Disclaimer: I am not Professor Tolkien, therefore none of it is mine.
This story is a sequel to I Am of the House of Eorl. You will find it easier to understand if you have read that first.
Dedicated to Drake, AKA Warg #1 who has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and waits for us on the other side.
Ease My Heart
By Nieriel Raina
In the Year 3020 of the Third Age, Lady Eowyn of Rohan married Faramir, Prince of Ithilien and Steward of Gondor. They made their home in Emyn Arnen and whilst Faramir rid the land of the last remnants of evil, Eowyn nurtured the gardens and helped restore the beauty of Ithilien. In this endeavor, she was helped by a company of wood elves led by Legolas, Prince of Mirkwood. It is said, in those early years the lady was rarely seen without the presence of a great wolfhound…the only times being when a certain golden elf came to call.
- Nieriel Raina, I Am of the House of Eorl
My life has been long, longer than most of my kind, yet full of love and care, food and play. Duty I held dear in my early years, for my Mistress required my protection. Then she took roads I could not follow, returning a different person from the girl who had ridden to war. She had found her honor and a good man, and our reunion was sweet. No longer was the lady cold and hard, but laughter and joy now shone in her eyes. She took me with her to her new home, and finally, my job became one of ease: to simply wander after her as she worked in the gardens of our new home, or to sit quietly at her feet.
There were times, and she understood, when I needed the company of another, and she would shoo me off to run and play with the golden one who had become my friend. He played like no other, laughing merrily as I jumped and romped beside him, nipping at his heels or chasing the leather ball he threw. Whenever I was with him, I felt again like a new pup. The weight he had carried was long removed, yet I sensed another burden added to the gentle heart of the elf, my friend. There were times his eyes became unfocused, cloudy like storm clouds, and almost it seemed I could smell salt water on the wind. During those times, I pressed my nose into his hand and whined and pleaded for him to return to me. He always did.
From time to time, the gold one would bring the hairy one to visit, and oh! the lovely tidbits he shared from his plate. For with peace in the land, good food became plentiful, and the meals on my Mistress' table were some of the best in the land, rivaled only by that served in the great stone city across the river, or so my golden friend told me. Once when the scruffy king visited, he shared from his saddlebag, and that day I agreed with the elf about the food on the king's table. He became a favorite visitor of mine...the dark one and his meat pasties.
I watched my Mistress and her man rebuild a war-torn land. I saw her grow with child, and her joy when she held him in her arms. It was not long before he began to crawl after me, trying to grab my tail and ears. I was the one who taught my Mistress' little pup to walk, for he would pull himself up by my hair, and I ignored the sting. Then he would hold on to me and slowly put one foot before the other until he could walk beside me quite well provided his hand remained upon my side.
Time passes slowly for my kind, yet I sense that for those who love us, it passes with more speed. And as the seasons passed in my new home, it became more and more difficult to run and play as I once had. No longer did I chase the elf who came to visit. No longer did I follow the horses on the hunt. I became tired earlier in the day, and soon found my days full just laying beside my Mistress, for even climbing the stairs into the keep was no longer an easy task. Even the scruffy, dark one brought the pasties to me, as once I was there, I stayed as long as I could, and often my Mistress' man would carry me back to the stables before they retired.
But I did not mind growing older, for the longer I lived, the more I loved those who loved me. I could see their pleasure in patting my head or sneaking me bites of sweets. But under the words of praise, treats and petting was a sadness, a growing awareness in my Mistress' eyes that our time together was coming to an end. I knew it as well, for we know when our lives draw short. My golden friend knew as well, and he made me a promise, one I knew he would keep.
It was not long before I could not climb the stairs into the keep at all. My legs and hips ached, and as the days passed, my hind legs would give out beneath me without my consent. I lost weight, my muzzle and the hair about my eyes now completely white, rather than the dark grey it once had been. My head was better suited to lying on my paws, then held proudly. Yet I loved my Mistress as best I could, with a thump of my tail and a prick of my ears if that was all I could manage some days. And she would sit beside me and stroke my head, lifting it into her lap as she spoke of days long past.
Oh, my Mistress, my days are numbered, and I will miss you, as I know you will miss me. But I would ease my heart by knowing my last moments were spent in your arms. No longer can I stand, breathing becomes difficult. It is time to say goodbye.
She sat in the straw, her fingers never ceasing their caresses over the grey head, now mostly white with age, which lay in her lap. He shuddered again, and her breath hitched, tears streaming down her cheeks. Leaning forward, she buried her face in the rough fur of the dog's neck.
