It was time Éowyn thought, to learn more about Elves; specifically those Elves who had made their home in her husband’s domain of Ithilien. Riding with them in pursuit of the Corsairs, who had abducted the half-elven Tindómë, had brought home to Éowyn how little she really knew about them.
Legolas, for example; she knew he was a prince, but knew nothing about the size of his father’s kingdom. She knew Legolas had brought Elves to restore land in Ithilien, but had not considered that this made him a Lord in his own right. Hence her surprise when he, rather than Faramir, had taken command on that occasion.
The young half-elven maiden herself was stronger, in both body and mind, than her rather delicate looks might suggest – as was the Queen, really. And despite their rather, um, effeminate looks the elven warriors were all so well disciplined, so efficient; silent killers.
Having decided that she needed to know the Elves better, Éowyn discussed the practicalities with Faramir. It would be best, he suggested, to spend three or four weeks in the elven village, to get some idea of their culture. But it would take a little time to organise such a visit without incommoding Legolas and his folk – perhaps best to wait until the next summer.
Apart from anything else, he pointed out, none of the buildings he had yet seen in the Elven settlement had glass in their windows or obvious fireplaces… Whilst both he and Éowyn had faced harsh winter weather in their lives, there was no need to do so from choice. So it was that it was a little over a year after that ‘rescue mission’ before Éowyn, Faramir, and their small son arrived for a prolonged stay in what the Elves called Eryn Ithil.
Legolas first showed them his own dwelling – which Éowyn privately thought unsuitable for a Lord of any race. The people of the Riddermark led simple lives but Meduseld was a great deal more impressive than this simple three-roomed wooden structure.
Then Legolas showed them where some of the elves were living, in the branches of the trees, in structures called talans; these were simply a wooden platform, a little above ground, with walls and roof that seemed to be little more than woven hurdles.
“They are useful accommodation until we build something sturdier,” Legolas explained and Éowyn found herself worrying that she might have to share something that looked like a herders’ spring accommodation with Faramir and little Boromir.
Ah – good. It appeared not.
“We are planning more suitable guest accommodation,” their host explained, as he led them a little further, “but so far only the ground level is complete.”
It had walls – good, solid, wooden walls – and a fireplace. There were two glazed windows and the others, whilst unglazed, were protected by heavy shutters. Thank goodness!
There was even a bathing room and a small kitchen area. It might be quite enjoyable, Éowyn thought, to cook for her husband and son during their stay. Yes – the month would be bearable after all, she decided, especially after she saw the size of the bed in the area curtained off to one side with, beside it, a smaller child-sized bed.
“What a beautiful bed!” she said.
“It was brought from Eryn Lasgalen,” Legolas answered. “We knew we would have other priorities when we began to settle here, and no-one would want to sleep on a bed made from some of the wood left by the orcs – nor unsettle any trees that were recovering by taking enough for such a task, at least just yet. The elfling’s bed was sent by Saeldauron’s parents for his baby daughter, but she is too young to need it yet.”
“It is most generous of Saeldauron and his wife to allow Boromir to use it first,” Faramir said. “We must thank him.”
“Hardly first,” Legolas said, “I am sure both Saeldauron and his own father slept in it themselves.”
“Then an even greater privilege,” Faramir replied.
Éowyn, on the other hand, was trying to work out how old the small bed might be…
Legolas was still speaking. “I am sure that you will want to keep Boromir with you for the first few nights but, should you want to spend time making use of the bed without worrying about keeping silent, there are many elleth who have already offered to have him stay with them for a night or two.”
‘Oh my! Did he really mean what I think he meant?’ Éowyn wondered. ‘Surely not. A woman of my own people might have made such an offer to me, in private, but not a man; well, not to a woman anyway. And no-one in Gondor would have been so open! No – surely Legolas can’t realise what his offer sounded like… Elves can be so very innocent.’
Faramir replied politely, but it seemed to his wife that he was blushing slightly; at least it was not just her who thought that what Legolas said sounded suggestive.
The next few days were most educational. Éowyn had had no clear idea of what life in the Elven village would be like; her knowledge of Elves was like a series of small pictures that did not seem to really fit together when she considered them properly.
She’d had only a passing acquaintance with Legolas to start with; he had been the strangely enigmatic figure in the shadow of the charismatic ranger who had arrived in Édoras on a spring wind and blown her life in a whole new direction.
