"Is it a book that you would even wish your wife or your servants to read?" Mervyn Griffith-Jones, prosecution, Lady Chatterly trial.

King Elessar Telcontar's reign was a time of peace and plenty throughout Gondor. But besides the more material comforts afforded by the end of war, it led to an unprecedented flowering of culture and the arts within the realm, an age of wisdom and creativity which could only be described with one word: renaissance. Furthermore, thanks to the tireless work of the King, his Elven Queen and the Steward, this renaissance was not confined only to the upper echelons of society. Faramir in particular had presided over the building and opening of schools throughout the realm to ensure that even the lowliest of peasants could send his children to be educated and receive a basic training in reading and writing. Coupled with this was the introduction, from the distant lands of the East, of a device which enabled script to be carved onto wooden blocks which were then pressed against inked pads. This allowed many copies of works to be made at low expense. The combined result of this technical innovation and of the new schools was an explosion in use of the written word.

The sudden growth in literacy of the population had led to some unexpected consequences. Not all of the written material in circulation could be described as "a flowering of culture." There were for instance, the political pamphlets. And the salacious sheets of gossip (frequently headed with a red band to draw attention to their subject matter). And then other works...

The housekeeper at Emyn Arnen waged a constant war against the moral dissolution wrought by the "other works". She complained endlessly to Éowyn that such works put ideas into the heads of scullery maids and turnspits, and could only lead to one thing... here her voice dropped to an outraged whisper, as if the mere mention of the words would soil her: "Babies, My Lady, babies. And out of wedlock."

The White Lady stifled a smile as she thought back to Elboron's arrival, a mere seven months after her own wedding. And of the memory of Ioreth's face as she held the squalling babe. The healer's eyebrows had risen, and she had commented dryly that the Valar could be thanked, for the Steward's heir was large, hale and healthy, despite his prematurity. In fact, a shade larger than, and every bit as hale and healthy as many a full term bairn she had helped to birth...

Looking at her outraged housekeeper once more, Éowyn reflected that human nature all by itself was quite capable of leading to that outcome, and was not actually in that much need of aid from the written word.

The housekeeper's moral indignation reached a head one night a week or so later, when she summoned "'Is Lord and 'Er Ladyship to follow me, if you please," and led them out to the stables where they came upon a stable hand enthusiastically tupping the second housemaid. The housekeeper gave a huge bellow, the housemaid shrieked, the stable hand turned scarlet. The two miscreants scrambled to their feet, hastily grabbing garments, the young man's 'pintel' now wan and dangling. Nothing, thought Éowyn, Quite like the unexpected arrival of your liege-lord and his lady to cause an instant departure of blood from the important areas!

The housekeeper boxed both the offenders' ears, and as they stood rubbing them, pride smarting almost as much as their tingling faces, she then turned to the Prince and Princess of Ithilien and said, "I told you it was them disgusting books as were to blame. I insist you let me dispose of the depraved filth."

"Well..." said Faramir, cautiously (having no wish to have his own ear boxed: in her present mood he wouldn't put it past the housekeeper), "I'm not sure I approve of destroying books, whether or not one disapproves of the content..." He quailed slightly under the housekeeper's fearsome glare. "But we'll have a look at them and see whether they really are likely to deprave the servants."

~o~O~o~

And that, in a nutshell, is how Éowyn and Faramir found themselves in their chambers with a stack of badly printed, badly bound books with the most extraordinary titles. The truly terrifying thing about the books was that a lot of them seemed to take as their starting point the famed story of the bold and beautiful shieldmaiden from the North who killed the Witch King, and her love for (and passionate kiss with) the handsome young Steward of Gondor.

Faramir picked up the topmost book. "Surrender to the Steward," he read. Éowyn gave an involuntary shudder, which wasn't that sort of shudder, but an entirely less erotically charged variety. However, Faramir continued, inadvertently lightening the mood: "It's rather thick, isn't it?"

Eowyn cackled with glee. "Not from the brief glimpse I got before he pulled his small clothes back on. I rather think I have the better of the bargain!"

