Legolas buried his face in his hands. It is true, he thought, I cannot give her immortality. And she is happy in her new life. I must let her go

But then a familiar voice entered his mind—Gimli—saying, "No, lad, no—do not give up!" And another voice—Berryn—saying, "My lord, my lord, whatever the merman is telling you is false!" And then—the dearest voice in all of Middle-earth—crying, "Legolas! Legolas, my love! I have not betrayed you! Do not leave me!"


Yes Eowyn! Legolas leaped to his feet.

"You lie!" he shouted at the merman. "Eowyn has refused you! She is still my wife! And she wants to return to the forest with me! Come here, and fight for her with honour!" And when the merman did not move, Legolas waded out into the water to confront it.

"Gimli, Haldir, Berryn," he cried, "find Eowyn and get her back to the camp!"

"Be careful, my lord," called Berryn, before he followed Gimli and Haldir into the stone labyrinth. "It will wrap its arms around you, and try to break your neck."

Legolas drew his two white knives, spinning them to align their blades.

"You can swim away now," he said to the merman, "back to the sea, and live. Or you can stay here and die. The choice is yours."

Foolishhh little creature, hissed the merman. Your weaponsss cannot harm me! And with a sweep of its arm, it knocked the knives from Legolas' hands and enfolded the elf in a lethal embrace.

It was Haldir who found Eowyn, crouching behind one of the rock curtains, naked and shivering with cold. He took off his cloak, wrapped it around her and, despite her frantic struggles, he scooped her into his arms and carried her towards his comrades.

"Gimli, Berryn, come and help me," he whispered.

"How are we going to get her out of the cave without the merman seeing?" whispered Berryn. "And what are we going to do about Lord Legolas?"

"Legolas!" cried Eowyn, "Legolas!"

"Shhhhh, my lady," whispered Haldir, rocking her against his chest, like a crying baby. "Shhhhh. You must be quiet—"

"Legolaaas!" she screamed.

And, suddenly, she pushed hard against Haldir's chest and kicked her legs, so that the elf lost his grip and dropped her in a heap at his feet. Then she leaped up, threw off Haldir's cloak, and ran through the cave towards her husband.

"The elf offersss me mercy," hissed the merman. "But I will crush the life out of itsss body—"

"Legolas!" cried Eowyn, "Legolas!" She tried to reach her beloved elf but one of the merman's orc-minions was holding her fast.

"I have it in my grasssp, now, my love, and it isss dying!"

"Legolas!" she screamed, and she pushed hard against the orc's chest, freeing herself from its grip, and ran through the cave to save her husband.

Foolishhh creature! said the merman, inside Legolas' mind. I will crushhh the life out of your body!

But the merman had underestimated its opponents.

Suddenly, Legolas broke its grip and drove both fists into its neck and, as the creature staggered, gasping for breath, Eowyn ran down to the water's edge, swept up Legolas' knives, and buried both blades in its fragile gills.

The merman fell forwards into the water, and a dark pool of blood spread out across its surface.

"Legolas," whispered Eowyn.

"Shhhhh, melmenya," he replied, softly, slipping out of his jerkin and wrapping it around her. "You are safe now. You have saved us both." And he hugged her tightly, as though still afraid she might leave him.

Gimli dragged the merman's limp body out of the water and he and Berryn examined it carefully.

"It is not breathing," said the dwarf. "What shall we do with it?"

Legolas looked down at the strange creature. "Put it back in the water, elvellon," he said. "Let its spirit return home."

Gimli agreed. Carrying the body between them, he and Berryn waded back into the pool and dumped it. The merman did not sink, but remained on the surface, as if lying on a bed, and was slowly borne out to the centre of the pool by the gentle lapping of the waves. Then it slipped beneath the water, and disappeared.

"By the gods," cried Gimli, "did it sink? Or did it swim?"

The five friends climbed back up the spiral staircase to the Great Hall, where Rumil and Orophin were tending Nolofinwë, who had awoken.

Together, the elves, the woman, the dwarf, and the man left the castle and returned to the safety of the forest. The orcs had vanished. Legolas sent out scouts in every direction, but all reported that the immediate vicinity was safe—the orc bands had dispersed as quickly as they had gathered.

"Maintain a minimal guard on the perimeter," said Legolas to Haldir. "Tomorrow at dawn we will light the pyres and burn the bodies. If the orcs do not return we will leave this place by mid-morning. With luck, we will be back in Eryn Carantaur by nightfall. In the meantime, March Warden, tell the cook to prepare a feast tonight. Let us reward our warriors with some much needed merry-making."

Eowyn's feet had been badly torn when she ran across the cave floor and Legolas had insisted on carrying her all the way back from the castle and into the healing cave.

