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," said Eowyn.

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, and—without thinking—he 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 quarry—fleet as a deer—but 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, laughing—and 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.

And—although Legolas was sure he had never seen it before—he instantly recognised the shoreline of Tol Erresëa and the Bay of Eldamar beyond.


Legolas sat bolt upright.

He remembered them; he remembered all of them—every 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 dreams meant.


"Good morning," said Captain Berctuald of the Gondorian Guard, "we are just about to leave."

He studied Haldir with interest. "You look exhausted, my friend—I did not think that elves needed rest."

"We need less rest than men," said Haldir, mounting his horse.

"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 walk.

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, and—Orc'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 worse—kitchen 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 way out.

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? No—too 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. "Please Legolas."

"I do not want to hurt you—"

"You will not hurt me. I need you. And you need me, too. Please Legolas."

"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 front—where there are windows—and 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. "Ten minutes."

"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 did—lying here, covered in your blood…"

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 you."

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."

"Like what?"

"Excited by your blood—at having your blood on my—on me..." His voice trailed away.

She smiled. "You were so gentle—so elven," she said, kissing him. "And you must not worry—I 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 girl—it seems I am not manly enough for his sister."

His words had exactly the effect he had intended—Eowyn'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. I—er—I thought Lady Eowyn might want to be present. That is, if she has recovered from her—er..."

Legolas felt a sudden pang of sympathy for his March Warden. In his position I would be frantic, he thought.

"She is well, Haldir—you need not worry—she 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."

"Eomer—yes, 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 dreaming—about her."

Aragorn looked surprised. "Have you ever dreamed before?"

Legolas lowered his eyes, "Yes."

"About her?"

"Yes. But this is different."


"Last time was immediately before the harvest rite, and—er..." His alabaster skin flushed a delicate rose.

"Ah," said Aragorn.

Legolas cleared his throat. "That was a difficult time, Aragorn," he said. "But now—now I am dreaming about the future. Or perhaps a possible future." He shook his head. "I do not know." He described the dreams—the 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. "Engage—Guard!" 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 sixty—she 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 to talk."

"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 with you."

"What have I done now?" he asked, still watching her impatiently.

"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 sort."

He carried her out into the corridor and closed the door behind them.

"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 it."

"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 linger—it 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 Celerdain."

Legolas nodded. "This is Lady Lëonórwyn," he said. "I am sure you have heard all about her. Where is Mistress Amarri?"

"Here," said a woman's voice. "Do we have to leave—goodness, 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 me—if I am left behind, tell Eowyn what has happened.

"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 here—it is too confined—but 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 good—for 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 forward—Mistress Amarri with unexpected grace—as 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 said.

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 transfixed—until 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.




Contents page

Contents page

Chapter 7: Little Leafy
Legolas receives a letter from his father.

Chapter 7

Chapter 9: The Killing of the Wren
Aragorn's hands are tied.

Chapter 9

Avo visto, Arod ... 'Do not stray, Arod'.