"Well, my lady," said Legolas briskly, stepping over to the fire and kneeling before one of the bubbling helms. "If your bag of waters has broken already there is no hope for it; we have naught to do but bide our time 'til the infant arrives. The head of my militia and my lead scout are well on their way, but they shall not have even achieved their destinations ere you are delivered, I deem." And so saying he took a cake of soap and began to lave his hands, careful to scrub away any dirt that might have accrued around his fingers. Éowyn sat and watched him for a moment, awaiting another pulsation of pain, and then the implications of what he had just said and done struck her, and she pulled her limbs in to her body close, beginning to tremble. And when Legolas turned from the fire with the cake of soap and the helm of hot water in his hands, she drew away from him in alarm.
"What are you doing?" she cried.
Legolas paused, looking down at her sympathetically. "I understand, my lady, that this will be both strange and mortifying for you," he said, his voice gentle. "But do you please remember I have done this on many other occasions; there is naught beneath your clothing I have not seen before."
"You shall not see me disrobed," declared Éowyn firmly, holding tight to her skirts. " 'Twould be far too unseemly! 'Twas one thing indeed for King Elessar to do so; he is a Healer and I do not even remember the event. But were I to disrobe before you, Legolas, I should not be able to face Faramir – ah!" She doubled over with pain as another convulsion gripped her. Legolas clucked his tongue and knelt before her, setting down the steaming helm and cake of soap.
"Well then, what would you propose? I guess you could spit the babe from your mouth; would that satisfy your rather stringent bounds of propriety?" He dipped a clean rag in the water and began to work the soap into a lather. Éowyn groaned and buried her face in her knees.
"Be not so foolish," she gasped.
"Since that is the case then, my lady," said Legolas, holding out the soapy rag, "I suggest unto you we work with the egress with which I am the better acquainted."
With great reluctance did Éowyn lower her knees to the earth, and she turned her head in mortification when he lifted her skirts. "I do beg your pardon, my lady, but I am constrained to tell you that I shall have to remove your underlinens," said Legolas politely.
Flushing hotly Éowyn replied, chagrin in her voice: "Thank you, my champion, but I am capable of removing them on my own; there is no need to put yourself out on my account!"
"Very well!" said Legolas sitting up and watching her. Cheeks crimson with embarrassment Éowyn removed her underclothing and again turned her face from the Elf, unable to meet his eye.
"Ah!" she heard him say. "Yes, there is some blood here – "
"Why is there blood?" she cried in alarm.
"It is nothing to be concerned with," said Legolas soothingly. "There is a small plug at the opening of your womb, like unto the cork in a wineskin; when it exits there is a little blood." He smiled at her. "I did not think a little blood would so alarm you! A Shieldmaiden as fierce as you?"
"Do you not tease me; is this not degrading enough?" asked Éowyn angrily, and then cried out as another pain struck her. She gritted her teeth and clenched her fists, but then heard Legolas say:
"Nay! Do you not hold your breath so; that shall only make your pain the worse. Breathe through the convulsion instead."
It was with great effort Éowyn struggled to inhale, then when she did she did not want to let the breath out; but Legolas said quietly: "Breathe out, my lady. Yes, that is it – in, then out. In. Out." And soon the pain was gone, and she was left gasping upon the blanket.
"Two things, my lady," said Legolas when she had recovered somewhat; he gently tipped her knees apart and began to wash her. Éowyn turned her head aside and shut her eyes, filled with shame; she felt as though she would never recover from her humiliation. "First, to have a child is no degradation; all women, both mortal and immortal, have been constrained to undergo the pain and discomfort of childbirth for tens of thousands of years; I myself have officiated at forty-seven births and though I understand your chagrin you must believe me when I tell you this is no new thing for me, and I shall not think any differently of you when this is over. And second, when your pain starts you must keep your eyes open and breathe – this is very important, my lady – for when you focus your gaze upon something and think about naught but your breath, it makes the pain the easier to bear, so that you will not grow weary from it too soon."
"I have heard that before," said Éowyn, struggling to keep her mind from what Legolas was doing, by focusing it on what he was saying. "When I stayed in the Houses of Healing in Minas Tirith the healers did tell me this, for there were many in their care who suffered greatly."
"Well they were correct," said Legolas. He rinsed her, then giving her a compassionate look said: "And now I fear I am to make you the more uncomfortable, my lady; I must check your baby now."
