Deeper than Breathing: 3. Chapter 3:

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3. Chapter 3:

Rated R for mature themes. Eventually, this will become quite explicit so please go elsewhere if this is going to offend you : male/male and female/male.

 

 

Chapter 3: Elves are just downright strange and Eomer gets confused, frustrated, annoyed, oh and did I say frustrated. And Eowyn just wants to kill Grima. Things are about to get complicated.

  

When the lamplight had gone and the weak daylight filtered back,  Eomer sank down on the more comfortable pallet that had been put into the elf's cell for him.  He pushed his hands through his hair and sighed.  He looked at the elf for a moment and his heart felt a little surge of anxiety.  Was that his last hope just shattered?  Legolas had said he would speak before the king.  Eomer trusted the elf – he knew the elf would have sought to persuade Theoden to turn against Saruman, although Eomer knew it was only a slim hope anyway, to rid the kingdom of that worm… it had been his last hope. But now, now there was no hope.

 

'Well. This is not very helpful,' he grumbled looking towards the distant door, lost in the shadows now.

 

A weak laugh made him look up. 'You expected a back up plan at least?' It was Legolas. He laughed again when he saw Eomer's face, and winced as the cut hurt him. He struggled up, and Eomer leaped to push him back down again.

 

'Do not move.' he said insistently. 'For a moment there, I thought…'  He did not say how he had felt when he saw the elf pierced, how his blood froze.  He just felt an overwhelming surge of relief that the elf was awake and hale.

 

'I am sorry, my friend. ' Legolas was speaking quietly, 'I know we are not free… but at least they are not torturing me. I would not like that I think.'  He smiled a little and glanced down at the dressing.  He touched it lightly and grimaced.  'It is not bad I think. It looks worse and has bled more than I thought.'  He paused, looking downwards, inwards it seemed to Eomer for he was very still.  Then, as if to himself, he spoke.  'It is not the way I expected and again, I have misread Grima.'  He glanced up at Eomer. 'There is something else there. His power is borrowed from Saruman I am sure of it. Such a man as Grima would not have such power on his own.' He closed his eyes briefly and murmured,  'His reaction took me by surprise.' He paused and again, spoke quietly as though only he were present. 

 

Eomer stared.  Strange and so different.  The legends were come to life before him. Elves. Dwarves. The Heir of Isildur.  He caught the words Legolas murmured. 'Perhaps it is not as it seemed… Perhaps there is still hope for him…'

 

He breathed a deep sigh. He looked up. Eomer, who had leaned close, pulled back quickly.

 

'So….?' Asked Eomer

 

'So…'

 

'No. Not back to that again!'

 

'No indeed.' Legolas smiled weakly, pressing his hand to his wound and wincing. 'We have still to reach the king. I am more worried than I was that Saruman's power is so strong. We need to have loosened it before Aragorn and Gimli arrive. I would not have the Heir of Isildur in such straits as these.'

 

Eomer looked at him. Trying not to look too sceptical – after all, they were in a cell, the elf wounded, himself useless. No weapons. 'This was a mistake. I can see that now.' He shook his head with irritation at his own folly. 'What was I thinking? There is no point.' He clenched his fist. 'Even if we see the King, it is too late. Grima has his claws so deeply in his flesh now. What can we do?'

 

Legolas looked steadily back. 'We wait first. Grima believes we are both safely under lock and key, and I injured. Tonight he will be less watchful. I need a little time to heal. Then we act'

 'And just what do we do then?' Eomer could barely keep the sarcasm from his voice.

But Legolas would say no more, telling him to rest.

 

'Rest. Like I need more rest. What I need is action. To stretch my limbs. To get the itch from my feet,' Eomer muttered, 'I need to do something… to…'

 

'Shhhh' softly, a warm hand closed over his fingers. Eomer swallowed and looked down to where his square hand was enclosed in the other's. 'Rest.' The elf had closed his eyes and his face was relaxed.

