38. Chapter 38
Aside from a few tense days and nights as they cut through the Barrow Downs, the remainder of the journey was uneventful. Rin recalled all too well just how perilious the stones were and this she steered well clear of them. All the same, Hanasian set Farbarad and Rowdy on the alerts should something unwholesome seek to lure her. The wights had been sent to infest the tombs of her forefathers and it was well known that bright, hot blood was a siren call to them. She slept uneasily those nights but that was the extent of it this time. Stillwater was a little disappointed, though he would not admit it. Hanavia was oblivious, blissfully so and everyone else envied him for it.
Once they had set the Barrow Downs to their backs and forded the river that marked the boundary of old between Arthedain and Cardolan, the days and nights were wholly unremarkable. Save for the inexorable turning of the seasons, for winter would press on them all to quickly, there was nothing to press them hard. Nor did they camp cold.
The skirted the northern tip of the Blue Mountains and after nearly a month since setting out from Bree, followed Farbarad at the last through the forest that stood thickly on the coastal plain. With the Blue Mountains at the east, the sea at the west, and the elvish enclaves still found at Harlond and Mithlond to the north, it was easy to see why this had once been the seat of Cardolan's Princes. It was well defended in addition to being a gentle, rich land. Had it not been for the Great Plague, like as not this land would have harboured Dunedain of the Cardolan realm still.
Forest kings, once they had been called, and it was easy to see why. It was also easy to see why the powerful spirit Tom Bombadil had found some measure of kinship with the few survivors of Cardolan that had fled to shelter in the Old Forest. Rumour had it that there was no Ranger of the Dunedain more skilled in forestcraft than those of Cardolan had once been. It was a rumour few had ever thought to test as the sorrowful tale of the years had unfolded. As Hanasian watched Farbarad press ahead, he thought he saw some of the truth of that rumour.
It had been many years, over fifty, since Farbarad had last ventured here. At that time, he had discovered a wild forest largely untouched and untamed, shells of empty buildings that seemed in danger of being consumed entirely. The empty doors and dark windows had seemed mournful to him, as if the stones remembered those who had shaped them and long since fled or perished in that terrible sickness. Remembered and grieved. Now the forest seemed as thick and vital but it was, somehow, a little more restrained. He glanced more than once over his shoulder to where Rosmarin rode. She was quiet, wrapped in her thoughts. The sunlight dappled the trail and flickered over horses and riders both. It made her hair gleam when it found her and then swiftly fell away. Over fifty years ago, had any man suggested that one of Cardolan's royal line would retake the seat of Cardolan's Princes, he would have punched the man in his mouth. And now, here she was, riding quietly along behind him on a horse next to her husband.
Farbarad led them gradually westward and closer to the coast as he took them south. She liked this forest. It was the sort of forest that would have once provided a reasonably good existence in years gone by. Abundant shelter and water and game. The sort of place she and Loch would have gravitated to. Particularly had they know that the mountains contained no orcs. Mountains meant overhangs and caves, excellent for winter.
"Just a Dwarf or twenty to deal with," Farbarad had said the night before, adding the twenty for good measure in case she got ideas.
Dwarves, she thought, easy enough. Keep out of their way, and don't steal anything from them unless you know they won't miss it until you are well clear and beyond their reach.
In time, she started to hear the sighing song of waves upon the shore. It was a sound she had heard for many long months, over a year. She'd first heard it in that glorious month in Ithilien, spent with Hanasian after their wedding. She'd heard the sea underneath the sound of her beloved teaching a child's rhyme to children. She glanced down at Hanavia. He was nestled in a sling across her chest, little hands curled around folds of her shirt. He slept best when he could hear her heartbeat. Nearly five months old, with his father's dark hair softly waving against his head and wintry blue eyes that Slippery had predicted would be the bane of every woman's existence in the years to come.
"Yours as well, Rin. Just watch if he doesn't turn those eyes loose on you the same way you do on everyone else. Only stands to reason he would, given he has your eyes. I'm looking forward to the day that happens," Slippery had chuckled.
"Won't make a lick of difference," Rin had replied and Slippery had only laughed harder.
