It had taken five days to reach North Ithilien on
Eowyn had spent the days riding by Legolas' side, and the nights
sleeping, safe and secure, in his arms. It had been blissful.
But now Caras Arnen, the City on the Hills, was looming on the
It no longer feels like my home, thought Eowyn, and, compared
to Eryn Carantaur, it is dark and dismal.
Though she knew that Faramir was as unhappy in their marriage
as she was, she also knew that the reasons for their unhappiness
must remain a secret forever.
So finding a public solution to this problem, she thought,
will be difficult. And finding a private solution may expose
raw wounds and cause pain.
But how much harder would it be if Faramir and I had children
"What are you thinking about, meleth nín?" asked
Legolas, clearly concerned by her sudden silence.
"I am thinking that I will do anything, accept any terms,
to be with you," she said, gravely.
"It will not come to that, meleth nín," he said.
"Trust the Valar."
The gatekeeper hurried to greet the two elves riding up to the
barbican. He had recognised Lord Legolas immediatelyfor
he was a regular visitor to Caras Arnenbut the other
elf was a newcomer. And small for an elf, he thought.
"Good evening, Lord Legolas," he said, bowing deeply.
"Good evening, my looh, my lady!"
And the gatekeeper stood, open-mouthed, as the two travellers
bowed courteously from horseback and passed through the barbican,
through the gatehouse, and into the City on the Hills.
The reaction of the Palace Guard was similar, but more respectful,
since the soldiers genuinely loved and admired their princess.
Eowyn and Legolas were escorted with proper ceremony into the
main entrance hall, arriving just as Faramir strode down the wide
staircase to greet them.
"So," he said, looking from his wife to Legolas and
back again, "I was right to send you."
"Yes, Faramir," replied Eowyn.
"Come into my study," he said, "we three need
Faramir's study was a large, comfortable room on the first floor,
lined with books and filled with the day-to-day clutter of rule.
Eowyn had spent many happy hours there, discussing civil and military
matters with Faramir and his advisors, and working on her orc
I will miss this room, she thought. And I will miss
him. He has been my best friend. And for some people that would
have been enough.
But not for me.
And not for him.
"So," said Faramir, "what are we going to do?"
"I assume," said Legolas, "that you do not object
to Eowyn's coming to live with me as my wife?"
Faramir shook his head. "I want her to be happy."
Legolas nodded, solemnly. "Then we need to make a series
of decisions," he said. "First, you must decide whether
you want your marriage officially dissolved or whether you want
your separation kept secret.
"In the former case," he continued, "Aragorn has
already pledged us his support and, assuming that it is legally
possible, will no doubt dissolve the marriage by decree. But,
in that case, it may be necessary to provide him with a reason,"
he added, tactfully.
He has thought about this a great deal, thought Eowyn.
"If you wish to keep your separation secret, then we need
only think of some reason why Eowyn must move to the forestfor
her health, for example. My people will know that she is living
as my wife, but it will not concern them since the marriage of
Men is so different from our customs, we elves do not recognise
it as binding.
"But visitors to Eryn Carantaur may be shocked by itand
may gossip on their return to the world of Men. And that would
trouble me greatly, for I would not want Eowyn vilified by strangers."
"What do you have to say, meleth nín?" asked
"I would prefer for our marriage to be dissolved honourably,"
said Eowyn to Faramir, "so that Legolas and I might return
freely to Caras Arnen in the futurefor we would miss your
friendship, Faramir." Faramir smiled. "But if that is
not possible," she continued, "I will accept whatever
arrangement you prefer, so long as I can remain with Legolas."
Faramir rose, and walked to the window, where he stood for a
few moments, deep in thought. Then he said, "For some time
now, a solution has been forming itself in my mind.
"I knew of your love for one another, of course, just as
you, my dear, knew of my love for,"he hesitated"for
him," he said. "And I realised that neither of
you knew of the other's feelings. Perhaps I should have said something
sooner, butinsteadI sent Eowyn to Eryn Carantaur for
the Harvest Ceremony, and you seem to have worked it out between
"By the grace of the Valar," said Legolas.
