Sun on the water
The July heat bleached the sky, even in the early hours of morning and forenoon. We had escaped Minas Tirith and returned to Ithilien, the trees in the garden of Gondor giving at least a hint of shadow, and the green grass around the trunks still lusciously green and damp from dew.
The first thing my wife did when we finally reached our house was to hurry over to the stables and to look after her favorite horse, a buoyant dapple grey mare, nervous and graceful.A horse for a court lady Éowyn said in a mocking tone when I gave it to her a few weeks after our wedding, but all the same her hands caressed the noble, delicate head and the velvet soft nostrils, and I knew that my choice had been a good one.
Now she stood in the dim warmth of the stable and saddled Alfirin, and it was very clear that she didn't intend to spend the day in her much cooler rooms. I was not surprised; I knew she needed to regain her freedom, to enjoy the fresh air of Ithilien, especially after having stayed in the city of the King for nearly two months. She seemed to flourish in Ithilien, and now she wanted to go for a ride, to celebrate the fact that we were back home again. Despite the heat I was eager to fulfill her wish, and only a few minutes later we rode along the hedge that encircled the garden. It had been freshly planted when the residence for the Princes of Ithilien was rebuilt; weather beaten, fragmented wood was replaced by stone, colorful windows now let the light of the sun stream inside. The old house had been destroyed nearly seventy years ago, and it still filled my heart with enormous satisfaction and joy to see it renewed.
Our horses searched their way through a small grove, barely guided through the reins; Èowyn rode beside me, gently rocking with Alfirin's slow steps. Her clear, barely tanned face was as relaxed as he whole body. I had been rather concerned that she would never really feel at home in this land that was so different from the wide, grassy plains she had been raised upon. But she embraced her new realm with a possessive, open love, and the people of Ithilien gave this love back. There were already songs written and sung about the beauty and friendliness of the White Lady and more than once my wife had been invited to enter the houses of farmers and craftsmen when she explored Ithilien. She had a gentle hand with her subjects and always found the right tone, opening the hearts of men to her.
The trees opened to a wide, steep field, covered with high grass; here and there the bright red of poppy flowers set small flames into the sun-bleached green. Éowyn gave a soft order with only the slightest shifting of her seat; Alfirin stretched her neck and fell from a slow trot into a sudden gallop. I followed, the blades of grass streaking my legs and my hair blown back from my face. The wind was a blessing, for now, under the open sky, I could feel the power of the sun as if I was moving underneath a burning glass. Alfirin in front of me turned left and the sound of the hoofs was a damped drumming on the ground. We rode up a soft hill and down on the other side, before Èowyn slowed her mare, patting its sweat-streamed neck. Not far away, I could see a deep green row of willows; we had nearly reached the river.
My patient sorrel fell into stride beside her, and we smiled at each other.
Alfirin is thirsty, Éowyn said. and Rusca, too. We should find some water for the horses.And shade, I added, rubbing sweat from Rusca's withers. Not only for the horses, I'd say. We're close to the Anduin, and we should find both there.
We crossed the sun burnt meadow and dove into the green golden light of the willow trees. I stretched in relief. Rusca scented the stream and gave a soft, longing neigh. I dismounted and allowed him to do the last few steps without me as a burden. Soon both horses dipped their noses into the water, and the only sound filling the quiet midday air was a joyful snorting and the faint swish of the horsetails.
I sat down on the grass, pulling my wife down beside me. She laid he head on my shoulder and closed her eyes.
When I was a child, I nearly drowned, right here, I told her, a little surprised by my own memory. I was not very careful; that's nothing you would expect from an eight-year-old boy anyway. I waded further and further into the stream suddenly I couldn't feel the streambed beneath my feet anymore. The next moment water closed over my head.And then? Éowyn's eyes were wide open now. She stared at me with unmasked horror.
My mother came to my rescue, I replied, stunned by the sudden clarity of the images in front of my inner eye. She saw my head disappear under the surface and threw herself into the water, swimming in circles until she managed to grab my wrist and to pull me out. I came to myself, lying on the bank of the Anduin like a drowned cat, throwing up half the river. My mother couldn't decide whether to punish or embrace me.And what did she do? My wife's gaze held a soft smile now, like a palpable caress on my skin.
She embraced me, of course. I replied, and I felt my throat grow narrow at the thought of the beautiful, sad woman I had loved so deeply and lost all too early in my life. Then two arms closed around my neck.
Of course. I felt the soft lips of Éowyn on my mouth and I tasted a hint of apple on her tongue as our kiss deepened. After a short, sweet moment she drew back.