"Sounds like a wager to me," she replied and so it was.
Rin found that aside from herself, everyone bet on Hanavia for they all knew through personal experience just how potent that blend of silver and blue could do when harnessed to its full potential. Her own brother had famously listed his sister's eyes as their secret weapon.
"Charm? She doesn't need a gentle tongue. All she has to do is look and they melt, fear or fascination. Was those eyes that earned her the money purses of Khule and Molguv when she was half dead of exposure, hunger and fever. Was those eyes that earned us a place in the Company she had robbed."
"Hah! She spent most of that day unconscious," Khule had replied and Loch grinned at him.
"Oh aye, and weren't you all leaning in to see when she'd open them again. You especially, Molguv!"
And the Haradian had grinned, teeth white against the ink of his skin, unashamedly.
Home…they were coming home. Home was a place now. Before, for as long as she knew, it had been people. Loch, of course, and then Hanasian and the Company. Home was a place now, and people. It was a strange thing to understand for her. When at last Farbarad led them to their destination, it was difficult for her to prevent her jaw from hanging slack. Hanasian and the others swung down out of their saddles and strode to where the Prefect waited with a small group of men. Most of the men looked to have been working fields she could see to the east. They might lean on mattocks and hoes. They might not wear steel or leather. There was something about the way a fighting man held himself that was unmistakeable. She wasn't fooled. She watched Hanasian and Farbarad exchange greetings with the Prefect while Rowdy nodded at some of his men.
Rowdy was a man of Gondor. It made absolutely no sense to her why he would want to sign on. She had the strong suspicion he had not joined the Black Company by happenstance alone. He had begun following her after that battle in Rhun, after the city where she first wondered about Rocks. Since that battle, he'd been following her about like a bad smell and it wasn't because he harboured any sentiment for her. It was strictly business. Professional. While she sat on her horse, several things fell into place. Aragorn's words on the trail from Rhun towards Esgaroth proved the key.
He had spoken of the need for certain precautions. She had voiced her protest at raising her family under siege but Aragorn had not relented. The saddle had creaked as he had leaned across it to drive his words home. He was king, his will in matters concerning the protection of his court and his family was not to be lightly set aside. She had fallen silent at the time, preoccupied with finding a way to argue without appearing to argue and then he had smiled at her sideways and told her matter was out of his hands already and in motion. Now, as she watched Rowdy, she realised just how true that had been. Rowdy looked back to where she still sat her horse and slowly inclined his head. Now she understood. She knew who he was, what he was. She eyed the fieldworkers a moment longer and then returned to her study of what was her home.
Stone, wood and slate. The principle residence sprawled across the gentle rise and fall of the ground as if it had sprung up from there. It was all one story, and it was huge, at least to her eyes. The land sharply dropped away for they stood on a bluff and the house perched along it. A balcony had been built out over it, cunning design holding it aloft, and stone stairs had been carved into wall of the bluff so that they could reach the shore and inlet below. There was a large garden at the rear of the house, protected from the salty ocean wind. The eaves were deep, more protection from the elements, and offered a cool place to sit in summer or a warm place in winter depending on the angle of the sun. Couches sat waiting already. A house, furniture…the wealth of it all astounded her. It was incomprehensible.
The house was sturdy, but it was not a keep. It could be a home. A very large home. It would take her and Hanasian time to fill it and as her thoughts turned Hanavia seemed to sense something of that and shifted against her in his sleep. She patted him gently.
"Not yet, little one," she murmured.
There were other buildings scattered around between the trees. One was a stables, another a storehouse. One might make an excellent work area, and there appeared to be a barracks as well. Behind it all, sealing it off was the forest. She recalled the map Aragorn had showed to her. A stream marked the inner boundary, he had said. She knew forest hemmed that stream from the markings on the map. He had indicated that the forest would be cleared to restore fields and pastures that had once been established there of old. It would be there that the "fieldworkers" would live and spend most of their time.