"As you know, the Prince of Ithilien needs a wife and an
heir. In Caras Arnen," he said, "there is a widowed
lady of noble birth with two fine young sons"
"Sieglinde," said Eowyn.
"Yes, my dear. Sheshe, like me, suffers a forbidden
love. And she would be willing to enter into a marriage of convenience
with me. I would adopt her sons and they would become my heirs,
but we would both live separate lives, though behaving with discretion."
"But would that truly make you happy, Faramir?" asked
Eowyn, passionately. She was genuinely concerned for him.
Legolas took her hand and squeezed it gently.
Faramir smiled. "He and I can never live openly, Eowyn.
So, yes, I think this arrangement would make me happy."
The three were silent for a while. Then Legolas said, "But
we still need to provide Aragorn with a reason why your marriage
should be dissolved."
"You can say that I am barren," said Eowyn, suddenly.
Legolas and Faramir both turned to her in surprise. "You
can say that our marriage would never have produced an heirwhich
is the truth," she added.
"Melmenya..." Legolas began, for he could not bear
that anyone should think Eowyn less than perfect.
"Why not?" she asked.
"Because, in the future, you and Legolas may want a child,"
"Ah, but then we would just say that elves are more potent
then men," she said, smiling.
Faramir began drafting a letter to Aragorn, requesting that the
King of Gondor issue a royal decree dissolving the marriage between
himself and Princess Eowyn.
The three friends worked carefully on the wording, for though
Aragorn did not know of Faramir's love for another, and could
not be told in an official letter, Faramir was loath to deceive
At length, the letter was completed and a messenger was sent
from Caras Arnen to Minas Tirith.
And then Eowyn and Legolas spent almost two weeks in the City
on the Hills, waiting anxiously for Aragorn's response.
Legolas sat on the windowsill of his bedchamber, his legs dangling
two storeys above the ground.
Autumn was already shading into winter and, as Legolas savoured
the cool, misty, Emyn Arnen day, the slight chill filled him with
a longing to begin the journey home. He would take Eowyn back
along the eastern bank of the Anduin, where she would see the
great falls to the south of Emyn Arnen. And they would spend a
night in the shallow cave behind the waterfallwhich Gimli,
bless him, had discoveredwatching the stars sparkling through
the curtain of water.
He smiled. She will love that.
Then we will wait for Gimli where the Anduin joined the Erui,
and all return to Eryn Carantaur in time for the first tasting
of this year's wine.
If only that decree would arrive!
It was not that their stay in the City on the Hills was unpleasant.
Faramir was an excellent host. During the day, the three of themsometimes
the four of themspent their free hours talking or riding
or entertaining guests. And at night, Faramir had tactfully arranged
it so that Legolas and Eowyn could be together.
The nights! Legolas felt a deep throb of physical pleasure recalling
But, the longer they stayed, the more he became aware of the
depth of Eowyn's feelings for Faramir. She is so fond of him,
he thought, that it will break her heart to leave himand
all the other people she loves here. In Caras Arnen she is a Princess
But I know it would break her heart to lose me, too. And she
is so happy in Eryn Carantaurthere she is a creature of
the forest, my Elven Queen.
If only we had not needed to come here...
He heard the chamber door behind him open and close, and a familiar
voice sigh deeply. Then it said, "Legolas, what are you doing?
You will break your neck!"
Legolas laughed. "I am an elf, meleth nín, so no,
I will not break my neck. And I am looking out of the window."
After a few seconds' silence she said, "Can I look out of
the window too?"
By the two trees, he thought, I love her. She
has the spirit of an elf.
He helped her climb up beside him, holding her firmly, for her
balance was not so sure as his.
"Thank yougoodness, I did not realise it was such
a long way down!" After a moment she managed to relax a little.
"Things do look different from out here," she said.
He hugged her.
"What was the sigh for, meleth nín?" he asked.
"The sigh? Oh, I justI just want to go home."
"I miss our garden, Legolas," she said. "I miss
For a moment he thought his heart might burst. "So do I,
meleth nín; so do I, my darling."
At dawn on the eleventh day, the messenger returned from Minas
Faramir tactfully went to Legolas' chamber himself, and knocked
at the door. The elf appeared immediately, wearing a long white
night shirt and looking, Faramir thought, surprisingly dishevelled.