"Please set her down here, my lord," said Dínendal, pointing to a stone bed.

The healer examined the wounds carefully. "Some of these are quite deep, my lady," he said, "and will need to be stitched. And, since men heal more slowly than elves, we must be very careful about infection. I will clean them and anoint them with a healing salve—the salve you made, my lady—it will also help reduce the pain. But you must not walk until your feet are fully healed."

"How will I manage?" said Eowyn.

"I will carry you wherever you want to go, melmenya," said Legolas.

"To the bathing room?"

Legolas smiled.

Eowyn watched Dínendal as he collected all the materials he needed. "What happened to his face?" she whispered.

Legolas hesitated. "You—er—you did it, melmenya. Do you not remember?"

Eowyn stared at the healer open-mouthed. "I hit him?"

Legolas nodded.

"Master Dínendal," she said, softly, "I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I cannot think why I would have done such a thing—"

"Please do not be concerned, my lady," said Dínendal graciously. "You were seeing things; rambling—and I have had many a more serious injury from a wounded elf..."

"How is Finrod?" asked Legolas.

"He awoke from healing sleep almost an hour ago, my lord," said Dínendal. "And he has already taken some food. I believe he will make a full recovery."

"That is good news—very good news," said Legolas. "And Master Nolofinwë?"

"He has been extremely fortunate, my lord. All he requires is rest."

"Are they well enough to answer some questions?" asked Legolas.

"You could have a few moments with them now, my lord," replied the healer, "but I would much prefer it if you would wait until morning."

"What do you remember, melmenya?" asked Legolas, as he carried her back to their cave.

"It is strange," said Eowyn. "It all seemed real, and yet a part of me knew that it could not be true... My body had changed—I had a tail, like a fish. And I could breathe under the water." She buried her face in his shoulder and whispered, "The merman wanted me to lie with him—to be his wife. He touched me. There."

"Melmenya..." Legolas began.

"I would not have given in to him, Legolas—I swear it. But you stopped him. You fought with him. And when you had beaten him, you made love to me."

Legolas set her down on their bedroll. "I did make love to you, melmenya—when you were still unconscious. Master Dinendal said it would save you from the poison. I am so sorry..."

She pressed her finger to his lips. "Shhhhh, shhhhh—it did save me, my love. It pulled me out of the nightmare."

"The merman showed me your life beneath the sea," said Legolas. "It looked so beautiful—you looked beautiful, swimming amongst the sea creatures. And you seemed so happy. Valar," he cried, "I almost lost you to the sea!"

"No!" cried Eowyn, hugging him fiercely. "Never! I would never have left you! I would never have yielded to him! My only desire—my only thought—was to return to you!"


The feast was held in the clearing beside the healing cave. The cook had outdone himself. There was fresh bread—Legolas could not imagine how it had been baked—a rabbit stew for those who ate flesh, and a spicy vegetable dish for those who did not. And for dessert there was compote of fresh and dried fruits, flavoured with mead and decorated with wild herbs.

Legolas smiled.

During the fighting, the diverse people of his colony had come together as one. And here, at the feast, it was happening again—Gimli was entertaining Valandil and Berryn with tales of the Ring war; Rumil and Orophin were swapping stories with Orodreth and Camthalion; and Amras was deep in discussion with Haldir. All around him Lorien elves were singing with Mirkwood elves and Mirkwood elves were dancing with elves from Imladris.

His colony was a success.

And he had Eowyn to share it with him.

Suddenly in high spirits, Legolas turned to her. "Would you like to dance, my lady?" he asked.

Eowyn laughed. "How can I dance when I cannot walk?" she replied.

"I will show you!"

He leaped to his feet, scooped her up in his arms, and carried her amongst the dancing elves, and—weaving in and out between them—he whirled her round and round, and they both laughed until it hurt.

"Legolas? You are suddenly very quiet."

"I was thinking about the celebration after Helm's Deep, meleth nín," he said.

"On the parapet outside the Golden Hall," said Eowyn.




"Is something troubling you, my lord?"

"I needed some air, my lady."

"The smell of sweat and ale can be overpowering," she said, smiling.

What a beautiful smile, thought Legolas, and all because she thinks that he will one day return her love. Oh Eowyn!

"Why are you wearing your cloak, my lord?"

Her question, so far from his present thoughts, took him by surprise.

"Your healer," she explained—meaning, he supposed, the healer from Lorien she had tried to bully into treating Haldir—"told me that elves do not feel the cold. But you are wearing your cloak—and with the hood raised..."

"You are right, my lady," he said, impressed by her insight. He thought for a moment. "I suppose it is because I still sense danger. Elven cloaks are designed to hide the wearer from sight."

"What danger do you sense?" she asked.

"The eye of the enemy is moving, my lady."

