here and start building.”

“You have created something wonderful here,” said Eowyn.

“I built it for you.”


The man of Gondor

The Forest had been growing thinner for some time—the trees smaller and more widely spaced—and, at last, they reached its edge and stepped out into a broad, semi-circular clearing overlooking the River Anduin; it was filled with strangely shaped boulders covered in ivy, and choked by brambles.

Eowyn stared at the stones—slowly recognising the fallen walls, and broken columns, and the delicate tracery of fine arched windows, still holding fragments of coloured glass. “It is a house,” she said.

“It was a house, Melmenya. Come.”

Skirting the thorny branches, he led her to the remains of a gravel path; they climbed up a flight of stone steps and passed through the once impressive doorway. The floor of the entrance hall was paved with coloured tiles—tiny yellow dragons prowling on a rich red ground—and they crossed it, passing the ruins of a massive staircase, and entered the Great Hall.

“Who lived here?” asked Eowyn.

“A man of Gondor,” said Legolas, “and his beautiful young wife. He built the house for her, here, deep in the Forest, where he thought she would be safe...”

“But something happened to her?” Eowyn approached the broad fireplace, still scattered with ashes, and, with her fingers, examined two crests carved into its massive lintel—a dragon and a rose.

“They say three travellers appeared at her door,” said Legolas, “singing of the Sea. And she pulled off her silken gown, and put on her breeches of leather, and ran downstairs to join them.

“And that night, when her husband came home and found her gone, he followed her, over hill and dale, through woods and copses, till he found her, lying in an open field with her new lover. ‘What made you leave your house and land?’ he asked. ‘What made you leave your money? What made you leave your new-wedded lord?’—”

No!” Eowyn covered his mouth with her hand. “No, Legolas, do not go on! She did not love him! She had never loved him! The traveller was her true love and he had come to claim her!”

“Melmenya!” He hugged her tightly, surprised by her vehemence, “It is only a tale!”

“No... No, it is true,” said Eowyn, sadly. “I feel sure of it.” She looked around the Hall and, in her mind’s eye, watched the scene unfold. “She had obeyed her family and spurned her lowly lover, and married a great lord she admired, but could never love...” Her eyes filled with tears. “Does that happen amongst elves, Legolas? Are ellith ever forced to marry their families’ choice?”

“No, Melmenya. Elves marry for eternity—we must be free to choose our own companions, as I have chosen you.” He smiled. “With a little help from the Valar.”


At the centre of house the Hall overlooked a paved courtyard that had once been a rose garden; and, here and there, amongst the enveloping ivy, bright spots of red and pink and yellow showed where the aristocratic plants still struggled to survive.

Beside a carved window frame, a perfect bloom—of deep, velvety red—hung from a partially broken stem.

Legolas bowed his head in thanks.

Then, with gentle, elven hands, he gathered the flower, and presented it to Eowyn.


The emblem

The ancient lord had built his house at the summit of a grassy hill that sloped gently down towards the river. Shielding his eyes with his hand, Legolas gazed at the water.

A gentle breeze had risen, bringing with it the smell of the sea...

Silver flow the streams from Celos to Erui,” the elf whispered. “In the green fields of Lebennin!

He turned back towards the house. Eowyn had climbed the stunted staircase and, arms outstretched, was turning full-circle, looking down at the ruins.

“Come, Melmenya,” he cried, holding out his hand, “we are almost there.”

She smiled. And, gathering her skirts, she ran down the steps and out through the broken doorway and took his hand; and together they set off across the open fields, Legolas singing,

Silver flow the streams from Celos to Erui,
In the green fields of Lebennin!
Tall grows the grass there. In the wind from the Sea
The white lilies sway,
And the golden bells are shaken of mallos and alfirin
In the green fields of Lebennin,
In the wind from the Sea!


He stopped upon the broad swathe of grass, just north of the ruined house, and smiled down at her.

Eowyn looked up at him in surprise. “Here?


“But there is nothing here!”

“Close your eyes, Melmenya... And turn around.” He guided her into the correct position. “Now, open them.”

“Oh!” Eowyn grasped his arm in fear. Rising from the forest, its serpent-head and neck craned forward, its huge wings outstretched, was a fearsome dragon.

Eowyn blinked. “It is rock,” she said. “It is just a carving in the rock.”

“It is not even that, Melmenya. It is an illusion; a sport of nature. It is like seeing a face in the clouds. Were we to climb up to it, it would disappear.”

“But it has teeth!”

Legolas laughed. “Yes. And eyes, too—see. And spines on its back.”

“How can such a thing exist?”

“I do not know, Melmenya. But Gimli once told me that Middle-earth was big enough to hold any wonder that a woman or an elf or a dwarf might imagine.”

“That is no answer,” said Eowyn.

“My sensible Shieldmaiden!”

“This is why the man of Gondor built his house here,” she said, thoughtfully. “The dragon is him—it was his crest.” She stared at the creature rising from the earth. “He thought that he would be the one to leave her. Yes—she was far younger than he—perhaps of Númenórean blood—and he built the house for her to live in after he had died. But she ran away, with her lover from the Sea—”

She broke off, suddenly aware that Legolas was no longer holding her—and that the air was filled with a terrible sound.

A lonely, wailing sound.

“No, my love! No! Do not listen!” she cried, reaching up to cover his ears. “Do not listen to the gulls, Legolas!


“...she ran away, with her lover from the sea...”

Legolas closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on Eowyn’s voice—tried to block out the other sound—the sound that was reaching inside his body and bidding his spirit follow...

No, he thought, please Valar, no! Not when I have her!—Oh!—His eyes flew open. The sound had gone! And Eowyn, her arms raised, was shielding his ears with her little hands.

How could such little hands blunt elven hearing?

It did not matter. Once again, she was holding him safe.


He gathered her close, whispering words of devotion in his own tongue. And his spirit leaped when her hand caressed him, and he lowered them to the ground, and rolled onto his back, and stretched out upon the grass in surrender.


Sighing contentedly, Legolas gazed up at the sky.

The gulls were still circling, crying their sad cry. But his spirit no longer heeded them.

Legolas Greenleaf still under tree
In joy thou livest...

The light was fading. He kissed the top of Eowyn’s head. “Let us go home, Melmenya.”





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Part 2
The Rose, a drabble.


I imagine this happening almost immediately after the end of My bow shall sing with your sword.


The man of Gondor
The story Legolas tells is based on the folk song, The Raggle-Taggle Gypsies.