Stillwater and Slippery were unloading horses. It made no sense to place them out in the barracks when the house was so very large. As for the pastures, Frea and Folca had been hatching a horse trading plan that might have use for such a space…and there was a way to generate an independent stream of income…one to be used to fund the clinic…yes…and as for the barracks…well what of the Black Company who grew weary of the road and had no home to return to, like her?
"You getting down?"
Slippery's question cut across her thoughts. Hanasian and Farbarad had concluded their discussion with the Prefect and he was already on his way. The fieldworkers were returning to their fields. She hoped that they would be fieldworkers in truth as well as in appearance. Rowdy, Hanasian and Farbarad had vanished into the house to sweep it, presumably. The Prefect and his men would have seen to that already, but she knew by now that they'd not permit complacency to catch them unawares.
Rin slowly dismounted and started towards the house. It felt utterly surreal. Home. This was home. The building grew larger, solider, with each passing step. Inside, having completed their scan, the three men watched through the windows. Rin approached slowly, eyes a little wide, hands protectively settled over Hanavia. A little arm and then a leg stretched free of the sling. She reached the verandah and seemed to come to a standstill. She eyed the building like it might swallow her whole and, in that moment, her expression was unguarded. It was clear that she mystified.
"I reckon she might just stand there for the rest of the day and all through the night," Rowdy said, thumbs hooked through his belt.
"Not if I have anything to do with it," Hanasian rumbled fondly. He knew all too well how overwhelming this would be for a woman who had never known a home. If he was lightheaded with the generosity shown by Aragorn in restoring this building, Rin would be utterly amazed. It was not ornate. It was simple, clean…Numenor was here, elvish traces of design there…a solid, welcoming, safe haven of a place. A place Cardolan's princes had wandered. Hanasian strode for the door. There matters he would need to take into his own hands if he was going to get her over the threshold. This was a woman who had relatively recently mastered beds and who would simply dig in and wait until she had figured this home business out for herself before she proceeded any further. He was not going to have her camp under the stars tonight.
As Hanasian strode out of the door, across the verandah, directly for his wife. Rowdy and Farbarad followed.
"Good enough?" Hanasian inquired and, eyes still wide and locked on the house, Rin nodded mutely.
Hanavia was squirming in his sling. He gurgled with delight as his father fetched him out. The little boy was all smiles. A happy soul, much like Lochared had been. He passed his son to Farbarad and Hanavia sank his little hands into the Ranger's beard as he liked to do. Farbarad winced as Hanasian turned back to his wife and, in one smooth movement, swept her up and over his shoulder. She let out a squeak of surprise but that proved no delay and Hanasian was soon striding back for the door again. The thick oak door, carved by elven hands, but doughty all the same thunked solidly back into place. Farbarad passed Hanavia to Rowdy, disentangling his beard from the little boy's curious hands with some care.
"Now what?" Rowdy asked, eyeing Hanavia warily. The little rascal was reaching for his beard already, fingers waggling.
"Now you'd better hope he don't get hungry…because you know what happens then. It'll be a while before we see those two, I should think."
Farbarad's grin was merciless as he walked back to assist the other two with the horses. Rowdy's shout for Slippery was positively alarmed.
"It is so big," Rin whispered as Hanasian led her by the hand through the many rooms.
They passed so many places, nooks and surfaces that might do. Still, he discarded them all as he towed his wife behind him. Eventually, they came to what would be their bedroom. The room was vast and it opened out onto a balcony all of itself. The bed dominated the room. It appeared to float there and, to Hanasian's experienced eye, was of elvish make. The walls on either side had generous hearths in them to keep winter's storms at bay. There were desks and cupboards, rugs thrown down on the stone floor. But what beckoned was the balcony itself. Hanasian led his wife to this and pushed open the doors.
The sea flowed in, sound and smell. Outside were wide couches. Overhead was the vault of the sky and, beyond the stone balustrade of the balcony was the ocean itself. Yes, he decided, this would do nicely.
"How can this be?" Rin marvelled, still whispering.
Hanasian pulled her to one of the couches. Wind ran its fingers through her hair and tossed the pale strands carelessly. He ran his fingers along her silhouette, from shoulders to hips. Since Hanavia's birth, Rin had transformed once again. With some exceptions, she had returned to her lithe form. One of these exceptions pleased Hanasian greatly as they were pressed against his chest as chased her lips. He lifted a hand even now to trace the soft curve of one breast.
