The day that the letter from the Steward of Gondor arrived, officially worded and sealed, Théoden wondered how much insight the man had into his own son.
Théoden, himself, knew that not one woman of The Mark had ever claimed that his son had fathered their child; nor had Théodred ever shown any urge to wed.
There are stallions that, even when presented with a field full of mares in season, do not show an interest or rise to the occasion. They still make good war horses…
Perhaps, in time, Théodred might bring himself to marry. A young widow with a daughter or two would be best, Théoden thought. Someone who knew enough of the marriage bed to coax a husband who had little desire; one who would not be too distressed if such consummation was rare, provided it proved fruitful; one whose first born would not be jealous of a sibling born to be heir to Rohan.
But, should such a union not occur, Éomer was of the House of Éorl and showed every inclination to produce heirs aplenty…
These were not easy times; Théodred was involved in much of the defence of The Mark, and he had little time for courtship. The same could be said of Boromir of Gondor. It might still be seen as surprising how often Théodred’s patrol was the one to rendezvous with a patrol from Gondor. Surprising, too, how often the elder son of the Steward led that other patrol. One might also find it unexpected how often that same son ran the Steward’s errands to Meduseld. But not this one.
Théoden read again the courtly phrases. ‘My son informs me that your niece is grown into a comely young woman.’ Aye, but he would have said it only if Denethor asked – not because he was anxious to point it out. ‘Tall and slender…’ Boyish might be the word that sprang to mind, Théoden thought.
‘Were you to accept this offer, my son recognises that your niece may wish to spend time, on occasions, in Rohan.’ Aye, again, and would be willing enough to accompany her, no doubt. ‘Therefore I propose a betrothal between my son and heir, Boromir, and your niece, Éowyn, which would lead to her becoming the wife of the ruling Steward of Gondor on my demise; a more elevated position than any she is likely to achieve elsewhere.’
Théoden thought long and hard. It would be a formal bond of alliance, between the Riddermark and their more powerful neighbour, which the ‘friendship’ he was sure existed between the current two heirs could never be. But could it bring any measure of happiness for Éowyn? It would require discussion…
In the end the first person with whom he discussed the proposal was Théodred. Théoden wanted to see his son’s expression when he heard that Denethor thought it time that Boromir got on with continuing the line of the Stewards.
Théodred did not look terribly surprised, a point of interest in itself, and then he volunteered to talk to his young cousin himself and find out her opinion. After all, he said, she might feel compelled to agree if Théoden asked her but would be more honest with Théodred himself.
They sat in the solar, the door firmly closed, and Théodred began the conversation bluntly by telling Éowyn of the letter from Denethor.
“I want to know your feelings about this,” he said. “Your true feelings, Éowyn, not what you feel that you must say.”
“I am unsure. It would take me away from The Mark. And yet I know I might need to marry judiciously, for the good of Rohan, and your… friend… he knows at least something of me, and I of him.”
Théodred considered that last sentence; particularly the inflection on the word ‘friend’. Éowyn was leading him where he wanted to go.
“Éowyn, I do not think you need me to talk to you about the physical act of union between a man and a woman; you have seen horses… For all I know you may have experimented with some young Rider already.”
She said nothing, just looked him steadily in the eye.
“I need be sure that you know of the… nature of men… some men… to the physical act.”
It was not the easiest conversation he had ever had, but it was only fair that he discussed it with her; fair to both his cousin and his friend. Béma! Why not be honest, at least with himself? Fair to his cousin and his lover.
Éowyn considered what Théodred had told her. It confirmed things that she had already learnt from conversations both overheard and held with Éomer and Éothain; confirmed, perhaps, more than Théodred realised. Confirmed, by his facial expression, things she knew because she had once told her brother that she hoped to be wed to her cousin…
She had seen Boromir a number of times – on his last visit to Meduseld he had watched, amused, as Théodred took her through her sword drill. He was older then her, true, but so was Théodred and marriage to him had held no fears for her. She did not love Boromir – but he would make few demands in the marriage bed, from what her cousin had told her; better than a man she did not love who wished to service her regularly. The thought of what Théodred had called ‘the act of union’ held little appeal anyway – the mares seemed to get little pleasure.
Such a marriage would take her away from The Mark.
