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6
VI. Summer's Lease (Éowyn, Faramir, Legolas)




Éowyn hears their voices before she sees them break through the cover of young pines. Faramir and Legolas have labored all day to plant the cypress trees in the still unfinished garden; and now they bolt like unruly colts. She looks up from her own task of planting athelas; amused at the sight. Their arms are stained to the elbows with dark, rich soil, their heads of raven and gold bedecked with twigs and leaves, unlikely crowns for two princes. She has rarely seen a fairer pair, though; and so she stops her work for a better look.

They have not seen her, she is comfortably shaded. Man and Elf doff tunics and shirts and leap over the low wall into the garden pool, sloshing their boots as they press forward to the fountain at its center. The water rises and sprays them, wetting the princes’ hair, molding their breeches tightly against long legs.

Éowyn takes a second look, momentarily forgetting the herbs. The sight of her lord and the Elven prince cavorting in the fountain is a curious one. She is beginning to know Faramir’s body quite well, but she has never beheld a half-naked Elf.

They are of like frame; Legolas a few inches taller, Faramir slightly broader of shoulder, but both are lean-hipped and long-limbed, with the well-muscled chests of practiced bowmen. She thinks proudly of the size and draw weight of Faramir’s longbow; and how easily he nocks arrow to string and shoots, and with such skill. Éowyn begins to feel warmer, and looks toward the fountain with some thirst. The Elf and Man are both smooth-skinned and beardless. Her own brother is quite bearish compared to Faramir; perhaps her lord’s smoother pelt comes from the Elvish blood in the Dol Amroth line. Faramir stands well next to the true Elf, though he is less beautiful.

She has always thought Legolas beautiful, a creature out of distant legend, fairer than any Man could ever be. He is not a Man. His skin glows silvery-white in the sunshine, pale as the pearls of Dol Amroth that Faramir gave her. His eyes see through her, beyond her, back beyond more years than she can imagine, let alone count. Legolas’ bright hair never shows the marks of sweat, and will never grey. To Éowyn, he seems a creature too fair for this mortal world, to be admired as one admires a flawless marble statue.

But Faramir…Éowyn finds herself smiling as she regards her husband. He may move less gracefully than the Elf, but he is still light of foot, even when those feet are in the water. The way his long black hair, now streaming with water, flows carelessly over his shoulders, stirs her. She had never noticed before, that the summer sun has burnished Faramir’s skin to a color like pale honey, rather than dark tan or brown. She yearns to go and touch that skin, feel the heat of it beneath the fountain’s spray.

Éowyn has tired of watching from the shadows. This is her garden, too and she will partake of its pleasures. She sets down her spade, casts off her scarf and stockings and shoes and over-dress. Clad lightly but decently in the plain linen gown, the White Lady strides from the grove.

She needs no affirmation to enter the fountain; but the joy in Faramir’s bright grey eyes warms her heart as the water cools her feet. The sun of early summer is high over the trees, the fountain sprays down upon her hair. Éowyn’s fingers entwine with Faramir’s under the wood-elf’s approving glance.


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Summer’s lease hath all too short a date. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18




~~~

Author's Note: It is said in HoME: The Peoples of Middle-Earth that JRRT mentioned, in his notes, "that as the Prince of Ithilien he (Faramir) 'dwelt in a fair new house in the Hills of Emyn Arnen, whose gardens devised by the Elf Legolas were renowned'".


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