"This is your home," he murmured against her jaw, aching for her.
Since Hanavia's birth, his only release had been brought by her sweet mouth, the deepened lush valley of her soft breasts, or the silk of her thighs. As delightful as this was, he craved something else. Something more. But he had known he had to be patient. It would take time for her to recover. It had been nearly four months now. She was remarkably accomplished with her mouth and tongue…but it had been four months…and he had resolved that the waiting would cease with their homecoming. He kissed along the fine line of her jaw and she tipped her head away so as to reveal the expanse of her throat. His teeth grazed her delicate skin and his hands sank to her hips and pushed her firmly against him.
He heard her suck in a breath and he squeezed. He knew she felt him. Down his mouth travelled to her collarbones. He knew she loved to be kissed there and she shivered against him with delight. He had but to pop a few buttons and yet more would be his for the taking. She wore one of his old shirts like a smock over her worn Company breeches. It was easy to slide down one shoulder for Hanavia. But Hanavia was not here and his father had other plans. A flex of his wrists sent buttons flying over the balcony. He pulled the shirt back over both shoulders and kissed the tops of her breasts. Then lower so that he could outline one nipple with the tip of his tongue. The ocean breeze soon hardened them into peaks. Pleased with his work, Hanasian lightly pushed her back so that she sat on the couch.
Rin was breathing hard now. He knew how badly she longed for release. The barest of touches was enough to drive her to distraction. She sat on the couch, hair tousled, cheeks flushed, swollen lips parted, and stared at him with naked hunger.
"What do you want, wife?" he asked her, smiling lazily at her as he ran his thumbs along his belt.
Her eyes followed his hands and lingered on his crotch for a long moment. He was hard, straining the leather of his own breeches, and she knew it. He watched her smile, then lift a hand to pull him closer. He knew how fast those agile fingers of hers to could work and today was no different. He sighed at the sudden freedom she granted him as she peeled his breeched away. Her fingers settled around his hips and she pulled him closer. He could feel her breath on his cock. She kissed his stomach, rubbed her cheek against his hardness. She played with him like until he found himself groaning. When she sank her lips over his cock and he slid into her mouth, his knees buckled and he had to reach for the wall behind her to brace himself. He glanced down to watch her suck. She took him all and he enjoyed watching this. He could see the swell of her breasts below his glistening cock.
While this was not what he wanted in truth, his hips began to buck and she set the sort of rhythm that he knew would bring him to release. He dropped a hand to cup her head, spread his fingers through the hair at the nape of her neck and, just as he thought he would lose any chance for rational thought he prevented her from sucking him in. Her eyes opened as he pulled back. The ocean breeze on his wet cock sent a shock of sensation through him. As she tilted her head to ask him a question, he pounced on her mouth. His weight bore her backwards and he crushed her to the couch proper.
"No more…I can take no more," he panted against her ear as he pulled the laces of her breeches free.
He yanked them out of the way urgently and pushed her legs up to reveal that which he sought about all else. She was slick and swollen. He could smell her sweet scent. He ran his fingers through her moist folds and she moaned low in her throat. With desperation, he drove his cock into her and the sensation rolled his eyes back in his head. Oh, yes…this is what he wanted. This. Her. Still, he peeled his eyes open to see if he had caused her any pain. All he saw was lust. He pulled back and thrust again. She lifted herself to meet him, panting with each thrust. He could not tear his eyes from her. He pressed her legs further down, opened her out to him further. Faster now, their skin slapping with the force of their coupling. It made her breasts sway and jiggle. He could feel her grasping him, pulling him deeper, rippling and convulsing around him. Her back ached and he heard her cry out his name. Onwards he surged until, shuddering, he released into her.
Hanasian lost track of time and place for a while. When he came to, he found himself nestled against his wife's back. Her head was pillowed on his arm and his other arm draped over her waist so that a hand could rest on a warm breast. Her breeches were still pushed down to her knees, as were his.
"Welcome home," he whispered into her ear and she smiled sleepily.