"It has arrived," he said. "I have not opened
it. I suggest you and Eowyn come to my study as soon as possible."
Legolas nodded and closed the door.
The three friends stood side by side, staring at Faramir's desk.
Lying upon it, sealed in a red leather dispatch bag, was Aragorn's
"Open it, Faramir," said Eowyn, shakily.
Faramir nodded. He reached for the leather baghis movements
clumsy with nervesbroke the official seal, unbuckled the
strap, and opened it.
Eowyn sat down, heavily. Legolas put his hand upon her shoulder.
"There is a letter," said Faramir. "And there
is a royal decree."
Legolas sighed with relief. "That must be a good sign,"
he said, "surely."
Faramir nodded "I think so..." He broke the seal on
the decree and unrolled it. It was a beautiful document, headed
with a large illuminated panel depicting the White Tree of Gondor,
its details picked out in gold leaf. Beneath the panel were the
words that would seal their fates, written a formal, flowing,
Faramir scanned the document, ignoring the long-winded preamble
and read out Aragorn's judgement:
Elessar Telcontar, Aragorn Arathornion, Edhelharn, King of Gondor
and Lord of the Westlands, decrees that the marriage of Faramir,
son of Denethor, Prince of Ithilien, and Eowyn, daughter of Eomund,
Princess of Rohan, is dissolved.
The grounds for this dissolution have been made known to us,
and we have judged them sufficient, but they are not to be made
The dissolution will become law on the third reading of this
The two parties may thereafter live as befits their unmarried
With a cry of joy, Legolas lifted Eowyn off the chair and whirled
her round and round the room. And Faramir's secretary stepped
out from the shadow by the window and embraced his lord.
Aragorn's letter was as personal as his decree had been impersonal.
My dear friends,
Legolas assured me that you would not oppose his choice of
Eowyn, Faramir, but I confess I doubted himI am sorry mellon
nín, I see now that you were right.
I cannot say I understand your motives, Faramir, but I sincerely
hope that you will be as happy in your new life as I know Legolas
and Eowyn are in theirs.
When she heard the news, Arwen, who knows so much more about
these things than I do, said that the heart does not always know
its true nature until it is tested, and that life should not deny
us the chance to correct our past mistakes. I pass her words on
to you with all my best wishes.
And now I remind you that you have all three promised to spend
Yule here with us in Minas Tirith. And I look forward to seeing
Stay friends, my friends,
There had been rumours that Prince Faramir was about to make
an important announcement, and a large crowd had gathered in the
At exactly ten o'clock, the Chief Herald appeared on the palace
steps. He waited until the bell ringers had finished ringing the
hour, then he stepped forward, unrolled the decree and read out
its contents in a loud voice.
The crowd was restive and chattered through the long preamble,
but fell silent when they heard:
...decrees that the marriage of Faramir, son of Denethor,
Prince of Ithilien, and Eowyn, daughter of Eomund, Princess of
Rohan, is dissolved...
The crowd was stunned.
Everyone in the tavern had heard the Chief Herald read King Elessar's
decree a second time that morning.
"One more reading," said the landlord of The Sparking
Clog, "and the poor lady will be out on her ear."
"Who says that the lady's to blame?" asked the barmaid.
"I'm not saying she's to blame, Rosie, I'm saying it's always
the lady that suffers," he replied, philosophically.
"I have heard," said one of the regulars, "that
the lady is being sent away to live with the elves. And that's
why old Leglass has been staying at the palace. He's to take her
off to his woodland realm, as soon as the decree's law."
"Why?" asked Rosie.
"So she's never seen again."
"You've got it all wrong," said a voice by the door.
The patrons of The Sparking Clog moved aside to allow a
tall man in palace livery to come closer to the bar. "I heard
it from my Bronwyn, who heard it from her friend Aileen, who was
scrubbing the floor outside Prince Faramir's study the night it
was all decided. The marriage has been dissolved because the Princess
is barren, and Prince Faramir needs an heir. He will marry again,
and soon, you mark my wordsthough he still loves the Princess,"
"Well, who would not?" asked Rosie. "A beautiful
lady, so kind to the poor and sick, and always so well-dressed."
