Now everyone's fucking looking at us out of the corners of their eyes – they're all asking themselves, "Did they or didn't they?" Ah, keep the gobshites wondering, that's my bleeding motto.
Doesn't matter anyway. They know we're doing it, know we'll be doing it from now on; does it fucking matter if I get my knacks off with my acushla in the bedroom? Besides, letting them all know I can keep my bloody todger up twenty-four-seven, ah yes mate, that's a big fucking point to Leggsie. Top that, Mr. Bloody King of Gondor!
Got too many chops for the barbecue, so we're just churning them out, Sam and me; we take turns poking and turning and bunging them on the platters. And we talk. Always liked little Samwise – not so little now, oh dear me no – always liked his homey ways, so down to earth and fucking NORMAL. Never went in for any of that crazy keech, never got faddy or oofy or caught up in any of that faffing about with fashion or showing off or modern crazes. Plain ol' suburban Samwise Gamgee; him and his estate cars and respectability and nut-chokers, loving his wife and worrying about that part-time shirtlifter Frodo, taking care of his lawns and his houses and being your garden-variety, all-round Good Guy. Like Éomer, no mouth-and-trousers; WYSIWYG, only not so agro.
Good thing, too. Merry and Pippin are about the most aggressive hobbits I've ever met, and that's quite fucking enough, thank you. Bloody unnatural, in my opinion. There they are now, arguing about what we should do with fucking Fairy-Meer . . . whack him over the head with a lead pipe, or tie him up by his feet in a Country-Western bar with a sign on his chest that says, "I butt-fuck boys." Typical of those two gits, really; Merry's more direct, but Pip's deviously creative.
But in the midst of our little rave-up, with everyone around me laughing and talking, despite the glow of the sunset and the smell of the grill, I feel that bloody drawing, pulling sensation without even seeing or hearing her – like being sucked off-course by a strong riptide. Where's my acushla? Fortunately I can look around for her while still chatting with Sam . . . ah, there she is – changed into her short-shorts, so fucking tight you can tell what year's printed on the coins in her pocket, thirty-six inches of inside seam propped up on the ironwork table in front of her, fucking bollocking me without even bloody well knowing about it. Creamy, yellow-gold skin, acres and acres of it, stretched from the tattered edges of those tiny ridiculous bloody excuses for shorts, scraps of denim is all they are, follow the bend of the knee down the delicious curve of those calves – love to sink my teeth into those, oh fuck yeah – right down to those pretty feet, little toenails painted bright red, flashing like a fucking neon sign and making me want to bung the fork in the grass and fall on my fucking knees beside her, running my tongue up and down that same bloody path, from the edge of her shorts to her curling glossy toes. Fucking A, how does she DO it? All she's fucking doing is sitting with her elbows on her knees, talking to Frodo about his sodding new novel, and dishing the dirt on the publishers' houses. Not looking at me, not fucking fluttering her eyelashes at me, not even fucking paying attention to me, and still my eyes wander over to her, wanting her to look at me. Look at me look at me look at me, notice me, see how I'm looking at you, like a fucking turkey-cock spreading his tail and strutting around trying to get the hen's attention. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I'm such a git, such a fucking prat sometimes. Give over, Leggsie; you're all hair and hormones; can't even fucking have a fucking barbecue without smoodging your little bit.
Pathetic, aren't I? Fucking pathetic.
Thought she'd fall arse over tit when I told her Frodo's going through a "gay phase;" guess she never sussed that one out in the little poncer. Well, doesn't bleeding matter too much; give the nit a couple centuries and he'll straighten out his queenishness. Always does, the bleeding batty-boy. Last time was what – Philippines, Spanish occupation; what a fucking fop he was – had a nice boy, though, treated him well. Then it was off on a tour of the antipodes and suddenly he had a bleeding bird in his shreddies. Like fucking Foucault's Pendulum, that one. No one minds much any more – no one except poor little Rosie, who's the jealous type. Keep trying to tell her Sam's straighter than Maggie Thatcher with rebar shoved up her arse, but the little poppet always wonders.
Frankly, if sitting between my acushla's two-klick legs doesn't turn Frodo from being a poofter, nothing will. Oh my sainted aunt, could I be in that position right now, looking right up those lovely thighs to the denim-clad wonders within . . . of course, I wouldn't be nearly so fucking nonchalant about it; hard not to push those slim knees apart and settle between them . . .
Good grief, I can't believe he's published twelve books under three different pen names . . . I even read one from the library, didn't know it was his. Thought it was well-written, but so friggin' depressing – one of those boy-against-the-cruel-world books with gut-wrenching circumstances and a sad ending. Well, I guess if I still had to contend with the nightmares attendant to carrying the One Ring, I'd be messed up, too.