"O Yavanna, give me strength!" she groaned, squeezing her eyes shut; she bit her lip to keep from crying out during his examination, and when it was over tears were rolling down her cheeks. To her surprise, she felt a soft cloth wipe the tears away; she opened her eyes and saw Legolas sitting beside her, gently drying her face with the sleeve of his tunic; he had lowered her skirts and moved away so quietly she in her mortification had not even marked him. She descried the look of profound pity upon his face, and thought to herself it had not been so bad after all; for in truth he did not do this in malice but in mercy instead.
"I apologize, my lady," said Legolas, rising and going back to the helm to wash his hands again. "I should blush as deeply, were you to look upon me so."
"Perhaps not so deeply," sighed Éowyn with resignation, closing her eyes again. "After all you are a man – or a male Elf anyway."
"Why should that make any difference?" asked Legolas. Éowyn opened her eyes and watched him; he was pouring out the soiled water on the other side of the fire, and his face was even and composed, though his lips were curved into a faint smile.
"Well – you are male," said Éowyn, blushing again as Legolas laughed.
"Ah! And that explains it then, my lady; because I am male I am more used to unclothing before my lady-friends – is that it?"
"I did not mean to imply that," exclaimed Éowyn, flushing an ever deeper shade of crimson. "It is just that – that – "
"As you have said, I am not a Man," said Legolas, kneeling and rinsing the soapy rag. He looked over at her and smiled. "So do you not think I am as the men with whom you are so well acquainted! I know what is in your thoughts, my lady, and I shall set your mind at ease by telling you that I have never before lain with a woman."
Éowyn opened her mouth to exclaim, but at that moment her belly seized in pain; Legolas leapt to his feet and was at her side in an instant, taking her hand in his. "Look at me, Lady Éowyn!" he said urgently. "Look at my face. Watch me. Yes, that is it," he said, when she opened her eyes. "Breathe in. No, a deeper breath. Yes, that is it! Now out – slowly – now in again. Yes." So saying he carried her through her pain, and when it was finished laid his cool palm across her forehead. "Was that of some aid, my lady?"
"I know not," panted Éowyn; "I believe so." She realized she had gripped Legolas so tightly she compressed his hand cruelly, but he did not seem to mind, letting her instead hold him so without flinching. When he determined after studying her face a moment that the pain had passed, he rose again to complete his tasks at the fire. After Éowyn caught her breath she said: "You have never lain with a woman? In all the years you have lived?"
"Nay, certainly not!" laughed Legolas. "I am not married; you know that well, Lady Éowyn, as well you know it is improper for anyone unwed to act as though they were married. Surely you were a virgin your own wedding-night? Well I reserve that joy for myself as well." Meeting her surprised stare he laughed again. "But you seem very disbelieving! Tell me please you did not believe folk when they told you it was acceptable for a man for he could not help himself. Why should women be constrained to virtue when men esteem it not? That seems very unfair to me."
"Well I have always thought so," admitted Éowyn. She paused then said in sudden astonishment: "I cannot believe you and I are speaking thus! What would Faramir say?"
"I hope he would commend me at least," smiled Legolas. "Do not worry, my lady! I am sure under these circumstances he would not disapprove. After all he loves and esteems you so dearly he would crawl over broken glass simply to look upon you." So saying Legolas rose and went to her, holding out his hand. "Rise, my lady! You must walk now."
"Walk?" exclaimed Éowyn in surprise. "But I am about to deliver myself a babe; I must recline! I cannot walk!"
"O you can, you must, and you will, my lady!" said Legolas, grasping her firmly by her hands and hauling her to her feet. She swayed but he steadied her with his arm. "Should you do naught but lie upon your back, your labor will be prolonged and more difficult. Walking will encourage the babe to come the quicker."
Pain lanced through Éowyn's belly and she groaned; however Legolas was by her side, holding her upright and reminding her in dulcet voice to breathe. When it was over she shook her head.
"I cannot walk," she said weakly; "the pain is too great!"
"Come!" said Legolas briskly; "do you not want to shorten the pain?"
"Yes," admitted Éowyn.
"Then to do so you must walk." He tugged her forward so that she took a few steps, their feet crackling on the frosty ground; Éowyn looked up at him, vexation written across her pale face.
"If I did not know any better I should think you enjoyed bullying me so!" she said chidingly. Legolas smiled and led her round the clearing in a large circle.
"So long as the end result is the healthy child I perceive in your womb to exit swiftly and without undue difficulty, I shall order you about as I please," he said. "Now come! We have many hours left."
Éowyn sighed. "Yes, I fear you are correct," she admitted, and grasping Legolas' arm tightly they walked about the perimeter of their camp.
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.