Author's Note--This is an AU companion piece to my never-ending story, Captain My Captain (can a person even have AUs to their own canon?). It was written a while back in an effort to exorcise my Faramir lust so that Hethlin could move onto other things (and other princes.....). I sent it privately to a few people, but didn't really intend to post it publicly, since I felt that it would merely confuse matters. Since I have now reached a point in the story where it is obvious that Faramir and Heth are going their seperate ways, I am posting it in the hopes that people will find it an entertaining exploration of how things might have gone. For readers who are just starting Captain My Captain--you might want to skip this one till you finish the main story. It is not part of my regular Hethverse timeline, and you won't be missing any essential information if you decide to skip it.
This story would fit into the Captain timeline probably right after Chapter 9, The Houses of Healing. Faramir has met the Lady Eowyn, but not declared his love yet. He and Hethlin are still recuperating there.
One final warning--CMC is primarily a PG-13 piece, with an occasional R-rated chapter. This story is definitely a hard R, and contains explicit het. I did say it was to exorcise my Faramir lust, didn't I? If that sort of thing offends you--well, you've got another good reason to skip this story.
When Faramir visited me the next morning, he brought with him two new books and a new interest in life. What had started as an Elvish lesson was much interrupted with paens of praise to the Lady of Rohan. I became more quiet as his enthusiasm increased, till finally I ceased to speak at all. Eventually, he noticed this.
"Are you tired, Heth? Would you like me to let you rest?" He gave me a concerned look.
"I am well enough, my lord." I touched my wounded cheek carefully. "She sounds lovely indeed." The concern sharpened to sudden comprehension.
"Valar, I'm being a lout, aren't I? I apologize, Heth. To run on so about her appearance, when you are wounded thusly." I sighed quietly.
"It is not your fault that you have always appreciated beautiful things, my lord. But it is true that it is difficult to hear such words spoken of her when I do not know how bad this will be. Not," I added grimly, "that I was much to look upon to begin with." He tsked at me, and took my chin in his fingers, turning my cheek to the light.
"You shouldn't say such things. You're a handsome lass. And this looks as if it's healing very cleanly. I think it will scarce be noticed when it is done." I closed my eyes at his touch.
"Perhaps you are right, my lord. I certainly hope so. She's probably out in the garden by now. Why don't you go to her?" Eagerness to do so warred with duty upon his face. I did not wish to be a task upon his morning list of things to do "You may as well," I added a little sharply, "for your mind is not on this right now." It was not displeasing to me to see a guilty look cross his face.
"I am sorry, Heth."
"It matters not, my lord," I said, suddenly weary beyond belief. "Go to her. We'll work on this some other time." He got to his feet quick enough, I noticed.
"Shall I come back later?" he asked gently. "After lunch, perhaps?"
"If you like," I said quietly. "If you have not the time, then no matter." At that, I bent my head, and pretended to be intent upon his mother's book. I could feel his gaze rest upon me for a moment, then he got up, moved to the door, and left the room. I stared dry-eyed at the page, comprehending none of it, for a long time after he left.
The day passed. I forced myself up to do my walking, and did so till my legs would not support me any longer. This I did in the halls, so as not to encounter the two of them in the Gardens. Then one of the women working in the House came, and helped me wash up a bit. When lunch came, I had no appetite for it and left it where it sat, uneaten. The rest of the afternoon I spent staring into space and thinking. Despite his words, Faramir did not return.
I had known that he would never be mine, and I had known that one day a fine lady would claim his heart--I just hadn't expected it to be this soon. And though I had decided that I would never tell him I loved him, it came to me that I was unwilling to go down into the dark without some crumb of comfort to take with me. And as I pondered, it also came to me the shape of this crumb I most desired, and some arguments I might use to gain it for myself.
Rather to my surprise, Faramir returned at dinner time with the obvious intention of keeping me company, since the healers brought in two plates and set them on my little table. I wobbled my way over to my chair and dropped into it rather gracelessly.
"What brings you here this evening, my lord? Not that I'm not glad to see you, it's just that you usually visit me in the morning."
"The Warden told me you didn't eat your lunch, and I was stricken to the heart with fear, for I've never known you to pass up a meal." His smile was gentle, and slightly concerned, but despite his words, hardly fearful. "I was afraid you might be taking a fever." He reached out, and laid a cool hand upon my head. "But I see that that is not the case. I thought perhaps if you had company, you would find your supper more to your liking. And I owe you an apology--I like to think I am rarely a boor, but I'm afraid that is what I was this morning."
"Think nothing of it, my lord--it is forgotten already. Did you enjoy your day with the Lady of Rohan?" He winced slightly.
"Yes--insofar as one can enjoy the company of someone who is in love with someone else." Hope rose faintly within my breast.
"The Lady Eowyn tells me that her heart is given to the Lord Aragorn. Though from what she says, her affection is not returned, so perhaps in time I will win her over." My hopes plummeted once more. I pushed my food around my plate with my fork.
"I hope that she comes to appreciate you properly and sooner rather than later, my lord."
"That's very kind of you, Heth." Faramir's mouth twitched slightly as he noticed my culinary manipulations. "Here now, why don't you try putting some of that in your mouth? I'll admit that's a rather artistic arrangement you have there, but the food would do you more good in your belly than on the plate." Despite my mood, I had to chuckle at his little sally, and I did start eating. He smiled, most pleased, and began eating his own dinner. We chatted a bit over the food, about some information about troop strength that Lord Hurin had given him, and how my reading of the children's stories was coming along. The Lady Eowyn was not mentioned. When we had both finished, he reached across the table and took my hand in his. I started a bit in surprise, and when I looked at him, saw that intent grey gaze fixed firmly upon me.
"Now, Hethlin, I want you to tell me what's bothering you. For something very plainly is." I gave his hand a little squeeze.
"It's nothing, my lord. Too much time to think about things, mostly."
"And what sort of things have you been thinking about that have caused you such distress?" I withdrew my hand, pushed my plate to the side, and leaned upon my elbows.
"About the Rangers, mostly--if they're all right." He nodded.
"I've been doing a bit of that myself. Anything else?"
"If I'm going to do a good job as a captain."
"If I didn't think you would, I wouldn't have made you one, Heth."
"I know that, sir. But I worry a lot about it anyway. And I think of things that could happen, and what I should do about them, that sort of thing." He took a sip of his ale, and smiled at me compassionately.
"That's not necessarily a bad thing. I would suggest that if you ever have a question about how you should conduct yourself as a Captain, you use Mablung as an example."
"I think I would prefer to use you as an example, sir." Faramir took another drink, and his cheeks darkened slightly.
"That's very kind of you, Heth, and I'm flattered indeed. Have we come to the end of your troubles then?" I shook my head, looked down, took my napkin in my two hands and began twisting it. I could still feel his eyes upon me.
"I'm frightened, sir," I said softly. "I'm afraid that the Army of the West will just be killed in the Black Land, and then the Dark Lord will send his armies back here, and we'll all die. Somehow, I don't think the Witch-King was lying about what he showed me." Faramir reached out once more, and placed his hand upon my napkin-shrouded ones, stilling them.
"We've talked about that before, Heth. You simply must hope that we will prevail. You've always been one of the bravest of my Rangers--I find it hard to believe that you cannot find your courage now." To my dismay, tears started in my eyes suddenly.
"I don't want to die, sir! There's too many things I haven't done or seen! I want to see the Sea, and the herds of Rohan. I want to visit my family's grave. I want to go North, and see if I have any kin left there. I want to know what it's like to lie with a man instead of an orc." His eyebrows shot up on that last one.
