eowyn and legolas

The servants had been working for most of the night to transform the vast, glittering cavern of the Great Hall into an intimate lovers' bower.

They had strung a delicate canopy of spring greenery—garlands of ruby-red iârloth, and fragrant mithorn, and clouds of creamy-white gilgwaloth—between the rugged stone pillars. Beneath this low ceiling, they had arranged three long tables, draped with runners of apple-green silk and arrayed with hundreds of tiny silver lanterns. They had set each place with richly-enamelled tableware and tall crystal goblets. And they had placed a small, tastefully wrapped gift from the Crown Prince of Eryn Lasgalen on each plate.

The effect was one of elegant opulence.

Now the Steward, Arafinwë, who had master-minded the transformation, was waiting for his king's verdict.


"Good morning, meleth nín," Legolas whispered. He scooped her into his arms and kissed her neck, and one of his hands slipped downwards, found the hem of her night-gown and pulled the fabric up above her waist. Gently, he turned her onto her back, and eased himself on top of her, moving his hips until he found his home.

"Oh yes," Eowyn whispered, still half asleep.

Slipping both hands beneath her, Legolas pushed himself deep, deep inside her.

"Oh..." Eowyn's body arched.

Rising up on his hands, Legolas began to thrust, slowly but firmly. "Stay still, melmenya," he murmured, "stay still for me, hervess nín..."


"Oh!" cried Eowyn, writhing in sweet agony, "you wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL ELF!"

"Not yet, melmenya! Wait—wait, meleth nín—no!—oh sweet—ah!"


Thranduil stood at the centre of the Great Hall and looked sadly at the two intricately carved thrones at the head of the high table. You are no longer my elfling, Lassui, he thought, but a grown edhel.

"Yes," he said to Arafinwë, "it is just what I asked for. A lovers' bower."

He heard the steward begin to breathe again and, despite his sadness, he could not help smiling. "And the menu?" he asked.

"Exactly as you requested, your Majesty. A chilled soup of tomato and basil flowers, then grilled fish and roasted fowls, and tarts of spring vegetables, followed by apple snow and sweetmeats. And then, of course, the bean cake."

"Ah, yes," said Thranduil. "The bean cake."


"Will I do?" asked Eowyn.

Legolas laid down his mûmak comb and turned to look at her.

She was standing between two carved pillars, dressed in a close-fitting elven gown of pale golden silk that her seamstress had wittily embroidered, at the neckline, sleeves and hem, with a border of tiny prancing horses. Her long, thick, waving hair was covered by a fine, transparent veil, held in place by a golden coronet.

Legolas smiled. "You look"—he shook his head, slowly—"like the sun, melmenya," he said. "Beautiful."

Eowyn bit her lip. "Legolas..."

He knew that tone. "Come here, Eowyn nín," he said, gently, holding out his arms to her. He pulled her down onto his lap. "Something is worrying you. Is it the ceremony?"

"The ceremony? No—"

"Because my father meant what he said, melmenya. And even before this happened, he had accepted you."

"It must have been the Edair's silver," said Eowyn.


Eowyn smiled. "You do love him so very much," she said, stroking back a strand of his still-loose hair, "you will miss him when we go home. And I shall miss him too; though I am not sure why..."

"I am so glad, melmenya."

"I shall miss Aredhel and Singollo, too. No, it is not the ceremony, Lassui, it is that everything has changed," she said.

"What do you mean, meleth nín?"

"I mean"—she leaned her forehead against his—"me."

"You keep telling me that you feel no different."

"No—no, I feel no different at all. But it is a big change," she said, closing her eyes. "You always said that you loved me exactly as I was—do you still love me now?"

"Oh, melmenya! Of course I do! Did I not show you this morning?" He took her hand and kissed her fingers. "You still glow, melmenya. I do not know if your body can sustain its mortal brightness for eternity—we shall have to see—but," he whispered, nuzzling her neck, "if it does fade, I shall love the new, mysterious Eowyn just as much." He hugged her close.

"I shall miss them," she said.

"I know you will, melmenya. It will be hard for you to watch Eomer and Gimli, Aragorn and Faramir grow old and die; hard to lose their children; and then their children's children; and never, yourself, change—"

"Is this how you felt about losing me?"

Legolas nodded.

"How did you bear it?"

