She was sitting in her night dress, on the edge of the bed, her
body hunched forward, her face wet with tears. Legolas fell to
his knees and wrapped her in his arms. "I am so sorry, my
love," he whispered, "I am so, so sorry."
"We did not want a child," said Eowyn softly, "but
now that it is certain that we are not going to have one, somehow..."
"I know, melmenya. We had grown to love him."
"Our poor, illegitimate child."
He touched her stomach gently. "Does it hurt?"
"No more than usual."
"Let me make you comfortable." He lifted her into the
bed and covered her with the quilt. "Do you want me to stay,
or would you rather be left alone?" he asked.
"I would like you to stay. If you do not mind staying,"
Legolas' smile was heart-breaking mixture of sadness and happiness.
"You are my wife, melmenya, whatever they say. And the only
thing that could possibly keep me from your side would be knowing
that you did not want me here."
He lay down beside her and took her in his arms, resting her
head against his shoulder, andwithout thinkinghe began
to sing, softly:
"I will give my love an apple without e'er a core,
I will give my love a house without e'er a door,
I will give my love a palace wherein she may be
And she may unlock it without e'er a key
"My head is the apple without e'er a core,
My mind is the house without e'er a door,
My heart is the palace wherein she may be
And she may unlock it without e'er a key."
"Thank you," whispered Eowyn.
They were running through the forest.
Eowyn was a worthy quarryfleet as a deerbut he
was gaining on her. He ran up the slope to her right, leaping
from rock to rock, then dropped on her from above.
Eowyn fell to the ground, laughingand he wrapped himself
around her and rolled them, over and over, down the wooded slope
and out into the open meadow below.
"I win!" he cried, scrambling to his feet and holding
out his hands to her.
She rose, still laughing, with leaves and acorns tangled in
her hair, and, behind her, the sea sparkled in the sunlight.
Andalthough Legolas was sure he had never seen it beforehe
instantly recognised the shoreline of Tol Erresëa and the
Bay of Eldamar beyond.
Legolas sat bolt upright.
He remembered them; he remembered all of themevery dream
he had had since Mother Night.
Dreams of Eowyn, unchanging, immortal.
And of their child, a son.
But the child does not exist, he thought, so the dreams...
He looked down at Eowyn, sleeping beside him. He could not tell
her. But he needed to tell someone. He needed to know what the
"Good morning," said Captain Berctuald of the Gondorian
Guard, "we are just about to leave."
He studied Haldir with interest. "You look exhausted, my
friendI did not think that elves needed rest."
"We need less rest than men," said Haldir, mounting
"Was she pretty?" asked Berctuald, grinning.
Haldir gave him a withering look.
Berctuald decided to change the subject. "This house,"
he said, "does it have a rear entrance?" He signalled
to his men and the entire company of guards set off at a steady
Haldir thought carefully, trying to recall the building and its
surroundings. "There is a passage running down the right-hand
side of the house," he said, "next to the carpenter's
shop. But I have no idea where it goes... Though it would be a
poor hideout that had no means of escape."
Berctuald agreed. "Well then," he said, as they passed
through the fifth gate, "our first task is to scout the passage."
He cleared his throat. "I have heard much of the stealth
of elves, my friend. Would you be willing?"
"Of course," said Haldir.
"Good," said Berctuald. "We will wait for you
on Rath Bein."
Haldir had chosen to wear a jerkin and leggings of whitish-grey
that blended perfectly with stone of the buildings. He slipped
into the alley and made his way to the thieves' house unseen.
The passage was exactly as he had remembered it, narrow and partially
filled with rubbish. He climbed disdainfully over the remains
of a chair, and a chest that had been broken open, andOrc's
breath!a sleeping man huddled in an old carpet.
At the end of the house, the passage forked. Haldir turned left.
Here the filth was even worsekitchen waste; several years'
worth of it. He clamped his hand over his mouth, carefully skirted
a rotting pig's carcass, and studied the back door.