I guess I can see his being gay -- well, bisexual, I guess. Seems to make a lot of sense psychologically, at least from the modern homosexual apologetics standpoint – you know, the lack of affirmation from the father, seeking reassurance from other men – though that was a little more applicable to my ex than to Frodo; at least he had Bilbo – Arwen and I have talked a little about it, before she and Lothíriel went to raid my closet; Arwen said it's all bullshit, thinking like that. There are lots of straight men who had lousy relationships with their fathers and ended up fine, she said. Then she added, "If aggressively uncaring fathers are the impetus behind the making of a homosexual man, then King Thranduil's queer as a three-dollar bill."
Thanks, Arwen. Didn't need THAT mental image of my future father-in-law, even if he IS in Valinor and not likely to drop by for a cup of tea any time soon. Gimli overheard her comment and practically ran away screaming.
Makes sense, though, I guess – after all, Boromir was straight as an arrow. Then again, Denethor adored him. Man, did I hear THAT ad nauseum – whine, whine whine for millennia; oh-poor-pitiful-me, Faramir's so hurt, Daddy always loved Boromir the best. I felt sorry for him, sure, but good grief – how long can you play that card before people get tired of hearing it?
About a hundred years, that's how long. I got so sick of it. Never let on, of course – didn't want to hurt his feelings, because he could sulk like nobody's business, and that always irritated everyone else even more than his whining. Shit, I feel like I've been running interference for Faramir all this time, protecting him from the aggravated comments of the other Chosen, defending him when they rolled their eyes, patting his hand and saying, "There, there."
Fuck that. They want to get back at him? Fine with me.
There's a shriek behind us – Lothíriel, of course – she and Arwen come out the sliding glass door to the patio, both trying to balance in my new shoes. Arwen's doing better than Lothíriel, naturally – Elven reflexes and all that – but they're still staggering around, and my dear ditzy sister-in-law is trying desperately to keep upright in my stiletto heels on the uneven tile. I can't help but laugh at them, and I'm not the only one. Aragorn and Éomer are teasing them, Éomer telling Lothíriel he loves the look except for the falling-over part, and Aragorn heckling his wife and saying she should dress like me more often.
But really, I don't see what the big deal is. At first I thought they were all excited because the shoes were new and expensive and designer and different, but then I overheard them exclaiming over the height of the heel and how much it would hurt to wear them for an extended period. That's when I looked down at THEIR feet. Arwen's wearing white Keds, Lothíriel's in thong sandals, Rosie's wearing orthopedic shoes and both Estella and Diamond are in flat loafers. I guess I can see why they're a little taken aback by the differences in our shoe preferences, but what's wrong with wearing high heels? They're sexy – especially when you've got what Legolas calls "two-klick legs." It took me about three times of him saying it before I figured out he meant "two kilometer." I kept thinking he was talking about the sound of my heels on the tile.
I like how he likes my legs. I like how he looks at them, keeps making grabs for them. I like how he makes me feel, like I'm sexy and desirable and attractive. Hell, let's face it; I like EVERYTHING about him, even his Listening, which I admit is creepy but after all, who else is going to do it? And I imagine being the spouse of the Listener is a bit of a status symbol to the folks in Valinor, too. Wow, look at me, all you retired Elves! I used to just be the princess of a backwater Hicksville country in the mountains, but now I'm getting it on with the LISTENER!
Geez, can you imagine what my uncle would've thought about my hooking up with an Elf? Probably would've precluded Snowmane squashing him by having a stroke right then and there. Hell, he hadn't even acknowledged the Eldar's existence until Legolas strode into the hall of Meduseld.
Now Estella and Diamond are getting in on the action, reeling and lurching around the back yard in my Fendi boots and my Via Spiga pumps, the ones with the leather bows on the back straps, looking a little ridiculous with their nicely-pressed dress pants and conservative blouses; Frodo and I are both laughing, and they can probably hear Gimli's haw-haw all the way down in Burbank. Gandalf strolls up to me, glass of wine in hand, his dark eyes sparkling with good humor.
Though it might just be the wine. Doesn't matter, I guess.
"I have never understood a woman's compulsion to try on shoes," he says, smiling down at me. "Could you perchance explain it, my dear?"
Love the way he talks, the Oxford don that he is. Something ironic in that, all right. Dirty jeans, shit-stomping boots, leather jacket, long hair . . . and a high-class Oxonian accent. I wonder what the other professors make of him? "Not really, no," I say. "Just something we do, to pass the time. It's like taking the same picture and changing the frame every now and then, makes it look a little different. Maybe we like looking at our feet in different settings."
