They had ridden to the outskirts of Eryn Carantaur,
where the forestof beech and elmwas 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 treessometimes side-by-side, sometimes one
behind the otherboth 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 privateso
elventhat she had no right to ask. And her shame rushed
to her face and stained her cheeks red.
ButOh, 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
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 thoughtNo 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 nínyou
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
Legolas, said Eowyn, softly, what will happento
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 fillI
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 Gimligood, loyal, practical Gimlitook me into
the Forest of Fangorn, and sat with me amongst the treestalking
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
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 timethe trees
smaller and more widely spacedand, 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 stonesslowly 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 tilestiny yellow dragons prowling
on a rich red groundand 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 lintela 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
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
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
minds 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 eternitywe 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 bloomof deep, velvety
redhung 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 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
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, toosee. 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 himit was his
crest. She stared at the creature rising from the earth.
He thought that he would be the one to leave her.
Yesshe was far younger than heperhaps of Númenórean
bloodand 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
herand 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,
...she ran away, with her lover from the sea...
Legolas closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on Eowyns
voicetried to block out the other soundthe 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 Eowyns head.
Let us go home, Melmenya.