haldir and eowyn

They scarcely made it through the door of their bed chamber.


Afterwards, as Legolas lay on his back, briefly exhausted, Eowyn bent over him, and kissed him, lovingly. "Ceredir fain," she whispered, "gerich veleth nín."

"Melmenya..." Tired as he was, his body responded instantly.

Eowyn smiled. "Hentmirë's maid," she said, kissing him again, "the former whore,"—kiss—"says the best lovers,"—long, lingering kiss—"the very, very best lovers,"—kiss—"are just a little too big." She ran her tongue along his length and kissed his smooth, ruby head. "Just big enough to hurt, ever so slightly,"—kiss—"especially if they are very gentle to start with." She placed a tiny kiss on his precious opening. "I said—"

"You did not discuss my..." He sat bolt upright.

"Shhhhh..." She silenced him with a thorough kiss on the mouth. "I said that you were perfect," she whispered against his lips, "that is all..."

He pretended to be annoyed.

But, holding his gaze, Eowyn reached down and stroked him—measuring by feel the length and breadth of his sturdy shaft and the full roundness of his ceryn, until—

"I can see," he said, with a mock sigh, "that I shall have no peace until I give you what you want." He grabbed her and rolled her onto her back. "Yet more perfection."

Eowyn's merry laugh could be heard in the courtyard garden.


"Will I see you again?" asked Haldir, watching Cyllien dress.

"That's entirely up to you," she said. "I shall not come looking for you."

He weighed her words for a moment, testing his own feelings. "I am not sure that I can do this..."

"You can do it very well. Especially when you keep your mouth shut."

"You know what I mean."

"Look: you will never have her, Haldir; I will never—well, let's just say that we both need to make do with what we can get. But, as I say, it's up to you. Will you see me out?"


"You could at least pretend to be considerate."

With a most un-elven weariness, Haldir struggled to his feet and escorted her into the courtyard. "Yassib will open the gate for you..."

"Valar!" cried Cyllien. "You really need to watch how Prince Legolas treats her."


"Come, melmenya," said Legolas, rousing Eowyn with a gentle kiss, "we must get you washed and looking presentable again."

She smiled up at him, stretching luxuriously.

He fetched a bowl of water and a towel from the bathing room, and helped her sit up, then he took his time, carefully sponging and drying her face and body, and combing the tangles from her long golden hair. "There. And if we can find you something more demure to wear, no one will have any idea what a dangerous wanton you are."

Eowyn hugged him tightly. "I love you, Lassui," she said. Then she added, thoughtfully, "Do you think they are in love?"

"No," said Legolas. "No. It is no more than physical desire at present. But that is a good start."


"So I asked for a single hair of her golden head," said Gimli. He took a swig of the ale Hentmirë had managed to find for him. "She gave me three."

"And now she is gone forever," said Hentmirë. "It is so sad..." She hesitated. "Gimli, what does it mean, to sail West? Do they... Do they go there to die?"

"Die? Oh no, my Lady. No. They go there to live with the Valar, in a land where everything is beautiful, and peaceful, and all the cares of this world no longer concern them."

"That sounds very like death," said Hentmirë, uncertainly.

"Perhaps to us," said Gimli, "because we are mortal. But not to them." He leaned forward and pressed her hand. "Elves are a fine people, but most of them lack our spirit."

"Not Legolas," said Hentmirë, loyally.

"Oh, no. Not Legolas." He took another swig of ale.

"But if Legolas heard the gulls' cry so many years ago, why has he not sailed? Why did he not go with your Lady?"

"He wanted to stay with his mortal friends."

"But what will happen when his friends die—"

"I am sorry we are late, gwendithen," said Legolas, leading Eowyn downstairs, "are you ready to leave?"

"Yes," said Hentmirë. She turned to the dwarf. "Legolas and Eowyn and I are going to visit the Turquoise Gardens. Would you like to join us, Gimli?"