"Like taking a beloved character and transplanting him into a different story," smiles Frodo, watching Diamond nearly take a header into the bird bath. Wait – where the hell did the bird bath come from? I don't remember that thing . . .
Gandalf turns to watch Diamond wobbling around the garden, Pippin trying half-heartedly to hold her up. "A parody, I fancy, in this particular incident," he says dryly. "My god, Éowyn, how do you walk in those contraptions?"
Typical response from someone who's probably never worn anything except comfortable boots and bedroom slippers the past ten thousand years. "It's not that bad," I protest. "You just need the right feet and a good sense of balance."
"Yeah, that's it." It's Éomer, he sits heavily on a deck chair next to me. He's got a beer in one hand and a plate of food in the other; the scent makes my mouth water. Veal . . . when's the last time I ate a nice cut of veal? Suddenly I'm starving. "It's all those years as an expert equestrienne. Good balance, doesn't get unseated easily."
"I can bloody well vouch for that." Rosemary wafts over to me, and I can feel myself tense – tense in a good way, that is. All those prickly spots just seem to flare up and my stomach gives a little lurch. Being around Legolas is like riding an ingeniously nasty roller coaster – you're in a constant state of disequilibrium.
Nice feeling, though. I could get used to this.
Éomer looks up at him, eyes crinkling over his big fuzzy beard. "Which part?" he asks, winking at me. "The balance part, or the part where you can't unseat her?"
Legolas sits on the loveseat next to me, grinning. He's got a big plate of food in his hand, which he sets on the low table in front of me. Better move my feet – very impolite to dip my toes in the ratatouille. Though I wouldn't mind if he licked it off –
Ooo, kinky Éowyn! We'll have to try that later. Not ratatouille, though. Wrong concept entirely. Whipped cream, maybe.
"Both, actually," he says, reaching around behind us to grab the bottle of wine on the bench and refill our glasses. I've had about four already, and have achieved that stage of tipsiness where the lights are so pretty and bright, the conversation so witty and amusing, and the sky such a beautiful shade of . . . of whatever, doesn't matter, just very, very pretty. Another glass couldn't hurt, probably just make me feel even better. I scootch next to him, pressing my long bare leg against the black leather, and he spares a second to nuzzle his nose under the curls by my ear and give me a quick nip.
Great. Now not only is my stomach demonstrating the tango for the benefit of the rest of my digestive organs, my heart's accompanying it with the drum solo from "In A Gadda Da Vida." Dammit!
"Has to do with the legs, I think," he's saying to Éomer, leaning forward and cutting up a veal chop into bite-sized pieces. I love watching Brits eat – they hold the utensils so funny. A lot more efficient than the American way, I guess; at least you don't have to keep switching hands after you've cut something to put the food in your mouth. "Longer the legs, the better the balance. Should've seen her legs in the shoes she was wearing yesterday when I picked her up – " he looks back at me through his curtain of hair, his blue eyes sparkling. "Thought they'd wrap round me twice."
Gandalf coughs in a genteel manner, Frodo covers his mouth with his hand, and Éomer looks about halfway between laughter and offense. Legolas turns pink – that's a first, really; never seen him even remotely embarrassed before – and says indignantly, "On the back of me fuckin' bike, I mean!"
"Geez, you'll try it anywhere, won't you?" grins Frodo.
I can't help it; I snort into my wine. Doesn't matter if I blush; I'm all flushed anyway – between thinking about our quickie in the bedroom earlier, and drinking all these tannins, I'm sure I'm red as a beet about now.
Hmm, back of my bike – might take a little maneuvering, but that could be a hell of a good time.
I look over at my acushla. She's pink round the cheeks, eyes starry, glowing with health and happiness and such a fucking contrast to that browned-off, spare little bit I met on the street yesterday . . . our eyes meet over the rim of her wine glass. She sparkles almost, the silvery-gray flecks in her eyes like chips of glass, hair all tousled and curly about her pretty little round ears. I fucking love Edans' ears – well, most of them, anyway. Éowyn's are nice, little, folded against her skull; I've seen a few that qualified as flying jibs.
Love to alter mine; never bothered, though. Why spark debate in the plastic surgeon's office? Fucking Fairy-Meer may have been a prat, but he was right about one thing – better to exercise a little caution than to invite scientific curiosity. Ever since I started reading Heinlein, I've been spooked by the whole dissecting-aliens bit. My ears are just so bloody weird-looking – make me stand out too much – though really, now I think of it, I'd stand out anyway; at least the ears're something I can cover up with a handkerchief or my hair.