She had been vaguely aware of the two Elven warriors who had ridden with the Rohirrim, whom she now knew to be Orophin and Rumil, and had seen the twin sons of Elrond from even further away when they had brought Aragorn the instruction to take the Path of the Dead. In the aftermath of the war she had got to know Legolas a little but there had been so much going on, including her burgeoning romance with Faramir, and only after Legolas returned to settle Ithilien had she really got to know him better.
She had, from those earlier meetings, the impression of the Elves as fierce warriors; but she had also seen the Elves who had arrived for Arwen and Aragorn’s wedding. They had seemed to drift gently around looking ethereal, singing much of the time, and so beautiful that you felt you weren’t worthy to even look at them.
Having spent time with the hobbits she had the notion, somewhat tempered by more recent encounters, that Elves ate very little. The hobbits had also described Rivendell as beautiful, wondrously decorated and fabulously built – at least for a dwelling not carved into the land – and Lothlórien as even more fabulous, if all much too far from the ground for their taste.
Yet, when it came down to it, this new Elven settlement reminded her, more than anything, of the small villages of the Mark; although with more trees and fewer horses. There were cleared glades within the trees, each carefully planted, although she had never thought of Elves as farmers. Legolas took time to explain to her why they had chosen each crop – some plants put into their fruits nothing from the soil but water, and so any poisons remaining would not be eaten; others, like peas and bean crops, actually helped heal the soil.
Both Faramir and Éowyn had asked if Legolas could send Elves to help plan the gardens, and even the farmlands, around their newly restored home to best heal the land as well as feed the population. He had answered that he would be more than happy to spend his own time advising them; somehow this warrior prince was also an expert plantsman. It brought home to Éowyn, again, that he was a great deal older than her despite looking so youthful.
Something else that she had not expected, and which reminded her of her childhood, was the number of hens around the settlement – happily living beneath the trees and roosting in low branches. She’d never thought of them living anywhere but in open spaces.
“They not only provide eggs,” Legolas had explained, “but their droppings nourish the ground.”
Not only the hen droppings. There were privy closets for most of the dwellings, including the one Éowyn and Faramir were staying in, which were designed to turn the elves own waste (and that of the Prince and Princess of Ithilien…) into compost to also enrich the land. It had somehow not occurred to Éowyn that those ethereal, otherworldly, figures – such as Lady Galadriel and her entourage – would ever need a privy closet, and when it then occurred to her that Aragorn and Arwen had already spent nights in the accommodation she now shared with Faramir and so, almost certainly, had added their own contribution to the renewal of the soil she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be scandalised.
There was, certainly, singing. The Elves seemed to sing as they went about their everyday tasks whatever those were. And such singing; it seemed as if it soothed Boromir so that he slept easily both when put down in the afternoon and in the small bed at night. It even soothed the bees. There were a number of bee skeps amongst the trees and those tending them wore no gloves, or veils, but simply sang to the bees as they worked.
She wondered whether they were special Elven bees, as they did not sting, for they must have been brought in from somewhere. Legolas laughed at the idea of bringing bees all the way from his father’s forests – they had, he explained, bought a couple of swarms from Rohan and carried them in skeps on horseback. Then those swarms had both multiplied and attracted others.
The bees helped the plants to flourish, the plants helped heal the land, and both the plants and the bees fed the Elves. How else, Legolas had asked, had she thought they would heal Ithilien? Somehow Éowyn had expected more… magic. As if the elves would simply have wandered amongst the trees, singing, and everything would have blossomed around their feet.
When she said this to Faramir, in the privacy of their bedroom, he had said that he thought it was a little of both. The way in which the Elves spoke to the plants, caressed the trees in passing, and sang amongst them, must surely be as much a part of the healing as the knowledge of plants and the practical measures. Perhaps, Éowyn decided, Legolas preferred anything other than the ‘practical measures’ to remain secret to the Elves.
The Elven community often ate together and, otherwise, Legolas seemed to move from household to household. Faramir, Éowyn, and their son were invited to do the same and Boromir was petted and fussed by everyone, both male and female, as was the settlement’s one tiny elfling – in whose bed Boromir currently slept.
One or two of the females spoke a little Common and so Éowyn chased Faramir off to spend time with the warriors as she knew, all too well, that there were certain tasks and roles in any society that were the province of only the females. Try as she would, however, Éowyn found Sindarin too dissimilar to either Rohirric or the Common Tongue to learn enough to converse comfortably. She was pleased to learn that the ellyth all knew how to draw a bow and wield a sword – and they thought it odd that mortal women might be frowned on for doing the same thing.