Where do they expect to go from here? he wondered. One
man either side of the door would stop them. There must be another
He examined the face of the Hill of Guard, rising steep and sheer
behind the passage. I doubt that even an elf could climb that,
he thought. Could there be a tunnel? Notoo much effort.
The roof then.
"Legolas? Where are you going?"
"To the bathing room."
"Come here." She stretched out her arms. "Please.
I know what you want."
"I will take care of it"
But when she struggled to her knees and reached out for him,
Legolas could not resist her. He took her in his arms and she
buried her face in his shoulder. "I love you," she whispered,
tugging his nightshirt up above his waist. "I need you."
She wrapped her little hand around him and fondled him, lovingly.
"I do not want to hurt you"
"You will not hurt me. I need you. And you need me, too.
"Oh my love..." He lifted her off the bed and carried
her into the bathing room.
"Two guards can hold the rear door," said Haldir, quietly,
"but I doubt that anyone will try to use it. There is some
sort of rope bridge from the roof to the carpenter's shop. I am
sure that is the main way out."
"How easy will it be to climb up there?" asked Berctuald.
"We will have to go up the frontwhere there are windowsand
over the roof ridge."
"We do not know how many are inside, so I cannot be sure
that I can take them alone."
"Fair enough," said Berctuald, "but I am no climber,
my friend." He turned to his men. "Hengist, Offa, follow
the March Warden up onto the roof. How long will you need?"
Haldir looked at the two men. They both seemed reasonably able.
"Very well, we will wake the house in quarter of an hour."
"Did I hurt you?" Legolas asked, softly.
"No, my love."
"I feel as though I didlying here, covered in your
Eowyn rolled over to face him. "I am sorry, my darling,"
she said, stroking his cheek, "I wanted you to make love
to me. I did not stop to think how unpleasant it would be for
Legolas pulled her into his arms. "It was not unpleasant,
Eowyn nín," he said. "It was..." He shook
his head, unable to bring himself to say it. "It is not healthy
to feel like this."
"Excited by your bloodat having your blood on myon
me..." His voice trailed away.
She smiled. "You were so gentleso elven,"
she said, kissing him. "And you must not worryI was
excited by it too."
"We are two of a kind, melmenya."
"Eowyn, do you want to try again? We could try every time,
if you wanted to."
"Oh Legolas!" She hugged him tightly. "Not yet,
my love," she whispered. "I am not ready yet. But soon."
The men proved surprisingly agile.
Haldir stationed both of them on the rope bridge itself, close
to the door. "Our task," he said, "is to drive
them back inside so that Captain Berctuald can arrest them. King
Elessar needs them alive. I will be down on the roof, in case
anyone gets past you."
Offa grinned. "Rather you than me, sir," he said. "Those
tiles are about ready to slip off."
Haldir nodded grimly. He swung himself down from the bridge just
as Berctuald began knocking at the front door of the house. "Ready?"
"Yes, sir," cried both of the men. Hengist, furthest
from the doorway, drew his sword.
They did not have to wait long. Offa threw himself forward as
the door flew open, using his body weight to push the first man
back down the stairs, and there was a cry of anger as the thief
behind also stumbled and fell backwards.
For a moment nothing more happened. Then two more men, trampling
over their fallen comrades, appeared in the opening. Offa sent
one of them reeling; Hengist forced the other back with his sword.
There was another lull.
Then fifth man, small and swift, appeared at the top of the stairs,
lowered his head and barrelled into Offa, sending him sprawling
into Hengist, put one hand on the rope rail, and swung himself
down onto the roof...
Right onto the tip of Haldir's sword.
"Good morning," said Haldir. "That is a very nice
coat you are wearing."
"Do you want me to stay with you this morning?" asked
Legolas. "I can postpone the visit to the old lady's house"
Eowyn bit her lip.