"But why is she going to live with old Leglass?" asked
"Because he can get her with child," said the
"You just said she was barren," protested Rosie.
"Ah, yes," said the servant, "but elf seed's much
stronger than men's, so Leg-o-lass can father a child on
anyone," he said.
His audience was suitably impressed.
Just fifteen more minutes, thought Legolas. Fifteen
minutes, and Eowyn is free.
And I can take her home.
He was standing by the window of Faramir's study, which commanded
a good view of the palace steps, waiting to hear the decree read
out for the last time. He heard the door open and, assuming it
was his lady, turned round smiling. But it was Faramir.
"Eowyn is not here?" Faramir asked, glancing around
"No," said Legolas, "she is packing a few belongings
to take back to Eryn Carantaur with us, but I am expecting her
to join me at any moment."
"Then I must be quick," said Faramir.
He pulled a chair to the window and sat astride it.
"I do not doubt your love for Eowyn, Legolas, nor hers for
you," he began. "Things did not work out between us
as husband and wife, but I still love her. She is my dearest friend."
Legolas nodded. "I know," he said.
"And there is something that worries me..." His
voice trailed off.
"Yes, mellon nín?" Legolas prompted,
after a long silence.
"Immortality," said Faramir, softly.
"You must have thought about this already, I know, but I
cannot see any solution," said Faramir. "She will age
whilst you remain unchanged, then she will die and you will be
left aloneor perhaps die of grief. And we do not know if
you will meet again, if you both die."
"I know that you would never deliberately hurt her, Legolas,
butstillI worry about her, and about you, too, my
friendand yet your union feels right to me."
Legolas put his hands on Faramir's shoulders. "I can only
tell you what I told her, Faramir: I have no answer, except to
trust the Valar. You sent her to me at Eryn Carantaur but,
when the time came for me to choose my lady, it was they
who made her shine like Ithil; it was they who gave me
a mortal love.
"I could have disobeyed them and chosen an elleth. But I
accepted her willingly because she was my heart's own choice.
And I was already bound to her, Faramir. I have been bound to
her since the first moment I saw her, in the Golden Hall at Edoras.
"I will never forsake her, mellon nín, for though
her body may lose some of its bloom, and her hair may lose its
colour, she will always be my Eowyn. And I will willingly remain
faithful to her throughout eternity. For me there is no choice."
Faramir rose from the chair and embraced his friend.
Moments later, Eowyn entered the study. "Goodness,"
she said, seeing the sadness lingering in both pairs of eyes,
"I thought we would all be happy today."
"We will be, meleth nín," said Legolas, "we
will all be very happy."
At dawn the following morning, having said their goodbyes, Eowyn
and Legolas at last set out for Eryn Carantaur, and began winding
their way slowly through the foothills of Emyn Arnen, towards
the eastern bank of the Anduin.
"You are quiet, melmenya," said Legolas, softly.
It pained him to see her hesitate to answer, and her expression
told him she that was unsure whether she should share her present
thoughts with him. "I know that you will miss him, Eowyn,"
he said, gently.
"I love you, Legolas," said Eowyn, vehemently. "I
have been looking for you all my life,"she hesitated
"I know, meleth nín," he said. "It does
not stop you loving Faramirlike a brother."
"Something like a brother, yes," she agreed. Then she
smiled. "You always seem to know what I am thinking and feeling."
Legolas reached over and squeezed her hand, and she smiled again,
gratefully. But, after a few minutes, she added, "Why does
life have to be so cruel, Legolas? Faramir is a good man. Why
should the love he shares be frowned upon? It is not so amongst
"No, meleth nín, it is not"
"I wish he could have come home with us, Legolas,"
she said. "At Eryn Carantaur they could live together openly.
They could be as happy as we are."
"We will invite him, melmenya. And one day, when his heirs
have grown to manhood, and Faramir feels that he has discharged
his duty to North Ithilien and can safely hand it to his sons
for safe-keepingthen, perhaps, he and his love can come
and live with us."
"Thank you," she whispered, and Legolas thought her
smile the most precious thing he had ever been given.