 

Eomer paused to stare at him, again, his thoughts ran quickly back down that path again.  So similar and different. An elf!  He still had to pinch himself. He was taller than Eomer, and lighter, but somehow Eomer thought he was much, much stronger. The hard muscles under the skin spoke of long years of fighting under the trees of Mirkwood, and the long fingers were not elegant and smooth; there were hard knots of skin where the bow was held, or knives, and the joints and muscles bunched. He was fair, that was true, but not like a woman. No, definitely not like a woman. Eomer was not used to thinking men as beautiful, or fair. He knew when one was pleasing to the eye– he even thought he was so himself, but Legolas was different. Perhaps all elves are like this, he wondered. A slight movement caught him and he looked up at the elf's face, his eyes had slid open and gazed at Eomer.

 

He blushed, but the elf registered nothing and Eomer realised his eyes were glazed. He waved his hand in front of the elf but nothing. He must sleep like this, he realised, and shivered.  He watched to see if he blinked… and wondered how his eyes did not hurt.

 

 

 

 

It was much later when he felt a hand quietly on his shoulder. He leant into it and rubbed his cheek along the fingers. He felt a bulge of arousal from the contact and images of long limbs and long hair, strange eyes and the utter sense of being known….

 

'Wake up idiot and stop that!'

 

He was startled awake. The elf was standing over him with a knife gleaming in one hand, the other hand was shaking him awake.

 

'Where do you get that?' he looked up groggily confused and aroused, and embarrassed.

 

'From him.' The elf jerked his head towards a huddle on the ground beyond the cell and threw the knife over to Eomer, who just caught it before it sliced his fingers open. He looked annoyed at the elf, who ignored him. 'Come. You must help me pull him over here so I can get the key.'

 

'I thought you were injured?' the question sounding silly- he had seen the wound, had even been frightened until he saw how quickly it stopped bleeding.

 

'As you saw, it was neither deep nor affected anything more than muscle.' the elf murmured, pausing for a moment and glancing down at the dressing. 'I was well attended and I heal quickly.' Indeed, there was only the slightest wince to betray there had ever been a wound as he reached through the bars and together they dragged the heavy body towards the cell.

 

After some minutes rummaging through the bars and the unconscious man's clothes, they found nothing.

 

'Well…' said Legolas. He drew out another knife, this one long and silver. Eomer could see instantly it was different, the white metal gleamed and gave off its own glow in the darkness.

 

'How long have you had that?' Outraged.

 

Legolas said nothing but went over to the door and fiddled the knife in the lock for a few minutes. He said some words in a language Eomer did not understand, obviously swearing. And then there was a click.

 

'How long have you been able to do that?' Eomer demanded, even more outraged.

 

The elf grinned impudently. 'About five hundred years. Takes ages to master these fiddly little locks.'

 

He was cut short. 'Do you mean to say that all this time… we could have escaped? '

 

Legolas shrugged. Eomer was beginning to find it a little irritating. In fact, he was finding the elf altogether perplexing and annoying, and confusing, and…. He decided not think about it anymore.

 

'Well, let's get going shall we?' he said.

 

'Wait'. Legolas pulled the unconscious man into the cell and bound his hands. Then he carefully wound a cloth around his mouth and pulled him up onto the bed.

 

Eomer watched him warily. Now what? Legolas pulled the blanket over him and tucked it in tightly all around. 'Snug enough yet?' Eomer asked bitingly. Legolas gave him a blinding smile that made his mouth drop open.

 

'Just don't want him getting away before I get back'.

 

He closed his mouth before he looked too stupid, and then realising, asked, 'Before we get back? Aren't we…?'

 

'No.' Legolas stood before him suddenly. And his body was warm and too close. 'Before I get back.'

 

'Where are you going?' Eomer demanded.

 

'I told you… I must go before the king.'

 

'Not without me you don't.' Eomer stood and faced the elf.