Faramir rolled his eyes. "The book, my wild Shieldmaiden, the book!"

"Ah, the book," said Éowyn, in a tone of false naivety, before adding, "Let's find the naughty bits."

"Which naughty bits," said Faramir, with a knowing grin. "The book's, or mine?" Éowyn snorted, and pulled the book from his grasp. Faramir continued, "That's where the thickness becomes a problem... the book's, that is, not mine. I know you've never found mine a problem."

"Modesty becomes you," said Éowyn, pursing her lips and giving a tiny shake of her head. "The trouble with being a scholar is that you feel duty bound to read things carefully." She held the book, its spine in her palm, and ran her thumb across the edge of the pages before allowing it to fall open at a natural point of weakness. "See, they always fall open at the naughty bits," she said triumphantly.

Faramir tried to grab the book back from Éowyn, who danced away from him, holding it high above her head. In response he gave chase, and the pair circled the bed, Éowyn turning and slipping out of his grasp until finally with a desperate lunge, Faramir got his arm round her waist and picked her up. Then (in one of the bits they don't tell you about in such books) he promptly lost his balance. The two of them toppled onto the bed with a "whumpf". The Steward (the real one) somehow twisted as they fell, and managed to land on top. With lightning quick reflexes, he snatched the book with one hand and managed to pin both her wrists above her head with the other.

"Well, well," he said, with a grin that promised considerably more than just some mutual joking, "It seems that..." and the tone of his voice shifted slightly as he began to read, "She lay powerless beneath him..."

Éowyn lay looking up at him, her eyes dancing with a mixture of laughter and hopeful lust. To emphasise the point, she arched her back and pushed up against him, rocking her hips against his. This drew a slight moan from Faramir, before he shook his head slightly and moved his body a shade away from hers. Éowyn frowned: she could feel the heat radiating from his body, even if it was no longer weighed on top of her. She wriggled, trying to get him to press against her once more.

"Not so fast," said Faramir, waving the book, a positively saturnine twinkle in his eye. "We have to do it correctly... by the book. But I think I need to go back a bit and start from the beginning of the scene." He looked at the text, winced, then began to declaim theatrically, "With a swift movement of his blade, he severed the laces on her dress..."

Éowyn snorted with disgust. "Like you'd ever manage that without me parrying the stroke..."

Faramir lent forward and brushed his lips against hers, whispering, "Shush... I was reading... The silk slipped over her curvaceous hips and pooled about her on the floor..." He felt Éowyn's lips turn up into a smile beneath his, and the huff of her breath against his mouth as she began to speak.

"Pooled on the floor - sounds more like a childbirth scene. Did my waters just break?"

At this comment, Faramir buried his face in Éowyn's shoulder and shook with laughter. Eventually he managed to continue, somewhat breathlessly. "How am I meant to get you in the mood if you don't take this seriously? Pooled about her on the floor. He drank in the beauties of her form, before lowering his head, caressing her breast, then laving her rose-pink nipple with his tongue. She gave a deep, throaty sigh..." Éowyn gave a deep guffaw at this point. Faramir tutted in mock exasperation, let go of her wrists and put his finger to her lips. "Stop interrupting. ...A deep, throaty sigh. Encouraged, he bit down on her nipple, eliciting a siren-like moan of pleasure..."

"Eliciting a right hook, more like! Never was my thing, and after feeding Elboron at seven months when he was cutting teeth, there's no way any man over the age of two, even you, my beloved, is going to get their teeth anywhere near my nipples."

"Can we compromise?" asked Faramir, raising one eyebrow. He lowered his head to her chest then, taking one of the laces of her dress in his mouth and tugging gently at it, continued in a slightly muffled murmur, "Teesh on the lacings, shen I get to lave your roshe-pink nipples wish my tongue?" He tilted his head and peeped up at her. "I always got the impression you liked a bit of laving."

