legolas and eowyn

Eomer awoke smiling. "Firith?"

The bed beside him seemed empty but a reassuring breeze stirred his hair and, without thinking, he reached for his flask of enchanted water.

A cold blast stayed his hand and brought him back to his senses.

"You are right, Firith," he said, "I forgot. Thank you." He stroked the pillow beside him. "Thank you for everything. I will wait until tonight, then take some more, and we will talk—just talk."

The breeze caressed his cheek.

"Gods," he whispered, "I can never thank you enough for last night."


Legolas walked noiselessly across the chamber and opened the door. "Eomer," he whispered, "what is it? Eowyn is sleeping."

"Good," said Eomer, "for I do not want her to hear what I am about to say. Can we go elsewhere?"

"Your chambers?"

"No, Firith is there."

Legolas nodded. "Very well; come this way." He led Eomer to his mother's garden and bade him sit on the seat beneath the trees.

"It is lovely here," said Eomer. "Firith would like it. And so, of course, would Lothíriel..."

"You made love to the sprite," said Legolas.

Eomer stared at him, dumbfounded.

"You were not made to have affairs, Eomer," said Legolas, gently.

"It is obvious?"


"To an elf."

"To men also, I think."

"It will not happen again," said Eomer, softly. "And, by the time I return home..."

"The joy will not be so fresh," said Legolas. "What do you want to ask, Eomer?"

"Is that obvious, too?"


Eomer rose and walked towards one of the trees. "We do not have these in Rohan," he said, smelling the blossom.

Legolas waited.

"I was not a virgin when I married Lothíriel," said Eomer, "but I had never been with any women but whores—women whose only aim was to get the job done quickly. Lothíriel was a virgin and she was afraid. So it was some months before we..."

Legolas nodded, even though Eomer's back was turned.

"And then, almost immediately, she grew big with child," Eomer continued. "And since Elfwine's birth..." He shook his head. "That night, in Minas Tirith, when I saw you and Eowyn"—he turned slightly further away—"gods! I did not know if you were making love to her or killing her." He shrugged his shoulders. "Had her words not made it plain that she was enjoying it, I might have run you through."

Legolas, unsure of what to say, used a tactic he had learnt from Gimli: he cleared his throat. And it worked—Good old Gimli!—for Eomer suddenly drew himself upright and turned to face him.

"Last night," he said, "Firith showed me how to please a woman. But Lothíriel would never allow me to do that... Sometimes, I think she was born without desire."

Legolas thought for a moment. "But imagine, Eomer," he said, "a girl kept a virtual prisoner, told that if she so much as raises her veil she is as good as inviting some rogue to steal her precious honour—suddenly, she is married off to a stranger and expected to be intimate with him. No wonder she is afraid."

"What can I do?"

"You must earn her trust."

"How? How did you ever persuade Eowyn to do"—he shrugged his shoulders, uncomfortably—"what she does with you?"

"Eowyn and I have always had the same desires," said Legolas.

Eomer smiled, wistfully. "You are lucky," he said.

"With others... There was one elleth who lived in a settlement to the north. I suppose men would call her a whore. My father used to send me to the settlement regularly, to inspect the guard. I was no more than an elfling, really, and Serindë... Serindë was like no one else I had ever met. There was a time when I honestly believed that Serindë was destined to be my hervess."

"Your wife?" said Eomer, sitting down beside him. "Your father would not have liked that!"

"That is why I had to stop seeing her," said Legolas.

"Does Eowyn know about her?"

"No," Legolas admitted. "Serindë is the one part of my past life that I have not been able to share with her."


"For the same reason that you will never tell Lothíriel about Firith."

"You still love her?"

"No! No, of course not!" said Legolas. "I love Eowyn. I always have." He smiled. "Even before I knew her—before she was born—whatever I loved in an elleth was always a pale shadow of something I now find—bright and clear—in her. No; it is because Serindë taught me about lovemaking. And I wish I had learnt that with Eowyn."

"What did Serindë teach you?"

"She taught me that all ellith are different and that you have to learn what they like. She taught me that sometimes you have to forego your own pleasure to satisfy her. But if you are patient, and really do satisfy her, she will be only too eager to satisfy you in return. And," he added, with a smile, "that is the surest way for you and Lothíriel to cement your love, Eomer."


