51. Let's Talk About Sex, Baby
Warning: This chapter covers certain sexual issues. If such issues offend you for religious/moral/whatever reasons, please just skip this chapter.
A/N: 'Thing': not "a thing", but an ancient word for the gathering of Germanic or Anglo-Saxon tribes/peoples for counsel and trials. The pronunciation is very hard, I am told that in modern Icelandic it sounds almost like a "t".
Let's Talk About Sex, Baby
Three days later we reached Edoras.
At the crossroads before the gates of Edoras, the host of the Rohirrim was finally discharged.
Their colourful banners flying in the wind, the companies of the proud riders of Rohan dispersed. One company rode towards the Westfold and Adornond, two companies turned to West Emnet, two others to East Emnet, one company made for the far Wold. Only the companies of Edoras, Snowbourne Vale and Dunharrow rode into the city of Edoras.
The sons of Elrond veered away towards Lothlórien to meet the entourage of their sister. We would see them again in June, because it had been decided that we would return to Minas Tirith together with them and Arwen and her entourage.
Riding into Edoras and up the hill towards the Golden Hall of Meduseld felt like coming home. I realized that this was the first time I really returned to a place in Middle-earth. Although I had been to Tarnost twice and had stayed at Minas Tirith for two nights before I had set out for Cormallen, that was not the same. Perhaps it was simply the fact that I had stayed in Edoras a little longer. Probably it also had a lot to do with me being in love with Éomer and that I was good friends with Éowyn… but whatever the reason, seeing the silhouette of the city of Edoras rise up before me, the golden roof of Meduseld glinting in the sunlight, I felt this surge of happiness you get when you return home after a long holiday somewhere else. When you return, and everything is the way you left it, and everything is good and peaceful and welcoming you.
When we rode through the gates, we were welcomed by deafening cheers.
I had not been ready for another triumphant return. I should have been. The people at Edoras had been waiting even longer for the return of the victors of the War of the Rings than the inhabitants of Minas Tirith. But caught unawares like that, I felt completely overwhelmed.
As we made our way slowly up the hill to the Golden Hall, I was sure that every single inhabitant of Edoras had turned out and lined up at the sides of the street to welcome us.
Judging by the amount of flowers thrown before the hooves of our horses, there couldn't be a single blossom left in any garden in Edoras or in the near vicinity of the city. But after I had gotten over my initial shocked surprise at this noisy welcome, I did not feel as strange and self-conscious about the cheers and applause of the crowd as I had felt in Minas Tirith. I guess you can get used to just about anything. I only felt an enormous happiness at the knowledge that the war was really over, and that we were back here in Edoras in one piece.
We dismounted on the terrace in front of the palace. Grooms took over the horses from us.
The high doors of the hall were opened and a number of large greyhounds charged up to Éowyn and Éomer, yipping and whining and jumping and wagging their tails, the image of houndish joy. Then brother and sister took each other's hands and entered the hall together.
Merry and I walked behind them. I could see the glitter of tears in the hobbit's eyes.
I suddenly realized that this was an extraordinary homecoming for Éomer and Éowyn. Sorrowful, and deeply significant for their future lives.
When they had left Edoras for the war, they had been nephew and niece to the king. Now Éomer would be king and Éowyn would return to Edoras as her home only one more time, when Théoden would be laid to rest in one of the green mounds before the city's gates some time after Aragorn's marriage this summer. Their world and their future had changed during the war, taking them where they had never expected to go.
I reached out for Merry, wanting to comfort the hobbit. It was obvious that the hobbit had liked the old king very much. Edoras and Meduseld had to remind him of Théoden, and how he had made Merry a squire of Rohan only a few months ago.
"You never met the old king, didn't you, Lothy?"
I shook my head. "No, I was too sick when they brought me here, and when I was better, he had already left for the battle at Helm's Deep, and when you returned to Edoras again, I had already gone away with the Grey Company. You liked him very much, didn't you?"
Merry sighed. "Yes, I did. He was a real gentleman. He was how a king should be. Patient and wise and strong. A real gentleman. And for a time he was almost like a father to me."