A year ago that would have been reason to immediately refuse; now it was reason to sway her towards acceptance. Since the arrival, from the Westmarch, of Grima; ‘Wormtongue’, Éomer and Éothain called him, because he used words to worm his way into Théoden’s trust. She did not like the way that he looked at her, brushed too closely past her even in wide corridors or open halls… She did not think her uncle would ever be persuaded to give her in marriage to the man against her will but, still, safer wed in Gondor.
The wedding, despite her brother’s misgivings, took place in Gondor. Éomer and Théodred both accompanied her and Éowyn thought it best not to ask where her groom spent the night before the wedding. The wedding night he spent with her.
With, yes, but in speech and sleep; not as was expected of them. He thought it better for her, he said, that they get to know each other a little better first. Éowyn thought it more likely that, in her wedding gown, bedecked with jewels, she looked too much a female for his taste.
“There should be blood”, she said. “Within the Mark many girls break their maidenhead when riding – but blood is expected in Gondor, I am told. If we do not… do that… there will be no blood and my reputation may be questioned.”
“There will be blood,” he said, and pierced his own skin with his dagger.
Consummation finally came when they had ridden out together, in the early morning light, across the fields within the safety of the Rammas Echor; Éowyn shocking Gondor by wearing britches. In the stable, as she stood facing her horse, tall, slim hipped, hair held back with a leather thong, she reminded her husband of her cousin.
He moved closer, inhaled the scent of horses, leather, hay; the scent of Rohan. His own britches tightened quickly as his shaft thickened; tried to rise. He ran his tongue along the skin behind her ear and she gasped – but did not pull away.
Almost unaware of what he did, or where, in moments he had unfastened both pairs of britches, held her by those slender hips, bent her forward and thrust deep. She cried out – but even the timbre of her voice did not distract from the smell of Rohan, the tightness he had not expected to find in one of her sex. He came; with just enough awareness to call out the proper name.
Then came horror as he realised she wept, great tears coursing silently down her cheeks. It had been no way to lose a maidenhead which, he looked down at the blood on his slowly softening shaft, she had.
Belatedly he nuzzled her neck, turned her towards him, held her, apologised.
“I… you need not apologise. You are my husband… it is… your right.”
Before he could say more the sound of voices reminded him of where they were. Hurriedly he adjusted both his own clothing and hers; aware that, had they been overheard or overseen, it would only heighten his standing amongst his men. He felt not only guilt, at what he had done to Éowyn, but pleasure at the thought of the tale being told; then further guilt about the pleasure.
To make up for the hurt he bought her jewels – but she simply nodded and put them aside. He wanted to give her pleasure, but could not face trying to bed her gently for fear she rejected him – or in case he found he could not.
Eventually he asked her what he could do to please her – without mentioning the guilt. To let her act, she said, in a way unbecoming to the daughter in law of the Steward; help her practice sword drill.
There had been no pleasure in that tupping in the stable – only pain. But, Éowyn thought, next time it may not hurt so much and she was now, fully, his wife; probably with witnesses.
It took her little thought to realise why he had acted as he did – as he had not when she had been primped and powdered, femininity enhanced, on their wedding night. Her request to practice sword drill, privately, with him had more than the obvious purpose.
Still it took some time before, following a particularly energetic practice fight, she tempted him to take her once again – to overcome the guilt he felt about that first union. Long enough to know that those who said you never became pregnant the first time seemed to be right.
At first he had presumed that she would not realise why he had been so lustful in the stable. He worried that private sword play might cause him to act the same way again. But then he realised that she made reasons for him to draw near her when she was hot and sticky; hair, britches, shirt, all clinging to her damply… like a warrior.
When Théodred had told him that Éowyn had ‘some understanding’ of his nature, of why he was still unwed, he had thought she simply saw him as a man who spent his time too much amongst his soldiers; who had had no time for courtship. It had not occurred to him that any female, let alone a high-born one, could know anything of the attraction men could have for each other as lovers as well as companions. But now he realised she had more understanding than he had thought.
Now he found his body respond to her again – this time, at least, he entered her more gently and kissed her when he had finished.
Denethor sat at the dinner table with his son and daughter-in-law. She was, he thought, less refined than a high born Gondorian lady but her table manners were adequate and her voice pleasant. He considered why she had caught Boromir’s eye. She was slender with small breasts and narrow hips; Denethor himself preferred any leman he took to be more voluptuous.