One thing she could not easily get to grips with was that the Elves did not usually bathe in their homes – the bathing room in the guest accommodation was rare; they bathed together in pools fed from the river. Not only did they bathe together, but male and female bathed at the same time!
Éowyn remembered the night that they had rescued Tindómë from the Corsairs and she had seen the young half-elf bathing in the river with the males. Apparently that was quite normal. It had been one of the things that had helped to convinced Éowyn that Elves were not really sexual beings; that and the willingness of Elladan, Elrohir, and Galanthir to strip naked, in front of Éowyn herself, in readiness to swim out to the Corsair ship.
Faramir had made use of the bathing pools quietly once or twice, with some of the warriors, but reassured Éowyn that there had been no females there at the time – but for herself Éowyn simply washed sparingly each day. She did not fill the bathtub in their bathing room for it would have meant the carrying and heating of large quantities of water.
Legolas explained that Gimli thought it likely there were hot springs that could be tapped into, so close to the ‘volcanic activity’ of Mordor, but the dwarf had other priorities and so, although the Elves would greatly appreciate the hot water and a system of delivery pipes, they did not have it yet. In the Citadel there was piped water – in their own house here in Ithilien, or in Édoras, servants would have carried the water.
But Elven ways were also turning out to be much less formal than she had expected. Somehow the immediate obedience of the warriors to orders when they had ridden to free Tindómë from the Corsair, even when Legolas had told Tindómë’s ‘intended’ that he was not to go to her immediate rescue*, had made her expect a very formal hierarchy; but it seemed not only less formal than Gondor but also less formal than Rohan.
This meant that there were no obvious servants. Even Galanthir, who she had supposed to be Legolas body-servant, turned out to be more of a friend to the Lord of Ithilien than anything else. And if there were no servants then there was no-one to carry the water… Legolas had offered the services of a couple of the male Elves but, as they obviously had other tasks, it seemed wrong to accept – and when Faramir had offered to carry water for her she had refused forcefully. It was not a task for a prince.
There seemed to not even be a maid to care for Legolas’ housework – although she saw an elleth coming out one morning carrying his bedding to wash and, another day, she saw a different female entering his home carrying a broom to brush the floors. For herself, Éowyn thought that there was something quite pleasing about washing the small clothes and brushing the floors for her husband and son; as long as it was only for a week or two.
*If you have read Brotherhood you may remember that this immediate acceptance of unpalatable orders followed a private conversation in which Legolas told Rumil his plan before giving those commands in public…
They had been in the Elven village for a week and this was the warmest night of the summer so far. Although the bed was large, Faramir was restless in his sleep, and Éowyn could not settle. She was tempted to wake him and encourage him to join with her in ‘marital relations’ but they might wake Boromir. Perhaps they should ask one of the ellyth to care for him for a night. But that thought didn’t help her sleep right now.
She was too hot, her hair clung damply to her, and she could feel sweat trickling down between her breasts. On a whim, almost, she decided to leave the bed and go outdoors. The Elves always had perimeter guards and so it would be perfectly safe to go for a short walk.
Perhaps she would venture down to the bathing pools now, when they would be deserted, and have a cool dip to refresh herself. Yes, that suddenly seemed a very appealing idea. She found her towel, threw a silk shawl over her thin nightdress, and went out.
The moon was near full, and there were small lamps beside the path – it would be easy to find her way down to the riverside pools. The forest was almost silent, but not quite. There were the tiny sounds of nocturnal insects and the distant, faint, murmur of the river. Then there was another sound, from one of the flets a little off to one side of her path, and a little above her head; the sound of a female voice.
Éowyn really couldn’t help but overhear – but, as she understood only the most basic Sindarin, she would have made little sense of any words.
However the rhythmic “Ai! Ai! Ai! Aiiiii!” did not need interpreting – the sound was very familiar to her from personal experience. Then the voice began to giggle and a male could be heard speaking. It was very clear that two of the Elves were indulging in those very same marital relations she had been considering only minutes before. Not only was Éowyn shocked at the idea of Elves doing such a thing, but they seemed to be making no attempt to avoid being overheard!
She was sure she must be blushing; she hoped she wouldn’t meet anyone along the path. Perhaps it hadn’t occurred to the two that they could be overheard… perhaps they hadn’t realised the female would find the act so pleasurable that she would cry out… It was probably the first time they had ever attempted it, she decided, or perhaps the second - if elves consummated marriages like men did. They must have decided to try and conceive an elfling. She wondered if they found it difficult to perform such an… earthy… act when both male and females seemed so…unearthly.
She hoped that she wouldn’t be embarrassed if she visited next summer and met the new parents.