Some time later, Legolas tapped lightly on Gunnhildr's door.

The nurse was surprised to see him. "Prince Legolas! Lady Gunnhildr is with her father."

"I know, Mistress Osðryd," Legolas replied, "it is you I wish to speak to. May I come in?"

Blushing, the woman stepped aside to allow him to enter, then closed the door and turned to face him. "What do you want with me, your Highness?" she asked.

This, thought Legolas, is no mere servant. This is a proud, strong, well-born woman who has sacrificed her own happiness to take care of another's child.

"I am here," he said, "because I can sense your feelings."

"I see."

"But I cannot return them," he added, gently.

"Of course you cannot," said Osðryd, quietly. "I would not expect it. You are an elf—beautiful, perpetually young. How could you love an ageing woman—a woman who was never much to look at, even as a girl? Never in my wildest dreams—"

"You are wrong mistress," said Legolas, sincerely. "It has nothing to do with age, or looks, or with anything lacking in your spirit—for that shines with a beauty I have seldom seen—it is because I already love another. And an elf loves only once."

Osðryd nodded. "So I have heard," she whispered, and she turned to walk away but Legolas caught her arm.

"Why did you attack them, mistress?" he asked. "Yours is a noble spirit. The bear threatened my father because you are bound to protect Lady Gunnhildr. But why did it attack Eowyn nín?"

Osðryd's eyes filled with tears. "Because I cannot control it," she answered, simply. "I can no longer control the bear..."

Then she lifted her chin and looked up at him, bravely. "I am ready to face any punishment that you and your father decree, your Highness. And, though I have a terror of confinement—being locked away, far from the air and the light and from growing things"—she shook her head—"if you command it, Prince Legolas, I believe that even the bear will accept it."

Legolas was taken aback. "No, Mistress Osðryd," he said, gently, "no—an elf would never punish you for something over which you have no control. But we must stop you harming others in future... Please sit, and hear me out." He waited until she was seated, then he continued, "One of my friends believes that the reason you can no longer control the changing is that by taking the oath before Bergthórr beytill—"

"To protect Gunnhildr—"

"Yes," said Legolas. "By taking that oath you, in effect, gave away your control." The woman seemed surprised; he could see a tiny ray of hope beginning to lighten her face. "My father intends to ask Chief Bergthórr to release you from your oath. When that is done, we think that you may regain complete control of your powers—"

"Oh! Your Highness!" The woman suddenly threw herself at his feet and, lifting his hands from his lap, showered them with kisses. "Thank you! Thank you!" she said, again and again.

Gently, Legolas withdrew a hand and laid it on her head. "Please, Mistress Osðryd," he said, "do not place too much hope in this. If Bergthórr beytill refuses to release you, then confining you for the remainder of your stay will be the only option."

"He will not refuse," said Osðryd, firmly. "I will beg him. And, when he releases me, I swear that I will make amends to you for harming those you love." She placed his left hand—which he had not had the heart to withdraw from her—back on his lap. Then she added, very softly, "But if this does not work then I will willingly be confined at your command, my love."


"My daughter tells me that you want to apologise, King Thranduil," said Bergthórr beytill, "in private—presumably to save face."

"Er—yes," said Thranduil. "Please, Chief Hor—Chief Bergthórr, take a seat. Can I offer you some wine? Or perhaps a refreshing cordial?"

"Just get to the point."

"Of course." With feline grace, Thranduil seated himself opposite the small man. "There are two points I want to address, in fact," he said, "and the first is simple: I unreservedly apologise, Chief Bergthórr, for any insult you imagine I—"


Thranduil decided to lose the battle for the sake of winning the war. "For any insult I may have given you. And—before you demand it—I agree to say so when the talks resume." But that does not, he thought, mean that I will overlook any opportunity to interrogate you about your behaviour in East Lorien. "The second point," he continued, "is much more important. And may prove more difficult to resolve."

"Go on."

"Last night I was attacked by the bear."

"What does that have to do with me?" asked Bergthórr beytill.