His grief was still acute and obviously painful. I knew how he felt. It takes time to live with loss. More than anything else, it takes time. Some wounds not even time can heal, but the pain fades in time. I knew that one day I would be able to look back with only a bittersweet ache in my heart, and not this sickening feeling of approaching an abyss of darkness and tears. I knew that I was already healing, although I did not now want to look back quite yet. I hoped that this would be true for Merry, too. I thought it would be. And for Pippin, and for Sam.
I knew it would not be true for Frodo.
In the hall we were offered a ceremonial cup of welcome filled with mead. Mead is honey-wine. I had never had it before. It is an acquired taste. But when you have acquired the taste, it is really good.
Éowyn was on the floor, fussing with one of the grey dogs. She looked up at me and laughed at the consternation on my face. "This is my Gwiri. She will have her pups before we leave for the wedding. Look at how fat she's become!" She was stroking the dog lovingly.
The dog had an undeniably round belly. I hunkered down next to Éowyn.
"What do I do?" I asked, not wanting to get bitten.
"Let her smell your hand along with mine," Éowyn said. "That way she will know that you are a friend. When she accepts you, scratch her behind her ears. She likes that."
Together we held out our hands to Gwiri. Gwiri snorted and then licked my fingers. Dogs have very soft, very wet tongues, not like cats. I grinned at the dog, and carefully proceeded to scratch Gwiri behind the ears. The dog lolled its tongue and turned on its back, showing up its distended belly, the nipples that would suckle her young already swollen. Éowyn laughed happily and proceeded to stroke Gwiri's belly to the delight of the dog.
Éomer chuckled. "Éowyn's mad about that dog, Lothy. But if she really offers you a pup, you should take it. Gwiri is the best dog we ever had, and I think Faro is the sire of this one's litter, and he was the strongest and fastest dog we ever had."
"What's happened to him?" I asked. And regretted the question instantly.
"He was with us in the war," Éomer said, his eyes filled with sadness. "He saved me from a mountain troll. He was trampled to mush in the process."
Éomer looked away quickly. I realized that he grieved for his valiant dog. My heart tightened with a feeling of love for him.
Éomer had promised to show all of Rohan to me.
But for the time being, he could not fulfil this promise. The day after he had returned to Edoras, he was swamped with the political problems that had accumulated during the last months of war and unrest. In other words, he spent his days in the Hall of Meduseld with councillors and complainants and scribes and judges and, you name it.
A Thing, a gathering of the lords and captains of all provinces and counties, was called and had to be prepared. The date for it was set for the 30th of May. We had arrived in Edoras at the 16th of May. Arwen and her escort were expected in Edoras on the 14th of June. It was planned to join her and her entourage and ride together to Minas Tirith, leaving Edoras on the 16th of June.
There was simply not enough time for anything.
Although by now I really loved riding, and I found that I really preferred riding to cars and trains and planes with their noise and the pollution, there is one thing about modern transportation that horses lack: speed.
We had needed nine days from Minas Tirith to Edoras. With an entourage – carriages and servants and guards – we would need fifteen days for the same distance. All this time lost on the road coming and going cut short the time Éomer could spend with me. Therefore any thought of a journey through the five provinces in order to show me the beauty of Rohan had to be postponed.
I did not mind too much. I was slowly beginning to believe that perhaps, somehow, sometime, things would work out, my origins and missing virginity notwithstanding. Someday Éomer would show me Rohan. Every nook and cranny.
For the time being, I saw him every morning at breakfast, in the evening at dinner and sometimes in between for a ride or a walk.
And it was not as if I was not kept busy. Éowyn had taken over my "education". There was still a lot that I had to learn about horses and riding. There was more that I had to learn about dogs. There was still more I had to learn about being a shield-maiden of Rohan. Or would that be shield-wife, if everything worked out fine?
Anyway, she brooked no objections on my part but simply made me learn how to fight: Rohirric-style. If you have a sword in your hand, and someone starts whacking at you, you are sort of forced to try and fight back. I did not enjoy it. I was not good at it.
Éowyn did enjoy herself immensely. Of course it helped that she was a natural with a sword and many years of training. Shield-maiden is not an honorary title.
I was in no way a natural with a sword.