"My Lady?" The tall figure walked down the barn aisle, the last rays of sun shining through the door onto the golden head. Stopping at a certain stall, his eyes brimmed with tears at the sight before him, and he took a deep breath, and released it, before entering. "It is time, then." He kneeled beside the White Lady of Ithilien, reaching a hand out to stroke the dog's ears. "I will miss this one. Never shall I forget the love and devotion he showed to you. Oh, how he loves you, Eowyn."
Her voice broke into sobs, and she held the wolfhound closer. "Oh, Legolas, how can I let him go?"
The prince drew the lady against him, careful of the dog's head in his Mistress' lap, and she pressed her face against his shoulder, her hands never leaving the old grey head. "Because you must, because you love him. He suffers needlessly now, holding on to life only for you. I wish Faramir were here to uphold you in this time, but you cannot wait for his return from Amon Din."
"I know," she sniffed, her voice naught but a whisper. "I do not wish him to suffer any longer, and I am thankful you are here. He loves you as well, you know."
Legolas laughed, a cheerless sound. "Yes, I have always been aware of his affections. And he knows I love him, as he knows you love him. And his only wish is for you to hold him and to let him go."
Eowyn nodded against his chest, and the elf released her. Maneuvering next to the large dog, he helped the lady pull more of him into her lap. She wrapped her arms tightly around him, pressing her face against his cheek. "It is alright, Docga. Once more, we will be parted, but you can leave when you will. I will hold you as long as you draw breath..." Her voice broke, and the only sounds filling the stall were her soft sobs and the wolfhound's labored breathing.
Legolas laid a hand on Docga's side, then leaned his forehead against the heaving chest, whispering words in his native tongue. "Ce vellon nîn an-uir. Hebathon peth nín."
Docga uttered a last "Oof" in acknowledgement of the elf's words, then he pressed his nose further against his Mistress' cheek. A last breath sighed from the great dog, and Eowyn's tears began in earnest.
"Losto vae, Docga." Legolas wiped his own tears. "Raid gîn celin ar i 'waew chwest adel chen."
"It is too soon for me to go there, Legolas." Eowyn turned her eyes back to the embroidery she was working on, the needle moving easily in and out of the fabric. "It has only been a week since you buried Docga," her voice broke, her fingers stopped.
"You can, and you must," Legolas insisted, taking the stitchery from her hands. He set the swatch of material in a basket by her feet, then pulled her gently by the hand from the divan. She sighed, but did not resist his efforts. Perhaps the sooner she did this, the sooner the pain would begin to fade from her heart.
Legolas led her by the hand out of the keep, ignoring questioning looks from the servants, and towards the barn, behind which stood a tall beech tree. She knew what lay under its branches, deep in the ground, and part of her screamed to run back inside. But she held her head high, forcing herself to breath deeply, fighting the tears that pooled, yet not allowed to slide down her cheeks. They rounded the barn, and she was forced to look upon a mound of dirt for the first time. There was a stone above it, roughly hewn by water in a streambed, not by the hands of a craftsman. There were no words or symbols, it was simply a stone to remind her where he was.
Legolas released her hand, and she looked long and hard at the mound, her heart twisting within at the loss. Then a faint noise reached her ears. She glanced up at the elf, who had surely heard the sound better than she, and gasped. How he had kept it from her notice and silent until this moment, she could not fathom, but now held in his hands was a tiny wolfhound pup, barely old enough to leave its mother.
"I made a promise, that I would not allow you to mourn over long, but would see you hold another pup in your arms. I fulfill it now." Legolas handed the puppy to her, and it immediately set to washing her face with its little pink tongue. "His name is Huion, and he is the grandson of Docga."
Eowyn laughed as her burden of grief became tears of joy.
It is said in all her years as Lady of Emen Arnen, Eowyn always had a great Wolfhound at her side, and every one was a descendant of her beloved Docga.
Docga - old English for dog.
Ce vellon nîn an-uir. Hebathon peth nín. - Forever you are my friend. I will keep my promise.
Losto vae, Docga. Raid gîn celin ar i 'waew chwest adel chen. - Rest well, Docga. May your paths be green and the breeze behind you.
A/N - "Ease my heart" is a quote from Legolas in the Two Towers. I wanted to use a quote by Legolas as he is Wimsey's favorite character. I stayed up till the wee hours of the night penning this for my dear friend, and sister at heart, Wimsey, who had to make the choice to put her beloved cat, Pyewacket, to sleep. May he find peace in the arms of Námo.
Please do not forget to review. I am trying to improve my writing, and your input really helps. Thanks!