In truth, their recent experience had left her more terrified
than ever of losing him, but she would never admit it. "No,
my love," she said, "I cannot have Aragorn and Eomer
thinking that you are tied to my apron strings."
Legolas smiled. "It is too late to worry about that, melmenya.
Eomer has already told me that I behave like a girlit seems
I am not manly enough for his sister."
His words had exactly the effect he had intendedEowyn's
fear evaporated. "When did he say that?" she cried.
"The arrogant fool! I will soon deal with him! Of course
you must go. I just wish that I could come with you."
"I will ask Dínendal to look at your feet this morning,
melmenya. Who knows, he may say that you are ready to start walking
again. And I will be back before you know it."
As Legolas was leaving Dínendal's chamber, Haldir was
returning from the morning's raid.
"We have got the man Lady Eowyn noticed yesterday,"
said the March Warden, "and seven of his fellows. King Elessar
intends to question him this morning. IerI thought
Lady Eowyn might want to be present. That is, if she has recovered
Legolas felt a sudden pang of sympathy for his March Warden.
In his position I would be frantic, he thought.
"She is well, Haldiryou need not worryshe has
indeed recovered. But Dínendal is going to her now, to
examine her feet, for she is anxious to start walking again. I
am just going to collect Lëonórwyn, so I will ask
Eomer to fetch her later."
"Eomeryes, of course."
The route to Eomer's apartments took Legolas past Aragorn's study.
When he recognised the door, the elf slowed his steps, hesitated
for a moment, then knocked lightly.
Aragorn opened the door almost immediately. "Good morning,
mellon nín," he said. "That tap had to
be you, or one of my brothers. Come in." He closed the door.
"Sit down, and tell me what is troubling you."
"Is it so obvious?"
"To one who has lived most of his life amongst elves, yes."
"Do you know anything about dreams?"
"Has Eowyn been having nightmares?"
Legolas shook his head. "No, I am the one who has been dreamingabout
Aragorn looked surprised. "Have you ever dreamed before?"
Legolas lowered his eyes, "Yes."
"Yes. But this is different."
"Last time was immediately before the harvest rite, ander..."
His alabaster skin flushed a delicate rose.
"Ah," said Aragorn.
Legolas cleared his throat. "That was a difficult time,
Aragorn," he said. "But nownow I am dreaming about
the future. Or perhaps a possible future." He shook his head.
"I do not know." He described the dreamsthe being
of light, Eowyn's unchanging face, the Grey Havens and Tol Erresëa.
"What do you think they mean?"
Aragorn sighed. "I know what you must hope they mean, Legolas.
And I have heard it said that our dreams during the twelve
days of Yuletide can foretell our future."
The elf's expression almost broke Aragorn's heart.
"But, in truth, mellon nín," the man
continued, gently, "I think it more likely that your own
mind, unfettered by sleep, is using your dreams to paint a picture
of the future as you want it to be."
"Now please be careful, my lady," said Dínendal.
"Do not try to walk too far to start with. And remember:
use the staff to support part of your weight."
Eowyn nodded, solemnly.
Dínendal did not seem entirely convinced, but he bowed,
and left her.
Eowyn smiled. Using the staff, she took a few tentative steps.
There was no pain, to speak of, though her legs were a little
shaky from lack of use. She shuffled towards the balcony. The
air outside was fresh and inviting. She stepped through the doors
and surveyed the small space.
Five times round, she thought.
After two, she was bored. Perhaps I could go down to the garden,
she thought, absently swinging her staff from side to side. One,
two, three, four...
Her smile broadened; as a young Shieldmaiden she had spent many
hours practising with the quarterstaff.
"Engage!" she cried, holding her staff diagonally across
her body. "Change!" She stepped forward, turning to
the left, and brought the lower end of staff up sharply, changing
hands. "Attack!" She took another step and, with the
staff almost horizontal, struck her imaginary foe on the side
of the head. "EngageGuard!" Moving her left hand
upwards and to the right, she brought the staff vertical, ready
to absorb her opponent's blow.