I have to thank her for her bravery, she said, her thumbs slowly stroking my sweat-dampened temples. Had she not dared to follow you into the water, you wouldn't be here with me.Oh, she was a good swimmer, she grew up near the coast, I replied, burying my hands in Éowyns pale golden hair so warm, so vivid, so glorious to touch. And suddenly the idea was there, sprung up from the rushing song of the river, a fancy perhaps, but rather tempting in the summer heat. She taught me how to swim soon afterwards and I would like to swim right now. How about you?To swim? She backed away like a nervous foal, and when I touched her shoulder, the muscles were taut under my hand. Here, in that river, in the middle of the day, where anyone can watch us? She shook her head. That's foolish!Not at all. I said, a little astonished by her resistance. We were married for nearly half a year now, and except for the very first night I had never seen her shy or prudish. We are completely alone here, there is no village or even a farmhouse around. This is the most private place I could think of for a little refreshment.I will not make a single step into that water. she said, her face tense, her arms crossed in front of her chest. I won't. I can't. I Her voice faded to a murmur. I made a step forward, gently raising her chin and gazing into her eyes, the clear bright blue filled with a mixture of rage and deep embarrassment.
You can'tI can't swim, for heaven's sake! Éowyn gave a small, exasperated laugh. I grew up on horseback, I could ride nearly before I could walk, and I'm the warrior who killed the Witch King, but no, I can't swim. The embarrassment in her eyes was slowly replaced by a weak grin. By the way, I spared you my knitting and weaving for good reason. The grin grew wider. Not to speak of my disastrous embroidery
I swallowed the laughter rising in my throat and slowly started to unbutton the bodice over her thin summer blouse. I said seriously, I'm not sure what to do about that weaving and embroidery and what was the third one? Éowyns hand lay atop of mine, guiding my fingers when I finally managed to open the last small mother-of-pearl-button and slipped down the straps together with the sleeves of the blouse over her bare arms. And have I ever mentioned that I am a horrible cook? She bowed down, opened the clasps of her riding skirt and stepped out of the soft, brown folds of cloak.
No, you didn't. But none of those surprising revelations are horrible enough to make me regret that I took you for my wife, beloved. She was naked now; the shadows of the trees painted vivid patterns on her pale skin and for a few moments I was unable to speak she was the most beautiful being I could imagine. And she was mine.
I can teach you how to swim, right now if you want. I said, laboring to keep my thoughts from going astray in a completely different direction. Or we could simply take a bath in the river and stay close to the bank, if you feel more comfortable with that, my Lady.A bath would be wonderful, my Lord. she replied courteously, but the twinkle in her eyes betrayed her; she clearly understood what I had been thinking (and desiring) only a few moments before. And what I still desired, to tell the truth.
I undressed as quickly as I could, supported by hands that had grown rather skilled after six months of marriage, and finally I led her down to the hem of the river. To feel the cool water rising over my ankles and smelling it's green, fresh scent was a relief and a delight at the same time. I turned around to my wife and opened my arms. Éowyn, shuddering like a displeased cat stepped into the shallow shoals beneath the damp grass. But soon she grew more courageous and as long as she could clearly see that my feet stood steadily on the ground, she dared to wade forward. It was apparent she enjoyed the small waves rippling around her knees, rising over her thighs and finally washing around her narrow waist. Again I marveled at the sight of her. She stood still for a long while, then came closer and stepped into my embrace.
I kissed her mouth, her cheeks and her forehead, and my lips followed the perfect line of the golden brows. Then I lifted her up and moved her body, weightless and cool in my arms, through the faint current. She gave a short gasp of surprise, but then her hands lay around my neck and she breathed against my damp chest while I walked slowly through the water.
A few meters away the river had carved a silent pool filled with smooth stones. Carefully I sat her down on its rim. Now the water touched the underside of her round, small breasts. I could see the pale rosy buds harden at the sudden chill. Without hesitating, I lowered myself into the water and drew her on my lap.
My voice was heavy and hoarse, but it was her mouth that captured mine, her tongue catching mine to play with it. I felt her bosom, incredibly soft and arousing against my body, and then my hands closed around her waist and she laid back into the stream, her hair flowing around her head like pale seaweed. I rose and dug my feet into the gravel bed, and she welcomed my desire, floating on the river while our bodies melted, gently moving back and forth with the rhythm of my slow thrusts. Finally she rose from the water into my tight and breathless embrace, our climax a soft, hot explosion amidst the green coolness of the river. Her small cry faded to the sound of the breeze that stirred the waves and smashed the reflection of the sun to countless glittering fragments of light. I held my wife, her face buried against my neck, while our heartbeat slowed and my voice murmured all the words of love I never had dared to say before into her ear.
Nearly ten years have passed since that hot summer day; Éowyn is a good swimmer meanwhile (though she never really lost her distrust of the water completely). Though the occasions when it is possible to make an escape to the river have become rather rare between raising our beautiful children, between defending our borders and caring for the Garden of Gondor, there are still moments when we both remember and I can see the sun on the water again, mirrored in my beloved's eyes, and I feel the coolness of the river in the brief touch of her hand, a shared secret, a well remembered memory and a never ending promise.
Alfirin Quenya for Silverflower
Rusca Quenya for brown