"You do? Whatever brought that on?" I pulled my hands from beneath his, and dabbed at my eyes with the napkin.
"Why would I not? Do not men think of such things more strongly when they are about to go into battle, and their lives are in danger?" He nodded thoughtfully.
"Yes. But I hadn't thought of women as feeling the same way."
"Given the number of married Rangers in the troop who have wives breeding right now, I think that they do." He thought about that for a moment and gave a short, sharp laugh.
"You make a valid point there, Heth! But I am a bit surprised--after the orcs, I thought it would be a long time before you wished for such a thing."
"Captain--it's been four years! During a war, that is a long time. Though it's true that it's only lately I've been thinking about it." I scrubbed at my face with the napkin again. "I don't even know that if it came to it I'd be able to, but I have been thinking about it. I would really like to try." I gave him a blotchy-faced, questioning look. "I don't suppose that you'd help me with that, would you?" Faramir jerked upright in surprise.
"Me? Hethlin, I don't think that would be a good idea. I'm your commanding officer."
"We're neither of us on active duty now, sir. And I don't think it would make any difference about the way you treated me. You're too even-handed for that. And it's not like you can get me with child." He winced a bit at that, and his voice was very gentle when he gave his answer.
"I think it would be better if you found someone else to help you with this particular problem." I sighed and shook my head.
"Captain, there isn't anyone else. Who would you have me choose--Lorend?" He actually snorted, something he rarely did. I pressed on. "In any event, I don't want to....show myself..... to anyone else. You already know what I look like."
Faramir stared down at his plate for a long moment. "I always assumed that you and Mablung would get together if things worked out well." I smiled fondly at the thought of my mentor.
"I love Mablung very much, sir--he's been like a second father to me. But I don't feel that way about him. And he's at the Black Gate now, so he can hardly help, even if he would. I'm not asking you to fall in love with me," though I certainly wish you would, my traitorous heart trumpeted, "I just want you to sleep with me. For just one night. No promises, no strings attached."
"I'm sorry, Hethlin. I simply can't." He got to his feet. I bowed my head, quite humiliated.
"I apologize if my asking embarrassed you, Captain. I was very forward, and it was inappropriate of me to do so." Faramir dropped his napkin beside his plate, the worry line distinct between his brows.
"It is not that I do not understand your motivation, Heth. Quite the contrary. But you are a smart girl, and surely you can see why this would be a bad idea. It is a violation of the chain of command." That his refusal was couched so reasonably made it no less hurtful, and despair coiled in a hard, cold knot in my stomach.
"Aye, sir. I understand. Besides, it wouldn't be very enjoyable for you, in all likelihood. And truly, why would you want to? I am not the sort of woman a great lord like you.....does that with." He looked almost offended at that, but I forestalled any reply on his part by rising to my feet as well, and dabbing at my eyes once more. "Thank you for having dinner with me, Captain. It was most kind of you, but I am tired and I'm going back to bed now. I hope that you will forget we ever had this conversation, and that you will not hold it against me. I am going to do the same, and I promise that I will never speak of this to you again. Good night, sir." Concerned grey eyes met mine, which were starting to overflow again.
"Please sir, just go!" He did so then, pausing at the door to wish me a quiet good night, then closing it gently behind him. I staggered blindly over to the bed and fell upon it, burying my face in the pillow, and weeping like a lost child. I cried into that pillow for more than two hours. Not all of it was about Faramir--some of it was simply the venting of my fear and despair over the last couple of weeks. But it was true that most of it was a protest against the unfairness of my life, that I should have the heart to love him, but not the face or body that could have drawn him to me. Yet another part was a railing against the pain his rejection had caused me--for if he, who claimed to be my good friend, could not steel himself to do this for friendship's sake, then what chance had I of ever having a lover at all? Though they'd long since perished, it seemed that the orcs had nonetheless claimed me for their own.
A short two or three weeks, then death on the wall in battle, was what my future looked to be. Or if by chance the Armies of the West prevailed, then a long life of empty service without love. It was then that I decided that if I should survive, I would not remain in Minas Tirith. I would resign my commission, take the pay that was coming to me, and return home, to set my lands to rights and live out my life there. Perhaps after a trip to the North. In my state of rampant self-pity, I imagined that even if I did find my kin, they would not welcome me, but I knew that the Eagles would be glad of my coming. Visions of living as a fur-clad, unwashed hermit in the Misty Mountains, Eagle feathers braided into my white hair, occupied my mind as I finally slipped into exhausted slumber.
The next morning was particularly ugly. My eyes were puffy and sore, my face swollen to the point that my stitches were protesting, and my body had the beaten, achy feeling that sometimes comes with major emotional upset. I managed to use the chamber pot, wring a washcloth out in cold water from the washstand, crawl back under the blankets, and cover my face with the cold cloth. At intervals, I would refresh it as the cloth warmed from the heat of my face. Someone came in to remove the chamber pot, someone else brought breakfast a little later. I acknowledged neither, nor did I eat my breakfast.
There was no question of walking in the state I was in, nor was I much inclined to do so. I was not fit to be seen, nor in a mood to be sociable. I was, quite frankly, sulking and feeling sorry for myself. Faramir had given me a week to be back on my feet, and I knew that on the morrow my sense of duty would return, and I would begin again to fight my way back to full function. But for today, I wanted nothing more than to pull the bedcovers over my head and shut the world out. So I did just that, going so far as to use even the extra blankets at the foot of my bed, for the despair in my soul made me feel chilled. I had quite the warm nest when I was finished, and ventured forth only to refresh the washcloth. My traitorous stomach began growling mid-morning, but I still had no inclination to eat, though when lunch was brought I drank both the cup of mead and the cup of milk that came with it thirstily. I then retreated once more into my cocoon.
The Warden himself, hearing of my antics, stopped by mid-afternoon to check upon me. I was forced to come out of my haven and submit to a physical examination to assure him that I was not becoming fevered or otherwise incapacitated. He felt my forehead, and listened to my chest, asked me rather more questions than I cared to answer about my elimination habits, and in the end declared himself baffled. I smiled at him sadly.
"I am simply unhappy, good sir. Have you a cure for that? For if you do, then you are the greatest healer upon Middle-earth." He looked troubled.
"Have we failed in our care of you in some way, lady?"
"Oh no!" I assured him sincerely. "None could have been kinder or more careful than those of this house! It is just that my experiences on the battlefield weigh heavily upon me this day." His expression lightened greatly.
"Ah, I understand now! Well, such things do happen, and sometimes at a considerable remove from the event--years, even. You mustn't be surprised or concerned that this has come upon you now--this is quite normal." He frowned a little. "Though I fear that as I am not a man of war, I can not advise you upon how best to deal with this."
"Perhaps then, good Warden, you will give me the opportunity to try." The door had opened soundlessly at some point during our conversation, and Faramir now entered into the room. Though he was the last person in the world I wanted to see, the Warden looked both relieved and grateful.
"Indeed, my lord, that would be very kind of you! I am sure you may advise the lady better than I."
"Possibly. In any event, I think I can get her back on her feet again, though my methods may be a bit unorthodox. Have I your permission to try what I may?" The Warden nodded, though he looked a bit uneasy.
"I trust your judgment, my lord, particularly as the young woman is in your service."