He wondered how easily she might bear his grandsons. How soon she might bear his grandsons. At least she was young and healthy; hopefully there would be many grandsons.
In these troubled times there was always the fear that a captain of men might be lost; although Denethor could not imagine anything that could best Boromir, this great bear of a son, this golden man, the flowering of his line.
There was Faramir, of course. But he was too quiet, too much a thinker and scholar; Denethor did not want to consider Faramir as a future Steward. The sooner Éowyn produced an heir to Boromir, the better.
Boromir left the city to inspect some of the outer defences of Gondor. He would, he said, be gone for some time, but had arranged for one of his men to accompany Éowyn whenever she wished to ride out of the city. Sword-drill, he had added, would need to await his return; his father would not approve.
Éowyn missed him; he was good company now that they knew each other a little better. Meal-times spent with the Steward were too formal and polite. Once, during the weeks that Boromir was away, his brother returned to the city from his own command which, Éowyn understood, kept him in hiding, moving stealthily through the woods of Ithilien, to observe the enemy. She thought it sounded as difficult, and dangerous, as Boromir’s role but it was clear his father thought it of less worth.
She would have liked to talk to this man, her brother-in-law, but got little chance, as Denethor controlled the conversation at dinner, and any opportunity to speak to Faramir elsewise might have been misconstrued.
One or two of the ladies of the court were friendly and helped to fill her time. Some of the others, she thought, were jealous of her marriage; ‘If they only knew,’ she thought.
The time passed, again she knew the one mating had not been fruitful – there would need to be more persuasion of the reluctant groom to perform an act which seemed to give neither any great pleasure.
Then came the fanfares and announcements – her husband had returned. She dressed carefully and went to the entrance to the citadel to await his return as a dutiful wife. When she realised that her cousin rode beside him she wanted to weep with joy for the familiar face.
“My cousin will, of course, sleep in our wing,” Éowyn had said and, although they dined with Denethor, the three had retired there as soon as the meal was over.
When Théodred had asked him, after they met on the border, Boromir had spoken, with some embarrassment, of the final consummation of his marriage.
“I hurt her,” he had admitted, “but she reminded me so of you.”
“She is strong,” Théodred had said, “she will recover, and when you get her with child you need not fuck her again for something over a year. Other females would envy her such a considerate husband.”
But it had been after that conversation that Théodred had decided to accompany him back to Minas Tirith ‘to see how his cousin fared’.
Éowyn asked after friends and her brother but, as the conversation turned to patrols and the threat of the enemy, she drank a little more wine and began to drowse in an armchair. Boromir took her in his arms and carried her to her bed, in the chamber linked to his, before rejoining Théodred.
The temptation was too strong. Although he could not, in all conscience, have Théodred join him in the marital bed, if he was to go with Théodred to his chamber it would allow Éowyn to sleep undisturbed… or so he reasoned with himself.
The feel of Théodred’s skin under his hands, Théodred’s hair brushing his belly, filled all his senses. Which must be why he did not hear the click of the door opening and closing. Although it occurred to him, later, that Théodred could well have seen the slight figure in white before he did himself.
Aghast, everything stood still for an endless moment; he felt as if he might never breathe again.
“I want to know,” Éowyn spoke steadily. “I want to learn…”
Still Boromir could not think what to say, to do. Théodred, though, spoke quickly to her in their own tongue; too quickly for Boromir, with his thoughts spinning, to understand.
“Take off your nightgown then; the bed is large enough for three.”
Théodred’s voice was calm – as if he was telling her to take guard for sword drill. He had paused in his… lovemaking… only when Boromir had noticed her; and spoke with his face still only inches from her husband’s stomach.
Almost automatically, Éowyn obeyed.
The night became a whirl of images, sensations, a series of moves as complex as sword drill or dancing.
“Use your hand firmly – your sword hand – it is stronger and calloused a little… or leather gloves…”
“Yes! A leather glove!”
“It feels like this…” a tongue suddenly probed her own intimate parts and made her gasp. She wished it had lingered longer.
Then, for the first time, her husband slid his shaft into her whilst she could see his face. No sooner had he pulled out a ways to push back in than she saw Théodred move behind him; a look of surprise, and pleasure, crossed Boromir’s face and she hear Théodred’s voice.
