Bitter Watches of the Night
So long I'd watched her… so long. And though my master's task grew ever more difficult, still I found time to watch; to watch as her white skirts flew above her calves in the wild Rohirrim winds, as she wept in dark corners where she thought no one could see… and as she slept at night in fitful dreams.
Yes, even then I watched.
My master had promised that she would be mine. Not the price for my soul, for that was given or sold long, long ago. But for the price of my service, and my service never faltered, not even when she was near.
It takes a strong mind to bind a will as strong as that of Theoden King, even with a wizard such as Saruman lending his support. To bind two such wills? Impossible. So said I to my master upon one of many meetings.
"Is it not enough that you will have her?" He asked, frustrated, a wizard so far beyond thoughts of the flesh. Except where he used the desires of men to bind them to his own purposes.
"My lord," I brought my eyes to his, though I cringed before him. "Rape is easy. If I only wanted her body, what need had I of you?"
This was too much and I knew it.
"Be grateful I still have need of you… worm." He had long known of the name they gave me in Edoras, a name that betrayed my faltering status as his agent. Now only the King himself separated me from the hatred of his people. But, as I have said, controlling a strong will is hard. It leaves little time for fostering the love of an entire nation.
Saruman however did not lash out at me… this time. Instead he suggested something along the lines of alchemy, of potion making… and I took this latest gift, which he bade me make quick use of.
"The doom of the Rohirrim is not long off. If you would have her do anything other than despise you for the wretched thing you are, work quickly. But if you let it distract you from your more important work, your real work, then I will not quickly let you forget it."
I gave my assurances and fled, from my true master to the one who was in fact now nearly my slave.
In spite of his thralldom, of late it was more and more difficult to leave the King alone without surrendering some small influence. His nephew and son made it more so. But of chief concern to me was his niece.
My master had consoled me (correctly as was usual) that the son would be of no more worry by nightfall. Théoden's nephew Eomer was as strong as an ox, and with the brains to match. I would do my part where he was concerned.
But Eowyn, my own beautiful Eowyn, her plaintive murmurings reached sometimes even the bespelled ears of the king.
As Valar is mighty, had they not certainly reached mine?
We were so alike, we pair. Both denied by a mistake of birth what we desired most; she to fight as a warrior, myself a visage as to make worthy a claim to such as she.
She did not see it as such. Even as a child, growing and blossoming, into maturity, she strove to put as much distance between herself and the King's advisor as possible.
Her task, like my own, was getting harder. For her family was fading and wherever went the King (not far) went I. And her footsteps I also followed. I used what was left of my small powers of persuasion in her direction, and was scorned, derided… openly mocked by she whom I most loved.
Now I had a new weapon, a wizard's weapon. Not, certainly, the hand of Saruman, which was fastened firmly upon Théoden's own, but a brew of his conjuring.
"How long will it last?" I'd asked him.
"Six hours, maybe ten." He'd dismissed the question, as if the answer were of little consequence. But it was everything. It was the time I was to have with her, to convince her of my devotion, my love.
That afternoon, Theodred came back to the golden hall with a fatal wound. Eomer blamed Saruman, and I had him banished forever. It pleased me that my own plans and my master's had been at that moment in such accord. Banishing that one proved to me again that brains could at anytime outmatch brawn.
Eowyn was now quite alone. It was that night, as she wiped away a silent tear, that I slipped the first draughts of Saruman's potion into her glass at supper.
She retired weary and I watched her go. Theoden already slept deeply upon his throne. I made quiet footsteps down the halls to her chamber. Of course she had locked her door against me.
Locked doors have long ceased to be a problem for such as myself. Not so, the constant vigilance of a brother. Eomer had espied my final, selfish motives at the end. He had seen me look toward her and known that Eowyn was the prize I was after. How much more vigilant would he have been… how much more careful if he had known I prowled after she who was dearest to his own heart?
Eomer was gone, so I crept into her chambers quite uncensored. Her room was dark, but I'd brought my own light, a candelabra, which I held to one side as I shut my lady's chamber door.
She slept as one drugged (as indeed she was) under a pile of furs. I drew close carefully, setting the candles aside and pushing my own robes behind me as I climbed onto the bed beside her. I moved slowly, my faith in the potion not fully confirmed. But as the bed sank under my slight weight she made no move.
I encircled her in my arms… and did not breathe as she shifted in slumber to move against me. Her slender bare arm reached around my shoulders and her face pressed against my neck. Her sweet breath warmed my ever-cold flesh.