He had no idea when she had arisen from the couch for he had slept through. When he woke, it was twilight. A soft blanket had been carefully tucked over him and his boots had been removed. He was still on the balcony. Over head the stars winked down at him saucily. Great lanterns, the sort found on ships dotted the balcony for additional light. A glance through the doors revealed the glow of light. He could hear voices, faintly. One of them was his wife. She was laughing at something. So too was Slippery. Odds were, Stillwater had something to do with the hilarity. He felt no immediate urge to rise and join them. Instead, he made himself comfortable on the couch and folded his arms behind his back. His blood still sizzled with his encounter with Rin.
How she managed to set him alight he did not know. He only knew that she did. She had, almost right from the beginning until that night at Bree…it had taken all of his restraint to make it all the way from the moment he had glimpsed by accident bathing to the Prancing Pony. Somehow, he had known that if he pushed too soon she would slip through his fingers. Somehow, he had sensed she was not a woman he would wish to lose. Now, she was his. His wife. His thoughts turned to the sensation of her pussy closing around him earlier in the afternoon. He had long heard it said that once a woman gave birth things irretrievably changed. He was not sure just how different it felt. Certainly it was not the same. How could it be? But he had not found her any the less pleasing, like some men complained. By the time he had decided that he needed to confirm something, her footsteps were already whispering towards him over the flagstone floor.
She wore a dress now, a simple thing she had picked in Bree because the elvish garb was far too fancy according to her, and she had braided her hair. She shot him a smile as she came out to the balcony, a plate in her hands.
"You might hear there was cheese, but it's a foul lie, I tell you. I have searched the larder and there is none to be had," she said and he grinned at that because even in the faint light of star and candles he could see the crumbs where the cheese had once stood.
"Was it good?"
"I do not know what you refer to, husband," she answered, nodding all the same.
He sat up and patted the space beside him. She was soon settled in and passed him the plate. While she had eaten the cheese, and most of the bread to go with it, there was still a meal left. Just as he lifted some of the cold roast beef to his mouth did she say something.
"I made that. You must tell me what you think of it."
Love her as he did, he knew he must have recoiled for she started to laugh. He blinked, realised he had set the beef back down again and that she had been playing with him.
"Methinks my lady wife is intent to see me starve," he rumbled, picking the beef up again.
"That, I suppose, is to be expected when you make a heathen such as I your wife. You've only yourself to blame."
"Heathen, then, is it?"
"Yes," she replied and extended one foot to reveal a slipper, "Because barbarians do not wear shoes."
"It seems, then, that if I am remedy this then you needs must be educated."
"You are most welcome to attempt it," Rin answered, watching her toes arch as she turned her foot this way and that.
Hanasian needed no further invitation. He seized her ankle, tore her slipper off and threw it across the balcony.
"Remove the other!" he growled at her and her eyes widened in surprise.
She failed to move fast enough for his liking and so, using his hold on her ankle, he lifted her leg and spun her around until her legs straddled him. He bent, lifted her skirts and peeled the other slipper free, never once releasing her from his gaze. He could see the pulse flutter at the base of her throat. With a hand now on each ankle, he pulled her so that she slid towards him. He was faster than she could believe. His mouth devoured her hungrily and she heard the fabric of her dress creak as his grip tightened around her shoulders.
"Not another dress," she whispered.
"No? Then remove it. Now."
"Now, wife. If you would spare this dress, remove it or I will see to it myself."
She stared at him a moment but, to his relief, she pulled the dress over her head. As he had suspected, she wore nothing beneath. Her skin was luminous in the starlight. He lifted a hand from one ankle and pulled her chin back so that the light could spill over her breasts and belly. He sent his other hand to plunge into the cleft between her legs. As he had suspected, she was hot and wet already. He ran sticky fingers up her belly and between her breasts, up her throat and then inserted them into her mouth.
"Suck, heathen," he softly commanded and he felt her tongue flicker between his fingers.
He released his hold on her hair as he withdrew his fingers. Hanasian pointed towards the far railing.
