To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying: 1. The invitation

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1. The invitation

“Stance?” asked Legolas. “Feet comfortable, shoulder-width apart, body upright,” said Eowyn. “Good. Now nock your arrow—where are your drawing fingers?” “At ninety degrees to the arrow, lightly touching the arrow nock.” “Good. Raise your bow into the shooting position. Relax the fingers of your bow hand—relax them—How do you draw?” “With your elbow, feeling your shoulder blade move towards your spine.” “Good. Draw to your anchor, keeping your bow shoulder low and your drawing elbow level with your drawing hand.” Her stance is perfect, Legolas thought. He had had a bow of the right size and weight made for her by one of his father’s best bow makers. It lacked the power of a Galadhrim bow like his own, but it was perfect for an inexperienced archer. And, Legolas thought, admiring the dark polished wood, it is beautiful; like her. “Do you feel bone-to-bone contact between your index finger and your cheek?” “Yes,” said Eowyn. “Mouth closed!” he laughed. “Now, keep your eye focussed on the target—picture your arrow hitting it. The arrow should almost loose itself when it is ready. But do not relax until it hits the target!” Eowyn held for a few moments longer then loosed the arrow. It pierced the target cleanly, with a satisfying thud, a fraction to the right of the centre. Her technique is already very good, thought Legolas. And her aim is true, for a human. “Again!” Eowyn took another arrow from her quiver, nocked it, raised her bow, drew and loosed. Her second arrow pierced the target less than half an inch to the left of the first. “Melmenya!” cried Legolas and, forgetting the professional distance he tried to maintain when teaching her, he lifted her off her feet and whirled her round and round. And then—because her laughter was intoxicating and her body was warm and soft under his hands—he lowered her to the ground and, kissing her mouth and neck, he unlaced her bodice. Eowyn normally tried—unsuccessfully—to avoid making love in places where they might be seen but today he could feel her little hands working, too, pulling at his lacings. And moments later he was inside her. “Oh! Oh, my—oh!—my bow,” she gasped. “Shhhhhh, melmenya,” he whispered, “just this once, I will—ah—I will let you leave it lying on the ground.” … He carried her—and her bow—all the way from the practice field to the foot of the staircase that curled its way up the trunk of one of the mighty carantaur trees and into the very heart of the city of Eryn Carantaur. But there Eowyn’s protests became so colourful that he was forced to set her down and allow her to climb the stairs by herself. Halfway up the staircase they were met by Legolas’ secretary, hurrying to find them. “A messenger has arrived from Edoras, my lord, my lady,” he said. “Eomer is a father!” cried Eowyn, clapping her hands together. “And you have a nephew, or a niece, melmenya.” “We have a nephew or a niece,” said Eowyn. And then she had to dodge his hands as he tried to lift her off her feet again. There is nothing worse, she thought, than an affectionate elf in high spirits. But she certainly did not mean it. … Eofred, the messenger from Rohan, waited uncomfortably in Legolas’ private study. He had visited Eryn Carantaur before but only as an insignificant part of Eomer King’s retinue—and not since Princess Eowyn had been bewitched into running away from her husband and living as the Elf King’s paramour. And she was such a nice, respectable lady before, he thought. But now, they say, she has relations with him in full view of his courtiers—Gods, will I be expected to watch them, too? He touched the folded parchment in the inside pocket of his greatcoat. Perhaps, if he could think of a good enough excuse, he could just give them the letter and leave immediately. But, even as the thought occurred to him, he could hear their voices approaching the study door—Eofred took a deep breath and prepared himself for the worst. He was almost disappointed by what he saw. The Elf King was dressed respectably in leggings, boots and a suede jerkin, the lady in a simple forest green gown with a close-fitting bodice of green suede, and they had clearly been practising archery because they were both wearing leather bracers around their wrists. “Good afternoon, Master Eofred,” said the lady. “You have some good news, I hope?” “Yes, indeed, my lady,” Eofred replied and, taken aback by her use of his name, he clumsily withdrew Eomer King’s