Éowyn gave an amused groan and swatted him playfully on the head before taking advantage of his new position to recapture the book. He gave her a sidelong look as somehow he managed to get the laces undone, and proceeded to nuzzle his way into the hollow between her breasts, making "mmm" noises as he went, each one of which made Éowyn giggle more at the ridiculous situation. Eventually he managed to free one breast from her underdress – Éowyn snorted with laughter as she realised she wasn't sure whether this had been achieved with his teeth or his nose. Faramir surveyed his prize.

"Hmm... rose pink? Or maybe fuschia? Or perhaps pink geraniums?" The corner of his mouth twitched as he tried desperately to keep a straight face.

"Do I get to play this game too? Let me see, what flower is closest in colour to your cock when it's hard... All the veins stand out... Lavender? Maybe bougainvillea?"

"Oh, my lady wife, that is a low blow. Surely you cannot..." Faramir twisted his neck to get a glimpse of the book, then said, "you cannot be likening my hardened manhood to a bougainvillea?"

Eowyn gave an evil smile. "Well, the book keeps referring to my fanny as my tenderest flower, so I don't see why you shouldn't have to put up with botanical metaphors too. Besides which, you just compared my tits to bloody geraniums." At this, Faramir lost his composure once more, and buried his face in the pillow, making helpless snorting noises. Eowyn seized the opportunity to reach for the laces on Faramir's breeches, and with a deftness borne of long practice had them round his ankles in a trice. "Why, I do believe your bougainvillea may be ready to seek out my tender flower," she said, before adding only moments later, "Oh dear, it seems to have just wilted!"

"It's upset because you called it a bougainvillea," said Faramir, slightly huffily. "It's hardly likely to throb along its masculine length if it gets called names like that."

"Would it help if I watered it with the fount of my womanly centre?" asked Éowyn.

"Uinen's tits, tell me you just made that last line up." Faramir sounded completely stunned. Eowyn held the book out in front of his nose and pointed to the offending phrase. For once, her normally eloquent husband was reduced to an amazed silence.

Eowyn looked in disdain at Surrender to the Steward. "Well, it looks like that one's a 'no' as far as corrupting the servants goes," she said, with a quick sideways glance towards Faramir's detumescent member. With a slick wrist movement, she tossed the book into the furthest corner of the room. Then she took advantage of Faramir's momentary incapacity to roll on top of him, reaching over to the side of the bed for another tome from the tottering stack. "How about Wild Maiden of the North?" Faramir gave a faint groan. Eowyn gave an evil grin and started to read in a voice several tones higher than her normal one.

"With a toss of her long blonde mane..." At this point Éowyn gave a theatrical pout then rather pointedly and somewhat camply flicked her hair over her shoulder with the hand that was not holding the book. Then her eyes sparkled. "Oh, I like this next bit. She straddled his muscular form, grinding down onto his iron thighs..." With a grin, she enacted the description, before giving her hips a wriggle, and (on noticing the revivifying effect this had on her husband) saying, "Ooh, yes, this one seems to have a bit of potential in terms of corrupting influence. Mmm... She slid down upon his hardened length... His hips arched up against her... Deep thrusts... Oh yes, this is much better – bit clichéd, but much better... His passion surging like a spring tide, he flipped her onto her back before driving home... Dammit, I was enjoying being the one in charge of this. Is it not a proper climax unless you're on top?"

"Of course not, dearest. Have you not grasped the basic tenets of the genre yet? I am masterful and manly and you are subservient but revel in your surrender to me." Faramir's face was completely deadpan.

Éowyn raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure it's wise to try to get a rise out of me, darling? In the circumstances? I'm holding the book and I'd hate to accidentally give you a paper cut in your delicate bits."

Faramir gave up on trying to keep a straight face. "I'd rather you tried to get a rise out of me," he said with a wink.

"In that case, let's try the next one... Her Dark Prince..." Éowyn repeated her trick of letting the book fall open at a natural point of weakness and scanned the page rapidly. Her eyes widened. "Oh my... Ewww!"

