Disclaimer: I do not own The Lord of the Rings or any characters within, nor do I make any money from this.
WARNING: This is rated M for a reason--there are DubCon/NonCon themes throughout. This is dark and not my usual fluffy fare. Please don't read if anything along these lines is offensive to you and/or you are under 18. Thanks!
The first thing one tended to notice about the councilor of the King of Rohan, aside from his unsettling blue eyes and snarled black hair, were his hands.
At least, that was what Eowyn always saw; to her eyes, they looked to be two ghostly spiders meeting and retreating in some grotesque dance, always wringing and pinching and scuttling over the King's armrest. Wherever they went, venomous treachery followed, and fallowed everything it touched.
The man brought to mind all manner of skittering and stalking creepy-crawlers.
He was a hissing snake, a stooped and opportunistic vulture, a pale and wriggling maggot that fed on the carrion of her country's pride, her uncle's sanity, her own happiness.
What was worse, he was a scavenger who grew ever more bold, who sought to graduate from picking corpses to picking whom would be the corpse.
She refused to be his next victim, but ever was she the target.
This day, as the warrior-maiden slew her morning sausages with particular vehemence, she noted something else; his fingers were perpetually stained with ink. The sable liquid seemed to ooze from his flesh like oily sap from a gnarled old tree, and she fancied that his very blood was as black as the parchment-pitch he could not--or perhaps would not--wash away.
The color was caked thick beneath his nails; a stray sunbeam, having fought its way through the curtains in the dining hall, revealed the ink to have a purplish sheen that made her stare just a tic too long.
"My Lady," purred the Worm, his guttural fawning making her stomach churn.
Curling his filthy fingers around the stem of his wine goblet, he clenched his digits tightly as if to strangle it.
Suddenly his touch gentled, and transformed into a soothing caress as he raised the cup to his twitching lips, tickling the cold metal as though it were the downy white throat of a lover--indeed, her own throat, and the wine he drank so deeply of, her own essence.
Scandalized by the blatant gesture, she glanced up sharply to meet his eyes in affront; he smirked back, and she realized all at once that she had played right into those wretched hands, had watched his movements with rapt interest (albeit with a healthy dose of disgust to temper it).
Furious, Eowyn shoved back from the table; with her dear cousin dead and her beloved brother banished, the only witnesses to her fruitlessly frightening display were her uncle and his sniveling schemer. The King did not rouse from his unnatural slumber.
The advisor did not relent in his unwanted attentions.
As the Princess readied herself for another night of disquieted dreaming, she caught sight of something stuck beneath the ivory-and-silver box where she kept her mother's ornate hair combs; rarely did she wear them, but often did she hold them up to the light and smile at the memory of their sparkling adornment to her mother's sun-streaked tresses. The box was tucked away behind a jumble of other overly feminine odds and ends, all equally unused; none but she would think to tuck a treasure there.
And yet, as she edged the pretty things out of the way and peeled from the tabletop a piece of unfamiliar paper, her heart stammered and her mind recoiled from the hideous truth; her not-so-secret admirer had left her a letter.
What was written within, she could hardly say. All she could remember of it, as she sat by the hearth and watched the note burn, was the elegant script written in long strokes of purplish-black ink.
"My Lady," the Worm simpered beseechingly from his perch at her uncle's side, "what might coax a smile back onto your lovely visage? I fear your fair temperament has fled like a startled doe, and in its place is naught but sadness."
Eowyn scowled darkly at her lap but refused to take his bait. Her temperament was never fair when he was nearby. 'He mocks me, the odious fiend…'
"Surely you must know how it pleases His Highness to see you in good humor, especially in these trying times…is this not so, my King?"
Théoden nodded dumbly, slowly; only the scratching of his bristle-beard against his heavy cloak indicated that he had moved at all.
The sight of her once healthy and hale uncle writhing under the Worm's invisible puppeteer's strings was too much to bear. Eowyn slammed her fists down on the table with a bang; her frustration boiled ever higher when the wraith clinging to the King's side did not so much as blink. "You," she snarled, "are an infection, a blight! My uncle's right hand is gangrenous, and soon he will cut you away, offending hanger-on that you are. Traitorous leech!" Chest heaving, she stood up straighter and glared down her nose at the man she hated above all else--save perhaps the mysterious master who bade him destroy her homeland from within.