letter from his pocket. “Thank you,” she said, graciously, and, taking the letter from him, she broke open the seal and read it excitedly. “A boy!” she cried. “They have called him Elfwine, and they want me to stand as one of his sponsors at his Naming Ceremony—” “That is wonderful, meleth nín.” “—and Gimli is to be another, so we will be seeing him again sooner than we thought!” She smiled at Legolas. “The ceremony is to take place on the twenty-fifth of Hisime—that is only one month’s time—in—oh, in Dol Amroth…” Her voice trailed away and Eofred saw her look anxiously at Legolas. The Elf King shook his head very slightly, and Eofred knew the meaning of the look he gave her: We will talk later. Then he said, “Will you stay the night, Master Eofred? I believe there is some excellent game on the menu and, afterwards, we will be joined by members of my Inner Council, and their families, for a pleasant evening’s entertainment.” An evening’s entertainment? thought Eofred. Oh gods, I am expected to watch! But how could he possibly refuse such a gracious invitation? And from a king? “Thank you my lord,” he stammered. “Good,” said Legolas. “I will have my secretary show you to a guest chamber and my lady and I will collect you at seven thirty and take you down to dinner.” … Eowyn waited until the secretary had ushered Eofred from the room, then she turned to Legolas. “I can go to Dol Amroth alone,” she said. “I would miss you terribly, but I would not mind being there alone.” Legolas gave her one of his most serene and—at this moment, she thought—exasperating smiles and said, “Let us bathe, melmenya. You were exerting yourself on the practice field this afternoon, especially when you were learning to extend your draw time. You need to relax your shoulder and back muscles.” “Legolas—” “We will talk in the bath, meleth nín.” He was uncharacteristically distant while they were undressing, not touching her at all, and by the time he turned to help her climb into the water, Eowyn—who was used to being seduced in the bathing room—was beginning to panic. He waited until she was sitting down in the warm, scented water, then he climbed in too and sat beside her, still not touching her. Eowyn waited. And waited. Then panic got the better of her. She took his hand. I will simply not let go of him, she thought. If I refuse to let go of his hand, what can he do? And she started talking, “I have a confession to make my love: a while ago, I overheard something. And perhaps I should have asked you about it at the time but—well, I thought I would wait until you were ready to tell me yourself. Because I do trust you, Legolas—” “Oh gods!” whispered Legolas, “what did you hear?” “—I heard you threatening Imrahil,” she said. “You said that if he tried to turn me against you, you would kill him. How could he turn me against you, Legolas? He could not.” “Oh, Eowyn nín,” Legolas whispered. Eowyn looked at him sharply. She had once accused him of calling her ‘Eowyn nín’ only when he was feeling guilty. “Legolas?” He freed his hand, grabbed her waist and pulled her close, crushing her hard against him, and he buried his face in her shoulder. His body was shaking, and it took Eowyn a moment to realise that he was sobbing. “My love,” she whispered, “tell me what is wrong.” “You will be disgusted—” “Never,” she whispered. She began to stroke his hair, gently. “Tell me.” She waited patiently and, eventually, Legolas began to talk, haltingly. “When you and Faramir announced that you were to marry—and you were beyond my reach, melmenya—and the ache of sea-longing was new to me and too much to bear—I could not rest—and I would spend my nights roaming around Minas Tirith and the encampment outside.” Eowyn kept stroking his hair. “I had met Imrahil shortly after you were injured, melmenya, and had recognised the elven blood in his veins. And although Gimli is the dearest friend an elf could wish for, I missed the company of my own kind. And one night, I found myself entering Imrahil’s tent…” his voice faltered. Eowyn kissed the top of his head. “What happened?” For a long while he did not answer and Eowyn continued to stroke his hair, soothingly. Then he said, “It began as two comrades-at-arms discussing past campaigns. He talked about—well, that is not important, meleth nín. I talked about Helm’s Deep. And about you—oh, I did not tell him of my feelings for you. No one knew of those, save Gimli—who always seems to know more about me than I know about myself—” Eowyn smiled into his hair. “—though Gimli said nothing. And it was such a relief