 

'Really?' And suddenly it happened; the hand snaked around the man's neck and his head was pulled forward, mouth against mouth- hard, yielding, pulsing and his lips were being licked open, tongue thrust between his lips he sighed and melted into the arms that were waiting. And suddenly he was sitting on the pallet bed and there was a snick. One smug elf on the other side of the bars and one aroused, overheated, confused man on the other.

 

The elf waved annoyingly and turned away.

 

'No.' Eomer breathed. 'You can't.'

 

'I told you- I will be back. Now keep him safe,' Legolas nodded at the slumbering guard and disappeared into the gloom.

 

'No! Come back…. You can't leave me like this!!!'

 

'Keep yourself amused,' came back the cheerful reply and then the scrape of the door and thunk, the next guard slid down into the gloom.

 Eomer could not believe Legolas had done this. Furiously he turned to the lock and took out the knife the elf had taken from the unconscious guard, now snoring loudly on the plank bed. The rats that had seemed to avoid the cell when the elf was around, now returned in force, to scurry angrily across his feet. Eomer pushed the knife into the hole of the lock and twiddled. He felt the tip catch on something, hidden deep inside the lock and twiddled a bit more. He twisted it and felt it slip out. Damn. Again. Blade in, twiddle twiddle, catch – now carefully he just nicked against it… and it slipped again. He swore, it didn't help that he had…other distractions.      

Legolas slipped silently along the passages of Meduseld. He glanced above and around him every now and again, remembering his bearings when he had been brought down here. They had thought him unconscious but he had been noting the way. He was more careful now though, for last time he had been caught. He paused, listening. He could hear the deep regular breathing of the many residents of the Great Hall. Some were in chambers and others in the Hall itself, slumped over tables or in corners, wrapped in their deep cloaks. There were a few sentries, very few. Legolas was puzzled for a moment over how few, in this time of war, he had thought there to be far more. Like his own halls deep in the forest, far away.

 

For a moment he allowed himself to think on it, and to miss the deep green smell of pine and ash and oak and thorn, or deep leaf litter and moss in the rain. It was a moment of rest from this constant watchfulness.

 

Then he mentally shook himself, as a cat and rose, focused on the sounds that were deeper than breathing.

 

He retraced his steps from the previous night.  It seemed like ages ago; he had followed Eowyn's directions and not faltered. Nothing was different. He peered around the corner of the hall to the King's chamber. Before, he had been foolish and unguarded. Grima had been ready for him and he had dared not spill blood or resist the Riders he sought an alliance with- he knew he had been betrayed, but did not know by whom. Only he and Eowyn had talked, none other had been present. He had wondered if she had bargained his freedom for her brother's, but he knew this was not her way. He alone was to blame, for simply assuming that he could outwit Grima. He had been wrong, for it was not Grima alone.  This time, however, Grima believed him safely locked up and injured. He wondered how Grima had borrowed his power from Saruman and shuddered, he did not wish to dwell on the dark arts Saruman practised now – he had seen too much already.

 

He saw one single guard outside the king's chamber, and paused. Surely there were others? He would not be so easily caught. He stretched out his senses, listening, feeling… but there was no other breath in the passageway, no quiet squeak of leather as someone shifted slightly or scrape of a knife being carefully loosened. No warmth of a breath. Nothing.

 

The guard shifted and stretched slightly. Then he walked slowly past the door, sighing. He walked back again. Legolas did not move. He barely breathed. The guard shifted his sword in its sheath and looked down the corridor for a moment, then glanced back at the door. Legolas waited. As he thought, the guard seemed to have made up his mind then and walked purposefully off towards the end of the passage.

 

Legolas eased himself from the shadows and stepped silently into the torchlight. Stealthily he moved towards the door of the chamber, breath held. He placed his hand on the door and leaned slightly forwards. He closed his eyes. And listened, listened to the sounds deeper than breathing, deeper than sleep.