"By making up my mind to join you in death, melmenya," he said. "But, now, we shall both live—together—for you will always have me, meleth nín."

"Yes, I shall always have you," she said. And she raised her head from his shoulder and smiled at him, radiantly.


When they had finished dressing they waited, nervously, until a page knocked on the chamber door to tell them that the King was ready for them. Legolas offered Eowyn his arm but she suddenly hesitated.


"You swear that there are no others?" she whispered.

Legolas smiled. "I swear, melmenya; and except for the dancer from Imladris and the bathing attendants from Lorien, you have met all of them."

"I am just..."

"You are nervous. I know. So am I. We never wanted any fuss. And worse—this ceremony questions the commitment we have already made. This ceremony gives you the opportunity to change your mind and leave me, melmenya—"

"I would never leave you!"

"Then why are you nervous?"

Eowyn smiled. "Because I am being silly," she said. "I am ready."

Smiling too, Legolas took her hand upon his and led her, out of the chamber and, swiftly, down the tunnel to the double doors of the Great Hall, where they both listened for their cue.

"Honoured guests," the Elvenking was saying, "we are about to witness the solemn betrothal of my son, Crown Prince Legolas, and his chosen bride, Princess Eowyn. Please join me in wishing the couple joy."

The guests applauded and someone thumped the table. "That will be Gimli," whispered Legolas, grinning. "Come, melmenya."


"Make your vow," said Thranduil.

Legolas raised Eowyn's hand to his lips. "Gwedhithon na, Eowyn Eomundiell; le annon veleth nín," he said. Then he repeated the words in Westron, "I will bind to thee, Eowyn, daughter of Eomund; I give my love to thee." He kissed her hand.

Thranduil turned to Eowyn. "Make your vow," he said.

Smiling radiantly, Eowyn raised Legolas' hand to her lips. "Gwedhithon na, Legolas Thranduilion; le annon veleth nín: I will bind to thee, Legolas, son of Thranduil; I give my love to thee." She kissed his hand.

"Exchange your rings," said Thranduil.

Legolas took the betrothal ring that he had already given Eowyn, months earlier, from his little finger and placed it on Eowyn's ring finger; Eowyn took the betrothal ring, which she had had made by Thranduil's own jeweller, from her thumb and placed it on Legolas' ring finger.

Then Thranduil took their joined hands in his own. "You have my blessing, ion nín, iell nín," he said, "may your union be all that you wish for."

And then, as the guests cheered and the palace musicians played a joyful fanfare, Eomer and Gimli tossed handfuls of white rose petals, like fragrant snow, over the happy couple.


"Congratulations, Eowyn," said Eomer, softly, as they sat down to dinner. "You could not have made a better choice."

Eowyn smiled at her brother. "It means a great deal to me to hear you say that, Eomer."

"I am not always the brightest sword in the armoury," Eomer admitted, "and it has taken me some time to come to terms with what you did. But Legolas will make you a good husband. And now that you are both—"

"Eomer—it will not change anything between us," said Eowyn. "My marriage, my—the change that has happened to me—none of that will make any difference to us. You are my big brother and I love you." She took Eomer's hand. "You were always there when I needed you. And I know that you always will be. And I will always be there for you. I swear it."

Eomer swallowed hard. "What is it about a ceremony that makes a man melancholy, thinking only of change and loss?"

"I believe it is called a 'rite of passage', Eomer," said Eowyn smiling. "And I know that Lord Fingolfin would be only too happy to explain it to us. But, as you said, we are neither of us particularly bright swords in the armoury..."


As the guests were making short work of the apple snow and the dainty sweetmeats, Thranduil called for silence—tapping his knife on his crystal goblet—then rose to his feet.

"My son has insisted," he said, "that we follow the ancient custom and elect a King of the Bean to preside over the evening's merry-making—I trust that he will not regret it. Master Arafinwë—the bean cake, if you please."

The Steward came forward, carrying a rich fruit cake, already cut into thick slices, on a golden platter. "Every elf, man—and dwarf," continued Thranduil, "must take a slice. One of the slices—one only—contains a dried bean. Whoever finds it must choose himself a Queen"—the guests cheered—"and then our newly elected King and Queen of Misrule must decide on our evening's entertainment."

One by one, each of the male guests selected a piece of cake.

Legolas broke his into small pieces. "No bean!" he said.