to talk to someone—I could not talk to Aragorn—not about you, nor about anything close to my heart—for his concerns were so much greater than mine. So I told Imrahil about the sea longing and my fears for my father and for Mirkwood and my plans for Eryn Carantaur—though the colony was nothing but an idea then. And about you. “And gradually I became—more comfortable. I relaxed and I fell into reverie. And I must have been truly exhausted, for I passed from reverie into healing sleep and I began to dream, like a mortal.” “Legolas?” she whispered, “Legolas…” and he awoke to find her poised over him, naked, her hair unbound and falling in golden waves over his shoulders and his chest. And she leant forward, pressing her body closer, and licked his ear, whispering his name, again and again, “Legolas, Legolas…” And the caress of her breath against his neck made his body ache with need. And, desperately, he pressed himself into her warmth… “When I awoke, Imrahil was—touching me, fondling me, stroking me, and although my heart and my spirit tried to stop him, melmenya, my body—he seemed to know what my body liked—and I lost control…” He sobbed. “I lied to you, Eowyn.” “When, my love?” asked Eowyn, tears running down her face. “I said I had lain with no one since I met you, meleth nín; I am sorry.” “Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh, my love. You did not lie with him. He touched you intimately and your body responded.” She cradled him in her arms, rocking him, gently. “Melmenya?” He lifted his head from her shoulder and looked into her eyes. “Have you not suffered enough pain, having a husband who betrayed you with another man—” “Legolas!” She pressed her fingers to his lips. “You must not torture yourself on my account! What happened between Faramir and me—and Berengar—was an entirely different matter. Faramir fell in love; it is part of his nature to prefer a man…” She sighed at the memory of the pain she had felt then. “You merely sought company and Imrahil misunderstood—All that is important to me is how you feel. How you feel in your heart and in your spirit.” Legolas hesitated. It was still a painful memory. “At the time I felt unclean,” he said. “And I felt guilty. I felt that I was responsible for my own dishonour, because I had allowed him to get too close. But mostly I felt betrayed. I had trusted him as I would trust Aragorn, as I would trust Gimli. I had enjoyed talking to him. I had thought we were friends. But he must have thought that I wanted sex because, afterwards, he expected me to—to do the same for him. But I would not. I could not...” His voice trailed away and he was silent for a few moments. Then he added, very softly, “It seemed to me that the whole world was different from what I had always thought it. And I began to doubt myself, and to doubt others.” Eowyn nodded. She had once heard a woman who had been taken by force, by someone she knew well, describe very similar feelings. But she did not think that observation would comfort Legolas. “How did your spirit recover, my love?” “Time passed,” said Legolas. “And I threw myself into building Eryn Carantaur. But I did not truly begin to heal until that evening at Caras Arnen, when I found you sitting in your garden, in the cold and dark. I had no idea what was hurting you, then. But I had always loved you. And when I saw your pain—my heart, which had been frozen for so long, was shattered by your pain. And after that, miraculously, both my heart and my spirit began to heal.” “I love you Legolas,” said Eowyn. “I fell in love with you at that very same moment. When you put your arms around me, and sang to me, I felt happy for the first time in—well, perhaps for the first time in my life. We are meant to be together, Legolas, though mortal and immortal.” “Will you let me make love to you, melmenya?” he asked. “Of course, my love, how can you ask?” she whispered. And she kissed him, tenderly. … Afterwards, lying side by side on the bathing room floor, they made several decisions. First, Legolas would go with Eowyn to Dol Amroth. Secondly, he would face Prince Imrahil. “I will talk to him, meleth nín. I will tell him how I felt at the time and how I feel now. I will apologise for my recent behaviour toward him, but I will make it clear that he did me much wrong.” Thirdly, Legolas would face the sea. “I have been anxious for some time, melmenya, to confront my fear of losing control before it. You will be with me—and I have not forgotten your promise to me.” He kissed her hand. And Eowyn, too, remembered the promise she had