Thranduil smiled. "It was your daughter who saved me," he said; his smile broadened at the man's surprise. "Your daughter ordered the bear to leave my study." He waved his hand as if to show Bergthórr exactly where the incident had taken place. "And your daughter was able to do this," he continued, "because the skin changer is her nurse—a fact which you well know."

"Now, wait a minute—"

Thranduil held up his hands. "I did not ask you here to accuse you of anything, Chief Bergthórr," he said, and his voice was all warm sincerity underpinned with steel. "Had I had such a creature at my disposal when my son was an elfling I would, without doubt, have done what you did—appointed her to protect my child. And I would, without doubt, have required her to take an oath to that effect—"

"Where is this going?" asked Bergthórr beytill.

"To put it quite simply, Chief Bergthórr," said Thranduil, "when you obtained the woman's oath, you destroyed the delicate balance between her powers and her conscience. You took away her responsibility for the bear's behaviour and now it is out of control. And it seems that the only way to stop the creature attacking innocent elves"—he unconsciously straightened his sash—"is for you to release the woman from her obligation."

"Release her!" Bergthórr beytill's face was red with anger. "Release her so that you and your ne'er-do-well son can get your hands on my girl? Do you think me a fool?"

Thranduil sighed. Believe me, Chief Horse-penis, he thought, if I wanted your daughter I would have had her by now. And she would be following me around like a puppy...

"If you will not release the nurse, Chief Bergthórr," he said, firmly, "I shall be forced to imprison her for the remainder of your stay."

"Just you try it!" cried Bergthórr beytill, angrily.

And he slammed the study door behind him.



"Shhhhh. Go back to sleep, melmenya," said Legolas, gently, "it is not yet time for you to wake."

"What time is it?"

"Five and twenty to twelve," said Legolas, kissing her forehead, gently, "and I am meeting Eomer and Gimli for lunch at one o'clock—"

"Can I come? I have not seen Eomer in days."

"It is only two days, meleth nín," said Legolas, "and you need to rest."

"But I feel so cut off. Please let me come."

Legolas sighed; he could seldom deny her anything, even in her own best interests. "Can you be ready in less than an hour?"


"Then I will ask them to eat here. In the meantime, I have already drawn the water." He lifted her out of bed, carried her into the bathing room and set her down on the edge of the bath. "Lift your arms."

"What is that smell?" She raised her arms.

"Iârloth leaves," said Legolas, removing her night-dress. "They are said to be invigorating." He helped her into the sharply scented water, and climbed in beside her.

"Mmmm," said Eowyn, leaning back in the water. She stifled a yawn. "Did you speak with the nurse?"



"And she has agreed that if my father cannot persuade Bergthórr beytill to release her from her oath, she will allow herself to be locked up for the remainder of her stay."

"It is so sad," said Eowyn. Then she asked, very softly, "Did she admit to being in love with you, Lassui?"

"Yes..." Legolas bit his lip. "When she is a woman, melmenya, she is the most noble of creatures; she expects nothing from me in return."

"It must have been very painful for you."

Legolas said nothing for a few moments. Then he asked, "Do all women think as she does?"

"About what?"

"Age. 'You are an elf,' she said, 'perpetually young. How could you love an ageing woman?'"

"Yes," replied Eowyn, softly. "We all think like that." She took Legolas' hand and wove her fingers through his.

"Does it still worry you?" he asked.

"Yes. But I try not to think about it."

"I do not see age as a man does," said Legolas.

"I know." She kissed his hand. "I had better get dressed, my darling."


After lunch, when the four friends were sitting before the fire, eating a dessert of fruited bread and honey cakes, and drinking raspberry-leaf tea, Legolas turned to Eomer. "Where are the documents you wanted to show me?" he asked.

Eomer put down his plate, licked his fingers, and pulled two sheets of parchment from inside his tunic. "Here," he said, "Firith drew my attention to them—"

"Who is Firith?" asked Eowyn.

"She is the woodland sprite I told you about, melmenya," said Legolas. "The being that was following Eomer. She"—Eomer caught his eye with the tiniest shake of the head—"er..."

"She is as concerned to protect The Lady's forest as we are, lass," said Gimli, helpfully.

"I see," said Eowyn. "Where is she now?"