“Fuck her! He likes the word… You fuck her whilst I fuck you.”
“Oh Valar, Oh Manwë’s balls!” Boromir groaned, gasped.
Behind him Théodred kept murmuring crude words in both Rohirric and the Common tongue – Éowyn found they excited her, made her want to push back against her husband, just as he pushed back against Théodred. And then she felt his seed flood into her.
Behind him, Théodred gasped then fell forward onto Boromir’s shoulder – he too, she realised, must have reached a climax.
Éowyn felt as if she had been climbing a path, but then had stopped before she reached the summit, and now was sliding back down again. She wanted to push her own hand down and rub herself. Would such men as Boromir and Théodred even realise that she, too, could reach a peak? Perhaps more polite to wait until she was alone.
Before she could slide out and leave the lovers entwined together Boromir stirred, kissed her, and then twisted around to kiss Théodred.
“Good, so good,” he said, and quickly the dance began again.
She tried her newfound skill, fingers around shaft – first on Boromir and then, because he did not object, on Théodred. Her cousin’s body, she thought, was at least as pleasing to run her hands over as her husband’s. And so, when Boromir encouraged Théodred to take the place where he had been before, Éowyn pushed her body up towards him eagerly.
Gods! He had never expected pleasure like that with his shaft in a woman. But then he had never, in any dream, thought to share his bed with both lover and wife. His first thought was that Théodred should experience the same pleasure.
This time, Théodred slid his shaft into Éowyn and Boromir pushed his own cock where it had been many times before. He gripped Théodred’s hips and then, over Théodred’s shoulder, he saw Éowyn’s face. She was biting her lip, her face flushed, and he remembered a lesson from his youth.
“It is well hidden, as befits a modest lady, but it is like a tiny prick…”
The courtesan his father had paid to initiate his son – almost the only woman he had ever bedded.
He held Théodred with one hand and leant further around his lover until his other hand could feel the root of Théodred’s cock as it moved in time with his own. He bent his finger into Éowyn and yes! Just as his ‘teacher’ had shown him, a hard, round, nub – it really did feel like the head of a tiny cock. Éowyn gasped, her eyes flew to his face. He felt himself smile.
Théodred’s chant of “Fuck me! Fuck me!” became a groan, and he jerked as he reached his climax – but Boromir kept fucking without pause, and pressing on Éowyn’s tiny cock even as Théodred’s body trapped the hand between the two Rohirric pubic bones.
Her eyes were shut, she, too was mouthing unexpected words in her own tongue, and then… success! She gasped out loud and pushed up into his hand so hard that she bucked Théodred back against Boromir. Théodred tightened his muscles and Boromir came himself.
“Goodnight, Théodred,” she said, adding firmly “My husband and I will return to our own beds now, and… thank you.”
Théodred could see in Boromir’s face both admiration for his young wife and longing to stay with his lover; sensibly he followed Éowyn.
‘Béma, we breed them strong in the Mark,’ Théodred thought. ‘Perhaps I should look for my own woman who would not be shocked to be joined by another man in her bed…’
But then it was not just any other man – since he and Boromir had realised that they had this in common, as well as age and position, Théodred had been, more or less, faithful to his lover.
The invitation – no, order – from Éowyn the next day, that he spend the remaining nights with both Boromir and herself in the marital bed, came as no surprise. Although he would rather have had Boromir to himself the prospect of the slighter, more supple, body added to the love-making did not totally displease him.
The kisses and caresses between her husband and her cousin did not shock or upset Éowyn – they ensured that Boromir was hard and able to successfully couple with her. Under these circumstances she was also receiving pleasure from the act and began to feel almost as if she had two husbands – the one she had formally wed, and the one she had dreamed of as a girl.
One night Théodred delayed in joining them and Éowyn found that he had been right about the pleasure, and erection, that she could bring to Boromir by wearing a leather glove. She might need to remember that when Théodred returned to the Mark; if she was not already with child after so much coupling.
Only then did it hit her that there was a chance than any child conceived might be of the House of Éorl and not the Line of the Stewards….
Théodred left, taking letters and messages back to Édoras that she was well; Boromir was a good husband. As the days following his departure became a week, then two, then three, she realised her monthly flow had not occurred.
Three weeks after Théodred left she told Boromir this. He was elated. She wondered if it had occurred to him that it might not be his child.