Then there's the undeniable fact they're an extremely sensitive erogenous zone. Have to let my acushla in on that little secret. Isn't that why Arwen's resisted Aragorn's attempts to dock hers? Be an awful shame to do the old snip-snip on THAT. One thing to keep the bloody scientists away, another entirely to fuck up your chances of an eye-popping orgasm.
Like the one we had in her bedroom just now – oh, fucking A, am I bloody glad this crowd is buggering off to a hotel tonight.
Back of the motorcycle, hmmm? Sounds intriguing. I push my knee up against his, feel the answering pressure beneath the squeaky leather. I take another mouthful of wine. Almost raw, this stuff; dry and fruity on my tongue, biting and tangy like blackberries.
I feel you, acushla; no fear, I'm looking forward to a nice slow shag later, too. Too rushed today, we were; no time for a proper bunk-up. I'll fucking make it up to you – hell yeah.
Now. Try this. My own rub recipe, and cooked to a fucking turn at that.
He holds up his fork; there's a piece of veal stuck to it, speckled with herbs and spices and steaming a little. Oh, does that smell good. He smiles, I smile back; for a second I just look at him – two long white hands, one holding the fork, the other cupped underneath it so it doesn't drip on me; the sweet, columbine curve of his lips, the high angle of his cheekbones beneath the blue topaz eyes.
Oh fuck, I see what's in her eyes – when's the last time I inspired such unthinking adoration? Feel like my heart just dropped down into my stomach.
She opens her mouth, tongue half extended; the memory of her taking my plonker into that hot wet sucking cavern shoots my heart from my stomach into my throat. Fuck it, when are these fucking people going to fucking LEAVE?
Oooh, that's good – now I've got Happy Tongue, as well as Happy Pelvis. Hell, practically every inch of my body is happy. Now all we have to do is try the Toes á la Mode and I think we'll have every part covered.
Her eyes flutter a little as she chews; bloody nice she appreciates my cookery, but bugger it if her reaction makes me want to get the leg over NOW. Always knew she was a closet aesthete, this one.
I hear the ghosty breath of a chuckle; Whitey, of course. When I look up at him he's smiling, but it's a wry, reluctant smile.
I know, Whitey. I’m gobsmacked, too.
I see Éomer and Frodo exchange looks. I know – this must seem too weird to them. I mean, me and Legolas? What the hell? It's been me and Faramir for millennia beyond count, and then they show up and I've got one of their oldest bachelor friends hand-feeding me, and kissing me, and making bold sexual innuendoes with me. And Éomer's my brother – the protective type – man, I hope he gets used to this, because I am NOT backing down, dammit.
Some of my defiance must be showing up in my face, because Éomer grins at me and says, "Well, at least I know you're in good hands now. You have no idea how long I've been worried about you."
Really? He worried about me? I know he and Faramir weren't exactly best buds, but I didn't know he felt like I wasn't being treated right.
"Me, too," says Frodo, and he flicks a quick glance at Legolas, whose eyebrows go up.
Fuck, I knew I didn't care much for fucking Fairy-Meer, but I had no idea . . . well, on the one hand it's bloody gratifying to know her brother approves, but on the other hand, why the hell didn't anyone do anything about this before?
You know that we are slow to wrath, and rich in mercy, my Greenleaf. We were reluctant to take the Shieldmaiden from him until it was proved to us beyond doubt he was unworthy of her.
Oh, there he goes again . . . Gandalf straightens up, gets an intent look on his face, watching Legolas as his eyes go all clouded and glowy and weird.
"What are they saying, Legolas?"
Shut yer gob, Whitey, I'm trying to Listen here . . .
When your feasting is over gather the Chosen in one room. We shall all speak together through you there, and impart to you your separate tasks.
I shall do as you say, my lord.
Interesting to watch the light fade from his eyes, see him sort of shake himself and come back to us.
"When we're done eating we need to go into the lounge and I'll Listen," he says to Gandalf. He looks very serious, which seems stranger to me than his wigging out when the Valar speak to him – "serious" isn't a word I normally associate with Legolas; "amusing," "volatile," "peculiar," and more recently, "sexy" are closer adjectives to how I see him. But he's definitely serious now – all business, and Gandalf's expression echoes this.
Gandalf nods soberly and says, "I'll tell the others." He glances down at me, the corner of his mouth twitching up. "Finish feeding your new pet," he adds with a sardonic grin, earning him a nasty look from us both.
"Pet," indeed! Like he'd put a collar around my neck and chain me to the – erm, bedposts . . . well, okay, maybe "pet" isn't so bad after all.