"Searching for the ring?"


She was standing quite close to him now, and he was sure she must be hearing his heart, crying out to her.

"Is there anything you need, my lord?" she asked, softly. "I believe my uncle's steward has found you a bedchamber. If you need clean clothes, or a bath, or company for the night—"

And like a fool—like an utter fool—his heart and body singing with joy, he threw his arms around her.

"My lord!" she laughed, pushing him away, "I did not mean me! There are women—"

Legolas' blood froze. "No, my lady—no, I do not require that." He turned away, trying to hide his shame. "I am sorry, my lady," he added.

"Please do not trouble yourself, my lord," she said. Then, softly, she added, "Goodnight."



"How foolish I was," said Eowyn.


"To refuse you. You should have thrown me to the ground and taken me, there and then!"

Legolas wrapped her in his arms. "You were in love with Aragorn, my darling."

"One night with you would have cured me of that!" she whispered, and Legolas laughed. "What a night it would have been!"

"I have thought that many times, myself, meleth nín," said Legolas, stroking her hair.

She snuggled against him. "Is it too soon, do you think, for the Lord of Eryn Carantaur to leave his own celebration?"

Legolas looked around the clearing. "I do not think we would be missed, melmenya."

"Then take me back to our cave, my love," she whispered.

Legolas lit the fire. "It will soon be warm, melmenya," he said.

Eowyn, sitting on their bedroll, smiled. "Come here," she said.

Legolas crawled towards her on all fours.

She laughed. "Sit down; there is something I want to tell you."

He sat before her, crossing his legs gracefully.

Eowyn reached out, and stroked his face. "I want to tell you how much I love you, Legolas," she said. "I love your kindness and your gentleness and your concern for others. I love your decisiveness as a ruler. And I love your fierceness in battle."


"Shhhhh," she said, stroking her thumb across his lips.

Carefully, she unbraided his hair, running her fingers through the long, silken strands. "I love your hair," she said. "I love the way it feels when it brushes against my skin..."

She smiled. "And I love your body," she continued, unhooking the fastenings of his silver tunic, one by one, and sliding the tunic over his shoulders.

Legolas shrugged it off and let it fall to the ground.

Eowyn smoothed her small hands over the hard, taut muscles of his arms and shoulders and his powerful chest. "I love your grace and your strength," she said.

She brought her hands down to his knees, running them over the pale grey cloth stretched tightly over his muscular thighs. She took her time unlacing his leggings, then she pushed the fabric down over his hips.

Legolas pulled the leggings off.

Eowyn reached out and gently traced her fingers down his penis, from head to root, stroking the soft golden curls surrounding it, then she carefully slipped her hand beneath his testicles and supported their weight.

She leaned forward and kissed him, lovingly. "You are so beautiful," she said.

"Melmenya..." he whispered.

"I would never betray you Legolas," she said. "I would die before I would let another use me."

"Shhhhh, melmenya, do not say that... Do not ever say that..." He took her in his arms and laid her gently on the bedroll. "I love you, melmenya," he said, "more than I ever thought it possible to love..."

He kissed her neck, just above her dressing.

"I will have to be so careful with you, Eowyn nín," he whispered, "whilst you are still healing..."


"OH—Valar!" Legolas moaned. He had been holding them both on the edge of completion for what seemed like hours, taking them slowly to within a hair's breadth of release, then stopping, leaving them both shuddering in exquisite pain.

"Please..." Eowyn begged.

She lay beneath him, naked, her skin and hair glowing golden in the firelight. "Please, my love," she whispered, reaching up, winding her arms around his neck, and pulling him down for a kiss.

And, as their lips touched, he finally lost all self-control. The pleasure that had been smouldering in his limbs for so long suddenly flared, and he exploded inside her, and felt her body lock itself around him in response.


Haldir sought out Legolas just after daybreak. He had already sent out detachments of troops to burn the dead orcs, as Legolas had ordered, but he also had some disturbing news.

"One of the horses is missing," he said, "and Fëanáro is nowhere to be found."

Legolas considered the information. "Let us see if Nolofinwë and Finrod are well enough to talk to us, mellon nín," he said, gravely. "Will you join us, Eowyn?"

"Of course," said Eowyn, "though I will need some help getting there."


"I saw Fëanáro leave," said Nolofinwë. "He packed up his tools, took a horse and headed off to the south east. I considered following him, but—"

"But you followed Lady Eowyn instead," said Legolas. "You did the right thing, Master Nolofinwë, and I will not forget your courage—nor your trustworthiness—in trying to protect my lady from the merman."


"Did you see your attacker?" asked Legolas

"Yes, your Highness," said Finrod, "it was Fëanáro. I was talking to him just before he hit me."

