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The Stone in the Bed

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She is close, so close. Her fingernails cut into the skin of his back to spur him on, her legs wrap around him to prevent him from shifting position or changing his angle. And he is close too. One hand grips her hip hard enough to leave bruises, another clenches her shoulder beside her face.

With her eyes closed, she feels his hair sweep across her face as his calloused fingers brush her neck. He groans, low and guttural. His voice might be any man's. In the dim room it is easy to imagine that he is someone else.

The high forehead, the stubble on his throat, the hard muscle across his back...all will do, all will serve. In her thoughts she thickens his hair and thins his lips, shifts the angles of his cheekbones, broadens the muscles in his forearms.

And he is close, she is close, with her eyes closed, using intimate secrets to turn him into another man. Her head falls back, her ankles lock together. As waves of pleasure begin to shake her body, the man in her arms calls out in warning.

Close, so close...close enough. Clutching at him in welcome, she gives herself to the lover she cannot love, with his name ringing in her mind like a curse or a song.

Aragorn...

Abruptly the waves cease. Her husband pushes back, twisting away from her with an expression of such horror that her heart clenches in her chest. The forbidden word still echoes in her thoughts. For a brutal moment she fears that she has spoken it aloud.

Yet it is he who clasps a hand over his mouth, turning his eyes from hers in shame. Then she realizes that it was not her own voice she heard calling to the King of Gondor. She can hear it tolling in memory: the name of her beloved, wrested in passion from the tongue of her husband.

So close. Such reprieve. Eowyn is smiling as she reaches for Faramir's hand.