 

There…it was very faint and far away but he recognised it, similar but different from Eomer. He breathed in and listened to the distant stream of sound, the faint song of the rider himself. In his dream, there was the ringing echo of steel and stirrup, the squeak of leather and the whisper of high grass against the legs of horses, the high cloud and huge empty skies. There…., the drumming of horses galloping riderless…an endless stream of notes of the great grass plains, horses running, the wind across the grass…But it grew more distant, like it was lost in a mist, and slowly, it was dimmed by the other notes that now twined and separated – discordant and clanging metallic notes against a weaker melody. Grima was there. He was awake and full of thoughts.

 

Legolas paused. Grima had taken him by surprise last time but this time he was ready. He drew back and retraced his steps, thinking.

 

There was a sound from the passage down which the guard had disappeared, and the elf slid out of view, moving like a shadow.

 

In an alcove in the great hall, the elf sank down. It was the best place to hide, in full view but half viewed. So he was a shadowed huddled shape, much like any other when the single sentry did his round. Legolas watched. And thought.

 

He had agreed to go to Edoras instead of continuing their pursuit of the hobbits with Aragorn and Gimli because of Eomer. The man had spoken so passionately; Rohan had to be roused against Saruman so that he could not join his dreadful forces with Sauron and attack Minas Tirith once he had routed Edoras. Legolas had seen all this clearly. Gondor was besieged from Osgiliath and Mordor and it was clear that only Rohan could come to her aid. Saruman was set to enslave Rohan and therefore ensure the downfall of Gondor. After that, it would only be a matter of time before the armies of orcs joined with those battling against the wood elves in Mirkwood and his own home.

 

He had seen Eomer's impatience to be back at Meduseld and belief that together they would rouse the king to action. Aragorn knew the wood elf's gift and persuaded him he could reach Théoden, that his gift were more wisely spent in rousing Théoden against Saruman. Gimli had added that should they not reach the hobbits in time, an army from Rohan would be better equipped to battle the wizard than a dwarf, an elf and a man standing outside and knocking on the door asking for their friends back please. Although elvish heads were hard enough to knock a dent in the wizard's door, he had added, they would not be enough to break it down. Gimli had been quite clear that Legolas lacked a diplomat's skill, any diplomatic skill whatsoever actually, which he did, but he had the warrior's honesty and Théoden would know how sorely pressed were the elves of Mirkwood.

 

'Unless he gets himself thrown into prison first,' the dwarf had muttered darkly. Legolas grinned- oh how the dwarf would gloat if he knew. Of course, none of them had known just how deeply Grima was in the King's Counsel, or how deeply he had his claws in the flesh of the Riddermark. And more importantly, thought Legolas, they had no idea that Saruman was present in the body of this Grima, which he had become convinced was the case. He shuddered. The Voice had coiled itself around him, freezing his limbs to inaction the night before. He had not fought it then, instead collapsing immediately and allowing Grima, and Saruman, to believe him weak. He knew he would not have been able to fight off the sorcery as well as the soldiers then, but now, he felt he had a chance against Grima, but perhaps not alone.

 

He rose, he stretched himself slightly. And then silently left the hall and went down the opposite passage. Eowyn was there. At what risk though for helping him? Would the cost be too great?

 

The door to her room was locked and barred from the inside. Sensible woman, he thought. He glanced up and down the passage way quickly and saw moonlight pool on the floor from a window. He slipped out of the window and balanced on the granite window cill judging the distance, before leaping lightly onto her balcony.

 

 

Eowyn slept but lightly these days. Hearing stealthy movement at her door- for no one could make no sound altogether trying to work a lock - she was instantly on her feet, heart hammering, breath seemed thunderous in her ears. Her limbs shook with the need to run and her eyes widened.

 She had not slept in weeks, no months it seemed. Not since Wormtongue had made so clear his intentions. She wrapped her gown closely, as if it could shield her. And then lifted down her sword- it was lighter than a man's, and not intended for battle but it was sharp and light, still her hands shook. She stepped back, and back, breath short and heart still hammering. She watched as the handle bent and slight weight was put against the door. And then stopped. The handle bent slowly, silently back up and the weight left the door. There was no sound and she stood absolutely silent, absolutely still, waiting.