Faramir snatched the book out of her hands. He looked at it, and read, this time in his normal voice, "Éowyn felt desperately exposed in just her thin shift. She bit her lip, twisting the sheer fabric of the skirt between her hands. 'I have never done this before,' she said. 'Please be gentle with me.' He gave a twisted smile which evoked flutterings low in her stomach, whether of fear or desire she could not tell. 'It is not in my nature to be gentle,' he said in a harsh whisper. 'But by the time I have taken my fill of you, you will cry out for more of my ungentle ways.' With a swift movement of his hand, he seized the front of her bodice and ripped it to her waist, her bounteous breasts exposed beneath his hungry gaze..." Faramir's voice trailed away in horror. He stared at the book in disgust for some moments before saying, "Ugh, that's just vile."

"Your bougainvillea has wilted again, I'm glad to say," said Éowyn.

"I'd be ashamed of myself if it hadn't," said Faramir. He held the book at arm's length, with a contemplative look on his face. "You know, I've never done this with a book before, but..." And with the accurate aim of an archer and seasoned soldier, he sent the book sailing across the room into the hottest part of the fire.

"How about this one?" he said. "Two score and ten shades of cendrée." He started to thumb through it, using Éowyn's tried and tested technique of letting the book fall open at the most frequently read passages (Faramir was nothing if not a quick study). His lips parted slightly, and his eyes grew wider and wider. "Ropes... spanking... whips... good grief, forget about biting, there's something here called a 'dwarven nipple clamp.' Ugh, I think I feel slightly sick. And that's as much the awful literary style – or lack of it – as the kinky sex." Cendrée followed Her Dark Prince in a graceful parabola across the room. "I'm beginning to fear for the future of my bougainvillea," Faramir said mournfully. He reached out for yet another tome. "Bound by Duty... Oh dear, I hardly dare to look."

Éowyn took it from his grasp. She rolled over, and lay on her stomach, the book resting against the pillow. Faramir rolled onto one side and propped himself up on his elbow.

"Mmm, it's fairly kinky," she said thoughfully. "You've got me tied to the bed and blindfolded with silk scarves." Faramir frowned at this. Éowyn continued to read. "Well," she said after rapidly skimming a few pages, "It's a bit weird, but at least nothing's happening that anyone doesn't want, there doesn't seem to be anything painful involved, it's just a bit odd." She read some more, Faramir studying her face intently as she focussed on the book. His expression relaxed as he saw a far-away look come into Éowyn's eyes. She gave him an appraising look.

"Now if, on the other hand, I were to tie you to the bed, it would at least enable me to straddle your iron thighs or whatever it was. And you wouldn't be able to flip me onto my back. With or without blindfold, do you think? I quite like the idea that all you'd have would be touch and sounds... but on the other hand it could be fun having you powerless, but having to watch me..." The far-away look had been replaced by a decidedly lustful expression. Faramir decided that perhaps the silk scarf idea was worth filing away for future reference.

But Éowyn wasn't quite finished with this line of thought. "Let me see... hands tied up. So you wouldn't be able to stroke me as you usually do. So I'd have to pleasure myself while you watched." Faramir's mouth went dry and he licked his lips. Éowyn clearly noticed this, for he saw her tongue flick out along her lips, mirroring his, apparently without conscious thought on her part. She went on speaking, her voice low and husky, "You'd like that, wouldn't you, watching me stroke myself, while you were trapped beneath me." For a second time that evening, the power of speech deserted Faramir. He nodded mutely, feeling himself stir. "And I'd get to control everything..." Éowyn watched Faramir's face, his lips parted, a faint flush on his cheeks. She reached out and pulled his arm towards her, kissing the inside of his forearm, slowly, savouring the taste of him.

She felt his hands reach out towards her, one tracing the outline of her spine, the other sliding between her belly and the mattress. Faramir edged nearer to her and she felt the heat of his body against her side. She rolled over to face him, lifting her own hands up towards him. Her fingers tugged at the hem of his shirt, easing it up inch by inch, revealing first the muscles of his stomach then the dusting of dark hair across his chest. He sat up, pulling it over his head, aware all the time of Éowyn watching him. Her gaze lingered on the set of his shoulders, broad for all his slender build, and the muscles there. Faramir took advantage of her new position to finish the task of unlacing her shift, easing the sheer fabric up and over her breasts, silk caressing her nipples, then tugging it free of her entirely. Éowyn felt her breath catch as she watched Faramir's face. All traces of laughter were gone. In their place his expression had taken on an intense focus. He let his hand trail slowly from her shoulder down her arm, over the back of her hand until his fingers touched hers softly. When he spoke his voice was heavy and hoarse with desire.