Gimli rose to his feet. Standing beside him, Hentmirë was only a few inches taller than he was. With a slight bow, he proffered his arm. "I should like that very much, my lady."


"I want a certain job done," said Abdi, the owner of the Blue Parrot. "And I was told that you were the one to ask."

"'Certain jobs' is what I do," said Wolfram, cautiously.

"Take a seat."

Wolfram glanced around the room. There were two doors and three windows. The door he had just used was now blocked by two well-armed slaves; the other, behind the fat man, might lead anywhere—but almost certainly deeper into the building—hardly the best route in an emergency. The windows were big and their shutters were open—perfect exits, had they not been on the second floor. Still, he thought, the middle window is my best option if things turn nasty. He sat down.

"You know Ribhadda?" asked the fat man. "Owns The Silk Road."


"I want him to disappear."

Wolfram nodded, reflectively. "Disappear, as in—"

"Go, and never come back."

"That can be arranged. For a price."

"I've got a Kurian that'll do it for five hundred gold."

"Then use him," said Wolfram, "and, in future, don't waste my time." He rose, and took a few steps towards the door. The two slaves blocked his way, towering over him menacingly, but some instinct told Wolfram that the man on his right was the weak link. He bared his teeth. "You don't want to make an enemy of me," he hissed.

The slave backed away.

Behind him, Abdi laughed. "Zimri told me you had a pair. And he says you're an artist."

"He's right," said Wolfram, still glaring at the slave.

"A thousand."

"Make it twelve hundred and we have a deal."

"Two thousand if Ribhadda disappears and you bring me his Elf-woman—unharmed."

Wolfram sighed. Not more pricking Elf-napping... "That is an entirely different proposition," he said, turning back towards the fat man.

Abdi spread both hands, as if to say, What can I do? That's the job.

"I'll let you know," said Wolfram. He looked up at the slaves. "Move!"

"Don't leave it too long," shouted Abdi as Wolfram left. "Or I will use the Kurian.


Hentmirë had had a large, open carriage brought round from her stables. Legolas smiled at the sight of Eowyn making friends with the horses, four fine greys.

"Do you think I should ask March Warden Haldir if he would like to come with us?" asked Hentmirë quietly. "He is standing over there, by the thorn bushes, gazing out to sea..."

"I think that would be very kind, gwendithen nín," said Legolas.


"Where have you been?" asked Ribhadda.

"Seeing her home," said Cyllien. She glanced at her reflection in the mirrored wall. Her hair was tangled, and she had bruises on her neck and a love-bite just above her left breast. She smiled. I shall have to cover those up...

"Hiram was back hours ago."

"I dare say." She pushed past him. "I need to get ready."

He caught her arm. "Who have you been with?"

"Are you jealous?"

"No. I just don't want to see you beaten black and blue again. It upsets the customers."

"You're all heart." She shook off his hand. "Her husband wants to thank you personally. He is coming here tonight. He's an Elf—an elven prince."

And he makes the rest of you look like baboons, she thought.


The carriage came to a halt beside a massive rectangular enclosure, fortified with square bastions and crenellated battlements like a Northern castle, but decorated with glazed tiles—most of an intense turquoise-blue—that made it shine like a jewel against the dull red of the desert sand.

"Is it not beautiful?" said Hentmirë, clapping her hands together. "And I have not been here for years!"

She led them up a shallow ramp, to the guard post beside the gates, and—with a mixture of name dropping, innocent flirtation, and gold coin—she obtained permission for them to enter.

They passed quickly through the entrance hall, with its tree-shaped columns, painted and inlaid with coloured glass—"It reminds me of King Shamash's palace," said Eowyn to Gimli—and out into the Gardens themselves.

The enclosure was dominated by a huge artificial lake: broad, shallow and perfectly rectangular. At the nearer end, an elegant stone jetty stretched out into the deep blue of the water; towards the farther end, a small island of white stone—again, perfectly rectangular—offered the comfort of a shady pavilion.