She continued down the path; glad that no-one would see that she was still blushing. She decided to make her way to the pool that was a little further from the village, just in case anyone else had decided on a moonlight dip to cool themselves, and took the relevant turn where the path forked.
Just as she could see the glint of the water through a gap between trees she heard a slight splash; perhaps there were fish in the bathing pools or it was some sort of waterfowl. Another two steps and the pool was in view and…
Éowyn blinked – hard. Then blinked again. There were people in the pool. Right within her line of vision there were three people. No matter that she really should have looked away as soon as she realised they were there, and left, she found herself mesmerised; she couldn’t stop gazing at them.
Around the pool were large, flat, stones – presumably to put down one’s clothes, soap, and so on. A naked ellon was sitting on one of the stones, his head thrown back, and his weight on his arms behind him. His legs hung over the edge of the pool, into the water and his – um – penis should have been clearly visible; but it was hidden from Éowyn’s sight by the elleth…
At least, Éowyn assumed the second figure was an elleth – all three had the same long hair flowing freely around their shoulders and much of the body of that second figure was obscured by the third figure. Éowyn had never seen anything quite like the scene in front of her – had never even imagined such a thing.
It was very clear that the elleth was using her mouth and her hands to pleasure the male who sat on the pool edge. She stood on the floor of the pool, bending forward at the hips, her arms apparently resting on his thighs. But behind her stood another male and he was clearly – um – coupling with the elleth! It was his movements that were causing the slight splashes.
The whole tableau was… shocking but quite beautiful! The moonlight was caught by beads of water on the skin of all three so that they shimmered, and their hair was also touched by the moonlight; especially that of the ellon who sat on the bank – his hair glinted with red tones. His… oh! Suddenly, just as she recognised him, Galanthir moved his head… and looked straight at her!
Éowyn was mortified. She quickly turned away, and ran back along the path, her cheeks aflame. She was so caught up in considering how in all Arda she would ever face Galanthir again, hoping that perhaps he hadn’t seen her, or perhaps… that she did not see the two figures approaching from the village, as she reached the fork in the path, and ran straight into one of them.
“Éowyn! What is wrong?” Legolas asked, as he gripped her by both arms to stop the collision knocking her over.
“I… um…I…” she wasn’t sure quite how to answer. She tried again. “I… it is such a warm night. I was going to go to bathe… I… um… I expected the far pool to be free… But,” she took a deep breath. “But there were others there already and I did not want to – um – embarrass them.”
Legolas had let go of her arms and was looking at her calmly. He would, Éowyn thought, be shocked if he knew just what those already there were doing. Or, she suddenly realised as he answered her, perhaps he might not.
“Ah… no,” he said, “I quite understand. Nor would those who were already there have wished to embarrass you. Perhaps, though, you might feel more comfortable bathing in the other pool. Starlight bathers usually prefer that more distant one.
“In fact,” he continued, “we were going to bathe ourselves – it is a very warm night…”
Éowyn hadn’t really noticed that Legolas was not alone until now. She looked at the other figure; it was an elleth who looked familiar, although she couldn’t remember why, or remember the other female’s name. To be honest she found all the almost unbelievably beautiful young women difficult to tell apart at times!
The elleth was looking at Éowyn calmly. Legolas turned and spoke to her in Sindarin too rapid for Éowyn to even catch a word or two. The elleth didn’t answer but did nod briefly.
“We will go to the other pool, and you can walk with us. Then I will stand by – and even look the other way, as you two bathe,” he said to Éowyn.
“No, no… it’s quite alright,” she answered, feeling herself begin to blush again, as she remembered that she was only wearing her nightdress. “I… I’ll just go back. I’ll be fine.”
“Éowyn,” Legolas said, firmly, “you wanted to bathe because you felt too warm. I cannot imagine that you suddenly feel cool and refreshed without bathing. If you truly wish to bathe totally alone then we will both wait nearby for you. But we really do not feel embarrassed by, or ashamed of, our bodies. There is no reason why you two, at least, should not bathe at the same time.”
‘Easy enough for you to say,’ Éowyn thought, but before she got any further Legolas continued.
“Eru made these bodies to contain our fëar. Why should we fear them being bathed in the light of the stars he also made?”
She tried to think of a good answer but, before she could, she found that Legolas had taken her by the arm and was leading her towards the other bathing pool. Resisting would cause a scene and be churlish, she decided, and went with him.
This pool was deserted. The elleth smiled at Éowyn and then spoke to Legolas in their own tongue. He answered her and then turned to Éowyn.