Eomer did the same. "Nor one in mine," he said, with obvious relief.

Sighs of disappointment echoed all around the hall. Gimli picked up his slice. It was a rich golden brown, filled with dried fruits, and it smelled of exotic spices. "'Twould be a pity to waste it," he said, taking a large bite.

"Oh," he roared, holding up the remainder of the slice, "what is this? I think I have it! Yes! I have it!"

"Choose a Queen, Gimli," cried Legolas.

The dwarf jumped down from his chair and walked over to Gunnhildr. "My lady," he said, with a sweeping bow, "will you do me the honour?"

The girl's hands flew up to her mouth. "Oh! The honour would be mine, Lord Gimli," she said, happily.

"Come on, then, lass," said Gimli and, ignoring Chief Bergthórr's apoplectic expression, the dwarf proffered his arm. Amidst cheers and applause, the couple made their way to the head of the table where Legolas and Eowyn rose and respectfully offered them their own seats. Eowyn scooped up a handful of rose petals and scattered them over the new 'Queen'.

"Now Gimli," said Legolas, "what games shall we play?"

"I know one," said Gunnhildr. She leaned over to Gimli and whispered in his ear.

"That is a good one," said Gimli, "though I think we will need to lay down some special rules. My Queen," he said, loudly, "suggests a game of Hide and Seek. You have until I count to one hundred to hide yourselves, and the winner is the last person to be found." He paused, "But, to make it harder, you must confine yourselves to the main thoroughfare and its public chambers—you cannot hide in your own chambers. And," he added, looking pointedly at Legolas and Eowyn, "each person must hide by him or herself—no couples. Are you ready? (Close your eyes, my dear)."


Eowyn gave Legolas one final kiss and slipped into the Library. She skirted round the massive book stacks and ducked beneath the desk at the farthest end of the chamber.

"Your Majesty!" she gasped.

"I think it is time that you started calling me Ada."

"Ada," said Eowyn, "we are not supposed to be hiding together."

"I was here first," Thranduil began. "Oh, very well—since you are a lady, I will do the gentlemanly thing and leave," he said, "in a moment. But first, I am glad to have this opportunity to"—he cleared his throat—"apologise, mell nín, for sending you into so much danger. Though it was never my intention—"

"What, exactly, was your intention?" said Eowyn, boldly. "Making me find out about Serindë like that—was that your intention?"

"No—well, yes—in a manner of speaking—"

"What does that mean?"

"I just wanted to be sure—and for you to be sure—"

"Of what?"

Thranduil sighed. "Legolas is almost three thousand years old. How old are you?"

"Twenty-seven," said Eowyn.

"Twenty-seven. There are bound to be things in Lassui's past that he has not mentioned to you—perhaps because he is ashamed or embarrassed by them, perhaps because they have slipped his memory—whatever. I just wanted to be sure that, if such a thing did come to light, your love would be strong enough to cope with it."

"The test," said Eowyn, coolly, though it was very hard to give her rebuke the proper edge when crouching beneath a desk with the object of her scorn, "was supposed to show whether I was acceptable to the Valar. What gave you the right to include a little learning exercise of your own?"

"He is my son," said Thranduil, simply.

"Your son." Eowyn shook her head as a new understanding of her future father-in-law dawned upon her. "You love him far too much," she said, softly.

"Is that possible?"

"Yes—if your love is possessive and prevents him from growing—then, yes, it is."

"Nothing I have done has ever stopped Lassui having his own way," said Thranduil. "Going on the Quest, meeting you..."

"I think you would be surprised just how much he tries to please you, Ada," said Eowyn, softly. She held out her hand to him. "We both love him more than our own lives," she said, "and we must make peace with each other, or we will tear him in two."

Thranduil took her hand and shook it, firmly, human fashion. "You will make a fine Crown Princess, iell nín," he said. Then, "Shhhh... Was that the Library door?"


Legolas waited until the King and Queen of Misrule had closed the Library door behind them, then slipped into the large garden cavern opposite. It is not empty, he thought, as he hid himself behind the dense foliage. Someone stealthy, but not an elf, I think. Nor one of the clumsy Beornings...

"Eomer?" he said, softly.

He heard a sigh. "Over here."

Legolas followed the wall of the cavern to a hollow screened by ferns and falling water. "This is a good place," he said.

"Firith found it," said Eomer.