Hentmirë turned to Legolas. "After you have walked under the trees, my dear," she said, "we could take one of the little boats out to the island."

The lake was surrounded on all sides by a broad stone path, but the rest of the garden was filled with trees; there were dates and sycamores and pomegranates, acacias and willows and tamarisks—the greens of their foliage and the reds and yellows of their fruits all contrasting charmingly with the turquoise blue of the towering walls. Beneath the branches, tiled flower beds were filled with daisies and cornflowers and sweet marjoram, with small yellow chrysanthemums, and with poppies.

As Legolas wandered along the path, gazing upwards in wonder, an orange and black bird wearing an enormous crown of striped feathers, alighted on a nearby branch and called down to him, "Hoo-hoo-hoop, hoo-hoo-hoop, hoo-hoo-hoop..."

Laughing, Legolas called back, "Hoo-hoo-hoop!"

"Oh, my dear," whispered Hentmirë. "We should have come here much, much sooner..."


"We've got a job," said Wolfram, stepping inside. He waited whilst Vardamir went through his customary ritual of barring the door and lighting the candles, then he threw himself down in his usual chair. "It will mean forgetting about My Lady for a couple of days... But it's a piece of cake: a removal and a relocation for two thousand gold."

"Removal..." said Vardamir, reluctantly. The Elf was not a career criminal, and he lacked the Man's pride in his work. "Who do we kill?"

Wolfram scowled. "I have told you before—"

"Don't use that word."

"Is it so hard to remember?"

"No," said Vardamir. "It's just ridiculous. Who do we remove?"


"Manwë's balls, Wolfram!"

"Keep your voice down! Gods, anyone would think you'd never ki—removed anyone before."

"But I know him!"

"Exactly! And he trusts you. That's why it will be a piece of cake."

"I daren't ask who we have to relocate..."

Wolfram slipped out of his chair and crouched beside the Elf. "Remember it's two thousand gold," he said. "Our customer wants your elleth. Cyllien."


Haldir was standing beside the jetty—leaning over the handrail, gazing at a flock of geese swimming on the deep blue water—when Eowyn approached him. "Is it not wonderful here?" she asked. "Just look at Legolas!"

Haldir looked. The other elf—Would you not know it?—had coaxed the crowned bird onto his hand, so that Hentmirë could see it more clearly. "He is very happy here."

"Does it not affect you in the same way?"

"I am not a wood elf," said Haldir. Then, "Can we talk?"

"Of course."

He offered his arm, human fashion and, though she seemed surprised, she accepted it. He led her to a secluded bower, just off the main path, and they both sat down on a turquoise-tiled bench.

"Are you not jealous of Hentmirë?" he asked.

Eowyn smiled. "There were many things I thought you might say, but that was not one of them! Why should I be jealous?"

"Legolas cares for her."

"Legolas loves her."

"And that does not worry you?"

Eowyn shook her head. "There is room in his heart for both of us," she said. "It is not an entirely chaste love, like a mother and son—not on her side, at least—but it is still a very innocent love. I think they are more like a favourite aunt and nephew. Neither Legolas nor Hentmirë is capable of anything bad or ugly. Yes, there is room in his heart for both of us."

"As always, you put the rest of us to shame," said Haldir.

"Please do not say that."

There was a difficult silence, and—when it seemed to her that the elf did not intend to say anything more—very tentatively, Eowyn touched his hand. "Tell me about her."

"Oh, Eowyn!"

"Is that not what you wanted to talk about?"

"I want to talk to you about everything. You are the only person I feel I can talk to—"

"Then talk."

"I do not know what is happening to me."

"It has been very quick." Eowyn looked down at their hands. "Do you love her?"



"You sound disappointed."

"I want you to be happy, Haldir."


"Surely you know why?"

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"You need not answer..." He took hold of her hand. "If I had approached you, Eowyn, after Helm's Deep—before Faramir, before Legolas—if I had asked you—would you have said yes?"