The Worm trailed his chilling gaze over her form, making no attempt to hide his regard; and when she opened her mouth to rail at him further, he steepled his long, bony fingers in front of his mouth and waited with the patience of a shark watching its fatally-bitten prey bleed out.
The smudges on his hands were decidedly blue today.
Feeling the indignation leave her in a nearly audible whoosh, the Princess hurried back to her rooms, her arms prickled into gooseflesh.
She read the note this time.
Anything that could find its way into the hidden drawer behind her dresser warranted at least that much.
The text was etched in a velveteen shade of navy, but the meaning within the words was fiery crimson with ardor, a twisted sort of love that disgusted her to the marrow. It sickened her to know this man imagined her in ways she hated and that she could not make him stop, could not control the content of his assuredly wicked thoughts. Within his own head, and ever-increasingly within the walls of her own home, he was safe to fantasize as he pleased.
She did not feel safe anywhere anymore--not even in her own bedchamber.
A week later, she awoke to a gray and dismal sky that matched her mood. Turning down the covers to brave the frigid flagstone floor, Eowyn reached for the pitcher of warm water left by her handmaiden to wash her face.
When she saw the greasy greenish smear on the handle, she threw the pitcher against the wall, bolted the door, and went back to bed.
Only a written edict from the King--in a too-tidy scrawl she suspected was not his own--could force Eowyn from her room, and she ignored the Worm's imploring inquiries after her well-being. 'Interrogating me, ha! He knows more about me than I do,' she mused morosely.
Her refusal to engage him in any fashion seemed only to goad him to greater heights.
Over the course of the following few weeks, Eowyn found a new letter each day, sometimes more than one in a single evening, all stashed in places only she ought to know of. All were destroyed without a second thought.
The Worm's hands bore the evidence of his labors in a myriad of hues that, on another's palm, might have been a rainbow--but on his pallid skin, all the Princess saw was a muddy rut in a road, a rotting carcass, a trampled flower. He always, only, brought to mind horrific things.
When she found a rather lengthy-looking folded sheaf of parchment under the thin dress she had laid out to wear to bed, Eowyn flung both letter and silken shift into the fire and slept naked, shivering despite the heat of the furs piled high over her head.
She wrote him a note this time, short and sweet: Leave me be.
Addressing the plea--'command,' she thought fiercely-- to the one called 'Wormtongue' in slashing, slanting characters, the Princess dropped the creased page in the middle of the woven rug at the foot of her bed. 'Let him kneel down and fetch it,' she grinned spitefully to herself.
When her heart skipped a beat at the sight of her empty floor upon her return that evening, Eowyn refused to understand any implications behind the unruly muscle's behavior other than 'good riddance.'
And just like that, the notes stopped.
'Yet still his hands are dirty,' the Princess sneered askance at him after the third letter-less night. 'What does he write, I wonder, when his goal is not to torment the innocent?'
Unbidden, Eowyn observed that her idle thoughts sounded much like those a woman spurned might have.
A quick trip through the southern hall became much quicker when she heard the subtle sounds of careful footfalls in her wake. After that, all forays were an exercise in running-while-pretending-to-walk.
She soon learned that shaded spots were to be avoided at all costs: cold stares and hot breath burned alike from within the protective cover of darkness.
The days seemed to grow shorter, and the nights dragged on eternally. The moonlight cast illusions of unblinking eyes and grasping, tinted fingers at every turn.
Sometimes it was just her imagination--and sometimes it was not.
Eowyn awoke so early that the sun had not yet risen. Or maybe it had, but she could no longer see its light or feel its warmth…
The thought was troubling in a way no one ought to experience.
She could not see, and so her hearing sharpened--and zeroed in on his quiet breathing, regular and deep. She wished he would wheeze, or choke, or gargle, give some sign that he was unwell and would soon die and set herself, her uncle, her entire country, free.
He sounded fit enough, damn him.