Legolas grinned.

"Can I ask you a favour?" the man asked.

"Of course," said Legolas. "I shall."

"Shall what?"

"Look after Eowyn."

Eomer smiled. "I know you will. That is not what I was going to ask."

"What then?"

"Will you take Firith home with you? She cannot come with me—there are precious few trees in Rohan—and Fangorn is—"

"Oppressive—for one as light and airy as she—"

"Exactly. But with you she would be safe," said Eomer. "In a forest that is wholesome and full of new life—"

"And where you could visit her."


"Of course, Eomer. Eowyn and I will be honoured to have her as our guest—"

"I do not want Eowyn to know too much about her."

"Why?" asked Legolas. "She would not condemn you—"

"I know," said Eomer. "But there are some things a man does not tell his sister."


"Someone is coming."

"No need to worry," said Legolas, "I know who it is—Collo, over here!"


Thranduil winked at Eowyn. "Stay," he mouthed. Then he ducked out from under the desk and raised his hands. "I am here; you have found me," he cried. And he let Gunnhildr tie his hands together with a ribbon and lead him back to the Great Hall.


Eowyn had just decided that enough was enough—that it was time to crawl out from under the desk and go looking for Legolas—when she heard the Library door open and instinctively crept back into her hiding place.

A few moments later a large elf joined her beneath the desk.

"Lady Eowyn!"

"March Warden..."

"Are you still playing this foolish game?"

"Yes—and so, it seems, are you," said Eowyn smiling.

"I should find somewhere else to hide," said Haldir.

"No," said Eowyn. "No—to tell you the truth, I was about to give myself up. They have broken me."

"With tedium," said Haldir. "They should have let loose a few orcs, to give us something to do."

Eowyn laughed.

With some difficulty, because there was very little space, Haldir manoeuvred himself into a sitting position. "I cannot tell you how glad I am," he said, "that things have turned out as they have."

"I am sorry?"

"That you will not be taken from us," he said. Then he added, softly, "I think that Legolas is the luckiest elf in the world." He turned to face her. "I will not say it, Eowyn, because I made you a promise. But I do not need to say it, for you and Legolas both know how I feel. I am your servant, my lady. If you, or he, ever need anything—anything I have to give—you have only to ask."

"Thank you Haldir," said Eowyn, softly. She looked down at the floor. "Shall we give ourselves up?"

"I think that would be a very good idea."


"Caught you, Master Berryn!" cried Gunnhildr, pulling the cartographer out from behind one of the pillars of the Great Hall, "Hold out your hands!"

Berryn allowed the girl to bind his wrists with a ribbon.

"There," she said, tying off the bow, "now you are my prisoner."

She raised her eyes to his, and they both smiled, shyly.


In the end it was Legolas, Eomer and Singollo who jointly won the game. Gimli flushed them out of their stronghold—by having Gunnhildr pretend to be an elleth looking for a place to hide—and brought them back to the Great Hall in triumph.

Then there was much more feasting and playing of games until, at last, when everyone was exhausted, and the royal timekeeper had chimed the bells for midnight, Thranduil rose to his feet and made an important announcement.

"It is the custom for an elven betrothal to last one year," he said. "But my son—who, as you all know, has never been one to abide by custom—has decided that he and his lady will marry at Yuletide. The ceremony will take place at Eryn Carantaur, in South Ithilien and, on behalf of the happy couple, I invite you all to join us there for the celebrations."


"Will the King of Rohan be at your wedding?" asked Thranduil, as they waited for the last of their guests to leave the Great Hall.

"Eomer? Of course, Ada. He will act as Eowyn's Guardian at the ceremony. Why do you ask?"

Thranduil shrugged. "I just thought," he said, casually, "that it would be pleasant to spend more time with him."

"I knew that you would like him, Ada."

"Well... He is sharp. And he speaks his mind. Yes, I think I shall miss him."

Legolas grinned.

"That meddler, Fingolfin, on the other hand, I shall not miss."

"You are just piqued because he is not afraid of you, Ada. He used to serve Lord Elrond—"

"Another meddler."

"He is my most able advisor. And Eowyn is very fond of him."

"Well, she would be. Speaking of fond, Lassui, you do realise that your March Warden—"

"Yes, Ada. I do. But he is an honourable elf and I trust him."