“Could you help her with her lacings?”
It seemed rude to refuse and so Éowyn did as requested and within minutes the elleth’s dress slid down and she stood before Éowyn totally naked. Legolas had not even had time to turn his back… except, she realised, he had been planning on bathing with this girl, and would have seen her naked anyway! In fact, if Éowyn had not been there, he would have had to help the elleth with her lacings…
“Éowyn,” he was speaking to her again. “Éowyn, I will turn away now, and take up a look-out position on the path. Undress – bathe and cool yourself.”
As good as his word he walked away.
The elleth smiled encouragingly, and then placed the small basket she carried onto one of the flat stones that also surrounded this pool, before stepping into the water. She seemed so unconcerned at being naked in Éowyn’s presence that Éowyn decided her own misgivings were silly; she had wielded a sword in battle, she could certainly take off her nightdress at an Elven bathing pool. So she did.
She stepped into the water, which was still tepid from the sunlight that had heated it until only a few hours before, and quickly sank down until only her head and shoulders were above the water. It was blissfully cooling. The elleth was doing much the same thing and they both relaxed in a more comfortable silence than Éowyn had expected.
After a few minutes the elleth moved to the small basket and took out a bottle which she uncorked. The forest had its own scent – a green scent of growing things –and whatever was in the bottle seemed to be a distillation of that aroma. As the elleth rubbed a little into her skin, Éowyn realised that she, herself, had brought a towel – but nothing with which to wash herself – getting cool had been her only thought.
The elleth spoke to her, but she didn’t understand. Then, from a little way away, Legolas’ spoke.
“She asks would you like some of her bathing lotion? She is speaking in a Silvan dialect, so do not be surprised that you do not understand.”
Éowyn had thought the language the elleth spoke sounded even more musical, and further away from her own languages, than the Sindarin Faramir spoke so (annoyingly) well.
She nodded to the elleth, and then answered Legolas.
“It is very kind of her…”
The other female poured a little of the lotion into Éowyn’s hand, and Éowyn rose just far enough out of the water that she could smooth it onto her upper body – resisting the urge to cover her breasts with her hands or turn her back on the elleth.
The elleth spoke again and, again, Legolas voice came from the bushes a little way away.
“She says that your hroar is so much like her own – she had expected you to be… different.”
His voice was pleasantly neutral. Éowyn wished she knew if he was amused by the elleth’s surprise, but then remembered that she had been quite surprised when she saw the naked ellyn. Well, very surprised, to be honest, but it was more at their nakedness than because they looked much like Faramir, or any other male she had seen wearing little or no clothing.
There seemed no polite answer to the elleth’s observation and so Éowyn smiled at her again.
After a few more minutes the elleth gestured to another bottle, and then mimed rubbing it into her hair, before holding it out to Éowyn. The gesture did not need any translation – Éowyn ducked her head into the water and then held out her hand. This liquid smelled different; of plants and trees still, but with a hint of cherries. She rubbed it into her hair and then ducked back under the water to rinse it out. The elleth simply watched, making no attempt to do likewise, and Éowyn wondered if she had understood correctly.
She gestured to the bottle and the elleth’s hair.
This time the elleth clearly spoke directly to Legolas and the conversation took a little time before he switched to the Common Tongue.
“She says she is going to wait in the pool whilst I accompany you back to the village, and then I can return to wash her hair for her.”
Éowyn wondered why the elleth needed to wait for Legolas to do it for her – but he had not sounded surprised…
It reminded Éowyn, however, that Legolas had also planned to bathe, and wouldn’t get the chance until she had finished – although she was quite capable of making her own way back to her bed. She got, swiftly, from the pool and dried herself in a perfunctory manner before putting her nightdress back on and wrapping the shawl tightly around herself. She ran her fingers through her hair before addressing the bushes where she was fairly sure Legolas sat.
“I am dressed now, Legolas. I am well able to see myself back to our cottage – you do no need to delay your own bathing any longer.”
Legolas joined her beside the pool where the elleth lounged in the water. Of course, he said, he would accompany her; it was no inconvenience – but she pointed out that it was also no inconvenience for her to go back alone and, eventually, he gave in with good grace.
Not only gave in but actually grinned at her – a wider grin than she had ever seen on him, or any elf – and began to casually remove his tunic. Part of Éowyn wanted to hurry away as quickly as possible, part of her wanted to wait until he was naked – simply because the ellyn she had seen nude were all so very beautiful.
