This has been lurking on my hard drive for a very long time, and is really just a fragment, an exercise I did to get into Imrahil's head. But I thought it might be entertaining for people now, particularly as it answers a question several have asked, about Imrahil's odd turn in Lorien.
This is ridiculous. I told the King I was weary, and in truth I am, despite the rest I took this afternoon, but now that I am alone and at peace in my own room, on my own bed for only the second time in over a month, sleep eludes me. I could get a brandy, but on top of the wine from earlier this evening, it would be a bad idea. And the one thing that would truly give me rest is denied me most completely.
My blood ran hot as a young man, hotter than most, and as I had the means and the time, I took my pleasure of countless women, heedlessly, reveling in their differences and the divers ways in which they were beautiful. When I plighted my troth with my beloved Nimrien, I then explored the divers ways in which one woman could be beautiful, how she would change and grow throughout our life together, and how we could find ever-new ways in which to delight each other.
Her death dulled my desire to indulge in the flesh for a long time. And when my interest did begin to revive, I strove to suppress it, for I did not want to distress or embarrass my children. Time and much discipline enabled me to succeed to the point where it became an occasional passing thought, only a little troubling, and soon dismissed. I had to be careful, for I was much pursued, and I did not want to find myself in the position of having to crown a Princess of Dol Amroth who was not a worthy successor to my wife.
Now, years too late, I have found such a successor. And now, absurdly, I burn like a man a third of my age, for a girl a third of my age. ĎTis the stuff of an excellent farce for the stage, one that I would probably enjoy myself--were I not playing the part of the old lecher!
She has no idea, or so I devoutly hope. And there is a good chance she does not, for I have never seen a woman so oblivious to her own appeal. She thinks herself coarse and mannish and cloddish, unaware that her eyes are large and expressive, with tiny threads of gold in the grey, and that her mouth is wide, but shaped in such a way that it invites kisses, promises that it is the perfect instrument with which to work them.
She hates her white hair, thinking it makes her freakish when in fact it sparkles like sun on the snow of the high Hithaeglir where her winged friends reside. She cannot look beyond her maiming, not seeing that the column of her neck is strong and graceful, that her shoulders may be broad, but they are elegantly sculpted, that her thighs and lower legs are slender, taut and well-formed. Her hands are large, Ďtis true, but they speak of capability and strength. Her stride is longer than womanís wont, but she moves with a forthright swiftness and grace which catches the eye.
The discerning eye, at least. The fools at court dismiss her out of hand, and the loss is theirs. Aragorn I know sees her appeal, as does the Lord Elrohir. One would think that the elf-lordís attentions would make her aware that she was something out of the ordinary; for if a being who has seen thousands of years, and who treasures the unique and beautiful, can find her attractive, then certainly she must be special. But she thinks his attraction to her is more of an accident than anything else.
I made her dance with me this night, for I could tell that she wished to, though she feared embarrassment. The dance was a simple one, and she learned it swiftly enough, as I knew she would. But it was a sweet torture for me, and only confirmed what I had known since Lorien--that I need her and want her and love her on so many levels that it is frightening. My hand upon her waist must have felt like a brand to her, it burned so hotly, and I was very conscious that I had only to spread my fingers to bring my thumb into contact with the swell of her breast.
She thinks of me as a mentor, a teacher, a father-figure--and sometimes, apparently, a rather pompous man. So shaken was I by her proximity and the kiss at the end of the dance that I took shelter behind platitudes and maxims. But better that than that she know the truth--that I wanted to make that kiss a true one, that I wanted to drag her off to her room in the Citadel or mine at the townhouse, or a hired one at an inn somewhere or even a stall in a barn, Valar help me, and spread those fingers, cup that small breast, slide a hand down over that flat belly..........sleep, I see, will come slow tonight if it comes at all.
What would she say, I wonder, if I were to confess? Would she be embarrassed, think that she must have inadvertently done something to make me attracted to her? Would she be disgusted that someone of my years could lust for someone of hers? She has chided me for calling myself an old man, for thinking myself one. But she has also spoken to me of the sort of woman she thinks I need and should seek--someone of my own years and interests. Never has she intimated that I should aspire to someone fresh and young and valorous and true--in short, herself.
Her own affections are reserved for the elf-lord, and for my nephew, whom, though I love him well, I could clout up the side of the head for his obtuseness in this matter. Eowyn is beautiful and valorous, and strong in her way--but Hethlin is a rock, a tower of strength. She could be a princess; verily, she could be a queen. Or, I suppose, the wife of a Lord of Imladris, mighty among both elves and men. Poor child, caught between a man who will wither and die all too soon, and an elf-lord who would watch her do the same. She is right to love Faramir, he is a fit mate for her, and her contemporary. Though I am perhaps fortunate that he does not return her affections--to be her uncle by marriage is not the place I aspire to, and would be difficult for me, at least at first. But I would suffer even that, to know her happy.
As I will yearn in silence, that she be free to follow her own heart. For above all else, such a thing between us would be dishonorable, and not in keeping with the charge laid upon me by my king. She was placed in my care to be instructed in arms, not in the arts of love! I suppose it is possible that Aragorn might not object too much, were I to tell him where my heart lay. But there is little even he could do about pressing a suit for me--she has shrewdly asked of him and received a promise that she may choose her own husband. And somehow I do not think that I would be her choice.
I was hard on her today, as she had said in Rohan that she wished the one she loved would be. Tirathielís invasion of her privacy was the sort of violation she feels most keenly by all accounts, particularly coming so soon after her encounter with the Uruk-hai at the inn. Yet when I took her to task for her sulking, she rose to the challenge admirably, overcoming her fear and unselfishly doing her part to make sure that the wedding ceremony was a success. I can only hope that she does not think too closely upon our conversation in Edoras, and compare it with what I did today, or my secret may be discovered. But I am not sorry I spoke to her as I did--she proved her quality and made me very proud.
I told her once that one of the questions she should ask herself was if loving someone made her a better person, since it was possible to be love someone and be harmed or lessened by it. She does not love me, but I will try to teach her everything that I can, and make her a better person because of my love in that way. And I will not lessen or oppress her by telling her of my affections. For my part--I am the man Nimrien made me, and rather set in my ways at this stage in my life, but if nothing else, she has reminded me of what I had forgotten--the power of passion, of possibilities and the way the world looks fresh and young when you love someone. Certainly, that cannot be harmful.
So I will lay me down, and endeavor to sleep, trying not to wonder overmuch about what it would be like to go to bed with her beside me--would she be shy and tentative, or as forthright about lovemaking as she is most other things? What exactly has Elrohir taught her, and do the Elves do such things as men do? And most particularly, I will try to forget the vision I had in Lorien--of Hethlin in the gown of a bride, with flowers in her hair. For there was no groom to put a face to, and it may have been her marriage to Prince Elrohir that I saw. Or possibly even my nephew, if his betrothal to the Lady Eowyn is broken off for some reason. Perhaps some Ranger of the North, now that she knows of her kindred there. Speaking of kin, I suppose it might even be one of my sons, and isnít that a pretty plot for a play? I no more aspire to be Hethlinís father-in-law than I do her uncle-in-law.
But whosoever she spends her life with in the end, she is in my keeping for now. She can become much more than she is, and I will gladly help her discover that. And when she has, and her wings have grown strong enough, I will slip her jesses and let her soar for her own sake, knowing that I must learn to content myself with the occasional glimpse of her, far off and free--my white eagle.