Bugger off, Whitey; just because you've got no fucking libido doesn't mean the rest of us were born cockless.
All right, then. Eat, then Listen. Spear another piece of veal. "Feed my pet"! Well, I will, then. But I'll take a bite, first.
Ah yes . . . turned out fucking perfect. Love a good chop, I do.
"What's going to happen?" asks Frodo anxiously, folding his arms over his chest. Poor sod, never did like an argy-bargy. "What are the Valar going to do?"
"Are we going to be told to take care of Faramir?" asks Éomer. Looks brassed, that one, and fucking eager; got his blood up, I guess. Fuck, wouldn't want to be on HIS bad side.
"Dunno, mates," I say. My acushla's turn – oh, hungry, are you? I saw that look, my Éowyn . . .
Never pegged myself for the kinky type, but man! Does Legolas bring it out in me!
I'll have to find one of those sex shops, see if they sell dog collars and chains. Maybe I can get us matching ones, with "His" and "Hers" printed on the sides.
Maybe I can get a tattoo that says, "Property of the Listener." Yeah, that'd be good. Now, where shall I get it? My shoulder? Nah, not visible enough. Across my stomach? No . . . hmm, how about right above my ass, in that little hollow of my tail bone? That could be good. Then he could look down on it when we're doing it doggy-style.
Oh, bad, naughty Éowyn! Makes my stomach jump and flutter just to think of it.
Dammit, when are all these people going to LEAVE?
Oh, right – after we hear what the Valar have to say. Spit it out, Legolas, then let's send everyone back to the Marriott so I can jump you.
"Manwë says he'll give us our marching orders. Didn't say what they were." He glances over at me, has a funny look on his face.
"What?" I ask. He grimaces, looks away.
I have such a bad fucking feeling about this. "Slow to wrath and rich in mercy," he said, but I got the impression their patience is about at an end.
Bugger! What if she starts to feel sorry for him? What if she decides to preclude their anger and take him back?
Fuck, fuck, fuck. Is THIS the obstacle you meant, my lord?
"'Marching orders'?" Éomer looks puzzled. "Do you mean they're going to tell us to do something about it? I thought you'd pretty much taken care of everything already."
Frodo and Éomer look at me thoughtfully. Legolas is pushing the veal chunks around his plate, elbows on his knees, staring down at the ground.
Shit. Now what? "Why do we have to do anything?" I ask. I'm almost angry. "Things are finally starting to go right. I don't want to see that fuck-up again. What the hell can we do, anyway? If they tell us to talk him into taking me back, I'm sorry, but I refuse to even THINK about it."
Legolas glances up at me through his hair; his mouth quirks into a half-smile.
Ah, much better. That's right, acushla, get brassed! Makes me feel better about it, at any rate.
"Maybe we're just supposed to force him to give you your money back," Frodo suggests shyly. "You know, hold him down and make him sign a check. For reparation, sort of."
"I don't want his fucking money," Éowyn says. There are spots of red on her cheeks, and her pretty silver eyes are flashing angrily. "I don't need anything from him. I have Legolas. And even if I didn't, I wouldn't deliberately seek him out and ask him for my money back. I'd rather live in an alley and push a grocery cart full of trash around than see him again."
That's my Shieldmaiden! Fucking shame my being proud of her makes my plonker stand up and take notice. What is it about her being cheesed off that makes me so fucking randy? I put my hand on her thigh; she's quivering, like she quivers when I'm about to enter her. Oh fuck, I want to be inside her.
"There, there, acushla," I say, giving her a little squeeze. "Love you agro, but we need to finish this rave-up and get to business." She turns to me, her pretty red mouth pouting; oh bugger would I love to bite that lower lip, suck it into my mouth . . .
Funny how fast I go from being pissed to being horny. All of a sudden that wave of anger heated me up right between my legs, and Legolas putting his hand on my thigh only makes it worse. Move it up, up further, oh please –
Oh shit, forgot about Éomer and Frodo. Damn! I may be getting a little kinky, but nothing in the world will coerce me to get it on with my brother watching. Ick!
"Besides," he says, holding up another piece of veal for my own private consumption – I could get used to this, being hand-fed gourmet food by a friggin' Adonis – "Manwë didn't say anything about yer money, acushla. Maybe that's not even what they're mad about."
Mad? That surprises me; I never thought the Valar could get mad. "They're mad at Faramir?" I ask.
"Why not?" asks Éomer grimly. "We sure the hell are."
"He betrayed one of the Chosen, Éowyn," says Frodo in his quiet voice. "Even the Valar have their limits."