"Your beautiful fingers... so clever and nimble. Yes, I would like to watch while you pleasured yourself." She fixed her eyes on his for a moment, nodding slightly. Faramir reclined back against the pillows and Éowyn shifted so that her thighs were spread out across his lap. Looking at his face, she brought her fingers up to her mouth and very deliberately licked them, sliding each one in turn into her mouth and slowly drawing it out, wet and glistening. Faramir watched with rapt concentration, his gaze following her hand as she trailed her fingers down her body. A quick glance downwards showed her the effect she was having on her husband, then her eyes returned to his face. He was absorbed in the movements of her hand. She could hear his breath coming in short gasps. Out of the corner of her eye she saw his hand move to circle his cock; with her free hand she grasped his wrist.

"Not yet, my love, not yet. You have to wait until I let you." Faramir groaned.

"My lady, would you slay me with your sweet teasing?" Her husand's voice was ragged with desire. "I warn you, I will not yield without a fight. And since you will not let me fight with my hands and body, I must do so with the only weapon I have left: my words."

Faramir paused for a moment, his grey eyes stormy. Then, getting his breathing under control, he continued, now in a whisper. He switched to Rohirric, and Éowyn swallowed, for in her language, her husband's voice always sounded exotic, soft, seductive as honey dripped upon her breasts and slowly licked away. His voice enveloped her. "For words can conjure pictures, and feelings. They are the heat of summer warm on your skin, the wildness of the tempest whirling around our two bodies, the storm of the ocean breaking upon us, the soft peace of the gentlest breeze afterwards." He smiled a dangerous smile, and continued. "Your fingers weave a spell upon your body, but think what my words could do, whispered up against that most secret of places, my breath caressing you, the lips which form those words hot upon your skin, my sinuous tongue upon you."

Faramir felt Éowyn's hand drop from his wrist, felt her body sag backwards, her other hand thrown behind her to support her. Catching her round the waist, he leaned forward from the pillows, easing her body from his lap to lie upon the sheets, running his hand up the silken skin of her thighs.

"And, my dearest love, you know me to be a man of my word." He shifted to kneel astride her leg, ducking his head down between her thighs. "My lips uttered words of promise and now make good that promise..." Éowyn felt a shiver run through her as the warm, slightly rough skin of his lips touched her thigh. "My tongue spoke truly and shall deal truly..." Now she felt the moist tip of his tongue trail over her skin, seeking ever upwards.

She could tell from Faramir's breathing, from the humming sounds he made as he circled and stroked her, from his murmurs of "Min heorte" and "Min leoflic," just how aroused he was. His breath and mouth were hot upon her. Éowyn's hips moved against him.

"How would you have me bring you pleasure?" Faramir lifted his head and looked at her. "Continue with my honeyed words whispered secretly below? Or should I whisper those words into your ear while I fill you with more than my fingers? For I know how you like to feel the whole of me inside you."

"Inside," she managed to gasp. He slid up her body to lie flush against her. Eowyn wrapped her legs around his hips, urging him inside her. Framing her face with his hands, he gazed at her. Hair cast across the pillow in a golden fall, cheeks flushed, lips parted, eyes wide and dark, staring at him. There could be no more beautiful sight in the whole world. He let his lips trail along the line of her jaw and down her neck, then back up again, suckling gently on her ear, stroking her skin with his fingers. "Oh, my Éowyn, I want... I want..."

And now it seemed that his sudden inability to find words wove a spell as powerful as his earlier flood of them, for Éowyn ran her hands down his spine and over the flat, slender, strong planes of his buttocks, pulling him against her even as she spread her thighs further apart. He sank inside her, marvelling at the contrasts – her body so wet, so silken, so hot from it, enfolding him, enveloping him.