Somehow she fell asleep once more, listening to the steady rhythm of him scenting the air for her--tasting her without touching her, on the tip of his serpent's tongue.
The next time she was roused too soon, it was to the retreating echo of a rumbling by her left ear. What villainous slime he had been pouring into her sleeping brain, she had no way of knowing.
After a time, his murmurings became tolerable; understandably so, as he was the only one who really spoke to her anymore.
The clammy coolness of his palm, slick with what she would call longing for the unattainable and what he would call anticipation of victory, jarred her from her rest and seared the softness of her neck where her hair could not hide it from his reach.
That morning Eowyn discovered a thumbprint on the tender hollow above her collarbone, a love-bite of ink made with neither lips nor love, a bruise that was healed only with much scrubbing.
The Worm took the sight of her throat, red and raw, in stride.
A rustling noise drew Eowyn's attention to her locked door, but in the dimness beyond the candle's light she could not see what had made the sound. Who was never in question.
Darting over, she snatched up the object the had been slipped beneath the wooden barrier--a flat sheet of vellum--and leapt back onto her bed as though afraid a monster would rake at her legs from the darkness.
She held the page up to the flickering flame and was met with an image of her own face.
The likeness was not remarkable, and was obviously the work of a man whose talents as a word-smith did not translate into artistic ability, but there could be no mistake.
Eyes hooded and lips parted with some unknown pleasure stared back at her from behind a veil of loosely curling hair, a crooked vine above the collar representing her favorite necklace. Even her ear-studs had been noted. Every detail of her, sketched with obsessive detail, down to the last freckle…
There was a smeared fingerprint at the right temple.
The Princess burned the drawing.
His greeting of "My Lady" was especially greasy that afternoon, his voice like a living thing that squirmed and struggled its way into her head no matter how hard she tried to expel it.
Eowyn ignored him, as she always did, but she knew better than anyone that he was not so easily deterred. He inched ever nearer, and she held her book ever higher over her face. The respite in what seemed never-ending rains had drawn her out into the courtyard, unprotected by what little the bolt on her bedroom door afforded. The Worm looked even more sickly in the sunlight.
He never bothered her when she took to sharpening her short-sword, she remembered too late. 'Would that I had brought it with me!'
"Your Grace, I must warn you--a wasp has found his home in your flawless golden mane. Allow me…" And before she could stop him, the sneak had twined his hand into her hair, plucking at what they both knew was nothing. His nose was a moment away from her skin, and she thought wildly that it would be moist, like a dog's. A moment passed, and she discovered it was not.
But his lips, as they pressed lightly, distinctly, to her temple, were.
Book falling from nerveless, fluttering hands, Eowyn fled.
No amount of scrubbing could remove the tingling feeling; his kiss had a sting more potent and lingering than that of any wasp.
The following night there was a drawing waiting for her, tucked inside the previously abandoned book.
The Princess considered destroying it immediately, but felt that knowing where he planned to strike next would be wiser. 'The better to defend myself,' she reasoned.
The picture was entirely the same as the last, with only minute imperfections giving away its status as a tracing. Eowyn took only a second to wonder at how many copies of the abhorrent ink-painting existed before her gaze centered on the image itself--the print by her temple had been re-created, and a new one had been added over the curve of her jaw just below her ear.
'He'll not get near enough to try it this time,' she assured herself.
Eowyn had only three days of carrying her sword on her belt before the King welcomed her at breakfast by way of another edict; held aloft in his badly shaking grasp, she could plainly read the bold words: '--none but the King and his appointed guardsmen may bear arms within--'
She unsheathed the blade and stabbed it into the table in wrathful despair.
Turning on her heel, she did not see the Worm alighting from his place beside the King to pull out the knife meant for his heart.
He stroked his blackened hands along its polished length reverently, mindful of the sharp edges.
He had not attempted to kiss her again despite her vulnerable, sword-less state.
He did, however, leave more drawings for her, all pretense of secrecy gone as he scattered them around her chambers wantonly. Eowyn saw herself, stricken with passion, each image more spotted than the last, until one final warning was tacked up onto her door: an entire page, utterly drenched in the darkest ink, dripping on the floor in a steady dribble that pooled and stained the rug like blood. She tried to wrench it off, and her fingers slipped and scratched uselessly until she managed to grip opposite corners and shred the vile thing on the spot. She felt flushed--'from the effort, the anger,' she told herself.