Eowyn looked up into his hypnotic blue eyes. "I do not know," she said.

He carefully placed her hand back on her lap. Then he said, "But that is not a 'No'."

"It is not a 'No'." She blushed deeply. "I do care for you, Haldir. And you are very attractive."

He smiled. "We are like Legolas and Hentmirë."

"Not entirely chaste..." agreed Eowyn. "But I am not old enough to be your aunt."

His smile was almost a laugh. "I never intended to tell you this, but after these last few days—and because of what might happen in the future—I think you need to know. When we were in Kuri, I had the Magus Niqmaddu remove my love for you."

"I do not understand."

"He removed my love for you, by magic." His head was bowed, and he could not see that she was staring at him, appalled. "After what had happened," he said, "I had to do something."

"Did it work?"

"In that I have no memory of how I used to feel for you, yes. But in some ways it has only made things worse."

"And did it not occur to you that that was likely to be the outcome? Meddling with your mind! I am disappointed in the Magus."

"He did try to dissuade me."

"But, of course, you knew better. I begged you not to do anything foolish. I even sent Legolas—does he know?"

"He was too late to stop me."

"He lied to me!"

"Only to protect you, Eowyn; you know that."

"How are things worse now?"

Haldir sighed. "It seems I am still obsessed with you. I just do not remember why."


"If it was your Lady you would not do it," said Vardamir.

"Of course I would," said Wolfram. "Just not for two thousand. My Lady is a princess. I'd want at least ten. Maybe twenty."

"You might kidnap her, but you wouldn't hand her over. You would keep her for yourself."

"Not for twenty," said Wolfram. He turned his back on the elf; conversation over.

I could warn Cyllien, thought Vardamir. I could get her out of The Silk Road... But where would I hide her?

Arinna's whorehouse! That place is like a fortress. And—since that business with the knife—Arinna won't let Wolfram through the door. Yes, she'd be safe at Arinna's...

"Where are you going?" asked Wolfram.

"To get us some decent wine," Vardamir lied.


Eowyn watched Legolas, with Hentmirë and Gimli, walking under the trees, laying his hands upon the trunks, communing with them, and sharing their lore with his two companions.

Yes, he lied to me, but how could I be angry with him?

She could swear that the trees stood taller, held their leaves higher, and offered their fruits more willingly, after receiving his blessing.

How could anyone ever be angry with him?

It was hard to remember now the liberator who had dealt with Gríma's followers in the Golden Hall, the grim avenger she had seen dispatching fallen orcs at Helm's Deep, the fearsome warrior she had glimpsed conquering the mûmak on the Pelennor...

Please, gods, she thought, let him have some peace now. Do not let Hentmirë ever have to see him like that. It would break her heart.

And, all of a sudden, she needed to be near her beloved elf. She lifted her long, full skirts and ran across the stone paving to join him.

"Hello, Melmenya," he said, happily. "Come and listen to the pomegranate trees."


Vardamir entered The Silk Road the moment the door opened. "Hello Hiram," he said to the bar tender. "I just need a word with Cyl—"


"Oh, hello, Rib."

"Come here." The man was behind the bar, inspecting his stocks of spirits.

"Oh—I, er—"

"Here." It was not necessary for a man like Ribhadda to shout. Vardamir did as he was told.

Ribhadda poured him a drink. "On the house."

Vardamir looked, suspiciously, at the deep brown liquid.

"There was a man in here last night," said Ribhadda, "asking for you—a big noise from the North." He looked Vardamir in the eye. "Now I don't care what you did in the past—we've all made those mistakes—but I do care what you're doing now. I don't like that weasel friend of yours and I don't want to be playing host the day he destroys you. Your money's no longer accepted in here. Good bye Vardamir."

"But, Rib, I need to speak—"

"Good bye, Vardamir."


By the time the friends arrived back at Hentmirë's house, Faramir and Berengar were waiting, with Captain Oliel, to take their leave.