"Would you like to stop for a while, meleth nín,"
he asked, for he suddenly wanted to hold her, "or would you
prefer to press on until we reach the falls?"
"How long will it take to reach the falls?" she asked.
"Another five or six hours, if all goes well."
"I would like to see the falls," she said. "And
if we reach them by three o'clock, it will still be light."
Legolas smiled. "Then let us continue, meleth nín.
And," he added, "I have a surprise for you when we get
Legolas set the horses free to graze.
Eowyn was standing by the river's edge, gazing up at the great
sheet of falling water. "Look, Legolas," she said, pointing
to the sky above the wide arc of the waterfall, "a rainbow!"
Legolas laughed. "I know, melmenya. Every waterfall seems
to have its own rainbow."
"I do not know."
"Can we go closer?"
Legolas took her by the hand and led her towards the falls but,
instead of staying by the water's edge, the path they were following
drew them away from the main cataract.
"Where are we going?" Eowyn shouted, above the sound
of rushing water.
"It is a surprise," Legolas shouted back.
The path ended at a vertical rock face.
"Here?" she asked. It was cold and wet, drenched
by spray from the waterfall.
"No meleth nín, follow me."
There was a narrow chimney running upward through the rock face;
Legolas stepped into the recess and began to climb effortlessly.
Eowyn watched him with increasing horror. "Legolas!"
she yelled. "You elves are as sure-footed as mountain goats,
but we women are not."
"I am sorry, Eowyn nín. Come here." He reached
down, took her hand and helped her climb up beside him.
But, although it was a relief to be in the shelter of the rock
chimney, where it was drier and quieter, Eowyn had no experience
of climbing, and could not see a way up; she wiped her clammy
hands on her tunic. Well, she thought, you always wanted
your lover to treat you as an equal. But maybe you should not
have chosen an elf...
"Now," said Legolas, "see that small ledge, there?
Put your right hand on itnow put your left hand hereand
your right foot hereand pull yourself up."
"I will fall!"
"No, Eowyn nín, I will not let you fallthat
is it. Now, put your left hand here..."
Slowly Eowyn began to climb the chimney. "How much further
is it?" she asked. It was obvious that she was afraidand
tiredin spite of her efforts to hide it, and her breathing
was becoming laboured.
"Just a few more feet, Eowyn nín."
"How will I ever get down again?"
"I will carry you."
"Why could you not have carried me up as well?"
Legolas laughed. "Because you will appreciate it so much
more having climbed up yourself, melmenya," he said.
"Have I ever told you how infuriating you can be?"
she asked, her fear expressing itself as anger.
"No, melmenya, you have not." And he was genuinely
surprised, now he thought about it, that she had never said it
before. "But I should think I can look forward to many years
of hearing it, Eowyn nín."
"You must be feeling very guilty, Legolas," she said,
pausing to catch her breath, "because you only call me 'Eowyn
nín' when you are feeling guilty, and you have called meoh!
Legolas! Look! There is a cave!"
"I know, Eowyn nín. Can you get into it?"
"I will try."
The cave was in reality a narrow tunnel, disappearing into the
rock face. Eowyn hauled her upper body into it, then shuffled
forward and, for a terrifying moment, her legs dangled unsupported...
But Legolas put his hands around her hips and held her safe until
she managed to get a firm hold on a ridge in the rock and pull
herself inside. The tunnel ran from the chimney towards the waterfall
and, as Eowyn crawled along it, she found that it widened out
until it joined a broad ledge spanning the full width of the main
"We are behind the waterfall!" she whispered.
"I know, meleth nín," said Legolas. He wrapped
his arms round her and hugged her, laughing. "My brave shieldmaiden!"
he said. "Come..."
He led her to the very back of the ledge, where the spray did
not reach, rolled out their bedrolls, and set her comfortably
against the back wall of the cave. Then he took from his pack
the food he had brought specially for this adventure: cheese,
fresh bread, a bottle of elderflower champagne, and a small box
of sweetmeats he had bought from the market in Caras Arnen.
"Do you want to eat now," he asked, "or later?"
Eowyn stretched out her arms to him.
"Legolas?" she said, sleepily.
"Yes, meleth nín?"
"Promise me that you will carry me down..."