"Do you know why he attacked you?" asked Haldir.

Finrod nodded. "I had realised who he was, sir. I recognised him on the journey here—or rather, I was sure that I had seen him before—but I could not place him until that night. I knew that I must have seen him at Imladris, when we attended the Council of Elrond, your Highness—"

"Please do not call me that, Finrod."

"I am sorry—er—sir."

"Who was he, Master Finrod?" asked Eowyn.

"His real name was Vardamir, my lady," said Finrod. "After the Fellowship had left Imladris—with you, my lord—Lord Elrond discovered that there had been a plot amongst some of the Imladris elves to steal the One Ring from the hobbit. They intended to overthrow Lord Elrond and use the ring to confront Sauron in battle. Fëanáro—Vardamir—was one of the plotters. I only saw him briefly—we returned to Mirkwood before he was put on trial."

"And you confronted him with this?" asked Haldir.

"Not exactly, sir. I had gone back to the castle to fetch something for the bowyer, and Vardamir must have followed me. He accused me of intending to blackmail him. I was foolish enough to turn my back on him."

"He must have thought you were dead," said Legolas, "and he tried to make it look as if the merman had attacked you. When we brought you back to the camp alive, he waited outside the healing cave, hoping to finish you off. But we kept you well-guarded, so he could not get near you. His only option was to run."


"What are we going to do about Fëanáro?" asked Haldir, as they left the healing cave.

"Travelling south east from here at the gallop," said Legolas, "he would have reached the Harad Road last night. By now he could be half way to the River Poros. I do not think there is anything to be gained by sending a troop of warriors after him. I think we should send two or three hand-picked trackers, to bring him back with the minimum of fuss."

Haldir agreed.

"But," Legolas continued, "I shall also send a warning to Prince Imrahil, just in case Fëanáro manages to slip by us again, and I shall talk to Aragorn and the others when I see them at Minas Tirith."


Whilst the elves were preparing to leave Minas Athrad, Legolas approached Berryn.

"Will you return to Eryn Carantaur with us, Master Berryn?" he asked. "I can never repay you for what you have done for me and my lady over the past few days, but I can least at keep my promises to you. My wife and I are travelling to Minas Tirith in two days' time and you can rest assured that King Elessar will hear of the service that you have rendered me. If you wish to accompany us, we will be very pleased to have you. But, if you prefer, you are welcome to stay at Eryn Carantaur for as long as you wish—and if my people can provide any assistance with your work, it is yours."

"I am honoured, my lord," said Berryn, bowing, "I should very much like to spend more time in your city."

"It is settled then," said Legolas.


"No Legolas! They are disgusting!"

Legolas laughed. "They are beautiful little feet," he said, unwrapping Eowyn's dressings. "Though how anything so small can support such a fierce warrior, I do not know!"

She grinned at him, ruefully.

"It has not escaped my notice, melmenya," he said, carefully washing her wounds, "that you were poisoned doing precisely what I told you not to do—running off to save Haldir."

"Would you rather I had left him to die? Would you rather I had let the merman break your neck?"

Legolas lifted her foot to his lips and placed a gentle kiss on its instep. "I would rather I could wrap you in some magic spell that would shield you from all harm," he said. "But even that would harm you..." He sighed as he began to spread the healing salve on her wounds. "I fell in love with a warrior, a woman of courage and strength—yet she is so small and fragile that it would be easy for an orc, or Uruk Hai, or some other foul thing to take her from me. But if I try to keep her locked away, safe, I will break her spirit," he looked up at her, "and destroy the very thing that I love and want to protect."

"There is no answer, my darling," said Eowyn, stroking his face. "For me, perhaps it is more natural, because centuries of women have learnt to wait patiently whilst their husbands risk everything in battle. But it is no less painful, Legolas; I am no less afraid of losing you."

Legolas finished bandaging her feet. "All we can do is trust the Valar," he said. "But keeping faith is sometimes very hard..."


Eryn Carantaur

Two days after the expeditionary force had returned to Eryn Carantaur, a lone elf crossed the Anduin at Pelargir and began the long journey across the river delta.

I will head for Belfalas and the city of Dol Amroth, he thought.

It will not be pleasant, living amongst humans, but I have no other options left. And the superior speed and stealth of an elf will surely be valuable commodities in the world of men...




Contents page

Contents page

Previous chapter: The duel
Legolas defeats the merman. But the creature is not so easily beaten.

Chapter 6

Epilogue: The ring bearer
Some Yuletide fun and games before the couple leaves for Minas Tirith..

Chapter 8

Extra scene: He had seen her naked before!
Haldir finds Eowyn. A drabble.

Extra scene

Extra scene: The real thing
Eowyn is haunted by a missed opportunity.

Extra scene