Eowyn, daughter of kings and shieldmaiden of Rohan, was trying to bury herself in work. Luckily there was a lot of work to be done, a lot of preparations to make for the unavoidable battle.
She still had not really accepted the fact that the man who had managed what many had tried, who had taken possession of her heart, was dead. How could Aragorn be dead, who had been so alive, so full of strength and wisdom? How could a mere Ork have brought his life to an end?
Passing a wary hand over her eyes and noticed Lord Aragorn's Elvish companion standing on top of the stairs leading to Théoden's hall, a peculiar glow in his eyes. Eowyn wondered what was going on in his mind. She had never had dealings with Elves before and found Legolas a very strange creature indeed.
There was something disconcerting in the way he sometimes looked at her, almost as if he could see right into her soul. Eowyn suspected that he knew about her feelings for Aragorn and that for some reason he pitied her for them. Maybe because he didn't think that a mere human woman stood any chance to win Aragorn's heart after an Elven lady had possessed it, but something told Eowyn that that was not all.
She glanced again at the Elf, who stood motionless, resembling more a beautiful statue than a living thing, patiently waiting for something to happen. He did not appear to notice her scrutiny, as if his sharp wits were directed fully towards something else.
Eowyn wanted to understand Legolas, because of his friendship with Aragorn and because Aragorn had been raised among his kind and she wanted to know all there was to know about the man who had captured her heart.
Even if that man was dead.
Eowyn wondered for a second what Legolas had felt at the news, what look had been on his face. What was death to an immortal?
But quickly she shook her head -- her own grief was too fresh to let her think of death so casually. Death was not a matter of idle curiosity, it was her enemy, was what had separated her from what she perceived to be her one chance of finding a man she could look up to and love whole-heartedly.
Concentrating on the matter at hand Eowyn started to turn her gaze away from Legolas, only to be stopped by a slight change in his eyes, a flash of emotion flaring, betraying the impassionate facade.
It was this that made Eowyn notice the dark figure striding up the stairs, and with a gasp she straightened up, feeling her heart flutter in an unusual show of nerves. Could it be? Could it really be that Aragorn had returned from the dead?
She wanted nothing more than to throw herself into those strong arms and never let him go again, but she stood rooted to the spot, the mix of surprise, hope and unspeakable joy rendering her unable to move.
So all she could do was watch.
She saw Aragorn be stopped by Legolas, who had once again assumed his impenetrable facade. She heard him say something in Elvish that made Aragorn stop short and give him a long look, that turned into pure joy and laughter after the next words out of the Elf's mouth: "You look terrible!"
Although Aragorn had decidedly seen better days, those casual words seemed to convey an altogether different meaning.
Aragorn's smile made Eowyn's heart tighten, and the look that passed between the two men caused her to shiver. She really wanted to run over and welcome Aragorn herself, see him smile at her instead.
But she could not, not when there was something intensely private passing between him and Legolas. Intruding seemed out of the question.
Although they stood right there, on the steps, surrounded by soldiers and civilians, they seemed to be in their own world, apart from everyone else.
Now Legolas laid something into Aragorn's open palm, and Eowyn saw that it was the Elven lady's jewel. Aragorn looked at it, and then up at Legolas, who met the intense gaze with one of his own. Eowyn felt shivers run down her spine at that look, fraught as it was with a host of unspoken emotions.
And when Man and Elf broke their gaze to grip each other's arms in greeting, both smiling now, Eowyn knew that Aragorn's grip was tight enough to leave bruises on the Legolas' pale skin, if Elves could bruise, and she would have given anything not to have to witness this scene.
The smiles on the men's faces made Eowyn desperately want to look away, yet she found herself unable to do so. The happiness so bright on Legolas face caused her heart to clench painfully, but not half as much as the simple emotion burning in Aragorn's eyes. An emotion Eowyn easily recognized, for it had become the center of her being.
To everyone else it simply looked like the reunion of two friends, brothers in arms -- but Eowyn knew better. Once again she felt her heart breaking as she saw Aragorn returning to the one who possessed his heart.
Legolas leaned over now, taking the Elvish Jewel once more from Aragorn's bloody palm, cleaning it one his tunic before fastening it around Aragorn's neck again, so that it rested in its accustomed place above his heart.
Only Eowyn saw Aragorn trapping Legolas hand beneath his quickly as it adjusted the jewel. No one but her noticed yet another look of wordless understanding and pure, bright love pass between Man and Elf. They seemed to share so much only with their eyes, and Eowyn felt tears pricking behind her eyelids.
The moment passed. Aragorn turned to continue his interrupted march up the stairs, closely followed by Legolas, whose face once more betrayed nothing.
But Eowyn knew now. She also knew why Legolas had watched her with pity -- not just an absent Elven lady leaving for the West stood between Eowyn and happiness, but the very much present Elf prince who rode and fought alongside Aragorn.
Blinking back the tears Eowyn resolutely went back to the task of preparing her people for a siege. She would not forget what she had seen, but this was not the time to be a heartbroken woman -- there was a battle to be fought, and maybe, just maybe they would win. Maybe she would win.