"I will speak to you later of what I intend. For now, will you leave me with her, and see that we are not disturbed? Speaking of such things is often troubling, and best done in private." He nodded assent, and bowed deeply.
"Until later, my lord Steward. Your care of the Lady Eowyn has been so helpful, that I am tempted to suggest that you give up your office and join us as a healer!" Faramir chuckled.
"And an excellent profession it would be, sir! But alas, I fear I am destined for other tasks."
"Indeed, sir--and we all wish you well. For there is none other we would have as Steward." Faramir smiled an acknowledgment, and the Warden departed, closing the door behind him. He turned then to look at me, and the smile faded.
"Oh, Heth, look at your poor face." He reached out to take my chin in his fingers, and I jerked my head away.
"Please don't, sir." He withdrew his hand, and sat in the chair closest to the bed.
"You look as if you cried all night."
"Part of it."
"In all the time I've known you, I've never known you to weep like that. Even when you were having wounds stitched and bones set."
"I cried the whole time I was with you on the Pelennor, sir--you just didn't see it because you weren't awake. Ask your uncle." I tucked my bare feet underneath me.
"Wonderful. I'm the one thing in the whole world that can make you weep."
"Not the only thing, sir. Just the one that's done it of late." He rubbed his temple, a gesture that, like the worry line, only manifested when he was upset.
"That doesn't make me feel better, Heth."
"I am sorry, my lord." He sighed, and closed his eyes.
"Is it to be captain and commander then?"
"That is how you prefer it, is it not, my lord?" My eyes burned, though there were no tears left in me, and I suddenly felt very tired, though I'd spent the whole day in bed. He gave me a somewhat stricken look.
"I should like to have my friend Heth back." I nodded at this, but gave him no real indication as to how he should go about it. He swallowed hard, and leaned forward, elbows on knees, his hands clasped together somewhat tightly.
"I did quite a bit of thinking last night myself. There are people who would say that no matter what you had wanted, I should have found you some sort of place in Minas Tirith, rather than letting you run with the Rangers. But I didn't, and consequently, you went through some very difficult times with me. In all those four years, you never complained, you never shirked your duty, and you never once failed me. In fact, you never asked anything of me in return--until yesterday. And I refused you. It was wrong of me to do so, Heth. So if you will still have me, I would be honored to help you with this wish of yours."
The weariness vanished, just like that. Warmth spread through me, soothing my raw, aching heart. Faramir, watching my face with concern, saw me smile shyly, and smiled hesitantly back himself. My voice was soft when I answered him.
"I should like that very much, my lord."
Things moved swiftly after that. We discussed the advisability of waiting till both of us were healed a bit more, and realized that by that time we would probably be too caught up in our duties to have the time for this. Or, depending upon the situation at the Black Gate, we could be dead. So I dressed, and Faramir went to speak to the Warden. He was gone for some time, but when he returned, he said that all had been arranged.
"There is a very nice inn down in the sixth circle. I've never been there myself, but many foreign dignitaries use it when there's no room at the Citadel. I hardly think that this is the place for such an interlude, so I've sent a runner, and reserved us a room. Besides, their cook is famous, and you--" and he chucked me under the chin "--need to eat."
"However did you get the Warden to agree to this?" I asked curiously.
"Well, I certainly didn't give him the details of what we intended! I simply said I thought a change of scenery would do you good. As far as he knows, you're going to the Citadel."
"You lied to him?"
"I omitted certain pertinent geographical details," he said primly, and I laughed. "Wait here--I've sent for a coach, and I'll return when it comes."
I'd never ridden in a coach before, and I suspected that if I had, I would have still been impressed with this one, which was large and traveled smooth as glass compared to the farm wagons I was familiar with. The late afternoon air was somewhat chill, and I drew my cloak closer about me as we moved through the City. Faramir, sitting across from me, smiled at my enthusiasm.
"I hadn't realized that you'd not ridden in one of these before," he said. "You take things so much in stride I forget you were raised on a farm."
"It seems a marvelous way to travel about," I agreed, "Particularly in bad weather. But I still think I prefer a horse."
"Of course." He leaned back in the seat and looked out the window with a suddenly pensive air. I wondered if he were having second thoughts.
"Thank you for doing this for me, sir," I said softly. "I won't tell anyone about it, I swear. This wouldn't help your courtship of the Lady Eowyn, were she to find out. And she won't, not from me."
"I don't know that I would call it a courtship exactly, Heth," he said. "More like wishful thinking. Something to hold against the Dark. She is so beautiful, and so sad. Rather like my mother, what little I remember of her." I did not know if it was a hopeful sign he compared her with his mother or not. Was it not said that men sought to marry women like their mothers? "Actually, I was wondering what my uncle would think of this. I'm not sure he would approve." I grimaced.
"He didn't approve of me the first time he met me. But he says his House owes me a debt." Faramir smiled again.
"He did, did he? I wonder what he has in mind as a payment? Whatever it is, I'm sure you'll like it, Heth."
"I'd settle for him not bothering you about this, I think."
"Hardly enough payment for my life! I value myself a little more highly than that! Besides, for him to bother me, he'd have to know about it. And I don't intend to tell him, do you?"
"I already said I wouldn't. This is our secret." I looked across the small space between us at him, thought about what was to come, and shivered a little bit. The worry line immediately creased his brow.
"Are you nervous, Heth?"
"I am, a little. But happy too." He raised his eyebrows.
"Happy, are you?"
"Yes, my lord--I don't like it when we're at odds." He nodded his understanding.
"Nor do I." And we said nothing more till we reached the inn.
Never had I seen such a room! I supposed that there were probably finer ones in the King's House, or the Steward's, but this was certainly the grandest one I had ever seen. Carpets of rich hue and plush texture covered the polished wood floors, and cleverly woven tapestries decorated the walls. Vases of fresh flowers stood upon waxed and glowing tables and lent a pleasant scent to the air. An applewood fire burned upon the hearth, and there was a supper table laid ready and set for two. In another room to the side I spied a large copper tub, fluffy towels and shelves holding many elaborately shaped bottles of different colors.
I simply stood and gawked for a moment, till Faramir took my good arm and drew me into the room. My battered boots seemed unworthy to touch those incredible carpets.
"Do you like it, Heth?"
"Oh my, yes!" He chuckled. My eyes were drawn, irresistibly, to the bed, which was large enough for a Ranger patrol, canopied and covered in blue, and had a feather tick that looked to be a mile high.
"Well! That certainly looks like a good platform from which to launch an assault!" He threw back his head and laughed as I'd not heard him laugh in a long time, then gave me a falsely stern glare. "There will be no assaults perpetrated here tonight, Hethlin! A stealthy infiltration is more what the battle plan calls for." I blushed, but laughed as well, and smiling, he pulled a bell rope that hung by the bed, then moved to the table and pulled out a chair. "If her ladyship would be so kind as to be seated." I seated myself somewhat gingerly, and he took his own chair. Within moments, the door opened, and servants began bringing in our dinner.
Thus began the single most incredible meal of my life to date, and it was all the more impressive for being put upon the boards in a time of war. There was chicken, and roast pork, and roast beef. There were salads and potatoes and fruits and cheeses, several kinds of bread, and at the end of it all, a plate of assorted sweets. There were different wines with each course. I was quite ravenous after my self-induced fast, but not wanting to disgust Faramir with my farm-girl manners, made careful note of which utensil he used to eat what dish, and followed suit as closely as possible. He watched this, the corners of his mouth twitching slightly, but said nothing, other than to encourage me to try a little of each of the wines as they were brought out.