Her soft sighs against my neck… it was a closeness I'd often dreamt of but certainly never experienced. I was awed, touched and aroused beyond belief. My lady slept naked. In her sleep Eowyn drew a bare leg over my own fully clad torso and embraced me. Her white thigh stroked my hardness through the cloth of my breeches and I spent myself then and there.
I lay stunned in her arms, startled by the suddenness of my own response. There were hours yet remaining, but I was content to be held by her, to hold her, to stroke and smell her hair. It was the best night of my poor life thus far… but others were to follow.
I withdrew before the dawn touched her windowsill. Yet all through the night she had shown no signs of awakening. The same could not be said for my own passions.
It was a night of pleasure and of torment. I was aroused by her chaste touch upon my skin… and for hours upon hours her hand brushed my throat and her thigh rubbed warm upon my own manhood. Ecstasy and pain: why else had I sought a shield maiden of Rohan?
She seemed only slightly discomfited on the following morn. She could not shake off her sleepiness, but through the haze had room enough for harshness to me. I offered her water, or something stronger.
"Leave me be, snake." Those were the words she had for the man who had cradled her in his arms the night before. Who had stroked her soft hair and rocked her in her troubled sleep.
There is such a thin line between love and hate. I will not have her unwilling, I told myself, though at times to see her cry out at my mastery of her slight body would have been enough… should have been enough. I would have at least have had her…
I dared much more on the second night. I shed my robes and my shirt, so she might caress my bare skin. My breeches I left on. I could not afford to leave evidence of these nocturnal visits. This time as I embraced her, I also caressed her naked skin. I stroked her breasts till her nipples were hard peaks and she squirmed in my arms. I dared do no more than cup her womanhood in my hand… but I felt its wetness as I massaged her mound with my long dexterous fingers… heard her whimper into my neck.
My own desire was slaked many, many times as her body rose to the bidding of my palm.
I would not be overeager. I would have her remember me in dreams.
Eowyn was pale and overwrought at dinner. She misses my touch, I thought then, though she does not know it. I tried to be near her and yet again she recoiled. If she knew how last night she had bucked and panted against my caresses….
That third night I unlaced my breeches and led her hand to caress my hard flesh. Her small hand closed almost instinctively upon my length. Was there more evidence to be looked for that we were meant to be together?
Again I massaged her mound. Then with more daring inserted a finger, for she was damp and the passage was easy. I found the apex of her sensitivity through gentle probing… ah, I aroused such sounds from her with my fingers… she cried out so loudly I feared the guard would hear us. I came hard and deeply. I was prepared to remove all evidence this night.
I then tasted her on my fingers and could not help but go farther. I moved out of her tender embrace so that the embittered tongue might taste of her sweetness. What pleasure as she rocked beneath my mouth, spent her juices on my tongue, how I loved her. How I wished to take her willing body…
Eowyn would have loved me then… but I did not dare… I wanted her conscious. I wanted her to know who it was that gave her this pleasure.
One more night…
I would come to her tomorrow night, without the potion, without any pretense… and she would let me in.
Her cousin died that morning and I went to her side. I put my hand on her shoulder and for a moment felt her tremble… as I had made her tremble the night before.
"Leave me alone snake!"
She did not realize what we had shared together. For a moment her coldness stunned me.
"Oh," I said finally, using what gift I had left. "But you are alone. Who knows what you've spoken to the darkness, in bitter watches of the night, when all your life seems to shrink, the walls of your bower closing in about you, a hutch to trammel some wild thing in." I implied with these words that I alone could free her. I loved her so passionately, so much. My eyes locked with hers then… and she looked at me deeply.
I embraced her neck with my hand, now so familiar with her skin. I felt her heart beating a bit louder at my touch… as my fingers drew nearer to her breast.
"So fair, so cold… like a morning of pale spring still clinging to winters chill."
I looked at her then, waiting for the recognition that it was I… I who had caused her so many nights of pleasure when all around her was darkness, and for a moment she met my eyes, and saw that it was so.
I stroked the skin of her white, white collarbone and did not look away.
"Your words are poison!" She cried and tore away from me. I felt a hot slash of pain and clenched the hand, which had so recently touched her face.
No matter, I thought, I still had this night.
"Do not send me from your sight!"
My plans were crushed. My life was forfeit. But these words I did not address to my King. They were for my mistress of many nights past, who did not even know she'd had me.
She stared, ecstatic, triumphant down at my crumpled form, glad to see me so ruined and torn. I'd given her so much, my heart and what I had of my soul, and yet she laughed at my imminent death. In the end Aragorn staid Théoden's sword and I fled.
But as I fled on horseback I made what I could of a curse and flung it backward. "May you at least know what it is like to love and not be loved in return."
As if such could happen to the lovely daughter of Kings…