There was no sound of someone leaving. It had to be Grima. And he was still out there. Listening to her. Listening to her breathing. Listening to her heart hammering. …Nothing… Still nothing…. Her arm ached with the weight of the sword.

 

Suddenly, a slight whoosh of air and a quiet thud behind her. She whirled about raising her sword and plunged it, crashing down on her assailant. A blur of shadow moved and she thrust again, her blood pounding in her ears.

 Then with a deft twist, a hand seized her wrist and her sword fell from nerveless fingers. She opened her mouth to scream with all her breath and lungs but another hand closed over her mouth. She kicked with all her strength. She would not let the Worm have her!

 

'Listen Eowyn. Ow… It is Legolas. It is Legolas. Shhh. It is Legolas. Ow!' He pulled her towards him and in spite of her struggles, held her close and smoothed her hair, whispering over and over, 'It is Legolas. Eowyn. No harm will come to you.' Until she heard him. Then she pushed him away furiously, glaring at him through the darkness of her room.

 

'What in Beama's name did you think you were doing, you fool? I could have skewered you! You scared me half to death!' she hissed.

 

He grinned at her impudently, lightly picked up her sword, running his finger along the blade, and said quietly, 'It is sharp I will give you, but I think you would not have skewered me with this.'

 

She glared at him. 'What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were supposed to be in a cell with my brother? Where is he? Did you leave him there to attack me in my own chambers?' she whispered angrily.

 

'One at a time, lady.' He held up his hand, and then ignored all her questions completely, bent on his own will. 'See – it is past midnight.' The darkness and shadows of her room seemed to cluster around him then. 'All in Meduseld sleeps, all but Grima. Why is that?' He moved towards her, eyes gleaming in the dimness. 'Does Grima guard the king? What does he do in the darkness of the night, when all others sleep? What does he do that others may not see?'

 

She looked up into eyes stranger than any man's, into his face, strong and beautiful. But he saw a girl, burning brightly, like a flame. And he saw the desperation that was not only of Grima, but of her fate, her need.

 

'I do not know' she whispered.' I have tried to find out, but there is always a guard there, one of HIS men and they will let no one pass… no one.' She laughed bitterly. 'You should know that.'

 

He smiled ruefully. 'I have to try again.'

 

Eowyn shook her head. 'You are stubborn.' Then she seemed to draw herself up. 'There is only one way left,' she declared, fierce determination in her voice. 'We will kill him. I will lure him out and you will kill him.'

 

He recoiled, shocked. 'We will not kill him.' he said firmly. 'Not unless we have need. But we will defeat him. I do not know how much hold Saruman has – if he is able to control the king without Grima then all is lost. But if we kill Grima, Saruman will know and attack immediately. We will not have time to muster the riders. No. We must keep him alive if we can, he is useful. I will distract him,' he grinned at her, suddenly, 'and you will knock him out.'

 

'Knock him out?' she was scathing in her disbelief.' Is that it? Is that the best you can suggest?'

 

He did not respond at first, but sadly perhaps, he looked at her fierce, intense little face. 'You would kill him then?' he asked.

 

'Yes- with my bare hands if I could. Yes. We can kill him.' Eowyn's hands tightened. 'It will be easy for you to do this. And then, we will be free.' She could hardly dare hope now. It would be easy if Grima was alone and unguarded as Legolas had said- he was never alone. An elf could just slip in quietly and slit the worm's throat. 'Yes,' she looked up, her face hopeful. 'You can do it- I have seen you move- you are like a shadow when you want to be, and strong.'

 

'No.' He cut her short.

 

'No? What do you mean? It is easy for you!'

 

'I said no.' the tall elf turned away from her. He seemed remote again, aloof. Ageless and ancient – she suddenly felt small and young, and angry that she was so insignificant that he had simply discounted her.

 

'Why not? What is the matter with you? We have the only chance we will ever get! There is no-one around!'