Éowyn let out a long, shuddering sigh, raising her hips to meet him, eyelids fluttering closed. That feeling of fullness... she clung to him, running her hands over the taut muscles of his back, then wrapped her legs around him as if to claim every last bit of him. He lay within her for a moment until finally she untangled her legs, then pulled back, almost all the way, then thrust, first shallow, then deeper, deeper still, each motion slow and deliberate. Éowyn let her head fall to one side, lost in the sensations of feeling him.

Through a haze of desire and sensation, Éowyn realised that his thrusts were at just the right angle, dragging to and fro across her. Sweat trickled down his spine, between her breasts, their bodies damp and sticky. She gave herself over entirely to the feeling of having him drive within her, commanding him, begging him, demanding more, pleading. Her words and his twined round one another, whispered against cheeks, murmured into hair, gasping, hoarse, each urging the other on, so that they could no longer tell where one ended and the other began. "Fuck me... Ride me... Come for me... Come with me..." The words were enough to tip both of them over the edge, red velvet darkness behind closed eyes, sparks of sensation engulfing bodies.

Éowyn felt Faramir's weight relax on top of her, his head against hers, hair brushing her cheek. His breathing came hard in her ear. She felt utterly spent, boneless, as though her body had somehow dissolved. She lay beneath him, one hand thrown back above her head on the mattress, the other resting in the small of his back, fingers tracing the beads of moisture that glistened on his skin. His fingers tangled in her hair, gently tracing circles on her scalp.

Eventually he spoke, laughter just beneath the surface of his voice, a wicked undertone to his words. "So, my lady, it seems you were not averse to being flipped onto your back and forced to surrender after all..."

"Forced? If I remember correctly, it was I who asked for you to take me hard and fast. In fact you might say I demanded, rather than surrendered." She stroked her hand lazily over his skin.

"Still, we stuck to the main cliché of the genre: I ended up on top." She felt his lips against her cheek, quirking into a smile.

"There is no need to sound quite so smug... I might even go so far as to say there's no need to be quite such a cocky bastard... I think I shall have to challenge you to a sparring bout in the practice ring. Winner chooses the forfeit next time we're in bed. And you know that I am as likely as not to best you at fencing. Who knows, perhaps by way of a forfeit, I may find some silk scarves..."

Faramir lifted his head slightly and looked at her, raising one eyebrow. "Really?" He brought his lips close to her ear and whispered very quietly. "I would like that. After all, I didn't get to watch for very long this time."

"And whose fault was that?"

"Yours, for tasting too tempting."

Éowyn snorted with laughter. Then said rather reluctantly, "I think my arm's going to sleep."

Faramir rolled off her, pulling a disappointed face as he did so. They lay side-by-side for some time.

Eventually, Faramir rolled over and grinned at Éowyn. "Do you know, I fear that all this research, though enjoyable both as an exercise in scholarship for its own sake and..." Here Faramir couldn't stop a lascivious grin appearing on his face, "As an exercise in the importance of applying theoretical learning to practical situations, has nonetheless failed to establish the housekeeper's thesis concerning the corrupting tendencies of literature. For I must admit that I have never seen either that stable lad or his sweetheart engaged in learning their letters."

Éowyn giggled. "Well, that's hardly surprising. I happen to know for a fact that neither of them can read at all."

~o~O~o~

Author's note:

Inspired (if that is the right word) by some interesting reviews I and some of my friends have received, taking issue with our overly spiky, non-surrendering, even (whisper it) feminist takes on Éowyn. It would appear that these reviewers would be more comfortable were we all to model our writing on the output of those two well-known (though possibly not well-respected) publishing houses, Mills and Boon, and Harlequin Romance. This is my modest effort to give those readers what they want. But remember the old adage: "Be careful what you wish for, for you may get it."

With thanks to Sian22 for allowing me to use a spare "Harlequin-esque" title she had lying around the place.

NB, this is the "theatrical release" version for the fanfiction site. The "director's cut" can be found on AO3.