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my bow shall sing with your sword: eowyn

“Good morning, Prince Legolas!”

The young apprentice wiped his hands upon his paint-stained smock. “Master Halmir is—er—he is resting, your Highness. Please, come through...” He ushered Legolas into an elegantly-furnished reception room. “Please, take a seat. I will tell the Master you are here.” He shuffled backwards through the door, in a semi-bowing posture.

Legolas smiled at the sudden sound of running feet—the lad’s footfalls changing subtly as they flew along the tiled corridor, over a rug, and into a room with a wooden floor—the studio, no doubt. There was a rustle of fabric, then some urgent whispering.

And, if I allowed myself to listen, I could just hear... But men make no allowance for elven hearing, he thought, and it is impolite to eavesdrop.

To occupy himself, he looked around the room. The walls were hung with tapestries, the furniture upholstered in velvet, the floor covered with a rug from Near Harad. Master Halmir was clearly a successful man. And this is where he deals with his customers, thought Legolas, the great and the good of Minas Tirith.

The room had been arranged for a viewing, its furniture clustered around a decorative easel bearing a small, rectangular object hidden under a velvet cover—evidently the Master's most recent painting.

Legolas reached for the corner of the cloth—

“Good morning, your Highness!”

Guiltily, Legolas drew back his hand and turned to face the painter—a short, balding libertine; unwashed, unshaven and smelling strongly of ale. “Master Halmir—”

Halmir bowed, unsteadily. “What might I do for you, your Highness?”

“I would like to commission a painting,” said Legolas. “A double portrait.”

“I see. Please—take a seat.”

“I would need it finished in less than three months,” continued Legolas. “Could that be done?”

“Three months. The painting can be ready—though it will require additional time to dry thoroughly. And the couple must, of course, make themselves available—”

“They cannot,” said Legolas. “The portrait is a surprise gift. They cannot know it is being painted.”

“Your Highness,” said Halmir, very clearly, as though speaking to a child, “that is not possible. I paint from the life.”

“I can arrange for you to see them,” said Legolas, “at a public function.”

“That is not acceptable.”

“What if I were to obtain other likenesses of them? Of him, at least—”

“Who are these people?” asked Halmir.

“The Prince of Ithilien and his betrothed.”

Without a word, Master Halmir rose to his feet, walked over to the easel and raised the velvet cover.

Legolas’ heart missed a beat. “It is so very like her,” he whispered.

She was gazing out of the painting at him, her golden hair framing her face, her grey eyes smiling, her generous lips slightly parted, a light blush on her porcelain cheeks.

“I must confess,” said Halmir, “that I believe it to be my finest work.”

“She is about to speak,” said Legolas. She is about to say, I love you.

“To Prince Faramir,” said the painter. “He was sitting beside me... On reflection,” he decided, “I think I can do what you ask. Though my fee must reflect the difficulty of the task.”

“The fee is immaterial, Master Halmir. And I have every confidence in your skills. Perhaps you will draw up a contract and have it brought to the King’s House? And perhaps,” he added, suddenly diffident, “you would allow me to visit you occasionally, to see the work as it progresses?”

“You may call at any time, your Highness.”

“Thank you.” Legolas rose, placed his hand over his heart and bowed his head. “Good day, Master Halmir.”

The apprentice came forward to see him out.

But as he reached the door, the elf suddenly paused and, without turning back, said, “Would you be willing to make a copy of the lady’s portrait for me, Master Halmir? A copy by your own hand—you may name any price.”




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