"Go…stand over there…"
Rin opened her mouth to say something and he lifted his brow, much as he might should one of his men question his orders. She rose from the couch and crossed the balcony to stand at the rail. He watched her bare hips sway from side to side with each step. She set her hands on the balustrade and then began to turn to face him.
"No…face the sea," he ordered, not yet done with surveying her willowy back and softly rounded hips. After Hanavia there was a greater flare to them. It was a subtle change, one he rather liked.
Hanasian pulled the blanket away from himself and stood.
"Part your legs…yes….like that…"
As he drew closer he could see she had a grip on the stone railing already. This made him smile. He stood at her shoulder, placed his hand upon it and enjoyed the way she jumped so slightly to his touch. He ran his palm down her back until it rested between her shoulder blades. He could feel the thud of her heart beat. He glanced out at the sea and wondered what a mariner might make of this sight. Her breasts were truly glorious by star and candlelight. He spread his fingers against her back and exerted slight pressure so that she bent forward.
His hand travelled further down her spine once she was draped over the railing, down to the pliant globes of her ass. He slipped his fingers down along curves he knew better than his own body and pressed the pads of his fingers into the delicate skin of her inner thigh. He could feel the heat of her pussy.
"Wider, wife…wider…" he urged her and she angled her feet further apart until he had what he wanted.
"Yes….now hold still," he said, studying her well. He kept his hand where it was and placed two fingers of his other hand in his mouth to warm them. Then, without further word, he slid them into her and her hips bucked instinctively against his hand. Hanasian used his free hand to slap her ass lightly.
"Still, I said woman. Still!"
"But why?" she said, voice breathy from the other side of the railing.
"Because this is important. No more questions…answers only…and the truth….Do you understand?"
"Yes," she said but he could hear the question in her voice. He grinned and slapped her again, "Don't test me on this, wife."
It was tempting to take her right there, deliciously spread out as she was over the railing. But there were certain things he needed to confirm. He began with angling his fingers and rubbing against the rear wall of her pussy. He could feel her muscles quivering as she struggled to remain still.
"So…you enjoy that still, then?"
"Yessss," she sighed, breathing hard.
"This is good…and what of this," he asked as he moved his fingers to the front. A long moan escaped her and he could feel her begin to clamp around his fingers. He was tempted to insert another but there was yet more business to attend to.
"Excellent," he said, his voice strained to his own ears. He thought he heard her chuckle and she shifted against his hand.
"Remain still, woman…else I will have to begin all over again and we have all night for this…and all day…and all night…"
Rin growled in frustration and Hanasian moved his other hand from her ass to slip against her wet folds. He found what he sought and gently rubbed at the little nub. If he exerted too much pressure, she'd go to pieces. He listened to her breathing pick up, slipped in a third finger and let his fingers dance over her clit. Her hold of the balustrade was white knuckled with the strain of remaining still as he finger fucked her. Her responses were, he discovered, no different now than before.
"Very good," he whispered, removing his fingers and replacing them with his cock.
She moaned at that. Hanasian locked his hands around her hips and began to pump urgently, as desperate as she was by now. His hands slipped around and he lifted her from the railing.
"Up," he panted raggedly in her ear.
He wrapped her braid around his wrist and set his hand on her shoulder. His other hand sank back to her pussy, splaying swollen lips and flicking her clit with each thrust of his cock.
"Yes, my love….that's it…" he grunted as he felt her gather around him.
She ground against him hard. Her breasts shook with each thrust. He glanced down to watch himself fuck her and it was too much. A cry burst from his throat and she pushed back hard with all her might, shivering and trembling around him. He fell forward until the railing propped them both up and they folded over it, panting hard and skin slick with sweat.
Once he had his breath back, he picked his torso up and ran the fingers of one hand down her spine. He smiled at her back and glanced ahead out to sea. No ships, no mariners…
He disengaged from her, picked his breeches up from where they had collapsed around his feet and then collected his wife up to bring inside and put to bed. She sprawled sensuously over the large bed. He slid in next to her and pulled the light covers up before he slipped into his sleep with a victorious smile. There may have been many changes in their lives, but this, at least, remained as spectacular as ever before.
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.