After five courses' worth of such sampling, I was more that a little owl-eyed, and his cheeks were slightly flushed as well. I was cheered to see him with some color for a change, for he wore only black of late, in mourning for his father. It made him look too pale, and accentuated the dark circles illness had given him under his eyes.
Eventually, we came to the end of the meal, the debris of our feast scattered across the table like bones on a battlefield. Faramir took the last of the little berry tarts, a dessert I'd particularly enjoyed, and popped it into my mouth, then drew me up by my hands, and led me, not to the bed as I had expected, but over to the hearth, where a couple of armchairs stood with a table between them. He seated me in one of the chairs and went to a sideboard, where he poured a couple of glasses of brandy from a decanter, and brought them back, seating himself. I was wondering why it was we had not progressed directly to the important event of the evening, and if he had perhaps changed his mind, when the door opened, and the servants returned to clear away the remnants of our meal.
He sat silently while they did so, swirling his brandy and taking the occasional sip, smiling at me kindly. He indicated I should try the brandy as well, and I did take one mouthful. It was wonderful, much better than that rotgut of Damrod's and burned a trail of fire down my throat to kindle a warming glow in my stomach, but I stopped after the one taste.
"It's very good, my lord," I told him softly, my voice sounding huskier than normal to my own ears, "But if I drink anymore, I'm going to fall asleep."
"Well, we certainly can't have that, can we? I think I'd best stop as well, or I fear I will disappoint you." He said nothing more until the servants had left, then he leaned back in his chair and regarded me gravely.
"Hethlin, this is your night, so we will do what you wish to do. If at any point you change your mind about this, or become too frightened to continue, then tell me, and we will stop then and there." I blinked, touched by the generosity and kindness of such an offer.
"That hardly seems fair, sir. To get you all.......worked up, and then not go through with it."
"Hethlin, if you were that frightened and wished to stop, I doubt I could continue in any event. I'm not a rapist. And as it happens, if worst comes to worst, it's fortunate that my right arm is unwounded." The last was stated so dryly and so matter-of-fact, that it took me a moment to realize what he was speaking of. When I did, I blushed furiously, and to my utter horror, giggled. He grinned, amused.
"Yes, I believe you're right--you've had enough to drink. I don't think I've ever heard you make a noise like that before." And with that, he stood up, came over and drew me out of the chair. Taking my hand, he led me slowly over to the bed.
"Can you get up there?" It was so tall that there was actually a little stepstool, and I used it to perch myself upon the edge, where I sat, legs dangling. He knelt carefully before me, and pulled my boots off, then stood up again, and laid a gentle hand on my sling.
"Would you like some help with this?" he asked, and I nodded, whereupon he slid my arm very carefully out of it, and eased it over my head. He then undid my sword belt, and leaned my sword up against the side of the bed. Grasping my tunic at my hips, Faramir pulled it up from where I was sitting upon it. "Lean forward a little, Hethlin." I did so, and he carefully pulled it over my head. Sitting there on the bed in my shirt and breeches, I started to tremble a little, and I don't know who was more dismayed, Faramir or myself. I wondered if I were going to be able to do this after all, and he must have been of the same mind, for he reached out gently and cupped my uninjured cheek, his thumb stroking it softly.
"Hethlin, we don't have to do this. Do you want to stop now?" I shook my head no, and turned my face into his hand, kissing his palm. The hand paused for a moment, then slid up into my hair, stroking soothingly.
"Listen, there are a couple of robes in the bathroom. I notice this shirt of yours buttons down the front. Would you rather undress by yourself in there? Can you manage it?" I nodded.
"Very well then. Leave your things in the basket in there, and I'll put them out to be laundered when you're done." I nodded again, stepped down to the floor and was starting into the bathroom when I noticed him unbuckling his swordbelt.
"My lord, wait." He paused and looked at me.
"Yes, Heth? Did you need something?" I blushed furiously.
"No. I mean yes." I stammered a bit. "I mean I want you to wait to do that....until I get back." He looked at me in puzzlement for a moment.
"You want me to wait to get undressed until you get back?" I nodded vigorously. Baffled, he gave me an questioning look.
"I want to watch you do it." I murmured at last, turning even more red than I'd been before. His eyebrow shot up.
"You want to watch me get undressed?"
"Yes. Very much." He regarded me for a moment, and actually turned a little pink himself.
"Well. That seems a reasonable request." He cleared his throat. "Shows a healthy degree of interest, in fact. May I pull my boots while I'm waiting, my lady?" I nodded, and fearing I'd die of embarrassment if I remained, fled to the bathroom.
It was as he had said, the two robes hung there on hooks on the wall, blue silk to match the bedcovers. I closed the door, and after a moment, began to strip, tossing my things into the basket. There was a full-length mirror of polished silver on the wall, something I'd not encountered before, and fear warred with curiosity within me. Finally, when I'd completely undressed, I steeled myself, and stepped before it.
My body, I decided after a moment, was possibly too mannish for most tastes, though the breadth of shoulder and slimness of hip certainly made it easy to masquerade as a lad. My breasts, though small, rode high and I supposed 'pert' might have described them. My legs were long, and well-shaped enough, and despite my recent injuries and time spent in bed, my figure was still lithe and toned. I actually liked my neck, which was long and graceful. It was a body, I thought, that a man might find attractive enough--were it not marked by the white weals and puckered scars of my captivity.
For a panicked moment, I thought about putting my clothes back on and fleeing into the night, till I sternly reminded myself that Faramir had seen it all before, and had in fact seen it when it was worse than this, for the scars had been redder and far more livid when first healed. So I took a robe from the hook and slid into it, tying the belt tightly. Then I took the other one for him and returned to the bedroom.
Faramir was just returning from setting both pairs of our boots outside the door, and he looked at me appreciatively as I came out.
"One of my favorite colors," he noted. "That's Dol Amroth blue. You look good in it." I felt a warm glow of gratitude at the simple compliment.
"You'd look good in it too," I noted. "Or in dark green, or wine red or almost anything but black." He smiled wryly as I climbed back up onto the bed again, and tucked my bare feet under me, placing his robe at the foot. I was very conscious of the slide of the silk against my skin, and the fact that I was wearing nothing beneath it.
"I fear custom must prevail over vanity for a bit longer, Hethlin, though since my lady objects so strenuously to my garb, I suppose it behooves me to remove it." He gave me one of those arched-eyebrow, ironical looks of his. "Does my lady wish the removal to be fast, or slow?"
"Slow," I husked, and he flushed a bit once more. "Well," he said with what I fancied was a touch of nervousness, "it shall be as my lady commands." Deliberately, he began to unbuckle his sword belt. When he had it unfastened, and had slid the belt from off his slender hips, I took it from him and set it beside my own. Then he grasped the hem of his black tunic and deliberately pulled it over his head. I saw him wince as his wounded shoulder twinged, but he finished removing it and set it on the bed. Then, eyes cast down, he set to work on the cuffs of his shirt, undoing the ties there. When they were loosed, he raised his hands to the ones at his throat, but I stopped him.
"Let me." He nodded, and stepped forward, within reach of me. I lifted both my hands, wincing in my own turn, and began undoing the laces, admiring the contrast between the bronze of his throat and the white of the fine linen. When I had finished, I folded the collar of the shirt back and pressed my lips to the hollow between his collarbones. He made a soft, surprised sound.