"By the way, would you allow Rothinzil to come back to Eryn Carantaur with us?"

"Rothinzil? Why?"

"Not for my benefit, Ada, I assure you!" said Legolas, laughing. "But I think that she and Dínendal have taken a liking to each other."

"Your healer? Then, of course, I have no objection—but what about your cartographer?"


"Yes—why not give him a proper situation, with a stipend, so that he can make the girl a formal offer of marriage?"

"Berryn! Who—"

Thranduil laughed. "You have not noticed him with Chief Horse-penis's daughter? Now that could be a useful alliance, if handled carefully, Lassui."

"Chief Bergthórr would never agree to it," said Legolas. "Berryn is far too lowly born."

"Then watch them carefully, Lasdithen. Make sure that the girl does not follow him home—you do not want the Beornings to declare war on South Ithilien." Thranduil smiled, sadly. "You are still planning to leave tomorrow?"

Legolas sighed. "I love Eryn Carantaur, Ada—especially since Eowyn came there to live with me. It stands for everything I believe in—everything that I learned on the Quest—and I have been away from it for far too long. But a part of me does not want to go home. I shall miss you so very much."

"I shall miss you, too, Lassui," said Thranduil, softly.

"I do not suppose you could come and live with us..."

"You and I are both doing important work, ion nín. I could not leave Greenwood the Great in the hands of men."

"Astaldo and Collo would take good care of it."

"Are you telling me that you would not want Collo to live in Eryn Carantaur, too? And then he would want Aredhel... And she would want her father... And, very soon, every elf in Middle-earth would be living in South Ithilien."

"I should like that."

"You have lived far too much with edain, Lassui—"

Legolas began to protest but Thranduil cut him off, gently. "I only meant, Lasdithen, that edain want everything today because they know they will not see tomorrow. An elf has the time to reflect, to choose, to make sacrifices. It may be painful to be parted but—in the end—what does it matter to an elf if he has to wait a year, a century, or a thousand years to see those he loves again?" He laid his hand on his son's arm. "Lassui," he continued, gently, "that is a lesson that Eowyn will have to learn—that you will have to teach her—or she will burn herself out."

"I know," said Legolas.

"Your healer was right to be circumspect, Lassui. Her body is now immortal. But we do not know what effect the change will have on her mind. Especially when her loved ones begin to age and die around her. Her brother—"

"She has already begun to worry about that, Ada."

Thranduil nodded. "I will help you both all I can, Lassui," he said, sincerely.

"Thank you," said Legolas. Then he added, "Eowyn would like you to join us for breakfast in our chambers tomorrow morning."

"Eowyn would?"

"Yes. She wants us to spend as much time as possible together before we part. Will you?"

"Well, if that is what Eowyn wants... Of course I will."

"And can I ask a favour for myself, Ada?"

"You know you can."

"Do not wait until Yuletide to come to us. Come sooner. Much sooner. And bring Collo with you."


A little later…

"Wait, melmenya," said Legolas as they reached the door of their chambers. "There is an old elven custom we must perform."

"What custom?" Eowyn looked up at him. Then she smiled, shrewdly. "Oh, I recognise that expression," she said, "I do not trust you, Leg—oh!"

He had lifted her into his arms.

"A newly betrothed elf," he said, "must carry his love over the threshold"—he opened the door with some difficulty—"and then"—he kicked the door closed behind them—"he must lay her down on the bed, and strip off all her clothes, until she is wearing nothing but her little boots, and then..."


the end



Contents page

Contents page

Previous chapter: Mortality
Can a cure be found in time?

Chapter 13

From The Letters of JRR Tolkien, letter No. 154, On journeying to Elvenhome:

But in this story it is supposed that there may be certain rare exceptions or accommodations ... and so certain 'mortals', who have played some great part in Elvish affairs, may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus Frodo (by the express gift of Arwen) and Bilbo, and eventually Sam (as adumbrated by Frodo); and as a unique exception Gimli the Dwarf, as friend of Legolas and 'servant' of Galadriel.

I have said nothing about it in this book, but the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their 'kind' cannot be changed forever, this is strictly only a temporary reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide forever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and will 'die'—of free will, and leave the world.

This suggests that, one day, Eowyn might earn the chance to sail West with Legolas and that, since her body is no longer fully mortal, she might then live with him there for as long as they both wish to be together...