"She has promised to stay in my chambers," said Eomer. He spread out the parchments on the low table. "These are pages taken from a report drawn up by March Warden Singollo. From what he describes, both Colgan and Gimli have deduced that the Beornings are mining in East Lorien, at a place called White Rocks."

"White Rocks," said Eowyn, quietly. "Gynd 'lyss. That sounds familiar..."

"Mining is forbidden on elven lands," said Legolas. "By the terms of the treaty drawn up at the end of the Ring war, my father can demand reparations from anyone mining in East Lorien—on behalf of the elves who live there, of course."

"Of course," said Eomer. "He could. If he knew about it, that is."

"White Rocks. Where did I hear it... White Rocks?"

"You have not told him?" asked Legolas.

Eomer hesitated. "No," he said. "Not yet. I will, of course. And I realise that this puts you in a difficult position—"

Eowyn suddenly rose and walked into the garden cavern.


"I am thinking."

Legolas turned back to Eomer and Gimli and shrugged his shoulders.

"I realise that this puts you in a difficult position, Legolas," Eomer repeated, "but hear me out. My only concern is to keep Rohan intact. As you know, my Court and most of my forces are concentrated in the south, at Edoras and Helm's Deep. The north is a wild, lawless place, and my uncle, under Wormtongue's influence, was content to allow several great families to rule it almost as a group of independent principalities—"

"A very dangerous tactic," said Legolas.

"Especially if what your father tells me is true," said Eomer. "He says he has proof that Bergthórr beytill has formed an alliance with the most powerful of the families."

"That would certainly upset the balance of power," said Legolas.

"With the Beornings behind them, the House of Æðelbert could rule the north as a separate kingdom," Eomer agreed. "And if the people of East Emnet joined them, they could even threaten Edoras."

"You want to know whether my father is telling you the truth," said Legolas.

Eomer nodded.

"I do not know, Eomer. I can honestly tell you that he has not discussed the matter with me. And I have no idea how he could possibly know—"

"Ereinion!" cried Eowyn, running back into the main chamber, "Ereinion!"


"Just what have you been telling that arrogant cur, Thranduil?" asked Bergthórr beytill, angrily.

"My lord?"

"He knows you are a skin changer. He knows about the oath—"

"Nothing, my lord," cried Osðryd, "I told him nothing but, somehow—"

"I told him, father," said Gunnhildr, bravely, stepping between her nurse and the irate chieftain; "I told him because Osðryd attacked him thinking that she was protecting me! She needs help, father. And he and Prince Legolas have promised—"

"Prince Legolas! Prince Legolas! He is the cause of all this trouble. If the pair of you had been in your tent, doing your mending, like proper women, instead of lurking in the undergrowth watching him wash his privates—"


"—none of this would have happened. From now on, Osðryd is confined to this chamber. In fact, you are both confined," said Bergthórr. "I will send Heðinn and Snorri to make sure that you behave yourselves. And as for you"—he turned to Osðryd—"you can forget this nonsense about being released from your oath. You are bound for life!"


"There are hundreds of letters," said Eowyn, "all from one writer, a green-elf called Ereinion. He lives on the very southern tip of Eryn Lasgalen. I looked closely at only one of them, but he mentioned a secret mine"—she turned to Legolas—"sabar thurin."

Legolas nodded. "Secret mine."

"It is at a place called White Rocks." she added

"Did he say what they were mining?" asked Gimli.

"I do not know," said Eowyn. "But I did see the word 'mithril'."

"Mithril? In East Lorien?" said Gimli. He thought for a moment, "Aye, there could be..."

"That would explain why the Beornings are willing to take such a risk," said Eomer. "You say there are hundreds of letters?"


"I think it is time to speak to your father," said Eomer to Legolas.


"Quickly, Osðryd, this way," said Gunnhildr, running down the corridor towards Legolas' chambers. "Here!" She tapped lightly at the door.

There was no answer.

She knocked harder.

There was still no answer.

Gunnhildr pounded on the door.

"My lady!" said Osðryd, anxiously, "I can hear them coming!"

Gunnhildr took a deep breath, lifted the door latch and, together, the two women stumbled into Legolas' sitting room.