"Goodness, Heth!" I slid my nose up the soft place where his neck met his shoulder, and kissed that as well, then touched it with my tongue, and he gasped again. His hands slid carefully about my waist, rubbing the small of my back, and mine began pulling his shirt from out of his breeches.
"Yes, definitely a healthy degree of interest here," he said with some difficulty. Having freed his shirt, I slid my good arm around his neck and pressed my lips to his with a fervor that surprised us both. Startled, his eyes met mine, and he must have read more in them than even I knew, for suddenly his jaw softened and his lips parted, and he let me slip my tongue into his mouth and do as I pleased without resistance. His passivity gave me confidence, and before long I was reveling in the taste of his brandy-flavored mouth, and kissing him as deeply as I could, stroking my fingers through his soft, unruly hair.
Unfortunately the kiss had to end eventually, for breathing is necessary for life. His breath was coming hard and fast when we broke off, and his eyes were very, very dark. "Shall I continue, my lady?" he asked a bit unsteadily, and I nodded, a bit shaky myself. Taking a step back, he drew the hem of the shirt up, and with great deliberateness, pulled it over his head, wincing yet again. I smiled when his smooth, brown chest was revealed--I'd never cared for hairy men. And though I'd seen it before, when he was dressing, or bathing in the river, I had never tired of the sight. He was slender, but beautifully muscled, and I knew from having pulled his bow once or twice that he was much stronger than he appeared. The arrow wound was visible on his shoulder, but he no longer had a dressing upon it. He gave me a sidelong look, saw my expression and smiled in return. Then he bent over and removed his stockings, rolling them slowly down his legs and in the process giving me plenty of time to appreciate his backside, which was quite trim and shapely.
"Is my lady pleased so far?" he asked as he straightened back up. I grinned.
"Oh yes! Very pleased. But now you have to finish." That dusky flush rose in his cheeks once more.
"I cannot believe I am doing this! You are being very wicked, Heth." But his voice was kind.
"You said you would do whatever I wanted."
"And I like to think I am a man of my word." With no further ado, he cast his eyes down and began to slowly unbutton his breeches. When they lay open, and all within was revealed, I was relieved to see evidence that he was in fact somewhat enthused about the proceedings. Hooking his thumbs into the waistband, he pushed them down off his hips ever so slowly, then stepped out of them and straightened up. His grey gaze met mine straightly, but there was the barest hint of uncertainty about him that was incredibly appealing.
"You are so very beautiful," I breathed, looking him up and down. I was beginning to feel quite a flood of warm heat in my belly.
"Aren't I supposed to be saying that about you?" he asked, his eyes twinkling. I shook my head.
"We both know that doesn't apply in my case." I forestalled his automatic protest by beckoning him closer. When he obeyed, I laid my hands upon the notch of his waist above his hip bones, stroking them gently with my thumbs. He jerked within my grasp, and sucked in a quick breath.
"Before we get too involved with this, Heth, I need to put the laundry out," he reminded me. I nodded, and released him, and he slipped on the robe that I'd laid at the foot of the bed. Collecting my clothes and the basket from the bathroom, he gathered up all of his things as well, and deposited them outside the door.
"If you'd looked at yourself in the mirror while you were in there," I said, indicating the bathroom, "You'd realize how nice you look in that color. Much better than in black."
"Still on that, are we? I am the Steward of Gondor, Heth, and must wear the colors of my country. It would be more to the point to summon up Elendil from the dead and berate him for his color sense." He grinned to show he wasn't being serious, turned back the upper edge of the coverlet, and bounced up onto the bed beside me suddenly. Fortunately, my ribs did not twinge at the jouncing--this boded well for a successful conclusion to the evening. Smiling, he took my hands in his.
"Here is what I think we should do," and I giggled for the second time that evening, for I could not count the times he'd said that very thing in the briefings at Henneth-Annun. He realized what he'd done a moment later, and chuckled.
"I had thought I would be directing matters in this, but you seem to be most comfortable if you are in control, so as we have started, so shall we continue. I am going to lie back here and let you do whatever you like with me, and when you are more accustomed to me, and would like me to touch you in return, you have only to ask." Having thus spoken, he undid the tie of his robe, slipped it off, placed it at the foot of the bed once more, and reclined back against the pillows.
I looked at him lying there for a moment, and blinked, then looked some more, and blinked again. Yes, it was true, he was really here with me as he had been countless times in my dreams. And if his eyes weren't filled with passionate love, at least they were warm with affection. I could never tell him how I felt about him, but just for this night, I had permission to show him. The corners of my mouth curled up in a smile unlike any I'd ever made before, and his eyebrows arched.
"Am I in trouble?" he inquired.
"Oh yes!" I breathed, and bent to his mouth once more. Another of those deep, searching kisses that seemed to go on forever seemed a good place to start, and so I did. After that, I began telling him as best I could with my lips and my hands about the most closely held secret of my heart. Having been granted the right to touch him as I wished, I was determined to explore every part of him. Eyelids, ears, that lovely ticklish spot on his neck, collarbones, shoulders-- including his wound, which I barely brushed with my lips as if to kiss the pain away--all came in for their share of devoted, intense attention. The sweet soft undersides of his arms, and his beautiful, slender, long-fingered hands, finally healing now from the myriad small abuses life as a soldier had heaped upon them.
I spent what seemed like forever on his hands, stroking them, rubbing them gently, bestowing light kisses on his fingertips, then sucking them gently. Faramir's eyes half-lidded in pleasure, and he gave me a soft smile.
"That feels very good, Heth. Rather relaxing." I massaged his wrists for a moment.
"Well, we can't have you falling asleep, now, can we?" And I bent over swiftly, ignoring the protest from my ribs and kissed and nibbled one of his nipples. He gave a surprised jerk beneath me, and I spent some time moving from one to the other, licking and nipping and rubbing them with my nose. They crinkled up in the most amusing fashion. Running my fingers lightly up and down his ribs, I slid further down the bed, being careful of my shoulder, and drawing my tongue lightly down the crease in the center of his stomach, stuck it in his navel. He bucked again when I did that, harder this time, and gasped loudly. I looked up to see him regarding me with bewilderment.
"Heth, are you sure you've only ever been with orcs?" I nodded, knowing he hadn't meant the question in an offensive way. "Then how do you know--" He broke off, not knowing exactly how to phrase the question.
"I heard the Rangers talk about such things from time to time, no matter how careful you were about it. And I have a good imagination. When I was in the Grey Lands, I had to think about things to keep from going crazy. I thought about horses a lot, and eventually, I started thinking about this, and what I would like to do should I ever get the chance. Do you like it so far? Did I do something wrong?"
"Hardly! You're incredible! I just didn't think it would be like this."
"I know. You thought you'd have to spend all night coaxing me. And we may have a problem with that part yet. But if I'm going to be that much trouble, I figure you may as well enjoy yourself a bit first." My tongue dipped into his navel again, then moved lower. I felt him tense, but I lifted my head and slid past the area of concern, to begin kneading his thighs and calves. When I'd finished with them, I proceeded to give his feet much the same attention I'd given his hands. He wriggled quite a bit as I did so--apparently his feet were another ticklish spot. I sat up to work on them, for it was easier on my shoulder, and watched him carefully, and when I was sure his eyes were closed and he was focused entirely on what I was doing to his feet, I laid his legs gently down, lowered myself swiftly onto them and took him into my mouth.
"HETH!" he yelped, and had I not been pinning him down, I think his hips would have come clear off the bed. His hands clamped onto my head.