Weeks later, when they told Denethor that Éowyn was with child, the Steward seemed greatly pleased, but not surprised. Doubtless the housekeeper had already informed him that Éowyn had used no monthly rags and had been found vomiting by her maid in the mornings.
He was a man who made sure he knew everything that went on in the citadel, in Minas Tirith, in all of Gondor; Éowyn wondered how he could not know of the relationship between Boromir and Théodred. Then she realised that no-one would risk his wrath by suggesting it, for she had seen his pride in this ‘most masculine of perfect sons’ and might perceive it as a sign of weakness.
As the pregnancy advanced she fretted more and more about whose child she carried. Eventually she voiced the fear to the only one she could – Boromir.
“Éowyn,” he said, “do you think it matters to me? If the child is not mine it is Théodred’s and, although I have come to like and admire you, you know he is the person who holds my heart. How could I not love his child?
“The child will be blond –we all three are. It will have the look of the Rohirrim – for you are of the House of Éorl. It will have a look of Gondor no matter which of us fathered it – Morwen of Lossarnach was grandmother to both you and Théodred. Perhaps, in time, it may become clearer to we three whose arrow found the mark – but no-one else will ever think of the possibility that it was not mine. And to me it matters not.”
Each time he came home to her from his duties he repeated this, until, relieved, she believed him.
To the evident surprise of the midwives in attendance, the slim hips of the Captain’s wife did not hinder her in giving birth. Éowyn thought it was not an experience she would want to repeat often – a husband who was content to keep their unions few and far between was a blessing.
The child was a son; to the great joy of Denethor, who immediately arranged a feast in his honour. A feast held before Éowyn could attend. He could not, she thought, have made it clearer that her role was to provide the heirs and little more.
Whenever the midwives and nursery staff allowed her to hold her son she gazed into his face – which behaviour seemed to please them. But Éowyn gazed into the tiny face trying to ascertain whose child he was.
“Ours,” said her husband, when they were alone together. “He is ours.”
He did not specify how many of them the word encompassed.
Truth to tell, the babe looked most like Éomer.
Denethor said, more than once, how much he looked like Boromir as an infant, but Éowyn thought he would have said that even had she copulated with a stallion and given birth to a foal – he saw what he wished to see.
One day, when the child was almost two months old, he looked at her and, for some reason, scowled. And now she knew; that scowl was purely his grandfather’s – the child was Boromir’s.
Boromir said, again, that it did not matter, but Éowyn was glad – she would not be the cause for a break in the bloodline of the Stewards. And if other children were only ever conceived after such trysts as this one, and some should be clearly children of the Mark, it would not matter. She was content.
The child was three months old when Boromir came to her from his father’s study where he had been much of the day.
“Things are ill,” he said. “The enemy come ever closer, become ever more difficult to counter. My father has a quest for me. It is, he thinks, our only chance of withstanding, and perhaps overcoming, the forces of Sauron. But it will take me far away, for many months perhaps, for I have no clear idea, even, of where I am headed.”
He told her of the journey he was to make to a place he had thought existed only in children’s tales. Éowyn did not relish the thought of being cooped up in Minas Tirith without the only one who understood her personality at all, for so long a period, but thought it wrong to say so.
It was with great joy, then, that she received the rest of his news. He had told his father that Éowyn and their son would ride with him as far as Édoras, just as Denethor had promised her, two years ago, when he had sent the proposal of marriage.
Rohan, Boromir had pointed out to his father, was further from Mordor. Should this quest fail it maybe that the last in the line of The Stewards would be safer there amongst his mother’s people. Should the quest succeed, then the child would benefit from the clear air of the plains of Rohan.
“In honesty,” Boromir told Éowyn, “I would have Théodred care for both you and our son. He has told me that he will treat the child as his own, and he has a right to see this child for, even though you are certain it was my seed that took root, Théodred was there at the begetting.”
They left Minas Tirith, with a guard of his own men, and began the long ride to Rohan. Boromir looked back, as the white city faded in the haze of the early summer, and wondered how long it would be until he saw the sight again, if ever. Then, like his wife, he turned his face forward and began to think of the joyous reunion with his lover to come, before he would go on into the unknown.
Whatever happened to himself, he thought, at least Éowyn and the child will be safe in Théodred’s care in Édoras….