"We should reach Rihat the day after tomorrow," said Faramir. "If Gwirith can be moved, we will return immediately. If not, I shall send word.

"Good bye, Eowyn, my dear." He kissed her cheek. "Good bye, Legolas." He clasped the elf's hand. "Goodbye Gimli; Haldir. Good bye, Hent—"

Hentmirë threw her stout little arms around his waist. "You promise you will come back to us?" she said.

"Of course," he answered, smiling.

"Legolas and Eowyn are both very fond of you. They would miss you terribly if you did not. And so would I."

Faramir hugged her tightly. "I shall be back before you even know I have gone."


A strange silence fell over the house once Faramir and the others had left.

Hentmirë and Eowyn were sitting side-by-side on the day bed, sorting through Hentmirë's father's papers in preparation for selling the house; Legolas was sitting close by, listlessly turning the pages of a book; Gimli was perching at the bottom of the stairs, sharpening his axe; Haldir was standing by the doors, gazing out into the courtyard...

At last, as darkness began to fall, Legolas roused himself and beckoned Gimli and Haldir into the study. He described to Gimli the attempts that he and Faramir had made to find Vardamir, and told them both of Eowyn's brush with Wolfram in the souk.

"She does not know whether he saw her, but if he did..." He removed one of his white knives from its scabbard and checked the sharpness of its edge. "Eowyn never talks about what happened between them on that galley—all she will say is that she made him pay. But I will never forget the malice I sensed when he took her from me in the castle. I will never forget what he threatened to do to her when I was lying paralysed. And if he ever gets a chance for revenge—"

"Just let me find him," muttered Gimli, unconsciously gripping the haft of his axe. "The animal!"

"We must find both of them," said Legolas, replacing his knife and strapping on the holster, "and quickly. The three of us will pay a visit to The Silk Road. I shall speak to Ribhadda; Gimli—I suggest you see if you can charm any information out of the patrons, elvellon; Haldir—perhaps you can have a word with Cyllien? Eowyn will stay here with Hentmirë."


The Silk Road was buzzing. Ribhadda was behind the bar, passing the time with one of his regular customers, the Captain of the Hatja's Guards, Ramess.

"I have often speculated," said Ramess, "on why you've never returned to the North, Rib. Did you abscond with the Poor Relief funds? Did you run off with a Counsellor's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the romantic in me."

"It was a combination of all three," said Ribhadda, dryly.

"And what in god's name brought you to Carhilivren?"

"My health. I came to Carhilivren for the waters."

"Waters? What waters? We are in the desert."

"I was misinformed."

Five musicians had filed out onto the stage and, arranging themselves on a cluster of wooden stools, they began tuning their instruments.

"Cyllien is about to sing..." said Ramess, wistfully. "What I would give for a woman like that."

"You and ten thousand others," said Ribhadda, unimpressed.

A murmur of surprise, suddenly rippling through the bar, announced the arrival of three strange customers—two of them tall, otherworldly beings, and one a very short, powerful man wearing a woman's robe but carrying a lethal-looking axe strapped to his back.

"Interesting," said Ramess. He turned to Ribhadda, raising his eyebrows.

"Very interesting," said the other man. "Would you like a quick word with Cyllien before she sings?"

"You do not think she would mind?"

"No. Go on through."

Ribhadda waited until the Guardsman had disappeared before he approached the smaller of the two elves. "You must be Lady Eowyn's husband, Prince Legolas," he said.

"And you must be Master Ribhadda," said the elf, placing his hand on his heart and bowing. He raised his head, smiling. "I wanted to thank you for taking such good care of her."

His face reminded Ribhadda of those of the divine spirits carved on the walls of the Golden Hall of Eshmunazar. The man shook his head. "It was my privilege," he said. "She's a classy lady."

The elf leaned towards him, slightly. "Can I ask you—"

Out of the corner of his eye, Ribhadda saw Ramess emerging from the stage door. "Not just now," he said. "Cyllien's about to sing. I'll give you the nod when the coast is clear."