Again, she thought. "Engage!"
"Will Mistress Amarri recognise you dressed like that?"
Legolas asked Lëonórwyn, as he helped her mount the
horse that had been brought up from the stables for her. "Careful,
my lady, hold the reins tighter."
"I am not good with horses," said Lëonórwyn.
"I do not have the knack."
"And yet they are the reason your grandfather arranged your
marriage to Berkin," said Legolas.
"That is a cruel twist of fate, my lord," agreed Lëonórwyn.
Legolas swung himself onto Arod's back. "Will you be all
right? It is a long ride down."
"If we take it slowly, my lord."
"You did not answer my question," said Legolas, as
they rode through the tunnel from the Citadel. "Is Mistress
Amarri likely to recognise you, or might we have trouble persuading
the ladies to open the door?"
"I do not know, my lord..." She turned to him sharply.
"You think we will find her at the cottage?"
"Last night I saw two women sitting by the fire," said
Legolas. "What does Amarri look like?"
"She is about sixtyshe was my mother's nurse before
she was mine."
Legolas had no idea what a woman of 'about sixty' would look
like. "Describe her," he said.
"She is not very tall, but plump, with a round, cheerful
face, and white curly hair, which she wears quite short. She likes
"Yes," said Legolas. "I think we may well find
her at the cottage.
"Just a moment," called Eowyn. She dragged herself
off the bed and hobbled towards the door. It is not just my
feet any more, she thought. The rest of my body has withered
away, too. Gods, if old age feels like this, let me die young.
She opened the door. "Eomer," she said. "What
do you want?"
"That is a charming way to greet your brother," said
Eomer. "I have come to take you to Aragorn's study. We are
about to question the wretch who stole Eowulf's coat."
Eowyn nodded. "Let me fetch my wax tablet." She walked
slowly over to the desk and, leaning heavily on one hand, carefully
moved Legolas' official papers aside until she found what she
was looking for.
"Here," said Eomer, "let me help you. It is torture
to watch you walking like this."
"I am fine, Eomer; I ache from practising with my staff,
that is all. And besides," she added, "I am too angry
"What have I done now?" he asked, still watching her
"What did you say to Legolas?" she demanded, pushing
the tablet into her pocket. "Something about his being a
girl?" She picked up her staff and began to move, slowly
and laboriously, towards the door.
"Oh, for the gods' sake!" cried Eomer, stepping
forward and sweeping her up in his arms. "You can walk back,"
he added, when she protested, "and I said nothing of the
He carried her out into the corridor and closed the door behind
"So the words 'girl' and 'not manly' never passed your lips?"
Eomer tried to equivocate. "I did not mean," he began,
but she broke him with a scowl. "All right! It was all that
business with your gown: 'The cut of the bodice is exquisite,
Mistress; what do you think of it Eomer?' And five hundred
gold! You can buy two Haradrim studs for that"
"What gown? He has not... Oh, Eomer! Did it never
occur to you that he intended the gown as a surprise? Which you
have just ruined?"
"Then why did he not say so? All this foolishness is not
what we are used to."
"No, we are not used to it. And that makes it all the more
delightful. Surely you gave Lothiriel a surprise gift?"
"Eomer! No wonder she is always so"she searched
for the right word"glum. If 'manly' means 'an insensitive
dolt', then no, Legolas is not manly. And I am the luckier for
"And I suppose you were lucky outside the Banqueting Hall
the other night?"
"What does that mean?" asked Eowyn, her eyes narrowing.
Eomer blushed deeply. "Nothing."
"But could he not have waited until you were back in your
chambers? I do not appreciate seeing my sister tupped in front
of the whole of Gondor."
"Eomer!" She looked away. "That was my
fault," she said, quietly, "I seduced him." She
smiled at the memory of her beloved elf losing all control.