Damn, I wish I'd spent more time around all these guys. Faramir always kept away from them when they were talking about the Valar and being the Chosen . . . made him uncomfortable; said he thought it wasn't "proper." Well, to hell with that – I've got lots of catching up to do.
I know each race has their own pair of Vala; I know it's Manwë Legolas usually talks to; I know they've been ordering him around for years . . . since the Fourth Age at least . . . I chew and drink and ponder, while Legolas and Éomer and Frodo discuss oaths and penance and the afterlife. Spiritual, nebulous stuff . . . never pegged my brother to be so into it, but he's bought it, lock, stock, and barrel; not so surprising in Frodo and Legolas; they're more mystical and unworldly than the rest of us, Gandalf excepted. The sky turns from blue to teal to purple to black, and little pinprick diamonds flicker down at us; even under the Christmas lights and the orangy glow of the tiki torches I can see that faint whitish glow around Legolas' head and arms, and when I look over at Arwen, standing nestled in the crook of Aragorn's arm, I can see she's glowing, too.
Eldar! I'll probably never get used to how beautiful they are.
Legolas has stopped feeding me. I look down at the plate. Empty. We ate all of that? There must've been three veal chops on there, and the ratatouille, and that yummy crusty bread, and the salad. I go to take a sip of wine, but my glass is empty. Shit. Well, that explains the fuzzy feeling in my frontal lobe. Red wine – better than a lobotomy.
All right, mates; time to get moving. The Valar await us.
Legolas gives my thigh one last squeeze and stands up. All of a sudden everyone goes quiet; all you can hear is Eric Clapton singing tinnily on the little radio, and some tree frogs to keep him company, and the faint roar of traffic underneath it all. Everyone is looking at Legolas. He's standing still, head bowed; his hair is shining white in the darkness, the stars like a crown rim the outline of his head. Oh shit, he's so beautiful; how on earth did I end up with HIM? Is anyone listening to me up there? Thank you, Valar, for sending him to me; thank you thank you thank you. I don't know if you can hear me, but thank you – even if it's only been a little over twenty-four hours, all this happiness is erasing those long years of misery. Thank you, Oromë. Thank you, Yavanna.
Everyone's so still, waiting. Legolas is still. No one is moving, we're hardly breathing.
"We go to a party, and everyone turns to see/ The beautiful lady that's walking around with me/And then she asks me do you feel all right . . . "
Would someone shut that damn thing off??? Last thing I need right now is a smarmy love song to completely throw me off.
We're all stock-still. Lothíriel is standing next to Éomer, her long dark hair just brushing the top of his head. Frodo's eyes are downcast. Sam and Rosie are holding hands. Arwen and Aragorn are looking intently at Legolas, as though they can hear, too. Gimli's lips are pursed and he looks worried. Gandalf's eyes are closed and his mouth is moving, though I can't hear any sound. Merry and Estella are sitting together on the wall beside Pippin and Diamond, and all four of them have their eyes fixed on Legolas.
"I feel wonderful because I see/ The love light in your eyes . . . "
No love light in HIS eyes right now. I'm looking up at him, I can see the neon glow, can feel his sense of being elsewhere. I'm holding my breath.
Stars spin and planets dance; clouds pulse and their cousin the sea swells and recedes, yet still we who are seated above the circle of Arda watch over our Chosen. They are whirling lights, twisting and bowing beneath us, reaching luminous fingers down to the rest of the denizens of this sorrow-darkened world, touching, healing, helping. They are one body, responding to our commands given to the Listening Ear; some are more eager than others – the Evenstar, the wife of the King of Gondor – she also understands, though she hears us not – yet it is the Listener who has ever been our most faithful servant. It is our will that our wrath and approbation commingled shall fall tonight, for one of this number shall be cast off, and his reward given to another.
It is time.
He raises his head. His eyes rise to the stars; his face is impassive, calm, heartbreakingly lovely. And all about him falls the pale light, diffuse, like some odd baptism.
"It is time."
Everyone stirs; those who were sitting get to their feet. He turns to walk into the house, but before he starts he reaches one hand down to me, to help me up.
How did he even know I was here? I thought he was somewhere else . . .
I put my hand in his. It's cold, almost unresponsive; he's not looking at me, his eyes are still glowing, and he's abstracted. But I let him pull me to my feet and we walk inside, hand in hand, and everyone follows us.
Seat the injured Edan in a place of honor. Tonight shall be her reckoning, and the wrong done her reversed.