given him the first time she had seen him truly in the grip of sea longing: “I will not let you leave, Legolas! If the sea should seduce you, or force you against your will, I will sail after you and I will pull you back—even if you reach Valinor I will bring you back. And if the gods turn me away from the undying lands I will wait out to sea, calling to you, until your senses return and you swim out to me. I will not abandon you, Legolas. Not while there is breath still left in my body!” … Together they wrote to Eomer, expressing their joy at the birth of his son, sending their best wishes to both mother and child, and accepting his invitation to the Naming Ceremony. They would send the letter to Edoras with Eofred tomorrow. Then, as a courtesy, they also wrote to Imrahil, thanking him in advance for his hospitality. … The following morning, as Eofred set out for Edoras, a messenger arrived from Minas Tirith with a personal letter from Aragorn. After seeing that the messenger was well taken care of, Legolas opened the letter and began reading it aloud to Eowyn. My friends, How is ‘married’ life treating you, Legolas? Any regrets yet? Legolas smiled at Eowyn and shook his head, then continued reading. There were various anecdotes and small items of news, but the main point of the letter came near the end: I have a favour to ask of you, Legolas. Arwen is healthy, and assures me that her pregnancy is going well, but I am concerned that the royal healer, though very skilled, has no experience of elves. Would your healer, Master Dínendal, be willing to travel to Dol Amroth with you to examine Arwen and to share his knowledge with her healer? He strikes me as a person who would welcome an adventure and the opportunity to learn from human healers. I would be very grateful if you would arrange this for me, mellon nín. “I am sure that Aragorn is right—Master Dínendal would be only too happy to come with us,” said Legolas. “But I have some concerns about taking any elf who is not already hearing the sea’s call so close to the sea. I will speak to him after the Council meeting this morning.” … Ten days later, Eofred had caught up with Eomer King’s cavalcade—as it crossed Anorien en route from Edoras to Dol Amroth—and was describing to his wife, Prince Elfwine’s nurse, the magical evening he had spent in Eryn Carantaur. “There is no formality there, my dear,” he said, “the Elf King and his lady escorted me to the banqueting hall themselves.” “What were they wearing?” asked his wife. “Oh, I cannot describe clothes, my dear!” “Yes, you can—imagine you are describing—describing a horse; what colours were they wearing?” Eofred closed his eyes and tried to picture the couple. At the time he had been unsure which of them was more the beautiful, though, of course, the lady was more to his taste. “Lord Legolas’ tunic and leggings were very pale grey silk—like those pearls your father included in your dowry—and they were embroidered with a pattern of leaves in a darker grey. His boots were also dark grey and—shaped.” “Shaped?” “Like someone had taken some leather leaves and wrapped them round his legs.” “How strange! It must be an elvish fashion,” said his wife. He nodded. “What about Lady Eowyn?” Eofred was warming to the task. “She was wearing an elven gown—soft and flowing—of deep blue velvet with autumn leaves—you know the colour leaves turn when they fall from the tree and dry out—part way between brown and pink? They were that colour. They were scattered all over it, as if they were blowing in the breeze. They looked almost real. The elves decorate everything with leaves,” he added, “clothes, curtains, bedclothes, furniture. Or they carve it to look like flowing water. They love nature.” “Did Lady Eowyn seem happy?” “Oh yes—and he worships her. You can see it.” “Well—good. Though I did not hold with her leaving her husband like that, she is a good lady at heart, and I am glad she is happy. What is the city like?” Eofred described the elegant wooden buildings nestling in the branches of the massive trees, the walkways and bridges connecting the flets, and the staircases spiralling down the tree trunks. “It is beautiful,” he said. “No wonder the lady is happy there.” “We had to climb down one of the trees to get to the banqueting hall—it is on the ground, in a clearing below the main city. The food was excellent—and the wine even better!