 

She picked up her skirts and whirled on him, hand thrown out towards him in scorn. 'Very well- if you have not the stomach for it, I will do it myself! I will cast myself in his path and then, when he draws me to him, I will plunge a dagger into his heart.'

 

He remained with his back to her and quietly said, 'Grima has killed many times. He is, however he looks, still a soldier. Have you killed a man before?'

 

She hesitated and then said, 'I have not had cause before.'

 

'I would not have his blood on my hands. He is not a creature from Dol Guldur or an orc. He is a man. I have looked into his eyes and seen what he is.'

 

'And I have looked into his eyes and seen a traitor, a murderer, a defiler.'

 

He sobered. 'I have heard his song, Eowyn. Does he not deserve our pity? He made a poor choice along the way. He has been beguiled by Saruman. Can you not imagine that there but for the grace of Illuvatar, go you, or I?'

 

'No,' she said flatly.' Women are more practical than men.' Then she looked at him challengingly, 'He is a snake, and we will regret not killing him when we had the chance. He will strike us again when we are unready.'

 

'Well,' he replied. 'I am not a man either, only a wood-elf, I am not counted as one of the wise,' he caught her eye, and smiled wryly, 'and you are not the first I have denied, and I have regretted that too. But I cannot see how it will all play out in the end. Do not ask this of me.'

 

She turned from him and grasped a flickering candle. 'Then you will help me – and I will kill him'

 

'No' he said simply. And he swung himself up onto the window ledge once more. 'If that is the way of it, I will do this myself – for you have another destiny'

 

'No!' she leapt towards him, hand grasping at his sleeve, and he paused. 'Wait! I will NOT have that other destiny! I will not wait for the men folk, and sew and sigh and wait until my life is over! I will not!' And the defiance in her eyes made him waver on the brink of the ledge.

 

He was poised to leap, where she could not see for the walls were high and there was only a window further along. Only then did she wonder how he had entered her room. She looked again at this elf – he was clad in green and brown and he was tall, lithe in the way that Rohirrim were not; they were strong and sturdy, he was like a young tree, bending and supple in the storm. He seemed drawn into himself then- his eyes were cast down and she could see his dark lashes against his cheek.

 

'That is not what I see for you Eowyn of the Mark,' he said. And she became aware that she still grasped his sleeve, her hand white against the sueded texture of his tunic, and of the energy that pulsed through them both at that moment.

 

'I will do as you say.' she said suddenly looking up at him, he was fair, she thought. She had thought him fair when he arrived. She remembered his strong arms around her as he held her moments ago, and the hard leanness of his body. She blushed and quickly looked down - where his long hands, archer's hands grasped the ledge. Calloused fingers and blunt nails, and found herself thinking even more unbidden thoughts. NO. Firmly she squashed them. He was an elf- he was old enough to have dandled her grandfather on his knee, she told herself- but it was hard to think that.

 He looked up, catching her in his strange green eyes. 'Come then, we will do this together.' He flashed her a blinding smile that crumbled her resolve, she stared at him.

Suddenly he sobered. He caught her hand in his. 'Eowyn – this is dangerous. He is not alone up there. Somehow, Saruman works through him…why are there so few guards and sentries? Why are there only one soldier guarding the king, or the hall?'

 

Suddenly he looked away, beyond the open window. 'They will come.' He said. 'They will come soon. Saruman knows you are without friend or ally. Minas Tirith is so beset that it cannot come to your aid, and the elves cannot or will not aid you. It will be soon.'

 

He turned back and gazed at Eowyn. His eyes glittered in the dark and she felt a cold dread. 'You have never seen anything like the army he is amassing. It will be terrible. The age of the elves is over but the Age of Man will never begin.'

 

His hands felt cold.     

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.

Story Information

Author: ziggy

Status: General

Completion: Complete

Era: 3rd Age - Ring War

Genre: General

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 10/20/10

Original Post: 12/20/08

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