"No, really, you don't have to..." I swirled my tongue around him, and heard him groan, a deep, guttural sound. "Heth, sweetheart, really you don't...." I let him slowly slip from my mouth, to the accompaniment of another groan, and grinned at him.
"The one thing......that all the Rangers......agreed upon......." I told him, as I planted soft little kisses up and down the length of him, "was that this.....was the thing they liked best. Were they wrong?" I sucked him back in again, and he jerked once more.
"No! But you shouldn't have to......I mean, this was supposed.......to be about you......not me...." He loosened his death grip on my head, and began stroking it gently instead, the sword calluses catching in my hair. "Not that it doesn't..... feel very good, you understand." I started moving my mouth up and down on him, enjoying the sight of his body arching up in blind want, his eyes as black as when he was dreaming with need. When the orcs had made me do this to them, I had hated it. But he certainly didn't look or sound or taste or smell like an orc, and the fact that I could pleasure him so thoroughly quite reconciled me to the act. I felt confident and in command of the situation as my Captain totally lost control of himself beneath my ministrations.
Eventually, he began to moan a bit more regularly, and his voice was ragged as he spoke to me.
"Heth, you need to stop....or I am.....going to finish this here and now." And I could tell in fact that he was getting close, so I let him slide from my mouth, sat up quickly, grasped him in my hand, and started working him that way.
"Go ahead, I don't mind. I want you to." His look of surprise at my statement changed to surprise for another reason entirely a moment later. I watched his face as he achieved his satisfaction, and thought that he was most beautiful of all in that moment, vulnerable and trusting, his face transfigured by passion. A moment later, he relaxed against the bed, breathing hard, and gave me a bemused look.
"I hope you didn't just doom yourself to disappointment this evening," he said, and I smiled.
"I sincerely doubt that, my lord." I went and got a basin of water and a washcloth from the other room, and started matter-of-factly cleaning him up. He protested briefly for a moment, then submitted with a wry grin.
"Wicked, wicked Heth! You are going to let me return the favor now, aren't you?" I finished my cleansing, set the basin and cloth on the bedside table, and nodded.
"I think I can, now. I wasn't sure for a while there. But now that you've trusted me that much, I think I can trust you."
"A strange logic. Not that I'm complaining, you understand." He sat up, took the tie of my robe in his hands, and loosened it. The silk slid off of my shoulders, and I shivered, and turned my face away.
"You should blow out the lamp." Faramir's fingers found my chin, and turned my face to his.
"I don't want to blow out the lamp, Heth. This is not as bad as you think it is." His slender fingers deliberately traced the line of a slash that crossed my left breast, then teased a bite mark. I shivered again. "The only thing repulsive about this is that such a horrible thing happened to my dear friend Heth." He kissed my lips softly. "They've actually faded quite a bit over the last four years. Perhaps they'll fade even more. Or perhaps I can make you not care if they do not." His hand gripped my good shoulder gently, and he kissed me once more, more insistently this time. I gasped, my mouth opened beneath his, and this time it was his tongue that was the gentle invader, teasing and tangling with mine. The blood in my veins seemed to transmute into fire as the kiss went on and on. He withdrew at last, looked at my wide eyes and slack mouth, and grinned.
"That's better. Now let's see if you have any ticklish spots." And he buried his nose in the crook of my neck. I jumped and cried out, then melted as his tongue and lips started working what had turned out to be a ticklish spot indeed. I felt a hand slide lightly up my bound ribs and gently cup a breast. Jerking a bit in startlement, I met his eyes.
"Do you want me to stop, Heth?" The hand remained resting gently where it was, and I shook my head no. Then his thumb began rubbing my nipple, which hardened almost immediately. "That's my good girl." His other hand slid down from my shoulder and began ministering to my other breast, which responded just as enthusiastically. A moan escaped my throat, and he began raining gentle, teasing kisses on my face and neck and shoulders.
"Can you lie back, Heth?" he whispered, and when I nodded, helped lower me carefully down to the pillows. He did not straddle me, but lay beside me and continued his gentle kissing and stroking. I was tense at first, but soon relaxed, and when he felt me do so, he fastened his mouth softly upon my nipple. My back arched involuntarily, and I gasped. I was getting the occasional quick flash of painful memory, but there was no way I could confuse the horrible things the orcs had done with their claws and teeth to the gentle caresses that Faramir was lavishing on me now. Moving from one breast to the other, he laved and sucked and pulled gently till I was half mad from the sensation, twisting my fingers in his hair and making some very interesting noises.
"That feels so good!" He looked up from what he was doing, and grinned.
"I'm glad. Because, you see, it's payback time." Skipping the bandaged part of me, he proceeded directly to my navel, which he placed his lips on and blew against, making a very rude noise. I gurgled with laughter, and he laughed with me. Then he gently laid his hand on the top of my thigh, and the laughter ceased. Without any conscious effort on my part, my thighs clamped together, I heard myself whimper, and felt myself start to shake.
"Heth. Hethlin, look at me." His voice seemed to come from a great distance, through a cacaphony of orcish voices. I raised my head and looked at him. "Do you want to stop now?" Slowly, I shook my head no.
"Go a little further," I whispered, and he nodded.
"Remember, I would never hurt you."
"I know that," I gasped. Very gently, he started stroking the tops and sides of my thighs, soft, delicate caresses calculated to soothe, and not alarm. I tired eventually of keeping my legs closed so tightly, and relaxed them a bit, whereupon he began to work his fingers slowly towards the soft inner parts of my thighs. The deft, soothing stroking continued, till I relaxed even more. Then one long finger touched my most private parts.
That one light touch triggered a flood of horrific memory. I cried out, and started struggling to sit up, tears starting in my eyes. Faramir immediately sat up himself, releasing me. He gave me a compassionate look, but did not move to touch me, waiting for me to master myself.
"Talk to me, Heth," he said eventually. "Tell me what you're feeling. Do you want to stop now?" I was practically sobbing in frustration.
"Yes. No! I was enjoying what you were doing! I really liked it! But I can't lie down, I just can't make myself do it. They used to hold me, one each on my arms and legs. They would press me down on the ground, and they were so heavy, I couldn't get up. I tried, but I couldn't move them. I'm sorry, Faramir, but I can't lie down. I thought I could, but I can't. So I guess that means we're finished for the night." He cocked his head to one side and pondered this for a moment.
"Perhaps not, Heth. You say you like me touching you, but you can't bear to lie down. The answer is easy enough--you don't lie down. There are other ways of doing this." I was still crying a little bit, and he got up and went to the other room and returned with a wet towel for my face. I wiped it gratefully.
"Really? I thought the girl was always supposed to be on her back. Though now that you mention it, Lorend said something once....." My voice trailed off thoughtfully, and he grimaced.
"I was not much of a protector of your virtue after all, was I? Lorend, indeed! Though just this once, he was right. Here, let's try this. Why don't you sit on the edge of the bed?" I did so, and he moved to stand in front of me. Standing before my closed knees, he looked at me meaningfully, and I blushed, and after a moment opened them hesitantly, reminding myself I'd had no problem with this earlier, when he was undressing. He moved closer, being careful not to brush against me with his lower body, took me into his arms, and gave me a hug, which I returned a bit spasmodically.
"There now, Heth, it will be all right," his voice murmured soothingly against my neck. "We can do this. We'll try one way, and if that doesn't work, we'll try something else. All night and into tomorrow, if that's what it takes, for as long as you want to try." I nodded, and he began stroking my back with gentle, firm strokes. I hiccuped against his neck, and he chuckled.