A few days after our arrival in Edoras, Éowyn and I were sitting in front of the fireplace in the library. Even in the midst of summer it gets quite chilly in Edoras because of the mountains channelling the winds right towards the city. So we had a nice, big log fire going. Éomer had already gone to bed after a long day spent with his councillors in preparation of the Thing. But although I was hurting all over after another session with Éowyn, we were not yet tired enough to call it a day. So we sat in front of the fireplace, curled up in big easy chairs with warm woollen blankets and a beaker of mead each.
The mead was probably a mistake.
It was perfectly natural to want to talk about the men we were in love with. It was even more natural to talk about the man you were going to marry. Éowyn had told me for the seventh time exactly how Faramir had proposed to her, with even more details about his eyes and his smile. I had made the appropriate appreciative noises and sighed a little, thinking of how it would be if – when? – Éomer…
"What did you just say?" I started from my dreams. Éowyn had asked me a question.
She raised a golden eyebrow at me and grinned. "You told me that you would explain it to me."
"I would explain what to you?" What was she talking about?
"The night of the coronation," Éowyn expounded. "You said, I quote 'you are my dearest friend, and I will do everything for you, but I will not tell you about sex now'. I have waited weeks and weeks now. Éomer is safely asleep. We are warm and comfortable and there's a jug with mead on that table that has our names on it. How about you talk to me about sex now?" She blinked at me, affecting a pout. She failed at it miserably. She is not that kind of woman. Finally she tried for a grin that was the kind of grin that tries to look innocent but is really wicked. That worked just fine. "Please?"
I sighed. She was my friend. I should have said 'never', not 'not now'.
Did I say that I'm no good at girl talk?
Did I mention that I bloody hate those embarrassing talks?
"Alright," I said finally. My heartbeat was already increasing its speed. My cheeks were growing hot in advance. I had not even thought about what to say, damn it all to hell. Such talk needed careful mental preparation. In advance. And I was supposed to be a mature and emancipated woman of the twenty-first century. I sighed. There was probably more than one reason why I felt so at home in the vaguely medieval society of Middle-earth.
"What do you want to know?" I asked feebly.
She glared at me. She was not going to make this easy on me.
I sighed again. "You did say you know how it works technically, didn't you? That the man puts his…" Why is it so hard to even name this appendage without blushing?
"…that the man puts his penis into your vagina and…"
"Yes, I know how copulation works. I breed dogs and horses!" Éowyn rolled her eyes at me. "I have even some experience as a midwife. What I want to know is how it feels. Does it really hurt so much? How often do you have to do it to get pregnant? I mean, I know how it works for horses, and dogs, but are we the same? The way some of the older women talk about it, it sounds so gross. But the way you talked about… ahem… you talked as if it was different, as if it was wonderful, as if it was some kind of magic… as if it was strong enough even to thwart the power of the Enemy…And why do I feel as if I was longing to do it, whenever I am close to Faramir?"
Copulation…I breed dogs and horses…
Oh, Gods, what have I done to offend you?
"Sex" – a much nicer word than copulation – "Sex," I repeated. "For the first time, sex tends to hurt. If you are a virgin there's this little piece of skin the man has to tear to get into you. You also might be tense, because you are nervous. And then it does hurt a bit to have him pushing in, especially if you are not ready and the man is not very skilful."
I knew that one from experience. It had not been a pleasant experience. "But if the man knows what to do, and he makes you ready, it's the most wonderful thing in the world."
Éowyn stared at me blankly. I gulped. Perhaps I should try the easy questions first. "Well, you know that there are days that are… especially good for conceiving each month, do you?" I glanced at her. She nodded. I went on. "If you do it at that time, just once may be enough to get you pregnant. If you are lucky, or unlucky, depending on your wish for a child… even at other times once will be enough. The first time might even be enough. I think, biologically speaking, the longing is in us to have children. But you know, we don't only sleep with a man to get pregnant. It's a way to celebrate love. To worship one another. Sex should not be only sex. Though it can be nice even then. But it's more. It's a way of sharing love and desire in the most divine way."
My words echoed in my ears. Had I just sounded like my mother when she had given me THAT talk?