Haldir had found a seat beside the stage. He looked distastefully at the sweaty customers thronging the bar, all of them waiting for Cyllien and most of them wanting her—even some of the women...

And I could have her, he thought. Valar, if only things were that simple.

The musicians had begun to play and, just as on the previous night, the elleth emerged from behind the curtain, singing.

She scanned the audience, saw him, and fixed her eyes upon him.

"Some day, when I'm very low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow
Just thinking of you...
And the way you look tonight."


Ribhadda beckoned to Legolas. "Follow me," he said. Unnoticed, the pair slipped through the door at the side of the stage. "I assume you want information about the man who was following your wife?"

"Yes," said Legolas.

"I didn't see him. But she said she knew him," said Ribhadda.

"Yes. We have had dealings with him before," said Legolas.

"Do you know his name?"

"In Dol Amroth he called himself 'Wolfram'."

"Wolfram." Ribhadda smiled, cynically. "That piece of work. I barred him from The Silk Road after he lifted a necklace and earrings from one of my lady customers—right here, in front of two hundred people. Nobody saw him do it."

"Do you know where I can find him?"

There was a pile of packing crates in the corridor. Ribhadda leaned against them. From beyond the door, Legolas could hear Cyllien singing.

"Rapture; I'm in rapture,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak,
And I seem to find the happiness I seek
When we're here together
Dancing cheek to cheek..."

"I don't normally meddle in the affairs of my customers—not when they don't affect me, or The Silk Road, personally—"

"Dance with me,
I want my arms about you,
The charms about you
Will carry me through
Rapture; I'm in rapture..."

"—but he's a dangerous animal and, as I say, your wife's a classy lady. I've heard he has a hideout on Garden Lane," said Ribhadda.


"In an alley behind one of the stalls. That's as much as I know."

"Thank you," said Legolas.


Cyllien wiped the colour from her lips, shrugged off her bodice and skirts, doused herself liberally in perfumed oil, slipped on her most seductive gown, and perched upon her dressing table, waiting...

Moments later, the door opened.

"You came!" she said, betraying far more of her feelings than she had intended.

"I came."

"I was not sure you would..." She twined her arms around his neck and pressed herself against him, expecting to arouse in him the same wild passion he had displayed the previous night.

But, this time, his body was unresponsive.

She placed her hand on his chin and pulled his face towards her. "You have been with her," she said.

"I have had a long talk with her, yes."

"About us."

"She wants us to be happy, Cyllien."

"That is very big of her." She gave up trying to arouse him and instead went over to her dressing table, searching for her clay pipe. "You should fuck her."


She turned to face him, shouting angrily. "Yes, fuck her! That is your cure! Fuck her and fuck her and fuck her and be disappointed. Fuck her and find that her tynd are no bigger than mine! Fuck her and find that her rond is no tighter than mine! Fuck her and fuck her and fuck her and—"


"Oh! Oh..." With the hysteria gone she was left shaking, her hands covering her wet face.

"I am sorry," said Haldir. Then he added, with unconcealed distaste, "You have been amongst them too long, Cyllien. You are no longer an elleth and you will never be a woman; I do not know what you are." He walked to the door.

"And she would not disappoint me," he said. "Not ever."



Contents page


Previous chapter: In the Souk
Eowyn encounters an old enemy and a new friend.

Chapter 2

Next chapter: Good advice
Haldir asks for help; Wolfram 'relocates' his victim.

Chapter 4

The Turquoise Gardens
Some pictures.

The bird is a hoopoe.

Chapter 2

Naughty Elvish
Ceredir fain ... ‘beautiful penis’ (literally, ‘beautiful maker’).
Gerich veleth nín ... ‘you have my love’ (from The Council of Elrond).
Tynd ... ‘breasts’ (literally, hills’).
Rond ... ‘vagina’ (literally, ‘cave’).