He meant to have all of her…the only question that remained was when.
A heretofore unknown fear of rodents drove the King to order the entire Hall scoured for pests; all knew there had never been a serious problem with vermin before the Worm had burrowed inside Meduseld, and all had little option but to humor this sudden anxiety in their increasingly unstable leader.
For Eowyn, of course, this meant the discovery of an 'infestation' in her private rooms, and her displacement into another suite.
In the very same wing where the largest rat of all made his nest.
It was there, on a still and starless night, that he struck.
The Princess huddled alone on the overly large bed, stripped of all that was familiar and safe, all that had given her strength in the past--isolated. Caged.
He made no attempt to disguise himself as he stepped within her chamber, shutting the door with a resounding thud, locking it with an bone-rattling snap. "My Lady…"
She simply closed her eyes and waited.
The first touch of his fingers felt sticky, made his skin cling to hers for a moment before allowing him to violate the next patch of her virgin body, inch by agonizing inch. Settling the fleshy feelers over her breasts, he next pressed his mouth to her--at her temple, then her jaw, peppering her noble brow and straight nose and apple-cheeks, before finally swooping down to claim her lips with a needy whine that made her gut clench in a way she did not want to acknowledge.
His tongue proved itself deserving of its title as it wormed its way inside, slithering around and lapping at her own relentlessly. It was a messy affair; their mutual inexperience was apparent. He drew back only to reposition himself by her ear, where he murmured an unending torrent of coaxing and persuasive words.
Never a more suggestive and seducing commentary had been heard by any woman in the world, she was certain, as her loins ached with unwanted, unexpected yearning. Her defenses were being flayed alive under his darkly sensual assault.
With the last vestiges of her resistance, Eowyn cried "Why?"
"Because I want to," he whispered longingly into the nape of her neck, tracing her spine through her delicate nightdress.
"Because I can," he growled, yanking the fabric away from her shoulder and suckling the bared skin feverishly.
"Because you will let me," he said simply, like a stone dropped to the bottom of a shallow well, as he hiked her skirt higher and clutched her knee. His deathly pallor seemed almost green compared to her golden glow; she was the sun and he was the moon, stealing her light and bleaching its color to naught.
Her head canted back in a silent scream of feral, undeniable desire as he dug his hands between her thighs and pried them apart like two halves of a clamshell, his stained nails seeking out and scraping over her sensitive pearl.
The White Lady gave herself over to his black will, and he bent her double and rammed his inky fingers inside her, over and over and over, her thrashing and wailing making him grin with manic delight as he grunted in time with their furious pace: "No-one-can-make-you-feel-this-way-but-me!"
And she agreed, loudly, as she reached the pinnacle of her submission and shrieked his given name: "Grima!"
After all, what was a warrior with no sword, no shield, and most of all--no will to fight?
She emerged from the fog of sleep slowly and was met with the sight of a room not her own, from a bed not her own, with a strange ache that throbbed from within what felt like her very soul. It was surreal, as if she had drifted off in one body and woken up in another.
The man who loomed over her, rubbing his flattened, sweaty palm along her hip like he owned it, was more familiar to her than her own reflection.
"My Lady," he crooned, and took her limp hand to kiss her knuckles tenderly, possessively.
His fingers were clean.
AN: What to say…what can I say? Haha! I wanted and needed to do this, so I did. I like to challenge myself to try different genres, so this is an early (only?) exploration of things like horror-romance and semi-smut. *blush*
Keywords in my head while writing this story were 'hands,' 'bleak,' 'creepy,' and 'claustrophobic.' Shout-out in my next update to anyone who can tell me what animal Grima is reminiscent of in here!
In any case, 'Threads' chapter 4 is two-thirds finished--I was writing it when I suddenly had to write a Jareth/Sarah story, which was then derailed by this fellow. Hopefully the J/S will pan out, but either way I'm definitely not done with Coraline yet.
As always, thank you so, so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this and I love hearing from you all!