"Let me do the talking," said Legolas, softly, as they entered his father's study.

Thranduil looked up from his desk. "Lassui?"

"Ada—Eomer, Gimli and Eowyn have uncovered some important information; we think we know what the Beornings are doing in East Lorien."

Thranduil gestured towards the cluster of chairs by the fire. "Make yourselves at home," he said. "Now—just what are our friends up to?"

"When Eowyn was sorting your correspondence," said Legolas, "she noticed a large number of letters from a wood elf called Ereinion—"

"That fool," said Thranduil. He writes me a 'despatch' almost every day. 'There are men doing this, there are men doing that; there are not enough elves to guard the borders; if you do not send us an army we shall be overrun...' I no longer read his nonsense." He looked up, sharply. "What have I missed?"

"How do you know that the Beornings have formed an alliance with..." Legolas turned to Eomer.

"The House of Æðelbert," said Eomer.

"What?" Thranduil looked from his son to the King of Rohan and back again.

"Eomer is here to trade with you, Ada," said Legolas. "You give him proof that the Beornings are active in the north of Rohan, and he will tell you what you have—er—overlooked in Ereinion's letters."

"I have taught you too well, Lassui," said Thranduil, with a sigh. "Very well, since we do not have much time... I have a spy in Rohan."

"You..." Eomer was speechless.

"A man—one Daelhard, son of Daelhart. He is a very reliable source—and he just happens to be Lord Æðelbert's secretary." Eomer was shaking his head, a mixture of anger and admiration on his face. "Daelhard helped Æðelbert draw up the treaty." Thranduil paused for a moment, then he turned to Eomer. "Tell me what the Beornings are doing and I will show you Daelhard's letter—it is written in the Common Tongue so you should have no trouble reading it."

Legolas' arm shot out to restrain Eomer. "Collo's report describes traces of mining, Ada—if you know how to recognise them—in the region of Gynd 'lyss," he said. "And Eowyn saw mention of a secret mine in one of Ereinion's letters. She also noticed the word—"

"Mith-ril," said Eowyn, lingering over its second syllable.

"Of course," said Legolas, "by the terms of the treaty that ended the Ring war, mining is forbidden on elven lands—even mining by elves." He examined his fingernails.

"Yes," said Thranduil, "but there was some provision made for future agreements between elves and men, provided all parties were in accord. Something might be done..."

"Indeed, Ada," said Legolas. "Now—where is Eomer's proof?"


An hour later

"Good luck, meleth nín," Legolas whispered, kissing Eowyn's forehead, "I will be waiting in our chambers. Do not make it too hard, Ada," he added, "for my sake."

"Of course not!" said Thranduil. "This will be the easiest task of the three, Lassui, believe me. Now—go." He made a shooing motion. "Go on, go! Let me talk to Eowyn alone."

Reluctantly, Legolas left his father's study, closing the door behind him.

Thranduil waited for a moment, as if afraid that his son might still be lurking outside the door. Then, "As I said, Eowyn vell nín," he began, "this is the easiest task of all. A friend of mine—a beautiful elleth—was badly scarred during the Ring war." He handed Eowyn a map. "I have heard of an elleth living here"—he pointed to a small settlement to the north—"who is skilled in herbal lore."

Eowyn looked carefully at the map. "Eryn Aras," she read.

"Yes, that is the place. Angrod and Findaráto will take you there. It is said that this elleth makes a salve that removes blemishes and restores beauty. But she is very particular whom she gives it to. You will have to persuade her, mell nín."

Eowyn thought for a moment. "May I speak to the elleth? The one who was injured?"

"She has become a recluse." said Thranduil.

"I understand," said Eowyn. "But I do not ask to see her face—just to hear her words. If I can explain to the healer how much she is suffering..."

"Very well," said Thranduil. "I will arrange it."

"One more thing," said Eowyn, as she rose to leave, "what is the name of the other elleth? The healer of Eryn Aras?"

"Serindë," replied Thranduil. "Her name is Serindë."




Contents page

Contents page

Previous chapter: Firith
Eomer learns the facts of life.

Chapter 10

Next chapter: The third task
Eowyn meets the healer of Eryn Aras.

Chapter 12