A third part won. She was a shield maiden; whilst ogling naked Legolas was simply not acceptable for the Princess of Ithilien, nothing should cause her to run and so, instead, she said, “Don’t let me delay you any longer, do go ahead whilst I put my slippers on.”
She was rewarded by a fleeting expression of admiration as he slowed a little so that, when she did say farewell and move away from the poolside, he stood in only leggings.
This time, as she left a bathing pool and took the path to the village, Éowyn walked slowly, thoughtfully, in no great rush to return to her bed. She had asked to come to stay here to learn more about the Elves, and this evening she had seen and heard things which did not fit with… well actually, she realised, with her own theories and beliefs.
When she thought about it, she had come to the conclusion that Elves were not sexual beings from her own observations – and she now had observations that were at odds to that conclusion. This would require some thought. She considered herself more as a person of action – Faramir was the knowledgeable and thoughtful one… perhaps she could discuss it with him. But, then, if he had always known that Elves were, clearly, not sexless creatures he might laugh at her. He probably wouldn’t, she admitted to herself, but even so…
She remembered Legolas saying, last year, how very surprised he was that the Rohirrim could believe that Elves stole children – and how pleased he was that Éowyn recognised how this was clearly just a children’s tale; when, to be honest, she had wondered if there was any truth in it. She had never told Faramir that she had wondered, at least briefly, if Tindómë was actually a mortal child, who had been stolen by the Elves, for fear that he would think her uneducated. She would think this other puzzle, too, through for herself.
She decided to sit on the carved bench outside their guest accommodation to think about it all whilst her hair dried; but then she wondered how in all Arda she would react if Galanthir, with or without his companions, strolled past. Or even Legolas, she thought, as it came to her where she had previously seen the elleth who was now bathing with him; she was the person Éowyn had seen carrying Legolas’ bedding out to be washed. This suddenly had implications that it had not had at the time.
Instead she went quietly into the parlour of ‘her’ cottage, rubbing her hair with her towel, and poured herself a glass of cordial to drink whilst she thought. Except that she had only got as far as ‘Oh my goodness – imagine doing that, with two males! And where anyone passing by could see you…’ when she heard, softly, Faramir’s voice.
“Éowyn? My love – where are you?”
She answered in as quiet and low a voice as she could, for fear of waking their son, to let Faramir know where she was and he spoke again, equally quietly.
“Come back to bed…”
She put down the glass and did as he asked.
“Mmm…” he said, as soon as she was under the sheets, “You smell nice…”
He spooned in behind her and breathed in again, his nose almost in her hair. She could feel him becoming aroused, his manhood beginning to press against her behind.
Rather to her own embarrassment she found herself thinking ‘if Faramir’s… um… penis… is his manhood would an elf call his his elfhood?’ And then found the image of that elleth, being… taken… from behind whilst she pleasured Galanthir, swimming into her mind as her own body responded to Faramir’s.
His hand was on her thigh, trying to slide her nightdress up a little.
“Boromir!” she whispered, “We might wake him!”
His hand stopped moving. Suddenly Éowyn felt desire welling up… “Unless we are very quiet…” she added.
There was a very quiet chuckle behind her. Pictures of those naked Elvish bodies were still at the forefront of her mind and she shimmied and twisted until, in a trice, she had pulled the nightgown up over her head and was naked under the sheet.
Now the sound from her husband was less a chuckle than a groan. He still wore his nightshirt – the fabric stopped his bare chest touching her back – she wanted it gone. He complied. She chose to keep her back to his chest but lifted her leg to allow him access, reaching back, taking the lead and guiding his manhood into her, joining them together.
Still lying spooned Faramir began to move but Éowyn wanted more. Her husband was not going to object, and soon she was on her knees, Faramir still behind her, nuzzling her hair, biting at the soft skin of her neck, his hands holding her breasts as his manhood slid rhythmically in and out of her body.
“Harder!” she whispered, “Harder!”
Again Faramir complied; now he buried his face in her shoulder to keep himself, she thought, from crying out. His hands were still on her breasts. She felt as if she needed something more – no, she knew she needed a little more. She pushed one hand down between her legs, between the damp curls there, until she could apply that little extra stimulation for herself. She could feel her climax building and she bent further forward, pushing her behind harder into Faramir’s belly, so that she could bury her face in the pillow to muffle any cries.
She came – and in that moment she imagined herself being that elleth; as Faramir’s seed filled her she imagined him being… almost any ellon, but probably Galanthir.