He guides me to the big flowered easy chair and lightly pushes me into it, then stands beside me. I'm reminded of the time I used to rule Emyn Arnen, when I'd sit on the dais and my bodyguard would flank me; big men in green and brown surcoats, holding spears, there to ensure my words were made law, and that I received impertinence from no one.
Of course, it's easy to be regal when you're dressed in rich, stiff brocades, foamy lace and silver crowns. I feel a little foolish now, barefoot in my flimsy sparkly shirt and ratty cut-offs, with everyone in a half-circle around us. I tuck my legs up underneath me and look up at Legolas. His eyes are still glowing that neon-blue, his face still impassive. When everyone is seated he closes his eyes briefly, then opens them again.
"Oaths taken have been broken."
Oh shit, I don't like the sound of his voice – echoey, resonant; he's not speaking at all, someone else is speaking through him.
Where are you, Legolas? Where do you go when this happens?
Speak for us, O beloved Listener. For long ages have you been our faithful servant. Serve us again, that our will might be fulfilled. Dive, plunge deep into the spinning blackness, pit your strength against the shadows and bring light to this broken globe that gyrates in the star-speckled night.
Yes, my lord.
"The Prince of Emyn Arnen has been warned five times fifty to withdraw from his present course. Still he has defied us. Our munificence toward him is ended. Not only has he betrayed his Reward, the Edan you see before you, our Shieldmaiden; he has betrayed the mortals placed under his care, and taken from them that which did not belong to him." Legolas' face turns to Merry and he says, "The Master of Buckland shall disclose to you what he has discovered concerning these things."
Everyone looks at Merry, who blushes but jumps to his feet. "Well, it's true, I guess," he says, scuffing the toe of his shoe on the tile. "Found out when I got to digging round his financial records – got quite the scam going, he does; taken about eighty thousand quid from a bunch of ol' widows what live in Nevada – took over their investments, see, and bled 'em dry."
Shit, I didn't know THAT. I feel as though I'm getting heartburn, but I know it's anger – anger that Faramir would steal from the helpless, from those who put their trust in him. I can hear some muttering around the circle; Gimli looks pissed as hell, Aragorn's scowling, Éomer's gritting his teeth. Suddenly I want my sword, dammit. Give me my damn sword and I'll take care of it, all right – I'll cut off his fucking head!
"Yet even to those two offenses we might have relented and stayed our wrath, had he not further provoked us by his deception and disloyalty to those he has promised to cherish. Fourteen lovers has he left disillusioned and misled since he quit the presence of the Shieldmaiden, forswearing constancy for pretext, and devotion for licentiousness, prostituting his immortal body for the temporal pleasures of desire, promising much and delivering nothing. He has renounced his place, abjured his oaths, disowned his tasks. Therefore, for the reparation of his injuries to the Shieldmaiden, and to protect those mortals with whom he has contact from his depredations, we have determined he shall be cut off from the Chosen, and given his just due."
No surprises there, though I can tell everyone else is a little taken aback. Hell, I could've told them Faramir couldn't be faithful if he tried – it wasn't about me, it was about him; about time I figured that one out.
I'm a little slow, aren't I?
"The hands that shall administer this chastisement shall belong to the following members of your fellowship."
Everyone leans forward. Who gets to whack Faramir? Oh please, let me be one of them . . .
"The King of Gondor."
Aragorn doesn't look very happy about that.
"The King of Rohan."
Grim satisfaction there.
Gimli grunts, then catches my eye and winks. I smile a little shakily. Do I really want a part of this?
"The Master of Buckland."
Merry grins at me and flexes his fingers. Oh, shit; they're going to beat up my ex . . .
"The Thain of the Shire."
Pippin groans. He and Faramir used to be such friends. Oh, I'm starting to hate this.
I look up. Legolas' face hasn't changed; he's still staring straight ahead.
"The Mayor of Hobbiton."
Sam looks surprised and a little pleased. Rosie glances at me, and we exchange worried looks. I don't like this. I don't like this idea any more. All these guys ganging up on Faramir – even if he deserves it – oh shit, I don't want to see this.
Frodo gives a little squeak and sits up, a look of panic on his face. Oh, I'm right with you there, Frodo.
"You will find him after midnight. Bring him to a secluded place where no mortal eyes may see what will come to pass. You will have to use deception to coerce him to come with you. Use the Ringbearer and the Listener to find and bring him."
"Me!" Frodo exclaims. He looks at Gandalf. "Why me?"
Gandalf clears his throat and says carefully to Legolas, "What use shall the Ringbearer be to us, when we go in search of the Prince of Emyn Arnen? Why is it necessary for him to accompany us? He is not the sort to take pleasure in castigation."