"Better now?" I nodded again. "I'm going to kiss you again--you liked that, as I recollect--and then I'm going to try touching you again, all right?"
"Yes, my lord. Sorry to be such a fool about this." He gave me an exasperated look.
"You're hardly a fool, Heth--your fear is perfectly justified! But do you think you could manage to call me by name--for the next little bit at least? All this "my lord"-ing is putting me off a bit." I grinned at him a bit sheepishly.
"All right, Faramir."
"That's better." And he kissed me again, deeply as before. I relaxed my jaw, and kissed him back, and felt the heat rising within me once more. One of his hands stayed upon my back, the other began to wander, first over my breasts, teasing them delicately, then rubbing my belly gently. When he brushed the top of my mound I jumped, and he deepened and intensified the kiss, and tightened his hand against my back. Then his fingers slid lower, and I jumped harder, and smashed his nose.
"Ow!" he exclaimed, yanking his head back. My hands fluttered about his face contritely.
"I'm sorry my lord-- I mean Faramir!" He said nothing, merely grinned slyly. Nor did he move a hand to his injured nose. The one stayed behind my back, and the other........I blushed dark, dark red.
"Got you," he said. I panted a bit, suddenly noticing the sensations he was eliciting with his gentle, probing caresses.
"That...was exactly the sneaky.... sort of thing I would expect from a Ranger," I complained breathlessly. He tsssked at me.
"After that trick you pulled with my feet earlier, you have no room to talk." His fingers continued to stroke and explore and delve, and eventually settled into a steady rhythm, stimulating the most sensitive part of me in a very pleasing manner. I squirmed, made a few half-hearted protests, and felt myself becoming very moist under his ministering hand. He smiled, feeling it too, and gently nuzzled my neck.
"You're doing wonderfully well, Heth. Just relax, there's a girl. I want you to close your eyes now."
"Trust me. Close your eyes."
I did so. He let go of me, and began moving, first what sounded like the small footstool, then himself.
"No peeking." I squinched my eyes shut, straining to hear or feel something that would give a clue as to what was going on. A pair of warm hands were laid upon my thighs, I felt a brush of..... was that hair? against them, then his mouth kissing where I'd never imagined, even in the Grey Lands, being kissed. I shrieked, mortified.
"Faramir! What are you doing!"
"Payback," came the brief, muffled answer before his lips touched me again. I tried to push his head away for a moment, then paused, gasping. The orcs had certainly never done anything like this to me. I'd never imagined anyone would. Nor had I ever imagined anything feeling quite this......good. My breathing quickened as his tongue began doing things that shot white-hot fire up and down my spine. That warmth in my belly was absolutely flaming now, being fueled by the clever licking and sucking of my Captain. My thighs slackened and my hips started jerking a bit. And when he thrust his tongue into me, the purest pleasure I'd ever known exploded behind my eyes, taking away my vision and my strength. I cried out, and fell back bonelessly onto the bed. He straightened up, and laid himself down beside me on the bed.
"Are you all right, Heth?" I nodded a bit shakily.
"You are being absolutely marvelous, you know. This has been a lot easier than I thought it would be. Come, why don't we get under the covers?" And he moved towards the head of the bed, and started sliding under them. I followed him a bit slowly.
"Are we going to stop there then, Faramir?" I slid in beside him, and he pulled them high about us both, then wrapped his arms around me.
"Not unless you wish to, Heth. Of course, if you do, my right hand is going to get a workout." Now that he mentioned it, I could feel him twitching where he pressed against my thigh. "Did you like that?"
"Oh yes! Where did you learn to do it?" He chuckled.
"I think I will remain silent upon that particular matter, if you don't mind." His hands began stroking my back in a soothing manner once more. I slid my good arm around him and buried my face in his neck. The stroking continued for a couple of minutes as I stayed pressed against him, thanking the Valar for all that we had shared so far. Then, without a warning, his arms tightened about me and he rolled, bringing me along with him so that he ended up beneath me, and I rested upon his front. I looked at him quizzically.
"There you go, Heth, now you don't have to lie down. You're not trapped, and no one is going to hurt you. Do you think you can do this if I let you decide when and how far?"
"What.....what do I do?" I waited for the orc voices, but they didn't come back. I looked down at Faramir, who was smiling back up at me, his grey eyes soft, his face still damp from what he'd been doing earlier. I shivered a bit, remembering that pleasure, and he frowned slightly.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes!" I replied vehemently, and his face lightened once more.
"Well.....basically, you just sit down on me." I nodded, and pushed myself carefully up with my good arm. My legs slid to either side of his slender hips, and I could feel his manhood twitching against me. His voice gently encouraged me.
"It's all right, Heth--no one is going to make you do this. This is your choice, your decision. You go just as far as you feel comfortable going." After a moment's hesitation, I reached between my legs, found him, and lined him up as best I could, a look of intense concentration on my face. Faramir chuckled.
"You look just like you look when you're trying to pot a squirrel for supper at a hundred yards." I stared at him for a moment in total disbelief, then let go of him, exploded in laughter, and flopped back down onto his stomach. He ooofed, winced in pain, then started laughing himself. I made a fist and punched his good shoulder, hard.
"What did you want to go and say that for? I was nearly there! Now I'll never get it done!"
"Ow! Yes, you will! And you won't be half so worried about it. Go on, try again." After a moment, I raised myself and did as he'd suggested, giving him a look that promised the most dire consequences for any further humorous observances. He simply lay beneath me and grinned back unrepentedly, his eyes twinkling.
There was a twinge of pain as I began to settle myself upon him, and it intensified as I tried to push down further. I had to stop for a moment, my eyes watering and my breath coming fast. Faramir's hands slid up my arms, and he grasped me to steady me, concern writ upon his face.
"Heth, are you well?"
"It hurts! I didn't think it would hurt!" A bit panicked, I wondered if I'd been damaged inside in some way other than my barreness. The same thing must have occurred to Faramir.
"It should not, at least not that much," he said. "Perhaps we should stop. Perhaps you should see a healer." Seeing my dream slip from my grasp at the very last minute, I shook my head vehemently.
"Nay, just give me a moment." And before he could think of any more objections, or I could become more fearful than I already was, I bit my lip and sat down hard. There was a brief, intense, burning pain, and I cried out, then lay down upon his chest, burying my face in his neck.
"Valar, Heth, what did you do that for!" he exclaimed, his arms coming up around me to cradle me carefully, his hands stroking my body gently as I trembled atop him. "I could have waited until you were ready."
"But I could not!" I choked. "If I had not gone ahead, I don't think I would ever have done it!"
One of his hands moved up to brush the tears from my cheek. "How do you feel now? Is there still pain?" I moved slightly against him, and winced. He groaned, and throbbed within me, and I realized suddenly what an effort he was expending to hold still.
"It still hurts a little, but it's going away. Go on and move, I think I will be all right." I raised myself back up above him and with a sigh of relief, he did so, his hips moving just the tiniest bit against me at first, while he watched my face carefully for any sign of discomfort. There was some initially, but as he continued, the ache lessened, and finally vanished altogether. Eventually, I sighed, and relaxed, and he smiled and began to move more vigorously.
"There you go, Heth, no matter how it got done, you did it! Or, rather, are doing it! What a clever, clever girl!" I grinned back at him, sheer relief causing a couple of tears to trickle down my face, and he ceased moving when he saw them.
"Are you all right? Am I hurting you? Shall I stop?" I could hear the strain in his voice as he asked the last question.