There was a tiny strand of guilt, but Faramir was nuzzling her hair, muttering, again, how good she smelled, how beautiful she was, what a wonderful wife. He turned her towards him and kissed her, then held her tightly, and she decided to push the guilt down and forget it – at least for now.
The next day was almost as warm, but a slight breeze stirred the leaves of the trees and brought the scent of promised rain. Éowyn dressed and prepared a simple breakfast for her husband and son; such domesticity was a pleasure when it was from choice.
Not far away, in Legolas cottage, breakfast was also being taken. Galanthir and his Lord sat companionably eating fruit, bread and newly made jam; Legolas’ companion from the night before made up the group. It was probably fortunate that Éowyn was not party to their conversation, as she was currently the topic under discussion.
“She looked taken aback,” Galanthir said.
“She is not comfortable with bathing in public,” Legolas explained, “certainly not with males and females bathing together. Faramir said, when I asked whether Éowyn would bathe in the pools or need water carrying, that she would not inconvenience anyone by asking them to bring water, but neither would she bathe in public. But she thought it would be quiet enough to bathe alone last night.”
“And no-one had thought to explain that the further pool was used for starlight bathing…” the elleth said.
“Ah,” Galanthir smiled.
“I do not think the Rohirrim go starlight bathing in the way that we do,” Legolas continued. “I think their place for exploring the pleasures of the body outside the marital bed is the stable.”
The elleth smiled and looked from one ellon to the other. “The hay and straw might get into unexpected places, but in the winter snow it would be very pleasant – we must try.”
“Perhaps we could invite the Lady Éowyn…” Galanthir did not sound entirely serious as he added, “We would have asked her to join us last night if she had not left in such a hurry.”
“She is very happily bound to Faramir,” Legolas said, “and, unlike some of the ladies of the court of Gondor, I do not think she would ever look outside the bond. No – I think it was just unexpected, to her, finding the three of you there. I know, from conversation with Éomer, that the Rohirrim usually confine joining to within the marriage bond but they are not averse to enjoying other pleasures of the body. Presumably she expects us to at least do likewise – but in the stable or the bedroom rather than the bathing pool.”
“Perhaps, then, it was because the others with me were clearly joining that she was so surprised,” Galanthir mused.
“You could be right,” Legolas answered, “although I thought she would realise that, as we are not almost permanently fertile like men, we do not need to avoid the act of joining as they do.”
“Well,” said the elleth, getting up to leave, “at least she knows now to avoid the far pool – or, perhaps, to spend more time there if she wishes. I would not mind if she wished to come starlight bathing with me – her hroar is not really all that different…”
Legolas tried to imagine Éowyn participating in the pleasures they had enjoyed after Éowyn left them. He decided he really could not – perhaps just as well.
Faramir nuzzled his wife’s neck before going to spend time with Legolas, who had promised to show him some manuscripts that had come from the Great Greenwood, embracing her briefly. He murmured, again, how nice her hair smelt and that it might be a good idea to take up one of the offers to care for Boromir overnight.
Éowyn was inclined to agree. She would ask later. She would also, she decided, ask what was in the oil the elleth had given her last night to rub into her hair – not only was her hair easier to comb than usual, but it certainly appealed to Faramir…
The thought of the hair oil brought back all the sounds, images and thoughts of the night before, and she found herself blushing – it was a good thing that she was now alone with her small son. Time, she decided, to try and make sense of all the new information. She set Boromir down on the floor with his toys, and simply sat and thought.
It was clear that Elves were not ‘innocent’; not without any sense of sexual arousal. But that was what she had been taught. Or was it? What had she really known of the Elves to convince her of something which was, clearly, not accurate?
Thinking back to her childhood and youth she had not really believed Elves actually existed; they were figures in stories told to children. The Witch of Dwimordene and her grey shadow warriors; the witch who didn’t have her own children; the witch who, therefore, sent phantom warriors to steal any mortal children who strayed too far from home.
She realised that, in that tale, was the seed of the belief that Elves did not have sexual urges. For how could anyone have marital relations (or even non-marital ones…) without getting pregnant at some time? But then she had met Elves. And her theory was confirmed because it was clear that Legolas, and then the others, could not grow a beard. And beards showed sexual maturity in males.
She thought on this fact for a minute or two. She had been taught about sexual relations between men and women by the women of the Royal household, by her observations of horses, and by spending time with Éomer and his friends. Whilst the horses certainly didn’t grow beards (she found herself smiling), the boys became young men, and interested in the bodies of young women, when their voices broke and they grew their first facial hair.