Eomer was triumphant. "See what I mean?" he said. "He
is a bad influence on you. Women do not go orc hunting. Women
do not seduce men!"
Eowyn turned to him in surprise. "You have a lot to learn
about women, Eomer!"
As they turned into Rath Celerdain, Legolas grew uneasy.
"Stop here, my lady," he said, suddenly. "That
is the house"he pointed to a small cottage at the end
of the lane"but we will leave the horses here and proceed
on foot." He dropped lightly to the ground and patted Arod's
neck. "Avo visto, Arod." He helped Lëonórwyn
dismount. "Come, my lady, we must hurry."
"Are you not going to tether the horses?" asked Lëonórwyn.
"No, they know what to do. But we must not lingerit
is not safe."
"What do you mean?"
"I sense eyes upon us. And it is too late to turn back."
He hurried her through the cottage gate and knocked urgently at
the door. It was opened, almost immediately, by a slender, elderly
woman, with bright, dark eyes. "May we enter, madam?"
he asked, "I have news for your guest."
The woman glanced at Lëonórwyn, looked deep into
Legolas' eyes, then stepped aside.
"Close the door," said Legolas. "Can you bar it?"
"No, my lord," said the woman. "I..." She
looked around. "We could use the dresser." She leaned
against the piece of furniture and tried to push it towards him.
"Is it Lord Berodin's men?"
"Yes, I fear so," said Legolas, grasping the other
end. "I am afraid that your beautiful plates..."
"It does not matter."
Legolas dragged the dresser down the passage, and wedged it behind
the door. "Is there another way out?"
"Yes, through the kitchen, but the alley only leads to Rath
Legolas nodded. "This is Lady Lëonórwyn,"
he said. "I am sure you have heard all about her. Where is
"Here," said a woman's voice. "Do we have to leavegoodness,
child, I did not recognise you!" She hugged Lëonórwyn.
"Yes, we must go immediately," said Legolas, relieved
that both the women appeared to have wits and courage. "I
will go first, in case we are attacked," he said, drawing
his white knives. "Lëonórwyn, when we reach the
rath, get the ladies onto the horses and take them up to the Citadel.
Do not wait for meif I am left behind, tell Eowyn what has
"You will need to be brave with the horses, Lëonórwyn,"
he added, softly, "but you rode very well coming down here.
Arod will take care of you. And remember that your nurse and your
husband are both relying on you."
"Quickly, ladies," said Legolas, leading them down
the alley. "I doubt that they will attack hereit is
too confinedbut once we are out in the open we will have
to move even faster. Wait here a moment."
He replaced his knives, slipped out into the rath, and looked
around. A bowman on the roof, a swordsman by the water pump,
and at least three more with knives outside the tavern. They are
goodfor men, he thought. Alert, but not obvious.
No casual observer would suspect them. Still, they have no horses.
"Stay well back," he whispered to the women.
He summoned the horses with a low whistle. Then, moving with
elven speed, he pulled his bow from its strap, nocked an arrow,
and took out the bowman.
"Now!" he cried to the women. All three ran forwardMistress
Amarri with unexpected graceas the horses came to a halt
at the end of the alley.
Legolas strode towards the remaining men, his bow raised.
"Do not try to stop us, if you value your lives," he
His senses told him that both elderly women were mounted, but
that Lëonórwyn was having difficulty. Elbereth
help her, he prayed, and felt Lëonórwyn leap upward
and land astride Arod.
As the two horses sped away up the Hill of Guard, he could not
suppress a smile of triumph, but his victory was short lived.
One of the knifemen, holding some sort of weighted cord, swung
it several times above his head, and threw it. It seemed so strange
that Legolas was momentarily transfixeduntil the cord wrapped
itself around him and one of the weights crashed into his forehead.
"Ah!" he cried, and staggered, letting his bow drop.
Then all was black.