"Oh no, don't stop! I'm fine! I'm just happy!" I assured him, and instinctively, I tightened around him, causing him to groan.
"Hearing any orcs?" he gasped, and I shook my head, tightening again because I liked the way his eyes widened when I did so.
"Not a one." He began to move a little faster, and held his hands up to me.
"Come back down here then." I leaned over, and he raised his head, and fastened his mouth on mine. After that, there was no more talk, nothing but the feeling of our tongues tangling, the taste of me in his mouth, his hips bucking up beneath me and that warmth growing in my belly again. There were no more orcs, they'd been banished completely, there was only him, pushing deep into me, safe within my keeping as I'd always wished he'd be, and just as the pleasure exploded behind my eyes again, and I threw my head up and cried out his name, he made one last, hard, driving thrust up into me, and shuddered violently. The name on his lips as he did so was mine, not the White Wench of Rohan's, and he collapsed limp beneath me, and I sank onto him, sobbing in relief and happiness, as he gently kissed my tears away.
After a time, I slid carefully off of him, feeling a momentary pang of regret at the loss of the feeling of oneness as he slipped out of me. Then, eyes closing, he murmured something indistinct and sleepy, wrapped his arms and one leg around me, and drew me close. I moved up against him in a sweaty, squishy tangle of limbs, sank into a complete and restful sleep like I'd not enjoyed since I was a little girl, and prayed, as I had for so many nights of my adult life, that dawn would never come.
Dawn did come, but I slept right through it, and most of the morning as well. It was close on to noon when I awoke with my head tucked under my lord's chin, and his breath stirring my hair. Sliding very slowly away in an effort not to wake him, I saw his eyes open anyway. He blinked at me for a couple of moments, then came fully awake and smiled.
"Good morning, Heth."
"Good morning, my lord. Or maybe it's afternoon--I'm not sure."
"Really? My goodness." He sat up, and grimaced. "It seems we spent the night somewhat stuck together. I think baths are the first order of business. After the chamber pot. You go first." I started to get up, thought about pulling on the robe, did not want to because I was sticky, and looked at Faramir a bit embarrassed. He grinned.
"Heth, I've had my eyes, hands and mouth on most of you by now. I don't think you hold any further surprises for me. Go on!" So I padded off naked to the bathroom, and that comfortable chair they had provided, then used another of the washbasins and a towel for a bit of a quick catbath. After I'd scampered back, Faramir followed suit. I openly watched him go and return, though he didn't blush any more, apparently feeling more at ease with me now. As soon as he got back, he rang the servants' bell. Someone arrived very swiftly, and I burrowed under the covers. Faramir chuckled, talked to the woman briefly and gave orders for breakfast, and lots of hot water. Then he pulled the bedcurtains closed.
"It's an hour before noon, and she says it's sunny, but cool and breezy outside. We've certainly been sluggards, haven't we?" I could hear what suddenly seemed like a horde of people in the room.
"I slept very well last night," I commented. "How about you?" He smiled, and I suddenly realized that I'd never seen him look quite so.....relaxed before, not in all the time I'd known him.
"I haven't slept like that in years," he admitted. "Apparently, I needed that as much as you did, Heth. Speaking of which, was your wish all you hoped it would be?"
What I wished to do at that moment was to give him another of those scorching kisses, to show him just how much I appreciated what he'd done, and perhaps even have another try at it. But aside from the presence of all the people in the room, I understood the rules--he had been mine for the one night only, and now we were the Steward and his Captain again. So I kissed him on the cheek instead and whispered in his ear.
"It was everything I hoped it would be--and I liked it all--even the ill-timed humor." He laughed softly, and hugged me gently for a long moment.
"Good. Are your shoulder or ribs troubling you this morning?"
"Even better. I am supposed to return you to the Warden in an improved condition, after all."
"You didn't hurt yourself, did you, my lord?"
"The shoulder's giving a twinge here and there, but that night's sleep was worth it. My nose, on the other hand....." I stuck my tongue out at him. We could hear the servants departing, and after a moment Faramir peeked out.
"All clear." We ventured forth to the bathroom, and found much hot water, and more being kept warm on a fireplace. The better part of the next hour was spent luxuriously exploring the fun things that could be done with unlimited hot water and the contents of all those mysterious bottles. After being threatened by me with a soap that smelled of jasmine, Faramir settled on a spicy one that smelled much like what he used at home. I found a rather woodsy one I liked, and we emerged from the bathroom with clean hair, scrubbed and lotioned within an inch of our lives, dressed in our freshly laundered best, to be confronted with a mammoth breakfast.
So it was well past noon before we finally left the inn, stuffed with bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, fruit and assorted pastries. Faramir was quiet in the carriage on the way back to the Houses of Healing, and I caught him giving me an intent look every now and again. I wondered how expensive the inn had been, and if he were upset about it. But when I asked him, he simply laughed.
"Heth, I've got years and years of pay that I've never touched, above and beyond my personal wealth as Steward. I spent all my time in Ithilien, and when I came home, I slept in the Steward's House or the Citadel, and never really spent any of it on anything. Last night was a lot of fun, and I don't begrudge the money spent at all. Sometimes you need a reminder of what you're fighting for." He was silent for a moment, then added softly, as if talking to himself, "Sometimes you need a little joy."
Not knowing exactly what he meant, I pinkened a bit, turned my head to look out the window, and said no more for a while. Then, as we pulled up in front of the Houses of Healing, I told him, "My lord, I don't really need to be here anymore. They can't do anything for me but let me rest and finish healing up, and I can do that anywhere." He nodded agreement.
"I'll speak to the Warden today. I feel much the same myself, and there is much work to be done. It's time we cleared out of here, and gave them a chance to get ready for the next battle--if it comes. And you've got your archers to ready." I owned that that was so, and he handed me down politely from the carriage as if I were a great lady.
"Thank you, Heth," he said quietly, when he had done so.
"Thank you, my lord," I responded in the same manner. We'd barely set foot in the door when the Warden was upon us. He seemed most impressed with my "improvement", complimented Faramir once more upon his healing abilities, and mentioned that the Lady of Rohan had missed him this morning. Faramir promptly hurried off to the garden, his face alight, and I made my slower way back to my room.
Once there, I closed the door behind me, and sat down on the bed. The room seemed chill and silent after the laughter and warmth I had shared with Faramir. My sword was banging at my side in an uncomfortable manner, so I unbuckled the belt and laid it across my knees. After a moment, I drew it, and sat looking down at the naked blade. I did not know how old it was, Father had never told me, but it had the wavy pattern of really good steel, and a slightly blue sheen to it that was rather unusual. I remembered the day I'd sheared a Haradrim sword clean off at the hilt with it, to the mutual surprise of myself and my foe.
I sat looking down at it for a long time, my hand on the hilt, as if hoping to absorb some of the strength of the steel into my own being. For I needed it. I had miscalculated, thinking a taste of bliss would suffice me, that I could be grateful for the little piece of him he was willing to give me, and simply go back to being his friend Heth. It appeared that I was not strong enough for that after all. All the small taste had done was to waken a raging hunger in me, one that I wished to feed every day for the rest of my life. At this moment, I hated Eowyn of Rohan for her beauty, I hated him for his desire for her, and I hated myself for being such a fool.
A drop of water fell onto the watery blade, and I frowned. That would never do. I went to my packs, to get a rag, and oil, and a whetstone. It was past time to put an edge on my steel.