Legolas paused in the doorway of the solar.
Eowynsitting hunched over the workbench, with her back
to himwas grinding herbs for all she was worth.
So small, but so determined. The elfs heart filled
with tenderness. Gently, he took the pestle and mortar from her
hands, wrapped his arms around her, and hugged her tightly.
What in Middle-earth did Master Dínendal say to
you? she mumbled against his chest.
He said that you are very strong, melmenya, he said.
Wellthat is a relief. Then why are you holding me
as though I will not last the day?
I am just happy, melmenya. He released her, giving
her a quick kiss on the top of her head, then drew up a stool
and sat down beside her. His seat was lower than hers, and he
had to tilt his head to look up at her; they both grinned at the
reversal of their customary positions.
Dínendal also said, Legolas continued, that
you are well enough to go on the raid.
I told you that. Eowyn selected several sprigs
of iârloth and dropped them into the mortar, added
a few drops of olive oilLegolas! Put those down!and
Legolas sniffed at the handful of herbs.
I said put them down! They have been weighed,
said Eowyn, and I must add them in the correct order.
She sighed and wiped her forehead with the back of her hand, leaving
a smudge of green to complement several marks already on her cheeks.
I thought you were going to help me.
Legolas, hiding a smile, replaced the iârloth. Yesyou
are working far too hard, melmenya, he said, let me
show you how to do it. He took the pestle from her. Like
this. He worked it slowly, pressing it down and twisting
it into the green paste.
Very impressive, said Eowyn.
Legolas grinned. Though I, he said, am not
wearing the magical symbols.
What magical symbols?
Legolas dipped his finger into the salveNo!
cried Eowynand drew his fingertip across his forehead, leaving
a green line above his dark brows. Eowyn stared at him as if he
had lost his mind. Still grinning, Legolas touched his finger
to the tip of her nose. Oh! Her hand flew to her face.
Do not rub it, melmenya, or you will spoil the effect.
Let me just...
No! She dodged his hand.
But you need one on your chin.
Need...? What are you...? She picked up a broad-bladed
knife and looked at her reflection in its polished surface. Oh
Is that not part of the spell?
You idiot! She laid down the knife. How am
I to get it off? Searching amongst the materials on the
workbench, she found a jug of water and a pile of bandages, dampened
one of the cloths, and handed it to Legolas.
Smiling wickedly, Legolas lightly wiped her face, then peered
at the result. No, melmenya. It does not come off. You are
I am sorry.
No, you are not! She grabbed the cloth and began
scrubbing her cheeks.
Be careful, melmenya! He caught her hands. You
will make your face sore!
But I cannot go outside looking like this!
Oh, Legolas! Her eyes filled with tears. Your
warriors already think me a fool...
No, Melmenya! No. He took her in his arms,
suddenly serious. There is not one elf out there
that does not admire you for your courage and your swordsmanship;
not one that does not recognise the true value of your Orc map.
And there is not one elf that does not envy me.
But the creaturethey do not believe me
Shhhh. He rocked her, soothingly. A
few may not be sure. But when we find it, melmenya, they will
know that they should have believed you. And they will
believe you in future. He hugged her tightly. Shall
I tell you a secret?
She nodded against he shoulder.
Let me see your face.
She lifted her head.
He kissed her forehead. The salve is made from oil, melmenya.
And oil and water do not mix. He poured a small amount of
olive oil into a shallow dish, dipped another bandage into it,
then gently cleaned her face.
Is it gone?
Yesmost of it. He gave her one final wipe,
then handed her the cloth. Will you do my forehead?
Eowyn found a clean patch of bandage, and carefully removed the
Yes, you conceited elf! Eowyn grinned. Speaking
She sat down at the bench, picked up the pestle and mortar and
held them out to him. I think you were showing me how it
should be done?