You got that right. Poor guy; never did have the stomach for this sort of thing.
"It is he who shall lead you to the Prince of Emyn Arnen."
Frodo's frowning, thinking hard. "But I don't know where he is. How would I know? I haven't seen him in centuries."
"You have frequented the establishment he favors. He is there tonight, searching for another victim to temporarily quell his lusts."
Frodo blushes. Don't blame him; that's not something you want everyone to know. Sam's biting his lip, Merry and Pippin are rolling their eyes. Diamond giggles. Shut up, you; this is serious!
"Let me think," says Frodo breathlessly. We all wait; he sits and pulls at his lower lip, staring at the floor. After a minute he raises his head. "It's got to be Solar Tonic on Forty-Second Street in L.A.," he says at last. "Legolas didn't mention any of the ladies going, and it's a men-only club. High cover, three-drink minimum, but a killer dance floor." He blushes again and glances guiltily around the half-circle; we're all staring at him. "I used to date one of the bartenders," he says with a shaky smile. "Nice guy 'til he dumped me."
Sam clucks his tongue; Rosie gives him a sharp look. Gandalf sighs, and turns to Legolas. "Well?" he asks. "Is that it?"
Legolas doesn't speak; his eyes are still glowing, his face still aloof. Then his tongue flicks out to touch his dry lips. It's like an electric shock going through me to see that; such an erotic thing in such a grim situation. But it wasn't meant to be sexual – he was just wetting his lips. Then he starts talking again.
"The Ringbearer's deductions are correct. Now go you to this place and bring out the Prince of Emyn Arnen beneath the stars, that our sentence may be cast upon him."
"What about us?" asks Arwen from her place beside Aragorn. "The Shieldmaiden is our friend, too. Do we have a place in this?"
"No, Evenstar; you shall remain here with the Shieldmaiden, and with you shall be the Queen of Rohan, the Rose, the Diamond, and the Star. Here you shall wait until all has been fulfilled that we have ordained, for it is our will the Shieldmaiden shall be safeguarded from any harm. For if it come to pass she witness the deposition of her spouse great injury will come of it, and our design come to naught; this shall not be, for enough disruption has been caused by the Prince of Emyn Arnen, and it is our desire to end it once for all."
That has a damn permanent sound to it. I can't help it; I shudder – bad enough hearing that the Valar are pissed off at Faramir, bad enough hearing they're going to get him back for it, bad enough they're telling me to shove off – it's worse, hearing it in Legolas' voice, even though it's not really him speaking – it's got a mechanical, emotionless quality to it that gives me a major case of the creeps.
Seems like everyone's thinking this. They're all looking down, or looking at each other, lips pursed, uncomfortable. There's silence, then I hear a great shuddering sigh above me. I look up – Legolas has closed his eyes and is breathing deeply through his mouth; his hands are shaking. I reach up and take them in mine; they're cold and clammy.
Oh my lord Manwë, this is a terrible thing.
Peace, beloved Listener. You know this is the only way to bring about reparation. To let him go upon his own path will cause even more sorrow.
Fuck it all. All right. I know.
I feel something warm touch me; my fingers tighten. I open my eyes, look down. My acushla is there, holding my hands, looking up at me; her eyes are glazed with tears, the poor little bit; not tears for Faramir, but for me, for us, for all of us.
Oh acushla, how I wish this were over. How I wish we didn't have to do this. How I wish I could whisk you away on the back of my Hog and take you someplace – anyplace – where the fields are lush and green, and the mountains stand like sentinels about us, their sharp heads crowned with snow. I would lay you down on a bed of white flowers and cover you with my body, and you would see the stars look down upon us as I made love to you.
But not now.
Whitey steps up to me. He's got his Maia look on, the one that tells everyone it's time to get down to business.
"So that's it, then, Legs?" he says soberly. "We're the Valar's vessels in this?"
Is it? Is this it? Fucking enough, as far as I can tell.
It is the Istar's hand that will administer the final blow.
Bugger, he'll bloody well hate that.
"You're the vessel," I say. My voice is shaking, dammit. "We're just the entourage."
He closes his eyes, shakes his head. "Bollocks," he says softly.
Éomer stands up, clears his throat. "Well, I for one am ready to go," he says. His light eyes are angry; he's looking at my acushla. Well, can't bloody well blame him; if anyone bished up Arwen's life I'd fucking want to bollock him too. "You heard what he's been doing. I vote we go now."
The men all look around. Only Pip and Frodo look uncomfortable; can't blame them, really. Then Grim looks at me, cracks his knuckles, and heads to the door.
"All righty, then," he growls. "Let's ride."
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.