Éowyn continued to stare at me. I was gratified to see red spots glowing prettily on her high cheekbones. Good. Now I was not the only one in this room who felt utterly embarrassed.
"How can I make it wonderful?" Éowyn asked, ever practical.
I pursed my lips. How can you make a first time wonderful? Now, if I knew how many virgins Faramir had already deflowered… Boromir had been a wonder. But I rather thought that Faramir would not have been, well, as easygoing about gathering experience in that particular matter as his older brother obviously had been.
"It will help if you know what you like," I said finally. For a moment I wondered how I even knew the designations of penis, vagina and orgasm in Westron. Sometimes Gandalf's spells worked a little too well.
"If I know that I like what?" Éowyn asked, uncomprehendingly.
"Well, how you like to be touched, and where, and – did you ever have an orgasm?" The question was out before I had time to think about it. If I had had the time to think about it, I think I would have finally managed to simply vanish into thin air.
Éowyn's face blushed harder. She had heard of orgasm. I was relieved. I don't think I would have wanted to explain that one. I was also sure that I did not want to know where she had heard about what orgasm is.
"No, of course not," Éowyn answered, for once with the kind of breathless voice that I knew from myself, when I was desperately looking for a mouse hole to disappear into.
"I am a virgin." Éowyn said pointedly.
Oh, this was going to be fun.
"You don't need a man for orgasm," I said bluntly. Either get it over with or never speak of it at all.
"I don't?" Éowyn's eyes grew round with astonishment.
"No. You can do that for yourself. Though it is much nicer with a man and kissing and soft touches all over your body. But you don't need a man to reach orgasm."
"How… how does it work?" Éowyn asked, swallowing hard.
I inhaled deeply, then let go of my breath again. Tonight I had to be doing penance for a lot of sins. Probably I would wake with a halo floating above my head in the morning.
"There's a spot at… ahem… at the top of your vagina, there's a little knob, it's called clitoris, and that is for women the place of sexual pleasure, like the penis for the men," I explained and felt the urgent need to gasp for breath.
"This thing is real?" Éowyn stared at me.
I exhaled with relief. She had heard of that, too. Yippee skippee. Thank God for small mercies! "Ahem… yes, it's real. Very…real. And if you are in bed and take your time… ahem…getting to know your body… down there, ahem… like stroking and massaging yourself, then you should… ahem… be able to reach orgasm. Without a man."
"And that will help with Faramir how?"
Please, let this evening be over! I inhaled. I exhaled. "I think that if you know what orgasm can feel like, you won't be as frightened of… things… be as tense when it's time for… the first time, as you might be otherwise. And if you know what feels good to you, you can… sort of show it to Faramir, should he be… nervous about… things, too."
"Oh," Éowyn said.
I could watch her thinking this through. She was rubbing her upper lip against her lower lip thoughtfully.
"I don't know how much experience Faramir has," she finally commented. "And I can hardly ask him. Perhaps I should try…"
"Éowyn, you've near killed me with embarrassment over this talk. Don't even go there. I don't want to know. I gave you the best advice I can come up with. Please, leave it at that. Or I might have a heart attack and die on the spot." Then one last thought occurred to me. "Um… and if it's not good the first few times, don't worry. That's entirely normal. Even with the most wonderful man in the world. You just have to keep trying. A most noble endeavour. Can keep you happy and busy for years."
Then I could not bear it any longer. I pulled the blanket up over my head and dissolved into hysterical giggles.
It was not the next day. We had stayed up too late for any experiments. When I had recovered from Éowyn's curiosity, our talk had changed to more ordinary topics. Dogs, horses, Arwen, marriage, betrothal, Faramir, Éomer, Faramir… you get the drift.
But the morning after that day, Éowyn looked extraordinarily fresh and relaxed at breakfast. She was bright eyed and much more cheerful than she had been since we left Minas Tirith. She grinned at me wickedly. "You know, Lothy, you give rather good advice."
I thought I might have that heart attack then and there. I blushed furiously. My cheeks seemed to be on fire, so hot did they feel. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.
Éomer turned to me and asked, his voice filled with curiosity. "What was this advice about? Perhaps I need a bit of good advice, too!"
Éowyn and I did not stop laughing for an hour.
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.