And that was another thing – the Elven males had softer voices than the men she was used to. Perhaps that was it – the Elven men were too much like boys!
Except… the hobbits were also boyish – and yet she had not found it too difficult to believe that Sam had got married soon after his return to The Shire, and was now a father.
Last year she had seen Arwen’s brothers, and Galanthir, stripped naked – had seen proof positive that they had full, adult sized, male parts… but she had assumed they didn’t… um… get aroused. She realised, rather to her chagrin, that she had assumed that ‘proper’ males would have shown signs of arousal because she was there…
Then there was Tindómë – who was not a stolen child. Éowyn realised that she had focussed on the lack of desire shown between Tindómë and Rumil, when she knew that others regarded them as a couple. But, then, the Elves showed very little outward sign of any emotion – why would they show signs of desire to others? And, now that she thought about it, Arwen had told her that Tindómë was the result of a coupling between an Elven male and a human female – so the male must have been capable of normal sexual desire. And Arwen herself had had a child…
It occurred to Éowyn, now, that she had thought of that previously and decided that, in the first instance, Arwen was not a full elf and, in the second instance, it required little desire on the part of the female for her to get pregnant.
Boromir interrupted her train of thought, as he brought a toy to her, and then one of the ellyth came to ask if she wanted to come and pick strawberries. It was some time before she could go back to her puzzle; how could she have been so convinced about something and also so wrong?
By the time she had put Boromir down for his afternoon nap she had reached a startling conclusion. She had been convinced that sexual passion was alien to Elves by three things; a story told to frighten children, the lack of beards, and a feeling that Elves in general were too ethereal and fey to do something so solidly rooted in earthiness.
But it was clear that she had been wrong. Elves certainly did have sexual encounters, and almost certainly enjoyed them, not just forced themselves to couple purely for conception. Last night the couple on the flet were probably no more intent on conceiving than she had been with Faramir later – Galanthir and his companions were certainly intent on pleasure! Whilst the elleth who said she would wait for Legolas to join her in the water so that he could ‘wash her hair’ probably meant a good deal more than that. Although Éowyn could see that elves might find hair-washing sensual – they did all have such shiny hair.
Actually the phrase ‘Starlight bathing’ had occurred more than once last night; as if it meant more than just bathing at night, but it hadn’t occurred to the Elves that she wasn’t familiar with the phrase. If it meant what she thought it meant, and the elves acted as if they thought she knew the meaning, at least they probably hadn’t realised that she though them impotent.
There was, she thought, only one problem with realising that Elves were, most certainly, sexual beings. If pictures of the naked male Elves she had encountered floated into her mind when she was making love with her husband she could no longer excuse herself because they were no more desirable than a statue or a painting.
Within seconds of that thought both the husband and one of the Elves in question came into view. Faramir and Galanthir were deep in conversation and Éowyn wondered whether she could escape the encounter with the ellon she had last seen naked, being pleasured by a naked female who was herself being… Éowyn felt herself flush. There was no escape.
“Hiril Éowyn,” Galanthir said, “I hope that you enjoyed your visit to the bathing pool last night. I am sorry that you were surprised to find the furthest pool occupied.”
He sounded so unflustered, as if the encounter had been totally normal!
Éowyn took a couple of deep breaths before she answered, “Thank you, yes, and there is no need for an apology. I felt much refreshed when I returned to my bed.”
“You should bring Hîr Faramir tonight,” Galanthir answered, “He could wash your hair for you.”
He nodded politely and left them before there could be any more conversation.
Faramir looked questioningly at her – and when she said nothing asked her, outright, how Galanthir knew she had been to bathe the previous night; and what was he apologising for?
By the time Éowyn had stuttered out a rather embarrassed explanation, her husband was not only smiling, but clearly aroused by her tale.
“I would be very happy to accompany you tonight,” Faramir said. “Eldroth’s wife asked again if we would like her to care for Boromir for the night… If the pools are already occupied we could stay in the most shadowed part… ”
And so it was that, in her first long visit to the Elves of Eryn Ithil, Éowyn learnt not only how the Elves were healing the land, and that cherry bark oil helps keep the hair shiny, but also that her husband was less restrained about nudity and bodily pleasure than she had previously realised – and that she was very happy about this.
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This is a story set in the Returnverse. It takes place in the year after Brotherhood, before Tindómë, Rumil, and Orophin moved to Ithilien. Faramir and Éowyn are spending time in Eryn Ithil - the home of the elves now living in Ithilien.
Chapter end notes:
Disclaimer: The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only, and all rights remain with the estate of JRR Tolkien.