—and I ate my fill of roast venison, though I noticed that many of the elves, including Lord Legolas and his lady, preferred to eat vegetables and fruit.” “Why was that?” “It seems that some elves think it is wrong to kill an animal for food when there is fruit and vegetables available.” “Imagine that!” said his wife. “I was sitting between Lady Eowyn and a very old, distinguished elf, called Lord Fingolfin. He asked me lots of questions about the Riders of the Mark. To the elves, my dear, we humans seem strange—fabulous!” His wife laughed. “Then, after the meal, we all went back to Lord Legolas’ sitting room—the lord and his lady, Lord Fingolfin, Lord Caranthir and his wife, and me. And we drank more wine and ate sweetmeats and talked and had a merry time of it.” The elves had been warm and genuine and had made him feel like an honoured guest. It had been one of the best nights of his life. He would hear no scurrilous talk about the Elf King and his lady in future. “Lord Legolas sang—in the common tongue—in my honour,” said Eofred. “They say an elf will sing sooner than talk,” said his wife. “What was his voice like?” “It was pure gold,” said Eofred, smiling. “Pure gold.” … Legolas smiled as he watched Eowyn and Haldir, leaning over his desk, pouring over Eowyn’s orc map—at times like this he was so proud of her! Since the fall of Sauron, small bands of orcs had been roaming Middle Earth attacking isolated settlements. When Eowyn had first heard of it, from the Guards of North Ithilien, she had realised that the orcs were following a pattern and that by tracking where they had been it would be possible to predict where they were going. So—for the best part of two years—she had been seeking out information—from border guards and messengers—and transcribing it onto a large map of North and South Ithilien. Her patient tracking had shown that, with no leader to direct them, the orcs normally behaved like packs of wild dogs—individual bands moved according to the season, staying within their own territories and preying on livestock and the odd hapless traveller. But occasionally they would go marauding—sometimes joining up with other bands—and then their attacks became more ambitious and far more dangerous. The trick was to spot the change of behaviour as soon as it started. Though the Guards of North Ithilien had never taken Eowyn’s orc map seriously, both Legolas and Haldir had immediately seen its value and had encouraged her to maintain it. And their faith had been rewarded when, two weeks ago, based on Eowyn’s predictions, Haldir had quickly fortified one of the colony’s more vulnerable settlements and successfully repelled an orc raid. What was concerning Eowyn now was a large band of orcs that had spent the last two weeks slowly meandering along the Anduin towards Pelargir. “They look like marauders, but they are taking their time,” said Eowyn, “so if we leave tomorrow we should cross the Anduin safely without seeing them—” “Yes,” agreed Haldir, “but it would still be wise to have an additional escort—say two extra guards.” “Do you have anyone suitable?” asked Legolas. “I do not want to expose anyone who is vulnerable to the call of the sea.” “I have several elves from Lorien and Imladris, all experienced soldiers,” said Haldir. “Explain the danger to them and ask for volunteers,” said Legolas. “I will not use anyone who is not fully aware of the danger and willing to take the risk.” Haldir nodded. “Is Master Dínendal happy to take the risk?” asked Eowyn. “Yes,” said Legolas. “He is descended from a Noldorin elf. And even if he were not, I get the impression that he would be willing to risk the fires of Mount Doom for the chance to travel to Dol Amroth and converse with all the human healers he will meet there.” He smiled, sadly. “You cannot protect everyone, my love,” said Eowyn, very softly. … The following day, six elves and one woman set off from Eryn Carantaur on the long journey to Dol Amroth. Haldir was in the vanguard, with one of his most experienced soldiers. Then came Legolas, Eowyn and the healer, Master Dínendal. Finally, at the rear, came the two volunteers from Imladris. Let us hope they all return to the forest untainted by sea longing, thought Legolas, for even Eowyn would have a hard job dragging six of us back from Valinor. And, in spite of himself, Legolas laughed out loud.

This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

Story Information

Author: ningloreth

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 4th Age

Genre: Drama

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 01/14/11

Original Post: 07/21/04

Go to To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying overview


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